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I tend to use 'pseudoskeptics' but 'debunkers is good. I think 'Skeptics' gives them too much capital. ;^)

Something of a non sequitur: I am reminded of my late uncle Arthur who, along with aunt Edith, used to visit my parents home every Friday night when I was a small child, as did one or two other relatives. Unbeknown to me, they used to hold a seance after I'd gone to bed.

When I was older my mother told me about these sessions and related many convincing messages purportedly given by friends and relatives 'on the other side'. She would laugh as she recalled how the messages always came through Arthur, who would promptly fall into a trance/sleep as the seance got underway. When he awoke he knew nothing of what had transpired and was the only one among the group who didn't believe in spiritual mediumship!

PS: Capitalization effectively counters scoftics' hijacking of the word "skeptic." It puts such scoffers back in a category distict from uncapitalized skepticism, where they belong.


To me, a foundation block of science is that it deals in probabilities, or seeming likelihoods, not certainties. Good science is the ardent empirical pursuit of educated guesses. Moreover, history shows us that the most seemingly rock solid scientific models eventually end up being modified or refined. Thus, virtually a priori, anyone who has a high-on-the-horse arrogant attitude about a scientific subject (ex: Skeptics) is not someone who understands how science works; and is, thus, not a very good scientist. Because of this attitude, Skeptics are not those to put high on the list of observers to listen closely to. This reminds me of an electrician diagnosing with utter, cocksure certainty, over the phone, a wiring problem you have in your home, based on your description of the symptoms. I would never, ever, hire that electrician!

A descriptive term prior to the use of the word "skeptic" works for me. Dogmatic skeptic, militant Atheist skeptic, religious skeptic, etc. When referring to someone with a balanced critical approach, pragmatic skeptic says it all.

Ultimately, the title given to an authority is less important than the substance of what they have to say and the willingness of their audience to parse the content.

I don't see what's wrong with using a good old fashioned word like 'moron'.

A description I haven't seen mentioned: denier of psychic phenomena. Or to put it briefly: Psi denier. I think that's an accurate term for those people.

I'm against the current fashion of using the word "denier" to describe anyone whose views are out of the mainstream. To me, it comes across as derogatory and inflammatory. I think this term should be restricted to its original target, Holocaust deniers.

When dealing with virtually any other subject, it's unreasonable to imply that dissent is off limits. This is especially true when confronting something as slippery as psi or life after death, both of which still lack absolutely conclusive evidence or a clear-cut theoretical framework. (The evidence for both is much better than skeptics - or Skeptics - admit, but not conclusive.)

And to the vast majority of people, (other than those who frequent blogs like this one, or the others that highlight skeptic vs believer acrimony) the distinction that the capitilization offers won't be noticed.

I actually agree with both Carl, and Michael with regard to the word denier to better (or for worse)capture the spirit of this type of skepticism.

I do think "denier" is actually the perfect word in the sense that this seems to be exactly what they do - just close their eyes, stomp their feet, wring their hands and deny the possibility that psychic phenomena of any type or stripe is possible.

On the other hand....denier does carry some loaded negative implications as well, and for me, quickly connects to those who would deny the horrors of the Holocaust, which I think would simply further amplify the acrimony in this already intensely emotionalized area of argument.

To call the psi skeptics "morons" (like someone did above) or other insulting names, is to really do a dis-service to the whole debate.

Whenever I listen to a Sam Harris, or a Michael Schermer, or any number of the very high profile, mainstream, more scientifically literate materialists debate the counterparts on "our" side of the street, it's clear the better arguments, and the "scoring" is largely done by them.

(the NDE "debate" between Alexander/Moody and the neuroscientists was embarrassingly bad and unfortunately, also far more reflective of the norm, rather than the exception)

When you read Harris's lengthy (albeit often nasty) response to Dr. Eben Alexanders "proof" that his experience ought be taken at face value, it's tough to walk away with the idea that he is arguing from a position of idiocy, or intellectual weakness.

He may be wrong, and I suspect he is, but not for the personally perjorative reasons many of us who hope he, and the many like him - will claim in threads like these.


It's interesting, I was listening to an interview with Steven Braude a few days ago, one of the very few "widely" read philosophers who has taken an active interest in physical mediumship (or any mediumship for that matter :-) and his conclusions, even in 2015, after years of study, are no where near conclusive.

I found it telling that he was equally as critical of those who "deny" the vast amount of evidence for psi and related phenomena, as he is of those who think the little that we do know, is PROOF for an afterlife.

It may make the idea of an afterlife a little bit less hazy or crazy from a scientific standpoint, but it certainly doesn't offer up any definitive answers, and I'm not sure it ever will.

(near death experiences certainly can't do that as there is far too much about consciousness we don't yet know - and probably won't know for many years - that could totally transform what we know about the mind/brain/consciousness connection in exciting ways, but in the end, offer up answers that squelch the much more exotic idea that "we" somehow continue, without the benefit of bodies (and brains) hereafter.


"To call the psi skeptics "morons" (like someone did above) or other insulting names, is to really do a dis-service to the whole debate."

Quite right. How about 'philistine'? :)

I believe that originally, to be a sceptic, was to not simply accept the prevailing beliefs of one's culture but to question them to see if these beliefs stand up to scrutiny. Crucially no particular stance was taken. The prevailing beliefs may or may not be true, but the sceptic avoided simply assuming that they are true, and indeed avoided simply assuming they are false.

Skepticism, in the modern sense of the word (I'll spell it with a "k" rather than a "c"), has as an implicit supposition that modern science has successfully broadly painted a picture of what reality is like. Lots of the details need to be filled in for sure, but in its broad outline it is essentially correct. There are certain phenomena which do not fit into this picture of reality eg apparitions, telepathy, the notion of an afterlife etc. Hence when people claim to experience such things the supposition of the skeptic would be to assume that explanations consistent with their beliefs are sufficient to explain the phenomenon concerned. In order to accept the phenomenon at face value the evidence would need to be "extraordinary".

So in a nutshell a skeptic assumes prevailing beliefs held by the intelligentsia are correct and thus, consequently, has a propensity to dismiss alleged phenomena inconsistent with such prevailing beliefs out of hand. This is in many ways quite the opposite of the original meaning of the word sceptic.

I think I prefer debunker to "Skeptic".

irh wrote:

"And to the vast majority of people, (other than those who frequent blogs like this one, or the others that highlight skeptic vs believer acrimony) the distinction that the capitilization offers won't be noticed."

But, if only the audience that is familiar with the debate notices the distinction, that is still no minor accomplishment.

And outsiders to the debate will notice the distinction too, because repeated use of capital-S "Skeptics" will constitute a series of little nudges that will make an impression, even if unconscious.

Many on our side rightly bridle at honoring "scoftics" with the honorable term "skeptic," but also shrink from wearing a chip on their shoulder by using a contumacious term. Even using sneer quotes around "skeptic" is too aggressive in non-confrontational comments and essays.

Capitalization is the middle way. It avoids both undesirable paths. Even if many others don't get what we're getting at, it will give us inner peace, and the pleasure of "signaling."

Great blog topic Michael. I have employed pretty much each of the terms mentioned above over the years. None of them satisfy my desire for clarity and value in my communications. So I developed the term "Social Skeptic" - as abbreviated by the moniker SSkeptic - both to intent the 'Capital S' Skeptic connotation, and as well to signify the nature of their method of promotion; ie. their employing social structures to target, obfuscate and vilify subjects and persons.

The word debunker is not comprehensive enough however to elucidate in the mind of a philosophically uninitiated population that, a pseudo scientific agenda of promotion is also underway. A practice above and beyond simply agendas of baseless dismissal. SSkeptics promote a very detailed and specific religion. The religion is not optional, and we need to inform people about this aspect of its promotion.

It is difficult to avert playing in the domain of pejorative disposition when one cites a person's history as manifestly pretentious, pseudo scientific and agenda driven. So we might as well be specific, informative and encompassing in such disposition terminology. Hence my use of the appropriately charged form "SSkeptic" - something which will elicit in the mind of a scientist, those all-to-familiar feelings of being monitored, and the apprehension to speak one's mind in certain circles.

And remember, as a skeptic, it is ethical to maintain a neutral Pyyrhonian Epoche' around pluralistic topics (even if it pains one to do so); but nowhere in such ethics are we required to maintain an neutral disposition towards persons.

Nice post, RD!

I have to agree with irh, however: "And to the vast majority of people, (other than those who frequent blogs like this one, or the others that highlight skeptic vs believer acrimony) the distinction that the capitilization offers won't be noticed."

I think the term "dogmatic" is what works best. Thus, dogmatic skeptics, dogmatic atheists, etc. They feign openness to new data but in fact can't allow themselves to accept new data.

"That word, I suggest, is "Skeptics"--i.e., "skeptics" capitalized. It is polite, but everyone will intuitively grasp its subtext: that they are capital-S skeptics. IOW, that they are overdoing it."

I like this, Roger! You're right that it's hard to find the appropriate term for people who behave in this manner, and you may have hit on a good solution. It just feels natural, if you're speaking (as opposed to writing), to say: that guy is a skeptic with a capital S.

I may have used your idea in the past, though I'm not sure. I'll definitely consider using it more in the future.

Why invent a new word for a phenomenon that runs through every aspect of life? People turn away from the truth if it frightens them. It's a natural defense mechanism and a rather common one to boot. We all do it at times and the word we use is 'ostrich' because it presents the perfect analogy. So why invent a separate description for people who are, at heart, simply frightened by psychic phenomena and the underlying implications presented by such phenomena?

A rose by any other name . . . . .

Ps. And when people are frightened they often become unreasonably aggressive. I doubt that redefining a common aspect of human nature will effect any significant change. Or am I missing something in the permutation?

In the days before hypnotism was properly established as a genuine phenomenon student doctors were known to look aghast and all but run from the ward where a patient was being treated, successfully, by hypnotism. Moreover, when the British Medical Association was presented with a patient having a leg amputation under hypnosis and minus anesthetic they concluded that the patient simply pretended not to feel any pain. So, what's new? :)

Perhaps it should be pointed out that the dictionary lists 'Skeptic' (with a capital S) and defines it as "An adherent of a philosophical school of skepticism."

I think that most readers will miss any cliquish intent behind Skeptic or S-Skeptic or will understand it under the dictionary definition. What about 'scoffer' as someone who---according to the dictionary---mockingly expresses derision or scorn?-AOD

Matt Rouge wrote, "Nice post, RD!"
I trust "RK" was intended!
-------

The Ethical Skeptic wrote, "It is difficult to avert playing in the domain of pejorative disposition when one cites a person's history as manifestly pretentious, pseudo scientific and agenda driven."

I did not intend to rule out stronger terms when one is "engaged" with the enemy. Indeed, I invented a clever (IMO) neologism for that purpose: "scoftic." It captures, in a cool, understated way (i.e., an effective way) the essence of their deception: prejudiced scoffing dressed up as disinterested skeptical inquiry. (Per CSICOP apostate Marcello Truzzi (sp?).)
--------

I wish someone with experience in obtaining "permissions" would set out to compile and publish (at least as a Kindle book) a collection of strong, exasperated critiques of scofticism like that of MP above. (There's a Japanese blogger who has the largest collection of links I've ever seen (but I've forgotten who he is).) Such a collection would be a real page-turner.

PS: I just noticed that "RD" probably referred to "rabbitdawg." I should have double-checked.

Roger Knights insightfully opined: "I wish someone ...would set out to compile and publish a collection of strong, exasperated critiques of scofticism like that of MP above. (There's a Japanese blogger who has the largest collection of links I've ever seen (but I've forgotten who he is).) Such a collection would be a real page-turner.

I have begun a blog entitled The Ethical Skeptic (one who adheres to actual deontological scientific skepticism)... respectfully submitted, provided Michael tenders permission of course, for your perusal:

www.theethicalskeptic.com

Still a long way to go, but we are beginning to coalesce into a respectful and smart community of scientists and engineers, STEM professionals who oppose this fake and agenda driven form of skepticism.

Ethical Skeptic:

I think you have produced an outstanding blog site. I haven't read everything yet but I look forward to spending some time reading all of your articles. I have not been able to identify who you are from your blog but I know that sometimes it is important to remain anonymous---too bad!

What you are saying is very important, I think, and applicable to not just the paranormal skeptics but to many fields of study including medicine for which you gave a couple examples. (A current example might be Dr. Andrew Wakefield's study of enterocolitis related to measles vaccines in autistic children. This is an example of a highly educated and experienced medical doctor whose professional and personal life were trashed by a agenda-driven non-scientist journalist, not worthy of mention.)

At some point you might decide to take the criticism or credit for your views on the world stage. What you have to say is that good! -AOD

Ethical Skeptic,

What a wonderful endeavor you have embarked on and what a great website you have created. I have bookmarked it and am looking forward to reading all you have posted when I have some free time.

Thank you!

Thanks Amos, you are very kind. I still have a lot to learn and a long way to go with the blog. Until I get some next key business/humanitarian accomplishments underway, I want to keep the site focused less on me, and more on the philosophy of Ethical Skepticism. How it contrasts with Methodical Cynicism and push-agenda SSkepticism.

For a variety of reasons, the ongoing cultivation of ignorance is the chief challenge and cause of suffering on this planet. SSkeptics are not wrong on everything of course, and I concur with them on many conclusions. It is the errant method by which they arrive at those conclusions, which concerns me. 2+2 is definitely equal to 4. But if 2+2=4 is concluded at the wrong end of a social intimidation, tyranny and defamation gun; then the issue is not the correctness of this answer. The issue is what will this flawed methodology be used for, on other matters which are less crystal clear than 2+2=4?

That will be our goals for the short term, as my travel schedule affords focus. Educating people to the degree we can reach them. :-)

Hey thanks no one!

Michael has graciously allowed me to hijack the comments here for short bit, so my traffic at The Ethical Skeptic jumped a notch. 8-) Thanks!

But I shall hand Michael back his comment thread, and mention that I use Michael's blog as a recitation reference in several places at The Ethical Skeptic.

Good stuff!

Eternal Skeptic wrote:
There's a Japanese blogger who has the largest collection of links I've ever seen, but I've forgotten who he is.

Eternal,
I believe you're referring to Jime Sayaka and his wonderful blog Subversive Thinking. Unfortunately, It has completely disappeared from the internet. In his latter posts, he drifted deeply into Christian apologetics, then all of his hard work vanished without warning. Maybe I missed a final blog post of explanation, but right now all I know is that he just 'fell off the map'.

Which leads me to ask, if anyone knows what happened, and if Jime is okay, I (and his other fans) would greatly appreciate it if you would let us know.

In the meantime, I will be checking out your blog. At first glance, it looks great, and I look forward to exploring it.

Good news! There is a proof of the afterlife...
for Jime's blog.

You can view it still here: http://web.archive.org/web/20140213133949/http://subversivethinking.blogspot.com/">http://subversivethinking.blogspot.com/">http://web.archive.org/web/20140213133949/http://subversivethinking.blogspot.com/

Off-topic, but related: closed-minded scientistic pseudoskeptics in academia appear to be winning in the culture wars, as evidenced by the fact that well known consciousness researcher Mario Beauregard has essentially been rejected for tenure because of espousing non-materialist ideas in his research and writings. He apparently felt he had to leave the University of Montreal due to prejudice against his non-materialist ideas. He felt his future at the University was bleak after encountering a lot of hostility and being passed over for tenure. He was an associate professor for a long time (15 years), and also is well-published and doing good research.

http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threads/mario-beauregard-rejected-for-tenure-for-not-being-a-materialist.2094/

Ray said:
"Good news! There is a proof of the afterlife...
for Jime's blog."

Can you prove that it didn't just *seem* to be dead?

@Ray:
I clicked on that link and got this response from the Wayback Machine:
"Hrm.

"Wayback Machine doesn't have that page archived."

Earlier, I had gone to:

WayBack Machine: http://archive.org/web/web.php
and plugged in:
http://subversivethinking.blogspot.com/
Then I clicked on the latest date shown for that blog, namely July 14, 2014, resulting in this page:

http://web.archive.org/web/20140714231913/http://subversivethinking.blogspot.com/">http://subversivethinking.blogspot.com/">http://web.archive.org/web/20140714231913/http://subversivethinking.blogspot.com/

Which showed this message:
"Sorry, the blog at subversivethinking.blogspot.com has been removed. This address is not available for new blogs."

However, this address, from June 3, 2014, has the anti-Skeptic links in the sidebar:
http://web.archive.org/web/20140603133437/http://subversivethinking.blogspot.com/">http://subversivethinking.blogspot.com/">http://web.archive.org/web/20140603133437/http://subversivethinking.blogspot.com/
(I just linked to it from Word and it works.)

PS: I just clicked on my link above and it didn't work--I got a message like the one I got from clicking on Ray's link. I went back and tried Ray's from within Word, but it didn't work still. I tried mine again from within Word, and it worked again.
Huh?

For some reason it's not working. Anyway you can go this thread at find the link to Subversive Thinking
http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threads/anyone-know-what-happened-to-the-subversive-thinking-blog.1085/

rabbitdawg wrote:
"Which leads me to ask, if anyone knows what happened, and if Jime is okay, I (and his other fans) would greatly appreciate it if you would let us know."

Here's his email:
jime20000@gmail.com

Perhaps the problem we're having with links to Jime's Wayback site is that Typepad isn't handling naked links properly. I ran into that problem at another site (non-Typepad) recently.
--------

Upthread I wrote, "I wish someone with experience in obtaining "permissions" would set out to compile and publish (at least as a Kindle book) a collection of strong, exasperated critiques of scofticism like that of MP above."

In case anyone here is thinking of doing so, I have the perfect title, "No Fool Like a Wise Fool."

Roger Knights replied:
"Here's his email:
jime20000@gmail.com"

Thanks Roger, I'll try that. If I discover any useful information, I'll put it out here.

I found a note online from Jime saying (paraphrased) "for several personal reasons, I took down my blog."

I saw Jime's note at the following link (scroll down a bit once you get to the page):

http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threads/anyone-know-what-happened-to-the-subversive-thinking-blog.1085/

On 28 July 2014 I received a personal note from Jime:

Hi Rudolf,

For several, personal reasons, I took down my blog.

Best regards,
Jime

What's in a name anyway ? And then I ask myself, what's in it for the Skeptics ? It's not like scepticism pays well or gains much in the way of notoriety amongst ones peers. I believe that, like myself many sceptics were once wannabe believers who did the research,met and conversed with proponents, attended Spiritualist services to witness farcical, delusional attempts by so called mediums to provide even a modicum of evidence, even spent my hard earned on personal readings with highly recommended mediums, only to receive a load of nonsense that could apply to anyone that walked in off the street ! Like myself, these sceptics would likely have weighed up all the accumulated evidence, or lack thereof, and concluded that the subject of Afterlife Survival is probably a load of old cobblers. But for some of us, the search for true evidence continues .

"It's not like scepticism pays well or gains much in the way of notoriety amongst ones peers."

James Randi has done pretty well with it. It's doubtful that he would be the star figure at an annual Las Vegas convention (https://www.amazingmeeting.com/ ), or admired by high-profile science celebs like Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins, if he had limited himself to being a professional escape artist.

And he's not the only one: Michael Shermer, Joe Nickel, Susan Blackmore, Martin Gardner, and others have greatly enhanced their public visibility through media skepticism. Would Shermer have a regular column in Scientific American if he were writing on any other topic?

In their own corner of the universe, Randi and Shermer are rock stars. Plus, they have the ego-boost of believing that they are fighting evil and saving the world from a new dark age.

" ... even spent my hard earned on personal readings with highly recommended mediums, only to receive a load of nonsense that could apply to anyone that walked in off the street !"

Which mediums did you consult with? Just curious.

Snorkler,
Have you had a chance to look at the YouTube videos of Christopher Stillar? https://www.youtube.com/user/Greyowl7904

I think they are pretty impressive. - AOD

"I believe that, like myself many sceptics were once wannabe believers..."

I think the most suitable is the opposite: start as skeptical (seems clear that the most sensible is skepticism as default position) and become a believer under the personal experiences or the literature has been read. This way prevents that the casuistry is rejected rapidly because in times past one was a naive gullible.

I live in Victoria Australia, Michael. The mediums I engaged were recommended by many patrons of the two Spiritualist churches I attended over a period of some two months.
I'd reckon that outside of the IMO, relatively small Paranormal interest groups, those 'celebrity' sceptics you list are virtual unknowns and their income's are not solely dependent on their reputation as sceptics.

Amos, living out in the Boonies, on a 3gigPMonth internet allowance, permits me only brief and limited access to YouTube, but thanks anyway, I have noted your link, and next time I visit the 'big smoke' i will remember to check it out at a public library . Cheers.

Juan, Quite a number of those that I conversed with at my afore mentioned Spiritualist church meetings say that they didn't give a toss about the possibility of afterlife survival until confronted with a tragic loss of a loved one, and the emotional need to know that they are now 'in a better place'. That is also how I became interested in the subject. So I personally believe that most of us have an innate desire for 'survival' to be a reality, and therefore are or at least were "wannabe believers" first, and when in some cases, the evidence doesn't stack up, we become very sceptical. The charlatans and the over the top crusaders that run websites such as Victor Zammitt, Roberta Grimes etc etc do not really help their cause either IMO Anyway, I'm not going to be another 'Forest' to continually post negative opinions. I've stated my personal experiences and will leave it at that until such time as I may receive some sort of personal survival evidence.

Many Skeptics are reacting against religiosity imposed on them in their youth, according to an article about Pliladelphia area Skeptics I just read. And other anecdotal accounts I've read about.

(See how helpful it is to capitalize Skeptics in a non-combative passage, in order to distinguish them as Movement Skeptics.)

Was just reading things online and found this. It strikes me as something skeptics would try to use to explain away NDEs, whilst ignoring veridical aspects of many of them. thoughts?

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150406152822.htm

"So I personally believe that most of us have an innate desire for 'survival' to be a reality, and therefore are or at least were "wannabe believers" first, and when in some cases, the evidence doesn't stack up, we become very sceptical."

You do not confuse desires and beliefs. Bbesides that is not my case. I started being skeptical about psi and afterlife and before by read some serious literature I convinced myself that there are probably psi and a personal afterlife. And I still believe it is better to start from skepticism and come to some beliefs, because we can thus avoid both excessive credulity as incredulous cynicism.

"Quite a number of those that I conversed with at my afore mentioned Spiritualist church meetings say that they didn't give a toss about the possibility of afterlife survival until confronted with a tragic loss of a loved one, and the emotional need to know that they are now 'in a better place'. That is also how I became interested in the subject. So I personally believe that most of us have an innate desire for 'survival' to be a reality, and therefore are or at least were "wannabe believers" first, and when in some cases, the evidence doesn't stack up, we become very sceptical."

I'm sure this is true in many cases. It doesn't match up with my own experience, however. In my case, I became interested in the paranormal because of some interesting personal experiences that I was hard pressed to explain. Nothing really dramatic, just things that shook me up a little.

It took me quite a while to go from ESP and related subjects to life after death. I was extremely doubtful of the idea of an afterlife; it just seemed incomprehensible to me. Where would it be located? How could any part of you survive if the nervous system had been destroyed? But I did look into it and found that some of the evidence was pretty persuasive.

Even then, I was reluctant to accept the idea of an afterlife for several years. Basically, I did not want to be fooled. And I think the desire not to be fooled is very strong in most people – arguably just as strong as the desire for immortality. Looking like a gullible fool is very embarrassing and hard on one's self-esteem, and people will go to great lengths to avoid it.

Eventually I decided to stop hedging and just go with the idea that life after death, which I now understood in non-materialistic terms, was much more likely than extinction. But it was a long drawn-out process.

I'd also say that, in my case, "wanting to believe" is not necessarily the biggest factor. As I've written elsewhere, the idea of life after death appeals to me in some respects, but in other respects it seems scary and troubling. There are times when I think personal extinction would be preferable to entering some other dimension with unknown rules and unforeseeable challenges. Some of the more disturbing afterlife-related literature, such as "hellish" near-death experiences, scary out-of-body experiences, and frightening psychedelic trips, also gives me pause.

Then there's the whole question of reincarnation. The idea of reincarnation did not appeal to me at all, and I resisted it even after I had largely accepted the idea of life after death. These days, I do believe in some form of reincarnation, though I'm not sure exactly how it works or what part of us is reincarnated. But I certainly didn't want to believe it, and I probably still don't.

I'd also say that seeking out mediums while yearning for definitive proof of the survival of a loved one (though undoubtedly a common approach) is probably not the ideal way to go about it. It's really better to wait until the feelings of grief and loss have subsided and you are in a more centered, objective place. Admittedly, this is easier said than done.

Finally, there are no Spiritualist churches near me, so I have no direct experience with them, but my impression is that the quality of their mediums varies widely. I would not be surprised if many or even most of the mediums associated with such churches are either fraudulent or simply delusional. The author of The Psychic Mafia was a medium at a Spiritualist church for quite a while, and he was an outright charlatan who later confessed in a tell-all book.

I've had readings with four mediums, with mixed results; the most satisfactory by far was a telephone reading with Georgia O'Connor. She told me things that certainly would not apply to just anybody off the street and that I don't think she could have learned by doing online research about me. Since good mediums are so rare, it is often better to seek out people who have been competently tested by parapsychologists, even if this requires talking to them by telephone.

For me, the best evidence for mediumship, in terms of documented cases, is found in the case histories of Gladys Osborne Leonard, Leonora Piper, and Eileen Garrett, and in the so-called "cross correspondences." All of this material goes back decades or even a century or more, and some people may be inclined to dismiss it because it's not new. But I don't think the age of the documents should matter too much. What matters is that they can still be examined and evaluated today. I find the Bobbie Newlove case, the R-101 case, Drayton Thomas's work with Gladys Osborne Leonard, and similar cases highly compelling, although of course some kind of super-ESP can always be invoked as a last resort against an afterlife.

It's always good to get a different perspective, though. With any blog, there's a constant danger of groupthink, and it's helpful to have courteous critics like Snorkler to keep us honest.

I've also had 2 highly evidential readings with Georgia. I've had a few dazzle shots but the most impressive was an illness that my deceased grandmother mentioned that was troubling her about my mother. It was very specific and I didn't know about it and had to ask my mother after the reading and she confirmed she just had to go to the doctor for it. My mom is not on any social media and you cannot access medical data in U.S. Without written consent. Full names were given as well and my appointment was registered under an assumed name, made up email and credit card was paid for by a friends card so she could not trace. There were some misses but overall very accurate. I've read tons of books on this stuff but these experiences almost shook me to my core but then I woke up with the morning after skepticism and I'm back to having doubt.

I took the same precautions as Ray and had an equally impressive session with Georgia O'Conner.

My wife, who attended the sitting was so impressed that she switched from being a skeptic to a believer right then and there.

We do have spiritualist churches in our area and subsequent to our sitting with Georgia we checked them out. All readings at those churches were at best of the cold reading type and mostly just inaccurate guess work. My impression was that the spiritualists were just playing at being mediums as it is part of their dogma. Georgia, on the other, is the real deal.

I think real deals are relatively rare and you're far more likely to encounter some kind of phony medium - whether it be at a spiritualist church or in the phone book.

@Ray: Skepticism based on evidence of something you thought about or discovered? What led you to doubt it? Sounds pretty amazing to me if what you say is true.

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