Skeptiko - Science at the Tipping Point
Summary: Explore controversial science with leading researchers and their critics. Skeptiko.com has become the leading source for intelligent skeptic-versus-believer debate with guests like: Dr. Rupert Sheldrake - Dr. Michael Shermer - Dr. Dean Radin - James Randi - Dr. Peter Fenwick - Dr. Richard Wiseman - Dr. Raymond Moody - Dr. Marilyn Schlitz - Dr. Steven Novella - Dr. Alan Wallace - Stephan A. Schwartz - Dr. Edward Kelly - Dr. Emily Kelly - Dr. Charles Tart - Dr. Julie Beischel - Dr. Elisabet Sahtouris - Dr. Carol Tavris - Dr. Michael Brooks - Dr. Susan Blackmore - Dr. James Alcock - D.J. Grothe - Ben Radford
Part two of an interview with alien abduction researcher Dr. David Jacobs examines alien encounters from a spiritual perspective. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for part two of his interview with Dr. David Jacobs. During the interview Jacobs talk...
Part two of an interview with alien abduction researcher Dr. David A. Jacobs examines alien encounters from a spiritual perspective.
Interview with alien abduction researcher and Temple University History Professor Dr. David Jacobs examines his over 30 years of research. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Dr. David Jacobs author of, UFOs & Abductions: Challenging the Borders of Knowledge. During the interview Jacobs talks about science’s responsibility to investigate the topic: Dr. David Jacobs: What the scientific and academic communities are doing is they are simply abrogating the responsibility to study this subject. You have to understand. For example, the UFO phenomenon and the abduction phenomenon together are global in nature. In the abduction phenomenon, you have people coming from all around the world, from all different walks of life, having wildly different backgrounds from Ph.Ds and M.Ds and psychiatrists and psychologists to people who have dropped out of school in the 12th grade. I had one person who was 12 years old. They’re all saying the same exact things from around the world. Yet there’s no interest in this whatsoever. Let me tell you a few other things that just astonish me every time I think about it. In the abduction phenomena, people are physically missing from their normal environments when they are abducted. Police have been called, search parties have been sent out, kids hunt for their parents, parents hunt for their children during abductions. They’re not there. And this phenomenon, it’s not happening yet this is what people are reporting all the time. Not only that, but people are abducted in groups and can confirm each other’s abductions. Now oftentimes these are family groups where they might be in cahoots together but sometimes they’re not family groups. They’re neighbors and they can confirm each other’s abductions. Or even strangers who they meet on the street and they know immediately they’ve seen this person before. Yet it’s not happening. People who return from abductions and have unusual marks and scars on their bodies. I have seen this—fully formed scar tissue literally the next day. I have seen this in person. I had a session with a woman once who was perfectly fine. She saw me the next morning and she had two one-inch scars on each hand in exactly the same place that were not there the day before, to my unbelievable, breath-taking amazement. That is not possible and yet this phenomenon is not happening. So if I grant that it’s not happening, that people are not being abducted, then abduction researchers have stumbled upon one of the most important areas of human cognition that has ever been found. Alex Tsakiris: So you’re saying whether one accepts the reality of these experiences as reported by many, many people -- and as reported to many different researchers, not just Dr. David Jacobs, but many people have encountered folks who claim to have had this abduction experience. You’re saying it’s really a challenge to the academic community to either accept those accounts at face value or reject them and find some deeper neurological or psychological problem. But in either case it’s something that demands resolution. Dr. David Jacobs: Yes. What you’re saying is individuals. What I’m talking about sometimes in my list is groups. Once you say the word “groups” of people, then suddenly all psychological explanations fail. But this is part of the phenomenon. Once again, there’s never been anything like this in history. David Jacob's Abduction Research Website Play It Listen Now: Download MP3 (63 min.) Read It: Today we welcome historian and UFO abduction researcher, Dr. David Jacobs to Skeptiko. Dr. Jacobs is the author of four books and many, many important articles. He’s done numerous television and radio appearances, all on this topic that he is really one of the pioneers in and that is alien abduction research. Dr. Jacobs, it’s great to have you on. Thanks so much for joining me. Dr. David Jacobs: Thank you for having me, Alex.
A re-introduction of the podcast explains how the host approaches the intersection of science and spirituality. Through selected clips from previous shows and an extended clip from an important NDE presentation with Dr. Sam Parnia, Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris explains how the show has evolved to its current format. Tsakiris also discusses the future direction of the show and encourages listeners to get past, "stuck on stupid" debates about science and spirituality and move toward examining the deeper mysteries of extended human consciousness. Clips From This Episode: 151. Science Journalist Ben Radford “Believes” Psychic Detective 199. Conservative Christian Chris White Debunks Ancient Alien Theories Resuscitation Experts on Near Death Experiences (featuring Dr. Sam Parnia) Join the New Skeptiko Forum Now! Play It Listen Now: Download MP3 (48 min.)
Interview with UFO and alien contact experience researcher examines the power of personal experience. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Mary Rodwell, author of, Awakening. During the interview Rodwell talks about the power of personal experience: Mary Rodwell: The truth is that all we’ve ever got within ourselves is our own resonance to truth, our own BS meter, if you like. Ultimately that is what we’re being asked to trust. We’ve got nothing else. We’re told huge amounts of information. Some of it is disinformation; some of it’s lies. What is it in us that resonates to truth? Ultimately that’s the only thing we’ve got because actually nobody has the full mandate on truth. We’ve all got bits of it and we are fed all sorts of mixes of truth. So the only thing we’ve got in the end is ourselves as that instrument of choosing what our truth is. My role is to facilitate a place where they can find their truth in their experience. Nobody has a right to tell them what to believe around that other than what they choose to believe. (continued below) Mary's ACERN Website Play It Listen Now: Download MP3 (43 min.) Read It: Today we welcome Mary Rodwell to Skeptiko. Mary’s a professional counselor and hypnotherapist, as well as being one of Australia’s best known and most highly regarded UFO researchers. Mary is the founder of the Australian Close Encounter Resource Network (ACERN) where she helps those dealing with the aftermath of alien contact experience. Mary, welcome to Skeptiko. Thanks so much for joining me. Mary Rodwell: It’s a pleasure, Alex. Alex Tsakiris: It’s a big pleasure for me. As we were just chatting about a minute ago, I’ve seen many of your excellent interviews. One thing I have to commend you on is that you’re really very open and generous with your time. You give many interviews to many people. I can see that you’re very committed to spreading this information and you do it in such a great way. I really want to commend you on that. Mary Rodwell: Thank you, Alex. I think that for me it’s about the fact that people are so discriminated against in terms of their own personal experiences to the point of almost anyone that’s out of the box is considered abnormal in some way. For me, it’s the discrimination against personal experience which I think is the hardest thing most of us have to deal with because of the judgment that goes with that. Alex Tsakiris: I think that’s a great way of saying it. As we were just chatting about a minute ago, on this show we’ve looked at near-death experience quite a bit. There is a similar kind of stigma there although that’s much relieved now with the popular media catching onto that. The experience is no longer stigmatized in the same way. But certainly when you talk about people who had such an experience 20 or 30 years ago they say, “I told no one. I couldn’t tell anyone.” That certainly is a situation that you’re familiar with when we talk about close encounter or alien contact experiences. Before I get too far along, for folks who are less familiar with your work can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started doing this work? Mary Rodwell: My background is nursing. For a number of years I practiced my profession there but I went into professional counseling about 25 to 30 years ago. I’ve done the whole gamut, from relationship counseling to grief and bereavement, through a whole range of what we call the more expected normal human experiences. It was about 17 or 18 years ago that I was in private practice and a gentleman came to me and said, “I heard you’re open-minded. For this there are no support groups. For this people just think you’re a loony. But I’m having experiences, my family is, my children. I feel like I’m being taken somewhere. I wake up with marks on my body, shaved areas. The relatives won’t even come to the house because they think it’s demons.
A new version of the Skeptiko forum has moderators seeking balance between Skeptics and Believers. With the launch of the new Skeptiko forum forum moderators are asking listeners of the show to recommend the level and type of moderation that should be implemented. Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris explains: Alex Tsakiris: As a scientifically oriented podcast exploring new research in controversial areas of science such as telepathy, psi, parapsychology, near-death-experience, psychic detectives, medium communication, reincarnation, and after-life encounters, the Skeptiko show is a magnet for controversy. Add to this the show’s bias against simple-minded materialistic science explanations, and equally simple-minded religious explanations, and you wind up with a forum that can get a bit unruly. We’re trying to find the right balance of outside-the-box truth seekers without too much of the Skeptical silliness the pervades most of the net. We hope listeners with weigh in with their opinion” Join the New Skeptiko Forum Now! Update on Rupert Sheldrake's battle with Wikipedia Play It Listen Now: Download MP3 (6 min.)
Interview with religion and mythology scholar Acharya S. (D.M. Murdock) examines the effects of early Christianity on other religions of the time. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Acharya S. author of, Who Was Jesus? Fingerprints of The Christ. During the interview Acharya talks about the religion and myths: Alex Tsakiris: One of the things that your work is really important in doing, and it’s something we didn’t talk enough about, is that it’s a really thorough analysis of the power and practices of cultish behavior, of power formation, and power manipulation. I think unless we really come to grips with this we can’t separate out what happened to these religions. On one hand we have these traditions and these myths and those that made the myths, and on the other hand we have the same characters that we see on the landscape today that say, “Hey, wait a minute. Maybe I can make a buck off of this. Maybe I can control things. Maybe I can make my group superior and win out over the other groups. And maybe I can use these myths to do it.” Unless we thoroughly understand that stuff, and at the same time appreciate the possibility that there is some genuine non-biological-robot, spiritual experiences that may be happening; until all that’s on the table, we can’t really get our arms around it. Acharya Sanning: What I’m just doing is writing a factual recitation of what has happened in these places. It’s very empowering to know this stuff. Also, when we were talking in the beginning about being in the middle between extremists on either side, this mythicism position that I am discussing which looks at supernatural beings in antiquity as mythical figures, not real people who landed on planet Earth and did a bunch of magic tricks. This is really a neutral position because you don’t have to believe in it and you don’t have to dismiss it. You don’t have to be a theist or an Atheist. You can be either one to enjoy this information. All I’m doing is collecting religious and mythological ideas from as far back as we can tell and putting them together and showing their influences on our thinking today. It doesn’t require any kind of belief or any kind of joining or any kind of control... (continued below) Acharya's Website Play It Listen Now: Download MP3 (63 min.) Read It: Today we welcome Acharya S. to Skeptiko. Acharya, whose real name is D. M. Murdock, is a first-rate Biblical scholar and an expert in religious studies and mythology. She is also the author of numerous books including, The Christ Conspiracy, Who is Jesus?, and Sons of God. She also runs a website that is absolutely chock-full of high quality articles and research on the topics we’re going to talk about today. That website is at www.truthbeknown.com. Acharya, it’s great to have you on Skeptiko. Thanks so much for joining me. Acharya Sanning: It’s nice to be here, Alex. Thanks for inviting me. I also have a blog at www.freethoughtnation.com. In fact, I have another one, www.stellarhousepublishing.com. You can search across all my websites and a forum. People are invited to ask questions of me in the forum, as well. Alex Tsakiris: I’m going to look forward to joining your forum after I’ve published this because I think it’s going to be interesting. Hopefully we’ll touch on some things that aren’t entirely consistent with everything you’ve talked about before and maybe get some interesting dialogue going on there. I say that because one of the reasons that I was especially grateful for you accepting this invitation is because we did have a chance to talk a little bit about my skepticism of some of the new Atheism dogma when it comes to science. We were able in our email exchange beforehand to separate that and say that my position is that I’m very open-minded to much of what you’ve researched and I am appreciative of much of what you’ve researched; that is separating out mythology,
Interview with Kevin Williams creator of one of the leading website portals on Near-Death Experience science. Today we welcome Kevin Williams to Skeptiko. Kevin is the creator of www.near-death.com, the #1 website on near-death experiences, both in terms of visitor traffic and in terms of the comprehensive amount of information about near-death experiences, near-death research, and all topics related to this amazing phenomena. Kevin is also the author of Nothing Better Than Death: Insights from 62 Profound Near-Death Experiences. Kevin, welcome to Skeptiko. Thanks so much for joining me. Kevin Williams: Thank you, Alex. It’s my pleasure. Alex Tsakiris: So as I just mentioned, near-death.com is amazingly comprehensive. It pops up on virtually hundreds if not thousands of different search terms. Even if they’re not familiar with the website, people have probably encountered it. Start us off from the beginning. Tell us how you started it, why you started it, and the driving force behind it. Kevin Williams: First of all, I’m a big believer in synchronicity and it seems like most of my life I’ve had that. When I was a kid, my dad had a small CRT screen and for some reason I knew that I could build it so that people could ask questions to it and get answers back. I just had that in my mind for a long time. I don’t know why. Then when I went to college and got into computer science, I graduated just about the time when the Internet was taking off. Before that time I read Raymond Moody’s book, Life After Life. That was the late ‘70s. Since then I couldn’t get enough books to read on the subject. It was kind of a synchronistic time that I just happened to learn how to build websites at a time when I was fully knowledgeable about near-death experiences and a time when I was able to build a website. I started really early. Part of the reason why I get a lot of hits on different keywords is because I designed my website as a portal, which means that there are usually only two or three levels deep in my website. I built it that way specifically so that it would do that. It has the ability to access a lot of information right upfront and also it would be a lot easier to navigate. (continued below) Play It Listen Now: Download MP3 (44 min.) Read It: (continued...) Alex Tsakiris: So you did not have a near-death experience prior to starting this, is that right? Kevin Williams: Yes, that’s true. I’ve never had a near-death experience. But once you read enough of them you almost feel like this is information that you’ve known before. In fact, a lot of near-death experiencers, during their experience they’ll receive knowledge like that, forgotten knowledge. The more I read about it, the more I realized that this was true for me and that everybody has actually experienced death many times through reincarnation. So that was part of it right there. Alex Tsakiris: So you’re open to the idea that there might be a form of knowledge that is hidden consciously but still spurred your interest, which is fantastic. I’m open to that, as well. But I do think it’s interesting and it’s been my approach on the Skeptiko show that you can really approach this topic from a purely intellectual, scientific standpoint and get to this same place, you know? To me it’s always baffling that more people don’t question on one side or the other this information. As you point out, you read Raymond Moody’s book and it would seem that those kinds of earth-shattering claims would force more people to say, “Hey, I have to decide one way or another. I have to either investigate this and prove to myself that it’s totally a bunch of bunk or I have to roll up my sleeves and really dig in there and see that there is something more.” Are you surprised more people aren’t engaged in really finding out the truth and are willing to just take such high-level answers of it that it must all be fake or it must all be true?
Interview with esteemed Berkeley philosopher and consciousness researcher Dr. John Searle examines the state of academic consciousness research. Alex Tsakiris: What we’ve been exploring is some of the evidence suggesting that consciousness may not be purely biological. We really started with parapsychology and folks like Rupert Sheldrake from Cambridge and Dean Radin who used to be at Bell Labs and is at IONS. But put all that aside because the real kicker is near-death experience science. Here are these doctors, in hospital, carefully controlled experiments over and over again, and the brain you’re talking about, Dr. Searle, is gone. It’s non-functioning; it isn’t there; and yet some kind of conscious experience that’s able to see and recall what’s going on continues. That evidence is pretty overwhelming at this point. What do you do with that? How does that fit into your model? Dr. John Searle: I don’t know. The stuff that I know about this tends to be rather anecdotal. Now maybe there is some really systematic, large-scale study of near-death experience that shows you can have consciousness without a brain but I don’t know of any such study. What I’ve heard is largely anecdotal. The mistake that people tend to make is they think, look, either these people are lying or there’s a miracle. Of course, both of those are probably wrong. People are perfectly sincere who report near-death experiences but it doesn’t follow that you can have consciousness completely separated from the brain; that this miracle is actually taking place. I’d have to know a whole lot more about it and see more systematic studies, as I said. The accounts that I’ve heard tend to be anecdotal. They tell a story about a guy who has had some unusual experiences. Alex Tsakiris: There is actually a lot of published work on this. The best compilation is probably The Handbook of Near-Death Experiences edited by Jan Holden at the University of North Texas and Bruce Greyson at the University of Virginia, who is very well-known in this area. Dr. John Searle: I don’t know enough about this stuff to have an intelligent opinion. Of course, it might turn out that 100 years from now we’ll have this conversation in heaven or in my case more likely the other place. The idea that you have to have a brain in order to be conscious, that’s a kind of silly idea people had back in the 21st Century. It might turn out that way; I don’t think it will. ---------- On today's episode I have an interview with Dr. John Searle. Now, before we get to the interview I want to tee up a question for you. As you know, I usually do this at the end of the show, but since the question relates to the quote you just heard, and since the question relates to something else I want to talk about I'm going throw it out there now -- How do you explain Dr. John Searle's willful ignorance of near-death experience science? Moreover, why is he so clueless about parapsychology? And most importantly, why does he think it’s ok to summarily dismiss all evidence pointing to any model of consciousness other than his hopelessly obsolete mind=brain clunker. Let’s consider near-death experience science since it's the most dramatic example of science that delivers an evidence-based kill-shot to the mind=brain carcass. How can a highly acclaimed, internationally renown expert on consciousness, who gives TED talks and is invited to scholarly symposiums on consciousness, how can that guy be less informed about the published peer-reviewed literature than your average Oprah Winfrey fan? It's not like he doesn't understand what's at stake. As you'll hear, he agrees the survival of consciousness question is central to all other scientific assumptions about consciousness. So why is Dr. Searle shamelessly, unapologeticly ignorant of this science? Well, that's the other thing I wanted to talk about before we get to this interview -- science bullies. Back in March of 2013,
Examination of recent research from the University of Michigan linking surge in brain activity of dying rats to near-death experience science. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for a look at two interviews that shed light on recent reports suggesting...
Interview with hypnotherapist Jean-Charles Chabot examines the use of hypnotic regression for spiritual growth. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Montreal-based hypnotherapist Jean-Charles Chabot. During the interview Chabot talks about the use of regression therapy in overcoming phobias: Alex Tsakiris: Can you give us a quick example of a case where there was a memory from early in life, and they forgot about it, and then once they remembered it resolved some phobia for them. Jean-Charles Chabot: I’ll give you a couple of examples, one with regression in this life, and one in a past life. For example, a person had a fear of spiders. She said, “I don’t remember anything about what could explain this fear of spiders.” She couldn’t get close to a spider. So I brought her into an altered state of consciousness and I asked the unconscious mind to go back. So the first event the person went to was when she was young, lying beside a pool. She’d just gotten out of the water and there were drops of water dripping down her body. At some point there was some itching and there was a spider there. She just freaked at that point. Then what we usually do is we can ask the person a question, and say, “I don’t want you to think. I want you to feel. Does this emotion feel new like oh my god, what is this? Or does it feel familiar, like oh, not again?” It was familiar to her so I said, “Okay, now we’re going all the way back to the source.” What was very interesting was that she was about two years old and she was playing with a spider that was on her. When you’re one or two years old it doesn’t matter, right? It’s just a spider; there’s nothing wrong. She takes the spider and she puts it in her mouth. For a kid, no problem. But the problem was when the mother saw this and said, “No!” And then, boom, association of spider and dangerous, spider bad, mommy doesn’t like it so I shouldn’t like it. That’s where it all started. It’s very interesting when you have things like that that you understand where it comes from and you can do some techniques. One technique among others is the “informed child,” where you instruct the child what he would have needed to know to be conditioned by this and then we eradiate this knowledge. There are many things you can do. Alex Tsakiris: Were you able to help her over her phobia, then? Jean-Charles Chabot: Oh, yeah. It was really interesting because afterwards for me, I like to test my work. Afterwards we went into the basement looking for spiders. We found some little spiders and she could have them on her finger and she was like, “Oh my god, I never did that before.” It was really amazing. I said, “Okay, let’s take it a step higher. Let’s go to the pet shop. I had in mind like these tarantulas, those big spiders. I didn’t know they were really dangerous, so I just went to the counter and asked if it was possible to look at the tarantulas, to clear it with them. The people at the counter were like, “I’m not touching those. They can sting. They can really hurt. They won’t kill you but they can really, really hurt.” Then the owner came and said, “Oh, they’re really nice. As long as you don’t do anything that irritates them, like blowing on them or sudden moves or stuff, it’s all fine.” So he took a spider and told her to put her hand like a bridge. The spider came and she just had this amazing feeling of oh my god, this is amazing. She could do it without any problem. Jean-Charles Chabot's Website Play It Listen Now: Download MP3 (63 min.) Read It: Welcome to Skeptiko, where we explore controversial science with leading researchers, thinkers, and their critics. Today, hypnosis. In fact, a very controversial area of hypnosis—past life and between life regression, where people purport to recall and recover memories of living in a previous life, or the time they spent between lives. Quite out there, if you will,
Interview with atheist and Christian debunker John Loftus examines the philosophy of atheism. Alex Tsakiris: When we falsify this idea that you are a “biological robot”, and accept that’s absurd, and once we get past the idea that consciousness ends at death, which again, that’s where the evidence points, then a lot of things start falling differently in terms of how I orient myself to the world, how I orient myself to other people, how I orient myself to morals, purpose, meaning in life. You are not a biological robot, John. John Loftus: Okay. I disagree. I’ve said why. Alex Tsakiris: You say, “I am a biological robot. I am going to stand by that.” Right? That’s what you’re saying? John Loftus: Well, there’s no evidence for invisible beings, right? Entities. Alex Tsakiris: But you, as you live your life, you live your life like a biological robot? John Loftus: Everybody does. That’s all there is. Alex Tsakiris: Okay. John Loftus: Well, you have to look into the philosophical quandaries with trying to distinguish between mind and body. I mean, I taught the Introduction to Philosophy classes that you would probably be interested in looking at how they’ve tried to relate the mind and the body. They just really can’t do it. It’s really ludicrous to see how they do that. (interview transcript continued below) John Loftus - Debunking Christianity UPDATE: Follow-up Email Exchange (click here) Play It Listen Now: Download MP3 (64 min.) Read It: Welcome to Skeptiko, where we explore controversial science with leading researchers, thinkers, and their critics. I’m your host, Alex Tsakiris, and this episode of Skeptiko is yet another in this series I’ve been doing on Atheism. Now I do feel a need to tell you a little bit about how I came to do this interview because, as you know if you’ve listened, you just heard a similar kind of debate with philosophy professor Dr. Stephen Law. Actually, these two interviews with Dr. Law and John Loftus came about as the result of my interview on Episode 217 with Gary Marcus, because Gary Marcus is this NYU professor of psychology, bestselling author, writes frequently on consciousness issues, yet if you listen to the interview you’ll hear how he stumbled with some basic questions about consciousness. And surprisingly—but I guess not surprisingly for me because I keep pounding on this drum— he is essentially Atheistic in his thinking. That is, academia is Atheistic. You go to a guy like Gary Marcus. He’s not waving the flag for Atheism, but you push through just a little bit and boom! There it is. The same kind of talking points parroted back to you that you hear from Atheists. So that led me to thinking I really need to revisit the Atheist proposition directly and establish a dialogue with some Atheists. The way that I often do that is I go to Amazon and I look for the bestselling books in the category I’m interested in. In this case it was Atheism. I came up with Dr. Stephen Law’s book and I also came up with John Loftus’ book. So it’s kind of a numbers game in inviting guests on. You don’t get everyone you ask. A lot of times I’ll go out with a couple of requests and hope to get one. In this case, I got both of them. I got one and then a week later John Loftus responded and said, “Hey, I missed the email but I’d be happy to do it.” So I felt obligated and I felt like there was enough of a difference between the two that I could pursue both of them. They really cover two different aspects of the Atheism proposition. One is the philosophy of science proposition that you heard from Dr. Stephen Law that I think doesn’t hold up very well. From the discussion we had, he doesn’t really come off as sounding like he has a very strong case. We’ll leave that as it is. And then the second is this religious thrust that you get from John Loftus, whose website is all about debunking Christianity. But as you’ll hear in this dialogue,
Interview with Robert Mays reveals a disturbing pattern of misrepresentation and distortion in Luke Dittrich's Proof of Heaven expose published in Esquire Magazine. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Robert Mays about hi...
Interview with philosopher and noted atheist Dr. Stephen Law examines the philosophy of science and extraordinary claims. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Dr. Stephen Law author of, Believing Bullshit: How Not to Get Sucked into an Intellectual Black Hole. During the interview Law talks about how science measures extraordinary claims: Alex Tsakiris: This idea of extraordinary claims requiring extraordinary proof, you want to talk about sweeping mystery, sweeping evidence that you don’t like under the rug, here is the mantra for the Centre for Inquiry crowd. I see that as an intellectually feeble pronouncement -- extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof—that is anti-science, isn’t it? Dr. Stephen Law: Why do you think that? Alex Tsakiris: We’ve built this whole institution of science, the whole process of peer-review, the whole process of self-correction around this idea that we will altogether discover what is real, what is not real, what is extraordinary, what is not extraordinary. So the idea that after the fact, after the results come in, we say, “You know, those are pretty interesting results but I deem that to be extraordinary; therefore, you’ll need an extra level of proof on that.” I think it’s just silly. Dr. Stephen Law: Okay, I think I see where you’re coming from. The way I’ve understood that principle, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, says that suppose I tell you that over there, I’ve got a mobile phone and a cup, okay, and I do this, there’s the mobile phone and the cup. You’re going to go, “Hey, yeah, that’s good enough for me.” Steve’s got a mobile phone and a cup. If I now wield out a fairy which I make dance on the end of my finger and go, “There you go, a fairy on the end of my finger,” you’re going to go, “Yeah, Steve’s got a fairy on the end of his finger. Fair enough. I’ll accept that on the basis of the same kind of evidence that I accepted he’s got a cup with a mobile phone.” I bet you would not. Alex Tsakiris: Sure, but we’re talking about science here. We’re talking about peer-review. The example I sent you and I have personal experience with, because he told it to me on this show, is British psychologist and parapsychology critic, Richard Wiseman. He has investigated probably more of these paranormal parapsychology claims, like telepathy, than anybody else. Here’s his quote: “I agree that by the standards of any other area of science that remote viewing (and he later added in this quote, ESP) is proven. But that begs the question: do we need higher standards of evidence when we study the paranormal?” So Stephen, this is not a fairy in the cup. This is a guy who has reviewed hundreds of peer-reviewed papers and is saying, You know what? It’s good enough for any other field of science but not good enough here because of the ground-breaking upset it would make for science. This is the best evidence I could give you for my claim about scientific materialism being woven into science as we know it. Dr. Stephen Law: I think if I stick my finger out there and it appears to be a finger with a fairy spinning around on the end of it, you’re going to be very, very suspicious. You’re not just going to say, “Yeah, Stephen’s proved to me that there are fairies.” You’re going to require much more investigation before you take my word for it that there really is a fairy spinning around on the end of my finger. Why is that? It’s because the prior probability of anything like a fairy exists is very, very low indeed, knowing what we do. (continued below) Dr. Stehpen Law's Blog Play It Listen Now: Download MP3 (64 min.) Read It: Alex Tsakiris: Let me, in that spirit, return to your book, Believing Bullshit, with another quote that I liked: “The more we appeal to mystery to get ourselves out of intellectual trouble, the more we use it as a carpet under which to sweep inconvenient truths or discoveries,
Interview examines whether or not near-death experience research conclusions contradict Christian doctrine of heaven and the afterlife. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Steve Miller author of, Near-Death Experiences as Evidence for the Existence of God and Heaven. During the interview Miller talks about his conclusions: Alex Tsakiris: This NDE science, doesn’t it contradict a Christian worldview? An idea that Jesus is the only way to heaven. An idea that there are these are these sacred books that tell us how about the afterlife? I mean, it contradicts that, right? Steve Miller: Well, I don’t say that. I think it’s commonly held that it does contradict and many people believe that it does. I think that certain niche NDEs would certainly contradict certain traditional teachings of Christianity, like having past lives or whatever. Some people will come back from an NDE saying, “I experienced something from a past life.” Alex Tsakiris: Let me interject there and pin that down. If you accept near-death experience science, I don’t know how you get past the reality of past lives. It’s all over the place. It’s not like these near-death experiencers are coming back and saying, “Oh, the idea of reincarnation has been falsified by my experience.” I’ve never read a single near-death experience account that says that. On the other hand, I’ve read scores and scores of them that either assume it or directly say that multiple lives, reincarnation, is a reality. Steve Miller: I would say that it’s rather a fringe experience just because of my research and I’ve not researched it comprehensively in this area, but looking at the account Dr. Long’s has collected, where people are sharing their near-death experiences. You have a tremendous amount of them there. I carefully went through about 100 experiences back-to-back. In other words, I wasn’t cherry-picking. I was just going one after another after another. Within 100 experiences, I don’t believe I saw any where a person referred to a past life. Steve Miller's Webpage Play It Listen Now: Download MP3 (39 min.)