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Michael,
Excellent! You have pretty much summed-up all Skeptics (with a capital ‘S’). Much of what you pointed out about Randi’s debunking skills, or lack of, could be said about Joe Nickell, whom CSICOP/CSI seems to rely on for some of their commentaries. Both of them always seem to pick the ‘low hanging fruit’ which few if any real skeptics or non-skeptics take seriously. I have always thought that reading articles from the likes of Randi and Nickell was a waste of my time as they rarely if ever provide any information worthy of scientific consideration. - AOD

Those old threads are well-worth reading. I had a good old chuckle.

Great critique. What's with owl feather eye-browed, face of Randi, appearing as if in homage to the All Seeing Eye on the cover?

Is it supposed to confer a sense of penetrating knowledge? I call a fail. It impresses me as somehow rather authoritarian as opposed to authoritative - as well as vaguely demented, grumpy and a sad attempt at being at least a little bit scary in a comic book kind of way.

Good point, AOD. Incidentally, Randi's Encyclopedia doesn’t mention Patience Worth (Pearl Curran) either.

Nor does it include near-death experiences, Ian Stevenson (or any past-life memories of children), or deathbed visions.

The entry on "UFO" is only one page long and includes no details whatsoever. No specific cases are cited, and Randi lazily ascribes most UFO sightings to "weather balloons, science projects, meteors, regular airline flights, and other relatively mundane events." (He forgot swamp gas and the planet Venus.) He spends the remainder of the short entry telling how the "Ig Nobel Prize," a satirical award offered by Skeptics, was given to John Mack and David Jacobs for their study of so-called alien abductions.

Though I’m not well versed in UFO phenomena, even I know that the entire subject, whatever the truth of it, cannot be dismissed so breezily. I guess this is more of that "microscopic detail" the promotional blurb promises.

It seems to me Randi simply wrote a book aimed at those who were already skeptical. That would explain the slap dash nature of it. It certainly could not have been considered a serious work as serious works explain proponents view points then refute them. This book clearly never did that.

\\"Nor does it include near-death experiences, Ian Stevenson (or any past-life memories of children), or deathbed visions." - Michael Prescott//
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Thanks for the inclusion of deathbed visions in your list. Art loves him some deathbed vision stories. There is just something about them that rings true to me. I find them endlessly uplifting and comforting. I think I've read maybe 6 or 7 deathbed vision books in the last 19 years? They sound like something that a "God of Love" would allow or do? It's such a kind thing. And how comforting would it be if you knew you were fixing to die if someone you love was there to sort of hold your hand and be your guide on the journey to the next life?

And about that people who have NDEs aren't really dead thing... I also find it comforting that our soul is allowed or able to exit the body before we are good and dead, or really dead. How horrifying would it be if we had to stay in the body till it was very very dead? Like in the grave rotting dead? Or in the morgue with a toe tag stored in a sliding drawer in a cooler?

Isn't it a kindness that at the slightest hint of death that the soul seems to be able to jump out of the body and view the whole thing from above, more like a spectator, and then only later after it's over, if the body is repairable, is either forced or encouraged or allowed to take up residence again in the body?

There is a method to this God's madness. And perhaps everything happens for a reason? Even the really bad stuff? Maybe we are learning something here that couldn't be learned in our forever home? And after we get to this eternal home we are loved so much and hugged and held and comforted so thoroughly that we are healed by just being in the presence of this Light that also seems to be a person and a God and Love all at the same time?

My parents were organizers of an informal parapsychology research group in the1960s. Sort of like a meet up group, except that there were no consumer-level computers in those days.

At one point they hosted a talk by Uri Geller, and had a chance to hang out with him a little bit. Dad told me not long afterwards that he and several of the other people in the group (all family friends) personally blindfolded Mr. Geller, satisfying themselves that there was no way he could see out. Uri then got behind the wheel of one of their cars, and drove them around town. If you knew my father, you'd know he would never make something like that up.

Years later, as I was getting a BA degree in Interdisciplinary Social Science, I had a professor who kept saying this and that thing had been debunked. I knew better, but still, his pronouncements were beginning to mess with my head, reminding me of the title of an old comedy album by Firesign Theatre, "Everything you know is wrong..." When he got around to proclaiming that Uri Geller had been debunked, that's when I decided that the professor really didn't know what he was talking about.

Full disclosure of the trivial kind: I think the story I posted above actually happened in the 1970s. My parent's parapsychology group started in the mid '60s, but lasted through the beginning of the 80s.

After looking up his biography on the Psi-Encyclopedia, I now know that Uri Geller didn't hit the world stage until the beginning of the '70s.

So, I guess everything I know is wrong, after all... :-)

Art, you might be interested to learn that I recently learned that a relative of mine before he passed said "I see my father."

As for the soul quickly leaving the body, when I had what I believe was an NDE, I'm still to this day am amazed at how quick and painless the "process" was. One minute I'm fine, and the next I slip, fall, and slam my head on the hood of a car, knocking myself out. I know I hit that car with tremendous force as my poor face was bruised for about a month and I had that weird humming feeling that people get from concussions for a long time. But there was only like a tenth of a second, if at all, of actual pain, and then I seemed to instantly be somewhere else. Strange.

"Art, you might be interested to learn that I recently learned that a relative of mine before he passed said "I see my father." - Kathleen
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Kathleen I LOVE your post. It made me smile. Literally. Thank you so much for sharing. I have read so many NDEs where they say things like "it was as easy as walking through a door" and "it felt so good not to hurt anymore". We leave our body behind with all it's limitations.

And God is good for not forcing us to stay in our bodies till it is rotting or in the grave! What a kindness! At the first hint that we might be dead the soul leaves the body. People get in wrecks and find themselves floating up above the car, even sometimes way up in the air where they can survey the whole wreck scene. My wife's Uncle died after hitting black ice. He flew into an oak tree in his Jeep Cherokee. I wonder what he saw and did he find himself just floating looking down while trying to figure out what just happened?

My wife's sister had a dream about their father a couple of days after he died. In her dream she was in his hospital room and she looked down and said to him "Daddy you're still alive! We need to call the nurse and tell her you're alive." At that moment she looked towards the door and saw her father and another person walking through the doorway into the brightly lit hallway.

I wonder who the other person with her father was? I'm thinking his father since he was very fond of his father? Our preacher thinks it was Jesus. Anyway my wife's sister is very religious and normally wouldn't be into dreams and visions and stuff as that. A lot of fundamental Christians are suspicious of such things as NDEs and deathbed visions and dreams. But for some reason my wife's sister was the one that had that dream and told us about it.

Art,and what about people on their death beds stating that they need "to pack" or that they're going on a trip? There seem to be many anecdotes about that.

From my own experience and what others have said, I suspect that passing over is swift and easy. It's the lead up to it that's not - the cancer, the heart disease, etc. Jane Roberts' Seth also stated that the spirit/soul leaves the body almost immediately.

When I first started engaging with Skeptics online in the early 2000s, I at least expected a sort of adherence to rules of sort: consistency, single standards (as opposed to double), a willingness to see the other person's points and respond directly to them... etc. After all, these were the self-styled rational ones. Yet the truth, as you point out, is that they tend to be incredibly sloppy and unaware that they are likely to look pretty bad to anyone not already drinking their Kool-Aid. Michael, you have provided another fine example of the phenomenon. Sloppy stuff!

"Art,and what about people on their death beds stating that they need "to pack" or that they're going on a trip? There seem to be many anecdotes about that." - Kathleen

The title to David Kessler's book is "Visions, Trips, and Crowded Rooms." One of my favorite books... if not my most favorite book! I've read it through twice, maybe I should read it again.

I like Colm Keane's book, "Going Home, Irish deathbed vision stories." And of course "Final Gifts" by Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelly, The Art of Dying by Peter Fenwick, At the Hour of Death by Karl Osis and Erlendur Haraldsson, One Last Hug Before I God by Carla Wills-Brandon, etc. etc. etc. I've probably read and got a few more death bed vision books in my little "life after death" library but I can't remember them right off the top of my head. Good stuff!

Good stuff here Prescott! James Randi deserves all the pushback he receives! Well done. And I did see a mention of Susan Blackmore and of course Randi would refer to her to marshal his opinions. Her skeptical objections to NDE's have never stood up to scrutiny. The irony is that Blackmore still believes in her "Tremes – the third replicator" woo stuff! I know that is another subject and I've drifted here, but Randi and Blackmore brought back some memories for me regarding consciousness and guerrilla skepticism.

Tony D

The reason the Great Randi misses out Eileen Garrett and the Captain Hinchcliffe and R101 episode is because its not so easy to blow it away after this involved people from the Air ministry at the time of the disaster and the sittings brought highly technical jargon through the Medium which people from the services could understand but not the medium , so sceptic's leave this one alone.

“I at least expected a sort of adherence to rules of sort: consistency, single standards (as opposed to double), a willingness to see the other person's points and respond directly to them... etc. After all, these were the self-styled rational ones. Yet the truth, as you point out, is that they tend to be incredibly sloppy and unaware that they are likely to look pretty bad to anyone not already drinking their Kool-Aid.”

I stopped wasting my time visiting and commenting on skeptic bloggers a while ago.
In 2014 (where did the time go? ), I’ve visited quite a few bloggers, like PZ Myers, freethoughts, Jerry Coyne, Brian Hines, ect, expecting open mindedness, but they seem to dismiss as ‘metaphysical woo peddling’ the second you support paranormal, or question materialism and humanism.
Especially sites like Web results[ weird things ] | science, tech, and other ...https://worldofweirdthings.com

I think I’ve commented on a site similar to Worldofweirdthings.
And the response I’ve received, when I’ve so much as mentioned the possibility of consciousness not depending on the brain, was that I was just a naive, uneducated believer clinging to superstition, fantasy, pseudoscience, and New Age mystic woo, not “hard and real science”.
I don’t call that open mindedness.

Yes, I’m aware that nobody is immune to attacking things that go against their beliefs. We all do it from time to time.
But so-called “skeptics” act like they are immune to it all, and only mind beyond brain proponents behave that way.

“And about that people who have NDEs aren't really dead thing... I also find it comforting that our soul is allowed or able to exit the body before we are good and dead, or really dead. How horrifying would it be if we had to stay in the body till it was very very dead? Like in the grave rotting dead? Or in the morgue with a toe tag stored in a sliding drawer in a cooler?”


I too find it comforting, Art.
Besides, I would want my death to be quick. I am terrified of suffering a long, painful, agonizing, and drawn out death.

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