Had a great time in Boulder the other night drinking skeptically. I forgot to bring a camera, so I borrowed someone’s phone to take a few pictures. Unfortunately, they haven’t sent the pictures to me yet. There were about 25 or 30 people there, so it was pretty much impossible to get to talk to everyone because the space was so packed. It was also so loud I could hardly hear the people next to me talking. I guess we are just a bunch of loud mouths, because I think the volume was entirely the result of our voices, not music or anything else.
A couple of people fromÂ Rocky Mountain ParanormalÂ were drinking skeptically with the rest of us.Â I’ll be interviewing them for Skepchick, although I’m not sure exactly when since I’m in the midst of trying to catch up on all of my existing work before I leave for Lithuania in a couple of weeks and I haven’t decided if I’ll be blogging while I’m away. Check out theirÂ websiteÂ and podcast in the meantime. Don’t miss the essay on skepticism (excerpt below the fold).
Research into the paranormal should be treated like any scientific endeavor. Skepticism is the most important ingredient. All assertions should be questioned. Clear, rational and repeatable procedures should be followed. Experimentation and documentation showing how one reaches a conclusion should be open for all to scrutinize. Without this process the assertions become dogmatic, not scientific.
It seems to me that a lot of skeptics have already made up their minds about things that we could be more open minded about. I remember comments on my review ofÂ Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science and myÂ interview (parts one and two) with the author, saying that he was just an apologist for bigfoot, even though it seemed to me that he was doing his best to evaluate the evidence and come to his own conclusions. I know that I have already decided that the supernatural and paranormal do not exist. I think if something supernatural or paranormal is discovered, that means it is not super- or para-. But just because someone believes in something I don’t believe, or comes to a different conclusion than I do after examining the same evidence, does that automatically mean they are gullible?
I guess what I’m saying is that as skeptics, we should not come to any exploration or discussion with a pre-conceived conclusion. We should not start out an investigation by trying to prove or disprove what we already believe, but to evaluate the evidence first and then see where it leads.
On a semi-related issue, I have been wanting to write about how science has gone beyond the realm of common sense and has gotten so complicated and esoteric that most people can’t understand it. I can’t get my thoughts collected enough to post about this yet, but it is important to consider. I think that may be one reason why we have stuff like What the Bleep Do We Know?, as people try to come to terms with science that they really can’t wrap their brains around and yet they don’t want to be unscientific, or why people embrace intelligent design and creationism and reject evolution. I don’t know. I need more time to think about this.