Skeptics And True Believers Essay Research Paper

Skeptics And True Believers Essay, Research Paper

In the first chapter, Raymo, opens with talk of his childhood. He brings to the

surface the fact that children will believe just about anything they are told. In this chapter

Raymo explains how people grow frm children into grown sdluts, peolpe somehow retain

some of a child’s ability to believe in the unbelievable. It is the True Believer that retains “

an absolute in some forms of empirically unverifiable make-belive…” (13), wheras the

Skeptic always “keeps a wary eye even on firmly established facts.”(14) For an example,

Raymo uses the Shroud of Turin, which simplly a linen cloth that has the likeness of a man

on it ( some belive this man to be Christ). He tells of a time when the Roman Catholic

authorities allowed scientists to radiocarbon date the Shroud. Small samples of the Shroud

where sent with three samples controls of known age, to three independant labs. All three

properly dated the controls and dated the Shroud to medieval time. Raymo conclueded

that a Skeptic would have taken the evidence and belived it, while the True Beliver would

find no truth in what was found. In fact, he said that the True Beliver would come up with

explainations as to why the Shroud seems younger than it really is.

In the next chapter, Raymo explains the main difference between Skeptics and

True Believers is the opposite of what most people would think. He explains how

“scientific concepts can be extraordinarily bizarre…” (27), wheras the True Believer

believe what may seem much more sensible and somewhat down to earth. The example

Raymo uses for this is DNA and its ability to reproduce itself. This tiny double-helix

somehow manages to spilt and make a copy of its self from chemical components from

whatever is surrounding it. It may seem easier for one to believe in a Shroud with a man’s

face in it, or the picture of God in the Sistine Chapel, but it is the Skeptics who believe in

the hard to concieve DNA. It is this DNA that contains the blueprints of what we are to

look, talk, and act like.

In chapter four, Raymo again brings up his childhood. He tells how he was forced

into religion. The Church would not allow doubts to be spoken. For if it where to be

questioned the whole religious system may fall apart. The only sources of information

were the nuns, priest, and all other authorities that were ‘chosen’ by God. From reading

the book, I believe that it was these authorities that caused Raymo to question religion,

and in the end become a Skeptic.

Next Raymo discusses the art of fire walking. He tells of the gurus that have a

group of 10-12 people pay about 50 dollars each to go to a seminar to learn how to

harness their energy and walk on fire. The guru tells the people that they are about to

break the laws of phyics. Now Raymo points out that it is only thanks to the phyiscs that

these people do not burn their feet off. He explains how wood ash does not conduct heat

very well at all. He explains how the gurus dismiss this explaination, saying that is was

typical of a Skeptic to not believe in human powers of mind over matter. Also to explain

the scientific skepticism he uses another principle called Ockham’s razor, saying that “if

the thermal properties of wood ash explain fire walking, then there’s no need to invoke

auras and spirits.”(74) Raymo tells of how this made him later wish to write about fire

walking, but in order to write about it, he felt it nessecary to walk on fire so that he could

write from experience. He did walk on fire, without the assitance of a guru (in fact he did

it in his back yard), and was left with no burns or blisters. But he did not use the mind

over matter theory that is used by the gurus; instead he used the mind over mind theory of

skeptics and scientists.


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