- Skepticism for dummies -
In response to an article in which our diploma is called a "Diploma for dummies".
Ok, so I’ll start by saying that yes this is somewhat tongue in cheek, however I feel it’s relevant and much needed and I’m not alone in feeling that it’s time the so called ‘skeptical’ element of our community were called into question over their motivations and methods when it comes to addressing individuals and organisations within the field.
Maybe a taste of ones own medicine will not prove so satisfying.
The website in point is Skeptics Boot, a small blog site created by Mr Robert Lea. Like me you have probably never heard of it but stay with me...
Following the announcement that HD Paranormal have developed an online course I received an email from a Mr Lea asking me for some clarification with regards to our qualification, mainly around its accreditation which I provided. He claimed to be writing an article on “paranormal diplomas”. Not quite truthful Mr Lea when in actual fact you were simply drafting a piece aimed at attacking soley ours but let’s not nitpick over your underhand methods of extracting information.
I had fully expected a backlash from certain corners of the community, who fail to understand that you don’t need, or even have to desire a Phd or Degree to have an interest in the paranormal, it is afterall a journey of discovery for us all if we’re honest. It’s all theoretical. An elitist attitude is not a prerequisite.
Anyway throughout the course of the conversation I received this from Mr Lea.
Oh the joy! Having consulted with the CPD and NCFE over the naming of qualifications and the use of post nominal letters I knew both of these statements to be inaccurate. Quite embarrassing for someone on a mission to point out flaws in someone elses work. I pointed this out in my response:
Yes your eyes are not deceiving you, Mr Lea seemed to think it relevant to send me a link to the Royal College of Vetinary Surgeons when trying to make a point about post nominal letters requiring registration. When I commented on this being of no relevance he failed to respond. As I say, embarrassing.
Interestingly, and making it glaringly obvious that Mr Lea’s motivation in creating this blog were around trying to discredit the course, he failed to take into account the fact that he had been mistaken, on 2 scores, and decided to argue the non existent point over post nominals nontheless.
JUST TO CONFIRM
The paramedic profession DO NOT use the post nominal Dip.Para.
They use the following:
DipHE (para) – Diploma of Higher Education
FCpara (Fellow of the College of Paramedics)
MCpara (Member of the College of Paramedics)
Onwards, the blog post takes the expected route of clutching at straws in an attempt to cast a negative shadow over the course itself, my ability to deliver it and even the CPD’s ability to review it.
Now having not seen the course material, or asked about the depth of study expected of learners, it seems impossible to form a judgment either way on the CPDs ability to review a course, whether in 14 days, 14 weeks or 14 years! Once more he is making huge assumptions based on little or no information.
This is a theme that comes up again and again, along with the ever present straw-clutching. Let’s look at his statement regarding unit 9 – The Practical Assessment.
Again, without enquiring as to the actual unit material, or the purpose of the practical element, Mr Lea has decided that in requesting a ‘Conclusion’ from learners, I will be expecting them to tell me whether or not a location is haunted based on one investigation. Bearing in mind that this course is designed to equip learners with a good background knowledge when it comes to both theoretical beliefs and practical applications it should be clear to anyone that it would be impossible to mark a submission on the basis of whether or not a place is haunted? The purpose of the practical assessment is for learners to demonstrate a methodical and considered approach to planning and conducting an investigation. Their subsequent conclusion is to be based around these important elements. NOT the perceived ‘haunted-ness’ of the place. Something I’d have been only to happy to explain to Mr Lea had he taken the time to do his research properly.
And so finally to may favourite part of Mr Leas post and it concerns the 'Conclusion' to our course. He draws attention to the fact that the conclusion is required to be 1000 words and says the following:
Now as someone who has seized the opportunity to let us know he is "two-thirds of the way through a Physics degree with the Open University" I would hope that Mr Lea has a good grasp of mathmatics. Surely this display of sarcasm has been properly thought through...hang on...
A Tweet has a maximum count of 140 characters. NOT words. CHARACTERS.
There are approximately 55,000 characters in 1000 words, and so in actual fact Mr Lea, a learner could complete their conclusion in just over 392 tweets, if they so wished!
So my own personal experience aside, I decided to spend 5 or 10 minutes browsing Skeptics Boot out of morbid curiosity. I won’t go into the array of grammatical and spelling errors that were staring me in the face as that would be infantile however what I will discuss is the tirade of pots and kettles being thrown around. This I found of exceptional entertainment.
In the post which precedes his rant about HD Paranormal, we find a post addressing “Intellectual Superiority” amongst the skeptical community.
From this paragraph we are to understand it seems that Mr Lea is against this superiority complex we find time and again amongst skeptics, and feels disappointment when reading comments with a derogatory and superior flavour. Remember that.
Mr Lea draws particular attention to Jon Donnis of BadPsychics.com. Now I am in no way a fan of Mr Donnis, however I find this particular reference akin to Mr Lea throwing stones from within a glass house :)
from Skeptics Boot, July 2016
Mr Lea goes on to expain how this type of comment is responsible for the accusations skeptics receive with regards to intellectual superiority (I agree!)
Something which Mr Lea fails to recognise is that not only is his own approach of the same vein, he also demonstrates this time and again on his own website. Below is an example from an blog post by Mr Lea dated May 2016, in which he refers to Pastor Mike Freeman as a "backwards idiot". Not at all intellectually superior Mr Lea!
Robert Lea, May 2016
I think we've seen quite enough.
It's clear that anyone with a computer can take screenshots, come up with scathing statements and piece together something for the world (or in Skeptics Boot's case 3 or 4 people) to read. I've done the very same here! What this highlights however is even more disappointing than Mr Leas shocking waste of time and energy over the past 5 years.
That is to say that we have a growing problem with these supossed skeptics and their idiocyncratic motivations which smack much more of too many chips on their shoulders and time on their hands than of anything else. Of course skepticism has a place, and is in fact crucial to accurate and valid evaluation of the world around us. The problem seems to be one of confusing skepticism with cynicism.
"a person inclined to question or doubt accepted opinions"
"a person who believes that people are motivated purely by self-interest rather than acting for honourable or unselfish reasons"
Maybe 'Cynic's Boot" would be much more appropriate.
Got an opinion? leave a comment!