Sunday, January 28, 2007

Skeptiko

How can someone who is not deeply immersed in all facets of a scientific controversy begin to understand it? For most such controversies, the knowledge required just to understand the nature of the debate may take years of specialized training and practice. I'm not just referring to psi, but rather to the much larger number of intense controversies that are constantly being debated within the pages of all scientific (and scholarly) journals. This intellectual fomenting is what scholarship is all about, and one of the primary strengths of science is the freedom to violently disagree on technical issues or matters of interpretation, but then go out and have a friendly chat over a beer. By contrast, strong disagreements within religion or politics often have more serious consequences.

A new website called Skeptiko is now devoted to addressing how the scientific debate proceeds among more controversial topics like psi, where the friendly nature of disagreements sometimes break down. The Skeptiko site aims to provide a "balanced discussion of new scientific discoveries and the methods for validating them." I was recently interviewed by the owner of this site. You can reach the site and the mp3 interview by clicking here.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Heh i know this is an almost childish point to make but i liked the fact that the skeptico reviewer gave both the views of the skeptic and radin an air on the show, too many i listen too only show one side. No skeptic i have heard would air Dr radins claims or rebuttals of their work. They just seem content to publish non-amusing cartoons in their magazines about parapsychologists, while i havent read a serious rebuttal of psi research in ages, the most recent one was a critique of PEAR that only claimed that they havnt impacted science as much as they had hoped, and it was their opinion that this was because it had nothing to show, no proof, evidence, or counter proof, or replications, just an opinion....of a psychologist not a scientist i might add [at least i think so].

Also dr radin i have a question for you, i know you must be tired on questions on this topic but, since you witnessed a highly likely real spoon bending, your spoon, tests to show it hadnt been tampered etc how did that impact your mentality about your work and the paranormal, do you ever sit back with a beer and go "wow its real, its out there for sure...and its marvelous"
secondly was this a jack houk Pk party or another kind, because i would like to get involved in one sometime

thanks for the link great info and great interview

Dean Radin said...

> how did that impact your mentality about your work and the paranormal ... was this a jack houk Pk party

It changed my opinion from what I considered reasonable doubt: "the people reporting this either aren't remembering correctly or they dissociated and didn't know their own strength," to one of reasonable acceptance: "I suppose that this is possible after all." Upon reflection afterwards, I found this episode somewhat disturbing, not because it happened, but because I had no idea how it happened, and hence no conscious control over what amounted to a minor miracle. What came to mind was the message from the movie Forbidden Planet.

As I've written before, I completely understand why some skeptics refuse to believe any of this, because I really didn't believe it beforehand either. Sometimes only first-hand experience can overcome one's prior prejudices. E.g., I am skeptical about UFOs literally being alien spacecraft because while I can imagine all sorts of intelligent life in the galaxy and beyond, I find it difficult to believe that they would care much about relatively primitive Earthlings. I do have credible friends who have observed peculiar things in the sky that seem like classic UFOs, but their testimony is not sufficient to sway my prejudices.

Yes, the PK party was run by Jack Houck.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm thank you dr Radin, it is indeed important to stay skeptical, [but not debunkeral] my personal beleifs are in psi and macro-pk and poltergeists to some degree, as for ufos, bigfoot, loch ness moster, magick, ghosts[as in phantoms] and chupacabras, I have extreme logical doubts.
Thanks again

Anonymous said...

This might be of interest - Kim Stanley Robinson's sf novel Icehenge has a compelling account of the way scientific controversies develop - the politics of science, so to speak. Very convincing, to me at least (I am not a scientist, but I do have some broad familiarity with the way academic disputes work).

This may make the novel sound dry - it isn't. A very exciting read.

alanborky said...

"I am skeptical about UFOs literally being alien spacecraft because...I find it difficult to believe that they would care much about relatively primitive Earthlings."

Dean, I'm slightly amazed to read you saying this, but it just goes to show we all have our blind sides - including you (and me).

It may be the case your particular perspective on this matter is exactly correct, but ask yourself this: if we were chatting away one day, and a couple of ants strolled by gossiping inanely about every banality under the sun, would you really turn to me and say, "Pshhh! Ants, eh? Would you be bothered!" or would you in fact be electrified and want to investigate further?

Well, in spite of the fact no one's ever publicly admitted to actually hearing ants gossiping inanely, there're still scientists out there deeply fascinated by them and their antics, thanks to whom we're now beginning to become aware they're not the biochemically driven automatons we've long assumed them to be.

But the fact even such a fabulously pristine mind as yours SEEMS to have a blindspot gives me hope for all the pathoskepts out there.