Lynne Kelly - The Skeptic’s Guide to the Paranormal
Posted: 15 February 2008 07:52 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Lynne Kelly is a writer and science educator in Australia, and a founding member of Australian Skeptics.  An expert on the paranormal who uses aspects of the magicians art to advance skepticism, she holds degrees in education and engineering and is the author over a dozen books, including The Skeptic’s Guide to the Paranormal. 

In this discussion with D.J. Grothe, Lynne Kelly examines differences in paranormal beliefs between Australia and the United States, and whether such beliefs are growing.  She talks about various paranormal topics from her book, including crop circles, psychic detectives, and communicating with the dead, and explains how to best convey a skeptical approach to students when addressing such topics. She addresses why she avoids overt skepticism of religion when educating her audiences, and why skepticism as a movement has often avoided religious faith claims.  She also debates the perils and proper use of the magician’s art, especially “cold reading,” when teaching skepticism.

http://www.pointofinquiry.org

[ Edited: 15 February 2008 07:54 PM by Thomas Donnelly ]
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Posted: 16 February 2008 03:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I think what she said about bringing up the paranormal in the classroom was straight up brilliant.

If someone in my science classes in highschool had talked about psychics or walking on coals I would have started college a lot sooner I think.

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Posted: 16 February 2008 07:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I’m listening to the podcast right now. I love the part where she she says “The real world is awesome.” Agreed. The universe is much more fascinating than theologians and new-age paranormal devotees can imagine.

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“In the beginning, God created the universe. This has made many people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.”
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Posted: 18 February 2008 05:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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“Northern-Europe ... there’s belief in gnomes and the Nordic Mythologies..”

I’m not sure what D.J. exactly meant by this, kinda sounded funny. If by Northern-Europe he meant Skandinavia, I’m pretty sure that Nordic Mythologies haven’t been that popular since the days of the vikings. smile

Christmas is a pretty big holiday here in Finland at least, and with that comes Santa Claus and the elves and such, which are commonly used when marketing Finland (or more precisely the area of Northern-Finland, Lapland, that gets lots of tourists around Christmas) to tourists. But I don’t think these folkloric myths are much of a belief around here, not any more than apple pie and baseball are to Americans. smile

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Posted: 18 February 2008 07:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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This interview was great. I was very pleased with Lynne’s understanding, intellect, and experience with skepticism. Her reasoning was very well thought out and clear. I think she would be a great debater against religion as well if she ever chose to go that route.

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Posted: 18 February 2008 03:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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geru - 18 February 2008 05:39 AM

“Northern-Europe ... there’s belief in gnomes and the Nordic Mythologies..”

I’m not sure what D.J. exactly meant by this, kinda sounded funny. If by Northern-Europe he meant Skandinavia, I’m pretty sure that Nordic Mythologies haven’t been that popular since the days of the vikings. smile

Christmas is a pretty big holiday here in Finland at least, and with that comes Santa Claus and the elves and such, which are commonly used when marketing Finland (or more precisely the area of Northern-Finland, Lapland, that gets lots of tourists around Christmas) to tourists. But I don’t think these folkloric myths are much of a belief around here, not any more than apple pie and baseball are to Americans. smile

I have a tendency to take DJ at his word about this stuff, just because he seems so well traveled and informed.

But I did think that this was odd as well.

Though I do know that England does a good job of rejecting religion, but they seem to be far more excited about New Age stuff than us in the United States, which is exactly what they were discussing in Australia.

Thats why I think you cannot promote Atheism without promoting science.

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Posted: 19 February 2008 07:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Here’s an issue I have.  Lynne Kelly is also a trained counselor. In her interview with DJ, she was adamant that as soon as people started showing emotion during her cold reading sessions, she would quit and suggest they talk with her about it. While this is a sensitive and compassionate thing to do, it also reminds me of the big complaint that Dennett, Dawkins, and others have about religion: it is taboo to criticize people’s deepest beliefs. Why?  Well, I think this episode brings out the real reason. There is the sense that people might be emotionally traumatized or even damaged if confronted. Everybody despises Fred Phelps for protesting at the funerals of gay military men for this reason too.

We are conflicted because we have conflicting moral obligations. What do you do if you believe that knowing the truth about something will harm someone?

Richard

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Posted: 19 February 2008 08:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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geru - 18 February 2008 05:39 AM

“Northern-Europe ... there’s belief in gnomes and the Nordic Mythologies..”

I’m not sure what D.J. exactly meant by this, kinda sounded funny. If by Northern-Europe he meant Skandinavia, I’m pretty sure that Nordic Mythologies haven’t been that popular since the days of the vikings. smile

Christmas is a pretty big holiday here in Finland at least, and with that comes Santa Claus and the elves and such, which are commonly used when marketing Finland (or more precisely the area of Northern-Finland, Lapland, that gets lots of tourists around Christmas) to tourists. But I don’t think these folkloric myths are much of a belief around here, not any more than apple pie and baseball are to Americans. smile

I am not sure why DJ keeps making this claim; this hasn’t been the first time. I have never visited the Scandinavian countries but I would like to think that people there believe in gnomes as much as people anywhere else in Europe believe in mythological figures. I grew up in Czech R., where we have hundreds of all kinds of fantasmas, fairies, etc., but I have yet to meet a person who actually believes they are real. Parents do tell their kids to watch out for Wassermann, for example, who will drown them and eat their soul, but, again, nobody actually believes any of it.

[ Edited: 19 February 2008 08:16 AM by George ]
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Posted: 19 February 2008 09:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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George - 19 February 2008 08:13 AM
geru - 18 February 2008 05:39 AM

“Northern-Europe ... there’s belief in gnomes and the Nordic Mythologies..”

I’m not sure what D.J. exactly meant by this, kinda sounded funny. If by Northern-Europe he meant Skandinavia, I’m pretty sure that Nordic Mythologies haven’t been that popular since the days of the vikings. smile

Christmas is a pretty big holiday here in Finland at least, and with that comes Santa Claus and the elves and such, which are commonly used when marketing Finland (or more precisely the area of Northern-Finland, Lapland, that gets lots of tourists around Christmas) to tourists. But I don’t think these folkloric myths are much of a belief around here, not any more than apple pie and baseball are to Americans. smile

I am not sure why DJ keeps making this claim; this hasn’t been the first time. I have never visited the Scandinavian countries but I would like to think that people there believe in gnomes as much as people anywhere else in Europe believe in mythological figures. I grew up in Czech R., where we have hundreds of all kinds of fantasmas, fairies, etc., but I have yet to meet a person who actually believes they are real. Parents do tell their kids to watch out for Wassermann, for example, who will drown them and eat their soul, but, again, nobody actually believes any of it.

I hosted an exchange student from the Czech R. once, it sounds like one of the coolest countries in the world.

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Posted: 19 February 2008 09:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Not sure, mindcore. I guess if I thought that Czech R was one of the coolest countries in the world I would be living there and not in Canada. The problem with Czech R. as far as I can tell is that it’s full of Czechs. grin

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Posted: 19 February 2008 10:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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tongue laugh

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Posted: 23 February 2008 12:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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I found Lynn Kelly’s observation about gullibility quite plausible. Churches and new ages venues appear to attract women more than men, or so it appears to me. She posits that gullibility equals trusting people
“I believe that gullible is the same as trusting, therefore it’s vulnerable. I trust people naturally and therefore I’m vulnerable, and this I think is more true of females… When I’m out in the schools I always talk about skepticism as a protection against being exploited by these sort of claims, and ... the emotional exploitation is far more significant [than the financial exploitation].

This could well be true. But perhaps we can ignore the male/female aspect here because the core claim is consistent with what you and I can see around us. There exist a few misanthropic grouches but for the most part humans are social animals who trust each other. That makes it easy for delusional but charismatic people to spread their unproven claims: as long as they project enough conviction, chances are good that others will take it for granted when it is not.

(Oh, and for the record: no one in Germany believes in gnomes. Not a single person. I happen to know all 80 million of them personally and have a big file with their notarized signatures. No, seriously: DJ’s claim has no substance, it doesn’t even have indicators. I’m totally at a loss as to where he got this false idea. Having said that, I don’t think it’s worth belaboring.)

[ Edited: 23 February 2008 01:00 AM by moreover ]
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Posted: 23 February 2008 09:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Yeah, Lynn Kelly’s thing about gullibility and trust was good. It also made me feel better about all the BS I’ve bought into throughout my life.

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