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July 27, 2010

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Dave*

Actually, I see this press release as embodying the major problem with skepticism's public image. Practically nobody takes Paul the Octopus' psychic powers seriously. It's a joke. And by adopting an antagonistic, debunking stance, Spiegelhalter gives the appearance of being company with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in missing that joke. WHen Spiegelhalter, he seems to lack the understanding that Paul is just a humorous way to fill TV minutes. And when he says "Essentially when a hypothesis has zero initial probability, no amount of surprising evidence will shift that belief," he reinforces the belief that skeptics are as dogmatic as those they attack.

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  • Diane A. Kelly
    Diane Kelly is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she studies the neural wiring and mechanical engineering of reproductive systems.
  • James L. Cambias
    Jim Cambias writes science fiction and designs games in the lonely wilderness of Western Massachusetts.

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