Randi’s Blunder

I was away from the internet for a week on my vacation and I came back after a shitstorm left poo all over my Google Reader.

I’m relatively ambivalent to the “situation” surrounding Randi’s global climate change essay on the JREF blog this week. It wasn’t so much what he said, it seems, that got people riled, but the way he said it – with logical fallacies and arguments that reminded me of reading a creationist or truther blog (look at this petition signed by real scienticians, science has been wrong before, and arguments from authority and personal incredulity). But ok, he screwed up…so what? Call him on it, respectfully (as, IMHO, he’s earned at least that). That’s what we do. The cries that this is the end of the skepticism movement as we know it, that he’s lost his marbles, and that the JREF is now irrelevant to skepticism are just over-the-top inappropriate. The vitriol of some of the comments was surprising, but it seems some people just love to freak out.

We all love to think that if we study hard, keep up on our logic, and think rationally and critically that we’ll eventually be above these mistakes. It’s not gonna happen – especially for subjects for which we are not familiar or expert – and, let’s face it, with the vast amount of scientific knowledge out there, it’s pretty much impossible for one person to be knowledgeable about all of them. I think the real reason people are freaking out is that he’s reminded us that everyone can make mistakes in logic (and judgement, I suppose), and maybe especially for certain topics – even The Amazing! Randi who taught us all so well.

*I’d love to link to the various blogs that covered everything like I usually do to provide a nice summary, but I’m still on vacation at the moment. If I think of it, I’ll come back later and add links.

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2 responses to “Randi’s Blunder

  1. I couldn’t agree more. Everyone makes blunders, somewhere along the line, depending on their own personal view of life. And so what if Randi’s unsettled some of the faithful. It really doesn’t matter a rat’s arse. They probably needed a bit of a shake up. Even the most pure, exalted sceptic among us can get too righteous and po-faced. I personally like the fact Randi’s written something I don’t agree with. It’s about time he got out of my brain!

  2. Actually as an after-thought, ‘even the most pure, exalted sceptic…’ isn’t quite there. Especially those who have stripped out every trace of illogical thinking will all too easily be guilty of righteousness, po-facedness and be a right pain.