Need some help with that analysis?

1.00 FTE is a single-panel webcomic about corporate life. While I don’t work in a cubicle myself, I still identify with a lot of the humor. I particularly liked last Wednesday’s comic, and I suspect that you out there in atheist-blog-readerland might get a chuckle out of it too:

1.00 FTE comic

“People can’t be ruled by both Jupiter and logic” — what a sweet zinger. Maybe we could get this on a bumper sticker or a t-shirt…?

Naturally, the comment thread on that comic is an amusing read. I’ve been corresponding by email with a guy who claimed there to be “someone who does practice magic and alchemy,” and who called me superstitious (?!) for suggesting that he and his astrologer-friends look into winning JREF’s million-dollar prize. It seems a lot harder to wiggle out of evidentiary issues when discussing claims of specific magical powers than when discussing the whimsical, nebulous nature of a barely-defined deity, so I’m hopeful that (one way or another!) this conversation will be more enlightening than my usual debates with theists. And of course, in the event that I do receive some evidence of the supernatural from him, I’ll be sure to ask permission to share it with all of you.

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  1. The reply is not really valid as the astrology comment is often a form of conversation starter.
    I have seen many use it as such and I know they do not believe in its powers.

  2. Carl de Malmanche

     /  April 10, 2012 at 12:20 am

    “called me superstitious (?!) ”

    Hi folks it was me, commenting to NFQ re: alchemy and magic, and identifying his superstituous behaviour.

    So NFQ, what examination and checking had you done on Randi’s “million dollar prize”?
    Checked previous events? Interviewed people who had actually been through the tests, or who were refused despite having likely claims? Checked the history of the event, including it’s backers, and more important in this day and age, “where the saleable product for the ROI was?”
    Have you read the the requirements and contract?

    Q) What is the word we have for people who base decisions on untested stories passed through non-authoritive (but often culturally popular) sources?
    A) we say they are “superstitious” (holding of unfounded beliefs).

    Are you saying you have researched the information/event thoroughly and found information which disagrees with my findings?

    Again as has been explained there is no “supernatural”, that being an invent of human culture, and its expectations. Where someone draws a line of acceptance and says I belief this to be “natural” and that is “super-natural”. Magic and divinity are the most natural forces in the universe.
    Likewise, why would you ask my permission to share knowledge? The rather important principle of knowledge and truth (tm 🙂 ) is the lack of ownership. Either some of this sh..stuff works, or it doesn’t – the only real importance is to protect those who would hurt themselves in a Curie-like fashion in their enthusiasm (and in a Charles Manson type way from those who would abuse it (aka our glorious leaders – government or corporate))

  3. I’ve looked into the Randi challenge. I’ve listened to Randi talk about it (in person, not televised), I’ve spoken with DJ Grothe, president of the JREF, shared a table at dinner with an aspiring claimant, read through the rules, and read several sets of correspondence between the JREF and various claimants where they were working to establish test protocols that both sides were satisfied with. Will that do for direct knowledge?

    NFQ is right on about the challenge. They are not out to “make a buck” on TV. They are out to put a stop to con artists and charlatans, and other people who take large amounts of money from the gullible.

    However, they have been running the challenge for a long time, and none of the big-name hotshot “psychics” or “mediums” ever went for it. Many of the people that tried the challenge turned out to be mentally ill, substance abusers, or otherwise impaired. So the JREF is changing their focus to making direct challenges to people like Sylvia Browne, Uri Gellar or John Edward, people who make large amounts of money by conning people. Those hucksters avoid the challenge because they know they are cheating and don’t want to be caught at it.

  4. Carl de Malmanche

     /  April 21, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    Well Ubi,

    I’ve also looked at the rules, examined some of the protocols, looked into what the JREF folks do, and their history (ie tv etc). And discussed the matter with several people who’ve tried working with “the local challenge teams” and found them Very negative and disruptive. And I’m not talking “refusing to ‘buy in’ to a scam” but refusing to allow rest time, introducing extra difficulties, refusing to backoff or tone down when interference is picked up, hussling timewise for recordings or timeframe, and the big one… which I noticed in several places, refusing to accept OR UNDERSTAND that somethings are harder than others. I got that with NFQ too, I explained some differences in difficulty between realworld/solid identification and human invention (ie counting objects vs seeing written numbers) but got no feedback or sign of comprehension. As far as I know he hasn’t tested either of the very simple tasks I put to him yet.

    And there are people out there advertising “JREF come test me if you’re really searching” but do they get checked? No.

    So they go after the big names, the media whores.
    That’s not about “putting a stop to con artists” and protecting the gullible. Only the gullible or folks caught in their own publicity would realise that. Otherwise they would realise the majority of these people are looking to make themselves feel special & recognise the solid fact (testable too, if their scientists were any good) that these folks go out of their way to BE gullible, they want a fantasy in their lives, or they WILL CREATE ONE!
    It’s no different to the medieval churches, they NEEDED something bigger than themselves to fulfil purpose in their lives, something to _explain_ the way the world was… and very preferably anything which would *say* it’s not their fault and it was ok not to worry about fixing things. (ok, I’ve also just summed up most of the modern Spiritualist Church too). Something which would overcome the dictomony in their lives (trying to be honest and having the meat of a social herd animal – while having the mental ability of cognisance and observation over time which creates the moral vs existence dilemma.

    Heres a test they should apply: Anyone who says “We are all entitled to believe what we want/feel is true” and “You shouldn’t judge other people”/”You shouldn’t put your belief systems onto others”. Anyone who has those meme’s active or spoken, is not coherent enough to judge their own higher functions.

    And the big folks don’t go for it…because they don’t need to. They already have “magiced” their money and lifestyle out of nothing. While they might sell ghost shirts, they do prove that they can get wealth and privileges for following their ego. I think a couple of episodes of Supernatural summed up the spoon thing beautifully – all I got was a headache.

    However if you do want to help me with a couple of quick and easy tests, I’d be keen to hear from you. This goes towards setting up a success run, so it can be trimmed&tested so the initial setup is very casual. em#$. me, mist42nzathotmaildottcom

    Part of the difficulty *I* have with the people “in the scene” include: many are flakes, short and simple; many others its wishful thinking and a living fantasy for them, they -really- don’t want to be around someone else who -can- perform AND test the skills… it freaks most of them out bigtime (I know, wtf!), a few don’t like being upclassed/upstaged or face the possibility that someone might test them, some just cant handle the real world and will resist any and every attempt to introduce some of its rules to their lives, some are combination of all the above.
    In some cases, the requirements to follow research/work outside the mainstream affect other parts of their life/psyche. So someone who is able to accept a fluid approach to physics will often have a fluid approach to childraising… thus a few possible candidates that might just have what it takes tend to find themselves with extremely chaotic home and work lives (especially when kids hit teenage years). There is also a degree of egotism required to belief in themselves, yet the growth also requires personal objectivity and often cultural deconstruction… thus conflict with the ego and the self/psyche. Often resulting in mental issues. And that’s without trying to separate the real psychics from the schizophrenics!

    There is also, from my point of view, issues of safety. Once the cat is out of the bag, who gets to use it? Government, organised crime and bigbusiness are bad enough already. Is it really appropriate to hand them the reins to the how-do in this cultural time and age?

    But call me on the tests, if youre keen.
    And NFQ, can you get back to me if you’ve done/ready to do them. Haven’t sorted that one at my end, as I said that’s quite tough and complicated – will do, but need time out from fixing properties and running my businesses to do it (need relatively stress-free head to do that kind of thing)

  5. Carl de Malmanche

     /  April 21, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    “in their own publicity would realise that”
    in their own publicity would _believe_ that

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