Just a brief post. Anderson Cooper (CNN) did a segment today (transcript) on Sylvia Browne – examining the “successes” she claimed and finding them to be somewhat wanting. Cooper then hosted a he-said she-said segment with Randi opposite Linda Rossi, Sylvia’s business manager.
If you want the details, read the transcript, I’m not going to bother to break down Rossi‘s drivel line by line. Although one thing you probably won’t get from the transcript is how Rossi interrupted Randi numerous times and tried to talk over both him and Cooper. Randi behaved impeccably. And Cooper was pretty good, not letting Rossi get away with several attempted red herrings. But I thought it relevant to note that Rossi decided to allot most of her speaking time to complaining about Randi being an atheist, rather than explaining why we should believe that Sylvia is a psychic. She was trying to make it all about Randi – how he was an “atheist” and a “magician” – rather than providing evidence that Sylvia is not a fraud. Regular readers will know that attacking the person this way, rather than their arguments, is a logical fallacy known as ad hominem. It’s the refuge of someone who hasn’t any real arguments to present. Or as Cooper put it (if you could hear him over Rossi interrupting):
That's like a high school debating tactic, to attack the guy who's asking the question, as opposed to answering the actual question.
Very well put!
Of course, you know that Rossi said Sylvia wouldn’t take Randi’s challenge because “[Browne] has nothing to prove to Randi”. Of course, the real reason she won’t take it is because she knows she would fail. And following this lame performance from Sylvia’s representative, of this there can really be no doubt.