How skeptics are trying to influence the Senate

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AUSTRALIA’S anti-complementary medicine groups have launched a scaremongering campaign claiming changes to the Therapeutic Goods Act will put public safety at risk, which is nonsense.

The amendment Bill they’re fighting protects the current labelling that consumers rely on to make informed choices about complementary medicines, which two in three Australians use to support their health.

The truth is the public health scare campaign is a smokescreen for anti-complementary medicine lobby groups such as ‘Friends of Science in Medicine’ (FSM) that want to preserve their influence on government bodies handling complaints against medicines.

The Position of Friends of Science in Medicine for example is that: “There is no alternative to Medicine”. Dr Ken Harvey, a FSM Executive, is leading the current campaign.

Right now, members of at least four groups with a history of anti-complementary medicine activism sit on the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Complaints Resolution Panel (CRP) – the government committee that considers complaints relating to medicine labelling and claims:

  • – Friends of Science in Medicine (FSM)

(FSM’s Dr Ken Harvey was a representative of Choice on the CRP until early 2017)

  • – Choice (Australian Consumers’ Association)
  • – Consumers Health Forum (CHF)
  • – Access2 (The Foundation of Effective Markets and Governance) – Allan Asher, the CRP Chair.

The new TGA Bill takes away these groups’ power by shutting down the CRP and handing responsibility for investigating complaints to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) – a more impartial body.

According to the Your Health Your Choice Senate submission:

“… the abolition of the Complaints Resolution Panel (CRP) removes a mechanism of influence for the anti-CM lobby to target CM products and advertisers”.

Skeptics Senate submission – One submission, many voices

Dr Harvey’s Senate submission protesting abolition of the CRP, is on behalf of the anti-CM groups he belongs to and shows how they are networked:

  • – FSM
  • – Choice
  • – CHF
  • – Access2
  • – Australian Skeptics

As well as being a FSM Executive, Dr Harvey is also:

  • – Life member of the Australian Skeptics
  • – Life member of Choice
  • – Representative of the CHF as a complementary medicine ‘spokesperson’


Skeptics are against the new TGA Bill because if passed, it will abolish the CRP – which is stacked with representatives from these anti-complementary groups. These uncontrolled conflicts of interest have irreparably compromised the CRP as a workable instrument.


The Your Health Your Choice Senate submission details how Dr Harvey, while he was a member of the CRP, ran Monash University ‘summer school’ programs in 2015 and 2016 where he coached his students to generate complaints against complementary medicine products to the CRP. Student submissions were ‘checked by a FSM reviewer’ before being lodged.


While Dr Harvey was a member of the CRP, he described the Panel has a “like-minded group” in a public speech (ANZAAS Medal Speech), referring to its active support for his anti-CM activism. He also acknowledged the support of his colleagues at FSM, Skeptics, Choice and the CHF.


Your Health Your Choice supports the TGA Bill to abolish the existing CRP, ending a culture of cronyism and bias in the complaints handling process.

In its Senate submission YHYC wrote: “The abolition of the CRP removes the mechanism of influence for the anti-CM lobby to target CM products and advertisers”.


More than a month before the deadline closed, Dr Harvey published three of his students’ Senate submissions as well as the CRP Chair’s submission on his blog, Medreach – breaching Senate rules.

The student submissions were removed from Dr Harvey’s page after Your Health Your Choice notified the Senate secretariat of the breach on 19 December, 2017 – but he kept the CRP Chair’s submission up “for ideas” to inspire others.

Dr Harvey coached students in preparing Senate submissions as part of his 2017 ‘summer school’ program at Monash University.

Read the Your Health Your Choice Senate submission here.



Posted in AHPRA, Dr Ken Harvey, Dr Ken Harvey,, Friends in Science and Medicine | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Jane Hansen’s trail of lies and deception.

Jane Hansen has written a Daily Telegraph hit piece about blogger and mother Taylor Winterstein. Taylor has amassed a huge social media following sharing her journey from a toxic lifestyle to health and wellness in her blog ‘Tay’s way’

Taylor will soon be joining the Australian Vaxxed tour in January 2018 where she will be interviewing vaccine -traumatised families who are ignored by the mainstream media, and giving them a much-needed platform to be heard!  Jane Hansen has used a misleading and dramatic headline ‘Manly star’s wife Taylor Winterstein takes on role as Aussie face of movie Vaxxed’.

Jane Hansen is attempting to make Taylor the “face” of the movement. Taylor disagrees with this label and says

‘I am part of a large team who are fearless in the pursuit of spreading truth and awareness’.

The Pharma-backed press ignores vaccine injury stories as they, along with pharma-backed government, fear that covering them will discourage people from vaccinating. This issue affects the lives of millions of children worldwide. Parents deserve to hear the science without conflicts of interest.

Jane Hansen is often assigned to the dirty work in Australian media . Her previous job for Murdoch was selling the lie that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, so the government could justify the Australia’s senseless involvement in the war. The US government had to finally admit the truth after the war was over.

In 1997, she was a journalist on tabloid TV show A Current Affair where she did a story on electronic repair man ‘Benny Mendoza’ and exposed him for not fixing some equipment he claimed to have fixed. The advertising for the story ran all weekend and sadly he committed suicide.  Upon reflect ion over this senseless tragedy Jane Hansen told Australian Story

I was just doing my job and I know that’s the Nuremberg defence but I wasn’t in the position to say, “Shove it, I don’t think it’s a good story.” Which is how I felt anyway. I didn’t think it was a good story. It was my job and I wasn’t in a position to be a prima donna.’

With over 20 years of tabloid journalistic experience Jane Hansen is still ‘just doing her job’. For the last few years she’s been assigned to sell mandatory vaccination policies to the public. She is dismissive of anyone who disagrees with flawed vaccination science and ignores all vaccine injury stories. This is because she works for Rupert Murdoch who used his paper the Daily Telegraph to drum up public support for the No Jab No Pay/Play policy they created. Murdoch has financial interests in the pharmaceutical industry and his son James Murdoch was even on the board of GlaxoSmithKline.

Jane Hansen exploited the tragic death of Imogen Petrak from pneumococcal meningitis by implying that her unvaccinated child gave it to her. This resulted in public backlash against Imogen until her grieving family called out her lying on social media. Jane also failed to disclose that Imogen’s health went downhill 2 days after she received the whooping cough vaccine. 

Jane Hansen is a friend of cyber bully and harasser of vaccine-injured families Reasonable Hank . He helps her find smear stories to write against vaccine-choice advocates.  He has been awarded ‘Skeptic of the year’ in 2014  and is a proud member of the hate group Australian Skeptics and Stop the AVN. In the past they have sent death threats to pro-choice activists such as Meryl Dorey founder of the Australian Vaccination Skeptics Network. You can get an idea of how creepy the Skeptics are here


Alison Greig questions Hansen’s journalistic integrity in her article ‘Jane Hansen – A seasoned journalist with a murky past’ and writes

 “And we have to ask Jane Hansen, what choices do journalists make when they choose one side of a story? It is a choice it seems to exclude balance. It is a choice to manipulate the news and what the public know when they only report what they want  to report, rather than to offer their audience a choice as to discern the truth. “

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Is Informed Consent Possible for Vaccines in the Current Political Environment ?

By Dubius Anonymuus **

Informed Consent

There is considerable pressure for doctors to enforce strict adherence to vaccination schedules, but many patient and parents are not convinced that this is the best option for maintaining good health.


In this setting informed consent is of great importance, however in the current setting most doctors do not know enough about vaccines to actually give fully informed consent.


There are a number of issues that may be of concern for parents, but for the sake of argument the presence of aluminium adjuvants in vaccines is a good starting point.


Recently  ( May 2017) the Medical Board of Australia sent out a newsletter to doctors, reminding us (amongst other things) of the importance of the Vaccination Schedule:

(May Newsletter Australian Medical Board)


The  subject of vaccination is covered about ½ way down this page.

“Vaccination information resources for doctors

General practitioners have an important role in guiding parents about child vaccination issues.

The Australian Child Health Poll, conducted on behalf of Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, found that more than 25 per cent of Australian parents had some concerns about vaccination, although most still vaccinate.

General practitioners are a trusted and frequently accessed resource about vaccine concerns. There are resources available to help doctors skilfully address parent’s worries, including the following:


I decided this was a good opportunity to test the quality of the resources supporting doctors in decision making”


I initially followed the “Resources for Health Professionals” link:


Finding nothing useful there I followed through to the “Clinical Updates” page:


After a great deal of trial and error I clicked on the link for  “The Science of Immunisation Questions and Answers”


Article “The science of immunisation”

click on hyperlink 2

“What’s in a Vaccine”


Track down to Adjuvants and read:

“In most human vaccines that contain adjuvants, the adjuvant is an aluminium salt (known as alum), which has a track record of safety dating back to the 1950s 49. Some newer vaccines incorporate more active adjuvants, derived from naturally occurring oil in water emulsions, fats from bacterial cell walls, or sugars. These can produce more vigorous and better targeted immune responses against the infectious agent 50.”


Then click on hyperlink 49

Which is the only reference I could find to aluminium in all this mess


  • Edelman, R. (1980) Vaccine adjuvants. Rev Infect Dis 2 (3), 370–83.



So the final answer is that after an enormous amount of hunting around the doctor would finally learn that the only reference to the safety of aluminium adjuvants is 1980– 37 years ago.

My first literature review using the terms aluminium   neurotoxicity:

reveals 423 papers


However a more comprehensive review summed up at Vaccine Papers provides very strong evidence linking aluminium (especially at the low doses associated with vaccines) with neurotxicity.


So the current situation is that it is almost impossible for doctors to do anything more than say that “The authorities tell me they must be safe, so therefore they must be”. Few doctors would take the trouble to track all the way through these resources, and even fewer of them would know that there has been a great deal of research done on the aluminium adjuvant- brain inflammation link since that 1980 paper. Additionally there never has been research done on a population exposed to aluminium adjuvants versus one not so exposed, but that fact is not accessible to casual investigation. To make matters worse the guidelines for paper selection for ATAGI and the National Immunisation Committee in Australia specifically exclude any studies relying purely on in vitro or animal studies, and thus these guidelines cut the committees off from important information, which would give any individual valid reason to refuse vaccines for themselves or their children.


Given those observations, I suspect that it is actually not possible to give legally valid informed consent for vaccines.

** Dubious Anonymous is a medical practitioner who has enough sense to keep a low profile when offering an intellectual critique of his profession, because he knows they can’t take it

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Tactics of Social Control by the Skeptics

 By  Dubius Anonymuus

Friends of Science in Medicine get together  (L-R) Dr Ken Harvey, Loretta Marron OAM, Prof Alistair MacLennan AO, Dr Sue Ieraci, Prof Marcello Costa, Jo Benhamu RN, Prof Rob Morrison OAM, Prof John Dwyer AO 


  It is helpful to look at the extent to which the “Friends of Science in Medicine” and their allies will go to dominate the conversation, scare off opponents, and give the impression that there is a groundswell of opinion in their direction. Friends of Science In Medicine pretend to be a group supporting skepticism and science but they are always highly partisan in the approach they take. They fail to take in to account the huge problem in science created by the lack of replicability of most science and the massive distortions created by industry influence.  Additionally the targets of FOSM and allied  groups such as Australian Skeptics and facebook hate group SAVN ( Stop the Australian Vaccination Network)  are  ALWAYS consistently attacking treatments which are low cost, have demonstrated low risk, and may take market share away from the major pharmaceutical groups and medical interest groups. In this setting we should all remind ourselves that the third largest cause of death in the USA is medical misadventure.


There is substantial evidence that pharmaceutical groups actually directly pay people (often from overseas call centres) to make repeated comments on message boards and skew the public conversation and make their opponents look stupid. The question of paid astroturfing is complex enough to require a post of its own, so this post will focus on tactics used.

Skeptic and pro vaccine troll Dr David Gorski

These two posts were taken by a US pro choice group, from a discussion thread that started in April 2012 on Dr David Gorski’s blog “Respectful insolence” Dr. David Gorski is a Skeptic and  pro-vaccine oncologist with ties to the Barbara Anne Karmanos Cancer Institute, notorious for experimental cancer treatments and drugs that have been fast-tracked by the FDA. I have personally sighted the original but it took a good deal of work to trawl through the thread to find the original comments, and it was like wading through a sewer.  The comments clearly illustrate unethical tactics that we have all seen employed by the pro-vaccine lobby in the months since Pauline Hanson’s statement about parents doing their own research.
Note the contempt for the intelligence of their perceived opponents: 
This is from an article entitled ” Pro vax trolls are impersonating disease injured families on comment boards” 
Poe2go @ 12 is right on target: post that kind of schizophrenic word-salad on the anti-vax sites in large quantities, under various pseudonyms, and clog up the sites with it until it appears that a large fraction of the members are downright wacko. This will seriously turn off undecideds who check out those sites.  
Poe2go’s comment is an excellent template for this tactic, but you can easily make up your own by inserting random words into sentences and then going on digressive riffs about the random words. Be sure to Capitalize occasional Nouns and Verbs as well.Really: listen up folks, the way to fight this crap is NOT by “patiently explaining” to people who are already way past being persuaded that the Earth isn’t flat. You may as well be talking to rocks (healing crystals?:-). The way to fight it is by sabotaging the anti-vaxers with crazy stuff that drives away undecideds. The way to fight it is with emotional narratives that undermine the ones that the anti-vaxers are pushing.And some editorial comment from the owners of the site  “The Refusers”
MB Comment: Message boards on the virulently pro-vax web site ORAC Respectful Insolence (Gorski) advocate fraudulently impersonating disease-injured families and insane people on the comment sections of vaccine injury and vaccine freedom websites such as Age of Autism, Mothering Magazine and Amazon.

These pro-vax maniacs’ purpose in life is to discredit anything that casts doubt on vaccines, which is their pseudo-scientific religion.

The next time you see comments saying: ‘My unvaccinated child has autism’ or ‘My immune-compromised child can’t take vaccines – it is your duty to immunize your child so my child doesn’t get sick’ or ‘My sister got measles and died’  etc. – please be aware that these may be totally fabricated lies concocted by vaccine fanatics to intimidate and discredit vaccine freedom and awareness websites and facebook pages. They also advocate setting up phony email accounts and IDs so that their dishonest comments cannot be traced back to the source.

This despicable behavior makes it impossible to believe the veracity of any pro-vax comments you may read on news articles, Amazon forums, Mothering Magazine, etc., where these slimebag commentators lurk.

If you needed any further proof that vaccine zealots will stoop to any level to deceive and intimidate parents who are looking for truthful vaccine information, read on.

 So the question becomes one of what to do about this. Firstly recognise the nature of the problem we are dealing with, the comments on Dr Gorski’s blog are clearly unethical, and as blog owner he has a responsibility for them. He has probably said them himself somewhere, but I believe there is good reason for the conduct of his blog to be reported to the local medical board, and to let them decide.

Secondly manage and contain the problem. All blog holders need to be aware of this and to moderate comments wherever possible. In the case of Facebook Communities, unacceptable posts need to be swiftly deleted and repeat offenders excluded.

Thirdly, the provaccine/ anti complementary medicine groups will be posting widely elsewhere, aiming to influence public opinion. The best answer to that is to link to this article every time you see a post that appears to be made by a confused, semiliterate “antivaccine” person.

Dr John Dwyer and Dr Ken Harvey have guilt by association for being aligned with the Skeptics 

Given the dangers of guilt by association, the members of FOSM such as Dr John Dwyer and Skeptic  Dr Ken Harvey need to be aware of the murky depths and unacceptable tactics of the “skeptic” movement. We all also need to be aware that as C.S. Lewis said, in this secular age many people show the same sort of unthinking obedience to “science” as they would have to their tribal shaman, or to the priest who sold them indulgences. In this day and age, calling anything “scientific” is a great way to pull the wool over people’s eyes. The members of the FOSM must also remain mindful of the poor replicability of the “science” underpinning much of medicine ( as detailed in my recent article “Trust Me, I’m a doctor”, and has been supported by the recent collapse of the saturated fat/ heart disease hypothesis) 
Posted in Dr David Gorski, Dr Ken Harvey,, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Trust me, I’m a doctor ! Science, Guidelines, Clinical Practice and Patient Autonomy

By Dubious Anonymous **


Pauline Hanson dared to suggest that parents should do their own research.

In late February 2017, Senator Pauline Hanson created quite a storm by suggesting that parents should do their own research and make their own decisions about vaccinations. This comment sounded rather innocuous as, after all we do live in a society which respects the right of the individual and insists on informed consent for all medical decisions (Good Medical Practice, The AMA Code of Conduct Item 2.3).


However it was met with a barrage of derision, and insults to the patient or parent’s capacity to make a decision, or to do adequate research on the matter. These comments clearly indicated that the commentators had no idea that many parents are far more


Pain Specialist Dr Michael Vagg says you don’t need to do your own research into vaccines

sophisticated in their search methods than just using Wikipedia or Google.

One of the most representative, and most distasteful, commentaries was provided in “The Conversation” by a Dr Michael Vagg, a pain specialist who, under current AHPRA regulations would be regarded as not qualified to give any opinion on vaccinations.(As a precedent I would cite the difficulties faced by Dr Gary Fettke, an orthopaedic surgeon who has been cautioned by AHPRA for giving (accurate and legitimate) dietary advice to his patients, when his specialist qualification does not specifically qualify him for that.



This comment stood out more than anything else: “You don’t need to do your own research” Unless you’re a senior research scientist with your own lab, a posse of postdocs and serious wad of cash, we don’t need your help.

Firstly we need to separate out doing research in labs and investigating the state of the current research and the process of synthesising that research in to guidelines, and then into clinical practice.

How Accurate Is the Science that we base our decisions on?

The first point of concern is that there is a serious crisis in the scientific world concerning the replicability of scientific research. John P. A. Ioannidis writes about this in his paper ” Why Most Published Research Findings are False” 

Further commentary and links to unsatisfactory results are found at this Open Science blog: This blog links to several resources including studies by Bayer in 2011 showing that more than 75% of their studies could not be replicated, and another study by Amgen, which looked at 53 studies deemed to be landmark studies but could only reproduce 6 of them.


How Biased is the Science that we base our decisions on?

HeartattacklawyersThere has been extensive discussion around the problems caused by the funding of research by pharmaceutical companies and many examples of dishonest practices. One of the most dramatic of these was the distorted research data that allowed Merck (also a vaccine manufacturer) to get its new anti-inflammatory Vioxx authorised by the FDA. That was shown to cause many heart attacks with a minimum of 50,000 deaths, and resulted in a damages payout of 4.85 billion dollars from Merck in a class action.This is only the tip of the iceberg, but it is pharmaceutical companies that produce vaccines and they are indemnified against damage caused by their products.


However the issue goes much further than fraud. According to an article in European Journal of Clinical Investigation, it observes that in the USA between 57 and 87% of guideline authors have a conflict of interest.

Stamatakis et al list a number of areas of concern. Studies are funded by for profit organisations are four times more likely to find in favour of the studied drug. Furthermore the for profit studies are not looking at non drug treatments and the authors comment that “medical research is doomed to navigate only questions posed by the industry and their extensions.There is increasing direct evidence about the manipulation of reported results in industry-sponsored trials, which demonstrate favourable results and the avoidance of inconvenient findings.”

So the outcome of this is that only the questions that interest large pharmaceutical companies get studied. The corollary of this is that proponents of pharmaceuticals, and their allies in the so called “Science Based Medicine” movement are able to attack and marginalise complementary medicines with a view to removing them from the market because they don’t have any science to support them. These claims are usually false, but the total volume of published science in complementary medicine is clearly lower. Stametakis et al also highlight that between 57 and 87% of members of committees involved in establishing guidelines have conflicts of interest.

Guidelines and their flaws.

The published science is only part of the equation governing clinical care. Prepared clinical guidelines are becoming more dominant and while they were meant to inform clinical practice now they are increasingly dictating it, with the result that non compliance is seen as malpractice.However the preparation of clinical guidelines is a complicated process and there are many points at which it can fail.

I will use as my example here the Australian Immunisation Handbook, 10th Edition (2013) There are three committees involved in vaccination decisions ATAGI (Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, the (NIC) National Immunisation Committee and the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Vaccines (curiously the name of that committee has dropped removing the word safety).

The first problem is the selection of the committee that will drive the guidelines process.In the case of the Immunisation handbook the committee can be found here:This list NIC contains no consumer representative and no representative of any dissenting views.

It is relatively easy to find a conflict statement from the NIC (and 8 of the 15 committee members have disclosed conflicts ranging from payment for travel by vaccine companies to doing research partly funded by vaccine companies) but I could not find conflict of interest statements for the other two groups.Again Stamatakis et al observe that in the USA between 57 and 87% of guideline authors have a conflict of interest.

The science used by the NIC. The first problem with any Guidelines is the currency and relevance of the evidence.

Edition 10 of the Australian Immunisation Guidelines was published in 2013.

criteria for the data searched can be found here:

The criteria for exclusion were

• Publication year – searches were generally limited to items published from 2006–2011

• Language – searches were limited to items in English.

• Human – items discussing only animals were removed.

• In vitro – items discussing only in vitro studies were removed

• Abstracts – search results restricted to items containing abstracts.

So, by the time of publication, the research base was already 2 years out of date. In some areas it may be much more. For instance the Cochrane Collaboration was mentioned. The most recent Cochrane review of aluminium adjuvants appears to be 2004, based on 21 papers, all published between 1968 and 2003. By way of comparison this quick check on Pubmed using the terms “aluminium” and “neurotoxicity” revealed 417 papers, and many of them were recent:

Secondly we have no real information as to the extent of the searches being done by the NIC. We do know that the CDC has managed to find reasons to avoid considering many studies, and we have no assurance that the same is not happening in Australia.

Thirdly, we have no idea if the search terms used were adequate, and did not reflect the research and cognitive biases of the committee members. Restricting searches so that they avoid references to abstract only items is simply unacceptable. If a full article is not available for free then the Health Department should be paying for it.

The restriction on papers not written in English is unlikely to be a major problem given current practices ensuring that most science done is written in or translated to English Regardless of that an attempt should be made to at least assess the abstracts using translation software.The last two restrictions, however are more serious: namely the exclusion of animal only or in vitro studies.

The major concern here is around vaccine adjuvants. There is ample evidence of the toxicity of aluminium, and the only real question is the toxic dose. I suggest it would be impossible to get an ethics committee approval for a human study trialling injections of aluminium. It would also be hard to find a control population that was not dosed with it.

So in reality, when we look at the Australian Immunisation Guidelines it is clear that there are serious issues with the selection of the research which is used to inform the guidelines, that guidelines in general can never be current, and that the process that establishes these committees is lacking in transparency and is probably not free from bias.

So, in short, to answer Dr Vagg, and those who support his views, it is simply not possible to say that the science is as settled, complete and unbiassed as he claims. In this setting there is no way that imposition of mandatory vaccines, abolition of the right to refuse consent, or penalties for not vaccinating can ever be appropriate.

** Dubious Anonymous is a medical practitioner who has enough sense to keep a low profile when offering an intellectual critique of his profession, because he knows they can’t take it














Posted in AHPRA, ATAGI, Dr Michael Vagg, Pauline Hanson, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Christmas Cheer from Reasonable Hank


Peter Tiernan

Everyone knows I’ve followed the ‘career’ of that serial, anonymous, online coward and slanderous blogger Reasonable Hank (it’s hard not to, all slugs leave slime in their tracks).

The stupidity and evil core of most humans never ceases to amaze me, so the Hanks of this world come as no surprise, every rock you look under you’ll find one. The thing that outrages me most about Hank is his complete and utter cowardice. So while the likes of John Cunningham, Sue Ierachi, Ken McLeod and other pro pHarma creeps like David Hawkes, Jane Hansen, and the relentlessly stupid (bought) Health Minister Jill Hennessy still disgust me at least these disturbed individuals have the courage of their demented convictions. At least they troll and injure their fellow human beings with their awful Merck ‘science’ under their own names.
Hank says he must remain anonymous because his life is in danger? Boo Hoo Pete, is your life at any more risk than any of your other equally disturbed and dangerous Skeptic mates? Are you a special case? Well?
Well I’m glad you asked because, yes, you are a special case. A special case of coward. Pretty sure I have not come across a bigger coward ever and in a world of genetically modified cowards that is no mean feat.
So after my last blog exposing Hank I thought that’s it, I’m done with this troll…I had set my sights on a couple of doctors mentioned above whose behaviour needed a little Phyto light shined upon them. No one reads his shit but a couple of us anti vaxxers a little more unhinged than the rest. Only journo that takes him seriously is the totally in decline Jane Hansen and that dried out husk of dust, what’s his name again? Blogs for Crikey, the with-friends-like-that-the-Left-don’t-need-no-enemy? Ahhh, screw it, I’ll remember it later.
This Christmas though Hank surpassed himself. This Christmas he launched one of his most decrepit attacks ever on a family on their knees. A family who have been to Hell and are not even halfway back yet. A family whose husband, father, brother, son has been crippled by a vaccine he should not have been coerced into having.

Ben Hammond was left crippled after he was forced to have the DTap( whooping-cough) vaccine in 2012 otherwise he couldn’t see his premature baby

Some time last year, around May, I received a call from Tanya Hammond.
           “Wow! Reasonable Hank has done a supportive post on us! He even donated
             $50 to our Go Fund Me! I’m quite touched but shocked, what’s going on?”
Poor Tanya thought Hank had seen the light. I laughed, I knew this turd too well.
           “You know what it means?” I tell her, ” It means he is currently writing a
             slanderous blog about you and Ben and is going to dump shit all over
             you next week.”
Hank couldn’t even wait the week, he shat all over the Hammond family three days later. An awful, cowardly, lying blog that basically destroyed Tanya and her devastated family.
That was the turning point for me (another one). I decided to finish the job I started on this cowardly fool. I’m gonna be Tiernan’s personal Karmic facilitator. So yeah Hank, at your bitter end you’ll see me.
Since then, brave Peter Tiernan has been relentless in his despicable, cowardly attacks. He even slandered Tanya’s mum for good measure. He has written and posted over 100 times about the Hammond family since then. I thought I’d seen it all but Christmas 2016 saw Tiernan at the lowest in a low, low ‘career’.





Have you noticed Pete that all your other Skeptic/Friends of Science in Medicine trolls never retweet you when you attack the Hammonds? No you can’t include all your bogus fake social media accounts like @rebelknight50, Hank retweeting Hank. Hank’s greatest fan and retweeter is, after all Hank. Ever noticed how they don’t even comment when you slander this family? Does that not tell you anything?

“Rebel Knight” is Hank’s greatest fan and retweeter

The karmic twist here is that you are all linked by the inefficacious and toxic pertussis vaccine. See it was this vaccine that crippled and near killed Ben Hammond. This was also the vaccine that drew Tiernan into his cowardly, deranged, trolling of vaccine safety activists. Tiernan happens to be cousins with a family who suffered the terrible tragedy of losing a child to whooping cough.
Bad Pharma and Bad Government love an event like this. They can then blame the death on anti vaxxers and not the completely shit vaccine with zero efficacy. They recruit the poor shocked & grieving family to sell more vaccines. Numb and in pain the poor family accept the role so as to honour the poor child they have just lost. Think this is overly simplified then how about you research the pertussis vaccine….even Skeptic scum acknowledge it “isn’t the best vaccine”. The pertussis vaccine is a 100% total and utter waste of time and space.
So poor old Pete, one of life’s no hopers, decides this is the cause he’s been looking for and Reasonable Hank was born, groomed of course by the tawdry and juvenile Ken McLeod and inspired by that old drunk and equally disgraceful Peter Bowditch. Look at these clowns in action and judge for yourself the calibre of Bad Pharma’s goons.
So now here we are, Ben Hammond, a fit and healthy 34 year old male who is told he must have a pertu shot to see his new born baby. Cocooning the policy was called and it basically meant all family members and anyone wanting to visit a new born baby were required to have this toxic shot. Great money spinner for pHarma, think of all the cash they creamed suckering in any visitor to a new born child?
Of course this was policy failure at it’s best and all state governments soon abandoned it because, well as I’ve already told you, the vaccine just doesn’t work. It does not stop transmission of the disease. Whooping cough numbers exploded as did Big Pharma’s bank accounts and the politicians they ‘donate’ so much money to. Guess who all the suckers catching whooping cough were? The new born babies and their families and friends. Oh dear! How inconvenient. So yep, policy abandoned but not before Ben was crippled and lay at death’s doorstep for 6 months.
So what did the Hammond’s do to disturb our friendly, neighbourhood pHarma troll Peter Parker…sorry, I mean Tiernan? They had the hide to nearly die from a vaccine! The audacity of this wretched family! Here we are trying to mandate vaccines for every man, woman, & child on this planet for every vaccine we can think of (and some we haven’t even thought of yet) and you have the nerve, the complete cheek, to nearly die from a vaccine you didn’t need to take! And didn’t want! Screw that!! Hank had to make an example out of you, you gave him no choice. Imagine if everybody that was killed or injured by a vaccine decided they wanted to make a complaint. It would be chaos….how the Hell would Pharma shareholder’s get an annual dividend ? DO NOT SCREW WITH THE BAD PHARMA NARRATIVE or you will deal with the Wrath of Hank. How in God’s name can Murdoch buy another TV station if all you peasants are dying and getting injured in your droves from our shitty vaccines?
I spoke to Ben Hammond this week and this is what he had to say.
“As many of you may know, I don’t really take to social media for much more than kindly thanking everyone for there generous support and kind words. It has helped myself and family through this horrid experience no family should ever have to go through.
It was not a proud moment for me to have to make the decision to appeal to the public for help, and begin a media campaign for what should be already in place, but here we are still rallying for all of the legal and medical expenses we always face.
As with anything I expected some backlash to what we were doing, especially being such a taboo topic to start with, however our good friend Reasonable Hankypoo decided to take it to the next level, and then some…
I don’t know who you are, or what has driven you to attack my family the way have, but your spineless accusations and fabricated stories absolutely disgust me. You truly have proven to yourself who you really are, from all of the comments on your testimony page.
Im not going to lower myself to your level then get beaten by experience when it comes for me to write more insults for you to add. But I will say, I totally agree with everyone on there, it must be awesome to look at yourself in the mirror every morning, fuckin wanker…
I’m agitated that I’ve been asked to even write something about you, but here is the 20 minutes of my time ill never get back…
Ben Hammond


If you would like a refund for your $50 Go Fund me donation feel free to provide your details and we can arrange it in good time .
Dr Phyto will deliver it personally?
And one of the most disturbing parts of this story, possibly even more disturbing than Pete Tiernan is that no one, not Merck, not Pfizer, not Jill Hennessy, and certainly not the dodo in question have the slightest idea what causes vaccine injury or death. No one knows why your one day old baby develops auto immune issues after her HepB shot or why a healthy 34 year old male can be killed by a pertussis shot. They have no idea. Nor does your doctor. Until that ‘science is settled’ and the vaccine cartel and their nasty ass trolls actually understand the mechanism behind vaccine injury and death, vaccination has to be a choice.
Soon the CDC will be thoroughly investigated and their heads will be off to jail. Hopefully the trolls that work tirelessly online for them will follow. Here are just a few that deserve a nice long stint.

Dorit Rubinstein Reiss a friend of Phizer.

Dorit Reiss check her twitter profile this women tweets 20 hours a day and is supposed to be a law professor and mother. Where does she find the time? Who funds her? When your child is killed or injured by a vaccine, remember this women’s name.

Dorit Reiss is a mother, law profesor and tweets 20 hours a day.


Skeptic Dr David Gorski should no better than to promote vaccines as a safe and effective proceudure.

Dr David Gorski. I save my special hate for Doctors that promote vaccination as a safe and effective procedure. These people should, and I suspect do, know better. If any are found to be paid by Pharma to spread Pharma lies and poison and troll vaccine injured families, I believe jail would be too good for them. Siberian salt mines maybe?

Edzard Ernst promotes statins and flu shots

Edzard Ernst Funnily enough I had to read this idiots text at university. He is just a tired old skeptic now that promotes statins and flu shots.

Peter Tiernan

Peter Tiernan. Online cowardly stalker of women and vaccine damaged families. Knows as much about vaccine science as he does about not doxing himself on national radio.

Dr John Cunningham aka JCBigears

Dr John Cunningham. JCbigears once tried to school me on herd immunity. Like all skeptics he didn’t  read the study before he posted it. Sadly the study he tried to school me on, was one that I’d used in my very own submission in relation to the No Jab No Pay debacle. Poor John, the science wasn’t on his side and, alas, he realised far too late. There is no good science on the mythical 95% herd immunity Pharma likes to spew about. None. Anyone that says otherwise is either bought or an idiot. He too trolls vaccine damaged families in spare time on twitter.One of his victims was Tasha David whose husband and father of her eight children had passed away. This creep spread malicious rumours online that her children were all from different fathers.
 Dr John Cunningham was  maliciously spreading misinformation when he wrote ” It is not surprising that Tasha doesn’t discuss the fact that her “healthy ” children have a different father than the other “sick” ones, and that is more likely that they are suffering from a genetic disorder passed down from their father than anything to do with vaccination. That wouldn’t fit in with her particular brand of .. of I cannot say.” Stay classy John. Gold plated turd.
Patrick Stokes
Patrick Stokes.To be honest, and this will definitely destroy his skeptic reputation, I have a bit of a soft spot for Patrick. From all accounts he is supposed to be a decent guy and he’s definitely not overtly nasty and certainly doesn’t attack vaccine damaged families.  He is, however a journalist guided by his stupid skeptic buddies and Bad Pharma and for this he must be made accountable. Cmon Pat, you’re a nice guy, lose these creepy turds. What would Socrates do?

Bernard Keene Blogger from Crikey and special friend of Hank.

Bernard Keene. This blogger from Crikey gets a special mention. He may even have less readers than me? Absolute dried out, broken,has been. Special friend of Hank and that can only damn you. Sack the bum Crikey…trust me, no one will notice.
Jane Hansen
 Poor old Jane. I’ve been harsh on her over the years. Everyone hates her boss. Everyone hates her newspaper. She has fallen from….well not far from the footpath to the gutter I spose but the gutter it is. Jane’s disastrous foray into the outing of Hank was too good to be true. In an article she authored about mistaken identity and the doxing of an innocent man, she fails to tell her readers that, in a miraculous karmic twist, she knew both men. Went to school with one and sold Pharma lies with another. In another amazing twist, one was called Peter Tierney and the other, Peter Tiernan. Incredible! She failed to mention this of course. Why? Cause it was a big fat lie and poor Jane knows what happens to journos that get caught lying red handed.
 Dr Paul Offit.
Probably number one on my skeptic scum list. This creep made multi million dollars from the totally unnecessary rotavirus vaccine . What’s rotavirus you may ask? Well you’ve injected your kid with it so maybe you should do more research on it before you criticize those who question its position on the soon to be mandated schedule.
Jill Hennessy
I proudly announce Victorian health minister Jill Hennessy ,the inaugural winner of the James Randi Bent Wand award for services to bent science. We hope to present it to her in person some time in the next couple of months. This politician who we pay for, works closely with Reasonable Hank . Does she condone his cowardly attacks against nurses and vaccine damaged families ? Does she condone his despicable attacks on the Hammond Family? If not then she needs to publicly condemn them? Can you please tell the public how much money Big Pharma has donated to you and your party in the last 5 years ?

Minister Jill Hennessy  openly supporting online serial abuser of vaccine injured families Reasonable Hank on Twitter.

These are just afew of Big pharmas faithful trolls and servants which makes them responsible for the death and destruction that vaccines cause. If your child is injured or killed by a vaccine don’t forget these faces,  over the next few years I will highlight these creeps and their disservices to humanity.  Whenever a child tragically dies from whooping-cough foundations are set up , Daily telegraph does a front page fundraiser for them, a current affair does a story and a fundraiser for them. When someone is nearly killed by a vaccine you’ll never hear about. Why? Because government and Big Pharma don’t want you to hear about it. If you can assist the Hammond Family in any way here’s a link to their gofundme page
I’ll leave the last word to Tanya’s mum.

In the four years that we have been dealing with Ben’s illness and the hell my family have been put through. We have come across many wonderful people who are now dear friends but sadly we have also had to endure people like reasonable hank.  I get people are very confused by the vaccine dilemma, hell I was too, but thousands of parents/wives/family members cannot be wrong! They cannot all be a ‘coincidence’ it’s just not feasible and as far as Ben’s story goes, well, the hanks of this world and the others, you know who you all are, I might add need to wake the F up.  The rubbish that has been spread about Tanya and Ben is just pathetic and extremely insulting.  He is a real person, he was a quad, he is now walking but has been left with multiple injuries and life time problems  that will put him back in a wheelchair and yes it was the DTap vaccination!  But hank has a way of dissecting bits and pieces of blogs etc  from as far back as when I first started our page and he pastes them to suit his own agenda and make his story sound true and the herd follow.

We began this journey 4 years ago because we believed,and still do, that people need to know that this can happen and if you decide to vaccinate (which is your choice to make) then make sure you educate yourself on what can happen and you are financially covered because it will destroy you.  If that makes us activists, well ok we will wear it, and thank god my daughter is as stubborn as her mother because we have not let their pathetic attempt to shut us up work.  They  did vaccinate and now, because they are very aware of what can go wrong, they don’t, it’s that simple and being slammed by these people for trying to protect others  is just wrong. We will keep on making noises because until vaccines are investigated and tests done the way that all medications should be tested, these injuries will keep on happening, and you never know Hank and (name deleted in the name of an upcoming truce) it might be you if they mandate adult vaccines.

Yours sincerely

Lois Vitler

Proud Mum

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Pseudoskeptics Strange CSICOP connections to pedophilia

Pedophilia Atheists and Pseudoskeptics


The book Children’s Sexual Encounters with adults- A Scientific Study is published by Prometheus Books founded by Skeptic Paul Kurtz and right hand man to James Randi 

The lifelong dedication of pseudoskeptics to irrationally attacking religious and spiritual institutions and ESP is so gross and organised and widespread and so robotically repeated by thousands in lockstep, that one suspects it’ some kind of undiagnosed illness. Or orchestrated. Or both.

Website subversive thinking has put some effort into researching this and come up with some surprising connections between ardent atheism in its various forms and a publishing empire called Prometheus Books that has the same founder as CSICOP the peak organisation for irrational skepticism and atheism. (James Randi, Richard Wiseman, Michael Shermer etc)

Just the first few paragraphs are presented here about the type of material coming out of the Prometheus Publishing empire.

It will explain the pseudoskeptic pathology as having an alarming dimension.

With links you can check yourself.

Prometheus Books and the pseudoskeptical perversions and other insane and frightening possible consequences of metaphysical naturalism and materialism (militant atheism)

Prometheus Books is the leading publisher of pseudoskeptical, materialist, secular humanist and atheist books in the US.

According to Wikipedia “Prometheus Books is a publishing company founded in August 1969 by Paul Kurtz who also founded the Council for Secular Humanism and co founded the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.  He was chairman of all 3 organisations and passed away in 2012. Prometheus  publishes a range of books including many about science, especially those of a skeptical nature. 

Note that Prometheus was founded by Paul Kurz the atheist and materialist philosopher founder of the pseudoskeptical organisation CSICOP (now called CSI) 


Left to Right- Kevin Christopher, Richard Saunders,  Jan Eisler, Skeptic and Prometheus Books founder Paul Kurtz and Skeptics founder James Randi at the 2000 Skeptic Conference in Australia. 

Well if you enter the Prometheus books website and see the section on Human Sexuality, you’ll see titles explicitly or implicitly endorsing promoting and justifying   with pseudo-scientific and “rationalistic” jargon pornography, prostitution, pedophilia, sado masochism, zoophilia, and other sexual aberrations and perversions.

In other sections you’ll see titles supporting abortion an infanticide, or weird behaviours like transvetism.

The original “Human Sexuality” section of Prometheus Books catalog was edited CSICOP/CSI Fellow and International Academy of Humanism Secretariat Dr Vera Bullough who according to Wikipedia was a “member of the editorial board” of Paidika: The Journal of Pedophilia

The pseudo-scientific and immoral journal (PAIDIKA) was a pro-paedophilia journal.

According to Wikipedia  The Journal of pedophilia (1987 – 1995) was journal published by the Sticjting Paidika Foundation. Articles drawn from it are available from a number of pro pedophile websites. Its editor was Joseph Geraci, and the editorial board included articles by writers Fritz Bernard,  Edward Brongersma, prof Vera L Bullough and DH (Donald) Mader, some of whom campigned as pro-pedophilia activists.

In this link Bullough is mentioned as someone “who accepts the conclusions of Wilson & Cox (1983) that people with pedophilia are quite normal people who should not be demonized. Some behaviour might be socially incorrect, but that is not the same as pathological. As long as these people limit themselves having fantasies, nothing is wrong. If some people have to change their behaviour, this is a case of re-educating those people, not of treatment or curing an illness”.

People with pedophilic  feelings are normal people? Would YOU swallow such nonsense?

According to Wikipedia “according to the Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental Disorders” (DSM) pedophilia is specified as a form of paraphilia in which the person either has acted on intense sexual urges toward children, or experiences recurrent sexual urges towards and fantasies about children that cause distress or interpersonal difficulty.

The disorder is frequently a feature of persons who commit child sexual abuse.

However some offenders do not meet the clinical diagnosis standards for pedophilia. In strictly behavioural contexts, the word “pedophilia”  can can also be applied to the act of child sexual abuse itself also called “pedophilic behaviour”.

Pedophiles are not “quite normal people”, they suffer a mental disorder and their behaviour may be potentially destructive to children. The use of euphemisms is a well-known tactic to defend  censurable doctrines and beliefs.

According to an article by Dr Judith Reisman commenting on World Pornography Conference ” The conference featured Paidika The journal of pedophilia editor Vera Bullough and his pedophile editorial colleagues John De Cecca, daniel Tsang and Wayne Dynes– all professors at major American colleges.

Chairing the CSUN “Erotic” section on ” Child pornography” was Harris Mirkin an associate professor of political science at the University of MIssouri, Kansas City. Mirkins 1999 article “The Pattern of Sexual Politics, Feminism Homosexuality and pedophilia (Journal of Homosexuality Vol 37 ) describes the steps the pedophiles need to take to gain social acceptance. He advises pedophiles to advocate for the elimination of phrases like “child molestation” and “child abuse”.  (This is political correctness at work.)

Why was a Secular Humanist  (Professor Bullough) a professional atheist, a member of the editorial  board of a pro-pedophilia journal like Paidika? Why does the “skeptical” atheist and materialist publishing house Prometheus Books endorse this kind of behaviour with its books? Is that part of a materialist and metaphysical naturalist agenda to destroy the values of society? I’ll attempt to respond to some of these questions later. Keep in mind Prometheus Books publish other titles about different topics, including philosophy and science (and I don’t doubt these titles have some value, but it doesn’t justify  promoting of sexual aberrations like pedophilia. Also perversions and aberrations can be seen in religious people too, but again, it doesn’t justify some naturalists aberrations and perversions, moreover you’ll hardly see any Christian or Jew or other current religious organisation promoting these practices as done by Prometheus Books.


For the moment, lets see some tiles of this “skeptical” and “humanist” publishing organisation.

S&M Studies in Dominance and submission  by Thomas S Weinberg

A Youth in Babylon -Confessions of a trash film King by David Friedman and Don De Nevi

The X-rated Videotape Guides Volumes 1-8 by Robert H Rimmer

The X-Rated Videotape Star Index Volumes 1-3 by Patrick Riley

Raw Talent : The adult Film Industry as seen by its most popular Male Star  by Jerry Butler

The Horseman: Obsessions of a Zoophile by Mark Mathews with an introduction by Vera Bullough (The above mentioned editor of Paidika)

Children’s Sexual Encounters with Adults -a scientific study by C K Li, D J West & T P Woodhouse

Dirty Talk: Diary of a phone sex mistress , By Gary Anthony  & Rocky Bennet

Whips and Kisses: Parting the leather curtain by Mistress Jacqueline

The Q letters: True stores of Sado Masochism by “Sir” John

A commentary on Transvestism ( not a sexual perversion but another possible example of the hidden agenda and the irrationality and immorality of secular humanism and its leading publishing house)

Among some of the weird titles of the books edited by “rationalist” and “scientific” Prometheus books  you can see a book entitled  transvestites : The Erotic Drive to Crossdress by Magnus Hirschfeld This  book tries to make the case for  transvestism as ” a natural extension of the infinite variations of the human personality  (Steve here- does that sound like  the pskeps Multiverse? LOL)

But who is its author? According to Wikipedia Magnus Hirschfeld was “a Gay German Jewish Physician, sex researcher and early gay rights advocate”.

Around 1900 Hirschfeld developed the theory there was a third “intermediate”  sex between men and women. He was interested in a wide variety of sexual and erotic urges at a time when the early taxonomy od sexual identity labels was still being formed.

His scientific work extended that of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs and influenced havelock Ellis and Edward Carpenter*

An intermediate sex between men and women? What the hell is that ?

Un surprisingly, “rationalistic” and “scientific” and  “humanist”  Prometheus books   has edited 2 books by Hirschfeld. Interesting isn’t it !

In his book on Uri Geller, journalist Eric Margolis wrote” One book on  the Prometheus book list is a British academic book on child  abuse.  Children’s Sexual Encounters with Adults  republished in the US.with a bright red jacket on which the title is printed in bold black letters  three quarters of an inch high  presumably for the benefit of short-sighted researchers into child sex.

The book consists of hundreds  of detailed case histories  of adults having sex with children. Other Prometheus texts have little claim to being academic.

Cannibalism: from sacrifice to Survival 

The Horseman: Obsessions of a Zoophile   (animal sex obsession)

The breathless orgasm:  A love map  biography of   Asphyxiophilia

Death Dealer The memoirs of the SS Kommandant of Auschwitz

How are we to explain these titles? Remember that metaphysical naturalists, secular humanists, and materialistic atheists ( militant atheists)  don’t believe in objective values (bear in mind this point because it’s absolutely essential to understand the psychological and ideological motivation behind such titles) They have a purely negative philosophy (ie a philosophy based on the negation of traditional relgion and its values)  If they are consistent, they have to embrace relativism and subjectivism in moral topics. According to Richard Dawkins– Now if you then ask me where I get my “ought” statements from that’s a more difficult question. if I say something is wrong, like killing people,I don’t find that as nearly as defensible a statement as “I am distant cousin of an orang-utan”

If its true then, pornography, pedophilia, infanticide, sado masochism, rape, zoophilia suicide, drugs and killing people are not intrinsically bad or wrong. In fact. Dawkins conceded the latter, when complementing the above quote, he said,  The second of those statements is TRUE I can tell you why it’s true – I can bore you to death telling you why it’s true. It’s definitely true. The statement “killing people is wrong”, to me, is not of that character. I would be quite open to persuasion that killing people is right in some circumstances.

It could be argued that in cases of self-defence selective killing is justified

BUT remember

1/ that Dawkins has no objective  standards of value

2/ he is not specifically referring to self-defense

“so his killing people is alright under certain circumstances”  is an open and unspecific statement, fully consistent with the metaphysical naturalist and secular human belief  that human life is not an absolute.

And therefore killing people is not intrinsically bad.

For them, there is no such thing as an absolute value in the universe.

In fact, according to Dawkins,  this Universe has a lack “”at the bottom”of anything like “good” or “evil”.

The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at the bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference. (River Out of Eden page 155)

As said, if the Universe lacks any moral properties or values, then any moral value is objectively non-existent.(because it is not part of the universe) and any concept of value is, necessarily an arbitrary idea posed by the human mind. (which according to the materialists is an illusion because the mind doesn’t exist as such its only a name for some cerebral processes. Also Dawkins documentary title “The Root of all Evil  loses any moral or logical meaning  and its use is sheer rhetoric, since according to Dawkins, Evil doesnt exist as part of the universe (yet he states — Evil religious beliefs are part of this universe , Right?

Thus how could  religion be evil in a universe where evil doesn’t exist?

Dawkins doesn’t seem to be interested in logical consistency and rationality.

Actually Dawkins has conceded that morality is relative.

Science has no method of deciding what is ethical.

That is a matter for individuals and society. (A Devils Chaplain p34)

So now, can you see, dear reader,  how Dawkins is campaigning for the NO RULES fraternity, campaigning to enable pedophilia to propagate sexual perversions as normal, and all of his pseudo-intellectual  BS book writing is to that end?

And his HQ is CSICOP now CSI, with Randi, Shermer, Neil Degrasse Tyson etc     Is it making sense now ? 

Taken from the old website Subversive Thinking a full video transcipt of this article can be found here 




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Prometheus Books and the pseudoskeptical perversions: another insane and frightening possible consequences of metaphysical naturalism and materialis

From the taken down blog Subversive Thinking


Prometheus Books is the leading publisher of pseudoskeptical, materialist, secular humanist and atheist books in U.S. According to wikipedia “Prometheus Books is a publishing company founded in August 1969 by Paul Kurtz, who also founded theCouncil for Secular Humanism and co- founded Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He is currently the chairman of all three organizations. Prometheus books publishes a range of books, including many about science, especially those of a skeptical nature
Note that Prometheus Books was founded by Paul Kurtz, the atheist and materialist philosopher founder of the pseudoskeptical organization CSICOP (now called CSI).
Well, if you enter to the website of Prometheus Books, and see the section on “Human Sexuality”, you’ll see titles explicitly or implicitly endorsing, promoting and justifying (with pseudo-scientific and “rationalistic” jargon) pornography, prostitution, paedophilia, sado-masochism, zoophilia, and other sexual aberrations and pervertions. In other sections you’ll see titles supporting abortion and infanticide, or weird behaviours like transvestism.
The original “Human Sexuality” section of Prometheus Books catalog was edited by CSICOP/CSI Fellow and International Academy of Humanism Secretariat Dr. Vern Bullough, who according to wikipedia was “a member of the editorial board of Paidika: The Journal of Paedophilia.”
This pseudo-scietific and immoral journal (Paidika) was a pro-paedophilia journal. According to wikipediaPaidika: The Journal of Paedophilia (1987–1995) was a journal published by the Stichting Paidika Foundation. Articles drawn from it are available from a number of pro-pedophile activistwebsites. Its editor was Joseph Geraci and the editorial board included articles by writers Frits Bernard, Edward Brongersma, Vern L. Bullough, and D. H. (Donald) Mader, some of whom campaigned as pro-pedophile activists

In this website, Bullough is mentioned as someone who “accepts the conclusions of Wilson & Cox (1983) that people with pedophilic feelings are quite normal people who not should be demonized. Some behavior might be socially incorrect, but that is not the same as pathological. As long as these people limit themselves to have fantasies, nothing is wrong. If some people have to change their behavior, this is a case of re-educating those people, not of treatment or curing an illness.”

People with pedophilic feelings are quite normal people? Would you swallow such nonsense? According to wikipedia: “According to theDiagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(DSM), pedophilia is specified as a form of paraphilia in which a person either has acted on intense sexual urges towards children, or experiences recurrent sexual urges towards and fantasies about children that cause distress or interpersonal difficulty.[4] The disorder is frequently a feature of persons who commit child sexual abuse;[5][6][7]however, some offenders do not meet the clinical diagnosis standards for pedophilia.[8] In strictly behavioral contexts, the word “pedophilia” can also be applied to the act of child sexual abuse itself, also called “pedophilic behavior

Pedophiles are not “quate normal people”, they suffer of a mental disorder and their behaviour may be potentially destructive to children. The use of euphemisms is a well-known tactic to defend censurable doctrines and beliefs.

According to this article by Dr.Judith Reisman, comenting on World Pornography Conference: “The conference featured Paidika: The Journal of Paedophilia editor Vern Bullough and his pedophile editorial colleagues: John DeCecco, Daniel Tsang and Wayne Dynes — all professors at major American colleges.3 Chairing the CSUN “Erotic” section on “Child Pornography” was Harris Mirkin, an associate professor of political science at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. Mirkin’s 1999 article, “The Pattern of Sexual Politics: Feminism, Homosexuality and Pedophilia” (Journal of Homosexuality, Vol. 37) describes the steps pedophiles need to take to gain social acceptance. He advises pedophiles to advocate for the elimination of words like “child molestation” and “child abuse.”

Why does a so-called “Secular Humanist” (Bullough) was member of the editorial board of a pro-paedophilia journal like Paidika? Why does the “skeptical”, atheist and materialist publisihing house (Prometheus Books) endorse this kind of behaviour with its books? Is that part of a materialist and metaphysical naturalist agenda to destroy the values of society? I’ll attempt to respond some of these questions later. Keep in mind that Prometheus Books publish other titles about different topics, including philosophy and science (and I don’t doubt some of these titles have some value; but it doesn’t justify the promotiong of sexual aberrations like paedophilia). Also, perversions and aberrations can be seen in religious people too (but again, it doesn’t justify some naturalists’ aberrations and perversions; moreover, hardly you’ll see any Christian or Jews or other current religious organization promoting these practiques like done by Prometheus Books)

For the moment, let’s see some titles of this “skeptical” and “humanist” publishing organization:

S&M Studies in Dominance and Submission, by Thomas S. Weinberg
-A Youth in Babylon: Confessions of a Trash-Film King, by David Friedman & Don DeNevi
The X-Rated Videotape Guides: Volumes 1 – 8, by Robert H. Rimmer
The X-Rated Videotape Star Index: Volumes 1 – 3, by Patrick Riley
Raw Talent: The Adult Film Industry as Seen by its Most Popular Male Star, by Jerry Butler
The Horseman: Obsessions of a Zoophile, by Mark Matthews, Introduction by Vern Bullough (the above mentioned editorial member of Paideka)
Children’s Sexual Encounters With Adults, A Scientific Study, by C.K. Li, D.J. West and T.P. Woodhouse
Dirty Talk: Diary of a Phone Sex Mistress, by Gary Anthony & Rocky Bennett
Whips & Kisses: Parting the Leather Curtain, by Mistress Jacqueline
The Q Letters: True Stories of Sadomasochism, by “Sir” John
A COMMENTARY ON TRANSVESTISM (not a sexual pervertion, but another possible example of the hidden agenda and the irrationality and immorality of secular humanism and its leading publishing house):
Among some of the weird titles of the books edited by the “rationalist” and “scientific” Prometeus Books, you can see a book entitled “Transvestites : The Erotic Drive to Cross-Dress” by Magnus Hirschfeld. This book tries to make the case for transvestism as “a natural extension of the infinite variations of human personality
But who’s its author? According to wikipedia, Magnus Hirschfeld: “was a gay German-Jewish physician, sex researcher, and early gay rights advocate
Around 1900, Hirschfeld developed the theory of a third, “intermediate sex” between men and women. He was interested in the study of a wide variety of sexual and erotic urges, at a time when the early taxonomy of sexual identity labels was still being formed. His scientific work extended that of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs and influenced Havelock Ellis and Edward Carpenter
An intermediate sex between men and women? What the hell is that?

Not suprisingly, “rationalistic”, “scientific” and “secular humanist” Prometheus Books has edited two books by Hirschfeld. Interesting, isn’t it?

In his book on Uri Geller, journalist Jonathan Margolis wroteOne book on Prometheus’s list is a British academic text on child abuse. Children’s Sexual Encounters With Adults, republished in the States – with a bright red jacket on which the title is printed in bold black letters three quarters of an inch high, for the benefit, presumably, of short-sighted researchers into child sex. The book consists of hundreds of pages of detailed case histories of adults having sex with children. Others Prometheus texts have little claim to being academic. Cannibalism: From Sacrifice to Survival, The Horseman: Obsessions of a Zoophile [person with a sexual attraction to animals], Whips and Kisses: Parting the Leather Curtain (by Mistress Jacqueline), The Breathless Orgasm: A Lovemap Biography of Asphyxiophilia, Death Dealer: The Memoirs of the SS Kommandant at Auschwitz …

How can we explain the above titles? Remember that metaphysical naturalists, secular humanists and materialistic atheists don’t believe in objective values (bear in mind this point, because it’s absolutely essential to understand the psychological and ideological motivation behind such titles). They have a purely negative philosophy (i.e. a philosophy based on the negation of traditional religion and its values). If they’re consistent, they have to embrace relativism and subjetivism in moral topics. According to Richard DawkinsNow, if you then ask me where I get my ‘ought’ statements from, that’s a more difficult question. If I say something is wrong, like killing people, I don’t find that nearly such a defensible statement as ‘I am a distant cousin of an orangutan
If it’s true, then pornography, paedophilia, infanticide, sado-masochism, rape, zoophilia, suicide, drugs and “killing people” are not intrinsically bad or wrong. In fact, Dawkins conceded the latter when, complementing the above quote, he said: “The second of those statements is true, I can tell you why it’s true, I can bore you to death telling you why it’s true. It’s definitely true. The statement ‘killing people is wrong’, to me, is not of that character. I would be quite open to persuasion that killing people is right in some circumstances
It could be argued than in cases of self-defense, selective “killing” is justified. But remember that Dawkins 1)hasn’t objective standards of value; and 2)He is not specifically refering to self-defense; so his “killing people is right under certaing circunstances” idea is an open and inespecific statement, fully consistent with the metaphysical naturalist and secular humanist belief that human life is not an absolute value (and therefore, killing people is not intrinsically bad). For them, there is not such thing as an absolute value in the universe. In fact, according to Dawkins, our universe lack, at the bottom, of any properties like the “good” or the “evil”:
The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference“(River Out Of Eden, p. 155)
As said, if the universe lack of moral properties and values, then any moral value is objectively non-existent (because it is not part of the universe); and any concept of value is, necessarily, an arbitrary idea posed by the human mind (which, according to materialists, is an illusion, because the “mind” doesn’t exist as such; it’s only a name for some cerebral processes). Also, Dawkins’ documentary title “The root of all evil” losses any moral and logical meaning and its use is sheer rhetoric, since that according to Dawkins the “evil” doesn’t exist as part of the universe (and after all, religious beliefs are part of this universe, isn’t it? Thus, how could religion be “evil” in an universe where evil doesn’t exist? Dawkins doesn’t seem to be interested in logical consistency and rationality) and no part of the universe can cause the evil if the latter is not a property of the universe at all; and an universe whose observable property is “blind pitiless indiference” is morally irrelevant, since that morality excludes indifference and, on the contrary, implies interest and concern for certain behaviours considered “correct” and consistent avoiding of another ones considered “bad” or “incorrect”. But since that for Dawkins no purpose exists in this universe, you (as an intrinsic and essential part of the universe) can’t have any purpose to do good or bad things, and objective morality is in such view ontologically non-existent). Also, if the universe manifest only “blind pitiless indiference“, how could the human life be objectively important at all; or objectively more important than other material things? After all, the supossed “blind pitiless indifference” of the universe has to be equally valid for the human beings or any other material things (because if the human beings are objectively important or more important, then the universe is not indifferent anymore since that it would be establishing objective status or levels of importance, what makes no sense in an universe “blindly indifferent”)
Actually, Dawkins has conceded that morality is relative: “Science has no methods for deciding what is ethical. That is a matter for individuals and for society” (A Devil’s Chaplain, p.34)”
Given that each human being and each society has different standars to judge what’s good and what’s bad, then appealing to “individuals” and to “society” implies moral relativism and subjetivism. (For example, if individual atheists consider that religion is bad; and individuals religious persons consider what religion is good, who’s going to decide who’s right? They both can’t be right, because they’re asserting incompatible ethical claims regarding the same fact: religion. But for Dawkins, no objective moral standard exist to settle the question, since that for him “this is a matter for individuals and for society“, so when individuals and societies disagree, you can’t appeal to any reference to resolve the controversy)
In this sense, as has been correctly written by logically consistent metaphysical naturalist and atheist Keith Augustine in his article defending moral subjetivismI think there is a certain degree of plausibility among atheists in the view that without some kind of transcendental intelligence in the universe, there can be no objective moral laws.Moral laws are maxims which tell sentient beings that certain actions are to be deemed moral or immoral. But how could such laws exist in the absence of any mind or sentience in the universe at all? Are moral laws objective in the way that laws of nature are? They do not seem to be, for few would argue that “murder is wrong” existed in some Platonic realm of ideas when galaxies were forming over ten billion years ago and there was no sign life or consciousness anywhere in the universe. The use of the word “law” implies an objective existence of unchanging moral maxims independently of sentience. Yet it appears that there can be nothing objective about so-called “moral laws”, because it seems absurd on its face to say that maxims which tell sentient beings that certain actions of sentient beings are moral or immoral could exist in the absence of sentience.

It seems to me that all ethical codes must ultimately be man-made, and thus there could be no objective criteria for determining if human actions are right or wrong. Admitting that moral laws are man-made is equivalent to acknowledging that ethical rules are arbitrary and therefore human beings are not obligated to follow them.”
The key point here is that, for fully consistent metaphysical naturalists and secular humanists, objective moral values don’t and cannot exist; and morality has a purely arbitrary basis. In other words, if metaphysical naturalism (and its implied secular humanism) is true, then objective moral values don’t exist. Therefore, IF objective moral values exist, metaphysical naturalism (and secular humanism) is false.
As consequence of a consistently applied and assumed view of moral values as relative and subjetive, some metaphysical naturalists and atheists seem to support suicide in some circunstances. According metaphysical naturalist, atheist and self-proclaimed “skeptic” Richard Carrier: “When we have exhausted all options, and still conclude there is no longer any prospect of happiness, death becomes an acceptable alternative” (Sense and Goodness without God, p. 342)
Death as an “acceptable alternative” (i.e. suicide, in some cases), killing people “under certain circunstances” (unspecified circunstances!), and other insane beliefs like those proves that, for metaphysical naturalists, secular humanists and philosophical materialists, human life is not an absolute and objective value (such thing doesn’t exist for them), but a relative or subjetive value dependent on contingent and arbitrary circunstances and criteria (like the opinion of individuals and societies). If human life is not an absolute and objective value, then you can understand that the values destroyed by pornography, paedophilia, rape, infanticide, zoophilia, drugs consumption, etc. are not absolute either. Thus, these behaviours aren’t intrinsically immoral (or bad or wrong) for metaphysical naturalists and secular humanists (and this fully explain some Prometheus’ book titles on sexual behaviour).
To avoid misunderstandings, let’s to be explicit in my position. I’m not arguing that Dawkins, Augustine or Carrier support the behaviours promoted and endorsed by Prometheus Books (probably, they don’t). My argument is that these behaviours aren’t intrisically inconsistent with metaphysical naturalism and secular humanism, enabling some of its followers consistently hold both metaphysical naturalism (and secular humanism) and one (or many) of the above practiques (like Bullough, who was an supporter of paedophilia and at the same time a “secular humanist” and metaphysical naturalist).
In other words, the above behaviours are absolutely consistent with metaphysical naturalism, secular humanism and materialistic atheism. But this negative (and destructive) philosophy of life has some additional insane beliefs, for example:
-The belief that there is not free will (which logically entails that you’re not responsable of your acts; being it a potential “explanation” of any aberrative and perverted behaviour like paedophilia or child pornography). In addition to destroying morality, a determistic conception of human beings also destroys rationalitity because, as argue philosopher Peter Williams, “Determinism destroys the possibility of rationality. If this is so and this fact is recognised, then it is impossible to rationally believe in determinism. Moreover, if determinism were true, it would be impossible for anyone to rationally believe anything:

Given certain evidences, I ‘ought’ to believe certain things. I am intellectually responsible for drawing certain conclusions, given certain pieces of evidence. . . If I ought to believe something, then I must have the ability to choose to believe it or not believe it. If one is to be rational, one must be free to choose her beliefs in order to be reasonable. . . But such deliberations make sense only if I assume that what I am going to do or believe is ‘up to me’ – that I am free to choose and, thus, I am responsible for irrationality if I choose inappropriately. [46]

However, it is a necessary presupposition of rationality and rational pursuits (such as philosophy) that rationality is possible. Therefore, determinism, which rules out libertarian freedom, is necessarily false (not just contingently false, i.e. not simply possibly true but actually untrue, but not even possibly true). If determinism is necessarily false, any world-view that requires determinism to be true must also be necessarily false. Naturalism and physicalism both imply determinism. Therefore both naturalism and physicalism are necessarily false: ‘It is self-refuting to argue that one ought to choose physicalism. . . on the basis of the fact that one should see that the evidence is good for physicalism. . .

Note that metaphysical naturalism, destroying the possibility of rationality, makes science and philosophy impossible. Its insane beliefs, while presenting themselves as consistent with “science” and “reason”, actually implies the impossibility of reason and science.

A common fallacy used by metaphysical naturalists is argue that “reasons” are causes too; thus you’re not free of unavoidable causes. The fallacy (of equivocation) consists in to identify “reasons” (which applies to conceptual matters) with physical causes (which only applies to physical, mechanical or empirical phenomena). Reasons aren’t physical causes, they’re the foundations of logical conclusions and decisions and have a normative character. For example, in the physical world, the cause X of Y phenomenon is previous to it (i.e., no physical causes are posterior to their effects).

However, conceptual reasons can be posterior to conclusions or actions (in fact, most people have preconceived ideas, and then seek for “reasons” to support them… a phenomenon known as “rationalizing”). Thus, physical causes are previous (or, in some cases, simultaneous) to their effects. But conceptual reasons can be actually previous, simultaneous or posterior to any conceptual conclusion (only in a strict logical sense, can be asserted that reasons must be previous to a conclusion, i.e conclusions and actions should be based on previous rational reasons) since such reasons are not physical (i.e. they are not physical objects ruled by physical causes).

More importantly (from an ethical, personal and social viewpoint) is that scientific evidence support the conclusion that people who doesn’t believe in free will are more prone to cheat (because they feel no personal responsability to their actions… after all, these actions were unavoidable!). According to this recent scientific study: “it is well established that changing people’s sense of responsibility can change their behavior. But what would happen if people came to believe that their behavior was the inevitable product of a causal chain beyond their control — a predetermined fate beyond the reach of free will?

Surprisingly, the link between fatalistic beliefs and unethical behavior has never been examined scientifically — until now. In two recent experiments, psychologists Kathleen Vohs of the University of Minnesota and Jonathan Schooler of the University of British Columbia decided to explore this knotty philosophical issue in the lab, and they figured out an innovative way to do it.

Vohs and Schooler set out to see if otherwise honest people would cheat and lie if their beliefs in free will were manipulated.

The psychologists gave college students a mathematics exam. The math problems appeared on a computer screen, and the subjects were told that a computer glitch would cause the answers to appear on the screen as well. To prevent the answers from showing up, the students had to hit the space bar as soon as the problems appeared.

In fact, the scientists were observing to see if the participants surreptitiously used the answers instead of solving the problems honestly on their own. Prior to the math test, Vohs and Schooler used a well-established method to prime the subjects’ beliefs regarding free will: some of the students were taught that science disproves the notion of free will and that the illusion of free will was a mere artifact of the brain’s biochemistry whereas others got no such indoctrination.

The results were clear: those with weaker convictions about their power to control their own destiny were more apt to cheat when given the opportunity as compared to those whose beliefs about controlling their own lives were left untouched.

Vohs and Schooler then went a step further to see if they could get people to cheat with unmistakable intention and effort. In a second study, the experimenters set up a different deception: they had the subjects take a very difficult cognitive test. Then, the subjects solved a series of problems without supervision and scored themselves. They also “rewarded” themselves $1 for each correct answer; in order to collect, they had to walk across the room and help themselves to money in a manila envelope.

The psychologists had previously primed the participants to have their beliefs in free will bolstered or reduced by having them read statements supporting a deterministic stance of human behavior. And the results were just as robust. As reported in the January issue of Psychological Science, this study shows that those with a stronger belief in their own free will were less apt to steal money than were those with a weakened belief.

Although the results of this study point to a significant value in believing that free will exists, it clearly raises some significant societal questions about personal beliefs and personal behavior.”

Thus, if people who believe and feel that free will doesn’t exist are prone to cheat (an expression of personal dishonesty), and metaphysical naturalism entails the belief that free will doesn’t exist, THEN it follows that metaphysical naturalism entails a belief that makes its supporters/followers more prone to cheating and personal dishonesty (and independent evidence confirms such logical deduction, as you can see in this example; also in this and in this .)

-The belief that mind or consciousness doesn’t have any causal efficacy (because only physical entities, like a brain, have causal power). It entails that your mind has no causal effect on reality, being your consciousness “nothing but” a powerless effect of your neurophysiology.
Such belief is argueably false (on empirical grounds).
-The belief that we’re only a “by-product” of matter, without any spiritual or trascendental dimension (which implies that humal life doesn’t have an objective sense or purpose, except the one that we wish, subjectively, to assign it). In a psychological and existencial sense, if pushed consistently this view through its ultimate implications, it implies existential despair too. Indirectly, it could explain too the common traits of many atheists (superciliousness, intellectual megalomany, arrogance, bigotry, antagonism, fanaticism, hostile and aggresive ad hominem language, sectarian elitism, intolerance to different opinions, self-indulgence and other irrational traits only seen in some fundamentalist religious people)
Do you imagine what would happen if metaphysical naturalism, secular humanism and its potentially immoral, intellectually poor, philosophically weak, emotionally negative, and self-defeating and destructively insane set of beliefs become the creed of most people on Earth?
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Why Skeptics are non believers?

This article was captured October 2013  and is from the former blog Subversive thinking  subversivethinking.blogspotdotcom

Many who loudly advertise themselves as skeptics are actually disbelievers. Properly, a skeptic is a nonbeliever, a person who refuses to jump to conclusions based on inconclusive evidence. A disbeliever, on the other hand, is characterized by an a priori belief that a certain idea is wrong and will not be swayed by any amount of empirical evidence to the contrary. Since disbelievers usually fancy themselves skeptics, I will follow Truzzi and call them pseudoskeptics, and their opinions pseudoskepticism.

Organized (Pseudo-)Skepticism

The more belligerent pseudoskeptics have their own organizations and publications. In Germany, there is an organization called the Gesellschaft zur wissenschaftlichen Untersuchung von Parawissenschaften e.V., or GWUP, ( “society for the scientific evaluation of parasciences”) which publishes a magazine called Der Skeptiker (“the Skeptic”). In the United States, there is the so-called “Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal”, or short, CSICOP. The name suggests a serious, unbiased institute or think tank whose mission is to advance human knowledge by sorting out true anomalous discoveries from erroneous or fraudulent ones. Indeed, that was what some of the original members of CSICOP envisioned when they founded the organization in 1976. But in the very same year, CSICOP faced an internal crisis, a power struggle between the genuine skeptics and the disbelieving pseudoskeptics that was to tilt the balance in favor of the latter.

At issue was the Mars Effect, an extraordinary claim made by French statistician and psychologist Michel Gauquelin. Gauquelin had discovered an apparent statistical correlation between the position of Mars in the sky with the odds of becoming a sports champion, producing a genuine piece of empirical evidence that astrology might not be nonsense after all. This dismayed the pseudoskeptics, who until them had been comfortable dismissing astrology on purely theoretical grounds and were unwilling to even entertain the hypothesis that Gauquelin’s analysis might be correct. In 1976, in an attempt to make this embarrassment go away once and for all, Harvard professor of biostatistics and CSICOP fellow Marvin Zelen proposed a simplified version of the original Gauquelin study which he subsequently performed with the assistance of CSICOP chairman and professor of philosophy Paul Kurtz and George Abell, a UCLA astronomer. In order to get the result they wanted, the trio had to commit a total of six statistical blunders, which are discussed in detail in the article The True Disbelievers: Mars Effect Drives Skeptics to Irrationality by former CSICOP fellow Richard Kammann. Proper analysis showed that the new study actually supported the Gauquelin effect.

But Kurtz and his fellow pseudoskeptics had never been interested in performing proper science. Their minds had been made up long before the study was performed, and they adamantly refused to admit their mistake in public. This lead to the resignation of many fair-minded CSICOP members, among them Richard Kammann and co-founder Marcello Truzzi. Truzzi wrote about his experience in Reflections On The Reception Of Unconventional Claims In Science:

Originally I was invited to be a co-chairman of CSICOP by Paul Kurtz. I helped to write the bylaws and edited their journal. I found myself attacked by the Committee members and board, who considered me to be too soft on the paranormalists. My position was not to treat protoscientists as adversaries, but to look to the best of them and ask them for their best scientific evidence. I found that the Committee was much more interested in attacking the most publicly visible claimants such as the “National Enquirer”. The major interest of the Committee was not inquiry but to serve as an advocacy body, a public relations group for scientific orthodoxy. The Committee has made many mistakes. My main objection to the Committee, and the reason I chose to leave it, was that it was taking the public position that it represented the scientific community, serving as gatekeepers on maverick claims, whereas I felt they were simply unqualified to act as judge and jury when they were simply lawyers.

After the true skeptics had been purged from the committee, CSICOP and its magazine, the Skeptical Inquirer, degenerated into little more than a propaganda outlet for the systematic ridicule of anything unconventional. Led by a small, but highly aggressive group of fundamentalist pseudoskeptics such as chairman and humanist philosopher Paul Kurtz, science writer and magician Martin Gardner and magician James Randi, CSICOP sees science not as a dispassionate, objective search for the truth, whatever it might be, but as holy war of the ideology of materialism against “a rising tide of irrationality, superstition and nonsense”. Kurtz and his fellows are fundamentalist materialists. They hold the nonexistence of paranormal phenomena as an article of faith, and they cling to that belief just as fervently and irrationally as a devout catholic believes in the Virgin Mary. They are fighting a no holds barred war against belief in the paranormal, and they see genuine research into such matters as a mortal threat to their belief system. Since genuine scientific study has the danger that the desired outcome is not guaranteed, CSICOP wisely no longer conducts scientific research of its own (such would be a waste of time and money for an entity that already has all the answers), and instead largely relies on the misrepresentation or intentional omission of existing research and the ad-hominem – smear, slander and ridicule.

Eugene Mallove, editor of Infinite Energy Magazine, relates the following telling episode in issue 23, 1999 of his magazine:

On the morning of July 14, 1998, I called Skeptical Inquirer’s editor, Kendrick Frazier, to ask him, among other things, what research or literature search he had done on cold fusion. He rebuffed me, saying that he was too busy to talk, because he was on deadline on an editorial project. We spoke briefly; he was transparently irritated. He said, “I know who you are.” He said that he did not want to talk to me because, “We would have diametrically opposed views.” I said, “Oh, what research have you done to come to your conclusions about cold fusion.” I had thought that the careful investigation of “diametrically opposed views” was part of the work of CSICOP. Perhaps I was mistaken. Frazier said, “I’m not an investigator, I’m an editor.” The conversation ended with Frazier stating that he had nothing further to say.

The entire article is available online: CSICOP: “Science Cops” at War with Cold Fusion.

Even though it is largely run by scientific lay people, and its practices are anathema to true science, CSICOP has enjoyed the support of a number of highly prestigious scientists such as Stephen Jay Gould, the late Carl Sagan, Glenn T. Seaborg, Leon Lederman and Murray Gell-Mann. This support has enabled it to project an image of scientific authority to the opinion shapers in the media and the general public.

For a detailed study of pseudo-skepticism in general, and CSICOP in particular, I refer the reader to George P. Hansen’s article CSICOP and the Skeptics: An Overview (published in the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research), in which CSICOP’s history, goals, tactics and membership structure are discussed in some detail. In his conclusions, Hansen finds that

CSICOP’s message has often been well received, particularly among scientific leaders. The growth of CSICOP, the circulation figures of “SI”, and the academic credentials of its readership prove that there is wide interest in the paranormal among the most highly educated members of our society. Many readers of “SI” undoubtedly assume that CSICOP presents the best available scientific evidence. The readers are rarely told of the existence of refereed scientific journals that cover parapsychology. The effect of CSICOP’s activities is to create a climate of hostility toward the investigation of paranormal claims; indeed, at one CSICOP conference, the announcement of the closing of several parapsychology laboratories was greeted with cheers.

The remainder of this text is devoted to a detailed discussion of pseudoskeptical arguments and debating tactics.

      • If it was true, there is no way that science could have missed it!

        This is a variation of the end of science argument – since science already knows everything, and does not recognize the unconventional phenomenon, it cannot be real. Besides being based on a mere belief – that science has discovered everything there is to know – this argument ignores the nature of human perception. Even scientists tend to see only what they want to see, and that is how phenomena that we find completely obvious today, such as Wegener’s plate tectonics – look how South America fits into Africa! – went unnoticed for a long time, and were violently opposed when they were finally pointed out. As Arthur C. Clarke put it:

        “It is really quite amazing by what margins competent but conservative scientists and engineers can miss the mark, when they start with the preconceived idea that what they are investigating is impossible. When this happens, the most well-informed men become blinded by their prejudices and are unable to see what lies directly ahead of them.”

        True skeptics appreciate that the principal flaw of human perception – seeing what one wants to see – can afflict conventional as well as unconventional scientists. Their opinions are moderated by the humbling realization that today’s scientific orthodoxy began as yesterday’s scientific heresy; as the the December 2002 editorial of Scientific American puts it:

        All scientific knowledge is provisional. Everything that science “knows,” even the most mundane facts and long-established theories, is subject to reexamination as new information comes in.

      • Confusing Assumptions with Findings

        Pseudoskeptics like to claim that the assumptions underlying modern science are empirical facts that science has proved. For example, the foundational assumption of neuroscience, that the functioning of the brain (and, therefore, the mind) is explainable in terms of classical physics as the interaction of neurons, is said to be a scientific fact that is proved by neuroscience, despite the embarrassing and long-standing failure of this assumption to explain the anomaly of consciousness.

        In a recent BBC program on homeopathy Walter Stewart (the same one who was part of the Nature team that visited Benveniste in his laboratory in 1988) is quoted on the subject of homeophatic dilutions:

        Science has through many, many different experiments shown that when a drug works it’s always through the way the molecule interacts with the body and, so the discovery that there’s no molecules means absolutely there’s no effect.

        But science has shown no such thing. That the functioning of biological organisms is reducible to the physical interaction of molecules is not the result of decades of bio-molecular research, it is the assumption underlying this research. The fact that homeopathy confounds that assumption refutes the latter, not the former.

      • “Debate Closed” Mentality

        Since Pseudoskeptics have by their nature made up their minds on any question long before the evidence is in, they are not interested in participating in what could become an involved, drawn-out debate. On the contrary, their concern is with preserving their own understanding of how nature works, so discordant evidence has to be disposed of as quickly as possible. When sound evidence to that end is unavailable, anything that sufficiently resembles it will suffice. Pseudoskeptics like to jump to conclusions quickly – when the conclusion is their own, preconceived one. Once the pseudoskeptical community has agreed on an “explanation” that is thought to debunk claim X, that explanation then becomes enshrined in pseudoskeptical lore and is repeated ad infinitum and ad nauseam in the pseudoskeptical literature. Subsequent rebuttals are ignored, as is new data that support claims X. Examples are legion.

        • Gurwich’s 1932 discovery of mitogenetic radiation is still derided by pseudoskeptics as a classical example of “pathological science” (Irving Langmuir, who coined the term, used it as an example), even though it has been vindicated by three decades of biophoton research.
        • Pseudoskeptics continue their ridicule of Cold Fusion as a mistake, even use “cold fusion” as a metaphor to refer to what they deem pathological science in general, ignoring a full decade of successful replication of the effect.
        • Parapsychology continues to be attacked by the hard-core pseudoskeptics with criticisms that were addressed and resolved long ago, leading Radin to remark that

          (..) skeptics who continue to repeat the same old assertions that parapsychology is a pseudoscience, or that there are no repeatable experiments, are uninformed not only about the state of parapsychology, but also about the current state of skepticism!

      • Overreaching and Armchair Quarterbacking

        Faced with contradictory or inconclusive evidence, the skeptic will only say that the claim has not been proved at this time, and give the claimant the benefit of the doubt. The pseudoskeptic will make the (incorrect) counter-claim that the original claim has been disproved by the evidence (and usually follow up with generous amounts of name-calling and other extra-scientific arguments discussed below).

        This distinction between simply not accepting a claim and making a counter-claim is important because it shifts the burden of proof. The true skeptic does not have to prove anything, because she is simply unconvinced of the validity of an extraordinary claim. Pseudoskeptics, on the other hand, making the claim that the extraordinary phenomenon only appears to be extraordinary, and has a conventional explanation, have to bear a burden of proof of their own. Do they? The general answer is no. Most of the professional pseudoskeptics engage in mere ‘armchair quarterbacking’, conducting no research of their own. As far as parapsychology is concerned, Radin sums this situation up as follows:

        The fact that most skeptics do not conduct counter studies to prove their claims is often ignored. For example, in 1983 the well-known skeptic Martin Gardner wrote:

        How can the public know that for fifty years skeptical psychologists have been trying their best to replicate classic psi experiments, and with notable unsuccess [sic]? It is this fact more than any other that has led to parapsychology’s perpetual stagnation. Positive evidence keeps coming in from a tiny group of enthusiasts, while negative evidence keeps coming in from a much larger group of skeptics.

        As Honorton points out, “Gardner does not attempt to document this assertion, nor could he. It is pure fiction. Look for the skeptic’s experiments and see what you find.” In addition, there is no “larger group of skeptics.” Perhaps ten or fifteen skeptics have accounted for the vast bulk of the published criticisms.

      • Assuming False Scientific Authority

        Many high-profile pseudoskeptics pass judgement based on scientific expertise they don’t have. James Randi, for example, shares the following tirade in a July 13, 2001 commentary on his web site:

        Just so that you can see how pseudoscience and ignorance have taken over the Internet merchandising business, I suggest that you visit and try to follow the totally false and misleading pitch that the vendors make for this product, magically-prepared “Penta” water that will “hydrate” your body miraculously. A grade-school education will equip you to recognize the falsity of this claim, but it’s obvious that the purveyors are cashing in on ignorance and carelessness. Just read this as an example of pure techno-claptrap:

        Normally, the water you drink is in large clusters of H20 [sic] molecules. That’s because its [sic] been affected by air, heat, and modern civilization. PentaTM is water that, through physics, has been reduced to its purest state in nature — smaller clusters of H2O [sic] molecules. These smaller clusters move through your body more quickly than other water, penetrating your cell membranes more easily. This means PentaTM is absorbed into your system faster and more completely. When you drink PentaTM, you’re drinking the essence of water. You get hydrated faster, more efficiently, and more completely than with any other water on earth.

        Folks, water is water. It’s burned hydrogen, no more, no less. The molecules of H2O — not “H2O” as these quacks write — do not “cluster,” under any influence of the dreadful “air, heat, and modern civilization” that you’re cautioned to fear. True, water exhibits surface tension, and the molecules do “line up” to an extent, though almost any foreign substance in there disturbs this effect — soap/detergent “wets” it readily. But water molecules in “clusters”? No way! The illustrations you see here are totally wrong and fictitious. There’s no such thing as “essence of water,” by any stretch of scientific reasoning, or imagination. This is total, unmitigated nonsense, a pack of lies designed to swindle and cheat, to steal money, and to rob the consumer. And “through physics” has nothing to do with it. I await objections to the above statements. There will be none, because the sellers of “Penta” know they’re lying, they do it purposefully, and they know they can get away with it because of the incredible inertia of the Federal agencies that should be protecting us against such deception and thievery. Those agencies just can’t do the job, and they bumble about endlessly while the public continues to pay through the nose. But notice: the Penta people, on their web page, beneath a family picture of the founders, clearly assert that: At first, [the Penta engineers] tested Penta on plants. They discovered that test seeds would germinate in half the time as the control seeds. Bingo! Hallelujah! We have the means for a test! A simple, inexpensive, clearly demonstrative, test! Such a demonstration would clearly establish the claim these folks are making. Ah, but will PentaTM apply for the million-dollar prize? Dear reader, with your experience of Tice, DKL, Quadro, Josephson, Edward, and all the parade of others who have declined to be tested, I think that you expect, as I do, that PentaTM will apply as promptly as Sylvia Browne did. The PentaTM page advises us to “Penta-hydrate — be fluid.” Translation: “Believe this — be stupid.”

        Randi could not be more wrong. Water is not simply “water- burned hydrogen, no more no less”. It is a highly anomalous substance, and its fundamental properties are still the subject of basic research. Admittedly, the claims made for “Penta-Water” are scientifically extravagant. But can they be dismissed out of hand? Contrary to what Randi asserts with such rhetoric force and finality, water clusters are discussed in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. The interested reader may want to visit Martin Chaplin’s web site for an overview of scientific work on water clustering. Chaplin is not a stage magician, but a Professor of Applied Science at South Bank University, London and holds a degree in chemistry. He is also an active researcher in the field of water clustering, and concludes that

        (..) there is a sufficient and broad evidential base for it’s existence [the existence of the icosahedral water cluster], including the ability to explain all the ‘anomalous’ properties of water.

        The existence of scientific evidence for water clusters does of course not imply that “Penta” and similar products have any merit, but it does caution against outright dismissal of these kinds of product. Randi’s sweeping negative statements betray lack of knowledge on the subject and qualify him as a blundering pseudo-scientist. His petty, adolescent criticism of a simple typographic inaccuracy on the “Hydrate for Life” web site and his use of ridicule (he asserts that “Penta” is “magically-prepared” and works “miraculously” while the manufacturer simply states that the process is “proprietary”) support that impression. And yet, Randi rhetorically assumes an air of scientific authority, even infallibility.

        Pseudoskeptic Michael Shermer makes the following ignorant argument in “Baloney Detection” (Scientific American 11/2001, p. 36):

        The biggest problem with the cold fusion debacle, for instance, was not that Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischman were wrong. It was that they announced their spectacular discovery at a press conference before other laboratories verified it. Worse, when cold fusion was not replicated, they continued to cling to their claim. Outside verification is crucial to good science.

        The argument against “science by press conference” is a good one, but it would be more credible if Shermer applied it to accepted science too. A prime example is Robert Gallo’s announcement of the discovery of the “probable cause of AIDS” in a press conference in 1984 that preceeded publication of his research in Science and secured a political commitment to his alleged facts before critical scientific discussion could take place.

        What makes Shermer’s argument ignorant is his use of cold fusion as an example. Real scientists who have actually studied the evidence for cold fusion have come to very different conclusions. In February 2002, the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center of the United State Navy in San Diego released a 310 page report titled Thermal and Nuclear Aspects of the Pd/D2O System that discusses the overwhelming experimental evidence that the cold fusion effect indeed exists. Dr. Frank E. Gordon, the head of the center’s Navigation and Applied Sciences Department, writes in the foreword:

        We do not know if Cold Fusion will be the answer to future energy needs, but we do know the existence of Cold Fusion phenomenon through repeated observations by scientists throughout the world. It is time that this phenomenon be investigated so that we can reap whatever benefits accrue from additional scientific understanding. It is time for government funding organizations to invest in this research.

        Yet Shermer, a psychologist by trade, feels called upon to pass summary negative judgment on this field of research.

      • Double Standards of Acceptable Proof and Ad-Hoc Hypotheses

        The true skeptic will apply her skepticism equally to conventional and unconventional claims, and even to skepticism itself. In particular, the true skeptic recognizes an ad-hoc hypothesis regardless of the source. The pseudoskeptic, on the other hand, reserves her critical facilities for unconventional claims only.

        William R. Corliss, the author of The Sourcebook Project (a comprehensive collection of anomalies and unexplained phenomena reported in scientific journals) gives a salient example of that kind of behavior in the Journal of Scientific Exploration (Vol. 16, 3 p.446):

        One would expect a lively interface between the Sourcebook Project and the several groups of skeptics, as typified by the Committee for the [Scientific] Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP). After all, my catalogs do challenge those paradigms the skeptics defend so ferociously. Actually, there has been no traffic whatsoever. While mainstream Nature has reviewed five of my books, the skeptics have shown no interest in evaluating any of the Sourcebook publications. The skeptics, it seems, are never skeptical of established paradigms, onlythose observations that threaten to disestablish them.

        The Skeptic’s Dictionary, a leading pseudoskeptical online resource, gives us a great example of this selective blindness. Under the heading “ad hoc hypothesis”, we find the following definition:

        An ad hoc hypothesis is one created to explain away facts that seem to refute one’s theory. Ad hoc hypotheses are common in paranormal research and in the work of pseudoscientists.

        What Todd Caroll, the author of the Skeptic’s Dictionary does not see fit to share with his readers is that some of the most celebrated “discoveries” of mainstream science are mere ad hoc hypotheses designed to cover the failure of theories to agree with observational evidence. Some of these ad hoc hypotheses, such as the hypothesis that almost all of the matter and energy of the universe exists in a form undetectable by the instruments of science, that there is a particle that causes mass (the Higgs Boson), and that people who fail to improve on AIDS drugs must be infected with a resistant mutation of HIV, are then taken as facts, with the strongest evidence for the existence being that accepted theory requires them! And yet, you will search skeptical publications in vain for truly skeptical discussion of these subjects (as opposed to ones that agree with the mainstream consensus). “The Mainstream Consensus Is Always Right” seems to be the motto.

        The following is an anecdotal example of an ad-hoc theory in established science. In its June 2002 issue, Scientific American ran an article on AIDS that contained a chart titled “World AIDS Snapshot” ( p.41). Combining the absolute numbers of people who are HIV positive with population figures from the CIA world factbook, I found that in Australia/New Zealand, only one person in 1548 was HIV positive, while in North America (Mexico counts under Latin America, according to the UNAIDS website), 1 person in 329 was. Given that the predominant strain of HIV is the same in both regions (clade B), how can the rate of infection be almost 5 times higher in North America than in Australia/New Zealand? Sexual (mis)behavior in both regions is comparable, as evidenced by the fact that incidence rates for classical STDs are virtually identical (according to WHO figures for 1999):

        STD North America Australia/New Zealand
        Gonorrhea: 1 in 196 1 in 192
        Trichomoniasis, men 1 in 78 1 in 79
        Trichomoniasis, women 1 in 71 1 in 72
        Chlamydia: 1 in 78 1 in 77
        HIV (prevalence) 1 in 329 1 in 1548

        I emailed Sciam staff writer Carol Ezzell and inquired what the cause of this discrepancy could be. I received the following reply:

        Our statistics come from the UNAIDS (see the website at Australia/New Zealand has a 0.1 percent adult prevalence rate, whereas North America has a rate of 0.6 percent. Most of the cases of HIV infection in Australia/New Zealand occur in men who have sex with men. A key tipping point in the broadening of HIV infection occurs when the virus rages through IV drug abusers and then enters people (men and women) who have sex with those drug abusers. For whatever reason, this hasn’t happened in A./N.Z.

        Actually, the alleged broadening of HIV infection into a general epidemic that effects large numbers of heterosexuals has not happened anywhere in the developed world, even though it was widely predicted by experts in the 1980s. The claim that it somehow exists nonetheless, and, for some unknown reason, more so in North America than in Australia/New Zealand, is a perfect example of “a hypothesis created to explain away facts that seem to refute one’s theory”. Skepticism towards the prevailing view of “HIV/AIDS” seems to be called for, but you will find none in the pages of the Skeptical Inquirer and other “skeptical” publications.

        Skeptic has published an article on this subject titled The Aids Heresies – A Case Study in Skepticism Taken Too Far (vol. 3, no. 2, 1995) by Steven B. Harris, M.D. that seeks to affirm the correctness of the conventional viewpoint and, in typical pseudoskeptical fashion, ignores at least one key argument of the AIDS critics. That is the argument that HIV tests are completely invalid. The Perth Group had already made that case in 1993 in a paper published in Bio/Technology (Vol.11 June 1993). Their claims were reported in a headline story on June 1, 1993 in the Sunday Times of London. Yet, over one year later, Dr. Harris does not even mention this critical component in the skeptical case against the conventional theory of HIV/AIDS in his article. Instead, he misleads his readers into believing that AIDS skeptics recognize the validity of HIV tests in the first place by stating that “critics of the HIV/AIDS hypothesis have had to struggle to keep up with sensitivity increases in HIV testing”.

        To discuss an example in physics: University of Michigan physicist Gordon Kane writes about the Higgs Boson on the Scientific American Web site under the heading “ask the experts”

        There are currently two pieces of evidence that a Higgs boson does exist. The first is indirect. According to quantum field theory, all particles spend a little time as combinations of all other particles, including the Higgs boson. This changes their properties a little in ways that we know how to calculate and that have been well verified. Studies of the effect the Higgs boson has on other particles reveal that experiment and theory are consistent only if the Higgs boson exists and is lighter than around 170 giga electron volts (GeV), or about 180 proton masses. Because this is an indirect result, it is not rigorous proof. More concrete evidence of the Higgs came from an experiment conducted at the European laboratory for particle physics (CERN) using the Large Electron Positron (LEP) collider in its final days of operation. That research revealed a possible direct signal of a Higgs boson with mass of about 115 GeV and all the expected properties. Together these make a very convincing—although not yet definitive—case that the Higgs boson does indeed exist

        A researcher making that kind of case for an unconventional phenomenon would be laughed out of town. A single sighting, so the skeptics would say, is anecdotal evidence and proves nothing. And that a theory requires it merely means that the scientists saw what they wanted to see. But particle physics is conventional science, hence different (i.e. much less stringent) standards of proof apply. Results are accepted, even said to be “convincing”, based on relatively weak and purely indirect evidence, and because a handful of experts vouch for their accuracy.

        Another example of established science that should not be so established is the neutrino. Neutrinos are ghostlike particles that were introduced by Pauli as an ad-hoc hypothesis to save the relativistic law of energy conservation (which fails to correctly describe radioactive beta decay otherwise). Neutrinos can not be detected directly, and require giant detectors for indirect (statistical) detection. Decades of neutrino detection experiments have failed to detect the correct number of solar neutrinos. To account for the discrepancy, physicists have come up with the idea of neutrino oscillations. In other words, the neutrino meets several of Langmuir’s criteria of pathological science: the maximum effect that is observed is produced by a causative agent of barely detectable intensity, the effect is of a magnitude that remains close to the limit of detectability or, many measurements are necessary because of the very low statistical significance of the results and criticisms are met by ad hoc excuses. Maybe there is no neutrino, and the relativistic law of energy conservation is simply wrong? Autodynamics is a proposed theoretical alternative to relativity that correctly describes beta decay without a neutrino, but you won’t find it mentioned in physics journals or the pseudoskeptical literature.

        So pseudoskeptics often fail to apply their skepticism to conventional wisdom. But worse yet, when confronted with evidence of unusual phenomena, pseudoskepticism itself will take refuge to outrageously arbitrary ad hoc hypotheses: swamp gas, duck butts and temperature inversions can create the appearance of flying vehicles in the sky, pranksters are able to produce elaborate geometrical designs in crops within seconds, in complete darkness, and without leaving footprints (but somehow changing the microscopic structure of the crops in a manner consistent with microwave heating), and shadows can conspire to make a mesa on Mars look like a face, an illusion that persists under different viewing angles and lighting conditions.

        Critics of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (such as self-appointed “quackwatcher” Stephen Barrett) habitually employ this double standard. They will piously denounce alternative medical procedures for not having 100% cure rates, but ignore the fact that the side effects of conventional drugs kill over 100,000 in the US alone each year. They will condescendingly point to a lack of proper (i.e. double-blind) scientific studies supporting certain alternative procedures, and simultaneously ignore the fact that many conventional surgical procedures and drug protocols are equally unproven by the same standard. Worse yet, they will hold alternative medicine responsible for every case of malpractice that has ever been committed in its name, but they would not dream of applying the same standard to conventional medical practice.

        The Friday, May 14, 2004 edition of Robert Park’s What’s New Column contains the following gem:

        “Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (eCAM) is a new international journal that seeks to encourage rigorous research in this new, yet ancient world of complementary and alternative medicine…particularly traditional Asian healing systems.” So begins an Oxford University Press announcement All eCAM papers are available online at no cost and without subscription. Unlike other open-access journals there are no author submission fees. Who pays, skeptics might ask? The “generous support of Ishikawa Natural Medicinal Products Research Center, co-owner of the journal with OUP.” Yes, it’s the ancient-wisdom scam. (..) Other industries might be equally generous. Perhaps the Journal of Gambling Studies, which deals with gambling addiction, could cut a deal with the slot-machine industry. And perhaps Join Together Online, which opposes gun violence, could team up with the National Rifle Association. On the other hand, maybe not.

        Park’s double standard with respect to medical ethics boggles the mind. Corruption and violation of scientific ethics is endemic in the maintream medical system. Drug companies are permitted to write their own studies or to pay allegedly independent researchers to produce results, and to suppress results that are not favourable to their products. Medical journals receive significant funding from the pharmaceutical industry through advertising. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times published on August 9, 2004, Marcia Angell, a former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, made the following statement:

        Research is biased in favor of the drugs and drug makers. The pharmaceutical industry spends a great deal to influence people in academic medicine and professional societies. It does a super job of making sure [that] nearly every important person they can find in academic medicine [who] is involved in any way with drugs is hired as a consultant, as a speaker, is placed on an advisory board — and is paid generous amounts of money. Conflicts of interest are rampant. When the New England Journal of Medicine published a study of antidepressants, we didn’t have room to print all the authors’ conflict-of- interest disclosures. We had to refer people to the website. I wrote an editorial for the journal, titled “Is Academic Medicine for Sale?” Someone wrote a letter to the editor that answered the question, “No. The current owner is very happy with it.” That sums up the situation nicely.

        Dr. Park has evidently heard of Dr. Angell, because he mentions her as a skeptic of CAM in his May 11, 2001 column. But when the same person makes public statements that confirm that conventional medicine is suffering from a large-scale epidemic of the very same disease that Park finds intolerable in the field of CAM, he shows no interest, at least not in his What’s Newcolumn. If CAM studies are invalid because of financial conflicts of interests, should not the same ethical standard be applied to mainstream medicine? They should, but Dr. Park is apparently more interested in making a system of medicine he doesn’t like look bad than in applying ethical standards even-handedly and dispassionately.

        Marcello Truzzi, one of the original founders of CSICOP, deftly exposes the hypocrisy of pseudoskepticism when he writes

        Those who leap to call parapsychology a pseudoscience might do well to look more closely at the social sciences in general. Those who laugh at the implausibility of a possible plesiosaur in Loch Ness should take a close look at the arguments and evidence put forward for the Big Bang or black holes. Those who think it unreasonable to investigate reports of unidentified flying objects might do well to look carefully at the arguments and evidence of those who promote current attempts at contacting extraterrestrial intelligence allegedly present in other solar systems. Those who complain about the unscientific status quo of psychic counselors should be willing to examine the scientific status of orthodox psychotherapy and make truly scientific comparisons. Those who sneer at phony prophets in our midst might also do well to look at the prognosticators in economics and sociology who hold official positions as “scientific forecasters”. Those who concern themselves about newspaper horoscopes and their influence might do well to look at what the “real” so-called helping professions are doing. The scientist who claims to be a skeptic, a zetetic, is willing to investigate empirically the claims of the American Medical Association as well as those of the faith healer; and, more important, he should be willing to compare the empirical results for both before defending one and condemning the other.

        Cremo and Thompson, in Forbidden Archeology, p. 24, write under the heading “The Phenomenon of Suppression”:

        One prominent feature in the treatment of anomalous evidence is what we could call the double standard. All paleoanthropological evidence tends to be complex and uncertain. Practically any evidence in this field can be challenged, for if nothing else, one can always raise charges of fraud. What happens in practice is that evidence agreeing with a prevailing theory tends to be treated very leniently. Even if it has grave defects, these tend to be overlooked. In contrast, evidence that goes against an accepted theory tends to be subjected to intense critical scrutiny, and it is expected to meet a very high standard of proof.

        Skeptics, both of the genuine and the pseudo variety, have elevated this double standard to a principle of science: extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence! But this principle does not hold up to logical scrutiny, because a claim is only ordinary or extraordinary in relation to a theory. For the sake of making this point, let us assume a scenario in a hypothetical new science in which there are two pieces of evidence to be discovered, A and B, each equally credible, each one suggesting an obvious, but incorrect explanation (call them (1) and (2)). (1) and (2) are mutually incompatible, and a third, highly non obvious explanation (3) that accounts for both A and B is actually correct.

        As chance would have it, one of the two pieces of evidence A,B will be discovered first. Let A be that piece of evidence, and further suppose that the scientists working in that hypothetical field all subscribe to the principle of the double standard. After the discovery of A, they will adopt explanation (1) as the accepted theory of their field. At a later time, when B is discovered, it will be dismissed because it contradicts (1), and because A and B are equally credible, but A is ordinary relative to (1) and B is extraordinary.

        The end result is that our hypothetical science has failed to self-correct. The incorrect explanation (1) has been accepted, and the correct explanation (3) was never found, because B was rejected. I therefore submit that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence is not suitable as a guiding principle for sound scientific research. All evidence, whether it supports accepted theories or not, should be given the same level of critical scrutiny.

        Pseudoskeptics of course would argue that they simply do not have the resources to be skeptical about everything, so they have to concentrate on the obvious targets. But that doesn’t get them off the hook. Pseudoskeptics apply the “extraordinary evidence” standard only selectively to controversial phenomena- namely, precisely when they fit their ideological preconceptions! When Doug Bower and David Chorley made the extraordinary claim that they had created all of the thousands of crop circles that had appeared in English fields between 1978 and 1991 (some of which had appeared on the same night in different regions of the country), there were no armies of skeptics loudly insisting that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. Apparently, as long as the extraordinary claim is one that agrees with what the pseudoskeptics have “known” all along, it does not even require ordinary evidence. Bower and Chorley were never able to substantiate their claim, let alone prove it, but the “skeptical” community accepted it on faith – and without a trace of skepticism.

      • Responding to Claims that were not made aka Demolishing Straw Men.

        Benveniste (who showed that ultradilutions, i.e. homeopathic preparations not containing a single molecule of the original substance can still have a biological effect) was attacked by Nature editor John Maddox with the argument that dilutions of the kind used by Benveniste can simply not exist because they would require “1074 world oceans” (that is more water than contained in the entire universe) to manufacture. That is correct, if the definition of “dilution” requires that at least one molecule remain, but Benveniste (and generations of homeopaths) have readily conceded that very point! Everyone agrees that high homeopathic dilutions do not contain a single active molecule, so Maddox’s argument is nothing but the ritual dissection of a straw man. He is not alone – “skeptical” discussions of homeopathy invariably spend a lot of time making this completely uncontested point.

        Our favourite resource for invalid criticisms, the Skeptic’s Dictionary, tries to downplay the important of the Gauquelin data by stressing that correlation does not imply causation. But astrologers do not claim causation! Both adherents and skeptics agree that astrology is a branch of magic, and as such is based on the principle of correspondences. This principles claims that nature exhibits meaningful, not necessarily causally mediated analogous behavior on all levels. The Gauquelin data shows correlation between the movements of the planets and certain aspects of human behavior; nothing more is claimed by astrology.

        In a personal note published on James Randi’s Website, Robert Park makes the following statement about the “Motionless Electromagnetic Generator”, a claimed free energy device:

        I’ve been following the MEG claim since Patent 6,362,718 was issued in the spring (What’s New 4 Apr 02). The claim, of course, is preposterous. It is a clear violation of the conservation of energy.

        But Park is only demolishing a straw man. The first law of thermodynamics states that the energy of a closed system is conserved. But the inventors of the MEG claim that their device takes energy from the zero-point field of the vacuum, thereby conserving the energy of the total system (which in this case would be the MEG and the surrounding vacuum). Whether it can actually do that is an open question. But the existence of the Casimir force proves that in principle such extraction of energy from the vacuum is possible (even though the potential energy gained from the Casimir force between two plates is negligible). Therefore, one cannot dismiss claims for free energy devices such as the MEG on a priori grounds of energy conservation. Since Park is a physicists, he could not possibly be unaware of this. By making this argument, he is therefore intentionally misrepresenting the claims of the MEG inventors. They do not claim to have found a way around the first law; they merely claim to have accessed a source of energy not previously accessible to human technology.

        [Note: The author is aware of no legitimate scientific evidence that the MEG works as claimed. The purpose of this example is not to suggest that it is a legitimate “free energy” device, but simply to point out the invalid nature of some of the arguments against it.]

      • Technically Correct Pseudo-Refutation (credit for the term goes to Daniel Drasin):

        Pseudoskeptics are fond of arguing that hundreds of respectable scientists believe that a certain idea is bunk, and therefore, it must be. When one points out to them that many scientific breakthroughs were ridiculed and dismissed by the scientific establishment of the time, they retort that not every idea that has been ridiculed or dismissed turned out to be correct. Correct, but completely irrelevant, because it responds to an argument that was not made. The argument was not that ridicule or dismissal by scientific experts is sufficient grounds for accepting an unorthodox claim, simply that it is insufficient grounds for rejecting it.

        Robert T. Carroll, a Professor of Philosophy at the Sacramento City College no less, falls into this logical trap when he writes in his Skeptic’s Dictionary about what he calls “selective thinking”:

        Let’s begin with his version of the “they laughed at Galileo, so I must be right” fallacy, a non sequitur variation of selective thinking.

        In his book Alternative Science, and on his web site under what he calls Skeptics who declared discoveries and inventions impossible, Milton lists a number of inventors and scientists who struggled to get their ideas accepted. Many were ridiculed along the way. But, like many others who commit this fallacy, Milton omits some important, relevant data. He does not mention that there are also a great number of inventors, scientists and thinkers who were laughed at and whose ideas have never been accepted. Many people accused of being crackpots turned out to be crackpots. Some did not. Thus, being ridiculed and rejected for one’s ideas is not a sign that one is correct. It is not a sign of anything important about the idea which is being rejected. Thus, finding large numbers of skeptics who reject ideas as being “crackpot ideas” does not strengthen the likelihood of those ideas being correct. The number of skeptics who reject an idea is completely irrelevant to the truth of the idea. Ideas such as alien abduction, homeopathy, psychokinesis, orgone energy, ESP, free energy, spontaneous human combustion, and the rejection of evolution–all favored by Milton–are not supported in the least by the fact that these ideas are trashed by thousands of skeptics.

        True, but irrelevant! Milton’s argument shows precisely what it is supposed to show: that the skeptic’s knee-jerk dismissal of unorthodox claimants as “pseudo-scientists”, “fringe-scientists” and “crackpots” simply carries no evidentiary weight one way or another. In his skeptical zeal to convict Milton of blundering in the realm of logic, Carroll commits a much more elementary error than selective reasoning: he responds to an argument that is not being made. Milton’s argument is not “they laughed at Galileo, therefore every unconventional claimant is right”, it is merely “they laughed at Galileo, therefore unconventional claimants cannot be presumed wrong.”Carroll’s attempt to hold Milton responsible for an argument not made is a variation of the popular pseudoskeptical technique of Demolishing a Straw Man.

      • Making criticisms that apply equally to conventional and unconventional research.

It should be obvious that a criticism is invalid if it applies just as well to established science as it applies to an unconventional claim (such a criticism is called


      ). But pseudoskeptics get away with using this technique anyway. What follows are some common examples of uncontrolled and therefore invalid criticisms.

      • Demanding an Unreasonable Degree of Reproducibility:

        Reproducibility means that a phenomenon can be demonstrated on demand, anywhere, at any time. Pseudoskeptics believe that an unconventional phenomenon can safely be considered nonexistent unless it is reproducible in this sense. But the same standard of evidence would invalidate much of accepted science. Discoveries in archeology are by their nature unique, non reproducible. Astronomy and geology are not reproducible in the strictest sense – astronomers cannot produce a supernova on demand, nor can geologists an earthquake. Even physics, the “hardest” of all sciences, is less and less reproducible in practice. Cutting-edge discoveries of high-energy physics, such as the discovery of the top quark are accepted by the physical community and then the public largely on faith, because no one else has the facilities to replicate them. The top quark is simply one of those discoveries whose experimental verification is beyond amateur science.

        Similarly, the complete inability of ordinary humans to influence macroscopic systems with their minds alone, even in the slightest, strongly suggests that mind-matter interaction, if it exists, will be hard to demonstrate experimentally. A skeptic who rejects the conclusion of statistically sound meta-analysis of decades of mind-matter experiments because she feels that the phenomenon should be proven directly, by producing a person who can consistently, say, levitate objects, should similarly reject the discovery of the top quark until such time as a demonstration kit be made available that allows any physics high school teacher to produce said particle on the kitchen top. Either demand is unreasonable and denies the difficult nature of the subject matter.

      • Profit Motive:

        Pseudoskeptics try to invalidate unconventional claims by pointing out that the claimants derive financial support from their research (through books, newsletters or speaking engagements), blithely ignoring that conventional scientists derive their livelihood from their work as well. If a cold fusion researcher who is trying to commercialize his discoveries is a priori suspect, should not by the same token the hot fusion physicist’s 1989 dismissal of the cold fusion discovery be viewed with extreme suspicion, since their very livelihood depends on the continued flow of billions of federal research dollars into their field, a field that has produced no tangible results, despite 50 years of research?

To mention an anecdotal example, I have personally observed skeptics of the claim of adverse biological effects from microwave radiation produced by cellular devices having the gall to argue that critics of cellular technology cannot possibly be taken seriously because they make money from publishing their criticisms, while the same skeptics do not find fault with studies funded and written by the multi-billion-dollar cellular industry!

      • Statistics can prove Anything!

Such is essentially the argument that the spokesman of the American Physical Society, Robert L. Park, makes against psychokinetic research in his book Voodoo Science (p. 199). In the context of a discussion of an obviously pseudoscientific Good Morning America report on anomalous phenomena (debunkery by association: as if TV shows were the principal outlet for reporting the results of psi research!), Park writes

Why, you may wonder, all this business of random machines? Jahn has studied random number generators, water fountains in which the subject tries to urge drops to greater heights, all sorts of machines. But it is not clear that any of these machines are truly random. Indeed, it is generally believed that there are no truly random machines. It may be, therefore, that the lack of randomness only begins to show up after many trials. Besides, if the mind can influence inanimate objects, why not simply measure the static force the mind can exert? Modern ultramicrobalances can routinely measure a force of much less than a billionth of an ounce. Why not just use your psychokinetic powers to deflect a microbalance? It’s sensitive, simple, even quantitative, with no need for any dubious statistical analysis.

There are many things wrong with this statement, and I refer the reader to my review of Park’s book for details. For the purpose of this argument, I am interested in Park’s assessment that effects that are only indirectly detected, by statistical analysis, are suspect. Where does that leave conventional science? Deprived of one of its most powerful tools of analysis. The cherished 1992 COBE discovery of minute fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background radiation would have to be thrown out, since it was entirely statistical in nature, and therefore by Park’s argument, ‘dubious’. The most celebrated discoveries of particle physics, such as the 1995 discovery of the top quark, or the results of neutrino detection experiments, or the synthesis of superheavy, extremely short-lived elements, would have to be thrown out, since they, too, are indirect and statistical in nature. Modern medicine would have to be invalidated as well because it relies on statistical analysis (of double-blind trials) to prove the efficacy of drugs.

For comparison: the American Institute of Physics’s Bulletin of Physics News, #216, March 3, 1995 gives the odds against chance for the top quark discovery as a million to one. A 1987 meta-analysis performed by Dean Radin and Roger Nelson of RNG (random number generator) experiments between 1959 and 1987 , on the other hand, shows the existence of an anomalous deviation from chance with odds against chance exceeding one trillion to one (see Radin, The Conscious Universe, p. 140).

Park’s argument is the quintessential uncontrolled criticism: accepted scientific methods that constitute the backbone of modern science suddenly become questionable when they are used on phenomena that don’t fit his ideological predilections.

      • Fraud cannot be ruled out!

The pseudoskeptical argument of last resort. If a body of research supporting an unconventional claim is airtight, the pseudoskeptic will argue that since the conclusion contradicts established theories of nature (she will call them “facts”), and all other alternative explanations have been exhausted, the results must therefore be due to fraud. Of course, such an argument from theory turns the scientific method on its head (unless the skeptic can prove that fraud has actually been committed) , but what is more important, the same argument can be made for any research. Indeed, when funding or scientific prestige are at stake, results are frequently faked in the conventional sciences, probably much more frequently than in, say, parapsychology where skeptical scrutiny is intense.

      • In Medicine: It’s Unsafe!

A favorite argument of the professional “quackbusters” like Stephen Barret is that an alternative procedure is unsafe. On the Acupuncture page of his site, Barret states that

Improperly performed acupuncture can cause fainting, local hematoma (due to bleeding from a punctured blood vessel), pneumothorax (punctured lung), convulsions, local infections, hepatitis B (from unsterile needles), bacterial endocarditis, contact dermatitis, and nerve damage,

missing the mark of controlled criticism by a wide margin. Why not similarly list the dangers of improperly performed surgery and then denounce the whole field as quackery?

    • Accusations of Selective Reporting (the “File Drawer Effect”)

      One of the standard criticisms levered by pseudoskeptics against unconventional research that relies on statistics (primarily parapsychology) is that only successful experiments were reported and the unsuccessful ones were suppressed (by burring them in the “file drawer”). Unlike the previous criticisms, the file drawer criticism is valid in principle, but I mention it in this list anyway because pseudoskeptics obsess only about the (largely imaginary) file drawers of the parapsychologists while ignoring the large file drawers of suppressed conventional science.

      To cite just a few examples of what has been buried in those file drawers: fundamental criticisms of relativity are a priori ineligible for publication in the mainstream scientific journals. That’s why most physicists are not aware of experimental evidence that apparently refutes special relativity. Positive results on cold fusion are similarly banned from publication, as are papers that radically question the accepted time line of human evolution. Cremo and Thompson’s Forbidden Archeology contains several hundred pages of archeological discoveries that have been left to be forgotten in that particular file drawer. Veteran astronomer Halton Arp, who has been made a persona non grata in astronomy due to his discovery that modern cosmology is catastrophically wrong, describes how most of his own papers ended up in the astronomical “file drawer” instead of the astronomical journals as follows (Arp, Seeing Red, 1998):

      “In the beginning there was an unspoken covenant that observations were so important that they should be published and archived with only a minimum of interpretation at the end of the paper. Gradually this practice eroded as authors began making and reporting only observations which agreed with their starting premises. The next step was that these same authors, as referees, tried to force the conclusions to support their own and then finally, rejected the papers when they did not. As a result more and more important observational results are simply not being published at the journals in which one would habitually look for such results. The referees themselves, with the aid of compliant editors, have turned what was originally a helpful system into a chaotic and mostly unprincipled form of censorship.”

      Anecdotal evidence suggests that the file-drawer of medical and other profit-oriented research that has been suppressed due to economic conflicts of interest is at least as thick as the body of published research. The tobacco industry had suppressed evidence that smoking causes cancer for decades, and the chemical industry has likewise suppressed evidence of public-health risks caused by its products. Examples of manipulated drug trials in medicine are legion. On July 25, 2002, The Nation published a special report titled Big Pharma, Bad Science that gives the following devastating assessment of the quality of modern medical research:

      “In June, the New England Journal of Medicine, one of the most respected medical journals, made a startling announcement. The editors declared that they were dropping their policy stipulating that authors of review articles of medical studies could not have financial ties to drug companies whose medicines were being analyzed. The reason? The journal could no longer find enough independent experts. Drug company gifts and “consulting fees” are so pervasive that in any given field, you cannot find an expert who has not been paid off in some way by the industry. So the journal settled for a new standard: Their reviewers can have received no more than $10,000 from companies whose work they judge. Isn’t that comforting? This announcement by the New England Journal of Medicine is just the tip of the iceberg of a scientific establishment that has been pervasively corrupted by conflicts of interest and bias, throwing doubt on almost all scientific claims made in the biomedical field. “

      “Unknown to many readers is the fact that the data being discussed was often collected and analyzed by the maker of the drug involved in the test. An independent 1996 study found that 98 percent of scientific papers based on research sponsored by corporations promoted the effectiveness of a company’s drug. By comparison, 79 percent of independent studies found that a new drug was effective. This corruption reaches from the doctors prescribing a drug to government review boards to university research centers. “

      “Increasingly, the industry has converted academic research centers into subsidiaries of the companies. The billions of dollars of academic government funding essentially pays to flush out negative results, while private industry gets to profit from any successful result. “

      “And the results are expensive and sometimes tragic for the public. Experimental clinical drug trials are hazardous to participants and, more broadly, critical to those with life threatening conditions who need to know which treatments are fruitless to pursue. Yet researchers on industry payrolls end up pressured to suppress negative results. At the most basic level, researchers who defy their corporate sponsors know they may lose their funding. “

      Writer John Anthony West and geologist Robert M. Schoch have uncovered commanding geological evidence that the Egyptian Sphinx is thousands of years older than conventionally assumed, but their data has been, and is still being ignored by conventional Egyptology. When confronted with this research, Egyptologists have no explanation for it, but they insist that it cannot possibly be correct, because it contradicts their theories.

      This site contains many more examples of suppressed and ignored discoveries spanning virtually the entire spectrum of human sciences. By the standards set by the pseudoskeptics themselves, therefore, almost all of science would have to be invalid. Pseudoskeptic Michael Shermer writes in “Baloney Detection” (Scientific American 11/2001, p. 36)

      Watch out for a pattern of fringe thinking that consistently ignores or distorts data.

      But “Consistently ignoring and distorting data” is pervasive in physics, astronomy, biology, medicine, psychology, archeology and paleoanthropology. The “file drawer effect”, while not uncontrolled per se is therefore in practice an uncontrolled criticism. Due to the broken peer review system and massive conflicts of interest in commercial science, it applies to and invalidates much of accepted science.

  • Trying to End the Race when Their Side is Ahead:

    In any scientific controversy, there will be confirming evidence from some scientists and disconfirming evidence from others. Otherwise, there would not be a controversy. Resolving such controversies takes many iterations of new and better experiments, publication and criticism. In a head-to-head race, the lead will change often. Sometimes, the confirming evidence will gain the upper hand, and then the disconfirming evidence is ahead again. Pseudoskeptics are always trying to end the race prematurely, when they’re ahead, and declare victory. As an example, consider Randi’s never-ending tirades against homeopathy. If you study his website, you will see that all he ever quotes is disconfirming medical studies, while the ones that confirm homeopathy are conveniently ignored.Try it yourself. Use Google to search Randi’s website for

    Madeleine Ennis homeopathy

    and see how many hits you get. One. And that one just mentions Ennis’ name in the context of discussing a disconfirming study, and calls her a “pharmacist from Belfast.” Relying solely on Randi’s site, a reader would never know that the woman is a professor of Immunopharmacology at Queen’s University, Belfast, and that she and others have produced a ground-breaking replication of Benveniste’s seminal work on ultradilutions.

    This kind of biased, selective reporting of evidence cannot be excused by ignorance. It is indicative of malice and constitutes intellectual fraud.

  • Theory overrides Evidence: the pseudoskeptic holds a firm belief that certain phenomena are a priori impossible, regardless of the evidence. This belief is contrary to the scientific method were theory always yields to the primacy of observation. A theory that is contradicted by evidence must be modified or discarded, no matter how aesthetically pleasing or prestigious it is. If an observation is made that cannot be accounted for by any existing theory, then the observation must be carefully checked and double-checked for errors. If no errors are found, then the observation must enter into the canon of scientific fact, regardless of whether it is explained by theory.

    Most pseudoskeptics operate on assumptions about science that are precisely contrary to this principle. Carroll makes a typical argument when he writes about homeopathy:

    The known laws of physics and chemistry would have to be completely revamped if a tonic from which every molecule of the “active” ingredient were removed could be shown to nevertheless to be effective.

    Indeed they would. This process is known as science, as opposed to the pseudoscientific dogmatizing of the fact-resistant pseudoskeptics.In his August 6, 2004 What’s New column, Robert L. Park delivers the following example of theory-over-evidence reasoning:

    If it is, you may want to take cover, or seek professional help. In the August issue of Psychology Today, parapsychologist Dean Radin is quoted as claiming random number generators (RNGs) were uncharacteristically coherent in the hours just before the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and again before Madrid. Coincidences like that don’t just happen; “events with worldwide impact focus consciousness and that influences the functioning of machines.” Radin heads the Global Consciousness Project, with 75 totally deluded researchers around the world monitoring RNGs to see if they predict terrorist attacks. Are RNGs the only machines that act up? What about elevators and missile launchers? This is scary. No, not the machines, the fact that there are that many researchers that haven’t got a clue about how things are, and people with money willing to fund them.

    The argument is simple. Theologist Park just knows “how things are”, and no amount of empirical evidence to the contrary can sway him. His argument consists solely of the application of ridicule and the ad-hominem, and is entirely devoid of scientific reasoning.

  • Misapplying Occam’s Razor: in science, the simplest explanation tends to be the best. Pseudoskeptics usually insist that this heuristic rule of thumb is an immutable law of nature! In addition, they usually confuse simplicity with familiarity, and explanation with rationalization. For example, given that for over 50 years, observers from all walks of life including university professors, airline pilots, military personnel, policemen, Senators and US presidents have witnessed unidentified flying objects with operational characteristics that far surpass current aircraft designs (such as ability to make right-angle turns at high velocities), that many of these unexplained sightings are backed up by radar observations, photographic, video or physical evidence, and given that UFO pseudoskeptics have to resort to far-fetched logical contortions, highly improbable coincidences and laughable ad-hoc hypotheses to explain away these observations (such as the idea that swamp gas can create the appearance of flying objects in the sky), one must conclude that the hypothesis that some UFOs represent real flying objects is the simplest explanation. The complicated ad-hoc “explanations” (really rationalizations) of the UFO pseudoskeptics cannot compete with the unified explanatory power of that simple hypothesis.
  • Dislike of the consequences: sometimes, pseudoskeptics will make the argument that a certain phenomenon cannot be actually occurring because the consequences would be too unsettling. For example, on CNN’s Larry King Live, UFO Skeptic Philip Klass once responded to an argument that the alien abduction phenomenon is real by stating that “if these things were true, the social consequences would be intolerable”!Park’s argument quoted above is another example. He finds the research generated by the Global Consciousness Project wholly unpalatable because it scares him. The claim that the correct functioning of sensitive equipment that we entrust our lives to is subject to subtle mental effects is indeed frightening. But that does not refute the claim.
  • Refusal to see the totality of the evidence: any single case of an anomalous phenomenon, no matter how strong, can always be disposed of by claiming that the observer involved is a fraud, or was suffering from hallucination. But when there are hundreds, or thousands of similar cases, this explanation clearly becomes inadequate. There is a low, but nonzero probability that any single UFO sighting is fraudulent, but the combined probability that thousands and thousands of UFO sightings by credible, highly educated observers over five decades are all bogus is next to zero. There is a low, but nonzero probability that a single paranormal researcher might be a fraud, and reporting the results of fictional experiments, but the probability that there is a global conspiracy of scientists who spend whole lives counterfeiting research, which has been going on for over a century, is clearly next to zero.The pseudoskeptic strictly refuses to appreciate the evidence as a whole. Every time she dismisses a case on the grounds that the evidence is not strong enough (because the probability of chance or fraud is technically nonzero), the pseudoskeptic forgets all about it and approaches the next, similar case as if there was no precedent. Or worse yet, the skeptic dismisses a new case solely on the ground that she has dismissed similar cases in the past! The pseudoskeptical case against cold fusion seems to rest almost entirely on this kind of attitude these days.

    Allen Hynek wrote about this pseudoskeptical fallacy:

    Probabilities, of course, can never prove a thing. When, however, in the course of UFO investigations one encounters many cases, each having a fairly high probability that “a genuinely new empirical observation” was involved, the probability that a new phenomenon was not observed becomes very small, and it gets smaller still as the number of cases increases. The chances, then, that something really new is involved are very great, and any gambler given such odds would not hesitate for a moment to place a large bet… Any one UFO case, if taken by itself without regard to the accumulated worldwide data [..] can almost always be dismissed by assuming that in that particular case a very unusual set of circumstances occurred, of low probability […] But when cases of this sort accumulate in noticeable numbers, it no longer is scientifically correct to apply the reasoning one applies to a single isolated case.”

    F.C.S. Schiller remarked on the same subject:

    “A mind unwilling to believe or even undesirous to be instructed, our weightiest evidence must ever fail to impress. It will insist on taking that evidence in bits and rejecting item by item. As all the facts come singly, anyone who dismisses them one by one is destroying the condition under which the conviction of a new truth could ever arise in the mind.”

  • Setting Arbitrary Standards of Proof and Moving the goalposts: changing previously agreed upon standards of evidence when those standards have been met.

    This is how pseudoskeptics have been able to say with a straight face that there is not a shred of evidence for extraterrestrial visitation for almost six decades. When there were only eyewitness reports, they wanted credible eyewitnesses, such as university professors, doctors or law enforcement officers. When they got that, they wanted photos. When they got photos, they wanted videos and physical evidence. When they got both, they reverted to the safe demand of the landing on the White House lawn.

    What is wrong with that demand? Every hypothesis must be tested on its own predictions. If a hypothesis requires a certain event to happen, and that event is not observed, then the hypothesis is falsified. But there is no logical basis for the conclusion that if extraterrestrials exist, they would want to make their presence generally known. Extrapolating from the way that human zoologists use stealth to observe wild animals, we would tend to expect extraterrestrials to behave in the same fashion towards us. The ‘White House Test’ for ETs is therefore illogical, because the ET hypothesis does not predict this event to happen. That the ET hypothesis has so far failed this arbitrary and unreasonable test means nothing.

    Park’s demand for a psychokinetic who can deflect a microbalance (in Voodoo Science) is of a similarly arbitrary nature. Even if it were met, ample historical precedent teaches us that the skeptics would dismiss this ability as a stage magician’s trick, or as anecdotal evidence that proves nothing. The pseudoskeptics would, in other words, move the goalposts.

    Former nature editor John Maddox “moved the goalposts” in an attempt to get rid of Benveniste’s paper. Even though Benveniste’s research was solid, he would not publish it until it had been replicated by three independent laboratories. But when that condition had unexpectedly been satisfied, and Maddox had been forced to publish it, he remained convinced of the invalidity of the research and abused his position of power to discredit it.

  • Debunkery by association: If paranormal phenomena are real, then we might just as well believe in werewolves, fairies and unicorns! To rhetorically imply, by means of direct suggestion or innuendo, that attempts at serious research into anomalous phenomena are no more credible than psychic hot lines, tabloid reports of miracles and newspaper horoscopes. James Randi is very fond of this rhetorical technique, as he uses it ad nauseam and beyond:

    (..) cold fusion is a dead duck, the earth is not flat, and the fault lies not in our stars, but in ourselves.

    Effectively, Randy is suggesting that there is some kind of connection between research into anomalous energy production associated with hydrogen and astrology and the belief that the earth is flat. A variation of this technique is to associate serious unconventional research with mass media outlets that report on it – Park’s grotesque discussion of parapsychological phenomena as reported by a sensationalist, unscientific ABC program in his book Voodoo Science (p. 195-200) was already mentioned above.

    Another variation on this theme is to associate an unconventional claimant with convicted frauds who are associated with the field. Of course, there is incompetence and fraud in every profession. There are surgeons who cut off a wrong leg and scientists who falsify data, but that does not lead skeptics to conclude that every surgeon is a quack and all of science is bogus. But exactly that kind of wild, slanderous generalization is commonly employed by pseudoskeptics to discredit unconventional fields of inquiry. When it comes to free energy, they discuss free energy con-man Dennis Lee. To discredit parapsychology, they devote much time and effort to Uri Geller, Miss Cleo and John Edward. To ridicule UFO research, they keep going back to Adamski and his claims of arian dream women from Venus. To discredit crop circles, they emphasize stories of crop circle researchers who were fooled by hoaxers, as if that somehow forbade the existence of the real thing. The possibility of health benefits from magnetic fields is repudiated by emphasizing obviously worthless charms and bracelets advertised in the yellow press. Acupuncture is dismissed as unsafe because it has lead to serious injury in the hands of unqualified practitioners.

    To illustrate, here comes an excerpt from Robert L. Park’s “What’s New” column of Friday, April 5, 2002. Under the title “Free Energy: Perpetual Motion Scams Are At An All-Time High”, Park attempts to discredit the Motionless Electromagnetic Generator by associating it with Dennis Lee:

    In 1999, I went to Columbus, Ohio for ABC News to witness Dennis Lee demonstrate a permanent-magnet motor that was “more than 200% efficient.” Actually, he didn’t really demonstrate it. He stuck a magnet on the side of a steel file cabinet; turning to the audience he asked, “How long do you think that magnet will stay there?” He answered his own question, “Forever. That’s infinite energy.” Don’t laugh, this week, Patent 6,362,718 was issued for a “Motionless Electromagnetic Generator” that “extracts energy from a permanent magnet with energy-replenishing from the active vacuum.”

    The truly skeptical reader might wonder why Lee’s 1999 “demonstration” is “new” on April 5, 2002. The answer, of course, is that it isn’t. It just needed to be exhumed because the MEG is too difficult to ridicule , given that (unlike Lee) its team of creators are physicists, its function is described in the peer-reviewed literature (Foundation of Physics Letters, 2001), that it has apparently been independently replicated by French inventor Jean-Louis Naudin and that no attempts are being made to solicit investments from individuals. To still effectively discredit the MEG (which Park, of course, has never examined in person), he talks about a known free-energy scam-artist in order to get the reader into a suitably dismissive mood, and then switches the target of his criticism at the last second, coupled with an appeal to emotional consensus implied in the phrase “don’t laugh”. [For clarification: I do not claim to possess any knowledge or evidence that the MEG actually works as claimed, or that the theory behind it has any merit whatsoever. My point is to illustrate the nature of Park’s merely rhetorical dismissal of the MEG.]

    Yet another outfit of scientific arrogance that practices debunkery by association to ridicule unconventional research is IG Nobel, an organization that awards its “IG Nobel Prize” annually for “achievements that cannot or should not be reproduced”. Browsing through the list of past winners, we find a long list of recipients who were more than deserving of this dubious honor. In 1991, Dan Quayle, “consumer of time and occupier of space”, is being recommended for demonstrating “the need for science education”, and Edward Teller “for his lifelong efforts to change the meaning of peace as we know it”. But the same year also sees Jacques Benveniste attacked and ridiculed for what future historians of science will come to recognize as one of the greatest scientific breakthroughs of the 20th century, the experimental proof that water can carry information. The precise phrasing of the award also uses other pseudoskeptical techniques such as the ad-hominem (“prolific proseletizer”) and misinterpretation of the actual claim (Benveniste never claimed that water is “intelligent”).

  • Dismissing claims because of their philosophical pedigree

    Where debunkery by association seeks to discredit claims by linking them with similar, but unrelated, claims, this technique seeks to discredit ideas by discounting their empirical merits in favor of their philosophical origins. The Skeptic’s Dictionary gives us once again a prime example. Under the heading “alternative health practices”, we find the following definition:

    Health or medical practices are called “alternative” if they are based on untested, untraditional or unscientific principles, methods, treatments or knowledge. “Alternative” medicine is often based upon metaphysical beliefs and is frequently anti-scientific.

    But doctors of alternative medicine are frequently more scientific than their conventional colleagues. While the former employ modalities whose safety and efficacy has been demonstrated by decades (nutrition), centuries (homeopathy) or millennia (acupuncture) of clinical practice, the latter frequently derive their “scientific” knowledge from biased information and rigged drug studies communicated by pharma lobbyists. Death from alternative medicine is unheard of, but side-effects of conventional treatments are estimated to kill 100,000 people in the United States every year. It is therefore hard to dismiss alternative medicine on empirical grounds.

    Yet for the pseudoskeptics, alternative medicine remains “unscientific”, even “anti-scientific”, because much of it is inspired by ancient beliefs and metaphysical ideas, such as the notion of a vital energy that animates the body, or the idea that thoughts create physical reality, not the other way. Pseudoskeptics find the notion that ancient civilizations could have known things that are still beyond the understanding of our current civilization deeply offensive. As rationalists, they believe that our ancestors were without exception superstitious, ignorant savages, and that our current understanding of nature represents the highest level of scientific knowledge that has ever existed on this planet. They are therefore categorically unwilling to entertain the notion that there could be any truth or validity to medical practices that were not developed by mechanistic, reductionist Western medicine. Whether or not alternative medicine has any merit is not at all a scientific question for them- it’s personal.

    Truly scientific thinking, of course, accepts truth based on evidence alone, regardless of the philosophies and beliefs of the messenger. To a scientific mind, the question of why Samuel Hahnemann came up with the idea of curing people with medicines that are so highly diluted that little or no trace remains of the original substance, has no bearing on the question of whether homeopathy has therapeutic value.

    Another example of “dismissing claims because of their philosophical pedigree” is how academic paleoanthropology reacted to the challenge posed by Cremo and Thompson’s Forbidden Archeology. Critics like to point out that the authors are “Hindu creationists” as if that somehow implied that their scholarly achievement was without merit. But from a logical point of view, the value of the arguments made and evidence presented by Cremo and Thompson is completely independent of the religious beliefs that motivated the research in the first place, just like the big bang theory is not automatically false because it is compatible with the Christian religious belief that our universe was created.

  • Slurs and Ridicule: the true skeptic refrains from ad hominem attacks and name calling while the pseudoskeptic elevates them to an art form. Examples abound in pseudoskeptical books and periodicals.

I conclude this little phenomenology of pseudoskepticism with an extensive quotation that reads like a compendium of invalid criticisms. It is taken from The Memory of Water, an account of the scientific witch hunt against Jacques Benveniste. Its author, French biologist Michel Schiff gives a list of phrases directed by scientists at Benveniste and his research, which I quote in its entirety:

a ‘bizarre new theory’, a ‘unicorn in a back yard’, a ‘Catch-22-situation’, ‘some form of energy hitherto unknown in physics’, ‘cloud-cuckoo-land’, ‘unbelievable research results’, ‘sticking to old paradigms’, ‘defying the rules of physics’, a ‘hypothesis as unnecessary as it is fanciful’, ‘data that did not seem to make sense’, ‘ discouraging fantasy’, ‘unbelievable circumstances’, ‘circus atmosphere’, ‘spurious science’, ‘magical properties of attenuated solutions’, ‘unbelievable results’, the ‘product of careless enthusiasm’, a ‘200-year-old brand of medicine that most Western physicians consider to be harmless quackery at best’,’dilutions of grandeur’, the ‘egotism and folly of this man who rushes into print with a claim so staggering that if true would revolutionize physics and medicine’, ‘mystical powers’, ‘magic’, ‘quackery’, ‘charlatanism’, a ‘therapy without scientific rationale’,’unicorns revisited’, an ‘explanation beloved of modern homeopaths’, a ‘circus atmosphere’, ‘spurious science’, ‘belief in the magical properties of attenuated solutions’, ‘what seems to be an aberration’, ‘results that could not be explained by current theory’, ‘respectful disbelief of Nobel prizewinner Jean-Marie Lehn’, the ‘cavalier interpretation of results made by Benveniste’, ‘interpretations out of proportion with the facts’, ‘magic results’, ‘high-dilution experiments and much of homeopathy with their notions of alchemy’, ‘revolutionary nature of this finding’, ‘generally efficient physicochemical laws being broken’, ‘ throwing away our intellectual heritage’, ‘how James Bond could distinguish Martinis that have been shaken or stirred’, a ‘delusion about the interpretation of the data’, the ‘extraordinary claims made in the interpretation’, ‘Cheshire cat phenomenon’, ‘no basis for concluding that the chemical data accumulated over two centuries are in error’, the ‘circus atmosphere engendered by the publication of the original paper’, the ‘fact that it still takes a full teaspoon of sugar to sweeten our tea’,’existing scientific paradigms’, ‘throwing away the Law of Mass Action or Avogadro’s number’, ‘original research requiring a general science background sufficient to recognize nonsense’, ‘reports of unicorns needing to be checked with particular care’, ‘not believing that no-more existent molecules can leave an imprint in water’, ‘the first issue of New Approaches to Truly Unbelievable and Ridiculous Enigmas‘, ‘speculating why water can remember something on some occasions and forget it on others’, ‘outlandish claims’, ‘not publishing papers dealing with nonsense theories’, ‘data grossly conflicting with vast amounts of earlier well-documented and easily replicated data’, ‘extraordinary claims’, ‘shattering the laws of chemistry’,’ divine intervention being probably about as likely’,’findings that contravene the physicochemical laws known to science’,’data that purport to contravene a couple of centuries of chemical data’, a ‘whole load of crap’,’1074 oceans like those of the Earth needed to contain only one molecule of the original substance’, the ‘usual rules of interactions in biology or in physical chemistry where the molecule is the basic vector of information’, the ‘failure of fundamental principles’, ‘defying all laws of physical chemistry and of biology’, ‘unbelievable results’, ‘observations without any objective basis’, one prominent scientist pointedly not reading Benveniste’s paper ‘because it would be a waste of his time’, ‘standard theory offering no explanation for such a result’ and ‘a priest stating during mass that water keeps the memory of God’.

The anger and outrage these scientists are feeling as they are trying to come to terms with the cognitive dissonance generated by the Benveniste results is palatable. Gone are sweet logic and reason, and gone is the scientific method that says that evidence can never be dismissed on theoretical grounds. The gut feeling that such results are simply ‘unbelievable’, no matter what, dominates the response. The existing physical models are confused with eternal laws of nature, and their apparent inability to account for the results is taken as a personal insult. The church fathers who refused to look through Galilei’s telescope could hardly have been any more irrational than the highly educated scientists who produced these outbursts of scientific bigotry.

Other online references that might be of interest are

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Pro-Pedophile views in the False Memory Syndrome Foundation

Most famous skeptic ever, active since 1964 James Randi sits on the board of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation. Read more about it here FALSE MEMORY SYNDROME FOUNDATION: QUESTIONABLE BOARD MEMBERS TIED TO THE CIA’S MKULTRA PROGRAM AND CHILD ABUSE 

James Randi, the magician, is involved with the False Memory Syndrome Foundation.This group claims that many adults who have memories of pedophilia are actually having false memories!
“Some of our memories are true, some are a mixture of fact and fantasy, and some are false.”

FMS Foundation Asks Underwager and Wakefield To Resign From Advisory Board, Then Changes Position

By Lana R. Lawrence


The False Memory Syndrome Foundation’s executive director Pamela Freyd told Moving Forward that widely known psychologists and expert witnesses Ralph Underwager, Ph.D., and Hollida Wakefield, M.A., were asked to resign from the foundation’s advisory board on July 1. This action was taken as a result of questions raised over a 1991 interview that Underwager and Wakefield gave to the Netherlands’ publication Paidika, The Journal of Paedophilia (Winter, 1993). But the following day, Freyd changed her position and said that the foundation had not made a formal request for Underwager and Wakefield’s resignations.


Initially, Freyd said that the False Memory Syndrome Foundation (FMSF) board or directors (who are separate from the advisory board) had voted to remove Underwager and Wakefield if they did not agree to resign, and that Underwager and Wakefield had agreed to “step aside” from the board until the matter could be clarified. But in a later interview, Freyd indicated that they declined to resign, and that the matter would ultimately be decided by the more than 20-member advisory board.


In the first of two statements released by FMSF, the organization said:


We received an article in the mail today, June 28, 1993, that is profoundly disturbing. It is an interview with Hollida Wakefield and Ralph Underwager that appeared in a Dutch journal concerned with pedophilia. The article, which does not reflect our understanding of views by Wakefield and Underwager that have been printed elsewhere (1988), requires immediate response.


The views of Hollida Wakefield and Ralph Underwager that ‘Pedophiles need to become more positive and make the claim that paedophilia is an acceptable expression of God’s will for love and unity among human beings’ are diametrically opposite to views that animate FMS Foundation and as well [sic] the opinions of psychiatrists and psychologists who work with children and understand the nature of childhood….



. . . The FMS Foundation abhors this kind of behavior by adults and believes that the expressions of support for it if employed to encourage such behavior are reprehensible.


Wakefield and Underwager will step aside from the FMSF Board until this matter can be clarified.


Although the foundation’s statement maintained that Wakefield and Underwager would step aside temporarily, their resignation or removal from the board never transpired. In a later interview, Freyd indicated that “yes, that was our initial response.” She added, however, that she needed to review the foundation’s by-laws and consult with people involved in FMSF policy matters to determine what procedure should be followed in this case. Freyd also indicated that she would send copies of the Paidika article, along with a letter, to all of its advisory board members to elicit their responses.


But all references to Underwager and Wakefield’s status on the advisory board were missing from a second foundation statement issued the following day:


The issue of concern for the FMS Foundation is false accusation and consequently the establishment of criteria that can help avoid false accusations from occurring or to help resolve disputes if they do occur. To that end, we try to present accurate information about memory and alert people to the fact that there is a growing problem in one defined area. We were questioned recently [by Moving Forward] about an interview on this topic that was given by Hollida Wakefield and Ralph Underwager for a Dutch journal concerned with pedophilia (Paidika, 1993).


The treatment of pedophilia, while certainly important, is not the focus of FMS staff and we cannot speak to the issues in this area. The views presented in this article seemed inconsistent and contrary to our understanding of views held and published by Wakefield and Underwager.


This is important enough to take under advisement with the full Advisory Board. We need to determine if indeed these were accurate quotes and to ask Wakefield and Underwager to respond.


Underwager, who is the director of the Institute for Psychological Therapies in Northfield, Minnesota, and a widely known expert witness in sexual abuse cases (such as New Jersey v. Michaels or the “Wee Care Day Care Center”), and his wife Hollida Wakefield, who is a staff therapist at the Institute, began their work with FMSF during the first two months of its existence. According to Freyd, they answered the FMSF phone and developed materials to send out to callers–and were paid for those services–before the foundation set up its Philadelphia office. Since that time, Underwager and Wakefield have served as advisors to the foundation.



Moving Forward questioned Underwager about the views expressed in the article. He indicated that “we have been on record since our 1988 publication [Accusations of Child Sexual Abuse, Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas, 1988] writing that as far as our personal view is concerned, there can be no sexual contact between an adult and a child that is positive.”


Underwager went on to say that in the article he was expressing his views that pedophiles need to be “open, because that’s the only way we can deal with them.” He added, “What they’re saying is what they said in the Netherlands–that they believe that what they do is to love people . . . They’re saying that’s good. . . .”


In another reference to the Paidika article, Underwager said that “Holly [Wakefield] indicates in the interview that we have great trouble with the reality that they say they really love these children, but when the lad gets to be 15, 16, they just throw him over and go get a younger one. So, see, if they’re not saying it, if they’re not coming out and being open about it, then we can’t deal with them on that.”


Underwager then attempted to draw a connection between pedophiles’ concerns and the concerns of other groups such as Gays, Lesbians, and African Americans. He said, “Essentially what I’m saying is the same thing that we’ve [Underwager and Wakefield] said, or that the Gay Pride and the Lesbians and homosexuals say–that they are proud to be Gay, that they’re proud to be Lesbian–the Blacks said Black is beautiful. That’s the first step. Once you start saying that, then you can have a public discourse. As it is now, you can’t have a public discourse.”


“If the homosexuals, both male and female, claim that there is some kind of biological base, which,” according to Underwager, “they do, for their gender orientation–the pedophiles can, and some of them do, claim the same thing–that it’s an essentially genetic thing that is moving them to be attracted to children. All of the arguments that Gay Pride uses are available to the pedophile. The difficulty is that if they’re not making them, then we can’t deal with them–we can’t draw the distinction.”


He ended by saying, “If that’s what you believe, stand up for it, say it. And if you don’t believe it (laughs), go away.”


According to Underwager’s curriculum vitae, he has also served as a Lutheran pastor in California, Iowa, and Minnesota. Underwager has also conducted research projects funded by the National Institute of Mental Health: the Clergy Youth Project and Project Youth. The curriculum vitae also indicates that over the last 30 years, he has been involved in a professional capacity with sexual abuse of children in over 500 cases, and that since beginning private practice as a psychologist in 1965, one-third to one-fifth of Underwager’s practice has been with children. Along with his wife, he also conducted therapy programs for a community-based sex offender treatment program from 1974 to 1977.


In addition to conducting therapy programs with her husband, Wakefield, according to her biography in Paidika, has also worked as an elementary school teacher and college psychology instructor. Among the articles, papers, and books that the couple have authored and/or co-authored are The Real World of Child Interrogations (Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas, 1990) and an Amicus Brief in the Supreme Court of the United States (Maryland v. Sandra Ann Craig, April, 1990). They are also the publishers of the journal Issues in Child Abuse Accusations.


Lana R. Lawrence is the editor of Moving Forward.


Related article: “What They Said: ‘Interview: Hollida Wakefield and Ralph Underwager, Paidika, Winter, 1993′”


Following is the APA-style citation for this article, which may be copied and pasted into your document.


Lawrence, Lana R. (1993). “FMS Foundation Asks Underwager and Wakefield To Resign From Advisory Board, Then Changes Position,” Moving Forward, Vol. II, No. 4, pp. 12-13. Retrieved from the World Wide Web:

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