Alex Tsakiris: woomeister and coward

Well, after my fractious interview at Skeptiko with Alex Tsakiris, in which he failed to get me to admit to the existence of any number of woo-ish phenomena, he got lambasted in the comments, something he’s not used to from his usual gaggle of ESPers, near-death-experiencers, and quantum wowsers. What does he do when faced with an onslaught of rationalism?

First, he posts his final list of talking points, resembling the self-serving, post-production introduction and conclusion he added to our interview:

and then he immediately closes the thread:

The man has shown himself to be not only a poseur who pretends to know something about evolution when in fact he’s deeply and willfully ignorant, but also a rank coward. He just can’t face dissent. I wouldn’t put it past him to expunge the whole piece.

I don’t regret having done the interview.  I didn’t get to promulgate much evolutionary biology, which was my original plan, but I got the rare chance, purely inadvertently, to expose the man for the fraud and ignoramus he is.  I call that a good day’s work.

244 Comments

  1. Karl Withakay
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    What a way to end a comment thread.

    Once again, I am reminded of one of my most favorite comments ever, made by someone named Jody in a thread on skeptico. (different blog: note the spelling)

    “And the moral we learn from that last comment, Boys and Girls, is that if you can’t win an argument on its merits, take a shit on the desk and leave.”

  2. abb3w
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Oh, joy; and he’s pushing the interview on one of the many vacuous direct-from-the-press-release “News” outlets.

  3. PeterD
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Reply to Dan L.(February 16, 2012 at 11:26 am0

    “I didn’t do a single bit of question begging. But it doesn’t matter since you’ve already made your decision about what’s true. This is obvious from the fact that you highlight a few bits of really dubious data that “support” your beliefs but you dismiss the reams of evidence, study after study, that render your beliefs implausible.

    This is a very dangerous attitude for anyone to have. Let’s put it this way: what would it take to convince you that you are wrong?”

    As someone with a scientific background for me it’s evidence that counts – observable but also the consideration of evidence from other sources. Now starting with the light phenomena seen esp. recently by academic investigators (see my posts above) I go from there. I don’t have beliefs Dan but from what I know it is my duty to report this. Evidence gathered in a different way is interesting too. The pointer though, as I see it, is evidence for non-physical intelligence but with a connection to our lives. That’s the best working hypothesis I at the moment. Cheers now.

    • Dan L.
      Posted February 16, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      I don’t have beliefs

      How am I to interpret a statement like this? Does this mean that you are so taken with your particular worldview that you think your apprehension of the world transcends “mere belief”? Does it mean that you are a perfect solipsist, refusing to grant that any given proposition is more plausible than its negation? Does it mean that you think you are, somehow, the first human “neutral observer” in history and that your perceptions should be taken by everyone else as “facts,” not “beliefs”?

      As far as I can tell, you’re just another mysterian trying to convince people not to look behind the curtain. Let’s say you’re right and that intelligence is magic. How does that help us investigate intelligence? It doesn’t. It doesn’t generate any testable hypotheses.

      Think about magnetism. During the middle ages the vast majority of European commoners believed in the “occult powers” of various plants and gemstones. That is, they believed certain gems and plants are magic. And magnets, of course, when their existence became widely known were regarded as some of the most magical. One can understand why, but nonetheless ascribing “occult powers” to these magnets did nothing to help humankind understand magnetism. It was only after natural philosophers gave up on “occult powers” and started making rigorous hypotheses and performing controlled experiments with magnetism that we came to understand that phenomenon, at least to a degree useful enough to allow electronics to remake the world in the early 20th century.

      If intelligence is magic then we’re still better off assuming it’s not magic and to try to understand it in terms of phenomena that are already understood. The best proof that intelligence is magic would be consistent failures in this endeavor, not to assume it to be so at the outset.

      • PeterD
        Posted February 16, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

        The statement “I don’t have beliefs” means just that. I know QED works to many decimal places. I know QCD is the correct theory for the strong force. I know the truth of the Dirac equation and T violation (but to be subsumed one day within a more general theory). These are not beliefs. I know, on the same level of knowing, that other scientists have reported correctly obs. indicating *quite clearly* non-physical intelligence (the phenomena I spoke of above). Not magic – observations for these phenomena.

        Now you may know (in fact it is considered necessary) that physics postulates multiple dimensions – big and small. Perhaps this is where these phenomena can manifest. Now I don’t know this (or believe) they are there (and can sometimes pop into our space) but let’s take this as a working hypothesis. But reported *facts* need explanations – let us leave it at that. Thanks for your input.

        • JBlilie
          Posted February 16, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

          I know QED works to many decimal places. I know QCD is the correct theory for the strong force. I know the truth of the Dirac equation and T violation (but to be subsumed one day within a more general theory). These are not beliefs.

          and

          I know, on the same level of knowing, that other scientists have reported correctly obs. indicating *quite clearly* non-physical intelligence (the phenomena I spoke of above).

          … we saw what you did there.

        • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
          Posted February 16, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

          You seem to link to out-of-body experiences above. It’s been long known how to induce them, and what causes them:

          ““multisensory conflict” is a key mechanism underlying out-of-body experiences.”

          There is no new phenomena here, but embodies emergence of the sensation of “conscious” mind.

          As for the physics, I can’t remember if it was Feynman or Weinberg who estimated it, but fundamentally you can’t have any new interactions than the known long range ones on account of entropy reasons. I’m sure its googleable by now.

          So it’s woo considered as biology, and woo considered as physics. Let’s call it “woo woo” for emphasis.

        • Dan L.
          Posted February 16, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

          Apparently you don’t know what a belief is. For most philosophers, “knowledge” is justified true belief — and I personally might quibble with that definition but unless you’re proposing an alternative we’re stuck with it. So when you say you “know” QED “works” to many decimal places, you are really saying:
          a) That you believe QED “works” to many decimal places,
          b) That this belief is justified, and
          c) That this belief is true.

          The important bit is (a). To know something you must also believe it. Everyone has beliefs. I bet you believe you’re having a conversation in the comments of a blog post right now (I believe the same exact thing).

          When you say you “know” that scientists have “correctly” observed “non-physical intelligence” you are saying that you believe it, that this belief is justified, and that it is true. You certainly believe this — you’ve made this quite clear. I’m arguing that this belief is in no way justified. The evidence you’ve cited is extraordinarily weak, especially compared to the evidence for a competing hypothesis: that intelligence is embodied in a physical brain.

          I could claim to know that intelligence is embodied in a physical brain with much greater justification than you can claim to know it isn’t. I certainly believe it is, and I think given the wealth of evidence for it that this is a justified belief. Consider Ramachandran’s treatment for phantom limb pain using only a shoebox and a common, household mirror. It was inspired by reasoning from a naturalistic theory of mind, by assuming that mind is embodied in a physical nervous system. And it works. Do you have any similar success stories for “non-physical intelligence”? Have you been able to cure any cases of phantom limb pain with a Vulcan mind meld?

          String theory and maybe a few other physical theories posit big and small dimensions but there is essentially no good evidence for this thesis. This is one of the weaknesses of string theory, actually.

          Reported facts only need explanations if the reports are credible. Many, many experimental results have been overturned on the basis of subsequent experiments, or even by theoreticians pointing out problems with experimental technique or the interpretation of the results. Thus, we can’t simply take any given report as “factual,” we must take into all the evidence both for and against a thesis and make a decision about which reports are credible.

          You don’t get to tell me where to “leave it.” And you’ve successfully convinced me that your “scientific background” isn’t worth, in Douglas Adams’ immortal words, a pair of fetid dingo kidneys.

        • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
          Posted February 16, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

          Oops, I forgot the reason: one can estiamte entropy content of the universe, and new long range interactions would generate more entropy than is observed.

          • Posted February 16, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

            That’s interesting, Torbjörn – I hadn’t heard that previously. If you find it, let us know, it would be very useful.

    • Dan L.
      Posted February 16, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

      While we’re at it, could you explain to me what you find so compelling about the Crookes paper you link to? This is not a study but apparently one man’s rather credulous personal report of his friends’ seances from 1874. This is not good evidence. Contrast this with all the neuroscientific data from the 20th century pointing to the embodiment of cognition within the physical brain — no contest.

      Why haven’t any more recent researchers come to similar conclusions? You, Alex Tsakiris, and millions of Deepak Chopra fans prove there’s a market for it; and if it’s true one would think we could find some more recent evidence for it.

      As a “scientist” (I must admit some skepticism as to your credentials — care to link to your CV?) surely you must realize that the results of experiment and observation must be repeatable to serve as good scientific evidence? If this wasn’t so physics would have run off the rails centuries ago — sometimes experimenters and observers are simply incorrect. No one report can be taken as good evidence, one needs mutual confirmation by independent sources before a finding really constitutes “evidence”. So if you insist there’s evidence for this nonsense you’d be better off citing a more credible and more modern study, one embodied in a research program that has turned up a significant amount of confirming evidence by different researchers.

      • JBlilie
        Posted February 16, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

        He can always fake up a CV anyways …

        It’s all of a piece with AT citing a ID creationist historian as THE authority on EBNS.

        • Dan L.
          Posted February 16, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

          Faking a CV that is simultaneously plausible and creditable would require a great deal more scientific knowledge than this guy has demonstrated so far in the thread. Thought I could trap him but he ended up trapping himself.

      • PeterD
        Posted February 16, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

        “…what you find so compelling about the Crookes paper you link to…”

        Because the light phenomena (intelligent behaviour) have been seen quite recently (and at other times over the last century). As I said above try a little research for these – in science it’s called repeatability, thus interesting. Goodbye Dan!! – NHF

        • JBlilie
          Posted February 16, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

          Repeatability with NDE? What protocol were they all using?

        • Posted February 16, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

          Why don’t you supply the references like everyone else does instead of telling people to use Google?

        • Dan L.
          Posted February 16, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

          LOL. No, I’m busy with my own reading, thanks. If you want me to believe your mysterian nonsense you can do your own research. Let me know when you find a (controlled, peer reviewed) study confirming Crookes’ “observations” from the 20th or 21st centuries.

        • truthspeaker
          Posted February 17, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

          Because the light phenomena (intelligent behaviour) have been seen quite recently

          Citation needed.

    • DV
      Posted February 16, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

      Classic case of keeping a mind so open that the brain fell out. LOL.

  4. rick longworth
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    “a good day’s work”, indeed. I agree. The decision to appear on the show was a good one.

  5. JBlilie
    Posted February 16, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    So, Dr. C. and readers: This incident may attract more trolls and so on to this site. So, though I do agree with Eric that you did “a good days work” and sharpened your wits on a twit (a la Hitchens), we may have to wade through feces for a while.

  6. tim
    Posted February 17, 2012 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    Jerry Coyne is obviously a bright guy. He is also a hard core materialist. It wasn’t the right thing for Alex to invite him on skeptiko and try to enlighten him. However, whether materialists like it not, there is a growing body of evidence showing their postion to be false. Every sensible person would back evolution to be true but either evolution has created something in a human that can leave the body and observe it’s surroundings,,,,,or something existed prior to evolution that joins the body and leaves it. Bullshit I hear you cry. Well, take a look at the veridical evidence in NDE research.
    Lastly, Professor Coyne would do himself a favour by not throwing out insults such as ignoramus, poseur, coward etc. Shame on you, Professor Coyne you sound like a bar room brawler rather than a serious high ranking academic researcher. Not good.

    • Dan L.
      Posted February 17, 2012 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      There’s no such thing as “veridical evidence.” By definition of “veridical” and “evidence” such a thing is impossible. Problem of other minds.

      • tim
        Posted February 17, 2012 at 9:20 am | Permalink

        Evidence given that corresponds truthfully to what actually occured, smarty pants.

        • truthspeaker
          Posted February 17, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

          I’ve looked at that “evidence”. It doesn’t demonstrate what you say it does.

        • Posted February 17, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

          What about evidence that doesn’t correspond truthfully (whatever that is supposed to mean) to what actually occurred?

    • piero
      Posted February 17, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      I sincerely hope you are not the same Tim I had the displeasure to meet at Slacktivist.com.

      Anyway, your post is absurd. Let’s say that evolution “created” a consciousness that can exist indpendently of a brain. Let’s forget anbout the plausible mechanism for this astonishing fact. Have you any evidence to show for such a consciousness? Is there any experiment you can design that would unequivocally show the existence of such an entity? You don’t? Then fuck off,

      Now, let’s suppose this mysterious entity existed before apes became human. Why did it have to embody itself in humans? Why not in slugs? Amoebas? Chameleons? Oh, of course: it couldn’t, because it needed a sufficiently complex brain! Again, fuck off.

    • piero
      Posted February 17, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

      Oh, and you said:

      “Shame on you, Professor Coyne; you sound like a bar room brawler rather than like a serious, high-ranking academic researcher. Not good.”

      (I corrected the syntax for you. Yes, I know, I’m a softie at heart).

      You sound like one of several million ignoramuses who clutter cyberspace with their asinine comments. You obviously know nothing about neuroscience, biology or physics. If I were you, I’d refrain from posting at all; instead, I’d try to learn something from reading what the knowledgeable posters have to say.

    • Chris
      Posted April 11, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

      Ah, is that naive trusting Tim, who Alex plays like a fiddle and who actually believes that Tsakiris is not Enrique Vargas. Clearly, your critical skills are non existent.

  7. Dale
    Posted February 17, 2012 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Tim said “either evolution has created something in a human that can leave the body and observe it’s surroundings,,,,,or something existed prior to evolution that joins the body and leaves it.”

    That all sounds very strange.
    Could you tell us where we might find this “thing”? We need to find it outside of a person’s report of such a “thing”.

  8. Posted February 17, 2012 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    here’s what Alex wrote on the Skeptiko discussion forum:

    “Great idea… Jerry, please come back on Skeptiko so we can talk about all the research you weren’t able to look at beforehand.

    Of course, if you don’t want to do it on Skeptiko we can do it on another show of your choosing.”

    so are you open to the idea? would you be willing to engage in a roundtable debate/discussion with people like Michael Flannery (on Darwin vs. Wallace), Bruce Lipton (on epigenetics), Rick Hanson (on neuroplasticity), Anton Zelinger (on QM), etc.

    i’d like to see an honest intellectual and scientific debate on these topics.

    thank you.

    ~C

    • truthspeaker
      Posted February 17, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      What is there to discuss on Darwin vs. Wallace? And why would Jerry engage in a discussion with someone as dishonest as Michael Flannery?

    • piero
      Posted February 17, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

      Jerry Coyne was supposed to be INTERVIEWED by THE GREAT TSAKIRIS. It was not supposed to be a debate. It was not supposed to be about quantum mechanics, which Jerry probably knows little about and Tsakiris certainly knows nothing about. Tsakiris blew his chance of getting an interesting interview with a top scientist because of his idiotic ramabling and his ignorance. And now he expects Jerry to go back to the den of iniquity for a debate with an obscure and dishonest son of a bitch? Are you fucking nuts?

      • Posted February 17, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

        Piero,

        first of, i wasn’t talkng to you. my comment was respectfully addressed to Jerry Coyne.

        second, Alex said: “we can do it on another show of your choosing.” meaning, Coyne doesn’t have to go back to Skeptiko. Coyne could even host it himself if he wants to.

        that said, i understand if Coyne doesn’t want to do it. i agree that Tsakiris could’ve handled the interview better.

        that is all.

        ~C

        • Dale
          Posted February 17, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

          But why would Dr. Coyne want to debt him at all? Fools like this tsakiris guy are a dime a dozen. There’s no point in taking him seriously.

        • piero
          Posted February 17, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

          Your comment was not “addressed” to anyone in particular. Hence, I have every right to respond as if it was a public message.

          When I referred to “the den of iniquity” I was not referring to a physical space, but to the situation of having to interact with a complete moron. Whether such interaction takes place atop the Big Ben or in a strip-club bathroom is wholly irrelevant.

          Holy fuck, why do I have to keep explaining everything? Are people becoming more stupid for some unknown reason? If anyone knows what’s going on, I’d be grateful to be informed.

          • Posted February 18, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

            Piero,

            it was addressed to Jerry. looks like I missed the salutation when I copied and pasted my comment. my bad.

            that said, do you always have to use the word “fuck” and “moron”? I’m not offended by it, btw. but it reflects more on you and your sophisticated limited vocabulary.

            thanks for your response. now I hope to hear back from Jerry.

            • piero
              Posted February 18, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

              I find my limited vocabulary pretty good for a foreigner. If you want, I can post in Spanish or Italian. I’d still be using the Spanish and Italian equivalents of “fuck” and “moron”, though, because they are the appropriate terms. I’m sorry if you find those words offensive (naah, I’m not sorry at all, actually).

    • Jolo
      Posted February 24, 2012 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      Of course, if you don’t want to do it on Skeptiko we can do it on another show of your choosing.”

      This was tried on Skepticality with Alex and Ben Radford (from Monster Talk) regarding the “best case” for a psychic helping the police. Alex was as boorish there as he was towards Dr Coyne, so why exactly should Dr. Coyne bother with him again?

  9. Posted February 17, 2012 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    That’s pretty firmly in the class “would look good on your CV, and be a waste of precious seconds of my life.” Alex has already established himself as a liar and troll. There is no value in feeding him further, only in warning others about his well-documented bad faith actions.

  10. Douglas Stewart
    Posted February 17, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    Hi Jerry,

    It makes a change to hear an uncompromising, no bullshit opponent to the mega woomeister that is Alex Tsakiris ! I have been drawn to Alex’s podcasts by some of his interesting guests and have found the experience tortuous and a total waste of time. I dared to listen once again when I saw your posting on WEIT. I think it is pointless for any other serious scientists such as yourself to engage him. It is frustrating and futile, nevertheless, well done to you for exposing his nonsense.

  11. slqblindman
    Posted February 18, 2012 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Jerry, I hope you don’t regret giving the interview. You’ve earned a new fan!

  12. Posted February 18, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    While it’s in my podcast queue I’ve yet to listen to the episode (yes, I listen to Creduliko regularly; helps me stay in shape). What amazes me most are the comments of his supporters in sympathetic forums. You’d think Akex had mopped the floor with our host. Talk about motivated reasoning, cognitive dissonance, and living in denial. Young Earthers on one side and New Agers on the other, it’s like Scylla and Charybdis.

  13. bio
    Posted February 18, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    another bottom kisser

  14. horts an all
    Posted February 19, 2012 at 4:55 am | Permalink

    Actually Tsakiris is helping to change the paradigm which is necessary when you find evidence that contradicts what is currently accepted. Keep your thick dinosaur heads stuck in the petrified sand if you want to, but materialism is false.

  15. horts an all
    Posted February 19, 2012 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Oh and Piero….you sure are one hell of a nice guy….”What’s that you say, stranger,…..oh fuck off….fuck off….!! :#>

    • piero
      Posted February 19, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      Oh, so you want some too? I can easily accomodate you, you know? But I won’t. Instead, I’ll address the pitiful argument you put forward before you decided it was a good idea to rail against me.

      “Tsakiris is helping to change the paradigm which is necessary when you find evidence that contradicts what is currently accepted.”

      He wouldn’t be able to change his own underware, and most probably throws “paradigm” around as a buzzword. Nothing I’ve ever read in his blogs has ever taught me anything. Like Chopra, he relies on fuzzy, ill-defined, unproven ideas and thinks of himself as clever guy.

      You could provide one argument at least to prove that materialism is false. To that end,you would have to do two things:

      1. Give a coherent definition of materialism
      2. Prove that some observable phenomenon is not explicable in terms of such definition.

      I doubt you are up to the task, as your defense of Tsakiris demonstrates.

      OK, I’m sorry, I cannot resist: fuck off!

      • horts an all
        Posted February 19, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

        The theory that physical matter is the only reality and that everything, including thought, feeling, mind, and will, can be explained in terms of matter and physical phenomena.

        Now, Senor Piero,
        Proof is a strange concept. Nothing is ever proved 100 per cent, but nevertheless becomes accepted. You accept all kinds of ideas without proof, including evolution (which although I agree is the best possible explanation) ,,it is stil not ‘proved.’

        There are now enough cases of mind body separation to confidently say that materialism (in it’s current state) is false. You are still behaving like a tw#t I see with the patent eff off.

        • Posted February 19, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

          “There are now enough cases of mind body separation to confidently say that materialism (in it’s current state) is false.”

          No there really, reallly aren’t. Citation needed. (And Skeptiko doesn’t count, nor does anything on mind-energy.net.)

          • horts an all
            Posted February 19, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

            I will post the references tomorrow.

        • piero
          Posted February 19, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

          OK. My apologies. I didn’t really mean to tell you to fuck off. It was a stupid afterthought that was meant to be funny but backfired horribly.

          I agree that “proof” is only meaningful in a purely conceptual sphere. There are mathematical proofs, because matehematics has been developed over the centuries as a gigantic tautology, but there are no physical proofs, and the best we can hope for is a high probability of being right, by which I mean a small error range in our measurements and predictions.

          Nevertheless, I can conceive of no scenario where the theory of evolution is not true. Actually, I can conceive of silly scenarios, such as those proposed by some creationists: God made the Earth 6,000 years ago, but made it look as if it was 4.5 billion years old, complete with fossils and geological clues. I mean, come on!

          In the absence of a reputable alternative explanation, I accept the theory of evolution as true. Do I accept it with a 100% degree of certainty? To all practical purposes, yes. I estimate the probability of the theory of evolution to ever be disproved at one in a few trillion. Remember that Darwin knew nothing about genes or DNA, yet microbiology has consistently confirmed his findings and predictions. What are the chances of that happening as a mere concidence?

          I know of no case of mind-body separation. I’ve never witnessed an instance, nor have I found any reference to such amazing phenomenon in any academically respectable book or peer-reviewed journal. So materialism appears to be the way to go. The fact that you are keen to be deluded by woo does not make that woo more credible. In fact, the opposite is true: you tries to rebut my position with vague and indefensible statements, which adds credibility to the thesis that Tsakiris and his minions do not know what they are talking about, and would do well to either learn something of forever hold their peace.

          • horts an all
            Posted February 19, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

            Piero, I don’t need your apologies. Maybe it would be a good idea for you to not be so aggressive with people that disaggree with your view of what we are doing hurtling through space on a friendly(ish) piece of rock.

            I will reference you some examples tomorrow.

            • horts an all
              Posted February 19, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

              disagree.

            • piero
              Posted February 19, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

              You are right. I must control my temper. That’s why I apologized, because my insult was uncalled for.

              • horts an all
                Posted February 20, 2012 at 5:33 am | Permalink

                OK no problem.

                “Experiencing an OBE during cardiac arrest is relatively common, so common that Michael B. Sabom, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at Emory University and a staff physician at the Atlanta Veterans’ Administration Medical Center, got tired of hearing his patients recount such “fantasies” and decided to settle the matter once and for all. Sabom selected two groups of patients, one composed of 32 seasoned cardiac patients who had reported OBEs during their heart attacks, and one made up of 25 seasoned cardiac patients who had never experienced an OBE. He then interviewed the patients, asking the OBEers to describe their own resuscitation as they had witnessed it from the out-of-body state, and asking the nonexperiencers to describe what they imagined must have transpired during their resuscitation.

                Of the nonexperiencers, 20 made major mistakes when they described their resuscitations, 3 gave correct but general descriptions, and 2 had no idea at all what had taken place. Among the experiencers, 26 gave correct but general descriptions, 6 gave highly detailed and accurate descriptions of their own resuscitation, and 1 gave a blow-by-blow accounting so accurate that Sabom was stunned. The results inspired him to delve even deeper into the phenomenon, and like Clark, he has now become an ardent believer and lectures widely on the subject. There appears “to be no plausible explanation for the accuracy of these observations involving the usual physical senses,” he says. “The out-of-body hypothesis simply seems to fit best with the data at hand

                http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11755611

                http://www.merkawah.nl/images/stories/jndsdentureman.pdf

              • Posted February 20, 2012 at 10:13 am | Permalink

                horts an all. So it wasn’t a double-blind study. I respectfully suggest that Michael B. Sabom goes back and does it properly.

  16. Dale
    Posted February 20, 2012 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Why doctors don’t make good scientists.

    “he has now become an ardent believer and lectures widely on the subject.”

    • Dale
      Posted February 20, 2012 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      I’ll back up on that comment about Doctors.

      Listen to this “discussion” between Dr. Steven Novella, neurologist, and tsarkis about NDE.

      Novella presents in depth background and reasoning. Tsarkis is completely clueless all he does is disagree, kind of like the Monty Python skit.
      This is what he wanted suck Dr. Coyne into.

      • horts an all
        Posted February 20, 2012 at 11:29 am | Permalink

        Novello didn’t get back to Alex with any of the research he cited. There is no good research done that supports Novella’s claims, it’s just bluff.

        Bernard Hurley,
        Yeah I figured you’d find fault with the methodology. Nobody else has ever critized the study for not being double blind…rather Academia princess Blackmore only said that the control group was not composed of patients with identical heart conditions so the study is worthless….yeah that’s they do… no matter that the observations made by the patients were impossible to explain away normally….when you can’t explain it discredit it. When you can’t discredit it, ignore it.

        • Posted February 20, 2012 at 11:43 am | Permalink

          There is a simple answer to this. If Michael B. Sabom wants to win $1,000,000 all he needs to do is contact JREF and arrange a properly conducted study.

          Anecdotal evidence needs no explaining away but I would ask you to apologise immediately for your slanderous suggestion that I might try to discredit or ignore properly conducted research.

          Put up or shut up you offensive little worm and if you can’t manage to apologise find a tall building to jump off.

          • horts an all
            Posted February 20, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

            It’s not anecdotal evidence you ignorant and biased man. I have nothing to apologise for….you’ve got some nerve asking for that and calling me an offensive little worm. Is that how Bernard Hurley conducts himself ?

            Randi’s prize is bullshit pie in the sky and if you didn’t know there is a double blind study currently running -aware study- .As for Sabom, he wouldn’t lower himself turning cartwheels for that phoney.

            • piero
              Posted February 20, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

              Until a double-blind experiment is properly conducted, all you have is anecdotal evidence. I mean, dividing the sample group into those who had had OBEs and those who hadn’t… are you kidding me? That’s the epitome of scientific malpractice.

              Randi’s million prize offer is not a scam. You can find plenty of videos on YouTube where experiments are rigorously conducted to test the claims of dowsers and other assorted nutters. The protocol for these experiments is agreed beforehand with the claimers. Your comment is slanderous. I hope Randi sues you.

              I’m sorry I apologized to you before. You deserved every insult I threw at you and then some more.

              • horts an all
                Posted February 20, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

                Your comment is slanderous. I hope Randi sues you :-):-)

                Yes the great Randi will sue my ass through the courts.

                Piero, you really are a berk.

              • rickflick
                Posted February 20, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

                I think they were hoping for a challenge with someone with real assets. 8-(

              • rickflick
                Posted February 20, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

                Piero, I was wondering when you would regain your sanity. Thank God you have. 8-)

              • piero
                Posted February 20, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

                It was just a momentary lapse of sanity. I’m back to my former obnoxious self.

            • piero
              Posted February 20, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

              Can you reply to the more substantive objection in my post, namely that the “experiment” was amateurish? You can resort to any argument related to experimental design in order to refute my objection. Can you do it? If so, do it. If not, go back to the hole in the ground you came out of.

              • rickflick
                Posted February 20, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

                That’s better!

              • piero
                Posted February 20, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

                Highfive, Rick!

              • rickflick
                Posted February 20, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

                *clap*

              • horts an all
                Posted February 21, 2012 at 2:27 am | Permalink

                I don’t need to resort to any particular argument to reply to your rubbish, Piero.

                The two sets of heart patients were divided that way, OBErs from non OBErs because he wanted to see if the standard debunkers explanation for accurate perceptions during cardiac arrest was down to confabulation (amongst other things) after the fact.
                So, the method he used was perfectly sound. As I have already tried to explain to you therre was room for a small objection because of the condition of some of the heart patients in the control group which were not exactly the same as the target group. It doesn’t actually matter one jot…but that was the only reason why the study was ignored by sceptics….just because they could.

                I see you are back to your usual witty/shitty insults. I don’t live in a hole in the ground believe it or not. Do you know anyone that does, Piero ?

              • Posted February 21, 2012 at 2:29 am | Permalink

                I’m afraid that’s terrible experimental design and doesn’t provide any substantial evidence.

            • Posted February 20, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

              Yes that is how I conduct myself because I am fed up with inane twats saying thing like:

              ….when you can’t explain it discredit it. When you can’t discredit it, ignore it.

              You have absolutely no idea who I am, what I do or do not discredit, what I do or do not ignore. You obviously think it reasonable to make such ignorant disgusting accusations about someone you have never met with not a shred of evidence to back then up.

              Cet animal est tres mechant; quand on l’attaque il se defend.

              • horts an all
                Posted February 21, 2012 at 2:32 am | Permalink

                You have absolutely no idea who I am,

                Vous êtes un idiot prétentieux.

              • Posted February 21, 2012 at 3:19 am | Permalink

                horts an all, of course I have absolutely no idea who you are. That’s why I don’t publicly suggest you have no integrity. I would need evidence before making such a claim.

        • eucaryote
          Posted February 20, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

          “no matter that the observations made by the patients were impossible to explain away normally”

          Yeah, they have the same problem with alien abductions and crop circles. Tsarkis should get himself one of those ghost chasing shows that we see on the TVee.

          • horts an all
            Posted February 20, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

            Yeah, bring on the aliens and co, throw in big foot for good measure.

            • eucaryote
              Posted February 20, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

              Your “evidence” does not support your contention. It only shows that some people report experiences that they don’t understand. We can grant the truth of the report without granting the truth of the anecdotal experience.

              I still see tsarkis chasing ghosts on the teevee and boldly challenging the conventional science that says that ghost don’t exist. ;-) What a fruitloop. Amazing that the takes himself seriously.

              • piero
                Posted February 20, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

                Precisely. And perhaps even more amazing, other people seem to take him seriously too.
                I understand Tsakiris is an enginner, but I couldn’t find any information about him on the net. Who the fuck is he, apart from a blathering idiot?

              • horts an all
                Posted February 21, 2012 at 2:37 am | Permalink

                Alex is a decent guy with integrity…

                This blog is like an overused public toilet with the drains blocked. Man, it stinks….

              • whyevolutionistrue
                Posted February 21, 2012 at 3:54 am | Permalink

                Okay horts, we’ve had enough of your insults of other bloggers, but you don’t come over here and insult the website. And if Alex had “integrity,” he would close the comments thread when he gets criticize, or ban every comment that criticized him. I have allowed you to promulgate dissenting views here, but after this invective I suggest you go elsewhere.

  17. Robbie
    Posted February 23, 2012 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Jerry, I noticed in your latest comment you asking ‘horts an all’ to basically leave for critizing your website and other blogs. Now I agree with you, you should not sit and critize. However, I notice you have ignored what has been said by your own commentors, for example Piero telling ‘Horts an all’ to ‘fuck off’, apologizing, then retracting his apology by saying ‘I’m sorry I apologized to you before. You deserved every insult I threw at you and then some more.’ The main point of this article is to critize Alex Tsarkis (which if him leading you to an interview under false pretences – I certainly understand) for many things, amongst them his inability to ‘face dissent’. However, in your latest comment you have asked a commenter to leave for critizing and giving ‘dissenting’ views. In your admirable haste to rightly critize those who can’t face dissent and ask a commenter to leave for their dissenting views and for saying bad things, you seem to have missed out applying these critisms on your own commenters and most importantly – on yourself.

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted February 23, 2012 at 8:36 am | Permalink

      Give me a break, please. I try to police personal insults against other commenters as much as I can, though I miss some, but what I don’t easily forgive is somebody who says the whole website is garbage. He wasn’t asked to leave for giving dissenting views, of which I allow plenty (unless they become too-frequent trolls or express creationist or extreme religious views), he was asked to leave because he insulted the entire enterprise.

      Are you seriously saying that I don’t allow dissent on this site? Have a look at any of my free will posts!

      • Robbie
        Posted February 23, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

        ‘I have allowed you to promulgate dissenting views here, but after this invective I suggest you go elsewhere.’ – After you said this you can understand why I thought you were asking ‘Horts an all’ to leave for dissenting views! If I misunderstood you I apologise. The point I was trying to make is you might want to watch what your own commenters say (Like Piero and the example I provider) before taking exception to those who say bad things, but disagree with you!
        And I wouldn’t know about how much you allow dissent on this site, I don’t visit that much, and I admittedly only found out about it via Skeptiko.
        Anyway, if what you said about Alex is true, then I agree with you, I was just trying to make the point that it seems a bit hollow if you at least seem to be taking part in similar behavior yourself!
        Anyway cheers and hope all is well!

    • piero
      Posted February 23, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

      As I explained to “horts an all”, my telling him to fuck off was meant to be a silly joke which backfired. I duly and sincerely apologized in my next reply to him.

      Then “horts an all” alled Bernard Hurley an “ignorant an biased man”, “un idiot prétentieux”, and referred to Randi’s million dollar challenge as “bullshit pie in the sky.”

      That was enough to expose “horts an all” as a faux polite poster, and I took off my gloves too. Fairly, in my opinion.

      I’m glad you found this site, albeit via Skeptiko. Hang around for a few days and you’ll soon be cured.

      • Robbie
        Posted February 24, 2012 at 6:27 am | Permalink

        Okay fair enough, but after that you did say ‘I’m sorry I apologized to you before. You deserved every insult I threw at you and then some more.’ So even though I agree that ‘horts an all’ was a bit rude, it seems that both of you were in the wrong, to me anyway.
        I would agree with him about Randi’s challenge, as in I don’t think much to it, but he didn’t need to put it like that! If you want to discuss it in a reasonable way I’d be happy to!:)
        Haha what are you curing me for? Just because you guys don’t reckon much to Alex (Fairly understandably if what’s being said is true, even though some of his interviews are pretty good with some pretty impressive people!) doesn’t mean the rest of us that post at Skeptiko are like that! I actually find it to be a pretty reasonable place with pretty reasonable posters, with exceptions, of course.

        • piero
          Posted February 24, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

          I think discussing Randi’s prize would count as derailing this thread. If you have misgivings about it, you should post your arguments in the jref forum.

          What do you need to be cured of? This:

          “About Skeptiko:

          Skeptiko.com is the first scientifically oriented Podcast exploring new research in controversial areas of science such as telepathy, psi, parapsychology, near-death-experience, psychic detectives, medium communication, reincarnation, and after-life encounters. Each episode features open, honest debate on new scientific discoveries. The show includes interviews with top research scientists and their critics.”

          Really? Is telepathy a controversial area of science? No, it is not. Not once has any scrap of evidence been provided. Are psychic detectives a controversial area of science? No, they are not. They may be a controversial area of the judicial system, because they’ve caused untold suffering to grieving parents and have not been punished for it.

          None of these is a controversial area of science. They have failed time and again to provide any evidence whatsoever for their claims. Meanwhile, heartless crooks such as Tsakiris, van Praagh, Sylvia Browne and others make a nice living out of the suffering and gullibility of their fellow human beings. They should all be in jail. No, that’s not punishment enough for them: they should be forced to watch repeat episodes of “The X Files” for all eternity.

          Finally, who would anyone in good faith set up a website called “skeptiko” when there was already a site called “skeptico” devoted precisely to stop fairy tales and woo peddlers? If you had a bleach factory, would you market it as “Koka Kola”?

          • Robbie
            Posted February 24, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

            Ah okay, you guys were talking about it earlier so I thought you might want to is all :)!

            When you say there is ‘no evidence for telepathy’, do you mean psi in general, or telepathy specifically?
            I wasn’t aware that Tsakiris made money out of Skeptiko? If he does it can’t be very much! Although I am in agreement about Sylvia Browne and Van Praagh, especially Sylvia Browne!
            When you say ‘they have failed time and again to prove evidence for their claims’, who do you mean by ‘they’ exactly?

            And I’m not sure about why it’s called Skeptiko, good question!

            • piero
              Posted February 24, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

              There is more than one way to profit from people’s gullibility. For example, Tsakiris may increase his chances to be engaged as a speaker in woo conferences and get paid for it, or gain enough credibility to dictate woo courses and charge for them, just as Chopra does. He might even found a woo Institute
              for the Advancement of the Quantum Metaphysics of Indeterminacy and Onion Stew and charge extortionate amounts for woo peddling, just as Chopra and Scientologists do.

              PSI in general has provided no evidence. I just took telepathy as a representative example.

              By “they” I mean everyone who has failed to provide evidence for any of their claims: mind-readers, psychics, tarot readers, acupuncturists, homeopaths, astrologers, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Hare-Krishnas, the Socialist Workers Party, Milton Friedman, Talcott Parsons, Michel Foucault, dowsers and my next-door neighbour, who thinks he can predict earthquakes (he can’t).

              • Robbie
                Posted February 25, 2012 at 6:27 am | Permalink

                I disagree with you that ‘psi in general has provided no evidence’, on the contrary there is quite a good amount of evidence!

                I agree with you on the majority of that list, except Buddhists (The studies that have shown the effects meditation can have on the mind and body for example) and psychics, but only in the sense of the evidence for psi and remote viewing, and to a lesser extent mediumship. Mind – reading I would agree/disagree with you depending on what you mean by it, and I don’t know who any of those people you named are!

                Hope all is well!

                Cheers!

              • piero
                Posted February 25, 2012 at 10:34 am | Permalink

                The only psi I have ever seen evidence of are inside rubber tyres.

          • rickflick
            Posted February 24, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

            Well said.

            • Robbie
              Posted February 25, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

              Haha ‘Pounds per Square Inch’ I get it!

              Anyway, if you’re actually interested in discussing evidence, a good summary can be found here:

              http://www.stat.ucdavis.edu/~utts/air2.html

              This doesn’t discuss all the evidence by any means, just remote viewing evidence and a small selection of the Ganzfeld studies.

  18. Dale
    Posted February 23, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    I was reading through all the incredibly negative reviews at the itunes website and noticed that the woo-meister has a new one up titled,

    162. University of Chicago Biology Professor, Dr. Jerry Coyne, Fails

    Haven’t listened to it yet but Dr. Coyne obviously pulled his chain. It’s the only way to deal these ‘rabid Deepaks’. We need a name, this is a new breed of wacko for me, I seem to be running into them more frequently. You really can’t blame anyone for losing patience with them.

    http://www.skeptiko.com/

    • Jolo
      Posted February 24, 2012 at 8:40 am | Permalink

      I was just going to mention that here:
      http://www.prunderground.com/university-of-chicago-biology-professor-dr-jerry-coyne-fails-history/009657/

      • piero
        Posted February 24, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

        And here’s Flannery’s resumé:

        http://www.fixed-point.org/index.php/michaelflannery

        • Dale
          Posted February 25, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

          Here’s Flannery’s Discovery institute connection.
          http://www.discovery.org/p/471

          The quote below I took from the Dust Jacket of his book. We can see that Flannery thinks that Wallace never really did accept natural selection.

          http://www.erasmuspress.net/Publications_3.html

          “Flannery places Wallace in historical context. Flannery exposes Charles Darwin’s now-famous theory of evolution as little more than a naturalistic cover for an extreme philosophical materialism borrowed as a youth from Edinburgh radicals. [b]This is juxtaposed by his sympathetic account of what he calls Wallace’s intelligent evolution, a thoroughly teleological alternative to Darwin’s stochastic processes.[/b] Though based upon very different formulations of natural selection, the Wallace/Darwin dispute as presented by Flannery shows a metaphysical clash of worldviews coextensive with modern evolutionary theory itself – design and purpose versus randomness and chance. “


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