Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Science

Interviews: James Randi Answers Your Questions 217

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-can't-handle-the-truth dept.
A while ago you had the chance to ask James Randi, the founder of The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF), about exposing hucksters, frauds, and fakers. Below you'll find his answers to your questions. In addition to his writings below, Randi was nice enough to sit down and talk to us about his life and his foundation. Keep an eye out for those videos coming soon.
Human Progress?
by eldavojohn

Sometimes when I see tabloids and crap at grocery stores I wonder if humanity is really making progress in the skepticism department. I think there are more people today that are skeptical of all things paranormal than there were years ago but I believe that only because the population has been increasing. Percentage-wise, I fear we may still be at the level humanity has been at throughout history. You can find writings dating way back of people who were "in the know" about what was fake and what was real. As science has increased our realm of knowledge, it seems that paranormal seekers have just found it in other mediums. So what is your opinion on humanity's track record for belief in the paranormal versus skepticism? Have we made progress? Are we forever doomed to deal with a percentage of the population who want to believe?

Randi: It's hard to say, but I think that yes, we're always going to have irrational attitudes to deal with. It is what I’ve called the whack-a-mole problem of skepticism. You have to keep fighting back the nonsense every time it pokes its head out. Judging by the mail and email we receive, I believe we're making substantial progress, however.



query
by LokiSteve

What's the most dangerous lie perpetuated by the people you bust?

Randi: Spurious claims of healing, which directly misdirect and misinform those who are most vulnerable. This is why we support the important work of the Science Based Medicine project and Dr. Steve Novella and the rest of the doctors. The JREF just came out with books on pseudoscientific medical claims, so-called “complementary and alternative medicine,” or CAM, in coordination with them. These are topics like homeopathy and naturopothy. Many other titles on other CAM topics are forthcoming in the months ahead.



Best fraud?
by TrumpetPower!

Mr. Amazing, Of the various people who've tried for the prize, which one do you think would have made the best entertainer / carnie / whatever had he or she not been so serious about the reality of the trick?

Randi: None of them have been very entertaining except Uri Geller, who has gone a long way on a 4-trick repertoire...



risks of cash rewards?
by Jodka

When offering a $1 million reward to anyone who successfully demonstrates proof of the paranormal you risk failing to debunk some paranormal claims, not because paranormal activity actually exists, but because the ruse is either so technologically advanced or clever that investigators fail to identify the means of deception. How concerned were you about this possibility and have you ever had any "close calls" where you almost failed to discover the trick?

Randi: I have never been very concerned about that. The "means of deception" have never been especially difficult to solve, though I rather wish that a really clever operator would come my way just to provide a bit of a challenge.



Placebo Effectiveness of faith healing
by Bananatree3

Through your years of research on faith healing, homeopathy and other "magical" cures...have you found some of them more "effective" than others due to the Placebo Effect? Many people have superstitions, charms and other things they personally believe bring them good luck...and I wonder how much of this magical healing and luck bringing is real due to the Placebo Effect. Of course it is not "magic", but the power of a Placebo is still statistically valid in certain cases it seems.

Randi: Re the placebo effect, it only makes you feel better momentarily. The question I ask: "do you want to actually BE better, or only FEEL better?"



Can a Christian or theist be a skeptic?
by irenaeous

I ask this because I used to regard myself as a Christian skeptic. While I support what you do and much of the work of the skeptical movement, I now no longer make that claim because current skepticism seems joined at the hip with atheism. I am sure you know, one of the early leaders of the skeptic movement, Martin Gardner, was a theist and a self professed liberal Christian. Are people like Martin Gardner welcome in the movement today. And, as a Christian I thank you for exposing the televangelist faith healing frauds.

Randi: First, I never knew of Martin as a Christian, though he was a theist. He told me that he had no evidence at all for his theism, but it simply made him feel better - which I granted him, easily. You certainly do not need to be an atheist to be a good skeptic, as JREF president D.J. Grothe has argued before on randi.org.



Is it true
by Intrepid imaginaut

Is it true that your organisation is a front to attract the mystically endowed and drain them of their powers to feed the unholy appetites of a cabal of dark theurgists and further their quest to challenge the illuminati for control of the mortal world, leading ultimately to human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, and mass hysteria?

Randi: How did you ever figure that out? I thought we were doing such an effective job at the cover-up.



repercussions?
by poetmatt

Have you ever had significant repercussions from debunking what is essentially garbage? Have people ever actually threatened you for supposedly crushing any livelihoods, which were then based on fraud?

Randi: No, and yes. Lots of threats over the years, but no action...



Is it possible to eliminate magical thinking?
by iris-n

Have you ever succeeded in changing someone's beliefs in pseudoscience? Do you think that it is possible to do so in a large scale, to move humanity towards a more rational way of thinking? Sorry for the down tone, but I have plenty of experience in failing to convince people of the falsehood in astrology, homeopathy, acupunture, etc., and very little in succeeding.

Randi: 3 questions... #1, no, it will always be with us to a greater or lesser extent. But so will many other problems, and that doesn’t mean we just give up and ignore them. Firefighters never give up because there will always be a new fire to put out. #2, yes, frequently, judging from the responses we receive. #3, eventually, and that is why I started The James Randi Educational Foundation, in order to continue and expand on the work I have been doing for decades...



I've always wondered
by mog007

What's your favorite magic trick?

Randi: This is one of those "what's your favorite color" questions... Or "favorite movie, favorite country, favorite song..." If I answered it, would you know what I was talking about? I guess my answer would be “the next trick that would work!” Seriously though, it is probably a mindreading trick I invented involving any book randomly chosen from a bookshelf, and that could be at a bookstore, a library or someone’s home. I have been performing it for many decades.



Your best performance?
by TrumpetPower!

Most people know you for your work laying bare the schemes of fraudsters, and not enough people realize that you really are as good as your stage name. What's the best show you've ever performed that's been recorded and how can we see it?

Randi: I've no idea, really. I've been performing for more than 75 years, and I've done thousands of performances, of which only a very small fraction were recorded. I guess that favorites would include my appearance on Happy Days, or performing the first card trick from outer space with astronaut Ed Lu. But again, there were so many that it is hard to say.



Tell a good anecdote
by vlm

I ask all the "computer programmer" interview types for their proudest chunk of code, in your case I'm just asking for the coolest anecdote / story / bust / event. Not a one liner and not a novel, just a paragraph or so about the coolest most interesting single incident / anecdote you were involved in. Here's one paragraph on your coolest/favorite single incident.

Randi: I am happy to say that I share a number of such anecdotes in the new feature length documentary being made about me called An Honest Liar. Take a look!



Legacy
by abies

While we all hope you will live as long as possible and continue your work, do you think that somebody will pick up your legacy and continue to debunk the fraudsters when you are not longer able to? Do you have trusted people to whom you are willing to hand over the responsibility, both financially and skill-wise?

Randi: I'll depend on my team at the JREF continuing after I'm no longer here, and I trust that it will. (It needs your support to do so, and I’m unapologetic saying so.) The JREF is a great group of people who are in line with my way of thinking, and care about continuing the unique work, including JREF president D.J. Grothe who is helping take the organization to new heights; my longtime friend the magician and skeptic Jamy Ian Swiss, who is a JREF Senior Fellow; Banachek who runs our Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge (video), and the rest of our wonderful staff, volunteers and supporters. And there are many others, like the great Penn and Teller, skeptic Michael Shermer, and the people who come to The Amaz!ng Meeting each year.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Interviews: James Randi Answers Your Questions

Comments Filter:
  • I've seen many people fall for this trap, and some have lost their lives too. There are some who're even propagating that just thinking that you will be healed will absolve you of the disease, and you will be leading a happy life all again. But what irks me the most is that most of these people I know are Engineers and Doctors, people who've studied Science and know how it works.
    • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @01:34PM (#43304663)

      I've seen many people fall for this trap, and some have lost their lives too. There are some who're even propagating that just thinking that you will be healed will absolve you of the disease, and you will be leading a happy life all again. But what irks me the most is that most of these people I know are Engineers and Doctors, people who've studied Science and know how it works.

      Why? While I oppose the idea of "faith healing" and see its dangers; I can understand why people who would normally be rational would fall for it. Faith is a very powerful POV; and often people who fall back on "faith healing" are suffering from something that is incurable or very serious and "faith healing" provides the the hope of getting better. Hope, as is said, is the last to die and so people ignore the rational in order to hope.

      • "faith healing" provides the hope of getting better.

        Faith healing provides FALSE hope for REAL money.

      • by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Thursday March 28, 2013 @06:41PM (#43307497) Journal

        Well, I have a relative who is a Christian faith healer. Doesn't believe in evolution either, of course. But she's actually quite intelligent, except when it comes to critical thinking. Has this fanatic zeal about her that she readily engages to fend off inconvenient facts and logic. As far as I can tell, she really believes in her own nonsense, and isn't a fraud in that way. I don't know if her intervention has lead to anyone else's premature death, but it's a strong possibility. When she herself needs medical care, she fights but eventually caves and sees a real doctor. Nearly killed herself off by not getting help soon enough for acute appendicitis, and went only after it burst. You'd think that when the pain is so bad that you can't walk and have to crawl around, you'd seek help. That however was only partly due to faith in faith healing. She's also a chip off the old block, as her father also did not see a doctor soon enough when he had the same problem, and he was never into religious hooey, he was just stubborn. (It burst but he lived. Took him months to fully recover.) What mental contortions she does to rationalize all that, I couldn't say. But her intelligence only serves to make her more convincing to the suckers. She knows to keep a wary distance from me, however, as I've burst her bubbles on several occasions. Some years ago she related this nutty conspiracy about a mysterious 6 story building (with a 6x6 layout of rooms on each floor, I suppose) in Belgium, in which all the vital statistics such as name, address, number, and a few other details of everyone in the world were being stored for nefarious purposes. She was in shock after I pointed out that a stack of CDs one person could carry around could hold enough data for that, no need for a whole building. Sometimes those conspiracy theories get laughably dated.

        As for suffering from incurable or very serious problems, not always. She once related how she had faith healed ... a lawn mower! That's right, a lawn mower. I had thought faith healing was reserved for big problems, but if a lawn mower is a fit subject, I guess nothing is too petty for a little divine intervention.

        I don't know that anything can be done for her, to straighten out her messed up thinking.

  • Placebo effect (Score:5, Interesting)

    by femtobyte (710429) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @01:30PM (#43304611)

    Re the placebo effect, it only makes you feel better momentarily. The question I ask: "do you want to actually BE better, or only FEEL better?"

    This is the one place I disagree with Randi in this interview. The placebo effect has been repeatedly scientifically proven to be pretty amazingly effective at making people better, by objective measures of health/recovery. It's the gold standard against which "real" medicine is compared (and sometimes fails to do much better, while adding more side effects). Of course, when there is a real treatment that performs better than placebo in blind trials, people should be getting that. Using placebos dishonestly --- raking in tons of money while keeping people from known effective cures --- is the problem. But it's a worthwhile area of study to learn (possibly by observing the quacks) how *real* doctors can best harness the power of placebo effects in their patient care procedures, bolstering the effectiveness and reducing side effects of actual medications.

    • The problem is the use of placebo in practice is dishonest. A doctor you are supposed to trust inherently is essentially lying to you, this is the problem. Now when testing new drugs it is ok because you are not yet sure of the new substances efficacy. Now, if that drug is dramatically beating placebo it becomes unethical to continue. The Tuskegee syphilis studies became unethical as penicillin was discovered to be effective, and was withheld.g

      • by femtobyte (710429)

        Dishonesty is troublesome. However, in many cases, I think *honest* forms of placebo can be developed. Placebos don't operate on the rational/analytical levels of the brain --- so, in theory, it should be possible to simultaneously directly inform a patient how placebo is being used in their treatment (when not being used in a blind trial), while triggering subconscious feelings of well-being and trust in the treatment. I think I've heard about trials (I can't dig up specific references) where patients are

    • by arkhan_jg (618674)

      The funkiest part for me is that you can have a more or less effective placebo. A sugar pill painkiller in a 'name brand' box is a more effective placebo than one in plain packaging, and both are more effective at the apparent relief of mild pain than doing nothing. Also, having a sit down consult with a doctor followed by placebo is more effective than a placebo just given by a pharmacist. When it comes to mild depression, most anti-depressants are barely more effective than placebo (though severe depressi

      • by femtobyte (710429)

        Of course, knowing that what you're getting is a placebo destroys the effect, which makes it hard to study with informed patient consent...

        I'm not certain this is true, as I responded to another post above. I think you can rationally know that a treatment is a placebo --- but, so long as you subconsciously trust that placebos are themselves effective treatments, you can still get the benefits. The conscious level of the brain that worries about distinguishing between the chemical formula for sucrose and $EXPENSIVE_DRUG, and their relative biochemical pathways, isn't the same as the subconscious part that needs treatment for pain/depression.

      • I remember reading or hearing something about placebos awhile back where they were discussing that the efficacy of placebo was apparently directly tied to the amount of time that was spent preparing the placebo for use by the patient. They actually tied this back to homeopathy and why it has persisted for as long as it has by pointing out that if you go to practitioner that they are going to sit with you for a couple minutes, get to know your problem, and then prepare the tincture for you to take. The argum
      • The funkiest part for me is that you can have a more or less effective placebo. A sugar pill painkiller in a 'name brand' box is a more effective placebo than one in plain packaging, and both are more effective at the apparent relief of mild pain than doing nothing

        Sometimes I wish I was stupid enough for placebo's to work on me. instead I have a medical professional explain every unknown medicine and procedure to me each time I receive one. It sucks the magic out of it, but I would like to think this makes me healthier as I have a much better knowledge of what treatment my body is getting.

        Perhaps my comfort of knowing just what the treatment is doing to/for me is my placebo.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      The placebo effect has been repeatedly scientifically proven to be pretty amazingly effective at making people better, by objective measures of health/recovery.

      Mind over matter only works when there is a mental component to the disease. Placebos work great at alleviating pain, which is well known to be modulated by descending afferant neurons in the spinal cord. Placebos work great when stress is part of the pathology. Stress releases cortisol that aggravates gastric ulcers, so placebos help with ulcers.

      • Re:Placebo effect (Score:5, Informative)

        by femtobyte (710429) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @04:09PM (#43306273)

        Even in "purely mechanical" pathologies like broken bones, scientifically studying and implementing "placebo" components of treatment can have beneficial effects. While the underlying cause of such pathologies is not amenable to placebo treatment, they carry along a lot of pain, stress, and anxiety, too. A good doctor should know both how to set the bone and apply the cast, and how to minimize the suffering of the recovering patient (so they don't spend the next few weeks intently focusing on their pain and how much they want to scratch itchy spots under the cast). Use of placebo doesn't necessarily mean giving the patient some additional magic-woo-woo tincture; it's things that can be built in to the bare technical process for slapping on a cast. What sort of "bedside manner" framing of the medical procedure can the doctor present, so the patient leaves subconsciously satisfied that they will have a relatively easy and painless recuperation (with better long-term results than hooking them on massive addictive painkiller drug doses)? Success in this aspect of care is amenable to scientific scrutiny, perhaps even by learning from and systematizing what successful quacks do to con their patients into feeling cured.

    • ... But it's a worthwhile area of study to learn (possibly by observing the quacks) how *real* doctors can best harness the power of placebo effects in their patient care procedures, bolstering the effectiveness and reducing side effects of actual medications.

      Agreed, something as simple as a bit of bedside manner can make a world of good to an ill patient. But this does not replace real treatment for real diseases. All the feel-good-placebo in the world is not going to do you a damn bit of good when you get cancer.

    • by muridae (966931)

      Having suffered from chronic pain for +20 years, I'd have settle for just feeling better. I saw many specialists over the years, all of them agreed that "there is nothing wrong" either physically, neurologically (local or brain), or mentally/emotionally. Now days, cases like mine have been studied (I've seen myself mentioned in a few, or cases identical in age and other factors seen by my doctors) and the last specialist I saw said "Oh, yeah, this happens, we have proof now. Go see a pain specialist and jus

  • Although it is probably true that there will always be a fraud in need of skeptics, I do think that his work shows that perhaps we may someday be able to mitigate it to the extent that we can limit the danger to only the most credulous of individuals. And maybe we can limit the damage that these frauds do to those people. So, in that regard, having an organized group like JREF is a real step forward for humanity, and I hope it receives the support it needs to continue the work.

    • by narcc (412956)

      I do think that his work shows that perhaps we may someday be able to mitigate it

      What are the fruits of JREF's labor? Randi has had virtually no impact on even his most high-profile targets. Silvia Brown is still making millions and Uri Geller is still at it -- his recent T.V. show ran for three seasons, on networks across Europe. (He bought a freakin' island as recently as 2009.)

      Even Peter Popoff, Randi's only notable success, is back at it. You'll be disappointed to know that Popoff is making millions upon millions every year.

      Further, JREF doesn't seem to do anything related to edu

      • by TapeCutter (624760) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @07:57PM (#43307955) Journal

        What work?

        Hard to believe that the US military in Iraq was trying to detect IDE's with dowsing sticks [randi.org], but it happened and Randi was instrumental in exposing the scam.

        I also credit the man with teaching me the difference between science and woo by explaining the proper role of skepticism in science. You see, I was a teenage fan (18-20) of Uri Geller back in the late seventies, he "fixed" my broken watch by starting at the TV, pretty strong proof, huh. Thing is, Randi's book did in one night what years of HS science could not, taught me the meaning of scientific skepticism and it's role in assessing ANY claim. For this I am eternally grateful to the man and a great admirer of his lifetime of work that not only exposes dangerous scams, but has also given countless people a basic "bullshit detection kit" that can dramatically alter the course of people lives.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        He isn't trying to impact those con artists and loons. He is trying, and succeeding, in impacting the general population and spreading the values of critical thinking.

        " JREF doesn't seem to do anything related to education or outreach."
        well, you are wrong. A simple visit to the website would have shown you that.

        I see, you are ignorant of the work, so clearly they don't do work.
        http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/component/content/article/37-static/1066-education.html [randi.org]

        Haters got to hate, huh?

        • by narcc (412956)

          Hmmm... 10k a year in scholarships vs Randi's 6-figure salary.

          He is trying, and succeeding, in impacting the general population and spreading the values of critical thinking.

          Perhaps you should try applying that alleged critical thinking to JREF.

          Hero worshipers got to worship, huh?

  • I'm skeptical (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dkleinsc (563838) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @01:43PM (#43304755) Homepage

    What proof do we have that this was really James Randi answering the questions, and not just somebody (say, someone else at JREF) claiming to be Randi?

    • The dry wit, perhaps? Hard to match the exact tone of a Randi joke. Not impossible, but certainly evidence against an imposter.

  • I respect Randi and the work that he does, but I'm sadly disappointed with this interview. I was really hoping for more involved answers here; there's barely anything resembling a thought-provoking response among the bunch. Perhaps I was spoiled by the recent Dr. Bakkar Q&A.

    • Given that Dr. Bakker got a ton of crap for "omg wall of text you didn't answer any of our questions!" I'd wager that you're in the minority, unfortunately.
      • I found that a strange response from Slashdotters, considering the extra effort it took. It was far more interesting in my mind than a simple q + a. I think it was more to do with attention seekers wanting their question answered directly in the article giving them a namecheck than any legitimate criticism.
    • by JBMcB (73720)

      No, they do seem somewhat perfunctory.

  • Martin Gardner (Score:5, Informative)

    by irenaeous (898337) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @01:53PM (#43304841) Journal
    I asked the question regarding whether a Christian could be a skeptic. I called Martin Gardner a "self-described liberal Christian" which I tried to correct in a comment to my original post. He was a theist and was raised as a Christian, but my thinking of him as a liberal Christian was based on a misreading of one of his books where he appealed to "Liberal Christians" or "Philosophical Theists" using both terms. So I confounded them. On further reading it seems clear to me that he rejected religious traditions including Christianity while retaining as stance as a philosophical theist. Randi's answer was both accurate and charitable. He is a great man.
    • Re:Martin Gardner (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Teckla (630646) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @04:42PM (#43306571)

      I asked the question regarding whether a Christian could be a skeptic. I called Martin Gardner a "self-described liberal Christian" which I tried to correct in a comment to my original post. He was a theist and was raised as a Christian, but my thinking of him as a liberal Christian was based on a misreading of one of his books where he appealed to "Liberal Christians" or "Philosophical Theists" using both terms. So I confounded them. On further reading it seems clear to me that he rejected religious traditions including Christianity while retaining as stance as a philosophical theist. Randi's answer was both accurate and charitable. He is a great man.

      I really liked your question. Thanks for asking it. Unfortunately, I didn't feel the answer fully addressed your question.

      I started out as a Christian [1], and throughout my life have switched between generic (non-Christian) theist, agnostic, and atheist several times. I've kind of settled on agnostic as the most intellectually honest place to be. As an agnostic, I feel downright unwelcome in the "skeptical community" which, as you say, seems joined at the hip with atheism. Their position (spoken or unspoken) seems to be that if you're not an atheist, you're a dummy. As much as I enjoy and appreciate all the things the "skeptical community" does, I'm not really eager to join their ranks when they think I'm a dummy for being agnostic rather than atheist. Oh well...

      [1] I was a child at the time, so it's probably more accurate to say that I was the child of Christian parents, and far too young to make my own decision about what I was or was not.

      • by irenaeous (898337)

        Thank you. I understand your feeling. People are diverse. Atheists are no different. While some can be friendly and civil to religious believers or theists (like Teller of Penn and Teller), others can be extremely nasty and intolerant. It sounds to me like you have had some discussions looking at arguments from both sides only to have one side slapped down with insults and ad-hominem that made you feel put down even though you are trying to be objective, open minded and agnostic and not taking the thei

  • I knew it.

  • I've got a question that I didn't think of to ask in time for the interview.
    Have you ever gone into a situation where you thought you would be debunking something only to find out that the person was on the level?

    I'm thinking if a debunker had heard of penicillin (being cured of small pox by using bread mold!?!) he would have been able to cast dispersions on Fleming etc. Is there ever a case where you were debunking actual advancement and decided that it didn't need to be debunked after all?

    • by Microlith (54737)

      Totally not Randi here, but what the hey!

      Have you ever gone into a situation where you thought you would be debunking something only to find out that the person was on the level?

      Given the crackpots and claims that are tested, I think we'd have heard about someone winning the million dollars by now.

      if a debunker had heard of penicillin (being cured of small pox by using bread mold!?!

      Well, then said debunker would have been dead right quick as smallpox is a virus, and we know all about viruses and antibiotics

  • I personally know 3 religious people who have each had, at one time in their lives, a medically diagnosed condition which was being monitored carefully by their physician after discovery, and that spontaneously disappeared from existence after a period of time ranging from a few weeks to almost a year with absolutely no evident medical explanation (for one of them, in particular, one of the last ultrasounds they were to have had before an upcoming surgery was unable to find any evidence of the condition fo

    • by green1 (322787) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @03:44PM (#43306027)

      That would be interesting... except that the exact same thing happens to athiests too. Medical misdiagnosis are unfortunately common, and along with the body's own natural healing ability, account for every one of these cases. When it comes to minor aches and pains, mental condition and the body's own healing ability can handle a lot. When it comes to the larger issues, ones that would require surgery to solve, in every one of these cases that has ever been investigated and the claims are properly analyzed, it turns out the initial diagnosis was wrong.

    • Why is it so difficult to believe that a disease that comes on suddenly and without explanation, can cure itself the same way?

      I personally wouldn't put my faith in pancreatic cancer spontaneously disappearing, but I certainly put my faith in a head cold, the flu, the mumps, chicken pox, etc. going away spontaneously. We view diseases as either self-curing, or not - but certainly there is a spectrum ranging from 99.9% of the time self-curing, to 0.0001% of the time self-curing (or worse). If you have a dis

    • by Rhacman (1528815)
      No medical diagnosis can be made with 100% confidence. Additionally, current medical science does not give us the ability to know exactly how a condition will affect a specific individual and to what extent that individual's body can recover by its own means. It is possible they were misdiagnosed, it is possible their bodies naturally overcame their conditions by means the observing doctors couldn't explain, and it is possible that the Flying Spaghetti Monster cured them with his noodly appendage, we simp
      • by mark-t (151149)

        No medical diagnosis can be made with 100% confidence

        True... but when you see things like tumors or cysts when you're doing an examination, which is later confirmed by ultrasound, and they don't seem to be of a type that would naturally just go away, and their presence is supposedly confirmed by a second technician's examination, and when a followup is done several months later, so that the surgeon will know the full extent of material that needs to be removed in case there was any change, there's suddenly

        • by geekoid (135745)

          "there's suddenly no trace of them sort of makes you go... "huh"?"
          there is nothing unusual in what you said. the body can cure that stuff on it'sown depending on the person and whay not. cysts come and go all the time. That was the core of the recent breast screening changes.

          • by mark-t (151149)
            I'm not saying that what you're saying isn't possible, and could very well be what happened, but that doesn't change the WTF factor when something is supposedly not going to go away without surgery.
    • by Hatta (162192)

      The experiments have been done. Spontaneous remission of disease occurs at exactly the same rate in believers and non-believers, and in those who pray or do not pray. That you know three such people who happen to be religious is coincidence, and probably a bit of selection bias.

      • by mark-t (151149)
        Well, I know plenty of non-religious people too... but none of them that I personally know has ever had a medical situation whose resolution was as inexplicable. At least not to the best of my knowledge.
        • by geekoid (135745)

          either it's a small sample size, of non believer don't go on any on with how no god cured them?

  • "Never Trust Anyone who Claims to be a keeper of truth."

    "Always remember to seek truth."

    "Truth is a Three Edged Sword. Your Truth, my truth and the truth itself."

    -Hackus

  • Randi is a good-egg and we need more people like him who are alert to frauds. I'm also appalled at irrational rejection of medical treatment on the basis of quackery. But there's one little bit of good that can come from an, ahem, 'healer' if they have confidence that the patient can catch onto. To go with many medical conditions is a load of mental baggage and even legit pills that fuzz thinking. It helps enormously if the patient leaves their complex regrets, hang-ups and attention to trivial detai
  • by dcollins117 (1267462) on Thursday March 28, 2013 @05:16PM (#43306867)

    Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions.

    You probably knew going into this that /. is much like an asylum full of raving lunatics hell bent on arguing over the minutiae of each and every point just for the hell of it.

    I found your responses to be an interesting read, and I'm glad you're still fighting the good fight.

Prediction is very difficult, especially of the future. - Niels Bohr

Working...