Date: Fri Oct 15 1993 09:40:20 To: All Subj: A quick note to a publisher. Attr: SKEPTIC -

---
Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

Date: Fri Oct 15 1993 09:40:20 From: Marty Leipzig To: All Subj: A quick note to a publisher. Attr: SKEPTIC ------------------------------- Greetings, all. I am rather new to this echo, yet I thought that a little piece of correspondence I penned to one of those "publishers and panderers of the paranormal" who send gaudy, glitzy flyers about all sorts weird, wild and supposedly wonderful phenomena; would be most appropriate to this forum. I do hope no one objects (note: some names and places have been changed to further indict the guilty....) Mr. R. U. Foeureal Editor: Gullibullshit Press 666 Post Oak West P.O. Box 999 East Harbor, NT 58385-3498 Dear Mr. Foeureal: I recently received your company's offer for a free copy of the book "Mysteries of Mind, Space and Time. The Unexplained." The enclosed materials in the package include your letter asking "....If you're not sending for your FREE book-- would you please tell me why?..." Inasmuch as I have no interest in receiving this, nor any other book of this set; I will most gladly tell you why I must decline your offer. But as a caveat, remember, you DID ask... I am a professional industrial scientist and science educator. Along with that one probably should also add: skeptic, cynic and unrepentant realist. As such, I try to maintain an open mind to that which, at least superficially, appears to be "unusual ," out of the norm or that which is labeled "supernatural" or "unknown." I liken having an open mind to that image of a door that is locked, but has in front of it a "Welcome" mat; rather than flinging open the doors and shouting "Come on in, no one's home." Yet, that latter mindset is exactly to what your book appears to be soliciting. A quick perusal of the package that I was sent reveals such overburdened and melodramatic voyeurisms as ghosts, extraterrestrials, psychics, exotic outsized reptiles and assorted supernatural nonsensicals. Quite an eclectic group of "phenomena" aimed at such a general audience. But, recall, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Where exactly is this evidence? Or, is this just being offered to, for the most part, an unsuspecting and uncritical public as "gospel"; i.e., something that must be accepted as true, without regard to the evidence (or more precisely, the lack thereof) just because it appears in print? As the scientific community must disregard that which is non-evidentiary, which immediately propels these volumes into the realm of pseudoscience and fantasy, I must be forced to view the latter as the proper conclusion. Perhaps that was the exact impetus (aside from the monetary) driving the publication of these volumes; not one of producing scientifically accurate (or remotely plausible) books, but rather ones of "shock, schlock and sensationalism." If so, that is entirely your prerogative. I value our constitutional right to various freedoms and so emulate Voltaire, inasmuch as I may not agree with what you say, but will defend your right to say it. What does concern me though is the muddling and merging of science and pseudoscience promoted in your brochure, and, ergo, this series. For instance, the splashy frontispiece foldout featuring Dr. Dale Russell's anthropified _Stenonychosaurus_, regarding the speculation of archosaurian evolution past the K/T extinction event, literally cheek-by-jowl with reports of UFO abductions and mysterious, unknown sea creatures. As a member of a number of national and international scientific societies, and as a science educator frequently called to deliver lectures to largely non-scientific audiences, I am keenly aware of the overwhelming, and alarming, depth of scientific ignorance manifested in American society today. Fully 95% of the US population are functionally scientifically illiterate. Handmaidens to this ignobility are the lack of critical thinking, unquestioned acceptance, and illogic; a seedbed for the healthy festering of superstition, dogma and irrationality. It is to this that I object most strongly. Perhaps you may regard my tone as one of being too harsh or too severe. After all, it's just a series of harmless books, correct? I see it entirely differently. Never previously have we stood before the technological and scientific crossroads that we do today. This science and technology impacts every citizen profoundly on a daily basis, yet so piteously few understand the merest moiety of the basic body of knowledge. In fact, certain individuals revel in the fact of this very ignorance. They cannot, or will not, see the possible value of scientific projects; and readily retreat into an unnatural world, devoid of fact or substance, but that seems more fantastic or fascinating than that which we call reality. This inevitably will lead to a splintered and stratified society, and indeed, is quite unmistakably apparent forthwith. Surely, a more well paved path to perdition could not be constructed. Of course, I do not lay blame for this sorrowful situation upon you or your publishing house, per se, but pseudoscientific sensationalism of this stripe acts as nothing more than fertilizer of a blighted harvest. For this reason I must reject your free offer. Sincerely, Dr. Martin R. Leipzig enclosure: Free Book Offer Card ... Skeptical? Me? I don't believe that.... --- Blue Wave/Max v2.12 * Origin: A Little Corner in Time BBS (1:106/113.0)

---

E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank