Trialogue #27: Skepticism & The Balkanization Of Epistemology
In this trialogue held on June 8, 1998 at Santa Cruz, CA, Terence McKenna, Ralph Abraham, and Rupert Sheldrake explored the “fluff factor” and what degree of healthy skepticism is required these days.
Terence McKenna: “Somehow as a part of the agenda of political correctness it has become not entirely acceptable to criticize, or demand substantial evidence, or expect people, when advancing their speculations, to make, what used to be called, old fashioned sense.”
Terence: “These phenomenon, which we know exist, and which we find rich in implication, would simply not be allowed as objects of discourse, they would be ruled out of order. So there’s something wrong on one level with what’s called empiricism, skepticism, positivism, it has different names.”
Terence:”[Empherical science] is a coarse-grained view of nature, and what it mitigates against seeing are the very things that feed the progress of science, which is the unassimilated phenomenon, the unusual data, the peculiar result of an experiment.”
Rupert Sheldrake: “Weirdness and cults and most of the phenomenon you’ve named are phenomenon of Hawaii and California. When you live in England, things take on a rather different perspective. There’s a general level of popular skepticism, such that the general tone of an English pub is one of sort of skepticism.” Terence: “Well, but aren’t crop circles, and Graham Hancock all homegrown British phenomenon?”
Rupert: “There is the possibility to return to a more common sense approach, common sense of the British pub type, and probably of standard American kind too, will often deal quite satisfactorily with the probono proctologists from outer space.”
Terence: “You speak from your knowledge of the calculus and world history, and this person speaks from their latest transmission from fallen Atlantis. And this is all placed on an equal footing, and it’s crazy-making, and it also guarantees the trivialness of the entire enterprise. I just don’t think any revolution in human history can be made by fluff-heads.”
Ralph Abraham: “In other words, there is no simple measuring stick of simplicity.”
Ralph says he wishes we could create a measuring stick to measure the truth of something and then goes on to describe how one could be designed.
Terence: “The history of alchemy is far older than the history of science. It has always been in existence. It’s thinkers have always evolved and adumbrated their field of concern. So that’s one kind of fluff. Fluff with punch, because it has historical continuity.”
Ralph: “The problem with this ‘strict parent’ approach to fluff, is that some important discoveries may be shuttled aside.”
Terence: “What we have to legitimize is critical discussion. So that when someone stands up and starts talking about the face on Mars people behave as they apparently behave in British pubs and just stand up and say, ‘Malarkey mate.’And force people to experience a critical deconstruction of their ideas.”
Art: Christian Rex Van Minnen, ‘Manfungus 1.2’ & ‘Keyhole 1.1’