Do they really read each other's stuff?

#1
I've always had a suspicion that people in the skeptic/atheist/materialist world don't actually read the likes of Sheldrake and Radin, and that people in the New Age/paranormal world don't read authors like Dennett and Dawkins. Rather, both sides just seek out quotations and passages here and there that make their enemies look bad and help them to feel that they're on the right side. Both sides think they're in some kind of battle to save the world, and time is running out. In this kind of situation, there's no time to be charitable or understanding, or to read books by bad people. You've just got to win at all costs.

Anyway, my hunch is that they don't really read each other very much, but it's going to be very difficult to get good data on this, since nobody will want to admit that this is all about tribalism and caricaturing the other side. Almost everybody will say that they've read plenty of books by people on the other side, but it would be fascinating to know the truth about that.
 
C

chuck.drake

#2
I picked up The Selfish Gene in the library a couple of days ago and read a few pages. I just couldn't do it. It didn't speak to me as true. When I read Almaas for instance currently--each sentence reverberates with something that is in me that is beyond thought and language. The sense of truth that I feel from reading it is palpable. But in reading Almaas my desire isn't to build up a belief system, but the exact opposite. I'm not trying to reinforce my conceptualizations, but looking for a tool to tear them away. Reading Dawkins doesn't offer that possibility in my mind.
 

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
#4
I've read some Radin, some Sheldrake, some Schwartz, some Dembski, both books and papers. I can't usually make it all the way through a book, but I can get through papers.

~~ Paul
 
#6
Dominic,

Why didn't you answer the question as it applies to yourself?

I consider myself an atheist materialist who read the literature on paranormal phenomena and became convinced by it.

During a time in my life when I was an atheist I looked at a copy of the Skeptical Inquirer, but I was disappointed because I thought it was mostly character assassination with very little substance to it. I also read the Panda's Thumb and liked it. I bought The Blind Watchmaker but that was a long time ago and I have a vague idea that I never finished it. I have a masters degree in Molecular Biology. When I was an atheist I accepted the scientific mainstream views and enjoyed reading many books on science, but I thought the few works of skeptical literature I read were unimpressive.

I came to believe in the afterlife when I read a book about a medium and that led me to read many more books on parapsychology. I've also had many different types of psychic and mystical experiences. I became interested in intelligent design when I read an article about an editor of a scientific journal who suffered persecution when he published an article by Stephen Meyer on the Cambrian explosion. After reading extensively on the subject I have come to disbelieve many of the mainstream scientific creation myths on the origins of the universe, life on earth, and species. Intelligent design is a much better explanation for the scientific evidence. I don't enjoy reading books that make claims I know are false, or that claim I am a self-deluded fool who can't tell reality from fantasy, so now I don't seek out the skeptical literature by choice. However, I've read many skeptical articles (part 2) when people ask me, by e-mail or on forums like this, what I think about a particular article. My opinion is that much of the skeptical literature is ingenuous and misleading and therefore not worth my time reading. I can support that opinion with many examples: http://sites.google.com/site/chs4o8pt/skeptical_misdirection It seems to me that the people who are being fooled and taken advantage of are the people who read the skeptical literature and believe it.

So what about yourself?
 
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#8
Of course not. Skim amazon.com for the books of famous atheists like Dawkins and you'll get glowing quotations from their friends and colleagues, i.e. Dennett, Hitchens, Wiseman. The same is true of books by Radin or Sheldrake. You'll see glowing praise from people like Larry Dossey or (shudder) Deepak Chopra. It's the same in anything though. Sci Fi books will be praised by sic-fi authors. History books will be praised by historians. To give an example in physics, the reviews of Quantum enigma that were good all or mostly came from other physicists.
 
#9
I think it's important to note that many (most?) folks on this forum have played the atheist or materialist game at a previous point in life, as Jim nicely describes above. I read Harris' End of Faith when it first came out, and I thought it was a masterpiece (please, I know). Then I considered myself an atheist, though I've never been one for groups so it was just a personal intellectual thing I guess. I went on to read other literature along the same lines and I identified with it.

Obviously, the arguments put forth by Harris are shit. I see that now.

I think the only common shared belief of people over here is the rejection of materialism, and maybe also the opinion that Linda is crazy. So I don't think the two sides you speak of are true counterparts. One side entails a fairly rigid set of beliefs while the other side is just a wide open mess of positions strewn across the entire woo spectrum. How many materialists grok the woo mind? Then, how many woo minds grok the materialist mind? The 2 answers, I suspect, are not equal.

Incidentally, I don't trust people who have been all woo since birth.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#12
I think it's important to note that many (most?) folks on this forum have played the atheist or materialist game at a previous point in life, as Jim nicely describes above. I read Harris' End of Faith when it first came out, and I thought it was a masterpiece (please, I know). Then I considered myself an atheist, though I've never been one for groups so it was just a personal intellectual thing I guess. I went on to read other literature along the same lines and I identified with it.

Obviously, the arguments put forth by Harris are shit. I see that now.

I think the only common shared belief of people over here is the rejection of materialism, and maybe also the opinion that Linda is crazy. So I don't think the two sides you speak of are true counterparts. One side entails a fairly rigid set of beliefs while the other side is just a wide open mess of positions strewn across the entire woo spectrum. How many materialists grok the woo mind? Then, how many woo minds grok the materialist mind? The 2 answers, I suspect, are not equal.

Incidentally, I don't trust people who have been all woo since birth.
I don't think Linda is crazy, but otherwise I agree with this.

I think people really interested in atheism vs theism are better off reading actual philosophers of religion who argue for the existence and non-existence of God. I've delved into this a little, but honestly God isn't someone I worry my pretty head over though I suspect something may be out there that resembles a loving Creator or at least a benevolent spirit of some sort more local to our corner of reality.

I'm an ardent secularist, but that's about government and even my religious friends agree on that. I just tend to be distrustful of fundies of all stripes but materialist evangelism is the one that most often comes up in context here. But if you look at the miracles thread I do mention that even if something supernatural is happening there are a variety of possibilities to consider like Super Psi or Mind Parasites feeding off religious conflict. Not that it would mean every aspect of religion is false or a malevolent trick, but rather we shouldn't abandon modernity and secularism on account of supernatural forces.
 
#13
I rarely read books on these subjects, and even when I do, I often don't reach the end. I'll read papers with facts in, and read peoples experiences though. I'd prefer to do my own exploration of the actual research, and peoples subjective experiences, rather than read somebody else's view on it... Arguing over the popular polarised positions doesn't interest me, I find them pretty much irrelevant.
 
#14
I read the God Delusion and agreed with most of it tbh though it did seem a bit of a rant to me. I don't have much interest in evolution per se but consider it's probably correct. I haven't read anything on it for years. I occasionally read articles discussing it in the context of creationism but I don't go looking for it.

Having an interest in survival and psi means that it's difficult to avoid reading about the opposing views really, even if I wanted to. I do like reading research into psi phenomena - unfortunately there isn't much skeptical research around as far as I can see, most of the skeptical comment appears to be analysis of research by those who are pro or open-minded on the matter.
 
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#15
Nearly 250 Skeptiko episodes. :eek:

I'm with Max. Papers are probably best (although we're constantly reminded that the pro psi position is best arrived at through a personal experience journey, of course).

Books tend to be misleading and one-sided. There are writers I enjoy more than others (irrespective of position or "side"). I have found the psi books I've attempted a little dry and lacking the wit of say a Hitchens or an Alain de Botton.

I'm more likely to pick up a novel or a history book than anything else... In fact, what the hell am I even doing here?
 
#16
Nearly 250 Skeptiko episodes. :eek:

I'm with Max. Papers are probably best (although we're constantly reminded that the pro psi position is best arrived at through a personal experience journey, of course).

Books tend to be misleading and one-sided. There are writers I enjoy more than others (irrespective of position or "side"). I have found the psi books I've attempted a little dry and lacking the wit of say a Hitchens or an Alain de Botton.

I'm more likely to pick up a novel or a history book than anything else... In fact, what the hell am I even doing here?
If you ask me, you're here to drag yourself kicking and screaming to your own psychic awakening. But, I tend to think that's true of any skeptic who has an interest in this topic.

Have you read this book? One of the best, imo.

http://www.amazon.com/Extraordinary-Knowing-Science-Skepticism-Inexplicable/dp/0553382233

Also this one.

http://www.amazon.com/Outside-Gates-Science-Time-Paranormal/dp/1560259868

Oh, and this one.

http://www.amazon.com/Varieties-Anomalous-Experience-Examining-Scientific/dp/1557986258
 
#17
I've always had a suspicion that people in the skeptic/atheist/materialist world don't actually read the likes of Sheldrake and Radin, and that people in the New Age/paranormal world don't read authors like Dennett and Dawkins. Rather, both sides just seek out quotations and passages here and there that make their enemies look bad and help them to feel that they're on the right side. Both sides think they're in some kind of battle to save the world, and time is running out. In this kind of situation, there's no time to be charitable or understanding, or to read books by bad people. You've just got to win at all costs.

Anyway, my hunch is that they don't really read each other very much, but it's going to be very difficult to get good data on this, since nobody will want to admit that this is all about tribalism and caricaturing the other side. Almost everybody will say that they've read plenty of books by people on the other side, but it would be fascinating to know the truth about that.

I found Dawkins' style to be a little caustic for my tastes. I felt like I was being talked down to.
 
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