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TECHNICAL REASONS WHY SKEPTICS REMAIN STUBBORN:
A LAWYER ON ‘STUBBORN SKEPTICS’
By Retired attorney Victor Zammit
After 27 years of dealing with all kinds
of paranormal skeptics, I can relate to you
there are at least nine reasons why closed minded skeptics
tend to remain stubborn about their skeptical beliefs –
and why some of them unreasonably attack those who scientifically
and empirically investigate evidence for the paranormal
Of course, the nine reasons below can apply
to any person who inflexibly holds strict subjective, personal
beliefs. The nine reasons could equally apply to any Fundamentalist
– religious or secular.
My experience with closed minded skeptics is that they do
not investigate the evidence. Basically, they completely
reject any information which is not consistent with their
own cherished skeptical beliefs - even if it is scientifically
My experience also tells me that theses closed minded skeptics
do not have skills, competence and the ability to perceive
the paranormal with true empirical equanimity - in an objective,
scientific balanced way:
THROUGH COGNITIVE DISSONANCE’: ‘Cognitive
dissonance’ is a term used by psychologists to describe
the discomfort that arises when people are confronted with
information fundamentally inconsistent with their beliefs.
When a materialist is confronted with highly persuasive
evidence for the paranormal-afterlife the materialist will
deny it has any validity. This is because the evidence will
elicit anxiety, increase his blood pressure, sweat etc.
Denial will follow. The materialist will become angry, hostile
and even aggressive. He will try to reduce anxiety by rationalizing
his beliefs and going into extreme DENIAL.
This is another term in psychology which explains that some
people may have a very powerful – usually unconscious
super-glue connection with an idea or a thing. Applied to
the skeptics this is where a class of skeptics are ‘cathexed’
to closed minded skepticism. Because the connection is powerful
and unconscious, they will attack their source of anxiety
– the person who puts forward the evidence for the
paranormal. So, one cannot use logic, science or repeatable
and objective evidence to try to reverse their cathexis.
PROGRAMMING (NLP) states that when these
skeptics are confronted with information which is fundamentally
inconsistent with their own deeply cherished beliefs, the
mind of the skeptic will DELETE that information. This is
because the new information will give a great deal of anxiety
to the skeptic. As with ‘cognitive dissonance’
above, the skeptic will experience anxiety, disturbance
of his ‘comfort zone’. This accounts for the
skeptic going into complete DENIAL. The more aggressive
skeptics will even cheat, mislead and lie about the real
PROGRAMMING – ‘environment determines
perception’: there is a saying that by and large,
the environment you were born in will shape how you will
see the world. If a Western skeptic from New York was born
in India, more likely than not the skeptic would be a Hindu.
If born to a radical, extremist Islamic family, the skeptic
would be a Moslem. If born to an orthodox Jewish family,
the skeptic would be an orthodox Jew. One needs to have
skills to rise above environmental conditioning and programming.
5. BIOLOGICAL: BRAIN-EXPLANATION
FOR 'CLOSED SKEPTICISM': Here is another
explanation for the stubbornness of closed- minded skeptics.
It's the biological argument for closed-skepticism. When
you have a rigid belief system the neurons in the brain
fire in a certain defined network. So if information (e.g.
afterlife evidence) comes into the brain and contradicts
the rigid belief system (skepticism) those neural pathways
will fire in the same old way and will not de-code the new
information. It’s just like a filter. It's only when
the skeptic has a dramatic experience that a new neural
pathway is established and the old one gradually falls into
disuse. Belief systems are fundamental to filtering reality.
6. PRIMARY MOTIVATION:
MONEY, POWER, STATUS - AND A JOB. There
is also a minority which chooses to be closed minded skeptic
for career advancement and/ or to make money, to attain
influence and celebrity status; also, those who are scientists,
who want to job to work in science. Traditionally funding
is done by big corporations - and goes only to those scientists
and researchers who have the potential to increase the profits
of big business. For example, you may get a scientist who
will reject the paranormal because he/she can get funding
for opposing the paranormal. The history of funding shows
that. These scientists-come skeptics will never listen to
logic, to science, to intelligent reasoning. They can’t
move from their position because they would lose money,
power, status and their job in science. Remember those negatively
prejudiced scientists and medical doctors we saw in glossy
magazines in the U.S. and elsehere in the world - and on
television stating that as scientists they stated words
to the effect that smoking is good, healthy for you? Or
those scientists who stated that certain pharmaceutical
drugs are healthy for you when subsequently it was shown
these drugs must have killed hundreds - even thousands of
people - a drug like vioxx? Or those
scientists in Germany who still say that smoking is safe?
'SMORGASBORD ARGUMENT': Professor Stephen
Hawking, the astronomer, is most notorious for using this
'SMORGASBORD' argument - picking and using only the information
that substantiates his own negative prejudices. This closed
-minded skeptical professor does not know that in a court-room
situation his 'smorgasbord argument' would be torn to shreds.
Why? Because he would be cross-examined on the critical,
most vital evidence that he deletes - that fundamentally
contradicts his deeply entrenched negative prejudices. This
closed-skeptical scientist makes a huge error thinking that
he is an expert in law as well. Wrong! A litigation lawyer
has exclusive technical knowledge of what is relevant, what
is evidentiary what is essential admissible evidence - certainly
not an astronomer!
8. 'HYPNOTIC EFFECT':
those skeptics who are blatantly irrational, illogical and
unreasonable about the paranormal or the afterlife evidence
could be suffering from a powerful negative 'hypnotic effect.'
Some years ago I sent clear, easily identifiable afterlife
evidence to rebut to a couple of hard-line skeptics. Their
reply was, "where is the evidence?".
Yet non-aligned scientists easily identified the same
evidence sent to them. It is possible that skeptics
at one time in their life experienced a 'parallel hypnotic
directive' to encumber their mind that there is no afterlife
or paranormal evidence. This is exactly what happens when
we see hypnotists on stage tell a couple of our friends
who volunteer to be hypnotized on stage - when tranced are
told that they will be eating an apple. But the hypnotist
gave them an onion to eat, NOT an apple. The hypnotized
subjects COULD NOT IDENTIFY THE EVIDENCE and refused to
believe they each ate an onion! Even after when they were
taken out of the hypnotic state - all subjects stated 'the
apple was really delicious' - as was directed by the
hypnotist for the subjects to believe even when they were
put out of trance.
9. 'Being Spiritually Retarded':
first, there is no link between
intelligence and being spiritual -( notice I said 'spiritual'
NOT 'religious.') An atheist could be 'spiritual' (or highly
ethical) when he-she does voluntary work for the benefit
of others without a thought of making some kind of profit
for him/herself. But there is a class of closed minded skeptics
who may be highly intelligent but are spiritually retarded
- meaning they have not reached a stage in life where they
can perform 'secular' spiritual work for the benefit of
others - a kind of selfless service. Nor can they objectively
identify legitimate afterlife evidence.
Victor Zammit November 2011 - UPDATED 2016
A LAWYER PRESENTS THE EVIDENCE FOR THE AFTERLIFE