Hello, Fair Reader. If there is anything you’ve learned about me from this blog and my years in podcasting it’s that I am a kind man. A loving man. A giving man. You did, just… trust me.
Anyway, because I am all of those things I am going to give of myself freely yet again, this time to the skeptical community. A community of people who wear the word “skeptic” like a badge and like it still means doubtful or questioning and not what it actually implies nowadays, which is close-minded arrogant prick. That is what most of us think when we hear the word skeptic. Not skeptical, mind you. Anyone in their right mind and left brain is skeptical–but it takes a certain brand of disingenuousity, to coin a term, to want to be known as an across-the-board skeptic. That disingenuousity, to keep the term going, buries its roots in the unspoken fact that the origin of organized “skeptics” is Secular Humanism. Secular Humanism is a belief system that goes something like this: “Nothing exists outside of matter and material processes. The end, dummies. Fuck you, church.”
Maybe it’s harder to sell the term Secular Humanist as a title when battling the evils of bigfoot hunters and ghost hunters and UFO hunters and–what’s with all the killing? Fuckin’ White people. The point is, you can tell a TV producer “I’m a skeptic” and they immediately know your position is going to be anti-anything-outside-of-physical-substance-except-maybe-the-wind-and-temperature. If you tell them you’re a Secular Humanist, they might be all, “Seriously? What’s that, like a Mormon?”
And the honest answer after all of the arm crossing and harrumphing is: “Yeah, kinda.”
Well, no one wants a Mormon telling them aliens and ghosts and inter-dimensional whatchamahoosies aren’t real, do they?
But a skeptic. Aaaah, a skeptic. Now there’s someone you can trust. Or vilify when they talk down to you. What you can’t do easily is blow them off, because they sound all scientifical and stuff.
Correction–you can blow them off nowadays because they’ve shown their true colors so many times, and don’t even bother with science anymore except to point out that “paranormalists” use it incorrectly, if at all, that I think most people will go with the UFO nut on principle. It’s the same way you vote for the political candidate you want to have a beer with over the stuffy Poindexter who knows better than you.
Better than you more accurately describes the modern skeptic than scientific. And in a way I can relate to their arrogance because… well… most of the “paranormalists” or whatever, really are morons, delusional, and nerdly socialites protecting their status and their friendships with frauds over facts, truth, and what have you. You know, the things they claim to care about? No-no–they prefer speaking gigs and Facebook likes and will defend mind-raping hypnosis techniques if it means not upsetting a friend or a book deal.
Yes, admittedly, there is a lot of that. But a lot is not all. Just like a lot of UFO photos are birds, insects, and stop lights, but not all. Some are intriguing. Some are unexplainable. Some merit skeptically-minded investigation, but the skeptics are too busy assuring us there’s nothing to see here to help perform those. And they get real irritated when you challenge them because what I just listed above as my gripes with many of the people involved isn’t the skeptic’s gripe. Sure, he’ll agree with me that all of those negative points are true–but those aren’t really it for him. Those are not, generally speaking, the reasons he gets irritated when someone from the dope gallery challenges him. The reason he gets all huffy is that nothing anyone from moron to intellectual says about paranormal topics is going to be correct unless it’s a flat out denial that there is anything worth investigating. Because, again, he is lying about being skeptical. He’s not. He’s religious. Secular Humanist to be exact.
And so, when that rare breed of “skeptic” pops up–let’s give it a name, let’s call it a “Sharon Hill”–when that Sharon Hill pops up extending an olive branch to the paranormals because she’s a kinder, gentler compassionate skeptic you want to have a beer with, just know that it’s an act. And you can tell it’s an act because she sees legitimate debate as an annoyance. (There’s nothing to debate–it’s all crap, morons!) Also, a Sharon Hill may claim not to know anything about ufology to avoid questions about really good unsolved cases on, for instance, a radio program… but then go blog about the piss-poor science employed by ufology shortly thereafter.
A Sharon Hill might give speeches about how skeptics need to stop talking down to the black-shirt brigade–which I guess I could stop right there and point out the obvious, but let’s keep going–but then she’ll reveal that her good friends are those very same skeptics she’s referencing. If she’s not referencing them, then her speech doesn’t make sense. If she is referencing them, how is she still friends with them unless she is holding private conversations with them trying to help make them better public speakers on behalf of nothing to see here?
Would a Bill Nye The Science Guy approach her after one of those rousing speeches and say, “You know you really touched my heart there. I’m going to stop being a prick and really try to connect with my audience.” Or would he say, “I totally disagree. Joe Public can take a hike–Think of the children! We must arrogantly dress down their parents for the children!”
I haven’t seen a change of heart out there in skeptic land, have you? If a Sharon Hill’s speeches fall on deaf ears, her friends aren’t taking them seriously. How are they still friends?
I’m considered to be a figure immersed in ufology. I was once friendly with Steve Bassett. I figured out what he was about and it was icky. I challenged him to reconsider his nonsense. He didn’t. Then I wasn’t friendly with him anymore. See how that works? I couldn’t give a speech about how the disclosure movement needs to shape up or ship out, then get upset when an interviewer agrees with me because Steve Bassett is my friend. That interviewer isn’t putting me on the spot, he’s agreeing with my sentiment about the people I was implicitly referencing. But if I’m a Sharon Hill, I’ll want to play both sides of that fence and get offended when anyone calls me on it.
There are numerous ways to tell a Sharon Hill from the genuine article. Derek Bartholomous is a member of the skeptic organization, IIG WEST. Somehow he hasn’t been excommunicated for properly debunking the Billy Meier con with the help of Jeff Ritzmann–a man who has experiences that would make a Sharon Hill cringe. I’m not sure what he makes of Jeff’s experiences but he certainly never passed them over with a shrug because testimony is meaningless as evidence. Who does that in a conversation? Sociopaths? Assholes? Sharon Hills? Whoever it is, it isn’t someone sincerely trying to get to the bottom of the enigma. It’s someone for whom the enigma is a delusion to be educated away–think of the children!–not a riddle.
Tyler Kokjohn is another example of someone who isn’t a Sharon Hill. He really does build bridges between the skeptically-minded scientific community and we creepy, sophomoric delusional types. What’s interesting about Tyler is… he’s a doctor! I mean, he’s a professor at a college and a guy working to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease–He’s actually applying scientific standards to things that matter, not wasting his energy on telling people what they are wrong about when he could not possibly, rationally know that. Even if he could know I suspect he wouldn’t waste his time with it because normal, sane people don’t form identities around subjects they find repulsive or idiotic. They ignore them and move on.
Oh, but the children! Think about the children!
You know what? He is. He’s teaching the children and he’s trying to cure their grandmas and grandpas of forgetting them. He’s doing all of that AND dialoguing with drooling infants like me who see people that can’t be in the room and objects that aren’t in the sky and not even martyring himself, calling attention to how hard it is to reach out to a different mind–something most of us call living or relating or anthropology–and then blogging about how he doesn’t understand why people call him a martyr. No, he’s not a Sharon Hill at all, he’s the authentic deal.
And so I reached out to Dr. Kokjohn to ask him one thing. One thing that has been bothering me most about the Sharon Hill faction of the skeptic/Humanist community. One thing that they throw in everyone’s face from bigfoot hunter to ufo hunter to Hunter S. Thompson. (Probably.) And that is this: Tyler, I asked, is it true that witness testimony is unscientific? I hear the Sharon Hills repeat that over and over–which is strange on the face of it because all of these subjects begin with testimony. Physical evidence is a scant side effect. The real reason anybody is even talking about ghosts or bigfoot or UFOs is because of witnesses. Aren’t observation and reporting key components to scientific understanding?
I said all of that just like that. I was very elegant. I needed to know if Sharon Hills were correctly defining science or misrepresenting it to continue the merry lie that there is nothing to any of this. Of course I didn’t tell Tyler that last part because he would never ascribe motive to a person. He’s a gentleman. And a scholar. And he’ll forgive me if this is the lead-in to the real article, his article, which answers my burning question: Does witness testimony have a legitimate place in science?
Find out in part 2!
(Note to Tyler: It’s too late to turn back. Just pretend I didn’t write this. The Sharon Hills most certainly will.)
(Note to skeptics: I know I got you all psyched up with that title and then let you down with the delivery geared toward the true bleever crowd, but really it’s subversive. I’m giving you some pointers on how not to extend the olive branch, how to behave like rational adults–all the things you want to portray? I want that for you. But you may have to give up Secular Humanism (or its dark influence if you are not one) to do it. It’s okay. That doesn’t mean you have to go to church. God, no. It simply means you have to focus your critical thinking skills on the unknown instead of on how the unknown is always known unless you’re an ignorant fool delusional idiot. And in Part 2, a scientist will tell you what science is so you can have a better handle on that. I really do want to help! For the children!)