Shermer the Splitter

Well, not quite, but a vague Monty Python allusion is always a nice start, don’t you think

This article is interesting. A bit ambiguous; I don’t quite know what’s going on with it, and I can’t seem to find any commentary. Michael Shermer was part of my holy trinity (Shermer, Dawkins and Harris, thanks for asking) back in the day and I have a pile of Skeptic magazines upstairs that are still good if I need to rebut a homoeopath or anti-vaccer.

But is he saying that this was a paranormal experience? In the past he has explained occurrences away with the precise ‘billions of things mean that a coincidence will happen’ explanation that he seems to dismiss in the article. I’m annoyed by the fact that he admits that he would dismiss it out of hand if it had been someone else. YES, WE KNOW. It’s always the skeptics arrogantly telling people that they didn’t have the experience in the way that they think they did because, well, science and the dominant paradigm and all that. But ‘shook my skepticism to its core’. Really? or hyperbole? I’m expecting him to reveal it as a social experiment or similar next week.

The comments aren’t particularly glowing, are they? Skeptics are such poor losers. Much arrogance, many rudeness. It reminds me of when Anthony Flew came out as a Deist in the 2000s. Of course he had to be suffering mental decline, didn’t he? No possibility that his lifetime quest of following where the evidence leads could direct him to belief.

God I sound cranky tonight. I must go and carry some water.

7 thoughts on “Shermer the Splitter

  1. …. or maybe go chop some wood? 🙂

    It is interesting, because while this would have seemed freaky, it would be easier to pass off in a naturalistic way than some events, perhaps some near death experiences (NDEs). I wouldn’t have expected someone like Shermer to have been unsettled by this.

    I remember reading of atheist philosopher AJ Ayer who apparently saw “the supreme being” while having an NDE, and he apparently remained an atheist afterwards and not much changed in his beliefs, though his wife said he was a nicer person after he died!

    • Yes, the amazing NDE and past life evidence ( my personal road- to- Damascus material) is way more convincing than this, I would have thought. That’s why I thought that there would be a ‘gotcha’ moment, but this is from September so everyone’s probably forgotten about it.
      But it’s the comments that really upset me ( and I’m still thrown by the way the comment section on your blog degenerated recently, btw. You conducted yourself beautifully). Shermer is incredibly well respected and intelligent and has such a solid fan base. But the complete inability of people to say ‘Wow, this is out of left field but I respect you and your opinion so let me have a think about what you’ve just said’ is mind blowing. Any deviation from the party line is not to be tolerated.

      Ok, more chopping wood needed…

  2. That caught my attention, too. I even did a post on my blog a while back. I also noticed the sour tone of the skeptic comments. Those guys seem to me more cynic than skeptic.

  3. DougB brought the article to my attention. I read some of the comments and just stopped. I don’t think that the skeptics understood that it wasn’t the fact that the radio came on that was so strange because it does have natural explanations; it was the timing of it that was noteworthy. At any rate I was left with the impression that he and his [also skeptic] wife just wanted to leave it as a treasured memory rather than analyze it to it’s core. Even skeptics have emotions. 😉

    • Ha! What I find disingenuous is the fact that the has made it his life work to take examples of ‘weird’ things and then take them apart point by point, reducing them and proving, to his standards, that the are false. I don’t understand why he has changed the goal posts here and left it as ‘wow, that’s really bizarre’.

  4. Shermer is simply saying that all of us — even professional skeptics — are human. He’s pointing out how difficult it is even for the most dedicated reasoners to sidestep their own deep emotions. It’s also a lesson about the challenges of maintaining a mind that is both open and skeptical: ultimately it’s a tricky balancing act. At the frontiers of thought — where sometimes weird events turn out to be real — it can be hard to navigate toward the “best practices” for solving the mysteries of reality.

    Shermer is brave enough to reveal his own doubts and yearnings, if only to expose them to the light of day. I trust him more when he confesses to temptation; I’d trust him less if he presented himself as a bastion of perfect reasoning.

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