'An Honest Liar' and the tendancy for society to believe in the supernatural
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24-12-2012, 09:58 PM (This post was last modified: 24-12-2012 10:08 PM by Endurance Swimmer.)
'An Honest Liar' and the tendancy for society to believe in the supernatural
For those who aren't aware, this year should include the release of the documentary "An Honest Liar" - the story of James "The Amazing" Randi. I'm extremely excited about this production, particularly as it should further promote critical thinking whilst at the same time being a very well deserved salute to Randi, who has spent much of his life teaching skeptisism and promoting critical thinking. The guy is an international treasure and I'm sure most of you who know of him feel the same way. For those who haven't heard of him I highly recommend frequenting his site the 'James Randi Educational Foundation' (JREF), watching the various videos and the preview of "An Honest Liar". I'm going to be sure to take a good number of friends to see it when it comes out.

Also on the subject of Randi, just yesterday I finished his book "Flim Flam" which he wrote in 1982. In addition to "The Demon Haunted World" by Carl Sagan and "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins I would highly recommend it as a source for critical evidence based thinking (there are of course many others, but the diversity of these 3 I've found to be a great basis for me in really getting started). However what I was amazed to find out when I was trying to source it, was going to a major bookshop in South Australia (where I live), they had nothing of Randi's in stock, nor could I find anything on skeptisism or the debunking of alleged psychic phenomena or pseudo science. Has anyone else found it difficult in sourcing such material? Indeed surely such books should be in every school library and be required reading in many educational institutions, such is the importance of skeptisism going hand in hand with learning. In contrast it was alarming to see a whole section on New Aged nonsense. Clearly magical thinking sells, whereas a cold hard dose of rationality does not. I find this to be a very sad state of affairs and it makes it all the more important for organisations like JREF to be supported. Their contributions to society are huge, as is the work promoted by Richard Dawkins, Seth Andrews and many others who most of us respect hugely. For the first time I find myself very keen to play an active part in promoting these organisations, both by action and by financial donations and within a week I had a cheque in the mail addressed to JREF, with more to follow to other similar organisations (which will of course include 'The Thinking Atheist'). It is heart warming to be in company of many others who feel a similar way.

I've also found that many people, even those who are otherwise extremely intelligent, find it hard to resist the lure of the supernatural. In debating such people and by asking for some objective evidence to support their wild assertions (or sympathetic views to such beliefs), I've found many of these individuals get quite upset about it (it seems to be the old 'respect all beliefs' stance - even if they have no merit and are not supported by evidence). Not sure why society has become this way where one would think that the default view in the abscence of evidence should be one of skeptisism until it is forthcoming. It would seem that the default view instead that society chooses to adopt is one of accepting all these views as having merit based only on people's individual subjective experiences or the authority of others. It's a view I find hard to stomach or reconcile with the evidence that is available and one that I find hard to supress my frustration with. Anyway I'd love to hear other people's experiences dealing with others (perhaps friends, colleagues and family members) who embrace or are sympathetic to the supernatural. In my experiences it can create a certain amount of tension, but I feel it is an important subject and non-evidence based beliefs based on superstition should be challenged at every opportunity. Thoughts?

"Nothing Great is Easy" - Des Renford (English Channel Swimmer)
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'An Honest Liar' and the tendancy for society to believe in the supernatural - Endurance Swimmer - 24-12-2012 09:58 PM
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