Walkout at Susan Blackmoore lecture protesting anti-religious theme.

#1
It is hard to understand how someone can humiliate her audience and then wonder why they walk out and act as if she is the victim.

https://richarddawkins.net/2014/08/a-hundred-walked-out-of-my-lecture/
Three obediently began reciting from the Bible but the fourth threw both arms in the air and declared ‘There’s a big old man in the sky’ and raised a huge laugh and cheer from (some of) the audience. This seemed an opportunity not to be missed so I asked the whole audience, at the word ‘go’, to imitate either of these two new memes, whereupon a great cry burst out of, ‘In the beg…’, ‘There’s an old man …’. Great, I said, we’ve now got two memes, you have just seen meme creation and selection at work.
...
Then I arrived at religion. I pointed out that religions demand lots of resources (I showed them pictures of a church, a Hindu temple, a Jewish menorah and Muslim pilgrims on Hajj); they pose threats to health (I showed people ‘purifying their souls’ by wading in the stinking germ-laden Ganges) and make people do strange things (I showed rows of Muslims bent over with their heads on the floor). I hadn’t gone far with this before five or six young men got up and began to walk out. They had a good distance to go across the large hall, so I said ‘Excuse me, would you mind telling me why you are leaving?’ There was a long silence until one said, ‘You are offending us. We will not listen,’ and they left. Soon after that another bunch left, and then another.
...
By the time I arrived at a slide calling religions (Richard’s fault!) ‘Viruses of the mind’, the lecture hall was looking rather empty.
...
I suggested that one final trick of a desperate religion (I didn’t say quite that this time) is to forbid laughter. I warned any devout Muslims in the audience to look away as I showed one of the Danish cartoons. It’s so simple – just a bunch of terrorists arriving in heaven to be told, “Stop, stop, we ran out of virgins’. That normally gets a good laugh – along with sympathy for the cartoonists threatened with death for something so innocuous. Not this time. More walked out.
There is also this bit
This really got to me, raising painful memories of my early research on psychics and clairvoyants who said, ‘You just don’t have an open mind’ when my careful experiments showed no psychic powers.
Which has been refuted:
https://sites.google.com/site/chs4o8pt/skeptical_misdirection#skeptical_misdirection_next11

British psychologist Susan Blackmore ... wrote in 1996: “When I decided to become a parapsychologist I had no idea it would mean 20 years of failing to find the paranormal.

These claims led parapsychologist Rick Berger to critically examine the Blackmore experiments in great detail, and he found that “The claim of ‘ten years of psi research’ actually represents a series of hastily constructed, executed, and reported studies that were primarily conducted during a 2-year period.’” These consisted of a set of experiments conducted between October 1976 and December 1978 for her PhD dissertation.

So, how does Blackmore reconcile the fact of 7 successful experiments out of 21 with her often-repeated claim that her own research led her to become a skeptic? Simple: results from successful experiments were dismissed as due to flaws in the experiment, yet study quality was simply ignored when the results were nonsignificant.

(From Research of the Skeptics by Chris Carter at skepticalinvestigations.org)
 
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#2
Wow. I think she is so subject and addicted to her own intellect that she has lost touch with a part of humanity.

The part on how religion is a drain on resources and make people do strange things is a terrible way to frame the healthy dialogue she was expecting. Value is subjective.
 
#3
I would have to agree with one of the commentors on the site. If you're going to come at this angle, you can't just be like "your beliefs are bullshit" because that immediately shuts people down and they'll just get up and leave.

And why is she even still going on about this sort of stuff? Has she joined the "I have nothing better to do than go around trying to curb the sin that is religion" club that Dawkins is the chairman of?
 
#7
Seems like a useful point to reference this blog: http://jerome23.wordpress.com/2013/02/15/is-it-time-to-give-up-on-skepticism/
Read the comments too, very insightful.
Cj always makes good sense. I wonder if he has moved over here? Not that he posted much on the old forum.

Tactless presentations ought to be saved for when you are preaching to the choir, not that I'm a fan of them in either case, but at least it will get you in less trouble. But I was wondering what fundamentalist Christians and Muslims were doing at a Susan Blackmore lecture in the first place?

Linda
 
#8
Cj always makes good sense. I wonder if he has moved over here? Not that he posted much on the old forum.

Tactless presentations ought to be saved for when you are preaching to the choir, not that I'm a fan of them in either case, but at least it will get you in less trouble. But I was wondering what fundamentalist Christians and Muslims were doing at a Susan Blackmore lecture in the first place?

Linda
Two options as far as I can see:

1. Sensitive souls turned up to the wrong gig, or

2. Orchestrated demonstration (guerilla anti-skepticism?)
 
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#9
Two options as far as I can see:

1. Senstive souls turned up to the wrong gig, or

2. Orchestrated demonstration (guerilla anti-skepticism?)
The two could be distinguished on the basis of population stats, I suspect. What proportion of students participating in the "Oxford Royale Academy" are fundamentalists? I would be surprised if half of them were.

Linda
 
#10
But I was wondering what fundamentalist Christians and Muslims were doing at a Susan Blackmore lecture in the first place?
Hard to say without being there, but it sounds like the walk-outs were not so much thin-skinned fundamentalists, as attendees bored with Blackmore's tirade on a subject that has no relevance to her area of "expertise". Imagine if a speaker accused those present of being socially inadequate geeks whose only hope of companionship was affiliation with similarly dull science fan boys, suggested they open their minds, attend to their personal hygiene, get down the Gap and smell the frick*n coffee. A few might take umbridge at that, too. Commenting on peoples' lifestyles is irrelevant to the science.
 
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#11
Hard to say without being there, but it sounds like the walk-outs were not so much thin-skinned fundamentalists, as attendees bored with Blackmore's tirade on a subject that has no relevance to her area of "expertise".
Highly doubtful. Bored people don't walk out. They fall asleep or play cribbage on their smart phone. And if boredom led to walk-outs, the activity would be so common that it wouldn't get noticed.

Imagine if a speaker accused those present of being socially inadequate geeks whose only hope of companionship was affiliation with similarly dull science fan boys, suggested they open their minds, attend to their personal hygiene, get down the Gap and smell the frick*n coffee. A few might take umbridge at that, too.
Also highly doubtful. No challenges to deeply held beliefs there.

Commenting on people's lifestyles is irrelevant to the science.
LOL. That would kill almost all of Psi's threads and Alex's podcasts.

Linda
 
#12
Highly doubtful. Bored people don't walk out. They fall asleep or play cribbage on their smart phone. And if boredom led to walk-outs, the activity would be so common that it wouldn't get noticed.
I disagree. The days of acquiescence to monomaniac's and egocentric's free range opinions to get the tiny nugget of knowledge for which they were employed is long gone. Students and researchers walk out of conferences all the time if they believe the speaker is wasting it. Quite a few heckle. Academic deference is behind us, thank God.
 
#13
This blog comment was particularly well observed:

Karla McLaren said, on February 16, 2013 at 7:29 am
"I appreciate what you’re saying here, and I like the way you arrive at your conclusions. When I left skepticism behind, I did so because I found it to be so strongly ideological and un-selfaware. It seemed to be enough for people to call themselves Skeptics and upload all of the requisite information about dowsing, Popoff, and the unquestioned idea that all psychics are frauds and/or deluded. Some good inquiry could occur within all that ideological morass, but only because people can shine in any sort of troubling environment.

Also, there’s a very unfortunate (and I think deal-killing) derision of social science within many areas of movement skepticism (it is looked down upon as a soft science) — but the problem with that is the study of the paranormal and the metaphysical is primarily a social scientific undertaking. Whether gods or ghosts or the afterlife exist is really not the point: what matters is how people respond to those ideas, and why.

I was also fascinated by the crusading frame of “us against irrationality,” or “us against fraud,” or “us against woo” (“woo” is a derisive and dehumanizing term that is completely normative and accepted — and a sign of the strong ideological bent of the community) — when that polarized and dramatic frame pretty much guarantees a complete failure of outreach. In fact, I still cannot find a single skeptical site anywhere that does not treat believers or their beliefs in condescending and demeaning ways; these are not sites or organizations devoted to objective scientific inquiry. However, this subjective and polarized frame does strongly increase internal cohesion, so it’s not a complete loss.

I’ve called skeptics “science fan boys,” and I’ve been very concerned about their ungrounded approach to science-as-certainty that you so aptly term APS. Though I honestly and truly need support in my work — to help people make sense of the many things they are being sold and urged to believe in New Age spirituality and alternative health care, the skeptical community is simply not a reliable or trustworthy source of sober, objective, or well-intentioned information. This is a source of grief for me every day, and anger."
 
#14
I disagree. The days of acquiescence to monomaniac's and egocentric's free range opinions to get the tiny nugget of knowledge for which they were employed is long gone. Students and researchers walk out of conferences all the time if they believe the speaker is wasting it. Quite a few heckle. Academic deference is behind us, thank God.
If it is usual for half the students to make a point of walking out of a lecture, I wonder why she made any note of it, then.

Linda
 
#15
This blog comment was particularly well observed:

Karla McLaren said, on February 16, 2013 at 7:29 am
"I appreciate what you’re saying here, and I like the way you arrive at your conclusions. When I left skepticism behind, I did so because I found it to be so strongly ideological and un-selfaware. It seemed to be enough for people to call themselves Skeptics and upload all of the requisite information about dowsing, Popoff, and the unquestioned idea that all psychics are frauds and/or deluded. Some good inquiry could occur within all that ideological morass, but only because people can shine in any sort of troubling environment.

Also, there’s a very unfortunate (and I think deal-killing) derision of social science within many areas of movement skepticism (it is looked down upon as a soft science) — but the problem with that is the study of the paranormal and the metaphysical is primarily a social scientific undertaking. Whether gods or ghosts or the afterlife exist is really not the point: what matters is how people respond to those ideas, and why.

I was also fascinated by the crusading frame of “us against irrationality,” or “us against fraud,” or “us against woo” (“woo” is a derisive and dehumanizing term that is completely normative and accepted — and a sign of the strong ideological bent of the community) — when that polarized and dramatic frame pretty much guarantees a complete failure of outreach. In fact, I still cannot find a single skeptical site anywhere that does not treat believers or their beliefs in condescending and demeaning ways; these are not sites or organizations devoted to objective scientific inquiry. However, this subjective and polarized frame does strongly increase internal cohesion, so it’s not a complete loss.

I’ve called skeptics “science fan boys,” and I’ve been very concerned about their ungrounded approach to science-as-certainty that you so aptly term APS. Though I honestly and truly need support in my work — to help people make sense of the many things they are being sold and urged to believe in New Age spirituality and alternative health care, the skeptical community is simply not a reliable or trustworthy source of sober, objective, or well-intentioned information. This is a source of grief for me every day, and anger."
I noticed and liked that one as well.

Linda
 
#17
Perhaps she thought she was being provocative and exciting and interpreted their ennui and impatience as outrage. A bit like her hairstyles.
Only a few were obviously outraged, and she mistakenly attributed outrage to the remainder who were merely bored and impatient? That would make sense.

Linda
 
#18
Only a few were obviously outraged, and she mistakenly attributed outrage to the remainder who were merely bored and impatient? That would make sense.

Linda
My guess is a small number were offended at her intended offence, and the greater number walked out because they were bored shitless at hearing Blackmore repeat a theme for the umpteenth time. Ex-witch has Damascene conversion to statistics is not the stuff of career longevity, one would have imagined, but nobody seems to have told Sue. Until now. Let's hope she takes note.
 
#19
This blog comment was particularly well observed:

Karla McLaren said, on February 16, 2013 at 7:29 am
"I appreciate what you’re saying here, and I like the way you arrive at your conclusions. When I left skepticism behind, I did so because I found it to be so strongly ideological and un-selfaware. It seemed to be enough for people to call themselves Skeptics and upload all of the requisite information about dowsing, Popoff, and the unquestioned idea that all psychics are frauds and/or deluded. Some good inquiry could occur within all that ideological morass, but only because people can shine in any sort of troubling environment.

Also, there’s a very unfortunate (and I think deal-killing) derision of social science within many areas of movement skepticism (it is looked down upon as a soft science) — but the problem with that is the study of the paranormal and the metaphysical is primarily a social scientific undertaking. Whether gods or ghosts or the afterlife exist is really not the point: what matters is how people respond to those ideas, and why.

I was also fascinated by the crusading frame of “us against irrationality,” or “us against fraud,” or “us against woo” (“woo” is a derisive and dehumanizing term that is completely normative and accepted — and a sign of the strong ideological bent of the community) — when that polarized and dramatic frame pretty much guarantees a complete failure of outreach. In fact, I still cannot find a single skeptical site anywhere that does not treat believers or their beliefs in condescending and demeaning ways; these are not sites or organizations devoted to objective scientific inquiry. However, this subjective and polarized frame does strongly increase internal cohesion, so it’s not a complete loss.

I’ve called skeptics “science fan boys,” and I’ve been very concerned about their ungrounded approach to science-as-certainty that you so aptly term APS. Though I honestly and truly need support in my work — to help people make sense of the many things they are being sold and urged to believe in New Age spirituality and alternative health care, the skeptical community is simply not a reliable or trustworthy source of sober, objective, or well-intentioned information. This is a source of grief for me every day, and anger."
What Karla fails to see I think isn't the belief itself that causes the perceived derision it's the how and why people believe.
Sidenote from Karla an article she wrote for CSICOP a few years ago

Bridging the Chasm between Two Cultures
I've been studying the conflict between the skeptical community and the metaphysical/new age community for a few decades now, and I think I've finally discovered the central issue that makes communication so difficult. It is not merely, as many surmise, a conflict between fact-based viewpoints and faith-based viewpoints. Nor is it simply a conflict between rationality and credulity. No, it’s a full-on clash of cultures that makes real communication improbable at best.


I know this firsthand, because as a former member of the New Age culture, I struggled for years to decipher the language, the rules, the attitudes, and the expectations of the skeptical culture. Yet for a great while, all I could hear from the skeptical culture was noise-and confusing noise at that.
http://www.csicop.org/si/show/bridging_the_chasm_between_two_cultures/
 
#20
This blog comment was particularly well observed:

Karla McLaren said, on February 16, 2013 at 7:29 am
"I appreciate what you’re saying here, and I like the way you arrive at your conclusions. When I left skepticism behind, I did so because I found it to be so strongly ideological and un-selfaware. It seemed to be enough for people to call themselves Skeptics and upload all of the requisite information about dowsing, Popoff, and the unquestioned idea that all psychics are frauds and/or deluded. Some good inquiry could occur within all that ideological morass, but only because people can shine in any sort of troubling environment.

Also, there’s a very unfortunate (and I think deal-killing) derision of social science within many areas of movement skepticism (it is looked down upon as a soft science) — but the problem with that is the study of the paranormal and the metaphysical is primarily a social scientific undertaking. Whether gods or ghosts or the afterlife exist is really not the point: what matters is how people respond to those ideas, and why.

I was also fascinated by the crusading frame of “us against irrationality,” or “us against fraud,” or “us against woo” (“woo” is a derisive and dehumanizing term that is completely normative and accepted — and a sign of the strong ideological bent of the community) — when that polarized and dramatic frame pretty much guarantees a complete failure of outreach. In fact, I still cannot find a single skeptical site anywhere that does not treat believers or their beliefs in condescending and demeaning ways; these are not sites or organizations devoted to objective scientific inquiry. However, this subjective and polarized frame does strongly increase internal cohesion, so it’s not a complete loss.

I’ve called skeptics “science fan boys,” and I’ve been very concerned about their ungrounded approach to science-as-certainty that you so aptly term APS. Though I honestly and truly need support in my work — to help people make sense of the many things they are being sold and urged to believe in New Age spirituality and alternative health care, the skeptical community is simply not a reliable or trustworthy source of sober, objective, or well-intentioned information. This is a source of grief for me every day, and anger."
What Karla fails to see I think isn't the belief itself that causes the perceived derision it's the how and why people believe.
Sidenote from Karla an article she wrote for CSICOP a few years ago

Bridging the Chasm between Two Cultures
I've been studying the conflict between the skeptical community and the metaphysical/new age community for a few decades now, and I think I've finally discovered the central issue that makes communication so difficult. It is not merely, as many surmise, a conflict between fact-based viewpoints and faith-based viewpoints. Nor is it simply a conflict between rationality and credulity. No, it’s a full-on clash of cultures that makes real communication improbable at best.


I know this firsthand, because as a former member of the New Age culture, I struggled for years to decipher the language, the rules, the attitudes, and the expectations of the skeptical culture. Yet for a great while, all I could hear from the skeptical culture was noise-and confusing noise at that.
http://www.csicop.org/si/show/bridging_the_chasm_between_two_cultures/
 
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