Once a hoaxer always a hoaxer?

#1
The guys on the Paracast often speculate that contactees like Adamski may have had genuine paranormal experiences at the beginning, but that they then found themselves enjoying the fame and money so much that they started faking stuff to try to keep it going.

For the skeptic, of course, we only need to show that Adamski or Geller or whoever cheated once, and that's it. We can then say that these people definitely don't have any paranormal abilities or experiences at all.

I find myself torn here. I can understand the person who says we shouldn't be wasting our time with people who have been caught cheating, faking or lying. But on the other hand, it could be that there are some pranksters and practical jokers out there who also happen to have paranormal abilities or experiences. It's a very tricky issue, but I guess I find myself siding with the skeptics overall.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#2
Once someone cheats there's not much you can do to make them convincing.

Why stringent controls are probably better at the outset.
 
#4
I find myself torn here. I can understand the person who says we shouldn't be wasting our time with people who have been caught cheating, faking or lying. But on the other hand, it could be that there are some pranksters and practical jokers out there who also happen to have paranormal abilities or experiences. It's a very tricky issue, but I guess I find myself siding with the skeptics overall.
:eek: So to you that means that anyone who's ever lied is always lying? If so then almost everyone is always lying.

No offense meant but that conclusion is non-nonsensical and self-defeating. It's a twisted "cult-of-personality" thing where you are assigning a value to the person(s) involved rather than focusing on the experiences. It's a common but silly approach in all areas of human interaction.
 
#5
So to you that means that anyone who's ever lied is always lying? If so then almost everyone is always lying.


No offense meant but that conclusion is non-nonsensical and self-defeating. It's a twisted "cult-of-personality" thing where you are assigning a value to the person(s) involved rather than focusing on the experiences. It's a common but silly approach in all areas of human interaction.

People are complicated. Case in point: Eusapia Palladino. Even though she cheated whenever she could, she seems to also have had genuine powers:


Between November 21 and December 19, 1908, the team of professional skeptics spent several weeks in the Hotel Victoria in the medium's native city of Naples and were able to observe an incredibly wide range of spiritistic phenomena. Each of the members published lengthy reports on the remarkable Palladino, and each of them came away from the exhaustive series of seances quite convinced that the medium had the ability to release an extremely potent paranormal force. They also noted that Palladino would cheat if she were allowed to do so, but because of their strict controls, she was forced to abandon the easier path of trickery and produce genuine phenomena.
..........................................

The mystery of Eusapia Palladino's mediumship is a many-faceted one. Carrington wrote, for example, that she was often caught attempting the most crude kind of trickery— pranks that even the most inexperienced psychical researcher would be certain to catch. Her nature was permeated with mischief and guile, and she would try to cheat at card games or even croquet. Carrington felt that she did these things to those who would test her to see how far she might go in taunting them—or because she was basically a lazy person, to see if she could fool them with a few tricks so that she might be spared the effort of going into trance. When she found that she could not deceive the knowledgeable investigators from the various research committees—most of whom were accomplished amateur magicians—Palladino would settle down to producing some of the most remarkable psychic phenomena ever recorded and witnessed by an investigating body of skeptics.
 
#7
:eek: So to you that means that anyone who's ever lied is always lying? If so then almost everyone is always lying.

No offense meant but that conclusion is non-nonsensical and self-defeating. It's a twisted "cult-of-personality" thing where you are assigning a value to the person(s) involved rather than focusing on the experiences. It's a common but silly approach in all areas of human interaction.
No, of course I'm not saying that. What I'm saying is that if someone has been shown to have faked UFO photos and videos or to have faked some kind of paranormal ability, then it's probably quite reasonable to say, "I'm not going to bother investigating that person on the off chance than one or two of their claims are actually genuine." Life is short and resources are limited.
 
#8
No, of course I'm not saying that. What I'm saying is that if someone has been shown to have faked UFO photos and videos or to have faked some kind of paranormal ability, then it's probably quite reasonable to say, "I'm not going to bother investigating that person on the off chance than one or two of their claims are actually genuine." Life is short and resources are limited.
In this day and age it's a PR problem: It's very tricky to rescue a tarnished image.
 
#9
Once someone cheats there's not much you can do to make them convincing.

Why stringent controls are probably better at the outset.
Here's another interesting example. There's a guy called Ray Stanford, and according to Chris O'Brien he has some of the most important UFO videos and photos ever taken. However, as teenagers back in the 50s, Ray and his twin brother were involved in some UFO hoaxes and fakery. Should we hold this against Ray now and dismiss all of the evidence he's gathered over the years? I think the answer is no. So this is why I say it's a really tricky issue.
 
Last edited:
#10
What a tangled web we weave when once we practice to deceive.

Lying has consequences as we all know. These persons that claim abilities, but for some reason have lost them, should just fess up instead of perpetuating the lie. It ends better for them.
 
#11
The guys on the Paracast often speculate that contactees like Adamski may have had genuine paranormal experiences at the beginning, but that they then found themselves enjoying the fame and money so much that they started faking stuff to try to keep it going.

For the skeptic, of course, we only need to show that Adamski or Geller or whoever cheated once, and that's it. We can then say that these people definitely don't have any paranormal abilities or experiences at all.

I find myself torn here. I can understand the person who says we shouldn't be wasting our time with people who have been caught cheating, faking or lying. But on the other hand, it could be that there are some pranksters and practical jokers out there who also happen to have paranormal abilities or experiences. It's a very tricky issue, but I guess I find myself siding with the skeptics overall.
I agree - it is difficult. If you put yourself in the shoes of someone with substantial ψ powers, it is very easy to see how they may become overconfident and claim too much. This may be the reason for them cheating.

Even so, it is much harder to use evidence associated with them once they have definitely been shown to cheat.

David
 
#12
What I'm saying is that if someone has been shown to have faked UFO photos and videos or to have faked some kind of paranormal ability, then it's probably quite reasonable to say, "I'm not going to bother investigating that person on the off chance than one or two of their claims are actually genuine." Life is short and resources are limited.
I got what your' saying and it is to me much the same as I restated it so it is strange that you claim they're different while your proposed refutation reinforces what I stated - it is a "cult-of-personality" approach judging the person rather than the "evidence."

BTW a mindset that pops "life is short and resources are limited" will likely hamper your movement beyond the materialist paradigm. And before you get defensive about my stating that - please note that your mindset as expressed in this thread is still anchored in that paradigm.
 
#13
People are complicated. Case in point: Eusapia Palladino. Even though she cheated whenever she could, she seems to also have had genuine powers:
I am afraid not. You need to look into this case in more detail, especially the primary sources. The paranormal website you are referring to is not citing many sources. What it is referring to is the Feilding report.

Between November 21 and December 19, 1908, the team of professional skeptics spent several weeks in the Hotel Victoria in the medium's native city of Naples and were able to observe an incredibly wide range of spiritistic phenomena. Each of the members published lengthy reports on the remarkable Palladino, and each of them came away from the exhaustive series of seances quite convinced that the medium had the ability to release an extremely potent paranormal force. They also noted that Palladino would cheat if she were allowed to do so, but because of their strict controls, she was forced to abandon the easier path of trickery and produce genuine phenomena.
This is incorrect. The committee consisted of three psychical researchers (all members of the SPR)- not skeptics. Hereward Carrington, W. W. Baggally and Everard Feilding. None of these men were 'professional' skeptics. All three of these men had written books endorsing paranormal phenomena. True they did all expose some fraudulent mediums in their research but Carrington had written over 50 books endorsing the paranormal. Carrington also confessed to having an affair with the medium Mina Crandon, a medium who was later exposed as fraudulent but Carrington endorsed as genuine.

Baggally is the author of the book "Telepathy: Genuine and Fraudulent" etc.

Everard Feilding was already a believer in the paranormal - he had previously endorsed the feats of another fraudulent medium in 1908. He was also married to the polish medium Stanislawa Tomczyk and endorsed her feats (Tomczyk was later exposed). So you see the term 'professional skeptics' is misleading. You are looking at three men here who already were believers in the paranormal before they investigated Palladino.

but because of their strict controls, she was forced to abandon the easier path of trickery and produce genuine phenomena
This is incorrect, if you read the original Feilding report we see Palladino's feet were not properly controlled.

Frank Podmore in his book The Newer Spiritualism (1910) wrote a comprehensive critique of the Feilding report. According to Podmore the report provided insufficient information at crucial moments and the witness accounts from the investigators contained contradictions and inconsistences on who was holding Palladino's feet and hands. Podmore discovered various statements by the investigators conflicted with each other on what they claimed to have observed. Some of the statements were also written days after the events took place. Podmore wrote the report "at almost every point leaves obvious loopholes for trickery." During the séances the long black curtains were often intermixed with Palladino's long black dress. Palladino told Professor Bottazzi the black curtains were "indispensable." Researchers have suspected Palladino used the curtain to conceal her feet.
And there is serious problems with conducting a 'scientific' investigation in a dark hotel room. I am sure you would even agree.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eusapia_Palladino

So the controls were far from water-tight.

More importantly, in 1910 Feilding would re-test Palladino but this time in the presence of a professional magician and skeptic William S. Marriott. Palladino was caught moving the objects with her feet and hands and breaking free from control. Feilding and Marriott both concluded none of the phenomena was genuine. You see when you have a professional magician present they are nearly always catch the sleight of hand or trickery.

Do you want to read this report?

Everard Feilding, William Marriott. (1910). Report on Further Series of Sittings with Eusapia Palladino at Naples. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research. Volume 15: 20-32.

(click on the link, it is online).

The paranormal website you cited does not cover this further investigation.

The rational conclusion is that Palladino was a fraud, not a 'mixture' of fraud and genuine spiritualist phenomena. The Feilding report though was just one investigation. It is possible to name twenty different researchers and scientists who caught Palladino in fraud (from more than six different countries covering a period of over 20 years). You can find all these exposures in the literature. Palladino is a poor example to be using for anything 'paranormal'. Regards.
 
#14
For the skeptic, of course, we only need to show that Adamski or Geller or whoever cheated once, and that's it. We can then say that these people definitely don't have any paranormal abilities or experiences at all.
What I'm saying is that if someone has been shown to have faked UFO photos and videos or to have faked some kind of paranormal ability, then it's probably quite reasonable to say, "I'm not going to bother investigating that person on the off chance than one or two of their claims are actually genuine."
This probably has to do with the communities having separate cultures. In parapsychology the goal is to show that something impossible (or deeply, deeply improbable) has in fact occurred. So the focus is on using controls that reduce the P value of an event happening to something very low. A skeptic then has to play the Bayesian game of tweaking until the P value is back in the "safe zone", which is almost always done by playing the fraud card (which is essentially impossible to disprove.) If you can demonstrate a person ever cheated you can argue the prior for fraud should then be infinitely high, or if you can demonstrate that an effect could be created using a means of cheating. As Jay demonstrates (and others) it doesn't matter how you do your statistics, introducing the fraud card always gives you an easier hypothesis and switching to Bayesian measurements allow you to enter that in to the list of considered hypotheses. Its then a trivial matter to puff the fraud claim's prior up using any of your choice of references, without actually having to confront the subject at hand.

This is why I don't think it matters what a physical medium actually does, because once a magician works out a way to make the trick the Bayesian game then allows you to claim that they just did that trick; evidence the trick was actually done is not provided because its not about proving the truth, its about kicking the P value around. It also doesn't matter what a mental medium actually says, because there is an escape hatch here: if you cannot somehow kick the P value down on the subject, attack researcher directly. The more ambiguity you can raise about how the data is calculated in the first place the more you "win." Because when playing the Bayesian game, you can never ever consider that any of the parapsychologists might be on to something--the priors depend on it.
 
#15
I am afraid not. You need to look into this case in more detail, especially the primary sources. The paranormal website you are referring to is not citing many sources. What it is referring to is the Feilding report.

It seems we have here a skeptical expert on the Eusapia Palladino material. Apparently anyone who believes the paranormal exists or even may exist (and writes about it, presumably including the three investigators of the 1908 Feilding report) is so cognitively biased that their observations can't be trusted. Sure. I prefer Stephen Braude's careful and detailed analysis in his book "The Limits of Influence: Psychokinesis and the Philosophy of Science", excerpted here.

Richard Wiseman's Critique of the Feilding Report Refuted
........Observers in the Eusapia Case
For the reasons noted above, I consider the best testimony in Eusapia’s case to be reliable. The observers were honest, experienced, well prepared, and alert for trickery. In fact, they were as competent as one could hope for. Moreover, the phenomena reported were not difficult to observe, the observations were made under conditions that ranged from adequate to good, and the phenomena observed were not antecedently incredible or without precedent. But it is still all too easy for skeptics to cast doubt retrospectively on these reports, usually by ignoring the reasons for having confidence in the testimony and by raising the mere theoretical possibility of error under the conditions that actually prevailed
.
..........So I think we must concede that the Feilding report is a remarkable body of evidence for the reality of large-scale PK and that it simply cannot be dismissed. The skeptical hypotheses surveyed in the previous chapter are clearly inadequate as alternative explanations. It would be preposterous to propose either that Eusapia cheated throughout or that (because of biased misperception, outright malobservation, or collective hypnosis) the investigators did not observe what they claimed.
According to both Baggally and Feilding the control conditions in the 1910 Feilding/Marriott tests were considerably different than in 1908. The 1910 test control conditions were not the stringent ones used in 1908 - the medium was allowed to evade control. She was allowed to cheat, so she cheated. From the 1910 Feilding/Marriott report:

....The medium evaded throughout any effective control, frequently making it impossible for the sitter on her left side to prevent her from releasing her left hand or foot, and took advantage of this to make constant use of them, as well as of her elbow, for the production of spurious phenomena.
Baggally furnished a note printed immediately after the 1910 Feilding/Marriott test report:

I should like to make a few remarks on the above report. Both the American sittings and those lately held with Eusapia Palladino differ materially in many respects, but principally in the following, from those held by Mr. Feilding, Mr. Carrington and myself in Dec. 1908. In the American and in the recent Naples sittings no phenomena were obtained under the following (1908 test) conditions: "when both the medium's hands were distinctly visible away from or quietly resting on the seance table, or both hands clearly seen when being held by the controllers and at the same time her body was in view down to her feet." In these cases (the 1908 tests) the supposition that the phenomena were produced fraudulently through the substitution or release of one of her hands or feet could not be entertained.
..........It should be noted that Mr. Feilding states that the conditions of control permitted in the recent sittings were wholly different from those permitted in the former (1908) Naples sittings. In a letter that I have received from Mr. Feilding, he says: "Everything this time was different [from our previous seances] and exactly like the reports given of the American conjurers' sittings.'
 
#16
I guess we have to distinguish between Psi on the one hand and UFOs and hauntings on the other. Sciborg is probably right that for Psi we should just concentrate on the controlled scientific experiments and not bother too much about all the other stuff, but with UFOs and hauntings it seems we have to take into account the credibility and history of the witnesses.

What inspired me to start this thread was that I was listening to a recent episode of Mysterious Universe where they were interviewing an Australian paranormal investigator about a poltergeist case, and this guy admitted that some of the later poltergeist activity in this case was probably faked but that the earlier stuff was definitely real. Even though he's just being honest, as soon as he says this, he loses pretty much all the skeptics and all the people in mainstream science. So as I say, it's really tricky.
 
Top