Friday, December 30, 2005

Looney Toons on Larry King...Again

And limited skeptic presence...again. Your Rockstar started calling LKL at 8:59 CST to try and get his brand of wit and skepticism on, but I imagine the amount of Creduloids trying to get one of these frauds to give them a "reading" was enormous.

The show, which aired 12/28/05 at 9:00 CST, was just what I expected from the man who asked "but if evolution happened, why are there still apes?". 3 of the world's biggest frauds:
Big Fat Idiot, Chuckles Van Praagh and some chick named Char Margolis were in studio. Dr. Bryan Farha, represented the sole true skeptic in my opinion. The other guy was a Rabbi who just argued that the psychics' view of the "spirit world" and religion was wrong.

Chuckles started the lunacy with this statement (you can read the transcript
right here) :

To a certain degree and it has been tested there are certain percentages of ["the sprit world"]
that have been proven to a certain degree in percentage certainly but there are certain scientific methods which also have not been invented yet or come up with a method that they can actually measure something like this.

Damn! I have certainly never seen that many certain uses of the word "certain" in an
appeal to gibbersh at any certain time. And get this - there are no scientific methods that can measure the spirit world. I agree - the only thing that exists that we can't measure or observe is NOTHING.

Oh boy does the bullshit fly after that. Larry King wonders what good it does when Syl tells someone their dead brother's name was "Herbie". Syl decides that's a good thing - the sitter sucker knows "Herbie" is with them spiritually...or that Syl knows how to read obituaries, whichever you prefer. Then we get this exchange when Char jumps in:

MARGOLIS: It's really interesting you say that because that was my father's name and out of all the names in the world why would you bring that up? See to me...

KING: Because one of my best friends is named Herbie.

MARGOLIS: OK but he...

KING: It had nothing to do -- I didn't get a feeling.

MARGOLIS: But to me -- but to me that's a sign.

BROWNE: It's called synchronicity, yes.
No, it's called two completely different people have the same fairly common name. Big deal.

For what it's worth, the Rabbi does point out that no psychic has ever "predicted" anything worthwhile. Where's Osama Bin Laden? Who cares if you know my brother's name is Herbie? Dr. Farha tries to jump in to rebut the buttheads, but gets shushed. Imagine that...

Char then claims responsibility for finding Dean Martin's son
Dean Paul after "Dino" crashed his National Guard fighter jet in the mountains of California. I'm trying to find information to verify this, but a google search comes up empty. The few sites that do cover Dino's death mention nothing about Char or her magic powers. I'll provide any findings in an update. Until then, we'll assume she's making it up.

At this point, Chuckles busts out the old fourth dimension bullshit and LK actually points out that he can't prove it. But Chuckles knows we all have magic powers:

Two- thirds of Americans have had experiences where, telepathic experiences where they thought about someone. Five minutes later the phone rings and it's that person. This is a sense that every single person has experienced.

Ok, well I would point out how many times I've thought about someone and they didn't call me 5 minutes later. Chuckles is taking advantage of our ignorance of
the law of large numbers and confirmation bias - basically the fact that we receive hundreds of thousands of phone calls in our lives, and are bound to be thinking of the caller at least once. However, we forget the 99,999 times it didn't happen and pay close attention to the one time it did happen. This is typically how I descibe psychic bullshit to fence sitters. They simply don't consider those two facts.

Chuckles continues:

Just because things cannot be proven scientifically in the scientific method or the way you choose it to be in your paradigm, your way of thinking, it doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Wouldn't you know it - I checked
Skeptico today (hey, rockstars are busy and take a couple of days to write articles, sheesh) and he comments on this! Says he:

[cut]...which the obvious rejoinder would have been: just because I can’t prove to everyone that you’re a fraud doesn’t mean you aren’t one.

(I'll skip over the whole discussion of mysticism, since religion and psi have same amount of evidence.)

Dr. Farha then proves his open-mindedness when questioned whether he was open to the possibility of another dimension:

I am open to that dimension. I'm open to the possibility. I'm not open to the idea that these people have proven it.

Exactly. No one has. Dr. Farha then asks Sylvia why she has not taken the
JREF Million Dollar Challenge, and shows her documentation that the money exists (which she slanderoulsy said did not on an earlier LKL). Sylvia provides the usual reasons the frauds back out of the test - Lloyd Auerbach says you can't win, Randi changes the rules, he'll run away from the challenge when it appears they'll win, etc.

It's at this point my blood began to boil. I'm serious, I think I could've passed the Challenge myself my body temperature raised to such a degree. Chuckles has the gall to say:

Let me just say something. The skeptics (INAUDIBLE) use this thing about taking a test and proving it, the emphasis should be on them to prove it to us this is not real and I would say they always raise the bar.

What. The. Fuck. If you make a claim that is extraordinary, why should I help defend you? It's called
burden of proof. Were I to say give me $1,000 and you'll marry Natalie Portman, is it up to you to prove me wrong? Or would you ignore me till you had some proof?

I believe Dr. Farha made a serious mistake by not explaining the scientific method right here. I was twitching to get on the air. First he could explain burden of proof. Then, when the psychics say that psi can't be proven by science, ask them this:

Does psi produce effects that we can observe or measure?

If yes, then it can be tested scientifically through DBTs. If no, then I have to say there is only one thing in the known universe we all agree produces no observable effects.

NOTHING!

---

The Big Sylvia Browne Thread

7 comments:

Bronze Dog said...

Then, when the psychics say that psi can't be proven by science, ask them this:

Does psi produce effects that we can observe or measure?


That's exactly the point I'd love to bring up every time someone bashes science or materialism.

Heck, in my D&D fantasy worlds, magic and psionics are "real" (within the fictional universe), produce observable effects, and are not only commonly accepted: They're commonly employed. They're treated the same way we, in the real world, treat technology. (Well, they're harder to mass produce, but I digress.)

If psychic powers and such were real in the real world, they'd produce observable effects, be easily tested by scientific means, and, down the line, be useful.

We haven't even gotten to positive test results.

MichaelBains said...

Ok, well I would point out how many times I've thought about someone and they didn't call me 5 minutes later.

And that's just for starters! It 's expected for people who are known well to each other and fond of keeping that knowledge close to their emotional memory to be euphemistically on the same wave length.

It's like mense with a group of women friends synching up.

Or Manning and Harrison knowing what the other wants with a minimal gesture; no eye contact.

Great write up dude. I's particularly glad to see the old grape guy hold his head after the interview; even if he was shakin' it from side to side just a bit.

MichaelBains said...

If psychic powers and such were real in the real world, they'd produce observable effects, be easily tested by scientific means, and, down the line, be useful.

I'd use them to be a Night Dwelling Wizard. I've no idea what level..

Rockstar Ryan said...

Ok, we all gotta role play old school D&D style sometime.

Skeptico said...

I think Van Praagh now officially takes over from John Edward as the biggest douche in the universe. I’ve heard more coherent arguments from an eight year old.

Rockstar Ryan said...

Yeah, well it's up to you to prove he's not an 8 year old...

Thursday said...

Re: Phone calls from someone

Anyone who's ever had loved ones travel thinks, at some point (often the airport), about something happening to the traveller. This is a natural, normal thing, and the thought is invariably forgotten a few minutes later. Seconds later, if the travel is frequent.

Unless something happens...

For every plane crash, I will bet you even money that every family member of those who died had "a feeling" something would happen, sometime in the days before departure. Welcome to the wonderful world of confirmation bias, and a greaat big target for cold readers.