Charles Fort

5 Jun 2013

In Fortean Times (FT302) June 2013 ... Bob Rickard reports on the TED affair, the furore that developed around Rupert Sheldrake and Graham Hancock, saying that such activity by scientists, in the past, had sharpened the barbs of Charles Fort's wit. His particular target of ridicule had been those scientists and pundits that sought autocratically to suppress evidence, data, or discussion, for the sole reason they personally disagreed with what was being said. In effect, they acted, as Fort would have said, like over-zealous priests guarding dogma against heresy.

Rickard notes that if he was still alive in our time Charles Fort would have turned his attention to the authoritarian behaviour exhibited after 'TEDx Whitechapel' posted two videos of talks by Sheldrake and Hancock, eliciting a very hostile reception by the defenders of the faith. Funy thing, as Rickard notes, TED talks were conceived as an anti-dote to elitism and exclusionism and the growth in popularity of TED is due to that fact. Yet, in this instance, they have been accused of narrow mindedness.

Orthodox scientists on the TED advisory team appear to have objected to the subject matter of the two talks more than anything, which was basically an attack on the so called moral bankruptcy, as Sheldrake and Hancock see it, of traditional sciences, accusing them of being materialistic among other things. Hippies and the New Age people have been saying the same thing for years - so why all the excitement now? We may well wonder as Sheldrake was not particularly provocative - he just listed 10 dogmas in orthodox science (and I'm sure we can all think of some more). One is the belief that nature is mechanical and purposeless, that evolution is random, and the Laws and Constants in Nature are fixed, or that psychical phenomena such as telepathy is impossible etc. Hancock was more specific, saying if we want to know about the mysteries of life, our consciousness, or what happens when we die, the last people we should ask are materialistic reductionist scientists. 

I can recall reading things or listening to people with a similar attitude towards science over the years but was not neccessarily impressed by what they had to say, but that is bye the bye. In this instance there was an attempt to suppress them - and that is the issue. Not what they said.

Rickard continues in his story of the fiasco that developed - reporting that after TED removed the videos from their various sites they had a surprise - by the number of complaints condemning their action. Within a few days TED was beseiged by 700 protesters and in a very short time there were a million posts (including Facebook) criticising their actions as a form of censorship. These were not all in support of the views expressed but the fact that they were deemed unworthy of the attention of the plebs - which is everyone outside academia.

Who decides what is 'quarantined' or deleted by TED? Apparently there is a five man board in what is said to be a secret cabal. Rickard says there is a lack of transparency - but where in most activities is there any transparency? These invisible people defamed and libelled Sheldrake and Hancock, hiding behind anonymity. However, Rickard names two biologists as among the five and both are virulently anti-religion - or in this instance anti spiritual or psychic. 

What appears to have annoyed most of the critics was the act of censorship which implied viewers of the videos were incapable of thinking for themselves - the ultimate insult. This kind of thing is something we have grown accustomed to in the CAGW drive to inflict a course of action to the detriment of most of the people in which not a word of dissent is allowed to be heard (or has hardly been heard until recently). Indeed, CAGW activists live in a weird bubble like existence in which contrary views are syphoned out of their earshot and they are spoon fed the same diet of nonsense over and over again until their subconscious minds are able to discard anything contradictory to the 'right on' message from the people managing the brainwashing project. If science is uneasy, or afraid of religion, psychic phenomena, or any kind of fringe idea the science cannot be built on very firm foundations. It's almost an admission some of the consensus ideas are built on shifting sands. 

Apparently, science has a habit of rooting out  radical ideas and exponents. Rickard cites the example of Michael Reiss who was hounded out of the Royal Society as a result of complaints based on newspaper headlines and material he did not write. Reiss is an evolutionary biologist and the famous Fellows, or duffers, appear to have objected to the fact he was also a part time priest. He was accused of saying that Creationism should be given equal time in school curriculums when he said no such thing. This is of course the same Royal Society that has soiled its reputation many times over the years and not least over global warming in more recent times. They are seemingly arch priests in that nonsense which makes their criticism of Reiss even less palatable.

Rickard also mentions the case of Eric Laithwaite who was ostracised after a lecture in which he demonstrated an apparent loss of weight when a gyroscope is spinning. This appeared to defy Newtonian physics - heresy. It was duly stamped on. Very hard. Like those politicians still preaching from the CAGW Bible when Nature itself is not doing anything remotely like the computer models predict the TED people are unable to see, in their heads, the magnitude of their folly. Neither Sheldrake or Hancock had encouraged uncritical acceptance of the paranormal or peculiar effects in nature and biology - they were expressing opinions (and not many viewers of the videos would have been entirely convinced). Clearly the views of Sheldrake and Hancock are open to rejection - or put down as interesting rather than convincing. All the censorship has really achieved is that a lot of people have watched the two videos when without the furore they would not have done so. Own goal.

In point of fact, Laithwaite, Sheldrake, and Hancock, were simply pointing out an anomaly they had noticed - which could do with some investigation rather than hiding it away in a hole. How many other dark secrets or anomalies in consensus science have been buried?

Rickard ends by saying that unorthodox concepts and anomalous phenomena deserve to be discussed in a mature and inquisitive manner. That is highly unlikely to happen. However, we should all of us bear in mind there are people out there that would suppress knowledge of things they don't understand or do not wish to understand - and are prepared to shield us from those things by setting themselves up as judge and jury.