Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Notes From A Sickbed

By Recuperating Ray X

© Copyright 2007

-- Lying in the ER, waiting for test results. They move my bed into the hallway; they need the room for another patient. The new arrival is taken in, screaming like a wounded animal. Mental, not physical, pain. They strap him down. I can still hear his cries through the closed door. What’s more distressed –- my gut or his mind?

-- Back home. Some people heal in hours; me, it’s usually days. Stuck in bed, only radio and TV for company. TV infomercial trumpets a cure-all. The guy hawking the miracle stuff: reedy, his hair gassed back, a ratty moustache. I think of Willie The Pimp by Frank Zappa. The miracle stuff guy is a cue-carder; not spontaneous. Sitting at a small round table, pseudo-talk show, a couple pretends to interview him. Question. Response: his little dark peepers just dart over to the cue cards and he robots his reply. Hey, Willie, I’ll buy five. Why? Your sincerity is so obvious.

-- On shortwave radio I hear Pastor Peter J. Peters, Scriptures For America, talk about this country being the New Jerusalem. And what does he base this on? Look closely: JerUSAlem. He also states the Ark of the Covenant is in ARKansas. Yeah. And Genghis Khan is buried in the state of KHANsas.

-- A couple of times I feel well enough to log online; just enough energy to catch up on some news; too sick to write and add stuff to my blog. My head hurts. Information overload. Too much; I can never keep up, even when I feel well. All sorts of posts archived at, waiting for me to review them. It’s no wonder that I don’t receive that many comments at my own blog. I’m just one of a million million voices out there trying to be heard. The Net: upside, truly democratic; downside, all the competition.

-- One positive note: No worry re: about being abducted by gray aliens. If they can’t tell how sick I am, they’ll find out when I projectile vomit all over their stupid bulbous noggins.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

A Skeptic Stumbles: Preaching, But Not Always Practicing

© Copyright 2007 Ray X

Shouldn’t a skeptic be – well, skeptical? I mean, shouldn’t a skeptic not accept anything at face value when there’s an opportunity to check the facts? After all, skeptics usually criticize “true believers” for accepting only those opinions or viewpoints that reinforce their beliefs.

A questioning attitude is important because – as skeptics will point out – someone may be sincere but they still can be wrong. Or they could just be lying.

Case in point: Michael Shermer, the man behind The Skeptic Magazine and its online little brother, eSkeptic. Back on January 10th eSkeptic published an article that used information provided by PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility). It was claimed that the Bush administration through its appointees was pressuring federal park employees to be “geological agnostic.” Kowtowing to the creationists, rangers were told never to give out any estimates of the Grand Canyon’s age.

As Shermer discovered later, this wasn’t true. In the January 17th eSkeptic Shermer explained how he was duped. Credit must be given to him for admitting that he made a mistake.

As he explains in his mea culpa titled “Fact Checking 101,” he didn’t call either the National Park Service or the Grand Canyon National Park to check out the claims made by PEER. Apparently, Shermer surmised, PEER felt justified in playing with the truth as a reaction to the pro-Christian conservative push of the Bush administration.

Shermer observed: “PEER is an anti-Bush, anti-religion liberal activist watchdog group in search of demons to exorcise and dragons to slay.” He added that while the Hegelian process might work for talk radio, it isn’t appropriate for journalism and scholarly studies.

OK, I can understand how someone could be duped by disinformation – but not when that someone is a skeptic. If Shermer stayed true to the creed he preaches, I wouldn’t be writing about this matter.

After all, shouldn’t skeptics be held to higher standards than “UFO crazies” or “Bigfoot nuts?”