Skeptic James ‘The Amazing’ Randi seems to be a little upset that other ‘skeptics’ aren’t conforming to his particular doctrine, with more words directed at high profile atheist Sam Harris in Randi’s latest newsletter. Back in September last year – when Randi was in a first-name relationship with ‘Sam’ – he decried Harris’s “romance with woo-woo” , due to comments in his book The End of Faith (Amazon US and UK) which were generally supportive of Dean Radin’s parapsychology research, and the reincarnation investigations of Ian Stevenson. In his latest remarks, Randi takes Harris to task with some dismissive remarks about Rupert Sheldrake and Dean Radin:
It’s very evident that Mr. Harris has not carefully examined either Radin’s book, or anything written by Sheldrake. If he had subjected that material to the same proper scrutiny which he applied to religion and the “God” question he so well handled, I’m sure he’d have come to the same conclusions that I have – that there’s nothing in them, that there’s no “reality” to psychic phenomena, nor to reincarnation, other than the conviction of some incautious or seriously deluded individuals who can attract publishers who know the naivety of the book market.
It certainly would be a welcome change to see Randi deconstruct Dean Radin’s evidence, rather than engage in ad hominem. Meanwhile, Sam Harris has previously responded to criticism of his stance on his website, where he has said:
While there have been many frauds in the history of parapsychology, I believe that this field of study has been unfairly stigmatized. If some experimental psychologists want to spend their days studying telepathy, or the effects of prayer, I will be interested to know what they find out.
Seems that Harris has been declared an apostate by the high priests of the CSICOPian faith – we can’t have scientists investigating things now can we? Radin has previously commented on the Harris-parapsychology controversy on his blog, I wonder whether he’ll judge it a worthwhile investment of time to address Randi’s comments.