Saturday, August 15, 2015

James Randi's "Carlos Hoax" As A Specimen, With A New Intro

A good example of how James Randi's fame and reputation as promoted by and through the media is the "Carlos Hoax" which shows just how blatant a liar he is and how the media, especially the American media, allows him to get away with the lies, reporting his PR instead of doing any actual reporting.   It also shows the extent to which he is willing to go, breaking laws, harming people, to do what he does.  I think his career as a liar and and ideological atheist also shows a lot about what can be expected when there is no reason to believe it is wrong to tell a lie if you can get away with it, something which I think is a foundation stone of popular atheism, the atheism that most people practice.  I have mentioned many times that until I went online I wasn't especially bothered by atheism.  Most of the atheists I knew and still know, personally,  were of the "I just don't believe it" kind, not the kind who believed they knew there was no God and that people who believed in God were  idiots, if not evil idiots.  Most of them weren't ideological about it at all.   It was when I first started to read blogs and encountered large numbers of ideological and fundamentalist atheists that I began to realize that they were addicted to misrepresenting history and the thinking of the large majority of people.  In 2000, I didn't realize just how much damage had been done and was being done by atheists in society, in the world and, especially, in culture.   I had to learn that from reading the atheists and then comparing their statements, claims and false picture of history to the actual record. Along the way I had to face the fact that huge masses of stuff I'd been taught and had absorbed through mid-brow culture (Things like Inherit the Wind, The History of Galileo) were saturated with lies that misrepresented things that were far, far more complicated than the ideologically motivated presentation of them were.

I had always gotten along, perfectly well, with most atheists, excluding the outright assholes among them, up till the time I went online, about the same time that the new atheism was being pushed, the next phase of a decades long campaign.

It's only if you accept the commonly found atheists as being the definition of atheism that you might think what I'm about to say is ironic.   Looking back, I think it was due to having read an ideological atheist and something of a Marxist who could, none the less, not stand to lie about history or his own science, Richard Lewontin, who prepared me for that massive revision in my own thinking, well, well into middle age when such revision is hard and very uncomfortable.  His review of Carl Sagan's book, "Billions and Billions of Demons" in the 1990s, with its well informed, honest and even compassionate understanding of why fundamentalists resented and resisted evolution being taught to their children and his corrective realism about science and even why atheists, such as himself, could not abide the idea of God has made a lasting impression on me.  He even mentions, through refuting Sagan, the "Carlos Hoax" discrediting the conclusion without, apparently, knowing that the "Hoax" was, itself, a prime example of stage magician fraud on every level, including the level that Sagan bought unskeptically and uncritically*.

It is possible for an atheist to have an aversion to lying, as Lewontin's carrer shows, a very strong and effective aversion to it.  It is possible for an atheist to be a decent person, but they won't turn out to be an atheist like the ones I generally address in these posts. As I named one of the experments I did in blogging, not all atheists are assholes but my blogging is about the ones who are.

I would trust an atheist like Lewontin with political power, I don't trust the vast majority of those I've read online, in books and magazine articles, even those who believe themselves to be and sell themselves as leftists or liberals, who turn out to be not that different from the neo-cons, just generally younger.   I don't, though, think that even Lewontin's atheism would maintain its character over three or four generations down the line if atheism became as common as a self-identification of Christianity is, today.

A fundamentalist Christian, even one who is wedded to the anti-Christian cults of white supremacy and anti-semitism, will, inescapably, have to claim they believe the Gospel of Jesus, the Letter of James, the Epistles of Paul, and Peter.  They will have to deal with the radical egalitarian economics of The Law in the Jewish scriptures, they will have to deal with the fact that virtually every single person in the scriptures they deal with, the very ones on whom their religious profession finds its entire information base were Jews, so noted by the Romans in the sign they put on the cross they lynched Jesus on.   There is no way for them to do evil things without violating the very words of a man they claim to believe spoke with divine authority, they cannot square their killing and oppression with his words.  Even if they are in a deeply ingrained habit of self-interested, selfish evil doing, the discrepancy is always there for them to face, honestly.  On that day they will have to either give up their professed belief in Jesus and the scriptures or they will have to give up their wicked ways.  They might continue to lie about a belief in Christianity, there is nothing in atheism to prevent them from lying about that, there is no requirement of integrity in atheism, but they can't lie about it to themselves.   Atheism contains no force for giving up evil when a person wants something and they think they can get it by lying, injustice, stealing, enslaving and killing.  As the evils done by professing Christians show, even having those scriptural prohibitions on doing those things are a weak force in general culture, but having no prohibition on them leaves only those two even weaker forces as the only bulwark against total evil.  Stalin, Mao, the Kim regime in North Korea, Pol Pot, Enver Hoxha, Nicolae Ceaușescu, none of those people can be said to have violated a single prohibition of atheism.   Every single professed Christian who has ever killed someone is in violation of the teachings of Jesus, perhaps even those who kill in direct, immediate self defense or the defense of someone else.  The difference that makes in history is imperfectly demonstrated as people, in aggregate, never perfectly demonstrate anything.  But the atheist regimes of history and today show that the difference is real and that it teaches what a disaster such a society could be expected to be.

The usefulness in looking at the pheomenon of James Randi and pseudo-skepticism, which like "Humanism" is a loss leader of ideological atheism, is that he shows how easy it is to sell blatant lies to people who don't believe there is anything wrong with lying, that it isn't a sin to tell a lie.  That, along the way, he endorses ideas such as cruelly indifferent Social Darwinism isn't atypical of atheists of his stripe, even those who are far less vulgar, such as James Watson and Francis Crick were Social Darwinists.  When you see people as material objects, you believe you can easily categorize them in terms of utility.   Utilitarianism is another means of showing the moral inadequacy of atheism, one which is as intellectually shoddy and dishonest as all of the rest of it, no matter how high-brow it is alleged to be.

The Real Carlos Hoax, parts 1 and 2

Randi's Involvement With Identity Theft And His Lies About His "Carlos" Scam  Part 1

If LGBT folks had equal rights in the United States it is quite possible that James Randi's long time, live-in companion might not have committed the crime of identity theft.   Randi would have been able to marry him and been able to regularize his living in the United States as many straight couples have been able to do.  But that's not what happened.

Randi's companion, Jose Alvarez, was arrested for identity fraud at Randi's home on September 8, 2011.  His real name was David or Deyvi Pena who had come to the United States on a student visa which he overstayed.  He is documented in a story that appeared in the Toronto Star in August 1986 and people who knew him at the time to have been associated with James Randi, under the name of David Pena.

A reporter profiling Randi for the Toronto Star caught up with the magician at LaGuardia Airport in New York in August 1986:

"A few feet behind him, David Pena, a young man of about 20, struggles with three large suitcases," the reporter wrote.

One of Pena's landlords in Broward County was Jim Sitton, a motel owner who let him stay in a room in exchange for some artwork. Sitton identified a photograph of the young Alvarez in his "Carlos" role as the man he knew as Pena.

"He was a young artist. He was going to the Art Institute in Fort Lauderdale. I think he went by different names, though," Sitton said. "At some point, I became aware that he used two names. The name he used is David Pena."

Sitton said Pena later told him he was working with Randi.

"He seemed like a really good person. I have very good memories of him. He was very serious about his artwork," Sitton said. "I wish him the best. I can't imagine how he got into this kind of serious trouble."

All of the available evidence shows, beyond any reasonable doubt, that James Randi knew his companion's real name was David, or Deyvi, Pena in 1986.

The next year, after he won a MacArthur "Genius" Grant, James Randi staged one of his well known PR operations in Australia with the purported purpose of exposing how credulous the media is when presenting people with claimed supernatural abilities,  his "Carlos Hoax".   He presented a young man called Jose Luis Alvarez as a medium named "Carlos", shopped him around to various TV and radio programs and presented him on stage while all the time running him like Peter Popoff was run by his wife in one of the rare instances when the Randi legend comes close to matching his PR use of it.

Only, as you might have guessed, Jose Luis Alvarez was really David Pena.

I will deal with the misrepresentation of the "Carlos Hoax" later.  For now, in order to travel to Australia David Pena needed a passport.   Since he was in the United States illegally he couldn't obtain one under his own name.   In order to get a passport Pena stole the identity of Jose Luis Alvarez, who was living in New York, working as a teachers aid.

As Steve Volk and other's who reported the facts point out,  the real Jose Luis Alvarez suffered considerable trouble because someone had stolen his identity.  He had problems with the IRS over income he hadn't earned in Florida.  He had his bank account frozen and, when he wanted to go outside of the country to attend his sister's wedding, his passport was refused.

As the Sun-Sentinel reports: “Alvarez, a teacher's aide from the Bronx, said he has suspected for several years that someone had stolen his identity — … that he's been dunned by the IRS for taxes he didn't owe on income in Florida, that his bank account has periodically been frozen and that he had difficulty renewing his driver's license. He's had to repeatedly prove he is who he says he is, brandishing his New York driver's license and a birth certificate, as well as his employment record.”

Recently, when the real Alvarez tried to obtain a passport to travel to his sister’s wedding in Jamaica, his application was pegged as potentially fraudulent—because, after all, someone else had already been traveling the world with a passport bearing all the same information. Sadly, the real Jose Luis Alvarez was not able to work the matter out in time to attend his sister’s wedding at all.

So far we know that James Randi knew that the man he was marketing as "Carlos" was traveling under the name of Jose Luis Alvarez on a fraudulent passport in 1987.  We also know that year before that he was traveling in the United States with the same man under his real name, David Pena.  It is a reasonable conclusion that since Pena was closely associated with Randi and an employee of his, that Randi knew the reason for the identity theft,  that Pena was in the United States illegally.  Steve Volk points out that some of the remarks Randi made about a man he was living with and traveling with, who he knew was using two different names and who he was presenting under a third, made some rather sly and deceptive comments about "Carlos" that were relevant to the real owner of the identity he was traveling under:

And intriguingly, the Sun Sentinel found, when Alvarez first performed as “Carlos” Randi billed him as 19 years old—the same age as the New York man whose identity was allegedly stolen by Randi’s partner. Further, in this video, recorded in 2009, Randi says, around the 2:40 second mark, that one worry they had before they put Pena/Alvarez on stage as “Carlos” is that his “Bronx” accent might creep through.

Randi was no novice when it comes to assuming identities and deceiving people.  There is every reason to believe Randi was an accomplice to the identity theft, which, in itself, is a serious crime that could carry a prison term.  Peter Franceschina's piece in the  October 18, 2012 Sun-Sentinel said:

Now, time may be running out for Alvarez to reveal his identity – prosecutors and Alvarez's attorney recently told a federal judge that he would plead guilty in the identity theft case. Alvarez is scheduled to have a bond hearing Friday, but two previous such hearings were postponed. His trial is scheduled for early November, and his attorneys, Ben Kuehne and Susan Dmitrovsky, declined to comment.

The lawyers have told Randi, 83, not to comment on the case. "I've been advised silence is the way to go," he said.

When asked about the Sun Sentinel's determination that Alvarez was previously , known as Pena, Randi would only say, "Well, if that's who you think he is."

Randi won a $272,000 MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant in 1986, and one of the first things he did with the money was hire an assistant – Pena.

In the end, Pena got off fairly easy.  He was sentenced by a magistrate to six months of house arrest, followed by three years of probation.   I don't have any problem with that, though,  as Greg Taylor pointed out, Randi's plea to the court was less than honest:

As per usual, I think Randi's being a bit loose with the truth here in saying "no one was hurt" - for instance, the victim of the identity theft reportedly missed his sister's wedding due to passport problems arising directly from Pena's actions. However, from all reports Pena is quite a lovely person, and two years in prison may have been a bit of a harsh punishment in my eyes.

I don't know what the real Jose Luis Alvarez has done or will do but if it were me, I'd sue for high damages going after his employer who was clearly in on the identity theft.  If he has or if he will, I hope he doesn't agree to sign a gag order as part of a settlement.  James Randi and the "Skepticism" industry would pay big money to keep this as quiet as possible.

As I noted yesterday, an even more interesting thing to see is the reaction of James Randi's fan base and his allies in "Skepticism"/atheism, people whose stock and trade is in loudly made claims of their rigorous honesty and above board integrity.   If any of them had information on a scientific researcher into parapsychology, that they had done any of the things Randi did in this caper, they would trumpet it as absolutely destroying, not only that researcher's credibility but the entire field of parapsychological research. They have used falsified, undocumented and clearly false accusations against people such as as Irving Langmuir's clearly false smears against J. B. Rhine to that end.  But when James Randi, the trademark of the "Skeptical" movement, has repeatedly, over a number of decades, proven to be a liar and fraud, they cover up and lie on his behalf.  They've even made a recent movie trumpeting his status as a serial liar as if it were some virtue when that is done in the name of "Skepticism".   It's been well past time, for decades, that someone says this emperor really doesn't have any clothes and that James Randi's courtiers deserve to be discredited for their part in maintaining his fraud on the world.

The Real Carlos Hoax   Part 2

To recap the first part of this story*:

-  As a young man of 22, David "Deyvi" Pena came to the United States from his native Venezuela on a student visa to study art.  He overstayed his student visa and continued living here illegally.  

-  In 1986 he is documented as traveling with James Randi, appearing in a story about Randi in the Toronto Star “A few feet behind him, David Pena, a young man of about 20, struggles with three large suitcases.”   1986 is also the year that James Randi was awarded a large amount of money through the MacArthur "genius prizes".  It has been reported one of the first things he did was hire the man known to him as David Pena.

-   In 1987, possibly using some of his "genius prize" money, James Randi mounted one of his PR campaigns calling it the "Carlos Hoax", in which David Pena impersonates a "channeling" medium, "Carlos" who is booked to appear on a number of Australian media and staged events.  While "Carlos" was supposedly giving messages from the his spirit contacts, Randi would be feeding him lines through a hidden radio receiver, as the phony faith healer, Peter Popoff's wife did in one of the few real and documented successes endlessly repeated in Randi's PR.  The stated intention of the "hoax" was to show how the media didn't treat claims of the paranormal skeptically and a large number of people were gulled into believing in a total and complete fraud.    

-  Traveling to Australia to play his part in Randi's PR stunt presented a huge problem for David Pena, who is believed to have been living with Randi at the time.  He would need a passport and, as he was in the United States illegally, he couldn't use his real identity.   As he pled guilty to have doing in 2012, David Pena stole the identity of Jose Luis Alvarez, a United States citizen who was living and working in The Bronx, in New York City.   He obtained a passport and was an employee of James Randi under the name of Jose Luis Alvarez, the name that Randi presented him under during his hoax and after that until Pena was arrested in the fall of 2011 for identity theft and, possibly, immigration violations.   The victim of the identity theft, the real Jose Luis Alvarez, had continuing problems with the IRS, his credit and banking and, ironically, with his genuine passport due to David Pena stealing and using his identity, with Randi's obvious knowledge and very possible involvement.  Remember, Randi wasn't only Pena's house companion and lover, he was also his employer who knew full well that he had used his real name before needing the passport.

-  Pena was sentenced after pleading guilty to a term of house arrest followed by three years of probation.   I'm not aware of how his immigration violations will be treated by authorities but that is certainly a crime which could get him deported.  Which would be too bad as he seems to have made a life for himself here but he did commit a crime which caused considerable harm to the victim of his identity theft. 

The "Carlos Hoax", though, has a life and legend of its own, apart from the crime of David Pena and the victimization of the real Jose Luis Alvarez by both Pena and those who participated in his identity theft.  Accounts of the "hoax" hardly ever mention that it was based in a crime and a fraud committed by James Randi and his lover. 

While Randi was deceiving the government and the media about the identity of "Carlos"-Alvarez**,  his account of the "Hoax" presents it as a triumph of Randian debunkery, a master stroke to show how gullible the media are when presented by claims of the supernatural.  That is how you'll see it written up in Wikipedia and in Robert Carroll's frequently cited (and often badly evidenced and researched) "Skeptics Dictionary".

José Alvarez had hoaxed an entire continent with his art. But he had created something that the media and his audiences would take from him and recreate to suit their own needs. One lesson here has to be the magician's refrain: deception requires cooperation. Another lesson might be that the need to believe in something like a "Carlos" is so great in some people that we must despair of them ever being liberated.

But, typical of the Randi Legend, as seen so often in American media and as touted by American "Skeptics" the real hoax is Randi's presentation of it as a triumph for him.  

Tim Mendham researched the "hoax" and wrote up his findings in an article for the Australian Skeptics Magazine, "The Skeptic" in 1988 (p. 26)

During February, Sydney was visited by a fraudulent channeler. But far from being like all the other fraudulent channelers who have visited Australia, this one was different - he was a fraudlent fraudulent channeler, an elaborate hoax organised by Richard Carleton of the Channel 9 60 Minutes program and US arch-skeptic James Randi

Preceded by a sophisticated promotional campaign including a press-kit with totally spurious newspaper clippings, reviews and tapes of radio interviews and theatre performances, and a stunningly inane little volume called The Thoughts of Carlos, 'channeler' Jose Alvarez was interviewed on three Sydney TV programs Terry Willesee Tonight (ch 7), the Today Show (ch 9) and A Current Affair (ch 9). There were also minor references to him on the John Tingle radio program (2GB) and the Stay in Touch column of the Sydney Morning Herald. The Today Show appearance achieved notoriety (and a front page storyin the afternoon Daily Mirror) because Alvarez'manager, upset at continued sceptical questioning by host George Negus, threw a glass of water at him before storming off the set with his charge in tow.

Already we have a problem with the story as told by Randi and his American fans, George Negus apparently didn't play his part by cooperatively being deceived.   I can only imagine the frustration of "Carlos'" "manager" when the person intended to be hoaxed, wouldn't be hoaxed during the broadcast.   And, over all of this, it was a media operation, the Australian version of 60 Minutes, which was in on the caper from the start. 

Mendham continues:

It should also be stated that to a certain extent the whole hoax backfired. As an exercise to prove that the local media were somewhat lax in doing research and effective checking of claims, proved its point, but on the other hand the media were extremely cynical (if not sceptical) of Alvarez' claims, and he received no sympathetic coverage at all. The Today program's hosts, Negus and Elizabeth Hayes, were particularly scathing. Terry Willesee, after screening Alvarez' first appearance on Sydney TV with a satellite interview, followed this up with an interview with Skeptics national committee member, Harry Edwards, who explained how Alvarez' number one trick, stopping his pulse while being 'possessed' was achieved. And the Current Affair program consisted of a confrontation between Alvarez and Negus, at which Negus said it was the first time that audience phone reaction had favoured him. John Tingle's radio coverage consisted solely of an interview with Skeptics president, Barry Williams - he even refused to say where Alvarez would be performing and the Daily Mirror story simply factually reported the waterthrowing incident. Still, the point remains that none of the programs checked out Alvarez' background, which would have proved conclusively that he was a fake. Ironically, the TWT program did check with one authority in the US for a view on the channeler - that authority was James Randi.

Read that last sentence again,  contrary to the story as told by James Randi, he had actually been contacted by the media AS AN EXPERT CONSULTANT IN HOW THE STUNT COULD HAVE BEEN FAKED!   AND IT WAS RANDI WHO LIED TO THE MEDIA TO KEEP UP HIS HOAX.  Which would, one would think, rather definitively show that the media are suckers, for James Randi and his self-constructed and peddled legend.   If you read the article you will find that virtually everything "Skeptical" sources online say about the "Carlos Hoax" is refuted by the facts.  

The rest of Mendham's account is revealing, including the fact that 60 Minutes falsified details in order to make their intended theme come off, the gullibility of their media competition and the public when it comes to claims of the paranormal. 

On the 60 Minutes program, it was claimed that Alvarez would not have had the audience he did at the Opera House (and the potential sales there from) had the media coverage been more aggressive (and factual). "The hall was packed" the program said, screening interviews with the credulous and deluded who had come because "they saw it on TV". Australian Skeptics came, as we had seen it on TV too. The hall was by no means full. Our estimate put the audience at about 250-300, as opposed to the 60 Minutes' 400-500; the Drama Theatre holds a maximum of 550. A large percentage of the audience were sceptical (if not Skeptical), with an even larger proportion thus unconvonvinced after the session was over. We subsequently learned of many who, having intended to attend, had been turned off by the poor performance Alvarez had given on TV

As a "Skeptic", himself, Mendham is to be commended for exposing more of the reality of Randi's failed hoax than American "Skeptics" have, though he obviously doesn't engage in what it really means and placing it in the context of Randi's long history of fraud and misrepresentation of his own record.  The media and the "Skeptics" fan base suck that up without any critical review at all.   The criticism, that the media frequently doesn't sufficiently research what they present is far more general they seldom do sufficient research to catch popular politicians when they lie and deceive, the administration of just about any corporate conservative proved that long before Randi was born.  The media and even large parts of the quasi-academic culture will ususally take the easy and safe route as opposed to the bravely rigorous.  No one needed organized "Skepticism" to tell us that.  Relevant to the theme of these posts, the media covers up and/or fails to discover the fact that "Skepticism" and James Randi are two of the greatest beneficiaries of their negligence to rigorously research the available evidence.  

Organized "Skepticism" has had more than three decades since sTARBABY was first exposed by Dennis Rawlins, it has not cleaned up its act, it is as bad and frequently worse today.   As Steve Volk and others who have gone over Randi's record have pointed out, the great "Skeptic" and his publicity machine are beneficiaries of the suspension of skepticism, able to cover up a long and documented history of lies and frauds.   In every case I'm aware of, when given the choice between the documented record and the easily accepted Randi myth, the media and the "Skeptics" go for the myth.  The near total fraud that the "Skepticism"/ atheism industry is couldn't be clearer than that record.  Which, as I pointed out before, is far easier to read and buy than it is to understand the published, peer-reviewed literature of parapsychological experiment.  I think the reason the media goes with the "Skeptics" PR operation begins in the same failure to do research that the real and larger lesson of the "Carlos Hoax".   There are no greater victims of fraud than the media and the fans who have made James Randi the legend he is today.

Post Script

As I noted at the beginning of this look into the "Skeptics",  Martin Gardner, James Randi, CSICOP, etc. it's hard to know where to begin in writing about their real history.  It's also hard to know when to stop.  The lies and deceptions of James Randi are far more extensive than those I noted, people have been researching and presenting the evidence of the real, as opposed to the public persona of James Randi for decades.  But his PR machine and the media it both dupes and intimidates goes on.

I'm sure this is a subject I will write more about in the future.  For now I will say that anyone who doesn't address the published research and experimental record into telepathy and other topics on the "Skeptics" index of forbidden topics, those who parrot the lines they get from Randi and other professional and amateur "Skeptics" haven't addressed the published, reviewed, scientific record.

Science can't be done through the PR practices of "Skepticism", there is not a single scientist in that ideological movement who would subject their science to those.  They will parrot the line Carl Sagan stole from Marcello Truzzi about extraordinary claims requiring extraordinary evidence.  Well, leaving aside that standards of evidence that are deemed to be inadequate to confirm or falsify telepathy are just as inadequate to confirm any other aspect of any other science.  To use that line against "extraordinary" phenomena would logically impeach any orthodox science to exactly the same extent.  Not that the many psychologists, such as Ray Hyman would tolerate their use in their "science", which has an almost uniformly less rigorous record than scientific research into psychic phenomena.   The frequently extraordinary claims of physics, multi-universes, parallell universes, etc. couldn't withstand that standard even to the extent that the controlled research into psi has, over and over again.

"Skepticism" is a self-interested industry and an ideological movement, not a scientific one.  It is, in almost every case, an aspect of the ideological promotion of atheism and materialism.  I think it's more likely to be a symptom of an ideological dark age than some kind of neo-enlightenment. "Skepticisms" documented history proves it depends on deception and lies, incompetence and cover ups, the insertion of ideological orthodoxy into science.  And that introduction has been, for the most part, a success.

Scientists who have read the literature into psi are reported to often find it convincing, in some rare cases they have admitted that.  But, for the most part, they self-censor and cover up what they know because they can depend on a career damaging ideological campaign against them that rivals and, I'd say, surpasses that of the red-scare of the 1950s.  It's lasted far longer and it has been more effective.  Sometimes, when coming across those rare defections from the enforced common consensus, it feels like the early 1960s, as the red-scare was melting, far too slowly.   Maybe it is.  We will see.

*  Considering that Carl Sagan was there and an observer, as well as a participant in the CSICOP sTARBABY scandal, which James Randi was in the thick of, that he would take anything the old liar would say at face value exposes Sagans "skepticism" as an ideological scam, itself. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm wholly unfamiliar with parasychological research, but has any been done on precognition or whatever "ability" Carlos was supposedly displaying? Anything to indicate some success above chance/randomness (which are definable by statistics, apparently. I say "apparently" because I'm no statistician, I presume such terms have definitions in the language of statistics, which make them useful in that field).

    This hoax wasn't a test of anything except what media will report on. It doesn't prove or disprove claims of ESP or anomalous cognition or whatever the term of art is. It's like saying I can disprove the existence of a Higg's boson by looking for one in one experiment, and if I don't find it, it doesn't exist. What did the effort to find one take? Thousands of observations and statistical analysis of them to determine something had, indeed, been found?

    Were media outlets gullible to report on that as if one effort proved beyond doubt? Because that's the only question this hoax raises.