Maverick Biologist Rupert Sheldrake Criticizes Attacks by 'Guerilla Skeptics' on Wikipedia

Rupert Sheldrake

I've mentioned previously how unreliable Wikipedia can be when it comes to entries on fringe topics or personalities (such as the famous trance medium Leonora Piper), as a result of heavy-handed editing by self-proclaimed 'skeptics'. Now Rupert Sheldrake, who this year had his TED talk controversially removed from YouTube for allegedly being 'unscientific', has commented on how his own Wikipedia entry has been the subject of attention by a team of so-called 'guerilla skeptics', intent on portraying him in a certain (negative) way:

This summer, soon after the TED controversy, a commando squad of skeptics captured the Wikipedia page about me. They have occupied and controlled it ever since, rewriting my biography with as much negative bias as possible, to the point of defamation. At the beginning of the “Talk” page, on which editorial changes are discussed, they have posted a warning to editors who do not share their biases: “A common objection made by new arrivals is that the article presents Sheldrake’s work in an unsympathetic light and that criticism of it is too extensive or violates Wikipedia’s Neutral Point of View policy.” Several new arrivals have indeed attempted to restore a more balanced picture, but have had a bewildering variety of rules thrown at them, and warned that they will be banned if they persist in opposing the skeptics.

...The Guerrilla Skeptics are well trained, highly motivated, have an ideological agenda, and operate in teams, contrary to Wikipedia rules... They have already seized control of many Wikipedia pages, deleted entries on subjects they disapprove of, and boosted the biographies of atheists.

As the Guerrilla Skeptics have demonstrated, Wikipedia can easily be subverted by determined groups of activists, despite its well-intentioned policies and mediation procedures. Perhaps one solution would be for experienced editors to visit the talk pages of sites where editing wars are taking place, rather like UN Peacekeeping Forces, and try to re-establish a neutral point of view. But this would not help in cases where there are no editors to oppose the Guerrilla Skeptics, or where they have been silenced.

If nothing is done, Wikipedia will lose its credibility, and its financial backers will withdraw their support. I hope the noble aims of Wikipedia will prevail.

This Guerilla Skepticism on Wikipedia group (apparently they trace-back all links to their page to see what the crazy woos are saying about them...so hello there paranoid-guerilla-skeptic-type people!) is headed by Susan Gerbic, who in the JREF video below gives a lengthy talk on their goals and methods:

Gerbic describes how the GS group works as a pack to 'game the system' somewhat in order to get certain entries on to the front page of Wikipedia, as well as planning and execution of edits to certain pages. Slightly concerning is her tendency to talk in terms of "my skeptics", "my editors", etc. More concerning is her obvious desire to attack certain people (e.g. see discussion of the edits to the Bill Maher page), rather than simply present a fair and balanced entry.

The problem to me with Guerilla Skepticism is the feeling that we have a pack mentality driven by an ideology. It's easy to say "but we're just adding facts", but that is an entirely different thing to presenting an informative and fair Wikipedia entry. The Leonora Piper entry (as it stands as of this moment) is a case in point - any person conversant with her life and the research done on her will tell you that page is an absolute travesty - it has cherry-picked quotes and facts, almost all exclusively negative in tone, and ignores almost totally thousands of pages of positive, or at least extremely interesting evidence and commentary. It may be fact-filled, but the page is entirely a propaganda piece designed to misinform (for the record, I don't know whether the GS contributed to that page - I'm simply using it as an example of how leaning too far to the 'skeptical' POV is not necessarily the correct way to go about a Wikipedia entry). I want information, not ideology.

Craig Weiler has written further on this topic for those that are interested in reading more. Personally I'm not sure what the solution is - I have no particular ideology to push (rather than wanting the truth) so am not enthusiastic about tit-for-tat edits. Wikipedia has always been a handy resource that nevertheless required some care when it came to believing what you read on it. This Guerilla Skepticism project simply emphasizes Wikipedia's fallibility.

Link: Wikipedia under threat

Update: Some skeptics are disputing that the Guerilla Skeptics on Wikipedia have done any editing on Sheldrake's post. See the comment below.

You might also like:

Comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
red pill junkie's picture
Member since:
12 April 2007
Last activity:
8 hours 7 min

What could be the solution?

Maybe a waiting period between edits? --i.e. an editor will modify the contents of a page, and won't be allowed to add more edits on the same page for another week or so?

A rating system perhaps?

Just throwing my 2 centavos here, so please comment if you think I'm wrong --but make sure to include some citations :P

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
_______________
@red_pill_junkie

Greg's picture
Member since:
30 April 2004
Last activity:
11 min 7 sec
red pill junkie wrote:

What could be the solution?

Maybe a waiting period between edits? --i.e. an editor will modify the contents of a page, and won't be allowed to add more edits on the same page for another week or so?

Given the 'Guerilla Skeptics' work together on planning edits, and there are almost 100 of them editing, not sure that would work.

Kind regards,
Greg
-------------------------------------------
You monkeys only think you're running things
@DailyGrail

emlong's picture
Member since:
18 September 2007
Last activity:
9 hours 3 min

There is an intense group neurosis here that will probably destroy or maim itself eventually. Certainly Randi's flameouts of late foretell of such a fiasco. These are not well people - that is what is most striking about them.

Rick MG's picture
Member since:
2 May 2004
Last activity:
2 days 3 hours

China employs 2 million people for this sort of thing; but I'm sure Susan Gerbic and her merry band of skeptics won't mind being compared to a totalitarian regime.

~ * ~

@levitatingcat

Greg's picture
Member since:
30 April 2004
Last activity:
11 min 7 sec

Tim Farley and Sharon Hill on the latest Virtual Skeptics, defended the Guerilla Skeptics against charges that they work as a pack, saying...

Sharon Hill: "Some of these paranormal people really really dislike the idea of Guerilla Skepticism as if we are in cahoots and deliberately doing something to their Wikipedia [page], and it's so not true".

Tim Farley: "It's actually against the rules, for editors to collude with each other, to work on an article together, and to fight against other people, that is against the rules to begin with".

And yet in the talk by Susan Gerbic in the story above, she openly says: "As a team, we talk about what we're going to do before we put it up on Wikipedia. So we'll discuss it and we'll kind of get the wording right." (around the 30 minute mark).

I'm also unsure of Farley's logic when he laughed about this: "She's got a ton of editors now, so I don't know all of them, but I know a lot of who they are and what their names are on Wikipedia, and I go and I look on the Rupert Sheldrake article, and none of Susan's editors are editing that article. It's completely a conspiracy theory."

But then, if I were to start listing problems with what they say on Virtual Skeptics, I might be here for a while...

Kind regards,
Greg
-------------------------------------------
You monkeys only think you're running things
@DailyGrail

Rick MG's picture
Member since:
2 May 2004
Last activity:
2 days 3 hours

Craig Weiler recently donned his goggles and waded into the Wikipedia battle, writing this terrific piece for Reality Sandwich. What he found when looking into the sources cited for one particular blanket statement debunking Morphic Resonance is especially eye-opening.

Craig linked to Andrew Leonard's excellent Revenge, Ego, and the Corruption of Wikipedia. There's also the watchdog Wikipediocracy, keeping a skeptical eye on the skeptics.

Skepticism shouldn't be a movement, and that's the problem. It's a tool that anyone can, and should, use; but as a movement, ideology and dogma become its master. The guerilla skeptics think they're doing the right thing -- but so too do 2 million Chinese. It's all so childish when you take a step back.

~ * ~

@levitatingcat

Tap's picture
Member since:
6 April 2012
Last activity:
7 weeks 4 days

"Skepticism shouldn't be a movement, and that's the problem. It's a tool that anyone can, and should, use; but as a movement, ideology and dogma become its master." - Rick MG

Excellent sentiments, Rick. I find groups such as 'Guerrilla Skeptics' disturbing. Aggressive, activist scepticism has something almost totalitarian about it. They seem to have no patience or tolerance at all for anything that deviates even slightly from accepted science and philosophical materialism.

If they were just content to let others think what they like, I wouldn't have a problem. But they're not. They're actively trying to change people's minds and convert people to their worldview. They don't like people thinking for themselves if it means challenging the sceptics' viewpoint.

In short, these activists do not have a "live and let live" philosophy, nor a tolerant and non-judgmental outlook. As a result, that makes them quite bigoted and potentially threatening.

I don't know what the answer is, but I do think that there needs to be more of an effort for those who support objective investigation into the paranormal to stand up against the bullies.

pov's picture
Member since:
16 July 2013
Last activity:
10 hours 1 min

A skeptic is someone who isn't convinced, who's on the fence. Someone with an agenda to oppose any concept is not a skeptic but a nay-sayer - a believer who is fervently opposed to anything that may threaten their beliefs.

Here's a good treatment by Marcello Truzzi (founder of CISCOP):
http://www.anomalist.com/commentaries/pseudo.html

Greg H.'s picture
Member since:
12 June 2009
Last activity:
6 days 9 hours

Nice hat. So much for her critical thinking...

Greg H.

pov's picture
Member since:
16 July 2013
Last activity:
10 hours 1 min
Greg H. wrote:

So much for her critical thinking...

The pseudo-skeptics have little need for critical thinking or open-mindedness(genuine skepticism).

They do want to, whenever possible, give the impression of such as they wage war against anything that might upset their worldview.

Generally they're amusing and/or pathetic. However, the Wikipedia assault is dangerous because, having no idea of the nay-saying editing, many reading the entries will accept them as balanced, agenda-free, knowledgeable articles.

It also has the opposite effect. Since I learned of their agenda, I have little trust in the accuracy of anything on Wikipedia. Of course, they're not trying to manipulate those who know what's up

"By Way Of Deception, Thou Shalt Do War."

red pill junkie's picture
Member since:
12 April 2007
Last activity:
8 hours 7 min

There are some uncontroversial issues for which Wiki is as accurate as you can get. But when it comes to polarizing subjects, one should be wise to look for more neutral references.

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
_______________
@red_pill_junkie

pov's picture
Member since:
16 July 2013
Last activity:
10 hours 1 min
red pill junkie wrote:

There are some uncontroversial issues for which Wiki is as accurate as you can get.

Perhaps, but to know that one has to cross-check. I've found inaccuracies and clear bias in bios of sports figures, also technical inaccuracies in some math concepts. Sure 90/100 articles may be on point but since I don't know which 10 are off I do my best to use other references. But yeah when accuracy isn't important I still use it.

red pill junkie's picture
Member since:
12 April 2007
Last activity:
8 hours 7 min

LOL I didn't want to go there, merely because by doing so one is guilty of the same sin the so-called skeptics are so fond of --ad-hominem attacks.

Let's just say I don't agree with her viewpoints, including her sense of fashion ;)

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
_______________
@red_pill_junkie

Philemon's picture
Member since:
31 May 2012
Last activity:
26 weeks 4 days

I enjoyed the hat, too. Also, this picture of Susan posing as Jesus at the last supper...

"The yard looks smaller without leaves." -Calvin Jarrett, Ordinary People

billy mavreas's picture
Member since:
1 March 2013
Last activity:
4 days 10 hours

my dumb wiki experience

years ago, as a lark, i made a wiki page for myself (i'm an active member of the montreal alternative comics scene). it was a simple page. i described the artist as a 'greek-canadian'. that's how i generally identify my 'nationality'. i checked it out a couple of years later and was amused to discover it had been 'corrected'. now i am 'a canadian ... of greek descent'.
peanuts, i know, but why would anyone bother changing this ? being a so-called 'hyphenated-canadian'i am fully aware that this style of identifying oneself is fully legit.

that's my dumb story. thanks!

red pill junkie's picture
Member since:
12 April 2007
Last activity:
8 hours 7 min

You could've ended up as a 'Geek-Canadian' ;)

...Hold on a minute --you already did! :P

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
_______________
@red_pill_junkie

billy mavreas's picture
Member since:
1 March 2013
Last activity:
4 days 10 hours

:)

speaking of geeks ...

what really breaks my heart are the hardline skeptics that are also huge science fiction/fantasy fans....my brethren, where did you go wrong ??

red pill junkie's picture
Member since:
12 April 2007
Last activity:
8 hours 7 min

One of them is that the geeks who gravitate towards atheism are Trekkies, whereas Star Wars fans are perfectly comfortable with mystic ideas.

Another one is that people who love Sci-Fi & Fantasy but loathe paranormal phenomena, react in the same way as Christians who think Harry Potter books are Satanic: the space in their head that requires suspension of disbelief & a sense of wonder has already been occupied, and there's just no more room for UFOs & other mysteries.

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
_______________
@red_pill_junkie

billy mavreas's picture
Member since:
1 March 2013
Last activity:
4 days 10 hours

yeah, the trek/star wars divide is glaring. trekkies are often techno-utopians, love of gadgets and trinkets and shit like that.
the star wars universe, however horribly flawed (damn metaclorions, went and ruined everything ;) makes room for ancient ruins, monsters, wisdom traditions, outlaws, etc....
as for me
i make sure that there is always a bit of space in my head for a sense of wonder.

i take it you've read this:
http://www.teemingbrain.com/2013/09/10/f...

Rick MG's picture
Member since:
2 May 2004
Last activity:
2 days 3 hours

Empaths, telepaths, separation of mind from body, the nature of consciousness, alien abductions... Star Trek was full of all the good woo. There were even several lucid dreaming episodes. I think if you surveyed Star Trek and Star Wars fans, the results might be surprising.

I totally agree though, a large percentage of sci-fi and fantasy fiction communities (both readers and authors) are card-carrying atheists/skeptics. I'm sure if you googled, you'll find many theories as to why; if it's good enough for Dawkins to pin beliefs in woo on fairy tales and fantasy fiction, then the other side of the coin gets to shine in the sun too!

~ * ~

@levitatingcat

red pill junkie's picture
Member since:
12 April 2007
Last activity:
8 hours 7 min

Bear in mind I DO NOT blame Gene Roddenberry for the materialism of the average Trekkie. I blame the Trekkies for not frikkin' pay attention!! ;)

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
_______________
@red_pill_junkie

pov's picture
Member since:
16 July 2013
Last activity:
10 hours 1 min

Thanks to all who helped provide a poignant example of how groupism and sweeping generalizations inevitably fail.

I and a few of my friends are enthusiastic Star Trek "experiencers". All of the series, most of the films and a great many of the books. We are also all very mystical in our approach to life. If we had to choose between the path of tech/mainstream "science" and the path of magic we will always choose magic. A large part of what we like about the ST universes is the preponderance of the mystical. Q, the Traveler, Betazoids, the Prophets, the Ocampa come immediately to mind.

While I do enjoy Star Wars, I find as much mystical in those tales. Even though there's "the force." The friends I mentioned do not enjoy it precisely for that reason. Star Wars appeal to my techie fighter pilot side

In fact, after writing the above I wonder if this was really an example of the failures of groupism or just an example of people having things backwards. I can't image many Trek fans unaware of the inherent mysticism in those universes. If so, they are blind indeed.

Advanced's picture
Member since:
14 October 2013
Last activity:
25 weeks 6 days

Greg,

I don't want to be rude but I believe most of what is in your blog post is wrong (it's not your fault, you have been mislead).

Firstly the "conspiracy theory" that a group of skeptics have been editing the Rupert Sheldrake article has no basis in fact. This conspiracy theory started with a psychic blogger called Craig Weiler.

In reality Susan Gerbic has not been anywhere near the Sheldrake article and never had plans to. She has never been on that article. Craig Weiler is a well known for exaggeration who likes to stir up non-existent controversies;

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Craig_Weiler

There's not a shred of evidence that skeptics are trying to attack Sheldrake on his Wikipedia page or censor any of his research. Your blog post is promoting errors that have circulated across the web by Weiler on various blogs and forums that have attempted to damage Susan's group. I don't not blaming you personally as it didn't start with you and you are circulating the false information, and Weiler should really apologise to Gerbic and her group.

I also find it funny that you defend Leonora Piper, but she was a known fraud. You criticise Martin Gardner but I noticed you have no comment on any of the other critics (the older ones) which paranormal believers and spiritualists such as Michael Prescott, Michael E. Tymn and yourself always ignore.

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Leonora_Pip...

The physiologist Ivor Lloyd Tuckett examined Piper and her mediumship in 75 pages and came to the conclusion it could explained by "muscle-reading, fishing, guessing, hints obtained in the sitting, knowledge surreptitiously obtained, knowledge acquired in the interval between sittings and lastly, facts already within Mrs. Piper's knowledge".

There's no evidence Piper knew anything by paranormal means. I would love to see a paranormal believer or spiritualist refute Tuckett or some of the other critics such as Edward Clodd, Joseph Rinn or Walter Mann but unfortunately they never do. It's well known that paranormal believers ignore the skeptical literature. If the skeptical literature was larger known I believe people wouldn't be believing in these fraudulent mediums.

Skepticism did not start with the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. It can be traced back years. I highly recommend the essay by Daniel Loxton "Why is there a Skeptical Movement?" http://www.skeptic.com/downloads/Why-Is-... which contains very good references. There's no point in believing in something that has been debunked. Best.

red pill junkie's picture
Member since:
12 April 2007
Last activity:
8 hours 7 min

First off, welcome to The Grail :)

I'm sure Greg will have something to say about the points you raise. Unfortunately, the man is (literally) one day ahead of us. Please be patient ;)

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
_______________
@red_pill_junkie

Greg H.'s picture
Member since:
12 June 2009
Last activity:
6 days 9 hours

"Firstly the "conspiracy theory" that a group of skeptics have been editing the Rupert Sheldrake article has no basis in fact." And what is your evidence aside from claiming it is a conspiracy theory? The fact is the skeptical movement is organized and does use many tactics to silence or marginalize opposing views, rather than debating them openly. But I guess as always the skeptical viewpoint is above reproach.

Greg H.

emlong's picture
Member since:
18 September 2007
Last activity:
9 hours 3 min

It's pretty typical of the Skeptic clan that they would harp about someone like Piper from the olden days when there are far more stellar mediums to be examined. This group is notorious for cherry picking their examples. It is the most glaring thing about them - they choose the weak cases and then glorify them as being salient. There isn't anything at all sincere about these people. They are just bullies looking for the weak which is how bullydom has always operated.

billy mavreas's picture
Member since:
1 March 2013
Last activity:
4 days 10 hours

another kind of cherry picking is the exclusive citing of out-right skeptical sources and websites.

in any domain, it is a good idea to peruse the literature of those you disagree with, y'know, see where they are coming from. that said, the last thing i'll read is an entry on rationalwiki about a paranormal subject ;)

Advanced's picture
Member since:
14 October 2013
Last activity:
25 weeks 6 days

emlong the reason I mentioned Leonora Piper is because Greg mentions it in his original blog post. He linked to an old post he did which had criticised the skepticism of Martin Gardner. The point I was trying to make in my post is that Gardner is usually targeted whilst other skeptics are ignored. No spiritualist has been able to respond to the criticisms of Edward Clodd, Joseph McCabe, Joseph Rinn or Dr. Ivor Lloyd Tuckett etc and I doubt most spiritualists even have heard of these men. It's well known that believers ignore the skeptical literature.

The spiritualist Michael E. Tymn wrote an entire book on Piper but mentions none of the skeptical material. My point is, is if you read the skeptical material you wouldn't be believing in this stuff because the skeptics have debunked it but the believers never choose to read it. And unfortunately most of these early skeptical publications have been ignored.

You criticise Susan Gerbic's Wikipedia team but they have created articles for various skeptics and not just that, they have also created articles for famous parapsychologists, you should be thanking their hard work. You don't get believers in their spare time putting hard work into creating Wikipedia articles. All believers do is spend their time moaning and supporting conspiracy theories, even Robert McLuhan admitted skeptics are well-organised and deep-researchers whilst the believers are lazy. In your post you talk about cherry picking examples but this is what the spiritualists do. You don't see modern psi believers or spiritualists (this blog is an example) citing the work of fraudulent mediums like Fox sisters, Henry Slade, William Eglinton or Helen Duncan. Instead modern spiritualist proponents hide behind "mental" mediums and ignore physical mediums who were exposed as using cheesecloth or slates etc as they are an embarrassment.

Think about all of the fads in the name of spiritualism. Remember slate writing? Remember spirit photography? All these things are quietly ignored by the believers. It's not just spiritualism that has had an entire history of fraud it's parapsychology as well but only skeptical books report any of this. I doubt anyone on this website has read the publications of C. E. M. Hansel. It is not my point here to argue, just you guys seem to be at complete "war" with the skeptics, but if you honestly spent some time reading skeptical publications you would discover they have got a lot correct. There is no reason for any kind of war. You claim to be open minded then you should read not just believer material but skeptical material as well.

jupiter.enteract's picture
Member since:
21 January 2005
Last activity:
33 min 6 sec

"...you should read not just believer material but skeptical material as well."

I get the feeling you're not too familiar with this site, since many here are very well-read in the skeptical literature. (As for me--I'd wager good money I was reading Skeptical Inquirer before you were born.) (I get the feeling you're young.) I also think it's a bit disrespectful using terms like "believers" since it misrepresents many who simply choose to keep an open mind about certain things, and rationally question the conventional wisdom.

Greg's picture
Member since:
30 April 2004
Last activity:
11 min 7 sec
Advanced wrote:

Firstly the "conspiracy theory" that a group of skeptics have been editing the Rupert Sheldrake article has no basis in fact. This conspiracy theory started with a psychic blogger called Craig Weiler.

Thanks for the info, I'll add a caveat to the bottom of the post with your information.

Quote:

I also find it funny that you defend Leonora Piper, but she was a known fraud. You criticise Martin Gardner but I noticed you have no comment on any of the other critics (the older ones) which paranormal believers and spiritualists such as Michael Prescott, Michael E. Tymn and yourself always ignore.

I don't "always ignore" them. I mentioned Gardner in this post because I've thoroughly debunked his drivel about Mrs. Piper previously, and yet he remains prominent in the Wikipedia article (which was the topic under discussion). In my longer article I also mentioned how terrible a source Hall and Tanner's "Studies in Spiritism" is. But at what point do I continue to cite and rebuke "older critics" who, like Hall and Tanner, wrote from a non-objective position and made glaring mistakes and omissions, and apart from a few like Hall and Tanner, did not even sit with Mrs. Piper?

For example, as per your own respected sources...

Quote:

The physiologist Ivor Lloyd Tuckett examined Piper and her mediumship in 75 pages and came to the conclusion it could explained by "muscle-reading, fishing, guessing, hints obtained in the sitting, knowledge surreptitiously obtained, knowledge acquired in the interval between sittings and lastly, facts already within Mrs. Piper's knowledge".

There's no evidence Piper knew anything by paranormal means. I would love to see a paranormal believer or spiritualist refute Tuckett

To be clear, you're talking about a known debunker who said that the reports on Piper by the S.P.R. were so numerous and lengthy that "I have not attempted to make a detailed study of them all". Well that's a fine start right there. Then we could go on to statements such as his claim that muscle-reading is a likely explanation:

"A detail of the sitting, on which enough stress, to my mind, is never laid in reports of Mrs. Piper, is the fact that she holds her sitter's hand, often against her forehead. Thus I gather that holding hands was a feature of all the eighty-three sittings recorded in the sixth volume of the Proceedings of the S.P.R.".

I'm guessing that even that one Volume of the Proceedings was too "lengthy" for Tuckett, because only a few pages into the report in Volume 6 we have Oliver Lodge stating quite plainly:

"I am familiar with muscle-reading and other simulated 'thought-transference' methods, and prefer to avoid contact whenever it is possible to get rid of it without too much fuss. Although Mrs. Piper always held somebody's hand while preparing to go into the trance, she did not always continue to hold it when speaking as Phinuit".

Is that the sort of thing you were referring to when you said "I would love to see a paranormal believer or spiritualist refute Tuckett"? Though I'm not sure why it would take a believer or a Spiritualist. All it takes is someone interested in a fascinating topic who is willing to look at the sources objectively...

FWIW, I remain agnostic about Piper's mediumship, and without some new evidence being uncovered it will probably always remain a mystery. OTOH, saying she was debunked as a fraud requires cherry-picking quotes and ignoring vast masses of primary sources, and points at someone being a 'believer' (in the phenomenon not existing) on the level of the most gullible Spiritualist.

Nevetheless, all these sources are handy information to have and make for fascinating reading no matter what your view. The one thing I do agree with Tuckett on is his statement that the examination of Mrs. Piper's mediumship is in reality a study in bias. Just he thinks it's coming from one way only...

Quote:

There's no point in believing in something that has been debunked. Best.

Who said anyone's believing? Although, also, who said it's been debunked?

Kind regards,
Greg
-------------------------------------------
You monkeys only think you're running things
@DailyGrail

Advanced's picture
Member since:
14 October 2013
Last activity:
25 weeks 6 days

But at what point do I continue to cite and rebuke "older critics" who, like Hall and Tanner, wrote from a non-objective position and made glaring mistakes and omissions, and apart from a few like Hall and Tanner, did not even sit with Mrs. Piper?

There are 1000s of paranormal/spiritualist books that have supported the mediumship of Piper. There are less than 30 books in existence that have shown skepticism towards Piper's mediumship and many of those only contain a few pages on Piper. I laugh at conspiracy theories involving "censorship" by the believers because skeptical sources are very few and the media are pro-paranormal and ignore skeptical literature.

Now you talk about "non-objective" but by this you mean anyone who is not a convinced believer in the paranormal or a devout spiritualist, this is not really "non-objective". You are happy to quote devout spiritualists such as Oliver Lodge, but dismiss psychologists such as Amy Tanner or G. Stanley Hall as having some sort of bias. I can assure you that the bias has always been with the spiritualists not the skeptics.

To be clear, you're talking about a known debunker who said that the reports on Piper by the S.P.R. were so numerous and lengthy that "I have not attempted to make a detailed study of them all". Well that's a fine start right there.

I think it would be wrong to dismiss Ivor Lloyd Tuckett as a just a "debunker". If you have read his book The Evidence for the Supernatural: A Critical Study Made with "Uncommon Sense" he applauded the research of Frank Podmore. The book cites flaws in various cases of psychical research and discovers naturalistic explanations to where psychical researchers were getting carried away and supporting supernatural ones.

It can be found online here;

http://archive.org/stream/evidenceforsup...

From reading the book you would discover W. T. Stead was tricked into believing a case of spirit photography, that Frederic Myers work on supposed visitations from apparitions contained false information and the levitation of Daniel Dunglas Home never happened, all he did was move across a connecting ledge out a window onto another balcony. The book contains a wealth of information and a refutation of various stories that the believers ignore and continue to peddle as supernatural.

It's true that the reports on Piper by the S.P.R. were so numerous and lengthy. Believers like William James admitted this. Even Michael E. Tymn a convinced spiritualist admitted it would be a huge task to go through everything (he doesn't cover it all in his biased book). The Tuckett analysis of Piper's mediumship is 75 pages. It is one of the longest criticisms in print of Piper's mediumship yet the believers ignore it. Tuckett was honest and his refutation is still one of the longest criticisms of Piper's mediumship. The only other long refutation was by the magician Joseph Rinn. Skeptics like Edward Clodd only had 12 or so pages on debunking Piper. If you want to go for the "big one" then it would be to look at Tuckett's criticism.

So your comment here about Lodge has already been rebutted by skeptics. You say;

Oliver Lodge stating quite plainly:

I am familiar with muscle-reading and other simulated 'thought-transference' methods, and prefer to avoid contact whenever it is possible to get rid of it without too much fuss. Although Mrs. Piper always held somebody's hand while preparing to go into the trance, she did not always continue to hold it when speaking as Phinuit".

Oliver Lodge familiar with mentalistic techniques such as thought transference? This is a huge joke. In the 1920's the stage mentalist David Devant at St. George's Hall, London put on a mentalist show where he read a message from a sealed envelope. Oliver Lodge was in the audience and at the end of the show got on stage and said in front of the audience that there was no naturalistic way that Devant could of known the message and claimed he had genuine psychic powers. Of course Lodge did not know the slightest thing about mentalistic techniques. He had easily been duped. In 1936 Devant in his book Secrets of My Magic revealed the trick method he had used.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_Lodge

Devant had used a similar method to the stage mentalists Julius and Agnes Zancig involving a code. Interestingly the Zancigs managed to fool a number of spiritualists into believing they had genuine psychic powers such as Arthur Conan Doyle and W. T. Stead.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mediumship

This is all relevant because Tuckett in his book makes it clear that if psychical researchers obtained an education in conjuring then they would have a better chance of discovering the tricks of fraudulent mediums but unfortunately very few psychical researchers have ever been trained in conjuring, magic or mentalist tricks and the very few that did such as Hereward Carrington, Harry Price or Eric Dingwall were critical of most paranormal phenomena.

My point about Lodge is that he was credulous. He didn't know a thing about mentalist techniques. If you have done research about Lodge, then you would know he turned into a Christian spiritualist fundamentalist after his son Raymond died in the war.

Charles Arthur Mercier a specialist in insanity wrote in his book Spiritualism and Sir Oliver Lodge (1917) that Lodge had been duped into believing mediumship by trickery and his Spiritualist views were based on assumptions and not scientific evidence. That book can be found online for free here;

http://archive.org/stream/spiritualismsi...

No spiritualist has ever been able to respond to the criticism inside it. I don't want to dwell on Oliver Lodge but he was duped by the fraudulent medium Gladys Osborne Leonard. The "Raymond" communications were indeed fraudulent.

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Gladys_Osbo...

So Lodge was gullible on psychical matters. He wasn't a reliable source. He was easily duped. If you read Walter Mann's book The Follies and Frauds of Spiritualism found here;

http://archive.org/stream/folliesfraudso...

We found that Lodge was beyond credulous as he also believed table-rapping was real and that the Fox Sisters were genuine.

As for his comments about muscle reading, he was ignoring known witness reports.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonora_Pip...

Séance sitters like Thomas Barkworth were there and witnessed Piper performing it. Barkworth wrote this up in an SPR journal so you can't accuse him of being "non-objective". Other séance sitters observed this as well. Piper liked to hold a client's hand throughout a sitting, or even to place the hand against her forehead, is that really needed for mediumship? Of course it's muscle reading. The magician Milbourne Christopher has covered this.

Is that the sort of thing you were referring to when you said "I would love to see a paranormal believer or spiritualist refute Tuckett"? Though I'm not sure why it would take a believer or a Spiritualist. All it takes is someone interested in a fascinating topic who is willing to look at the sources objectively...

No spiritualist has been able to refute Tuckket's criticism. I have sent it to Michael Prescott, Michael E. Tymn and Robert McLuhan and they have all ignored it. It is 75 pages long. You have not even attempted to look at it. Cherry-picking one line is not enough (I understand this is not the place to do it). But perhaps you can have a go at it in the book you are apparently writing or on another blog post. Also you claim to be "non-objective" but you are a well known spiritualist.

FWIW, I remain agnostic about Piper's mediumship, and without some new evidence being uncovered it will probably always remain a mystery

But there is no mystery. Piper made countless errors and many séance sitters observed her tricks.

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Leonora_Piper

See this list of scientists who observed Piper and she got nothing correct in their séances;

http://www.archive.org/stream/occultismt...

red pill junkie's picture
Member since:
12 April 2007
Last activity:
8 hours 7 min

You seem to be really invested in the Leonora Piper case.

You're not the one editing her Wikipedia page, R U? ;)

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
_______________
@red_pill_junkie

Advanced's picture
Member since:
14 October 2013
Last activity:
25 weeks 6 days

You're not the one editing her Wikipedia page, R U? ;)

Nope not me :)

I just am an avid fan of rationalwiki and read many of their pages.

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Spiritualis...

You may be interested in the rationalwiki pages they have created for;

Julia Assante
Julie Beischel
Stephen E. Braude
Piero Calvi-Parisetti
Chris Carter
David Fontana
Robin Foy
Brian Inglis
Robert McLuhan
Daniel Neiman
Michael Prescott
Tricia Robertson
Gary Schwartz
Michael Schmicker
Bruce Siegel
Michael E. Tymn
Craig Weiler

It keeps growing it seems.

red pill junkie's picture
Member since:
12 April 2007
Last activity:
8 hours 7 min

I'm reading the page of our good friend Julie Beischel, who is also a regular guest blogger for the Grail:

Julie Beischel is an American pseudoscience promoter and spiritualist.

Bieschel is the co-founder of the Windbridge Institute for Applied Research in Human Potential a psychic woo organization that claims everything from levitation, psychokinesis to mediumship is scientifically genuine. Bieschel was not originally a crank, she obtained a PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology with a minor in Microbiology and Immunology (2003) from the University of Arizona (UA).[1]

Bieschel published the pseudoscientific book Among Mediums: A Scientist's Quest for Answers (2013) which has said that fraudulent mediums such as Helen Duncan, Leslie Flint and Eusapia Palladino were genuine and provided scientific evidence for an afterlife. She also claims that fraudulent mental mediums such as Eileen Garrett, Gladys Osborne Leonard and Leonora Piper communicated with the dead. Bieschel ignores any evidence of fraud in the mediums she writes about. She has also supported the pseudoscientific work of the con-man parapsychologist Gary Schwartz.[2]

Bieschel has published many crackpot pseudoscience articles claiming that mediums can contact the dead.[3] Her claims have been rejected by the scientific community and her only supporters are other spiritualist woo-meisters such as Alex Tsakiris and Robert McLuhan.[4]

...That's some objective & detached treatment right there!

I'm curious: what is it about Rationalwiki that appeals to you, to the point of declaring yourself an 'avid fan'?

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
_______________
@red_pill_junkie

Advanced's picture
Member since:
14 October 2013
Last activity:
25 weeks 6 days

That's some objective & detached treatment right there!

Rationalwiki doesn't claim to be objective, it has one purpose to debunk crackpots and pseudoscience. I find it funny that self-described "psychics" like Craig Weiler keep claiming to be neutral or objective but they are not. They will believe in psychic nonsense no matter the evidence based on their pre-conceived world view and ignore the skeptical literature. There's 1000s if not millions pro paranormal psychic websites out there yet the believers complain about Wikipedia being anti-paranormal. It's strange. It is a form of fascism, the pseudoscience promoters and psychic believers want everyone to be a believer and no skeptical or critical coverage at all. Every skeptic is a "pseudoskeptic" to the psi believer or spiritualist. If I was to ask you for the name of a skeptic writer you wouldn't list one but just claim they are all "pseudoskeptics". This is what we see on countless paranormal blogs and forums. It's dishonest.

There are far less skeptical websites than paranormal ones. Yet you don't see skeptics complaining or invoking conspiracy theories about censorship!

I'm curious: what is it about Rationalwiki that appeals to you, to the point of declaring yourself an 'avid fan'?

It debunks pseudoscience and quackery. As I said in my first post, what is the point in believing in something which has been debunked? There are countless dishonest crackpots out their misleading people with lies, absurd claims and false information. They need to be debunked and that is what rationalwiki and the small minority of skeptic websites do. As stated above there are millions of believer websites and only few skeptic ones so the claims of censorship from the psi believers and spiritualists is stupid.

Julie Beischel is a typical example, a researcher who misleads her readers with false information. I have read her book. All sceptical literature is ignored and she claims fraudulent mediums communicated with the dead. It's dangerous and misleading people. There are people out there who have lost loved ones and people like Beischel cash in on it by spreading false information. I understand that she may be giving out hope, but it is false hope. All she needs to do is objectively look at the data, if the mediums were caught in fraud then reference those exposures. But she doesn't. She reminds me of Victor Zammit and his defence of the fraudulent medium Helen Duncan. Not good!

red pill junkie's picture
Member since:
12 April 2007
Last activity:
8 hours 7 min

You seem to be under the impression that The Daily Grail is a 'believer' site. That if we (sometimes) criticize skeptics individually and/or collectively, then we are defacto full supporters of what is often referred as 'woo' among skeptic circles.

I actually think that The Daily Grail has always been a supporter of the 'Excluded Middle' camp. People who don't accept the 'believe-disbelieve' binary thinking. People who like to adopt Robert Anton Wilson's Maybe Logic.

Take for example this whole hoopla re. Leonora Piper: I read Greg's essay, agreed with his point, but ultimately I don't feel forced to conclude whether Piper was a real medium or a complete fraud. Like many things in this realm, I keep her in my gray basket --and I'm OK with that.

You decry the 'uneven playfield', where you perceive more people on the 'believing side' than on the 'skeptic side'. Could it be perhaps that this is an indirect result of the attitude often adopted by said skeptics --at least the most vocal ones-- in that of mocking people who have a different opinion to these phenomena? Of complaining that they keep wasting their time in the things you 'clearly' have proven to be false?

f I was to ask you for the name of a skeptic writer you wouldn't list one but just claim they are all "pseudoskeptics". This is what we see on countless paranormal blogs and forums. It's dishonest.

You ask me to name one skeptic writer? I happen to hold Hayley Stevens in a high regard --even though I don't happen to agree with her on a number of things-- and I follow her on Twitter.

...But then again, you already had answered the question for me, hadn't you? ;)

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
_______________
@red_pill_junkie

Greg's picture
Member since:
30 April 2004
Last activity:
11 min 7 sec
Advanced wrote:

The Tuckett analysis of Piper's mediumship is 75 pages. It is one of the longest criticisms in print of Piper's mediumship yet the believers ignore it. Tuckett was honest and his refutation is still one of the longest criticisms of Piper's mediumship. The only other long refutation was by the magician Joseph Rinn. Skeptics like Edward Clodd only had 12 or so pages on debunking Piper. If you want to go for the "big one" then it would be to look at Tuckett's criticism.

Well if it's page counts you're deciding it on, I'd say Hall and Tanner's "Studies in Spiritism" would be the 'big one'. Not to mention the fact that they actually sat with Piper. Not sure how it doesn't make your list of "long refutations", considering it's 408 pages long (although admittedly with a couple of chapters on Mrs. Verrall and general chat on mediumship)?

Quote:

So your comment here about Lodge has already been rebutted by skeptics.

Er no. The reason for mentioning Lodge wasn't anything to do with his skills at detecting magic tricks et. It was simply that Tuckett made the claim (and based much of his argument on that assumption) that ALL 83 sittings with Mrs. Piper from Volume 6 were done holding hands. Lodge's statement that he and other sitters DID NOT always hold Piper's hand is in direct contradiction to his claim. It makes you wonder how Tuckett could have missed Lodge's statement, considering it's at the beginning of Volume 6.

Quote:

You have not even attempted to look at it.

You seem to make a lot of assumptions about what I and other people on this blog are aware of. You should try not to do that, it's rude, and when you make mistakes in your assumptions (rather often, it might be said) it kind of makes you look plain silly.

Quote:

Cherry-picking one line is not enough

This is rather funny. Most of your argument so far against Piper relies on cherry-picking. Yes Piper made many errors. I've brought up previously certain errors that have some suspicion of fraud over them IMO. I, however, do not (a) cherry-pick those and ignore rather stunning successes and (b) jump to conclusions by starting from a presumption of guilt and looking for circumstantial evidence to consider as proof.

Quote:

Also you claim to be "non-objective" but you are a well known spiritualist.

But still waiting for my own entry on Rational Wiki! So disappointed, I'll need to lift my game and start preaching more. Perhaps you can help me out?
;)

Kind regards,
Greg
-------------------------------------------
You monkeys only think you're running things
@DailyGrail

Advanced's picture
Member since:
14 October 2013
Last activity:
25 weeks 6 days

The reason for mentioning Lodge wasn't anything to do with his skills at detecting magic tricks et.

Look more closely at the cherry-picked line you took from Tuckett's paragraph;

Muscle-reading. — A detail of the sitting, on which enough stress, to my mind, is never laid in reports of Mrs. Piper, is the fact that she holds her sitter's hand, often against her forehead. Thus I gather that holding hands was a feature of all the eighty- three sittings recorded in the sixth volume of the Proceedings of the S.P.R. But it is a method by which the trance-personality scent, when subjects with emotional associations, such as the Christian names, characters and illnesses of relatives or friends, were in question, rather than dates, addresses, descriptions of houses, and similar concrete facts, in giving which Mrs. Piper was conspicuously unsuccessful. I could give a great many illustrations of the danger of this fallacy, but the following typical account of a sitting must suffice. It is written by a Mr. Lund, who appears to have had no bias in favour of the occult, for Phinuit* referred to him afterwards as a " hard " man.

So he's saying "holding hands was a feature of all the eighty- three sittings". His says "feature" (look up the definition of this word). Nowhere does Tuckett say Piper was holding her séance sitters hands at all times.

You paste in a quote from the spiritualist Oliver Lodge, which was taken from your blog post "How Martin Gardner Bamboozled the Skeptics"

http://www.dailygrail.com/essays/2010/11...

I am familiar with muscle-reading and other simulated "thought-transference" methods, and prefer to avoid contact whenever it is possible to get rid of it without too much fuss. Although Mrs. Piper always held somebody's hand while preparing to go into the trance, she did not always continue to hold it when speaking as Phinuit. She did usually hold the hand of the person she was speaking to, but was often satisfied for a time with some other person's, sometimes talking right across a room to and about a stranger, but preferring them to come near.

So Oliver Lodge admits that Piper always held the hand of her séance sitters but did not always continue to hold it. Well this is what Tuckett states when he says Piper holding hands was a feature of every séance sitting she had!

I'm sorry Greg but you are wrong on your agenda there in an attempt to embarrass Tuckett as some sort of incompetent researcher (he wasn't). That is bad cherry-picking and weakens your argument if that if that is all you have against Tuckett. His comment is consistent with what Lodge stated. You are making an argument where none exists.

If you really want to take an issue with one of those quotes then it should be with Oliver Lodge because he claimed to know about muscle-reading and mentalist techniques but he really did not, he was duped over and over by stage-mentalists employing techniques that fooled him into believing in spiritualism.

As stated already you will mention devout spiritualists like Lodge or William Crookes and Frederic Myers only because they were believers. They were easily duped by con-artists, they didn't know a thing about magic and they had sexual relationships with the mediums they studied, they were biased!

If they studied conjuring or mentalism then they wouldn't of believed in spiritualism but they attacked Houdini and rejected his advice. I understand why Crookes, Lodge and Myers all believed in spiritualism, it's because they lost someone they loved. But their bias destroyed their critical faculties. They made fools of themselves.

William Crookes was duped by the Fox sisters, Florence Cook, Anna Eva Fay (a stage mentalist!) and Daniel Dunglas Home all mediums caught in fraud (and yes contrary to spiritualist publications Home was caught in fraud four times by different séance sitters).

Oliver Lodge was duped by the stage mentalist David Devant and charlatans like the Fox sisters (who even confessed). The believers do not have a leg to stand as they have embarrassed themselves. Have you read the Wikipedia article on mediumship? It runs through the history of fraud in spiritualism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mediumship there is no such thing as a medium never caught in fraud. The entire history is of liars dressing up in cheesecloth, "levitating" tables with their feet (Eusapia Palladino) or pretending to speak to the dead and sleeping with various psychical researchers. It amazes me how people can still believe in this nonsense in the 21st century.

Magicians Harry Houdini, Joseph Dunninger, Joseph Rinn and Massimo Polidoro have exposed countless mediums. If you know sleight of hand, suggestion and deception then you know mediumship! There is no mystery.

This is rather funny. Most of your argument so far against Piper relies on cherry-picking. Yes Piper made many errors. I've brought up previously certain errors that have some suspicion of fraud over them IMO. I, however, do not (a) cherry-pick those and ignore rather stunning successes and (b) jump to conclusions by starting from a presumption of guilt and looking for circumstantial evidence to consider as proof.

There were no successes. Piper was a fraud. There is no evidence she picked up anything by paranormal means. She would fish for information. The spiritualist books are not reliable. They lie. The skeptics have got it correct.

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Leonora_Piper

Piper made many errors and mistakes in her mediumship. The following information can be found in the books by Ivor Lloyd Tuckett (1911), Edward Clodd (1917), Walter Mann (1919), Joseph McCabe (1920), Joseph Rinn (1950) and Martin Gardner (2003).

The skeptics have debunked Piper, like they have debunked all fraudulent mediums!

As shown by magicians all magic is illusion. I will not be hoodwinked into believing delusional fantasies from fraudsters. I understand some people get comfort out of believing in magical psychic powers, but there's no scientific evidence it exists (See Terence Hines book "Pseudoscience and the Paranormal"). We don't need psychic stuff or paranormal to be happy!

It's well known that people believe in the paranormal are not happy with the natural world and they want something more. When they go in a book store they won't go to the nature or science section and learn about plants, animals, evolutionary biology or chemistry instead they will go to the paranormal section and pick up crank books about "psychic powers", chakras, aliens, or astrology that offer wishful thinking.

You seem to make a lot of assumptions about what I and other people on this blog are aware of. You should try not to do that, it's rude, and when you make mistakes in your assumptions (rather often, it might be said) it kind of makes you look plain silly.)

No, no assumptions are needed. This website is a well known believer website and promoter of paranormal ideas (look what comes up if you do a Google search on it). You have all kind of fringe ideas on here about aliens, 2012 phenomena, UFO abductions, mediumship, astrology etc etc. As for yourself you have strong links to spiritualists such as Michael E. Tymn and Michael Prescott (Prescott even copied and pasted your Piper article on his blog). Why pretend to be neutral? Just admit you are a full-blown spiritualist! I am not at war with believers, I find it weird that they believe in debunked nonsense but I still get on with them. It doesn't bother me my ex-girlfriend who was a full-blown spiritualist (we still got on!).

But still waiting for my own entry on Rational Wiki! So disappointed, I'll need to lift my game and start preaching more. Perhaps you can help me out?

Well I don't know if you are well-known or not. I heard that George P. Hansen is on there current list.

Good luck with your website. Remember the skeptics have got stuff correct all you have to do is read their publications! Not all skeptics are the bad guys.

Rick MG's picture
Member since:
2 May 2004
Last activity:
2 days 3 hours
Advanced wrote:

Craig Weiler is a well known for exaggeration who likes to stir up non-existent controversies;

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Craig_Weiler

And this is the crux of the issue, Advanced; skeptics need to practice what they preach. Here are a couple of examples from Craig Weiler's RationalWiki entry:

...the bogus mediumship experiments of the fraud parapsychologist Gary Schwartz.

Gary Schwartz is a professor of psychology, medicine, neurology, psychiatry, and surgery at the University of Arizona; but don't let the facts get in the way. His mediumship experiments (including triple blind studies) were scientifically kosher, too -- I've read the data, but it's obvious the editor of this entry either hasn't or is shamelessly biased. Schwartz has a PhD -- JREF and skeptical groups are big on qualifications, so why omit that?

Weiler has no education or qualifications in science. His current occupation is working as a handyman.

Wow, that old strawman. According to his Wikipedia entry, James Randi often skipped classes, and, at 17, dropped out of high school... We could play this game ad nauseam...

Weiler is well known for posting rants against skeptics accusing them of being atheists, materialists and "pseudoskeptics" if they disagree with him.

Randi once called Greg an "anti-science grubby." How often do skeptics throw around pseudoscientist, pseudohistorian, pyramidiot, and woo as derogatory terms? PZ Myers can make your ears burn. I don't want to get into a name-calling slinging match, but it highlights the hypocrisy. I'm also not defending Weiler, I don't know what he's posted on message boards and in forums; but why doesn't the entry have sources to back this statement up? The only citation is to a blog entry by Weiler that's pretty reasonable.

And don't get me started on the RationalWiki's version of the Rupert Sheldrake TED censorship issue -- it's so ridiculously biased and dishonest, it may as well have been edited by Chris Anderson himself.

This is why Greg continually calls the skeptic movement out on their hypocrisy. Yes, the world is full of frauds and bullshit artists; but if some skeptics want to play World Police then they should grow the cojones to take a look in the mirror.

~ * ~

@levitatingcat

Advanced's picture
Member since:
14 October 2013
Last activity:
25 weeks 6 days

Gary Schwartz is a professor of psychology, medicine, neurology, psychiatry, and surgery at the University of Arizona; but don't let the facts get in the way. His mediumship experiments (including triple blind studies) were scientifically kosher, too -- I've read the data, but it's obvious the editor of this entry either hasn't or is shamelessly biased. Schwartz has a PhD -- JREF and skeptical groups are big on qualifications, so why omit that?

I don't know what you have read but his experiments were not scientific. They were widely criticised by the scientific community for lack of scientific controls. See the criticisms of Ray Hyman.

http://www.csicop.org/si/show/how_not_to...

It doesn't matter if he has a PhD or not, that is an appeal to authority. Scientists do make mistakes!

Now as for the fraud allegation, he was a fraud! Schwartz had claimed to have contacted the spirit of a 25-year-old man in the bathroom of his parents house and attempted to charge the family 3.5 million dollars for his mediumship services. Watch the video he was exposed by Geraldo;

http://tviscool.com/play.php?vid=294

Do you think that sort of behaviour is acceptable?

And don't get me started on the RationalWiki's version of the Rupert Sheldrake TED censorship issue.

There was no TED censorship only in the minds of new agers and conspiracy theorists. The TED staff responded to the false allegations of censorship "The reason people are upset is because they think there has been censorship. But it’s simply not true. Both talks are up on our website." So the videos were never deleted... so where's the censorship?

Weiler is well known for posting rants against skeptics accusing them of being atheists, materialists and "pseudoskeptics" if they disagree with him.

This isn't made up you can read Craig's blog posts on Wikipedia that confirm this. He says the admins on Wikipedia are atheists and materialists. He says Martin Gardner was an atheist (not true, Gardner was a philosophical theist). Whilst it's true many skeptics are atheists, not all are.

Weiler has no education or qualifications in science. His current occupation is working as a handyman.

This isn't an attack, Weiler admits this himself. Many believers do not have a science education. You may find this article interesting;

Research has associated paranormal belief with low cognitive ability, low IQ and a lack of science education.[37][38] Intelligent and highly educated participants involved in surveys have proven to have less paranormal belief.[39][40][41] Tobacyk (1984) and Messer and Griggs (1989) discovered that college students with better grades have less belief in the paranormal.[42][43].

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paranormal

Rick MG's picture
Member since:
2 May 2004
Last activity:
2 days 3 hours
Advanced wrote:

It doesn't matter if he has a PhD or not...

But it does according to RationalWiki, which says Craig Weiler is just a lowly handyman. It's hypocritical. Heck, you said it yourself!

Advanced wrote:

Many believers do not have a science education. You may find this article interesting;

Research has associated paranormal belief with low cognitive ability, low IQ and a lack of science education.[37][38] Intelligent and highly educated participants involved in surveys have proven to have less paranormal belief.[39][40][41] Tobacyk (1984) and Messer and Griggs (1989) discovered that college students with better grades have less belief in the paranormal.[42][43].

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paranormal

So it's pretty clear a bunch of fancy letters after your name is darn important to a lot of skeptics. So why isn't this applied to Randi?

Advanced wrote:

Now as for the fraud allegation, he was a fraud! Schwartz had claimed to have contacted the spirit of a 25-year-old man in the bathroom of his parents house and attempted to charge the family 3.5 million dollars for his mediumship services. Watch the video he was exposed by Geraldo;

http://tviscool.com/play.php?vid=294

You're kidding me... Geraldo of FOX, the shining light of journalistic integrity! Nothing has ever been proven, all I've seen are accusations and rumours. And that's the issue we here at the Grail have with the militant skeptic movement -- don't attack the data, smear the person behind it. Now I am not saying Schwartz is all above board -- Daryl Bem, Michael Prescott, many others in the parapsychology field have valid issues with Schwartz's work. However, regarding the $3.5m fraud claims, until it's proven -- with, you know, that evidence stuff -- it remains innuendo and Schwartz gets the benefit of the doubt. Instead, a hatchet job by FOX is meant to convince me? That's GOP crap, not science.

~ * ~

@levitatingcat

Greg's picture
Member since:
30 April 2004
Last activity:
11 min 7 sec
Advanced wrote:

Now as for the fraud allegation, he was a fraud! Schwartz had claimed to have contacted the spirit of a 25-year-old man in the bathroom of his parents house and attempted to charge the family 3.5 million dollars for his mediumship services. Watch the video he was exposed by Geraldo;

http://tviscool.com/play.php?vid=294

Do you think that sort of behaviour is acceptable?

Is quoting A GERALDO RIVERA STORY as justification for (the very serious) allegation of fraud acceptable?! You do have a more reliable source than that, yes?

Also, we covered the Schwartz story here when it happened:

"Afterlife Scamming"
http://www.dailygrail.com/Spirit-World/2...

"Dr Gary Schwartz Responds"
http://dailygrail.com/Spirit-World/2007/...

"Afterlife Research Controversy"
http://dailygrail.com/essays/afterlife-r...

Kind regards,
Greg
-------------------------------------------
You monkeys only think you're running things
@DailyGrail

Aquila ka Hecate's picture
Member since:
21 October 2011
Last activity:
1 day 9 hours

I.Don't.Believe.You.Just.Posted...that. A link to a Wikipedia entry on the paranormal? Talk about circular reasoning.
As for myself -a degreed Physicist and Astronomer - I'll take my chances with the fluid, open minds you choose to childishly call "believers".

Advanced's picture
Member since:
14 October 2013
Last activity:
25 weeks 6 days

Yes but look at the sources for that piece of text I quoted from wikipedia, they were all published in peer-reviewed journals.

Tobacyk, J. J. (1984). Paranormal belief and college grade point average. Psychological Reports, 54, 217–218.

Messer, W. S., & Griggs, R. A. (1989). Student belief and involvement in the paranormal and performance in introductory psychology. Teaching of Psychology, 16, 187–191.

Gow, K., Lang, T. and Chant, D. (2004). Fantasy proneness, paranormal beliefs and personality features in out-of-body experiences. Contemp. Hypnosis, 21: 107–125.

Irwin, H.J. (1994). Paranormal belief and proneness to dissociation. Psychological Reports, 75, 1344-1346.

Williams, Emyr, Francis, Leslie J. and Robbins, Mandy. (2007). Personality and paranormal belief: a study among adolescents. Pastoral Psychology, Vol.56 (No.1). pp. 9-14.

This is why the psi believers and spiritualists do not like Wikipedia. Because only reliable sources (scientific etc) are used on Wikipedia and they have no way of inserting their pseudoscience on Wikipedia.

So psi believers and spiritualists like Craig Weiler in response get mad and shout "censorship" or "conspiracy" and post rants on blogs and forums attacking Wikipedia and accusing them of being skeptics just because their pseudoscientific nonsense is rejected.

As stated above though Wikipedia is only one website, why complain when there are millions of pro-paranormal websites to promote your stuff on like this one and only a handful on skeptical ones? You believers want everything huh :)

jupiter.enteract's picture
Member since:
21 January 2005
Last activity:
33 min 6 sec

You really need to do your homework a bit better. As even a casual familiarity with this website reveals, all viewpoints are considered here, not just pro-"paranormal" (a word you seem to like--though a more accurate one IMO would be "anomalies"). Have you noticed the "Science Feed" on the right? I'm unaware of any skeptic site with a comparable "Paranormal Feed" section (one that isn't simply denigrating the items, anyway), though perhaps you can point one out for me.

"You believers want everything huh"

Might I ask how old you are?

emlong's picture
Member since:
18 September 2007
Last activity:
9 hours 3 min

A lot of these guerrilla skeptic groups are notable for their adolescent language and tendency to use inflammatory remarks. Most adults can see through these distractions which look like cheap tricks. I don't think that most rational and considerate people take them very seriously. They indict themselves just by virtue of their puerile behavior and the constant undertone of barely controlled anger and belligerence, but what most stands out is their studied avoidance of actual paranormal experiences. When Ghost Adventures took Michael Shermer on a night run through haunted Linda Vista hospital, and they clearly encountered paranormal phenomena that defied "rational explanation" Schermer just grew silent, a bit moody, and distant. They can't handle actual experience and would prefer not getting their feet wet. It is too direct a confrontation with evidence. They would rather just armchair wing it and practice character assassination from afar.
A big clue as to the motives of some of these groups is their focus on the 911 false flag which op has now been so thoroughly busted for the inside job that it was that it is ludicrous to hear these guys jump through hoops trying to discredit the research. They are just phenomenally unscientific when it comes to 911. Their underwear is showing so blatantly vis a vis 911 that it tends to discredit everything thing else they delve into. I think 911 more than any of their other fascinations shows them up for what they really are - a kind of gate keeping outfit dedicated to quelling human awareness in general,and when we recently got treated to Randi's eugenics tirade it all started making perfect sense to me. These guys are basically fascists wholly dedicated to keeping as many people as possible asleep.

pov's picture
Member since:
16 July 2013
Last activity:
10 hours 1 min
emlong wrote:

A lot of these guerrilla skeptic groups are notable for their adolescent language and tendency to use inflammatory remarks. Most adults can see through these distractions which look like cheap tricks. I don't think that most rational and considerate people take them very seriously.

When they are in interviews or writing articles - yes. When they edit Wikipedia entries to suit their beliefs - it's usually seamless. That's why it's guerrilla . .. .it's not open and up-front.

jackinthegreen's picture
Member since:
22 October 2009
Last activity:
17 weeks 23 hours

It always intrigues me how easily some people will argue that any evidence of fraud is clear evidence that all is fraudulent.

If this is the case then here in the UK at least people need to be very careful when visiting a medical doctor with an ailment - 97% admit to being involved in deception - or fraud/fakery. The line of argument should then be that they are entirely fraudulent.

http://www.nhs.uk/news/2013/03March/Page...

The same principle applies when suggesting that since it is possible to fake a variety of 'ghostly' phenomena, then the conclusion to all such phenomena is "it's all faked".

It does work the other way as well, of course: if an event cannot be explained, then one cannot conclude it was 'a ghost', or 'spirit communication' (since that seems to have become the thrust of this thread).

emlong's picture
Member since:
18 September 2007
Last activity:
9 hours 3 min

This article by Joe Farrell hints strongly at what I was talking about vis a vis "gatekeeping" and the professional skeptic movement. Randi's recent eugenics tirade is part and parcel of this whole idea.

http://gizadeathstar.com/2013/10/public-...

The Real Problem of Big Science is Big Banking

This is probably one of the most important articles ever to appear in The Daily Bell, or for that matter, anywhere else, but we’ll get to why I think this to be the case, after the article itself:

The Daily Bell has put its finger on a central philosophical problem of modern “big science,” namely, the promotion and evolution of a kind of “public consumption” science in each of the scientific disciplines that have, as their underlying connective meme, the theme of scarcity and zero-sum games, with “winners and losers.” And this meme, in turn, has, as its underlying assumption, a commitment to philosophical materialism as the be-all and end-all explanatory paradigm into which all “science” must fit or conform. I think, as I compose this blog, specifically of the work of biologist, Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, and its simple posing of questions that challenge those exclusively materialist assumptions with his hypothesis of a “morphogenetic field.” Dr. Sheldrake asks a simple question: how is it that two groups of a species, completely isolated from each other, will transmit information to each other with no apparent means of physical contact? How does one group of a species on an isolated island transmit a solution or learned behavior, to a group of the same species on another island, and having no physical contact with it? This is not a merely hypothetical or rhetorical question on Dr. Sheldrake’s part. It is something that has been observed. For his part in forming the question and offering a tentative conclusion – a kind of immaterial biological version of photon or quantum entanglement, but on a much more macro-scale of entire population groups – he has been villified, attacked, spurned, and in general, treated less than courteously by many of his scientific colleagues.

He has, in short, challenged the materialist assumption reigning in much of biology. And so it goes across the board.

Indeed, as a general statement, it could be asked why non-materialist assumptions or approaches seem so often to be challenged by “big science” and hence, more importantly, by Big Bank Money? Is there a connection between the two? The behavior of major money interests in promoting such memes in science raises the question of whether they are interested in real science, or only that science that tends to support their own cosmology, a cosmology designed to reinforce their monopoly on the creation of monetized debt.

I would, indeed, suggest that this is the real and deeply hidden connection, and it is an historical one. I have written often about what I have called the “Topological Metaphor of the Medium” and more recently about its almost limitless creation of “debt-free” information. As I wrote recently in Financial Vipers of Venice, we find the financial elites of the day busily engaged in the suppression of this version of the metaphor, and the substitution, in its place, either of limitless creation of fiat monetized debt, with all the sacrificial systems and ideologies connected with it in the suppression of the individual person and his or her creativity(the thing of real value), or the substitution of systems of bullion-based finance, again in an effort to impose limits and zero-sum games.

I would respectfully suggest, then, that The Daily Bell is indeed on to something, but would suggest that the roots of it go much deeper. Not for nothing did medieval and Renaissance Venice become the home of the original Malthusianism, and the first (wildly inaccurate) estimates of the “maximum carrying capacity” of the population sustainable by planet Earth, but also this corrupt oligarchical republic was the home to the suppression of that Metaphor, and its advocates, by the most brutal of methods (like being burned alive). It was home, too, to the original “cult of materialism”, in its dogged defense and use of Aristotle. For those aware of the story the Daily Bell is so aptly exposing in this article, the story goes back, not just to JP Morgan’s suppression of Tesla, but at least as far as the Middle Ages, and to the life and death struggle that Venice waged against the re-emergence of that Metaphor. It won that battle, but only temporarily… but that’s another story.

Read more: THE DAILY BELL: BIG MONEY AND PUBLIC CONSUMPTION SCIENCE
- Giza Death Star Community

pov's picture
Member since:
16 July 2013
Last activity:
10 hours 1 min