Background articles: http://hpanwo.blogspot.com/2008/04/god-delusion-by-richard-dawkins.html
(Apologies for yet another Skepticological article; hope you’re not getting bored of them, dear HPANWO-readers! I will have articles on other subjects coming soon.)
This is partly a follow-on article from one I wrote a couple of months ago called What if the Skeptics Had their Way? See: http://hpanwo.blogspot.com/2011/06/what-if-skeptics-had-their-way.html The themes I include therein have become more relevant because one of my favourite Youtube subscriptions, TreVelocita (http://www.youtube.com/user/TreVelocita?blend=2&ob=5) has thrown down the gauntlet! TreVelocita’s vids are mostly on Skepticistic, Atheistic and Humanistic issues. I occasionally comment of his or her videos, as I do on the JREF Forum, as I said in the What if The Skeptics… article. But now history has repeated itself! TreVelocita has posted this recording of the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qj_Wd2Dm6W4 . The question being asked is the same one that got me involved on the JREF Forum thread. I invented the words “SkeptiNazi” and “Skeptocrat” to describe the Philadelphia City Council in this case; and I also use them to describe the person in the programme who wants to ban paying mediums and everybody who has commented in support of her. I apologize not.
It wasn’t long ago that Jack of Kent (See Links column) took on the case of Simon Singh, the famous science correspondent, when he was sued by the British Chiropractors Association for libel. Jack is currently campaigning for a reform of the Libel Laws. As I’ve said in my review of Ben Goldacre’s book, see: http://hpanwo.blogspot.com/2009/03/bad-science-by-ben-goldacre_25.html , I support Jack and Simon Singh 100%. It’s very destructive to use legal tyranny to shut down criticism by Skeptics. However I’m sad to say that with some Skeppers the cries for Freedom of Speech, Human Rights and Civil Liberties swiftly go silent when they move to the prosecutor’s bench. As you can see from the comments box on Part 2 of the video, most of the Skeptic commenters have no problem at all with the authorities stepping in to prevent mediums from charging customers for their trade. I’ve shoved my oar right in as you can see; I’m “benthejrporter”! The argument used by the pro-ban commenters is that psychics are all frauds who are unable to prove what they do and so contravene Trading Standards legislation. The most vocal in the box, “briansbannister”, contradicts my suggestion that this issue is related to Freedom of Speech and Freedom to Worship. I must admit he’s literally correct, but however this is still related to individual economic and social freedom, as opposed to Nanny State imposition. Briansbannister gives the analogy of dodgy builders and other conmen. I don’t think this analogy is a fair one; as I say, the same laws which protect Mediums from persecution allow the Skeptics to challenge everything they say. It’s rather like a dodgy builder being followed around by a Trading Standards officer countering every claim he makes to every customer. Here’s a list of my comments. Brian’s are inbetween; they’re transcriptions, I won’t reproduce them verbatim for copyright reasons:
(benthejrporter- 2 days ago) OK, technically this is not "Freedom of Speech" as it says in the US Consistution's First Amendment, but this is still a major intervention into our civil liberties by the Skeptic Movement. It means that I, a free British adult of sound mind, would be unable to consult a professional medium and pay her with MY OWN money, which I EARNED. I disagree with your statement that mediums are charlatans conning the vulnerable and why should this kind of rhetoric be translated into law?
(briansbannister- 2 days ago) There’s nothing that’s related to civil liberties in this issue. It’s just asking mediums to prove they can do what they say they can so that they can charge a customer for their wares.
(benthejrporter- today) But I think some Mediums HAVE proved their skill. The idea that they are all charlatans is not an established fact; it's just a viewpoint with many naysayers. What's more I don't have a problem with Skeptics putting their side of the argument across and countering that. Sometimes the Skepti-pundits are not necessary because Spiritualists themselves quickly blacklist anybody caught cheating.
(benthejrporter- 6 days ago) CSportmaria is right. This is not about whether psychics can or cannot prove what they do (I think they CAN, but that's not the point) This is about Freedom-of-Speech and Freedom-to-Worship. these are laws that exist in every civilized country. If you want to breach them then we descend into a Atheo-Skeptocratic Tyranny! If you're concerned about people "getting conned" then take comfort from the fact that the very same Freedom-of-Speech rights that I champion in this case to PROTECT the psychic industry, you can also use to put your side of the story across: that psychics are dishonest and delusional. Who will win? The truth. But the truth doesn't need censorship, only lies do.
(briansbannister- 6 days ago) I’m not advocating censorship. It’s not about Freedom of Speech or religious rights, it’s about quality of commercial standards.
(benthejrporter- 6 days ago) I differ. Firstly the idea that mediums are all cold-reading con-artists is simply an opinion of some scientists who've studied it. Not all scientists are agreed on that. The majority are, I concede, but there is a small but credible minority who are not. "Scientific opinion" in this case has never been translated into Parliamentary legislation. However Spiriualism IS legally recognized as a religion, so this is far more than just an issue you can call Trading Standards about. (I later retracted the point that this issue was literally one about Free Speech, as I said above)
(briansbannister – 6 days ago) It’s not about religion it’s about proving what you’re selling is real. And who are the members of this “credible minority” of scientists who think Spiritualism is real?
(benthejrporter- 1 week ago) If you equate mediums with dodgy builders and bent double-glazing salesmen then this is a false analogy. A more accurate one would be a TV studio with Alister McGrath on one side and Christopher Hitchens on the other. Or a dodgy builder who MIGHT be bent going round with a trading standards officer constantly at his side countering every claim he makes to a potential customer. Remember this is the economic freedom of sane adults. Contrary to Skeptic propaganda, most people who seek the services of psychics are NOT recently bereaved. They are on the whole no more vulnerable than a regular attendee of Skeptics-in-the-Pub! As for naming scientists who disagree with the prevailing view of science regarding psychics: there's Rupert Sheldrake, Gary Schwatz, Peter Fenwick...the list goes on!
(benthejrporter- 1 week ago) Remember that the Skeptic Movement is NOT science. It is a socio-political tendency that often lobbies authorities claiming to speak for all science, or to be the ultimate expression in pure science. This is a slogan, not a description! It would be an act of tyranny for the views of the Skeptic Movement to be enforced into law. If mediums could not charge it would decimate the entire industry, and I'm sure many Skeppers are aware of that!
I’m sure that this conversation will go on and on. Brian may well fall back on the old tactics of Skep-Debating, see: http://hpanwoforum.freeforums.org/the-hpanwo-guide-to-being-a-forum-skep-dick-t912.html I hope we can remain civil to each other; I’ve got every intention of doing so and I bear him no personal ill will.
As I said in the What if the Skeptics Had their Way? article, just look at what the world would be like under a Skeptocratic Atheocracy. I’ve summed up my feelings in this stand-alone comment in the box:
I'm a "Woo-Woo" so can I ask a question to all those who want paying psychics banned? If this law is passed then you can also ban religion, paranormal investigation, UFOlogy and many other things, a "Skeptocracy" if you wish. In this New Utopian Scientific Skeptical Atheist Republic what rights will I have? Will I be allowed on busses? Will I have to wear an armband with a "W" on it? Seeing as I'm going to be one of the have-nots in this new Randi-istic Dawkinsian Idyll I'd like to know. Thanks.
One issue that I’ve not yet raised in the comments box is that the heart of this matter might lie with the political concerns related to the Paranormal. As Barry Gervaise, the character from my novel Rockall, (See: http://hpanwo-bb.blogspot.com/2009/05/rockall-chapter-6-spanner-vs-works.html) says: "…there may be a deeper more fundamental reason. I’ve found, in my experience, that governments seem to have an almost knee-jerk aversion to all the things that you might describe as ‘paranormal’ or ‘out-of-the-ordinary.’ Things like ghosts or UFO’s, or events like this one, which rock the boat of conventional worldviews. They will attempt to deny, reject and suppress information on any phenomenon that could lead people to question the reality of the banal, three-up-two-down existence which we live in." I think Barry is oversimplifying the matter a bit (I should have made him shut up!), but this is the point: Why is it such a big deal politically whether we have an Afterlife or not? I asked this question in my review of Paranormality by Richard Wiseman (See links at the top) and I really need to address it in more detail. Conventional Illuminati-engineered society basically gives us The Two Choices: The conventional scientific view that when you die, that’s it! You’re nothing but an animated piece of meat and with death comes the end of that animation. The only alternative proposed to that is the conventional religious worldview that the universe has an external personal God who judges people and you have an Afterlife, yes, but it’s either in eternal Heaven or eternal Hell depending what kind of mood He’s in. Also it helps if you pay lots of cash to the priest and turn a blind eye when he rapes your children! It’s one or the other; you’re either for one and against the other, or vice versa. There is no inbetween, there is no Third Way. Richard Dawkins' book The God Delusion (See links at the top) is almost completely focused on countering the second choice in favour of the first. It is incredibly important to the Illuminati that you subscribe to one of The Two Choices; it doesn’t matter which one it is so long as you do it! You must subscribe to your choice wholeheartedly at the exclusion of all and any alternatives. It's very revealling to see how these so called "opposites", conventional science and conventional religion, will not hesitate to stand side-by-side in condemantion of anybody who rebels against The Two Choices. The Loomies extend an enormous amount of effort on preserving this social structure. Many people, when asked what the biggest secret those behind the New World Order keep from us is, will say: “Aliens”, “9/11”, “Free Energy”, “The Reptilians”. I’d say that the reality of Life-After-Death is the absolute biggest secret of all. If it became accepted as real in mainstream culture it seems that it would be disastrous for the New World Order. It would be far, far worse than Barack Obama making his hypothetical Disclosure speech, see: http://hpanwo-tv.blogspot.com/2011/08/disclosure-is-here-president-admits.html . We all know the level of deceit that the Illuminati-occupied governments have stooped to keep the truth about 9/11, UFO’s and the fake moon landings etc secret; are we to suppose for one second that they’d not take steps to ensure that the truth about Life-After-Death remains under wraps? The Loomies are well aware that Life-After-Death is real, but they just don’t want us to know! I’m still not sure why; that’s a subject for another article perhaps. I can speculate that this cover-up would include the flaming and debunking of Paranormal researchers, the destruction of the careers and the smearing of the characters of scientists who deviate from the official line. I can also imagine that those who take the Second Choice, religious believers who develop unorthodox viewpoints, would get the same treatment; like the former Bishop of Durham Dr David Jenkins did. I’m not accusing people like James Randi and Susan Blackmore of being part of this conspiracy; the chances are that they’re just “useful idiots” who think that they are being honest in their opinions. As I’ve said in my review of Andy Roberts’ book, see: http://hpanwo.blogspot.com/2011/01/ufo-down-by-andy-roberts.html, “useful idiots” are far more effective than knowing shills because they don’t have to be briefed into the secret, and so prevent the conspiracy from becoming too top-heavy. They can’t develop a conscience and swap benches at an inconvenient time, like Fyfe Symington did; they can talk complete bullshit and be 100% sincere! I’m wondering at the moment whether I should raise this point in my discussion with Brian. We'll see how it goes!
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