Michael Shermer's skepticism has been "shaken to the core"

#2
It wouldn't surprise me if some of these people have had an inclination towards these topics for years before publicly writing about them, and maybe not on the skeptical side. I have always kept the opinion that Sam Harris is a wolf in sheep's clothing and is getting a following before he reveals his actual wacky beliefs lol
 
#3
It wouldn't surprise me if some of these people have had an inclination towards these topics for years
The one thing that always struck me about Sam Harris is his deep respect for psychedelics--not a subject that skeptics are typically comfortable with. He once made this very impressive statement:

if I knew that either of my daughters would eventually develop a fondness for methamphetamine or crack cocaine, I might never sleep again. But if they don’t try a psychedelic like psilocybin or LSD at least once in their adult lives, I will wonder whether they had missed one of the most important rites of passage a human being can experience.
By the way, I notice that someone else started a thread on Michael Shermer just before mine. Sorry about the duplication!
 
#4
I think that it shows that it is very easy to explain away someone else's timely deeply meaningful personal psi experience, but it is much more difficult when it is your own. All of a sudden the usual skeptical explanations seem hollow and pointless. That Shermer admits this is a credit to him.
 
#5
I wonder, if the day James Randi pass on and he finds himself in a continuous existence, will he go and sit in a corner and pout, mumbling to himself; "-I don't believe in this crap, it's just a bunch of woo", for the rest of eternity?
 
#6
After reading the recount of his experience, I have to wonder if this is not a ruse of some sort?. I mean, a guy like Shermer who built up his career on being a hardnose skeptic, who would spit God in the eye and deny his existence if he met him, would be swayed of an old radio accidentally come alive at his wedding, and have him shaken in his skeptical foundation?

Call me a skeptic*wink*, but I just don't buy this right out of the box, so to speak. I bet that soon he'll resurface with a gotcha'-article, and a evil grin on his face.
I build this on years of experience of "evil skeptics". ;)
 
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#7
I think that it shows that it is very easy to explain away someone else's timely deeply meaningful personal psi experience, but it is much more difficult when it is your own. All of a sudden the usual skeptical explanations seem hollow and pointless. That Shermer admits this is a credit to him.
Absolutely, Craig. And the no-nonsense way he does it is remarkable:
it rocked me back on my heels and shook my skepticism to its core
Has anybody read any followup statements he's made? I'm really eager to see where he goes from here.
 
#8
After reading the recount of his experience, I have to wonder if this is not a ruse of some sort?. I mean, a guy like Shermer who built up his career on being a hardnose skeptic, who would spit God in the eye and deny his existence if he met him, would be swayed of an old radio accidentally come alive at his wedding, and have him shaken in his skeptical foundation?

Call me a skeptic*wink*, but I just don't buy this right out of the box, so to speak. I bet that soon he'll resurface with a gotcha'-article, and a evil grin on his face.
I build this on years of experience of "evil skeptics". ;)
I doubt it! This was an article in Scientific American, and I don't think they'd appreciate being used in that way.
 
#9
I doubt it! This was an article in Scientific American, and I don't think they'd appreciate being used in that way.
I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

I bet there is a thread on this at the JREF-forum where they are eating Mr Shermer for lunch.
 
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#10
I doubt it! This was an article in Scientific American, and I don't think they'd appreciate being used in that way.
I got that impression to from reading the article also; just how he was laying it on but I'm not sure on his stance, really. Maybe after examining this it will reassure his skepticism by thinking this is what happens to people who claim paranormal experiences, only he was not fooled by it in the long run.
 
#11
That's certainly an interesting anecdote he wrote about. But even if there were something supernatural involved, that doesn't necessarily mean that it was specifically the grandfather who was involved.

I had an interesting experience three weeks before my dad died three years ago. My dad had Alzheimer's and he was dying of cancer. My older brother had been pretty much out of contact with the whole family for the last twenty five years, and because of this, my dad never got to have a relationship with my brother's kids (my brother didn't have much of a relationship with them either). Though I had made attempts to meet them and get to know them, my dad was never interested. And now, my dad was dying, and he would never get to know his grandkids (although he had met them a couple times when they were children). I was disappointed and sad that we didn't even have any photos of my dad and the grandkids together.

Now that my dad was on hospice, my brother flew up to visit and see him one last time. So, when my brother and sister and I were in my dad's room visiting with him, something really strange happened.

Having Alzheimer's, my dad was constantly misplacing his wallet (he would hide it places and then forget). And when we were visiting with him this instance, he asked, "Where's my wallet?" So then, we looked under the treadmill in my dad's room and found his wallet. When my sister opened it up, she found a photo.

It was a photo I had NEVER seen before. It was a photo of myself, my younger sister, my mom, my dad, my brother and his two kids! It was a photo taken of all of us when my brother had brought his kids over to visit. Since I was only about four years old in the photo, I didn't really remember it.

But it was a bizarre time, of all times, for such a photo to show up when my brother was visiting. And no, my brother certainly didn't give the photo to my dad or plant it in his wallet. My brother didn't even recognize the people in the photo, not his kids or himself.

It was as if reality had rearranged itself while we weren't observing it. It was as if an event had been written into the past retroactively, resulting in this photo we had never seen or had any memory of.

In Shermer's case, it may have been a case of reality temporarily rearranging itself, rather than some "ghost" fixing it temporarily.
 
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#12
I got that impression to from reading the article also; just how he was laying it on but I'm not sure on his stance, really. Maybe after examining this it will reassure his skepticism by thinking this is what happens to people who claim paranormal experiences, only he was not fooled by it in the long run.
Remember this: Shermer's wife is involved too:

“My grandfather is here with us,” Jennifer said, tearfully. “I'm not alone.”

Do you think he's gonna turn around now and say, Naah--we were both crazy there for a moment. You really were alone.
 
#13
You know, I believe that psi is real, at least in some cases. But I don't think this incident, had it happened to me, would have convinced me psi was involved. I think I'd have thought it more likely that the old radio had somehow responded to my earlier shaking up, and that it was a coincidence. If Shermer's world really was rocked, then he's less of a sceptic than I am, and I find that rather amusing.
 
#15
You know, I believe that psi is real, at least in some cases. But I don't think this incident, had it happened to me, would have convinced me psi was involved. I think I'd have thought it more likely that the old radio had somehow responded to my earlier shaking up, and that it was a coincidence. If Shermer's world really was rocked, then he's less of a sceptic than I am, and I find that rather amusing.
Maybe I misread, but I thought the radio was left in storage for quite some time after it had been shaken up. Still doesn't rule out one of the commentator's suggestions of heat expanding the circuit, though.

I can't speak for him but I've known a few skeptics whom had their opinions so hardened because strange events didn't happen to them; sometimes the hardest skeptics are people that want to believe but they've never experienced something "special", like the guy who wrote the School of Out of Body Travel ebook who originally believed in the esoteric interpretation until he likely failed at doing one of the card tricks which lead him back in to the skeptic camp. If he had a similar attitude, a perfect synchronicity occurring would be enough to give him pause at least for a while. I suspect he'll at least be a little bit nicer to people making similar claims, even if he continues to write for skeptic columns. Nicer skeptics isn't a bad thing indeed :)
 
#16
Remember this: Shermer's wife is involved too:

“My grandfather is here with us,” Jennifer said, tearfully. “I'm not alone.”

Do you think he's gonna turn around now and say, Naah--we were both crazy there for a moment. You really were alone.
I find it more likely than Michael Shermer saying something like, "Well, that's convinces me of an afterlife."
 
#17
You know, I believe that psi is real, at least in some cases. But I don't think this incident, had it happened to me, would have convinced me psi was involved. I think I'd have thought it more likely that the old radio had somehow responded to my earlier shaking up, and that it was a coincidence.
Finally responded to your shaking it up 3 months earlier? Because that's when he worked on it.

I don't know how I myself would have felt if this had happened to me, Michael. But you may be downplaying the strangeness of the event by overlooking some important facts.

Point 1:

His 1978 Philips 070 transistor radio arrived safely, so I set out to bring it back to life after decades of muteness.
Shermer worked on it, failed to get any results, and put it aside for 3 more months. So the radio was silent for perhaps 20 or 30 years (plus 3 months). Then it comes alive at precisely the moment his wife needs to hear it:

My daughter, Devin, who came out of her bedroom just before the ceremony began, added, “I heard the music coming from your room just as you were about to start.” The odd thing is that we were there getting ready just minutes before that time, sans music.
Point 2:
She opened the desk drawer and pulled out her grandfather's transistor radio, out of which a romantic love song wafted.
A love song--not a rap song, heavy metal, hard rock, a commercial, the news, a sporting event, or a talk show.

Point 3:
It was tuned to a station! When Shermer tried to fix it, he no doubt kept fiddling with the dial. And there is no way to know if the dial is tuned to a station if the radio is dead. So the odds of it being perfectly tuned to a station were probably remote. If the dial were turned even slightly to one side or the other, the result would have been either silence or unlistenable static, which was evidently not the case.

I just googled that radio, and looked at a picture of it. Like the transistor radios of my youth, it apparently didn't have pre-set buttons you could push to tune it.

Point 4:
Later that night we fell asleep to the sound of classical music emanating from Walter's radio. Fittingly, it stopped working the next day and has remained silent ever since.
That last point certainly adds a bit to the strangeness of the situation, doesn't it? Suppose it's silent for another 20 or 30 years, after turning itself on at precisely the right moment, perfectly tuned to a station, playing a love song, and then turning itself off shortly afterwards?

As I said, I'm not sure how I myself would feel if this happened to me. But let's not forget what the odds were against it happening as perfectly and precisely as it did.
 

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#18
I was just thinking how ironic it is that there's so much skepticism here about the Shermer story. Pollux and Travis are skeptical that Shermer is saying what he really believes, and Michael is doubtful that the event itself is very convincing.

It seems odd that of all of us, Shermer is the one who's most willing to find some meaning in what happened.

I'm not saying he's right, but as Michael suggested, there is some irony here.
 
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