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Description of Episode
- Full Title: Do healing miracles happen? Robby Dawkins & David Beebee - Unbelievable? - 15 March 2014
Robby Dawkins (not to be confused with Richard) says he regularly sees healing miracles occur for the people he prays for. Cancer is gone, blind eyes see, pain disappears, even a lung was re-grown.
David Beebee, an atheist sceptic with an interest in the charismatic church interacts with Dawkins and questions why we don't see more convincing proof, and what he does about the 'misses'.
We also hear from a Christian who is sceptical of modern miracle claims, Dr Peter May.
- Justin Brierley - Christian Moderator
- Robby Dawkins - Christian
- David Beebee - Atheist
- Dr Peter May -Christian, skeptic
- Comments by myself, bblais
Justin - He starts the conversation by stating that "miracle stuff" is considered a bit "out there", that it's "very difficult to verify, it's not objective in the way we can talk about evidence for God and the Bible, and that kind of thing".
It's funny how he started off like that. They steer clear of miracles in this show because it is hard to verify, and not objective evidence for God. The funny thing about that statement is that it is just totally wrong! In fact, miracles would be objective evidence if there were a God. So, if even some miracle claims were verified, they would be trumpeted as the most objective evidence for the existence of God and the claims of the Bible. The fact Justin Brierley can say that the claims are "not objective" is pretty much an admission that there is no good evidence for miracles and the entire topic should be avoided. It has disagreeable consequences for the theology if they really have to confront the question "where did all the miracles go?" - they seem to be common and public in ancient days, yet disappear as our understanding of science improves. Starting off the show like that is already an admission of failure.
So Robby Dawkins claims he prayed for a guy who was going to have open heart surgery, and that the guy also had half a lung removed in the past due to lung cancer. The story claims that the surgeon opened him up, and said "This man has the heart of a 30-year old man, and the lungs have regrown".
That is a fantastic story. I don't believe it. So, the question is, who's right, and should I be that skeptical? Here is someone giving this story, and I don't have any of the details such as the name of the person, etc... I am going to look this up and I would bet money (I never bet more than a dollar on any bet) , but I'd be willing to bet $1 that this story doesn't pan out. The reason is that the story is totally ridiculous and fantastic. If it were true, I would have heard about it before. If they actually had medical records of the guy, before and after scans of the heart and lungs, it would be totally trivial to demonstrate this to the satisfaction of pretty much any skeptic. The fact that I haven't heard about it probably means that it is made up.
The data should be able to sway me from my skepticism, if it is real. If it is anything like the UFO cases I've read or the other healing cases I've read, it will either:
- Not have enough information to verify at all - just the story, with no evidence or
- Turn out to be wrong
This has been the case for every miracle claim and UFO claim I have ever taken the time to investigate.
Why would someone make up a story about this? One is to feel better about the world, another is that it was a mundane story that got distorted over time. One thing is clear is that Robby Dawkins has a vested interest in this story.
Then they relay a movie, where Robby Dawkins supposedly heals a young man, Jacob, of neck and back pain. He prays 3 times over the young man. The first time the next pain goes down to a "zero", but the back is still at a "seven", the second time the back goes down to a "one", and then down to a "zero" for last prayer.
Here we have a crowd around the young man during the prayer, and a completely subjective reporting of pain. Don't you think there is significant social pressure on this young man to claim more pain loss than he actually experiences? Robby Dawkins, in the clip, jokes with the young man "you're not just being nice to me, are you?" What is he supposed to say to that? This is the problem with "healing" pain this way - there is nothing objective to measure, no way to test if there is in fact an effect. Is it more likely that the young man is lying, or perhaps distorting due to the social pressures, than he's actually healed? Absolutely. In order to test this, one would have to have an objective way to verify, which is not presented.
I'm reminded again of the website http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/. Sure, God can heal these vague issues like my back pain this hour, but can't seem to heal anything tangible.
He finishes his miracle healing by asking the young man to touch his toes.
Now this is a somewhat objective measure, rather than the 0-10 pain scale, which may reflect objective evidence of an improvement from the prayer. If he couldn't touch his toes before, because of the pain, and now he can then that would be at least some evidence (not convincing, but some) toward the efficacy of the prayer. Could the young man touch his toes afterward? No. What did Robby Dawkins do? He made a joke about it - "That's about as far as I could do". I have to wonder, if it had come out a different way what would the response have been?
This is emblematic of the approach of unskeptical people. You do a test that you think might point in the right direction (generally not done very carefully), but you design the test so that you win either way. If it works, then it's a miracle, and if it doesn't then it is shrugged off as something the person needs to work on, you shouldn't have passed the test anyway, etc... Essentially a rationalization. Heads, I win. Tails, you lose. Perhaps another test is done that shows some mild improvement from before, and that is touted as the evidence while the counter examples are quietly ignored. Selective bias, completely unskeptical. There is nothing miraculous about any of the things Robby Dawkins actually demonstrated in these examples.
One could claim I'm being hyperskeptic, and yes, I am being skeptical. I am demanding that if you make a claim that violates my understanding of the laws of physics, and the way the universe works, then you had better pony up an equivalent amount of evidence that the people who established those laws of physics did in the first place. You should be able to convince the skeptics, because that is exactly what the scientists have done to get us here. They have taken things where people were skeptical, such as germ theory of disease, plate tectonics, big bang cosmology, etc... and provided testable predictions that were borne out, especially when unintuitive. In the germ theory of disease, something as simple as washing your hands should reduce infection - which is demonstrably does. This would be very difficult to explain if you believed disease were some kind of spiritual phenomenon (which was once believed) or an imbalance in the humors, or some kind of energy imbalance. This is before even having a microscope to confirm the small living beings called germs.
We don't need to understand how miracles occur to verify that they occur, so it is not an argument against the skeptic to accuse them of a naturalistic bias. It is not a bad thing to be skeptical. It keeps you from being taken in by false claims, from falling victim to selection bias, etc...
Robby - "Some people would say that they felt better, but I found out later that they still had some pain. I found out that this girl that had scoliosis, her shoulders were severely tilted, said "It is better", but I could see that her shoulders were not 100% straight. And I would be like, I need to get a number from them because I'm not getting a clear answer."
So he's trying to be more quantitative, which is a good thing, it's still not any better than what it was before. This is not a controlled setting, there is a serious vested interest for the child to say that they are feeling better, and there is no way to independently verify that they are in fact getting better in the cases that he is talking about. It is still a subjective claim, while sounding more quantitative with the number. It makes it sound more scientific, but it is no better than them saying "I'm feeling better."
Justin - "How often does it work, as it were, that people go down to a two or a zero?"
Robby - "It's a hard question, but I would say more than half of the times...I'd say probably around 65% of the time. If people let you keep praying for them, it will go down. But some people get freaked out by the fact that something is happening, and they will be 'all right, stop.'"
Here's another interesting case. He's making a bold claim that it is working 65% of the time, but it's hard to tell, which lets him write off the failures. But these seem like much better odds than science-based medicine, if it is correct. He's also saying that people want him to stop, because they experience the change. That let's him write off anyone who stops early, while still maintaining that it is working, so in his mind it remains evidence that it is working. Again, maybe there are other explanations. Perhaps they are freaking out because there is a crowd that is expecting something, and nothing is happening, which would totally be uncomfortable for someone. Again, they are setting up a situation where people have a vested interest to lie, not out of a malicious intent, but to simply cover themselves from an embarrassing situation, for themselves, the congregation or the minister.
David - "If someone is feeling better then that is great..."
Ok, I'm going to interrupt, and comment on that little amount. Yes, it is good if they are feeling better - no one wants another to be in pain. But I think it does matter how they are feeling better. If a doctor gave a sugar pill, said that it would help the pain, the patient gets the transient pain relief from placebo effect - I don't think that's a good thing. When the pain comes back, they haven't dealt with the symptoms, and they are likely to return to the same bogus treatment. I think back on a friend of mine who pursued dubious so-called alternative medical treatments, while her (unknown to her at the time) cancer progressed. She kept going back to these treatments, like acupuncture and homeopathy, when the placebo pain relief ended. In the end the cancer was too advanced by the time it was diagnosed, so it really does matter not just that you feel better, but why. It's not always a good thing that someone is feeling better, if by feeling better makes them worse in the long run.
David - "it doesn't seem to be something that could be explained by a much simpler set of assumptions. for example, they are in a suggestive, persuasive environment, on stage. If they already believe that it could happen anyway, then the strong personality speaking to them, even with the caveats of 'are you just being nice to me', there still would be some psychological pressure to conform, even if subconscious."
Justin - "You'd probably prefer the simpler explanation, it's probably adrenaline, probably psychological pressure,..."
David - "Not probably, but it could be these things, and we know that these things happen routinely. "
That was a nice catch. We have a whole host of possible explanations, all of which are more likely than a miracle healing, and any one of them (or multiple ones) would work but the person claiming the miracle would have to rule those out at least to justify this more complex more fantastical explanation of "miracle". The skeptic need to pin any of these alternatives on the particular case. The skeptic is not making the knowledge claim that they are confident in a particular explanation, they are just not convinced of the more complex and fantastical explanation.
Robby - "I had three young men who were atheists, and said "You're full of it." I appreciate your honesty. I grabbed the microphone as we were finishing this healing session and I asked if anyone had leg shortening. Since we had war survivors there, we had about 8 people come forward who had a leg shorter than another. And I had those guys, and said to just say the words, and they said that they didn't believe in it. I just told them to repeat the words after me, and we held the legs...and the all the legs were clear."
David - Why is God limited to incremental leg extensions, as opposed to a full amputee?
It would be so simple to document a healed amputee to the satisfaction of a skeptic. If this works 50% of the time they should be able to go to a convention of war veterans, or the paralympics, or something like that and heal 50% of the cases. I'd be satisfied with 10%...actually, I'd be satisfied with 1%, but the number is in fact zero.
It makes you wonder why, when there is actual evidence to look at, it is always only the things that are either
- easily manipulated
- small scale
and never the big stuff, never the things that are easy to show actually happened. You don't even need to show that the prayer itself did it, just one case of an amputee regrowing a limb would at least show there is some effect there.
Justin - "Is David asking for too high a level of evidence here?"
Robby - "No, I don't. Here's the bottom line. Bottom line is it requires faith...and faith is risk. And faith is a hard thing to risk."
I think he may go on to define his use of the word "faith", but I think he's using it in the way that I use it, and that is "believing things without appropriate evidence". Yes, that is risky! It's a dumb risk, you shouldn't do it. It's a needless risk. He's playing the "Oh, you're asking for too much evidence, and I expect you to believe this without the evidence" card.
Robby - "I did this all over Princeton University, an epicenter for atheists and skeptics, and many people were sitting there watching legs grow out and going 'Whoa'. They would say 'if I could see this happen, then I'd believe it' and then they sat there and watched it happen and responded 'no, no, no, this must have been happening, or that must have been happening'. There's always going to be another explanation."
That is the moment that I have seen in so many of these. It's really the cry-baby response - "Boo hoo! You're asking for too much evidence! You're not convinced by my flimsy attempts at demonstrating this!" This sort of response just would not fly in any scientific arena, and that attitude just annoys me after a while. You have something to claim that you think is true...great. You should be able to demonstrate it to skeptics. They will come up with alternative explanations...great...that's their job, and the absolute right response to you making an extraordinary claim. That's what they are supposed to do, and if you can't demonstrate that it is not one of their alternative explanations, then you haven't done your job. That's the job that every scientist has to do, and sometimes it takes years, and sometimes it takes being more clever at designing the experiment and the proper controls, but you have to do that.
You propose that the universe is accelerating, which wasn't on anyones radar, and people don't believe it, what do you do? You improve the data, you lower the uncertainties, you demonstrate how it fits in the understood cosmology. You address, and rule out, the alternative explanations and the possible biases. You say that anyone can inspect your methods, reproduce it themselves. If it is true, then the skeptics come around. The alternative explanations are not bad. The skepticism is not bad, it is the correct process of getting to the truth. Things that collapse under that pressure are probably not true.
That's what it means to demonstrate something. It doesn't mean showing it once, under uncontrolled circumstances, from a distance, where the skeptics can't reproduce it. That's not demonstrating it, that's a trick. And people have seen magic tricks, and so they'll acknowledge that you've done a trick, even if they don't know exactly how it was done. They'll think 'if I try to do it, it won't work', or 'under this other set of circumstances, it won't work', etc... Like the spoon bending of Uri Geller. The problem is not just that these people are mistaken, but that they don't seem to recognize that the skeptical response is the proper one, and that if they actually had something to demonstrate that they should have no problem convincing the skeptics.
If you claim to have an effect that worked 50% of the time that cured various diseases, especially physical structural ones, you should be able to an MRI or some other scan, do the prayer, then do the scan afterward and see a measurable effect. In addition, you should enthusiastically do that..."Game on! I think something here, so let's show it in the most quantifiable, reproducible way possible, in front of the skeptics!" That's what the attitude should be...if you think something is true.
That's what science is - it's an attitude. It's that attitude that you test everything, that you don't believe anything until demonstrated, and you find ways to measure things to the point where even the skeptics are convinced. And that is the stuff we know is true, and everything else is questionable. These faith healers don't demonstrate the attitude, or ability, or the willingness to put their money where their mouth is. They have a ton of anecdotes, a bunch of things in uncontrolled circumstances that they claim are significant but just are not, and that is the problem. Then they chide the skeptics for being skeptics, for not being convinced by these parlor tricks. I'm sorry, but that won't convince me. Too bad...grow up...and don't cry about people demanding a lot of evidence. That's just the wrong wrong attitude.
Robby - "It could be a stadium, let's say Wimbledon is filled and somebody sees someone raised from the dead. There's going to be, say, 'it's mass hypnosis', there's always going to be something. It always comes down to this place of saying 'I'm choosing to have faith', 'I'm choosing to believe' "
This is exactly what I said he would say about faith - he is choosing to believe, even though the evidence doesn't support it. You have 100,000 people see someone raised from the dead, yet have no actual data on it? Yes, that's likely to be mass hypnosis, or hysteria, or whatever. Fatima, is a good example of that, which I cover elsewhere. But if you had 100000 independent iphone videos, along with skeptical doctors following proper procedures, and they all say that this guy was dead for week and came back, then yes I would be convinced. But there is never ever data on that scale - it's always this flimsy, anecdotal, incremental, subjective crap that we get again and again that convinces the believer who chooses to believe, but doesn't convince anyone else. The same thing happens with alien abductions...the exact same thing happens.
David - "It would take extraordinary evidence, if you are going to make an extraordinary claim about something that doesn't happen routinely. The sort of evidence that would convince me that it happened would have to be similar. My question is, why do we get all sorts of stories of minute incremental centimeter changes in leg lengths, but nothing where it is entire regeneration?"
David - He demonstrates that a simple hip motion can give the illusion of leg lengthening, without it actually happening, and adds that the person need not be doing it consciously, that they are responding the psychological pressure of the session.
So here is one plausible explanation for the leg adjustment (there are probably many others), so the question I'd ask the Robby is - have there been any steps done to eliminate that as a possible explanation? For example, an actual amputation can't be "recovered" in this way. Some objective measure of length used, perhaps from a body scan, and measured off the image from a consistent point (edge of hip to bottom of heel, for example). You cannot play the card "these people are honest, they don't have any reason to lie" [even though they do!], that's just not the point. If it could possibly be explained by hip adjustment, how would you design the test to eliminate that as a possibility - this is what a scientist does and not at all what these people do.
Justin - "Is it still relevant that it happened when she was prayed for in a healing session, that it happened then? Can you at least acknowledge that it is an interesting correlation?"
David - "Absolutely not. What would it take to convince you that it is not real? Because, to make any sense at all, you have to count the misses not just the hits, because if you are only counting the hits and ignoring the misses, your confirmation bias insulates you from any refutation of what you believe. You have to look into how many times people have been prayed for and nothing happens at all."
Justin - "And you're [Robby] perfectly open to saying that happens sometimes..."
Robby - "Oh, yes. It happens all the time."
That's correct - it happens all the time. You can't even count how many prayers people do, and they don't appear to work nearly all the time. Occasionally they appear to work - but this doesn't establish a correlation. This reminds me of the so-called tie between eclipses and earthquakes that is sometimes claimed. Unfortunately, eclipses happen so often that you're guaranteed to have an eclipse before an earthquake. If you pray all the time, the random medical improvements that people have will be guaranteed to be after a prayer. If you only report the events where you prayed and there was an improvement, then you'll seriously bias your conclusions. This is why one needs to do controlled prayer studies, to include all the cases - both successes and failures. When you do this for prayer, some studies there's an improvement, in others things get worse, in all of them the effect is barely measurable. This is exactly the sort of result you get from treatments that ultimately are shown not to have any real effect. Nothing ever comes close to these wild claims by Robby Dawkins that the healing effects happen "more than half the time" and that, by itself, is a refutation of what he's talking about. Now he could say, "Look, you have to do it in a Church setting, do it under the auspices of a minister, and perhaps a particular kind of minister, etc..." One might be able to design a controlled experiment around this stipulations, as long as those stipulations are specific enough. If the stipulation is something like "it doesn't work when skeptics are around", that doesn't count.
When asked why his own thyroid disease, despite prayers, has not been cured Robby's answer is - the devil does it!
Robby - "There's a spiritual opposition and there is a power of the enemy that is contending against that."
David - "That is introducing yet another untestable unknown to the equation, which is ballooning with unknowns. That doesn't get us anywhere toward what is objectively happening."
Justin - "What I'm seeing here myself is two completely different worldviews coming together...you don't believe, David, that there is a spiritual realm...full stop. Robby is convinced there is, and so for Robby this is the explanation."
I've heard this "blame the worldviews" thing before, but I think that's bogus. The reason it is bogus is that, if there really is an agent opposing you, you should be able to tell that it is really an agent and that it is really opposing you, not just "sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, it must be an agent". That's not enough. It cannot be simply be that we can explain this with an agent, you have to be able to demonstrate that it is likely to be an agent because of X, Y, and Z. You can interpret the seasons, for example, as driven by agents (as the pagans do), but that doesn't make it so. It can't be post-hoc: if it doesn't work, it's the agent working against me, if it does work, it is another agent working for me. That doesn't wash, and it is not a matter of worldviews. The reason why I don't think there is a spiritual realm is that no one has posited evidence for the spiritual realm that is even remotely consistent or has any real content.
Robby - "I think what I see in every dialog with atheists like this, the kind of communication is, don't tell me about the headache being better, I want to know a whole limb growing out...but what about the person who is feeling better with the headache? Are we just throwing them out, that they don't matter? .... There is a video of a guy's toe, his big toe is missing, and after prayer it appears. There is a video, but I don't have it in my possession. Of course, anyone could say, that the film was doctored. It all comes down to an issue of faith. "
David - "I would need multiple, independent video of the same event. The hard thing for your position is that, with the proliferation of technology, almost everyone in the western world has a high quality 1080p camcorder in their pocket. If these things routinely happen, as much as is professed with testimony, there is no way that it wouldn't be captured by somebody somewhere, multiple people somewhere."
This is the same thing with UFO claims - the number of visitations and observances of UFOs has gone down with the proliferation of the technology to record it, rather than the significant increase of recorded UFO events one would expect to happen if these things were real. This is strong evidence against the veracity of the claims.
Notice what he's doing here. He's asking why we want to ignore the small effect (e.g. headache). I'd say, that he's making huge claims, so we'd need a comparable effect. If the headache goes away on its own without prayer much of the time, then you haven't demonstrated that the prayer actually made the headache go away, and that is the entire point.
He still has this "cry-baby" response, that we'll be skeptical of the video. This is one of the reasons that science is hard - you do have to do the leg-work to design the experiment so that it is reproducible and eliminates the alternatives. That is a good thing. One could interpret the prayer as witchcraft, and that the nature spirits are coming in to heal the headache. Would you be convinced by that? Would Robby be convinced? How would he respond if the person said "you just have to have faith"?
Robby - (about the facts surrounding the lung regeneration story earlier) "The original facts that I got from the medical report, it was on an old scroll fax without the best of ink, and since then it's faded. Somebody did contact the doctor to see if they had a newer hard copy of the report since, but the doctor has since passed away, so it's been hard to get a hold of that information."
David - "It's a common theme, isn't it? Craig Marsh is it, with the stomach, and the eye in Peru...where there is a really tremendous example, there is always something like 'we've go the evidence but it's just not here, someone won't publish it', it's always supposedly there but never actually there."
That is totally the common theme. They said that they tried to publish it in the medical journal, and the journal said it was 'too weird' and wouldn't publish it. That is ridiculous. If it is really weird, and true, then they'd love to see it! The only reason they wouldn't publish it is if was terribly written or there was no evidence of it. Also, this sounds suspiciously like Joseph Smith and the Golden Plates.
Justin - "Those kind of verified medical records released, are hard to come by, and for miracles that occur in the developing world there are no such services to verify all of these."
No, that's not quite correct. It is all the time, it's every single case. There is not a single case where there has been good documentary evidence of a significant miracle...not a single case in all of the anecdotes. If you contrast that with 50-60% of the healings work, that is devastating and is an indication of something that just doesn't work. How else could you explain that there is not a single case of well-documented miracle?
Justin - "There is some nervousness with some physicians that this could look like 'I misdiagnosed the illness', so I am not going to be easily releasing the medical records because this might come back to bite me."
Robby - "I've talk to doctors where this is the case."
This is the first legitimate issue raised, I believe, but it still falls under the umbrella of "it's hard to get data sometimes". Boo hoo, cry-baby again. Does Robby think that it is a walk in the park to get the supernova data and make sure things are calibrated properly to establish the accelerating universe, or to find the Higgs Boson? Does he think that was really easy to do? One doesn't have to get medical records from the doctors, one can get them from the patients and the families who can release whatever they want without feeling nervous. If I can come up with, in one minute, an easy work-around for this problem, then Robby clearly is not putting much effort to do so.
Robby - (about a woman who had cancer supposedly healed, describing what the doctor would put in the report) "The doctor said 'you prayed for her, and that is the only explanation I have'. I asked him, 'what will go in your report?', and he goes that 'she is cancer free, that it is gone. I'd put down that it was there, and that we are not seeing any traces of it.' I asked him if he'd put down that she received prayer, and he said 'No, I wasn't in the room, and that would not be part of the treatment anyway so I would not document that'. And so that is very typical, and I understand that."
He's taking the successes again and ignoring the misses. He's very quick to say that this is the result of the prayer, and not some other random thing, but when it doesn't appear to work 99.999% of the time when nothing happens, he responds with "the devil" or "God's plan" or individual unwillingness to accept the miracle. It always works when it works, and there is an excuse when it doesn't. This is not how we do science, and it is totally obvious selection bias.
David - "We do know that strange and unexplainable things happen, the body is a complex, messy system, and it really is the case the cancer does spontaneously remiss. That does happen with and without prayer. If someone prays for it, and it happens, you could try to say that the prayer worked but it doesn't mean anything unless you count the times that it doesn't work. So what I'd like to really ask, is there anything that would make you not believe it works?"
This last question will just flew over Robby's head, because I don't think he understands the attitude of constructing falsifiable claims. For someone who is not a skeptic, I don't think he understand what it even means to craft claims in this way. I think a better way to put that is, once you recognize that cancer going away happens with or without prayer sometimes, if you know that pain goes way with or without prayer sometimes (all it takes is sometimes) - and you can insert for 'prayer' here 'new medical treatment X' - how do you figure out some way to distinguish between X causing the cancer to go away and the cancer going away for totally unknown and unrelated reasons. How do you do that, when you don't know and can't control those unrelated effects? What you do is to create a study, with a control group, blinded, etc... and you look at how often cancer goes away with and without X., counting all the successes and failures. What is found when you do that carefully is that prayer has no effect, or such a tiny effect to be totally meaningless. This is how you do it. If you can't distinguish between doing X and nothing, then that is equivalent to nothing. This is totally at odds with the grand claims Robby is making.
Robby - "You believe that things can happen out of nothing...and that is a really high level of faith."
This is adding insult to injury. This is just false. We don't understand why things like cancer sometimes disappear, but that doesn't mean that we believe there is no cause. There is certainly some reason for it, but we just don't have access to it (at the moment). We don't know the conditions specific enough for the reason something worked in this case, and not another. We just don't know. If you're making the further claim that you can improve the situation with prayer, the only way to justify this claim is by isolating the variables, and doing a proper study. It has nothing to do with faith, it is simply saying that some things happen that we don't understand, not the positive claim that there is no cause.
A few final thoughts on the episode. I did try to confirm the story of the man regrowing the lung or heart. I couldn't find any reference to it at all, except for the claims in Robby Dawkins' book, from which it appears that he was essentially reciting in the episode. He has this story, with no details at all, not even a city, a year, a hospital,...nothing, just nothing to go on. It could be that I didn't look long enough, but it makes me wonder if this guy simply made up the story because it sounds great and is a total dead-end for anyone trying to confirm it. I'd love to see the data!
Now, how should Robby respond to this insinuation that he may be lying? He should be mad, I believe. Great! Robby, show me that I'm wrong. Present to me the evidence that you have for this bold claim, and I will take this back. I'd love to know that I'm wrong. Bring out the documentation. As of now, I can't tell the difference between a total fabrication, Robby simply being mistaken, or this even actually happened. If I can't tell that difference, I go with what is most likely, and a story like this totally benefits Robby, so he has a definite vested interest in making it up or uncritically accepting a rumor that he heard and proliferating it. Show me that I'm wrong...I'd love it. This is difference between scientists and many others.
Let's end with an analogy. Let's say I claim that voodoo dolls actually work. Just the other day, I was mad at someone, I made a doll of them, poked a pin in their head, and they got a headache. I've done this many times - I've given people back aches, knee pain, etc... I've even caused someone serious harm, say, with a pin through the heart. No, I'm sorry I don't have any documentation for it or, I did have documentation for it but it's gone now, or the doctor verified that there was a large hole through this person's heart and they have the documentation but won't release it, etc... But you can examine all these cases where someone got a headache, or back aches, because of my voodoo dolls. No, it doesn't happen all of the time, but it happens most of the time. And when it doesn't happen, there are positive spirits that keep that from happening - but the voodoo dolls really work more the 65% of the time. How is this any different from Robby's claims? I doubt Robby would believe this, but the question is why? What process did he use to come to the negative conclusion that he couldn't have used on his own claims?