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BoA:Audio welcomes Alex Tsakiris, host of the popular podcast Skeptiko, for a spirited discussion on his new book Why Science is Wrong ... About Almost Everything. Over the course of this lengthy conversation, we delve into the mystery of consciousness and how it poses a conundrum to mainstream science, how Near Death Experiences represent key evidence towards showing that consciousness is not trapped within the brain and how skeptics of NDEs resort to some pretty underhanded techniques to stifle research and belief in the phenomenon.
Along the way, we also discuss science's fear of death, Rupert Sheldrake's research into the potential psychic connection between dogs and their owners, Alex's attempt to have an honest investigation into psychic detectives with a skeptic and how it went strangely awry, as well as the healing research of Dr. William Bengston. Additionally, we throw lots of shade at the scientific and skeptical communities, while also pondering the challenge of both solving life's 'big questions' and getting the mainstream to look further into potential answers to these mysteries. Plus, of course, tons more.
Altogether, it's a provocative edition of BoA:Audio which will likely stir emotions in listeners who reside throughout the range of belief systems when looking at the paranormal as we learn Why Science is Wrong with Alex Tsakiris.
Highlights: We start out with standard bio / background on Alex Tsakiris and find out how he got interested in the esoteric as well as how that led to the creation of his podcast Skeptiko. The leads to us talking about one of the core mysteries which drives Alex's research, the enigma that is consciousness. In turn, we discuss how consciousness remains wholly indecipherable to science and, as such, casts a long shadow over humanity's ability to understand the 'big questions' of life. We also talk about the provocative nature of Alex's book title and what he meant with that declarative message.
The conversation then segues into us talking about the Near Death Experience phenomenon, beginning with how it constitutes some of the best evidence for the continuance of consciousness beyond death and, thus, outside the body. From there, we talk about how Alex has interviewed two anti-NDE 'experts' who both betray significant biases, outright ignorance, or deceptive tactics surrounding the phenomenon, yet they continue to be lauded as experts. Beyond that, we talk about how skeptics often proffer elementary excuses for paranormal phenomena which causes researchers to have to spend time on these facetious suggestions and also get mainstream coverage for their faulty critiques.
From there, we reflect on Alex's observation that "science has a profound fear of death" and we muse about why that seems to be the case, specifically how millions are spent on preventing death but comparatively little is spent on studying it. We then get meta and have Alex talk about the evolution of his perspective on being able to get science to acknowledge or honestly examine solid paranormal research. The turns into some jamming about science v. religion and how that dichotomy allows for science to ignore the paranormal in many ways. Alex also talks about how NDE research often comes from accidental experts in the form of hospice workers or emergency room personnel.
Following that, we learn about the research of Dr. Rupert Sheldrake concerning the possible psychic connection between dogs and their owners, which leads to us talking about Alex's attempt to fund a research project further exploring this strange phenomenon. He also responds to some of the criticisms leveled against him by skeptic groups online and he shares some great stories of having contentious conversations with mainstream scientists and atheists on his program. We then hone in on some specific criticisms of the skeptical community in that they often 'move the goalposts' while also complaining that the paranormalists are doing it.
On that note, we talk about skeptics focusing on "low hanging fruit." This leads to us talking about Alex's experience doing a joint investigation into psychic detectives with Ben Radford and how Radford's role in that project fundamentally changed Alex's perspective on how skeptics actually 'work.' We then get meta again and find out if Alex has ever considered doing a debate format on his program, given the nature of the back-and-forth experts he features on the show. Following that, we delve into the realm of healing and discuss the work of Dr. William Bengston, which results in us pondering why, if healing really works, it hasn't swept the nation via sheer capitalism.
Heading toward the close of the conversation, we continue to break the fourth wall as Alex reflects on listeners disliking his occasional UFO coverage and Binnall waxing nostalgic about how his perspective on UFOs and ufology have changed over the years. We also talk about how death may be the great equalizer for the paranormal as it will allow later generations to be more open to the possibility of honestly examining these enigmas. The conversation then turns towards Alex's research into hypnosis and his thoughts on the practice as a whole. Closing out the live portion of the program, we find out the reaction to Alex's book as well as what's next for him and Skeptiko as 2015 unfolds.
In the post show, we get really philosophical and talk about the question "why are we here" and Binnall shares his personal take on that profound mystery. Alex, in turn, talks about his perspective on true skepticism and how the reductionist nature of science can be frustrating for paranormalists. With that said, we talk about how Alex has continued to find the patience and drive to continue Skeptiko after all these years. We also jam a bit more about our problems with ardent skeptics and science becoming a religion as well as a few other fun tidbits at the very end. And, for the hardcore BoA:Audio listeners, the postshow also includes some brief Binnall recollections from his Savannah vacation and the weird 'creature' that awaited him upon his return home.
Alex Tsakiris, host of Skeptico and author of “Why Science is Wrong… About Almost Everything,” is a successful entrepreneur turned science podcaster. In 2007 he founded Skeptiko which has become the #1 podcast covering the science of human consciousness. Alex has appeared on syndicated radio talk shows both in the US and the UK and is well-know within the parapsychology and near-death experience research communities.