Month: December 2010

123. Randi’s Prize Exposed in New Book by Robert McLuhan

Author Robert McLuhan examines the psychology and hidden purpose behind the modern skeptical movement pioneered by James Randi. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with the author of, Randi's Prize: What Sceptics Say About the Paranormal, Why They Are Wrong, and Why It Matters, Robert McLuhan. During the interview Mr. McLuhan discusses the possible motivation of skeptics, "...we complain an awful lot about people like James Randi who apparently subvert what seems to be a perfectly good data and rather deceptively distort perceptions... but I think we have to start thinking beyond that and start thinking about what it is exactly that these guys are trying to protect? Is it a rational thing they're doing? Perhaps I can make the point more succinctly in terms of psychokinesis, just imagine the effects of science declaring psychokinesis is real. If you really think this through you see we are in a very changed environment if we say human minds can interact with matter. That raises all sorts of very difficult implications." McLuhan continues, "If we think some people can hex other people, or interfere with the brakes when they're driving -- it doesn't even have to be true -- but if science says something like that is feasible and possible, it might happen, then what sort of situation are we in? I suspect, and I'm not sure if this is a conscious idea skeptics have... but I think what I'm trying to say in a nutshell is we have to think about the wider implications of psi endorsed and accepted by a central authority like science." Rob McLuhan Blogs at Paranormalia Play it: Download MP3 (47:00 min.) Read it: Alex Tsakiris: Robert McLuhan is an Oxford-trained freelance journalist who's authored Randy's Prize: What Skeptics Say About the Paranormal, Why They're Wrong, and Why it Matters. Robert, welcome to Skeptiko. Robert McLuhan: Thanks, Alex; I'm glad to be here.


122. Reincarnation of Apostle Paul, Nick Bunick’s Claims Scrutinized

Popular author Nick Bunick claims past-life regression provided remembrances of Jesus, but biblical scholars have doubts. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with bestselling author of, Time For Truth, Nick Bunick. During the interview Mr. Bunick discusses how a chance visit to a psychic revealed his past,  "Alex, I had no idea what he was talking about. Two thousand years ago I walked with the Master? I didn't even have a religion. I'd never read the Gospels. I did have a relationship with God; it was a spiritual relationship. But what happened to me then over the next six or seven years, I had affirmation after affirmation from other sources that indeed, my spirit and soul had manifested itself 2,000 years ago in the person we know as the Apostle Paul." But, as Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris explains during the interview, biblical scholars take exception with some of Mr. Bunick's claims, "I've tried to get a sense for biblical scholarship in general and it surprised how much we do know about the Bible. It is the most studied document in history.  Millions of man-hours have been spent scouring the earth, finding every copy we can get our hands on. Scholars have gone through and scrutinized every word and every letter.  I don't think these scholars would agree with your account. Secular scholars like Bart Ehrman and Robert Price, as well as Christian Biblical scholars don't find any support for your claim that the Bible used to support reincarnation." According to Bunick transcripts of past-life regression sessions, "gave information about the life of Paul never before known before, as well as the life of Jesus never before known. And also, it conflicted in many places with what is written in the New Testament." Nick Bunick Play it: Download MP3 (49:00 min.) Read it: Welcome to Skeptiko, where we explore controversial science with leading researchers, thinkers, and their critics. I'm your host, Alex Tsakiris, and I have to tell you that in preparing for this episode, in particular the introduction to this episode, I was really challenged. I was trying to figure out how to wrap my arms around what I wanted to say. And then I was going through the forum and I came across a video that one of our listeners had posted.


121. Skeptical of Skeptics, Chris Carter Tackles Near Death Experience Science

Author Chris Carter discuses how Near Death Experience Science is misunderstood and misrepresented by mainstream science. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with Chris Carter, author of, Science and the Near Death Experience. During the interview Carter explains how the acceptance of paradigm changing science like near death experience and telepathy wouldn't change science as we know it, "...I do not agree with you that the acceptance-say of telepathy, or the acceptance of the near-death experience as a genuine separation of mind from body, I do not think that would challenge any aspect of science. I don't think it would change the way that neuroscientists come in and do their jobs. I think that everything would be exactly the same. They'd continue looking for the same chemicals, the same neurotransmitters, the same areas of the brain that light up. They'd still be trying to work with split brain patients and patents who have damaged brains. I don't think that anything would change. Except, yes, their conversations down at the pub on weekends would change. Absolutely. The philosophical conversations would change. But I really don't think that it would impact anything in science simply because modern neuroscience is completely neutral as to whether the brain produces the mind or whether the brain acts as a receiver/transmitter for the mind." According to Chris Carter the real dividing  point between mainstream science and the breakthroughs of near death experience science lie in conventional view that everything we experience can be reduced to just brain activity, "Materialists like to claim successes in modern science have been due to a Materialistic outlook. You've probably heard that before. But this is nonsense. The three men most responsible for the scientific revolution, Galileo, Kepler, and Newton, were not Materialists. One of the reasons Galileo recanted his views is because he feared the Church would excommunicate him. Newton spent the last half of his life writing on theology. I mean, Materialism is an ancient philosophy that basically asserts that everything has a material cause. Therefore, the brain produces the mind. This dates back at least to Democritus in ancient Greece. It was thought to gain support from the physics of Isaac Newton, although Newton himself did not agree. Newton himself instead followed the Dualism of Renee Descartes. It was really the 18th century philosophers such as Diderot and Voltaire who spread the doctrines of Materialism and Mechanism. They did this in order to combat the religious fundamentalism and superstition, and the persecution that were common in their time." Chris Carter Play it: Download MP3 (39:00 min.) Read it: Alex Tsakiris: Welcome to Skeptiko, where we explore controversial science with leading researchers, thinkers, and their critics. I'm your host, Alex Tsakiris. Before we get to today's interview with Chris Carter, I want to take a minute and tell you about something that happened to me this week. One of the benefits of doing Skeptiko and having it achieve the little bit of success that it has is that I now get books sent to me on a regular basis. Little surprises in the mail. A new book. A new movie to review.