Like many who once identified as a chaos magickian I am by nature a rebel in the truest sense of the word. I believe in nothing, trust no one and consider very little to be set in stone. That said while I understand the rationale behind holding a sceptical mindset, it is a title that I would never claim for myself. In truth it describes a deeply flawed movement that is typified by the actions of a few infamous pseudo-evangelists such as Richard Dawkins and Susan Blackmore, academic marvels who quickly set about playing the dual roles of spokesmen for the scientific establishment and watchdogs over the rest of the supposedly uneducated masses. All now claim to know better than we do, because the scrawl on a chalk board told them it was so.
Gone is the old way of thinking, whereby the man in the street would view pseudoscientific claims with an open mind and take the bruises for his credulity when they fell through, replaced instead by an educational intelligentsia riddled with both personal bias and a knack for mishandling results. In the ideal world of the sceptic personal accountability would be brushed aside by those who grimly tell you what to believe. All must kneel and present their neck to Occam’s infallible razor cut, to become enslaved by the one size fits all truth encapsulated within the scientific method. Gods, magick, the human potential to be more than hairless monkeys, all shall fall before this great and bloody blade.
The more industrious among the sceptical movement have set up organisations that are little better than churches, run on the same charitable donation and grass roots activism models which typify the religious institutions they would so happily crucify out of existence. But are these leading lights any more equipped morally and mentally to be playing judge, jury and media executioner for the seething cauldron of seemingly silly ideas bubbling away at the fringes of Western culture? Should the general public really trust the motivations of men such as James Randi for keeping all of our feet on the ground? Honestly I doubt it, and so should you all.
“I believe that if the sale and use of drugs were to be suddenly legalized . . . the principle of Survival of the Fittest would draconically prove itself for a couple of years, after which Natural Selection would weed out those for whom there is no hope except through our forbearance, and I’m very, very, weary of supporting these losers with my tax dollars . . . Any weeping and wailing over the Poor Little Kids who would perish by immediately gobbling down pills and injecting poison, is summoning up crocodile tears, in my opinion. They would – and presently do – mature into grown-up idiots, and Darwin would be appalled that his lessons were ignored.”
No, that is not a misquote, nor am I taking what he said out of context. This is an excerpt of Randi’s very own words copied directly from the comments section of the JREF website, in response to the Charles Lynch medical marijuana case back around 2009. As someone sitting on the outside of his sphere of influence it is chilling to see such obvious intellectual elitism and social Darwinism being touted by a media darling that heads up an organisation dedicated to helping people defend themselves against what they view as the ever present threat of paranormal and pseudoscientific claims.
“Many people who walk the earth practice the fine art of making others feel responsible and even indebted to them, without cause. Satanism observes these leeches in their true light. Psychic vampires are individuals who drain others of their vital energy. This type of person can be found in all avenues of society. They fill no useful purpose in our lives, and are neither love objects nor true friends. Yet we feel responsible to the psychic vampire without knowing why . . . The psychic vampire is allowed to exist because he cleverly chooses conscientious, responsible people for his victims – people with great dedication to their ‘moral obligations.'”
This second quote is from Anton Szandor LaVey’s Satanic Bible, and while the language is certainly more passionate the underlying theme is much the same. I am sure that neither of these diametrically opposed characters would welcome the comparison, but when it so obvious it must be made. James Randi has conjured a career out of attacking and debunking claims of the paranormal, insidiously instilling his particular brand of mental eugenics into the militant atheism he preaches. While a certain level of detachment is expected between the personal and professional aspects of a public figure’s life, the propensity to let the darker side of his nature leak through proves that this is a point which he has frankly been unable to grasp.