On the Turin Shroud, 5

Imagine my surprise when, leafing through a book (pic above) on the Shroud of Turin in a Houston bookshop, I came across some pages in which they spoke of a writing of mine whose paranormal theories I no longer believed:

Some see the origin of the image on the Shroud as paranormal, rather than miraculous. They suggest that supernatural, rather than Divine, forces may be at work. Mexican parapsychologist [C.T.] has raised the possibility that the image is a ‘thoughtograph’. There is evidence—controversial, but not easily dismissed—that some psychics can create recognizable images on film by the power of thought alone. The most famous case is that of Ted Serios, an alcoholic Chicago bellhop, whose abilities were studied intensively in the mid-1960s by the eminent researcher Jule Eisenbud. If it exists, the ability of the mind to affect the highly sensitive chemicals of photographic film would seem to be a natural variant of psychokinesis (PK)—the alteration of the state of a physical object by mental influence alone—as exhibited most famously by Uri Geller.

[C.T.] [1] points to a similar phenomenon, that of images appearing spontaneously on the walls and floors of buildings. He cites a well­documented case from the 1920s, when the image of the late Dean John Liddell appeared on a wall of Oxford Cathedral. Such pictures are usually of people of special sanctity, but not always…

The rest of the quotation appears here: a blog of mine for Turin Shroud matters (I won’t post again, at The West’s Darkest Hour, shroud-related articles).

Published in: on May 27, 2018 at 8:24 pm  Comments (1)  

On the Turin Shroud, 4

One of the problems with pseudosciences is that, to refute them, almost a career in refutation is required. When in November of 1989 the group of sceptics known then as CSICOP visited Mexico City, I was completely lost in the paranormal. However, unlike people in general I always had a predisposition for honesty, in the sense of being able to change my worldview if coming across facts and solid arguments based on facts.

The visit of CSICOP to the city where I live changed me in many ways. The sceptic who had published a critical book on the Shroud, Joe Nickell, had been unable to come. But for the first time I spoke with the professional critics of parapsychology: two academic psychologists whose hobby was to read all the important journals of parapsychology, and publish their critique in specialized journals. It was because of their work that I learned the enormous amount of dedication that the refutation of a single pseudoscience, such as parapsychology, requires.

But the problems do not end with finding a couple of motivated sceptics. Their criticism may be true, but the popularization of the criticism was difficult to divulge, especially previous to the Internet. In 1989, for example, the Skeptical Inquirer was only sold by subscription, a smaller magazine and more pleasant in its reading than what is currently sold in newspaper stands. Very few knew the work of Nickell and other sceptics on the Shroud. What the market wants are the paranormal claims big time; not taking the sweets away from children. Consider this candy for example:

Jerusalem, Friday before Passover, c. AD 30. The body of a crucified man lay on a slab in a rock-hewn tomb just outside the city walls. It had been placed there by Joseph Arimathea, a secret disciple of the man Jesus, and Nicodemus, another member of the Sanhedrin who brought a large amount of spices to be placed in the folds of a new linen shroud. Joseph placed a great stone in front of the tomb and left in a hurry as the Sabbath was fast approaching.

Sometime during the following night and before the first glimmers of dawn of the first day of the new week, there was a quick flash of blinding light. The stone before the tomb was jarred away; the body vanished, but on the slab remained the Shroud with strange images of the man some called the Son of God.

The passage was not written by a believing sindonologist, but by a sceptic portraying what believers want to hear. With that paragraph David Sox opened the first chapter of his book The Shroud Unmasked, published immediately after the Carbon 14 tests revealed that the relic had been manufactured in the Middle Ages. However, this is where you see the huge advantage that believers have over sceptics in a market society.

Scepticism does not sell. What sells well are sweets for adults who are still children.

The copy I have of Sox’s book, which I read in 1989, is made of cheap paper. If we compare it with the elegant books of Ian Wilson, with whom Sox worked closely, Sox’s book seems, at first glance, extremely modest. Nonetheless, despite the quality of the paper and the covers, given that Sox does not violate Occam’s razor his books are more relevant to understanding the relic of Turin than those of his popular colleague.[1]

I am tempted to rephrase what Sox says in The Shroud Unmasked but here I would just like to quote, in addition to the passage above, the first paragraph of the introduction:

There were times when I thought I’d never live to see the day the Turin Shroud faced its obvious test. The road to carbon dating has been long, contentious and convoluted. There are those who will not appreciate mine and other’s efforts to have this test. That’s their problem.

When you open Pandora’s Box, you have to be prepared for whatever comes out. I have always wondered why many so fascinated with the Shroud mystery were afraid to see the end of the story.

This volume explores the road to the test, and recognises there is undoubtedly more yet to come in the Shroud story. At least now that the identification of the cloth with the historical Jesus has been removed, the new sleuths into the mystery can be more objective than most observers have been in the past.

Update of 21 May 2018: Further thoughts about the relic, and the correspondence that a real scientist addressed to me, will appear: here.

__________

[1] Wilson violates it by lucubrating a hidden history of the shroud from the 1st century until its actual appearance in the Middle Ages, as we shall see.

On the Turin Shroud, 3

Falsifiability

To distinguish science from pseudoscience the crux is falsifiability (i.e., refutability), not verifiability. For example, for years astronomers had predicted the physics of a collision between two neutron stars. But it had not been possible to verify it by the simple fact that, until very recently, the phenomenon had not been observed in radio telescopes. And there are astronomical hypotheses that cannot yet be verified due to lack of observation. It may be so long without these other phenomena being observed that, when the day comes, we would already be dead.

The idea is to elaborate a solid principle of demarcation that will serve us today to distinguish between true and false science. In addition, in a borderline area of research, such as the shroud of Turin, there is no lab test of ‘Christness’ as there are, say, tests to detect a human pregnancy. What does it even mean ‘scientific verification’ that a cloth covered the body of Jesus? The most we can do is date the linen with reliable radiometric tests. If the results come out after the 1st century of our era, it is ruled out that it was ‘the shroud of Christ’. The point is that this strategy is not verification but falsification of the 1st century hypothesis.

It may not be easy to understand the concept of falsifiability if we read philosophers of science directly. But it is easily understood when we read a pedagogue. The most didactic class I know of to understand the concept is that of the neurologist Terence Hines in the first chapter of his book Pseudoscience and the Paranormal, published the year in which the Carbon 14 tests were done on the shroud. I read it in 1990: the year I started reading texts from sceptics after five years of reading exclusively to parapsychologists and sindonologists.

The chapter, ‘The Nature of Pseudoscience’ from Hines’ book begins with the following words:
 

______ 卐 ______

 
What is pseudoscience? It’s difficult to come up with a strict definition. In the real world things are not clearly delineated but surrounded by gray areas that doom any hard definition. As the term implies, a pseudoscience is a doctrine or belief system that pretends to be a science. What distinguishes pseudoscience from real science? [Some authors] have discussed criteria for separating real science from pseudoscience and for helping to decide whether a new claim is pseudoscientific.

The most common characteristic of a pseudoscience is the nonfalsifiable or irrefutable hypothesis. This is a hypothesis against which there can be no evidence—that is, no evidence can show the hypothesis to be wrong. It might at first seem that such a hypothesis must be true, but a bit of reflection and several examples will demonstrate just the opposite. Consider the following hypothesis: “I, Terence Michael Hines, am God incarnate, and I created the universe thirty seconds ago.” Now, you probably don’t believe this hypothesis, but how would you go about disproving it? You could argue, “You say you created the universe thirty seconds ago, but I have memories from years ago. So, you’re not God.” But I reply, “When I created the universe, I created everyone complete with memories.” We could go on like this for some time and you would never be able to prove that I’m not God. Nonetheless, this hypothesis is clearly absurd!

Creationists, who believe that the biblical story of creation is literal truth, often adopt a similar irrefutable hypothesis. They claim that the world was created less than ten thousand years ago. As will be seen in chapter twelve, vast amounts of physical evidence clearly refute this claim. All one has to do is point to something older than ten thousand years. Backed into a corner by such evidence, creationists often rephrase the creationist hypothesis in an irrefutable form. They explain the clear geological and fossil evidence that dates back millions of years by claiming that God put that evidence there to test our faith. An alternative version is that the evidence was manufactured by Satan to tempt us from the true path of redemption. No evidence can refute either of these versions of the hypothesis, since any new piece of geological or fossil evidence can be dismissed as having been placed there by God or Satan. This does not make the hypothesis true—it just makes it nonfalsifiable. Such a hypothesis contributes nothing to our understanding of the physical world.

Another example of an irrefutable hypothesis comes from a doctrine not usually considered a pseudoscience (but which meets the criteria, as will be seen in chapter five)—psychoanalysis. Sigmund Freud believed that all males had latent homosexual tendencies, but that in most males these tendencies were repressed. Clearly, homosexual males have homosexual tendencies. But what about heterosexual males? To determine whether the hypothesis that all males have repressed homosexual tendencies is false, you could give some sort of test for homosexual tendencies. What if you failed to find such tendencies? The standard Freudian reply is that the tendencies have been so completely repressed that they don’t show up on the test. Given this irrefutable hypothesis, no test could show that heterosexual males don’t have latent homosexual urges. No matter how sensitive the test, the reply can always be made that the urges are so deeply repressed that they don’t show up on the test.

Those who are skeptical about pseudoscientific and paranormal claims are frequently accused of being closed-minded in demanding adequate evidence and proof before accepting such a claim. But who is really being closed-minded? As a scientist, I can specify exactly the type of evidence that would be required to make me change my mind and accept the reality of astrology, UFOs as extraterrestrial spacecraft, or any other topic considered in this book. But the believer, who likes to paint him or herself as open-minded and accepting of new possibilities, is actually extremely closed-minded. After all, the irrefutable hypothesis is really saying “There is no conceivable piece of evidence that will cause me to change my mind!”

That is true closed-mindedness.

Published in: on May 13, 2018 at 10:45 am  Comments (9)  
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On the Turin Shroud, 2

Wikipedia is horrible about racial issues and about the Jewish question: true enemy territory. But in neutral articles such as science, engineering, computing and even putting pseudosciences in place, it can be a good resource for consultation. In 2004, the article on the Shroud of Turin became ‘a featured article’ on Wikipedia: the maximum decoration offered to an article in that online encyclopaedia. Over the years, many Christians began to get their hands on it and currently it is not even considered a ‘good article’, the previous step to convert the Wiki article into a featured one by the standards of that encyclopaedia.

Although I cannot recommend the current article as a good introduction to the subject, such an article may still be useful for those who wish to know the latest research that the sindonologists do to the shroud (for example, three days ago they made a modification to the article). In the following posts I will be quoting passages from one of the best books that have been written about the shroud: something much better than even the featured article of the Wiki in 2004.

From the comments of the previous article, I think the concept of ‘falsifiability’ and what pseudosciences really are has not become crystal-clear. Many use the expression ‘it is pseudoscience!’ more as an epithet than to designate a real pseudoscience. For example, a Dr. Morales from Brazil who commented here recently used that word to refer to raciology. Neither Dr. Morales nor many anti-racists seem to have any notion of the litmus tests that distinguish between true and false science: falsifiability and Occam’s razor.

I know them, because before blogging I dedicated myself to question the beliefs of my father, who inculcated in me the Turin shroud thing; and in my struggles against the parental introjects I had to subscribe, for years, to the Skeptical Inquirer; buy dozens of books from Prometheus Books, have correspondence with some sceptics (which I will quote in future instalments of this series) and even attend their conferences. I currently know how to distinguish between true and false science; and I think that WDH visitors could benefit from my knowledge prior to my discovery of white nationalism in 2009.

But let’s go back to the Wikipedia article. Although, as I said, it is no longer a featured article, one of the passages that I would consider good is the lead paragraph with which the article opens:

The Shroud of Turin or Turin Shroud (Italian: Sindone di Torino, Sacra Sindone or Santa Sindone) is a length of linen cloth bearing the negative image of a man who is alleged to be Jesus of Nazareth. It is kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, northern Italy. The cloth itself is believed by some to be the burial shroud that Jesus was wrapped in when he was buried after crucifixion. It is first securely attested in 1390, when a local bishop wrote that the shroud was a forgery and that an unnamed artist had confessed. Radiocarbon dating of a sample of the shroud material is consistent with this date.

(Phase contrast microscopic view of image-bearing fibber from the Shroud of Turin during the Carbon 14 test.)

The Catholic Church has neither formally endorsed nor rejected the shroud, but in 1958 Pope Pius XII approved of the image in association with the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus. Pope John Paul II called the Shroud “a mirror of the Gospel”. Other Christian denominations, such as Anglicans and Methodists, have also shown devotion to the Shroud of Turin.

Diverse arguments have been made in scientific and popular publications claiming to prove that the cloth is the authentic burial shroud of Jesus, based on disciplines ranging from chemistry to biology and medical forensics to optical image analysis.

In 1988, three radiocarbon dating tests dated a corner piece of the shroud from the Middle Ages,[5] between the years 1260 and 1390. Some shroud researchers have challenged the dating, arguing the results were skewed by the introduction of material from the Middle Ages to the portion of the shroud used for radiocarbon dating. However, all of the scientific hypotheses used to challenge the radiocarbon dating have been scientifically refuted,[1][2][3] including the medieval repair hypothesis [4][5][6], the bio-contamination hypothesis[7] and the carbon monoxide hypothesis.[5]

The image on the shroud is much clearer in black-and-white negative than in its natural sepia color, and this negative image was first observed in 1898 on the reverse photographic plate of amateur photographer Secondo Pia, who was allowed to photograph it while it was being exhibited. A variety of methods have been proposed for the formation of the image, but the actual method used has not yet been conclusively identified. Despite numerous investigations and tests, the status of the Shroud of Turin remains murky, and the nature of the image and how it was fixed on the cloth remain puzzling.

The shroud continues to be both intensely studied and controversial.

Unlike screaming the ‘pseudoscience!’ wolf as irresponsible anti-racists do when they listen to us, sindonology is a true case of a pseudoscientific field of research. I do not mean the laboratories that did the Carbon 14 tests, obviously: but the Christian sindonologists. In popular publications some of them preach, with apologist fervour, that the Turin relic is the shroud that wrapped ‘the Body of Our Lord’ to use their language. And as we saw in the previous instalment, many wield the mystery of the image—that even the lead paragraph of the Wiki article acknowledges—as proof of the most important article of faith in Christendom: the Resurrection.

I hope that when I finish this series on the shroud of Turin, with this paradigm it will become crystal-clear what a pseudoscience really is.

________________

[1] Chivers, Tom (20 December 2011). ‘The Turin Shroud is fake. Get over it’. Daily Telegraph.

[2] Christopher Ramsey, ‘The Shroud of Turin’, Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit, March 2008.

[3] Radiocarbon Dating, Second Edition: An Archaeological Perspective, By R.E. Taylor, Ofer Bar-Yosef, Routledge 2016; pg. 167-168.

[4] R.A. Freer-Waters, A.J.T. Jull, ‘Investigating a Dated piece of the Shroud of Turin’, Radiocarbon, 52, 2010, pp. 1521–1527.

[5] Schafersman, Steven D. (14 March 2005). ‘A Skeptical Response to Studies on the Radiocarbon Sample from the Shroud of Turin by Raymond N. Rogers’ (available online: here).

[6] The Shroud, by Ian Wilson; Random House, 2010, pgs. 130-131.

[7] Gove, H. E. (1990). ‘Dating the Turin Shroud: An Assessment’. Radiocarbon. 32 (1): 87–92.

Published in: on May 12, 2018 at 1:36 pm  Comments (35)  
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On the Turin Shroud, 1

‘A love letter from God’

From personal experience I know that, when one is immersed in the dogma of a pseudoscience, the believer swears that it is real science.

A typical believer in a classical pseudoscience, such as the study of UFOs or parapsychology, ignores that there is a litmus test to distinguish between false and true science: the principle of the falsifiability of a hypothesis that Karl Popper devised in The Logic of Scientific Discovery. In short, for a hypothesis to be scientific it has to be refutable. Pseudoscientists follow the opposite methodology: they present their central hypotheses in such a way that they cannot be refuted. A typical case of pseudoscience from the Popperian point of view is sindonology, the study of the Shroud of Turin (Sindonology, from the Greek sindon: the word used in the gospel of Mark to describe the type of the burial cloth of Jesus).

Geoffroi de Charny, a French knight who died in 1356 at the Battle of Poitiers, was the first recorded owner of what later became known as ‘the Turin Shroud’. When in the late 1980s I was immersed in sindonology, I not only read a huge amount of literature on the subject where I learnt about the de Charny story, but contacted the ‘experts’ by mail, some personally. The late Dr. Enrique Rivero-Borrell, the foremost ‘expert’ on the shroud in Mexico, told me something I should mention.

I met him at a meeting of a group of Catholic sindonologists who believe that the image of the shroud is nothing more and nothing less than a late ‘love letter’ that God left behind in the 1st century as proof of the Resurrection for our scientific age!

The meeting with Rivero-Borrell, presided by Faustino Cervantes Ibarrola, a pleasant priest, was held in the aftermath of the carbon-14-dating tests results performed on the shroud in 1988. Rivero-Borrell, president of a sindonological organisation, was very confused. The tests, endorsed by the cardinal of Turin himself, revealed that the fabric dated from 1260 to 1380 CE. Keep in mind that the shroud is exactly about the size of an altar cloth; in no way resembles the several burial cloths used by Jewry. Since the shroud made its first appearance in a town in France, precisely in the times of de Charny, it could not be more significant that science corroborated that the cloth was manufactured in the 13th or 14th centuries.

However, I continued my investigation of the shroud because, at that time, I believed that the image remained mysterious. That was how I learned, a couple of years later that Rivero-Borrell left behind all his previous confusion of 1988. Very enthusiastically, he told me that the latest research had revealed that the carbon 14 tests had come out medieval because a fungus had covered the cloth, changing the molecular chemistry and the results turned out aberrant!

In other parts of the world, other sindonologists said that Jesus’ energy in the resurrection, which they call flash photolysis—the very moment when Jesus was resurrected!—not only left the miraculous imprint on the sheet, but changed its molecular chemistry. That’s why the results had come out medieval instead of the 1st century (a rather clumsy deity was this one who intended to leave behind ‘a love letter’ for us)!

The least absurd excuse among the sindonologists that I heard is that the piece of cloth to which they applied the carbon 14 tests was attached to the shroud; not a part of the original fabric.

All these excuses have something in common: they present us their central hypothesis—that the image of the Turin shroud is the result of a miraculous imprint at the very moment of Jesus’ resurrection—as an irrefutable hypothesis. And it is precisely the irrefutability of the central hypothesis of a field of study the most common feature in pseudosciences.

For example, those who study UFOs say that there is a conspiracy that involves all governments since 1947: government officials who have hidden evidence from the American people of extraterrestrial visitors. This is an irrefutable hypothesis insofar as, when a sceptic requests evidence that an alien ship exists in a top-secret hangar, the believer responds that everything is jealously guarded by sinister instances of the federal government. A massive conspiracy involving all presidencies from Truman to Trump, including the CIA and the FBI, and which continues today, cannot be refuted. Every time the sceptic complains that a massive conspiracy stresses the claim to the breaking point, the believer responds that the sceptic himself is a paid CIA agent! I’m not kidding: some ufologists used to say that about Philip J. Klass, the CSICOP specialist in UFOs, whom I met at a conference.

The same happens in the field of parapsychology. Parapsychologists say that extra-sensory perception (ESP) and psychokinesis (PK) exist, but that they are such erratic phenomena that it is very difficult to demonstrate them methodically and repeatedly in the laboratory. That is, there is no way to adequately submit the paranormal hypothesis to the protocol of refutability devised by Popper. That does not mean that ESP and PK do not exist (personally I doubt they exist). It means that the parapsychologists, who claim that they have reliable, empirical evidence of the existence of the paranormal, violate the principle of falsifiability by calling their field of study strictly ‘scientific’.

Such a pseudoscientific methodology is what the sindonologists also follow. Take for example the least insane of the above-mentioned excuses about why, according to believers, the carbon 14 tests did not come out of the century they expected: that researchers could have cut a cloth attached to the shroud, not the fabric where the image is.

If the proponents of the authenticity of the shroud were true scientists they would not be lucubrating such things. They would simply ask the Cardinal of Turin to allow another carbon 14 test on the cloth, this time from the area they consider appropriate. Meanwhile, the wise thing would be to suspend judgement until the cardinal approves another series of tests. Instead, what sindonologists do—who after the radiometric 1988 tests continue to claim that image is proof of the Resurrection—is a battery of secondary tests. Most of such tests are unrelated to the dating of the cloth; tests that purportedly show that the image remains mysterious.

That the image is not so mysterious can be seen in the research that Joe Nickell, a sceptic I met in 1994, has made of the shroud. But there is more to Nickell’s research: as we will see in the following entries on the subject.

Before finishing this post I would like to say something else. A white nationalist visiting this site might think that my interest in unmasking the gospels and the shroud buffs is a secondary issue. It is not. A few minutes ago of my writing this paragraph the bell of my house rang. Some Jehovah’s Witnesses gave me propaganda. I wrinkled it in anger and was about to throw it away when I saw the image of these blacks. Then it occurred to me to use it because in the background these neo-Christians put whites in a bucolic world where the races converge.

Christian ethics, so well captured in the propaganda I was given today, is a bigger factor than Jewish subversion, as without such ethics there would be no Jews (or blacks) empowered in the West. Aryans embracing a moral grammar based on the belief of a resurrected Jew is unhealthy, to say the least.

Three stages

From the point of view of faith in the gospel, in my struggle against the teachings of my parents I went through three stages. In my childhood and adolescence I did not know that the gospels were highly problematic texts; in my twenties I discovered that they were problematic but, somehow, I was stuck in their message; and finally, I achieved full apostasy in my adulthood.

Many white nationalists are stuck in the first stage. As it is very difficult to jump from the first to the third stage, I have moved a chapter of Jesus: The evidence to my site Ex Libris, so that it can be read more comfortably there. Keep in mind that the author, Ian Wilson, a Roman Catholic, is stuck in the second stage, and will surely die stuck in it. In the late eighties I exchanged a couple of letters with Wilson discussing the Shroud of Turin. But that is another story…

Published in: on May 8, 2018 at 8:02 pm  Comments (14)  

Oh silly truthers…

Since Majority Rights (MR) and The Occidental Observer (TOO) are two of the three blogsites that I advertise here, I find it a little embarrassing that, on the issue of the 9/11 attacks and the recent assassination of Osama bin Laden, quite a few commenters of those blogsites unabashedly embrace conspiracy theories.

I used to believe that those racially conscious were smarter than counter-jihadists. But on the topic of Al Qaeda, militant Muslims, bin Laden and 9/11 the curious reader will find much saner information in anti-Islamic sites, such as Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch.

Although I have elaborated a dense psychological theory that purports to explain the conspiracist mindset, for the moment I will limit myself to reproduce a couple of my recent comments at a Counter-Currents article:


Cesar Tort at 33I came to the racialist camp from the counter-jihad movement. But before I entered it I subscribed the Skeptical Inquirer magazine; read lots of books published by Prometheus, and learnt how to think critically about crank claims.

In my previous comment at another C-C thread I implied that Occidental Dissent (OD) was not a very sane site. But now that in recent MR and TOO threads 9/11 truthers seem to outnumber the skeptics, I find it rather comical that at least OD has not succumbed to this nonsense.

But this is not the place to explain why some psychologists believe that the search for meaning is common in conspiracism; and that the development of conspiracy theories (CTs) violate both Occam’s razor and falsifiability. Suffice it to say that the conspiracy paranoia I see among those nationalists who are also 9/11 truthers is analogous to the denial of the genocide perpetrated in 1942-45 (I’d never use the word “holocaust” because I tend to avoid newspeak terms). It is also analogous to other CTs such as the assassination of John F. Kennedy (Vincent Bugliosi’s Reclaiming History is must reading here), the “staged” Apollo Moon Landings, or the sightings of Elvis Presley—a CT suggesting that, like some CTs on bin Laden, he is still alive.

Yes: Western elites lie to us 24 hrs/day. There’s no question about that. However, instead of denying the genocide of Jews I prefer to point out how Stalin’s Jews murdered more civilians than Himmler. Similarly, instead of blaming Mossad for 9/11 I would criticize the US government, both Bush’s and Obama’s, for its deranged Judeophilia and Islamophilia.

If meta-politics is paramount at this stage of the struggle, I’d venture to say that we badly need lots of Bugliosis and books like Reclaiming History, but this time about 9/11, in our (still embryonic) movement…

Interpolated note for this blog: Responding to a comment (“The Onion ran a piece that cracked me up, because it described something that I did years ago. The story was about an open-minded guy who realized how many years of his life he has wasted putting up with other people’s bullshit. Life is too short, and the cause is too important, to suffer kooks”), I wrote:

Twenty years ago I subscribed parapsychology journals. Since the contributors to these journals are usually people with PhDs, you cannot imagine how difficult it is to address the scholarly claims and find holes in the parapsychologists’ methodology.

Debunking crank claims demands incredible amounts of research and energy. This is why I believe that CSICOP’s approach is worth reviewing.

Individual CSICOPers usually focus on single fields of fringe claims. For instance, there are one or two researchers who spend their time researching, say, the pseudoscience known as UFOlogy (when I attended CSICOP conferences they were Phil Klass and Robert Sheaffer). In the case of parapsychology, the skeptical researchers were Ray Hyman and James Alcock, both psychology professors.

The same could be said of conspiracy theories. Bugliosi spent twenty years of his life researching and debunking the John F. Kennedy CTs. Obviously, however smart Bugliosi is, he could not handle, in addition to that field, parapsychology—however pseudoscientific it may also be. The same with Klass or Hyman: they could not have handled JFK CTs: they used to focus on either UFOs or psi claims respectively. Sometimes it even takes a single researcher to debunk a single “paranormal” case, e.g., Joe Nickell on the Turin Shroud. In my own case, I spent my time researching the Bélmez Faces. I started as a believer in 1991 and ended skeptic in 1995 (see my research mentioned, e.g., here).

Noam Chomsky complained about the amount of energy that it would take to debunk 9/11 CTs. He simply, and wisely, dismisses the preposterous claims. Of course, nationalists cannot waste their precious time “putting up with other people’s bullshit”, as you say. When I wrote that we need lots of Bugliosis I meant that sooner or later it will be pretty handy to get, under a single cover—like Bugliosi’s book on JFK—, a comprehensive and definite account on how silly 9/11 CTs were in the past.

I look forward for a definite, skeptical book on it (the one by Popular Mechanics was published in 2006).