Fact Blindness Syndrome: Why skeptics suffer just as much as the hard-core religious from it

Skeptics, you can go rot

rot away

in your own personal hell of self-created delusion

thinking you have

it all figured out

when you’re no different

than a religious fanatic

While the haiku makes it sound a bit like I really hate skeptics, I don’t. I hate skepticism, and it’s evil twin cynicism.

“How could you possibly hate something so important to the scientific method and progress of mankind?” I hear certain skeptical people thinking to themselves…

Because said skepticism hasn’t been nearly as useful as most skeptical-leaning people seem to think.

Take for example Climate Change. For anyone who has the ability to look around at our world, and accurately compare what is happening now to what was happening in the 1980’s, the climate is changing.

I recently visited Rocky Mountain National Park and Banff, Canada. I had visited this in 1983 with my family. One would have to be suffering from some major hallucinations to not notice that the glaciers have receded big time since back then. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.

So, when it comes to all the “Climate Change Deniers” who argue that the Climate Change isn’t real, or isn’t caused by human activities, guess what their favorite tool is?

Skepticism

See, these deniers operate like religious fanatics, using skepticism to block out all evidence that doesn’t fit their theory of the world.

This illustrates at its core what skepticism is: selectively blocking out facts that don’t fit one’s pre-conceived notions of what is “true.”

Now, this certainly applies to many of the hardcore religious. But ironically, it also applies to their biggest opponents, the so-called “skeptics movement.”

On each side you have people who’ve formed a certain belief system about the world, and who adhere to that belief system no matter what evidence to the contrary arises.

We could call this the “Fact Blindness Syndrome” or FBS for short.

While there’s been lots of documentation of FBS by certain skeptics when it comes to religions, there’s not nearly as much documentation of FBS about the skeptics. That’s because the skeptics have used the tools of logical deconstruction to pretend to be “above the fray” and therefore immune to attack.

Much like climate change deniers, they just attack, deconstruct, and negate, conveniently ignoring or trivializing facts that don’t fit the model.

My favorite example of this is the response skeptics have when I bring up the Princeton Pear Labs and their 20 years of experiments showing that the mind has a (very) subtle influence over matter.

These folks that started Princeton Pear Labs didn’t set out to be weirdos who were derided repeatedly by scientific skeptics. Who would do that to their own career?

No, instead, they set out early on, when Brenda Dunne was a graduate student, to test a simple hypothesis: “Can mind influence matter?”

Her adviser was initially a skeptic, but not so much so that he didn’t let her try the experiments. He gave the nod, in the name of “good science.” He was a good scientist, because truly good scientists always approach experiments with an open mind, rather than with pre-conceived notion of what’s true.

Lo and behold, they started getting some weird data. Weird in the sense that it didn’t fit the conventional wisdom that says mind just keeps to itself, and of course can’t influence the movement of matter except directly through motions caused by nerves and muscles.

They remained cautious. They did hundreds of experiments, and later thousands. What emerged was clear evidence that the mind has a very subtle, remote effect on material systems that is tied in with intentionality of the experimental subject.

Now, the skeptics like to do the same thing climate change deniers do: they go on the attack. They make claims like “maybe they were doing bad science.” Well, it takes only a cursory reading of their research papers to understand that they were very careful in their experiments.

Another claim: “they were falsifying data to boost their careers.” Yet this is logically unsound; nobody would hope to boost their career by going so much against the grain of conventional wisdom as the folks at PEAR Labs have. Besides, the accusers have not once found any real evidence of experimental fraud. Furthermore, others have replicated these kinds of results in disparate labs, showing effects of the mind on all sorts of experimental systems.

What’s really going on here is that the skeptics are no different than religious fanatics. They have a certain model of the world, i.e. a very strong belief that mind is simply a byproduct of biochemistry, and they are unwilling to admit evidence to the contrary. Worse, they attack anything that doesn’t fit their model.

And like the climate change deniers – who are backed by powerful interests that don’t want to curb carbon emissions – the science skeptics are actually backed by powerful religions like the Catholic Church.

SCREECH…. SAY WHAT!?

Ok, to be clear, I’m not saying that there is money directly funneled from the Catholic Church or any other church to the skeptics. I have no evidence of such thing or reason to believe that such thing is happening.

Instead, I’m talking about a “philosophical backing.” The two are philosophical brethren, each coming from the same basic world view. While the religions view the world as originating from God, and the skeptical materialists view the world as originating from ???? (Randomness?), they both end up at the same place when it comes to where we are now.

They both promulgate the view that the world as it is is a cold, hard, material place. They both promulgate the view that mind doesn’t influence matter. To many religions this is the highest form of heresy, a sort of “witch magic.” To the skeptics, it is the highest form of heresy, a sort of “fantasy witch magic.”

Weird, isn’t it, that the skeptics who often claim to be so much against religious-type thinking end up adopting the same kind of mindset as the people they struggle against, which boils down to Fact Blindness Syndrome.

In the end, for those who truly believe in the scientific method – which is an open-minded exploration of how our world works – skepticism is no more helpful than any religious fanaticism. Neither one pursues the real truth, according to the facts and the data. Both pursue the truth according to some pre-ordained viewpoint of reality, and that isn’t good science.

If you truly care about science, then perhaps it’s time to drop skepticism. That doesn’t mean that one doesn’t carefully examine the facts or data to be sure self-delusion is not involved in any interpretation. However, when that is a one-sided examination of the data with a firmly-rooted belief system in the background, then self-delusion is assured, and FBS reigns supreme!

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