Why Science is Wrong . . . About Almost Everything by Alex Tsakiris
Entrepreneur, iconoclast, family man . . . those qualities alone might be enough to win me over.
So I started listening to Alex’s podcast at Skeptiko.com, including many years of past podcasts on the most controversial and fascinating topics largely left behind by mainstream science: near-death experiences, parapsychology, consciousness, and so on; as well as conversations that dare to question some of the oldest assumptions still clinging to modern scientism, in ideas about evolution, race, spirituality and healing/medicine.
I then got hooked on his forum, so it was only natural I buy his book. It also does not disappoint.
Alex’s mantra is not a unique one, it’s one I and many others share: ‘Follow the data, wherever it leads.‘ It has led him, continues to lead him, through some pretty rough terrain.
But in his interviews he comes off as fearless and fresh, in content and sometimes in attitude, as in the way my grandfather used the word with me, as an endearing synonym for wise-guy. He is known for not shying away from the challenging questions, which is completely contradictory to the ungodly number of weenies and yes-men who overwhelm podcasting cyberspace in my experience.
From the book’s introduction a provocative statement sets the tone and the overarching theme, “Science as we know it is an emperor-with-no-clothes-on proposition. It mesmerizes us with flashy trinkets, while failing at its core mission of leading us toward self-discovery.” He then weaves together pieces of various interviews interspersed with commentary, which makes the book not only a concise and interesting narrative to follow, but a key for further perusing the subjects at hand on his forum.
“How could this be?” he challenges early on in the book, “How could otherwise intelligent, competent, seemingly honest people be locked into a mindset that kept them from the kind of open-minded, objective, rational thinking they advocated?” He then proceeds to demonstrate the ‘defend-the-status-quo thinking’ that has become deeply ingrained in the scientific establishment.
Medium communication is one such taboo-type topic covered in the book. Alex surmises three main reasons why most scientists just won’t go there.
- They are willfully ignorant of the research that exists;
- They never personally investigated the topic themselves; and
- They can’t accept any anomalies that challenge their carefully constructed mind-equals-brain paradigm.
But, could science be at a tipping point? Included in the book are portions of interviews from many leading researchers in what most still consider pseudoscience. Other interviews are with insiders doing cutting-edge research against-the-current, like Dr. Jeffrey Long, a radiation oncologist and near-death experience (NDE) researcher with a best-selling book, Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences.
The data tells us, says Dr. Long, “. . . what you see in the life changes of near-death experiencers is markedly consistent. In other words, it’s not just that they have life changes; it’s the consistency of those life changes. The substantial majority, if not overwhelming majority, of near-death experiencers believe that there’s an afterlife. They believe that there’s a God. They no longer fear death. They’re less materialistic. They value loving relationships more. The list goes on and on. This has been consistently observed not only in our study but in scores of prior scholarly studies of this phenomenon over 30 years.”
Alex’s interviews often include elements of more subtle and sensitive inquiry, which I find remarkably over-looked by most others–fundamental questions of ethics, the destructive powers of group-think, authentic vs. contrived compassion, leadership, hypocrisy and responsibility–those deeper aspects of a more spiritual nature.
I’d be willing to bet more folks have had experiences of inexplicable, or otherwise anomalous events than have not. These experiences range from things like the placebo effect in healing, paranormal-feeling synchronicities, even prophetic dreams or unusually strong connections with certain people or animals or places. All kinds of folks practice astrology, and Tarot, channeling, meditation, herbal healing, which mainstream science mostly dismisses as quackery.
Science today dismisses anything and everything it cannot directly observe. So we the non-experts, the general public, are left with gaping black holes in our knowledge, that morphs into mythology and fantasy-based reality, in all the corners where science fears to tread. Few of us really believe we are biological robots in a meaningless universe, yet that is where materialistic science seems to be permanently stuck.
The data eventually led Alex to the place where I found him, conspiracy theories. He had some predictable push back from some of his regular audience and it’s possible his forum has still not completely recovered the losses. To me, that speaks volumes. “Following the data wherever it leads” is not just lip service to him, he sticks to his guns; this is a man of principles.
He even dares to question a southern hot-button topic of the highest order–the theory of evolution–not so much the science aspect behind the theory, but the social engineering aspect of it, the conspiracy angle of it, my preferred angle.
After three interviews, Michael Flannery, Associate Director for Historical Collections at the University of Alabama and expert on Darwin and the theory’s co-discoverer Alfred Russel Wallace; evolution enthusiast Dr. Jerry Coyne of the University of Chicago; and Roy Davies, a former BBC filmmaker and journalist, Alex asks a few more of his compelling questions. “Do we really need to elevate this tiny bit of history to the untouchable status it has among many scientists and committed atheists? Does it really answer our deepest questions about who we are and where we came from? Or is the theory of evolution protected so fiercely because it’s a vehicle for propping up our absurd science-as-we-know-it, mind-equals-brain paradigm.”
To me being just a layman following the data, the answers look self-evident.
Alex concludes with a touching personal observation that parallels my own experiences, which demonstrates why I, and many others, believe conspiracy work is in fact, spiritual work.
“The Skeptiko interviews I’ve compiled have changed me. They’ve turned my world upside down more than once. But the knowledge I’ve gained has made me a better husband, father, and friend. I’ve discovered and re-discovered myself again and again and, in the process, I’ve gained a deeper connection with those I love and care about. Knowledge is power, and sharing knowledge, like so many of my guests on Skeptiko have done, is the ultimate gift one person can offer another.”
I have a hard-ball question of my own for Alex, but I’ll save it for a future date. 😉