The man who destroyed skepticism

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/10/26/the-man-who-destroyed-skepticism.html

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Did he, though?

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I’m skeptical…

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We should look into this.

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The man who destroyed skepticism

So you say…

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Where’s the evidence?

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Since parapsychology is horseshit, I’m not going to lose any sleep over a few fraudulent or deluded parapsychologists losing research grants because of Randi’s influence. Seems like that was the point.

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You’d think Horowitz’s subjects of study would have predicted all this.

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3rrG

(edited to swap in a similar, smaller (and better) gif)

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Anyone got crystal ball?

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Yet today the Rhine Research Center functions off-campus as a nonprofit organization and, while individual researchers and a handful of ​university labs soldier on, many college textbooks brand ESP research a pseudoscience, often citing Randi’s work as the source of that opinion, so the topic is shunned by most academics and journalists who cover them.

Randi offered a million bucks to anyone who could show reproducible evidence of the paranormal, including ESP. If I was a serious ESP researcher I would’ve taken out some loans to continue my research to the point where I had reproducible evidence. Or at least sought financial support from the Deepak Chopra Institute or Oprah’s organization.

The problem is that ESP is bullshit and researchers simply have no way to provide the rigorous scientific “accountability” required for the acceptance of such claims into the main body of scientific knowledge.

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Won’t fix, works as intended.

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Randi backs off from any serious challenge. ‘I always have an out,’ he has been quoted as saying."

The “out” being that there were no serious challengers for the prize, just grifters and woo peddlers.

The biologist has written that “morphic fields of social groups connect together members of the group even when they are many miles apart, and provide channels of communication through which organisms can stay in touch at a distance. They help provide an explanation for telepathy.”

He might as well claim that these “morphic fields” help provide an explanation for magic or Santa’s naughty-or-nice list or any other fantasy-based phenomenon. If this is the best that “serious researchers” of parapsychology can do…

ETA: Just so there is no misunderstanding in the author’s attempt to misrepresent Randi as a climate-change denialist, at the very top of the linked article is the following:

Addendum: two days after this post, Randi clarified:
“I do not deny that [Anthropogenic Global Warming is a] possibility. In fact, I accept it as quite probable.”

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Ghosts must be real because Randi is still upsetting this woo peddler from beyond the grave.

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Was he related to the man who sold the world?

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If only it were so - no one would be on Facebook!

(ETA - Also, we don’t need an explanation for a phenomenon that has never been observed)

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Similar to the rest here; I don’t find this compelling, and I’m reasonably irritated Boingboing felt it was appropriate to use their space to publish it.

We’ve had more than a century of ‘serious’ research into ESP and other paranormal phenomenon, with absolutely no results of any note or new accepted theories.

I applaud that there are people doing this research thoughtfully and with real scientific rigor, but they essentially just pile more upon the massive foundations of what Randi always epitomized, which is the lack of any evidence to the supernatural.

If the sum of this article is that ‘Dead man who lived to 93 was known to be rude’, I think that’s barely worth the words to write it.

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So a writer billing himself as “a historian of alternative spirituality and one of today’s most literate voices of esoterica, mysticism, and the occult” :roll_eyes: plays No True Skeptic with The Amazing Randi while missing the point for a couple of thousand words. Please, do go on about how much parapsychological research has given us over the years, Mitch. Randi lived to be 92. I don’t think it takes that long to draw conclusions based on decades of failed psychics. It probably takes less time than it did for me to read that inane article.

tl;dr: Cool story, bro.

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Heck, I’ll go a step further. We live in a world haunted and increasingly ruined by people who are increasingly willing to discard millennia of scientific improvements and advancement.

In the USA, we have a huge portion of the population who believe that a billionaire is trying to put nonexistent microchips into vaccines, not to mention the smaller overlap of people who believe vaccines are a way for the government to secretly control you and give you autism.

Frankly, I think that pseudoscience like the person writing this article is putting forth is of actual fucking material harm to society. People are literally dying today because of an ongoing distrust in science. There was a time in my life, say 10 years ago, when I would have had sympathy for what this guy is trying to say, because I do think there’s a pearl of truth that Randi was a bit of a hostile dude sometimes, but it also presupposes a lack of harm to pseudoscience that is patently untrue.

Edit: Gonna walk away here because the more I think about this stuff the angrier I get. Randi’s been dead for two days and this guy’s gonna jump on it. What a disgrace. I thought BoingBoing had standards.

Edit 2: OH HOW CONVENIENT THIS GUY JUST OPENED PREORDERS FOR HIS NEW BOOK.

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“ making it more difficult for serious university-based and academically trained researchers to study ESP and mental anomalies, and to receive a fair hearing in the news media.“

No. The standards of scientific proof remain unchanged. As does the opportunity to present any evidence someone may have for review, analysis and most importantly- replication by other researchers.

That no one has credibly done so isn’t Randi’s fault.

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