I've wanted to make this official for a while now. I've ended up repeating myself over and over again to the various 'skeptic' members on here while stating the these exact same points, and I've grown rather tired of typing it all out and linking to the same sites again and again. So I've decide to type everything out into this one blog post, that I can then post a link to it in my signature and reference them to it whenever any hardened 'skeptics' start arguing with me over their same old points.
This blog post is in no way an attempt to refute Materialism, merely to show how many of the arguments that these so-called 'Skeptics' make about Spiritualists are blatant misrepresentations of the opposing viewpoint, thereby rendering any meaningful debate with them invalid.
What I wish to show here that there is a better, more accurate way to discuss these topics with each other, without resorting to the spread of misinformation regarding the opposing worldview.
So with that being said, let's begin...
For those who don't know me and don't know what I support, I'll explain it in a nutshell: I am a Spiritualist who supports open-minded skeptical scientific inquiry into all fields. This includes topics such as the paranormal, psychic (or 'psi') research, Near-Death-Experiences (NDEs) and the afterlife, and overall parapsychology. Materialism is the belief system held by the mainstream scientific community, as well as many 'skeptics' societies, who are dedicated to discrediting anything that upsets this status quo. I on the other hand support a sort of 'Scientific Spiritualism' which believes that consciousness is more than just a byproduct of the material brain and that it plays a much grander role in the goings-on of our universe, and which seeks to further discover this by means of scientific study and research. This isn't to say that I support a sort of Scientism, as the truth about our reality can be arrived by multiple means such as philosophy, logic and reasoning, etc.
Therefore this post will be in response to those who take a Materialist approach whilst claiming the title of 'Skeptic'. In particular, this will be in response to their skepticism towards anything related to the paranormal or parapsychological (psi) research.
So what do I mean by the term: 'Pseudo-Skeptic?'
In an article by SCEPCOP (Scientific Committee to Evaluate Pseudoskeptical Criticism of the Paranormal) titled How Pseudoskeptics hijack 'Skepticism' to mean it's opposite, it perfectly describes these kinds of so-called 'skeptics' as follows:
Pseudoskeptics are not just wrong and fallacious in their reasoning and approach to investigating the paranormal with outright rejection of anything that doesn't fit into a materialist orthodox paradigm. They've also, knowingly or unknowingly, engaged in deceptive mind control by hijacking critical terms to mean their OPPOSITE, including the very term "skeptic" itself. And they've hid what they truly are (suppressors of new ideas) by pretending to be the opposite of what they are. Let me explain.
As mentioned earlier, a skeptic doubts, inquires, questions, ponders, etc. But these pseudoskeptics do anything but. They attack, ridicule, discredit and suppress anything and everything that challenges the materialist reductionist paradigm. But don't take my word for it. Just look at any article by James Randi, Michael Shermer, or Skeptical Inquirer, for example, and you will see that there is no questioning of what they are told, doubt or pondering of possibilities at all. All they do is ridicule and attack anything related to paranormal and psychic phenomena, holistic medicine, and conspiracies. That's not what skepticism is.
So you see, these pseudoskeptics hijack the term "skeptic" so that it can't be used against them. By calling themselves "skeptics", they cast themselves as THE "skeptics" who question everything with critical thinking and doubt. And if you are a skeptic or critical thinker, then you will agree with them, so they hope.
Similarly, they've done the same with the terms "reason, rationality, logic, critical thinking, scientific" as well by hijacking them to fit their agenda, so that they support their agenda of discrediting anything related to paranormal, holistic or conspiratorial evidence.
In essence, what they've done is put themselves in a position of "ultimate authority" on reason, rationality, logic, critical thinking, etc. so that if you call yourself those things, then you must agree with them and their position. As such, being "reasonable and rational" means to AGREE with them. And "critical thinking" can only be used to reject what they reject, never to critique the pseudoskeptics themselves, according to their paradigm, for they are "the critiquers".
Thus, they've made it so that "critical thinking" and "skepticism" can't be used against them, because they are THE "critical thinkers and skeptics". It's a very sly form of mind control that obfuscates the terms and attempts to shield them from "criticism" by putting them in the highest position of criticism.
As such, the term "skeptic" now refers to the one who suppresses and attacks the questioner, rather than the questioner himself. In other words, the new "skeptic" is someone who debunks a "skeptic" by wearing the hat of the person they are out to debunk, in effect impersonating them! It's a highly deceptive form of role reversal that is sneaky and deceptive.
You see, true genuine skepticism is good. It's at the heart of the scientific process, and it is the only means by which we can arrive at the truth. If we never skeptically question something, then we'll never learn the answer to said question. The problem is, the door swings both ways. Yet modern day 'Skeptics' don't seem to question their own materialism. This is because true healthy skepticism requires one to be open-minded about alternative possibilities. If you aren't open to alternative explanations, then you aren't properly questioning that which you currently support.
What these 'Skeptics' fail to understand is that skepticism involves being skeptical of your own position, it does not mean just being skeptical of that which you do not believe in, otherwise we are all skeptics and that renders their use of the term 'skeptic' meaningless. A true skeptic casts skepticism on their own position as well. Since these skeptics do not employ skepticism in this respect, then they are fairly termed 'pseudo-skeptics' and demean the term skepticism.
There are many repeated arguments and phrases that these skeptics like to use over and over again. Such as: "there is no proof", "show me the evidence", "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence", "anecdotal evidence is invalid", "science is the only reliable method", "skeptics don't have beliefs, they make assessments based on evidence", "ESP and paranormal phenomena violate all known laws of physics", "believers in the paranormal use primitive 'magical thinking'", etc.
I can't begin to answer every single objection that skeptics make in a single blog post, however all of these arguments plus more are perfectly refuted in detail here.
Having said that, there are a couple of the most prominent objections that I wish to go over briefly in this post. (for more in depth refutations see the link above) Namely: "show me the evidence" and "science is the only reliable method".
"Show me the Evidence"
This ^ is the most common objection these pseudo-skeptics always bring up. They constantly (and confidently) assert that there absolutely is no evidence of the paranormal, ESP, etc. and that all we need to do is show it to them. Many will even ask: "Where are the scientific papers that show psychic phenomena to be real?" They claim, that as soon as they see the least bit of scientific evidence in support of such phenomena they'll believe, but assert that they don't believe because we 'have no evidence'.
This is absolutely false.
There's a ton of scientific evidence in support of all our claims. Here is a list of Selected Psi Research Publications, that you can check out and thoroughly read through individually if you so desire. Those are all scientific publications and experiments that support the existence of our claims.
Want more? Very well:
- The Scientific Evidence for Psi
- List of Dr. Rupert Sheldrake's Scientific Research Papers
- Articles Relating to Mind-Matter Unification
- Windbridge Research Center List of Studies
- Journal of the American Society of Psychical Research
- Scientific Evidence Supporting NDE's and the Afterlife
- Notable Near Death Experience Research Studies
- People Who've Had NDE's While Brain Dead
I could go on...
The point here is this: You can't claim that there 'is no evidence', cause there is. You just happen to find our interpretation of said evidence incorrect. You personally find the evidence in support of materialism to be believable, whereas any of the evidence presented above has some sort of alternative materialistic explanation. And you know what? That's a perfectly fair position to take. However what isn't fair is the insistence that anyone who disagrees with your materialistic interpretation simply 'has no evidence'. That isn't just unfair, it's just flat untrue.
I don't in any way say that Materialism 'has no evidence'. I merely say that I find the evidence flawed, and that there are alternative explanations. This is where the real debate lies. It lies in the interpretation of said evidence.
Arguing over whether or not there even is any evidence in the first place is to move the goalposts so that the argument appears on the surface to be ever in your favor.
This Article says it best:
Pseudo-Skeptics are always saying, "There's no evidence for any paranormal or psychic phenomena" no matter how much evidence is shown to them. That's because this statement is a religion to them, not an objective statement. So no matter what evidence you give them, they will always deny it and raise the bar, simply because "there is no evidence" is a fixed belief to them.
So, if you give them stories and experiences, even from credible sources, they will reject it as "anecdotal" and inadmissible as evidence. If you give them scientific studies that show positive results for psi, they will argue that those studies did not have proper controls (since, if they did, they'd only get chance results, so their fixed logic goes). And they will argue that the studies must be replicable. Then when you show them replicated studies (e.g. Ganzfeld), they will raise the bar again and argue it was not replicated enough times (until a debunker disproves it is what they mean), ad infinitum. So no matter how many stories or replicable research studies you cite, it's NEVER enough. There is no clear bar to meet to qualify as "real evidence" to them, because essentially, there is NO EVIDENCE in their mind, thus there is no real criteria to be met. That gives them the license to deny ad infinitum. It's like playing a shady game of three shells with a con artist. You can never win because the conclusion has already been decided from the get go. That's what makes these Pseudoskeptics dishonest and not what they claim at all.
So I'll just state this for the record - to any 'Skeptic' out there who reads all of this and still tells me that there 'is no evidence', I refuse to engage in any discussions with you on this topic.
If you continue to live in your own reality where evidence of paranormal/psi phenomena doesn't exist, then there can be no meaningful discussions to be made with you. You've bought in fully to Materialist dogma hook-line and sinker, and you're essentially no different then an extreme fundamentalist religious person who believes what they do on the sole basis of 'faith'.
"Science is the only reliable method"
One of the most common traits found in these pseudo-skeptics is a complete love and adoration of science as the el primo means of knowing the truth. Of course, they also love to paint this picture that they alone love science, and that anyone who doesn't think exactly like them either hates science or doesn't understand how science actually works. Unfortunately for them, science isn't all rainbows and butterflies, and it doesn't mean you hate science to simply point that out.
Once again, Another Article from SCEPCOP says it best:
Science is a TOOL, like a computer. It is not an entity that holds dogmas or ideologies, like people do. Therefore, science is not pro or anti-paranormal, anymore than a pencil, computer program or mathematical formula is.
However, the scientific establishment is another matter, because it involves people, politics, power, money, institutions and vested interests. And as such, politics, corruption, control, censorship and suppression are naturally a part of it. Realists know and understand this. But for some reason pseudoskeptics don't.
The key fallacy that pseudoskeptics make is lumping the scientific method and process with the scientific establishment into one, assuming that they are one and the same.
Any realist knows that when you work for an institution or receive funding, you have to "tow the party line", or else you are out. It's that simple. Any scientist who says something that opposes the views of those he works for, will jeopardize his career and reputation. There are many real life examples of scientists and researchers who have lost funding or suffered damage to their career for espousing unorthodox positions, even if their position was legit and evidence-based.
Moreover, most people are not unbiased, open minded, or hold truth as the highest value. Instead, they are concerned with their image, reputation, career, funding, and hold rigid views that they feel safe and comfortable in. Many people do not like uncertainty or mystery. They want a world where things make sense and are predictable and well-defined. That's why they are prone to fall into rigid unchanging belief systems. Why would scientists be any different? They may be more educated than the average person, sure, but they are humans, and humans have biases.
It is the truth seeker and freethinker who questions everything and does not hold any authority as truth, who is most likely to find the truth. Not the most educated or well connected with institutions.
Pseudoskeptics ignore all this, or are blind to it, because they are fanatics, not truth seekers or freethinkers. When you look at the overall picture, this becomes obvious.
Now I'm not arguing against the scientific method by any means, what I'm arguing against is a blind adherence to the words and actions of the scientific establishment. These pseudoskeptics take the words of the scientific establishment as authoritative, like it's a religion. In this area skepticism isn't applied, and this defies common sense.
A common argument I often here is: "If you have so much evidence in your favor, why not present it to the scientific community? You'd surely win a prize for your discovery!"
Such an argument completely ignores the possibility of vested interests and human biases. And what's worse is that they're often quick to turn around and accuse paranormal/psi research of the same problems! It turns into a terrible case of special pleading.
Of course these biases are to be taken into account when reviewing the research of the Spiritualist community, however as I stated before, the door swings both ways. Yet regardless, given the fact that it is typically the parapsychology scientific research community that is ostracized by the current establishment, if anything this makes the argument in favor of the parapsychology community having such biases to be a rather silly one, since they are the ones that face the most ridicule for coming out with such findings.
To willfully ignore the possibility of such biases existing within the mainstream establishment scientific community whilst criticizing the opposition is just blind dogma. Anyone who does so, treats the scientific establishment as their church, and Materialism as their religion.
Conclusion - If you believe that Materialism is most likely true based on scientific evidence and rational argument, that's a perfectly fine position to take. If you personally find the evidence in favor of Spiritualism to be explainable by alternative materialistic means, that's also a perfectly fair position. However to claim that those you simply disagree with 'have no evidence', or that science, reason, rationality, and skepticism are exclusively on your side, is simply false. What's worse is when these 'Skeptics' turn to blatant misrepresentations of any opposing views, and demean them with terms like 'woo' and 'magical thinking'. Some will even go so far as to call anyone who doesn't think like them delusional idiots who believe in a fairy tail, despite their position having real scientific evidence to back it up.
Bottom line is, if you continue to misrepresent the facts about the opposing viewpoint, then there is no reason why any of us who disagree with you should even acknowledge or listen to any of your dogma.