The Weiler Psi

Parapsychology Journalism: The People, The Theory, The Science, The Skeptics

The Real Meaning Behind the TED Controversy


The current controversy at TED, which pits parapsychologist Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock against an anonymous board of scientists is ostensibly about censorship, but the arguments and the passion involved go much deeper than that.  The battle that is going on right now is the beginning of the end for materialism as the dominant ideology of the sciences.  It’s pretty easy to the evidence of this.

The ground is quickly shifting under the feet of the materialists due to the increasing numbers of well informed, well educated people who can refute the materialist arguments and are aware of the evidence for the primacy of consciousness in physics.  The normal power plays which materialists have used in the past do not work under these circumstances, but they will still be employed because the materialists have nothing else in their bag of tricks.  Nowhere is this more apparent than at TED, which has aligned itself with the old guard materialists and finds itself at a disadvantage having to defend these suddenly ineffective attempts to control the debate.  These attempts include:

  • Having a discussion, but choosing to ignore it and rely on its board of materialist scientists instead.
  • Removing both videos from the main page and quarantining both of them
  • Defaming the the two presenters by claiming their talks were unscientific
  • Presenting reasons for removing the talks that are so ludicrous as to be an obviously transparent attempt at ideological censorship
  • Failing to acknowledge this ideological censorship for what it is
  • Failing to directly address the rebuttals of both presenters
  • Holding another debate, and splitting them in two even though the issues for both presentations were essentially the same
  • Removing the ability to see the size of the debate or to jump to a particular section of it without a tedious and difficult process of sorting and counting
  • Failing again to directly address the objections of both presenters to this new format  (there are currently no objections raised against the presentations, so there is nothing for either of them to debate.)
  • Creating a situation where their science board will have the last word.
  • Dragging out the present debate for two weeks to wear down the opposition.
  • Failing to acknowledge Sheldrake’s call for a debate with the science board

This is the first piece of evidence.  Nowhere do you see any show of confidence in materialism in these actions.  It is all evasiveness, stonewalling and general pettiness.   This is not what people do when they know that they are right; this is what they do when they know that they are wrong.  This behavior is certainly not limited to TED, or to psi or materialism for that matter.  It’s just what people do when confronted with new and uncomfortable ideas.  (link here.)  Nobel Prize winning physicist Brian Josephson had this say about it:  (link here.)

For the last six weeks, BBC2 TV has been running a series called ‘Heretic’ (…)

In every case a similar story unfolded: dismissal of the claims as being nonsense or impossible, generally without any serious attempt to look at the evidence or the arguments; the non-materialisation of the honours, promotions, invitations to give public lectures and so on that such individuals might have been expected to receive given their past achievements; violent attacks by other scientists; and, for some, demotion or withdrawal of research facilities.

The prestige of the individuals concerned and their continuing competence in other matters is seen as being of no moment: their unorthodox claims are perceived merely as instances of the failings to which all human beings are subject. The sense of self-superiority of the critics in many instances was in striking contrast to the humility, integrity and sincerity manifested by workers such as Robert Jahn (an expert in rocket engineering forced to resign his position as Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at Princeton University because of this unconventional side to his research interests and, for a time, not allowed to talk about that research).

The second piece of evidence for the end of materialism is that the internet has changed the game forever.  The materialists, who are in charge, can deny funding, remove whole journals from common academic search engines, teach only materialistic science and attack unorthodox claims, but they can no longer stifle discussion or stop the spread of information.

When I first started blogging, about five years ago, (here)  almost no one was informed about parapsychology or related research.  Skeptics pretty much jumped all over anything I had to say and Randi’s Million Dollar Challenge was brought up frequently.  A lot has changed in the intervening years.  Judging by the discussions at TED, many of which are quite scholarly, skeptics/materialists have all but abandoned this indefensible argument against psi and even find themselves completely on the defensive when they refer to parapsychology as a pseudoscience.  Sweeping, statements, long the staple of the materialist argument, are being exposed as ignorant.  When they dare people to prove them wrong, they are met with a barrage of links doing just that.

Even on public forums, I am not a lone voice in the wilderness anymore.  Knowledgeable people come out of the woodwork well informed, fully aware of the defects in materialist arguments and ready to rumble.  The materialists are increasingly outnumbered everywhere, as they are at TED.  It seems to be speeding up.

The evidence for psi hasn’t change much in five years, but the general knowledge about that evidence has.  What we’re seeing playing out at TED is only the beginning.  It is starting at beachhead organizations that lie outside of the fortress, but soon it will move inland to the materialism stronghold itself, academia.  Universities and other schools are charged with telling the truth, and this is the wedge that will eventually separate materialism and its supporters from their stranglehold over these institutions.  To change the current materialist stance will require a huge uproar, well beyond what we’re seeing at TED and such an uproar is coming.  It will come about because of circumstances very much like what is happening at TED, where materialists pull stunts to oppress opposing views, just like they always have done.  But they will face an increasing backlash from this until materialists start having to choose between their jobs and their dogma.  We all know what happens; the institution will defend its members right up until it figures out that the price is too high.  Once this political threshold is reached, things start to change.

It’s easy to get these controversies started; people hate being dissed and they hate being lied to and these are the tactics most favored by materialists.  They are, in other words, speeding up the process themselves by inadvertently creating the optimum conditions for change.

The fact is, we cannot allow children to be taught materialistic science.  It will wreck their ability to deal with the rapid changes that are coming and put them behind their properly educated peers.  Consciousness science is best learned from early on, where children can accept the new ideas without having to push out the old ones.

As it stands, this change will destroy many a prominent career and create new giants of science.  It rewards holistic thinking to a far greater degree than in the past, and this is going to change the type of person that stands out in the sciences.

I would have said even a couple of years ago that this would take a generation to accomplish, but I don’t know anymore.  Things are moving so fast.

 

60 comments on “The Real Meaning Behind the TED Controversy

  1. Theo
    April 12, 2013

    Theo Sunny Cade Been thinking about this and found myself in an unscientific moment letting belief trump evidence. I thought I had left my cell phone in my back pack & couldn’t find it. Called on my wife’s phone. It seemed to be ringing from somewhere in the pack. So believing it must be in there I continued to rummage through it to no avail. My wife pointed out to me that it was, ringing, flashing and vibrating on the shelf a couple inches above in plain site. Now I know how hard it must have been to realize earth was not flat and the Sun did not go around it. It’s tough to be evidence based scienific when it challenges your beliefs. Rupert Sheldrake’s TED talk is important. When evidence is discounted from belief, people die as medicine is based on the false models that are held as beliefs that discount healthier treatment options. We need to be open minded to new evidence. Wish me luck.

  2. Thomas Jespersen
    April 2, 2013

    Interesting interview with Sheldrake. He intreprets this as a paradigm shift as well:

    http://www.skeptiko.com/rupert-sheldrake-censored/

    • neilmiller2011
      April 2, 2013

      Hi Craig, Hi all;
      2 points came to mind, I have not seen them mentioned, maybe I just missed both points. Scientific data, the kind of data used to make your point and defend it, is gathered by using certain metrics. These metrics are almost always evolving. Examples; measure radiation levels 100 years ago and 50 years ago and today. I don’t dismiss the metrics a skeptic uses today but I am offended by the blindness of implying the only valid measurements of energy and consciousness are already known and no new techniques will evolve. The deniers can always be challenged because they don’t really know what they are measuring or how to measure. Now we can segue to my 2nd point: I’m going to offer a little history of science. My direction will be correct, do feel free to fact check me. About 1895 there was a scientific consensus that all of the important discoveries had been made. In the next 10 years the Curie’s discovered radiation, Einstein presented his Theory of Relativity and, was it Planck, presented his Quantum Theory. In the summer of 1903 eminent physicists from Harvard or Yale published an article in the New York Times Proving! that man would never fly. (If this aint a joke with a punchline nothing is.) 3 months later the Wright Brothers flew at Kitty Hawk. There’s a quote attributed to Bill Gates during the 70’s; the home computer wont sell enough units to justify building a business around it.

      Our battle should/must be fought. But, we are on the right side of history, not our opponents, not anyone whose mind is closed.
      Neil Miller

  3. Thomas Jespersen
    April 1, 2013

    I have a question to the readers. Is it even possible to discuss with these materialists? Or should I just let it go and let time pass. I have recently tried to discuss with one of them on a forum but it seemed to go nowhere. I just hope the people who read our conversation could see that he was simple being unreasonable.

    • Peter
      April 2, 2013

      if you are engaging a materialist with a hope that he/she will actually listen and consider your pov, then you will be disappointed. Materialism is all he/she has at the moment. Finding it challenged induces fear, and fear brings unreasoned, instinctive reaction.

      But who knows what the materialist will do in the future. Perhaps, with enough discussions with different people, the materialist will recognize the inadequacy of that position. Perhaps a glimmer of curiosity will disturb that complacent world view.

  4. Rupert McWiseman
    March 29, 2013

    Just found your blog Craig, and it looks very interesting. The TED debacle is indeed a sign of the times; the stifling of debate is a classic tactic used by those who are frightened of people thinking for themselves.

    Science appears to be slowly confirming the possibility that consciousness is the ground of all being. This, of course, is merely objective confirmation of the subjective “knowing” (gnosis) described by mystics throughout the ages.

    It occurs to me that “skeptics” will soon be in the difficult position of trying to maintain that their metaphysical worldview is based on science, even as science is undermining it!

    • Philip Knight
      April 2, 2013

      “All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force… We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter.”~ Max Planck – Father of Quantum Physics

      So where-what’s the problem, pray tell? :)

      • Peter
        April 2, 2013

        Excellent comment.

        While some may have to assume the existence of that consciousness, others have encountered and merged into it directly through the various practices offered by religions and spiritual paths.

  5. Pingback: TED and the shaking of the scientific materialist tree | Musings of an itinerant lawyer

  6. Wanda Webster
    March 25, 2013

    This surely shows that there is a degradation of our so called scientific method. This degradation is based on the erroneous assumption that there is only one way to observe a set of events, one correct conclusion to be drawn and one truth associated with the conclusion. When you subscribe to this idea, you stifle creative self expression.
    Over time science and the empirical method have deteriorated into a means of control. Now only select processes are recognized and others are dismissed as unscientific. This dismissal has robbed individuals of their own sense of inner authority, undermining their ability to perceive for themselves, to make decisions, to exercise common sense, to nurture wisdom, and to tap their potential as human beings.
    Science is disdainful of the subjective experience because it cannot be dissected, it does not lend itself to endless experiments, and they do not know how to analyze the deeper expressions of it. If subjective reality functioned the way science wanted it to, we would all be robots, repeating the same behaviors, regardless of effect or affect.
    Instead of asking others what they have found or what they see, science is trying to tell us what we see, hear, find, or feel. We should instead exlore the nature of the way we filter and interpret experiences, frequencies, and energy, and less time arguing about who has the correct interpretation of them, who has the correct version of reality. Let’s get back to the magical time of childhood with delighted discovery where we challenged each other by saying, “Hey can you do this?!”

    • Jamie Dale
      April 1, 2013

      This is a very inspiring reply Wanda. Thank you.

  7. neilmiller2011
    March 25, 2013

    I love what your doing with your posts about the TED talks. Years ago you had a vision and it’s coming to pass. I didn’t really understand your obsession with skeptics last year or the year before. Other ways to make “energetic progress in the good” (I Ching) came to mind. But now! I’m proud of you and excited about seeing your vision.
    Neil Miller

    • craigweiler
      March 25, 2013

      Thanks Neil,
      I kind of knew that there was something important for me about engaging skeptics, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Look for a post on this topic in the near future.
      Good to hear from you.
      Craig

  8. Rupert Sheldrake is a biologist (botanist as I recall), not a parapsychologist.

    • Ian Trousdell
      March 30, 2013

      Indeed he is – his latest book is The Science Delusion and written by a scientist to clarify what materialistic science is rigidly sticking to as if it was a religion of belief itself

      • Peter
        March 30, 2013

        Science, as least its rigid, materialist sect of scientism, is in fact a religion. It is a variety of Atheism and is discussed in my forthcoming book, The Religion of Atheism.

  9. abbspepper
    March 24, 2013

    TED and other scared -ists need their legs slapped. However – such a big row with its attendant media and online fuss will make Sheldrake et al known to a much wider audience. In that way, the scandal/row/shouting match is a good thing.

    However 2: it’s a persistent shame that most -ists (scient-, human-, parapsycholog-, etc) put themselves in boxes and bark at anyone outside their box. What happened to the polymaths? Getting a broad perspective on big questions is equally as valid an approach to new ideas as the laser-like specialism.

    Time wasting barking at those in other boxes and those who wander freely amongst them is time not spent thinking, trying and learning. Grow up, -ists.

    • jude666
      April 1, 2013

      at last…some sense!

  10. Michelle
    March 24, 2013

    I wish I could share your optimism, Craig. I do agree that it’s been very encouraging to see so many people turn out in support of Hancock and Sheldrake, but it still seems to me, in my experience, that the number of people who are at the very least open-minded to psi and the paranormal, are still in the minority.

    I sometimes fear that if the bigoted pseudo-sceptic types become very powerful, they may take further steps to suppress (and even *oppress*) those who sing a paranormal tune.

    I hope this doesn’t happen, but I see a declining interest and/or belief in anything spiritual (at least here in the UK) and see such unpleasant, bullying behaviour that I really worry that there may come a time when these people take extreme steps to try to silence us.

    I hope I am wrong.

    • craigweiler
      March 24, 2013

      Sometimes we’re simply around groups of people that all think a certain way about something. It can give the impression that everyone is like that.

      Don’t despair. It’s getting better, not worse. But in one aspect you’re right. As the skeptics get more desperate, the bullying will get worse. It’s OK. Keep in mind that this is what victory looks like.

  11. Lucy Taylor
    March 24, 2013

    e=mcxc … emergence = mass certainty / uncertainty

  12. Marianne Green
    March 24, 2013

    Hi Craig, I am delighted to have discovered your blog, thanks to Sandy from the TED discussion.
    You say “The ground is quickly shifting under the feet of the materialists due to the increasing numbers of well informed, well educated people who can refute the materialist arguments ” and “What we’re seeing playing out at TED is only the beginning. It is starting at beachhead organizations that lie outside of the fortress, but soon it will move inland to the materialism stronghold itself, academia.”
    I wonder how this wll play out?
    My local bookshop has several copies of Dawkin’s The God Delusion, no copies at all of Sheldrake’s The Science Delusion (titled Science Set Free in the US)
    Perhaps when there are an equal number of copies of both, we’ll know we are winning.
    Exciting times.

    • craigweiler
      March 24, 2013

      Hi Marianne,
      My sense of this struggle is that it will be like a river quickly building up behind a shaky dam. Downstream you will see almost no evidence of the building pressure until finally, one day, the dam breaks. Suddenly it’s everywhere.

  13. George
    March 24, 2013

    I like your optimism, Craig. And your point about the internet being a dramatic game changer is important.

    However, when it’s very remarkable the power and influence of the Daniel Dennet’s in the world. This recent article about the reaction to Thomas Nagel’s recent book fits in with Brian Josephson’s comments above. The overwhelming arrogance of much academia from someone merely criticizing the materialistic Darwinian view is still rather remarkable to me.

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/heretic_707692.html?nopager=1

    • Joe Martin
      March 24, 2013

      The “Wizard” is going to bellow much louder and increase to twice its size, but “Toto” is already pulling the curtain back and revealing the wacky professor who, when all is said and done, will say, “Gee, folks, I knew it all along!” The world of ideation is changing around the old guard and materialism will ultimately drop off like a scab on a healed wound. The reason this is so is because the world WANTS it badly, although it doesn’t quite know it yet. But it WILL, thanks to avatars like Craig, and George, and all the others. I think what we’ve not known is how popular at a grassroots level the “message” has already become.

  14. Peter
    March 24, 2013

    “When I first started blogging, about five years ago, (here) almost
    no one was informed about parapsychology or related research”

    Actually what has come to be known as parapsychology in some small circles has been widely known in detail for thousands of years by many others.

    “Parapsychology” was coined in the late 1800’s as some sought to understand it from a “scientific” viewpoint quite unaware that the mindset and level of consciousness these people were attempting to use in understanding it were quite different from, even antithetical to, the mental orientation and type of consciousness required to actually engage in psi phenomena. Nor was it or is it still understood by the science community that psi phenomena are minor, peripheral characteristics that develop when something else occurs.

    When it comes to these attempted scientific investigations of psi phenomena, as Albert Einstein observed “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Just in case one missed message here he also pointed out, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

    The relevant message regarding this subject is that as long as psi investigators including biologist/biochemists such as Sheldrake cling to inadequate characteristics such as objectivity, rationality and logic and, in some cases, out-dated viewpoints such as materialism the replication and contextual meaning of psi phenomena will continue to elude them.

    note to Stephen: predicting the stock market is not psi. It is analyzing herd movements and it is done every day by stock market watchers.

  15. asongforsimeon
    March 24, 2013

    While I find censorship of Sheldrake revolting, I would be truly sad if the end of materialism would be heralded by backroom politics. If materialism is to be overcome, it should be thanks to scientific evidence, not crowd acclamation.

    • marcustanthony
      March 25, 2013

      The truth is that evidence is often not enough, because the way information is received and communicated is dependent upon multiple factors, including institutional, paradigmatic, civiisational and cultural. If more people are getting interested, it shows a cultural and historical shift. And that means the evidence is more likely to be received openly.

    • Christoffer
      March 29, 2013

      Evidence must be seen according to its own metaphysic, and the standard evidence of science would be of a materialistic metaphysic, meaning it may be impossible to overcome materialism with standard scientific evidence. In the same way as it may be possible to prove that God does not exist outside the realm of materialism, psi may maybe only be proved to exist outside the realm of materialism and standard scientific evidence. Rather than scientific evidences historical documentation and philosophy may be the only means to overcome materialism.

  16. i appreciate your regular commentary on this whole TED affair, craig. it has been my internet obsession, a great story, really.
    one thing i remind myself is to remember that i am on the side of science when i support psi and that i shouldn’t conflate science with the stuff being defended by blowhards.

  17. ~C4Chaos
    March 24, 2013

    Craig,

    i just discovered your blog after seeing your post about the TED censorship of Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock. I think you hit the nail on the head when you brought up the skeptics vs. pro psi angle.

    serendipitously, i just found out that you’re a kindred Skeptiko listener :)

    anyway, would love to know your take on Michael Persinger’s psi experiments. Persinger is an interesting scientist because some card-carrying skeptics cite Michael Persinger’s work to debunk mystical and OOBE experiences through the use of the “God Helmet.” however, what skeptics won’t tell you (or what they probably don’t know) is that Persinger has already moved beyond the psi debate, on whether psi is real or not. in fact, he has already accepted that psi phenomena is real and is a valid area of scientific study. what he has been working on is the mechanism for psi. from this perspective Persinger is even way ahead of the curve than the leading parapsychologists who are still out there arguing to prove the existence of psi.

    case in point: Persinger has published his experiments on PubMed regarding his work with the late Ingo Swann. here’s a summary of his findings presented at his lecture.

    Michael Persinger on No More Secrets ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9l6VPpDublg

    enjoy and keep it flowing. see you around.

  18. Joe Martin
    March 23, 2013

    I recall, forty-odd years ago as a teenager, reading an essay in the newspaper of the local Catholic diocese deriding scientific materialism, and feeling embarrassed. How could anyone think religion or anything else could challenge the irreproachable logic of science? I disliked the message of materialism, but simply hadn’t yet seen the cracks. Oh, how I’ve changed and how the world has changed since then! I would not have imagined I would witness the demise of the materialist edifice. What might a world be like in which science has, after centuries, ceased to insist we are quivering meat-blobs in an abjectly meaningless universe? I don’t know, but I can’t help but think such a world will be, more than ever before, responsive to what we are willing to imagine it to be. May we have learned karmic lessons from our foray into the dismal and the meaningless that is materialism, that we shall not forget for a long long time. I feel hopeful.

  19. Mark
    March 23, 2013

    Hmmm…I don’t know if I like the bashing of the word “materialism” because I consider myself a materialist, but I think that I am a “materialist” in a different sense than most of the “materialists” that you talk about. I still think that consciousness has something underlying it all, even if that something is not physical in the normal sense that we think of something being physical. In other words, I might not believe in “materialism” in the same way that somebody like Dawkins does, but neither do I think that consciousness is “immaterial.”

  20. Jon
    March 23, 2013

    The day that one of these nutjobs produces a replicable experimental result will be the day that experimental materialist science crumbles. I won’t hold my breath.

    • Fran Theis
      March 24, 2013

      There’s one “nutjob” whose work you might want to read, Jon — Dr. Dean Radin. Assuming you’re a reasonable person willing to look through the telescope at actual replicable experimental results, “The Conscious Universe” and “Entangled Minds” can be ordered via Amazon. If you’re actually willing to look at the data Dr. Radin presents, you might also see a crumbling effect on the horizon…

      • Jon
        March 25, 2013

        And who has replicated Dr Radin’s results?

        Anything is ‘replicable’ in theory: it’s achieving replication in practice that tells us whether or not we’re dealing with science or woo.

        • Fran Theis
          March 25, 2013

          Radin addresses replication in his meta-analysis (see my recommendations above) — he answers your question if you will just inform yourself by reading.

        • Peter
          March 25, 2013

          Has it occurred to you that science’s experimentation techniques may be inadequate to investigate what you denigrate as “woo” (such denigration, by the way, is a logical error and incompatible with the rational approach you claim to endorse)?

          Those techniques you espouse are incompatible with psi phenomena and are, in fact, barriers to psi.

          Your tool box needs to contain better, more suitable tools.

          • Jon
            March 25, 2013

            But how are we going to determine whether these new ‘tools’ actually produce correct data? Inquiring minds want to know.

            • Peter
              March 25, 2013

              The purpose of the “tools” is not to collect data. Collecting data is just another way you are employing to promote the experimentation techniques that are incompatible with psi. The purpose of the “tools” to enable you to perform psi phenomena. As is said, the proof is in the pudding.

              By the way, the “tools” include a change in attitude as well as technique.

        • marcustanthony
          March 25, 2013

          The evidence is strong, if you examine the data. The ganzfeld experiment has the most impressive data, and it is very, very difficult to argue against the meta-analyses that Radin has put forward. EEG correlation experiments – also have impressive data, and that is likely to expand in time. Basically, you have argue that people are cheating on a massive scale, and that’s just not happening. You can keep repeating the word “woo” over and over again (is it a mating call for skeptics or something?), but the data, and the reality behind it, are not going to go away.

          However the best way to examine the “data” (or rather, what lies behind it) is through introspective methods such as meditation or non-ordinary states of consciousness. But to do that you have to let go and surrender to stuff that is beyond the conscious mind – something that skeptics are terrified of, in my experience. You won’t understand this stuff deeply through the intellect alone.

          • Jon
            March 25, 2013

            Again, if it works in the open for everyone then it’s useful. If it only works sometimes, in the dark, for certain selected people who want it to work, then that’s no different in practice from not working at all, is it?

            If your mystical powers can yield any sort of practical observable benefit, then let’s see it. If not, then what use are they?

            • Christoffer
              March 29, 2013

              No scientific system work for everyone; a system has it limits. Of that reason is it important to research with the philosophy of science in mind so that all possible experiences may be included. For what is the meaning with science if it is not there to explain our experiences?

            • Peter
              March 30, 2013

              Jon, you are limiting yourself to sense date. There is much lies beyond the senses whether they are amplified or not. And there are other ways of accessing that which lies beyond the limits of the senses.

              All one has to do is employ these methods with the appropriate attitude for a suitable amount of time. It is no different from insisting on a long period of education in scientific methodologies and attitudes for investigating that which is subject to sense impression. Of course, in the latter case of investigating sense impressions, the empiricist is limited to investigating only partial aspects of what is under investigation.

              • Jon
                March 30, 2013

                But this doesn’t deal with the main point: if a phenomenon doesn’t manifest itself in some physical way, what earthly GOOD is it to anyone? Let’s pretend that I can ‘see’ purple beings floating in the sky that nobody else can detect in any way. Let’s assume too that my sightings have been investigated and there’s no reason to think that they’re delusions or hallucinations. What happens then?

                If a phenomenon can’t interact with the physical world, then it’s utterly useless and there’s no point pursuing it. If it CAN interact with the physical world, then it can be detected by normal science. There’s no in between.

              • Peter
                March 30, 2013

                You are defining ‘good’ as utilitarian. That is quite short-sighted and self-centered.

                Your either-or example is an example of another logical error. It is not even an argument because there is no difference between ‘phenomenon’ and ‘manifesting itself in a physical way’. It is merely the logical error of repetition and is self-serving.

                In addition, your reference to the phenomenal is another in the long list of your pleas for materialism/empiricism and, as such, is again the logical error of repetition, aptly named as argumentum ad nauseum. Repetition of your position does not equal proof of your position.

  21. Drew Gerald
    March 23, 2013

    I’ve been following this since the beginning. I noticed the exact same thing on that TED thread – the amount of people that are supportive of more conscious science and the interest in something beyond is exciting. I’m all to familiar with the Randi Million Dollar Challenge being thrown in my face as the de facto proof that it’s fake. Being attacked with insults as: charlatan, scam, pseudoscience, snake oil, quackery, and other derogatory terms for ideas that don’t fit into the tidy, comfortable model of mainstream ideology. Being so young and the only one open to spiritual scientific ideas 5 years ago, was incredibly difficult to express on the internet in a mature, intellectual, and open forum. It wasn’t even the fact my ideas were “realistic” or not, it was the venomous, vicious, hateful energy and language I could feel emanate from so many of these people. So you can imagine my joy arise as I read this post, being able to relate so well. I’m new to your writing, so thank you for writing this post!

    • craigweiler
      March 23, 2013

      That must have been hard. I was in my late forties, so it was A LOT easier for me to take it. I realized right away that something was wrong with skepticism: They didn’t know anything.

  22. Stephen Leslie
    March 23, 2013

    “The evidence for psi hasn’t change much in five years”

    I’ll have to disagree with you here. Recent research shows that the electrophysiological signatures of presentiment and telepathy are quite powerful. They’re powerful enough that we’re going to start seeing practical applications using psionic technology appear within the next fear years. One example is a stock market prediction system using presentiment in meditation. My estimates show that it will be profitable. I am actually building such a system as a demonstration of what psionic technology can do. It will issue real psi predictions plus fake predictions as a control (because it is so easy to create self-fulfilling prophecies on the stock market) on very short time ranges of one to a few seconds. It will probably take another year or two as it is expensive in terms of both money (you need multiple people hooked in to get accurate results plus I need the stock exchange data feed) and time.

    But I am of two minds on it. It would finally get the attention of wealthy investors that investing in psionics is worthwhile. But, on the other hand, the stock market prediction system merely replaces the economically parasitic activity of algorithmic high-frequency trading with the economically parasitic activity of psionic high-frequency trading. At least it would be a figurative nuclear bomb dropped on the pseudo-skeptic camp if psionic tools came into widespread use. Is it worth it to give Wall Street another tool to load the die in their casino? But then, in government hands, a psionic warning system could be used be regulators to see if the algorithmic traders are about to crash the economy.

    Kids, don’t become quants in finance. It’s stressful, useless to society, and you’re about to be made obsolete anyways.

    ….

    I’ve seen some comments saying psi abilities only appear when needed in special circumstances but this is untrue. Psi abilities can be called forth regularly in a controlled fashion. But the question is, now what do we do with this?

    • craigweiler
      March 23, 2013

      When you look at the total evidence gathered over the past 140 years, what has been done in the last five years doesn’t lend that much more weight to scientific proof of the existence of psi.

      That was my point.

  23. marcustanthony
    March 23, 2013

    I’ve been scouring around a little looking at different takes on the issue. It seems the general public is very supportive of Sheldrake and Hancock. Yet the resistance in mainstream science is also considerable. I have been looking at some of Steven Pinker’s tweets, and he is very hostile to anything which challenges the neo-Darwinnian, gene-centric take in biology. Coyne’s blog has over 16 000 subscribers, which is incredible. I posted a few things on his blog supporting Sheldrake in particular, before the moderator told me to leave “because you are not going to convince any of the rational thinkers here”. How’s that for being rational: banish all those with a different perspectives!

    I don’t think the extreme skeptics will be a viable force for much longer. Their work is just too emotive and plain sloppy – not to mention the fact that it simply rejects evidence a priori. It lacks scientific rigor – something that only those with “extraordinary claims” need to bother with, if there is anything we can draw from the way they operate.

    I am quite positive about all this, though. To me the problem is impersonal in nature: it exists at institutional, educational, cultural, paradigmatic and even cognitive levels. It’s just that it gets expressed through often irrational, rude and hostile individuals. I’m in the process of writing some things (blog, magazine and academic papers) about what I think the “discourse” in cognitive science will look like when mainstream science is forced to acknowledge and incorporate the extended mind.

    • Anthony McCarthy
      March 24, 2013

      According to a friend of mine who moves in those circles, Coyne is known as being incredibly thin skinned and more ideological than rational, and that’s among other people in science. He just barely hold it together for his formal writing and by the skin of his teeth in his edited magazine writing, on his blog his unedited mind is on full display.
      I predict he will end up being seen as an ever more marginal character who is avoided.

  24. Pingback: The Real Meaning Behind the TED Controversy | TEDxWestHollywood

  25. Rabbitdawg
    March 23, 2013

    Exactly. Technological and philosophical breakthroughs are happening at a rapid clip. The internet, e-publishing and print on demand are rapidly changing the seating at the intellectual table. I see its affects happening in my life and the lives of others.

    Two years ago, I would have predicted that materialist views would start foundering within the next generation – when non-materialist views would start to become a respected part of “mainstream” science and culture.
    Now I believe that will happen within the next five, and definitely less than ten years. Just stand back and watch it happen.

    Better yet, be part of the destruction/construction.

  26. Suzanne Taylor
    March 23, 2013

    Craig Weiler, how do I love you? Let me count the ways that this is such an important piece. Your clear and cogent articulation could be what lets the new story gel. It’s been unable to cohere as the new synthesis, despite the groundswell behind it of antithesis to the materialist thesis that needs to be left in the dust.

    I trust you appreciate the speakers at http://www.TEDxWestHollywood.com, who are being attacked by reactionary forces operating like schoolyard bullies hurling epithets.The science talks will be grounded in the evidence that makes science as good as it is while taking us beyond its narrow parameters, and the stories and more philosophically-minded talks will cheerlead for what you’ve written about.

  27. Fran Theis
    March 23, 2013

    Your comment that “things are moving so fast” is evident in the increase in enrollment in a psychology class entitled Mind, Brain & Spirituality at a major midwest university. I spoke to the class two years ago when there were about 30 in the class. This year there were about 300. The ten-fold increase in interest may be indicative of the future…

  28. Sandy
    March 23, 2013

    Very nice job, Craig!

    I hope you don’t mind that I quoted you over at TED and gave you a hashtag on twitter so I can start to keep track of everything over there.

    • craigweiler
      March 23, 2013

      Do I mind? No. In fact I’m grateful. Thanks Sandy!

  29. c4chaos
    March 23, 2013

    good point. one correction: Sheldrake is not a “parapsychologist”. he’s a biologist/biochemist with an interest in some fringe research in parapsychology.

    been following your blog since the TED fiasco. excellent angle on the skeptics vs. pro-psi. hoping to see TED correct their ways and do the right thing of restoring the videos in their rightful distribution channels.

    ~C

    • craigweiler
      March 23, 2013

      That’s a reasonable point about Sheldrake, but his fame comes chiefly from morphic resonance, telepathic dogs and other psi related areas. So you can make an argument either way.

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