ISF Logo   IS Forum
Forum Index Register Members List Events Mark Forums Read Help

Go Back   International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » General Skepticism and The Paranormal
 


Welcome to the International Skeptics Forum, where we discuss skepticism, critical thinking, the paranormal and science in a friendly but lively way. You are currently viewing the forum as a guest, which means you are missing out on discussing matters that are of interest to you. Please consider registering so you can gain full use of the forum features and interact with other Members. Registration is simple, fast and free! Click here to register today.
Tags Alex Tsakiris , Bruce Greyson , podcasts , precognition , remote viewing , Skeptiko , telepathy

Reply
Old 19th April 2010, 08:20 AM   #1
Kuko 4000
Graduate Poster
 
Kuko 4000's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,586
Alex Tsakiris and the Skeptiko Podcast - CRITICAL LOOK AND OVERVIEW.

Ok, I think Skeptiko has gone too far and too long without a good public critical analysis. I'm confident that there are many people who take Alex and the extraordinary claims presented in the show very seriously.

http://www.skeptiko.com/

For those who don't know, Skeptiko is a podcast that tries to cover both sides of the "paranormal scene", the believers side and the skeptics side. In each episode Alex interviews either a believer or a skeptic, sometimes both of them together (Sheldrake & Wiseman). The problem is that Alex is cutting corners way too much in his approach. He is also a self proclaimed "believer" and, imo, does not have good enough critical thinking skills to run a program like this adequately. For the ordinary lay person (who possibly wants to believe in paranormal things) Alex and his point of view can sound very convincing.

I hope this thread will evolve into a constructive and informative "point by point" analysis of the different Skeptiko episodes. Personally I've wanted to start this thread for a while now, unfortunately I'm pretty busy at the moment and can only jump in every now and then. I've now listened to 100 episodes, basically all of them except the most recent one. The 100th episode finally pushed me over the edge and made me start this thread today, maybe it would be good to start from this since it covers a lot of interesting and quite frankly unbelievable stuff.

Ok, there are many good things about the podcast, technically it beats all of the real skeptical podcasts that I'm familiar with, and it has very useful transcripts of all the episodes easily available for everyone. Let's take a look at this one.

Transcript: 100. Dr. Garret Moddel Brings Psi Research to University of Colorado Classroom

Download link (MP3)

I encourage everyone who's interested in this project to listen to the whole show, come back here and comment "point by point" on the things that you think need more critical commentary. Here are a few selected quotes from the interview:

Quote:
Alex Tsakiris: Let me give you some of the highlights from the Curriculum Vitae of today’s guest. Let’s start with electrical engineering degree from Stanford, master’s and PhD in applied physics from Harvard, professor at University of Colorado, former CEO of a venture-backed high technology start-up. And on top of all that, President of the Society for Scientific Exploration.


Quote:
Dr. Garret Moddel: The course goes through the history of psi research and we use different textbooks depending on the time. Right now the two textbooks that I’m using are Dean Radin’s Entangled Minds, which is just a wonderful, wonderful book describing psi research and then also Chris Carter’s book on Parapsychology and the Skeptic, which takes a wonderful philosophical view of all of this and puts it in perspective.


Quote:
Dr. Garret Moddel: Fortunately, I have tenure. [laughs] It’s essential for what I’m doing. So I spent most of my career doing essentially quantum engineering, which is engineering little devices based upon quantum mechanical principles. And you’re right, it is mainstream.

Then about ten years ago on Sabbatical, I got in contact by accident with a physicist who had a library full of books on the science of psychic phenomena. I was absolutely blown away. I couldn’t believe what I saw. I ended up spending the whole Sabbatical going through his library.

After that, I was convinced that this is really where the new science and revolutionary ideas are going to come from, so I still continue my mainstream research and most of my colleagues don’t know about my psi phenomena research, although it is on my website. I think they choose not to know.


Quote:
Dr. Garret Moddel: It’s an interesting question because quantum mechanics has a number of aspects which psi also has. So quantum mechanics has the concept of quantum entanglement, which involves action at a distance. Einstein called it “spooky action” at a distance. Quantum mechanics has the interesting phenomenon that when you observe something, you change it. And that appears to be what we see in psi phenomena, as well


Quote:
Dr. Garret Moddel: Exactly. It’s the experimenter effect and also the effect of belief that if you believe in this stuff, you can get it to work. If you don’t believe in it, you can’t get it to work. So the idea of a skeptic doing an experiment with a skeptical subject, it ain’t going to work. It’s the nature of the phenomenon.


Quote:
Dr. Garret Moddel: I did this more as an academic and as a teacher, but if I want to approach this as a psi researcher, I’m really not interested in existence proofs. Anybody who looks at the literature with an open mind cannot say these phenomena are non-existent. There are hundreds, thousands, of peer-reviewed, high quality studies showing these phenomena exist. So really what I’m interested in doing as a researcher is understanding the mechanism. I want to understand how these work.

In order to do that, I might as well use subjects who are very effective; who are trained in this and can do it quite well. So that’s where I’d like to go with my own research.


Talking about The Society for Scientific Exploration's meetings:

Quote:
Dr. Garret Moddel: So the topics that we consider are psi phenomena, of course. UFOs, advanced energy concepts, so zero point energy, what used to be called cold fusion is now called low energy nuclear reactions, just second law of thermodynamics issues. We also look at cosmology and astronomy, issues there.

We look at phenomena such as AIDS and HIV. There are alternative theories as to how AIDS is caught. In fact, I think pretty soon you’re going to see mainstream changing around and realizing that the connection between HIV and AIDS that was originally supposed is not quite right.

Then advanced propulsion techniques. Even cryptozoology. There are a number of different topics that are pursued.

We maintain very strict standards for the Journal of Scientific Exploration. The articles are peer reviewed and the rejection ratio is very large. In other words, it’s reasonably hard to get an article published there.


Quote:
Dr. Garret Moddel: That’s an excellent point, the cumulative effect. And that’s where I say that somebody with an open mind, looking at the literature, has got to accept that these psi phenomena exist, from this cumulative effect. If you just read one or two studies or hear about it, of course you can say these people made mistakes or something was awry in the experiment. If you look at hundreds and hundreds of studies, very, very high quality, very carefully carried out, you might be able to throw away a few dozen of them but even then, the effect is immense.


Quote:
Dr. Garret Moddel: It is. You know, this whole argument about psi needing replicability, I think is to some extent, a red herring and there are two clear reasons. One is, as this and other experiments show, psi is intention-based and it’s based upon not only the intention of the subject, but the intention of the experimenter.

It’s very hard to control for that because if you have one person involved in the experiment who really thinks the whole thing is bunk, then they essentially ruin the experiment. A skeptic would say, “Oh, that’s just a salacious argument used by proponents.” In fact, if you think about it, it’s totally logical. These are intention-based phenomena, so of course the intention of the people involved are critical.

The second aspect and the second reason that these cannot be replicable has to do with psychology. When you do these experiments, if you’re enthusiastic and interested, you put your intention and interest into it and they work. In fact, that’s probably why, as you’ll see, most of the experiments that my students carry out, work because they’re young and enthusiastic and probably most important, they only do one set of trials. They do enough so that it’s statistically significant, but they don’t do it to the point of boredom.

Now there are arguments, for example, that people should use some sort of a test experiment such as the Ganzfeld experiment, and do it over and over and over and over to see whether, in fact, there is replicability. Well, the Ganzfeld experiment is a very fine experiment. It’s well worked-out and so on. But it’s boring as hell. If my lab were to do 20 or 30 or 100 repetitions of the Ganzfeld experiment, I’m almost certain we’d get a null result because we’d be so bored by it.


Quote:
Dr. Garret Moddel: I think so. It is truly mysterious and it’s appearing that the answer to understanding consciousness is going to involve psi phenomena. That psi is not just a little pimple on the large experience that we have in life, but instead, psi is one of the major phenomena that controls almost every activity and every thought that we’re involved with. At this point, I’m speculating in making that statement, but it’s a speculation based upon having looked at these phenomena for quite a while.

After listening through the whole episode I'm amazed that Garret Moddel is teaching at the University of Colorado.

http://ecee.colorado.edu/fac_staff/p...es/moddel.html

http://ecee.colorado.edu/~moddel/Home/index.html

I hope people will find this topic as interesting and worth looking into as I do.
__________________
Richard Dawkins: "We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further."

Pixie of key: "HOW IS YOU NOT UNDERSTANDING WHAT I AM GIVING LECTURES ON A PROBLEM."

Last edited by Kuko 4000; 19th April 2010 at 09:51 AM.
Kuko 4000 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 19th April 2010, 06:36 PM   #2
TsarBomba
One Damn Dirty Ape
 
TsarBomba's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 808
Man, am I glad that I am a graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences at CU and not the engineering department (although former prof Ward Churchill belonged to A&S, so maybe we are almost even with the College of Engineering).
__________________
Signature line? I don't need no stinking signature line!
TsarBomba is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 22nd April 2010, 01:33 PM   #3
fls
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 10,226
This is a very large project. Just look at how many pages have been spent on the Wiseman/Sheldrake podcast discussing only a few points from a single podcast. Can we really expect to have any impact on believers when they are unable to grasp something as mundane as a control group? And some of the criticisms are subtle and more difficult to understand, which means that after pages of trying to convey complex information, this work can be trivialized by a failure to understand its relevance, in these settings.

I think your intentions are good. I agree that a repository of information is useful. And the advantage of using a forum is that discussion is easy and there is an opportunity to respond to criticism. But I'm not sure how persuasive it is to critique someone who is not participating in this discussion. When Sheldrake or Radin were brought into the Wiseman/Sheldrake discussion, they simply misrepresented what was said and failed to understand the criticisms (don't know if that was deliberate or inadvertent), so they can continue to claim that they have defeated their critics anyway. I don't see how it would be different with Dr. Moddel. He's not going to be held accountable for what he says either.

Linda
fls is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 22nd April 2010, 08:47 PM   #4
davidsmith73
Graduate Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 1,697
Originally Posted by fls View Post
This is a very large project. Just look at how many pages have been spent on the Wiseman/Sheldrake podcast discussing only a few points from a single podcast. Can we really expect to have any impact on believers when they are unable to grasp something as mundane as a control group?
No Linda, the issue on that discussion has been about what your proposed control group is actually controlling for. Are you really that arrogant to assume that disagreement on this issue implies an inability of the opposition to understand basic research design?
davidsmith73 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 22nd April 2010, 09:11 PM   #5
PixyMisa
Persnickety Insect
 
PixyMisa's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Sunny Munuvia
Posts: 16,346
In reply to the OP, it's rampant argumentum ad populum, confirmation bias, and special pleading ("We don't need no stinkin' experimental controls!"). A litany of logical fallacies and no actual evidence whatsoever.

Completely worthless in every way, and so is the podcast.
__________________
Free blogs for skeptics... And everyone else. mee.nu
What, in the Holy Name of Gzortch, are you people doing?!?!!? - TGHO
PixyMisa is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 23rd April 2010, 10:19 AM   #6
fls
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 10,226
Originally Posted by davidsmith73 View Post
No Linda, the issue on that discussion has been about what your proposed control group is actually controlling for. Are you really that arrogant to assume that disagreement on this issue implies an inability of the opposition to understand basic research design?
Of course not. It is that statements which clearly demonstrate that the opposition does not understand basic research design which lead me to realize that the opposition does not understand basic research design.

Linda
fls is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 23rd April 2010, 11:01 AM   #7
fls
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 10,226
One thing that I do like about the podcast is that Dr. Moddel clearly states that entanglement cannot be used to transfer information, which does contradict many of the sillier claims made by Persinger and Radin and others.

On the other hand, he uses Radin's, Entangled Minds as a textbook, which shows that he must be unaware of all the errors and misrepresentations in the book.

Something else also occurs to me. On paper, he doesn't have the qualifications to perform the experiments that he describes. Parapsychology research has much more in common with the social sciences and with medicine than it does with engineering or physics. Physicists are not going to be using control groups in their experiments because they control all the experimental variables when performing physics experiments. And I think Dean Radin is an engineer. I wonder how many other people performing parapsychology experiments are operating well outside of their area of expertise? If his training and understanding are on the basis of reading parapsychology books, and they similarly fail to include the relevant information (such as you see in Radin's book), it explains their 'peer-review'.

Linda
fls is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 23rd April 2010, 01:33 PM   #8
blutoski
Penultimate Amazing
 
blutoski's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 11,819
Originally Posted by fls View Post
Physicists are not going to be using control groups in their experiments because they control all the experimental variables when performing physics experiments.
I've found that there is a parallel in physics, though: baseline.

I've been able to explain the role of clinical trial control groups to physics grads pretty easily with the analogy of baselines.

For example, an astronomer colleague of mine is much clearer on the role of placebo groups now that I was able to explain its analogue in astrophotography. Specifically, "dark camera" readings of equal exposure duration to a sky capture, in order to eliminate the part of the overall image that was produced by the camera's own electronic noise.

In both cases, the purpose is to remove a systematic source of bias.

I think most disciplines in the natural and social sciences will be able to undestand this. Those who don't are probably not representative.
__________________
"Sometimes it's better to light a flamethrower than curse the darkness." - Terry Pratchett
blutoski is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 23rd April 2010, 06:58 PM   #9
PixyMisa
Persnickety Insect
 
PixyMisa's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Sunny Munuvia
Posts: 16,346
Originally Posted by fls View Post
Something else also occurs to me. On paper, he doesn't have the qualifications to perform the experiments that he describes. Parapsychology research has much more in common with the social sciences and with medicine than it does with engineering or physics. Physicists are not going to be using control groups in their experiments because they control all the experimental variables when performing physics experiments. And I think Dean Radin is an engineer. I wonder how many other people performing parapsychology experiments are operating well outside of their area of expertise? If his training and understanding are on the basis of reading parapsychology books, and they similarly fail to include the relevant information (such as you see in Radin's book), it explains their 'peer-review'.
Yes, this is a big problem - engineers and physicists often fail grasp the concept that their experiments are (deliberately or inadvertently) lying to them, and thus are easily infected by this sort of nonsense. This is an aspect of "Engineer's Disease" - the belief (not restricted to engineers, of course) that because you are very intelligent and an expert in your particular field, that you can automatically apply that intelligence and knowledge to unrelated fields.
__________________
Free blogs for skeptics... And everyone else. mee.nu
What, in the Holy Name of Gzortch, are you people doing?!?!!? - TGHO
PixyMisa is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th April 2010, 08:18 AM   #10
fls
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 10,226
Originally Posted by blutoski View Post
I've found that there is a parallel in physics, though: baseline.

I've been able to explain the role of clinical trial control groups to physics grads pretty easily with the analogy of baselines.

For example, an astronomer colleague of mine is much clearer on the role of placebo groups now that I was able to explain its analogue in astrophotography. Specifically, "dark camera" readings of equal exposure duration to a sky capture, in order to eliminate the part of the overall image that was produced by the camera's own electronic noise.

In both cases, the purpose is to remove a systematic source of bias.

I think most disciplines in the natural and social sciences will be able to undestand this. Those who don't are probably not representative.
Thanks. I'll give it a try.

Linda
fls is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th April 2010, 03:32 PM   #11
JamyeJ
Scholar
 
JamyeJ's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 92
When I first got involved in the skeptical podcast community, I downloaded every podcast that contained anything relating to "skeptic" in its title or description. I stumbled into this cow pie of a podcast and I'm still trying to wash it off.

I remember distinctly having loaded several episodes onto my mp3 player right before a long flight and thinking that it'd be cool to have a new skeptical podcast to listen to for the whole trip. I was so disgusted by the whole thing less than a full episode in that I turned it off and watched the in flight movie instead.
JamyeJ is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th April 2010, 04:48 AM   #12
CKava
Student
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 37
Originally Posted by Kuko 4000 View Post
Ok, I think Skeptiko has gone too far and too long without a good public critical analysis. I'm confident that there are many people who take Alex and the extraordinary claims presented in the show very seriously.
I was thinking exactly the same thing and so decided to do a skeptical analysis of Alex's shows on my blog.

The first one covers the Dr. Moddel episode which managed to combine dodgy stats, bad experiments and even a spot of aids denialism just before the end. http: //godknowswhat.wordpress.com/2010/04/22/bad-intentions-and-psi-skeptiko-no-100/

I also agree with those pointing out that being a physicist does not in any way mean that you are going to be good at designing parapsychology experiments with human participants. Alex seems to get blown away every time he finds out that someone pro-psi is an academic but he seems to miss the point that academics are typically specialists in only a few specific areas. I'd really like to see how supporters of Dr. Moddel's psi research can claim that he is good at assessing research literature when he appears to endorse aids denialism.

Anyway, I think a thread dedicated to dealing with Skeptiko is a good idea. Would be nice to pool resources and provide well informed responses/analysis to counter Alex's biased portrayal.
CKava is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 26th April 2010, 03:13 PM   #13
skiba
Thinker
 
skiba's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 162
I follow up on Skeptiko from time to time and I'm looking forward to the "point by point" analysis.

Here's a one Skeptiko podcast on NDE's I would like to hear some skeptic comments one.
Near-Death experience researcher Dr. Long offers a point-by-point response to skeptics of his New York Time best seller, Evidence of the Afterlife.

Download MP3 (43:03 min.)
skiba is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 26th April 2010, 04:01 PM   #14
Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
Nap, interrupted.
 
Paul C. Anagnostopoulos's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Posts: 19,145
I frequent the Parapsychology and alternative medicine forum, which is run by Alex. There are some clever people there, both skeptics and believers.

Originally Posted by skiba
Here's a one Skeptiko podcast on NDE's I would like to hear some skeptic comments one.
Buy a copy of Evidence of the Afterlife and give it a read. One thing you won't find in it is evidence.

~~ Paul
__________________
Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon. ---Susan Ertz

RIP Mr. Skinny, Tim
Paul C. Anagnostopoulos is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 26th April 2010, 04:54 PM   #15
SRW
Master Poster
 
SRW's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 2,902
I listen to every podcast that he makes with the intention of doing a blog post of it. But when I sit to write I realize that I would have to listen to it a few times to make the post...

This weeks episode featured a Dr Woerlee who wrote Mortal Minds, a book which is very skeptical of NDE experiences being supernatural. Dr. Woerlee believes there are more rational explanations.

Alex gets his ass handed to him in the debate, but does not realize it. The best thing about Alex is that he seems very honest in his belief and does not edit the podcasts to make himself look better or the person being interviewed look worse. I have spoken to two of his interviewees about that and that was the impression they both gave me.
__________________
Monterey Skeptics
Tales from a dyslexic heathen
Rationalization may be defined as self-deception by reasoning.— Karen Horney
SRW is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 27th April 2010, 04:56 AM   #16
skiba
Thinker
 
skiba's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 162
Quote:


Buy a copy of Evidence of the Afterlife and give it a read. One thing you won't find in it is evidence.

~~ Paul
Are you implying that because it is all anecdotal evidence we should dismiss the years of research done by Dr. Long?

Quote:
Alex gets his ass handed to him in the debate, but does not realize it. The best thing about Alex is that he seems very honest in his belief and does not edit the podcasts to make himself look better or the person being interviewed look worse.
It's amazing how differently people can interpret these things.
I really didnt see either one of them win the debate. Woerlee simply maintained that NDEs are a product of anesthesia, carbon dioxide and reduced blood flow to the brain PERIOD.
Dr. Long made some good points in the earlier podcasts, in which the hallusination induced by CO2 and anesthesia dont really add up..

Quote:
Alex Tsakiris: Let’s talk about blind sight. This is another interesting point. In your research you observed that NDEs take place among some folks who are blind, even folks who are blind from birth. Now Dr. Woerlee’s counter-argument to that was 1) maybe these folks are getting visual information from the people around them who are describing things, but then 2) he also seems to suggest that many blind people are extremely good at creating these mental maps of their surroundings.

I found that a little bit of a stretch. Do we really expect that folks who are visually impaired or completely blind from birth would be able to describe visual information as well as sighted people?

Dr. Jeffrey Long: That was puzzling to me, too, to have that line of thinking. By the way, all of a sudden for people blind from birth, the first time they have vision is while they’re unconscious or clinically dead? I mean, it really doesn’t add up.

But certainly the people who are blind may get some visual information from people around them, but when you talk to people who have been blind from birth that have a visual near-death experience, as they typically do, the near-death experiencers themselves are very clear that this vision is a unique perception to them. No matter what they’ve done in the past as far as mental maps or gathering visual information, whatever that means, the actual ability to see during their near-death experience is a new experience to them. It’s clearly different from anything else going on in their life.

Last edited by skiba; 27th April 2010 at 05:08 AM.
skiba is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 28th April 2010, 03:40 AM   #17
CKava
Student
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 37
Originally Posted by skiba View Post
Are you implying that because it is all anecdotal evidence we should dismiss the years of research done by Dr. Long?
I don't think he is suggesting we dismiss it but more that the plural of anecdote is not good evidence.

Originally Posted by skiba
It's amazing how differently people can interpret these things.
I really didnt see either one of them win the debate. Woerlee simply maintained that NDEs are a product of anesthesia, carbon dioxide and reduced blood flow to the brain PERIOD.
Dr. Long made some good points in the earlier podcasts, in which the hallusination induced by CO2 and anesthesia dont really add up..
In the interview Dr. Woerlee clarifies his position and provides Alex with a plausible non-supernatural explanation for the cases he presents. There is some back and forth and the episode wraps up with Alex basically stating that it seems to come down to a matter of perspective and how you interpret the evidence. Then in post production Alex titles the episode 'Near Death Skeptics Running out of Excuses' and adds a preamble about how the natural explanations are 'falling flat' and so on. This to me makes him lose the debate as he basically claimed victory in post production despite the interview being suprisingly balanced.
CKava is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 28th April 2010, 09:36 AM   #18
SRW
Master Poster
 
SRW's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 2,902
Originally Posted by skiba View Post


It's amazing how differently people can interpret these things.
I really didnt see either one of them win the debate. Woerlee simply maintained that NDEs are a product of anesthesia, carbon dioxide and reduced blood flow to the brain PERIOD.
The reason I feel that Woerlee was most effective was in the actual facts and statistics. All Alex could do was bring out anecdotes, while Woerlee stuck with hard data.
__________________
Monterey Skeptics
Tales from a dyslexic heathen
Rationalization may be defined as self-deception by reasoning.— Karen Horney
SRW is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 28th April 2010, 01:31 PM   #19
skiba
Thinker
 
skiba's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 162
Originally Posted by CKava View Post
. Then in post production Alex titles the episode 'Near Death Skeptics Running out of Excuses' and adds a preamble about how the natural explanations are 'falling flat' and so on. This to me makes him lose the debate as he basically claimed victory in post production despite the interview being suprisingly balanced.
Fair point. The title was rather provocative, but then again you have to see it from Alex's (proponent) POV. He is looking for solid critisism and Alex didn't think Dr Worelee provided it and for obvious reasons. Most doctors would agree that the lack of blood flow to the brain, CO2 and anesthesia would reduce consciousness , where as Worelee is suggesting that the patient was aware of her surroundings to some extent and having a vivid hallusination. If 76% report it's "realer than real experience" from a medical stand point it doesn't make sense to have a dying brain produce more vivid experiences. It's a possibility, but it is purely speculative, with nothing to back it up. All that Worelee provided is a claim that it's an hallusination.

Last edited by skiba; 28th April 2010 at 01:39 PM.
skiba is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 3rd May 2010, 06:37 AM   #20
CKava
Student
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 37
Skeptiko Episode 101

Just posted up my analysis of Skeptiko episode 101.

Summary:
- Interview is pretty good but Alex ruins it with post production bias- just look at the title!
- Disagreement comes down to Alex finding natural explanations for NDE fantastical and Dr. Woerlee finding afterlife claims fantastical in light of natural explanations.
- Alex displays typical reliance on anecdotal stories as being 100% accurate.

http://godknowswhat.wordpress.com/20...-skeptiko-101/
CKava is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 4th May 2010, 12:35 AM   #21
Kuko 4000
Graduate Poster
 
Kuko 4000's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,586
Thumbs up

Thanks Chris, give this thread a bump whenever you post a new commentary, much appreciated!

In the meantime, I'll try to find some time to add my own thoughts about a couple of episodes.
__________________
Richard Dawkins: "We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further."

Pixie of key: "HOW IS YOU NOT UNDERSTANDING WHAT I AM GIVING LECTURES ON A PROBLEM."
Kuko 4000 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 21st May 2010, 07:32 PM   #22
alex.tsakiris
Scholar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 63
Originally Posted by skiba View Post
Fair point. The title was rather provocative, but then again you have to see it from Alex's (proponent) POV. He is looking for solid critisism and Alex didn't think Dr Worelee provided it and for obvious reasons. Most doctors would agree that the lack of blood flow to the brain, CO2 and anesthesia would reduce consciousness , where as Worelee is suggesting that the patient was aware of her surroundings to some extent and having a vivid hallusination. If 76% report it's "realer than real experience" from a medical stand point it doesn't make sense to have a dying brain produce more vivid experiences. It's a possibility, but it is purely speculative, with nothing to back it up. All that Worelee provided is a claim that it's an hallusination.
I didn't realize this thread was here

Thought... why hasn't anyone mentioned the CPR thing... I think this was one of Dr. Woerlee's main points (claimed to be a NDE researcher "oversight"). This point kinda went away.
alex.tsakiris is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 21st May 2010, 07:38 PM   #23
alex.tsakiris
Scholar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 63
Originally Posted by Kuko 4000 View Post
I hope this thread will evolve into a constructive and informative "point by point" analysis of the different Skeptiko episodes. Personally I've wanted to start this thread for a while now, unfortunately I'm pretty busy at the moment and can only jump in every now and then. I've now listened to 100 episodes, basically all of them except the most recent one. The 100th episode finally pushed me over the edge and made me start this thread today, maybe it would be good to start from this since it covers a lot of interesting and quite frankly unbelievable stuff.
Glad you're listening to Skeptiko... so, let's go... you have some quotes... what shall we discuss?

(BTW thx for the compliment on the technical aspects of the show )
alex.tsakiris is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 22nd May 2010, 04:46 AM   #24
Paul C. Anagnostopoulos
Nap, interrupted.
 
Paul C. Anagnostopoulos's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Posts: 19,145
Originally Posted by skiba
Are you implying that because it is all anecdotal evidence we should dismiss the years of research done by Dr. Long?
I acknowledge that he did years of research. I acknowledge that people's stories are interesting and point in various directions for further research. However, they are not evidence of the existence of an afterlife.

~~ Paul
__________________
Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon. ---Susan Ertz

RIP Mr. Skinny, Tim
Paul C. Anagnostopoulos is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 22nd May 2010, 04:07 PM   #25
Olowkow
Philosopher
 
Olowkow's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 8,230
Originally Posted by CKava View Post
Just posted up my analysis of Skeptiko episode 101.

...

http://godknowswhat.wordpress.com/20...-skeptiko-101/
Nice piece of writing.

I was unable to make it through a single episode listening, but I did read the interview with D.J. Grothe. Since my question thrice posed was never answered, I attempted to find out exactly what Alex really thinks with respect to NDEs, as he did say that his "agenda" was out there. Apparently, he is convinced that NDEs constitute proof of the afterlife, but he is not into any religions. This is why he rejects any "conventional medical science" as an explanation for them. OK, fair enough, why not just say so? This guy is beginning to remind me of other posters who claim not to be religious, but are steadfastly involved in the stubborn beliefs verging on those of religious fundamentalism. D.J., ran rings around him, without really offending him...he's good.

I could be mistaken, but it seemed to me that Alex never bothered to read up on the MDC, relying instead on the mistaken impressions of JREF detractors, even though he has been a member of JREF (with just a single post until the other day) since 2007.
Olowkow is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 23rd May 2010, 05:29 AM   #26
Kuko 4000
Graduate Poster
 
Kuko 4000's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,586
Originally Posted by alex.tsakiris View Post
Glad you're listening to Skeptiko... so, let's go... you have some quotes... what shall we discuss?

(BTW thx for the compliment on the technical aspects of the show )

First, thanks for taking part in this discussion, I hope that in time we can get to the bottom of this. Unfortunately my time is pretty limited right now, as can be read from the posts I've written in this thread, but perhaps we could start by making your position clear for everyone here.

Correct me if I'm wrong.

1) You think that any honest and open minded person who understands the research in, say, the field of NDE and telepathy / precognition / remote viewing has to come to the conclusion that the phenomenon is real. And that the best scientific data in these areas points clearly to the direction which is at odds with the concensus of the current mainstream science.

2) This would of course mean that a gigantic scientific breakthrough is on the horizon. You think that the reason that the mainstream scientific community does not agree with your point of view is that, either they are too closed minded to change their strongly held views, or, that they have not looked at the best studies in this area and / or make the wrong conclusions from them.

Correct?

I hope to jump into to the discussion every now and then
__________________
Richard Dawkins: "We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further."

Pixie of key: "HOW IS YOU NOT UNDERSTANDING WHAT I AM GIVING LECTURES ON A PROBLEM."

Last edited by Kuko 4000; 23rd May 2010 at 05:30 AM.
Kuko 4000 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 23rd May 2010, 05:33 AM   #27
alex.tsakiris
Scholar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 63
Originally Posted by Olowkow View Post
Nice piece of writing.

I was unable to make it through a single episode listening, but I did read the interview with D.J. Grothe. Since my question thrice posed was never answered, I attempted to find out exactly what Alex really thinks with respect to NDEs, as he did say that his "agenda" was out there. Apparently, he is convinced that NDEs constitute proof of the afterlife, but he is not into any religions. This is why he rejects any "conventional medical science" as an explanation for them. OK, fair enough, why not just say so? This guy is beginning to remind me of other posters who claim not to be religious, but are steadfastly involved in the stubborn beliefs verging on those of religious fundamentalism. D.J., ran rings around him, without really offending him...he's good.

I could be mistaken, but it seemed to me that Alex never bothered to read up on the MDC, relying instead on the mistaken impressions of JREF detractors, even though he has been a member of JREF (with just a single post until the other day) since 2007.
I'm not new to the MDC... interviewed Randi a while back... also interviewed former JREF pres Phil Plait.

DJs a good guy... has he implemented the changes we discussed (real question... I don't know)?
alex.tsakiris is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 23rd May 2010, 06:24 AM   #28
doctoratlantis
Thinker
 
doctoratlantis's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 186
Originally Posted by alex.tsakiris View Post
Glad you're listening to Skeptiko... so, let's go... you have some quotes... what shall we discuss?
Alex,

I think it would be helpful for skeptics who want to understand your show and your positions if you would explain in writing your take on the issue of "burden of proof."

The typical skeptic position is that the burden of proof rests on whoever is making a claim. If I understand your take on that it is somewhat different?

Without that framework being made clear, many people here might get somewhat frustrated in a discussion with you.
doctoratlantis is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 23rd May 2010, 07:21 AM   #29
fls
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 10,226
Originally Posted by alex.tsakiris View Post
DJs a good guy... has he implemented the changes we discussed (real question... I don't know)?
I listened to that podcast. Which changes are you talking about implementing? Not the part about foregoing the usual considerations of reliability, validity and prior plausibility, I hope.

Linda
fls is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 23rd May 2010, 08:56 AM   #30
Olowkow
Philosopher
 
Olowkow's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 8,230
Quote:
Alex Tsakiris:...let me read to you the description I got from the JREF Web site. I found it refreshingly straightforward and concise. Here it is”: A non-profit foundation headed by a professional magician. Exposes psychics, faith healers and such.
This just doesn't sound like Randi's style. Anyone know where this came from at JREF? I sure can't find it. Looks like this though:

The James Randi Educational Foundation - http://www.randi.org
Foundation headed by professional magician exposes psychics, faith healers, and such. Offers a million dollar reward for proof of occult, psychic or supernatural powers.
Olowkow is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th May 2010, 11:19 AM   #31
alex.tsakiris
Scholar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 63
Originally Posted by doctoratlantis View Post
Alex,

I think it would be helpful for skeptics who want to understand your show and your positions if you would explain in writing your take on the issue of "burden of proof."

The typical skeptic position is that the burden of proof rests on whoever is making a claim. If I understand your take on that it is somewhat different?

Without that framework being made clear, many people here might get somewhat frustrated in a discussion with you.
I've covered this topic a lot... most recently in the debate between Richard Wiseman and Rupert Sheldrake... also with Peter Bancel.
alex.tsakiris is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th May 2010, 11:20 AM   #32
alex.tsakiris
Scholar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 63
Originally Posted by fls View Post
I listened to that podcast. Which changes are you talking about implementing? Not the part about foregoing the usual considerations of reliability, validity and prior plausibility, I hope.

Linda
openness... transparency.
alex.tsakiris is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 24th May 2010, 03:53 PM   #33
Daylightstar
Philosopher
 
Daylightstar's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: hic.
Posts: 8,035
Originally Posted by alex.tsakiris View Post
I've covered this topic a lot...
But not here.
It would be helpful for the discussion here if you could simply state your take on the issue of "burden of proof", here.
Thank you.
Daylightstar is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th May 2010, 12:29 AM   #34
Sherlock
Muse
 
Sherlock's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 618
I posted this August 21, 2009 on the JREF forum:

Skeptiko (not Skeptico): Beyond Woo
I have spent a day or two reviewing some of the postings and audio programming from Skeptiko. Not to be confused with the rational and thought provoking comments at Skeptico with a "C" for clarity.

I have come to the conclusion that Skeptiko (with a "K") must be an acronym for: Scattered Knowledge, Educational Phantasm, & Totally Intelligence Killed Offerings.

Having re-read postings and interviews at Skepiko covering "psychic detective" Noreen Renier I believe that "believer vomit" constitutes their aims. Skeptiko is simply beyond Woo. It is Woo to the power of K.

Don't be confused. Skeptiko (with a "K") is intelligence killed.
Sherlock is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th May 2010, 02:42 AM   #35
CKava
Student
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 37
I'm still keeping up with the Skeptiko episodes and plan on reviewing all of the recent episodes but unfortunately I have university issues to contend with so won't be able to get anything up until after June 9th. Just in case folks were wondering if I had given up- the answer is no.
CKava is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th May 2010, 09:42 AM   #36
Kuko 4000
Graduate Poster
 
Kuko 4000's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,586
Originally Posted by Kuko 4000 View Post
...perhaps we could start by making your position clear for everyone here.

Correct me if I'm wrong.

1) You think that any honest and open minded person who understands the research in, say, the field of NDE and telepathy / precognition / remote viewing has to come to the conclusion that the phenomenon is real. And that the best scientific data in these areas points clearly to the direction which is at odds with the concensus of the current mainstream science.

2) This would of course mean that a gigantic scientific breakthrough is on the horizon. You think that the reason that the mainstream scientific community does not agree with your point of view is that, either they are too closed minded to change their strongly held views, or, that they have not looked at the best studies in this area and / or make the wrong conclusions from them.

Correct?

I hope to jump into to the discussion every now and then

Alex, I see that you have not answered to my post, I think it's important that we have a good understanding and confirmation of your position on this before getting more in-depth. It's also useful for people who don't know much about you or your show beforehand.
__________________
Richard Dawkins: "We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further."

Pixie of key: "HOW IS YOU NOT UNDERSTANDING WHAT I AM GIVING LECTURES ON A PROBLEM."
Kuko 4000 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th May 2010, 10:27 AM   #37
Daylightstar
Philosopher
 
Daylightstar's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: hic.
Posts: 8,035
Originally Posted by alex.tsakiris View Post
I've covered this topic a lot... most recently in the debate between Richard Wiseman and Rupert Sheldrake... also with Peter Bancel.
Alex, I have been listening to many of your shows and just listened to the Wiseman-Sheldrake debate again to check for your stance on burden of proof.

Let me reiterate what both you and Sheldrake said, as it seems the two of you have a similar take on it.

Sheldrake:
... the kind of common experience of the bulk of humanity, is what gives credence to something.

Tsakiris:
At what point does the evidence mount and the personal experience and personal history across time, across culture of all these experiences; at what point does that gain enough weight to say, “Okay, now the burden of proof is on the other side to disconfirm what seems to be going on here.”


So:
Many anecdotes equal established fact, and burden of proof is in this way tranferred to the person skeptical of this "established fact"?

Could you please confirm, disconfirm or otherwise clarify your take on burden of proof?

Thank you.
Daylightstar is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th May 2010, 11:45 AM   #38
sadhatter
Philosopher
 
sadhatter's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 8,694
Originally Posted by skiba View Post
Fair point. The title was rather provocative, but then again you have to see it from Alex's (proponent) POV. He is looking for solid critisism and Alex didn't think Dr Worelee provided it and for obvious reasons. Most doctors would agree that the lack of blood flow to the brain, CO2 and anesthesia would reduce consciousness , where as Worelee is suggesting that the patient was aware of her surroundings to some extent and having a vivid hallusination. If 76% report it's "realer than real experience" from a medical stand point it doesn't make sense to have a dying brain produce more vivid experiences. It's a possibility, but it is purely speculative, with nothing to back it up. All that Worelee provided is a claim that it's an hallusination.
By that logic lsd, salvia and mushrooms should not cause hallucinations either.

How could a brain that is being hindered by poison be creating more vivid experiences than one that is not?
sadhatter is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 25th May 2010, 12:22 PM   #39
fls
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 10,226
Originally Posted by Daylightstar View Post
Alex, I have been listening to many of your shows and just listened to the Wiseman-Sheldrake debate again to check for your stance on burden of proof.

Let me reiterate what both you and Sheldrake said, as it seems the two of you have a similar take on it.

Sheldrake:
... the kind of common experience of the bulk of humanity, is what gives credence to something.

Tsakiris:
At what point does the evidence mount and the personal experience and personal history across time, across culture of all these experiences; at what point does that gain enough weight to say, “Okay, now the burden of proof is on the other side to disconfirm what seems to be going on here.”


So:
Many anecdotes equal established fact, and burden of proof is in this way tranferred to the person skeptical of this "established fact"?

Could you please confirm, disconfirm or otherwise clarify your take on burden of proof?

Thank you.
Also, it would be helpful if you would indicate how personal experience and personal history of gaining medicinal benefits from sugar pills, i.e. experiences and histories which we know are wrong, can be distinguished in a way that lends some sort of veracity to personal experiences of psi.

Linda
fls is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 26th May 2010, 09:57 AM   #40
alex.tsakiris
Scholar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 63
Originally Posted by fls View Post
Also, it would be helpful if you would indicate how personal experience and personal history of gaining medicinal benefits from sugar pills, i.e. experiences and histories which we know are wrong, can be distinguished in a way that lends some sort of veracity to personal experiences of psi.

Linda
In the case you're referring to, both Sheldrake and Wiseman agree that the "established facts" are murky.
alex.tsakiris is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Reply

International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » General Skepticism and The Paranormal

Bookmarks

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 06:58 AM.
Powered by vBulletin. Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

This forum began as part of the James Randi Education Foundation (JREF). However, the forum now exists as
an independent entity with no affiliation with or endorsement by the JREF, including the section in reference to "JREF" topics.

Disclaimer: Messages posted in the Forum are solely the opinion of their authors.