Author: David Christopher Lane and Daniel Caldwell Publisher: The NEURAL SURFER Publication date: June 1997
E-mail David Christopher Lane directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
I want to go back to the home base now.
DANIEL CALDWELL writes Yes, I have raised questions about your "world view" and written about it on alt.religion.eckankar. And I once again repeat what I sent you in my last e-mail in the hopes that you will answer these questions. And please answer them on alt.religion.eckankar. > I guess now in light of your new "world-view" you must conclude that > Yogananda was deluded and/or a fraud. Remember Babaji is probably more > elusive and hard to pin down than Blavatsky's Masters. And Blavatsky > and her Teachers only materialized small objects while (I believe) > Babaji materialized a whole palace or city (can't remember which)!!! > Compare HPB's claims about her Masters with Yogananda's claims about > Babaji. From what I have read, Yogananda's claims are "far-fetched" in > comparison to what Blavatsky wrote about her Masters. But in light of > your new (?) materialistic view, obviously both Blavatsky and Yogananda > were highly deluded if not outright frauds. > DAVID LANE REPLIES: An extraordinary claim has been made by Yogananda about the alleged existence of an Avatar he calls "Babaji" (a very common honorific in India, that is sometimes translated as "father dear"; even Gurinder Singh of R.S. Beas utilizes this form of address). Okay, the skeptically minded will naturally ask for evidence that such a being exists (as described by Yogananda). I see nothing wrong in this approach at all. Indeed, I think it is up to those who claim that Babaji exists (and that he is thousands of years old) to prove their case. As is often stated in Critical Thinking Textbooks, the burden of proof is on the one making the claim. And, if this "Babaji" really does empirically exist (as Yogananda and other have described him), then I would imagine that most of our known laws of physics and biology would be overturned. That would be groovy, Baby (as our hero, "Austie" Powers might say). But I haven't seen that evidence; I have heard merely lots of stories. Being skeptical doesn't mean one is closed off to new ideas; it just means that there should be some grounded evidence to prove the case. As it stands, we have very very little to go on. DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: > I have finished reading your one essay about gurus with no turbans and > what followers say about their gurus, but more important is what claims > gurus make on their own behalf. For example, what claims did Sawan > Singh or Charan Singh make about their own guruship? What abilities or > powers or knowledge did they claim? DAVID LANE REPLIES: Charan Singh point blank stated that he did not even consider himself a good satsangi, much less a Master. Indeed, he called his appointment to the "Gaddi" (assumption of the Mastership as decreed by his predecessor, Jagat Singh) as his "execution" and the "saddest day of his life." But, better yet, read Charan Singh's excerpted diaries in TREASURE BEYOND MEASURE, wherein he states (I am now paraphrasing): "I feel like a stone idol in a temple. Some bathe it in hot water, some in cold, some garland it with fancy flowers. But it remains a stone all the same." To the degree that any guru (including Charan Singh) makes claims, I think it is our duty to "test" or to "doubt" those claims. The more skepticism, I feel, the better. Why? Because "truth" (whatever that may be) should be able to survive any or all questions posed of it. These gurus--by their very position (including Charan Singh)--imply extraordinary status or power or divinity. They, therefore, deserve (and, I think, should demand) our closest and most detailed scrutiny. DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: In the next month or so, I plan to challenge on alt.religion.eckankar some of your statements concerning the paranormal, OOBEs and physical psi. I applaud your skepticism but extreme doubt can be as "blinding" as extreme gullibility. I do not respect the CSICOP skeptics; they appear to me to be True DISbelievers, i.e. people with their own belief systems which they seldom if ever question. You have mentioned a number of times Blackmore, Churchland, Crick, etc. However brilliant these people are, have they challenged their own "assumptions"? And what do they know (intellectually or personally) about the paranormal? Blackmore probably knows the most of the lot about the paranormal but I find her books extremely onesided in presenting the evidence on OOBEs, NDEs, etc. Blackmore has had OOBEs but nothing that would confirm the objectivity of such experiences. I have also had many similar OOBEs to those of Blackmore. But I have also had OOBEs in which I have gained knowledge of distant events. You and these other skeptics can ignore or deny these personal experiences of mine. But I cannot so easily ignore what I know to be true. So I do sympathise with Eckists who have had similar OOBEs. Certainly I would question visions of Rebazar or Koot Hoomi. I have had a few "visions" of Masters and do not put a great deal of stock in such things because it is hard if not imposssible to verify these visions but some of my OOBEs are in a very different category (at least in my mind). DAVID LANE REPLIES: Well, I think the burden of proof again is on the one making the claim. Okay, if these OBE's or astral excursions are "empirically" real or verifiable, let's do the 5 or 6 digit number test. I will place a five digit number in my office or some agreed upon location and let's see how well "astral" travelers or OBErs do. Naturally, we will want to set up a few safeguards, but I would be most happy to be proven dead wrong in this regard. Yea, Baby, I think it would be completely shagadelic....... Now if this test is not suitable, then by all means tell us why not. Come up with another one, if you so desire. ----------------------- DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: I thank David Lane for his answers to my series of questions. So we are learning more and more about David's worldview! There is so much in David's answers (and in his other published statements on his web site) to criticize that it would probably take a book to properly handle all the issues. I have been struggling in my spare time to write a proper rebuttal to K. Paul Johnson's "Gnat" article but now I believe it is even more pressing to confront some of the statements to be found in David's "new" worldview. In fact, although Johnson and I disagree on many things, on reflection, my worldview is probably more akin to Johnson's than to David's philosophy!! DAVID LANE REPLIES: I do understand how one may see a "new" paradigm on my part, but the fact is that I have simply gotten more skeptical over time. I clearly had some of this skepticism even in the 1970s and 1980s (especially in light of my support of Faqir Chand even though it directly contradicted "orthodox" R.S. theology) but not nearly as much as I have now. This may be due to several factors, not the least of which is a wider reading in the areas of physics, neuroscience, and evolutionary biology. Also, I could be just getting older and more seasoned in purviewing the paranormal. DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: As time permits I will try to post a series of messages in which I will try to clarify David Lane's point of view and try to present some differing views, etc. In the current web version of his book THE UNKNOWING SAGE, David Lane has added the following paragraph which is not in his 1989 edition of the book. The paragraph reads in part: ". . .I have yet to unearth an airtight, empirical case for genuine psychic powers. There are always some uninspected loopholes which reveal that natural (versus supernatural) processes were involved. I realize that my skepticism will turn off a number of parapsychology buffs, but in light of Occam's Razor I see no overwhelming evidence to suggest that Faqir Chand's autobiographical admissions are not right on the mark." The first two sentences of this paragraph sound quite similar to remarks made by the Amazing James Randi!! David says that he has not discovered one AIRTIGHT case for genuine psychic powers; and that in all such cases "uninspected" [I assume this is a typo for "unsuspected"?] loopholes ....reveal that natural processes were involved." Exactly how does Lane define "airtight"? One dictionary defines "airtight" as follows: ""having no noticeable weakness, flaw or loophole." But the question to ask David is: Are those "unsuspected" loopholes "real" or only possibilities. Also, as far as I know, nothing is 100% airtight, or flawless. In an unpublished compilation of mine, I have a chapter entitled "POSSIBLE FLAWS: There Must be an 'Error Some Place'." I quote the words of James MClenon. He is writing about the skeptic's strategy of "unpacking" any successful parpsychological experiment. "The goal of the critic using this strategy is to 'unpack' and examine in detail any experiment, and to demonstrate how methodological flaws *could* have entered into the experimental process, thereby producing an invalid results.. . .The critic ...thinks of some...methodological flaw that *could* have occurred. . . .His or her 'unpacking' of methodological assumptions tends to render the experiment into an anecdotal form. . . .This unpacking strategy makes the 'perfect' ESP experiment an impossbility. Sooner or later, the critic will ask for information that is no longer available, or for a degree of experimental control and exactitude that is desirable in principle but impossible in practice. . . .[Another] rhetorical ploy is to demand total perfection. It is always possible for critics to think of more rigid methodological procedures after an experiment has been conducted... The a priori arguments of the critics mean it is highly logical to assume that, within *all* experiments which successfully 'prove' the existence of psi, there must be an 'error some place'." Ray Hyman, a psychologist and skeptic of the paranormal, has agreed that in using such a method of argument, "it is *always* possible to 'imagine' *some* scenario in which [for example] cheating [or lying], no matter how implausible, *could have* occurred." Such a method is "illegitimate" [as Marcello Truzzi, another skeptic points out] because by its use, "one can 'hypothetically' explain away *any* result [even] in science." David, look for "suspected" flaws in regular scientific experiments. Pray tell, is there even one experiment in science that has no "possible" flaws? DAVID LANE REPLIES: Perhaps you are missing my intended point in that footnote you cite from the Unknowing Sage (which, by the way, tries to give two sides to the issue of "knowing" bilocations). What I mean by "uninspected" loophole is precisely that: an alternative explantion which more reasonably and clearly explains the given phenomena. I have repeatedly seen that "transpersonal" explanations for some "borderline" manifestation turns out on closer inspection to have a much more mundane basis. Take, as just one example among many, the case of John Roger Hinkins and his alleged psychic powers. Clearly, there were times that John-Roger would know the most amazing details about one's personal life. Indeed, he could quote--sometimes verbatim--intimate conversations one had with another person, even though J.R. was not physically present. On the surface of it many J.R. devotees were convinced that he had psychic ability and they recounted numerous stories to confirm it. However, on closer inspection (that "uninspected" loophole that I am referring to), it turned out that J.R. had "tape recorded" several rooms in his large house so that he could "hear" private conversations that his disciples were having in other rooms. He used this "information" to impress his devotees that he was indeed psychic. Well, he wasn't psychic, but rather a good manipulator of already pre-recorded "information" that he got through a very physical means. That was his secret, and not some astral "knowingness." Now, I well understand that one canot use J.R. as a blanket example for all such phenomena, but his example illustrates what I think is oftentimes absent in parapsychological research: The tendency to look for non-algorithmic explanations when confronted with an apparent "trans-physical" mystery. My hunch is that we are better off focusing on purely algorithimic explanations first. That is, when confronted with "magic" we should try our hardest to look for the simple underlying physical reasons, and not jump to hasty "trans-rational" conclusions. I have been quite guilty of doing this myself (jumping to non-algorithmic causes) and I think that Paul Kurtz was quite right to criticize me for it (he said in a letter to Richard Pickett back in the 1980s that I was too "transpersonal"--he was right!). Naturally, this does not preclude a priori the possibility of a non-algorithmic or trans-physical phenomena, it just means that when confronted with extraordinary claims we will demand (as we should) extraordinary proof (geez, I would even go for ordinary proof, but that's another issue). As for the possible "flaws" that we find in other areas of science, it most certainly true, but that again underlines my very issue here: The ability of science to "doubt" itself and for interested scientists to "question" the veracity of another's discovery. Looking at flaws (at any level and at any domain in scientific inquiry) is part and parcel of progress in that particular field--from biology to chemistry to physics. It is not a question of "no" flaws, it is a question of whether or not a trans-rational explanation really fits the data when a much more simple explanation may do. I am all for being dead wrong about psychic powers, disembodied beings and the like, but I do not see the evidence as compelling to suggest that these things ontologically exist at this stage. I am open to the possibility and I am most eager to "test" this very area. That is why I suggested to you the five digit experiment. Let's do it and get out of our armchairs! DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: In effect, this becomes a game in which the skeptic cannot lose! Turning to the realm of historical inquiry, the historians Barzun and Graff point out: "If you receive a letter from a relative that  bears what looks like her signature, that  refers to family matters you and she commonly discuss, and that  was postmarked in the city where she lives, the probability is very great that she wrote it." "The contrary hypothesis would need at least as many opposing signs [of evidence] in order to take root in your mind---though the possibility of forgery. . .is always there." Please note that the hypothesis that the letter is really written by your relative is supported by three positive signs of evidence. But as Barzun and Graff point out, even in spite of all that, the *possibility* of forgery is always there! An agressive critic could take the ball at this step and try to "explain away" the three pieces of evidence. For example, the skeptic could "reason": "Isn't it possible that  the relative's signature was forged, and, isn't it possible that  some "forger" was somehow privy to family matters, and, furthermore, isn't it possible that  the forger could have mailed the letter in the city wherw your relative lives to throw you off the track?" And if you (the level-headed researcher) objected to such speculation by your resident agressive skeptic , he might quip: "Prove to me that the three statements, I just listed, aren't possible! Didn't Barzun and Graff admit that *the possibility of forgery. . . is always there*?" But the perceptive researcher should point out to his skeptical friend that POSSIBILITIES are not to be confused with PROBABLITIES. Barzun and Graffe clearly enunciate an important dictum for the researcher: "The rule of 'Give Evidence' is not be be violated. . . .No matter how possible or plausible the author's conjecture it cannot be accepted as truth if he has only his hunch [which is not evidence] to support it. Truth rests not on possibility or plausibility but on probability. Probability means the balance of chances that, *given such and such evidence*, the event it records happened in a certain way; or, in other cases, that a supposed event did not in fact take place." Unfortunately, far too many skeptics of the parnormal become fixated on "possibilities" and never progress beyond to considering "probabilities." Such skeptics---after pointing out that if two or more explanations are possible, none are proved---*seem to be uninterested* in the question of where the *weight of the evidence* lies. Many of these skeptics fixate and speculate (almost ad infinitum and ad nauseam) on various possibilities---hoping that careless readers will *assume* that 'something' has been proven or disproven by such rhetoric." So when David Lane writes: ""I have yet to unearth an airtight, empirical case for genuine psychic powers. There are always some uninspected loopholes which reveal that natural (versus supernatural) processes were involved," is he referring to "possible" loopholes that he has conjured up in his imagination or is he talking about loopholes that can be documented with evidence? Furthermore, if by "airtight" Lane wants to convey the meaning of perfect, flawless, 100% confirmed, then I would say he is living in a "fairytale" world. What is completely flawless? For example, is there a medical test in the world that will give accurate results anytime, anywhere, under any and every condition? DAVID LANE REPLIES: Again, my point is a simple one: I have found out in my own research that when I invoked a transpersonal explanation for a given phenomena, it turned out on closer inspection to have a much more simple explanation. One which was algorithmic and physical. That does not preclude the possibility that something may be trans-rational, it just means (as I pointed out in my footnote) that "I" have yet to unearth a good case. That is why, I repeat my earnest plea: Let's do the five digit test in a controlled environment repeatedly. Can you imagine if it really did work in a double blind test? We could cause a great stir and get that 100,000 bucks from Randi. I have tried it, by the way, with many in shabd yoga..... Guess what? Not one has passed it, not even once! Maybe Glen should give it a go. DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES and QUOTES: David Lane in his recent post on alt.religion.eckankar wrote in part: >An extraordinary claim has been made by Yogananda about the alleged >existence of an Avatar he calls "Babaji". . . . >Okay, the skeptically minded will naturally ask for evidence that >such a being exists (as described by Yogananda). > >I see nothing wrong in this approach at all. Indeed, I think it is >up to those who claim that Babaji exists (and that he is thousands >of years old) to prove their case. As is often stated in Critical >Thinking Textbooks, the burden of proof is on the one making the >claim. > >And, if this "Babaji" really does empirically exist (as Yogananda >and >other have described him), then I would imagine that most of our >known laws of physics and biology would be overturned. > >That would be groovy, Baby (as our hero, "Austie" Powers might say). > >But I haven't seen that evidence; I have heard merely lots of >stories. > >Being skeptical doesn't mean one is closed off to new ideas; it just >means that there should be some grounded evidence to prove the case. > >As it stands, we have very very little to go on. DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: In the above statements of David Lane, we certainly can agree with the need to ask questions and look for evidence. But even a skeptic needs to ask himself what he will accept as evidence, what kind of evidence, quantity and quality, etc. The skeptic also needs to question his own background assumptions. Notice the following 4 statements David wrote about "evidence": "the skeptically minded will naturally ask for evidence that such a being exists...." "I think it is up to those who claim that Babaji exists. . .to prove their case...." "... I haven't seen that evidence; I have heard merely lots of stories...." " ...there should be some grounded evidence to prove the case. . . ." What kind of EVIDENCE and PROOF would Lane accept?? DAVID LANE REPLIES: Well, let's start with something simple: Babaji knocking on my door asking for a coke? That would be a nice start and we could proceed from there.... DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: Quoting from one of my unpublished MSS: "In a general sense, proof is a matter of individual judgment. The person who demands proof is under an obligation to state explicitly what he will accept as proof." "What do we mean by 'proof'? It would be well if we asked ourselves precisely what sort of evidence we should be prepared to accept as proof, and then we cansee if it is obtainable." Again: "The proponent of the paranormal claim and the skeptic must agree on a PROCEDURE for verifying the claim (intersubjective verifiability). It is evident that unless such an agreement is reached , arguments concerning claims and counterclaims will be, in principle, insoluable." What kind of evidence would David Lane accept concerning Babaji?? DAVID LANE REPLIES: How about Babaji showing up at a Dodger game and giving an interview with Vin Skulley? That would be a good ice breaker. I am not trying to be funny, but I am really quite serious. Proof can start with small increments and I think if this Babaji cat really exists, it shouldn't be hard for him to show up at the local 7/11 (although that means he would have to take over Elvis' shift) or maybe give an interview to Barbara Walters on one of her specials. We could then proceed from there and get even more evidence to buttress his existence. That seems to be a reasonable start, huh? DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: Again David writes: "... I haven't seen that evidence; I have heard merely lots of STORIES...." Notice how David devalues the testimonies of witnesses by labelling them as "stories"? Again what kind of evidence is David Lane asking for?????? DAVID LANE REPLIES: Again, if you have read about Babaji, you will know that this Avatar can show up any place (except, apparently, on a skeptic's T.V. show). I think it is reasonable to ask for the first step of evidence that would start to convince us (remember convergent lines of evidence--the more the better--will help convert even the hardest of skeptics). Like I said, maybe Babaji could drop over for a Pizza or a surf session. That doesn't seem like it would be that hard to do, and maybe he could be examined by the very people who "doubt" him the most. That would be an impressive start. DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: Stepping back for a moment, couldn't ALL of history be characterized as merely a bunch of "stories"? Putting the "paranormal" totally aside, one can be quite skeptical even of ordinary history. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Yes, and that is precisely what we should do because then we will look for more, verus less, evidence via divergent lines of information. Being skeptical of ordinary history (as Foucalt, Freud, Marx, Weber, and many others have done) is how we get more information and how we can then develop more comprehensive theories about the past. For example, I commend the efforts of Bible scholars to "question" the "history" of the Gospels, since such doubting has led to some startling finds, not the least of which is the contradictory nature of the resurrection stories, the genealogies of Jesus, and the narrative time-line of Jesus' travels. All good, I would argue, in showing us how little we really do know about Jesus Christ. And, in the case of evolutionary biology, there is a tendency to look in many different areas to buttress a position or a point. That I think is a healthy thing and I see no reason why it shouldn't also be the case with something as nebulous as parapsychology. DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: This point is brought up in THE MODERN RESEARCHER by the historians Barzun and Graff. They write: "Facing the Doubtful in All Reports . . . .'But,' says the skeptic, 'you were not there. All you know is what others choose to tell you---in memoirs, newspapers, and your other vaunted evidence. How can you be sure? Most people are notoriously bad obververs; some are deliberate or unconscious liars., there is no such thing as a perfect witness. And yet you naively trust any casual passerby, and on his say-so you proclaim, 'This is what happened.' ' Barzun and Graff go on to say: "Except for the words 'naively trust,' everything said above is true. But in its effort to discredit history it proves too much. The key sentences are 'You were not there' and 'There is no such thing as a perfect witness.' Granting the force of these two statements, what follows? **It is that if any of us had been there, there would simply have been one more imperfect witness on the scene** We might be convinced that our vision, our recollection, our interpretation was the right one, but other witnesses would still feel no less certain about theirs. To put it differently, every observer's knowledge of the event doubtless contains some exact and some erroneous knowledge, and these two parts, multipled by as many observers as may be, are all the knowledge there can be. Only a divine being would have perfect and complete knowledge of the event-'as it really happened.' Outside our imperfect knowledge, the event has no independent existence; it is not hidden in some 'repository of the real' where we can find it. This is important to grasp and remember; it makes one both humble and grateful about the known and knowable past." "In trying to discredit this 'second-hand' knowledge, the skeptic about historical truth unconsciously assumes that because he is alive and observant he knows the actuality of his own time. . . ." So is David Lane also a skeptic of historical truth, of normal "stories"? Why just be skeptical of the paranormal? DAVID LANE REPLIES: Much of my focus for my Ph.D. was in the sociology of knowledge, an area which has centered on "doubting" normal history or stories. Yes, Daniel, I am all for being skeptical of what we take to be history, what we take to be sociology, or any discipline. I even like Foucalt's doubting of doubting, or Habermas' questioning of the tyranny of rationality..... Quite refreshing. I even like Nathan's weekly "doubts" about me. DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: What, pray tell, could Yogananda have done to prove the existence of Babaji that would satisfy the skeptic? Which skeptic? Where and when? DAVID LANE REPLIES: Well, I could think of many possibilities here, but how about Babaji showing up on Let's Make a Deal? Or, Babaji doing an interview on 60 minutes? Or, better yet (since Babaji apparently had amazing amounts of knowledge), how about Babaji appearing on Jeopardy! And with all the money he earns, then going to Vegas and playing the right slots and then donating the money to the poor in Baja? I am not trying to be cute, but rather just trying to draw out some obvious implications of why doubting is a healthy thing. We can always start with little evidence and move on...... I don't see the shame or the narrow-mindedness of asking for "more" proof, versus less. Geez, we should ask it of our T.V.'s (hey, I want better clarity!), why not for our "God-men"? DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: Would Lane believe in Babaji's existence if Babaji "appeared" to him in Lane's office at Mt. San Antionio College? What if Mike Mueckler was also with Lane in his office and also saw and conversed with Babaji? What would Dave and Mike concur about their experiences? Would their experiences and testimony be merely "stories"? DAVID LANE REPLIES: That would certainly be a wonderful start, wouldn't? Hasn't happened yet, but I will be the first to tell you when it does. DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: Again when Lane writes: "... I haven't seen that evidence; I have heard merely lots of stories....," we should all remember that "stories" can be testimony either positive or negative. For example, there are positive "stories" about Sai Baba's psychic powers and then there are negative "stories" about Sai Baba. Critics of Sai will no doubt "believe" in the negative stories whereas believers will focus on the positive stories. A true skeptic should be as critical of the "negative" stories as he would be of the "positive" stories. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Yes, that is certainly true, but don't forget Sai Baba is the one making the grandiose claim (unlike Penn & Teller who will tell you that they are performing sleight of hand tricks). I think he should be able to survive a little heat..... For instance, I would be impressed if Sai Baba could manifest a Mercedes Benz out of his ear, or how about producing the biggest diamond in the world? He hasn't done it yet, but what he has done can (and has been) reproduced by simple sleight of hand magicians..... Some have even done it better (see David Copperfield, for example). DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: In David's comments on Babaji, he says: "And, if this "Babaji" really does empirically exist (as Yogananda and other have described him), then I would imagine that most of our known laws of physics and biology would be overturned." What asssumptions are under the surface of this statement that "most of our known laws of physics and biology would be overturned"? Notice also in the first quote from David that he uses the term "supernatural". What are the assumptions in David's mind that lead him to choose this word? DAVID LANE REPLIES: Real Simple Answer, Dan: Babaji is allegedly thousands of years old. I don't know about you, but the oldest guy I know is about 100. If Babaji really does exist and really is thousands of years old, then I think medicine could benefit, huh? Maybe they could do an ER segment on him..... DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: Would the laws be overturned? Could there not be other still unknown laws of nature that scientists have not discovered? Are there no more forces in Nature than those which science have already discovered? etc. etc. DAVID LANE REPLIES: Yes, and that is why I would genuinely love to prove that this Babaji cat exists. You see, I think it would make everything quite interesting and upset lots of preconceived notions. I am all for it, but that does not mean that I will lower my standards of skepticism just because I "wish" to believe...... DANIEL CALDWELLL WRITES: Even the skeptic Paul Kurz has written: "New data and discordant, anomalous, or bizarre experiences or facts can destroy the best explanations. Thus we cannot say with absolute confidence that the data and theories of parapsychology must be false because they contradict the existing body of physical [scientific] theory." David Lane in his response to me writes: "Quite frankly, Daniel, the paranormal has yet to be repeatedly "proven" to a skeptical community. I have an open mind, but I am not going to settle for "stories." " Again that word "stories"! Please define the "skeptical community". Do you mean the professional skeptics like those of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of the Claims of the Paranormal? Even some of the "fellows" of this Committee have resigned in disgust when they learned that their fellow skeptics were nothing but "True DISbelievers." Or do you mean the scientific community? Well quite frankly, David , after 30 years of study, I have the impression that scientists have, for the most part, turned a blind eye toward the claims of the paranormal and have ignored the study of such phenomena. DAVID LANE REPLIES: That's the groovy part here, Dan. Since you think that science has ignorned--in general--the paranormal, let's set up some experiments to prove them wrong. I am game. Instead of armchair speculating about this, let's do the fudging experiments..... We have a whole newsgroup here with advocates of soul travel. Let's set up a simple five digit number test. It's at least a start. DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: Dr. Andrew Greeley confirms my own observations: "Despite years of attempts to study paranormal phenomena, there's been a scientific iron curtain raised against serious research on these experiences. . . ." Pretty opened minded people?! DAVID LANE REPLIES: I don't know who you hang out with, but I got my Ph.D. at UCSD and prior to that got an M.A. at GTU in Berkeley. There were lots of scientists that I knew who were open to testing psychic powers and the like. In any case, we too are part of that "testing" community. We can do the experiments ourselves right NOW. Instead of yapping this way and that, let's set something up and invite this newsgroup to join in..... What a great way to find out what may be "trans" rational. I think it is silly and sophomoric to talk about "scientists" in general, when you and I and others can do some very simple experiments to "test" our varying opinions. DANIEL CALDWELL WRITES: And if Greeley's opinion is suspect, then here is the opinion of Dr. Ray Hyman, probably the foremost scientific skeptic of the paranormal. Even he has had to admit: ". . . members of the scientific community often judge the parapsychological claims without firsthand knowledge of the experimental evidence. Very few of the scientific critics have examined even one of the many experimental reports on psychic phenomena. Even fewer, if any, have examined the bulk of the parapsychological literature.... Consequently, parapsychologists have justification for their complaint that the scientific community is dismissing their claims without a fair hearing. . . ." Such a response on the part of the scientific community is nothing but ... PREJUDICE. If such an arrogant attitude is part of science, I want nothing to do with it. Hyman wrote this in 1988 and as far as I can tell it still applies in 1997. Yes, I agree one should be skeptical and ask questions concerning the claims of gurus, avatars, psychics, etc. But one should also not let one's guard down and naively accept the statements of so-called scientists. Their statements can also be full of bullshit. However knowlegeable a scientist may be in his own speciality, one must ask how much that scientist knows about subjects outside his own field. DAVID LANE REPLIES: I agree and that is why I am most open to doing the experiments ourselves. Again, a very simple five digit test. That way, instead of relying on other stories or reports, we can do them ourselves. P.S. I used to teach parapsychology at the University of Humanistic Studies in Del Mar, and we used to set up experiments to "test" various paranormal claims. Though we came up blank, I am most willing to give it another go. ---------- Now let me try my psychic power: I predict that Daniel won't really like my reply and will write a rebuttal....... -------------------------------- keep it coming this is fun
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I want to go back to the home base now.