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Journey 03 - SKEPTICS

Every age of every culture has a tribal mythology and every mythology has its High Priests. Our
tribal mythology is reduction to physics, and our High Priests are physicists. Human beings
automatically pick up the tribal mythology, just as they automatically pick up the language and
slang of their time and place. Mental blinders produced by a tribal mythology are not a new
problem. Galileo faced the same problem, not from the church, but from his fellow academics, as
we see from this little known letter from Galileo to his fellow philosopher of nature, Kepler:

"I think, my Kepler, we will laugh at the extraordinary stupidity of the multitude. What do you say
of the leading philosophers here [U. of Padua] to whom I have offered a thousand times of my own
accord to show my studies, but who...have never consented to look at the planets, or moon, or
telescope?....How you would laugh if you heard what things the first philosopher of the faculty at
Pisa brought against me in the presence of the Grand Duke. He tried hard with logical arguments,
as if with magical incantations, to tear down and argue the new planets out of heaven!" ---Portions
of a letter to Kepler, 19th August 1610, www.humanistictexts.org --

Our own leading philosophers (scientists) likewise refuse to look at the best evidence for UFOs, the
landed occupant cases. They also refuse to look at the best evidence for the separation of mind and
body, namely Professor Stevenson's lifelong study of reincarnation data. It is easy to debunk TV
psychics who "channel messages from the dead" and it is easy to debunk "mysterious lights in the
night time sky," which might have a dozen possible explanations. Psychical researchers and
Ufologists have already done that. By ignoring the good sciences in each field, by lumping
Professor Stevenson in with daily horoscopes, the skeptics refuse to "look through the telescope,"
showing the same kind of unusual or extraordinary stupidity Galileo encountered. It is very hard to
change the tribal mythology.

Another name for "tribal mythology" is "worldview," or "Weltanschauung". Worldview strongly


determines what people think is possible and what they think is impossible. Luther, Erasmus,
Chaucer, Aquinas, Augustine, Augustus, Jesus Christ and Alexander the Great had all held the same
worldview as the one in Galileo’s time. Aristotle, the teacher of Alexander the Great (if a butcher
can be called great), invented this worldview. Ptolemy added some astronomical details. It lasted
nearly 2000 years.

The 17th Century faculty at Pisa and Padua believed that here on this planet, at rest in the middle of
the universe, everything is made of Earth, Air, Fire and Water and is mutable. Here below, things
change, decay, corrode and corrupt. The heavens are made of the fifth element (quintessence)
which is incorruptible, eternal, immutable, and perfect. The professors of Galileo's time simply
found it impossible to believe in a moving Earth, or spots on the sun or craters on the moon or new
moons unknown to the ancients. "How ridiculous!" they said to one another. "If the Earth is
spinning, we would all go flying off into space! And if Galileo is seeing spots, they must be in his
telescope. Or in his head!"

Reduction is the religion of scientists. The Grand Inquisitors are the professional skeptics,
members of CSICOP (Psi-cops), who publish in THE SKEPTICAL INQUIRER. They are
determined to stamp out Psi research and Ufology as heresy. The Psi-cops are not scientists, though
a few have scientific degrees. None of them has ever made a scientific discovery, not even Carl
Sagan, the most famous of the Psi-cops. Carl Sagan is an excellent example of a very smart and
arrogant man totally lacking in intelligence, the ability to learn from experience.

The Psi-cops make no scientific discoveries because they do not use scientific method. Instead,
they use Hume's rule: "The more extraordinary the claim, the more extraordinary must be the
proof." That sounds plausible, doesn't it? Nevertheless, it is completely wrong. If we had applied
that rule in the 17th Century, when the new physics was the extraordinary claim, science would not
exist. We would still be burning witches and heretics at the stake. There is no stronger or better
proof than scientific method. That is what we must require of new sciences and old sciences as
well, if they wander off the path over time.

The "Psi-cops" do use Hume's rule. I will give you an example. When Martin Gardner heard about
the demonstrations of dermo-optical vision through a blind, before the Soviet Academy of
Sciences, Gardner immediately "debunked" it on the grounds that this could be duplicated by a
stage illusionist (Gardner, 1966). Of course, that is true, if the stage illusionist gets to "set the
stage," and use her own blind.

I'm sure the Soviet Academy thought of that. According to the Psi-cops, all famous psychics, like
Uri Geller, are master illusionists, despite the total lack of evidence that they have any training in
that art, or any of the equipment necessary. Stage "psychics" or "mentalists" are illusionists, but
they would never submit to the controlled experiments inflicted on the Russian psychics or on Uri
Geller. Remember, the illusionist’s apparatus and skill can duplicate the appearance of anything.
Every scientific discovery reported in Nature could be a fake. We don't make such charges without
grounds.

I sometimes refer to the "evil" Psi-cops. It is evil to try to prevent investigation of things just
because those things are contrary to the religion of science. It is evil to get people fired from
academic jobs just because they do investigate the forbidden subjects. This happened to Dr.
Thelma Moss, of the UCLA Neuro-Psychiatric Institute. She was doing good work on telepathy,
psychometry, Kirlian photography and other subjects. She is the author of THE PROBABILITY
OF THE IMPOSSIBLE (1974), an excellent introduction to Psi phenomena. She never again found
an academic position. It has happened to many others.
You may have heard (wrongly) that James Randi has debunked Uri Geller. James Randi is an
illusionist, and in a stage setting can produce the appearance of spoon bending. Nevertheless, he
cannot explain how thousands of people just watching Uri on TV can also bend spoons or start up
old clocks. Nor has Randi ever duplicated Uri's abilities under tight scrutiny and close scientific
control.

Read THE GELLER EFFECT (1986) by Uri Geller and Guy Lyon Playfair to get a debunking of
the debunkers in part three, written by Playfair, particularly in Chapter 14, “The Witch-Hunters.”
Playfair says, "It is ironic that while the humanists and CSICOP do their best to wipe the
paranormal from the face of American society, the state of affairs in many communist countries is
quite different." (Geller and Playfair, 1986, p. 216). True. See “The Chinese Studies.”