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Rebuttal to Fraud Charges by Michael Nahm against medium Kai Mugge
#1
Attached to this post is a document wherein I analyzed the rhetoric used to charge medium Kai Mugge with fraud. Below is my introduction to that paper. Every charge (83 in total) is rebutted in the paper. The paper is too long to insert into a post, which is I have added it as an attachment.

Please note that only relevant portions of Nahm's paper are included. I could not insert the full text of Nahm's article because this forum prevents one from attaching two documents to a single post. I might try to add the source document in a Reply to this post.

***************************************************

In Response to the Article:
The Development and Phenomena of a Circle for Physical Mediumship, Michael Nahm, Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 28, No. 2, pp. 229-283, 2014

According to this article, the author/investigator tested for fraud in light phenomena, apports, table levitations, tapping sounds, hidden items in the room & body cavities, and ectoplasm appearance & movement, among other things. He concluded either that some phenomena might have been genuine, or that because of insufficient controls, no conclusions could be drawn.

But in addition to these positive and neutral conclusions, instead of sticking to facts, the author also charged fraud by engaging in logical fallacies, hearsay, inference, opinion, conjecture, circumstantial evidence, and reference to unsupported assertions.

Quoting all relevant extracts from the article, this outline is a brief rebuttal of those specious statements. A formal, expanded version of this critique can be written if there is an interest.

My critique begins with page 258, “The Question of Genuineness of the Phenomenon”.  At a later date, I will address the content on pp. 229-257 of the article.

My comments are in bold.  I highlighted the words and sentences referred to in bold italics.  


Attached Files
.docx   Nahm Critique.docx (Size: 89.29 KB / Downloads: 2)
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#2
Tried to original source paper by Nahm.  Forum still will not allow.  Maybe the file size is too large?  
OK, I finally got it to load as a PDF. (The Word document was over 1MB, which was the limit.)


Attached Files
.pdf   sdm-2014-08-nahm.pdf (Size: 289.43 KB / Downloads: 0)
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#3
I like your comment about this statement by Nham: "All these observations indicated that the ectoplasm displays, at least, were manipulated."

About which you commented: "Logical Fallacy: The sum of questionable observations is not dispositive for fraud."

I have summed up Nahm's comments as more a rant by an uninformed observer than a proper research report. I like it that you are more specific.

For the reader, be mindful that Nahm has a doctorate in biology. He is an example of why I say that most parapsychologists are not qualified to conduct research into many of these phenomena. In actuality, his observations are no more authoritative than any other person who reports on a session with the medium.

It would be okay if Nahm was not posing as an academically qualified research, and thus admitted he was only expressing an opinion. Beyond their treatment of the practitioner, an ethical error made by Nham and Braude, is that they posed as someone they were not. 
Tom Butler
Co-director ATransC
Reply
#4
Tom, thanks for your feedback. You have previously written about the ethical errors, and other objections to the paper. If would be useful if you could post those links here, so that the reader of this thread can cross-reference your thoughts on the matter. Also, I believe you have a section or a forum on practitioner/experimenter ethics. Links would be helpful.
Reply
#5
My first attempt to raise a red flag about Braude's treatment of Kai was the essay: Debunking Survival Under Cover of False Academic Authority. That was a reaction to Braude's self-publishing his so-called research report in the Journal of Scientific Exploration, issue 28-2, Summer 2014. That issue also included Nahm's first article.

When Braude and Nahm doubled down on his accusations in the Society of Paranormal Research's Paranormal Review, I wrote the more current essay: Arrogance of Scientific Authority.

I knew better than to attempt a letter to the editor with the JSE because Braude is self-serving and has previously, rudely rejected my attempts to add information concerning ITC. Also, the ESS has consistently shown an anti-survival bent. The SPR has been more receptive, so I sent this letter to the editor of the Paranormal Review:

Leo Ruickbie,

Thank you for trying to balance the way Kai Mügge has been treated by giving him an opportunity to speak for himself. However, the question that needs asking is why you gave the supposed researchers a forum to make accusations in the first place. I understand how it could happen when the accuser is also chief editor for the SSE, but you had more control.

From my perspective, treatment of the FEG medium is symptomatic of a culture that treats the paranormal as a playground for retired professors. I am sure it is not intended that way, but however parapsychology sees itself, many of us on the layperson side of the academic-layperson partition have had our high expectations turned into contempt.

Consider these points:
  • Articles have been self-published in the SSE journal that should never have appeared in a scholarly publication. Such abuse of trust is an example of why many of us feel secret peer review is just a good ol’ boy wink and nod that give the false appearance of peer guidance.
  • From the SPR website: “All papers submitted to the Journal are strictly peer-reviewed, and any opinions expressed are those of the authors alone.” That is part of the problem. Peer review implies that articles have been aligned with the policies and practices of the organization. Articles that include ethics violations or unsupported conclusions diminish the respectability of the organization. Organizations cannot publish garbage and blame it on the author.
  • As an ITC practitioner, I can say with some confidence that production of phenomena on demand is not assured. There was a contract of trust between the FEG medium and the researchers that was violated by the research team. The simple fact is that the medium satisfied that contract. As I understand it, all of the complaints are based on suspicion and assumption alone. The remedy was to include tests for those suspicions in the protocol. Since they were not tested, the accusations are little more than social commentary and have no basis in science.
    Negative comments made by “trusted researchers” under cover of academic authority carry considerably more weight than if they were spoken by a person hiding behind a screen name on a discussion board. So not only are the accusations of fraud hurtful and unnecessarily damaging to our community, they are spoken by people others are culturally conditioned to believe without question. That undue authority makes their words especially harmful.Concepts to ponder: Wizard of Oz Syndrome; Wizard Complex
  • Consider how this looks: the three parapsychological organizations routinely publish papers that are negative toward survival-related phenomena; a clearly inappropriate article throwing a test subject under the bus is self-published in a “peer-reviewed” journal; and, fellow parapsychologists praise the supposed scientists, even awarding one of them a medal and repeatedly giving them a public platform to perpetuate the offense. What do you expect us to think?
This is grim business. Lacking learned guidance, the paranormal community is already fragmented and in retreat. Instead of helping one another, those who are supposed to be our intellectual leaders turn on us and use our work as a play thing for their retirement years.

Tom Butler

Association TransCommunication, Atransc.org

Etheric Studies, Ethericstudies.org

TomButler@thericstudies.org

For a while, I wrote essays for The Otherside Press. It was a startup organization that i thought had potential and I wanted to help out. The essays are all at ethericstudies.org now. I withdrew, not because they no longer seem promising, but because they were clearly going a different direction from what I had thought. Both of the above essays critiquing Braude were published in that online magazine.

Just recently Steve Glanz sent me a copy of a rant the Otherside Press published for Braude. It is attached here. You can see in it that Braude is impervious to the idea that he may be out of line, and instead prefers to continue belittling opposing views.

Again, I am interested in other people's thoughts on this.
Tom Butler
Co-director ATransC
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#6
Attachment is missing.
Reply
#7
Dinner called. Dodgy It is attached now.


Attached Files
.pdf   Braude Document.pdf (Size: 1.21 MB / Downloads: 3)
Tom Butler
Co-director ATransC
Reply
#8
Reviewing Braude's letter to Butler which was attached to the previous post, a few comments. Braude's words are in quotes, followed by my remarks in red.   

"Moreover (and equally peculiar), he doesn't seem actually to have read the works of mine he criticizes. (referring to Butler)"
      Speculation

"Although Jochen did indeed help arrange my first contacts with Kai, I and others were there at Kai's invitation, after a considerable period over Skype of communicating with Kai, establishing a rapport with him, and arranging my travel to visit him."
      An experimental subject should be treated with dignity, irrespective of how the experiment was arranged.

"From the start, the reddish lights shown on those photos looked suspicious to Jochen, and as it turned out, the photos revealed how the movement of Kai's thumb corresponded to the movement of these lights, just as they would if Kai had device like the magician's trick called the D'Lite Flight."
      “… just as they would IF …”  That it resembles a trick is not proof that it is a trick.

"At that point Jochen confronted Kai again, insisting that Kai tell him the truth. Kai then admitted to having used the device found in his travel bag. He also revealed that he'd hidden the device on shelves behind the "cabinet" in Koblenz, and he admitted apologetically to Jochen that he'd made a mistake in doing this. He apologized to Jochen and encouraged him not to reveal the truth to anyone."
      Hearsay.

"I inferred that Kai had confessed to Jochen but also that Jochen felt the pressure of his presumed friendship to Kai to remain silent on the matter."
      Inference is a weak excuse for proof.

"I told Kai why, on the basis of my talk with Jochen, I now knew he'd cheated."
      Accepting an anonymous witness statement at face value, from an undocumented conversation (hearsay) – is not very scientific.  

"Now if Kai had felt my inference was unwarranted, he could easily have challenged it; indeed, he should have done so."
      Maybe he was just being polite.  

"While this was not a direct confession, I considered it then (and still do) to be functionally equivalent to one—a clear tacit confession. Butler's attempt to downplay or dismiss this evidence for fraud is simply sticking his head in the sand.'"
      To his credit, Butler does not believe in tacit confession as a substitute for scientific method.

"Over the several days of the conference, Butler listened to nearly every presentation except my report on the Austrian investigations. Clearly, if he had really wanted to understand what my views were, he would have shown up, and taken the opportunity to ask questions and challenge me, as indeed others did on that occasion."
      Butler might have had other reasons for not showing up.

"And this passage from Butler is total fabrication: "I asked Braude why he had not included tests for Nahm's suspicions in the protocol, to which he replied something to the effect that "Things come up." So in effect, the team has ignored their findings and focused on Nahm's suspicions. Very scientific indeed!" But that exchange never happened, and the sarcasm of Butler's comment is thoroughly inappropriate. In fact, the question Butler claims he asked me is absurd on its face. The suspicions in question (and not just those of Nahm) didn't even emerge until after the Austrian sessions were over—indeed, not until Nahm and I had written our first versions of our JSE papers. So how could we have included tests for Nahm's suspicions before the suspicions even existed?"
      A difference in recollection is forgivable. But Butler might have been referring to the Reno séance which took place after the Jochen revelation, not the Austrian sessions which took place before. If not, I'm sure Butler would welcome the correction, and it does not exonerate Braude from bias at the Reno seance.

"For example, Butler claims that as JSE Editor-in-Chief, I've been "unfriendly toward comments about articles from the non-doctorate community." It's difficult to imagine—not only what the relevance of this point is--but what Butler's evidence for that claim could be, or even how he could have evidence for it."
      As stated in Butler's post above this one, his submissions to JSE concerning ITC had been ignored.

"It's true, by the way, that peer review is in secret, as Butler notes. That's why it works! Reviewers of submissions thereby have the freedom to express their views on submitted papers without fear of reprisal."
With evidence of conflict of interest among the 3 major industry publications, customary protocol is counterproductive. In such a scenario, secrecy simply perpetuates collusion. Neutral, third party oversight is urgently needed.

"Butler seems fixated only on the allegation that Kai cheated on occasion, as if it's an inherently outrageous allegation—that is, as if such a thing could never have happened, despite a long history of mixed mediumship involving some of the greatest mediums, like Eusapia Palladino."
      Butler does not dismiss the general case, only the flawed manner in which the specific allegations against Kai were obtained and interpreted.

"Moreover, as I've consistently said since the revelations about Kai's deceptions came to light,"
      Unproven, based on hearsay.

"I don't consider Kai's having cheated earlier, in seances I didn't supervise, to be of much significance.
True, it forces us to focus more on the extent of Kai's cheating, and that remains a serious concern."
      Precisely.  That’s called bias.

"Since Kai undoubtedly learned and used one magic trick,"
      Hearsay is not a valid rationale for doubt.

"we have no choice but to consider how many others he might have in his repertoire (and use with impunity in darkness)."
      Consideration is justified, but no proof is offered.  

"I should add that Kai has told me he believes the public is unforgiving and that any admission of past mistakes would sabotage his mediumistic career once and for all. Now granted, I'm not a poster child for optimism, but I believe Kai is mistaken about this. That one has made mistakes is relatively unimportant. What matters more is how one carries on once the mistakes are revealed. And I believe that self-reflective human beings, all too aware of their own flaws and foibles, are willing to forgive and in fact respect genuine contrition and humility. What does not inspire the sympathy of others is arrogant posturing, implausible denials, and an antecedently incredible pretense of infallibility."
      Good advice and a nice read on human behavior, but it does nothing to assuage Kai’s fears.

"It's that Kai's native language is German and "he hesitated to answer because he was not sure he correctly understood Braude's question, which was spoken in English." ....The fact is, Kai's English (and certainly his vocabulary) is better than that of most of the native Engish-speaking students I taught over 42 years."
      Comprehension of foreign words in a specific conversation can vary, even among the most fluent.
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#9
Here are my comments about a couple of the ones Steve highlighted: 


Braude said: "And this passage from Butler is total fabrication: "I asked Braude why he had not included tests for Nahm's suspicions in the protocol, to which he replied something to the effect that "Things come up." So in effect, the team has ignored their findings and focused on Nahm's suspicions. Very scientific indeed!" But that exchange never happened, and the sarcasm of Butler's comment is thoroughly inappropriate. In fact, the question Butler claims he asked me is absurd on its face. The suspicions in question (and not just those of Nahm) didn't even emerge until after the Austrian sessions were over—indeed, not until Nahm and I had written our first versions of our JSE papers. So how could we have included tests for Nahm's suspicions before the suspicions even existed?"
     Steve Said:  A difference in recollection is forgivable. But Butler might have been referring to the Reno séance which took place after the Jochen revelation, not the Austrian sessions which took place before. If not, I'm sure Butler would welcome the correction, and it does not exonerate Braude from bias at the Reno seance.


My Comment: We ran into Braude the first day of the SSE conference in San Francisco and I asked him why he had not included his suspicions in the protocol. It was then that he responded with the "things come up" comment. I have several witnesses.

Braude also explained to me at a prior Forever Family Conference that he had written a positive report. He explained at the SSE conference that, before it was published, Nahm sent him a scathing accusing report for publication in the same SSE journal (which Braude is chief editor). Since Nahm and Braude were reporting on the same study, Braude told me he had to change his to better agree with Nahm.

Braude said: "Butler seems fixated only on the allegation that Kai cheated on occasion, as if it's an inherently outrageous allegation—that is, as if such a thing could never have happened, despite a long history of mixed mediumship involving some of the greatest mediums, like Eusapia Palladino."
    Steve Said:  Butler does not dismiss the general case, only the flawed manner in which the specific allegations against Kai were obtained and interpreted.


My Comment: Kai is one of the most informed people I know about physical mediumship. He is well aware of the Eusapia Palladino accusations and has done everything he could to assure the sitters need not worry about mixed mediumship in all of the seance I have attended.


Braude said: "I should add that Kai has told me he believes the public is unforgiving and that any admission of past mistakes would sabotage his mediumistic career once and for all. Now granted, I'm not a poster child for optimism, but I believe Kai is mistaken about this. That one has made mistakes is relatively unimportant. What matters more is how one carries on once the mistakes are revealed. And I believe that self-reflective human beings, all too aware of their own flaws and foibles, are willing to forgive and in fact respect genuine contrition and humility. What does not inspire the sympathy of others is arrogant posturing, implausible denials, and an antecedently incredible pretense of infallibility."
    Steve Said:  Good advice and a nice read on human behavior, but it does nothing to assuage Kai’s fears.


My Comment: It appears that Braude thinks it is okay to assassinate Kai's reputation based on innuendo because the public may get over it. 


Braude said: "It's that Kai's native language is German and "he hesitated to answer because he was not sure he correctly understood Braude's question, which was spoken in English." ....The fact is, Kai's English (and certainly his vocabulary) is better than that of most of the native Engish-speaking students I taught over 42 years."
     Steve Said: Comprehension of foreign words in a specific conversation can vary, even among the most fluent.


My Comment: It is as if Braude has never talked with Kai. Read Kai's Facebook page and see for yourself how perfect his English is. Under stress of an accusation, he is apt to turn to his native language of German to consider what is happening. He has done this on occasion with me during conceptually confusing discussions.
Tom Butler
Co-director ATransC
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