Lately, there is a thing going around web sites that promote fringe ideas. They enjoy bashing James “The Amazing” Randi, one of the world’s most prominent skeptics and unveiler of charlatans. I suppose it’s not new, but I see it a lot lately.
There have even been several attempts to personally discredit him. Many commenters try to get words in on this website that are libelous. I do not allow them. It’s very possible to dislike a person but still value their ideas and contributions. But they resort to petty personal attacks.
I’ve had disagreements about Randi with several people include the person who is mentioned in this piece by Steve Novella. Steve does a good job of defending the JREF’s Million Dollar Challenge that is a preliminary test of paranormal powers.
A recent blog post by Steve Volk once again attacks the million dollar challenge. The attack amounts to one giant straw man, typical of such criticisms. I will also point out that this post, like all criticisms I have seen, focuses on Randi the man. I suspect this is probably because of his position, but also because they feel he is an easy target.
Please take a look at this post to see Steve’s response to criticisms of the Million Dollar Challenge. A bit one is that the people complaining do not do science and they don’t understand it. Having studied paranormal researchers who claim to use “science”, it’s very clear that many people do not understand it but enjoy the power that science invokes.
Science or not, if people making outrageous claims can’t pass a gateway test THAT THEY AGREE TO BEFOREHAND, then their claims are really not worth further attention.
With all the stories we cover here on DN, the typical default position of the media is to believe in fantastic things. ALMOST ALWAYS, those who report these stories never follow up and see what really happened. No, a UFO was not found in the Baltic. No, kids really did not find a dinosaur in the Congo. The mystery boom had a reasonable explanation.
I get pretty peeved when people tell me I’m “no fun” when I point out a reasonable solution to the question “what happened”. I would LOVE to find a really bizarre answer or to see good evidence for a paranormal claim. But, to avoid looking for good answers in order to maintain the paranormal allure is mystery mongering. That’s worthless to me and to people who want to really find out what the world is like. Science finds out and moves ahead. If you continue to believe when there is nothing of substance to grasp, you are left behind as knowledge moves on.