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"Ultimately, this strange and rather sad behavior is not about science, or reason, or saving civilization from mysticism and a new dark age, or any of the self-aggrandizing motives these folks subscribe to. It's simply the cheapest possible way to be be one of the cool kids, and to feel "smart." "

In short, it's a game.

Interesting post, Michael. I can't wait for Robert McLuhan's online encyclopedia of psi to go live and begin to establish itself, so there can be a formidable rival to Wikipedia for information on the subject.

http://monkeywah.typepad.com/paranormalia/2014/09/online-encyclopedia-update.html

Then there's the recent event where Neil Degrasse Tyson perpetuated the "NASA spent billions of dollars developing a space pen, when the Russians solved the problem with a pencil" myth.
http://pjmedia.com/eddriscoll/2014/09/16/degrasse-tyson-space-pen/

Wrong. The AG-7 “Anti-Gravity” Space Pen® was developed independently by Paul C. Fisher of the Fisher Pen Company, at Fisher's own expense. He invented it to overcome the problem of astronauts having to use pencils in space. Pencil leads can break off, and small floating objects in semi-gravity are potentially dangerous. Besides, pencils are flammable in a space capsule environment.
Fisher sold 400 of the pens to NASA for $2.95 each, and made most of his money selling them to the public.
http://www.snopes.com/business/genius/spacepen.asp

Maybe it's time for someone to go back and take a look at Mr. Tyson's astrophysics papers?

Hey Michael,
This was a nice post.

Hey Michael,

I hope it's becoming clear that the militant atheist crowd are a cult. It's clear to me by comparing Facebook and internet gruops.

For instance, on the Human Consciousness Project page, skeptics come and go, and nobody gets butt-hurt or tries to defend idols in the "paranormal" community. I think if somebody like Rupert Sheldrake started manufacturing quotes, a lot of fans would begin to reject him.

Same even on Victor Zammit's life after death group (which has about 7k people now). Sometimes, will make posts challenging the validity of topics like NDEs. And no, arguing and fighting does not ensue. There's no sacred cow to defend.

By comparison, take a look at the "scientific" communities of the the militant scientist crowd. It is absolutely taboo to question people like Tyson, Dawkins, Hawking, and skeptics like P.Z. Myers.

In my own subjective opinion, it seems clear which side is just following the evidence, and which one is pushing an agenda.

Well, the problem with Wikipedia is much more serious than most people think. Rather than saving civilization from a new dark age, Wikipedia is propelling the whole world into an age of misinformation---worse and more insidious and opaque that any previous ‘dark’ age. Decorated and sanctioned with the trappings of modern invention, Wikipedia articles obscure facts with innuendos, falsities, half-truths and outright lies to promote their uneducated biased understanding of the way things are.

An example of particular interest to me is the Wikipedia page for Frederic Myers, arguably one of the most dedicated investigators of the human psychological condition. Information on the Meyers’ page is unbelievably preferentially concerned with titillations concerning Myers’ (unknown) sexuality and his association with Eusapia Palladino. It provides a brief biographical sketch but very little or nothing about his ground-breaking theory about the subliminal or subconscious mind which the article claims “has not been accepted by the scientific community.” It is especially galling that one of the best reference books about Myers’ work, 'Irreducible Mind', an 800-page work by Kelly, Kelly, Greyson, Gauld, Crabtree and Grosso is not allowed for source material because it is considered “fringe” and “pseudoscience” It is no matter that the authors all have advanced degrees in psychology, philosophy, and medicine. Their extensive experience and research are not allowed on Wikipedia in preference over biased information provided by adolescents and mentally-compromised persons with no advanced degrees and no experience in clinical or research psychology. - AOD

(For a comprehensive understanding of the life of Frederic Myers see 'Immortal Longings’ by Trevor Hamilton --- a 359-page exposition of Myers’ life, of course is not allowed as a reference on Wikipedia.)

Michael,

Great post! I used to argue with skeptics online in the early 2000s before I knew "how the Internet works." I thought these people were dedicated to rationality and the evidence, so surely they would respond in a mature, rational way to my arguments. Hahahahaha!

Dogma and a certain part of human nature that (in a significant percentage of people) loves it are the enemy here. These are the people that would happily have been carving Trotsky and others out of photos in Stalin's USSR.

One of the saddest things about them is that they don't know they are turning people off to their own cause by their behavior, which includes extreme peer pressure to hold to every single nuance of the party line.

Perhaps this has something to do with it. It seems atheists--and probably therefore hardcore skeptics--might have a mild form of autism which prevents them from forming coherent ideas on matters of God and parapsychology:

http://silssociology.blogspot.com/2014/08/is-atheism-linked-with-autism.html

"'Immortal Longings’ by Trevor Hamilton --- a 359-page exposition of Myers’ life, of course is not allowed as a reference on Wikipedia.)"

One of my hopes for Robert McLuhan's project is that it will deal extensively with precisely this issue and expose it the general reader--the bias, irrationality, dogmatism, hypocrisy, and effectiveness (as things stand now) of wikipedia's guerilla skeptics.

If there are enough people who are devoted to spirituality-apart-from-religion, and who are fed up with the status quo and willing to get involved with this project, then maybe it truly can gain traction as the premiere, trustworthy source of information on psi, and make wikipedia's treatment of the subject seem like the ravings of some weird fundamentalist cult.

Blogs and forums like Michael's and Alex Tsakiris's, of course, are hugely important. But in our Google-dominated culture, there's something to be said for encyclopedic sites that can consistently make the very top of the search results page when readers are looking for information.

Ingrid,

Yes, it has often struck me that your typical skeptic speaks (or writes: I always encounter them online) and behaves (based on their writing!) like someone with Asperger's Syndrome.

AOD wrote: "Their extensive experience and research are not allowed on Wikipedia in preference over biased information provided by adolescents and mentally-compromised persons with no advanced degrees and no experience in clinical or research psychology."

Adolescents and mentally compromised persons—ouch! (This made me chuckle, which is generally as close as I come to LOLing. And never, ever, have I ROTFLMAOed.)

Bruce,

I agree. I recently wrote to Robert and said, "Read on your blog about your new project. That is really awesome! I just wanted to wish you the best of luck." And he wrote me back and thanked me. Great guy!

"Great guy!"

That he is, Matt. And a fine thinker and writer. Really looking forward to the launch of his project.

"Ultimately, this strange and rather sad behavior is not about science, or reason, or saving civilization from mysticism and a new dark age, or any of the self-aggrandizing motives these folks subscribe to. It's simply the cheapest possible way to be be one of the cool kids, and to feel "smart." "

In short, it's a game.

Posted by: Julie Baxter | September 18, 2014 at 03:06 PM

It's one-upsmanship. That's the title of one of Stephen Potter's classic works--British humor at its best. Here's a reviewer's quote:

"Stephen Potter is exquisitely dry and understated. He sets about on the thankless and nearly impossible task of teaching us perfectly ordinary people how to lord it over our peers. Or betters, for that matter."

http://www.amazon.com/One-Upmanship-Stephen-Potter/dp/014001828X/ref=sr_1_5_title_2_mas?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1411198863&sr=1-5&keywords=stephen+potter

I think Wikipedia should be called Wishfulthinkingpedia.

People who twist and distort facts to fit their worldview really get under my skin.

Here's a link to a follow-on article by the author quoted at the top of this thread:

http://thefederalist.com/2014/09/19/neil-degrasse-tyson-and-the-metaphysical-dilemma-of-the-left/

Off-topic, but have you seen the Killtheafterlife.blogspot.com by Aaron Kinney? This guy thinks that in order to keep people alive, the afterlife must be debunked.

Great post Michael!

Sorry to inundate with so many articles but I found another one to share, primarily because it talks about Ed Warren and Theresa Caputo:

http://www.cracked.com/article_21450_5-successful-people-who-everyone-forgets-are-exposed-frauds.html

After two unpleasant interactions with an editorial bully at Wiki, I now refer to it as WitchHuntPedia.

Lol! Nice one, Steve.

I once heard a researcher on coast to coast am say that the worst epidemic this country has ever faced, worse than herion, meth or crack,
Is the need for "me & my side to be right"
Doesent matter who or which side, just that no matter what, "I'm right, even when I'm wrong)
I think it gos both ways sometimes and in all walks of life. I'm a proponate yet I encounter this on our side as well...

Just saying.

For what its worth, I really don't like Tyson
That guy is something else, he pulled some of the same antics during the Cosmos rerun
(-The Daily Grail did a great report about that)

Marty

I agree. I don't like him either.

Argh!!! I can't stand it! In just looked at the WackiWiki page for Joe Nickell, notorious debunker of all things 'woo'. Give me a break! It comes as no surprise that WackiWiki extolls the virtues of this 'renowned' psychic investigator who has made his living exposing burnt toast, bleeding statues, lake monsters, UFOs, haunted houses, etc. ad nauseum and writing 30 books about the same. WackiWiki guerillas apparently believe that Nickell deserves page after page of information about his greatness. While the same esteemed warriors allow about one page to Frederic Myers, perhaps one of the most important psychologists, psychic investigators and researchers of the last 150 years, right up there with James, Jung, and Freud. There is just no comparison between Myers and the draft-dodging Nickell; they are not even close to being in the same league but you wouldn't know that by reading WackiWiki.

@AOD - great comment.

I hate it whenever someone gives a skeptic evidence for spirits, afterlife, or anything supernatural, the skeptic dismisses it as 'woo woo'. Why did you ask for evidence then? It really annoys me.

Now Wiki is trying to delete its entry on The Federalist, the magazine that exposed Neil Tyson's erroneous quotes.

It would appear there's a bunch of little fascists over there with way too much time on their hands and a desperate desire to kowtow to favored celebs (like Tyson) and in-groups (like all those arts and humanities majors who claim they "f---ing love science"). Any info that runs contrary to their preferred narrative is flushed down the memory hole.

http://thefederalist.com/2014/09/26/wikipedia-is-now-trying-to-eliminate-the-federalists-online-entry/

"Now Wiki is trying to delete its entry on The Federalist, the magazine that exposed Neil Tyson's erroneous quotes."

The Wikipedia page that presents the debate on deletion is fun to read:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/Thefederalist.com

The comments run about 10 to 1 in favor of keeping the Federalist entry, though there's a disclaimer at the top that says "this is NOT a vote." It'll be interesting to see what happens.

Here's more detail on the Tyson story, from Rick Lowry:

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/10/the-cult-of-neil-degrasse-tyson-111540.html#.VC_na66GuBA

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