Mod+ Starbaby, and other cases where skeptics employed questionable tactics [Resources]



I think this is the questionable tactic part:

Even if such studies had yielded significance, it is clear that such outcomes by now would have been scrutinized and dismissed by skeptics and proponents alike because of their experimental flaws and the haphazard conceptualization and execution of these studies.

Meanwhile, Blackmore is extremely vocal in decrying psi research in her writings, on television and radio, and before the skeptical advocacy group CSICOP (the Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal), citing her own work as the basis for her strong convictions.20 Her recent polemical works often seriously misrepresent her original work, with the distorted information being more consistent with her current skeptical world view. The present overview of her database suggests that drawing any conclusions, positive or negative, about the reality of psi that are based on the Blackmore psi experiments must be considered unwarranted.
First she sighted her ten years of experience in 1987, then apparently after Berger's paper she says there's no reason to make any conclusions about Psi based on her work. From Carter's write up:

“I am glad to be able to agree with his final conclusion - ‘that drawing any conclusion, positive or negative, about the reality of psi that are based on the Blackmore psi experiments must be considered unwarranted.’”

If she cited her 20 years in the field in 1996, then half of that time falls under Berger's criticism of shoddy work. The questionable nature of her claim still applies, not to mention casts a shadow of doubt on that later decade.
“I am glad to be able to agree with his final conclusion - ‘that drawing any conclusion, positive or negative, about the reality of psi that are based on the Blackmore psi experiments must be considered unwarranted.’”
Yeah, I tried to find her original article but couldn't find it online.


Mentioned this in the future guest thread:

Hume’s Syndrome: Irrational Resistance to the Paranormal

One of the obstacles to progress in psychical research is irrational resistance to the phenomena. Among eighteenth-century Enlightenment writers, one type of resistance was evident that has persisted until present times. To illustrate, the present paper looks at David Hume’s discussion of miracles in his An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (1748/1955). Hume’s essay actually lays out a good case for some extraordinary events reported about the death of the Jansenist Francois de Paris—phenomena produced by the so-called ‘‘convulsionaries of St. Medard.’’ The contradiction is resolved by Hume himself, who naively reveals what motivates him to deny the overwhelming testimony he reviews: namely, his fear of validating religion.

This paper notes the same pressure to deny ‘‘miracles’’ in another eighteenth-century writer, Edward Gibbon; Gibbon, however, unlike Hume, yields to the pressure of evidence and admits one startling instance of a well-documented preternatural event.

A third figure from the same century is cited, a rationalistic Promotor Fidei of the Catholic Church, Prosper Lambertini, who, ironically, may be cited as having advanced the cause of the scientific investigation of psychic phenomena. The lesson from history is not to be seduced by stereotypes: an empiricist can deny and distort facts; a religious believer can be critical and objective.


Cognitive scientist Armin W. Geertz's comments regarding Dennett's supposedly scientific claims about religion:

"....A recent book by philosopher Daniel C. Dennett, called Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon (New York 2006) is a catastrophe if our goal is to persuade skeptics of the advantages of cognitive approaches to the study of religion - or even just introduce cognition to the curious! Dennett seems to be hellishly bent on turning his readers off. I would say that about 40% ofthe book is an inelegant, polemical attack on religion and religious people. He claims to be using all those pages to persuade intolerant religious people to read his book.

I used to think that philosophers by definition are sophisticated thinkers, gifted in the art of persuasive argument, valiantly exposing hidden assumptions and opaque meanings. But I am wrong.

What Dennett has done is a disservice to the entire neuroscientific community.

If people were skeptical before his book came out, they will be downright hostile ftom now on, and the rest of us in the cognitive science of religion will have to pay the price!

The worst thing about the book is that the cognitive part is poorly done..."
"Have you ever witnessed a prank gone wrong? If not, here you go: This is precisely what happened when a philosopher and mathematician, Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay, respectively, published an intentionally incoherent fake paper titled “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct” in a journal called Cogent Social Sciences.

In an article simultaneously published in the magazine Skeptic, this project was loudly advertised as a “hoax on gender studies.” It primarily aimed to expose what the authors presume to be the nonsensical absurdity of gender studies, an interdisciplinary field that attempts to understand gender identity and how these identities play out in society.

Yet Boghossian and Lindsay’s prank article unambiguously failed to do this and ultimately may have harmed the skeptic community. First, the open-access journal that published their article requests that authors pay to publish. In the case of Cogent Social Sciences, the recommended fee is a whopping $1,350. I have affirmed that Boghossian and Lindsay were, for unknown reasons, asked to pay less than half of this, namely $625, but the journal apparently never got around to actually requesting the money. Boghossian has repeatedly declared on social media that he and his colleague paid “nada” for the article’s publication, which taken out of context is patently misleading."

The quick, almost reflexive reposting of this “hoax” by people like Dave Rubin, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Steven Pinker, Christina Hoff Sommers and Melissa Chen reveals a marked lack of critical thinking about what exactly this exercise in attempted bullying proves.