Editorial (April 22,
James Randi has declined to publish these responses on its own website, so they are being made available here. This page was set up to make sure that individual's who have read the close minded skepticism of the Amazing James Randi and his cohorts are fully aware of the pros and cons of what he has written. This document contains two lengthy responses from Dr. Gary Schwartz to James Randi in response to these columns. The responses contain quotes from Randi's web columns which are addressed. For the sake of accuracy the complete columns where they pertain only to this issue are appended below. No item was de-selected on this issue but, of course, the entire column was not reprinted. We left out the parlor games (see below).
At the present time James Randi has written three columns on this issue. That of March 30, April 6th and April 20th. In the April 6th column Mr. Randi states he does NOT read any e-mails from Dr. Schwartz even though the week before he offered him a chance to set-up an experiment to win his million dollar prize, now changed to "grant." After this Dr Schwartz sent an e-mail to Mr. Randi with the subject line "Do Not Read This". The week after that Mr. Randi writes that his was immature and kid's tactics. And oh yes, he didn't read it and confesses he deleted it.
Apparently it would seem that Mr. Randi doesn't take this issue very seriously. Nor does he take his own offer of setting up an experiment very seriously either. He claims he has no time to read Dr. Schwartz's e-mails but in those same columns he does have time to play with matchsticks to create end to end stick figures or to move around coins so they add up the same when laid out in different directions. How truly sad Mr. Randi will always be a parlor magician and has no serious interest in science as his own columns clearly prove this. It's a shame really because the money he allegedly has in his foundation or available to prove the existence of something like evidence based mediumship, ADCs and life after physical death could go a long way in funding the needed research instead of being used as a carrot dangling at the end of a stick.
REPLY FROM DR. GARY
SCHWARTZ TO JAMES RANDI RE HIS WEBSITE COLUMNS.
Your latest "article" has so many mistakes, deceptions, and example of arrogance, that I must respond in detail. I am inserting comments for all interested parties to read. I am passing this along widely, so that people can circulate the information through the web.
My perception of your tactics is that they lack understanding and integrity. Since you purportedly represent the skeptic community, you do them a great disservice.
As I have said before, and will repeat again, when you are right, I applaud you, and when you are wrong, I attempt to educate you. Thus far, you have shown little sign of being educable. My major comments are in Arial 16 bold font below - the insert uses VERITAS - Harvard's motto which means "Truth."
RANDI: May the Schwartz Be with You, the Tooth Fairy's Existence Proven by Science!, The "Sylvia Clock" is Up, the Academics Check In, and Leroy's back....!
RANDI: It won't stop. Dr. Gary Schwartz of the University of Arizona is the current darling of the media, who eagerly quote his belief in spiritualist mediums, remote viewing, and other wonders, and stick him in front of cameras to bury himself in wild claims - and though a recent claim that he also believes in the Tooth Fairy, may be somewhat hyperbolized, there is evidence to the contrary, up ahead. VERITAS: I am not a "darling" of the media. However, it is true that our work has been featured on some shows involving research mediums. These shows do not quote my "belief" in "spiritualist mediums, remote viewing, and other wonders" - they present our scientific studies using research mediums under ever more tightly controlled experiments. We will return to your inaccurate slander about the "tooth fairy" later. The media adore him because he's a real scientist, an actual "Doctor" who embraces bump-in-the-night ideas without a trace of shame - though with carefully-added caveats, so he can always back out - and he never tires of telling about his academic qualifications, numerous papers and other writings.
VERITAS - True scientists always speak in terms of probabilities, and are careful to qualify their statements in order to be accurate. Non-scientists who are biased use definitive statements such as "never tires of telling" or "without a trace of shame." I rarely speak of my credentials....however, the media does. And how would know if I experience shame or not? Here is a fact. I do experience shame, for example, about your behavior and its impact on the public's perception truthful skepticism.
RANDI: His latest foray into never-never land was a "debate" earlier this month, "Soul Science research at the University of Arizona's Human Energy Systems Laboratory" which turned out to be a love-in with "mediums" and others, lots of feel-good speeches, but nothing new or useful.
VERITAS - It is true that Ray Hyman (the person representing CSICOPs) added nothing new in terms of criticisms. The possible criticisms, by the way, do NOT apply to our studies, except when Hyman speculates that maybe our sitters are misremembering the names of their loved, causes of death, etc., or that we, the experimenters, are somehow cheating. For the record, Ray showed up over 20 minutes late for the debate - he kept 300+ people waiting. We finally began without him. The debate was briefer because of his lateness plus each speaker taking a few more minutes to present their opening remarks. Ray claims that he got lost - I will give him the benefit of the doubt.
RANDI: A good question for Dr. Schwartz: if he is not really sure of these bizarre matters, when the media present him, worldwide, as having firmly established the existence of mediumistic powers - by science - does he correct them by mail, by phone, in person? If so, we don't see any such amendments.
VERITAS - I can't even get the media, typically, to fact check stories with us. The recent story in the Times of London was so filled with inaccuracies that I experienced "shame" for the reporter. He said I was 58 (I am 56), he said my glasses are held together by sticky tape (actually, they are expensive wire-wrapped frames), that Linda's father was a heart surgeon (he was a cardiologist), that we had been conducting the research in secret for 8 years (we have worked in this area for 7 years, and began publishing 3 years ago!). Randi - we tell you the facts, and you appear to ignore them.
RANDI: It might be a warning sign to us that Schwartz was educated at Harvard, which also gave us Dr. John Mack, the man who apparently has never met anyone who hasn't been abducted by space aliens.
VERITAS - John Mack would likely call "never met anyone who hasn't been abducted by space aliens" an example of your extreme, inaccurate, and potentially slanderous remarks. You may think you are cute, but your misinformation is quite unbecoming.
RANDI: I'm getting increasingly alarmed calls from scholars who are wondering about what they might do to counter all this credulous academic acceptance and validation of nonsense. For that reason, I'll give you the following bit of background.
RANDI: The JREF suggested a protocol for testing so-called "mediums" to Gary Schwartz during his visit to the Foundation in Fort Lauderdale in August of last year. He found this quite acceptable. In fact, he commented on its high quality and "ingenuity," though it was a quite ordinary design and one with which he should have already been familiar.
VERITAS - We came to Randi to get his suggestions about our planned multi-center, double-blind experiment. Randi made some suggestions which we have incorporated in the design. For example, Randi likes the idea of having sitters guess which is their reading (a binary, yes-no decision). We prefer having every item scored, for hits and misses. We told Randi we would add his scoring request even though we consider it to be less precise.
RANDI: This is a very definitive protocol, one that could be easily and economically implemented, one that would result in a clear picture, not only of whether the performer was able to produce as claimed, but whether the methods we at the JREF believe are being used to accomplish trickery, are in fact the reasons for apparent successes. Now Schwartz seems to have abandoned any plans to use that excellent design. One can only wonder why.
VERITAS - Our multi-center, double-blind procedure has been approved by the IRB at the University of Arizona, and we are pilot testing it right now. It includes Randi's suggestions.
RANDI: Since Schwartz has admitted that he's never done a double-blind experiment, insisting that when he does get around to that mode he will improve it to "triple-blind" - whatever that means! - I will await his implementation of proper controls before making further comment; there is no need to explain something that has not yet been shown to exist. What he has done so far appears to be a series of games and amateur probes, quite without any scientific value - though the mediums are quick to quote him and claim academic validation from the University of Arizona.
VERITAS - The latest single-blind experiments rule out cold reading, guessing, selective memory of hits and misses, rater bias, and experimenter bias, from the findings. However, Randi doesn't believe the data. This is because he is convinced this is all "nonsense." By the way, the idea of a "triple-blind" study came up because Randi did not trust our double-blind procedures! We will do a triple-blind study once the double-blind study is completed. Triple-blind is ever more "bells and whistles" (see below).
RANDI: Agreed, Schwartz has employed masses of technical attachments, lots of bells and whistles, and has applied statistics to the half-data obtained, but that is much like measuring chimneys with a laser beam to determine whether a fat man in a red suit can get down them, and to thereby explore the reality of Santa Claus.
VERITAS - The above statement is an example of extreme language by someone who does not know science nor care about data that goes against his view of how the universe must operate. Such extreme language is insulting to the intelligent mind who cares about truth in the reporting of data. We do not analyze the half-data," we analyze all the data, and Randi knows this.
RANDI: And in what reliable, peer-reviewed, prestigious, scientific journal has this research been published? In the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, which also recently featured a book review of Sex and the Paranormal and papers titled, Telepathic Phone Calls, and Further Evidence for a Statistical Balancing in Probabilistic Systems Influenced by the Anomalous Effect of Conscious Intention. So there! Perhaps the "orthodox" journals like Nature and Science aren't able to grasp the importance of such new discoveries, and will be left behind when this next paradigm becomes established.
VERITAS - In the early 1970's, I published six papers in the journal SCIENCE. When SCIENCE changed editors, they eliminated all psychology articles! The journal PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE was founded to correct this editorial decision. All academic journals employ editorial control before they send papers out for peer review.
Most journals dismiss research on mediumship, regardless of the experimental design. Hence, our papers on this topic have been published in peer reviewed journals that are open to the content. One publishes where open minds are....
RANDI: I should also make this clear: Schwartz gleefully advertises my own refusal to be a participant in his games, and the psychics are now snickering that I fear his findings may bring my own conclusions into jeopardy. That hope may be safely abandoned. Dr. Schwartz fails to mention the reason for my refusal, which is based entirely on his insistence that I declare, in writing, that I will never share any of my observations or conclusions with anyone, in any way. I cannot operate under such onerous limitations, nor will I ever contemplate doing so.
RANDI: This man of science, who preaches loudly about forthrightness, openness, sharing, honesty, and evidence, will have none of it when it might damage his own cherished notions. This is not science, not in any degree.
VERITAS - When we learned how Randi operated, we decided that he could not be trusted to present the facts and the truth (see example below). Hence, we told him that we are happy for his consultation, but not his journalism, PRO OR CON the research. Randi does not like it when people question his questionable ethics. We have no need or interest in Randi's praise or propaganda; however, we do respect his suggestions on experimental design.
RANDI: Were I a participant in the Schwartz operation, the kind of information that I would look for, may already be available, either through others who participated in the work, or from video records that seem to come to hand by mysterious means. Please note the video frame shown here. It was made from one of Schwartz's "scientific experiments" with John Edward. The "medium" has just taken his seat in the lab, adjacent to another chair to his left where the subject is located. This is what Schwartz considers to be "isolation" of the two persons. Lo! Do we perhaps see Edwards here taking a quick test peek through an opening in the partition? Say not so! This is science, tight controls and all that, and Schwartz himself told Edward, "There will be no eye contact, so a screen will separate you." I'll bet that Edward chuckled when he saw the set-up!
VERITAS - The video clip shows John possibly looking through a crack that is less than 1/4 inch wide (not the 2 inches reported in Randi's misinformed comments in the Times of London). Randi has not seen the raw footage. If he did, he would discover that the reading is done with John (and the other mediums) facing the cameras - therefore, they could not see the sitter while they were doing a reading. Randi selects a single frame and then seemingly gleafully dismisses hours of recordings.
The fact is, Randi was invited to the lab to see the raw footage. Furthermore, in subsequent experiments, the crack was sealed with tape, then full floor to ceiling screens were used, and then the readings were done long distance.
Randi mentions none of this, even though he knows this is the case. His "omission" of the facts is a disgrace to the honest reporting of the facts. He knows his criticisms are without merit for the preponderance of the experiments and findings.
RANDI: Now, I make no claim that Edward actually peeked through the opening during the "reading." If we had the original material, we could not only make that observation, but many others, as well. But we'll never see that. What I'm pointing out here is that the opportunity to peek was certainly there, and it should not have been, had Schwartz known how to - or cared to - implement proper security. It's not too hard to do, Dr. Schwartz, even for a Ph.D.
VERITAS - Note, in our initial study, we were not concerned if John (or the other mediums) momentarily saw the sitter because they heard her voice almost immediately, and could tell she was female. However, when the reading actually occurred, John was looking at the camera, not at the tiny crack in the screen. And remember, the crack was subsequently sealed with tape, etc....
Why does Randi make a mountain range out of an ant hill? (I was being poetic for a moment)
RANDI: And how "definitive" was John Edward in this "reading"? Let me quote a short part of his guessing-game, prefaced by his usual opening. This 119-word excerpt takes exactly 26 seconds; try reading it in that period, and you'll see just how rapidly Edward speaks. The responses from the sitter are shown in square brackets.
VERITAS - The opening statement WAS general. It usually is. The approximately 100 pieces of information obtained during John's reading included initials, names, historical facts, personal descriptions, and temperament descriptions. Randi knows this, supposedly, since he read the published paper....
RANDI: Okay, what's going to happen, is there'll be a series of impressions, pictures, and words, and things that make no sense to me, come through in my mind. I'm going to tell you what I'm seeing, hearing, and feeling, and eventually ask you to confirm it and verify it, simply by yes's and no's. [Okay] Okay. Um, the first thing that's coming through is that somebody's talking about a male figure to your side. A male figure to your side would be a husband or a brother who has crossed over. Do you understand that? [Yes] Okay, actually there's two... there's three, there's three. They're showing me, one seems to be like a husband figure to you. Do you understand that? [Yes]. Smug
RANDI: In passing, note that both those "Do you understand that?" inquiries resulted in "Yes" responses, but that does not indicate that the sitter has identified with either a husband or a brother or anyone who "seems to be like a husband figure to [her]". It only means that the sitter understood the statements.
RANDI: This is just the same old fare, cold reading, exactly what Edward and the other "readers" do! If we had an entire transcript or tape of this series of guesses, we'd be able to evaluate it, wouldn't we? But we will never have that. Dr. Schwartz won't share it with us. Why? That slamming noise you hear is the door to his Ivory Tower closing.
VERITAS - All media who come to the lab have seen the raw footage. So have magicians, visiting scientists, and others. Randi could have come to the lab, he could have come to the conference. Instead, he complains that we do not give him the raw data. Given all the misinformation presented by Randi above, can anyone blame us?
We told Randi he should come to the lab, and we would film him watching the raw video, and then film him commenting on the data. We also invited him to try to be a medium, and see if he can do as well as our mediums can. Randi declined both offers.
RANDI: If Schwartz were less interested in bragging - endlessly! - about his academic background, and would become more involved in doing real science rather than just doing the cosmetics, I think he might begin to be taken seriously. He is the perfect example of the Ivory Tower resident.
VERITAS - Most people who know me know that I do not engage in "bragging - endlessly" about my credentials. In fact, when I was a professor at Yale, when I would go to scientific meetings, I typically did not wear a nametag with my Yale affiliation, so people would talk to me as a person rather than talk to my Yale affiliation.
I previously mentioned that the media talk about my credentials because they find them unusual for someone conducting serious scientific research in this area.
RANDI: Gary Schwartz has also claimed that his very favorite "medium," Laurie Campbell, is 100% accurate in performing some "highly anomalous" readings.
VERITAS - No, we claimed that in one experiment, a telepathy-like experiment, Laurie was 100% in guessing the sex, age, and living versus deceased status of the person the experimenter was imagining. We repeatedly state that this was one experiment. And this experiment has not been published (because it was exploratory).
What we always claim is that our mediums are like Michael Jordan (who on the average missed more than 50% of his shots, yet was a still a superstar because he was better than most of his peers).
Laurie Campbell happens to be Chair of our Mediumship Research Committee. She has participated in research for the past three years. If she is our favorite, it is because of her devotion to scientific research on mediumship.
RANDI: Examine that terminology. Schwartz - as with all these folks - delights in rooting around in the data-base and coming up with names, numbers, initials, anything that he can point to as being highly unlikely to "connect" with the reality of the subject. This is blatant data-searching, one of the most pervasive and destructive aspects of bad science.
VERITAS - Randi knows that EVERY ITEM is scored. This is not "blatant data-searching" - it is thorough and complete data analysis (to rule out Randi's mistaken claim that our sitters remember the hits and forget the misses) to explore the phenomenon in as much detail as possible. Randi's statements here are erroneous.
RANDI: One cannot fail, given enough time and opportunity, to find correlations with obscure elements. Pseudoscientists have wasted their entire academic lives finding repeated series of digits in the irrational number "pi" for example, and assigning significance to those discoveries.
VERITAS - Actually, many distinguished mathematicians have searched for a possible order in the digits of pi - to our knowledge, none has found a repeating order to date. Could it be that pi is random? Or, could it be that we have yet to discover how the digits in pi unfold (the more humble position)?
RANDI: Well, I'd like to see a demonstration by Laurie with "binary-class" guesses, whether someone is thinking about - for example - a male or female, young or old, living or dead, relative or friend, and since these are inarguably yes-or-no matters, they should be absolutely ideal terms for testing. NOTE: "100%" means no misses, not one, but I'd settle for 80%, in a sufficiently large database. This is a perfect situation, and I await Schwartz's application for the million-dollar prize, which surely will come in shortly after Sylvia Browne submits hers. Which is to say, never.
VERITAS - Randi likes binary, yes-no, black and white kinds of data. We do not blame him. However, we are interested in researching the more natural process first, and then examining more artificial ones. Initials, names, causes of death, and personal appearance, are more complex than binary events, but equally solid pieces of evidence that a subset of mediums get naturally, accurately, and reliably. Schwartz, challenged by a correspondent to apply for our prize, answered:
Three areas of our research would easily win the prize.... But we do not apply for prizes ...
I will respond to this by stating the only four reasons that I can imagine to explain this attitude:
VERITAS - Randi's imagination reflects his biases which typically are not stated as imaginary hypotheses.
RANDI: 1. Schwartz is already wealthy and doesn't need the million dollars.
VERITAS - In the recent Times of London article, Randi claimed that we get millions of dollars a year in support. This is a blatant error of fact, one that is easily documented.
We would be happy if Randi gave us his million dollars - to endow research in this area. However, we do not apply for prizes. We conduct research.
It is a fact that we apply for grants. However, as Randi knows well, the Federal government, as well as most private foundations, do NOT fund research in this controversial area.
So Randi, as we have said many times before, visit the lab. You will see that you are patently wrong in your claims, and you can give us the million as a donation if you wish. Even a hundred thousand would be helpful.
For the record, the total budget we have had for our research on mediumship research to date, over 7 years, is less that $30,000 total.
RANDI: 2. The University of Arizona will not accept gifts of money from Schwartz.
VERITAS - The University of Arizona will accept gifts for credible things by anyone, including us. We have personally supported some of this research. And our fund raising conference will hopefully give $15,000 to the University to help support this research. Again, Randi's imagination is false and without merit.
RANDI: 3. Schwartz has no charity in mind such as hungry children, AIDS research, or the homeless.
VERITAS - How does Randi know, or even imagine, what is in my mind? I have "no charity"? Randi should sit in my class on the Psychology of Love and Spirituality. When he does, he will know that his biased imagination is without merit.
RANDI: 4. Laurie Campbell's performance on such a test is actually far closer to the 50% expected by chance.
VERITAS - 50% chance would only be for binary events. In the paper just published, when students guessed binary events such as "is your son dead?" (yes or no) or "is your daughter dead?" (yes or no), for these two items, for example, the students guessed 50%, while the 5 mediums guessed 100% accurately. Randi should read the paper closely to see how the data were calculated.
RANDI: But Professor, you said you could "easily" win the prize, with any of three examples from your research! Then come and take it!
VERITAS - Randi's prize is for "paranormal" research. We do not use the term "paranormal" or "supernatural." We use the term "human energy systems" which is based upon contemporary physics and systems science. We use mainstream concepts to address frontier questions. Randi could always claim that our findings were not "paranormal" using these theories, and therefore not award the prize.
As we said before, we do NOT apply for prizes. We do research, and follow the data where they lead.
RANDI: As soon as Gary Schwartz produces data derived from a proper scientific experiment rather than from a game-show exercise, we can begin to examine that evidence - which I have always insisted must speak for itself. As it is, we hear only muffled mumblings and not one clear word.
VERITAS - We publish our papers in peer reviewed journals, including the Journal of Scientific Exploration. Randi can read the papers if he likes....
RANDI: Schwartz observer Marc Berard writes that perhaps TIME writer Leon Jaroff was not incorrect in his assessment of Schwartz's belief structure, when he opined that the scientist believes in the Tooth Fairy:
RANDI: It occurred to me recently that you can prove that Schwartz actually does believe in the Tooth Fairy. In his book he mentions how in thinking about stories, we create info-energy systems that can take on a life of their own. In my review of the book, I mentioned how that would mean that Santa, Ronald McDonald, Freddy Kruger, and Romeo, would then all exist as these info-energy system "spirits." In private correspondence with Schwartz, he agreed with that statement, that his theory predicts the existence of such beings.
RANDI: Now, the Tooth Fairy has been in many cartoons, jokes, stories, and commercials over the years. Therefore Schwartz's theory actually predicts the existence of the Tooth Fairy. As it is fairly certain that Schwartz believes in his theory, and his theory predicts the existence of the Tooth Fairy, therefore Schwartz must believe in the Tooth Fairy. Read that last sentence again. That strange rumbling sound you hear, is my mind boggling. Is there nothing that Dr. Gary Schwartz of the University of Arizona does not believe in?
VERITAS - The theory of systemic memory predicts that informed energy can take on a "life of its own." Hence, imaginary beliefs such as the toothfairy, even Santa Claus, can potentially exist as dynamical info-energy systems.
However, this does NOT mean that I believe in the tooth fairy or Santa Claus. Once again, skeptics make the mistake of confusing theory and predictions with personal belief.
For the record, I believe that when I drop things, they fall However, if you ask do I "believe" in gravity (i.e. Newton's version of gravity), my honest answer is "I don't know." I know there are four or five major theories of gravity, and since I am not a physicist, I am in no position to hold a belief.
I believe in observations, and I entertain hypotheses. For the record, I have never seen a tooth fairy, I know of no research on tooth fairies, and therefore Randi's abuse of language in making such a claim is irresponsible, inaccurate, and seemingly nasty.
"When men are most sure and arrogant, they are commonly the most mistaken." (David Hume 1711-1776)
VERITAS - Who offers hypotheses, and who claims to know the truth? Who sticks to the facts and logic, and who makes up facts and mis-states information?
Who qualifies interpretations, and who uses extreme language? I suggest that if you look at the facts, Randi, the person this statement most applies to is you.
Once again, Randi, I request that you refrain from making misstatements and presenting misinformation about our research on mediumship. I would like to believe that you are educable, and that you have enough decency and intelligence to revise your behavior accordingly.
With best wishes,
Gary E. R. Schwartz
I repeat below, word for word, my introductory remarks to your previous commentary about our research on your website. They apply to your current commentary. You are a living example of someone who seems incapable of learning through honest feedback. It is clear that I am failing as a professor to educate you about the facts of this research, and research in general.
To keep the record straight, I will again correct all of your errors of fact and interpretation. You will likely again dismiss these details as if they are unimportant.
Meanwhile, the public will come to understand your methods, and they will make their own decisions about your honesty and credibility.
Also Randi, I publicly thank you for inspiring us to create the MSAT (Mediumship Science Aptitude Test). You are the prime inspiration for creating it. As you will see below, your score would be very poor if this was the test. However, if you chose to study the correct answers, you will have the chance to take the test and hopefully, eventually, pass it. I always encourage people to learn and grow.
My previous comments are quoted below, followed by my latest corrections of your factual and conceptual mistakes.
"Your latest "article" has so many mistakes, deceptions, and example of arrogance, that I must respond in detail. I am inserting comments for all interested parties to read. I am passing this along widely, so that people can circulate the information through the web."
"My perception of your tactics is that they lack understanding and integrity. Since you purportedly represent the skeptic community, you do them a great disservice."
"As I have said before, and will repeat again, when you are right, I applaud you, and when you are wrong, I attempt to educate you. Thus far, you have shown little sign of being educable. "
My major comments are in Arial 16 bold font below - the insert uses VERITAS - Harvard's motto which means "Truth."
RANDI - It has been suggested to me that perhaps Dr. Gary Schwartz, who was featured on last week's page here, will require a "triple-blind" protocol because his subjects all have second-sight. Good suggestion!
VERITAS - This suggestion is not only cute. If anomalous information retrieval exists, the use of "blind" procedures in research will become questioned as a scientific method. I repeat for the record. The term "triple-blind" was added because Randi questioned the integrity of our current double-blind procedures, and made specific suggestions that we implement further safeguards that made the design even more "blind" than is typically the case. We plan to implement them if the current double-blind studies turn out to be positive.
RANDI - Dr. Schwartz has issued frenzied responses to my comments, which I am tempted to publish here, but that would make a very long document indeed. He is not a man of few words. In addition, he has chosen - again - to invent opinions and statements for me, and it wastes my time just refuting those canards.
VERITAS - The fact is, I issued a single document, like this one, to correct the numerous errors in Randi's previous commentary. I separately responded to comments by others, which I cc'd to Randi to keep him in the loop. Is this Randi's ego that interprets all of my emails as a personal response to him?
Instead of responding to the numerous corrections of fact, Randi simply says I "invent opinions" and it "wastes my time just refuting those canards." Apparently, corrections of fact are labeled by Randi as merely "invented opinions." His response to scholarship is to ignore the facts, since it would be a "waste" of time to address them.
I do not consider it a waste of time to attempt to communicate facts. However, in the future, Randi will have to take the MSAT, and pass it, if he wishes to have conversation with us about mediumship science.
RANDI - I notice that the man does not address the crucial question that I have raised: why does he conduct, by his own admission, "experiments" that are not double-blinded?
VERITAS - There is no sentence, written to me, or in his commentary, that focuses on why scientists do not typically begin research doing double-blind studies. If Randi knew how medical research operates, he would understand that often drug research operates in Phases. Phase III research involves multi-center, double-blind studies. The reason why this is not Phase I or Phase II is because (1) scientists need to have a good reason to conduct such a massive study, (2) details need to be worked out to make sure that such a massive study is properly conceived and design, and this requires research (Phases I and II), and (3) such studies are expensive and time consuming.
If Randi knew our research history (e.g. had he read Chapter 9 of the Living Energy Universe book and the peer reviewed, published paper reviewed in that chapter), he would know that we have already conducted exploratory double-blind studies with Laurie. This is because with a single medium, in a single setting, it is practical to conduct double-blind studies.
However, as we describe in the paper that just appeared in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research (January 2001), when we began multi-medium, multi-sitter experiments (and the mediums had very limited time for research), it was neither appropriate or practical to begin this research using double-blind procedures. Hence, single-blind procedures were used.
RANDI - If he were to begin his project by applying proper, secure, protocols, it would not be necessary to spend time and money gradually tightening up the controls.
VERITAS - Previously explained above. Our protocols are always as secure as possible (Randi should read the paper in JSPR to see the efforts we went to make this semi-naturalistic, partially blinded study as secure as possible). Regardless of the design - naturalistic, exploratory, single-blind, double-blind, triple-blind - one always tries to make research as honest and accurate as possible.
RANDI - The results would be definitive, ready for publication, and peer-examinable.
VERITAS - We never claim that any single experiment is "definitive." Most single experiments in science deserve further replication and extension (especially in a controversial area). However, our studies are designed to be ready for publication, and peer reviewed. Case in point, the paper just published in JSPR.
Naturalistic studies are regularly published in scientific journals, as are single-blind studies. Randi should read the literature. What percentage of studies published regularly in Science and Nature are double-blind? The correct answer is, relatively few.
RANDI - More importantly, the media would not be able to trumpet that a scientist from a responsible University has demonstrated that belief in life-after-death has been validated, even though that is mere media-puffery. But Schwartz opened that door, and they rushed through.
VERITAS - The media recently published world-wide stories based upon the peer-reviewed paper that was published in JSPR. Here are the last two sentences of the abstract to that paper. They speak to the fact, not what was reported either by the media, or by Randi.
"Since factors of fraud, error, and statistical coincidence can not explain the present findings, other possible mechanisms should be considered in future research. These include telepathy, super psi, and survival of consciousness after-death."
Do these sentences, quoted from the scientific paper, suggest that we are claiming that we have "demonstrated that belief in life-after-death has been validated"? Obviously not.
However, it is true that we "opened that door" simply by publishing the findings in a peer-reviewed journal. That is the price we pay for publishing in this area in the first place. The problem is, not only does the media bend the facts, the super-skeptics bend the facts as well. The truth is, the media presented the facts of the research more accurately than Randi does.
RANDI - Let me suggest a parallel situation. You have a sturdy boat, but there are a number of leaks in it. Do you set to sea with only a few of the leaks repaired, so that you have to turn back and fix a few more when you begin to sink? If you repair all the leaks, right from the beginning, your voyage is completed efficiently and safely. You don't have to go back to port repeatedly to do what you knew from the start you would have to do.
VERITAS - Cute metaphor, but inappropriate as stated. We "don't have to go back to port" - on the contrary, each experiment takes us further on the journey. The "leaks" that are discovered in well prepared ship are easily patched as the ship takes its journey. Discovery is a learning process.
Most experienced scientists are well prepared to repair minor leaks at sea. Of course, I have been sailing research ships for over 30 years. I know that the seas can be rough.
I also know that sometimes others will attempt to shot huge holes in ships, and cause them to sink. Most captains do not shot holes in their own ships.
However, there are dangers at sea from others who would choose to sink the ship themselves rather than have the ship make its appropriate journey of discovery.
RANDI - Schwartz's method of edging up on doing real science, has one big advantage for him. It allows others to get excited and to assume conclusions that are not supported by the half-research he conducts. And that can attract funding and attention.
VERITAS - In the MSAT, one of the questions will be whether science that takes a step by step approach to addressing controversial questions is simply "half-research" that allows people to "assume conclusions" (recall our careful languaging of the last two sentences of the JSPR abstract, and the history of doing drug research in medicine). Hopefully Randi will know the correct answer now.
RANDI - I have a proposition for the University of Arizona, expressed in a letter which I have sent off by post, today. They may be interested in a million-dollar grant (formerly a prize), which Schwartz can bring to them easily if he will submit his data for examination and if that data establishes what he thinks it does. Let's see if changing the language and the terminology will bring a better understanding of the million-dollar challenge we offer at the JREF.
VERITAS - In the MSAT, maybe we should include a question about what a grant is. Researchers typically apply for grants to conduct future research. The grants are given without regard to how the research comes out (since the granting agency is typically interested in the truth, and wants the scientists to seek the truth, whatever the data reveal). Randi wants to re-label his "paranormal" challenge and prize as a "grant" - and he says we will receive the grant IF "he will submit his data for examination" and IF "that data establishes what he thinks it does."
Interesting. What we claim in our research is the last two sentences of the abstract to the JSPR paper. I repeat them again:
"Since factors of fraud, error, and statistical coincidence can not explain the present findings, other possible mechanisms should be considered in future research. These include telepathy, super psi, and survival of consciousness after-death."
If Randi's committee (see below) agrees that based upon the current findings, our large scale, expensive, time-consuming, multi-center double-blind mediumship studies deserve to be done, based upon the data we have collected to date (and Randi seems to claim that we should have done so right from the beginning, since he dismisses all the present data as flawed because it is single-blind, and does not know of the double-blind studies we have conducted with Laurie Campbell), then we should have won the prize and therefore should receive the grant.
However, this is not Randi's intent. He thinks we are claiming that our current data prove that survival exists (which we do not - will simply say that the data to date are consistent with this hypothesis).
We would be happy to apply for a research grant to fund future research. We are not interested in applying for prizes, called grants, based upon prior research for media claims we are not making in the first place.
RANDI - If I've not had acknowledgment from the U. of A. within a month, I'll post that letter here.
VERITAS - The reader may find it interesting that Randi did not inform me of this letter, nor did he ask my opinions about his highly qualified experts. They are highly qualified. However, they are not agnostics to the work. They have strong opinions, and the Committee is not balanced.
If I were to propose a Committee, it would contain 2 parapsychology oriented people (e.g. Krippner and Radin), 2 agnostic scientists who are neither parapsychologists nor skeptics (there are many choices here), and 2 skeptics who also know research methods (e.g. Hyman and Truzzi). They could then read the papers, and see if the present findings justify conducting multi-center, double-blind mediumship experiments.
The Committee would be balanced. It would represent three approaches to the work (skeptic, agnostic, and believer in the possibility). It would hopefully address the truth of what we are researching, not the media's twist, or Randi's further twist.
RANDI: The panel of highly-qualified experts I have suggested to the University is:
1. Stanley Krippner, Ph.D./psychology, Northwestern University. Director of the Center for Consciousness Studies, Saybrook Institute, San Francisco. Member of the American Society for Psychical Research. Author and President of the Parapsychological Association, 1983.
2. Marvin Minsky, Ph.D./mathematics, Princeton. Mathematician, educator, author. Fellow of I.E.E.E., American Academy of Sciences, New York Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Science. Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, MIT.
3. Ray Hyman, Ph.D./psychology, Johns Hopkins. Professor emeritus of psychology, University of Oregon. Author and founding member of the Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. Consultant, U.S. Government, Department of Defense, CIA, inquiries into "remote viewing."
4. Michael Shermer, Ph.D./History of Science, Claremont Graduate School. Editor and publisher of Skeptic Magazine, columnist for Scientific American Magazine, multiple author, host of the Caltech Science Lecture Series.
This is our suggested qualified panel of scientists who have agreed with this Foundation to examine the data gathered by Dr. Schwartz. They are all Ph.D.s - so that Dr. Schwartz will not feel he is involved with poorly-lettered academics - they are informed, willing, specialists, who I believe will be acceptable to Dr. Schwartz.
VERITAS - As discussed above, I would recommend a balanced committee of six people - two skeptics, two agnostics, and two believers in the possibility. As for Randi's comment about my being involved with "poorly-lettered academics" - he might be interested to know that one of the members of my Ph.D. Committee at Harvard University, Bernard Tursky (who ultimately became a Professor at Stonybrook after he left Harvard as a Lecturer) - did not have a Ph.D., M.A., B.A., or even a high school diploma. However, he had an honest and creative mind, and that is what matters to me. Tursky had integrity, and that is key. Because I question Randi's integrity (for reasons stated in various emails now), I would not want him on the Committee. Because I question Shermer's integrity (based partly on how he miscommunicated the facts of what happened on his TV program), I would also not want him on the Committee.
The issue is not letters after someone's name, but their experience, reputation, and integrity.
RANDI - I, James Randi, would of course not be involved in any evaluations made by the panel.
VERITAS - The next section I will not correct in detail because Randi makes the following comment at the end:
(Randi): "Should the wording shown here be inaccurate":
Well, would the reader like to guess what percent of the second hand comments made below are accurate?
The answer is, probably less than 20%.
It has been said "God is in the details" (Hyman told me his memory of the phrase is that the "Devil is in the details"). Regardless of whom one attributes it to, details regarding facts (not "invented opinions" as Randi wish to label historical events), are critical in science.
The story reported below is grossly inaccurate. I offer a few corrections:
1. Laurie did not do a demonstration at the Thursday evening "debate." She did a demonstration at the Friday afternoon session at the Conference (which was not a debate). 2. I gave examples, at the Thursday debate, of materials taken from actual transcripts, presented accurately, that illustrate the replicated fact that conditional probabilities for names and relationships establish that some sort of anomalous information retrieval in Laurie Campbell and other mediums. 3. Laurie did some informal readings at her Friday demonstration, and we asked the audience informally to raise their hands about certain names and relationships. This was NOT research. It was NOT based upon transcripts taken from audio tapes. If there were errors made, I do not know whether the errors reflect (1) the memory of the person who spoke with Randi (who likely was not taking detailed notes of every utterance made by Laurie, the audience, or me), (2) Randi's recount of what this person relayed to him, and / or (3) an error I made in hearing what a given audience member said to Laurie. We do have tapes of the entire conference, and this could be checked.
However, our RESEARCH is not based upon audience reactions at a conference. For Randi to imply that what happens at an informal demonstration portrays how careful research is conducted in our laboratory, is to once again get the facts wrong. It also reveals his biases and agenda.
Because I care about sharing all the data, I include the "story" told by Randi below. The reader should note that this story is told on Randi's website. Comments continue at the end of Randi's story.
RANDI - Let me tell you, by a striking example, just why I believe that perhaps Gary Schwartz is not quite properly conducting this research. The following event was related to me by one who attended his "debate" recently. The "medium" Laurie Campbell did a demonstration for the audience. She asked, "Is there a John, or a Jonathan?" and she received a reply from an audience member who told her that "John" was the name of his deceased father. She followed up with, "And is there a 'b'?" To this, the man answered that his mother's name was Elizabeth, but that she was known as, "Beth."
RANDI: In summing up Laurie's performance later, Dr. Schwartz dealt with the "anomalous" aspect of such readings to which he gives great attention, and thereby gave us an excellent idea of just how he derives his startling statistics. He asked for a show of hands from the audience. "How many of you have a father named John?" he asked. Several hands shot up. "And how many of you with a father named John, also have a mother named Elizabeth?" No takers, showing how unique and against-odds this double-hit of Laurie's had been....
Do I have to draw you a picture? Laurie didn't tell that man his father's name was John. The man told her! She just threw out two names, and required someone to pick up on either one of them. He identified with the name, and volunteered that it was his father's name. (In this game, the man is said to have "accepted" the name John.) And she never even said the name, "Elizabeth." The man volunteered that, too. Nor did she identify the "b" she guessed, with that man's mother! He filled her in on that, just as expected by the "cold readers."
Reconstruction of the event by Schwartz was faulty. Better questions directed at the whole audience would have been, "How many here can identify with the names John or Jonathan?" That would have produced a sea of raised hands. Remember, "John" or "Jonathan" is acceptable as a guess if it fits anyone! The chauffeur, a stock broker, son, father, uncle, grandfather, brother, friend, enemy, former classmate, lawyer, traffic cop, boss, poker partner, member of the car pool, just anyone! An appropriate second question would have been, "How many of those persons can also identify with a 'b'?" That "b" Laurie offered could begin a person's name - or nickname - first or last, or middle name, the name of a city, a street, - or a pet. Or of a company, a profession, anything! I think we'd have had a pretty healthy correlation there. But then, I'm prone to think rationally.
VERITAS - Randi, please read our papers. See how we score our data. I once sent you a draft of a "white crow" research reading (William James' phrase), and you are acknowledged in a footnote. This paper is in press in the JSPR. You may recall that our analysis is far more sophisticated that your misinformed story above. You may recall that we have conducted research to determine actual base rates of names, we also drew from the US Census to get actual frequencies of names in the general population, and are extraordinary carefully to separate initials, names, relationships, etc. when we calculate conditional probabilities.
RANDI: So this is science, Dr. Schwartz? You really need more experience of the world, sir.
(Should the wording shown here be inaccurate, or should Dr. Schwartz not recall this event, I suggest that we might all be well served if we were to be given a copy of the official audio tape of this session. Though I have been dismissed as a person not qualified to receive such data, I'm sure that others are not so burdened. In any case, will anyone be offered an audio tape of the event? It exists, and it would bring a better understanding of the nature of Dr. Schwartz's handling and approach, I believe.)
CONCLUSION - This is the last time I will try to correct Randi's errors. We will create a fair MSAT. If Randi wants to comment on our research, we will invite him to take the test and see if he can pass it. If he can not, we will try to educate him on the facts, so he can be brought up to speed. If he can, great. If not, we will stop spending time and energy attempting to educate a person who, for whatever reasons, can not be educated in this arena.
As for others who wish to comment on the evolution of mediumship science, the MSAT will serve as an educational tool. It will help raise the bar for serious discussion of this work. And hopefully, in the process, it will serve to help reveal the truth, whatever it finally is.
Life is learning process. So is science. Randi has helped educate me about how super-skeptics think and behave. I am learning what are the tactics of professional skeptics. I have come to learn that the purported watchdogs need watchdogs. And I am learning that the history of science has yet to sink inů.the key is humility and self-awareness.
Science is a self-correcting process. It lives or dies based upon its ability to respond to honest feedback.
Should Randi get his facts straight someday, I will be happy to continue the conversation.
The invitation still stands for Randi to come to the laboratory, be video taped watching the raw tapes, be video taped commenting on the raw data in his role as a skilled magician. We are not interested in his praise or propaganda (and certainly not his prize). But if he has some useful suggestions to make about the research, we always appreciate honest feedback.
PS - If this response is somewhat lengthy, it is because it takes space to correct so many errors and also attempt to educate in the process.
JAMES RANDI'S COLUMNS OF MARCH 30, APRIL 6th and APRIL 20th, 2001. We have only quoted the relevant portions but have left nothing out that pertains to this issue:
Randi's Column of March 30, 2001
It has been suggested to me that perhaps Dr. Gary Schwartz, who was featured on last week's page here, will require a "triple-blind" protocol because his subjects all have second-sight. Good suggestion! Dr. Schwartz has issued frenzied responses to my comments, which I am tempted to publish here, but that would make a very long document indeed. He is not a man of few words. In addition, he has chosen - again - to invent opinions and statements for me, and it wastes my time just refuting those canards. I notice that the man does not address the crucial question that I have raised: why does he conduct, by his own admission, "experiments" that are not double-blinded? If he were to begin his project by applying proper, secure, protocols, it would not be necessary to spend time and money gradually tightening up the controls. The results would be definitive, ready for publication, and peer-examinable. More importantly, the media would not be able to trumpet that a scientist from a responsible University has demonstrated that belief in life-after-death has been validated, even though that is mere media-puffery. But Schwartz opened that door, and they rushed through. Let me suggest a parallel situation. You have a sturdy boat, but there are a number of leaks in it. Do you set to sea with only a few of the leaks repaired, so that you have to turn back and fix a few more when you begin to sink? If you repair all the leaks, right from the beginning, your voyage is completed efficiently and safely. You don't have to go back to port repeatedly to do what you knew from the start you would have to do. Schwartz's method of edging up on doing real science, has one big advantage for him. It allows others to get excited and to assume conclusions that are not supported by the half-research he conducts. And that can attract funding and attention. I have a proposition for the University of Arizona, expressed in a letter which I have sent off by post, today. They may be interested in a million-dollar grant (formerly a prize), which Schwartz can bring to them easily if he will submit his data for examination and if that data establishes what he thinks it does. Let's see if changing the language and the terminology will bring a better understanding of the million-dollar challenge we offer at the JREF. If I've not had acknowledgment from the U. of A. withing a month, I'll post that letter here. The panel of highly-qualified experts I have suggested to the University is: 1. Stanley Krippner, Ph.D./psychology, Northwestern University. Director of the Center for Consciousness Studies, Saybrook Institute, San Francisco. Member of the American Society for Psychical Research. Author and President of the Parapsychological Association, 1983. 2. Marvin Minsky, Ph.D./mathematics, Princeton. Mathematician, educator, author. Fellow of I.E.E.E., American Academy of Sciences, New York Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Science. Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, MIT. 3. Ray Hyman, Ph.D./psychology, Johns Hopkins. Professor emeritus of psychology, University of Oregon. Author and founding member of the Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. Consultant, U.S. Government, Department of Defense, CIA, inquiries into "remote viewing." 4. Michael Shermer, Ph.D./History of Science, Claremont Graduate School. Editor and publisher of Skeptic Magazine, columnist for Scientific American Magazine, multiple author, host of the Caltech Science Lecture Series. This is our suggested qualified panel of scientists who have agreed with this Foundation to examine the data gathered by Dr. Schwartz. They are all Ph.D.s - so that Dr. Schwartz will not feel he is involved with poorly-lettered academics - they are informed, willing, specialists, who I believe will be acceptable to Dr. Schwartz. I, James Randi, would of course not be involved in any evaluations made by the panel. Let me tell you, by a striking example, just why I believe that perhaps Gary Schwartz is not quite properly conducting this research. The following event was related to me by one who attended his "debate" recently. The "medium" Laurie Campbell did a demonstration for the audience. She asked, "Is there a John, or a Jonathan?" and she received a reply from an audience member who told her that "John" was the name of his deceased father. She followed up with, "And is there a 'b'?" To this, the man answered that his mother's name was Elizabeth, but that she was known as, "Beth." In summing up Laurie's performance later, Dr. Schwartz dealt with the "anomalous" aspect of such readings to which he gives great attention, and thereby gave us an excellent idea of just how he derives his startling statistics. He asked for a show of hands from the audience. "How many of you have a father named John?" he asked. Several hands shot up. "And how many of you with a father named John, also have a mother named Elizabeth?" No takers, showing how unique and against-odds this double-hit of Laurie's had been.... Do I have to draw you a picture? Laurie didn't tell that man his father's name was John. The man told her! She just threw out two names, and required someone to pick up on either one of them. He identified with the name, and volunteered that it was his father's name. (In this game, the man is said to have "accepted" the name John.) And she never even said the name, "Elizabeth." The man volunteered that, too. Nor did she identify the "b" she guessed, with that man's mother! He filled her in on that, just as expected by the "cold readers." Reconstruction of the event by Schwartz was faulty. Better questions directed at the whole audience would have been, "How many here can identify with the names John or Jonathan?" That would have produced a sea of raised hands. Remember, "John" or "Jonathan" is acceptable as a guess if it fits anyone! The chauffeur, a stock broker, son, father, uncle, grandfather, brother, friend, enemy, former classmate, lawyer, traffic cop, boss, poker partner, member of the car pool, just anyone! An appropriate second question would have been, "How many of those persons can also identify with a 'b'?" That "b" Laurie offered could begin a person's name - or nickname - first or last, or middle name, the name of a city, a street, - or a pet. Or of a company, a profession, anything! I think we'd have had a pretty healthy correlation there. But then, I'm prone to think rationally. So this is science, Dr. Schwartz? You really need more experience of the world, sir. (Should the wording shown here be inaccurate, or should Dr. Schwartz not recall this event, I suggest that we might all be well served if we were to be given a copy of the official audio tape of this session. Though I have been dismissed as a person not qualified to receive such data, I'm sure that others are not so burdened. In any case, will anyone be offered an audio tape of the event? It exists, and it would bring a better understanding of the nature of Dr. Schwartz's handling and approach, I believe.)
James Randi's Column of April 6, 2001
At this point in time, I have some 80 postings made to me by Dr. Gary Schwartz, all unopened. Since I receive between 80 to 100 postings every day, and most require answers that we hope will assist the inquirers, I simply cannot open these very long harangues, which are not productive since they do not address the pivotal aspects of Dr. Schwartz's "research." I'm kept aware of the content by others who have the time to pursue such matters. In fact, as I sit before my computer screen each morning and noon, I run down the list of messages that I can delete without reading. The fervent appeals from Nigerian government officials who want to make me rich, the Internet floozies who need my body - and my money, and the offers of cheap Viagra, are all highlighted and disintegrated with one touch of the "delete" button. Missives from "Wu," "Benneth" and a few others are already pre-vaporized automatically by my system before I ever get to see them. These are from obsessive/compulsive persons who insist on trying to fill my mailbox with their ravings, and who just won't take a polite "no, thanks" as an answer. Some items from "the proving" group get through from the homeopathic community, but they go bye-bye well before I settle in to answer the real messages. Such discrimination is necessary, or I'd never get out of my office. Now after reading this, Dr. Schwartz may choose to begin crowing that I'm resisting communication with him, fearing his inevitable victory. I dropped out of his circle when he told me I had to be secretive about anything I observed of his operation. If and when he withdraws that injunction, and he begins to make good on the promises he made to the JREF and myself, then we can talk, but not until then. I just don't have the time to stroke his ego and listen to his evasive tactics. I have people out there who are serious about their work, and don't live in an Ivory Tower. Dr. Schwartz is fond of making a comparison between his gifted mediums and basketball superstar Michael Jordan. He points out that Jordan's free throws didn't succeed 100% of the time. This, he says, means that his performers should not be expected to succeed in 100% of their guesses, either. I couldn't agree more with that last statement, but I've no idea where he got the notion that the skeptics ever expected such an unreasonable rate of "hits." No way. But we do expect that a success rate should be decided upon in advance, giving a margin of leeway to the performers, and then at least that figure should be attained in a test. What is so difficult to understand in that scenario? Comparing Michael Jordan's scores to the performance of a medium in a simple binary test is just not appropriate, and it gives a misleading picture of their comparative abilities. Mediums would score 50% in a binary test if they had no special ability. But athletes would average close to zero if they had no ability in their chosen sport. And according to Schwartz, his mediums are whizzes.... So let's do a whiz test. My experience tells me that though Schwartz might actually want to put such a standard in place, his mediums won't allow it! In lab parlance (I speak a few words), that means the mice are designing the maze. The mediums much prefer generalities, broad statements, and vague hints, all of which can be "interpreted" generously. "I'm getting a male figure, an older person, an authority figure, standing over you" is vastly preferable, for them, to "This is your father." Or, "This is your uncle," or "This is your brother," or "This is a police officer," or "This is a surgeon," or "This is a teacher," or "This is a boxing coach." Those are simple, definitive, true-or-false statements, not at all popular with these folks. But for some reason, I like them, a lot. A new evasion by Schwartz, just announced as a new provision in his game-show scenario, is this new rule: effective immediately, before he will correspond with anyone, he has to be sure that they're sufficiently well-informed on all the spooky stuff. They'll have to answer his "quiz," after which he'll judge whether they're smart enough to be able to talk to him. Well, that gets me off the hook, because I'll never take his quiz, and I'll be relegated to the ranks of the "unclean." Is the little bell called for, doctor? Please inform. He'll question them on whether they know the history of the field (whatever field he means, parapsychology, spiritualism, or perhaps mysticism), contemporary research findings, methodological considerations, and "limitations in addressing alternative hypotheses." Folks, none of that is necessary when it comes to designing and conducting simple, direct, definitive, tests of such matters. I don't have to know how to make a violin in order to discover whether the violinist is competent. Put another way, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Note: I got that somewhere. It's not original. That's my contribution to being forthright, sharing, co-operative, compliant, supportive, honest, straightforward, and up-front, all qualities espoused and encouraged by the man whose lab motto is: If it is real, it will be revealed. If it is fake, we'll catch the mistake. Please note that the motto makes no provision for cheating, only for a "mistake"..... This new "required quiz" ploy from The Great Evader neatly writes off Marvin Minsky, Ph.D., Stanley Krippner, Ph.D., Ray Hyman, Ph.D., and Michael Shermer, Ph.D., as adequately-informed persons, since I'm of the opinion that they, too, will refuse to be quizzed. Those are the members of the committee that I proposed to supervise a "binary" test of Dr. Schwartz's sterling "mediums." Hey, doc, you slipped out of that one just fine!
James Randi's Column of April 20, 2001:
A few weeks back, I mentioned that I'd sent a letter to the University of Arizona offering them the JREF million-dollar prize in the form of a grant, to get around Professor Gary Schwartz's strong academic repugnance over the word, "prize." Still no response, as of this writing. But last week, a posting arrived on my e-mail that was titled, "James Randi, please do not read this." It was from Schwartz. Now, as you might imagine, I receive daily a number of juvenile attempts to get my attention, with titles from "Please Read" to "Urgent!". I delete them, not having the time to indulge children who need to be noticed. In accordance with Schwartz's instruction, I did not read his posting, and deleted it, unseen, unread. This is a Ph.D., folks, using kids tactics to challenge me. Frankly, I don't think I'll receive any sort of response from the higher echelons of the University of Arizona, either. Head-in-the-sand really is the only resource available to these people, it now seems apparent. And, if April 30th sees no response, I will publish here on May 4th the contents of that letter I sent to Dr. Richard Imwalle, President of the University of Arizona Foundation in Tucson, as I promised I would.