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Coffee!! Academic con man fronted Dawkins?

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Was Al Seckel a con man who fronted Dawkins? We dunno. We love to begin the day here with a mug and a story. Well, This is sure a story:

In postwar America, there emerged a loose coalition of groups fighting the influence of religion and supernatural thinking. The most famous freethought group is American Atheists, founded in 1963 by the notorious Madalyn Murray O’Hair, who was widely loathed for, among other efforts, her successful court challenge to Bible readings in public schools. (In 1995, she was killed and dismembered by a three-man crew that included one of her former employees; her body was identified by the serial number on her prosthetic hip.) But O’Hair’s hard-core atheism was just one flavor of freethought. In the 1970s, “scientific skeptical” groups arose to combat New Age ideas that were gaining traction—everything from homeopathy, to the “mentalism” of Uri Geller, who claimed that he could bend spoons with his mind, to a growing belief in Bigfoot. Other groups promoted agnosticism, secular humanism, and church/state separation. They all shared a sense that they were the rationalist minority, committed to evidence over superstition, preferring scholars and scientists to preachers, holistic healers, yogis, swamis, and “alternative” types of all kinds.

By all means, add the “rationalist minority” to your guest list, as long as you drop off my (O’Leary for News) insurance pool.

Look, most of the people mentioned may be crazy. But did fake spoon bending ever kill anyone?

That said, one of O’Hair’s crowd seems to have been a homicide perp. People who do not work in policing or criminal law, defense, typically don’t even know persons likely to be booked for homicide.

Meanwhile,

Lately Seckel has been trying to sell the papers of Robert Maxwell, his late father-in-law, but so far he hasn’t found a buyer. He seems to have plenty of time, and in our Skype encounters last year, before he grew suspicious of me, he was a prodigious talker. Sometimes he floated a new story, a new bit of grandiosity, as if I were the mirror and he was trying to see if the story fit him. Did I know, he asked me, that he was the one who first gave Richard Dawkins the idea to attack creationism? Did I know that he gave Peter Diamandis the idea to fund James Cameron’s underwater exploration? (“I met Al Seckel many years ago, I think in San Diego and in the company of Francis Crick,” Dawkins told me in an email. “I’m afraid I have no recollection of our conversation except that he did a conjuring trick.”) More.

We think Dawkins would have tumbled to that cause anyway. Guy might have helped, but …

We gotta get back to real news soon, now that the heat fog is lifting ….

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3 Replies to “Coffee!! Academic con man fronted Dawkins?

  1. 1
    daveS says:

    I’ve never heard of Al Seckel before, so this article is quite interesting to me.

    As to:

    Look, most of the people mentioned may be crazy. But did fake spoon bending ever kill anyone?

    I highly doubt it, but “alternative” medicine such as homeopathy surely has.

  2. 2
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Not sure if that’s the best point to raise, daveS.

    Conventional Medicine is the Leading Cause of Death
    http://draxe.com/conventional-.....-of-death/

  3. 3
    daveS says:

    Silver Asiatic,

    Not sure if that’s the best point to raise, daveS.

    Conventional Medicine is the Leading Cause of Death

    Without doing any digging, one explanation could be many more patients choose conventional medical treatment than alternative treatments. Instead of comparing absolute numbers, doesn’t it make more sense to compare the rates at which deaths (and successes) occur?

    For example, can homeopathy compete with this?

    Researchers from the University of Colorado Cancer Center found that the 5-year survival rate for children and adolescents with ALL [acute lymphoblastic leukemia] improved from 83.7% for those diagnosed between 1990 and 1994, to 90.4% for those diagnosed between 2000 and 2005. In the 1960s, the 5-year survival rate was less than 10%.

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