Monday, February 25, 2008

SF Chronicle interview

I was interviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle last week. Here’s a link to the article.

The comments after the article are entirely predictable.

27 comments:

Book Surgeon said...

Sigh. Totally 100% predictable comments. Why are pseudoskeptics so angry, anyway? I guess it's the same impulse I've seen in fundamentalist religious believers when the worldview by which they define themselves is questioned: they go on the offensive.

What amazes me, Dean, is that your interview is so balanced and cautious, and anyone who spends 15 minutes reading your published work can see that you are a meticulous and appropriately skeptical researcher, yet one mention of psi and you're instantly lumped with Sylvia Browne and Uri Geller. I really think that the closed-mindedness of such individuals is so absolute that even if luminaries like Lawrence Krauss, Brian Greene and Stephen Hawking himself came out and said, "We were wrong, we think psi is absolutely supported by solid evidence," they pseudoskeptics would instantly dismiss them as having some sort of mental illness.

Keep on keeping on, Dean. Every story opens a few minds, even if they're not the most voluble commenters.

Roulette said...

"...I learned a new way that a person could become frustrated." (lol)

It's a wonder anybody decides to engage the skeptics at all, with all the fascinating research there is to be done...

John said...

I'm still not sure why skeptics have to be so damned angry.

Dean Radin said...

Some people enjoy anger. Some are naturally explosive. Some find the tension between misplaced certainty and adolescent angst too uncomfortable to bear. Some drink too much coffee. Some smoke too much. Some are natural born SOBs.

Roger K said...

Great interview!

I didn't see any comments - maybe the SF Chronicle webmaster got bored and deleted them?

lightseeker said...

For people like the fanatical, arrogant skeptics, anger just may be their trip in this lifetime. Consider the source... ignore 'em.

I agree with book surgeon, Dean. with every book you publish, every interview, every public speaking appearance, if you just open a few more minds (even 1!) that is progress, and every minute you spend makes all your work worthwhile and valuable (even if many cannot see that now). The tide will eventually turn for the best.

You go, Dean! :-)

david said...

I think the anger is mostly to push away irrational fears of various kinds. Like fear of the return to superstition and witchcraft and loss of all the benefits of modern science and medicine. Especially fear (not so irrational) of a lifetime's committment to materialism being shown to be a folly.

I have little impression of much of a reduction of this with new generations.

Tony M said...

Dean:

I don't know that it's anger or too much coffee or the like. I think being negative and nasty is a cheap way of feeling smart. Beats actually thinking.

I ought to know. I was just like that from my teens into my thirties...

Jime said...

Pseudoskeptics' angry is predictable. It's a consequence of their reductionistic and dogmatic worldview (intellectual dishonesty is another consequence)

We shouldn't care about pseudoskeptics' diatribe. Exposing them, showing their dishonesty, documenting their contradictions, lies, dogmatism and fallacies, is enough. (My blog is a modest contribution in that direction)

I think a low percentage of pseudoskeptics will reconsider their position, because some of them have been misinformed and fooled by pseudoskeptical propaganda. If they put pseudoskeptical literature under critical examination, they'll "cure" themselves. It's only a matter of time.

Other pseudoskeptics will change their minds when they experience some type of important paranormal event in their own life.

The rest of pseudoskeptics (the most radicals between them, the ideological propagandists of materialism, the professional debunker, etc.) are irreversible cases. They're fighting a holy and personal war, not searching the truth. They're the crusaders of official science and materialism.

As pseudoskeptics are few in numbers, psi scientists should focus their efforts in doing serious investigations, writting books and papers showing good and solid evidence for psi (like Dr.Radin's books and papers, Chris Carter's book, etc.) creating blogs and websites to present the evidence, and try to get most scientists interested in this field.

Also, psi reseachers should create POPULAR (but serious) journals and magazines (equivalent to the skeptical inquierer or skeptic magazine) to share the best information and evidence about psi with the general public. (Pseudoskeptics have been very clever in focus their propaganda towars the general public and the media, because their agenda isn't seek the truth but indoctrinate credulous or biased readers or debunk psi research in the eyes of most scientists, academics or "informed" people)

Dr.Radin, keep fighting. Many people support your efforts!

Book Surgeon said...

Right there with you, Tony M. I was exactly the same way all the way up to age 40. I "knew" that I knew so much. Then several intense experiences and much contemplation and investigation showed me how little I knew. Now I feel so much more humble yet more exhilarated about the cosmos knowing how much I do NOT know.

pzingery said...

I think "jime's" comment:

"Also, psi reseachers should create POPULAR (but serious) journals and magazines (equivalent to the skeptical inquierer or skeptic magazine) to share the best information and evidence about psi with the general public,"

is a good one. I like Annalisa Ventola and others' approach, and what IONS and other organizations are currently doing, but I think that outreach to the general public needs to be in a format that's accessible to a much wider audience. Why hasn't more of this been done? Is it a matter of money? Or, finding the right person/organization/group to do it?

Dean Radin said...

Why hasn't more of this been done? Is it a matter of money? Or, finding the right person/organization/group to do it?

There have been a number of popular attempts to do this (Psychic, Fate, Phenomena, etc.). Of such magazines only Fate (www.fatemag.com) is still alive as far as I know (please correct me if I'm wrong), and it survives because it is "the world's foremost monthly paranormal publication." I.e., paranormal and not psi. I draw the distinction because most things called paranormal are not experimentally verifiable, whereas most psi phenomena are. A magazine devoted to popular psi probably wouldn't work because the state of the art advances too slowly to fill up a monthly magazine with enticing features and tidbits.

Obiwan said...

I agree with the comments before. The "sceptics" or "cynics" are loud but I am sure there are many like me who are for the most part silent but value your contribution enormously. Keep going Dr Radin.

Book Surgeon said...

I'm a journalist by profession, and what I see as the main problem with a popular journal (even something as erudite as New Scientist for psi) is that too many people's conception of psi is of remote viewers tracking down missing children, psychokinetics levitating objects and mediums extruding ecoplasm in human shapes. I find it extremely unlikely that enough people to support an advertising driven magazine would be interested in one focused on laboratory experiments and other "non-glamorous" areas of psi research.

I mean, there's a reason A&E and other channels run Ghost Hunter shows, not "Extreme Ganzfeld." Actually, I'd like to see that. Maybe the receiver would have to eat nightcrawlers or rappel down a cliff face while wearing the half ping-pong balls. Talk about a non-psi-conducive state!

All kidding aside (which is hard for me), I can heartily recommend subscribing to publications like Explore and Shift, the IONS magazine. There are also good journals online, and that might be a better medium ultimately for reaching the public at large because of lower costs.

Dean Radin said...

Book Surgeon's suggestion for "Extreme Ganzfeld" is a good one, except that the person eating a live squid while skiing off the edge of a cliff should be the sender. This would match the typical spontaneous case of "crisis telepathy," where one person is experiencing some extreme event while the other (the receiver) is daydreaming or in an otherwise highly relaxed state. Any volunteers?

Apropos, I developed the presentiment experiment as a way of studying the effects of emotional extremes on psi. It has turned out to be one of the more robust ways of demonstrating unconscious psi effects in the lab. In fact, I originally referred to the emotional condition as the extreme condition (as in in extremis), as that was closer to what I was looking for than just high emotion.

Rick said...

"Some people enjoy anger. Some are naturally explosive. Some find the tension between misplaced certainty and adolescent angst too uncomfortable to bear. Some drink too much coffee."

Heck, I drink too much coffee, I have adolescent insecurities, and I'm mean to people, but I'm not a pseudoskeptic.

The difference is I've had the advantage of training in logic and I have committed to putting all my words and thoughts through a due diligence process that guarantees my utterances will be as logical as I can make them.

If you want to wipe out pseudo-skepticism, don't bother re-inventing Fate (although the WWW is making similar resources available for free). If you want to wipe of pseudo-skepticism, teach people how to use logic and philosophy to restrain their own words. Then, when they examine their own words with due diligence, they'll speak more carefully.

David Bailey said...

I did not see the offending comments - probably some glitch at the website.

I think I can see the value of fully moderating this blog - letting through reasoned skeptical argument while excluding arrogant rants. There are a couple of individuals over at Skeptiko that seem to think that skepticism is about being as rude and dismissive to their opponents as possible!

Wow - "crisis telepathy" sounds an interesting concept. Nowadays there are some VERY scary rides at theme parks. Maybe if you recorded someone's heart rate on an evening out at a funfair, and matched it against his mother sitting at home quietly. A horror movie might be equally effective.

Enfant Terrible said...

Mr. Radin,

one of the comments says: "Science is not up for discussion, publish your findings in Nature, or shut up. We don't need anymore witchdoctors pushing nonsense."

My question is: Why the parapsychologists don't try more to publish their articles in journals with high impact factor, like Nature? If the article will be rejected, it would be very interesting to see the reasons of this.

Dean Radin said...

To Enfant Terrible:

Nature, Science et al publish a tiny fraction of the output of mainstream science, and the competition to get in those journals is intense. Based on a simple numbers game, when you have millions of scientists in the mainstream, and perhaps 50 on the fringe, the likelihood that those journals will publish a psi-related paper is exceedingly small. There just aren't enough psi experiments being published to compete against hundreds of thousands of other studies.

When Nature did publish a psi paper in the 1970s, it was accompanied by an unprecedented editorial apology, and followed up by enough letters from outraged scientists to cause the big journals to not want to do that again.

This well known bias is a principle reason that the Society for Scientific Exploration was formed. Many academics, in many different disciplines, find it difficult to publish views that challenge mainstream ideas. The Journal of Scientific Exploration is one of a very few number of peer-reviewed academic journals providing a scholarly forum for discussion of unpopular ideas.

My comments about the very high impact general journals do not hold for high-impact discipline-specific journals. Psi studies with positive outcomes have been and continue to be published in top-ranked journals within disciplines.

Tor said...

David Bailey said:
I think I can see the value of fully moderating this blog - letting through reasoned skeptical argument while excluding arrogant rants. There are a couple of individuals over at Skeptiko that seem to think that skepticism is about being as rude and dismissive to their opponents as possible!

I've been watching things over at the Skeptiko forums. These people claim not to be rude and obnoxious, but that is exactly what they are. Trying to discuss things with them is just hopeless and a waste of time. Nothing constructive comes of it.

Dean Radin said...

To see the comments you scroll down to the end of the article and click on the "view comments" link.

I moderate this blog because I've learned that the combination of anonymous plus unmoderated is dangerous. It predictably leads to astounding displays of preening, strutting, stupidity and anger. There's enough of that going on out there, so within my tiny online space I prefer to maintain civility.

Tony M said...

Happy Birthday tomorrow!

A boy in my son's class is also a leap baby, so he turns "two" tomorrow. That reminded me of you.

Enfant Terrible said...

Happy Birthday, Radin!

The problem with the Journal of Scientific Exploration is that it has absolutly no impact factor in mainstream. Even the impact factor of the Journal of Parapsychology is near to zero, only 0,107 (JCR-2006)

I prefer a few articles published in mainstream than a lot which no one knows.

billie said...

Happy birthday from another Leap Year baby, celebrating my 12th today.

My husband (Matthew Cromer) pointed me here this morning when he saw that it's your birthday as well... I have been working on a novel for several years called "The Meaning of Isolated Objects," and last fall came onto a quote from your Entangled Minds book that fits perfectly in front. Once it gets to publication phase I will deal with permissions, etc. For now, it inspires me as I edit.

Hope your 14th is memorable!

Annalisa Ventola said...

Happy Birthday, Dean. What is this? The big one-four? Hope it's a good one!

David Bailey said...

I discovered the comments are visible if you use Internet Explorer, but not if you use FireFox!

Dean Radin said...

Enfant Terrible said... I prefer a few articles published in mainstream than a lot which no one knows.

"Mainstream" is discipline-specific. If you ask a physicist to name the highest impact journal in psychology, and vice versa, most won't be able to. This goes for all academic disciplines. Psi-oriented papers have been published in high impact journals in psychology, conventional medicine, and complementary and alternative medicine.