Re:  - What it Takes to be a Rationalist

By Paul Edwards

E-mail: [email protected] 


I concur with everything that your three responders (Randi, Meeker and Aparthib) said. They have spoken on my behalf.

In addition, I would like to specifically concur with Aparthib who said:

"For example if some one affirms that science WILL explain everything, that is not a statement from science. It is a personal conviction. It may be true, or may not be."

When I said:

"Ali, there's a scientific explanation for all these things, even if you don't immediately know it."

that was more a throwaway line to tempt Ali to refute it, a process during which I was hoping he would find himself chasing his own tail and give up the chase. It WAS possible to refute it, but only as Aparthib pointed out.

I was hoping that Ali would come back and tell me that I was not open-minded enough, and tell me that although it is DISTINCTLY POSSIBLE that science could explain everything, as almost every phenomena we had seen to date was able to be explained, there was no absolute guarantee of that into the future.

Basically this argument:

"It may be dogma like statement but is strictly not a dogma to state that since science has been able to explain many phenomena that were previously unexplainable, science possibly can explain all phenomena."

At which point I would have been quite happy to "give in" and admit that he was right, there is still the possibility of paranormal-type phenomena to exist, even though there wasn't a scrap of evidence of anything paranormal here in reality, TO DATE.

Unfortunately Ali wasn't inspired to move in that direction.

If I had known my statement would appear as a point of debate, I may have just stuck to the easy argument, which was to argue about Praagh and get him to realize he was as wrong about Praagh as religious people are about Gods. Those arguments are like shooting rats in barrels - my peers have done all the leg-work and a simple google search provides all the evidence of fraud required. In this case, it even has a name, "cold reading".

[ I would recommend read this:  including the extra reading, and in addition,
 follow this thread: ]


I do not know why Ali did not find those links convincing. Perhaps for some people, the paranormal takes over when religion is abandoned, so that the world is a more interesting place, and that there is still hope that when we die, we will still have plenty of opportunity to talk to psychics, rather than the more unpalatable alternative (don't click, trust me): 


I think part of the problem is just getting terminology correct.

Basically, it appears that he would e.g. call the northern lights paranormal while waiting many centuries for the scientific explanation to arrive.

I think this needs to be defined properly, even before we start getting into the blind faith in the occult (presumably to make the world seem more interesting). Personally, what I find makes the world interesting is skeptics (like Randi's million dollar challenge), that completely demolish these myths.

I take inspiration from those who spent the effort to find "bible codes" in "Moby Dick". To be able to do a google search and suddenly get these answers (after a religious person told me about "bible codes"), completely blows my mind away. And I have directed people where to go to get a quick million dollars from too.

BFN. Paul.

N.B. In case you're wondering, I'm the friend Ali refers to in his article.

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