Here is my Winter 1978 letter to Skeptical Inquirer


Faulty Sense of Reality

I have been reading the Skeptical Inquirer with great interest and support the Committee's [CSICOP's] devotion to challenging claims of paranormal phenomena by subjecting them to scientific scrutiny rather than by dealing in the personalities of the proponents. However, it is inevitable that examples arise in which Committee members marvel aloud (and in print) at the "naivete" of the proponents in question, and it is to this label of naivete that I address my remarks.

Although much of the sloppy thinking of many paranormalists may be attributable to mere naivete, and making light of such persons by nominating them for a "Uri Award" may seem appropriate, one is obligated to consider the possibility that some of these people may be not merely naive but, rather, afflicted with a thought disorder that manifests in, among other possible symptoms, a faulty sense of reality. "Ambulatory schizophrenia" is an entity in which the subject, generally free of symptoms, develops them only under certain circumstances (classically, stress).

It is my opinion that much of the irrational behavior of many paranormalists may be more compatible with a diagnosis of ambulatory schizophrenia (or a close cousin thereof) than with mere naivete. Whether I am correct or not, our duty to challenge paranormal claims by scientific investigation remains unchanged. However, as we continue to encounter bizarre intellectual behavior, refractory to reasoned arguments, the possibility of a true thought disorder should be considered before bestowing a "Uri Award" for silliness or naivete.

Gary P. Posner, M.D.
Resident in Internal Medicine
Maryland General Hospital
Baltimore, Maryland

[Note: "Resident in Internal Medicine" was omitted from publication by the editor. --G.P.]


Read Zeiler's Attack

Return to Posner's Critics Page

Return to Posner's reply to Clark

Return to Posner's article in TBS Report