No, I’m not mentioning any names. No way I’m stepping into that mess again. I want to be absolutely clear that this blog is not about any individual person, rather it is about a set of circumstances that have led to a controversy that is whirling around like an endlessly running toilet on the Internet and for which many skeptics are in such a tizzy. Lots of people are curious to know what happened and why at TAM8′s Sunday night “demonstration.” There are many questions and few answers. That’s fine for the most part and please believe me when I state that I personally understand why “radio silence” has been invoked by so many. It’s a sticky issue that defies any easy explanation. Unfortunately the Big Picture can’t be swept under the carpet forever. Now that I’ve got your complete attention, here’s the main question that has remained cloudy and unanswered by JREF, CFI and the greater skeptical community: If you are going to present a session on how a professional challenge is handled and the protocol and procedures that go into it, why choose as the subject a medical medium who has been previously falsified by a reputable investigation group to use as the center of attention?
I have only heard a partial answer. To some, JREF’s ultimate point in inviting this particular psychic claimant was to showcase the difficulties of clarifying any claim, getting complete open and shut issues out in the open and providing the biggest skeptical event of the year with the kind of real world drama that can occur when dealing with psychics, healers or medical mediums in a challenge situation. From the get go that goal was known by many (including JREF) to be well-nigh impossible to accomplish. Moving targets often make for bad press and endless excuses. Either someone didn’t do their homework or for whatever reason some serious slack was given. This claimant’s well-known confused and contradictory nature was already noted, tested and falsified on more than one occasion by several qualified skeptics who have worked hard to keep just such a repeat event like Sunday night from happening. So why was this particular person chosen as a last minute “secret” addition to the schedule? Who made that call?
We can only guess.
I certainly understand showmanship and the concept of using suspense, a “celebrity” draw and indefinite information to generate buzz and excitement, but this was a little too much hype and too little respect for those of us who saw this coming months ago. If you don’t think at least one skeptic put this prediction in writing, (without any psychic ability being used at all) please read about the promised “big reveal” in the comment section#13, paragraph two from “Sex in the Seance Room” post here back on 3 April 2010.
Other more trusted and balanced sample subjects could have easily stood in as a cardboard claimant and by using the released IIG documents detailing the previously falsified claim as a template and recounting the various problems experienced in that example, a lot of hurt feelings could have been avoided. It’s interesting to note that the paper on this previously falsified claimant offered to TAM8 by the IIG’s Steven Muscarella was not chosen by JREF to be read. Why not?
If that painstaking treatise had been given a proper airing and cooler heads had prevailed, the inevitable subterfuge, manipulations, twists and whack-brained excuses we are now hearing and will likely continue to see sprout up as they have a pattern of doing wouldn’t be surfacing all over the Internet. As it is, this so-called non-tested individual is now taking full advantage of every opportunity to sow the seeds of discontent, all the while skirting for their own notoriety the line between “test” and “demonstration.” In addition, as if to suggest some successful advocacy or partnership, this person’s woo website now sports both the IIG logo and the TAM8 logo as part of the total picture page they are pitching to the world. This makes all of us look shabby. Yes, we may have open minds and be willing to entertain our doubts to a certain extent, but I for one will not court disaster by second-guessing cold hard facts.
Even though it was made clear by JREF that this “demonstration” was most emphatically tagged as “not a test,” that’s easy to say if they had invited a sane and rational person on stage. But now the IIG and those of us who put tons of extra time and energy into exposing this fraud, falsify their ridiculous and totally unsupported woo and attempt to put the lid on their nonsense once and for all are now looking at being needlessly drawn back into the fray. Read my follow up to the first April blog, “Enough is Enough… Again,” 24 April 2010 where my own impromptu tests are thoroughly explained, debated and accompanied by video links to document the whole adventure.
Does the right hand know what the left hand is doing in the skeptical community? Or is there some form of competition arising between one coast’s organization and the other? Does anybody listen to me or am I shouting in a bucket? Just wondering.
Other inexplicable events transpired over that weekend that are far beyond my present at-a-distance level of comprehension to even comment upon. I dare not scratch the surface for fear of being censored or summarily dismissed from this blog for even going near them.
I chose not to attend TAM8 for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was a gut feeling, (call it a premonition) that things were just too dicey in these and other areas for me to be standing on the side lines like Nero fiddling around while Rome burned. I might not have been able to control my natural proclivity to be a loose cannon. There was just too much at stake. I’m trying really hard to stay focused on keeping active by doing things and getting things done that can really make a difference for our movement. Aside from these issues, (that are largely of my own making) I’m sure that anybody attending TAM8 who was there for the first time and not aware of what was going on underneath had a most empowering time. It’s one of the world’s greatest events.
Maybe next year?