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Old 30th March 2010, 11:15 AM   #41
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To be clear Rational Alchemy has nothing to do with the JREF, and all my comments on the show were mine, and mine alone.

I think it's important to talk to people like VFF, and that we do a disservice to the world when we write people off as untouchable, as many people in this thread seem to wish.

To be clear, I in no way think she has any powers. Rational Alchemy is a loose format show in which we explore many elements of skepticism. My job there is not to be "hard hitting" or "fight the woo" or any of that; it's to explore what skepticism means, and what it is. It may not be the show for you.

If she says she can do things, she has to provide evidence in order for me to believe it. She has not done so, and she agrees with that. But she still has the belief. I think that's fascinating, and worth exploring.

Whatever your personal feelings for VFF might be, she's articulate and able to explain the mentality behind her beliefs to a greater degree than many, and I think there is value in skeptics discussing her beliefs with her.

There were portions of the recording edited out at VFF's request. I find that regrettable, but that's our policy. We would have not aired the show if there was too much editing, or if the editing led to manipulation of information.

As for the IIG test, VFF and I discussed it in depth off the air. She clearly failed the challenge, and she understands that, but she's certain that she "felt something" in trial 2, and that makes her want to try again. I see no reason not to let her. I told her that if she thought she had this ability, that she should practice more and gain a better understanding of it so she won't fail again.

So maybe you learned something from the show, and maybe you didn't. Maybe it made you think a bit more or understand how some claimants believe. I think it was a good show to do, and I do others like it.

Oh, one other point. I did not offer the a JREF Challenge to her. I'm not sure if she applied, but I did inform her that if she wants to talk to me, it will not be related to a challenge.
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Old 30th March 2010, 11:17 AM   #42
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Originally Posted by Audible Click View Post
I've been wondering the same thing. This situation makes me feel that Ms. Ikonen has hijacked skepticism and, with the help of Mr. Wagg, twisted it into an unrecognizable shadow of it's former self. Put simply, I feel betrayed and I don't think I'm alone in this feeling.


I couldn't agree more, AC, and you most certainly aren't alone.

'Betrayed' is exactly the feeling I get from the situation. It's a huge let-down to discover that nothing we've ever done to prevent the creation of another Sylvia Browne has the support of the foundation we thought was our ally.
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Old 30th March 2010, 11:17 AM   #43
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Originally Posted by zooterkin View Post
Where did he say all this? The first I've seen about this podcast was this thread, but I've not been following VfF closely.
He says it on the podcast which you can find here: http://rational-alchemy.com/

It's not at the top of the page where it says "latest" podcast, but it's at the bottom of the entry for the 3/27 podcast.

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Old 30th March 2010, 11:20 AM   #44
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Originally Posted by TheSkepticCanuck View Post
Jeff should get a shot at the MDC. He predicted in advance that he would get a lot of flack over the interview, and he was 100% correct. He also stated that he didn't believe she had any paranormal abilities, but he was willing to have a conversation with her, and keep an open mind, just in case he is wrong. I think he clearly showed the difference between a skeptic and a cynic. Many of us here have been more cynical than skeptical, myself included. That being said, I don't believe she has the slightest paranormal ability. I do however believe she has a fantastic imagination.

Jeff wasn't competent to do the interview. Being willing to engage a has-been woo in conversation doesn't make him a good skeptic. He wasn't familiar with the claim. He certainly wasn't familiar with the IIG protocol. He barely expressed any legitimate skepticism. Jeff had several opportunities to explain the burden of proof issue during the segment where Anita schmoozed him with the ghost hunting malarkey, but he didn't. Instead he asked Anita to define falsifying vs. verifying, and didn't mention once that she was wrong. But remember, this was something like a radio show, show biz, an entertainment piece. Jeff was doing a fine job of indulging Anita's desire for attention. And Nigel Aves? Holy mackerel. He was playing right into her need to feel special by fawning over her like some high school kid with a crush.

Keep in mind that the skeptics who have been involved in this fiasco have not been cynical. They have been good skeptics. Almost to a man (and woman of course), they have taken the position that the burden of proof is upon the claimant. The fact that they don't give equal credence to has-xray-vision and doesn't-have-xray-vision does not make them cynical. For the most part it's Anita who insists other people disprove her claims. The fact that we toss it back into her court isn't cynicism. It's quintessential skepticism. But when there are interviews like the Rational Alchemy one under discussion, and when people like Jeff Wagg have the opportunity to set the record straight but instead bail on their responsibility to do so, it only serves to make legitimate skepticism more difficult for the real skeptics.

Unfortunately there has been a reluctance on the part of the JREF staff, forum admins, and forum moderators to allow for free discussion of the most likely, best evidenced explanations for everything Anita has done and said. The policy is that the process of skepticism must end when someone gets their panties in a bunch. Even in the interview Jeff was critical of those who consider the possibility that Anita is simply mentally ill. Unless one is honest about considering all the possibilities and vigilant in working to support or eliminate them, one is not being a good skeptic. In the case of the VisionFromFeeling claims, tests, discussions, and the Rational Alchemy podcast, no, Jeff hasn't been a particularly good skeptic.

Originally Posted by Jeff Wagg View Post
[...] Rational Alchemy is a loose format show in which we explore many elements of skepticism. My job there is not to be "hard hitting" or "fight the woo" or any of that; it's to explore what skepticism means, and what it is. [...]

But, as I explained above, you dropped the ball on several opportunities to do just that.
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Old 30th March 2010, 11:26 AM   #45
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Originally Posted by Akhenaten View Post
I couldn't agree more, AC, and you most certainly aren't alone.

'Betrayed' is exactly the feeling I get from the situation. It's a huge let-down to discover that nothing we've ever done to prevent the creation of another Sylvia Browne has the support of the foundation we thought was our ally.
The JREF had nothing to do with the interview, and I am not representing the JREF when I do Rational Alchemy.
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Old 30th March 2010, 11:26 AM   #46
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Originally Posted by Jeff Wagg View Post

<snip>

Whatever your personal feelings for VFF might be, she's articulate and able to explain the mentality behind her beliefs to a greater degree than many, and I think there is value in skeptics discussing her beliefs with her.

<snip>


My personal feelings have nothing to do with things like this, from VfF's website:







"able to explain the mentality behind her beliefs "


You've got to be kidding.
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Old 30th March 2010, 11:31 AM   #47
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Old 30th March 2010, 11:31 AM   #48
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Originally Posted by Jeff Wagg View Post
The JREF had nothing to do with the interview, and I am not representing the JREF when I do Rational Alchemy.


Whether you do so officially or not, Jeff, I'm afraid that you can't escape that you are who you are, in terms of the JREF, and the perception of the hoi polloi is that you represent the JREF at all times when you speak on matters such as this.
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Old 30th March 2010, 11:38 AM   #49
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Originally Posted by Akhenaten View Post
Whether you do so officially or not, Jeff, I'm afraid that you can't escape that you are who you are, in terms of the JREF, and the perception of the hoi polloi is that you represent the JREF at all times when you speak on matters such as this.
I don't think that's fair. I share some of your other criticisms, especially about giving this potential con-artist a platform, but not this one. People should be able to engage in activities outside of the organizations they work for.
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Old 30th March 2010, 12:04 PM   #50
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I know very little about VFF, and have not listened to the podcast, but I know Jeff Wagg, and am confident that he went into this with his eyes wide open. The man has been dealing with MDC claimants for years, folks. Cut him some slack! I am more than willing to give him the benefit of the doubt in this.
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Old 30th March 2010, 12:05 PM   #51
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Originally Posted by Akhenaten View Post
Whether you do so officially or not, Jeff, I'm afraid that you can't escape that you are who you are, in terms of the JREF, and the perception of the hoi polloi is that you represent the JREF at all times when you speak on matters such as this.
It might be time for the hoi polloi to step back a bit, then, and start considering that not every encounter with a "woo" is the appropriate time to leap into the fray, skeptical guns-a-blazin', ready to pedantically shout them down on everything they say that isn't abject acknowledgement of their own mistaken-ness.

Especially in an interview in which one is a guest.

I find those who are claiming Jeff wasn't a "good skeptic" for $REASON or $OTHER to be utterly laughable caricatures of the rationality they pretend to espouse. What is, then, a "good skeptic" -- and who made any given person the authority on that definition? Yet another example why I refuse to self-identify as "skeptic", preferring instead "critical thinker" or, ideally, preferring no label at all; I don't need to be a True Scotsman, see.
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Old 30th March 2010, 12:20 PM   #52
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Originally Posted by wardenclyffe View Post
He says it on the podcast which you can find here: http://rational-alchemy.com/
Ah, ok, you're paraphrasing what he says at the end of the podcast, which I hadn't got to at the time of posting.
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Old 30th March 2010, 12:20 PM   #53
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Originally Posted by Jeff Wagg View Post
Whatever your personal feelings for VFF might be, she's articulate and able to explain the mentality behind her beliefs to a greater degree than many, and I think there is value in skeptics discussing her beliefs with her.

Discussing her beliefs with her, in the manner that you did on the podcast, was simply an exercise in indulging her fantasies. I think you'll find you're alone in believing there is value in that.

And as far as explaining the mentality behind her beliefs? Yeah, right. Sorry, Jeff, but you don't appear to have the slightest idea about the mentality behind her beliefs. She manipulated you, played you like a badly tuned violin, and you fell for it.

There are several threads right here in this forum where you can learn a little bit about Anita. It's very obvious you haven't read any of them. There's a web site called Stop Vision from Feeling where you can learn even more about her claims and fantasies of having magical powers. Anita has her own web site you can look at. And the IIG has some good material on Anita, her claims, and the IIG test that you clearly know almost nothing about.

If you do think there is value in skeptics discussing her beliefs with her, you might want to leave those discussions to actual skeptics. And if you fancy yourself among the skeptics, you might consider at least making an effort to learn a little bit about the subject of the discussion.
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Old 30th March 2010, 12:20 PM   #54
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Originally Posted by Akhenaten View Post
Whether you do so officially or not, Jeff, I'm afraid that you can't escape that you are who you are, in terms of the JREF, and the perception of the hoi polloi is that you represent the JREF at all times when you speak on matters such as this.
I agree with Akhenaten. You, Mr. Wagg, can speak to all the delusional woos you want to, but before doing so you should have made it quite clear that you are not speaking on behalf of the JREF. Do you know how many forum members spent hundreds of hours trying to help VfF? For two years, posters gave of their time preparing various protocols even going so far as to mail her common, over the counter drugs so she could use her super duper vision to scan them. Of course she blew that test off as she did with protocols, affidavits, and raw data from her "test" with the Forsyth Area Critical Thinkers group.
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Old 30th March 2010, 12:25 PM   #55
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Originally Posted by RSLancastr View Post
I know very little about VFF, and have not listened to the podcast, but I know Jeff Wagg, and am confident that he went into this with his eyes wide open. The man has been dealing with MDC claimants for years, folks. Cut him some slack! I am more than willing to give him the benefit of the doubt in this.

If by "eyes wide open" you mean he went into a discussion about the IIG test without really knowing anything about it, then yes, I suppose you're right.
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Old 30th March 2010, 12:28 PM   #56
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Originally Posted by remirol View Post
It might be time for the hoi polloi to step back a bit, then, and start considering that not every encounter with a "woo" is the appropriate time to leap into the fray, skeptical guns-a-blazin', ready to pedantically shout them down on everything they say that isn't abject acknowledgement of their own mistaken-ness.

Especially in an interview in which one is a guest.

I find those who are claiming Jeff wasn't a "good skeptic" for $REASON or $OTHER to be utterly laughable caricatures of the rationality they pretend to espouse. What is, then, a "good skeptic" -- and who made any given person the authority on that definition? Yet another example why I refuse to self-identify as "skeptic", preferring instead "critical thinker" or, ideally, preferring no label at all; I don't need to be a True Scotsman, see.
Originally Posted by GeeMack View Post
And if you fancy yourself among the skeptics,
Again, who are you to declare who is and isn't a skeptic? Please provide evidence in the form of published citations or retract your entire post.
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Old 30th March 2010, 12:40 PM   #57
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Originally Posted by Jeff Wagg View Post
The JREF had nothing to do with the interview, and I am not representing the JREF when I do Rational Alchemy.
So, when you post here defending your Rational Alchemy interview with "Communications and Outreach Coordinator - JREF Staff" under your avatar, are you representing the JREF?

From an official standpoint, I believe you if you say the JREF doesn't pay you directly to do the RA show. However, I find it disingenuous at best for you to say that you don't somehow "represent" the JREF when you do it. It's not like you're on Billy Bob's BBQ Bonanza Podcast talking about your favorite rub. You're the JREF Communications and Outreach Coordinator making a public appearance about skepticism. The JREF's stated mission is "to promote critical thinking by reaching out to the public and media with reliable information about paranormal and supernatural ideas so widespread in our society today." That sounds like what you were doing.

When you joined the cast of RA, this is how you were announced:
Quote:
http://rational-alchemy.com/home-pag...lchemy-tonight
We are happy to finally announce that the new Rational Alchemy cast members are Jeff Wagg and Alison Smith! Jeff is the Communication and Outreach Manager for the JREF and Alison is the administrator for the million dollar prize. They joined us for the first time this week for introductions and a general discussion of all things skeptical.
The natural assumption is that if two members of the JREF staff join a podcast and one of them is the Communications and Outreach Coordinator, they are probably representing the JREF in some fashion, especially when making such appearances is directly in-line with the JREF's mission. Since there are no disclaimers that you are doing this on your own time and expressing your own opinions, I would say that whether you like it or not, people are assuming you are representing the JREF.

Furthermore, in this particular case you interviewed someone who is a well-known member on the JREF Forums. She has publicly stated that she has inquired about the MDC. She took the IIG Challenge, and had she passed, she would have been qualified to take the MDC because of the relationship between the JREF and the IIG. A reasonable person would conclude that you were in fact representing the JREF.

While I have your attention, why didn't you post a link to www.StopVisionFromFeeling.com along with the links to her site and the IIG test? There's a wealth of information there simply not available on either of those sites. And I certainly would have appreciated the opportunity to have participated in such a discussion considering that I don't think anyone is more familiar with her and her claims than me.
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Old 30th March 2010, 12:50 PM   #58
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Originally Posted by godless dave View Post
I don't think that's fair. I share some of your other criticisms, especially about giving this potential con-artist a platform, but not this one. People should be able to engage in activities outside of the organizations they work for.


Fair enough.

No argument from me there, and I accept your criticism, however, Mr Wagg ought to be more aware of how Vision From Feeling will (and already has) spin this.

For example, this is the first line of text on the Home Page of her website:

I will be making a guest appearance on the Radio Show at the Rational Alchemy, starring Skeptics Jeff Wagg, Brian Walsh, and Nigel Aves. We discuss my IIG test for an entire hour!

No matter what is said in this Forum, that is going to create an impression for a great many people that will not serve the JREF's mission one iota.
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Old 30th March 2010, 12:53 PM   #59
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Originally Posted by RSLancastr View Post
I know very little about VFF, and have not listened to the podcast, but I know Jeff Wagg, and am confident that he went into this with his eyes wide open. The man has been dealing with MDC claimants for years, folks. Cut him some slack! I am more than willing to give him the benefit of the doubt in this.

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Old 30th March 2010, 12:53 PM   #60
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Originally Posted by Akhenaten View Post
Fair enough.

No argument from me there, and I accept your criticism, however, Mr Wagg ought to be more aware of how Vision From Feeling will (and already has) spin this.
But... who cares? I mean, people who are her fans aren't going to quit no matter what Jeff does during an interview.

Quote:
For example, this is the first line of text on the Home Page of her website:
I will be making a guest appearance on the Radio Show at the Rational Alchemy, starring Skeptics Jeff Wagg, Brian Walsh, and Nigel Aves. We discuss my IIG test for an entire hour!
No matter what is said in this Forum, that is going to create an impression for a great many people that will not serve the JREF's mission one iota.
How many people, really? One, two thousand, tops? And how many of those are going to misread what is being said above to mean "Jeff supports me and believes everything!"?

I mean, seriously. It says she'll be making a guest appearance, and that Jeff, Brian, and Nigel will also be there, and they will be talking about her IIG test. I think it will take an enormous amount of mental effort to intentionally misconstrue that to appear as anything other than it reads ... which of course her fans will, but they'd believe anything.
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Old 30th March 2010, 12:55 PM   #61
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Originally Posted by godless dave View Post
I don't think that's fair. I share some of your other criticisms, especially about giving this potential con-artist a platform, but not this one. People should be able to engage in activities outside of the organizations they work for.
Nobody said otherwise. The reality, however, is that if your job is Communications and Outreach Coordinator for an organization that promotes skepticism and you, in fact, reach out and communicate to people about skepticism along with another member of the organization by interviewing somebody who has inquired about being tested by your organization and who was tested by a sister organization and passing that test means this persona is automatically qualified to take your test and then come to your organization's website to defend said interview, you're representing that organization.

We can argue until the cows come home where his "official" duties end and his "personal" choices begin. When he's doing an activity that would clearly fall within the expected job duties, the perception is going to be that he's representing the organization. I would say that most people in his position wouldn't try to split hairs considering the antagonistic relationship with the New Age community. At the very least there should be prominent disclaimers explaining his position (same for Alison). Absent that, the logical conclusion is that he's representing the JREF.

But even with disclaimers, his public statements about skepticism are going to reflect on the JREF whether he likes it or not. That's just how life works. It's silly to pretend otherwise.
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Old 30th March 2010, 12:58 PM   #62
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Oh give me a break, people. It was just a freaking radio interview. You'd think the world ended or something given the tone of this thread.
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Old 30th March 2010, 01:08 PM   #63
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Originally Posted by UncaYimmy View Post
So, when you post here defending your Rational Alchemy interview with "Communications and Outreach Coordinator - JREF Staff" under your avatar, are you representing the JREF?

From an official standpoint, I believe you if you say the JREF doesn't pay you directly to do the RA show. However, I find it disingenuous at best for you to say that you don't somehow "represent" the JREF when you do it. It's not like you're on Billy Bob's BBQ Bonanza Podcast talking about your favorite rub. You're the JREF Communications and Outreach Coordinator making a public appearance about skepticism. The JREF's stated mission is "to promote critical thinking by reaching out to the public and media with reliable information about paranormal and supernatural ideas so widespread in our society today." That sounds like what you were doing.

When you joined the cast of RA, this is how you were announced:


The natural assumption is that if two members of the JREF staff join a podcast and one of them is the Communications and Outreach Coordinator, they are probably representing the JREF in some fashion, especially when making such appearances is directly in-line with the JREF's mission. Since there are no disclaimers that you are doing this on your own time and expressing your own opinions, I would say that whether you like it or not, people are assuming you are representing the JREF.

Furthermore, in this particular case you interviewed someone who is a well-known member on the JREF Forums. She has publicly stated that she has inquired about the MDC. She took the IIG Challenge, and had she passed, she would have been qualified to take the MDC because of the relationship between the JREF and the IIG. A reasonable person would conclude that you were in fact representing the JREF.

While I have your attention, why didn't you post a link to www.StopVisionFromFeeling.com along with the links to her site and the IIG test? There's a wealth of information there simply not available on either of those sites. And I certainly would have appreciated the opportunity to have participated in such a discussion considering that I don't think anyone is more familiar with her and her claims than me.
I have stated many times on the show that I'm not representing the JREF there. As for this thread, I started by saying that I wasn't representing the JREF in these discussions. I can't exactly take the avatar and staff title off to post this (though that idea was discussed, actually).

Anyone assuming my thoughts and words mirror the JREF's completely is making a very bad assumption. The same could be said for any member of the staff, including Randi.

I don't do the website for Rational Alchemy, so I don't know why your site wasn't listed.

The only reason I'm posting in this thread is because someone asked me to.
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Old 30th March 2010, 01:09 PM   #64
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Originally Posted by Jeff Wagg View Post
I don't do the website for Rational Alchemy, so I don't know why your site wasn't listed.
* Because it's the only reason anyone knows about Anita beyond the General Skepticism forum.
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Old 30th March 2010, 01:17 PM   #65
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Originally Posted by remirol View Post
It might be time for the hoi polloi to step back a bit, then, and start considering that not every encounter with a "woo" is the appropriate time to leap into the fray, skeptical guns-a-blazin', ready to pedantically shout them down on everything they say that isn't abject acknowledgement of their own mistaken-ness.


Firstly, the hoi polloi is what it is. It doesn't step back to consider things, it jumps to conclusions and clings to them tenaciously. Clever public figures anticipate this and make sure the first impression they create is a good one.

Secondly, this isn't just 'every encounter with a "woo" '. This is yet another chapter in dealings with a particular woo which have been ongoing for years.


Originally Posted by remirol View Post
Especially in an interview in which one is a guest.


I can't argue with that, but I can point to public perception again, and in this case a lot of that is going to have been created by Vision from Feeling's home page which I've already referred to,


Originally Posted by remirol View Post
I find those who are claiming Jeff wasn't a "good skeptic" for $REASON or $OTHER to be utterly laughable caricatures of the rationality they pretend to espouse. What is, then, a "good skeptic" -- and who made any given person the authority on that definition? Yet another example why I refuse to self-identify as "skeptic", preferring instead "critical thinker" or, ideally, preferring no label at all; I don't need to be a True Scotsman, see.


I'm not someone who would refer to anyone's scepticism as good or bad. The 'good skeptic' label is something I abhor and I'll opt for cynic every time.

In this case, however, I'm driven by neither scepticism or cynicism, but by a wealth of knowledge about this particular subject that I have worked long and diligently to acquire.
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Old 30th March 2010, 01:18 PM   #66
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Originally Posted by krelnik View Post
Oh give me a break, people. It was just a freaking radio interview. You'd think the world ended or something given the tone of this thread.
And from your signature:

Quote:
What's the harm in a little misinformation?
Quoted for hypocrisy.

It's not just what was contained in the interview but steadfast refusal to acknowledge that it could have possibly been a mistake and the disingenuous claim that he and Alison don't "represent" the JREF. Both are appalling.

I also didn't appreciate reading Jeff's little lecture where he basically told people here that they were dealing with Anita the wrong way. The implication is that we are somehow cynics because, unlike Jeff, we actually know the full story.

So what if VFF is articulate? If anything that makes her more dangerous with these wild claims of living without food and water, healing the sick and being a human MRI who can detect illnesses. She has been given far more attention than she deserves. People here have repeatedly try to help her test her claims. She was greeted in quite a friendly manner, but as time wore on, her agenda became quite clear. On every occasion she has failed miserably in her attempts to prove her claims, yet she persists. She has lied, been misleading, and broken numerous promises.

What good is served by giving her exactly what she wants? What good comes from insulting members by saying that "many" of us want to "write her off as untouchable" and implying that our "personal feelings" are getting in the way? Mind you, this was written by Jeff in his official capacity as manager of these forums with no disclaimer whatsoever.

Jeff thinks she is "able to explain the mentality behind her beliefs" when it's quite clear that she is completely unable to explain that mentality. She just repeats herself. Had Jeff actually done some research, he would have known that. Instead he insults those of who know her and the situation far better.
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Old 30th March 2010, 01:20 PM   #67
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Originally Posted by Akhenaten View Post
Firstly, the hoi polloi is what it is. It doesn't step back to consider things, it jumps to conclusions and clings to them tenaciously. Clever public figures anticipate this and make sure the first impression they create is a good one.

Secondly, this isn't just 'every encounter with a "woo" '. This is yet another chapter in dealings with a particular woo which have been ongoing for years.
Sure. But at the same time, it sounds like people are complaining that Jeff didn't indulge in a bit of "gotcha journalism", where you get someone on a show for an interview about X, and then hammer them about Y, Z, Q, R, and P which are only tangentially related to X. :/

Quote:
I can't argue with that, but I can point to public perception again, and in this case a lot of that is going to have been created by Vision from Feeling's home page which I've already referred to,
... But that's what I mean. How much does her page matter, really? (see other response)

Quote:
I'm not someone who would refer to anyone's scepticism as good or bad.
Agreed. That was more of an incidental "while i'm here" remark; if the premise ("I find those who...") does not apply to any person, then the rest should be skipped over.
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Old 30th March 2010, 01:21 PM   #68
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62 posts already. About a failed test applicant who is currently suspended. Who appeared on a podcast. It's like this with every post she makes, too. It gets immediately dissected, compared to previous statements, commented on off-site. I hear the StopVFF site even has a "secret room" dedicated to discussing her.

Anita is fascinating to skeptics. Rational Alchemy explores the skeptic mindset. Match made in heaven.

Anita has made some mistakes. There is a lot of bad blood on both sides. These days some people will immediately jump to a worst case scenario without exploring any other option. This is cynicism, not skepticism. We do ourselves a disfavor by not recognizing that. It might be more difficult to remain skeptical when dealing with Anita but that's all the more reason to do so.
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Old 30th March 2010, 01:21 PM   #69
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Originally Posted by UncaYimmy View Post
She has been given far more attention than she deserves.
Quoted for hypocrisy.
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Old 30th March 2010, 01:27 PM   #70
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Originally Posted by krelnik View Post
Oh give me a break, people. It was just a freaking radio interview. You'd think the world ended or something given the tone of this thread.


The thread has taken the form it has because the people posting to it have some things they wish to say.

It's beyond their power, either collectively or individually, to 'give you a break' from it.

That ball would be entirely in your court, I believe.
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Old 30th March 2010, 01:27 PM   #71
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Originally Posted by TheSkepticCanuck View Post
Jeff should get a shot at the MDC. He predicted in advance that he would get a lot of flack over the interview, and he was 100% correct. He also stated that he didn't believe she had any paranormal abilities, but he was willing to have a conversation with her, and keep an open mind, just in case he is wrong. I think he clearly showed the difference between a skeptic and a cynic. Many of us here have been more cynical than skeptical, myself included. That being said, I don't believe she has the slightest paranormal ability. I do however believe she has a fantastic imagination.
See, i am not mad that they gave a psychic a podium, or that they didn't call her names.

What bothers me, specifically with VFF is that she is attempting to use skeptical sites in order to drum up press for herself. I have promotional experience ( bands, film, stage shows) and what she is doing is a really good idea, for her. But for us ( among others) to be used as her promotional tool?

If she had yet to take any type of test, maybe give her an interview and make nice. But she has failed and is now simply drumming up name recognition on skeptic sites.

On one hand i would like to congratulate her as having a good knowledge of free publicity and how to use it.

On the other i would raise an eyebrow at Jeff for not seeing this.
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Old 30th March 2010, 01:33 PM   #72
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Originally Posted by sadhatter View Post
What bothers me, specifically with VFF is that she is attempting to use skeptical sites in order to drum up press for herself. I have promotional experience ( bands, film, stage shows) and what she is doing is a really good idea, for her. But for us ( among others) to be used as her promotional tool?

If she had yet to take any type of test, maybe give her an interview and make nice. But she has failed and is now simply drumming up name recognition on skeptic sites.
But... what does she get out of it? I mean, I still can't figure out how this is a problem. I know "any publicity is good publicity" and all that, but she's on the interview talking about how she failed the IIG test. No matter how much she's rationalizing the hell out of it (and oh yes, TONS of that, but who's surprised), the results still kinda sit there and say "Didn't go anywhere".

so skeptic sites know who she is. big deal?
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Old 30th March 2010, 01:34 PM   #73
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Originally Posted by Jeff Wagg View Post
I have stated many times on the show that I'm not representing the JREF there. As for this thread, I started by saying that I wasn't representing the JREF in these discussions. I can't exactly take the avatar and staff title off to post this (though that idea was discussed, actually).
Right. And Anita is not claiming that she can heal migraines. The person who experienced "immediate relief" is making that claim. She's not claiming she has accuracy in her medical perceptions, it's the people who report her accuracy. We've heard it all before.

If you considered removing your title from the Avatar, then why didn't you at least put a big disclaimer in your post that you are posting a personal opinion. In the first line of your post you told us that your opinions on Rational Alchemy were your own. What about your post? For example, when you accused "many members" here of wanting to write off Anita as "untouchable" was that Jeff Wagg, Communications and Outreach Dude" or was it "Jeff Wagg, Rational Alchemy Dude" giving that opinion?

Quote:
Anyone assuming my thoughts and words mirror the JREF's completely is making a very bad assumption. The same could be said for any member of the staff, including Randi.
Really, Jeff? A "bad" assumption? If it's such a bad assumption, why do you feel the need to make disclaimers in the first place? I find it quite insulting that you would read my post and dismiss that reasoning as being bad. And are you really arguing that if Alison said, "I don't ever want a claimant to pass the MDC preliminary" that people will be able to separate that comment from her duties regarding the MDC? If you said, "I think Banachek might have cheated in the Connie Sonne test" that people would keep that position separate from your duties at the JREF?

You can play the personal/professional game all you want, but the reality is that in your position as communications director for the JREF, your public utterings regarding skepticism will always reflect on the JREF.

Quote:
The only reason I'm posting in this thread is because someone asked me to.
LOL! That's a joke, right?
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Old 30th March 2010, 01:43 PM   #74
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Originally Posted by bookitty View Post
These days some people will immediately jump to a worst case scenario without exploring any other option. This is cynicism, not skepticism.
And that's why I'm proud to be a cynic as well as a skeptic.
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Old 30th March 2010, 01:43 PM   #75
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Originally Posted by Jeff Wagg View Post
To be clear Rational Alchemy has nothing to do with the JREF, and all my comments on the show were mine, and mine alone.

I think it's important to talk to people like VFF, and that we do a disservice to the world when we write people off as untouchable, as many people in this thread seem to wish.

To be clear, I in no way think she has any powers. Rational Alchemy is a loose format show in which we explore many elements of skepticism. My job there is not to be "hard hitting" or "fight the woo" or any of that; it's to explore what skepticism means, and what it is. It may not be the show for you.

If she says she can do things, she has to provide evidence in order for me to believe it. She has not done so, and she agrees with that. But she still has the belief. I think that's fascinating, and worth exploring.

Whatever your personal feelings for VFF might be, she's articulate and able to explain the mentality behind her beliefs to a greater degree than many, and I think there is value in skeptics discussing her beliefs with her.

There were portions of the recording edited out at VFF's request. I find that regrettable, but that's our policy. We would have not aired the show if there was too much editing, or if the editing led to manipulation of information.

As for the IIG test, VFF and I discussed it in depth off the air. She clearly failed the challenge, and she understands that, but she's certain that she "felt something" in trial 2, and that makes her want to try again. I see no reason not to let her. I told her that if she thought she had this ability, that she should practice more and gain a better understanding of it so she won't fail again.

So maybe you learned something from the show, and maybe you didn't. Maybe it made you think a bit more or understand how some claimants believe. I think it was a good show to do, and I do others like it.

Oh, one other point. I did not offer the a JREF Challenge to her. I'm not sure if she applied, but I did inform her that if she wants to talk to me, it will not be related to a challenge.
Jeff, i respect you, but i have to pull a bit of a jerk move here.

Do you have experience in promoting events , people , or the like? As someone who has ( an admittedly laymen) a certain amount of experience in this field. I see what she is doing as an easy way to get free publicity, among other benefits.

To give an example of what i mean, her changing her claims, or developing new ones as the old ones get tired, or forgotten would be the equivalent of a band changing names/members, or a stage show changing casting. She is trying to keep fresh and see what works well.

Everything the woman does , to me reeks of obvious tricks of the trade used in promotion, and much like how the scientists can be fooled by the uri gellers of the world , i believe that the skeptics can be fooled by the promoters of the world.

I am not saying your saying she has powers, but you are giving her something invaluable , free publicity. And the ability to state that she has debated Jeff Wagg, which honestly is a feather in her cap seeing as you are a fairly well known member of the jref.

I won't go on at length jeff, but suffice to say, if i was your promoter i would not have let this happen the way it did. Because VFF took a lot more away from this exchange than the skeptical movement did.
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Old 30th March 2010, 01:45 PM   #76
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Originally Posted by sadhatter View Post
Everything the woman does , to me reeks of obvious tricks of the trade used in promotion, and much like how the scientists can be fooled by the uri gellers of the world , i believe that the skeptics can be fooled by the promoters of the world.

I am not saying your saying she has powers, but you are giving her something invaluable , free publicity.
Given your above statements, what is your opinion of StopVisionFromFeeling.com?
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Old 30th March 2010, 01:57 PM   #77
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Originally Posted by remirol View Post
But... what does she get out of it? I mean, I still can't figure out how this is a problem. I know "any publicity is good publicity" and all that, but she's on the interview talking about how she failed the IIG test. No matter how much she's rationalizing the hell out of it (and oh yes, TONS of that, but who's surprised), the results still kinda sit there and say "Didn't go anywhere".

so skeptic sites know who she is. big deal?
To classify this as i would to VFF if i was her Agent.

1. She can now say that she has been in a debate with Jeff Wagg. And has no legal obligation to mention who or what he was representing. This can be spun into gold.

2. She can now bring up " why didn't he take the hard line with me?" and do with that what she will.

3. Name recognition, plain and simple. More people know VFF now than before. Believers will believe, and skeptics will be skeptical, but she now has more access to both of those because of this interview.

4. Any media attention attracts more media attention. Regardless of scale. If you , for example get into a local newspaper, chances are local radio will get in touch with you, and if local radio gets you, local tv is usually next, etc etc.

This is what good agents do, they spin stuff like this into pure promotional gold, do you think actors or bands give up percentages for no reason? Heck, if i sat down for a couple of days with VFF i could have pages of ways to take advantage of this situation.
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Old 30th March 2010, 02:00 PM   #78
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Originally Posted by sadhatter View Post
To classify this as i would to VFF if i was her Agent.

1. She can now say that she has been in a debate with Jeff Wagg. And has no legal obligation to mention who or what he was representing. This can be spun into gold.
What gold, precisely? What is she selling? What target audience is more likely to give credence to her because of Jeff's name?

Quote:
2. She can now bring up " why didn't he take the hard line with me?" and do with that what she will.
3. Name recognition, plain and simple. More people know VFF now than before. Believers will believe, and skeptics will be skeptical, but she now has more access to both of those because of this interview.
Seriously, who cares?

Quote:
4. Any media attention attracts more media attention. Regardless of scale. If you , for example get into a local newspaper, chances are local radio will get in touch with you, and if local radio gets you, local tv is usually next, etc etc.
OK. What's the next step after RationalAlchemy?

Quote:
This is what good agents do, they spin stuff like this into pure promotional gold, do you think actors or bands give up percentages for no reason? Heck, if i sat down for a couple of days with VFF i could have pages of ways to take advantage of this situation.
In the end, something concrete has to come out of it. What's the concrete benefit?
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Old 30th March 2010, 02:00 PM   #79
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Originally Posted by remirol View Post
But... what does she get out of it? I mean, I still can't figure out how this is a problem. I know "any publicity is good publicity" and all that, but she's on the interview talking about how she failed the IIG test. No matter how much she's rationalizing the hell out of it (and oh yes, TONS of that, but who's surprised), the results still kinda sit there and say "Didn't go anywhere".

so skeptic sites know who she is. big deal?
Well, she now has three "prominent skeptics" (and we know how much she likes those) saying that the results of the earlier test warrant another test. While Mr. Wagg might not represent JREF on the podcast, he certainly revealed that discussions about testing her have happened at JREF.

So, now we have the entire panel on the podcast saying she should be retested. We know that JREF has talked about testing her, and then they try to dump her back into the lap of IIG. Anita explains that she chose to disqualify herself from future IIG testing, so that's out. Mr. Wagg suggests the Tampa Bay Skeptics? While they are certainly willing to test claimants and they offer their own $1000 prize, I doubt they'd be willing to marshall the resources necessary to conduct such a test. Maybe they would, but I'm guessing that setting up such a test requires a lot more time and effort than most organizations are willing to put forth.

That (most likely) leaves JREF as the only organization that could test her. Perhaps that's what this is all about. Last year's Connie Sonne test at The Amazing Meeting was such a success, maybe they are setting up another test of a Pscandinavian Psychic.

If so, then go for it. Another high profile failure can't hurt.

Ward

ETA: I put the phrase "prominent skeptics" in quotes because I was quoting VfF. I didn't want anyone to think I meant them as ironic air quotes or anything.
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Old 30th March 2010, 02:03 PM   #80
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Originally Posted by wardenclyffe View Post
Well, she now has three "prominent skeptics" (and we know how much she likes those) saying that the results of the earlier test warrant another test. While Mr. Wagg might not represent JREF on the podcast, he certainly revealed that discussions about testing her have happened at JREF.
No, I didn't. I know of no such discussions.
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