Sunday, August 24, 2008

Why? A philosophical question.

No, not one of the big "Why"s, like "why are we here", etc. I saw this question on the Randi boards, and though it's been asked there many times before, it's been a while since I thought about it myself. To quote part of the OP over there:

What stops you from cashing in?
It seems that every idiot willing to lie, mislead, or cheat people can make some if not a lot of money doing so. This message board is full of well-educated and well-informed people who see what it takes to sell BS to the general public. I am just wondering why you people fight on the side you fight on. What stops you from using your knowledge and cashing in?

My basic answer is that I'm not a sociopath. I feel empathy, and dislike being deceived. I don't like the idea of living off of lying to other people. That's why if my company every seriously tries to get a homeopathy business off the ground, I'm going to start a job hunting. Sure, we make a lot of cosmetics with the idea that "You'll look younger" will sell. That's a subjective thing, anyway, though. The whole cosmetic industry is, so I don't feel any guilt there. That's the game, and both the producer and consumer know it. All the drugs we make, though, are proven safe and effective for what they claim. Snake oil, on the other hand, just feels wrong.

I can spout new age drivel with the best of them. I can cold read. I can do enough magic tricks to form a cult around myself. I'll do it all for fun, but not profit. I don't want to take advantage of vulnerable people who want something to believe in, because I don't think I'm a bastard. I know I don't have a higher purpose for doing any of that stuff, and I'm reasonably certain that anyone else who does the things I can replicate doesn't either (at least those who knowingly do so -- it is possible to do some of this stuff unwittingly).

So what do you have to say on the matter?

Saturday, August 16, 2008


In regards to the abducted child below:

An anonymous tip led the police to the mother today. She'd been all over the southeast, but the dad is in possession of his son again, and the mother is in custody. Please update anyone you passed this along to. I'd hate to see this turn into an urban legend "forward this email" thing.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Public service

A quick note concerning two pleas for help:

First, please follow this link about the abduction of a child. This is the son of a good frie...hell, let's go ahead and call him family. While the odds are long you'll be able to help, take a look anyway and spread the word.

Secondly, go to and do something to help Robert S. Lancaster. He's a big teddy bear of a man, as long as your goal isn't to scam the vulnerable. He's done measurable good in the world by working to bring down scammers and leeches upon society, and has recently been laid low by a stroke. His prognosis is very good; however, Robert and his family will need help and support to get through this period. Do what you can. He's one of the good guys.