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« Carnival of the Godless #16 The RantsHappy Fourth of July »

A Letter to Miraclist, the Whiny Psychic
2005.06.27 (Mon) 01:00

You'll love this one. About a week ago, we put out a call to all psychics, mediums, dowsers, and other purveyors of the paranormal arts to send us their predictions about the Natalee Holloway case. Natalee is, of course, the Alabama high school student who went missing almost a month ago in Aruba. We received a few submissions — someone sent in the page of a medium, and we had an EVP believer stop by as well. Then we were visited by Miraclist, a channeler who volunteered the following in our comments:

You do not understand channeling. Everyone has a 6th sense (Even you. You were aware your sarcastic blog would be rated high in Google so you pursued it.) You might take a look at my site at www.mythforlife.com. I list a prediction for Natalee Holloway as well as RESULTS for the quarterly predictions. You might want to look at the entry about what psychic channeling is and where a channel gets their information. It gives skeptics something a little more practical to review and make a decision about whether they believe in channeling or not. Channeling does have a scientific basis. There are dedicated people as well as hacks in every industry.

As a note, if you've already read all of the comments that are on the original Rant, you can skip to the new material analyzing Miraclist's predictions which is down below.

We were having a busy week, so we didn't get a chance to respond to Miraclist right away. Then, lo and behold, she commented again, chastising us (and others) for being rude to her. Here's the funny bit — at the time she left that second comment, we hadn't addressed her earlier comment or her predictions in any way, shape, or form, except to mention that we were going to respond to it in just a bit. To be fair, we also referred to her (or rather, her ass) as "presumptuous" since she had made an awful lot of assumptions about us in her first comment. Her second comment was stated thusly:

I am retracting my Prediction on the Disappearance of Natalee Holloway on www.mythforlife.com. It is a true and correct reading and time will prove it be so. I have a very high rate of correct predictions and I am willing to document them as such every month on my web site (which other psychics would not do). I have never asked for money for my readings and put the prediction on a public web site FREE of CHARGE for everyone to see hoping to be part of a solution. But the constant barrage of negative, sarcastic feedback on sites such as Scared Monkeys, Skeptico, and the Two Percent Company that the prediction was "eerie", The psychic is "spooky", the psychic is a gold digger, and psychic predictions are a scam has led me to see that my other predictions are true. This society of people is doomed. They do not understand the concept of group participation. They do not believe in miracles. They cannot see past their own selfish, pragmatic, mindset. They do not understand the premise that when two or more people gather together with a positive outcome in mind, it BECOMES a psychic experience of linked minds and miracles do happen. All I see in this situation in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway is misinformation, a fractured methodology, and chaotic approach by everyone. The Bloggers will go on insulting people and being rude, arguing and being sarcastic. This means, at its essence, that Bloggers become part of life's problem. So the world is watching and waiting. Let's see if Bloggers solve the disappearance of Natalee Holloway.

We checked her web site, and sure enough this same message was now in the place where her earlier "predictions" about Natalee had been. We quickly posted the following reply on our Rant:

Miraclist,

"...and I'm taking my ball and going home!"

Aww, poor you. Hey, you chose to come here and comment on our site. What did you expect us to do? Agree with your razor-sharp logic and admit the folly of our rational ways even though you have no proof at all to support your claims? Get a grip.

We didn't even get a chance to point and laugh at you yet, and already you've started whining about how terrible and unfair we are. That must be a new record. All we've done thus far is call you "presumptuous" (in reference to your assumptions about us) and you're declaring us a part of the downfall of society! Don't you think you're being just a tad melodramatic here?

We never said that your prediction was "eerie," or that you were "spooky" or a "gold digger." In fact, we don't think any of those things that you seemed to ascribe to us (more presumptuousness, it seems). In short, we got a good laugh out of your lame and silly "predictions." Try not to get your panties in a bunch until we have a more complete commentary available.

We've been really busy lately (you know, with that "pragmatic" thing called "real life"), but rest assured we are working on a response to your earlier comment. And since you still stand by the accuracy of your Natalee Holloway predictions (and since we copied and dated them for future reference), we will still address them as part of our response. Then you can demonize us and whine about us being unfair non-miracle-believers all you want.

M'kay?

As we noted, we had copied her "predictions," so she wasn't going to get away with a half-assed retraction quite so easily. We then followed up with our reply to her original comment:

Okay, Miraclist, here we go. With all the crap you've dropped on our site, we thought we should reply sooner rather than later. That way, you can justifiably whine about how mean we are. Of course, we haven't even gotten to your "predictions" about the Holloway case yet. We'll get to those as soon as we can in a future reply. And don't worry — we copied them down the other day.

First off, we're guessing that you didn't utilize your prodigious channeling abilities when you wrote your comments, since the assumptions you made about us are completely incorrect. Allow us to correct you using the effective source of information known as actual knowledge. We'll start with your first comment above:

You do not understand channeling.

Bzzzt! Wrong. We understand channeling just fine. We know what it is — it is bullshit. We know what it is supposed to be — it is supposed to be the use of a host body through which another entity is focused or "channeled," such as a ghost, an alien, another person, or a "higher self." We can contrast this with mediumship (which is also bullshit) which is supposed to be acting as a go-between (or "medium") between the physical (or "real") world and some other (or "fake") place. Of course, you may have decided to redefine the term "channeling," for all we know, but that is the generally accepted definition of channeling.

Everyone has a 6th sense (Even you. You were aware your sarcastic blog would be rated high in Google so you pursued it.)

Actually, everyone does have a sixth sense, since — at last count — human beings possess at least nine senses. (Educate yourself: Wikipedia is a good place to start.) But since we know that's not what you were talking about, we'll just call you wrong again. We have no special power to sense anything in a paranormal or supernatural fashion. We certainly have the mental ability to make logical connections, we have creativity, and we have intuition, none of which are at all mysterious. You are also wrong when you suppose that we were "aware" that our blog entry would be ranked high on the Google search list. In fact, a few hours before your comment we had just realized that we are ranked #2 on a Google search for "natalee holloway psychic," and we were quite surprised. More importantly, we never write anything with a high search rank in mind — we write what we believe, whatever the ranking; it doesn't matter to us. Sorry.

You might take a look at my site at www.mythforlife.com. I list a prediction for Natalee Holloway as well as RESULTS for the quarterly predictions.

Oh, we will! We'll address that in our next comment, don't you worry.

You might want to look at the entry about what psychic channeling is and where a channel gets their information. It gives skeptics something a little more practical to review and make a decision about whether they believe in channeling or not.

As we said, we already understand channeling. Please don't assume that our beliefs are based on zero research or zero evidence, just because your beliefs fall into that bucket. We've already made an informed decision — channeling is bullshit.

Channeling does have a scientific basis. There are dedicated people as well as hacks in every industry.

Wow, that was so original! We never hear some quack or "psychic" claim their bullshit has a scientific basis. We love seeing shit like this. "My silly belief is science, really!" If we had a dollar for every time we've seen that statement...followed by absolutely no proof to back it up...we'd be flying our private jet to your house to deliver this message. Channeling has no scientific basis at all, and unless you have some actual proof that you can point to, we suggest that you try to avoid statements like that one. Hell, we can say "the flat earth theory has a scientific basis," but that doesn't mean that the earth is flat. See what we mean?

Also, whether the practitioners of a given discipline (and we use the term very loosely here) are "dedicated" or "hacks" means absolutely nothing with regard to the validity of the discipline itself. There are dedicated lawyers, and hack lawyers, but the status of their dedication or skill doesn't affect the reality of the field of law. And being "dedicated" doesn't mean that someone is "correct." We know lots of "dedicated" Christians; but at the end of the day, the Christian god is a myth.

Now we'll move on to the second comment you left (the one in which you were really whiny and petulant), and look at a few of those statements:

I am retracting my Prediction on the Disappearance of Natalee Holloway on www.mythforlife.com. It is a true and correct reading and time will prove it be so.

Well, that's nice and all, but since you are still saying that it is accurate, we'll still address it in our next reply. Sorry, no "taking down" your statements if you're still, so to speak, supporting them.

I have a very high rate of correct predictions and I am willing to document them as such every month on my web site (which other psychics would not do).

We beg to differ. Nah, we don't beg — we just differ. We used the Wayback Machine to check out some of your past predictions, as posted on your website. Admittedly, we didn't waste a huge amount of time doing this, but maybe that's because of what we saw. Predicting that George Bush would win the election even though Kerry would win the debates is not what we would call a "stretch." We were saying the same thing before the debates, and our predictions were based on knowing that Bush is an idiot, but that he had a nearly unstoppable campaign strategy, as well as good old Karl Rove, the dirtiest motherfucker in politics, who was willing to do anything to win. Likewise, predicting that the Governator would win the California election wasn't too difficult either. Who else was going to win in a media-dominated state (and country)? Mary Carey, the porn star? Diminuitive has-been Gary Coleman? Shit, most people were predicting the outcomes you "channeled" — and despite what you may think, they did so with no "psychic" abilities whatsoever. Then there are the predictions that we saw that are just plain false. How about "Scot Peterson Goes Free"? Turns out, that's bullshit. Then there's "Kobe Bryant Convicted of Sexual Assault." Hmmm...nope. We could go on, but we'll leave that exercise to our readers. Hey, maybe some of them have hours to kill laughing at your supposedly "very high rate of correct predictions," but for our dime, that claim is utter bullshit.

I have never asked for money for my readings and put the prediction on a public web site FREE of CHARGE for everyone to see hoping to be part of a solution.

That's nice. What that means to us is that you probably really believe in your own abilities as opposed to being one of the predators who simply fake it to make a buck. That makes you a nicer person, but it doesn't make your "powers" real. Sorry.

But the constant barrage of negative, sarcastic feedback on sites such as Scared Monkeys, Skeptico, and the Two Percent Company that the prediction was "eerie", The psychic is "spooky", the psychic is a gold digger, and psychic predictions are a scam has led me to see that my other predictions are true.

First of all, as we said above, at the time you left this comment, we hadn't said a damned thing about your predictions. Nothing at all. Second, who referred to you or your predictions as "spooky" or "eerie"? It certainly wasn't us — we don't think they are either of those things. We think they are silly, lame, pathetic, and deluded, but not spooky or eerie. We can't speak for Skeptico, but a quick look at his post on the Holloway case doesn't even turn up any mention of you, let alone those terms. So it appears that now you are having trouble even predicting what has already happened. That's a pity since that seems to be your stock in trade.

We would also mention that we never referred to you as a gold digger, nor did we imply in any way that you were even collecting money for your predictions. As we said above, though, that lack of avarice certainly doesn't prove that your powers are real.

This society of people is doomed. They do not understand the concept of group participation. They do not believe in miracles. They cannot see past their own selfish, pragmatic, mindset. They do not understand the premise that when two or more people gather together with a positive outcome in mind, it BECOMES a psychic experience of linked minds and miracles do happen.

Yes, we're all doomed because we rely on science, reason and logic instead of blindly believing in loads of silly nonsense. Wake up. It is precisely the widespread belief in bullshit (including religion) that is responsible for society becoming a mass of intellectual dimwits and uneducated morons. And we'll gladly accept the moniker of "pragmatic," but "selfish" we are not. Quite frankly, we have no idea how you came up with that idea about us, but it's dead wrong. What about our position shows you that we are selfish? Is it our oft-stated position that everyone should be free to live their lives as they see fit as long as they don't infringe on the rights of others? Please explain — we're dying to know. Oh, maybe your "higher self" told you that and there are no details, hmmm?

Also, the act of people getting together with a "positive outcome in mind" does not a psychic experience make. Where the heck do you get that idea from? Does that mean that if we have people over to watch the baseball game and drink beers with the outcome in mind that our team will win then that's a psychic experience? That makes so little sense, we won't even address it any further.

All I see in this situation in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway is misinformation, a fractured methodology, and chaotic approach by everyone. The Bloggers will go on insulting people and being rude, arguing and being sarcastic. This means, at its essence, that Bloggers become part of life's problem. So the world is watching and waiting. Let's see if Bloggers solve the disappearance of Natalee Holloway.

Where the fuck do you get the balls to lob accusations like this at us? First of all, the misinformation, fractured methodology, and chaotic approach are all a result of people like you sticking your noses into something that you know nothing about. If we looked at all of the psychic predictions about Natalee, we'd see just about every possible outcome represented. Therefore, by default, almost all of it is pure misinformation. We can hardly think of a more fractured methodology or a more chaotic approach than that. So, if you want to stop the misinformation, then stick a sock in the mouths of all of the "helpful psychics" who are weighing in, starting with yourself.

Secondly, we freely admit that we are rude when people deserve it. But we hadn't even addressed your comments when you started being rude to us. So now we feel very justified in saying that you can go fuck yourself.

Third, the "bloggers" never claimed to be able to help find Natalee Holloway — you did. You made that claim by posting on our site that you have information about Natalee Holloway, and we are examining that claim. We never made any such claim. In fact, we freely admit (as we did in our original post, above) that we have no ability to assist law enforcement in doing their job. It's time that you did the same. But no, you'd rather toss out a bunch of useless, random information, and then feel like you "helped." Well, it just doesn't work that way, sister. So rather than trying to evade your failure to provide any useful details of this crime by telling us that we can't do something that we never claimed to be able to do, why don't you just admit that your "powers" are bullshit? But no — no matter how wrong you are, you'll never do that, will you? Who's the selfish one here?

As we said, we'll address your actual "predictions" about the Holloway case in a separate reply. Stay tuned!

— • —

And now, without further ado, we present our analysis of her actual "retracted" predictions about Natalee. All quotations from here on out are direct copies of Miraclist's predictions, without any changes or omissions. That includes all ellipses (...) which do not indicate our edits, but are from the original text.

Miraclist,

Sorry to keep you waiting, but here is our analysis of your channeled predictions about the Natalee Holloway case. We'll take it from the top.

These girls freeing summer fun turned tragic when Natalee made a grievous error in judgment that ultimately cost her life...

So your prediction is: she's dead. Wow. We must be psychic — we came to the same conclusion after she was missing for more than a few days.

Natalee wanted to meet some new people and went with a handsome-enough local man to a party away from the group.

As reported by all her friends and witnesses, according to all major news sources. This is less a prediction than a regurgitation of the media blitz on Natalee's case.

When she received the invitation, she was surprised and honored (flattered) to be selected as she had previously experienced damage to her self esteem at the competitive high school filled with attractive girls...

So...Natalee was — wait for it — a pretty standard female high school student, worried about appearance, popularity, and social standing. Not only is this hardly a stretch, it is something that can never be definitively verified, since it regards Natalee's own private feelings.

So that night she had a drink and felt uninhibited.

As reported by all her friends and witnesses, according to all major...well, yeah. You know.

When asked to leave with a promise to return before the others left the bar, she accepted.

As reported...sing along, now.

She immediately knew she had made a mistake in getting in the small car (maybe a Toyota-looking car).

If Natalee is dead, the first part of this statement can never be verified, as it again pertains to Natalee's own personal state of mind. And anyone who's shopped for a car recently can attest to the fact that "Toyota-looking" can describe just about any sedan, sports car, minivan or SUV (depending on which Toyota you meant to say it looks like) on the market. Very precise, Miraclist. We're in awe.

Two other men came along and that frightened her.

Well, as reported in...you know the drill...two other males were initially detained, along with Joran Van Der Sloot. Whether she was frightened or not is another factor that can never be definitively verified unless she is found alive and questioned...which would render your predictions incorrect anyway.

They drove left after exiting the bar through the town and began the ascent on a hilly, curving street...

This level of detail will likely remain unknown, even if the case is solved. However, having been to Aruba, we can say that there are a number of hilly, winding roads all over the island. In fact, as soon you turn off of any of the main coastal roads, no matter where you turn off, you'll soon find yourself on one of these hilly, winding roads. That's why we recommend four-wheel drive if you're planning on renting a car there.

They arrived at a nice house that overlooks the town to a certain degree (not too high)...

Nice house? As reported...et cetera, et cetera...Joran came from a well-to-do family. Was this his house? His family's? Someone else's? Sorry, we don't understand how channeling works, that's right. The house was just "nice." And just out of curiosity: which town did it overlook? Oh, right, right. We keep forgetting. That's not how channeling works. Our bad.

She was drugged with a local ecstasy substitute...The other men left and she hardly noticed...The white male repeated raped....her.

Given the reported (everyone know the words by now?) facts that the men detained have alleged histories of such activities (drugging and/or sexually abusing young girls), and the fact that Natalee was seen hooking up with one of them, we're astonished at your courage in making such a bold statement. Bravo, Miraclist. Oh, and just out of curiosity, would you mind supplying a list of drugs that would be classified as "a local ecstasy substitute"? We won't even be mean and ask you to pick one of them. Or, in your typical crystal clear fashion, did you just mean any drug capable of incapacitating young women?

She was innocent to some of this and became hysterical.

Um...okay, if we're reading you right here, you're saying Natalee didn't want to be raped, and became hysterical. Wow. Assuming she was still capable of coherent thought, this reaction would be quite expected from any woman being raped. Also, assuming that she is dead, this is another one of those unverifiable states of mind.

She was so out of control that he strangled her with his bare hands...

Hey! A specific! We're awfully glad you provided one. Now, given the probably unpremeditated nature of this crime, it's a pretty good bet that the cause of death was either blunt force trauma or strangulation. You're going with the odds here by picking one of them. Smart! For our part, we're sticking with blunt force trauma (we're really hung up on that anvil thing — thanks, Ron Zeno!).

The white male was so confident he would not be caught; her clothes were put in the local trash bin for pick up in front of the house...

Whose house? Who put them there? What was she wearing? Of course, you could get some of these details from news reports, but it seems that you didn't bother. Just a quick tip — the sheep will buy into your bullshit more completely if you research little facts like these.

So Natalee was taken on the fishing boat out to sea by someone who knew the white male and was called at about 3:30AM...

Well, if she was last seen at 1:30 am, and that was "hours before she was to take a flight home," we're left with a short window of time. 3:30 am seems to sit pretty firmly within that window. Sounds like a pretty good guess to us. Of course, the authorities can always check those LUDs for calls from Joran's (or a friend's) place at about that time, huh?

The boat has blue somewhat scrolled writing on the back . It lists or slants in the water to the left somewhat when viewed from behind as it sits in the water at the public marina...

More details! Lovely. Well, we'll be waiting breathlessly to see if either of these two descriptors of the boat turn out to be accurate. We are, however, a little surprised that your "higher self" could observe "blue...scrolled writing" on the back, but couldn't actually read what it said. Is your higher self illiterate? Or perhaps just actually high?

a local man drove the boat straight out from the marina at about 35 mph for 32 minutes...he weighted and pushed her body overboard...

Straight? Straight in what direction? From which marina? So you're requiring the authorities to set up an eighteen mile radius around every marina on Aruba, and dredge the waters for a body that's weighed down and therefore will not drift away. Specifics, Miraclist, give us specifics. Of course, the only specifics in this statement involve the speed of the boat and the time it took to make the trip, two factors that will almost certainly never be verified or refuted in any substantive way. Good job, Miraclist!

Natalee has found some peace after the traumatic act. She is deeply regretful about the agony it is causing everyone (especially her mother) but what is done is done.

Yet more completely unverifiable information, assuming Natalee is dead.

Her body may never be found.

Personally, we hope her body is found, for two reasons: first, so that her family may find closure; and second, so that your bullshit is revealed for the sack of lies it truly is.

So, when we take away the predictions that are incredibly vague, those that are based on well-known news items, those that are clear "safe bets," and the ones that are likely to never be verified, what are we left with? An unnamed person's unnamed boat from an unnamed marina with blue writing on the back, coupled with a search radius that likely spans 18 miles from Aruba in all directions. Pardon us if we're not impressed.

You know what would impress us? Telling us who did it, who was involved, and how. Telling us the name of the boat, and the name of its owner, as well as the name of the marina where it is kept. Or, since you are so good at predicting the outcomes of trials (such as your incredible predictions that Scott Peterson would go free and that Kobe Bryant would be convicted, both of which were dead wrong), how about some details on that front? Will there be a trial? If so, who will be tried? What will the verdict(s) be? What will the sentence(s) be? If there isn't going to be a trial, explain the circumstances. Will someone plead guilty? Will there be a plea bargain? Who will be involved, and what will the terms be?

Quite frankly, Miraclist, unless you can start delivering some actual verifiable details, your "channeled" bullshit is about as useful and believable as the answers that we got from our Magic 8 Ball. Oh, and when we asked the 8 Ball about whether your powers were real, its answer was: "Don't count on it." Sorry, Miraclist, but the Magic 8 Ball has spoken.


— • —
[  Filed under: % Bullshit  ]

TrackBack URL for this entry: http://www.twopercentco.com/rants/tpc-trkbk.cgi/174

Comments (30)

S.T.R., 2005.06.27 (Mon) 13:52 [Link] »

I think by channeling, she means, changing the channel on the tv....



Tom from the Two Percent Company, 2005.06.27 (Mon) 13:56 [Link] »

So since her web site is talking about "psychic channeling," does that mean that she doesn't need a remote to change the channel? Now that would be a useful ability!



Amanda, 2005.06.27 (Mon) 18:09 [Link] »

Once again proving that even if channeling/psychic predictions were 100% genuine, they are also 100% useless.


Great job, as usual.



Videodrone, 2005.06.27 (Mon) 18:18 [Link] »

you are much too kind to this poor delusional you are much too kind to this poor delusional person
at best she is a well meaning soul who imbibed her own bathwater a few too many times at worst, one of the most vile acts of selfishness for a hope at her 15 minuets of fame at the expense of other peoples suffering



Rockstar, 2005.06.28 (Tue) 17:49 [Link] »
Once again proving that even if channeling/psychic predictions were 100% genuine, they are also 100% useless.

I've been writing about this on my blog! Too funny...



The Two Percent Company, 2005.06.28 (Tue) 19:11 [Link] »

Coincidence?

Sure!

Everyone go read about Rockstar's hilarious exchanges with the, er, Autoresponding Astrologer, Rochelle Gordon. That's some damn funny stuff. We have to admit, our Lego castle didn't come out quite as wonderfully as we'd hoped.

And congratulations to Rockstar for being the number one hit on a Google search for Rochelle Gordon. That kicks so much ass.



Grendel, 2005.06.28 (Tue) 20:44 [Link] »

Tom...

You realize you're picking on a cripple, right?



Tom from the Two Percent Company, 2005.06.29 (Wed) 00:33 [Link] »

Based upon the ridiculous nature of her predictions, I agree that Miraclist is mentally fluffy. But that makes her pretty much the typical Newage flunky, doesn't it? Of course, she is quite a bit more whiny than normal.



Grendel, 2005.06.29 (Wed) 12:19 [Link] »

Were I to start a career as a con ma..., er, as a psychic, here's what I'd use as my One Size Fits All 'out' to explain away any errors or inconsistencies on my part. A generic, multipurposeful excuse would be extremely handy and useful.

Here's what I'd use, so simple it's perfect:

Since all, ahem, 'evidence' indicates that when people pass on into the spiritual realm, all that really changes is their physical form. Everything else seems to remain intact -personality, memory, emotional capability, etc. Therefore, since humans lie, often with impunity, during physical life, doesn't it follow that they would continue to lie after death?

Whenever
I am wrong in psychic predictions and readings, it is merely the result of my trusting nature and the fact that sometimes the spirits lie too -when I am right, I am right; but when I am wrong, the spirits lied.

Too perfect.

I'm gonna set up a psychic booth at the Podunk Holler, NC Flea Market tomorrow.



Tom from the Two Percent Company, 2005.06.30 (Thu) 17:19 [Link] »

Damned lying spirits.



S.T.R, 2005.07.01 (Fri) 08:44 [Link] »

I was reading the news, CNN to be exact, this story http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/06/30/aruba.missing/index.html
about the DJ who lied about the missing girl in aruba. and how he was arrested for lying. And well, it made me think about the psychics. They should be arrested for lying as well, I think.. I mean it would only be fair right?



Grendel, 2005.07.01 (Fri) 09:54 [Link] »

It would very difficult to legally discern a lie from a mistake. It would also clog the courts. During the OJ saga, police received literally thousands upon thousands of 'tips' from psychics. This is typical in all serial killer cases too. Missing child cases too.

No, indictments would be costly, time-consuming, and ultimately fruitless.

I would support arbitrary, summary execution for imposing the 'speed bumps' of personal idiocy in the path of criminal investigations.

It is not often addressed (hint to Tom) that the claim of being a 'psychic' reveals a grossly egotistical self regard. A 'psychic' is basically saying, "I am a superhuman and not bound by the same laws of physics as the rest of you."



Suzieque, 2005.07.01 (Fri) 15:23 [Link] »

Geez and I thought only the blind can't see. These people have no clue of the spiritual world and what is really going on in this world. Let the blind stay blind and keep your focus where it belongs. Perhaps someday they will understand things better. Until then I am glad that you gave this report Miraclist and kudos for attempting to help out. Then they say, all psychics want money or they shouldn't charge. Here you've done everything the non-believers whine about and they still aren't happy. So now it is time to let them go and keep up your great work. I look forward to more of your readings.



The Two Percent Company, 2005.07.01 (Fri) 16:22 [Link] »

Suzieque,

Well, first of all, the fact that you thought you were commenting to Miraclist when you were on the site that debunked her speaks volumes about your capacity for logical thought.

Second, if you actually read our commentary and you are still standing by the "wondrous powers" of Miraclist when all she did was spout out vague bullshit and regurgitate news reports, then it is you who are blind in this scenario. If you had any shred of common sense at all, you would be able to see through the thin veil of bullshit that people like Miraclist count on to obfuscate the weak minded sheep. Clearly, you have no such capabilities.

Thanks for the chuckle, though.



Tom from the Two Percent Company, 2005.07.01 (Fri) 16:32 [Link] »

S.T.R.,

I would love to see the frauds out there arrested and charged with fraud or obstruction of justice, or any of the other crimes that they are guilty of. The problem comes in proving that they are lying. Sadly, as Grendel noted, trying to force this issue would likely be costly, time-consuming, and fruitless.

In addition, as you know, there are some "psychics" who really and truly believe that they have powers. While that doesn't make them right, it also doesn't make them guilty of fraud.

Now if blatant stupidity could be criminalized....



Grendel, 2005.07.01 (Fri) 17:27 [Link] »

SuziQ: "Geez and I thought only the blind can't see."

Perhaps with a glance in the mirror you'll realize that lack of insight and inability to recognize irony are also forms of blindness.

SuziQ: "These people have no clue of the spiritual world and what is really going on in this world."

You are precisely correct. We have no clue of the spiritual world, nor even that it actually exists. You left out the part about you also not having a clue. Beliefs do not equal clues. THAT, my dear, is a real world clue.

SuziQ: "Let the blind stay blind and keep your focus where it belongs. Perhaps someday they will understand things better."

You will not find a true skeptic unwilling to be shown right-damn-now. In fact, skeptics are dying to be shown but, alas, no one can produce. Again, you confuse belief with knowledge.

SuziQ: "Until then I am glad that you gave this report Miraclist and kudos for attempting to help out."

More testimony to the elsewhere noted worthlessness of 'psychic' powers. They try, oh they try, and that's the important thing, the thing that allows good feelings all around the bleever campfire. (Rolling eyes here....). If only one could succeed, just once.

SuziQ: "Then they say, all psychics want money or they shouldn't charge."

All psychics want something. It comes in many forms. For some it's a flat out cynical money scheme. For others it's the kind words and adulation you've just spent (wasted) on Miraclist. What cannot be measured is how many psychics there are who take no money not because they wouldn't, but because they are too stupid or too inept to accomplish it. Failure becomes a virtue. What a wonderful world, this spirit world.

SuziQ: "Here you've done everything the non-believers whine about and they still aren't happy."

WHAT? She did everything EXCEPT the one thing we want! She didn't and can't locate the body! Yeesh.... what nonsense.

SuziQ: ""So now it is time to let them go and keep up your great work. I look forward to more of your readings."

Your beliefs are faith-based, exist without evidence, and require very little to win validation (obviously). Behold the power of communal reinforcement of paranormal bleefs. Miraclist, a paranormal bleever, pretends to be a psychic, while SuziQ, a paranormal bleever, pretends her readings hold merit, and thusly their respective bleefs are validated and maintained. Credo consolans.

~*~

RE: Psychics & legal charges

Actually, 'psychics' are busted left and right, for fraud and theft typically, except they aren't psychics in the tradtional sense. They are garden variety, small-time con artists merely targeting blind bleevers who are vulnerable due to their paranormal beliefs. Since they don't require a psychic to actually perform anything, and because they will make the leap of faith when the performance is weak, they are wide open to getting taken.

This is how paid for grad school, bless 'em.

There is, of course, a larger set of sincere psychics who are merely misguided and self-deluded, but this in no way means they cannot and do not cause harm to others. In many ways they cause even greater harm because, not being 'pros', they tend to 'work' among their family, friends, and co-workers, are afforded more trust accordingly, and can cause people to make decisions and take actions as a result of 'readings' that are often deleterious to their welfare. Sometimes they just scare the shit out of people by 'seeing' their deaths inthe near future. Other times they give false hope where none is warranted, thereby increasing and delaying grief.

I have a large database of incidences where paranormal beliefs caused some truly tragic misfortunes, deaths, suicides, etc.

'Sincere'? Hell, Charlie Manson was sincere.

~*~

I think I'm getting this Rant thing down.



Smore, 2005.07.06 (Wed) 17:44 [Link] »

I have to admit that most people who claim to be psychic are possibly living in fairy land. However, as any good "myth buster" would do - I spent the money and did my own research into remote viewing. I took the class and actually approached it with an open mind. The result? I'll tell you in a second.

NOTE: We should all have figured out by now that there are just some things in existence that we will never really know the answer to - but it seems only natural that we will keep searching for answers anyway. Everyone has their own belief system, and the RV's think that time travel is possible; however, they believe it is possible now only through the mind. Well, duh. I can go anywhere, anytime in my MIND (says the skeptic) - it's called "imagination"... They also believe that events in all existence have imprinted themselves onto Time and that this Library of events exists in something Jung called the Collective Consciousness - they call it the Matrix. So after going through the class I was given a "mission" totally blind. I have to admit that I followed every instruction to the letter and in the beginning I "saw" nothing but the blackness from behind my eyes. I concentrated harder on the numbers they gave me (as the 'address' to the target) and I got some very interesting "impressions"... very fragmented things came to my mind in words and sensations like "bright light", "mushy black mud" "flashes of light" "smoke" "stream of liquid". These were actual things that I wrote down even though I "perceived" nothing. I thought that it was just my "imagination" and left it at that. So, I put my notes away, and didn't even open the sealed envelope to figure out what the target really was. I figured it was all BS and that I had wasted my time. Months went by and I was cleaning out my bookshelf when I found the unopened target and my notes from my RV session. I reread what I wrote, and then I opened the target. It was "Burning Oil Field in Kuwait". Even though in my "session" I NEVER saw fire, burning oil wells, or anything that was a definite "object" it was more like textures, I had to admit that I had come closer than I thought I would. Some of the words I had blindly written down could have been descriptions of the scene in the mission file. It was a Huh? kind of moment. Now I'm trying to remote view next week's lotto numbers just to see if it REALLY works!!!!!! This week I got 3 right. One was the Power Ball number... ha, ha. Maybe I'll be a millionaire someday?

How do I feel about it now? Really? Well, let's just say that I would NEVER be so arrogant to think that I KNOW everything. Given the debated fact that as humans we are nothing more than evolved monkeys (according to some) how could we POSSIBLY know everything. Science is great, but it's still not completely understood how everything in this universe works - especially time. Science was created by descendents of monkeys after all. Everything we think we KNOW was thought up, and some of it supposedly proved by people who REALLY DON'T KNOW. All that we can do is guess! Some of it may be right, and some of it may not pan out - yet. They call us "Intelligent Life Forms"? So as for psychics - my opinion is that there are frauds and there are probably people who are serious about their beliefs. Imagination is what built the Spruce Goose, and put a man on the moon. Something that bothers me is that it seems that after reading skeptic entries in these types of forums, the best impression I've gained is that they are very logical in their analysis of what is and isn't real; however, it seems that they are more focused on arguing against people to try to make themselves look smarter than the people they're arguing against - just because of knowledge... which is limited BTW. We are only human - and we don't know everything. Duh, you say? I'm not judging anyone, but I am saying that it would be nice (for once) to read a skeptics column that isn't quite so focused on trying to make other people look less intelligent, (which is annoying). I was skeptical about the RV thing, but then I tried it. Do I believe in it? Maybe, maybe not. The jury is still out, but I am open (at least) to the possibility that there MAY be something to it. What I do know is that every action begins with a thought - and Galileo was almost executed for his ideas. Don't ever think that just because someone doesn't think like you that they are wrong. Perception is reality to everyone, and arguing is a waste of time. As for psychic ability - wouldn't it be cool if that possibiltiy were a reality? Imagine the answers we could get to our deepest questions...

Smore



The Two Percent Company, 2005.07.07 (Thu) 09:08 [Link] »

Smore,

Sometimes it wears on us replying to the seemingly endless stream of comments like yours. The same points are raised over and over, and our replies are generally the same. Let's run through some of them up front, then we'll address a few specific points from your comment.

First, please understand that we have done so much research into claims of the paranormal that it nearly makes our eyes bleed. And unlike your research, ours doesn't consist of vague anecdotes which are subjectively validated months after they take place.

Second, we would never be so arrogant to think that we "know" everything, either, and we never — not once — claimed to. What we do claim — and this is a claim for the whole human race, not just us — is that, by using the scientific method, the human race is capable of expanding its combined knowledge to an arguably infinite degree. We will never know everything, simply because that statement doesn't logically or semantically make any sense, but we'll keep learning more and more, to the point where we might as well say that we know everything. That's a pretty bold claim, but it speaks to our confidence in our speciesnot in ourselves — and it speaks to our confidence in the scientific method of inquiry, and not to dogmatic faith in the facts already known. We've covered this so many times, it hurts our heads to repeat it. We won't bother to provide links — this stuff is elucidated literally all over our site.

Okay, on to some of your comments specifically...

[Remote Viewers] also believe that events in all existence have imprinted themselves onto Time and that this Library of events exists in something Jung called the Collective Consciousness - they call it the Matrix. So after going through the class I was given a "mission" totally blind. I have to admit that I followed every instruction to the letter and in the beginning I "saw" nothing but the blackness from behind my eyes. I concentrated harder on the numbers they gave me (as the 'address' to the target) and I got some very interesting "impressions"... very fragmented things came to my mind in words and sensations like "bright light", "mushy black mud" "flashes of light" "smoke" "stream of liquid". These were actual things that I wrote down even though I "perceived" nothing. I thought that it was just my "imagination" and left it at that. So, I put my notes away, and didn't even open the sealed envelope to figure out what the target really was. I figured it was all BS and that I had wasted my time. Months went by and I was cleaning out my bookshelf when I found the unopened target and my notes from my RV session. I reread what I wrote, and then I opened the target. It was "Burning Oil Field in Kuwait". Even though in my "session" I NEVER saw fire, burning oil wells, or anything that was a definite "object" it was more like textures, I had to admit that I had come closer than I thought I would. Some of the words I had blindly written down could have been descriptions of the scene in the mission file. It was a Huh? kind of moment. Now I'm trying to remote view next week's lotto numbers just to see if it REALLY works!!!!!! This week I got 3 right. One was the Power Ball number... ha, ha. Maybe I'll be a millionaire someday?

Okay, seriously, Smore — you're a skeptic? Gee, from our skeptical point of view, we're wondering why a skeptic wouldn't open that fucking envelope as soon as possible, to see how the results stacked up. A skeptic wouldn't wait for months to see if their experiment validated their hypothesis. Quite frankly, there are only two particularly likely scenarios, here: either this story was fabricated, and the months-long wait was inserted to give it a Twilight Zone-esque "sting" at the end; or (more likely) you are simply not a true skeptic with a grasp of the scientific method, and you have no clue when it comes to conducting actual experiments in an effort to determine the strength of your hypotheses and expand your observations of evidence to form a complete theory.

We won't even bother to link to the dozens of instances on our site alone in which we've pointed out the effect known as subjective validation. We'll leave that as an exercise for our readers; do a simple search of our Rants (and follow the links you find to the Skeptic's Dictionary while you're there). Suffice to say, Smore: what if you had opened the envelope and found a DVD of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers enclosed? Or a photograph of bioluminescent fish swimming at the bottom of the ocean near some geothermal vents under the harsh light of a submersible robotic camera? Or a copy of Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner? Or any of (conservatively) thousands of other items? Would any one of these have signified a "hit" to you? They've all got the goods: bright light, mushy black mud, flashes of light, smoke, stream of liquid. It's easy (and, in fact, almost impossible to avoid) seeing these connections after the fact. Sorry, but even aside from this being completely anecdotal, your story is worthless as supporting evidence of the paranormal.

Given the debated fact that as humans we are nothing more than evolved monkeys (according to some) how could we POSSIBLY know everything.

...

Science was created by descendents of monkeys after all.

Okay, we don't mean to nitpick here...fuck it, yes we do. This is one of the things that fucking infuriates us. Put simply, humans did not descend from monkeys, and phrasing your statements like this makes you (at the very least) sound like a dumbass creationist, or at least like the average moron who thinks that they understand evolution, but really doesn't. In point of fact, both humans and monkeys share a common ancestor — one didn't "evolve" from the other. And in further point of fact, evolution is not a "debated" fact. It is an accepted fact. It is hard to come up with a more thoroughly accepted scientific theory than evolution, and the fact that you chose the particular phrasing that you did is a giant, blaring "red alert" to rational, skeptical folks like us.

Everything we think we KNOW was thought up, and some of it supposedly proved by people who REALLY DON'T KNOW.

You sound like a "science denier" when you say shit like this.

All that we can do is guess! Some of it may be right, and some of it may not pan out - yet.

And you sound like you don't understand the scientific method when you say shit like this. If you think that scientific testing is a matter of guessing, then we aren't very confident that we can have a serious conversation with you.

They call us "Intelligent Life Forms"?

Only some of us, Smore.

So as for psychics - my opinion is that there are frauds and there are probably people who are serious about their beliefs.

We've covered this one more times than we can count as well. We agree that some psychics are not frauds, and that they truly believe their own claims. However, being "honest" or "nice" or "altruistic" does not in any way validate their claims. Self-delusion is not a form of proof. It sounds so simple when we say it that it's hard to imagine anyone would be incapable of understanding this.

Imagination is what built the Spruce Goose, and put a man on the moon.

No. Imagination is what was utilized to conceive of these achievements. What actually enabled us to accomplish them in the real world (as opposed to them remaining imaginary) was science (specifically, in your examples: physics, aeronautics, engineering, chemistry, rocketry and medicine, just to name a mere few). Get it straight.

Something that bothers me is that it seems that after reading skeptic entries in these types of forums, the best impression I've gained is that they are very logical in their analysis of what is and isn't real; however, it seems that they are more focused on arguing against people to try to make themselves look smarter than the people they're arguing against - just because of knowledge... which is limited BTW.

No. We believe that we are more educated on certain subject matters than a certain subset of our readers (not all of them), but that's not the same thing as believing that we are smarter. In addition, this belief has no impact on why we are writing what we write. We are writing, in this case, about our research. We are open to other evidence that contradicts the evidence we have found, but mostly we just get people tossing anecdotes (like yours) at us. We also get a lot of people who don't have even a basic understanding of the scientific method (a category we believe you probably fall into, Smore). If we sound like we are condescending to such people, we offer no apology. If you come to our site and argue against our evidence or conclusions when you don't even understand the basic concepts that we are discussing, then you shouldn't have entered the conversation.

We are only human - and we don't know everything. Duh, you say? I'm not judging anyone, but I am saying that it would be nice (for once) to read a skeptics column that isn't quite so focused on trying to make other people look less intelligent, (which is annoying).

As we said, we aren't focused on making other people seem less intelligent, we are focused on skeptically analyzing specific claims. If you infer from our analysis that the claimant seems stupid, then perhaps the claimant should take the blame for their apparent stupidity — not us.

I was skeptical about the RV thing, but then I tried it. Do I believe in it? Maybe, maybe not. The jury is still out, but I am open (at least) to the possibility that there MAY be something to it.

To us, your silly anecdote does not even come close to contradicting our actual research. It does not constitute evidence, and it does not indicate that the "jury is out" on Remote Viewing. We are always open to possibilities, but we demand a lot more proof than you seem to. To us, that sounds like your failing — not ours.

What I do know is that every action begins with a thought - and Galileo was almost executed for his ideas.

Holding up Galileo as the poster child for the alties/quacks/psi-frauds/religiosos is such a crock of shit, and we get a big steaming portion from so many faith-based believers that we're getting quite annoyed with it. It's out-and-out bullshit, because Galileo was a scientist, and the people who "almost executed" him were the faith-based believers. Galileo reached his conclusions by approaching the world through the scientific method, and questioning beliefs which had no evidentiary foundation. You simply can't accurately invoke Galileo as an example of why any and every crackpot theory should be taken seriously. As soon as a crackpot theory passes scientific muster, then you can start to celebrate its "kinship" to Galileo. We won't hold our breaths.

Don't ever think that just because someone doesn't think like you that they are wrong.

We don't automatically think that. However, depending on what the belief is and what the justification behind it may be, we might think that such a person is silly, misguided, and weak-minded, though.

Perception is reality to everyone, and arguing is a waste of time.

No, perception is not reality. That tenet is no longer true once we are talking about the external world and not just a single person's internal beliefs. Reality is reality. Hey, that sounds so fucking good, let's coin a phrase: Verus est verus. And if you mean that arguing with someone who projects their internal delusions onto the real world is a waste of time, we again disagree. We may have no hope of swaying the "true believer," but our hope is always that we can use logic and reason to convince some of the sideline observers. And that makes it anything but a waste of time.

As for psychic ability - wouldn't it be cool if that possibiltiy were a reality?

Cool? Absolutely! Sadly, as there isn't a single scrap of evidence to support any claim of psychic abilities, that doesn't seem to be the case. Stop calling yourself a skeptic unless you plan on acting like one. Of course you should be open to alternative evidence, but that doesn't mean that silly anecdotes or unscientific tests should sway your opinions.

Of course, you may continue to delude yourself, just don't expect any true skeptics to nod in unison with you.



Rockstar, 2005.07.07 (Thu) 16:02 [Link] »
If you infer from our analysis that the claimant seems stupid, then perhaps the claimant should take the blame for their apparent stupidity — not us.

That above is why I am a frequent visitor. Take the blame, claimant. You deserve to feel stupid. So do you smore.



Smore, 2005.07.08 (Fri) 16:59 [Link] »

Dear Two Percent Company,

Thank you for participating in my experiment. I used you to prove a point to a co-worker. The above mentioned "experiment" actually happened - but not at the degree stated.

As a note, I am an astrophysicist. I wouldn't want "true skeptics" to ever think that we don't USE scientific methods in our research, but I will divulge that we are constantly challenged to keep an open mind that there is possibility in things yet unknown, and things as of yet undiscovered; and I guess you could say therein lies our so called "faith". This is why we keep "dreaming up" our missions. Research is truly expensive, and in many cases we are questioned as to "why" our research is necessary - but we believe the discoveries that lie ahead are worth the effort - lest we be out of a job.

In response to your comment:
A skeptic wouldn't wait for months to see if their experiment validated their hypothesis. Quite frankly, there are only two particularly likely scenarios, here: either this story was fabricated, and the months-long wait was inserted to give it a Twilight Zone-esque "sting" at the end; or (more likely) you are simply not a true skeptic with a grasp of the scientific method, and you have no clue when it comes to conducting actual experiments in an effort to determine the strength of your hypotheses and expand your observations of evidence to form a complete theory.

Sometimes it takes months, or even years or decades for NASA to determine if an experiment validates a hypothesis - but work continues until the answer comes in anyway. And even then if the evidence is inconclusive, we keep reaching. Even when you are working on a project first hand, speculation can still prove wrong simply because the focus is not placed where it should be. The laws of science are always a starting point and generally what we base our methods of research on, but there's always the possibility of an unknown or distorted fact that can sway the conclusion. In this instance, the waiting period had no relevance on the outcome of the experiment (except to cause a "skeptic" to conclude that the experiment was more than likely bogus because the envelope wasn't opened immediately). The fact is that others were attempting the same target and the need to hold off on opening the envelope was valid. Then, the experiment got side tracked (it wasn't something I was being paid to do). However a true scientist would have sought more information regarding the actual process of the experiment to see if it could have been conducted more thoroughly rather than attacking the integrity of the researcher. Like I said, this wasn't a paid research project - and I never once claimed that the experiment PROVED nor DISPROVED evidence of paranormal activity. That was your assumption. And your comment was based on your current knowledge of what you believed to be the relevant facts of the experiment (I'm sorry anecdote). Instead, your total response was more about trying to make me look like an uneducated imbecile who couldn't wipe your shoes mentally. In the category of arrogant asshole, you score -10 points. I actually found this website while researching what the naysayers are saying. Turns out - based on this rant - not much, unless you count arrogant spewings of regurgitated data.

A possible question, if you wish to answer, is: IF, and that's a mighty big IF since you are a true skeptic, you were going to proceed with an actual experiment to determine if RV has merit as a form of time travel, how would you go about it? What would be YOUR burden of proof? Let's say you truly BELIEVED there's something to it, but OH HOW do you prove it? Maybe technology just hasn't gotten us far enough to prove it yet and YOU could be the genius to find the answer. Is paranormal activity really "bogus"? Maybe it can't be proven with scientific methods today. You can't prove that is DOESN'T exist either; otherwise 2/3rds of the world are whacked - or just not as well read, or as educated as you. People who are committed to finding the answers to these questions have to be more creative in finding ways to get to the bottom of the mystery. Without the debate (such as Creation vs. Evolution) we would all fall into line like sheep and subscribe to the religion of Science. After all, if there were no debate we would have nothing to prove. Of course instead of coming up with valuable solutions, I'm probably wrong, but I'm guessing you would say that it's already been tried, and not provable - so it's already decided (from the comfort of your arm chair). What I'm open for is a better method - one that cracks the universe wide open.

To me the sad thing is that most skeptics (at least the ones that actually debate these types of questions on the internet) come across (whether they be or not) as being kind of "arm chair" scientists. Would be nice to see one get out of his armchair just once and actually DO an experiment. The issue is that if you truly felt there might be a chance that paranormal activity was REAL, you'd find a way to prove it true... even if it meant trying something that you would be ridiculed for by your peers. Howard Hughes didn't have a degree in aviation, yet he was able to pay people enough money to bring his visions to life. He BELIEVED that it could be done. The $$$$ upped the ante for those guys that did have the brains to accomplish it - guess you could say it motivated them. Imagine their surprise when they actually made it happen. I suspect no surprise at all; only a sigh of relief. Maybe something was learned in the RV experiment that could answer another question that still needs an answer?

I won't argue any of your points above, because there is no need. Thanks for the rant. Keep up the good work of putting everything into so much perspective. People spend their entire lives dedicating their minds and resources to seeking answers. I'm sure all of the sheep appreciate the education you and yours provide. After all, it's probably so much more fun to learn from people who constantly demean ignorance, and it's so much cheaper than a real education.

By the way, shame on you for not being more tolerant of the people who come here thinking they might find a fresh perspective. (Shame on me for thinking you actually had something to say.) You should know that people from all walks of life need to add their 2 cents worth to these types of tired discussions. (Me included.) For the sake of something worth discussing - do try to comment on what YOUR solution to proving paranormal activity would be. Otherwise, it's a wasted effort. If it's already un-provable, why even discuss it?
Brainstorming is so much more productive.



Tom from the Two Percent Company, 2005.07.08 (Fri) 17:21 [Link] »

Smore,

Boy do we love it when people try to "trap us" by saying stupid things, only to "spring their trap" by way of saying even more stupid things. Give us a little time to reply as we have better things to do at the moment.

Suffice it to say that you've followed a similar pattern of bogus assumptions that we've watched many a moron stumble down before you.



Rockstar, 2005.07.08 (Fri) 18:06 [Link] »

Ahh, the old "I-said-something-stupid-it-was-just-an-experiment-haha-I-fooled-you" retort. Classic. Seen it. Doesn't work. You deserve to feel even more foolish.



Grendel, 2005.07.09 (Sat) 10:27 [Link] »

Yikes. Smore reveals grand inconsistencies and hypocrisy at every turn. Let's look:

"Is paranormal activity really "bogus"? Maybe it can't be proven with scientific methods today. You can't prove that is DOESN'T exist either..."

The self-described 'scientist' cites the fact that paranormal activity canot be proved not to exist. This is a decidedly unscientific position and statement on two fronts: (1) That there is no evidence that disproves paranormal activity in no way supports the assertion they exist. This is basic Science 101 and Smore fails the pop quiz. (2) The burden of proof is on the claimant. The burden of proof is on the claimant. The burden of proof.... OK, OK, I'll stop. Just wanted to underline the fact that paranormal believers place more importance on the absence of disproving evidence than on the absence of affirming evidence. That the burden of proof lies with the claimant is also Science 101, and again Smore reveals gross, middle school level ignorance of it. But it doesn't end there.....

"....otherwise 2/3rds of the world are whacked - or just not as well read, or as educated as you."

Smore trots out yet another fallacy of logic so very popular among believers: Argumentum Ad Numerum -the notion that the more people there are who believe a thing, the more likely it is to be true and real. Smore cites two-thirds of the world believes, so many that their beliefs must be warranted, and reflect recognition of reality. OK... let's see then. If one person believing isn't enough and if two thirds of the world's population, about 4 billion people, is enough, then there must be a cut off number somewhere between one and 4 billion. What number is that, Smore? Is 4,291 believers not enough to assume their beliefs are true, but 4,292 tips the scale? Reality and truth are not a democracy where we vote and whomever wins gets to declare their unevidenced beliefs to be the 'truth'. There exists an objective, evidence-based method to determine these things, and it is amazing that a person like Smore who spouts off on 'science' and 'scientific method' so much when it suits him nevertheless abandons these basic science concepts when his beliefs require a little shoring up. Smore is an intellectual hypocrite without the courage of his stated convictions.

"People who are committed to finding the answers to these questions have to be more creative in finding ways to get to the bottom of the mystery."

Yup. They just employ a few logical fallacies, ignore basic science, and pretty soon just about anything you want can seem to be real.

"Without the debate (such as Creation vs. Evolution) we would all fall into line like sheep and subscribe to the religion of Science. After all, if there were no debate we would have nothing to prove."

There is no 'debate'. Nothing in creationism or intelligent design has done a thing to improve our knowledge of evolution. See how our self-described "scientist" carefully avoids any mention of reliable EVIDENCE? No, all depends on how many people believe a thing (argumentum ad numerum) and how well one side might argue their position. This is precisely the way creationists and other blind believers think and behave. Holding no actual evidence to support their beliefs, there are forced into it.

It's not about debate. It's not about popularity. It's about the evidence, The Evidence, THE EVIDENCE. One drunken plumber from the hills of Caroline who holds conclusive evidence trumps all the PhDs on the planet. It's about the evidence.

"Of course instead of coming up with valuable solutions, I'm probably wrong, but I'm guessing you would say that it's already been tried, and not provable - so it's already decided (from the comfort of your arm chair). What I'm open for is a better method - one that cracks the universe wide open."

Believe this -if you hear a believer accuse you of being an arm chair skeptic or arm chair scientist, you may assume with about 99.9% accuracy that it is his ass with roots driving deep into the Lazy Boy. Another point that paints Smore as among the worst of blind believers is this egomaniacal desire to "crack the universe wide open", also the sign of a crank. Believers never seek the little victories, no, the seek to overturn the entirety of the universe, no less. Yeeeeeeesh.

By considering just a paragraph or two from Smore, it is revealed that he doesn't have even a basic grasp of the scientific method, that he doesn't know how to evaluate evidence, relying instead on irrelevancies such as the number of people who might blindly believe as a guide, that he doesn't value evidence so much in the first place, relying on poor argumentation and 'debate', and worst of all, that he has zero insight into these tremendous deficits.

I strongly suspect that Smore is just a keyboard scientist who pretends to science because he knows the lie is safe in cyberland. If he is a scientist, I suggest he not hold his breath awaiting major discoveries, awards, prizes, and notoriety.



The Two Percent Company, 2005.07.09 (Sat) 20:52 [Link] »

Smore,

Let's get down to it.

Thank you for participating in my experiment. I used you to prove a point to a co-worker. The above mentioned "experiment" actually happened — but not at the degree stated.

So, let us see if we have this straight, Smore. As we surmised, your story was fabricated. You lied. Thanks for proving our point, here.

And pardon us if we don't accept the "experiment" story you've now tossed at us. It looks more like you made a fool of yourself, and you're trying to save face, but maybe that's just our view (and Rockstar's). Not that it matters either way, we just thought we'd mention that.

As a note, I am an astrophysicist.

Assuming that you are telling the truth here, Smore (and not just lying again), all this proves is that even astrophysicists can be morons. And if you're trying to make yourself sound less foolish by saying that you are an astrophysicist, then please be aware that the argument from authority approach means nothing to us, even if it's an argument from self-authority. Sorry.

I wouldn't want "true skeptics" to ever think that we don't USE scientific methods in our research, but I will divulge that we are constantly challenged to keep an open mind that there is possibility in things yet unknown, and things as of yet undiscovered; and I guess you could say therein lies our so called "faith". This is why we keep "dreaming up" our missions. Research is truly expensive, and in many cases we are questioned as to "why" our research is necessary - but we believe the discoveries that lie ahead are worth the effort - lest we be out of a job.

Allow us to pose a question to you, then. Let's say you have a hypothesis about the current existence of intelligent, advanced life on Mars. Even though there is a significant amount of evidence showing that your hypothesis is extraordinarily improbable, you go ahead and propose a multi-billion dollar mission aimed at interacting with these intelligent Martians. What do you think your top administrative brass would say?

Because that's exactly what's going on with the paranormal here, Smore. We aren't closed to new possibilities; as a matter of fact, we are very open to them. However, when there is a certain amount (read: lots) of evidence against one of those possibilities and zero evidence in favor of it, we tend to move on. We imagine that you would as well, in your professional "astrophysicist" work, but for some reason you choose not to when it comes to paranormal silliness. Why? What's the difference? Please enlighten us, O wise astrophysicist.

In response to our comment about you waiting months to check the results of your "experiment," you say:

Sometimes it takes months, or even years or decades for NASA to determine if an experiment validates a hypothesis — but work continues until the answer comes in anyway.

And there's the key — "work continues until the answer comes in." However, in the false case you posed, work didn't continue — you sat on your ass for three months without finishing the experiment. Results were ready and waiting, but you refused to examine them (for some odd, indeterminate reason). See the difference? 'Cause we sure do, and — we're willing to bet — so do many of our readers.

And even then if the evidence is inconclusive, we keep reaching. Even when you are working on a project first hand, speculation can still prove wrong simply because the focus is not placed where it should be.

As we said above: doesn't there come a point when there have been enough tests that have failed to prove the existence of something, so that you finally admit that it probably doesn't exist? For us — and for most rational scientists — there certainly is such a point, and the search for paranormal phenomena has long surpassed it. Again: why hasn't it for you?

The laws of science are always a starting point and generally what we base our methods of research on, but there's always the possibility of an unknown or distorted fact that can sway the conclusion.

Certainly. But these tests we are talking about (and the one that you lied about performing) don't even conform to the simplest of scientific controls. How would such a poorly conceived testing methodology go over with your superiors if you were working with NASA? Not well, we imagine.

In this instance, the waiting period had no relevance on the outcome of the experiment (except to cause a "skeptic" to conclude that the experiment was more than likely bogus because the envelope wasn't opened immediately). The fact is that others were attempting the same target and the need to hold off on opening the envelope was valid. Then, the experiment got side tracked (it wasn't something I was being paid to do).

First, we can't help but reiterate that we skeptics correctly hypothesized that your experiment was likely bogus. As long as you're going to be keeping score, get it straight, sister.

Second, we strongly disagree that such a waiting period would have no effect on the outcome of the experiment. Shooting from the hip, here's a potential issue for you to mull over. You wrote down brief impressions of what you "sensed" while remote viewing. Months later, you compared them to the target. You don't agree that the accompanying impressions that you had at the time of the experiment could have changed significantly over the course of three months? In general, human memory not only fades but can also morph memories into things that they never were, and that effect increases with time. Are you seriously saying that you don't understand why the three months could have an effect on such an experiment? Wow. And you wonder why we questioned (and continue to question) your grasp of the scientific method?

However a true scientist would have sought more information regarding the actual process of the experiment to see if it could have been conducted more thoroughly rather than attacking the integrity of the researcher.

Considering that we suspected that you were fabricating your test, we didn't really feel the need to delve into the fabricated details. Turns out that we were right, huh?

We worked with what you gave us, and what you gave us was a poorly executed experiment. Sure, there are other details that we didn't have, but we had enough to see significant flaws. That's what we pointed out in our reply.

And what the hell does that part about seeing if the experiment "could have been conducted more thoroughly" have to do with anything? You wanted us to play Monday Morning Quarterback to your fake test to tell you what you should have done? Sorry, but you can go fuck yourself. We waste more than enough time on loons already, and we have no desire to delve even deeper into their ramblings so that we can define a proper test that they "should have" conducted. We pointed out the flaws already present in the details you gave us — no more, no less.

Like I said, this wasn't a paid research project — and I never once claimed that the experiment PROVED nor DISPROVED evidence of paranormal activity. That was your assumption. And your comment was based on your current knowledge of what you believed to be the relevant facts of the experiment (I'm sorry anecdote).

Actually, you are completely wrong once again; please make no more assumptions about our "assumptions." We never said that you claimed to have provided proof. What we did say was:

Sorry, but even aside from this being completely anecdotal, your story is worthless as supporting evidence of the paranormal.

We said it before, and we'll say it again now: you clearly have a very, very weak grasp of the scientific method. We don't give a flying horse-fuck what you claim to do for a living — you can call yourself a scientist all you want, but your words and actions tell a different story. Here's a similar example. We could call ourselves devout orthodox Jews, but if we go around eating bacon cheeseburgers at every meal, then our actions clearly show that our self-applied label is bullshit. Your clear failure to understand science does the same to your claim of being a scientist. Get it? We hope so.

And as we've already established, we saw plenty of flaws in the details you provided, and we called them out. If you can't see those same flaws, don't blame us.

Instead, your total response was more about trying to make me look like an uneducated imbecile who couldn't wipe your shoes mentally.

You know, we just addressed this exact point in our previous comment, Smore. Our response wasn't about making you look stupid, but if that is the end result, then perhaps you should blame yourself for saying stupid things. How much more simple can we make this?

In the category of arrogant asshole, you score -10 points. I actually found this website while researching what the naysayers are saying. Turns out — based on this rant — not much, unless you count arrogant spewings of regurgitated data.

Yes, yes. We are rude people, and our mommies should spank us and send us to bed with no ice cream. You'll excuse us if your razor sharp wit in assigning us a negative ten on the arrogant asshole-o-meter doesn't reduce us to quivering, teary blobs. (And hey, if it's the "arrogant asshole" scale, wouldn't a negative score be good?)

We do wonder what the regurgitated data you mention is supposed to be, though. Did you have something specific in mind, or were you just tossing out insults for no reason? See, when we insult someone, we explain why we're doing it, and we provide the supporting rationale for our assertions. Try it some time — it's much more effective than just saying "Smore is a stupidhead!"

A possible question, if you wish to answer, is: IF, and that's a mighty big IF since you are a true skeptic, you were going to proceed with an actual experiment to determine if RV has merit as a form of time travel, how would you go about it? What would be YOUR burden of proof? Let's say you truly BELIEVED there's something to it, but OH HOW do you prove it?

Well, Smore, if you had bothered to read and understand any of our posts that relate to the paranormal, you probably wouldn't be asking this question. You would have seen that our approach is to isolate a given claim from a practitioner of the paranormal, set up sound parameters, agree on what constitutes success or failure, and run the test. Since we have no clue what claims we'd be testing in your sample scenario (you know, the one you made up), we can't really design a test around it. Given a volunteer, we could certainly do so, and we have no doubt that it would be far more rigorous than the bogus test you outlined in your original comment to us. If you want more details of how an actual honest-to-gosh scientific test of the paranormal works, check out the JREF site. Maybe then you'll see why your bogus "test" was flawed. Or maybe you'll just call James Randi an arrogant asshole as well. Whatever floats your boat, Smore.

Maybe technology just hasn't gotten us far enough to prove it yet and YOU could be the genius to find the answer.

Sweet Jesus on a sizzling shish kebab, how many times do we have to go over this? The scientific method itself has nothing to do with the technological capacity of a civilization. What the hell are you talking about? No matter what technology is available, the scientific method — observe, hypothesize, experiment (with proper controls), analyze, theorize, repeat — will work. It has nothing to do with what you can do, it has to do with how you do it. Yes, the better the technology we have, the more we can figure out, and the more accurately, but that's not what the scientific method is about. We would think that an "astrophysicist" would be well aware of this fact.

Is paranormal activity really "bogus"? Maybe it can't be proven with scientific methods today. You can't prove that is DOESN'T exist either;

Ding ding ding! Congratulations, Smore! You've now touched on every stupid argument that we've ever seen from the loon-squad! What ever shall we respond to your statement that we can't prove that the paranormal doesn't exist? Oh, crap, we've never been challenged like this before. We've never even thought about that prospect before! Oh, no, wait. We have a whole post about that already. It's called "Only God Can Prove a Negative, and There Is No God." We'd link to it, but nah, a mighty "astrophysicist" like you can find it for herself. Let's just say that it's an experiment that you are taking part in. We have confidence that you can find it given the title, but we'll give you one more hint: just like your diatribe, the post is filed under "Bullshit."

otherwise 2/3rds of the world are whacked — or just not as well read, or as educated as you.

Now that's the most rational hypothesis that you've made the entire time you've been here, Smore. Forget the "well read" and "educated" bits for now — the prospect that two-thirds of the world's population is "whacked" is certainly plausible given the incredible percentages of Americans alone who believe in various aspects of the paranormal. We do understand that some of these people are compartmentalizing their beliefs and aren't 100% "whacked" in all cases. But yes, many many people do harbor silly — or, in deference to you, Smore, "whacked" — beliefs. And your point was...? Science isn't a democracy.

People who are committed to finding the answers to these questions have to be more creative in finding ways to get to the bottom of the mystery. Without the debate (such as Creation vs. Evolution) we would all fall into line like sheep and subscribe to the religion of Science. After all, if there were no debate we would have nothing to prove.

Holy fucking hell. You actually believe that there is a debate between evolution and creationism? Here's a newsflash, Smore — there isn't one. There's the scientifically accepted theory of evolution and there's a bunch of people shouting and thumping their bibles. Assuming that is what you are referring to as a "debate," do you actually think that such interaction is beneficial to anyone? It's not. At all. If there was a competing scientific theory to counter evolution, that would be a worthwhile debate. Creationism is not anything of the sort. If you think that creationism is in any way scientific, then you need to be beaten about the head and neck with a microscope until you understand.

Serious debate is integral to forward progress, as we gladly stipulate. However, the kind of debate you are referring to (i.e., regarding creationism) is more like mental masturbation: sure, it can be fun for a while, but at the end of the day it doesn't move the human race forward. Oh, and it sometimes chafes.

That said, we find it funny that, according to you, without creationists we'd "fall into line like sheep," considering that controlling the sheep is the primary goal of most organized religions. It's also funny that an astrophysicist would call science a religion. Or maybe "funny" isn't the right word. Maybe "highly suspect" sums it up better.

Yes. Yes, it does.

Of course instead of coming up with valuable solutions, I'm probably wrong, but I'm guessing you would say that it's already been tried, and not provable — so it's already decided (from the comfort of your arm chair). What I'm open for is a better method — one that cracks the universe wide open.

You are wrong. So, your guess that you'd be wrong was, in fact, right! See, we keep score fairly.

Anyway, we are always open to new evidence. The key word here is "new." All of this paranormal shit has been around for-fucking-ever. What "unknown" or "undiscovered" thing could there be about it? It was once new, and it was investigated...and was found wanting. It didn't pan out. And yet people are still shouting for the same old tired tests. The jury isn't "still out," for fuck's sake, they've already deliberated, delivered their verdict, talked to the press, gone home, had dinner, went to bed, woke up and left for work the next morning. And now you want them to go back and deliberate some more? When is it enough for you? Our guess is never. You may feel free to waste your life chasing after ghosts, but please don't expect us to validate your silly beliefs.

To me the sad thing is that most skeptics (at least the ones that actually debate these types of questions on the internet) come across (whether they be or not) as being kind of "arm chair" scientists. Would be nice to see one get out of his armchair just once and actually DO an experiment.

Ah, more assumptions. First of all, when did you investigate and discover that none of our members are employed as scientists? Since we don't divulge much personal information on this site, that would be quite a feat. Regardless, as we said above, pedigree means very little to us — intelligence and common sense are what count in people, and evidence is what counts in science. You have failed on all measures, despite your alleged vocation. Further, it doesn't take being employed as a scientist to understand the things we're talking about. Hell, more people should be armchair scientists. If they took the place of all the armchair "psychics" and what not, we'd have a much better world to live in.

Then you assume that we haven't performed or taken part in any of our own experiments. That is 100% untrue. Between our members, we have taken part in numerous experiments of the paranormal. We have done so ranging over the years 1985 to 2005, and we don't plan to stop any time soon. Some have been conducted by us, while others have been conducted by well-known paranormal investigators in university settings. We'd hazard a guess that we've been involved in far more (and far more rigorous) testing of the paranormal than you've even just seen on television. So be careful before tossing out half-assed assumptions — you might end up looking foolish. Er. More foolish. Even more...ah, skip it.

The issue is that if you truly felt there might be a chance that paranormal activity was REAL, you'd find a way to prove it true... even if it meant trying something that you would be ridiculed for by your peers.

What? We'd "find a way to prove it true" if we truly wanted it to be true? No, Smore, that's not how science works. A scientist may certainly desire a specific outcome, but a good scientist would never "find a way" to prove something true — they would conduct proper tests and the results would be observed. Where did you learn about science? Did you take a psychic correspondence course and Remotely View the course materials? That would explain a lot.

Howard Hughes didn't have a degree in aviation, yet he was able to pay people enough money to bring his visions to life. He BELIEVED that it could be done. The $$$$ upped the ante for those guys that did have the brains to accomplish it - guess you could say it motivated them. Imagine their surprise when they actually made it happen. I suspect no surprise at all; only a sigh of relief. Maybe something was learned in the RV experiment that could answer another question that still needs an answer?

We're so happy for him that Howard Hughes had faith and money. And yet, neither of those accomplished the creation or flight of the Spruce Goose. Believe it or not, there was actually some science behind Howard's beliefs, which places them in stark contrast to your silly beliefs. What, did you just go drool over Leonardo DiCaprio and decide that's how the story went? Sheesh.

I won't argue any of your points above, because there is no need.

Riiiiight, there's no need to actually respond to our points because...wait, why was that? Because you can't? Because, um...you're an "astrophysicist"? Because...? Help us out here — why is there no need?

Thanks for the rant. Keep up the good work of putting everything into so much perspective. People spend their entire lives dedicating their minds and resources to seeking answers.

You're quite welcome, though we have a nagging suspicion that you were being sarcastic.

I'm sure all of the sheep appreciate the education you and yours provide. After all, it's probably so much more fun to learn from people who constantly demean ignorance, and it's so much cheaper than a real education.

Again with calling scientific people "sheep." See above for why that's incorrect. And yes, we are demeaning toward ignorance. Proudly so. The question is, why do you embrace ignorance?

By the way, shame on you for not being more tolerant of the people who come here thinking they might find a fresh perspective.

Where do you loons get the idea that tolerance of the right to hold a belief equates to tolerance of the belief itself? It doesn't! Go read our post called "Believe What You Want to Believe" to understand that point, Smore. Again, we trust you can find it.

(Shame on me for thinking you actually had something to say.)

You...ahem...didn't think we had something to say, you were performing an experiment on us. Right? (Wink wink, nudge nudge.)

You should know that people from all walks of life need to add their 2 cents worth to these types of tired discussions. (Me included.)

The problem, Smore, is that some people don't have enough intellect to meet the ante.

For the sake of something worth discussing — do try to comment on what YOUR solution to proving paranormal activity would be. Otherwise, it's a wasted effort.

Why the hell is the burden of proof being shifted to us? Oh, right, you're a loon. We forgot, that's what loons do. Sorry. Never mind.

If it's already un-provable, why even discuss it? Brainstorming is so much more productive.

If people would let this silliness go away, we'd be happy to stop discussing it. Until that day comes, we'll continue to show it for the stupidity that it is. If you don't like that, then you can go back to your "astrophysics lab" and read something else. Please.

Okay, we're done. You can tell us all about the new "experiment" that this comment was a part of. And you can switch stories and be an evolutionary biologist if you want — as long as we can be rock stars. Oooh, no, wait: lion tamers! Yeah! Whee!



Åsmund, 2005.07.15 (Fri) 16:11 [Link] »

If I may derail for a moment:

(...) humans did not descend from monkeys (...)

Is it certain that humans didn't evolve from monkeys? A common ancestor and not a currently living species of monkey, yes. But has it been demonstrated that this common ancestor wouldn't be considered a monkey?

Or, since humans are apes, not monkeys, the common ancestor of the apes. Has it been established that this common ancestor of chimpanzees, gorillas, and humans was not a species that would be considered an ape?


Given the debated fact that as humans we are nothing more than evolved monkeys (...)

I can't decide whether or not to be offended at that "nothing more".



Grendel, 2005.07.15 (Fri) 19:39 [Link] »

We need to stop insulting apes and monkeys.



The Two Percent Company, 2005.07.17 (Sun) 00:43 [Link] »

Åsmund,

Yes, it is certain that humans didn't evolve from monkeys. Or apes.

As a quick search on Talk.Origins reveals:

We evolved from primates that are more like apes than monkeys in the most recent eras, and like modern monkeys in the more remote past. However, we did not evolve from either modern apes or modern monkeys. Instead, we share common ancestors with them, and they too have evolved since then.
[our emphasis]

The key word, repeated twice above, is like. Sure, these common ancestors might, with only a cursory examination, seem to be something "like" apes, or even further back along the line "like" monkeys. But the simple fact is: they weren't actually monkeys or apes as we know those animals today — because just as our species has developed and changed from those early primates so long ago, so have the various species of monkey and ape.

That said, you are asking if these common ancestors would be "considered" to be monkeys or apes. But the missing element in your line of inquiry is: considered by whom?

Would a randomly selected person on the street "consider" these common ancestors to be monkeys or apes? Probably. But then again, that same random person might very well "consider" a B-52 to be a fighter jet plane — that doesn't make him correct (the B-52 is a bomber — big difference). Now, would an evolutionary biologist or an anthropologist, or any other of a number of experts, "consider" the common ancestors to be monkeys or apes? Undoubtedly, no (no more than an aeronautics engineer or military pilot would consider the B-52 to be a fighter jet).

One of the loose guidelines (not a hard and fast rule) that often helps us determine the boundaries between different species is reproductive compatibility. It is highly unlikely that a modern human would be able to interbreed with our most recent ("recent" indicating quite a long time ago!) common ancestor with apes or monkeys, if that organism could somehow be transported through time to the present. It is also highly unlikely that a modern ape or monkey would be able to interbreed with this creature.

So, the short answer is: we didn't descend from monkeys or apes. We descended from creatures which — at first glance and/or by the average person — would seem very apelike or monkeylike to our modern eyes.



Grendel, 2005.07.17 (Sun) 18:49 [Link] »

"It is highly unlikely that a modern human would be able to interbreed with our most recent common ancestor with apes or monkeys.."

Just gimme a case of beer and stand back.



Jeff from the Two Percent Company, 2005.07.17 (Sun) 19:10 [Link] »

Funny you should say "back" — since I was picturing the extremely hairy one you'd likely be facing when you did the deed. (I don't think Australopithecus does missionary.)

On the off chance you have a good time, Gren...see if she has a sister.



Grendel, 2005.07.17 (Sun) 21:57 [Link] »

As the sole remaining member of my species, I have experience in these things. I tried horse-breeding once, but I wasn't tall enough.




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