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Morality of using a medium for grieving people

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Umberto Cocopop
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Morality of using a medium for grieving people

Post by Umberto Cocopop on Sat 31 Dec 2011, 18:35

I thought this may be of interest. A thread on the JREF forum on the morality of using mediums for grief.

See: http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=226689

I thought the opening post was a good primer for a reasoned debate as it sets out a dilemma for skeptics:
And I left quite confused about what I thought about it all. I used to
think that mediums like this were just taking advantage of vulnerable
people, but she has really gotten a hell of a lot of emotional comfort
from this. She is considering going for a reading herself. I know its
all likely baloney using various suggestion and using peoples reactions
to get the right answers; but is this practise immoral or altruistic?

Of the replies (#27 at the time of posting), none of them have really dealt with the issue at all. The "she has really gotten a hell of a lot of emotional comfort
from this
" point being the crucial one.

It's not a question of whether mediums really communicate with the dead but what benefit people can get from the belief that they do.

Anyway, I just wondered what others thought about the type of responses the 'skeptics' on there gave.
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Re: Morality of using a medium for grieving people

Post by Kitkat on Sat 31 Dec 2011, 20:18

Umberto Cocopop wrote:I just wondered what others thought about the type of responses the 'skeptics' on there gave.

Hi Umberto,

Well, put it this way, before I even read the 26 responses to that post ... seeing where the link came from, I already had a fair idea of the type of responses it would attract - and my prediction was spot on! ... (the sort of answers that really make me want to spit )

As you correctly point out: "Of the replies (#27 at the time of posting), none of them have really dealt with the issue at all. The "she has really gotten a hell of a lot of emotional comfort
from this" point being the crucial one."

Must admit, I did rather wonder at the motives of the poster who posed the question as it seemed a rather strange place to be putting such thoughts out for *genuine* feedback on his/her "confusion", if that's what they were really after. The poster is a "Master Poster" there on that "skeptical"(?) forum, nearing 3000 posts under their belt. Surely they must have come across this sort of situation before - in over 4 years of membership on the JREF?
I mean ... did they honestly expect anything different?

Funnily enough, when I tried to click into the link to see what it was all about, it wouldn't take me straight in, so I had to copy and paste the link into my browser - which brought up a few other links, and out of curiosity I clicked into the one directly underneath. Entitled "Why I am no longer a skeptic" -
LOL! It sums it up perfectly! (Coincidence? Synchronicity?)


http://plover.net/~bonds/nolongeraskeptic.html

But such is the character of skepticism that good intentions quickly get swamped by bad ones. Look past the crocodile tears on any online debunking forum, and you'll quickly find that the majority of visitors are not drawn there by concern for the victims of irrationality, but by contempt. They're there to laugh at idiots. I'm not going to plead innocence here: I've often joined in with the laughter, at least vicariously; laughing at idiots can be fun. But in the context of skeptic sites, the laughter takes on a bullying and unhealthy tone. It's never pleasant to watch a group of university graduates ganging up to sneer at people denied their advantages in life, especially when for some of them it's a full-time hobby. It's an unfair fight between unequal resources, and far too few skeptics care about this inequality or want to do anything about it.
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Re: Morality of using a medium for grieving people

Post by Umberto Cocopop on Sun 01 Jan 2012, 15:36

KitKat wrote:Must admit, I did rather wonder at the motives of the poster who posed the question as it seemed a rather strange place to be putting such thoughts out for *genuine* feedback on his/her "confusion", if that's what they were really after.
Well I don't know the poster's history as I rarely look in that forum but I just took it to be a case of someone who was genuinely surprised that the person they know wasn't dreadfully harmed by their experience with a medium! In fact, they benefited.

I too had a strong predictive feeling that the responses would be as they are: dismissive, missing the point, and a repetition of the same mindless responses they always give (charlatan, vulture, should be shot...).

It's absolutely clear to me that those who have bothered to respond haven't actually thought about the issue. Thinking and consideration of ideas/claims from all angles before reaching a conclusion being what skepticism is supposedly about.

It's this sort of non-thinking, position-based interpretation of skepticism that put me off it a few years back.

KitKat wrote:Entitled "Why I am no longer a skeptic" -
LOL! It sums it up perfectly! (Coincidence? Synchronicity?)


http://plover.net/~bonds/nolongeraskeptic.html
That's known as coincidence.

It starts quite well but loses me later on.

Like me, he seems to fully embrace skepticism as it's meant to be (a positive methodology for acquiring knowledge) but became disillusioned with what the so-called 'skeptical movement' actually is. Therefore, it's not skepticism per se that's the problem, it's identifying oneself as a skeptic because you're perceived as belonging to a group that is nothing like it thinks it is.

The rest of the stuff about sexism, islamophobia, neoliberalism and such like is rather a "hasty generalization" approach.

The example of "elevatorgate" is a particularly poor example. It was actually an example of just how pathetic skeptics can be. Rebecca Watson runs a site called 'skepchick' and produces a yearly calendar full of semi-naked 'skepchicks' to make money yet complains of 'sexual objectification' when some guy apparently politely asks her to his room for a coffee (and politely accepts the rejection).

In this piece, elevator guy is described as "some creep". Who says the guy was a creep? He may have been a perfectly decent bloke who was genuinely attracted to RW and was hoping she may have reciprocated.

But the worst part of this piece is where the author takes Richard Dawkins' words out of context. Yes Dawkins put it rather strongly but the actual message he was trying to get across was the utter ridiculousness of RW's claim and that she ought to get a sense of real perspective about the plight of women in other parts of the world. i.e. her outrage at being asked to a man's room for a coffee was ever so slightly blowing things out of proportion.

There were some better points about things like alternative medicine. It's another area where skeptics take a very narrow view of what is essentially a sociocultural issue based on scientific validity alone.

I remember writing years ago about how skeptics need to widen their scope and not concentrate only on the validity of issues but also on their utility (what purpose they serve or benefit they give). An example being something like mediums - they may not really be communicating with the dead but if people benefit from the belief, can it be justified?

So, there's a moral/ethical aspect to this and it ought to be addressed when debating the issue - but skeptics never do this. And this ties in with the original post. This particular issue was posed as a bit of a dilemma and the skeptics utterly failed to tackle it.

That's not Critical Thinking!
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Re: Morality of using a medium for grieving people

Post by Kitkat on Mon 02 Jan 2012, 11:50

Umberto Cocopop wrote:Well I don't know the poster's history as I rarely look in that forum
Neither do I ... (the place causes untold havoc with my nervous system ) , but a glance at their profile shows when they joined and how many posts they have made there.
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Re: Morality of using a medium for grieving people

Post by lar-lar on Fri 24 Feb 2012, 00:11

Ah - I like this thread..but it's time for bed.
I'll get stuck in after the weekend.
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Re: Morality of using a medium for grieving people

Post by Feather on Fri 24 Feb 2012, 11:27

This is exactly the point I was making when I first joined a spiritual forum. I shudder to think how long I would have suffered from clinical depression if I had not joined the psychic barber site. I know that clinical depression can be caused by a lack of seratonin in the brain but I suspect that this lack is caused by something else---emotional perhaps? All I needed at that time was hope that I would see my deceased loved ones again. The forum gave me that hope and so I was indeed helped a great deal by my interaction with the members. For one thing, it made me feel less isolated. There was comfort in the knowledge that I was not alone and that I was interacting with people who understood what I was going through but more so it was the hope that death is not the end which allowed me to progress to a more bearable state of mind.I had been living in my own hell so it's not surprising that I saw mediumship as a means of escaping from that place. This was also the reason why my posts to non-believers were often so harsh. My approach to the whole topic has since gone through a slow but perceptible change. This, in part, has been caused by my disillusioment with the readings I have had from various mediums but also by my increased use of logic and the study of probabilities.I realise that I cannot change the truth. If there is no afterlife, I must accept that. I still have some hope that I will be convinced that death is not the end but, as of now, I can't see that happening.


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Re: Morality of using a medium for grieving people

Post by Jamboree on Wed 07 Mar 2012, 08:46

The psychic barber site? Is that still going?
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Re: Morality of using a medium for grieving people

Post by Feather on Wed 07 Mar 2012, 10:50

Unfortunately not. It closed some time ago.


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Re: Morality of using a medium for grieving people

Post by lar-lar on Sun 11 Mar 2012, 23:52

The example of "elevatorgate" is a particularly poor example. It was actually an example of just how pathetic skeptics can be. Rebecca Watson runs a site called 'skepchick' and produces a yearly calendar full of semi-naked 'skepchicks' to make money yet complains of 'sexual objectification' when some guy apparently politely asks her to his room for a coffee (and politely accepts the rejection).

In this piece, elevator guy is described as "some creep". Who says the guy was a creep? He may have been a perfectly decent bloke who was genuinely attracted to RW and was hoping she may have reciprocated.

But the worst part of this piece is where the author takes Richard Dawkins' words out of context. Yes Dawkins put it rather strongly but the actual message he was trying to get across was the utter ridiculousness of RW's claim and that she ought to get a sense of real perspective about the plight of women in other parts of the world. i.e. her outrage at being asked to a man's room for a coffee was ever so slightly blowing things out of proportion.

Ridiculous woman.. she really got on my nerves over this.

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