Saturday, February 05, 2005

Nasty people

Generalizations are dangerous. Nevertheless, sometimes they can be helpful. Consider this surprising admission from Ray Hyman, one of today's best-known skeptics of the paranormal:

“As a whole, parapsychologists are nice, honest people, while the critics are cynical, nasty people.” (The quote can be found here.)

Hyman's cautious qualifier "as a whole" is surely justified. But I think, in general, he's right. Some of the critics are indeed "cynical, nasty people." I found an astonishing example of this not long ago at a Web site created by a grieving father, who lost his young son in a freak accident. The father felt his son's spirit was visiting him at times, and started the site to report his experiences and ask for feedback. He was open to any and all suggestions, including the idea that it was all in his head. He was polite and thoughtful toward anyone who posted a comment.

Now, with these circumstances in mind, look at the following comment by a skeptic, which I reproduce in its entirety, with no corrections:

Subject: For real? Date: Fri, 20 Oct 2000 07:06:34 -0700 (PDT) Is this shit for real? Sounds like a horrible farse to me. Perhaps an experiment in the limits or extent of gullability? I will proceed on the assumption that you beleive this nonsense, and are not duping the fine discerning general public of the net ;) If your wife was stupid enough to dry her hair next to a bathtub full of water and your son, then drop the dryer in, well all I can say is Darwin was watching very carefully! Better her idiot genes not be spread.

Boy, the milk of human kindness is overflowing in this guy, isn't it?

"Cynical, nasty people," indeed.


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