Analyst Essay Topic 6 – Your Response To Skeptics
By Sarah Parsons
Analyst Essay Topic 6 – Your Response To Skeptics – I write this response to a critic of Reverse Speech from the website titled, The Skeptic’s Dictionary by Robert Todd Carroll (http://skepdic.com/reversespeech.html). In his attack on Reverse Speech, Mr Carroll seems to have done some research on the subject, however one would then presume that he is in possession of infallible information regarding Reverse Speech. Even though Mr Carroll uses quotes directly from Mr Oates as well as mentioning research results by neuroscience and physiology, he does not define the parameters of this research with documented evidence to back up his statements but instead resorts to hyperbole and insults such as “Furthermore, a good chunk of his theory is un-testable metaphysics, psychobabble and gobbledygook”, which is hardly scientific language.
Scientific skepticism concerns testing beliefs for reliability, by subjecting them to systematic investigation using the scientific method to discover empirical evidence for them (Wikipedia). Although Mr Carroll uses many examples for his readers to consider, he has not shown any scientific evidence to emphatically disprove Mr Oates claims regarding Reverse Speech. Science is of itself in nature a theory at best and is often referred to as the ‘theory of science’. In this article, Mr Carroll exclaims, “Some of Oates’ claims are quasi-empirical” (Carroll, 2015).
One can argue that no science is capable of finding all counter-examples to a theory, therefore, no science is strictly empirical, it’s all quasi-empirical anyway. But usually, the term “quasi-empirical” refers to the means of choosing problems to focus on (or ignore), selecting prior work on which to build an argument or proof, notations for informal claims, peer review and acceptance, and incentives to discover, ignore, or correct errors. These are common to both science and mathematics, and do not include experimental methods. Albert Einstein’s discovery of the general relativity theory relied upon thought experiments and mathematics. Empirical methods only became relevant when confirmation was sought. Furthermore, some empirical confirmation was found only sometime after the general acceptance of the theory (Wikipedia). Empiricism, often used by natural scientists, says that “knowledge is based on experience” and that “knowledge is tentative and probabilistic, subject to continued revision and falsification” (Shelley, 2006).
Therefore, to denigrate a work simply because one does not agree with it, or that it has not been completely accepted by the academic establishment is at the very least, premature. Reverse Speech is only 34 years old and by scientific standards, is in its infancy.
Nevertheless, Mr Oates has accumulated a considerable amount of evidence over this short period of time to support his theories, that are based on constant observations, not only by himself but also by many other people. This lists into many thousands of real live speech reversal recordings that have all been systematically and properly documented. Added to this, a complete database will soon be available of this exacting work.
Incidentally, recent documentation has been received that attests to evidence of the USA Intelligence Agencies using Reverse Speech over the past 25 years where it has just been declassified. (See https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/document/cia-rdp96-00792r000500380002-0). It was originally classified 25 years ago when Mr Oates accidentally found some classified information in the then US President’s speech reversals from a public speech recording. This news has greatly authenticated Reverse Speech.
Adding to the mountain of evidence are the many testimonies of real people who have been helped by Mr Oates, using the Reverse Speech model. This includes the areas of health, finances, business decisions, overcoming various problems and addictions as well as successfully assisting in Police investigations.
Mr Carroll went on to say, “One must also wonder what evolutionary value reverse speech would have. It is estimated that it was about 100,000 years ago that humans developed spoken language” (Carroll, 2015). That Mr Carroll should quote evolution as an evidentiary factor in his arguments is incredulous, considering that evolution itself is nothing more than a theory based on flimsy “evidence” at best.
Furthermore, Mr Carroll goes on to say, “At least with Oates we can avoid detection by speaking only in palindromes” (Carroll, 2015). In this statement, he was referring to the claims by Mr Oates that Reverse Speech can detect lies. A palindrome is a word, phrase, number, or other sequence of characters which reads the same backward as forward, such as madam or racecar, so to make such a statement shows a complete disregard for the mechanics of Reverse Speech entirely.
Additionally, Mr Carroll has erroneously stated, “His proposals to test his theory have been rejected by universities not because the university establishment is closed-minded, but because Oates’ theories belie a profound ignorance of fundamental matters in neuroscience and physiology” (Carroll, 2015). This is just not true because university studies in Australia showed positive results for the Reverse Speech model, even if their conclusion was negative. (See http://reversespeech.com/2015/08/monash-university-report-on-reverse-speech).
While Reverse Speech was classified by the CIA, under the STARGATE PROJECT, the document states that “several university researchers and private foundations” were contracted to investigate all paranormal modalities under this project for independent research. As Reverse Speech was listed under this project, it is prudent to conclude that it was also included in this research. (See https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP96-00789R003300240001-9.pdf – page 20). I urge Mr Oates to follow up on this lead.
It is apparent that Mr Carroll has no scientific data to justify his stance on Reverse Speech but instead digresses rather into making disparaging remarks, for example;
- “Mr. Oates resembles a person who is modeling [sic] himself after Bandler™ and others in the neuro-linguistic programming movement”.
- “Oates is taken seriously because he is an entertaining novelty feeding the lust for trash gossip which passes as news and information in our society”.
- “Some of his claims are empirical and can be checked against what neuroscientists and physiologists have discovered in their study of the brain and speech development. For example, his notion about reverse speech occurring in the right brain is not supported by empirical study”.
- “’Its applications are endless’. As with his other claims, Oates provides no support for these notions. However, there is considerable evidence against him”.
These are hardly the words of someone who wants to be taken seriously in the scientific community. Where is his evidence to back up these claims? What ‘considerable evidence’ is he referring to?
In conclusion, although Mr Carroll has made many unsubstantiated claims, he emphatically allures to the assumption that Reverse Speech is nothing more than a hoax while zoning in on the costs involved and the money he feels Mr Oates is making from this technology. Reverse Speech being in its infancy, has a long way to go to convince such skeptics, if that is even possible. However, Mr Oates is well on his way to proving his theories and with his dedication for detail in collecting sound evidence with meticulous filing systems, it is without a doubt that Reverse Speech is here for the long haul and will one day be an invaluable asset to people everywhere.