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Skeptic Pitied

FAYETTEVILLE, AR—Craig Schaffner, 46, a Fayetteville-area computer consultant, has earned the pity of friends and acquaintances for his tragic reluctance to embrace the unverifiable, sources reported Monday.
Skeptic Pitied
Skeptic Pitied
"I honestly feel sorry for the guy," said neighbor Michael Eddy, 54, a born-again Christian. "To live in this world not believing in a higher power, doubting that Christ died for our sins—that's such a sad, cynical way to live. I don't know how he gets through his day."
Coworker Donald Cobb, who spends roughly 20 percent of his annual income on telephone psychics and tarot-card readings, similarly extended his compassion for Schaffner.
"Craig is a really great guy," Cobb said. "It's just too bad he's chosen to cut himself off from the world of the paranormal, restricting himself to the limited universe of what can be seen and heard and verified through empirical evidence."
Also feeling pity for Schaffner is his former girlfriend Aimee Brand, a holistic and homeopathic healer who earns a living selling tonics and medicines diluted to one molecule per gallon in the belief that the water "remembers" the curative properties of the medication.
"Don't get me wrong—logic and reason have their place," Brand said. "But Craig fails to recognize the danger of going too far with medical common sense to the exclusion of alternative New Age remedies like chakra cleansing and energy-field realignment."
Eddy said he has tried repeatedly to pull Schaffner back from the precipice of lucidity.
"I admit, science might be great for curing diseases, exploring space, cataloguing the natural phenomena of our world, saving endangered species, extending the human lifespan, and enriching the quality of that life," Eddy said. "But at the end of the day, science has nothing to tell us about the human soul, and that's a critical thing Craig is missing. I would hate for his soul to be lost forever because of a stubborn doubt over the actual existence and nature of that soul."
Gina Hitchens, a lifelong astrology devotee, blamed Schaffner's lack of faith on an accident of birth.
"Craig can't entirely help himself, being a Gemini," Hitchens said. "Geminis are always very skeptical and destined to feel pain throughout life as a result of their closed-mindedness. If you try to introduce Craig to anything even remotely made-up, he starts going off about 'evidence this' and 'proof that.' If only the poor man were open-minded enough to stop attacking everything with his brain and just once look into his heart, he'd find all the proof he needed. But, sadly, he's unable to let even a little bit of imagination drive his core beliefs."
Perhaps the person who pities Schaffner most is his brother Frank, a practicing Scientologist since 1991.
"It's bad enough when someone has the ignorance to reject Dianetics in spite of its tremendous popularity," Frank said. "But Craig isn't even willing to try a free introductory course. Scientology has the potential to free humanity from the crippling yoke of common sense, unshackling billions from the chains of century after century of scientific precedent, and yet he still won't give it a try."
"I realize that Craig seems very happy with his narrow little common-sense-based worldview," Frank continued, "but when you think of all the widely embraced beliefs that are excluded by that way of thinking, you have to feel kind of sad."
skeptic vs Pseudo-Skeptic 31.Jan.2003 15:00


"On Pseudo-Skepticism"
by Marcello Truzzi
Founding co-chairman of CSICOP

Over the years, I have decried the misuse of the term "skeptic" when used to refer to all critics of anomaly claims. Alas, the label has been thus misapplied by both proponents and critics of the paranormal. Sometimes users of the term have distinguished between so-called "soft" versus "hard" skeptics, and I in part revived the term "zetetic" because of the term's misuse. But I now think the problems created go beyond mere terminology and matters need to be set right. Since "skepticism" properly refers to doubt rather than denial -- nonbelief rather than belief -- critics who take the negative rather than an agnostic position but still call themselves "skeptics" are actually pseudo-skeptics and have, I believed, gained a false advantage by usurping that label.

In science, the burden of proof falls upon the claimant; and the more extraordinary a claim, the heavier is the burden of proof demanded. The true skeptic takes an agnostic position, one that says the claim is not proved rather than disproved. He asserts that the claimant has not borne the burden of proof and that science must continue to build its cognitive map of reality without incorporating the extraordinary claim as a new "fact." Since the true skeptic does not assert a claim, he has no burden to prove anything. He just goes on using the established theories of "conventional science" as usual. But if a critic asserts that there is evidence for disproof, that he has a negative hypothesis -- saying, for instance, that a seeming psi result was actually due to an artifact -- he is making a claim and therefore also has to bear a burden of proof. Sometimes, such negative claims by critics are also quite extraordinary -- for example, that a UFO was actually a giant plasma, or that someone in a psi experiment was cued via an abnormal ability to hear a high pitch others with normal ears would fail to notice. In such cases the negative claimant also may have to bear a heavier burden of proof than might normally be expected.

Critics who assert negative claims, but who mistakenly call themselves "skeptics," often act as though they have no burden of proof placed on them at all, though such a stance would be appropriate only for the agnostic or true skeptic. A result of this is that many critics seem to feel it is only necessary to present a case for their counter-claims based upon plausibility rather than empirical evidence. Thus, if a subject in a psi experiment can be shown to have had an opportunity to cheat, many critics seem to assume not merely that he probably did cheat, but that he must have, regardless of what may be the complete absence of evidence that he did so cheat and sometimes even ignoring evidence of the subject's past reputation for honesty. Similarly, improper randomization procedures are sometimes assumed to be the cause of a subject's high psi scores even though all that has been established is the possibility of such an artifact having been the real cause. Of course, the evidential weight of the experiment is greatly reduced when we discover an opening in the design that would allow an artifact to confound the results. Discovering an opportunity for error should make such experiments less evidential and usually unconvincing. It usually disproves the claim that the experiment was "air tight" against error, but it does not disprove the anomaly claim.

Showing evidence is unconvincing is not grounds for completely dismissing it. If a critic asserts that the result was due to artifact X, that critic then has the burden of proof to demonstrate that artifact X can and probably did produce such results under such circumstances. Admittedly, in some cases the appeal to mere plausibility that an artifact produced the result may be so great that nearly all would accept the argument; for example, when we learn that someone known to have cheated in the past had an opportunity to cheat in this instance, we might reasonably conclude he probably cheated this time, too. But in far too many instances, the critic who makes a merely plausible argument for an artifact closes the door on future research when proper science demands that his hypothesis of an artifact should also be tested. Alas, most critics seem happy to sit in their armchairs producing post hoc counter-explanations. Whichever side ends up with the true story, science best progresses through laboratory investigations.

On the other hand, proponents of an anomaly claim who recognize the above fallacy may go too far in the other direction. Some argue, like Lombroso when he defended the mediumship of Palladino, that the presence of wigs does not deny the existence of real hair. All of us must remember science can tell us what is empirically unlikely but not what is empirically impossible. Evidence in science is always a matter of degree and is seldom if ever absolutely conclusive. Some proponents of anomaly claims, like some critics, seen unwilling to consider evidence in probabilistic terms, clinging to any slim loose end as though the critic must disprove all evidence ever put forward for a particular claim. Both critics and proponents need to learn to think of adjudication in science as more like that found in the law courts, imperfect and with varying degrees of proof and evidence. Absolute truth, like absolute justice, is seldom obtainable. We can only do our best to approximate them.

Marcello Truzzi is a professor of sociology at Eastern Michigan University. This article is reprinted, at the author's suggestion, from the Zetetic Scholar, #12-13, 1987. In his view this criticism of pseudo-skepticism claiming the authority of science, but actually impeding science, is as relevant as ever.

ps 31.Jan.2003 15:03


This post is spam. I shouldnt have even bothered commenting to it.

smells a little 31.Jan.2003 15:43


because it is.

is something spam just because it's kinda funny?

If you're gonna scam the onion 31.Jan.2003 15:48

do it right?

AOL/Time Warner Turmoil Over-Reported, Says Time
NEW YORK—According to the Feb. 3 issue of Time, the internal turmoil plaguing AOL/Time Warner is being over-reported by the national media. "Once again, tabloids like Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report insist on trawling through the Dumpster of this non-story, desperate to dig up any dirt they can find," columnist Lance Morrow wrote. "This would be bad enough in times of slow news, but a nation about to go to war and confused about which online service offers the best enhanced e-mail features surely deserves better."

Since I am pretty sure who posted this 31.Jan.2003 16:20


I like the onion, and this article was funny, but in light of the recent debate I think I should give Mr. tinfoil what he is asking for--which I believe is evidece--and see how that goes down.

eat hard evidence:  http://brumac.8k.com/JAL1628/Jal1628.html

The above link is John Callahan's (former Federal Aviation Administration Chief) full account of the Flight of JAL1628, a Japanese airliner flying from Alaska to Japan in 1986. All of the witnesses in this case were trained flight personel and radar operators who know the difference between known and unknown aerial phenomenon. The object was clocked on radar alternately circling the airliner at 16,000mph and shadowing the plane 8 miles away for 31minutes. This information was gathered from multiple radar systems (military, civilian and on-flight) and for those of you who are not aware, radar only bounces off metalic objects.

The object was roughly FOUR times the size of the passenger liner (a 747, I think) it was following and represents the most airtight body of hard, physical evidence of a truly Unidentified Flying Object in the public domain.

and take off that damn hat.

EVIDENCE --- Moses parted the Red Sea 31.Jan.2003 18:33

the lord almighty

Exodus 14:

21Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 23 The Egyptians pursued, and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.


No "evidence" you provide, unless directly experienced or reproducable has any more merit than this. Personally, I thinks the Red Sea story is BS, what about you?

Schaffner seems like a reasonable guy 31.Jan.2003 21:52

Bush Admirer

Schaffner seems like a reasonable guy in a sea of whackos.