Ali Sina's New Religion : part -3 

(Paul Edwards responds to Ali:)
Readers can find Part1 and Part2 in Mukto-mona


In response to Ali Sina's post in FFI forum:

Ali's Quote:
> I believe we have come to the end of our discussion
> since all I read now is repetition of the same old
> arguments which has been already discussed.

Or more accurately, you have failed to apply critical
thinking, rationalism and skepticism when hearing these
arguments, and instead stuck to your dogmatic belief
in the occult. And you have decided that you're never
going to change your mind, because one thing you lack
is doubt.

Perhaps one day you will realise you were as foolish
to blindly believe in Sinality as you were to blindly
believe in Islam. Then perhaps you would like to issue
apologies to all those whom you mockingly referred to
as "pseudo-rationalists", just because they happened to
have a different point of view, and that point of view
even happened to be correct.

> Naturally no one can see that he is deceiving himself.

So, tell me what investigation you have done to try to
ensure you aren't in the same boat right now, believing
in the occult, when scientists the world over haven't
found any convincing evidence, and Randi's challenge
lies unclaimed.

And your own challenge lies claimed but unacknowledged.

> I debate with Muslims who in my opinion are the most
> self deceived people and yet they are the most convinced
> people you can find.

So too the Sinalists.

> Bertrand Russell said: "The whole problem with the world
> is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves,
> but wiser people so full of doubts."

Yes. And if only you could apply this to yourself, you would
quickly see where you went wrong.

> The core of my philosophy is doubt.

Don't flatter yourself. The core of your philosophy is the
inability to apply critical thinking when it is most required.

> I am afraid I can't allow myself the luxury of certitude.

Incorrect, you have said you have "no doubt" about your
paranormal ability, and that simultaneously giant/small
maids jumping off roofs constitute proof, and that Praagh
talks to the dead, but the dead never seem to have anything
of interest to say except "be good", "I'm happy" etc.

> I do not say I admire your certitude, because I do not
> see it as a virtue.

Dear oh dear. When has Avijit ever claimed to be certain
of anything? As far as I am aware, he is willing to change
his mind, if REPRODUCIBLE EVIDENCE is provided.
Do you have such a thing? Please forgive him for being
skeptical while there is nothing to analyse except dead
people apparently saying "I'm happy". If you can provide
more scientific testing of Praagh, ie getting dead people
to recount specific details that can be consistently verified,
he will probably not only change his mind, he will start
using this newfound tool and put it to decent use. Just
imagine all the unsolved murders that could be solved if
instead of murder victims saying "my death was very
violent" to Praagh, they said "I was murdered by someone
who was 180cm tall, blonde hair, scar on his right nose"
etc etc. Hell, some innocent people may even get let out
of jail too. What are we waiting for?

> Unlike you I do not think it is my duty to be "careful not
> to rely upon insight and intuition". Insight and intuition
> are not substitutes to rigorous and precise empirical
> testing of theoretical and causal claims as you seem to believe.

> Intuition and insight are powerful human faculties that
> provide hints at a subconscious level. The next stage is
> for the conscious mind to verify and test those hints.

Avijit didn't say anything different.

What YOU have failed to do is follow your own advice
and "test those hints". You're welcome to use insight and
intuition to come up with the World's Whackiest Theories.
However, then you need to actually carry out scientific
testing, using critical thinking.

> They are complementary therefore and not mutually exclusive.

And more specifically, you can't just skip out the scientific
testing, as you have done.

> I am afraid you did not read my long article on Rational
> Spirituality where I laid the crux of my philosophy.

I don't know about Avijit, but I certainly did. And I still
agree with everything Avijit wrote. He's a very good
writer. He writes as well about Sinality as you write
about Islam.

> There I published examples of scientific discoveries
> that were revealed through dream.

Revealed using the same physical brain that we use when
conscious too. At best (since this is not reproducible),
you have evidence that a minority of scientific theories
are formulated while the brain is in the subconcious state,
so the concious state is more useful for thinking, but the
subconcious is not completely useless.

> They do not provide direct solutions. They however
> provide hints.

And Newton was inspired by an apple falling on his head.
Do you have a point? Apples are paranormal?

> It takes then critical thinking to decipher those hints
> and understand their meaning.

You're halfway there. You've realised the importance of
critical thinking, or at least, you claim you do. All you need
to do now is apply it. The logic has already been spelled
out in excruciating detail by my rationalist peers.

> My mother's dream of a giant's fall and its scattering
> everywhere was very poignant. Our neighbor's maid
> may have been innocent, but her innocence was not
> the subject that mattered in my mothers dream. My
> mother saw her as a big oversize woman. In her dream
> this feature was exaggerated and a giant represented her.

More accurately, you have failed to think critically, and
instead decided to apply her vague dream to any situation
that you can possibly find a remote, tenuous link. You
have managed to "predict the past". Look up "bible codes"
and see how these were found in "Moby Dick" too.
Basically you have another form of Law of Large Numbers,
when you're willing to match any aspect of a dream with
any aspect of real life.

By the way, last night I dreamt I was having sex with
Nicole Kidman (I must say, your dreams are pretty
tame). And guess what? I just found out she got a new
boyfriend yesterday, and presumably had sex with him.

> It is also an art to be able to interpret the dreams.
> Someone wrote and said he dreamt that his friend
> was smoking and since he does not like smoking in
> his dream he started shouting at him. The next day
> he asked whether his friend smokes and he said no.

If the next day, that "someone" (it was my dream actually)
had reported that they asked their friend if they smoked,
and the friend had said "yes, I just started yesterday in
fact", you would have been screaming from the rooftops
that we had proof positive that my friend and I were
connected by a 6th dimension, and anyone who didn't
believe in the light of this incontrovertible proof was a

I, on the other hand, would have written this off as a
coincidence. We have so many dreams, and there are
so many people stopping and starting smoking, that we
have another case of "Law of Large Numbers". I'm
eventually going to get a hit, especially if I am happy to
vaguely apply it to fit my purposes.

> To this person this was indication that dreams are
> false. The problem is that this person did not know
> how to interpret his dream. The message of the dream
> was not whether his friend smokes or not but rather
> his inability to control his temper.

Ok, so dreams about giants are dreams about maids, and
dreams about a friend smoking, are dreams about tempers.
So we've managed to get 2 hits, when I had a count of 0.

In this case, we are not even disputing the original claim
of the dream. I know I had the dream. Although I should
point out that if I was going to start doing critical science
based on my dreams, I would get a 3rd party to verify
that I wasn't having the dreams after the event, or some
other trigger. E.g. there was a case of a horse that could
apparently do arithmetic. It couldn't. The owner was
accidentally raising his eyebrows on expectation of the
answer. I would doubt my own dreams before accepting
them as proof of anything. I would tell the likes of Randi
that I have been having some weird dreams that seem to
predict the future. Is there any test we can come up with
to verify this? More likely I've just managed to fool myself.
That's what the independent testing is for. Doubt yourself!

But despite the fact that the original claim is not even in
dispute, you manage to get a hit, when I count a miss. Given
your propensity to interpret dreams in as ridiculous a
fashion as necessary to confirm your own prejudices, it is
no wonder that true skeptics do not wish you use your
anecdotal accounts of dreams as "proof positive" that there
exists a spiritual dimension.

The possibility remains. But until proper evidence is
provided, the skeptic will not accept that proof, or even
evidence, of existence has been provided YET.

> I told him the meaning of his dream and I was proven
> right since this person turned to be an obnoxious person
> and his consequent letters were full of mockeries and
> insults.

I am curious whether you had a similar dream, before you
started mocking and insulting people like Randi and myself
as "pseudo-rationalists"?

> I am ignoring him but you are posting the emails of this
> individual in your site and they stand as proof.

Actually, they stand as unrebutted, and most likely unrebuttable,
logical arguments spelling out exactly why you are dogmatic.
And exactly why your dogmatic belief in Sinality is no
different from a Muslim's dogmatic belief in Islam.

The same critical thinking that you apply to Muslims, I applied
to you. And just like a Muslim refuses to question his blind
belief, so do you.

> The point is not to prove that psychic ability is useful. That
> is another discussion. If we could understand it, perhaps
> it would be useful. The point here is to show that it exists.

You've proved psychic ability exists, based on the fact that
I dreamt that someone smoked, and was angry, and lo and
behold, I'm an apparently obnoxious person. With "proof"
like this, it's a wonder that hospitals stopped administering
snake oil. It went out of fashion when they decided to
actually run trials against a placebo.

> And if it exists the implication is that there is a reality
> beyond the matter and this world as we see it is not all
> there is.

Or the implication could be that there are charlatans, and there
are gullible people, and there are people who don't understand
maths. It is no different from people buying books on how to
win the lottery. If you look up lottery in the dictionary, you will
find the following:

lottery (noun): a tax on people who aren't good at maths

And if you look up "sinality" in the dictionary you will find:

sinality (noun): an uncritical believer who disparages those
with a different viewpoint, and then arrogantly professes to
be a scholar.

> Once again I urge you to read that section of Rational
> Spirituality where I talk about how many useful discoveries
> were done with the help of dreams.

And once again I ask you to find someone to drop an apple
on your head.

> The example you gave to prove that I am self deceiving
> was your mere opinion. Since you have never seen Van
> Praagh you logically can't say anything about him or me
> deceiving myself by saying his demonstration impressed me.
> You base your opinion of him on what Randi, Michael
> Shermer and Marcello Truzzi have said. My observation
> of Van Praagh was different from these gentlemen. Now
> may I ask you why you chose to believe them and not me?

It's not a matter of belief. We can read transcripts of these
sessions. We all believe you saw exactly what you saw.

I was speaking to a woman from India who saw a man
levitate, and she was going to claim the AUD$20,000
offered by the Australian Skeptics Society for introducing
the levtitator to the Australian Skeptics (the levitator gets

Since then I did a bit of research and found out on the
Mukto Mona site how it is actually done (with bamboo
sticks and a drape). I expect when I speak to her again,
and confirm that there was a drape over the levitator, it
will ring a bell, and she will say, yes, I guess bamboo
sticks could have been used. I'm not saying the man
DEFINITELY didn't levitate. I'm just saying the bamboo
sticks is far more likely, especially given that we have no
recorded instance of anyone ever levitating, but we do have
instances of people holding bamboo sticks.

> The answer is clear. These people validate your bias
> and I don't. What if these people are wrong?

I'm not sure it is possible that they can be wrong, I don't
think they are actually claiming anything. They are simply
saying "this could POSSIBLY/PROBABLY be explained
by cold/hot reading, selective memory, wish-fulfillment,
abysmal critical thinking skills" (to quote someone else).

I think all of us agree it is POSSIBLE that Praagh is
speaking to the dead. But we'd probably also agree that
he is terribly squandering his great gift. He shouldn't be
wasting time doing TV shows where no useful information
is provided to the caller except "I love you". He should
be drafted into the military/CIA etc and find out e.g. who
killed Daniel Pearl. The dead could be of enormous
benefit to us. We could use them to save lives in the future,
by identifying murderers. Hopefully the technique could
be used to fill in a lot of blanks in history.

The paranormal would be a very exciting and useful tool.
All scientists are eagerly waiting in line to get this. No-one
WANTS it to be false. There's no advantage in losing this
skill. When I'm dead, I'd much rather be able to stick
around and read books in the spirit world or whatever
activities are available. I'm not actually attracted to being
eaten by worms, you realise?

Unfortunately, to date, there's no evidence of anything
except worms. Very unfortunately. No scientist enjoys
that prospect, although some find some macabre humour
in it.

> They are not prophets of course and even if they were
> they could be wrong. So how as a rational person you
> explain your blind faith of the observation of others?

At no point is it blind faith. It is objective analysis of the
evidence. We can all read the transcript. We can all read
the non-paranormal explanations (same as bamboo sticks
for levitation). Then, guided by Occam's Razor, we decide
which explanation is most likely. Not DEFINITE. Likely.

> If your answer is that these people are some sort of
> authorities,

No scientist is an authority. Only reproducible evidence
is an authority. All scientists defer to reproducible
evidence, peer review. If it can't be reproduced, it remains
as a theory, a possibility. There is an infinite number of
possibilities, so that isn't particularly useful.

> then why you blame the Muslims for following Muhammad
> whom to them was the ultimate authority?

You need to understand there is a big difference between
scientists whose only authority is evidence, not their own
opinions, and Sinalists, whose only authority is the
personal opinion of Sina.

> Do you see the similarity?

There is no similarity between the scientific process and
Islam. There is a similarity between followers of Islam
and followers of Sinality. The same, tired blind belief.

> You have never seen Van Praagh,

Science is not about personal observation. It's about
reproducible and verifiable evidence. We even make
tests double-blind instead of simply blind, these days,
once it was realised that the tester himself was able to
introduce bias into experiments. Even to the point where
a horse was semi-documented as being able to do
arithmetic. The scientific world has come a long way
since hospitals administered snake oil. Unfortuantely
the occult is still doing the equivalent of sacrificing
virgins to keep the sun rising.

> you have no clue about his abilities,

We know he provides no useful information, and that he
makes a lot of mistakes, a lot of vague prompting, and
that no double-blind placebo-controlled experiment was
done to validate his claims. In fact, we know he is even
very coy about his exact claims, because he could be up
on fraud charges if he is selling something he can't prove.

It's instead termed as "what comes into my mind". Which
technically, is correct. Even in cold reading, things "come
into his mind", by virtue of him making things up and
using probability etc.

> yet you have formed your opinion based on what others
> say.

The opinion is formed based on critical reasoning, not
other's mere opinions.

> This is self deception.

Self-deception is when you fail to apply critical reasoning.
That's your specialty.

> You constantly repeat that all the claims of paranormal
> are anecdotal. Aren't the opinions of the above gentlemen
> anecdotal?

The opinions aren't anecdotal, they really happened, they
really did give their opinions, you can verify this whenever
you want, just go and reread your email.

It doesn't matter where opinions come from. Randi is no
god. He never claimed to be. Nor did Avijit or anyone
else. They all expect you to follow the logic for yourself,
using critical reasoning. And they also expect you to try
the same with Praagh.

> And you accuse me of having a selective mind?

You do indeed. It is semi-amusing that you can't even see
what you are doing, despite all these independent people
explaining to you what you're doing wrong. It's like
watching a Muslim try to debate you about Islam.

> Shermer says Van Praagh is "the master of cold
> reading in the psychic world". In other words Van
> Praagh is the finest and the greatest deceiver of all
> the decievers. He must be really impressive to
> deceive so many.

Correct. You have to be very cock-sure of yourself,
very convincing when you get caught, etc etc. You
can't be a complete dope, you need to have skills in
statistics etc. You will still only fool people who
aren't good at maths and critical thinking, but in today's
world, that is still a majority, unfortunately.

> Now let us read what Truzzi says? He says Van Praagh's
> demonstrations are "extremely unimpressive".

Yes, that is also correct. That is because he is talking about
the useful information that Praagh is providing from the
dead. Very little useful/verifiable information.

> I am not a Van Praagh's fan. I only saw him once. My first
> impression of him was that he is genuine. However if I
> have to be accurate I need to study his video tape more
> carefully.

"his" video tape? You're allowing him to set the parameters
of the evidence?

> I need to study his tape a couple of time to be 100% sure.

You can be 100% sure about something just by watching a
video tape? You don't have a requirement for reproducible
proof? Scientists do. Skeptics do. Rationalists do. Spot
the odd one out - that's right, Sinalists!

> Why is it that two "rational" persons, both from the same
> school of thought, opine on the same person and their
> opinions are so contradictory?

I'm more interested in knowing why you couldn't see the
answer yourself. BTW, don't get hung up on "opinions".
No-one is interested in who says what. What we're all
looking for is a logical argument for OURSELVES. If
I can get such logical reason from reading Avijit's posts,
then so be it. Incidentally, I get such logical reading from
you about Islam. I quote you often. You reasoning is very
very good. The fact that in your spare time you happen to
believe your own set of fairies in no way affects the logic
of your Islamic debates. It is absolutely chock-a-block
full of cold hard critical thinking. It is actually beautiful
to read. So are Avajit and Aparthib's posts.

> This is the problem my dear Avijit First you pass judgment
> over a person whom you have never seen.

Scientists don't pass judgement over people. They pass
judgement over arguments. The argument in this case is
"Here is evidence that Praagh talks to the dead".

> All they wanted to do is to discredit him.

Actually, all they wanted to do was apply critical reasoning
to find out whether this was the "first one", ie the first person
who had paranormal ability. We've had so many millions of
disappointments in the past, that we don't have much hope
yet. So certainly we look long and hard, and insist on
very thorough scientific scrutiny of any claims. The odds are
very low based on past experience. But someone always
needs to be first.

> Then again one has to see what the credentials of these
> two gentlemen whom you believe are.

Incorrect. It doesn't matter if the argument comes from a
patient in a mental hospital. It doesn't even matter if it
comes from a religionist, be it Islamist, Christian or
Sinalist. Einstein believed in a god. It didn't make his
mathematical formula incorrect.

In communism they say "from each, according to their

In science we say "from each, according to what stands
up to scientific scrutiny".

> Both of them are "anti paranormal activists".

Both are applying critical reasoning, anyway.

> I quote facts and bring evidences to back up my views.
> (about Islam)

Correct. In fact, you even have an open challenge to take
down your web site!

> What are the facts quoted by these two gentlemen about
> Van Praagh?

You've got it the wrong way around. What is the evidence
that Praagh has presented showing he can talk to the dead,
that passes scientific scrutiny?

The skeptics haven't found anything that couldn't otherwise
be explained by more mundane explanations. You need to
go to a lot of effort. E.g. line up 100 sons of murder victims,
and get Praagh to describe the murderer. This is then
cross-checked with police records. This is the sort of
thing we are looking for. I can give you more details, the
scientific testing needs to ensure that there is no way that
he simply looked up the police records before-hand. You
have to be very very careful with these tests.

But the tests can be done. Certainly to the point that it is
very impressive to a skeptic, and the skeptics are very
keen for further testing of what is probably a "national

> That is why I say materialism is just another religion.

The scientific process is the opposite of religion.

If he is a fraud, then he has a good alibi. However, he is also right
about the nature of psychic ability.

> Just as the messages conveyed to you in your dream
> come in fragments, some times you do not understand
> them, sometimes you misinterpret them, etc. so a psychic.

This is just a lame excuse to get around the fact that the
claims don't stand up to scientific scrutiny.

> It is like a dream, it is cryptic and in codes.

How convenient.

> Sometimes it is clear, sometimes it is confused.

Sometimes, in fact, most likely all the time, it is simply that
people don't understand the coincidences that arise from the
Law of Large Numbers.

> I saw Shermer in the same program I saw in Discovery
> Channel, also for the first time. I too felt he was talking
> nonsense, and denying the obvious. He was repeating the
> same old triad that we heard ad nauseam and I perfectly
> understand why the public was not sympathetic with him,

Science is never about winning popularity contests. The
people who said the earth was round, or that the earth
revolved around the sun, weren't particularly popular.
Those who say the most likely end for humans is being
eaten by worms, and in fact, there is no evidence to
suggest that humans are any different from any other
animal as far as evidence for "souls" are concerned.
It is most likely we will simply be the same worm-food
that cockroaches are.

These are not popular things. People don't want to know
cold, hard reality. The thought of a benevolent god
watching over us is so much more attractive, so much more
comforting. Really, I wish it were true. I would love for
there to be a god, I'd ask him to fix a lot of things here on
earth. And to please stop us from squabbling over which
religion is correct, to the point that Islamists have declared
war on the infidels. If only it were true. If only.

But blind belief never enters the scientific process. The
evidence, such as "bible codes" is whittled away, as are
levitation, and talking to the dead. Unfortunately, we're
left with cold reality, which isn't particularly pleasant.
But we don't make up the rules. If all we are left with is
worms, then worms it is.

> And contrary to your claim,

Scientists don't make claims like that, or more accurately,
are willing to withdraw them when asked to.

> I did not expect to see anything unusual in Van Praagh's
> demonstration.

You knew he was capable of fooling many people. Why didn't
you think he could fool you too?

> As I said there are more charlatans around than the real
> psychics,

A finite number minus 0 gives a finite positive number, true.

> so my natural reaction was to catch his bluff.

Sometimes your own skills are inadequate. Avijit and co
have argued some of these points far better than I ever

> I watched carefully and I was impressed.

So you join the list of suckers. Actually, I'd be impressed
too, it looks so real. I'm impressed by magicians too. These
people are very, very good.

> Now how in the world you diagnose the reason I think
> he is genuine when you never saw the man?

We only have theories about what goes on in your brain.
My personal theory is that you're scared of dying, and
want to have some hope that you will have plenty of
opportunity to talk to such great men as Praagh when you're

But that's just a theory. It is not scientific evidence.

But I am not trying to prove that this is the reason. Quite
frankly, I don't care that much. There's you and 5 billion
other people who are scared of dying and desperately
want to believe in an afterlife. My only interest is the
scientific evidence you present in support of your
dogmatic belief in the afterlife.

> I paid attention to things that were specific and he had
> not pried from the caller.

In fact, the thing you paid most attention to was the very
specific psychic ability to be able to find that Larry King's
father died in a fire in a factory in New Orleans. You were
proudly telling me that there was only 1 in 1000 chance
that this could have happened.

You neglected to mention that this specific information
didn't come from a random caller, it came from Larry
King, someone who Praagh knew in advance thus had the
ability to research.

> There are only two explanations for that. Those callers
> were known to him or he has some unexplainable ability.

Or, law of large numbers, and the viewer selectively
disregarding the misses. And your willingness to match
"giants" with "maids" and "smoking" with "obnoxiousness"
in order to generate hits.

> You also talked about The Law of Truly Large Numbers.
> The Law of Truly Large Numbers cannot explain someone
> being right 60 or 70 percent of the times on odds that are
> one in a thousand.

Correct. Now show me where these figures came from,
and whether the 60-70% includes matches of "giants"
with "maids".

> It is wise not to accept anything until all possible
> explanations are explored, but when all of them are
> explored and you still insist to deny and claim there
> must be one that I can't think of, then you are no more
> a freethinker but a dogmatic.

Incorrect. I did not know how the Indian man managed
to levitate. It is only recently that I found out that it is
something as mundane as bamboo sticks. That didn't
mean that a scientific explanation didn't exist all along,
ie one that didn't involve a paranormal gravity-reverse
ability of the Indian man. Just because I don't know it,
doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

In the case of the Indian levitator, I would have done
two things:

1. Ask in a group of skeptics if they already knew how.

2. Ask for the Indian levitator to be scientifically tested,
as an anti-gravitational device would be immensely
useful for getting satellites launched more cost-effectively.

I would not be so vain that I would think that I could think
of every single possibility, and that if I couldn't, no-one
could. I am happy to look at explanations from any source,
and then I make my own judgement as to whether they are
rational or not.

> This is precisely how the religionists behave.

Actually, what Sinalists do is assume that they are so vain
that they can know the answer better than anyone else, don't
seek alternate explanations that don't involve the occult,
and even when alternative explanations are shoved down
their throat much to their chagrin, they still insist on
dogmatically sticking to their original thought, that it
cannot possibly be explained by mundane science, it
necessarily relies on the occult.

> It is interesting that you deny all the thousands of
> stories reported about Cayce's extraordinary ability
> claiming all of them are anecdotal

These would be the thousands of stories that belong in
the same bucket as the thousands of crutches from

> but rely on one person's opinion whose views matches
> yours and that is the only view that is not anecdotal.

It is not so much because of his view, as because he
has asked where the scientific evidence is. It is the
absence of scientific evidence that causes skeptics
to be skeptical, not one man's opinion, no matter who
that man is, no matter whether it is Randi or Avijit.
In fact, if you actually ask Randi or Avijit whether
they would like you to consider them as "authorities"
who need to be deferred to, they will almost certainly
reply "certainly not - anything I say should be
independently verifiable if you want to accept it as
scientific fact". Scientists do not expect, nor do they
want, to be treated like gods. Basically, because that
creates a risk of their own mistakes not being found
and fixed, which doesn't help science one iota.

> If this is not self deception I don't know what it is.

In one word - Sinality.

> We have thousands of reports from very honest people,

These would be the same honest people who said the
world was flat, because they could "clearly see" that it
was flat? Just being honest doesn't mean you're right.

> yet to you all that are lies or hallucinations.

"don't constitute scientific evidence". "don't stand up
to scientific scrutiny". Those are terms I would use.
I wouldn't necessarily say they are lies or hallucinations.
I don't know the reason why so many people report
being abducted by aliens. I can only guess. But I don't
even care to guess, I simply don't care why they report
things like this. The lack of evidence that stands up to
scientific scrutiny means that there is nothing interesting
to work on. When we have something tangible, then
we can start investigating.

> Remember I said don't call a kettle black if you are a pot?

Advice that you never seem to take for yourself.

>>> I wrote: "I came to believe that psychic power is not
>>> implausible or incredible. It is a reality. How it works
>>> and why is now what I would like to learn. I have no
>>> doubt that it exists."

>> "I have no doubt" - is not a process of critical thinking, Ali.
>> You have to have doubt in mind, unless you have already
>> came to your own biased conclusion. How can you be so
>> sure that psychic power exists?

> Well, may I ask the same question from you? How can you
> be sure that such faculty does not exist?

He never made such a claim. You just imagined that he did.
I wonder if there is anything else you imagine?

> You apparently have never experienced it yourself

Nor has anyone else ever demonstrated that they have either.
The sort of incontrovertible evidence we're looking for is
winning the lottery 5 times in a row, then being isolated
to prove that you have no contact with anyone else, using
a fresh lottery machine, then seeing if you can do it another
5 times.

Then we've got something to work with.

So far you have nothing remotely like this. So far you are
matching giants with maids, and you don't even bother to
warn the maid in advance that she's a shattering giant. How
cruel is that?

> but does that mean it does not exist? How can you be so
> sure? Please do answer that.

How can you even ask it? The claim was never made.
Every scientist I know is EAGERLY AWAITING some
scientific evidence of the paranormal. It will open a whole
new branch of physics, which will most likely be
infinitely valuable. One thing I would like to do right
now is levitate a rock from Mars and bring it back here
so we can see if there are microbes in it. In fact, I'd like
to do remote viewing of 10 metres under the surface of
Mars to find out if there is any water in a cave. There
is enormous exciting potential.

> I can answer you why I am sure that the psychic faculty exists.

That's funny. In your "how to be a rationalist" article you
said the secret was to doubt everything. I guess that rule
only applies to other rationalists, right? You should just
be treated as a god, since you're the Head Honcho of

> It is because I experienced it myself. This is the same
> Descartes logic. Cogito ergo sum. If I experience something
> that thing must exist.

What exists is a mechanism for you to have an experience, or
believe you had an experience, or at least, tell us that you had
an experience. The mechanisms required for this are only a
brain and a keyboard.

"for everything else, there's mastercard". Or in this case,
the scientific process.

> There is nothing illogical recognizing the existence
> of an experience. Whether the experience is real or
> imagined is something that can be discussed. However
> I see nothing logical in your stance. You simply deny
> the experience.

Incorrect. No-one denied whether or not you had an
experience. No-one actually knows. There's no way to
scientifically prove that either way.

What we do have is incontrovertible proof that you just
accused Avijit of saying something he didn't say. And
that's incontroverible proof that you should never rely on
anecdotal evidence in order to prove things. Human
beings are extremely unreliable. Sometimes accidentally,
sometimes deliberately. In the case of Mohammed and
Sina, everything should be taken with several grains of

These people in particular should have everything they
say subjected to rigorous scientific scrutiny, since they
have been caught out making some outrageous and
easily-disproved statements.

E.g. you said that I had "no answer" to the "orange light",
despite the fact that you hadn't even told me about the
"orange light". So you actually started making insinuations
about my tongue-tiedness based on something that never
happened. In this case, there was an innocent explanation,
mere confusion, it wasn't deliberate lying. I actually don't
have any problem with this at all. My supposed
tongue-tiedness had no impact on the scientific discussion,
any more than you calling me a pseudo-rationalist. These
names don't actually affect the ultimate logic that would
pass scientific scrutiny.

You also "have no doubt" that the experience was
imagined and not real.

> My certainty of the occurrence of the experience is an
> acknowledgement of the experience based on my own
> observation. Your denial of it or your "knowing" that all
> such experiences are hallucinatory is dogma. Again we
> see the pot decrying the kettle.

You are making up too many wild accusations about poor
Avijit. There is a limit to how long you can keep doing
this without it being termed "deliberate lying".

> You can even dream of winning lottery numbers.
> When you dream you are not in control of what you
> dream. The images come to your mind without you
> having any control over them.

And at the end of the day, there is no scientific evidence
that dreams have any predictive (ie paranormal) capability.
The maid fell off the roof instead of being forewarned, the
lottery-dreamer didn't win the lottery, the non-smoker
didn't start smoking, and the obnoxious person you referred
to was already obnoxious before the dream. In fact, he's
been a bit of an obnoxious bastard his whole life. Mentions
worms a lot too.

Note that these things are dealing with *external events*.
No predictive ability for external things. There is nothing
stopping you from dreaming about an apple falling off a
tree and hitting you in the head, and then being inspired
by that to form some theory. This is all internal stuff.

Nothing here relies on the paranormal to explain anything.
Hell, it is actually possible that the apple that hit Newton
didn't fall off a tree, it was actually thrown by god,
because god wanted Newton to "discover" gravity. But
just because it COULD have been caused by god, does
not mean that it WAS caused by god. In fact, guided by
Occam's Razor, we'd probably say that the tree is the
safer bet. Certainly, there's not a scrap of evidence that
there was god, or any other paranormal involved. There
is however physical evidence of a tree, an apple tree no

> Can you prove that the history of mankind happened the
> way it was written?

No. It is probably only semi-accurate in fact. Some of
it can be corroborated with carbon-dating.

Were Egyptians the first to mummify people? Maybe.
Recent evidence has made some people start changing
their mind about that.

That's the thing about rationalists. Willing to change their
mind in the presence of EVIDENCE!!! Not anecdote,
EVIDENCE. Rationalists don't have dogmatic belief in
anything. I will reject the entire theory of evolution (which
I certainly believe is true) if you provide BETTER
evidence than is provided for evolution.

> Also if you already know that the claims of ESP cannot
> be tested

They can be tested. Remote viewing, influencing lottery
balls, talking to the dead, all these things can be tested.
So long as they are reproducible, and they have some
influence in the real world, they can be tested.

If it isn't reproducible, it's more likely to be hallucination
or coincidence (law of large numbers). There is a remote
possibility that it truly happened, a once-in-a-lifetime
paranormal experience, with very little in the way of
tangible evidence.

> then what is the meaning of the million dollar challenge?

To test all that can be tested. To test people who claim
to be able to levitate at will, or do other paranormal things
at will. What you would call a "real psychic" as opposed
to a once-off psychic/anecdote.

> The fact is that ESP cannot be tested.

Incorrect. If it's reproducible, and it bears a relationship
to the real world, most likely it can be tested.

> It is a feeling, a perception, an intuition or insight.

In other words, "normal thought processes". You are
correct, these can't really be tested. Nor are they
paranormal, so wouldn't need to be tested anyway.

> However not because it can't be tested it should be
> discarded as unreal. The experience is real. What we
> have to do is to understand it and make sense of it.
> The approach of the pseudo rationalist community
> is highly irresponsible and dogmatic.

On the contrary, the approach of the scientific community
to subject all claims to scientific scrutiny is absolutely
the most responsible thing that can possibly be done.

Also on the contrary, scientists are willing to discard any
theory, whether it be Egyptian mummification or the theory
of evolution, or levitation ability, or the flat-earth theory,
in response to evidence. And it doesn't get less dogmatic
than that - being willing to discard one's pet theory. I'm
an atheist. And I can tell you right now, that if you provide
evidence of god(s) that passes scientific scrutiny, I am
sitting here waiting to convert. I have no desire to spend
the rest of eternity being eaten by worms. Worms suck!
Especially compared to 72 virgins in the sky. There's no
contest. But I will remain worm-man for as long as it takes
for someone to produce the scientific evidence. As distasteful
as that may be.

> We are not asking you to believe in things that you did not
> experience. That would be credulity and unreasonable.

Some sense at last.

> But it is also unreasonable to deny things that you did
> not experience.

Ali, no-one from our side is denying anything of the sort.
The only thing that is happening is that you are making claims
that our side is denying things. You are completely fabricating
this, like god knows how many other things you have

> On one hand you categorically deny that anything beyond
> matter exists.

No-one categorically said anything of the sort. It is all your
imagination gone wild.

> On the other hand you seem to say yes something might
> exist

Absolutely. Even god(s) might exist. The only person I
have ever seen claim that they can prove that god doesn't
exist is YOU. Despite the fact that you can't prove a

> but since we can't test it we can't accept it.


> If the latter is your position, I am in agreement with you.

Then what are you arguing about?

> But this is not what I gather from your writings.

You mean what you gathered from your imagination.

> It seems that you deny such reality may exist at all.

It seems you just made up this.

> That is a dogmatic position.

It isn't even classified as dogmatic, it is fabrication.

The fact remains, you dogmatically believe that you have
proof that a spiritual world exists, and that you personally
have tapped into it and produced such miraculous things
as failing to warn a maid that she was going to fall off a

Scientists on the other hand have decided that no such
proof exists, and if it does, could you please demonstrate
your ability, and in the meantime, don't sit idly by watching
giant maids plunge to their death when you already supposedly
knew that this was going to happen via the spirit world.

Scientists don't consider their position to be dogmatic
or unreasonable. They also think that you calling them
pseudo-rationalists is the pot calling the kettle black,
and that you accusing others of being the pot calling
the kettle black is the sign of a pot telling a kettle that
the pot is calling the kettle blacker than the first pot
that referred to the first kettle. Give it up, Ali. You've
lost the plot. Apologies will be graciously accepted,
I'm gracious as well as obnoxious. And don't worry,
I'll lean on the other "pseudo-rationalists" to be as
gracious as me in accepting your humble apologies.

BFN. Paul.

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