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09.01.10

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Wishing and hoping and praying

I take exception to two of Dr. Dean Radin's statements concerning psi ("Entangled Atoms," Aug. 25). Contrary to Radin, skepticism is not a "belief system." It is the rational withholding of the acceptance of an idea in the absence of sufficient empirical evidence. To quote Carl Sagan, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." Radin hasn't produced any such thing. Perhaps Radin should have sat in on the introduction to science unit of my biology class once or twice instead of preaching repeatedly to the choir at New Age-y conferences.

Did he actually say that there is a spectrum of psi ability in humans "almost identical to the spectrum of the ability to play golf"? Acknowledging that I am at the very lowest level in any such spectrum regarding my golf game and psi ability, is there really someone with a Jack Nicklaus or Tiger Woods level of psi ability out there? If so, they should seek to claim the million-dollar prize offered by James "the Amazing" Randi awaiting anyone who can clearly demonstrate psychic ability. Alas, no one has yet. Gee, why not? Wouldn't that settle things?

It is true that our knowledge of the universe and human psychology is limited (and will always be so), and there is nothing wrong with exploring the unknown in these areas as Radin is doing. But simply wanting something to be true doesn't make it true. Until Radin can produce some hard data and proper conclusions that other scientists can verify experimentally, perhaps he should be content with watching reruns of The X-Files.

It would be nice to know that the truth is out there and that I am "connected" to my wife in unconventional ways—that would explain a lot—but what is "illusionary" is the idea that he has discovered it.

Mark Alton

Petaluma


Political voldemorts

I have been thinking about the rhetoric of the right and its implications. Rush Limbaugh hopes that President Obama will fail. Alan Simpson denigrates citizens who depend on Social Security. Given that the economic hardships Americans face is a result of the destruction of our manufacturing base by U.S. corporations outsourcing jobs and moving offshore, that Wall Street companies ripped off everyone they could and the Bush administration initiated two illegal wars which are draining our treasury and destroying another generation of young people, what are they talking about?

Hoping that Obama will fail means hoping that the suffering will go on. Is that patriotic? Blaming poor and working people rather than looking at the consequences of the criminal acts of the wealthy and powerful is hardly a Christian stance.

The right uses a strategy of attack to mobilize extreme elements like the Tea Party. They shout loud and often and with righteous fury. But they are not patriots, though they wrap themselves in the flag. And they are not Christians in any way that Christ would recognize. They're not even Republicans or conservatives. They're something else, which I am reluctant to name.

Moss Henry

Santa Rosa


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