"Evidence" is a dirty word when you don't have any

---


What follows are three detailed examples of a phenomena which most organized skeptics have become familiar with. The phenomena consists of "True Believers" making claims and, when pressed for testable references or evidence of any kind, the "True Believer" insists there is evidence yet requires that the people asking for the evidence find it for themselves.

When pressed for details which can be tested, the claimant feels more and more threatened. When asked whether the claimant wishes to be have their claims tested scientifically, the claimant gets further upset.

Unable to provide testable evidence or even falsifiable references, the claimant very often accuses the skeptic of collusion -- often with supernatural powerful enemies. Eventually the claimant wishes to flee the light of reasonable inquiry by threatening the skeptic with legal measures or the interdiction of "Authority." In some special cases the skeptic is ejected from organized discussion forums when the claimants get desperate.

Even the simple act of asking for testable references for outrageous claims often prompts the claimant to accuse the skeptic of "censorship " or "violating my first amendment rights." Nearly always the claimant accuses the skeptic of "being abusive" by the simple act of asking the claimant for testable references. In a society where willful ignorance is epidemic and few wish to step on toes, those skeptics who do ask for evidence to back up outrageous claims threaten the comforting fantasies "True Believers" wish to retain.

The usual excuses for not providing the requested references include:

The more "colorful" excuses for not having any evidence to back up a claim include:

Then there are the cop-outs which seek to distance the claimant from being responsible for making the claim:

The phenomena works for mundane claims as well as outrageously audacious claims. While one would expect that avoidance and denial would be applied toward outrageous claims, it also gets employed toward mundane claims when the claimant is unwilling to admit to having been wrong or having used inaccurate rhetoric to state a point.

What follows are two case examples of claimants who refuse to back up their accusations about individuals in the academic community. I've included their Internet E-Mail address so that you, the researcher, might solicit commentary directly from the source after reviewing the E-Mail message sequences provided here.

NOTE: Except for a telephone number, I have not edited
messages except to reformat them and to exclude replied-to
message text which was not later commented upon.

At the end of the review I'll provide background information on what "FidoNet" is, what the "UFO echo mail forum" and "SKEPTIC echo mail forum" are, and who the individual players are in these case studies. I'll also provide a letter from James Randi concerning this very phenomena.

Sections:


---

Section 1: Letters to and from Fred Snider and Fredric Rice

To: frice@skeptictank.org (Fredric Rice)
From: FredSnider@webtv.net (Fred Snider)
Subject: Seeking Evidence
Date: Sun, 18 May 1997 23:43:22 -0700

Fred Snider:
Hi,

I've been doing research on the humam condition on my own since 1970.

My discoveries during this time are just too difficult for anyone to believe, so I don't push it on anyone.

But since I'm a true skeptic myself, & only go along with whatever I see as evidence, I try to find another true skeptic to offer any evidence that might either support orf disprove my findings.

Fanatics ignore evidence, I do not. But every skeptic I try to discuss my observations with does.

Especially your "Amazing" Randi.... I tried to take him up on his "challenge" & you should have seen the jibberish that he sent instead.

So how can I get my evidence either proven or disproven, if no skeptic will allow a fair debate?

I know that it sounds incredible, but if the challenge or the point is to prove or disprove the paranormal & supernatural, how can it not appear extraordinary, I mean just by the very definition of those words?

Sounding unbelievable should not be used as the basis for automatically & blindly scoffing a sincere request for a full & fair trial, based soley on the evidence at hand & devoid of any opinions &/or preconceived notions.

Do you know any true skeptic who will stand by his own claims as much as I do?

To: FredSnider@webtv.net (Fred Snider)
From: frice@skeptictank.org (Fredric Rice)
Subject: Seeking Evidence
Date: Wed, 21 May 1997 22:28:24 -0700

Fred Snider:
Especially your "Amazing" Randi.... I tried to take him up on his "challenge" & you should have seen the jibberish that he sent instead.

Fred Rice:
Forward it to me, please.

Fred Snider:
Do you know any true skeptic who will stand by his own claims as much as I do?

Fred Rice:
That's the logical fallacy known as "begging the question."

If you'll forward Randi's "jibberish," I'll be able to make a better opinion about whether to expend any time and effort on you.

If I don't hear from you or -- more likely -- you can't forward any of this "jibberish," that, too, will induce the most accurate opinion possible.

To: frice@skeptictank.org (Fredric Rice)
From: FredSnider@webtv.net (Fred Snider)
Subject: Seeking Evidence
Date: Thu, 22 May 1997 11:03:15 -0700

Fred Snider:
What a snob!

No compassionate interest.

No friendly curiousity.

All set to sneer & jeer.

The dictionary states that a skeptic is one who is not just an automatic naysayer, but one who seeks proof in a positive manner.

You reek of fraud!

If you'd like to view evidence, & not just the rantings of an "Amazing" jibberish artist, let me know & I'll be more than happy to comply.

Don't do me any favors & decide if I'm worth your time & effort.

Start on the other foot next time, please.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

To: FredSnider@webtv.net (Fred Snider)
From: frice@skeptictank.org (Fredric Rice)
Subject: Seeking Evidence
Date: Thu, 22 May 1997 20:08:30 -0700

Fred Snider:
What a snob!

No compassionate interest.

No friendly curiousity.

All set to sneer & jeer.

Fred Rice:
In other words you don't have any evidence of this "jabbering" that Randi subjected you to, huh?

Fred Snider:
The dictionary states that a skeptic is one who is not just an automatic naysayer, but one who seeks proof in a positive manner.

Fred Rice:
No, a skeptic seeks _evidence_, not proof. And when a claimant is unable to provide said evidence, the skeptic considers the claimant to have been "sadly mistaken."

Take for instance your claim about Randi. I must conclude that you were "sadly mistaken" when you made your claims about him -- otherwise you would have presented your evidence (not proof.)

Fred Snider:
You reek of fraud!

Fred Rice:
I don't doubt that you believe that.

Fred Snider:
If you'd like to view evidence, & not just the rantings of an "Amazing" jibberish artist, let me know & I'll be more than happy to comply.

Fred Rice:
I have asked you for evidence already. What's keeping you? You may begin at any time.

Fred Snider:
Don't do me any favors & decide if I'm worth your time & effort. Start on the other foot next time, please.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

Fred Rice:
So much for the rationality of true believers.

You may begin presenting your evidence to back up your claim about Randi at any time.

To: frice@skeptictank.org (Fredric Rice)
From: FredSnider@webtv.net (Fred Snider)
Subject: Seeking Evidence
Date: Thu, 22 May 1997 20:36:33 -0700

Fred Snider:
What is the matter with you?

My intial contact had to do with the evidence that I have uncovered during my 25+ years of serious research into the human condition.

Or rather "proof" that my findings are valid & of vast importance.

The "Randy" Randi's crass remarks were just a sideline along those lines, & yet you appear so all-consumed by this aspect & this aspect only!

My natural skepticism is therefore aimed at you, but not in so rude a manner as you appear to be thrusting at me....

Do you perhaps wish to share in his glee at such a remorseless lack of taste, or are you attempting to get it disclosed for his sake if I indeed retained any evidence of his trespassing, possiblly with & for him?

I sent copies to his once-retained e-mail service Compuserve, & I see that he has now retained his own brand of e-mail service! What brought that about?

I'm not paranoid, as I fear nothing, & I couldn't care less for the likes of you or him. But are you obsessed or what?

Should I waste my time on your steel-trap, rusted-shut crude mind-workings?

You both seem like such sneaky cads....

Well, rest assured that my mailbox is nearly filled with more important material than his sordid & ignorant remarks....

Can you even fake being human at all?

I suppose "nice" would also be listed among the traits you so glibly refer to as "fallacies"....

I'm remaining civil in any event....

"Sure! Send me your drivel so that I can harp on you as well!".... Great sentiment....

Until I see some form of decency....

Take care, best of wishes, & enjoy!

To: FredSnider@webtv.net (Fred Snider)
From: frice@skeptictank.org (Fredric Rice)
Subject: Seeking Evidence
Date: Sat, 24 May 1997 08:24:44 -0700

Fred Snider:
What is the matter with you?

Fred Rice:
You've made claims about Randi. When I ask you for evidence for your accusations, you ask what's wrong with me. That's pretty curious behavior from someone who wants to claim he's a skeptic.

Fred Snider:
My intial contact had to do with the evidence that I have uncovered during my 25+ years of serious research into the human condition.

Fred Rice:
Your original claim was that James Randi sent you "jabberings." I want to see these mysteriously vague "jabberings" of his. How can I make an opinion when you won't provide them?

You didn't lie, did you?

Fred Snider:
Or rather "proof" that my findings are valid & of vast importance.

Fred Rice:
Let's take your claims in order, shall we? After you provide some evidence that Randi sent you "jabberings" and ignored your request to bid for the reward, _then_ you may make your other claims.

Fred Snider:
The "Randy" Randi's crass remarks were just a sideline along those lines, & yet you appear so all-consumed by this aspect & this aspect only!

Fred Rice:
For some reason you refuse to send them to me so that I can instigate the proper course of action to rectify the unprofessional behavior.

Fred Snider:
My natural skepticism is therefore aimed at you, but not in so rude a manner as you appear to be thrusting at me....

Fred Rice:
I'm only asking you for evidence, Fred. If you have some, you should send it. If you don't, I could understand why you might think that my asking is considered "rude."

Fred Snider:
Do you perhaps wish to share in his glee at such a remorseless lack of taste, or are you attempting to get it disclosed for his sake if I indeed retained any evidence of his trespassing, possiblly with & for him?

Fred Rice:
Are you now claiming criminal trespassing?

You started out claiming Randi was "jabbering" at you. I would like to stick with one claim at a time.

Fred Snider:
I sent copies to his once-retained e-mail service Compuserve, & I see that he has now retained his own brand of e-mail service! What brought that about?

Fred Rice:
He's getting better organized.

Fred Snider:
I'm not paranoid, as I fear nothing, & I couldn't care less for the likes of you or him. But are you obsessed or what?

Fred Rice:
What a strange sentence. _You_ contacted _me_ and claimed that Randi ignored your bid for the reward and sent you "jammerings." I would like to see a copy of that before I make any opinion and any decisions.

Fred Snider:
Should I waste my time on your steel-trap, rusted-shut crude mind-workings?

Fred Rice:
I'm _asking_ you for evidence for your accusations about Randi. Since I'm asking, it's curious that a self-professed skeptic would consider my asking for evidence to be "close minded."

Fred Snider:
You both seem like such sneaky cads....

Fred Rice:
Another curious comment from a "skeptic."

Fred Snider:
Well, rest assured that my mailbox is nearly filled with more important material than his sordid & ignorant remarks....

Fred Rice:
Send them to me. If he fell outside of decorum, I would like to know.

Fred Snider:
Can you even fake being human at all?

Fred Rice:
What a curious comment.

Fred Snider:
I suppose "nice" would also be listed among the traits you so glibly refer to as "fallacies"....

Fred Rice:
By "nice" do you mean, "Willing to believe anything some anonymous poster claims?" Such as that Randi sent you "jammerings " and that Randi is guilty of trespassing?

Fred Snider:
I'm remaining civil in any event....

Fred Rice:
As am I. You seem to think that asking for evidence is rude. That's a very un-skeptic-like belief, Fred.

Fred Snider:
"Sure! Send me your drivel so that I can harp on you as well!".... Great sentiment....

Fred Rice:
Are you aware of what constitutes the logical fallacy known as "a straw man?"

Fred Snider:
Until I see some form of decency....

Fred Rice:
So you're claiming that my asking for evidence is indecent?

Fred Snider:
Take care, best of wishes, & enjoy!

Fred Rice:
I look forward to you providing some evidence for your accusations.

To: frice@skeptictank.org
From: FredSnider@webtv.net (Fred Snider)
Subject: Seeking Evidence
Date: Sat, 24 May 1997 09:17:03 -0700

Fred Snider:
Boy!

Here is a copy of my initial contact.

You may observe that out of the many paragraphs contained in the letter, there is only a single one that even has the name "Randi" included in it.

It is nowhere near the top of the letter, & there is not much to even indicate that such importance can even be attatched to it.

In the accompanying letter that should be very close to this one, depending upon how your mailbox sorts the entries, is a copy of your initial response to this letter.

You can quite clearly & easily notice that for some odd "reason" the solitary section of the page that has the name in it is somehow promoted to the extreme foreground, & such a great percentage of the rest of the response seems so ardently devoted to not much of any other concern.

Can you explain how this flip-flop came to be, that magnifies such an immaterial aspect of a letter, while at the same time also manages to shrink the heart & gist of the important announcement into virtual obscurity?

Perhaps you might be persuaded to start the process over again, as though you had just received this letter, but let us try to pretend or imagine that the paragraph containing the name instead does not exist at all.

In other words, plain & simple, "Just forget about anything to do with Randi at all, & perhaps concentrate on the letter as though the remaining bulk of it had some degree of importance...."

I really do not wish to cross any sort of swords with you, but I must point out that the perceived attitude that your correspondence seems to evoke is so very antagonistic, & no hint of any sincere nor genuine interest is easily evident.

Perhaps I'm misreading your intent, but I do feel that the impression given out in it deserves some form of consideration.

Maybe you don't realize how you come across to an outsider.

You also seem to be blatently twisting & judging my words out of their true proportions.

And now the next letter.....

[... Repeat of letter dated Sun, 18 May 1997 23:43:22 -0700 cut ...]

To: frice@skeptictank.org
From: FredSnider@webtv.net (Fred Snider)
Subject: Seeking Evidence
Date: Sat, 24 May 1997 09:18:26 -0700

Fred Snider:
See?

Is it not exactly as I said?

What is up with this?

[... Repeat of my letter dated Wed, 21 May 1997 22:28:24 -0700 cut ...]

To: frice@skeptictank.org (Fredric Rice)
From: FredSnider@webtv.net (Fred Snider)
Subject: "Ignoring" Evidence
Date: Mon, 26 May 1997 13:40:28 -0700

Fred Snider:
Gad Zooks!

Please!

I find it ~so~ very difficult to believe that ~you~ can truly believe that what you are sending me is sane at all.

I know that ~I~ very sincerely believe that what I state in my communications are as valid as anything that ~can~ be believed to seem proven by the evidence at hand.

I am also aware of the difficulties that seem to surround dealing with my observations.

But as far as what appears to be going on between you & I, I can only perceive that something is incredibly amiss.

I in no way wish to cause you any kind of antagonism, but I would appreciate it if you would cease to write to me.

Especially since the only concern that you seem interested in is Randi, & I will not discuss this pointless issue any further.

I have tried to make clarification of my intent, but it seems to be of no avail.

So can we please just let it go?

If you ever ~do~ feel compelled to write, be it known that I will not respond to any aspect to do with Randi, so either expand upon some topic that is more relevant, or do not expect any more from me.

I am truly sorry, & good-bye.

To: FredSnider@webtv.net (Fred Snider)
From: frice@skeptictank.org (Fredric Rice)
Subject: "Ignoring" Evidence
Date: Tue, 27 May 1997 19:13:21 -0700

Fred Snider:
Gad Zooks!

Please!

I find it ~so~ very difficult to believe that ~you~ can truly believe that what you are sending me is sane at all.

Fred Rice:
What's to believe or disbelieve? Either you have evidence for your accusations else you do not. Once you provide your evidence, I will look it over. I can't form an opinion as to your accusations without evidence, now can I?

To: frice@skeptictank.org (Fredric Rice)
From: FredSnider@webtv.net (Fred Snider)
Subject: "Ignoring" Ignorers
Date: Wed, 28 May 1997 07:22:52 -0700

Fred Snider:
You have ignored my polite request not to be bothered with any more of your inane pursuit of the Randi fiasco, so I am being forced to ignore you, as I ~tried~ to explain, unless you can pursue any ~other~ interest from the letter.

I will try to expand here:

FORGET ABOUT THE RANDI PARAGRAPH!

Any further letters that allude to it will be considered harassment & I will send copies of it along with a formal complaint to your service's postmaster.

So either ask about something else, or leave me alone.

To: FredSnider@webtv.net (Fred Snider)
From: frice@skeptictank.org (Fredric Rice)
Subject: "Ignoring" Ignorers
Date: Wed, 28 May 1997 17:32:23 -0700

Fred Snider:
You have ignored my polite request not to be bothered with any more of your inane pursuit of the Randi fiasco, so I am being forced to ignore you, as I ~tried~ to explain, unless you can pursue any ~other~ interest from the letter.

Fred Rice:
There wasn't any evidence to back up your accusations about James Randi in your message. After you provide that evidence, _then_ we can address how unfairly you were treated.

To: frice@skeptictank.org (Fredric Rice)
From: FredSnider@webtv.net (Fred Snider)
Subject: FINAL WARNING
Date: Wed, 28 May 1997 17:39:47 -0700

Fred Snider:
SHOULD YOU SEND ONE MORE LETTER WITH THE NAME OF RANDI ON IT, I WILL SEND A FORMAL COMPLAINT TO YOUR E-MAIL SERVICE FOR HARASSMENT!

To: FredSnider@webtv.net (Fred Snider)
From: frice@skeptictank.org (Fredric Rice)
Subject: FINAL WARNING
Date: Fri, 30 May 1997 14:21:18

Fred Snider:
SHOULD YOU SEND ONE MORE LETTER WITH THE NAME OF RANDI ON IT, I WILL SEND A FORMAL COMPLAINT TO YOUR E-MAIL SERVICE FOR HARASSMENT!

Fred Rice:
When you find the evidence you discussed concerning your accusations against James Randi, do please forward a copy of it to me.

Thanks in advance.

To: frice@skeptictank.org (Fredric Rice)
From: FredSnider@webtv.net (Fred Snider)
Subject: FINAL WARNING
Date: Fri, 30 May 1997 14:46:44 -0700

Fred Snider:
NOTICE

THE FORMAL COMPLAINT HAS BEEN SENT TO THE POSTMASTER OF YOUR MAIL SERVICE FOR YOUR HARASSMENT


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Section 2: Commentary by Fredric Rice

As you can see, the claimant started out making one testable claim and, when pressed for evidence, refused to provide it. Eventually the claimant -- exhibiting the lack of desire even to speak James Randi's name -- wished to drop the subject and pretend the claim was never made.

There was a desire to appear reasonable provided the matter of the claim got dropped, after which there is the promise of progressing onward toward more fruitful claims.

Claims must be taken in order and must be addressed at the time they're made. Traditionally "True Believers" will propose a large number of claims quickly, with no references, and with the knowledge that the skeptic can be confused and get bogged-down in muddied waters.

At times there can be a deliberate fishing for areas of expertise where the skeptic feels comfortable, allowing the claimant to drop claims in those areas and focus upon areas wherein the skeptic is known to be ignorant. By taking claims in order without granting the use of such methodologies, both sides arrive at the truth of the claims.


---

Section 3: Letters to and from Jack P. Sargeant and Fredric Rice
To: frice@stbbs.com
From: ufo1@juno.com (Jack P Sargeant)
Subject: I checked out your web page
Date: Tue, 13 May 1997 10:40:22 EDT

Hello Fred,

Impressive! You are very outspoken.

I'm writing because... Somebody said there was a message on the Skeptic echo where David Bloomberg predicted you would be booted from UFO on the grounds you are a skeptic.

I don't read the Skeptic echo anymore, as it is difficult to keep from getting embroiled in arguments there. So I subscribe to the notion that what I don't read can't get me upset.

There is no danger of running afoul on UFO as long as you don't demonstrate the frantic need to harass those who profess to believe in UFOs. You can put forth your arguments as much as you want, just as long as it is done in an amicable fashion. ... Something David was unable and unwilling to do.

David was on some kind of crusade that was very destructive, and aimed primarily at me. I had received numerous e-mails complaining about him, wondering if I was going to allow it to continue.

Anyone who is the least bit fair minded would have to agree that David was on a collision course with banishment. I sent him many private crash mails asking him to temper his attacks. He was unwilling to do so.

You may get a duplicate of this note, as I sent it to both addresses I could find. If you reply, I'll know which one to use in the future.

Anyway, Fred, I have seen nothing in your messaging to warrant any concern on my part, and I want you to know you are welcome to express your views to anyone and as often as you choose.

David is wrong about me, and I think I can eventually prove this to you.

If you can successfully make your point with any believer who seems too far off in left field, feel free to do so. If you or the "opposition" get to frosty, I'll let you (or him) know.

I am not the FTB David has me painted as, and I suspect you know it.

Best regards,

Jack

To: ufo1@juno.com (Jack P Sargeant)
From: frice@skeptictank.org (Fredric Rice)
Subject: I checked out your web page
Date: Sun, 18 May 1997 20:41:17 -0700

Jack P Sargeant:
I'm writing because... Somebody said there was a message on the Skeptic echo where David Bloomberg predicted you would be booted from UFO on the grounds you are a skeptic.

Fredric Rice:
Curiously I failed to see that message. But then I don't read every message posted to SKEPTIC. Still, I've viewed UFO and I_UFO off and on for years and have noticed that any voice of rationality eventually gets accused of some rule violation which is used to shut them up.

It is also true of the SRA forum (Satanic Ritual Abuse) and all of the firearms-related forums -- not to mention all of the Christian forums. The phenomena seems to be pandemic to all the forums where there is an ideological predisposition not predicated upon testable fact. But I _have_ seen it in UFO.

David _is_ speaking from the record of the forum.

Jack P Sargeant:
I don't read the Skeptic echo anymore, as it is difficult to keep from getting embroiled in arguments there.

Fredric Rice:
It's one of the drawbacks of a group of individuals who keep asking for evidence of another group of individuals who don't need any -- or will simply widen a conspiracy when presented with evidence which negates a belief. Project Moguel, for instance.

Is David actively and deliberately working a campaign of misinformation? I don't know David enough; you've had more experience with his messages.

Jack P Sargeant:
So I subscribe to the notion that what I don't read can't get me upset.

Fredric Rice:
That's a good idea! Yet when it comes to the scientific investigation into _any_ claim, shouldn't it be done dispassionately and without emotional investments of any kind? When I read someone's message wherein they claim the Earth is being visited by benevolent aliens, I smile knowingly and discard the claim as superstition -- unless the claimant provides a testable claim.

Do you really get upset when you watch the floor shows?

Jack P Sargeant:
There is no danger of running afoul on UFO as long as you don't demonstrate the frantic need to harass those who profess to believe in UFOs.

Fredric Rice:
After having observed UFO off and on for a few years, I have seen that asking people if they have evidence for their beliefs is quite often considered harassment. In the SRA forum, after someone makes a bunch of claims about having been forced to murder a dozen babies and drink their blood, asking why they don't tell the authorities about these murders is called harassment. Asking why they don't turn in the people they claim to know murder babies; why they're harboring murderers results in their ejection.

My point is that people who believe strongly in the unevidenced have a broad concept of what constitutes harassment.

Jack P Sargeant:
You can put forth your arguments as much as you want, just as long as it is done in an amicable fashion. ...Something David was unable and unwilling to do.

Fredric Rice:
While David has been abusing his role as moderator of SKEPTIC lately, I haven't found any of his arguments in UFO to step outside acceptable bounds of academic decorum.

Truly I don't care how David is treated in UFO. I run a professional organization here which, you might have noticed, includes research data on a broad spectrum of paranormal claims, including the pro-paranormal sides of things. David does much the same. Part of the process of organized hume-class skepticism is to collect data and disseminate it.

To do that David and I both observe a broad spectrum of forums and, on rare occasion, eventually participate. Both of us know that any voice of reason among "True Believers" is unwelcome. Both of us have learned fairly early on that professional decorum should be maintained in certain FidoNet forums. We get _rightfully_ trounced upon if we don't.

Do you have some messages of David's that were not "done in an amicable fashion? " Since I can't read everything, I would love to have some samples so I can know in advance what is considered inamicable.

Jack P Sargeant:
David was on some kind of crusade that was very destructive, and aimed primarily at me.

Fredric Rice:
Do you have an archive which would show this?

Jack P Sargeant:
I had received numerous e-mails complaining about him, wondering if I was going to allow it to continue.

Fredric Rice:
I'm not surprised. When David or I (or any self-professed skeptic) walks into a church and starts to preach a voice of reason, the congregation should naturally complain.

Jack P Sargeant:
Anyone who is the least bit fair minded would have to agree that David was on a collision course with banishment. I sent him many private crash mails asking him to temper his attacks. He was unwilling to do so.

Fredric Rice:
Well, I can't make an informed judgment without seeing these attacks of his. Would you mind forwarding some of these to me?

Jack P Sargeant:
Anyway, Fred, I have seen nothing in your messaging to warrant any concern on my part, and I want you to know you are welcome to express your views to anyone and as often as you choose.

David is wrong about me, and I think I can eventually prove this to you.

Fredric Rice:
Would you like for me to provide a summation of what I think of you predicated solely upon a preliminary evaluation of your message? If so, I would ask that you indicate whether I'm at all accurate in my summation.

We'll call it a scientific exercise.

Jack P Sargeant:
If you can successfully make your point with any believer who seems too far off in left field, feel free to do so. If you or the "opposition" get to frosty, I'll let you (or him) know.

Thanks.

I am not the FTB David has me painted as, and I suspect you know it.

Fredric Rice:
I haven't really seen anything from David about you. Even though I created the SKEPTIC forum, I don't have time to read every message. Usually I read through a specific topic of discussion and I usually read the messages addressed to "All." Yet really I don't know anything at all about you or what your problems with David have been.

By the way, please feel free to maintain and distribute any of my messages (Internet Email or FidoNet) as you wish. I don't consider anything I say to be private.

If you ever wish to chat voice, give me a beep at (888) 348-****. If it's out of California State, though, I have to call back collect.

To: frice@stbbs.com
From: ufo1@juno.com (Jack P Sargeant)
Subject: I checked out your web page
Date: Tue, 20 May 1997 04:51:42 EDT

[Jack P Sargeant:]
I'm writing because... Somebody said there was a message on the Skeptic echo where David Bloomberg predicted you would be booted from UFO on the grounds you are a skeptic.

[Fredric Rice:]
Curiously I failed to see that message. But then I don't read every message posted to SKEPTIC. Still, I've viewed UFO and I_UFO off and on for years and have noticed that any voice of rationality eventually gets accused of some rule violation which is used to shut them up.

...Massive cuts...

[Jack P Sargeant:]
David was on some kind of crusade that was very destructive, and aimed primarily at me.

[Fredric Rice:]
Do you have an archive which would show this?

Jack P Sargeant:
I have a file named: DAVID.ZIP I have placed in a place called: \FD\FILE\DAVID.ZIP. I haven't learned certain aspects of my system yet, and I don't know if you can FREQ it from there or not, but you are welcome to call and try at: 704-334-3533.

All the file is, is a collection of David's posts I have found offensive. It doesn't matter that David doesn't find them offensive. It doesn't matter if you do or not.

UFO is my echo, and I make the decisions as to who comes and goes. I am not anti-skeptic. All I ask is that you or anyone else is not to be too abrasive when discussing pros and cons.

I enjoy being liked, but if someone (for whatever reason) doesn't like me, I won't loose too much sleep over it.

[Jack P Sargeant:]
I had received numerous e-mails complaining about him, wondering if I was going to allow it to continue.

...Minor cuts...

[Fredric Rice:]
Well, I can't make an informed judgment without seeing these attacks of his. Would you mind forwarding some of these to me?

Jack P Sargeant:
Yes I do. ...But you may come and get them.

... Fairly large cut ...

Thanks for the reply, and I'll chat with you later.

Jack

To: ufo1@juno.com (Jack P Sargeant)
From: frice@skeptictank.org (Fredric Rice)
Subject: I checked out your web page
Date: Wed, 21 May 1997 23:11:04 -0700

[Jack P Sargeant:]
I'm writing because... Somebody said there was a message on the Skeptic echo where David Bloomberg predicted you would be booted from UFO on the grounds you are a skeptic.

[Fredric Rice:]
It is also true of the SRA forum (Satanic Ritual Abuse) and all of the firearms-related forums -- not to mention all of the Christian forums. The phenomena seems to be pandemic to all the forums where there is an ideological predisposition not predicate upon testable fact. But I _have_ seen it in UFO. David _is_ speaking from the record of the forum.

Fredric Rice:
For some reason you didn't respond to this.

[Jack P Sargeant:]
I don't read the Skeptic echo anymore, as it is difficult to keep from getting embroiled in arguments there.

[Fredric Rice:]
It's one of the drawbacks of a group of individuals who keep asking for evidence of another group of individuals who don't need any -- or will simply widen a conspiracy when presented with evidence which negates a belief. Project Moguel, for instance.

Fredric Rice:
Or this.

[Fredric Rice:]
Is David actively and deliberately working a campaign of misinformation?

Fredric Rice:
Why didn't you answer this?

[Jack P Sargeant:]
So I subscribe to the notion that what I don't read can't get me upset.

[Fredric Rice:]
That's a good idea! Yet when it comes to the scientific investigation into _any_ claim, shouldn't it be done dispassionately and without emotional investments of any kind?

Fredric Rice:
You didn't answer this.

[Fredric Rice:]
Do you really get upset when you watch the floor shows?

Fredric Rice:
You didn't answer this, either.

[Fredric Rice:]
After having observed UFO off and on for a few years, I have seen that asking people if they have evidence for their beliefs is quite often considered harassment. In the SRA forum, after someone makes a bunch of claims about having been forced to murder a dozen babies and drink their blood, asking why they don't tell the authorities about these murders is called harassment. Asking why they don't turn in the people they claim to know murder babies; why they're harboring murderers results in their ejection.

My point is that people who believe strongly in the unevidenced have a broad concept of what constitutes harassment.

Fredric Rice:
And you didn't bother to comment here, either.

[Fredric Rice:]
While David has been abusing his role as moderator of SKEPTIC lately, I haven't found any of his arguments in UFO to step outside acceptable bounds of academic decorum.

Fredric Rice:
Nor did you comment about this, either.

[Fredric Rice:]
To do that David and I both observe a broad spectrum of forums and, on rare occasion, eventually participate. Both of us know that any voice of reason among "True Believers" is unwelcome. Both of us have learned fairly early on that professional decorum should be maintained in certain FidoNet forums. We get _rightfully_ trounced upon if we don't.

Fredric Rice:
Do you find this to be true?

[Fredric Rice:]
Do you have some messages of David's that were not "done in an amicable fashion?"

Fredric Rice:
Why didn't you forward any?

[Jack P Sargeant:]
David was on some kind of crusade that was very destructive, and aimed primarily at me.

[Fredric Rice:]
Do you have an archive which would show this?

Jack P Sargeant:
I have a file named: DAVID.ZIP I have placed in a place called: \FD\FILE\DAVID.ZIP. I haven't learned certain aspects of my system yet, and I don't know if you can FREQ it from there or not, but you are welcome to call and try at: 704-334-3533.

Fredric Rice:
Yet for some reason you won't forward them to me. If I go to look for these mystical messages of David's, what will I find? A "File Not Found" error message? So you can claim there's a technical problem with your system and not have to worry that these messages don't exist?

[Jack P Sargeant:]
I had received numerous e-mails complaining about him, wondering if I was going to allow it to continue.

[Fredric Rice:]
I'm not surprised. When David or I (or any self-professed skeptic) walks into a church and starts to preach a voice of reason, the congregation should naturally complain.

Fredric Rice:
And you didn't comment here, either.

[Fredric Rice:]
Well, I can't make an informed judgment without seeing these attacks of his. Would you mind forwarding some of these to me?

Jack P Sargeant:
Yes I do. ...But you may come and get them.

Fredric Rice:
I would rather that you send them to me through Internet otherwise I have to make a long distance telephone call. And I suspect that I'll get no file for my trouble and my money.

[Fredric Rice:]
Would you like for me to provide a summation of what I think of you predicated solely upon a preliminary evaluation of your message? If so, I would ask that you indicate whether I'm at all accurate in my summation.

Fredric Rice:
Why no answer here?

Jack P Sargeant:
Thanks for the reply, and I'll chat with you later.

Fredric Rice:
No you won't. You didn't answer most of my questions and you didn't even comment upon anything.

Why is that?

To: frice@stbbs.com
From: ufo1@juno.com (Jack P Sargeant)
Subject: I checked out your web page
Date: Thu, 22 May 1997 14:34:55 EDT

[Jack P Sargeant:]
I'm writing because... Somebody said there was a message on the Skeptic echo where David Bloomberg predicted you would be booted from UFO on the grounds you are a skeptic.

... Fairly large cut ...

[Fredric Rice:]
It is also true of the SRA forum (Satanic Ritual Abuse) and all of the firearms-related forums -- not to mention all of the Christian forums. The phenomena seems to be pandemic to all the forums where there is an ideological predisposition not predicate upon testable fact. But I _have_ seen it in UFO. David _is_ speaking from the record of the forum.

Fredric Rice:
For some reason you didn't respond to this.

Jack P Sargeant:
I don't intend to answer inquiries regarding David Bloomberg. Nobody gives a hoot what people think anyway. If you have some simple, friendly questions that don't contain sarcasm, I'll try to answer them. :-)

Jack

To: ufo1@juno.com (Jack P Sargeant)
From: frice@skeptictank.org (Fredric Rice)
Subject: I checked out your web page
Date: Thu, 22 May 1997 20:14:14 -0700

Jack P Sargeant:
I don't intend to answer inquiries regarding David Bloomberg. Nobody gives a hoot what people think anyway. If you have some simple, friendly questions that don't contain sarcasm, I'll try to answer them. :-)

Fredric Rice:
If you didn't have any intentions of discussing your accusations, Jack, you shouldn't have made them. As it stands I must conclude that you are a liar driven by embarrassment, engaged in vendetta against those who expose your silly beliefs.

I gave you the chance to back up your accusations and you refused. I must predicate my opinion of you based entirely upon this behavior of yours.

Are you sure you don't wish to reconsider backing up your claims with some evidence?

To: frice@stbbs.com
From: ufo1@juno.com (Jack P Sargeant)
Subject: I checked out your web page
Date: Sat, 24 May 1997 21:08:23 EDT

[Jack P Sargeant:]
I don't intend to answer inquiries regarding David Bloomberg. Nobody gives a hoot what people think anyway. If you have some simple, friendly questions that don't contain sarcasm, I'll try to answer them. :-)

[Fredric Rice:]
If you didn't have any intentions of discussing your accusations, Jack, you shouldn't have made them. As it stands I must conclude that you are a liar driven by embarrassment, engaged in vendetta against those who expose your silly beliefs.

Jack P Sargeant:
I am not interested in your type of caustic debate.

I think you are acting like a child, just like David Bloomberg.

When I make accusations, I am not required by some school boy like you to answer for them. Your opinions do not interest me, as you are not a reasonable or amicable person.

Social misfits are not in my communication circle. You came on too strong with me, buster!

I don't know who the hell you think you are, but when somebody opens a dialogue with me and right away starts off with a chip on his shoulder, I lose interest real fast!

I owe you no explanations.

David is a jerk, and you are a copycat.

David was booted for being overly antagonistic to my readers and myself.

Now you ask for proof, after I told you where you could collect the file I have on him. The file is called DAVID.ZIP and is ready to be frequed from my system.

Quit asking for stuff after I've already afforded you the information you seek!

Your next communique had better be friendly, or don't expect a reply.

Jack.

To: ufo1@juno.com (Jack P Sargeant)
From: frice@skeptictank.org (Fredric Rice)
Subject: I checked out your web page
Date: Mon, 26 May 1997 12:00:32 -0700

[Jack P Sargeant:]
I don't intend to answer inquiries regarding David Bloomberg. Nobody gives a hoot what people think anyway. If you have some simple, friendly questions that don't contain sarcasm, I'll try to answer them. :-)

[Fredric Rice:]
If you didn't have any intentions of discussing your accusations, Jack, you shouldn't have made them. As it stands I must conclude that you are a liar driven by embarrassment, engaged in vendetta against those who expose your silly beliefs.

Jack P Sargeant:
I am not interested in your type of caustic debate.

Fredric Rice:
_You_ were the one who made a series of accusations about David Bloomberg. All I did was ask for a sample of the "attacks" that David allegedly instigated against you.

When I persisted in asking, you wanted to drop the subject.

Why is that, Jack?

Jack P Sargeant:
I think you are acting like a child, just like David Bloomberg.

Fredric Rice:
How is asking you for evidence to back up your accusations being childish?

Jack P Sargeant:
When I make accusations, I am not required by some school boy like you to answer for them.

Fredric Rice:
Yes you are. When your accusations are of a personal nature and impugn the honesty and activities of others, you most certainly _are_ required to back them up with evidence.

Otherwise it is rightfully concluded that you're a liar. You didn't lie, did you?

Jack P Sargeant:
Your opinions do not interest me, as you are not a reasonable or amicable person.

Fredric Rice:
How is asking you for evidence to back up your accusations unreasonable?

Jack P Sargeant:
Social misfits are not in my communication circle.

Fredric Rice:
Here's another personal attack.

How is asking you for evidence to back up your accusations considered to be from "social misfits?"

Jack P Sargeant:
You came on too strong with me, buster!

Fredric Rice:
Is that true of everyone who asks you for evidence to back up your claims?

Jack P Sargeant:
I don't know who the hell you think you are, but when somebody opens a dialogue with me and right away starts off with a chip on his shoulder, I lose interest real fast!

Fredric Rice:
_You_ contacted _me_, Jack. You made a series of accusations about David and then refused to back up your claims.

All you need to do to shut me us is to provide some evidence of your accusations, Jack. That's all you need to do. When you do that I'll review the evidence and either conclude that you're right else you're a liar. You didn't lie, did you?

Jack P Sargeant:
I owe you no explanations.

Fredric Rice:
Yes you do.

Jack P Sargeant:
David is a jerk, and you are a copycat.

Fredric Rice:
Is everyone who asks you for evidence to back up your accusations also a "jerk," Jack?

Jack P Sargeant:
David was booted for being overly antagonistic to my readers and myself.

Fredric Rice:
Provide some evidence for that accusation, Jack.

Jack P Sargeant:
Now you ask for proof,

Fredric Rice:
No, I'm asking for evidence. Have any?

Jack P Sargeant:
after I told you where you could collect the file I have on him. The file is called DAVID.ZIP and is ready to be frequed from my system.

Fredric Rice:
Forward it to me. I've asked nicely repeatedly.

Jack P Sargeant:
Quit asking for stuff after I've already afforded you the information you seek!

Fredric Rice:
You have my email address. You may forward it to me at any time.

Jack P Sargeant:
Your next communique had better be friendly, or don't expect a reply.

Fredric Rice:
Is anyone who asks you for evidence to back up your accusations being "unfriendly," Jack?

To: ufo1@juno.com (Jack P Sargeant)
From: frice@skeptictank.org (Fredric Rice)
Subject: I checked out your web page
Date: Wed, 28 May 1997 18:49:31 -0700

[Jack P Sargeant:]
I don't intend to answer inquiries regarding David Bloomberg.

[Jack P Sargeant:]
I am not interested in your type of caustic debate. I think you are acting like a child, just like David Bloomberg. When I make accusations, I am not required by some school boy like you to answer for them.

Fredric Rice:
Since you elected to not back up your accusations with evidence, I will be constructing a web page out of your claims to show your dishonesty and willful lying -- and use you as an example of what can be expected from those who set aside honesty in hopes to make themselves believe.

The only way to stop me is to provide evidence to back up your claims. I'll give you until next Monday evening to do so.

To: frice@stbbs.com
From: ufo1@juno.com (Jack P Sargeant)
Subject: I checked out your web page
Date: Thu, 29 May 1997 02:53:46 EDT

Fredric Rice:
Since you elected to not back up your accusations with evidence, I will be constructing a web page out of your claims to show your dishonesty and willful lying -- and use you as an example of what can be expected from those who set aside honesty in hopes to make themselves believe.

The only way to stop me is to provide evidence to back up your claims. I'll give you until next Monday evening to do so.

Jack P Sargeant:
I dare you!


---

Section 4: Commentary by Fredric Rice

It's interesting to note that I was ejected from the UFO forum shortly after this exchange with the claimant. (The excuse was that the claimant received "too many" complaints about my continued requests for answer to uncomfortable questions. See Section 5)

What makes it interesting is a critical evaluation of the motivation behind the claimant having contacting me. Since the historic evidence tends to indicate that skeptics, when they ask their embarrassing questions, are quickly ejected from all discussion forums, the claimant usually gives a series of warnings which, it's hoped, would preclude them from having to fulfill the extreme probability of eventual ejection.

Ironically, the claimant made a testable claim and, realizing that I was not going to accept his claim without evidence, doubtless felt threatened to the point where he did the only thing he could think of to shut me up.

The claimant's response was expected.

---

Section 5: Letter from Jack P. Sargeant
UFO Forum
   Date : 29-May-97 08:10
   From : Moderator
     To : Fredric Rice
Subject : Your abusive messaging.

Barton:
To list religions with belief in pixies is clearly offensive, and you know it damn well.

Fredric Rice:
That's a pretty curious belief, Barton. What are the specific parameters between that which you think are "offensive" truths and that which are unoffensive? You've tried to single out one of the many unevidenced claims for some mysterious reason and I just want to understand what the differences are. Would you list them for me so I don't make the mistake of offending anyone again?

Thanks.

Does anyone here, for instance, think that pointing out the lack of flying saucer parts falling from the skys is offensive?

[Fredric Rice:]
Additionally, the belief in the paranormal does indeed provide solace for the weak, the afraid, and the ignorant. It is indeed an uncomfortable fact to be faced with that there is no evidence for any paranormal claim. With the way many humans invest their emotions and finances, being faced with the stark truth is often uncomfortable

Barton:
This is ad hominem.

Fredric Rice:
Another curious accusation -- and you provided no specifics again, curiously. There is no shame in being weak, afraid, or ignorant. I would suppose that every human holds true in this regard at one degree or another. It's a simple matter of primate existence; one which none of us really escape entirely, Barton.

Why do you presume to suppose that enumerating the human condition in some small way is a personal attack?

[Fredric Rice:]
Mysteriously you elected once again not to answer my questions. What is this "Laffer curve" of yours? Does it provide evidence for any claims of the paranormal? Does it provide evidence that there are aliens piloting flying saucers among us?

Barton:
How old are you?

Fredric Rice:
37. How old are you?

Barton:
If you'd been around during the 1980 election you'd know what the Laffer Curve was.

Fredric Rice:
Around where? Are you making the unwarranted assumption that I live or had lived in the country where this election was held? Are you further making the assumption that I am or had been politically motivated to any degree at the time as to warrant notice of this "Laffer curve" of yours?

Barton:
Arthur Laffer was a supply-sider economist who pointed out that tax revenue declines at higher tax rates because it reduces incentives to earn extra income and drives transactions into the underground economy.

Fredric Rice:
You claimed you had evidence for the existence of something paranormal, Barton. Are you trying to equate the lack of evidence for anything paranormal (including flying saucers) with expendable income being driven into taxable invisibility?

Do help me understand. Thanks.

Jack P Sargeant:
Fredric,

I have decided your messaging is overly aggressive and nearly that of "Skeptibunker" mentality. As you are approaching that point of no return in the "excessively annoying" catagory, I am giving you this one warning. Tone your aggressiveness down immediately, or your next message from me will be a notice of banishment from the UFO echo.

You are not offering a skeptical viewpoint so much as you are showing contempt for the views of other users. This is plainly outlined in the echo rules, which I assume you have read carefully. Remember, there will be no further warnings on this rules infraction. ...And remember, it is MY interpretation of the rules that counts here. ...Not yours. Below, you will find those portions of the rules that pertain to you personally. Do not comment on this ruling in the open echo.

Jack Sargeant,
Moderator - UFO

                            -= UFO ECHO RULES =-

(posted bi-weekly)

1a) There will be no comments, digs, cuts, or disparaging remarks about the RELIGIOUS belief systems of others. This includes remarks about non-beliefs, or those who do not have a religion--This also includes those who are agnostic or athesist. I am determined to stop the joking, criticisms, and discussion of any kind that pertains to beliefs or non-beliefs that have an obvious religious undertone. I will be handing down vacations of varying lengths, depending on >my< interpretation of the offense. ...Not yours, but mine! Do not argue with moderator decisions! If you have a complaint about the rules, another participant, or anything you don't approve of, take it to either netmail or e-mail, not the open echo. There may not be any warnings given at all, depending on the circumstances, so don't be expecting several warnings. That type of warning grace is gone forever, folks. There are several addresses below, that I can be contacted at. Some of you will have a hard time with this. That's tough! You can get further clarification from me via netmail, should you need it.

2) If you do not accept the existence of the UFO phenomenon, please extend us the common courtesy of letting us discuss what we want to discuss. Of course, if you are new to the topic and want to learn more, by all means participate. Participants in this echo on _all_ sides of the issues agree that UFO phenomena are worthy of serious, substantive discussion. - If you do not agree, please do not use this echo.

3) Flaming is not allowed at _any_ time.

"Flaming", in the context of personal conduct on this Conference, is defined by:

A). A flagrant, outright attack at another conferee. Threats, foul language, slander, etc.

B). Ad hominem or at-the-person messaging. Insults, putdowns or ridicule of other conferees. Name calling.

10) For you debunkers who drop in, please have your evidence and references ready. You'll be held to the same standards as "true believers." A simple assertion is not good enough.

* Origin: -=Keep Watching the Skies=- Charlotte, NC (1:379/12)


---

Section 6: Commentary by Fredric Rice

This is interesting in a great many ways and is common of the "True Believer" phenomena. Ask too many questions the believer can't answer and be called "aggressive" and "abusive."

As is most often the case, there was nothing in the "offending" postings to which the "True Believer" could point to and exclaim, "This is not correct." Nor was there anything which could be pointed toward and stated truthfully, "This is abusive" or "This is a personal attack." The reason for the ejection was the claimant's inability to provide evidence to back up his E-Mail accusations. Lacking evidence, there was no other way to make the the skeptic shut up.

In defense of the need for "safety" in not having to answer uncomfortable questions, the skeptic is always eventually ejected with such excuses in an attempt to help the believer convince hirself there was some other reason besides embarrassment and discomfort for the ejection.

Ironically, while the "True Believer" wishes to appear open- minded and reasonable, there is often the repeated statement of total control over what is to be deemed reasonable and what is to be deemed abusive. (This is most notably evident in Creationist debates with scientists where the Creationists attempts to set the rules of decorum tailored toward biasing the discussion away from areas the Creationist doesn't wish to examine.)

Another notable factor here is that the claimant previously stated that there were no grounds for ejecting the skeptic from the forum. It was only after the claimant got desperate when pressed for evidence for his claims that the skeptic "got abusive:"

        Anyway, Fred, I have seen nothing in your messaging to
        warrant any concern on my part, and I want you to know
        you are welcome to express your views to anyone and as
        often as you choose. - Jack P Sargeant

What's unstated is that uncomfortable questions are forbidden.

Of special note is the double-standard requirement that skeptics provide evidence for anything they assert. In this instance the believer states the logical fallacy known as "begging the question" by stating skeptics must be held to the same standard of evidence that believers are held to. Ironically believers complain when asked for answers. The skeptic is ejected for asking them. And the believers return to the comforts of validating each other's beliefs without the embarrassment of having to evidence their fantasies.


---

Section 7: Background information on names and terms used

  • FidoNet
    FidoNet is a private computer network consisting of around 40,000 to 60,000 computers. Most of them are also Bulletin Board Systems which allow the public to participate in "Echo Mail" discussion forums which link participants who share a common interest from around the world.

    An Internet search for the word "FidoNet" will yield a great amount of information on FidoNet. I maintain a current nodelist which lists all known FidoNet systems so if you're interested in finding a system close to you, please let me know.

  • UFO Echo Mail Forum
    The UFO Echo is a discussion group dedicated toward validating the uncritical beliefs of the majority of the participants. The actual beliefs exhibited in the forum are very broad spectrum and run the usual gauntlet of aliens visiting the Earth on through government conspiracies to cover up the truth.

    Occasionally there is an interesting discussion which skeptics and "True Believers" might both enjoy. Most of the bandwidth, however, is dedicated toward the dissemination of untestable claims. Some serious evaluation of specific flying saucer claims takes place as well and so the forum provides a good source of information about specific UFO reports.

    Historically vocal skeptics who bother to correct a mistaken belief or to request evidence for a specific claim eventually get ejected for "being abusive" or some other contrived excuse. Participants complain to the forum's moderator when they feel threatened and, when the number of complaints become too numerous, the moderator requests those who suggest a little reason to refrain from posting.

  • I_UFO Echo Mail
    The I_UFO Echo (usually called "Idiot UFO" by believers and skeptics alike) is another "True Believer" forum only without the redeeming value that the UFO forum has.

    I've observed this forum off and on over the past four years or so. It is interesting to observe claimants demand that outrageous things are happening to Earth and all its populace and that whole new realities and mind-blowing vistas are about to open up to humanity.

    Very often dates are provided and, when the date comes and goes without anything unusual being noticed, half the claimants blink their eyes, draw a big breath, then proceed to make further predictions without ever addressing the previous failed claims.

    The other half demand that the mind-blowing changes did in fact take place but that only the "True Believer" is capable of discerning the difference... where after they blink their eyes, draw a big breath, then proceed to make further predictions without pausing to admit their previous claims failed.

  • SKEPTIC Echo Mail
    I created the SKEPTIC Echo forum many years ago to critically evaluate claims of the paranormal. The SKEPTIC forum only allows testable claims to be discussed as untestable claims fall outside the venue of traditional Hume-class skepticism. (Deity-oriented Religious claims are one of the things Hume-class skeptics don't concern themselves with.)

    Over the years "True Believers" have learned not to make any outrageous claims in the forum. What we end up with are participants who employ critical thinking in their evaluation of both outrageous and mundane claims with an occasional visit from "True Believers."

    Historically "True Believers" flee the forum on their own. The only participants who have ever been ejected from the forum have been individuals who refused to abide by the rule that subject matter must consist of testable claims. Deity-oriented religious individuals who can't refrain from posting mythology or religious claims eventually get ejected.

    Unlike UFO, SKEPTIC has never ejected an individual for "being abusive" or some other contrived excuse.

  • SRA Echo Forum
    The SRA stands for "Satanic Ritual Abuse." SRA is a belief that there is an immense conspiracy of "Satanists" running around the world abducting, ritually raping and murdering, and then eating babies, teenagers, and adults.

    The phenomena of SRA is the result of fundamentalist Christian delusions held by both professional psychologists and by self-professed "therapists" who use a variety of methods to implant false memories in their "patients." The phenomena of implanted memories is itself called FMS -- which stands for "False Memory Syndrome."

    FMS is getting wide recognition as the cause of SRA and the belief in SRA has been on the decline in the United States. FMS has been called the "20'th Century's Witch Hunt" since literally thousands of innocent people have been fingered by family members who had had false memories of "Satanic abuse" implanted into them by their therapists.

    The most notable instance of FMS implanting beliefs of SRA was the McMartin Preschool trials in the United States. Though this was the most costly and time-consuming criminal trial in the history of the United States, no evidence for child abuse could be found because there was no abuse. Children were coached to tell stories of SRA by their therapists and by their parents until many of them started to believe it. Those children who couldn't be implanted with false memories were dropped from the proceeding court cases as they didn't fulfill the religious beliefs of the fundamentalist parents and therapists.

    Though therapists and psychologists are only not starting to get sued by their victims for making them believe such nonsense and for destroying their families, the SRA forum remains. Any suggestion that the participants seek professional help from non- fundamentalist Christian therapists is labeled "invalidating" and the person who makes the suggestion -- or even asks questions the claimants can't answer -- is told to leave.

  • James "The Amazing" Randi
    James Randi is a magician with a long history of debunking claims of the paranormal. He has written numerous books and has tested uncountable self-proclaimed "psychics" in the past -- very often while being filmed for television documentaries on the paranormal.

    When testing the paranormal, magicians are used in addition to a broad spectrum of professional scientists as it is magicians who learn from experience how people deceive themselves as well as others.

    James Randi has been tireless in his pursuit of debunking famous self- proclaimed "psychics." His best work had been to totally expose and debunk Israeli "psychic" Uri Geller. His book " The Truth about Uri Geller " describes in loving detail the specifics behind how a number of supposedly paranormal feats are done.

    Recently James Randi has acquired a very large fortune from a large number of supporters with the express purpose of handing over the fund to any self-professed "psychic" who can exhibit a truly paranormal act -- under the umbrella of scientific controls.

    It's not surprising that few "psychics" make a bid for the money. It's also not surprising that all who make the mistake of doing so fail utterly to exhibit the claimed powers. (See the section below titled, "TT protests" for a letter from Randi.)

  • Fred Snider
    Here is a typical "True Believer." Of special notice is the claim: "Or rather 'proof' that my findings are valid & of vast importance. "

    As can be seen above, this individual contacted me supposedly to discuss what he believed to be something of great importance. This is a common claim: that a claimant's information is of great importance.

    It is without doubt that James Randi offered the terms and condictions under which bids for his reward money can be claimed and, seeing that they require strict scientific controls, Fred Snider needed to feel that Randi's desire for scientific tests was "jibberish."

    We'll never know since Fred refused to divulge Randi's letter.

  • Fred Rice
    This is me! I get a great many individuals sending me mail concerning deity-oriented religious beliefs and other claims of the paranormal. In all instances where I've asked for testable references or evidence, the response has been the traditional silence, threats, and "I'll pray for you!"

    Nearly 90% of these types of messages get moved to either the "fundamentalist rants" folder or the "paranormal" folder without comment. Since they're nearly always lengthy run-on sentences and very illiterate, I don't expend the time picking through them.

    When a specific individual is maligned in a claim, however, I'll expend a little effort evaluating the claims being made and attempt to validate or refute them.

  • Jack P Sargeant
    Jack is one of the moderators of the FidoNet UFO Echo mail forum. When David Bloomberg asked too many questions, he ejected David from the forum and then tried to convince himself there was a reasonable excuse for doing so.

    He contacted me after my lastest visit to the UFO forum to investigate whether the forum had changed in any way since my last visit several years prior.

  • David Bloomberg
    David Bloomberg is the editor of a newsletter published by a skeptics group. The newsletter's name is REALL - The Rational Examination Association of Lincoln Land. He runs a computer system which may be accessed by dialing (217) 522-4707 with a MODEM set to 19,200 baud, no parity, 8 data bits, and 1 stop bit.

                    REALL
                    Post Office Box 20302
                    Springfield, IL.  62708
    

    David is the moderator of the FidoNet SKEPTIC Echo mail forum.


---

Section 8: Letter from James Randi: TT protests

Date: 25 May 1997 16:47:39 -0000
From: James Randi --- Wizard 
To: broadcast-JREFInfo@ssr.com
Subject: FYI

This is a response to a Therapeutic Touch (TT) practitioner who has insisted upon sending me endless documents rather than just agreeing to do the test. She has written me:

     "If you are willing to LISTEN and learn, reply, if not,
     do not respond to me in your manner again."

My response:

Gee, I'm really sorry, but I only have one "manner," and that's direct, factual, brief, and rational. Does that offend you?

Get this straight, once and for all: I'm not here to be commanded or to be instructed. I'm offering a substantial prize that you can have if you establish the FUNDAMENTAL CLAIM of TT:

A sure indicator of quacks, pseudo-scientists, perpetual motion machine inventors, and psychic, is seen when they insist upon giving long lectures about their theories and histories, and want long, involved protocols to establish very simple, direct, phenomena.

I'm not playing games, and I'm getting very weary of catering to petulant prima donnas who won't answer simple, direct questions. If you want to try for the $1.1 million prize, which you can use for anything you wish -- including feeding hungry children, supporting AIDS research, promoting Therapeutic Touch, housing homeless people -- just follow the easy requirements, make an appointment, demonstrate that the Human Energy Field actually exists and that you can detect it, and collect the money.

I get some 40 to 60 messages a day. I've no time to spend begging you to accept the prize. Just do it, and collect. I won't feed your ego, only to have you eventually decline to do the test. And of course, you can conveniently decide to be offended by my directness as a reason to get miffed and use that as an excuse to refuse to be tested. Why do I get the feeling that you will opt for this "out?"

Ms. E., TT is worthless. It's a pseudoscientific bit of claptrap that feeds the egos of those who claim to have the "power." The inescapably basic claim of TT is that there exists a "field" that is detectable by the gifted practitioners, thousands of whom charge helpless and uninformed patients for this useless song-and-dance witchcraft.

I'm wrong? Well, I've bet $1,100,000 that I'm right. Prove me wrong, and collect. But don't beat around the bush and continue to make offended noises. Do it or go away, so that responsible, dedicated, persons can step up to replace you.

What's your answer? Yes, or no?

                                James Randi

James Randi Educational Foundation phone: +1 954 467 1112 201 SE Davie Boulevard fax: +1 954 467 1660 Fort Lauderdale FL 33316-1815 http://www.randi.org U.S.A.


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Section 9: A late addition: Jack P. Sargeant's Stated Agenda

From: David Bloomberg
To: Jack P Sargeant
Subject: More On Believers
Datum: 02-12-97 09:54
Area: F_Skeptical Inquiry Echo

In a msg to Rod Speed on <Feb 10 02:23>, Jack P Sargeant of 1:379/1 writes:

Jack P Sargeant
JPS> Although I offer the experiencer the sanctuary of the
JPS> "Experiencers Only" thread, I cannot vouch for their
JPS> immunity to agressive inquiries into their beliefs.

Rod Speed
RS> You can say precisely the same thing about ANY poster on ANY
RS> subject Jack. You have no way of knowing how many of them have
RS> a rather tenuous grip on their sanity, and in fact with some
RS> like Geoff there is plenty of evidence of a real problem.

Jack P Sargeant
JPS> On my echo, we don't voice our suspicions so openly.

David Bloomberg
Read: You censor them.

Jack P Sargeant
JPS> Therefore, I allow them to tell their story to get it off their
JPS> chest--to have the outlet they need--the need to share their pain
JPS> with someone--anyone. ...Anyone who will listen without teasing them.

Rod Speed
RS> No evidence that that actually 'helps' them at all. In fact there
RS> is quite a bit of evidence that it just ingrains their kookys ideas.

Jack P Sargeant
JPS> So what? It's all in fun, and just a hobby.

David Bloomberg
On the one hand, you claim that you censor skeptics because you're sooo concerned with the mental well-being of the UFO echo participants. On the other hand, eh, it's all in fun and just a hobby. Which is it, Jack? Or do you have fun playing therapist to people who think aliens are abducting them and performing experiments on them?

Jack P Sargeant
JPS> Not hardly! Most of us know it's just a game. If you removed all
JPS> the glamour and speculation, the UFO oriented echos would die in a
JPS> very short time.

David Bloomberg
Hey, something to shoot for.

Rod Speed
RS> There is only one way Jack, continuing to present them with the evidence
RS> that shows what they claim to have occurred, couldnt possibly have done.

Jack P Sargeant
JPS> Although you are quite correct (provided you have the evidence, and
JPS> skeptic logic does not mean evidence), it is not the way I'll have it
JPS> on UFO.

David Bloomberg
I love it! You admit that he is right and even if he has evidence, you won't allow him to post it on your echo! Thanks for ANOTHER great example of a Foaming True Believer moderator!

Jack P Sargeant
JPS> I am determined to make it as uncomfortable for them on UFO as David
JPS> and Sheppard are trying to do to me on SKEPTIC.

David Bloomberg
The (rather large) difference being that skeptics make it "uncomfortable" for you here by using evidence, examples, showing how you have lied, etc. You make it "uncomfortable" for skeptics on the UFO echo by abusing your moderator status and banning skeptics.

Jack P Sargeant
JPS> BTW, it will be a while before I reply to anymore of their posts.
JPS> They are sounding like a broken record.

David Bloomberg
ROFL! The broken record is you, Jack, saying over and over that you won't respond to our posts -- and then doing exactly that!!

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