Friday, July 3, 2015

Perpetual Denial of Evidence and Cognitive Dissonance

"People are not stupid. They believe things for reasons. The last way for skeptics to get the attention of bright, curious, intelligent people is to belittle or condescend or to show arrogance toward their beliefs." - Carl Sagan

PseudoSkeptics are always saying, "There's no evidence for any paranormal or psychic phenomena" no matter how much evidence is shown to them. That's because this statement is a religion to them, not an objective statement. So no matter what evidence you give them, they will always deny it and raise the bar, simply because "there is no evidence" is a fixed belief to them.

So, if you give them stories and experiences, even from credible sources, they will reject it as "anecdotal" and inadmissible as evidence. If you give them scientific studies that show positive results for psi, they will argue that those studies did not have proper controls (since, if they did, they'd only get chance results, so their fixed logic goes). And they will argue that the studies must be replicable. Then when you show them replicated studies (e.g. Ganzfeld), they will raise the bar again and argue it was not replicated enough times (until a debunker disproves it is what they mean), ad infinitum. So no matter how many stories or replicable research studies you cite, it's NEVER enough. There is no clear bar to meet to qualify as "real evidence" to them, because essentially, there is NO EVIDENCE in their mind, thus there is no real criteria to be met. That gives them the license to deny ad infinitum. It's like playing a shady game of three shells with a con artist. You can never win because the conclusion has already been decided from the get go. That's what makes these Pseudoskeptics dishonest and not what they claim at all.

But the reality is that for some common paranormal phenomenon such as ESP, there is plenty of long standing evidence of both types - anecdotal and scientific. Controlled scientific experiments have yielded positive results for ESP for many years. From the 1930's with JB Rhine, to the current day with Dr. Charles Tart, Dr. Gary Schwartz, Rupert Sheldrake, and many other scientists, positive and consistent results for psi have been found to exist far above chance under controlled conditions. And series of psi experiments that have been repeated for years known as The Ganzfeld Experiments, Autoganzfeld Experiments and PEAR (Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research) have yielded  statistically significant and consistent results above chance as well.

In addition, the anecdotal and experiential evidence is overwhelming.  Studies show that at least half the population of the world has had paranormal experiences, and according to the National Science Foundation, "60% of American either AGREE or STRONGLY AGREE that some people either possess psychic abilities or extrasensory perception".  That's A LOT, no doubt.  Common sense would tell you that if half the people in the world have experienced something, then it's pretty much certain that there's something to it other than fraud, misperception and fantasy, especially since a good number of these experiencers include credible down-to-earth people as well.  Likewise, large percentage of people of all types from all walks of life have experienced ghosts too.

So you see, the evidence for such common paranormal phenomena is huge.  As Parapsychologist Author Dean Radin has said, the evidence for psi is so solid and robust that if the same quality of evidence existed for something non-paranormal, it would definitely have been accepted as proven.  But because the paranormal is considered taboo in the scientific establishment, there is a sort of censorship and knowledge filtration toward it.  There is an automatic negative stigma and bias toward it that assumes that only crackpots believe in such things.  So any scientist who openly supports the legitimacy of paranormal phenomena seriously jeopardizes their career and image among their colleagues.  Thus, most scientists who believe in some paranormal phenomena will not declare it publicly, but become close enthusiasts.  Mr. Radin discovered this, as many scientists confided in him their secret unofficial interest and belief that some of the paranormal is real.

Even in regard to UFO's, there is plenty of evidence for them of several types.  UFO photos and videos are controversial and vague of course, but many credible eyewitnesses, including Air Force Pilots and Astronauts, have seen them.  They've also been tracked on radar doing aerial maneuvers that man-made aircraft could not do.  (And as you know, hallucinations do not appear on radar.)  In one famous official incident known as the Washington Merry Go Round Incident of 1952, jet fighters were scrambled to intercept UFO's after they had been tracked on radar.  Afterward, to quell public panic, the incident was quickly dismissed though never fully explained.  Nevertheless, something significant happened to trigger the alarm and scrambling of fighters, and it wasn't "zero evidence" for sure.   But if you think that UFO evidence is strictly confined to obscure sightings, think again.  The famous Bentwaters UFO Incident that occurred on an American military base in England in 1980 involving two dozen military witnesses, including Colonel Halt, of an up-close UFO sighting, remains an undebunked and compelling case.  And after years of extensive investigations and interviews with Alien Abductees by Budd Hopkins and John Mack, who wrote books on the phenomenon, they concluded that there was more to the abduction experience than mere hallucination or sleep paralysis.  In addition, public coalitions such as The Disclosure Project have brought forth a large pool of high ranking government, military and intelligence officials and insiders, over 400 currently, who have confessed to personal knowledge of government involvement with UFO's and ET technology, and the cover ups and secrecy surrounding it. See videos of their testimonies at press conferences here:

Now, that's certainly NOT "zero evidence"! To watch some compelling films about UFO's, see James Fox's Out of the Blue and I Know What I Saw which you can see on YouTube.

Nevertheless, pseudoskeptics who claim to only want evidence continue to declare that "there is no evidence" when they get plenty of it from credible sources.  Obviously, they are in a state of perpetual denial and cognitive dissonance.  They deny and filter out anything that doesn't fit into their materialistic reductionistic view of reality, especially anything that has to do with paranormal or conspiracies, no matter what evidence is presented, even if its documented and scientific.  One thing they are they not open to is possibilities.  Any possibility that challenges the views of the establishment is simply not possible to them, even if the claims of the establishment  itself are not scientific or contradicted by facts.  It doesn't even have to be paranormal, it can be ANYTHING that opposes the official version of events, including conspiracies and lies by corrupt government officials or even the existence of shadow governments (which were acknowledged to exist in the 80's with the Iran Contra Scandal).  Thus, their bias and blind faith in authority as dogma is revealed.

Even if a highly credible source with a long history of accuracy suddenly makes a paranormal claim or a claim against an established view, they automatically dismiss it as bunk before even looking into it.  If they do look into it, it will not be to learn the truth about it, but to debunk it.  They will even deny evidence from scientific experiments as well.  All the while, they tout, "Show me the evidence.  Where's the evidence?"  Yet when they are shown the evidence, they merely dismiss it or ignore it, acting as though they heard nothing, then go back to repeating that there's no evidence.  I've seen them do this for years, in the media, on websites, in forum discussions, and on my own mailing list.  It's as though they were deaf and totally belief oriented, seeing only what they want to see.

The problem for pseudoskeptics is that their denial and cognitive dissonance does NOT erase the evidence from reality.  It may erase it from their own minds, but it does not the erase the evidence itself.  Thus, it can be said that they are deluded and do not face up to reality.

Some examples of pseudoskeptics' denial of evidence and cognitive dissonance:

  • If a psychic or medium gets an amazing hit, either something highly unusual and specific that doesn't apply to everyone or a deep dark secret about you that no one knows, which could NOT have been due to cold reading or guessing, then it means nothing to the pseudoskeptics, who will say that it must have been a lucky guess, or due to fraud or your own faulty memory, because no one has psychic abilities.
  • If witnesses experiences a ghost, they must have been hallucinating, have an active imagination, or lying.  Ghosts don't exist, so it must have been something else.
  • If people see UFO's, including trained Air Force Pilots and Astronauts, then they must have misidentified natural phenomenon, because alien ships don't exist, at least not near Earth.  And this is so even if radar picked up objects performing maneuvers impossible for man-made aircraft.
  • If psychic abilities are demonstrated under controlled conditions (e.g. PEAR, Ganzfeld, SRI), then there must have been flaws in the protocols or lack of controls, because psychic abilities are not possible.  Pseudo-skeptics then demand repeatability and peer review.  But when they get that, they then ask for more repeatability, from skeptical scientists as well.  The bar is continually raised until a skeptical scientist finds or imagines any flaw in the experiments and declares them debunked.  Only then are they satisfied.  Clearly, they only want a particular result (only chance results), not the truth.  If it doesn't get debunked, then they accuse the experimentors of improper controls or deceit, as Randi is infamous for doing.
  • They claim that no psi study that shows positive results has ever been published in credible scientific journals.  Yet when they are shown citations that they have, they simply become deaf and ignore them.  Then they have the nerve to simply repeat their lie again, as if they never even heard you!  This is very infuriating and dishonest
  • If a resuscitated patient has an NDE or OBE where he/she sees details that they could not have known about, then it must have been lucky guesses or unconscious memories, because there is no soul that can leave the body..
  • Even if a non-paranormal claim simply challenges the official story, it is denied and dismissed. For example, all vast the evidence in the JFK Assassination pointing to more than one gunman is automatically dismissed and denied, no matter how strong it is, despite the fact that the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded back in the late 70's that "President Kennedy was probably killed as a result of a conspiracy."  Yet when some author publishes a book supporting the lone assassin theory that distorts the facts, lies and obfuscates the issues, the skeptics are quick to praise it without any objective open review, for it supports their view. 
  • Likewise, when thermite/thermate chemical residues are found in the World Trade Center dust from 9/11 by scientists through scientific means, which constitute hard forensic evidence, the pseudoskeptics simply ignore it, because it goes against the official 9/11 story therefore it can't exist.  Or they look for ways to explain it away, using even the most improbable assumptions.  Even when key witnesses at Ground Zero such as William Rodriguez testify that they heard huge booming explosions coming from the BASEMENT level of the World Trade Center Towers, and occured BEFORE the planes hit the towers, totally contradicting the official story, they completely ignore and censor it out of their heads.  In fact, all the compelling evidence presented by on their site and videos that makes sense to open-minded people is completely ignored and dismissed because simply put, if it contradicts the official version, then it must be false. That is NOT skepticism, science or open-minded investigation at all, period, but blind-fanaticism.
Here is an interesting example of denial of evidence.  I found this blog which misrepresented what SCEPCOP is about, labeling it "kooky" as well.  So when I tried to clear up her misunderstanding, she replied that she just wanted to see evidence, that's all, insinuating that no one so far had been able to give her any evidence for any paranormal or psychic phenomena.  She even wrote in her blog, "If SCEPCOP wants to be taken seriously, all they need to do is present some evidence for the paranormal."  This requirement was a sinch, so to get her informed me and other SCEPCOP folks sent her a host of links, resources, books and videos with the evidence she asked for.  In response she became overwhelmed and went to the JREF forum to ask how she can dismiss so much evidence being directed at her, thus demonstrating that her true agenda was not that of an open minded truth seeker, but of confirmation bias, seeking only that which supported her belief, or disbelief, in anything paranormal, regardless of facts or evidence. That was a bit deceptive of course, but it's typical behavior of pseudoskeptics to claim one thing and do another.

Here are her exact words on the JREF forum, revealing her true agenda and mindset:

  • "Phew I'm glad there's a thread about this here! I have a blog and I made a post about SCEPCOP awhile back...they recently found it and a bunch of them have started making massive comments on it, so many LINKS!!! They even made a thread about me on their forum, which I was stupid enough to's exhausting reading the threads there so I have no desire to go back.

  • Maybe you guys could help me out with something...they've been giving me all of this "evidence" and recommending books etc. but I have no inclination to read it. They've said that I'm not being skeptical because I haven't looked at their stuff and because I won't read the books...really it's because it bores me...but they say in order to be truly skeptical or whatever I have to look at everything, and I know that's not true, it's ridiculous that they would expect that of me, but how can I respond to this???"

She later admitted that she had no interest in examining the evidence after all, and so didn't feel like investing the time in it.  So you might be wondering, why did she ask for evidence then if she wasn't interested in it?  That makes no sense of course, is illogical and does not compute.  But then again, pseud-skeptics are not about logic or making sense, but about faith based disbelief and fanaticism. 

Afterlife researcher Victor Zammit, a SCEPCOP committee member and author of A Lawyer Presents the Case for the Afterlife, explains the psychology behind the Pseudoskeptic's cognitive dissonance:

"1. Psychology: Rationalization through Cognitive Dissonance

Let's borrow a page from traditional psychology. When a skeptic receives information - say, scientific proof for the afterlife - which is fundamentally inconsistent with his or her entrenched cherished beliefs, the skeptic tries to rationalize his/her beliefs to reduce and to offset the intense biological, emotional and mental anxiety. The intense anxiety is created by the information that the afterlife exists.

The skeptic's mind tries to resist and reject this new information (even if the information is the absolute truth) - hence the cognitive (the mind) 'dissonance' - between the new information - (i.e., the positive evidence for the afterlife) and the skeptic's own personal beliefs that the afterlife cannot exist.

Closed-minded skepticism is extremely difficult to shift because his/her skepticism is 'electrically wired' into the skeptic's neurological, psychological, intellectual and emotional belief system. Thus with absolute certainty, this skeptic inexorably loses all sense of empirical equanimity.

Then the skeptic tries to rationalize his/her own personal beliefs and will try to rubbish, denigrate, dismiss and destroy the new information (including scientific proof of some psychic phenomenon) which gives the skeptic a lot of intense anxiety. This skeptic cannot allow his lifelong deeply cherished beliefs against an afterlife to be proved wrong, to be totally incorrect. So this skeptic will use every trick, every bit of energy and every means to try to rationales i.e., to reduce cognitive dissonance. She will defend her skepticism and ridicule and viciously attack any positive evidence for the afterlife - which is causing the anxiety to the skeptic. I repeat, all sense of scientific objectivity will be lost."