I spend some time each day reading through RSS feeds for news and studies about skepticism and psychology, and the stuff I find most interesting gets linked on my twitter (generally with a quick comment regarding the content). Somehow this has acquired a modest audience, and occasionally someone comments. I recieved just such a comment recently:
JulianEdward @RobMagus intrestin’ links thx. I’m a skeptic too & tired of ‘New Age’ claims to find support in scientific research. Faith is not Science.
Now, on the face of it I agree – quite a lot of BS uses scientific language and misquoted research to put on an air of respectablitiy. However, I’ve never met a skeptic who capitalizes both faith and science. Curiosity got the better of me, and I clicked on this guy’s profile link to see just what kind of skeptic he is. That blog’s just a national geographic picture posted every few days, but the blogroll has a link to his personal domain. It appears that Julian is the publisher of some “spiritual healing” authors, including Chuck and Lency Spezzano. Yep, those guys hawking the “Psychology of Vision” nonsense I talked about in the previous post.
So, what’s the publisher of the people I just blogged about doing calling himself a skeptic and DMing me out of the blue on twitter? I decided I’d ask him, and what follows is the conversation that ensued. I tried to explain a little about the skeptical viewpoint and figure out why he’s supporting POV, and it pretty much speaks for itself from here on in:
RobMagus @JulianEdward glad you enjoy the stories I link! a question, tho: if you’re a skeptic, why do you appear to promote POV?
JulianEdward @RobMagus I DO promote POV. It’s because I’ve seen it really help people – so many. In First Nations, China, Japan, Germany, UK
It suits First Nations because of it’s based on Spirit, Family, Self. It’s psycho-babble – but useful babble.
I’ve turned to Skepticism because so many ‘New Age’ whackies are pointing to ‘Scientific research’ supports this or that..
INCLUDING the two friends – Chuck & Lency – I’m publishing on the internet. Can they really believe that science can prove God?
Or disprove God. So what is Dawkins going on about? I suppose I should read his book.
RobMagus @JulianEdward well, one of the ideas behind skepticism is that anecdotal evidence isn’t generally to be trusted. recently I checked out…
the POV website and it makes a lot of claims that are pretty vague. it struck me as nothing more than a money-making scheme.
as far as science proving god’s existence – well, I don’t know of any scientists who claim that. certainly not Dawkins.
JulianEdward @RobMagus no, no – not Scientists – “new agers” – lots of them believe a flaky version of “Quantum Theory” validates their beliefs
certainly not Dawkins. I did read one of his books a long time ago. Must update!
hahaha! make money it does not! That’s why I’ve recently decided to help out Chuck and Lency with what little I know of NET
yes – the POV website is well – don’t know what to say. Or about POV itself. I’m just helping out Chuck and Lency themselves.
bottom-line yes POV somehow encourages people to spend money and that’s bad. Weird they’re all so broke all the time 😉
RobMagus @JulianEdward ah, like the movie “What the Bleep Do We Know?” yes, that’s probably wrong. but you think that non-scientific theories work?..
to me POV sounds like total BS – not only that, but it’s coopting a legitimate field of study – MY field – for it’s name.
JulianEdward @RobMagus yes – especially thing like changing inner beliefs which are reflected in illness and unhappiness. NLP – those kind of tools.
RobMagus @JulianEdward see, NLP is another thing that is probably mostly BS – and the parts that DO work are probably well-known things in disguise
I guess that I don’t think anything’s outside of scientific study, and I’d hesitate to support things that assume otherwise.
JulianEdward @RobMagus no, no – they mean Spiritual Vision (not the capitalization) – not about eyes. A very silly name. But for a helpful thing.
yes – I’d be a lot happier if they’d kept some records other than anecdotal. Also I’m not sure bout standard of “training” in POV
agree with that – NLP is another closed psycho-babble world
but as Darren Brown and others know – it does have its uses!
RobMagus @JulianEdward I just get annoyed when bunk is dressed up with scientific terminology. so if you don’t think it’s real – why support it?..
why not ask the Spezzanos for evidence, or fund research?
JulianEdward @RobMagus oh – because it really does help people. really. Especially when it comes to relationships and family stuff.
the fact that it’s an unreal model makes no difference to me. Our world is full of illusory models and fake theories. Politics e.g
I’d say that a good half of people who attend the groups think it’s nonsense too but they use the tools and love it for that.
even Chuck himself says that his Psychology if a hoax. But he’s not interested in people believing it. Only in the results.
bottom-line yes POV sometimes lets people to spend money they do not have & that’s bad. Weird they’re all so broke all the time 😉
there – I noted that at the time. The rest is just me JulianEdward – friend of Chuck and Lency and their NET Publisher
I absolutely do not support or endorse POV as whatever it is at the moment. Just Chuck’s motto “Friends Helping Friends”
funnily enough I am starting to gather some stuff – but funding?? don’t make me laugh.
and just to be really clear – for me – publishing Chuck and Lency on the NET is a business proposition.
RobMagus @JulianEdward thanks for the chat! I have much to think about now..
This is posted with Julian’s permission, by the way! I edited out some bits here and there about my own research that weren’t relevant to skepticism and the business of POV. And it pretty clear that POV is a business – I talked last week about how the website has a lot of materials for sale. Here, Julian pretty much admits outright that there’s no science involved, and that the spiritual trappings are there to help it sell. Who knows if Chuck actually said POV’s a hoax – I get the feeling that Julian is paraphrasing him – but it seems obvious enough that everyone involved is there to make money, and NOT to be truthful about the nature of POV.
Now, there is some meaty stuff for our brains to chew on in the last part, where Julian notes that “Our world is full of illusory models and fake theories”. Some philosophers of science contend that there is, in fact, no objective reality and that science is all about building models that fit with empirical observations. That’s it – no underlying source, just model-making to fit what we’ve seen. This may or may not be correct – I’m still not entirely comfortable with anti-realism. I concede that every theory we come up with may well be merely a model that facilitates some result. The important part, though, is fitting the model to evidence – and I don’t see any compelling evidence for POV, or NLP, or any of the other myriad BS theories you see ads for around Vancouver. Those theories simply drive “business propositions”.