Debunking something without checking it is really stupid

The story is told of a kid who didn’t want to eat his spinach or something: “But Daddy, I know I don’t like it because I never tried it before!”

That’s like the self-described “skeptics” who “know” nothing they call “supernatural” could ever happen, like in this blog post:

Titled “Discovery Channel’s “The Supernaturalist” is Super Stupid « The Skeptical Teacher”:
http://skepticalteacher.wordpress.com/2011/07/07/discovery-channels-the-supernaturalist-is-super-stupid/

This is super funny. And she’s even going to use this for a talk in front of a bunch of people, as an example of her own skepticism, apparently without checking it out in any real way.

She was talking about an episode in which an illusionist went looking for some real magic among the Buddhist monks of the East:
http://dsc.discovery.com/videos/the-supernaturalist-videos/

She could at least do what General Lew Wallace did, who set out to prove that there was no such thing as a risen Christ.. Except in his case he found the opposite to his expectations..

She could have done what SImon Greenleaf did, who accepted a challenge to put his legal feet where his mouth was and actually show legal proof of his assertion that the Resurrection was nonsense, and the result was his book, “Testimony of the Evangelists”:
http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/jesus/greenleaf.html
As the intro reads:

Greenleaf, one of the principle founders of the Harvard Law School, originally set out to disprove the biblical testimony concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He was certain that a careful examination of the internal witness of the Gospels would dispel all the myths at the heart of Christianity. But this legal scholar came to the conclusion that the witnesses were reliable, and that the resurrection did in fact happen.

Now I do have this to say about the show.

Why does this guy run all the way around the world to the Himalayas looking for reclusive monks for a supernatural experience, when right at home in the good old USA he could have done what that investigate skeptical journalist Dan Rather did, nemesis to all things religious right wing, in a show I watched with my own eyes on his CBS program.

He took his crew to the Appalachians and found a church of snake handlers, and filmed them handling snakes in a church service. I’m sure that didn’t turn his head too much.

But when they drank the strychnine, that’s where the “show me” kicked in, and he asked for what remained in a glass of poison water that he saw (and recorded) one of the faithful drinking from, and sent it to a lab.

At least he told what any skeptic should accept as the truth, because we all know this. If that had been sugar water he would have gotten kudos from his fellow journalists for exposing a big Elmer Gantry hoax revisited.

But the lab results showed that the believer had drunk enough of the poison to kill a horse.

Me, I don’t think Mark 16 says we have to go through this snake handling and poison drinking, but as skeptical as I am of Dan Rather, I think it’s suggestive enough to make more research worthwhile without a prejudiced a priori dogma.

But there are plenty more people ready to tell their stories of real miracles. Just keep an open mind, that’s all…


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