Is J. Neil Schulman justified (logically) in believing in God?


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I don't get bent out of shape when people don't take my word for it. How many fucking times do I have to repeat that I expect no one to accept the reality of my report on faith?

Then why are you surprised that no one on OL has accepted the reality or your report?

What I do expect, George H. Smith, from people who have known me for decades, is not to excommunicate me because I no longer agree with their dogma.

Who has excommunicated you? And from what? Arguments are the norm on OL, and the one you have participated in has been quite mild by OL standards.

My analogy refuted your fallacy. Deal with it.

Okay, here was your analogy:

Yes, George H. Smith, proving that someone is claiming that their bottle of alcohol elixir cures cancer doesn't mean that there's no such science as oncology.

What would you think of someone who claimed to be an oncologist but whose results were no better than those of a huckster peddling an alcoholic elixir?

Does the overwhelming evidence that John Edward is a charlatan absolutely prove that the living cannot communicate with the dead? In and of itself, no. No one ever said it did. It merely establishes the fact that Edward is a charlatan.

If you maintain that we can communicate with the "dead" (to use the curious quotation marks that you used in your original reference to Edward), then let's see some evidence. After all, if a peddler claims that his elixir will cure cancer, I assume you would demand evidence for his claim before accepting it. Or would you purchase his entire supply of bottles in the hope that he is only a part-time fraud and that maybe one of the bottles will cure cancer?

So do you talk to the dead, Neil?

Ghs

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Ghs: So you're saying the effects on a young Rascal's Wanker negate the effect of Pascal's Wager?

Since Uri Geller's name was invoked earlier in the thread:

I was at a hotel conference in which about fifty people attempted bending the hotel's cutlery. I observed dozens of people bending the hotel's spoons. The claim was not that by focusing psychic energy on a spoon it would bend by itself but that by focusing psychic energy on a spoon its tensile strenth would weaken to the point that the merest touch could bend it after it had softened.

I don't suppose anyone had the foresight to take videos of these remarkable occurrences.

Tensile strength versus the force being applied to the spoon to bend a spoon being something I could not differentiate by visual observation, I tried making a spoon bend without having to twist it by hand when it had "softened." I was unable to do so.

You will get better results if you use Geller's method: Bend the spoon with your hands while no one can see you do it. This general method also works if you want to make coins and cards disappear.

Of course, just because magicians use deception to make coins and cards disappear doesn't mean that some people might not be able to make coins and cards -- or elephants and the Statue of Liberty -- disappear by using psychic powers. I say this to make it clear that I am not closed-minded and to forestall any more discussions of oncology.

Ghs

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Since Uri Geller's name was invoked earlier in the thread:

I was at a hotel conference in which about fifty people attempted bending the hotel's cutlery. I observed dozens of people bending the hotel's spoons. The claim was not that by focusing psychic energy on a spoon it would bend by itself but that by focusing psychic energy on a spoon its tensile strenth would weaken to the point that the merest touch could bend it after it had softened.

I don't suppose anyone had the foresight to take videos of these remarkable occurrences.

[

or make sure no external heat had been applied previously to the spoon.

My favorite quote from James Randi -- A q-tip has two ends. A bit of Randi Zen.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Since Uri Geller's name was invoked earlier in the thread:

I was at a hotel conference in which about fifty people attempted bending the hotel's cutlery. I observed dozens of people bending the hotel's spoons. The claim was not that by focusing psychic energy on a spoon it would bend by itself but that by focusing psychic energy on a spoon its tensile strenth would weaken to the point that the merest touch could bend it after it had softened.

I don't suppose anyone had the foresight to take videos of these remarkable occurrences.

[

or make sure no external heat had been applied previously to the spoon.

My favorite quote from James Randi -- A q-tip has two ends. A bit of Randi Zen.

Ba'al Chatzaf

One thing that Johnny Carson did was to deny Geller and his assistants access to any of the spoons and other paraphernalia prior to Geller's demonstrations. Geller, of course, was unable to do anything, explaining that his psychic powers were not "strong" on that evening. Funny how that works.

Randi wrote a book on Geller many years ago. It contains a photograph taken while Geller was demonstrating to reporters how he could take a photograph of himself without removing the lens cap from a camera. Without going into all the details about how Geller took the photo of himself and then rewound the film before announcing what he would do, suffice it to say that Geller didn't know that the camera he used was equipped with a wide-angle "fisheye" lens.

So after all the hoopla was over and the photo was developed, what did it show? It showed Geller's smiling face and one hand off to the side holding the lens cap. :lol:

Ghs

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I was very angry to learn that J. Neil Schulman had been excommunicated, especially as it is Christmas, so I immediately put in a call to the Official Excommunication Processing and Records League of America, Inc., LLC, CCD, demanding to know what in the name of facts qua facts was going on.

The OEPARLOAI, LLC, CCD vehemently denied that any such excommunication had occurred; they reported that although they had indeed received papers attesting to his excommunication, these turned out to be fraudulent. No actual steps had in fact been taken to excommunicate Neil. Moreover, the League has commenced an investigation to determine how and why the fraudulent attestation could have gotten as far as it did despite their ancient protocols installed to prevent just such an occurence.

As best I can understand from what little I was reluctantly told, it is probable that information about the fraudulent attestation got back somehow to Neil and that this is why he believes that he had been excommunicated from something. Based on my discussions with the League, I am convinced that it was indeed someone at this very site who filed the phony attestation, perhaps as a practical joke. (Not funny, mister.) Unfortunately, the League has some kind of confidentiality policy that prevents them from divulging the name. Therefore, I am hoping in the spirit of the season that the guilty party will come forward publicly and admit his wrongdoing, and apologize to Neil and to all those who were unfairly besmirched by this heinous and ridiculous excommunication attestation action.

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Here's a really sick bit of (related) slime from Dinesh D'Souza:

Convenient how he singles out just the death toll from the Spanish Inquisition, when the Albigensian crusade was the one with the substantial body count. The percentage of people terrorized by the Spanish Inquisition who were killed was about 1%. Most were tortured and/or had their family's wealth confiscated. Oh, and Jews and Muslims weren't subject to the Inquisition, but they got worse. Doesn't count, sure.

Dennis:

Do you have any number or source on the total deaths during the Albigensian Crusade?

This is what I found:

  1. Albigensian Crusade (1208-49) 1 000 000 [make link]
    • The traditional death toll given for the war against the Cathars is one million, which is repeated in these:
      • John M. Robertson, A Short History of Christianity, London: Watts, 1902, p.254 ("It has been reckoned that a million of all ages and both sexes were slain.")
      • Christopher Brookmyre, Not the End of the World (New York: Grove Press, 1998) p.39
      • Max Dimont, Jews, God, and History, (New York: Penguin, 1994) p.225: 1,000,000 Frenchmen suspected of being Albigensians slain
      • Dizerega Gus, Pagans & Christians: The Personal Spiritual Experience (St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 2001) p.195
      • Helen Ellerbe, The Dark Side of Christian History (Orlando, FL: Morningstar & Lark, 1995) p.74
      • Michael Newton, Holy Homicide (Port Townsend, WA: Loompanics Unlimited, 1998) p.117

Rummel: 200,000 democides<li>Individual incidents:

  • Flexner, Pessimist's Guide to History: 20,000 massacred in Beziers.
  • Ellerbe:
    • Beziers: 20-100,000
    • St. Nazair: 12,000
    • Tolouse: 10,000

    [*]Newton: 20-100,000 massacred in Beziers.[*]Sumption, Albigensian Crusade (1978): <5,000 k. by Inquisition [ca. 1229-1279]

Also, and this may be the source of kill them all and let God sort them out from that Crusade:

According to the Cistercian writer Caesar of Heisterbach, one of the leaders of the Crusader army, the Papal legate Arnaud-Amaury, when asked by a Crusader how to distinguish the Cathars from the Catholics, answered: "Caedite eos! Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius" – "Kill them [all]! Surely the Lord discerns which [ones] are his". On the other hand, the legate's own statement, in a letter to the Pope in August 1209 (col.139), states:

while discussions were still going on with the barons about the release of those in the city who were deemed to be Catholics, the servants and other persons of low degree and unarmed attacked the city without waiting for orders from their leaders. To our amazement, crying "to arms, to arms!", within the space of two or three hours they crossed the ditches and the walls and Béziers was taken. Our men spared no one, irrespective of rank, sex or age, and put to the sword almost 20,000 people. After this great slaughter the whole city was despoiled and burnt, as Divine vengeance miraculously...

Adam

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I don't get bent out of shape when people don't take my word for it. How many fucking times do I have to repeat that I expect no one to accept the reality of my report on faith?

Then why are you surprised that no one on OL has accepted the reality or your report?

What I do expect, George H. Smith, from people who have known me for decades, is not to excommunicate me because I no longer agree with their dogma.

Who has excommunicated you? And from what? Arguments are the norm on OL, and the one you have participated in has been quite mild by OL standards.

My analogy refuted your fallacy. Deal with it.

Okay, here was your analogy:

Yes, George H. Smith, proving that someone is claiming that their bottle of alcohol elixir cures cancer doesn't mean that there's no such science as oncology.

What would you think of someone who claimed to be an oncologist but whose results were no better than those of a huckster peddling an alcoholic elixir?

Does the overwhelming evidence that John Edward is a charlatan absolutely prove that the living cannot communicate with the dead? In and of itself, no. No one ever said it did. It merely establishes the fact that Edward is a charlatan.

If you maintain that we can communicate with the "dead" (to use the curious quotation marks that you used in your original reference to Edward), then let's see some evidence. After all, if a peddler claims that his elixir will cure cancer, I assume you would demand evidence for his claim before accepting it. Or would you purchase his entire supply of bottles in the hope that he is only a part-time fraud and that maybe one of the bottles will cure cancer?

So do you talk to the dead, Neil?

Ghs

If you're communicating with someone, well the word "dead" doesn't quite work, does it?

John Edward is a charlatan. That doesn't mean he isn't also psychic. I believe John Edward is a psychic who makes his living as a charlatan when he can't make a living by being a psychic.

I don't talk to the dead. On more than a few occasions I believe I've been in communication with those we call dead because their bodies have died, but who manage to remain conscious and in possession of their conscious minds afterward. On one of these occasions both my mother and I simultaneously experienced an aural event that nobody else could hear, that we agreed at the time was a communication from my late dad (my mom's late husband). Most of the other communications have happened either during a lucid dream state or during an out-of-body travel.

The problem is, George, that I interpret natural phenomena, like dreams, as something fundamentally different than you do. I don't know what you think dreams are. I regard them as a communications medium and sometimes even a transportation medium.

Now let me ask you something. What is it, other than an act of blind faith in his veracity, that causes you to regard James Randi as truthful when he reports never have ever encountered a genuine psychic? Certainly I've read accounts by psychics who say they've demonstrated their abilities to him and he hasn't paid off. Certainly if James Randi reported that he had reversed his belief he would have suffered worse reactions than I've received and it would have alienated much of his fan base and hurt his career. All of his economic incentives have been to remain in business as a professional debunker. He has as much incentive to satisfy a fan base as John Edward has.

Usually a bet has a neutral and unbiased third party as the arbiter. Who could be trusted to bridge the gap between a James Randi and an Allison DuBois to determine whether James Randi should write a check?

Neither of us would be acceptable arbiters, that's for certain.

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Now let me ask you something. What is it, other than an act of blind faith in his veracity, that causes you to regard James Randi as truthful when he reports never have ever encountered a genuine psychic? Certainly I've read accounts by psychics who say they've demonstrated their abilities to him and he hasn't paid off. Certainly if James Randi reported that he had reversed his belief he would have suffered worse reactions than I've received and it would have alienated much of his fan base and hurt his career. All of his economic incentives have been to remain in business as a professional debunker. He has as much incentive to satisfy a fan base as John Edward has.

the basis of Randi's veracity is Ockham's Razor. Randi just needs cleverness and no entities not already in nature. Which is the simpler hypothesis?

a. Its a Miracle!

b. Its a Trick.

Do you know why God is called god of the gaps? Because the progress of science and natural knowledge have given Him little place to hide. He now hides in the gaps of ignorance, a shrinking territory, I am happy to say.

Whenever there is a natural explanation for any phenomenon, accept it. It could be wrong, but it does not strain our credulity.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Now let me ask you something. What is it, other than an act of blind faith in his veracity, that causes you to regard James Randi as truthful when he reports never have ever encountered a genuine psychic? Certainly I've read accounts by psychics who say they've demonstrated their abilities to him and he hasn't paid off. Certainly if James Randi reported that he had reversed his belief he would have suffered worse reactions than I've received and it would have alienated much of his fan base and hurt his career. All of his economic incentives have been to remain in business as a professional debunker. He has as much incentive to satisfy a fan base as John Edward has.

Usually a bet has a neutral and unbiased third party as the arbiter. Who could be trusted to bridge the gap between a James Randi and an Allison DuBois to determine whether James Randi should write a check?

Neither of us would be acceptable arbiters, that's for certain.

Your efforts to fasten the charge of "blind faith" on your critics is getting tiresome. You obviously have not looked into Randi's challenge. From Randi's website, with my italics:

At JREF, we offer a one-million-dollar prize to anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event. The JREF does not involve itself in the testing procedure, other than helping to design the protocol and approving the conditions under which a test will take place. All tests are designed with the participation and approval of the applicant. In most cases, the applicant will be asked to perform a relatively simple preliminary test of the claim, which if successful, will be followed by the formal test. Preliminary tests are usually conducted by associates of the JREF at the site where the applicant lives. Upon success in the preliminary testing process, the "applicant" becomes a "claimant."

From the application form:

I, James Randi, through the JREF, will pay US$1,000,000 [One Million Dollars/US] to any person who can demonstrate any psychic, supernatural or paranormal ability under satisfactory observing conditions. Such demonstration must take place under the following rules and limitations:

1. This is the primary and most important of these rules: Applicant must state clearly in advance, and applicant and JREF will agree upon, what powers and/or abilities will be demonstrated, the limits of the proposed demonstration (so far as time, location and other variables are concerned) and what will constitute both a positive and a negative result.

2. Only an actual performance of the stated nature and scope, within the agreed-upon limits, will be accepted. Anecdotal accounts or records of previous events are not accepted nor considered.

3. We will consult competent statisticians when an evaluation of the experimental design, is required. We have no interest in theories nor explanations of how the claimed powers might work; if an applicant provides us with such material, it will be ignored and discarded.

From the FAQ page:

1.4 Has anyone ever gotten past the preliminary test?

No. Some people use this fact as a reason not to apply – and yet the protocol is never altered once the applicant agrees to it. In fact, we ask the applicant to design the test.

1.5 Has anyone taken the formal test?

No. Applicants must pass the preliminary test in order to move on to a formal test. So far, no one has ever performed the paranormal ability they claimed to have.

Ghs

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If you're communicating with someone, well the word "dead" doesn't quite work, does it?

If someone is dead, then you are not talking to him. Your mind is like a car that only runs in reverse.

John Edward is a charlatan. That doesn't mean he isn't also psychic. I believe John Edward is a psychic who makes his living as a charlatan when he can't make a living by being a psychic.

This "part-time charlatan" theory of yours is one of the oddest things I have ever seen. Dare I ask how you know that Edward can communicate with the "dead" even part of the time? And how can you tell when he is faking and when he is not?

The problem is, George, that I interpret natural phenomena, like dreams, as something fundamentally different than you do. I don't know what you think dreams are. I regard them as a communications medium and sometimes even a transportation medium.

I distinguish dreams from reality, and there is not much I can say to someone who does not. We can test your transportation theory, however. As I type this post on my computer in my living room, there is a bookcase directly to my right. 12 books are on the very top shelf. So transport yourself over to my place during a dream and then post the titles of at least 3 of those books. If you can discern these titles by other psychic means, that would be fine as well.

I live in Bloomington, IL. If you need an exact address to guide you during your dream journey, I will provide it. If you pass this test, I will even reimburse you for the mileage.

Ghs

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Now let me ask you something. What is it, other than an act of blind faith in his veracity, that causes you to regard James Randi as truthful when he reports never have ever encountered a genuine psychic? Certainly I've read accounts by psychics who say they've demonstrated their abilities to him and he hasn't paid off. Certainly if James Randi reported that he had reversed his belief he would have suffered worse reactions than I've received and it would have alienated much of his fan base and hurt his career. All of his economic incentives have been to remain in business as a professional debunker. He has as much incentive to satisfy a fan base as John Edward has.

the basis of Randi's veracity is Ockham's Razor. Randi just needs cleverness and no entities not already in nature. Which is the simpler hypothesis?

a. Its a Miracle!

b. Its a Trick.

Do you know why God is called god of the gaps? Because the progress of science and natural knowledge have given Him little place to hide. He now hides in the gaps of ignorance, a shrinking territory, I am happy to say.

Whenever there is a natural explanation for any phenomenon, accept it. It could be wrong, but it does not strain our credulity.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Well there you go. I've frequently both directly experienced and directly observed genuine psychic phenomena, therefore Occam's Razor would lead me to the conclusion that James Randi is a liar when he states never to have encountered it.

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I distinguish dreams from reality, and there is not much I can say to someone who does not. We can test your transportation theory, however. As I type this post on my computer in my living room, there is a bookcase directly to my right. 12 books are on the very top shelf. So transport yourself over to my place during a dream and then post the titles of at least 3 of those books. If you can discern these titles by other psychic means, that would be fine as well.

I live in Bloomington, IL. If you need an exact address to guide you during your dream journey, I will provide it. If you pass this test, I will even reimburse you for the mileage.

The Joy of Sex

Atlas Shrugged

Hydroponics

Porn In Your Garage

PARC

Nuclear War Survival Skills

How to Skin an Elk

The Complete Works of (can't quite make this one out)

That should do it. I could go on, but I don't want to embarrass you.

--Brant

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If you're communicating with someone, well the word "dead" doesn't quite work, does it?

If someone is dead, then you are not talking to him. Your mind is like a car that only runs in reverse.

John Edward is a charlatan. That doesn't mean he isn't also psychic. I believe John Edward is a psychic who makes his living as a charlatan when he can't make a living by being a psychic.

This "part-time charlatan" theory of yours is one of the oddest things I have ever seen. Dare I ask how you know that Edward can communicate with the "dead" even part of the time? And how can you tell when he is faking and when he is not?

The problem is, George, that I interpret natural phenomena, like dreams, as something fundamentally different than you do. I don't know what you think dreams are. I regard them as a communications medium and sometimes even a transportation medium.

I distinguish dreams from reality, and there is not much I can say to someone who does not. We can test your transportation theory, however. As I type this post on my computer in my living room, there is a bookcase directly to my right. 12 books are on the very top shelf. So transport yourself over to my place during a dream and then post the titles of at least 3 of those books. If you can discern these titles by other psychic means, that would be fine as well.

I live in Bloomington, IL. If you need an exact address to guide you during your dream journey, I will provide it. If you pass this test, I will even reimburse you for the mileage.

Ghs

If someone is dead, then you are not talking to him. Your mind is like a car that only runs in reverse.

If I'm communicating with them they are not dead. Your mind is like a car that can't get out of first gear.

I distinguish dreams from reality, and there is not much I can say to someone who does not.

I distinguish various states of consciousness that perceive reality in more than one mode rather than having dulled my brain's inputs to the point where it's blocked out most of the available data. It's one thing to be born blind or deaf. There's not much I can say to a person who chooses to live wearing blinders and earplugs.

We can test your transportation theory, however. As I type this post on my computer in my living room, there is a bookcase directly to my right. 12 books are on the very top shelf. So transport yourself over to my place during a dream and then post the titles of at least 3 of those books. If you can discern these titles by other psychic means, that would be fine as well.

George, is there anywhere in anything I've written where I've claimed for myself the ability to project myself out of body to a chosen time and place? You won't find it because I've never made that claim. I simply haven't learned yet how to produce an out-of-body event on demand, nor to navigate well enough to pass your test. I'm just not that good at it yet. I haven't yet mastered the control. The experiences I've had have been spontaneous and what draws me to a specific location is still a mystery to me. The best I've been able to accomplish has been to try to locate landmarks and signs (and learning to control a plane of focus well enough to read a sign without using my eyes took a long time for me) that on several occasions I've been able to validate afterwards when I resumed a conventional awareness mode that I was really there.

This "part-time charlatan" theory of yours is one of the oddest things I have ever seen. Dare I ask how you know that Edward can communicate with the "dead" even part of the time? And how can you tell when he is faking and when he is not?

Without observing him up close where I'm not seeing an edited version of his performance, and where I can't eliminate cohorts pre-selecting and pre-interviewing his audiencce members, I can't.

My belief that he has psychic abilities is based on his description of his childhood, which indicates to me he got into this field in the first place because he was a sensitive. I think trying to monetize his talents corrupted him. This is not unique to his particular talents. Lots of people in show business misuse and corrupt the use of their natural talents.

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On more than a few occasions I believe I've been in communication with those we call dead because their bodies have died, but who manage to remain conscious and in possession of their conscious minds afterward. On one of these occasions both my mother and I simultaneously experienced an aural event that nobody else could hear, that we agreed at the time was a communication from my late dad (my mom's late husband).

Can you please give us a few details of this aural event? What did you two hear at the same time, what were the conditions preceding the communication, what were the hallmarks of the event that convinced you both that you had heard from your dad?

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If someone is dead, then you are not talking to him. Your mind is like a car that only runs in reverse.

If I'm communicating with them they are not dead. Your mind is like a car that can't get out of first gear.

So is this another one of those things that we are supposed to take your word for?

I distinguish dreams from reality, and there is not much I can say to someone who does not.

I distinguish various states of consciousness that perceive reality in more than one mode rather than having dulled my brain's inputs to the point where it's blocked out most of the available data. It's one thing to be born blind or deaf. There's not much I can say to a person who chooses to live wearing blinders and earplugs.

So a person who doesn't believe that your dreams enable your disembodied consciousness to travel from place to place has chosen to wear blinders and earplugs? Sure, Neil, whatever you say. I wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of someone who was God for a while.

We can test your transportation theory, however. As I type this post on my computer in my living room, there is a bookcase directly to my right. 12 books are on the very top shelf. So transport yourself over to my place during a dream and then post the titles of at least 3 of those books. If you can discern these titles by other psychic means, that would be fine as well.

George, is there anywhere in anything I've written where I've claimed for myself the ability to project myself out of body to a chosen time and place? You won't find it because I've never made that claim. I simply haven't learned yet how to produce an out-of-body event on demand, nor to navigate well enough to pass your test. I'm just not that good at it yet. I haven't yet mastered the control. The experiences I've had have been spontaneous and what draws me to a specific location is still a mystery to me. The best I've been able to accomplish has been to try to locate landmarks and signs (and learning to control a plane of focus well enough to read a sign without using my eyes took a long time for me) that on several occasions I've been able to validate afterwards when I resumed a conventional awareness mode that I was really there.

Self-validation counts for nothing. This appears to be another one of those things that we must take your word for.

This "part-time charlatan" theory of yours is one of the oddest things I have ever seen. Dare I ask how you know that Edward can communicate with the "dead" even part of the time? And how can you tell when he is faking and when he is not?

Without observing him up close where I'm not seeing an edited version of his performance, and where I can't eliminate cohorts pre-selecting and pre-interviewing his audiencce members, I can't.

Cold readings don't require pre-selecting and pre-interviewing. This is why they are called cold readings.

My belief that he has psychic abilities is based on his description of his childhood, which indicates to me he got into this field in the first place because he was a sensitive. I think trying to monetize his talents corrupted him. This is not unique to his particular talents. Lots of people in show business misuse and corrupt the use of their natural talents.

Of course we know that a part-time charlatan would never lie about his childhood experiences.

Ghs

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Certainly I've read accounts by psychics who say they've demonstrated their abilities to him [Randi] and he hasn't paid off.

Can you remember the names of these psychics?

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I distinguish dreams from reality, and there is not much I can say to someone who does not. We can test your transportation theory, however. As I type this post on my computer in my living room, there is a bookcase directly to my right. 12 books are on the very top shelf. So transport yourself over to my place during a dream and then post the titles of at least 3 of those books. If you can discern these titles by other psychic means, that would be fine as well.

I live in Bloomington, IL. If you need an exact address to guide you during your dream journey, I will provide it. If you pass this test, I will even reimburse you for the mileage.

The Joy of Sex

Atlas Shrugged

Hydroponics

Porn In Your Garage

PARC

Nuclear War Survival Skills

How to Skin an Elk

The Complete Works of (can't quite make this one out)

That should do it. I could go on, but I don't want to embarrass you.

--Brant

You got the titles right, except for one that is only partially correct (The Complete Works of The Marquis de Sade.) But these books are on the third shelf of my bookcase, not the first, so you failed the test. Better luck next time.

Ghs

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Now let me ask you something. What is it, other than an act of blind faith in his veracity, that causes you to regard James Randi as truthful when he reports never have ever encountered a genuine psychic? Certainly I've read accounts by psychics who say they've demonstrated their abilities to him and he hasn't paid off. Certainly if James Randi reported that he had reversed his belief he would have suffered worse reactions than I've received and it would have alienated much of his fan base and hurt his career. All of his economic incentives have been to remain in business as a professional debunker. He has as much incentive to satisfy a fan base as John Edward has.

the basis of Randi's veracity is Ockham's Razor. Randi just needs cleverness and no entities not already in nature. Which is the simpler hypothesis?

a. Its a Miracle!

b. Its a Trick.

Do you know why God is called god of the gaps? Because the progress of science and natural knowledge have given Him little place to hide. He now hides in the gaps of ignorance, a shrinking territory, I am happy to say.

Whenever there is a natural explanation for any phenomenon, accept it. It could be wrong, but it does not strain our credulity.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Well there you go. I've frequently both directly experienced and directly observed genuine psychic phenomena, therefore Occam's Razor would lead me to the conclusion that James Randi is a liar when he states never to have encountered it.

You say that you have frequently and directly observed "genuine psychic phenomena." How did you ascertain that those phenomena were genuine? Under what circumstances would you have concluded that what you observed was not a genuine psychic phenomenon?

We are back to the old problem of criteria. You wouldn't address this problem before, so I don't expect you to address it this time.

The problem is that you (or anyone else) can claim anything you like. You can claim that you have choir practice with angels twice a week, or that you can levitate yourself when no one else is around, or that you can predict winning lottery numbers (while stipulating that you won't announce these in advance, because you don't want anyone to profit from your psychic gifts), or that you have been visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past and Future, or that you are a reincarnation of Jules Verne, or that Jesus personally transported you to heaven so you could check out the digs, or that you have been abducted by aliens -- the sky is the limit.

One claim is as epistemologically worthless as the next, until and unless you specify criteria that can be used to test the veracity of your claims. The fact that your beliefs may be sincere has no more relevance to the truth of your claims than the sincerity of a Muslim has to the truth of Islam.

One thing that outsiders can estimate, however, is the quality of your critical judgments. This is where your claim that John Edward is only a part-time charlatan speaks volumes. Even though it is clear to you that Edward uses fraudulent methods, you cannot bring yourself to admit that he is an outright fraud. And why not? Because Edward tells stories of how "sensitive" he was as a child, and you can relate to those stories.

So much for your credibility. Anyone who "reasons" like this should not be taken seriously, period. End of story.

Ghs

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I distinguish dreams from reality, and there is not much I can say to someone who does not. We can test your transportation theory, however. As I type this post on my computer in my living room, there is a bookcase directly to my right. 12 books are on the very top shelf. So transport yourself over to my place during a dream and then post the titles of at least 3 of those books. If you can discern these titles by other psychic means, that would be fine as well.

I live in Bloomington, IL. If you need an exact address to guide you during your dream journey, I will provide it. If you pass this test, I will even reimburse you for the mileage.

The Joy of Sex

Atlas Shrugged

Hydroponics

Porn In Your Garage

PARC

Nuclear War Survival Skills

How to Skin an Elk

The Complete Works of (can't quite make this one out)

That should do it. I could go on, but I don't want to embarrass you.

--Brant

You got the titles right, except for one that is only partially correct (The Complete Works of The Marquis de Sade.) But these books are on the third shelf of my bookcase, not the first, so you failed the test. Better luck next time.

Ghs

Curses, my psychic powers are weak today.

--Brant

Igor, prepare my spoons

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Igor, prepare my spoons

LOL. One of your better tags.

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Ghs

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Third, if I had an experience similar to yours, one that again convinced me that God exists, I would handle how I related my experience to others much differently than you have.

I've been looking back over the many contributions to this thread from the past several days and this one caught my eye.

George, I'm curious what exactly you would do differently if you had a first-hand experience that convinced you of the existence of God. How would you handle reporting it?

Judith

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If a wanderer in a desert imagines an oasis that rehydrates him, what then?

You not only need to work on your analogies, you also need to check whether your premises are consistent with your conclsions.

If the oasis actually rehydrates him, then the oasis was real, which would expose the premise as false that the wanderer only imagined the oasis.

(That's a metaphor for the linguistically challenged among us; I'm referring to forensic proof I later encountered proving O.J.'s innocence.)

"If a wanderer in a desert imagines an oasis that rehydrates him, what then?" (NS)

Let's examine your "metaphor" applied to the Simpson case and see whether the oasis is real or an imagined one. It can't be be both.

So the 'oasis' you thirsty wanderer imagine is finding proof of OJ's inoncence - right?

First of all, one does not prove innoncence, one proves guilt. But since we are not in a courtroom, let's not be too nitpicking on that. I suppose you meant finding evidence which exonerates Simpson.

Since there exists a montain of evidence implicating Simpson in the murders, let's look at what you offer as 'exonerating' material:

a knife matching the forensic wounds in a trunk owned by Jason Simpson and bought from a storage locker Jason abandoned for lack of payment.

I've held this knife in my hand.

And what was (or had been) on that knife? I suppose Bill Dear did a luminol test - did the test show human blood had been wiped off? If yes, could there be found traces of that human blood which matched the victims' blood? That would constitute proof, instead of vague speculations that a knife allegedly matching the forensic wounds must have been the murder weapon. And who asserted that the knife matched the wounds? The two guys not involved in the investigation who looked at some of the autopsy pictures?

As for what type of knife was used in the murders, since the murder weapon has never been found, all kinds of speculations have been bandied about: was it a knife with one sharp edge or with two sharp edges, was it a stiletto knife or a Swiss Army knife, was more than one knife used, etc. etc.

In short, it is sheer chaos, and Jason Simpson's cooking knives being brought into play only add to that chaos.

There is not a scintalla of forensic evidence found at the crime scene which would tie Jason Simpson to the killings.

Instead we have OJ Simpson's blood found at the crime scene, with him even admitting that he cut himself on that night but claiming not to remember why. Not introducing into evidence the documemt of Simpson being questioned by Vanatter and Lange is among the biggest blunders the prosecuation made.

Now your guy Bill Dean is obviously smart enough not to deny the blood evidence against Simpson. Nor does he buy into any "blood was intentionally planted to frame OJ" nonsense theory.

Instead he constructs some other unsubstantiated scenario, according to which Jason allegedly called his father by phone, confessing to the crimes. But since no phone records of such call exist, all this is pulled out of thin air, which answers the question as to whether the "oasis of proof" you claim to have found really exists: It doesn't.

I'd enthusiastically debate Vincent Bugliosi on the evidence, both presented in court and not presented in court, on the Brown-Goldman murders. His entire book is nothing but an arrogant claim that he would have done a better job than Clark and Darden.

Bugliosi hardly ever lost a case, and how do you you think you would fare, Mr. Schulman, in in a debate on the evidence wit a man of Bugioisi's caliber?

Since you are having difficulty getting an epistemological foot on the ground even in that little 'cyber-tertulia' here, can you imagine what an evidentiary debate between you and Vincent Bugliosi would look like?

I've held this knife in my hand.

That this is what convinces you I could not have had a genuine contact with God may be the weakest challenge I've ever had to refute.

I'm afraid if it convinces me of anything, it is that you are having difficulty with separating fact from fiction.

And since epistemological discussions largely deal with establishing criteria by which facts can be separated from fiction, it explains your difficulties in trying to convince the posters here.

You claim to have been God for a while, that God promotes movies and books, that he likes to stay invisible because he values his privacy, that he told you he is a libertarian, and on and on. What do you expect people to think?

I don't think your arguments make sense. You don't believe in God but think Joan of Arc slaughtering people in battle makes a better case for divine revelation than God communicating his visions for human liberty through a well-known libertarian author/filmmaker.

But please, Mr. Schulman, what kind of argument is that? It boils down to "My God is the better one because use he just happens to have precisely the same values as I have."

Oh, my. What could one call it? Would Believer's Bubble fit?

Edited by Xray
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Now let me ask you something. What is it, other than an act of blind faith in his veracity, that causes you to regard James Randi as truthful when he reports never have ever encountered a genuine psychic? Certainly I've read accounts by psychics who say they've demonstrated their abilities to him and he hasn't paid off. Certainly if James Randi reported that he had reversed his belief he would have suffered worse reactions than I've received and it would have alienated much of his fan base and hurt his career. All of his economic incentives have been to remain in business as a professional debunker. He has as much incentive to satisfy a fan base as John Edward has.

Usually a bet has a neutral and unbiased third party as the arbiter. Who could be trusted to bridge the gap between a James Randi and an Allison DuBois to determine whether James Randi should write a check?

Neither of us would be acceptable arbiters, that's for certain.

Your efforts to fasten the charge of "blind faith" on your critics is getting tiresome. You obviously have not looked into Randi's challenge. From Randi's website, with my italics:

At JREF, we offer a one-million-dollar prize to anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event. The JREF does not involve itself in the testing procedure, other than helping to design the protocol and approving the conditions under which a test will take place. All tests are designed with the participation and approval of the applicant. In most cases, the applicant will be asked to perform a relatively simple preliminary test of the claim, which if successful, will be followed by the formal test. Preliminary tests are usually conducted by associates of the JREF at the site where the applicant lives. Upon success in the preliminary testing process, the "applicant" becomes a "claimant."

From the application form:

I, James Randi, through the JREF, will pay US$1,000,000 [One Million Dollars/US] to any person who can demonstrate any psychic, supernatural or paranormal ability under satisfactory observing conditions. Such demonstration must take place under the following rules and limitations:

1. This is the primary and most important of these rules: Applicant must state clearly in advance, and applicant and JREF will agree upon, what powers and/or abilities will be demonstrated, the limits of the proposed demonstration (so far as time, location and other variables are concerned) and what will constitute both a positive and a negative result.

2. Only an actual performance of the stated nature and scope, within the agreed-upon limits, will be accepted. Anecdotal accounts or records of previous events are not accepted nor considered.

3. We will consult competent statisticians when an evaluation of the experimental design, is required. We have no interest in theories nor explanations of how the claimed powers might work; if an applicant provides us with such material, it will be ignored and discarded.

From the FAQ page:

1.4 Has anyone ever gotten past the preliminary test?

No. Some people use this fact as a reason not to apply – and yet the protocol is never altered once the applicant agrees to it. In fact, we ask the applicant to design the test.

1.5 Has anyone taken the formal test?

No. Applicants must pass the preliminary test in order to move on to a formal test. So far, no one has ever performed the paranormal ability they claimed to have.

Ghs

So what evidence can you present me that the above is true?

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If a wanderer in a desert imagines an oasis that rehydrates him, what then?

You not only need to work on your analogies, you also need to check whether your premises are consistent with your conclsions.

If the oasis actually rehydrates him, then the oasis was real, which would expose the premise as false that the wanderer only imagined the oasis.

(That's a metaphor for the linguistically challenged among us; I'm referring to forensic proof I later encountered proving O.J.'s innocence.)

"If a wanderer in a desert imagines an oasis that rehydrates him, what then?" (NS)

Let's examine your "metaphor" applied to the Simpson case and see whether the oasis is real or an imagined one. It can't be be both.

So the 'oasis' you thirsty wanderer imagine is finding proof of OJ's inoncence - right?

First of all, one does not prove innoncence, one proves guilt. But since we are not in a courtroom, let's not be too nitpicking on that. I suppose you meant finding evidence which exonerates Simpson.

Since there exists a montain of evidence implicating Simpson in the murders, let's look at what you offer as 'exonerating' material:

a knife matching the forensic wounds in a trunk owned by Jason Simpson and bought from a storage locker Jason abandoned for lack of payment.

I've held this knife in my hand.

And what was (or had been) on that knife? I suppose Bill Dear did a luminol test - did the test show human blood had been wiped off? If yes, could there be found traces of that human blood which matched the victims' blood? That would constitute proof, instead of vague speculations that a knife allegedly matching the forensic wounds must have been the murder weapon. And who asserted that the knife matched the wounds? The two guys not involved in the investigation who looked at some of the autopsy pictures?

As for what type of knife was used in the murders, since the murder weapon has never been found, all kinds of speculations have been bandied about: was it a knife with one sharp edge or with two sharp edges, was it a stiletto knife or a Swiss Army knife, was more than one knife used, etc. etc.

In short, it is sheer chaos, and Jason Simpson's cooking knives being brought into play only add to that chaos.

There is not a scintalla of forensic evidence found at the crime scene which would tie Jason Simpson to the killings.

Instead we have OJ Simpson's blood found at the crime scene, with him even admitting that he cut himself on that night but claiming not to remember why. Not introducing into evidence the documemt of Simpson being questioned by Vanatter and Lange is among the biggest blunders the prosecuation made.

Now your guy Bill Dean is obviously smart enough not to deny the blood evidence against Simpson. Nor does he buy into any "blood was intentionally planted to frame OJ" nonsense theory.

Instead he constructs some other unsubstantiated scenario, according to which Jason allegedly called his father by phone, confessing to the crimes. But since no phone records of such call exist, all this is pulled out of thin air, which answers the question as to whether the "oasis of proof" you claim to have found really exists: It doesn't.

I'd enthusiastically debate Vincent Bugliosi on the evidence, both presented in court and not presented in court, on the Brown-Goldman murders. His entire book is nothing but an arrogant claim that he would have done a better job than Clark and Darden.

Bugliosi hardly ever lost a case, and how do you you think you would fare, Mr. Schulman, in in a debate on the evidence wit a man of Bugioisi's caliber?

Since you are having difficulty getting an epistemological foot on the ground even in that little 'cyber-tertulia' here, can you imagine what an evidentiary debate between you and Vincent Bugliosi would look like?

I've held this knife in my hand.

That this is what convinces you I could not have had a genuine contact with God may be the weakest challenge I've ever had to refute.

I'm afraid if it convinces me of anything, it is that you are having difficulty with separating fact from fiction.

And since epistemological discussions largely deal with establishing criteria by which facts can be separated from fiction, it explains your difficulties in trying to convince the posters here.

You claim to have been God for a while, that God promotes movies and books, that he likes to stay invisible because he values his privacy, that he told you he is a libertarian, and on and on. What do you expect people to think?

I don't think your arguments make sense. You don't believe in God but think Joan of Arc slaughtering people in battle makes a better case for divine revelation than God communicating his visions for human liberty through a well-known libertarian author/filmmaker.

But please, Mr. Schulman, what kind of argument is that? It boils down to 'My God is the better one because use he just happens to have precisely the same values as I have.'

Oh, my. What could one call it? Would Believer's Bubble fit?

There are two possible reasons why someone fails to convince someone else of something. The first party fails to muster an adequate proof. Or the second party is pre-judiced to the point that no offer of proof could be sufficient.

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If a wanderer in a desert imagines an oasis that rehydrates him, what then?

You not only need to work on your analogies, you also need to check whether your premises are consistent with your conclsions.

If the oasis actually rehydrates him, then the oasis was real, which would expose the premise as false that the wanderer only imagined the oasis.

(That's a metaphor for the linguistically challenged among us; I'm referring to forensic proof I later encountered proving O.J.'s innocence.)

"If a wanderer in a desert imagines an oasis that rehydrates him, what then?" (NS)

Let's examine your "metaphor" applied to the Simpson case and see whether the oasis is real or an imagined one. It can't be be both.

So the 'oasis' you thirsty wanderer imagine is finding proof of OJ's inoncence - right?

First of all, one does not prove innoncence, one proves guilt. But since we are not in a courtroom, let's not be too nitpicking on that. I suppose you meant finding evidence which exonerates Simpson.

Since there exists a montain of evidence implicating Simpson in the murders, let's look at what you offer as 'exonerating' material:

a knife matching the forensic wounds in a trunk owned by Jason Simpson and bought from a storage locker Jason abandoned for lack of payment.

I've held this knife in my hand.

And what was (or had been) on that knife? I suppose Bill Dear did a luminol test - did the test show human blood had been wiped off? If yes, could there be found traces of that human blood which matched the victims' blood? That would constitute proof, instead of vague speculations that a knife allegedly matching the forensic wounds must have been the murder weapon. And who asserted that the knife matched the wounds? The two guys not involved in the investigation who looked at some of the autopsy pictures?

As for what type of knife was used in the murders, since the murder weapon has never been found, all kinds of speculations have been bandied about: was it a knife with one sharp edge or with two sharp edges, was it a stiletto knife or a Swiss Army knife, was more than one knife used, etc. etc.

In short, it is sheer chaos, and Jason Simpson's cooking knives being brought into play only add to that chaos.

There is not a scintalla of forensic evidence found at the crime scene which would tie Jason Simpson to the killings.

Instead we have OJ Simpson's blood found at the crime scene, with him even admitting that he cut himself on that night but claiming not to remember why. Not introducing into evidence the documemt of Simpson being questioned by Vanatter and Lange is among the biggest blunders the prosecuation made.

Now your guy Bill Dean is obviously smart enough not to deny the blood evidence against Simpson. Nor does he buy into any "blood was intentionally planted to frame OJ" nonsense theory.

Instead he constructs some other unsubstantiated scenario, according to which Jason allegedly called his father by phone, confessing to the crimes. But since no phone records of such call exist, all this is pulled out of thin air, which answers the question as to whether the "oasis of proof" you claim to have found really exists: It doesn't.

I'd enthusiastically debate Vincent Bugliosi on the evidence, both presented in court and not presented in court, on the Brown-Goldman murders. His entire book is nothing but an arrogant claim that he would have done a better job than Clark and Darden.

Bugliosi hardly ever lost a case, and how do you you think you would fare, Mr. Schulman, in in a debate on the evidence wit a man of Bugioisi's caliber?

Since you are having difficulty getting an epistemological foot on the ground even in that little 'cyber-tertulia' here, can you imagine what an evidentiary debate between you and Vincent Bugliosi would look like?

I've held this knife in my hand.

That this is what convinces you I could not have had a genuine contact with God may be the weakest challenge I've ever had to refute.

I'm afraid if it convinces me of anything, it is that you are having difficulty with separating fact from fiction.

And since epistemological discussions largely deal with establishing criteria by which facts can be separated from fiction, it explains your difficulties in trying to convince the posters here.

You claim to have been God for a while, that God promotes movies and books, that he likes to stay invisible because he values his privacy, that he told you he is a libertarian, and on and on. What do you expect people to think?

I don't think your arguments make sense. You don't believe in God but think Joan of Arc slaughtering people in battle makes a better case for divine revelation than God communicating his visions for human liberty through a well-known libertarian author/filmmaker.

But please, Mr. Schulman, what kind of argument is that? It boils down to "My God is the better one because use he just happens to have precisely the same values as I have."

Oh, my. What could one call it? Would Believer's Bubble fit?

I already gave you links to Bill Dear's documentary. I know you haven't watched it because if you had you wouldn't have to ask me about luminol tests. So instead of having the intellectual curiosity to watch the documentary you continue to sneer at me in ignorance after an offer of proof.

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