September 29, 2021

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Pathological Skepticism From a Non-Scientist

Title: The Skeptic’s Dictionary

Creator: Robert Todd Carroll

Writer: John Wiley and Sons

Value: $14.

Robert Todd Carroll is considered one of a rising band of non-scientists (he teaches philosophy) who consider they’re certified to inform us what we must always and should not consider, scientifically. That he has no scientific {qualifications}, or coaching, or skilled expertise, doesn’t deter Carroll from his conviction that he’s an authority on this topic and, in The Skeptic’s Dictionary, he units out to inform us abnormal individuals what we might and will not legitimately suppose.

This bogus-guru stance must be warning sufficient of what’s to comply with however, as soon as he warms to his topic, Carroll’s inhibitions disappear utterly and he veers from the dogmatic to the preposterous in a hilarious show of scientific ignorance and prejudice. From a mountain of errors and misunderstandings, listed below are a couple of of his extra entertaining errors.

Acupuncture Carroll says; “Scientific analysis… has didn’t exhibit that acupuncture is efficient towards any illness.” Aside from the scientific analysis that has demonstrated acupuncture is efficient towards some illnesses and was printed in peer-reviewed scientific journals greater than a decade in the past, akin to Dundee, J.W., 1988, in Journal of the Royal Society of Drugs, Dundee, J.W., 1987, in British Journal of Anaesthesia, 59, p 1322. And Fry, E.N.S., 1986, in Anaesthesia, 41: 661-2. Had Carroll made even the slightest try to look the scientific literature he would have discovered these and plenty of different references to well-conducted double-blind trials through which sufferers skilled measurable advantages as compared with the placebo group.

Cryptozoology The Skeptic’s Dictionary tells us that; “Since cryptozoologists spend most of their power attempting to determine the existence of creatures, slightly than analyzing precise animals, they’re extra akin to PSI researchers than to zoologists. Experience in zoology, nonetheless, is asserted to be a necessity for work in cryptozoology, in accordance with Dr. Bernard Heuvelmans, who coined the time period…” Had he learn Dr Heuvelmans’ ebook, Carroll would have realized that the invention of recent species is regular science and plenty of are found annually. New species quantity a whole bunch amongst bugs, and dozens amongst small mammals and reptiles. Discovery of enormous unknown mammals and reptiles is uncommon however definitely not unknown and even uncommon. In 2002, for instance, revered primatologist Dr Shelly Williams of the distinguished Jane Goodall Institute in Maryland, tracked and got here nose to nose with a beforehand unknown species of nice ape at Bili within the Congo, deep within the African jungle. The creatures stand some 6 toes tall and weigh as much as 225 kilos. Dr Williams reported in New Scientist, “4 all of a sudden got here dashing out of the bush in the direction of me. These guys had been large and so they had been coming in for the kill. As quickly as they noticed my face, they stopped and disappeared.”

Dermo-optical notion Carroll says; “Dermo-optical notion (DOP) is the alleged means to ‘see’ with out utilizing the eyes. DOP is a conjurer’s trick, usually involving elaborate blindfolding rituals, however at all times leaving a pathway (normally down the facet of the nostril), which permits for unobstructed imaginative and prescient.” The scientific view; Dr Yvonne Duplessis was appointed director of a committee to research Dermo-optical sensitivity. Her conclusion is, ‘Managed research point out assist for the speculation of dermo-optical sensitivity and notion.’ Dr Duplessis’s experiments have even led to a attainable completely pure rationalization. In her conclusions, she says, ‘Thus these completely different strategies present that the thermal emotions induced by seen colours are usually not subjective, as it’s typically admitted, and that the infrared radiations, located in a far infrared vary. are appearing on each a part of the physique. This provides us attainable grounds for concluding that additionally throughout abnormal visible notion of coloured surfaces a human eye reacts not solely to rays of the seen spectrum but additionally to infrared radiation emitted by these surfaces.’ Extra merely, Dr Duplessis’s experiments seem to point out that colored surfaces replicate power as warmth in addition to mild and that the attention (like different elements of the human physique) is to some extent delicate to warmth in addition to to mild — a really a lot easier rationalization than Carroll’s baseless innovations.

Extraterrestrials (UFOs, Flying Saucers) Carroll says “Edward U. Condon was the pinnacle of a scientific analysis staff which was contracted to the College of Colorado to look at the UFO problem. His report concluded that ‘nothing has come from the research of UFOs up to now 21 years that has added to scientific data…additional in depth research of UFOs in all probability can’t be justified within the expectation that science might be superior thereby’.” Carroll provides, “To date… nothing has been positively recognized as an alien spacecraft in a means required by frequent sense and science. That’s, there was no recurring equivalent UFO expertise and there’s no bodily proof in assist of both a UFO flyby or touchdown.” Had Carroll troubled to truly learn Condon’s report he would have discovered this conclusion of Dr Condon’s relating to pictures recognized by the report as ‘Case 46’; ‘This is among the few UFO experiences through which all components investigated, geometric, psychological, and bodily look like in line with the assertion that a unprecedented flying object, silvery, metallic, disk-shaped, tens of meters in diameter, and evidently synthetic, flew close by of two witnesses.’ It’s completely true that Edward Condon concluded that ‘additional in depth research of UFOs in all probability can’t be justified’ however the motive he gave is that it isn’t attainable to review fruitfully a phenomenon that happens at random. He and his staff emphatically did NOT conclude that “there isn’t any bodily proof in assist of both a UFO flyby or touchdown” – that’s the conclusion of Carroll alone, and it’s based mostly purely on ignorance of the actual info as said in Dr Condon’s report.

Carl Jung Carroll says; “[Jung’s] notion of synchronicity is that there’s an acausal precept that hyperlinks occasions having an analogous which means by their coincidence in time slightly than sequentially… What proof is there for synchronicity? None.” Carroll rigorously neglects to say that the speculation of synchronicity was proposed not by Jung alone however collectively with Wolfgang Pauli, who was Professor of Theoretical Physics at Princeton, a member of Niels Bohr’s staff that laid the foundations of Quantum Idea and who gained the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1945. There thus exists an affordable chance that the originator of synchronicity principle knew considerably extra about science than Carroll does. Asking ‘what proof is there?’ for an explanatory principle that has been superior particularly to account for beforehand unexplained proof is a query even Homer Simpson would blush to ask.

Occult statistics Carroll says; “Legions of parapsychologists, led by such generals as Charles Tart and Dean Radin, have additionally appealed to statistical anomalies as proof of ESP.” However, “Skeptics are unimpressed with occult statistics that assert improbabilities for what has already occurred.” Carroll’s scientific illiteracy lastly comes out into the open right here. Even his fellow ‘skeptics’ in CSICOP would hesitate to claim that science might solely cite statistics on chance in reference to occasions that haven’t but occurred! Likelihood principle offers with the mathematical calculation of the possibilities of an occasion going down — no matter whether or not the occasion has taken place or not. The chance {that a} tossed coin will land heads is 50-50 or P=0.5. That is as true for a coin that has already been tossed as it’s for one but to be tossed. If somebody had been to toss 100 heads in a row having declared prematurely their intention to make this occur, then the percentages towards such a collection taking place usually are so excessive as to advantage scientific investigation to try to find out a trigger aside from probability. Within the case of the experiments reported by Dean Radin within the revered physics journal Foundations of Physics, the percentages towards the outcomes obtained within the Princeton Engineering Laboratory coming about by probability alone are one in 10 to the facility of 35. For Carroll to disregard improbabilities of this magnitude shouldn’t be being “skeptical” — it’s being in denial.

Distant viewing Carroll says; “The CIA and the U.S. Military thought sufficient of distant viewing to spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ {dollars} on analysis in a program known as ‘Stargate’.” Carroll scorns such trials due to the inaccuracy of some statements made by the themes however, scientifically, the query shouldn’t be how persistently correct is distant viewing, however does it exist in any respect? There may be unequivocal proof that it does. A not too long ago declassified CIA doc particulars a remarkably correct instance, underneath managed situations, of distant viewing of a top-secret Russian base by Pat Value in 1974. Though Value made a variety of incorrect guesses in regards to the goal he was in a position to produce, with startling accuracy, engineering grade drawings of a novel 150-foot excessive gantry crane with six-foot excessive wheels operating into an underground entrance. The existence of this large construction, precisely as described, was later confirmed by satellite tv for pc pictures.

Spontaneous Human Combustion Carroll says; “Whereas nobody has ever witnessed SHC, a number of deaths involving hearth have been attributed to SHC by investigators and storytellers.” The slightest analysis would have revealed to Carroll that many circumstances of attainable SHC had been independently witnessed by dependable individuals. In some circumstances, the victims themselves survived to inform about their experiences. Circumstances embrace London Hearth Brigade Commander John Stacey and his hearth crew who reached the scene of a burning man inside 5 minutes of receiving an emergency name, and the case of Agnes Phillips who burst into flames in a parked automobile in a Sydney suburb in 1998 and was pulled out by a passer-by. Many extra related examples of ignorance and prejudice could possibly be quoted from The Skeptic’s Dictionary, however would serve little function. It’s already abundantly clear that Carroll’s ebook isn’t any dictionary however a non-public agenda, and that he himself isn’t any skeptic however a knee-jerk reactionary to the brand new, the surprising, the ambiguous and the anomalous.

Robert Todd Carroll is an ideal instance of the phenomenon of pseudo-skepticism. Some educational professionals who’re meticulously cautious of truth of their regular skilled life, all of a sudden throw off all reasoned restraint relating to so-called “debunking” of what they contemplate to be new age nonsense and really feel justified in making as many careless and inaccurate statements as they please as a result of they mistakenly think about they’re defending science towards weirdos. The truth is that their irrational response arises from their very own lack of ability to deal scientifically with the brand new and ambivalent, even when (as within the case of dermo-optical notion) there’s in all probability a easy pure rationalization, or when (as within the case of the brand new Congo primate) it’s merely surprising and beforehand unknown to science.

This ebook is a stark warning to each scholar of science, logic and philosophy of what can occur when an in any other case rational particular person goes off on a private campaign motivated by his personal self-deluding prejudices.

Source by Richard Milton