From: Lee Corbin (lcorbin@ricochet.net)
Date: Thu May 10 2001 - 01:03:25 MDT

Eliezer Yudkowsky writes
>Lee Corbin wrote:
>> Here is another data point. What I know about the controversy
>> comes from the pages of "The Skeptical Inquirer", the CSICOP.
>> I had thought, from the remarks there, that more anthropologists
>> support Margaret Mead's than Derek Freeman, and that a majority
>> thought Freeman to merely have an axe to grind.
>Don't trust CSICOP.

Fifteen years ago, I trusted them completely. I expected that
if and when any extraordinary claim were verified, they'd be
the first to acknowledge it. Which is silly, of course.

They are engaged in a war. They see the rising tide of
pseudo-scientific crap as potentially disasterous for our
society, and I agree with them. They don't focus on
esoteric matters such as "the Mars effect", except when
it can be used to illustrate wrong-headed or fraudulent
pseudo-science. For those unbiased souls who wish for an
even-handed analysis of, say, astrology, the Skeptical
Inquirer is not the magazine to read.

For what they do, and for what they're good at, I cherish
them still.

About my data point: they presented both sides of the Freeman-
Mead controversy, mostly in articles by Freeman and counter-
articles by Mead's supporters. I know their political bias,
and if Ben is right (that not so many anthropologists and
sociologists still follow Mead), then they indeed could be
responsible for the impression that I got.

On the whole, however, they do a pretty good job suppressing
their political bias, which emerges much more clearly in their
sister publication, "Free Inquiry".

Lee Corbin

>I think the evidence overwhelmingly indicates that we live in an unmagical
>universe, but I no longer consider CSICOP a valid source of evidence for
>that proposition. Basically, they stepped over the line and co-founder
>Dennis Rawlins eventually blew the whistle on them. The summary page that
>I usually refer people to appears to be down, but here's the link anyway:


>Try looking for Dennis Rawlins's "sTARBABY" and Philip Klass's "CRYBABY";
>having read through both, and Jim Lippard's summary, I think it's pretty
>clear that, while neither side is angelic, Rawlins's basic accusations are
>unrefuted and that CSICOP is guilty as charged. The lesson I'd draw is
>that you can have a Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims
>of the Paranormal, and a Committee for the Skeptical Investigation of
>Claims of the Paranormal, but they shouldn't be the same organization.
>-- -- -- -- --
>Eliezer S. Yudkowsky http://singinst.org/
>Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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