The Truth Is Out There – Story of Stephen Braude
A senior reporter at the Chronicle of Higher Education, Scott Carlson, has sent me a link to his article in the latest issue of magazine. The Chronicle of Higher Education is a newspaper that is a source of news,information, and jobs for college and university faculty and administration. The Chronicle is the major news service in the American academic world. More on the magazine on Wikipedia. The article, titled “The Truth Is Out There” starts with the following:
The pivotal moment of Stephen E. Braude’s academic career happened when he was in graduate school, on a dull afternoon in Northampton, Mass., in 1969.
Or, at least, what follows is what he says happened. Readers — skeptics and believers both — will have to make up their own minds.
The article then tells the story of Stephen Braude, how he started to be interested in the paranormal and then his career in the academic world, which turned more difficult as he pressed his parapsychological research. The article also discusses the latest book by Braude, The Gold Leaf Lady and Other Parapsychological Investigations where he summarizes lots of paranormal cases but also trashes many people, both fake psychics and some prominent skeptics, including Paul Kurtz and James Randi. From the article:
Randi is described as a “publicity hound” who “weaseled out” of a challenge to explain phenomena produced by Ted Serios, who some believe could make odd and spooky images appear on Polaroid film. Kurtz is described as “disreputable” and sloppy. The skeptics, Braude says, pick out the weakest cases and demolish them, then use those spectacular debunkings to persuade the public that all exotic claims are bosh.
The article also touches the difficulties of being accepted in the academic world when one does this kind of research:
… Some people at UMBC seem to not want to be associated with his [Braude’s] research, or even talk about it. Senior members of Braude’s own department either did not reply or did not want to comment about his work when contacted by The Chronicle.
In 2002 Braude gave a lecture to the physics department, where he says he was shouted down by other professors. Lynn Sparling, an associate professor of physics at the university, doesn’t remember the substance of the talk, but she remembers her impression of Braude. “I came away feeling that this guy was kind of an embarrassment to the university,” she says. “I just thought he was a total goofball. I couldn’t believe some of the things that I was hearing.”
So it seems to me that Alex Tsakiris of Skeptiko podcast is correct when he presses that this is a real issue for serious scientists who just can’t take the risks of being associated with parapsychology.
The Chronicle requires a little payment to get access to the article (to the whole magazine, actually). The link to the article that requires payment is: http://chronicle.com/weekly/v54/i18/18b01101.htm.
Scott was kind enough, though, to send a free access link to the article which is accessible for a limited time of 5 days from today, where you’ll be able to read this article. He’ll ask for a permanent free link for the article, if possible. My thanks to Scott for his interesting article and for his time to work this out with me.