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Skeptical Discussion & Resources

Wade

FeralNormal master
The confused article linked in the OP conflates Atheism with Skepticism, misrepresents the latter and mischaracterizes it. Richard Dawkins is not skepticism. Organized skepticism (which does reek sometimes just like any organization) is not skepticism.

Giving reasons why you are not a skeptic is exactly like giving reasons why you don't approve of thinking.

Lance[/

I'll admit he did go to great lengths to define his (non)skeptic label but he also went to great lengths to explain that did not mean he was changing his viewpoint. In that I would say there is still plenty of indication he was a thinking person, whether he stated so or otherwise.
 

Burnt State

Paranormal Adept
My takeaway from the article was how the field of skepticism, like the paranormal, corporate and the rest of society are dominated by white men, hence the racist and sexist overtones throughout. I think what's sad is that you would expect a field that prides itself on its "smarts" to see through the many veils of power, privilege and ego instead of continuing to prop those old ideals up.
 

Tyger

Paranormal Adept
Founder Of Skeptic’s Society Rattled After Witnessing A Paranormal Event (Michael Shermer) November 8, 2014 by Joe Martino.
LINK: Founder Of Skeptic’s Society Rattled After Witnessing A Paranormal Event (Michael Shermer) | Collective-Evolution

TEXT: "Michael Shermer is a well respected man amongst his community. He is the founding Publisher of Skepticmagazine, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, a regular contributor to Time.com, and Presidential Fellow at Chapman University. He is very skeptical and scientific by nature and until now had never had a supernatural or paranormal experience. “I just witnessed an event so mysterious that it shook my skepticism.” Michael Shermer

"A Shift In Perspective
"In his 2006 TED talk, we see a very skeptical and almost condescending Shermer. Nonetheless his talk is certainly an interesting one and well worth watching. Although much of the time he pokes fun at “odd” theories, he makes some good points about how we choose to see and hear things and form beliefs as a result.

"On an observational level it is still interesting to hear someone, who clearly has a bias towards certain subjects, call out others who have bias’ in an attempt to explain why we believe weird things. For example, he pokes fun at something like UFO’s and aliens stating “it’s very likely they are not real.” He does this in a manner that some skeptics do where they use words to divert from the evidence and call upon the more ridiculous claims in an attempt to debunk the entire phenomenon. Perhaps he hasn’t seen the abundant evidence that exists including declassified government documents on the subject?

"Either way the point here is simply that from a standpoint of discovery, sticking true to the scientific method is important in all cases when we’re looking for external validation of an idea. Leaving bias or methodology to prove a point by finding the most obscene examples of a theory out of the equation is the best bet. Being skeptical is OK, but being a skeptic in true form does not mean being closed minded, it simply means being open to questioning and exploring new ideas without simply believing it.

"From his talk I can see why so many skeptics are not humble in their beliefs and often feel superior to others who don’t share the same beliefs. It almost seems to be ‘skeptic culture.’ But given his latest experience, perhaps Michael will have an entirely different view towards some of the claims others have made during his career?

"His Recent Supernatural Experience
"Here’s his story as he wrote in an article entitled Infrequencies. It was also published in Scientific American.

“The event took place on June 25, 2014. On that day I married Jennifer Graf, from Köln, Germany. She had been raised by her mom; her grandfather, Walter, was the closest father figure she had growing up, but he died when she was 16. In shipping her belongings to my home before the wedding, most of the boxes were damaged and several precious heirlooms lost, including her grandfather’s binoculars. His 1978 Philips 070 transistor radio arrived safely, so I set out to bring it back to life after decades of muteness. I put in new batteries and opened it up to see if there were any loose connections to solder. I even tried “percussive maintenance,” said to work on such devices—smacking it sharply against a hard surface. Silence. We gave up and put it at the back of a desk drawer in our bedroom.

"Three months later, after affixing the necessary signatures to our marriage license at the Beverly Hills courthouse, we returned home, and in the presence of my family said our vows and exchanged rings. Being 9,000 kilometers from family, friends and home, Jennifer was feeling amiss and lonely. She wished her grandfather were there to give her away. She whispered that she wanted to say something to me alone, so we excused ourselves to the back of the house where we could hear music playing in the bedroom. We don’t have a music system there, so we searched for laptops and iPhones and even opened the back door to check if the neighbors were playing music. We followed the sound to the printer on the desk, wondering—absurdly—if this combined printer/scanner/fax machine also included a radio. Nope.

"At that moment Jennifer shot me a look I haven’t seen since the supernatural thriller The Exorcist startled audiences. “That can’t be what I think it is, can it?” she said. She opened the desk drawer and pulled out her grandfather’s transistor radio, out of which a romantic love song wafted. We sat in stunned silence for minutes. “My grandfather is here with us,” Jennifer said, tearfully. “I’m not alone.”

"Shortly thereafter we returned to our guests with the radio playing as I recounted the backstory. My daughter, Devin, who came out of her bedroom just before the ceremony began, added, “I heard the music coming from your room just as you were about to start.” The odd thing is that we were there getting ready just minutes before that time, sans music.

"Later that night we fell asleep to the sound of classical music emanating from Walter’s radio. Fittingly, it stopped working the next day and has remained silent ever since.”


"How We Can Relate To Others
"Given Michael can say he now has first hand experience of something supernatural that he cannot explain or simply set aside with some “logical” explanation, it’s quite possible he can now better relate to people who truly deeply and completely believe something unexplainable that they have experienced. Even in his latest 2010 TED talk, Michael still felt that believing in alien abductions was absurd, but what about those who claim to have experienced it? What would they say to that? Is it fair to say all who have claimed it are simply crazy?

"It’s sometimes very easy for us to discredit, set aside or be skeptical of experiences we didn’t have yet others had. It’s almost become “cool” and “intelligent” to simply come up with a logical explanation even when it doesn’t truly explain what happened. Nonetheless, it’s OK to be skeptical, we simply need to keep our ego in check at the same time and keep an open mind to the fact that putting a logical explanation on something doesn’t prove it false or incorrect. When we do this we simply close off a lot of possibility vs truly exploring it.

"I think it’s powerful that Michael has had this experience and I also feel it’s a timely one. I believe we are in the midst of something huge here on earth. I feel we are experiencing a shift in global consciousness that will transform the way we view many facets of our lives. Although this view has been somewhat perverted and misunderstood by belief systems and mismanaged movements (new-age), I feel it has a lot of validity and this can be seen both scientifically and through direct experience. I talk about this in my TEDx talk.

"Interestingly, Shermer ended his piece off with something very important: “The emotional interpretations of such anomalous events grant them significance regardless of their causal account. And if we are to take seriously the scientific credo to keep an open mind and remain agnostic when the evidence is indecisive or the riddle unsolved, we should not shut the doors of perception when they may be opened to us to marvel in the mysterious.”

"Although it didn’t come with some backlash already form a commenter: “Michael, I was embarrassed to read your concluding paragraph. What are we to keep an open mind about? That Jennifer’s dead grandfather maybe fixed the radio? Did he even know how to fix radios? Wouldn’t there be an easier way for the dead to communicate with the living? It would be mildly interesting to have an electronics expert determine exactly what is wrong with the radio. Regards –Mark”

"Embarrassed? Because suddenly one of the biggest skeptics in the world is open to the possibility that there is more to life than just what we can measure?"
 

manxman

Paranormal Adept
We have one of those Tedex gatherings today, here on the Island.

Speakers are.

The line-up of speakers for the Isle of Man’s first TEDx event is taking shape, with NASA astronaut Colonel Ron Garan (USAF ret.) and Manx blues star Davy Knowles confirmed to appear.


TEDxDouglas | TED.com
100,000:1 The approximate ratio of Manx Residents to the World. Do we have something to offer to the rest of the human race? You bet! Come one, come all...in celebration of the Year of Culture, the Isle of Man's first (and by no means last!) TEDx event:



It will be the first and last, i'll bet my house on it, manx blues 'star' Davy Knowles, such a star ive never heard of him.

However if they were having a more famous manx artist Robin Gibb [beegees] giving a lecture, i would have been mightily impressed.



.
 
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PISTOL_STAR

Paranormal Novice
Been listening to the show and I must say its quit entertaining. Much much muuuuuch better than 'Coast to Coast'

I am however quit the skeptic. I would like to embrace the community and hopefully engage in friendly debate whenever possibles. Preciate it.
-Tony
 

Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Welcome to the forum Tony :). I hope you have many rewarding exchanges here. I have often found myself playing the role of skeptic, so it will be nice to have someone else take-up the challenge from time to time :D.
 

Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
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Mulvaney

Paranormal Maven
I agree that it's always good to hear various sides - I just finished reading Robert Sheaffer's new book Bad UFOs which has a section on Walton - similar to what he has posted online.

I also agree with ufology that there is insufficient evidence of either a hoax or that the incident is true. Walton's story is such that it is hard to conclusively disprove it. But I also cannot say that it's true. Certainly it should not be accepted uncritically. There are problems with it.

So it occupies a middle ground for me. If it were being used to prove other matters, I would go with the skeptical side. But as a story to hear on its own terms, I can listen without having to judge it one way or the other. Like a ghost tale.

Actually, some of my favorite material falls into that category. I have a friend who has experienced a number of things that can only be described as high strangeness. I think the person is honest. I think he is reporting what he experienced. But I am also not going to say that his stories are evidence for the truth of the matter.

So perhaps Walton was making things up; perhaps he was abducted by an alien craft; perhaps something else happened and he ended up in another world. If I had to pick one, I would go with the first - but whether it's true may not matter that much.
 
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MARTY DUFRENE

Paranormal Novice
James is a debunker for the airforce,the things that comes out his mouth is just a continuation of when Hynek worked for them. He even double backed or back tracked when Halt said OSI did investigate..meaning hes totally in the know for the airforce and is highly schooled in debunking UFO sightings. If a Flying Saucer landed on top of him and only his head was sticking out,hed ask"Will someone get this refrigerator off me" I watched him closely his eyes cannot stay in one fixed position showing deciet in what hes talking about,something you dont find on any of the witnesses..James Mc Gay boy is definately the most agravating person to hear speak. If a UFO show puts him on it,then they are as retarded as his hypothesis of things he was not at. events he wasnt there to see,so why is he even on these shows is beyond me. He makes the producers of the shows look stupid
 

MARTY DUFRENE

Paranormal Novice
Well having studied this topic for 45 of my 51 years and had experiences as well, Travis Walton had brought back information that was not widely know whatsoever but was the same experiences as he said. The man is not lying in anything he said happened and thats that!
 

Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
... I watched him closely his eyes cannot stay in one fixed position showing deciet in what hes talking about,something you dont find on any of the witnesses ...

"Despite the common belief that shifty eyes -- moving up and to the right -- indicate deception, researchers found no connection between where the eyes move and whether a person is telling the truth."
Source: Lying? Your Eyes May Not Give You Away
 

Goggs Mackay

Administrator
Staff member
"Despite the common belief that shifty eyes -- moving up and to the right -- indicate deception, researchers found no connection between where the eyes move and whether a person is telling the truth."
Source: Lying? Your Eyes May Not Give You Away

I can believe that there is no provable link between eye movements and deception in the average person but I am also aware of a select few people I know very well, who most definitely have tell-tale eye movements, coupled with altered speech, when they are lying. It may not be a rigid pattern but something does happen when they suddenly have to create a lie on the spot. I imagine with McGahey, it would require someone who knows him very well to be able to spot any deceit-tic connection and it would probably be quite an individual thing and not any pattern one could learn and predict from a book etc.
 

Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
I can believe that there is no provable link between eye movements and deception in the average person but I am also aware of a select few people I know very well, who most definitely have tell-tale eye movements, coupled with altered speech, when they are lying. It may not be a rigid pattern but something does happen when they suddenly have to create a lie on the spot. I imagine with McGahey, it would require someone who knows him very well to be able to spot any deceit-tic connection and it would probably be quite an individual thing and not any pattern one could learn and predict from a book etc.
Fair enough. Experience and intuitively picking-up when something is amiss shouldn't be ruled out, but neither should it be sufficient to determine the guilt or innocence of the accused.
 

Creepy Green Light

Paranormal Adept
Well having studied this topic for 45 of my 51 years and had experiences as well, Travis Walton had brought back information that was not widely know whatsoever but was the same experiences as he said. The man is not lying in anything he said happened and thats that!
Except for the airing of the Interrupted Journey. And the airing of The Belero Shield. And Walton's family life long obsession with UFO's. And the contest by the National Enquirer.
 

technomage

Paranormal Adept
Regarding a life long interest in UFOs: That shouldn't disqualify anyone. For example, I've had a lifelong interest with UFOs, but had no sightings, abductions, etc. If I were to report something now, should that disqualify me? Does that mean that everyone on this forum who hasn't had an experience should be disqualified? Of course we should be skeptical of everyone's story and look at the facts, but I don't see how a life long interest in a subject predisposes you to make a hoax. I would argue that a person who is genuinely interested in this subject would be the last person to commit a hoax.
 

Randall

J. Randall Murphy
Staff member
Regarding a life long interest in UFOs: That shouldn't disqualify anyone. For example, I've had a lifelong interest with UFOs, but had no sightings, abductions, etc. If I were to report something now, should that disqualify me? Does that mean that everyone on this forum who hasn't had an experience should be disqualified? Of course we should be skeptical of everyone's story and look at the facts, but I don't see how a life long interest in a subject predisposes you to make a hoax. I would argue that a person who is genuinely interested in this subject would be the last person to commit a hoax.
I agree. I had known about UFOs before I saw one, and my prior knowledge helped me to recognize the situation when it happened. However, with respect to the replies to Marty, they looked to me like they were in the context of this statement:
Marty said:
Travis Walton had brought back information that was not widely know whatsoever ...
So in that context, while it's true that having such knowledge beforehand doesn't mean Walton was fabricating, it pretty much eliminates Marty's reasoning for believing Walton's story. Although to be fair, perhaps it would be prudent to ask exactly what information Marty is talking about, and how that evidence is is "known" when evidence about the details of the aliens or their craft is still fuzzy at best.
 
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marduk

quelling chaos since 2352BC
Goggs man, there's only one response to idiots: laughter.

Because anything else just wastes your time and makes them feel important.
 

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