truth porn

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November 8, 2012 by miracleparade

I’ve always been fascinated with science. As a boy growing up in NH we always had science magazines, medical journals, and biology textbooks lying around the house due to my father who (now retired) was a high school Biology teacher. I would flip through the pages in a dizzying wonderment, understanding very little of what I was reading; mostly, as children usually are, more fascinated by the beautiful pictures and stunning diagrams whose subjects ranged from the lives of distant stars lightyears away to the microscopic processes that were happening right inside my own body.

Though I was amazed at the discovery and knowledge contained in those pages, what I found to be vastly more stunning was the amount we didn’t know. There was a deep humbling humility I felt at the moment when I came to understand that what I know to be true is but a tiny insignificant fraction of all the knowledge in the world. To add insult to injury, that tiny fraction of what I knew was itself ever-changing with the discoveries of new insights, information, and knowledge. I realized that, statistically speaking, I knew basically nothing.

Flash forward to present day: though my love for science and skepticism is still deep and passionate, it is not my profession. I toy with the idea of going back to school for a degree in Physics, but for now, at most, I can say that science is a hobby. (Though I do love to keep professional scientists close to me – evidenced by my long time girlfriend who is a biologist; I can’t chalk that up to mere coincidence.) Regardless of my role, or lack thereof, in the scientific community, I can say without a doubt that science has had a great impact on my life and my outlook.

This impact primarily manifests itself in a deep intrinsic disdain for information/claims that do not fit under at least one of the two criteria:
A.) Has gone through rigorous testing/experimentation that leads empirical, peer reviewed data to substantiate said claims.
B.) Is willing to submit it’s claims to “A”, and accept the outcome.

This leads, quite obviously, to a great ill will towards religion and spirituality. That view (atheism) is quite an easy position to have in my circle of liberally-minded friends. Though to be sure, superstition and snake oil peddlers are able to infiltrate even the sharpest of minds from time to time, it’s harder to confront friends on claims (that are no less devious) that we perhaps all, at a time, fell prey to. I have seen my friends fall for the ridiculous, thoroughly debunked claims of homeopathy, psychics, astrology, and “eastern medicine”. I’ve heard my friends talk about acupuncture, reiki, and even chiropractics that have been shown in studies as no more effective than taking a sugar pill placebo. I’ve talked with friends who laugh at “religious nuts” but then themselves believe in ghosts, angels, and “spirituality”.

I don’t blame them, nor do I consider myself better than them. I am not impervious to being wrong, being fooled, or being tricked. I pity the person who has never been wrong for it seems like they have never learned anything new. There is nothing more exhilarating to me than holding a belief that turns out to be inaccurate: it is those moments that we become more knowledgeable and get to become, however incrementally small, a better person. The people I do hold in serious contempt are the swindlers who pedal these claims and make money off of people’s ignorance.

Thus comes to my obsession of what I have come to call “truth porn”. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing a claim debunked RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE EYES of those pedaling said claim. For my money, there is no more rewarding of an experience than to catch these liars in the act of lying. And I think that perhaps no one delivers this sweet juctice better than James Randi. James is famous in the skeptic world (and infamous in the psychic world) as one of the leading debunkers of erroneous pseudoscience and mystical powers. He currently has an open-ended offer (known as the James Randi Challenge) of ONE MILLION dollars to any person(s) that can prove the existence of psychic powers under controlled conditions. So far hundreds have tried, but not surprisingly, none have been able to win the money.

Take a look at some of these video. How can you not feel elation to see these hucksters hoisted by their own petard?

See Randi debunk this immoral “faith healer” who bilked MILLIONS from unfortunate people that didn’t know any better:

How can you not be deeply sad and sickened by that clip of him telling that poor old woman that he sees “Angels around her house”? How can you not feel elation that he went bankrupt, and despair that he is back? To be sure: skepticism is a continuous fight against fraud, and as long as their are people willing to believe, people like Popoff will be willing to deceive.

TAKE A LOOK AT THIS LINK, it is a delightful chronicle of James debunking everything from dowsing, aura reading, and psychics to telekinesis, clairvoyance, and homeopathy. What a feast of truth and justice delivered by a man who has dedicated his life to the pursuit of fact based knowledge.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Let it inspire you to always challenge your own beliefs and be forever on a quest to, without superstition or pretense, wade into that vast amount of that which we do not know.

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