Sunday, August 2, 2009

Dr Karl Kruszelnicki (thanks Nursemyra)

Who is this guy?

I don't know.

All I can guess is that he has one of those names that I'll probably misspell. That's a pain because then I have to go back and correct all my mistakes.

Anyway, let's go and find out who he is.

He's a scientist person.

This might be fun.

Baby Karl was born in Sweden.  ABBA land! Lord Wiki doesn't provide me with his birthdate, just his birth year. He was born in 1948. That's the same year my mom was born. She wasn't born in Sweden. She was born in Chicago.

I already made a spelling mistake. The funny thing is it was his FIRST name I misspelled, not his last. That's not something I expected.

Anyway, I fixed my mistake....exchanged a c for a k.

Let's move on.

Kruszelnicki is known for writing books and doing stuff on TV.

I'm not sure when the guy left Sweden, but he went to high school in Wollongong. Edmund Rice College. It's a Catholic boys school. I love the photo on the website. The boys are truly laughing. I love photographs where people are not fake smiling....where they're actually really amused about something.

After Kruszelnicki finished with Edmund Rice, he went to the University of Wollongong. There he majored in math and physics. At the University of New South Wales, he got himself a Masters Degree in biomedical engineering. Then at the University of Sydney he got a bachelor degree in medicine in surgery. Bachelor degree? Not a doctorate? I guess maybe eventually he got a PhD. Right? Otherwise, he wouldn't be known as doctor. And Lord Wiki says he has worked as a medical doctor.

Kruszelnicki worked for a show called Quantum. He wrote the first season of it. I think maybe he starred in it too. The show went on for sixteen years. Lord Wiki says it ended in 2001. So that means it started around 1985. Did I do the math right?

Kruszelnicki writes a column for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. It's about science stuff. I'll try to read some of it later.

He does a radio show with Triple J.

He's had cameo appearances on TV. He appeared on a show called Pizza. I've never heard of that. And he was on Neighbours.

He works on a campaign about micro-sleep. I just read Lord Wiki's explanation of it. Scary stuff. It's when you fall asleep for a split second. It happens to drivers, and can be VERY dangerous.

More important than the micro-sleep campaign though is Kruszelnicki's important research into the nature of belly button lint. I'm glad someone FINALLY studied this whole thing.

He tried to get into Parliament, but that didn't work out for him.

Well, that's enough for Lord Wiki.

Where should I go next?

Maybe YouTube. I'll see if I can see any of his cameo appearances and/or other work.

Well, I can't find the cameo appearances, but here's the micro-sleep campaign commercial.


Okay, but is there always a place to do that? What if you're on one of those scary mountain roads where there's not even enough rooms for two cars to pass? Where the hell do you go?

It's a very good commercial though. I like how they allude to the fact that you may end up killing someone's child. I wish people realized that when they make foolish selfish driving choices (like driving when exhausted, texting, drunk, etc.). You might end up killing someone's husband. You might end up killing someone's children. You might end up killing someone's mother.

Here's a clip from another Kruszelnicki project. Lord Wiki actually mentioned it, but I forgot to say anything. It's called Sleek Geeks. It's pretty funny. It would be better if people didn't give away the answers in the comments. If you watch the video, try to do so without looking at the comments.

Wait. I know. I'll just put the video here. Then you won't have to see the comments.

Here's another Sleek Geeks video. This one is about hypnotism.

Dr. Karl says ten percent of people are highly hypnotizable. I'm sadly not one of them. I've done past-life regression hypnosis....once with a professional therapist, and other times by myself with recordings. I never feel like I'm deeply under. I feel awake. Images and ideas come into my head, but it kind of feels like I'm making it all up. It's more like a regular daydream. I've read that these still can be real memories. They might be. But I've never left a session with the idea that I have definite memories of a past life. I end the sessions with a lot of maybes.

Shit. This video is kind of creeping me out. Maybe I should be THANKFUL I can't be hypnotized. Yikes. They show how hypnotists can get you to do things later when the hypnosis is over. Although there's a part of me that's expecting this video to end with the proclamation that hypnosis is fake...that we've been duped.

Well, this makes me feel better. The woman remembers the suggestion after someone brings it up to her. So, it's not like she was hypnotized and doesn't remember any of it happening.

The video makes me imagine that hypnosis could be a powerful and effective therapy for some people.

Here's the Dr. Karl website on ABC. They have some biographical information. His media career began in 1981. He would be about thirty-three at the time. He did a show called Great Moments of Science. It was on Double J. Is that related to Triple J?

The show helped him pay his way through medical school. So there. Yes, he did do more medical training....well, unless they're talking about that bachelor degree he got. I don't know.

They talk about his belly button lint study. Here's a page about it....fascinating stuff.

Here's the ABC site for Great Moments in Science. There's so much good stuff here. I'm very overwhelmed.

I'll read a few things.

Here's an article about rehydrating with sports drinks.

Two million children a year die of dehydration caused by diarrhea. How sad is that?

The article says that people with severe diarrhea, and/or extreme exercisers, need special drinks like Gatorade. Water won't be enough. But if you're not doing anything too long and strenuous, water is probably fine. In other words, if you're like Tim and doing 100 mile bike rides, buy the colored sweet stuff. But if you're just doing thirty minutes on the treadmill, water would be the better choice.

The article also says that people sometimes over-hydrate. Tim talked to me about this. He's been reading a lot about sports nutrition lately. According to the article, a twenty-eight year old marathon runner died because she drank too much. Her sodium levels were too low. Scary stuff.

Now I'm going to read about fingerprints.

This is awesome. Dr. Karl has grief with the position that no two fingerprints are alike. He asks how can we know that for sure? That's SO true. The same thing is said for snowflakes. And in 1988, a scientist found two snowflakes in a Wisconsin snowstorm that were identical. Ha! Why didn't I ever learn this in science class? We were always taught the bullshitting lies.

Dr. Karl says some people in authority claim that fingerprinting identification has a zero-error rate. Dr. Karl says that this is not true. A criminologist has found at least twenty-two innocent people wrongly convicted because of fingerprints.

So far, I LOVE Dr. Karl.

Here's his article about minus-calorie food. I learned this during my eating disorder--probably on some of the pro-anorexia sites. The idea is you can eat certain food and you'll actually lose weight. The food has low enough calories, and the process of chewing and digestion actually burns up the calories. Is that true?

Let me read and find out.

Well, most of the article goes over my head. But the conclusion seems to be that no...eating food like celery doesn't actually make you lose weight. Well, it does if you replace your snack of chocolate chip cookies with it. But eating celery doesn't actually cause you to burn more calories than you just consumed.

This article talks about near-death experiences. It doesn't really say anything I didn't already know.

You don't have to be dead (or near death) to experience the phenomena. Yeah. This is called an out-of-body experience(OBE). I thought that was fairly common knowledge. Maybe not.

Scientists have been able to recreate the sensation in a lab by triggering certain parts of the brain. Kruszelnicki says this was done recently. Maybe. But I remember reading about it in science class a LONG time ago.

What I like about the article is it concludes by saying, But right now, we know that you don't have to be dying to have one, and that it neither proves nor disproves the existence of an afterlife.
Thank you. My feeling is that science can never prove nor disprove the existence of a spiritual world. I am deeply bothered by people who spend their time and energy trying to disprove such a thing. I can have sympathy if they're trying to do it to prove that there's no hell. Hey! Don't feel pressured to go to church every Sunday. You can watch football instead. There's no eternal damnation!

But a lot of believers are NOT fire and brimstone people. I don't see how their belief in an after life is harming others. Some of these people have lost children. Their babies have died. They believe one day they shall be reunited with their children. It gives them SOME sense of peace. What is so wrong with that?

I'm okay with experiments if there are other reasons behind it. But if it's just to prove to people that their loved ones are now worm food.... How do these experiments benefit society?

If there are people out there who can deal with the idea of death being the END, that's fine. Now I'm not talking about death as in reaching a ripe old age. I'm talking about losing a husband in a construction accident, losing your fiance in a car accident, a child being kidnapped and murdered....If there are people out there who can deal with this stuff and not believe in an afterlife, good on them. But some people need to believe in order to emotionally survive. I say shame on anyone who tries to convince them that their beliefs are false.

I believe.

I NEED to believe. I WANT to believe.

I feel completely lost and depressed when I start believing in atheist stuff. I feel life is worthless. I feel incredibly anxious. I'm fine with other people being Atheist. I think some people can emotionally handle it. And that's great. atheism and Christianity are equally lovely in my eyes. But both of them piss me off when their followers become evangelistic.

I'll shut up and get off my soap box.

The ABC site links to this page about farts. It says Aussie kids fart twenty-four times a day. Wow. Really? What happens if you go over that number? I wonder if American kids fart the same amount of times.

According to Dr. Karl, no one has died from farting or from smelling someone else's fart. That's reassuring.

Recent research has shown that men fart more than woman, and that their farts smell worse. The belief is that this is because men eat more.

Eating more fiber causes you to fart more. But if you don't eat fiber, you're more likely to be constipated or get bowel cancer.

I say just go ahead and fart a lot.

There was a guy in the 1800's named Josef Pujol. He was a fart performer. He could do music...four notes only. But still. That's impressive. Here's a website about him.

I'm learning so much today. This might end up being my favorite blog post ever. I'm not sure if anyone will actually read the whole thing. But I'm having a grand old time doing the research.

Dr. Karl is on Twitter. He's done eleven post in the last six hours. That's a lot. All together, he's done 1,399. I should do that fun Twitter personality test thing.

Dr. Karl does an average of 8.7 posts a day. I think that means he's pretty prolific.

His personality is Renowned Sociopathic Vain. I've never seen sociopathic before. I wonder what type of tweets would give someone that diagnosis.

His style is Garrulous Coherent Celebrity. The analysis thing suggests that Dr. Karl follow more people. Maybe that's why he's diagnosed as sociopathic. He does follow only three people. Who are they? There's Adam Spencer, Caroline Pegram, and Triple J. Mornings. The first and last are celebrity type things. Caroline though is a mystery to me. She has only sixty-seven followers. It doesn't seem like she's a celebrity. Maybe though. Could she be his wife, perhaps?

On 26 February she says I have an inflated perception of myself, because dr karl is following me. loser could have just said something across the room.
I am totally mystified here. The great doctor has chosen only three entities to follow. Why did he choose this woman as one of them?

Oh! Okay.

I think I got it.

It seems she works with Dr. Karl. I googled her and found a PDF file that contains her name. It also provides biography stuff about Dr. Karl. I'll read it now.

He's known for wearing loud colorful shirts. Lord Wiki said that too. I kind of ignored him.

This file says Kruszelnicki got a MBBS from the University of Sydney. Maybe this will give me a clue about his medical degree. What is an MBBS? Lord Wiki says it's the first degree given after graduating medical school. Ah! So although it's a bachelor degree, it's not like the other type of bachelor degree.

I found something about Dr. Karl that I don't like. He's one of these who pushes the idea of science finding a way to make us live for a VERY long time. I don't know. I guess if you don't believe in an afterlife, this is a good alternative. It might help you sleep at night. My feeling is whether there's an afterlife or not, eighty years is a long enough average life. I think that's a great length.

I'm more worried about the people who DON'T get to live that long. For about those two million children who die of diarrhea? I think we should work harder to save them, and not waste our time getting people to live five hundred years.

My brother-in-law died when he was in his thirties. He had Cystic Fibrosis. I think that's incredibly unfair.

There are people who are murdered.

People die in car accidents.

I think we should concentrate on getting more people to reach a ripe old age.

Dr Karl says, I believe some of the people living today will be in the first generation to live forever or the last generation to die.

I like death, thank you very much. I mean I hate it when it happens unfairly to young people. I do. But for the elderly? How the hell are we going to handle all these old people walking around? It's going to be SO damn crowded.

I've just lost a lot of faith in this doctor guy.

I hope it's restored.

An ABC presenter says this about Kruszelnicki. He’s exactly what he sounds like - he’s wonderfully enthusiastic, he’s a very colourful character. I love that he loves what he does - he makes science and medicine more interesting than anybody else I can think of.

You know who that reminds me of?

Steve Irwin.

Okay. My love for the man has been restored!

One time a teacher called in to complain. Dr. Karl had made a mistake. He said that monotremes give birth to live young. The teacher corrected him. Dr. Karl thanked her for setting him straight. He admits to making mistakes. Apparently his IQ is only 110. He says, most people I know are smarter than I am. I just work hard.

I think my IQ score is around that. I'm really not that least in the traditional sense.

 I think I got a score of 900-something on my SAT's. That's pretty low. But what I do have is curiosity and the motivation to learn. The thing is though....I DO get things wrong sometimes. I make mistakes. I sometimes read stuff that I struggle to understand. I'm not brilliant.

Caroline Pegram was just mentioned in the file. It says she walks down the halls of Sydney University with him. Maybe she's a fellow professor?

Ah! Here we go. She's a research assistant.

I think in my next life I'd like to be a research assistant at the University of Sydney.

At one point, Dr. Karl drove cabs. Actually, it seems he did this at the time the file was written. That was in 2000.

I think it would be fun to drive a cab. Well, not really for me because I hate driving. But I think it would be fun to talk to people and eavesdrop on their conversations.

Yikes. Some of Kruszelnicki's fellow cab drivers have been beaten up and murdered. That's scary and sad. He himself was knocked unconscious. Then the same men raped his female passenger.

See? This is the stuff we need to worry about and change. Who WANTS to live a thousand years in a world with people who do such horrible things?

The thing is if there are no old people dying, the world is going to be even more crowded. And I think crowded worlds make people grumpy. It makes them do awful things.

Now the file seems to be saying that the cab thing was in the past; well, before the year 2000.

Dr. Karl seems to be the type of person who divides people into good and bad. At least this is what the article says. I do that....sort of. I don't think anyone is all good and all bad. I think we all have at least a LITTLE bad in us. But I think some people have a lot of bad in them. I guess I could divide people up by whether they're mostly good or mostly bad.

He worked with Dr. Fred Hollows, the eye helper man. He liked Dr. Hollows. Dr. Hollows is one of his good guys. From the little I've read about Hollows, I can conclude that most people probably agree with Dr. Karl.

When he practiced medicine, Dr. Karl was known for not rushing patients. I think what people are trying to say is there'd be long lines because of him.

It's such a mess. On one hand, we feel rushed when we go to the doctor. But who wants long lines? How do you combat that? I guess having more doctors might help.

He carries a smoke mask in case there's a fire on the plane. That's being well-prepared. It's probably a good idea, but I don't know how one prepares themselves for all the possible emergencies that could happen. I did carry an ace bandage in my bag when we were in Australia. What if we got bitten by a spider or snake? What if we were far away from medical help? But then I didn't carry vinegar for Jellyfish bites. Although the only Jellyfish-type animal we encountered were Blue Bottles. I don't think vinegar helps for them. It does apparently help with the infamous Box Jellyfish and Irukandji. So, if we're swimming where those might lurk...I might bring along some vinegar. Actually, Tim read this very paranoia-provoking article a few weeks ago. It talks about how Irukandji have been found other places. There have been cases in Hawaii. We're going there in April. I might be carrying around vinegar.

Dr. Karl has an autograph book. That's so adorable.

There's some personal information now.

At the time of the article, he had a partner named Mary. It seems maybe they weren't married. They had three kids, ages twelve, ten, and two. That was nine years ago, so now they're about twenty-one, nineteen, and eleven.

His parents were concentration camp refugees.

I guess they ended up in Sweden later? I don't think there were camps in Sweden. Were there?

Wow. I'm wrong. Lord Wiki says there were eight!

When little Karl was two, his family meant to migrate to the United States. They missed the boat because the toddler was sick. Oops.

The next boat was heading to Australia. I guess then Dr. Karl has been in Australia most of his life.

He had a bad time in school. People called him a wog. I thought wog was a word used for Italians.

Well, Lord Wiki says it is a derogatory word used for people who have dark skin. Australians use it for people who are Greek, Turkish, Italian, Lebanese, etc. I might qualify. I've been told I look Middle Eastern.

The word is sometimes used in an affectionate way, just like other derogatory words often are.

Here's something interesting.... Scientologists sometimes use it to refer to non-Scientologists.

Anyway, Dr. Karl was teased.

Kids can be nasty.

Adults can be nasty.

I'm done reading the file. What should I look at next?

Well, here's his website. I hope it's fun.

It's not.

I don't like it.

I can't find much stuff.

Oh well.

Ah! There's an Andrew Denton interview. This might be good.

As a child, Karl could speak many languages....English, Polish, Swedish, Danish, and German. That's awesome.

One day, Karl went to a store, and another child told him and his parents to stop speaking all those languages. Karl stopped.

That's a sad story.

Kruszelnicki still feels bad about it. He wishes people had more tolerance.

His parents were emotionally damaged from the concentration camps. After his mother died, Kruszelnicki learned she was Jewish. He hadn't known that before. Wow. She kept it a secret, but as she got older she started revealing stuff.

His story reminds me a lot of Sally Morgan's My Place. In that story, it's Aboriginals who try to hide their identity and heritage. It's so incredibly sad to me. People are treated horribly, and then they turn the anger towards themselves. Instead of directing their hatred towards their tormentors, they feel this shame for their identity.

As a child, he didn't communicate much with his parents. It sounds like they had a difficult relationship.

He says he was very shy, and that his taxi driver experience helped him be less shy. He says, Because they were in my living room, you see, and so I could ask them anything and they would answer. And I'd never see them again, they'd never see me and it was a wonderful, liberating experience.

That makes me think of that scene in The Bride Stripped Bare.

Kruszelnicki talks about how seemingly useless science can sometimes later be used for very useful things. He gives an example of some space stuff. Some software was developed to look at some gray dot photo produced by a telescope. The telescope cost billions of dollars. It might sound like a waste of time and money. But later that same software began to be used for detecting breast cancer.

I think he has a good point. I agree with it in some ways. If the science causes no harm and is just expensive, I think there can be benefits in exploring it. I don't know. Maybe I should be okay then with scientists who want to stop death from happening. I think that's foolish, personally. But maybe their research will lead to other advances that I find to be less foolish.

He's anti-anti-vaccination. I'm not with him there. He sees it as a black and white issue. I don't. I think it's very complicated. I do agree that there's a problem with parents not vaccinating and diseases reappearing. I don't deny that. But I don't think it helps to villainize people, and label alternate thinkers as evil. I think more research needs to be done. I think questions need to be answered. I think concerns need to be taken seriously and calmed....when possible.

Dr. Karl talks about the evil we all have within us. He said when he was attacked by as a taxi driver, he planned to go find his attackers and run them down with his cab. I think he didn't find them so it never happened.

He talks about how people will torture others, then go home and be a loving father to their children.

People have different sides to them.

He talks about the not-dying stuff.

He says, Yeah, well, I'm hanging out there for the genetic revolution and with a bit of luck, I will be, probably, in the last generation to die and you'll be the first generation to live forever. Maybe I'll be able to join in that generation. And by 'forever', I mean 500 to 5,000 years with a healthy 18- to 25-year-old body.

Okay. It's fair then. He thinks the anti-vax people are evil. I think that's quite evil.

I don't know. It just feels selfish to me.

Actually. No. I don't think either viewpoint is evil. It's just about people fearing different things. It's about us wanting different things.

I heard scary vaccination stories, but I pushed them out of my mind and got Jack his shots. Why? I don't like communicable diseases. They scare me. I don't want rashes and high fevers. I don't like bad coughs. I know children can die of these diseases. To me that was ultimately more scary. So I made that choice. Other parents might read things differently. They might have a different opinion.

I believe in an afterlife. The unfair death of the young greatly scares me and disturbs me. But I'm comforted by the idea of dying when I'm old. I was sad when my dogs died. I was sad when my grandparents died. But I accepted it. I felt it was right. To me, that's what is SUPPOSED to happen.

For other people, death is never acceptable. They want to live forever. As the idea of an afterlife brings me some peace, the idea they may live forever brings them peace.

As we need to be tolerant of people who speak another language then us, I also think we need to be tolerant of people who have different fears and beliefs than us.

It's hard sometimes though.

This makes me think of something though. Maybe the immortality science is why some people work so hard to disprove the after-life. Maybe they think people like us are hindering the possibility of people living forever. If we all stopped believing in an afterlife, would we give more money to the science of immortality? Is that it?

Great. Convince the mother and father that their little girl is not playing with the angels. She's rotting in the ground as worm food. Lovely. Now maybe they'll donate money to scientists so they can live a longer and sadder life. Yeah. What are we going to do with all these people living so long? How are we going to have enough food for them? And who gets to live that long? Is it everyone? Just the wealthy?

Yikes. I'm being intolerant. Oh well. As I said's hard to accept beliefs and values that differ from our own.


  1. Dr Karl always comes across as being passionate about whatever he is talking about. I think JJ was the AM predecessor to JJJ, FM.

  2. I am a Dr Karl fan, he is a very passionate speaker and I have purchased his science books as they are easy to read (for a non scientific inclined person) I saw that interview on Denton and it made me cry, if anything Dr Karl has made science "cool" again for my generation and that is something positive.

    I swing between being an Aethist and an Agnostic, I would like to believe in a higher power, but what that is? no idea

    I love these post of yours! V informative:)

    RYC we only have true blood on Foxtel, I just bought the first season on DVD and watched it in one hit:)

  3. Andrew: I wonder why they went from double J to triple. What is the J about anyway?

    I like passionate people : )

    Miss.Katie: I like his passion. I also love people who can take a topic and make it easy for a layperson to understand. My son and I have been watching these videos on this website. They're 2-3 minute educational videos. I love them because they explain things I've always had a hard time understanding.

    I believe in a higher power, but not some kind of anthropomorphic God...I feel like it's more like a force. Maybe like Star Wars ; )

    I didn't even know True Blood existed until this season. I totally missed the first. I'm not sure if I'll go back and watch it eventually. Maybe?

    The second season is REALLY good though.

  4. I don't think the JJ meant anything, but that is a guess.

  5. Regarding the Js, all AM radio stations in Australia originally had a call sign which was a number which indicated the state it was located in (2 for NSW, 3 for Vic etc) and then two letters. Most of the letters were fairly arbitrary, but some may have had significant. I don't think 2JJ had any particular significance, but I could be wrong.

    As FM stations started up, they had three letters after their number. When 2JJ moved to FM, it made sense for them to become 2JJJ.

    Since then, that system has been completely abandoned and 2JJJ went from being a Sydney station to a national station and is now called Triple J.

    No doubt that was more info than you needed. :)

    I think Dr Karl's conviction that we will live a minimum of 500 years in the very near future is one of his flights of fancy - he has a few of those.

    I am utterly agnostic about an afterlife, but I am also at peace with the idea that there might not be one. The ultimate fence sitter. :) However, I very much doubt that those who wish to disprove an afterlife want to do so to secure more funding for their longevity work. I think most of them are not motivated by people like you who simply take comfort from the idea, they are motivated by those who use the threat/promise of an afterlife as a means of control in this one.

    Also, many of them don't want to disprove the afterlife itself, just charlatan methods of communicating with it that can be cruelly exploitative of the same people you mention - those who've lost kids and other loved ones too early.

    It seems I am essaying on your blog again. Sorry about that. :)

  6. Andrew: I think Ariane agrees with you. Did you see her explanation below?

    Ariane: I love when you essay on my blog! I wish more people did so.

    I personally feel agnostic is the best way to be. I think too many people are extreme in their views--views about something I doubt we can ever know for sure. People are way too dogmatic in my opinion.

    I think I'm somewhat agnostic too...but more on the believing side. I believe in stuff, but I don't have 100% conviction. I try to keep an open mind.

    I agree that many anti-afterlife people are not motivated by people like me.

    And I do agree that too often the afterlife is used as a threat. It would be nice if people could become free from this mental imprisonment.

    But I also do think there is an evangelical Atheist movement. I didn't become aware of it until recently. I think it has become popular because of the scientist Richard Dawkins. I think he's very extreme, and I think some of his followers believe that ANY one who has spiritual beliefs is ignorant and lacking complete logic.

    As some people want the whole world to believe in Jesus, other people want us all to stop believing in anything that can't be proven in a laboratory.

    I definitely agree there are scam artists out there. I think purposeful dishonesty is horrible. My problem is that most of the people who want to discredit the mediums, want to discredit ALL mediums. I believe there are legitimate mediums. Now I'm not 100% sure they're talking to the dead because I'm not 100% sure there is an afterlife.

    But I think there are people who BELIEVE they talk to the dead. I believe they have some personal evidence to lead them to believing that. I think their is in the right place. I don't think they're purposely trying to scam someone.

    Let's say that there is no afterlife. It's all a delusion. A person goes to a medium (a medium who is a true believer and is not trying to scam anyone). They "talk" to the person's son who died in Iraq. They both cry. The mother feels a sense of peace. She goes through life with this delusion that her son's existence continues. The delusion allows the woman's depression to lift. She can go back to living her life--looking forward to one day meeting her son in the after life.

    Then she dies. If there is no life after death, no big deal. Right? Her existence ends so she doesn't have to deal with any sort of disappointment.

    I'll sometimes look at the prices that mediums charge and get annoyed with that. I forgot the exact price...maybe it's around hundred dollars an hour?

    But then I think almost anything we spend our money on can be seen as a scam.

    Is it not a scam to pay a hundred dollars for a shirt at a famous boutique when we can buy something similar for twenty dollars at another store? But we've been scammed to believe we'll be happier and better people if we buy the more expensive shirt.

    How many of us upgrade perfectly fine electronic equipment just because something "new and better" came along? Do we really need to do this?

    How about doctors, dentists, vets, car mechanics, etc. who convince us that we MUST get a certain treatment when we really don't absolutely need it?

    How about the whole plastic surgery industry?

    How about the baby product industry...convincing us to spend huge amounts of money on products. Because if we don't, our babies will not be as smart as our neighbor's baby. Heaven forbid you don't have every video in the Baby Einstein Series.

    Essentially, that's the backbone of a capitalist society...convincing people to part with their money. So I'm not sure why those in the paranormal professions need to be targeted more than anyone else.

  7. I take your point about mediums and so forth - I actually think that they are often excellent therapy for people, myself included. I suspect that the reason for this is that most people have the answers to their problems somewhere within them, and mediums and tarot readers and so forth are mirrors that show them their answers, often much better than psychologists.

    Dawkins annoys me too - there is faith at the heart of everyone's beliefs, including scientists. They believe in an objective universe and the logic principle that the simplest explanation is the best. You can't prove either of these things, so they take it as a matter of faith (as do I, as it happens). So it is true that to believe in an afterlife, or more particularly any sort of interventionist god, is definitely to be less than completely logical. However, that logic is also a matter of faith, and should be acknowledged as such.

    And you are completely right, mediums and their ilk shouldn't be targeted any more than any of those people - I just think they all deserve to be targeted just as much and quite a lot of the kind of people who debunk one, debunk all. Dr Karl would be a perfect example.

    Actually, the other thing that occurs to me is that the people who strive to debunk all of these things also hold a strong conviction that knowing the truth is always better than being deluded. As you mention, that may not always be the case, and stymies most discussion if we allow that being deluded might be a good thing. But that is a debate for another occasion! :)

  8. Ariane,

    I really like your idea about mediums. Even if there is no true spiritual world, I think some of them could provide value for customers.

    I went to a psychic once. At the time, I was blown away by what she said. I believed in it 100%. Now some doubts have crept in a bit...I probably believe about 90%. A part of me thinks she could have done some very lucky guessing.

    Anyway, even if she wasn't truly communicating with the dead, it was a nice experience.

    She was very sweet and it was nice to have someone to talk to. She gave good advice wasn't anything like buy this 50 dollar candle and it will remove all curses. She simply told me I needed some rest.

    I also went to a psychologist who did a past life regression thing. I'm not sure if that was "real". But it was helpful to have someone to talk to. And even if I didn't truly see a past life, what I THOUGHT I saw could be valuable in terms of psychology.

    As for delusions vs. truth...great topic. I'm actually pro-delusion. Of course, there are definitely unhealthy delusions!

    Or maybe it's about behavior.

    If a teenager believes she's destined to be with her favorite celebrity...I think that's fine.

    If she buys a ticket to Los Angeles and stalks the guy, that is not fine.

    I think it's okay to have fantasies. I think sometimes they can keep us from being completely lost and depressed. But it's usually best not to become too wrapped up in the fantasies...especially if they could harm others.

    Did you hear about Dawkins and Harry Potter? He announced that he wants to explore the effect of fantasy on children. He seems to think it might be detrimental.

    He's beginning to sound more and more like certain Fundamentalist Christians.

    I also don't like his idea that raising a child with a specific religion is child-abuse. I personally believe it's best to raise a child to be open-minded about various religions. But to call it child abuse? I think that's ridiculous and it's insulting to people who have experienced severe abuse.

    On a positive note...I do like his writings about our closeness to apes. I haven't read it in a long time though...forgot exactly what it said.

  9. Nonsense from Dr Karl:

  10. Ford,

    That's pretty interesting. I don't know enough about the science to understand the claims or arguments. But I think it's interesting that Dr. Karl pushes the idea of hydrogen cars. I think it's hard to trust scientists sometimes because we don't know if they're trying to sell something. We don't know if they have stock in a certain company, and whether they'd lose money if the public learned the product/idea was dangerous.