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« Ann Coulter's Foot, Meet...Wait, We've Done This One Before, Haven't We? The RantsElmo Busted for Being Annoying »

In Which We Try to Accept a Psychic Challenge
2005.12.02 (Fri) 13:21

The gauntlet has been thrown down, and we have accepted the challenge. Now all that remains is to see if the self-proclaimed medium who issued the challenge actually accepts our acceptance. Perhaps a little explanation is in order.

Just yesterday, we received a comment from Safari Tom. Actually, we received two copies of the same comment on two of our posts. It read:

Hi ,
My name is Tom ... I do not belive in Organized religion. I am a scientist by nature and believe in evolution. I am an amateur fossil hunter as well. I had a near death experience 11 yrs ago. Which led to an out of body experience. Im 32 yrs old now and communicate with the other side. I can and do communicate with those that have left this world of existance. I invite you to contact me. I can show you first hand. Mediums are real. We can and do communicate with the other side. We can get info from spirit. I didnt ask for this. It just happend to me. I never gave it a 2nd thought before my accident. but the accident opened it up for me. Ive lost friends do their religious beliefs because of my ability , ive scared a lot of people with it and ive helped people as well. It is indeed truth and part of life. We do live on ... This isnt the end ... But a skeptic will not always look at the evidence , of which there is inumerous amounts..
Tom

Immediately, we recognized the message content as belonging to an all-too-commonly-seen category — that of the person who starts with various assertions aiming to show that they are "real scientific and stuff," segueing into an agreement that all those silly beliefs out their are just preposterous, and then followed by a claim that their silly belief is actually, factually real. But buried in the otherwise typical comment was an invitation to have Tom prove his powers to us. To wit:

I can and do communicate with those that have left this world of existance. I invite you to contact me. I can show you first hand.

In our reply, we pointed out the formulaic nature of Tom's comment, and tried to correct some of his logical and factual flaws; but we also happily accepted his invitation, and laid out the parameters by which we could define a test of his claims. Our reply was:

Tom,

We are going to be very direct with you — please don't mistake this for anger, although it may look very similar in your eyes. You see, it's just that we've heard this exact same story so many times, we feel like our eyes are going to bleed. It always starts with an assertion designed to show us that the commenter is a logical person who scoffs at bullshit, and then leads into a personal account of why their pet form of bullshit is 100% really and truly real. Along the way, the commenter almost always demonstrates serious errors in critical thinking, and sometimes (though not always) devolves into an insult aimed at "close-minded skeptics." Your comment follows the standard pattern pretty closely.

Here's the assertion that you are a logical person:

I do not belive in Organized religion. I am a scientist by nature and believe in evolution. I am an amateur fossil hunter as well.

Then the personal experience of bullshit (snipped for brevity):

I had a near death experience 11 yrs ago. Which led to an out of body experience. Im 32 yrs old now and communicate with the other side. I can and do communicate with those that have left this world of existance. ... We do live on ... This isnt the end ...

And here, wrapped into one part, is a veiled insult aimed at "closed-minded skeptics," along with a serious error in critical thinking:

But a skeptic will not always look at the evidence , of which there is inumerous amounts..

Let's take your comment as a whole. You claim to be a scientist by nature, but then make the demonstrably false statement that there is "inumerous amounts" of evidence supporting the existence of spirit mediums. That is 100% untrue. There is certainly a lot of anecdotal evidence for the paranormal — like your account above — but there isn't a shred of scientific evidence for such claims. Not one shred.

Want to bring up Gary Schwartz and the other loony professors who claim to have scientific evidence of the paranormal? Bzzzzzt! Sorry — if they aren't releasing their data and allowing peers to both review it and attempt to replicate their results, then it isn't science...it's bullshit. See, we've looked at the so-called evidence, and we've taken part in experiments. It isn't that we aren't willing to look at the evidence, it's that it doesn't exist.

Look, you're welcome to believe whatever you want to believe — hell, we would fight for your right to hold your beliefs. But don't confuse your faith-based beliefs with the fact-based beliefs of science. It's silly and, frankly, insulting.

As far as your offer to show us first hand that your abilities do exist, you're welcome to try. Please use our Contact Page to send us details of your claims. We will then work out a test of your claims, and we will be happy to publish the results on our site.

Be specific. If you can only get the names of your target's dead pets from the spirits, then tell us that and we'll design the test accordingly. So be as specific about your claims as possible. Be warned in advance — if you require something from us in order to do your thing, we may not provide it. For example, we are not going to provide any personal information, or locks of hair, or vials of blood. In the end, it is our prerogative to decide what we are willing to share; so again, it is important that you be specific up front.

Please do not post your claims on one of our Rants — it would be off-topic no matter where it landed. You may certainly reply via comment to our other points outlined above, but please stick to doing so only on one Rant — not both Rants that you double-posted your initial comment on. We would suggest that "An Ongoing Conversaton About Beliefs" is more relevant to your thoughts than "Allison DuBois — Even More of a Hypocrite Than Previously Thought."

We will wait for your e-mail via our Contact Page.

We didn't have long to wait, but the reply wasn't what we expected. Instead of using our Contact Page to send us the details of his claims as we requested, Tom emailed us the following two messages:

Im sorry you feel that way ... It seems as though every rational person that deals with an irrational skeptic is followed by a repeating pattern of which the skeptic knows not what he does is the same exact pattern of the rational person .

You wont believe it ... You cannot be forced ... But mediums and spirit communication is very real. If you could only meet me and see for yourself .. I invite you to visit with me .... If interested , let me know

There is more to life that you and both know ....some are more sensitive to what is out there surrounding us .... its really that simple...

All The Best

Tom

...and...

PS,

All of Gary Schwartz's results are fre for the viewing by anyone . They are published and available to the public.

Have you read the documented blind, double blind and triple blind studies?

If you had you wouldn't be a skeptic anymore, and if you still were, you should probably start your own experiments and find out for yourself.

The truth is out there , some wont open their eyes to ready the pages , no matter how much evidence there is , you refuse to read it .

Tom

Oddly, no mention of the details of his supermagical claims — just lots more misguided and incorrect statements. Had he missed our acceptance of his challenge? We also took a moment to visit the link provided in Tom's comments. What we found was extraordinary. Right at the top of the page, we see a picture of Tom in what looks like a church. He is holding up his arm, and in the space between his arm and his head, a reflection of white light can be seen on the glass door in the background. Actually, the picture is about as un-extraordinary as can be, but Tom's claims are pretty wild. Under the picture he says:

I was always a skeptic about "orbs" till the night I asked any spirits to get as close to me as possible after explaining that I wanted to take its picture. Once I reviewed this photo I was in AWE !!

At first we didn't know what he was talking about — seriously, not a clue. Then it slowly dawned on us: he was trying to suggest that the glare on the door in the background — most probably a reflection of the camera's flash — was an "orb" floating near his body. We shit you not — this guy apparently really believes this. See, we told you it was extraordinary.

From here, his page degenerates into EVP samples, complete with instructions on how to record your own EVPs. We noticed the almost-obligatory warning that "you must believe" in order to successfully record EVPs right near the top of his instructions. Why is it that all of these "phenomena" require belief in them in order to function? If we don't believe in gravity, it still pulls our asses to the ground when we trip and fall. Odd, isn't it? We didn't bother to listen to the EVP samples — we've waded through far more than our share of those via our old Rant on the subject. If someone comes across one that's worth spending some time on, please let us know — we're always up for a good laugh (or that ever-elusive proof of the paranormal).

Our most recent reply in this ongoing saga, which we sent to Tom via e-mail, is reprinted below.

Tom,

You really need to work on two skills — namely, writing and reading comprehension.

We honestly have no idea what point you're trying to convey in the first paragraph, so we'll skip that. You rambled on a bit about Gary Schwartz, and demonstrated your lack of knowledge regarding his experiments quite handily.

First off, we have read some of his work. The details he provides paint a picture of seriously flawed research which would never pass muster at peer review. We won't go into details here as we've covered this at length in the past (see Part II of Allison DuBois week).

Second, while many of Gary's results are available in the books he's hawking, all of the details of his work are not — he has refused to release many pertinent details that any real scientist would provide so that his peers could review his work and attempt to replicate his results. James Randi provides some details of this behavior that you may want to peruse. Perhaps Gary's behavior is due to the fact that what he has released has been so thoroughly trashed as exceedingly poor science that he fears releasing any more details.

Third, your assertion that Gary Schwartz used double- and triple-blind protocols in all of his experiments is patently false. A triple-blind study would entail that the psychic, the sitter, and the person evaluating the success of the psychic are all entirely unaware of each others' identities. Since Gary Schwartz was present for many of his own experiments, and since he was certainly aware of the psychics he was using, we find it hard to imagine that he has ever used a triple-blind protocol. If you are aware of some instance in which he did utilize such controls, please let us know — and cite your references. In point of fact, we're not sure how a triple-blind study would even work in this setting. In addition, Gary has freely admitted that he almost never uses double-blind protocols — James Randi can fill you in on this, as can reading Schwartz's book (you know, the one you told us to read). Ray Hyman points this out directly:

Schwartz's new book The Afterlife Experiments presents evidence from a series of five reports in which Schwartz and his associates observed mediums give readings to sitters "in stringently monitored experiments." Schwartz does admit that his experiments were not ideal. For example, only the very last in his sequence of studies used a truly double-blind format.
[our emphasis]

So, Gary himself admits that most of the experiments cited in his book are not double-blind. Once again, if you have some source which refutes Gary's own admission, feel free to share.

You then make the common mistake that so many like you have made so many times before — you assume that we have not participated in or conducted any of our own experiments of paranormal phenomena. As we pointed out to you already, that is 100% false. In addition to correcting you in our original reply, a casual perusal of our posts would reveal numerous other such corrections. We'll leave you to do the reading for yourself.

You go on to invite us to meet you, so that you can prove your claims to us. Believe it or not, Tom, we aren't planning to fly across the country to hear more about your specious claims which, to date, you've backed up with nothing more substantive than a request that we trust you.

However, we did accept your offer to convince us of your abilities, and we outlined the manner in which you should proceed if you truly want to prove your claims. Oddly, you make no mention of taking us up on our offer. Did you miss that part of our comment? We'll repeat it here:

As far as your offer to show us first hand that your abilities do exist, you're welcome to try. Please use our Contact Page to send us details of your claims. We will then work out a test of your claims, and we will be happy to publish the results on our site.

Be specific. If you can only get the names of your target's dead pets from the spirits, then tell us that and we'll design the test accordingly. So be as specific about your claims as possible. Be warned in advance — if you require something from us in order to do your thing, we may not provide it. For example, we are not going to provide any personal information, or locks of hair, or vials of blood. In the end, it is our prerogative to decide what we are willing to share; so again, it is important that you be specific up front.

We're not sure that we can be any more clear than that. Either follow the protocol we have outlined, or stop telling us that we aren't willing to look at your evidence. Perhaps you are the one unwilling to be tested.

Bottom line: it's time to put up or shut up, Tom. Either take us up on our offer to test your claims by following the procedures we've outlined in our comment, or admit that you are unwilling to follow through on your offer and go away to delude yourself in private. It's really that simple.

We await your response via our Contact Page.

So, the clock is ticking. We have readily accepted Safari Tom's challenge, and we intend to follow through with a rigorous but fair test of his claims — that is, if we ever hear from Tom exactly what his claims are.

At the time of this post, it has been just about twenty-four hours since we accepted Safari Tom's invitation to have him prove his powers to us. Will Safari Tom put his spirit medium powers where his mouth is, or will his clock one day rival Sylvia Browne's? Only time will tell.

We'll continue the conversation here, however it may proceed.


— • —
[  Filed under: % Bullshit  ]

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Comments (51)

Ford, 2005.12.02 (Fri) 20:28 [Link] »

Do you guys ever get the feeling that this is hopeless? I mean, it must happen some times with a seemingly endless supply of tards. It must, at times, feel as if it's a hopeless endevour, even if only for a moment before you get another morale boost. I don't know, I guess I'm just projecting my feelings towards the world onto you.



The Two Percent Company, 2005.12.02 (Fri) 21:05 [Link] »

Believe us, Ford, we know the feeling to which you refer all too well. We've felt it many times when staring down the barrel of yet another high-caliber moron cannon.

Is it useless? Well, that depends on what "it" is, we reckon. If we live to be 500 years old, we still won't even come close to seeing the end of credulity in the civilized world — hell, we wouldn't even see the majority of people shift camps, let alone witness a total redemption. So, if anything like that was our goal, then it would indeed be useless. Sure, a society full of critical thinkers would be wonderful, but we know we'll never see it happen.

However, we've seen and been a part of enough small victories to keep our batteries charged. Believe it or not, if you get past the con artists, the hopelessly credulous sheep, and the violently unstable believers (not an easy task, to be sure), there really are some folks who are ready and willing to think critically — they just need access to the resources they can lean on for rational information. With so many high-exposure endorsements of silly beliefs — be it television, movies, hospitals, or universities — it's no wonder that some good people are being sucked into the insanity. By providing a counterbalance to the dissemination of stupidity, we hope to level the playing field, just a little.

There are certainly many who will never listen to reason, who will never see the simple and obvious flaws in their rationales no matter how plainly and clearly their errors are laid out, and who will be mindless sheep until the ends of their days. But there are also people who are truly starving for all of the information out there waiting to be consumed, so that they can make an informed and logical decision. Every time we hear from one of the people in that latter group, it really hits us: it isn't useless.

And that's what keeps us going.



The Two Percent Company, 2005.12.02 (Fri) 21:38 [Link] »

Surprise, surprise, surprise...it looks like Safari Tom realized that he got in way over his head. So, predictably, he's trying to weasel out of the offer that he made to us, and he's attempting to lay the blame on us while wriggling out the back door. Typical, isn't it? These psychics are full of tough talk and bluster until it looks like their claims may actually be put to the test. Then, just like Sylvia Browne, they disappear.

We received the following e-mail from Safari Tom at 7:45PM ET tonight:

Im done with you guys ... i wish you all the best in your defiance of the truth .... when you done fighting with yourself .. open your eyes and accept life....

All The Best to you and yours this holiday season

Tom
www.safaritom.com www.safaritom.bearshare.org/paranormal.htm

Gary even said you wouldn't analyze the evidence .. he must be gifted as well

Our reply (which we also e-mailed to Tom) is as follows:

— • —

Hey, Tom, we have news for you — we have been and still remain 100% open to accepting your offer to have you prove your claims to us. We've clearly stated this since our very first reply to you. You made the offer, and we accepted. What's the hold-up here?

You say that we are in "defiance of the truth." We take that to mean that you think we need to accept the "truth" of claims like yours. Well, big guy, that ball is in your court, not ours. You are in a unique position to shut us up by proving your claims to us. What are you waiting for?

Look, if you're unwilling to follow through on your offers, then you shouldn't make them in the first place. Since you did make this offer — several times, we might add — and since we accepted it, you should at least have the decency to back out with dignity. Remember, you came to our site and invited us to contact you for a demonstration of your abilities. Our acceptance was serious and sincere. Now you seem to want to back out, and your sad little "you guys suck, whatever, good luck denying what you know is real" whine rings about as hollow as any retreat we've ever heard, even making allowances for the fact that it's flattened out by the Doppler effect as you haul ass into the sunset.

For the last time, you don't get to say that we won't look at or analyze the evidence, Tom. Sorry, just no. We offered to do just that, and you are the one refusing to see the deal through. We remain firm in our offer to test your claims, while you continue to duck and weave instead of sending us your claims so that we can get started. Perhaps you ought to take a long, hard look at what you're doing here. Who's the closed-minded party in this scenario, Tom? It isn't us.

Since you have provided us with no opportunity to assess your claims, we can only assume that the real reason you are waffling is because your "mystical powers" are nothing but a flimsy fantasy. If that's the case, then have the decency to admit it, and move on with your life. Or prove us wrong by following through on your offer and detailing your claims as we outlined in our original reply.

You invited us to contact you so that you could demonstrate your powers. We accepted the invitation. Put up or shut up, Tom; don't pusillanimously weasel out.

Again, we await your response. Feel free to post it as a comment if you like, now that we have a special Rant commemorating your offer.



EoR, 2005.12.02 (Fri) 22:52 [Link] »

I think you guys are just setting the bar too high for Tom. After all, he's told you he talks to voices. Can't you just believe him.

EoR
King of China
Lord and Emperor of Titan III
Ordained Minister of the Church of the Fluffy Fairy
(trust me - would I lie to you about my powers?)

PS: Of course, Tom could just be schizophrenic.



EoR, 2005.12.02 (Fri) 22:56 [Link] »

Awww. Now he's gone and taken his ball and gone home. At least, those URLs you give only lead to "HTTP Server Error 503 No available server to handle this request" messages now. Maybe the voices told him to do it.



Jeff from the Two Percent Company, 2005.12.02 (Fri) 23:49 [Link] »

You raise some awfully good points, My Liege and Fluffy Reverend.

As a note, Tom's site appears to be back up. Perhaps the traffic we sent his way was too much for his server to handle. Which does raise the question of a possible ulterior motive for his shenanigans.

Just wait 'til you see what happened next....



The Two Percent Company, 2005.12.03 (Sat) 00:31 [Link] »

Well, Safari Tom's latest reply has continued his trend of completely ignoring the fact that he has not followed through on his offer, and in fact completely ignoring anything we have previously said in any of our responses to him. We'll present his reply below, with our comments interspersed throughout his, uh, "mystical wisdom."

I understand why your a skeptical extremist. you will one day find what your not looking for

Oh, yeah, mm-hmmm. Gotcha. We'll be sorry one day. Check. Next?

I will tell you this ... Your extreme negative energy will crush any sensitive....

Man, if only that were true, we'd all live in a much better world! Oh, but not you, Tom. You'd be crushed. Sorry.

We are sensitive to your negative energies.... to the point that we can get sick ....

Wow, you picked up on our negative view toward unsubstantiated bullshit? You are psychic! Nah, just fucking with you — we were laying it on pretty thick.

You wouldn't understand because you choose not too....

No, Tom. We wouldn't understand because you have welched on your offer to help us understand. You are to blame for what you keep referring to as our lack of understanding. Is that clear? You decided not to show us. YOU. Holy fuck, how much more clear could this be?

I wish you would open your heart to the love we have ... we care for everyone and everything .... we want all people to unite as one , we are bonded to one another by love ... why is it that you choose to bash those that wish to help humanity ...

We wish you would document your claims so that you can commence helping us to understand what it is we're missing out on. And we aren't "bashing" you because you want to help humanity; we're bashing you because you made an offer and now you are refusing to follow through, or even acknowledge our acceptance of your offer. Pretty fucking dense, aren't you?

please look inside yourself .... when you dream at nite... you are free... let go of your burdens , let go of your skepticism and take in the truth ..

Unless you feel like showing us otherwise, all we can say is that you need to let go of the ridiculous line of bullshit you're peddling and take in the actual real factual truth. You know, as opposed to that funny unsubstantiated insane "truth" that you seem to cling to. Show us we're wrong, Tom. Here's your chance. Your last chance.

awaken with a fresh view of the world and realize that you are part of something ... we are all part of a giant family ... energy ... its all connected .... in the end its by love ... we are all here for one thing ... to reach the top ... striving for perfection ... if we dont do the right thing in this life .. we will be destined to return ...

Yeah, yeah — lots of Newage nonsense that we've heard before. Man, if only we could be around when you kick off and realize that you're nothing but worm food. Sadly, there won't be a "you" left to realize that. We can dream, though, can't we? After all, we are free when we dream, right?

give in to your disguised hate for that which you do not understand ...

Oh, we understand claims like yours very well, Tom. Based on your flowery and vague language and your total refusal to address the heart of what we're talking about, we can only assume that we understand far more about this topic than you do. Of course, we wouldn't have to assume if you'd just fill us in on your claims and let us test them. Then we'd know that we understand more than you. Far, far more.

I love you and wish you the best for you and all those dear to you ....

That's nice. Thrilling, even. Though you may think our "negativity" means we wish you ill, we don't. We just think you're an exceedingly silly person who is massively self-delusional. That's not cause for execution or anything, though. Ridicule, sure, but not execution.

you are misguided ... You will find you path one day .. if not in this life ..... you will in another ...

Riiiight. We're the misguided ones for not blindly believing in the lengthy list of nonsense that you seem to subscribe to. Got it. Any other gems of wisdom for us, Tom?

but please... dont bring down those who are doing the right thing ....

Whoa there, big guy! You're the one bringing us down! All we want is to conduct an honest-to-gosh test of your claims, and you keep dodging us!

Your negative energy is powerful .... it had me down .... now im back in full power...

How does that work? Is it like a gas station? Or a mystical pylon? And can we use our negative energy to run our cars? (Now that could really change the world, though it would also encourage road rage.) Please, do tell. Go on — we'll take your word for it.

But you wouldn't understand how a sensitive works... we are sensitive... to energy ... to spirit .... we do live on ....

All very convincing, to be sure, but as you keep saying — "we don't understand." And as we keep saying — "that's because you won't show us." Is this getting repetitious for you, Tom? It sure as bloody hell is for us.

You have a friend in me, No matter what .. i will always be here for you .... in your time of need... or when you need a listener... feel free to privately email me

Yeah, corresponding with you has proven to be ever so fruitful thus far. Listen, we don't want your friendship. We don't want you to be here for us, wherever "here" is. We don't want you to be a listener, unless you're finally going to listen to what we are fucking saying right here in this paragraph. We just want you to follow through on your offer to prove your claims to us. If you can't do that, then — and we mean this in all sincerity — you are a fucking phony. You claim to have all these abilities, and you claim to be so sure of yourself — so step up to the plate. Act with the conviction of your beliefs. If you're right, you have nothing to lose. We are ready to put our beliefs on the line because we are confident that we are correct. It seems like that isn't the case for you, despite your belabored attempts to sound confident.

Bottom line: for all your supposed confidence, you are really nothing more than an insecure charlatan. Thanks for your "caring words," but if you have no intention of actually following through on your offer, then please do fuck off. The world is full of deluded cowards just like you, and we don't feel the need to waste any more time watching your display of pseudo-spiritual masturbation.

You lose, Tom. Somewhere down deep inside, even you must realize that.



EoR, 2005.12.03 (Sat) 17:51 [Link] »

I finally managed to access Tom's sites after they kept crashing. I'm in AWE just like Tom. A photograph he'd get a fail mark for in Photography 101 ("Sorry Tom. You've put the flash directly behind the camera. Now come on, you know better than that"). And he's a real estate agent. I can't stop laughing. Thanks for bringing this exemplar of the psychic fringe to everyone's attention.



DOGONIT, 2005.12.04 (Sun) 02:47 [Link] »

Aren't we being a little to harsh on the subject of real psychic phenomenon. There is no proof it exists, nor proof that it doesn't. I am not saying that I believe in it, but there are somethings that science can't explain. This seems like one of them.

I mean is it real, a form of training, or the information is so common that it's sure to make someone raise their hand and say, "It's me, that spirit is my departed grandmother".

(Sorry for the post being so long)

First.

One man who did a documentary on the world of psychics. It showed how many fair/carnival act psychics did their work, by training. Here is an example:

There is someone on the 2% staff that is going through some very difficult decision pertaining to an upcoming marriage or divorce. You are a male of medium height, with brown to light brown hair. You are of average height about 5' 10"-6' 0" tall.

The question you keep asking yourself over and over again is; Will this work out somehow? Either way you know whatever decision you make is going to take time to know if the outcome was really for the best.

The marriage/divorce you are having doubts about, is not your parents marriage, so stop comparing it to theirs. Does Bacardi & Coke mean something to you? I am not seeing it clearly how it is a connection. It does have some kind of significance to you though. This decision will be one of the biggest of your life, so take it slowly, think about what it is you really want and only when you are 99% sure what to do, take that step. I hope things work out for you and please do take care of yourself.

Do you see how using the most common aspects like marriage/divorce, doubts, brown hair, male, average height, parental marriage problems, one some how it's related and then finally sincerity to make the skeptic believe they are genuinely trying to help them and that they care. It just might be all too common.

There is bound to be someone on a large staff, or even a staff of say only ten that this would easily apply too!

The one really uncommon thing that may seem to prove the psychic ability to the client, is really not uncommon after all. The drink itself, Bacardi and Coke (B & C). There are several ways the person might see how this very personal information could be just the thing to make them a believer.

B & C could apply to:

The fiancee or wife's usual drink of choice.

She was drinking it the first time you two met, or went out on a date.

Mom or Dad was an Alcoholic, drinking destroyed their marriage.

Mom or Dad might have drank this on many occasions.

The psychic gets really lucky and it might apply directly to the person their reading. The ultimate proof of their abilities.

If none of the above applications apply, then most likely when he's home sitting around even deeper in thought about the marriage/divorce......the B & C commercial comes on, just like it does fifty times a day anyway. Only now you have a heightened awareness toward it.

Secondly.

There was however two people who work to help people resolve issues in their lives. They don't claim to see spirits or do channeling. They feel pain, disruptions in the persons life, old traumas that have never healed. Both never charge a fee, ever! They feel it is a gift and is not a way to make money off of others facing desperate times.

Interesting was that they never asked for the names of the people they read. No information of any kind was supplied to them. The first person who was read had several health problems, none readily seen from the outside.

Each time the person being read went to speak to agree or nod, the reader would tell them not to. That they needed to concentrate. The readers temperature went up to 102*. She was sweating on her face and hands, kinda gross.

The women referred her to see her doctor and to specifically look into having a colonoscopy. To also have a complete blood panel done and to be sure the doctor ordered a fasting glucose test (I can't remember the real name, but it was for Diabetes).

Two weeks later, the film maker and crew went with the women to her Doctors appointment. He would not order any of the tests based on a psychics reading. The doctor was quite annoyed and upset about the filming that he asked them to stop.

Later the Doctor only agreed to be in the documentary and comment on his findings under the stipulation that all the money for the testing be paid for through self private pay. He would not do it by placing a claim through her insurance company, as he believed under the circumstances it was not ethical.

Anyway, she had the tests. The colonoscopy showed polyps many of them, at the pre-cancerous stage. The glucose test showed a slightly elevated level, more likely she was a borderline diabetic or it could be stress related.

Now I wasn't there in person, nor did I know if people were paid actors or not. Most documentary film producers are serious about their work and want the credibility of finding information first hand. So, I am sorta torn between what could be true and what may not be anything more then a carefully planned out film.

He showed several side show con artists doing their thing. Then he moved onto two very sincere looking psychics. One male and one female, that do not accept money for their services. It definitely appears they are, or could be genuine. Again without ever witnessing the events first hand, I cannot honestly say one way or the other that the psychics have these abilities or not.

So, we going on questioning events as unexplained, non-factual human abilities outside the realm of being real. Another way would be to accept that perhaps there is something more to just our own intuitions and that indeed some others can feel what we cannot ourselves. I guess we may never know!



The Two Percent Company, 2005.12.04 (Sun) 14:06 [Link] »

Dogonit,

Aren't we being a little to harsh on the subject of real psychic phenomenon. There is no proof it exists, nor proof that it doesn't. I am not saying that I believe in it, but there are somethings that science can't explain. This seems like one of them.

No, no, and no. We are not being too harsh on the subject of real psychic phenomena because, to date, there isn't a single documented case of real psychic phenomena.

And no, there is no proof that it doesn't exist, but then again, it is impossible to prove that assertion. Why is it impossible? Well, we have an entire post dedicated to that very topic — it's called "Only God Can Prove a Negative, and There Is No God."

That said, although it's impossible to disprove the existence of paranormal phenomena, the amount of evidence against its existence is so overwhelming that the probability of it existing is as close to zero as makes no odds. There comes a point when there have been so many tests conducted, and there is such a monumental lack of evidence for something, that we think rational people simply need to treat that thing as non-existent. For our part, we've done a lot of research into the paranormal, and we've taken part in plenty of experiments ourselves. To date, we haven't come across a single convincing piece of evidence for anything paranormal, and at the same time we've come to understand the myriad of ways in which perfectly normal occurrences can seem like paranormal events (such as your lengthy and, as a side note inaccurate, example of cold reading). As a result, we have come to the conclusion that the probability of these phenomena existing is close enough to zero to be entirely negligible, and we act accordingly.

And yes, there are some things that science can't explain. In fact, there are some questions which just aren't empirical in nature and which therefore cannot be approached via the scientific method. The existence of paranormal phenomena, though, is not one of those questions — it is an objective proposal: does it exist, or does it not? Science has been applied to these questions for generations, and to date there isn't one shred of evidence that these things exist. Science can answer this question, and the answer is: "It's bullshit."

So why haven't all self-proclaimed psychics and paranormalists been publicly exposed as charlatans? Because, like the guy in this post, most of them avoid scientific tests like the plague. And why do they avoid being tested? Because those who have been tested have, without exception, failed to pass muster. Remember that "passing muster" in the scientific world entails not only validating your own work, but also submitting to peer review and having your results replicated. If you can find an example of such results with regard to questions of the paranormal, please let us know — as far as we've ever seen, such results do not exist. Period.

We haven't seen the documentary you are referring to, so we can't comment on that specifically. However, we can say that we have seen many similar programs. Regardless of how the subjects of these films may look when the cameras are rolling (and after the editing crew is done with the footage), the important thing to remember is what we said above — that those who have been tested using rigorous scientific protocols have, without exception, failed to pass muster. Through the magic of showmanship — and clever editing — even jokes like John Edward can be made to look good on television.

To us, the bottom line is that a person who really possessed paranormal abilities wouldn't hesitate to be tested. In fact, they'd jump at the chance. Not only would such a person have nothing to worry about in a test, they would stand to gain a lot. The fact that most people who make such claims flatly deny to be tested, and the fact that those who do agree have been universally proven to be incorrect, are powerful statements.

Sure, we all need to keep an open mind, but it's also important not to keep our minds so open that we let our brains fall out onto the floor.



Tom from the Two Percent Company, 2005.12.04 (Sun) 14:10 [Link] »

EoR: We told you it was extraordinary. We've come across some good fake evidence of the paranormal in our studies, but when we see such pathetic and obviously bogus examples as Safari Tom's, it never fails to amaze us how unintentionally funny some people can be.



Rockstar Ryan, 2005.12.05 (Mon) 17:05 [Link] »

I love that old "science can't explain everything so my answer is right" apology we get all the time. Just like Skeptico says:

If you have a better way of evaluating claims and explaining how the universe works, please present it.

In other words, if you aren't using science to back up your beliefs, what are you using?



DOGONIT, 2005.12.05 (Mon) 20:17 [Link] »

Rockstar Ryan,

Who the hell said that "science can't explain everything so my answer is right", not me! I am married to a scientist who works at Agencourt Bio-sciences, after being a part of their world for so many years, nothing surprises me. Well, maybe somethings.

I have found that many things that science can't explain now, will eventually be explained in the future. I did not say my answer is right! I also wasn't giving any answers. Just observations of things I saw in books or documentaries.

I was just talking about being open minded when it comes to mysteries lacking evidence. It probably isn't a mystery after all, as 2% pointed out it could all be careful editing and such. Which I stated could very well be actors doing a convincingly good act of deception.

As I stated before, I do not believe in it myself. It is clearly an interesting subject to explore, but so is Alien Abduction and I don't quite believe those claims to be true either!



Jeff from the Two Percent Company, 2005.12.05 (Mon) 20:22 [Link] »

I believe Rockstar was referring to the Amazing Tom and his Ghostly Camera Flashes, DOGONIT — Tom is, after all, the subject of this Rant. Don't worry, he wasn't picking on you!



DOGONIT, 2005.12.05 (Mon) 20:45 [Link] »

Here is something I would just like to ask you to freely look into and get your opinion.

HARLEQUIN BABIES

There are children born with a condition that occurs in one of every 300,000 pregnancy's. These are babies born alive that have been suffocated, thrown into burning crematoriums "ALIVE". Some were even mutilated into several pieces, then their body parts buried in several different places. The fear was that they were demonic and could possibly come to life again, if left intact.

Because no one believed there was any other answer. At least not until the 1930's. The first case was noted in a medical journal back in 1700's.

These babies were condemned as Evil Spirits brought through the mother's body as it's hosts. The women of these babies were either forced to live in other parts of the U.S., because people thought the mother was also perhaps evil. Some were forced to undergo major surgery, in a way to neuter her. Ensuring no more of these Devil Children would be born.

They are called "Harlequin Infants". It is easy to see how they would cause such fear throughout the years. The inhumane slaughter and treatment finally ended in the 1930's. That is when doctors and scientific research learned these babies born without even a gender most times were nothing more than natures doing. Not Devil Children, evil spirits and so on....

Look at the photo's and ask yourself what would you have thought delivering a baby with such features? It took over 300 hundred years for these babies to be understood as real live human beings. With that thought in mind and my own reaction when first glancing at the baby I was no different. How could this innocent baby not be something more.

http://www.asylumeclectica.com/malady/archives/harlequin.htm

http://www.ispub.com/ostia/index.php?xmlFilePath=journals/ijpn/vol2n1/harlequin.xml



The Two Percent Company, 2005.12.05 (Mon) 22:23 [Link] »

We're not entirely sure where you're going with this, Dogonit. Clearly you realize that these are not demonic babies (as you stated), but you also stated that your initial reaction was "no different" from those who held this belief decades ago. Well, an initial reaction of shock is one thing, but sticking to that opinion long enough to have the baby killed is quite another.

For our part, if we saw something like this, we would not assign any supernatural meaning to it. That's just not how our minds work, not even in the heat of the moment. We've done some research into birth defects, and some are truly horrific. All we've ever felt, though, is pity, sadness, and sympathy.

Now, if the infant leapt out of the womb and attacked us, with fire smoldering in its nostrils and smoke pouring out its ears, all the while speaking in tongues, then maybe our initial reaction would be to say "Oh...demon baby." But just seeing something unusual in appearance should by no means invoke a paranormal explanation. Really, it's sad that some folks, even today, continue to do so.



The Two Percent Company, 2005.12.05 (Mon) 22:26 [Link] »

Safari Tom has e-mailed us directly so many times that we had to block his e-mail address. Why did we block it? Because in every single e-mail he sent, he completely failed to acknowledge that we had accepted his offer to have him "show us" that his powers were real. Don't think we didn't remind him — we did it constantly, in every e-mail we sent him. Still, not a peep. It was almost as if he didn't really want to be tested. Hmmm...odd, that.

And in a show of maximum stupidity, he also kept telling us, over and over, that we didn't and couldn't understand people like him. Fuck, dude, we were trying to understand him and he backed out. So who's fault is it that we "don't understand" his claims? That's like offering to give someone food, backing out without ever mentioning the offer again, then yelling at the person for not eating lunch. Cripes!

So, now that we've effectively halted his e-mails, he's trying to get the same nonsense into the comments on other posts. Basically, it's more of the same vacuous nonsense accompanied by a complete lack of acknowledgement that his offer was, in fact, accepted. Instead of leaving his comment on the other post, though, we've moved it here:

I feel so bad for you ill minded skeptics... Its one thing to be skeptical , its another thing to be so full of hate and fear that you must slam everyones opinions. My colleagues and I are use to you though ... We are mediums , We communicate directly with spirit. Life goes on ... We cannot hand you proof in your hand, the same way you cannot hand over proof that you love your chidren. Its there , its real . Alison is real as are many many mediums. Your not a group of healthy skeptics. Your a group that is lost. Your a group full of emotional scars and fears. Stop the hate. The world needs love. and as long as there are people out there like you , the world will never find peace. Please stop

This is his answer to us accepting his offer. This guy should be the poster child for psychics — his continued arrogant prattle even after he has shown his complete lack of belief in his own "abilities" is so fucking typical.

"Blah blah blah you can't prove that you love your children." Yeah, moron, because that's not a scientific question. Whether or not you are a psychic is a testable condition (the answer, by the way, is no). "Blah blah blah Allison is real." You fucking moron. If you want to buy into Allison's pathetic carny act, go right ahead. Be careful though — an asshat like you is just the kind of "psychic" that Allison usually rails against as a phony. She ain't your friend, bucko. "Blah blah blah the world needs love." No, Tom, the world needs less idiots like you. "Blah blah blah please stop." You want us to stop applying science, reason and logic to bullshit claims like yours? Well, we want you to stop making those bullshit claims. Please stop, you say? How about this: please fuck off. If you don't even have the cojones to acknowledge that you are backing out of your offer, let alone to actually follow through with it, then you aren't welcome here. So, unless your next comment addresses that point directly, you are now banned from commenting. We're sick of your shit, Safari Tom. Go peddle your brand of moron somewhere else.



Wenchworth, 2005.12.06 (Tue) 00:39 [Link] »

Dogonit, your example of the apparently sincere psychic sending the subject off for medical tests is not evidence of the supernatural. Polyps and borderline diabetes is extremely common in the western world. In fact the strange part is the resistance to these routine tests being done. On the other hand, I would resent a psychic demanding tests too - let them go through what it takes to become a doctor and then order their own tests.

What could be interesting would be the definitive diagnosis of something rare, showing no outward signs.



Rockstar Ryan, 2005.12.06 (Tue) 10:26 [Link] »
Who the hell said that "science can't explain everything so my answer is right", not me!

Um, how long have you been reading blogs? Just asking Dogonit, because if you didn't know, a comment that doesn't address someone directly Dogonit is referring to the article in question. But thanks for that self-assuring rant.



DOGONIT, 2005.12.06 (Tue) 10:58 [Link] »

I don't know where everyone gets the idea that "I am in agreement with these folks called psychics, Tom, or that I am trying to prove the supernatural". I just gave an example of something I found interesting about the documentary I saw, but DID anyone see that I said "I do not believe in it".

What, I can't have the opinion on here as being open minded? You all seem to be jumping the gun thinking....she's trying to give proof, how sad for her to not see this as plain Bull Shit.

I do see many things as Bull Shit, including the world of so called physics. I do think some people do however get certain feelings about things.

Here is an example of what I mean:

I had this constant bad feeling about my girlfriends pregnancy. I had dreams her son would die in utero. That he would be still-born. I told her sister about my dreams and asked her not to say anything to her sister, because they were after all, just dreams!

Three days before she was to deliver her son via a scheduled c-section, I had the dream again. It was more intense and I felt like I could not breath, that I was being choked. I told her sister again about the latest dream and she just was shaking all over thinking that perhaps we should just ask her to go to the doctor just in case.

Of course this sounds irrational and far fetched, but I couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong. We didn't tell Linda, this was her third child and everything was fine in her pregnancy. On the day before the scheduled c-section, Linda went in for all pre-op blood work. During the scan for the babies heartbeat, they could not find one.

They sent her upstairs to have an ultra sound done, and after a few more tests her son was pronounced still-born, he died from the umbilical cord being wrapped tightly around his neck.

Now don't go get out your Bull Shit Meters just yet. I will save you the trouble. Do I think I saw her sons death, NO! Do I think that I have psychic powers, again NO! Do I think it was a very strange coincidence, YES!

There are plenty of things that are coincidences. I probably saw some Discovery Channel movie on still-birth and it just stuck with me. Causing me to the have these dreams. Most things are easily explained, but not all. What if it was intuition? Who knows, there is no way to prove it, so why try. It probably was just what I said before, a coincidence.

So relax, I am not trying to prove the supernatural, psychic phenomenon or anything else. Yeah I get the Rant is about Tom, not me! It is about the comments toward me, that I am answering.

By the way 2%, I guess I should of stated more clearly how I first saw the photo of a Harlequin baby. It was in one of my husbands Science Monitors magazines. It stated in the caption "Devil Child". My first reaction was what is this? Was it a made up picture someone found in the National Enquirer passing it off as a possessed infant? When it was more likely a Photo Shop made picture.

The entire beginning of the article made it seem like people found these babies, not witnessed them at birth. Like the one found abandoned by a team of explorers in Africa during the 1970's. Describing that there was no eyes, no gender, no nose, or ears and that "IT" made these high pitched noises (not cries). I thought it looked demonic, not that I believed it was. Masks made for Halloween look demonic too, but that doesn't mean I think they are.

And I certainly don't condone slaughtering anything, humans, animals or the environment. Well, maybe some humans deserve slaughter, but that's a whole other rant! So, go ahead and continue to have your own opinions about me and what my agenda might be. Your entitled to you opinion, aren't we all. :)



Dogonit, 2005.12.06 (Tue) 18:02 [Link] »
"In other words, if you aren't using science to back up your beliefs, what are you using?"

Um, Ryan I just began researching blogs for the newspaper column I write for Omni Newspapers.

You posed the question using the word "you", an article is not person! Using the noun "you" would refer to a person, or did I misunderstand again? I just want to be sure I still understand grammar. Which by the way, if you were referring to the article itself, then why not state you were referring to the article and skip the question all together?

I mean being a Rock Star and all, you were probably to busy working on being a "Star" then studying. When you posed the question after including a statement I made in my post, one might "think" the "you" that you referred to as the author of the post, So, no you didn't exactly address me personally, but rather I believe indirectly.

Then again considering your alter ego Skeptico wrote it, my apologies to whoever the real author of the post was. Obviously I was soooo wrong!

By the way, the research for my article has been very enlightening. It has been really interesting to see what subjects get people posting. What subjects, (referring to almost all of your blog subjects Ryan), receive virtually no posts or comments!

Could that be why you spend so much time on the 2% blog? I am just guessing here, but perhaps "Rock Star" is a stretch for you Ryan. I mean after all, how many real "Rock Stars" spend their days and nights blogging!

Thanks for the research 2%, I will add you to my list of more interesting blogs I read. Your subject matter is interesting, but you still appear to have a small group of comment participants. I am basing this on two things:

The number of comments are made mostly by yourselves at 2% company.

The other reason being some of your subjects lack any comments at all.

Surprising though, because the subject matter of your rants are interesting. I wish you all at 2% increased success with your blog!



The Two Percent Company, 2005.12.06 (Tue) 19:40 [Link] »

Sure, the quantity of our commenters is somewhat low, but that's because the quality is so high!

Despite the fact that you and Ryan rubbed each other a little wrong, Ryan is definitely a good guy (at least we think he's a guy — you can never really tell on the internet). As a note, if you want to fully review his blog work, he also writes for God is for Suckers, which is a far bigger and far more popular site than ours. In fact, GifS is one of the first dozen or so blogs that we started reading, and contributed directly to us starting our own blog.

Thanks for stopping in, Dogonit. Despite what you may or may not think, we never read any of your comments as arguing for the existence of the paranormal — we took them as examples that might look fantastic at first glance, but which were fully explainable upon further review. And, as you said, there will surely be examples that haven't been explained by science...yet! That's part of the fun of science, after all: explaining the previously unexplainable.



Rockstar Ryan, 2005.12.07 (Wed) 10:36 [Link] »

Wow. Well, Dogonit for attacking me for no reason, I request you suck my nuts. As to the rest of your flame, I'll ignore your childish insults. Grow up.

And I am a fucking Rockstar. We now return this thread to the subject of Safari Tom the dumbass prior to hijack status.

He has a "paranormal forum" that I think I could have fun with. I'll be polite but skeptical of course. Any bets I get banninated? If he even reads it anymore...



Rockstar Ryan, 2005.12.08 (Thu) 09:51 [Link] »

Ok here's what I posted:

I have a question.

Why am I supposed to believe these are the voices of ghosts and not random noise or even your own voice? I mean, you say I have to "believe", but why should I?
Email: rockstarryan@gmail.com

Website: http://rockstarramblings.blogspot.com

Not too mean, eh?



The Two Percent Company, 2005.12.08 (Thu) 20:00 [Link] »

Shame on you, Ryan, for not just believing Safari Tom. The world is full of anger and hate and you are just feeding those emotions with your cold, hard "science." What good is logic and science? Can you love a science? Can a logic hug you? Prove it! Or disprove it! Either one will do! When you die, you'll see that you were wrong, and then people who held asinine beliefs will laugh and laugh as god and/or ghosts dance on your head while humming the theme song of the Bugaloos (including the kazoo part). One day, you will realize that science can be wrong, and therefore Safari Tom's stupid, stupid beliefs simply must be right.

Whoa. Sorry. We got swept up in the Safari Tom vibe. We reckon his answer will be about as intelligent and coherent as what we put above, though. We were actually fairly nice to him in our first reply, and look how much good that did us. Oh, and also he loves you. And wants to "be there" for you. He's big on that. Keep us posted.



Rockstar, 2005.12.12 (Mon) 11:47 [Link] »

Thought you all might get a laugh outta my musings with Tom.

Ryan ,
You must believe because that is what spirit links to .. Think of all the billions of people in this world.. Spirit need an open link.. they need to SEE ( someone believing) in the communications or otherwise they would be wasting their time... So the "belief" sends out a signal to them that there is a potential lead for communication... Believe me , My EVPs are not fake.. I welcome you to join me in FL for a night of recording ... Once you record your first EVP , Your jaw will drop.
Email: xxwulvexx@aol.com

Dec 8th, 2005 - 3:20 PM Re: EVP Questions

So, how do you know this? Did the spirits tell you? If so, how do you know they are spirits?

It seems that the fact these noises are spirits is following the Least Plausible Hypothesis fallacy, would you not agree?

I'd also like to see you help us understand[inserted link to this article]. Skeptics, that is. Tom, I am a smart ass, but not an *******[asshole censored]. Please see my comment as such (light in tone but not intentionally mean).
Email: rockstarryan@gmail.com

Website: http://rockstarramblings.blogspot.com




MBains, 2005.12.12 (Mon) 15:43 [Link] »

Now, if the infant leapt out of the womb and attacked us, with fire smoldering in its nostrils and smoke pouring out its ears, all the while speaking in tongues, then maybe our initial reaction would be to say "Oh...demon baby."

LMAO!!! Wow you guys are good for at least one belly laugh per rant! LOL!

Not that I could possibly disagree with you if the above scenario should take place. I can see the sweet li'l devil child from the cover of Black Sabbath's 1983, Ian Gillian led effort, Born Again, come jumpin' right outta the womb, fangs bared and blood curdling. Whoa! Cool...

Ryan's got a cool new co-blogger too now. Things, are shall we say, heatin' up over there or what RR??? You Rock Stars get ALL the breaks... {-;

Personally, I can't stomach nuts like Safari Tom. Really. I have people in my life whom I love and care for who actually believe and, yes, live by this stuff. My closest friend is, ahem, a Reiki practicioner.

At least I have ONE (I've counted) atheist co-worker.

I never freakin' set out to be a loaner. Logic has just led me off the mentally-masturbated path.



Rockstar, 2005.12.12 (Mon) 16:17 [Link] »

Bains - I hear ya on, well, just about everything you said!

That reminded me of your post on the subject. It's too bad there are people in the world that flat out deny our friendship based solely on the fact we believe there is no sky god/gods.

And the demon baby got the same reaction from my belly as well.

P.S. - I have 2 atheist friends. We're taking over the world!!!



Tom from the Two Percent Company, 2005.12.16 (Fri) 22:34 [Link] »

I've found that I can get along with loons (sorry, the "factually challenged") as long as they're not assholes and as long as they aren't constantly proselytizing. There's no reason to let beliefs come between a friendship. Utter stupidity, sure, but not beliefs.

On another note, I just checked in on Safari Tom's forum and the question that Ryan dropped there (shown above). It seems that things have been pretty quiet over there for about a week and there are no replies to Ryan.

I didn't expect a coherent answer from old Tom, but I did figure he'd send Ryan some love along with a first class line of Newage bullshit.



MBains, 2005.12.17 (Sat) 07:18 [Link] »

I finally went an' checked out ol' Safari Tom.

{sighhh}

I guess I needed to take his advice to get anything but a laugh and a groan outta his site.

1. All you need is a cassette recorder. There is alot more equipment that can be used but for starters that is the bare minimum .

1 and a half. VERY IMPORTANT YOU MUST BELIEVE YOU CAN COMMUNICATE !

Unfortunately, I didn't have my cassette recorder (who talks like that in 2005???) handy. Oh yah, didn't have that belief that I could communicate either. Since I am perpetually more open-minded than may be good for me (LOL!!!), I do accept that our brains are amazing and that it may be possible that human empathy has some physiological component which is more than just the chemical reactions occuring in a organism's body causing them to feel what another is feeling. I do. I don't believe it is the case because I've not seen it proved AND I have seen people's attempts to prove it backfire, time and time again.

The long and the short of it is that Tom and his ilk can believe and proselytise (? doh! ees too early...) anything they want. When they start charging money for it though, they need to be regulated under a Medical aegis.

I mean, Medicine is supposed to be science, but how many MD's think of themselves' as Medical Practioners exclusive of being a Scientist? Seems like way too many still do.

And so we evolve...



MBains, 2005.12.17 (Sat) 07:20 [Link] »

Oh yah, I'll catch y'all later.

Now I've got to go "call Chelsea..."



charles potnar., 2006.05.20 (Sat) 03:05 [Link] »

Any number of researchers in laboratory settings have demonstrated reproducable phenomena that demonstrate the mind is capable of obtaining accurate information from a distance without the use of the five senses. In the same vein, the mind can directly manipulate physical phenomena without any other force than will alone.
I would start with J.D.Rhine at Duke University. He caterorized the phenomena into "facilities", one of which is "psychokinesis". Experiments in laboratory settings demonstrate conclusively and repeatably, that intention alone can influence supposedly "random" events such as the fall of dice.
There are others, institutions and researchers, who's names escape me at the present time, that have been using "random number generators" that have delivered intriguing results. Rupert Sheldrake is another researcher who has published papers and books on the matter.
"Psychic" phenomena are subject to demonstratable repeatable experimentation in laboratory settings.
Please don't ask me to "get you a link". Do your own research. Thanks.



The Two Percent Company, 2006.05.20 (Sat) 17:05 [Link] »

Thanks, you presumptuous twit, but we have done our own research. The person who really needs to crack open a book is you. It's really fucking easy to say "any number of people have proven X," and much harder to show your evidence for that statement — especially when there is no fucking evidence to back that up because the statement is absolutely false.

We'll lay this out for you, charles. There are plenty of studies that claim to "prove" various aspects of the paranormal, but none of them hold up to scrutiny. None. Zero. Either the lab won't release the details (except to other people who also "believe"), or, upon review, the controls implemented don't pass muster. Shit, anyone can prove anything using a poorly designed test, charles. We could prove that you owe us $10,000, as long as the person we're trying to prove it to doesn't expect the evidence to hold up to anything more than a cursory examination. See what we're saying?

But let's look briefly at your "well-documented" examples. Yes, the Rhine Research Center classified some of these phenomena, but they certainly didn't prove any of them. We could split elves and fairies up into carefully defined categories, and it still wouldn't confirm or refute their existence. In point of fact, we spoke with people from the Rhine several years back, and they openly said as much (we must have come across some of the honest ones). Or check out the PEAR lab at Princeton (which is almost certainly one of the "prestigious" centers you were grasping for). Their research is a fucking joke. We won't even get into Gary Schwartz at the University of Arizona.

So do us a favor, you credulous simpleton — go do your own legwork before you come here spouting off nonsense and wasting our fucking time...yet again. Offering a bunch of unsupported incredible claims and then demanding that someone else do the research for you is the height of stupidity and arrogance.

You may recall that our last exchange ended with us pointing out the following to you:

At the end of the day, charles, you just don't seem to understand what science is. Note that we're not being smug and saying that our "opinions" on these issues are correct; we're saying that these issues aren't matters of opinion, and that you just don't accept the facts. If you someday get past that hurdle, then we might be able to have a productive discussion.

Clearly, you haven't yet cleared that particular hurdle. If you continue to confidently display your own blatant ignorance, you'll find that our previous offer to relocate you to the Urinal still stands.



charles., 2006.05.21 (Sun) 14:58 [Link] »

Pardon, but the results of Rhine's research are a matter of public record. So are those working with the number generators. No secrets here. What can I say?

Your assertations that these people and their research are "shared between people of like minds" is more in the line of an opinion as the publications of these researchers and institutions are a matter of public record and available to all who wish to examine said records.

The data is in. It is up to people to look at it, and decide for themselves what is possible and what is not. All of our bandying back and forth takes a back seat to the examination of data.

You may call certain institutions and researchers investigations "unscientific" if you choose to do so, but I think critical examination of what is on the table before us all beats hands down assertations that "their research is is a fucking joke".

Ultimately, it is the individual examining the data that must determine what is possible.

Unfortunately, and with all respect, I think your statement that "Their research is a fucking joke" might be agreed upon by many to have very little to do with critical thinking.

thanks.



The Two Percent Company, 2006.05.21 (Sun) 22:50 [Link] »

charles,

First let us say that trying to circumvent our comment moderation by using different e-mail addresses is both ineffective and fucking annoying. Please stop.

Quite frankly, we're sick of wasting our time with you. You've already proven that your grasp of science and the scientific process is nonexistent, so your arguments that various groups have proven scientifically that psychic phenomena are real is dubious at best (and insultingly ignorant at worst). Further, the fact that you just keep saying "it's true, really" without ever offering any evidence to support your claims just drives home your ignorance. And if you think that you have provided evidence by pointing to the Rhine Center and the PEAR labs, then you are just driving home your ignorance of scientific evidence even more.

So, here's the deal. If you wish to continue to comment here, then your next comment must provide an example of one of the scientific tests that you keep going on about. Since you are asserting that such tests exist, that the protocols and results are documented and available to the public, and that they pass scientific muster, please show us just one example. Just one. According to you, there are many such tests that prove your assertions, so providing the details of just one should be a cakewalk, right?

And don't reply by just once again pointing to the work of the Rhine Research Center or the PEAR labs in general — we want a specific example of one test that one of these centers (or another group) has conducted that proves your assertions. And remember, per your claims, the data needs to be available to us (and you must either provide said data, or instruct us how to obtain it), the protocols need to be clearly spelled out, the controls need to pass scientific muster (no single-blind tests, no failure to control for outside variables, et cetera), and the experiment in question has to have already been repeated and the results confirmed by another independent group.

Does that sound difficult? On the one hand, it shouldn't sound difficult at all since real scientific research touches all of the bases above on a daily basis. On the other hand, for your claims, it should sound difficult to the point of being impossible, since there has never been a single psychic experiment that has met all of the above criteria. Not ever. But go on, charles — prove us wrong. Or try to, at any rate.

And don't whine about us asking you to provide details of your claims — for fuck's sake, you're the one making the claims. All you have to do is provide the details of one experiment to back those claims up. As any idiot knows, we clearly can't provide an experiment that disproves your point (since there are no experiments that can universally prove that these phenomena do not exist), so the ball is 100% in your court. Go on — show us that one experiment that, once reviewed, would convince a rational, intelligent person who is well-versed in the scientific method that psychic phenomena are real.

You are the one claiming that the research is out there for everyone to examine — now it's time to put up or shut up. Literally. Because if you comment here again without providing the details we've asked for, and you just keep on asserting your "position" without providing any evidence at all, you will be banned from the site. We have better things to do than watch your pathetic bouts of mental masturbation.



charles, 2006.05.28 (Sun) 02:42 [Link] »

This then is my last post. I have no time to do what you ask. I don't. I have been working as a caretaker for my brother in law, spending about 40-50 hours a week in institutional settings, acting as a sign language translator and helper. Fortunately this will change soon, as he is recovering from spinal cord injury.

Why ask me to get it for you? Why don't you look for yourself? Rupert Sheldrake has several books out that detail his research. Is it too much to ask one of you to read a book of his? Or look into the experiments with dice in cages that Rhine does, and can be repeated by yourself if you so desire.

Just Google "Rhine Research" yourself. You DO spend a lot of time on this "rant" and surely can find the time to google around a little.

So I guess this will be my last post. Guess I will go down as another superstitious twink that can't get on board with your Program of Truth.

It's been interesting, except for your language. Vulgarisms aren't a substitute for vocabulary and make you all look a little silly, as they are more related to "shock value" than creative expression.

You simply fail to make your case. There has been too much work done by honest men and women that has real value, that points to the Universe being much more than a materialistic crap shoot.

Perhaps I am wrong, but a Universe as broad, as mysterious, as infinite and as complex will not fit in your little box, nor will it fit in mine. Somewhere between the lines, inclusive of ALL human experience, lies PATHWAYS to what is POSSIBLY "real" and who knows? "Reality" may be as I suspect, a created phenomenon.

Where we choose to look may define the limits of our perspective, coloring our personal view in a way that is uniquely ours alone, or in the case of groups, a view that is shared. We need more to share and examine opposing and different "realities" than to take the stance that "I'm right, and you are wrong, simple as that."

You see, we both may be "right" or "wrong" and it's all a matter of how you want to see it, part of the "Creation of Reality" scenario.

Anyway, I have had my say, I will not post again, and I do wish all of us the best on our collective searching for the meaning of it all.

Thanks.



The Two Percent Company, 2006.05.28 (Sun) 14:07 [Link] »

So let us get this straight, charles. You're making all these assertions of "successful" and "verifiable" tests of paranormal phenomena, and you can't even provide one concrete example? Gee, what a fucking surprise.

Why don't we look for ourselves? As we've said on more occasions than we can count, we have looked for ourselves, and all of the studies we've examined have been flawed. We should Google "Rhine Research"? We've talked to them ourselves, you fuckstick. Don't you fucking pay attention? That's why we asked you to show us the "compelling evidence" that you keep referring to. Sadly, though, you have no time for such things. As an aside, you also have no studies that you could point to (as we know, since we have done the research that you have thus far only talked about doing). And by the way, Rhine's experiments were debunked as utilizing bad protocol years ago. As to what they are doing today, the fact that Gary Schwartz sits on their advisory board doesn't inspire much faith in their work.

We fail to make our case?! Wow — you certainly are a thick-headed ass, charles. If you had even an ounce of useful gray matter in your head, you would see that those who believe in psychics have completely failed to make their case. If you understood science at all, you would see that we don't even have a case that needs proving with regard to paranormal phenomena. But by this point, we know enough to know that you will never grasp these concepts.

See, charles, we aren't both correct — you are wrong, and we are right. There is an objective reality that we live in, and psychic powers have not been reasonably proven to be a part of it. As such, anyone who uncritically embraces the existence of such phenomena is, quite simply, wrong. Extensive (and we do mean extensive) scientific tests have come up with no evidence at all for psychic powers. None, charles. No matter what you may believe. Does that disprove their existence? Of course not, but it means that, if you believe in psychic powers, you may as well also believe in the Tooth Fairy, because the odds that either exists are about equal.

We've said it to you on many occasions, but ultimately, this entire annoying discussion boils down to one point — you just don't understand science. If you did, you would see how foolish your points really are.

We're glad that we've seen the last of you, charles. (Have we? Time will tell — we've thought this before.) For us, this hasn't been interesting, it's been annoying. People like you are a dime a dozen, and we waste way too much time refuting flawed arguments from people who are ignorant of science.

Since, by your own admission, you are not going to provide the information we've asked you for, you are not welcome to reply to this comment. We have approved your comment above, but we will not approve any others. We sincerely wish you the best with your brother-in-law, and we hope that someday, you stop being the credulous fool that you have shown yourself to be on our site. The world is a wonderful place, charles. Toss aside the silly fantasies and start living in it.



charles, 2006.12.29 (Fri) 14:26 [Link] »

sorry to have to say this, and I don't expect to be posted, but you people are absolutely so locked in your limited belief system that you cannot break the walls of your prison, and attempt to fit EVERYTHING into this narrow box you define for yourselves.

Of course, everything that doesn't fit into your preconcieved vision can get dismantled with the tools in your "box" easily, since most of what you say is rooted in conjecture.

For instance, I may say I have a marble in my hand, and have photos to prove it. But if your "vision" does NOT allow for a "marble in my hand" then it is easy to demostrate that the "marble" is a COMPLETE fake because a: digital photography allows for manipulation of images, sometimes seamlessly. b: Not ONE of the people that you consider "experts" has EVER seen a marble in the hand and therefore the marble in the hand phenomenon CANNOT exist. Of course, there is no PROOF that the marble in the hand cannot exist, it's just that there is no Proof "either way" so using Occam's Razor for a second will demonstrate that while there is no direct PROOF that the "marble in the hand" does not exist, the BURDEN of Proof is with the position that the marble in the hand does not exist, and is not reproducable.

You people can't see that DENIAL is not Reality, but it can DEFiNE reality, very tightly it seems.

A good example of this is your anally retentive positions
on just about everything.

That isn't neccessarily a bad thing, but I've already been raped by religion and I don't really see the value in subscribing to your limited view.

And more than anything, that's what you and most religions have in close common, a way that SHUTS OUT any meaningful dialog that challenges your position.

Thanks for reading this viewpoint. I won't expect a reply.



The Two Percent Company, 2006.12.30 (Sat) 22:57 [Link] »

charles, either stop being an obtuse prick, or any further comments and/or e-mails from you will be outright ignored. As regular readers of our site will attest, one of our biggest pet peeves is the combination of arrogance with ignorance. There's nothing wrong with arrogance, as long as it's backed up by intelligent, rational arguments. It's even just fine with us if you wish to remain ignorant of certain subjects, provided you don't then pretend to know what the fuck you're talking about. But when someone is arrogant in their abject ignorance, that really ticks us off.

Let's start here:

but I've already been raped by religion and I don't really see the value in subscribing to your limited view.

So who the fuck asked you to "subscribe" to our view? Certainly not us. If you bothered to read through our site (a clever suggestion for stupid ape-descendants who like to jam their feet in their mouths) before leveling any ridiculous and unfounded accusations at us, you would see quite clearly that we frequently tell people not to follow our views, but rather to think for themselves. Yes, we provide sources of information, and we add to these our opinions and views on the issues we're discussing, but we leave it to our readers to form their own opinions. Just because we provide our views doesn't even remotely mean that our readers have to accept those views unquestioningly (nor is anybody forced to read them in the first place). We often find, though, that those who are thoroughly incapable of thinking for themselves — wait for it, charles, this might have something to do with you — seem to infer that we are looking for blind acceptance of our beliefs. Not only could that not be farther from the truth, it's outright contradicted by our frequent and heartfelt exhortations for individual free thought. Not that you apparently give a shit about truth or facts.

And joy, we arrive at this all-too-common pile of bullshit:

You people can't see that DENIAL is not Reality, but it can DEFiNE reality, very tightly it seems.

No, dipshit — reality defines reality. Reality is not subjective, no matter what your Matrix-ized pea-brain would like to think. We merely comment on the objective reality in which we all actually live, whether fucking pseudointellectual asshats like you feel like admitting it or not.

In trying to tell us what our worldview is — and bravo for being a presumptuous little dipshit, charles — you have constructed an ugly little straw man, complete with some asinine bullshit about marbles that sounds like it's supposed to mean something, though the "analogy" falls very, very flat when applied to the topics that we discuss. What you've left out of our alleged worldview is common sense. If you want to address reality, we're here to do so. If you prefer mental masturbation, then go back to Philosophy 101 and stroke your intellectual penis with the other pseudointellectuals until you squirt happy little fantasies all over each other. But don't waste our time with your blathering bullshit.

You then go on to compare us to religion, which is a line we've heard from the allegedly "enlightened" more times than we can count. Amazingly — well, no, not so much — it's just as wrong now as it has been every other time:

And more than anything, that's what you and most religions have in close common, a way that SHUTS OUT any meaningful dialog that challenges your position.

No, asshole, we don't shut out meaningful dialogue that challenges our positions, we just shut out the idiotic ditherings of credulous and self-proclaimed "open-minded" morons. When, on the other hand, someone challenges our positions using intelligent, rational, meaningful arguments, we readily and enthusiastically engage them in discussion, to see whether we find merit in their views and perhaps to alter our own views in response to their ideas. Our website contains more than a few examples of just such smart folks pointing out logical flaws, errors in judgment, and poor word choices, and just as many examples of us discussing the issues with them. You, charles, are not a member of that "intelligent argument" demographic.

And before you go whining about our "language," or oh-so-cleverly denouncing our "anger," or falsely accusing us of ad hominem attacks (all part of the status quo for people who behave as you have thus far), do a quick search of our site and you'll see that we've answered all such bullshit insinuations before, many times over. (Some hints: Language is a tool to be used to convey meaning in whatever context and to whatever degree the user desires. Anger is evidence of passion and conviction, and in no way detracts from a sound argument. And it's not ad hom unless our insults are what we use to discount your assertions. In case you're even denser than we think — and quite a feat that would be — you might notice that our justly delivered insults are wholly separate from our arguments against your "positions." This disqualifies them as ad hom attacks.)

Another possibility boggles the mind, but so many of you idiots manage to do that: if you are the same charles that commented above, then our directive to piss off still stands. If not, then we're guessing that you didn't even bother to read the comments directly above your own, let alone anything else on our site. Good on you, charles.

As a note, no matter who you are, your comment had pretty much nothing to do with the post at hand. If you feel the need to address us with general comments in the future, please do so via our contact form, or you will be blocked and deleted. Be warned, though, that we have little patience for pompous fuckwits who "won't expect a reply," and you've used up more than your share of that patience already.



Rockstar, 2007.01.02 (Tue) 15:16 [Link] »

This made me chuckle:

Rupert Sheldrake has several books out that detail his research.

So does Dr. Seuss...and they contain the same amount of evidence.



The Two Percent Company, 2007.01.04 (Thu) 21:33 [Link] »

If it's in a book, then it must be true...right?



Tom, 2007.04.18 (Wed) 13:38 [Link] »

lol .. im back .. i friend just told me how pathetic you were and that you are still are slandering me on your site ... you guys need to seriously get a life .. its so funny to see how obsessed you are . I mean , get a life .. seriously .. your wasting precious moments of your life by picking apart every word anyone writes. I am what I am ... I will not defend against you ... i have no reason. There are healthy skeptics and then there are those like you ... Live life for what it is ...

Tom



Bronze Dog, 2007.04.18 (Wed) 14:02 [Link] »

Straight from Tom's mouth, run through my doggerel translator: "Caring about the truth is a waste of time, even if it's fun! Fighting the tides of apathy, solipsism, nihilism, and deception is meaningless! Philosophy is bunk!"

Crammed into one word: "NEEEEERD!!!!!"

Glad I don't live in his tiny, closed world.

Oh, and just to note: it's not slander if it's true.

And what the [frell] is up with all those ellipses?



Rockstar Ryan, 2007.04.18 (Wed) 14:15 [Link] »

lol ..tom is back .. i friend just told me how pathetic you were and that you are still are posting nonsense on your site ... you need to seriously get a life .. its so funny to see how obsessed you are . I mean , get a life .. seriously .. your wasting precious moments of your life by pandering bullshit. I am what I am ... you will not defend against me... you have no evidence. There are healthy human beings and then there are those like you ... Live life for what it is ...

Rockstar Ryan



Bronze Dog, 2007.04.18 (Wed) 14:18 [Link] »

Okay, my last comment jump around a bit. Here's one that's more together:

Did a review of some of the comments since I didn't stop by here in a while: He does seem to have one claim: He can detect "negative energy".

So, we put him a closed space where he can't see or hear what's going on outside. We have a woo and one of the 2% crew nearby, and randomly have one walk by Tom's room. Repeat several times. If he can correctly guess which person walked by at better than chance rates, I think we can conclude he's got paranormal powers.

How's that?



Rockstar Ryan, 2007.04.18 (Wed) 18:41 [Link] »

Sounds good BD. Tom, if you can do what Bronze Dog suggests, you could win $1 million! Whadaya say? We'll help too - only if you let us keep half. And pay our airfare. And lodging. And food. And one of those nice robes. And a bone for BD, some booze for me...



The Two Percent Company, 2007.04.18 (Wed) 22:37 [Link] »

Hey there, Safari "Delusions of Grandeur" Tom! You're quite high on yourself, aren't you, asshole? With the exception of two offhand comments (which ranks you below "ass gnomes" around here) in January and February of this year, we haven't said a fucking thing about you in well over a year. For fuck's sake, you're commenting on a December 2005 post where the last comment about you was posted on December 17 of that year! That's four hundred eighty-seven days ago, dipshit. Get the fuck over yourself.

For your edification, as Bronze Dog pointed out, nothing we've ever said about you has been slanderous. Since every claim we've ever made with regard to you was factual, and everything else was simply an insult (and well-deserved, at that), none of this would be slander. Come on, you Pathetic Boy Wonder, look at the facts: you issued a challenge, we accepted, you backed out, we (weren't terribly surprised and) told you to fuck off. That's a matter of public record, Tom, as anyone can read for themselves; even your mystical orbs can't change that. Unless you'd like to claim that we fabricated any portion of our exchange with you...? Feel free, dickhead — hell, take us to court, and prove your claims and your abilities there, since that's all we asked you to do in the first place.

Incidentally, our instructions to you to "fuck off" still stand. You may recall the last time we addressed you, which was back in long-ago December of 2005:

How about this: please fuck off. If you don't even have the cojones to acknowledge that you are backing out of your offer, let alone to actually follow through with it, then you aren't welcome here. So, unless your next comment addresses that point directly, you are now banned from commenting. We're sick of your shit, Safari Tom. Go peddle your brand of moron somewhere else.

Since your latest comment still doesn't address the basic problem of you failing to follow through on your end of your challenge to us, you are still banned. So take your asinine, idiotic claims, and shove them up your cornhole, Tom. You are a pathetic ass, and we have no further use for you. Any further comments from you will either be moved to the Urinal, or outright deleted.



Tom Foss, 2007.04.18 (Wed) 23:17 [Link] »

Tom, please stop giving my name a bad...um, name.

Incidentally, there is (or may be) such a thing as negative energy. There were a couple of articles in a Scientific American a few years ago which talked about all the amazing properties it theoretically has, as it might be the key to faster-than-light travel and stable wormholes.

Unfortunately, both of those things would require huge amounts of negative energy. Further unfortunately, every time you create a negative energy pulse, you create a positive energy pulse to annihilate it. So, even the act of trying to separate these pulses and trap the negative charge would create energy which would annihilate the negative energy. Which would be kind of a big problem to overcome.

So, put your money where your mouth is, Tom. Help scientists seek out isolated negative energy so we can catapult travel into the 23rd century.



Rocky, 2008.02.18 (Mon) 23:51 [Link] »

I was just snooping around google and found this interesting rant that addresses mediums vs cold reading, which in essence addresses the deeper issue of afterlife vs no afterlife. Now, before I go onto what will seem a worthless rant, I would like to get clear I am Agnostic towards this whole situation. Not Agnostic in the sense of "I don't know" but Agnostic in the sense "I don't care I'll find out in a few years when I die."
First, I would like to address Dr. Schwartz study. After reading an article written on him, around 90% was a simple slander towards his personality. Now, by ripping on the man's personality, beliefs, theories, etc.. you really are not providing any deductive reasoning or empirical evidence as to how his study is inconclusive. After reading his book, it would be completely ignorant and close-minded of you to say it is not a STARTING POINT, not conclusive evidence, of paranormal activity. I keep hearing skeptics continuously say "blah blah it doesn't prove anything.." Yes, well no shit Sherlock its 5 experiments... if in 5 experiments anyone would expect the billion-year mystery of the afterlife to be solved, they need to delete themselves from life. The point of Dr. Schwartz is open up the idea of mediums so they can conduct further study. Obviously, the experiments were not perfectly designed... it may possibly be the first time in the 21st century experiments like these were designed... who the hell could be as stupid as to think of perfection?
Second, this is addressed to the mediums and/or their believers. I don't think anyone can deny that it was courageous of certain mediums to step out in the public and undergo these experiments. Now my question is, the purpose of Dr. Schwartz experiment was to open up new experiments and further research... what the hell are the mediums waiting for? They have a golden opporunity for fame, money, a nobel prize through the discovery of the afterlife, and even countless other opportunities. And what do they say? "The testing is unfair." They are too scared of failure to step out. If they are real, it is absolutely stupid of them to think they will not be tested to their full limit to see at what point they cannot communicate with the dead. It is a simple reality they need to accept: In order to draw conclusions, they will be tested to the point of failure.
Finally, I would like to touch on the subject of Victor Zammit and Randi. I am still trying to figure out how the skeptics and believers are actually supporting these people. One guy, wants you to prove around one bazillion different aspects of afterlife false through empirical evidence that he himself has problems establishing. There have been Neurologists addressing Neardeath Experiences for decades now who still don't understand it, and he expects that someone with the time to get on his website will be able to provide unrefutable evidence: Stupid. As for Randi, I decided to go to his website and visit a forum. After viewing a post in which a woman claims to be able to make other people urinate through phsyic abilities.. Randi doesn't bother asking for proof, evidence, video, or anything. He simply accepts her and says "See, psychic abilities don't exist." Dr. Schwartz provided EMPIRICAL DATA and EVIDENCE, that was simply denied because some little procedures may have gone wrong, or the experiments were poorly designed. After going on Randi's piss poor website and seeing some experiments hes done with subjects.. how the hell is this idiot going to complain about Dr. Schwartz experiment...
The only way to settle this debate is quite simple. Someone completely neutral to the matter, a spectator watching this game from the sidelines, should finally conduct an experiment that Zammit, Schwartz, Randi, and the mediums can agree on (with 2 million dollars on the line to make it super exciting and televised on fox :) ).



The Two Percent Company, 2008.02.19 (Tue) 17:46 [Link] »

You got some things right, Rocky, but if you actually have any concern about these issues, you might like to see where you went awry in your comment. Some of the things you said are simply and completely incorrect.

You start with:

First, I would like to address Dr. Schwartz study. After reading an article written on him, around 90% was a simple slander towards his personality. Now, by ripping on the man's personality, beliefs, theories, etc.. you really are not providing any deductive reasoning or empirical evidence as to how his study is inconclusive.

If you're looking for specific complaints about the way Gary Schwartz set up and ran his experiments, we can certainly help you out. For example, Ray Hyman provides an excellent summary of the problems inherent in Gary's testing. Or check out the piece by Wiseman and O'Keeffe piece, which also shoots holes in the Good Doctor's work. The reason we know about these articles is because we linked to them in our piece on Dr. Schwartz. Taken together, they provide more than enough logical, rational arguments to label Schwartz's experiments as totally improper, or, for the exceedingly stubborn, at least highly suspect.

In fact, it was because of the existence of these articles that we didn't write our own critique of Schwartz's protocols. Instead, we showed how Gary has a long history of indulging in subjective validation and a belief in the paranormal, sometimes despite clear evidence to the contrary — very valid things to consider when analyzing his objectivity when it comes to his experiments. As a note, deciding the status of external objective analyses of Gary Schwartz's work based on reading "an article" (singular) about him that is subjectively written is as reasonable as lauding Paris Hilton as the next Richard Feynman because a sixteen-year-old blogger raves about her "genius." That is to say: it's not at all reasonable. Finding more than one piece, considering the source of each, and combining your understanding of all of them is key in understanding the general take on any given subject — and that includes the subject of Gary Schwartz.

You continue:

After reading his book, it would be completely ignorant and close-minded of you to say it is not a STARTING POINT, not conclusive evidence, of paranormal activity.

Sorry, Rocky, but that's patently false. Dr. Schwartz's work isn't a starting point, it's a non-starter. Using improper controls to conduct experiments and then using those experiments to prop up your theories as a "starting point" is not good science. Period.

Take this simplified example. Let's say we were designing and conducting tests like the ones Gary Schwartz conducted. In our case, on the day of the experiment, we accidentally leave our notebook containing all of the relevant information that would be needed to pass the test right out on the coffee table in the room where the "psychics" are waiting to be called in. When these psychics then "pass" our tests, does this constitute a starting point on which to build the case for the afterlife and for mediums who can communicate with those who've passed on? Or is it simply a botched test that should be set aside when moving forward to more carefully assess the case for the afterlife? Quite clearly, it's the latter, and we have a feeling you'd agree with us, Rocky.

What you don't seem to get is that Schwartz's tests were no different from this example. No, he didn't leave the answers out on the coffee table, but if you read the pieces we linked to above (as well as others we've read over the years), you'll see that he left far too many methods by which his subjects could get the "right answers" without using psychic abilities, both through their own means and through Gary's spectacularly lenient "judgment" of their responses. By failing to implement proper controls, Gary has effectively invalidated his tests — the people analyzing his work didn't do that, he did it to himself. As a result, any competent scientist has no choice but to set aside Gary's results until (and unless) they can be replicated under controlled circumstances. Any other view would be based on ignorance (willful or otherwise) of the scientific method.

It's really as simple as that.

You also state:

The point of Dr. Schwartz is open up the idea of mediums so they can conduct further study. Obviously, the experiments were not perfectly designed... it may possibly be the first time in the 21st century experiments like these were designed... who the hell could be as stupid as to think of perfection?

Again, you are incorrect. This time, you are leaning on the old parapsychologist's whine that these games are a whole new type of experiment, and we have to learn how to set them up as we go. That's bullshit. We aren't talking about special "spirit controls" here, Rocky. We're talking about basic controls that exist in every successful experiment done on every topic. As an example, confirmation bias and subjective validation are not problems inherent only to the testing of psychics — they exist in all tests in which a passing score might be subjectively determined. Properly conducted tests control for these issues, regardless of the phenomenon or subject is being tested. Schwartz did not put adequate controls for these factors in place. Hell, you don't even need to read a critique of Schwartz's methods to come to that obvious conclusion — just read Schwartz's own documents and you'll see what we mean. As another example, instead of all double-blind studies, some of his tests were single-blind, and poorly performed single-blind tests at that. Why? Take a look at the partial list of problems that Ray Hyman points out (from the article linked above):

  1. Inappropriate control comparisons
  2. Inadequate precautions against fraud and sensory leakage
  3. Reliance on non-standardized, untested dependent variables
  4. Failure to use double-blind procedures
  5. Inadequate "blinding" even in what he calls "single blind" experiments
  6. Failure to independently check on facts the sitters endorsed as true
  7. Use of plausibility arguments to substitute for actual controls

These problems aren't related to this being some bold new frontier of research, it's Scientific Method 101. And Gary's tests failed, on every level.

What controls did Gary have in place? Great question! As we learned, the incredibly forward-thinking Gary Schwartz made some of his experiments "double-deceased." What the hell is that, you ask? So did we. From the methods section of his research notes:

The late Susy Smith, who had participated in multiple experiments since she passed in February of 2001 (e.g., Schwartz et al., 2004), served as a departed hypothesized co-investigator and was requested by GS (i.e., in his mind) to escort MK to the readings. This is termed the "double-deceased" paradigm.

In short, Gary is relying on the underlying assumption that the afterlife exists and we can access it in order to implement a terribly clever (that's sarcasm, folks) control in experiments designed to determine...if the afterlife exists and we can access it. And how does he know that this control is implemented and working effectively? Because he thought it into place "in his mind." Do you see the glaring problems with this approach, Rocky? We sure hope so.

Should Schwartz have had proper controls in place for all of his experiments? Absolutely. Allowing anything less is utterly ignorant, and a terribly poor attempt at scientific inquiry. It's also, incidentally, a staggering "fuck you" to the countless scientists who do implement proper controls on all of their experiments, whether or not they ever get any book deals or do the rounds on the daytime talk shows.

You say:

[Zammit] wants you to prove around one bazillion different aspects of afterlife false through empirical evidence that he himself has problems establishing. There have been Neurologists addressing Neardeath Experiences for decades now who still don't understand it, and he expects that someone with the time to get on his website will be able to provide unrefutable evidence: Stupid.

We agree completely. But then you go on to say:

As for Randi, I decided to go to his website and visit a forum. After viewing a post in which a woman claims to be able to make other people urinate through phsyic abilities.. Randi doesn't bother asking for proof, evidence, video, or anything. He simply accepts her and says "See, psychic abilities don't exist."

...

After going on Randi's piss poor website and seeing some experiments hes done with subjects.. how the hell is this idiot going to complain about Dr. Schwartz experiment...

We're not sure what your point is here. We can't speak to the forum message you refer to since we aren't familiar with it. However, we do know a little about some of the tests that Randi has set up, and we have taken issue with his controls in the past. In fact, we can cut right to a previous comment to elucidate further:

For a perfect example of what we're referring to, check out the case of Natasha Demkina, the girl with X-ray eyes. In case you aren't familiar with Natasha, she claimed to be able to use some form of X-ray vision to diagnose medical conditions just by looking at people. Since we cannot see through Natasha's eyes, a test was designed based on her own claims. As James Randi relates:
In the test, Ms. Demkina correctly identified the medical conditions of four out of seven patients, and misdiagnosed three. She was informed in advance of the seven possible conditions, and was required to assign them correctly — a "forced-choice" test. She had claimed in advance that she would be 100% correct, but agreed with the researchers that she would have to get at least five successes to pass the test. Professor Josephson seems unaware that proper scientific tests require that the protocol be agreed upon in advance and then adhered to — as this one was; he prefers to re-structure the rules when the test fails to prove the point he prefers.

One of the test subjects had as her "secret" the fact that she had a hip replacement, and her somewhat awkward gait might have hinted at that. Also, Demkina's people were in conversation with some of the subjects before the test. These were both factors that should have been eliminated, I would say. One cannot make excuses after the test is agreed to and carried out, however. Those factors have to be eliminated in advance by the experimenters. To offer such facts as excuses would be to follow Josephson's methods, and I find that not acceptable.

This is a great example of a test that can be carried out without the need for tools or processes for detecting the paranormal event behind the claimed ability. In point of fact, we tend to think that this test was way too easy — it was multiple choice, the level for success was set below the level in Natasha's own claims, and some medical conditions were, as Randi notes, somewhat easier to ascertain visually than others. In addition, the data was tainted when Natasha's own people were allowed to talk to the participants. All this said, though, Natasha still failed when it came to her own claims. Not only did she not get 100% of the diagnoses correct as she said she would, she didn't even get five out of seven right, which was the agreed upon success rate in order to declare Natasha's claims valid. The point being: it really isn't all that difficult to test paranormal claims, as long as you aim to test the specific claims themselves.

In the end, if a claimant were to pass one of these tests of their own claims, it would prove that "something" was going on. It would, as you imply, require more precise tests that we may not be able to yet define, or for which we don't yet have the available technology, to assign the cause of such a "something" as "spirit medium powers" (or whatever paranormal cause is being claimed). But the fact remains — unfortunately for the psychics — that no person who claims to have paranormal abilities has ever convincingly passed muster even in preliminary tests of their own claims, like Randi's test of Natasha Demkina. That is, not only can they not demonstrate that the "something" going on is psychic or spiritual, they can't even demonstrate that "something" is even going on in the first place!

As we said when we first wrote about this, we see this test as too charitable. In addition, as Randi acknowledges, the controls were not rigorous enough. But Randi sees these flaws and acknowledges them (something Schwartz seems wholly incapable of doing). It's also important to note that the tests performed on Natasha were preliminary tests. They were designed as a quick test of her claims, to see if any reason to continue further study presented itself. If she had passed, she would have been subjected to far more rigorous testing in order to have her claims deemed accurate. Randi, we're quite certain, would not have proclaimed it "Miller Time!" and sat down to write a book on the basis of admittedly flawed preliminary testing. See the difference here, Rocky?

Keep in mind that Randi doesn't stand to gain by having his subjects pass these tests — he stands to lose $1,000,000. Schwartz, on the other hand, cranks out books — and makes money — when his so-called experiments are "successful." So improper controls hurt Randi and help Schwartz. (This is, of course, the scientific method in action: the whole idea is to try poking holes in your hypothesis, because if it survives the attack, then it must be a particularly strong model. If improper methods help you support your hypothesis, it's very likely that your conclusions — and your technique — are pretty off-base.) The fact that improper controls are so beneficial for Schwartz (as evidenced by his "positive" results and subsequent popular success) seems to suggest that he may have set up his improper experiments deliberately (though not necessarily realizing the full implications), in order to achieve the outcome he desired (or, alternately, he is just utterly incompetent as a scientist — take your pick). Randi, on the other hand, has no compelling reason to forego proper controls — he has every reason to make the test as rigorous as possible. The fact that he didn't do so in the Demkina case lends credence to the theory that he is willing to loosen his controls for the sake of what is, after all, a preliminary test.

At the end of the day, do we think Randi is capable of pointing out the flaws in Schwartz's research? No doubt. Hell, he even points out the flaws in his own research (as in the Demkina case), so we're pretty confident that he's capable. And so is Ray Hyman. And so are Wiseman and O'Keeffe. And so are we. And so is anyone who understands how scientific experiments should be conducted, and how all successful experiments (those with any useful results) have been conducted since the inception of serious scientific inquiry.

Regarding Schwartz, you conclude:

Dr. Schwartz provided EMPIRICAL DATA and EVIDENCE, that was simply denied because some little procedures may have gone wrong, or the experiments were poorly designed.

At this point, we certainly hope you can see the giant whopping error in your statement above. No, Rocky, Dr. Schwartz did not provide anything even close to "EMPIRICAL DATA and EVIDENCE" in any remotely scientific sense. And no, Rocky, it's not okay to equate the improper controls in Schwartz's tests to "some little procedures [that] may have gone wrong." You make it sound like there was just some kind of "hiccup" in Schwartz's testing, when the clear fact remains that everything about his tests was utter bullshit. While even one small error could be enough cause to invalidate the results of a scientific test, we aren't talking about one small error here. We're talking about fundamental flaws in the design and application of his testing protocols and subsequent analysis from top to bottom.

The scientific method isn't really so tricky — it just demands its own consistent application, no matter what you are exploring, no matter who you are, and no matter what your goal is. We didn't come to the conclusion that Schwartz's protocols are bad and his results suspect because we discovered his wacky beliefs and unsatisfying hypotheses. It's the opposite: we looked into his wacky beliefs and his unsatisfying hypotheses because we saw his awful protocols and suspicious results. Assuming things the other way round, "unbiased" agnosticism or no, really misses the whole point of our analysis.



Tom S. Fox, 2010.05.24 (Mon) 05:52 [Link] »

Just in case you care, Safari Tomís orb picture is now here: http://safaritom.0catch.com/paranormal.htm




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