Ah, this brings back memories – Jerry Coyne did an interview with Alex Tsakiris of “Skeptiko”– which is “Skeptiko,” please note, not “Skeptico.” There’s a difference. I didn’t know that in September 2010, which is why I accepted Tsakiris’s invitation to do an interview.
It was a complete dog’s breakfast. The guy’s an asshole. He’s not a skeptic at all, and the name is pretty obviously meant to trap people in just the way that several people – including me – have been trapped. He’s a woo-meister. He didn’t tip his hand for the first few minutes, so we had an amicable conversation for that long, but then he did, and we hit a brick wall.
He bullshitted Jerry Coyne, too.
When I first agreed to the interview, I was told we’d talk mainly about my book and about evolutionary biology. Several readers acquainted with the show warned me that Alex was a woo-meister who was into things like parapsychology and near-death experiences. Forewarned, I emailed Alex and he verified that we would indeed talk about evolution with perhaps a bit of discussion on the side about free will. He told me I wasn’t going to be “sandbagged.” LOL!
Quite. He’ll tell you anything. He’s an asshole.
Here’s a bit of the one I did:
Alex Tsakiris: [Robert Price] was on the show a couple episodes back. A very, very smart guy, funny guy, entertaining guy. Very competent New Testament scholar and also an Atheist. But the kind of dirty little secret, if you really read, is from a historical perspective we have to accommodate the idea that these visions, these kinds of experiences, these kinds of miracles, are well attested historically. Now, they’re not well attested in the way that Christians might want to fit them in, or they’d want to take this one and leave those ones out.
But from a historical perspective, even historians who are Atheistic agree that from the normal means that we have for looking at history-analogy, and how well the accounts are corroborated by different sources–we’ve got a lot of miracles there that we have to deal with. And this idea of…
Ophelia Benson: Wait, wait, wait, wait. Historians agree to that?
Alex Tsakiris: Well, the New Testament scholars like Bob Price and people of that ilk and I’d imagine other folks who you’d-I mean, this is really what you find from the Jesus Project if you really read what they’re saying…
But what they say is probably true is that these different people had an encounter with someone who is dead. In this case, it was Jesus. They had some kind of experience that they thought was very real, with someone who died. So that has to be incorporated in and yet it’s kind of glossed over depending on which side. Glossed over if you’re of that ilk and you want to see things that way.
Ophelia Benson: Yes, it doesn’t seem glossed over to me. It’s more a matter of saying that having an experience that you think is X is not the same thing as actually having the experience of X.
Alex Tsakiris: Yeah, maybe.
Ophelia Benson: But the people who saw Jesus could have been hallucinating it. Plus, the record differs in different accounts. None of them are historical accounts as properly-as normally understood.
Alex Tsakiris: Now, there’s a couple different things to tease out there. Yeah, there’s differences. Yeah, there’s contradictions. But this is a pretty well-for that much of ancient history, we have pretty good records. We have pretty good testimony on the different accounts in terms of what historians would normally piece together. And…
Ophelia Benson: I’m not sure that’s right. The way I understand it is that Mark is the earliest one and Mark doesn’t say anything about a vision. And the other stuff came after that and was a development of it. So it was basically confabulation. It was storytelling.
Alex Tsakiris: Okay, I’m going to cut it off again here because on this show we haven’t talked too much about this New Testament scholarship stuff and it can get really geeky and really detailed.
So he simply edited out part of the interview. He edited out quite a lot of it, in fact, and substituted his own after-the-fact commentary.
The guy’s an asshole.