In-Depth Interview with Fredric L. Rice – Co-Founder, The Skeptic Tank

by | January 3, 2019

This is a “sacrifice” edible plant food ritual placement in the Angeles National Forest with a burning candle. It is a Christianized ritual. This poses a threat in spite of the placement in water. Rice notes, “In 2002 we suffered the Curve Fire which was also started by ritual
believed to be Palo Mayombe in nature. Belief in nonsense is usually not dangerous, but actions based on such beliefs is often deadly, as it was with the Curve Fire.”

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Fredric L. Rose talks at length about his life, work, and views.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: The important and oft-said statement is extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. This is an important element of The Skeptic Tank.

What is the origin of the phrase? How has this been adapted to different concerns and voiced through different people over time? Why found Skeptic Tank? What have been some of its more important historical moments and contributions to the skeptic online repository?

Fredric L. Rice:  The phrase “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” is often attributed to Doctor Carl Sagan, dating to 1979 though if I’m not mistaken, the phrase had been in use among scientists and skeptics long before Sagan made the phrase popular and well known.

Skeptics who organize in to groups of people who address, whether formally or informally, the scientific investigation in to claims of the paranormal recognize that the ideology summarized in the phrase is a fairly recent ideal. The roots of the Scientific Method began around the time of Hippocrates and Aristotle, with what we would consider to be modern science being applied some 1500 years later with Persian and English philosophers-become-scientists such as Roger Bacon and Ibn Sina.

I mention the advent of science because one of the things that skeptics recognize is that what constitutes “extraordinary” has been and continues to be subject to opinion. Newton, Kepler, and all of the great thinkers that came before all had various ideas of what constitutes what is extraordinary and what is not, so many of the greatest historic scientists considered the belief in the gods to be outside of the realm of skepticism.

As David Hume taught, only testable claims are subject to scientific inquiry, which makes theistic belief in the gods, goddesses not subject to scientific tests. Hume, as did so many others, pointed out that claims of the paranormal, however, including claims made about gods and goddesses, pixies, werewolves, fairies, ghosts and goblins, are all subject to science in those cases where testable claims about such things are made.

Skeptics may recall the Bay Area Skeptics in the early 1980s with their well-respected newsletter. In one memorial letter-to-the-skeptics which the BAS addressed in their newsletter which stuck heavily in my mind, a letter writer explained and described attributes about his Christian gods, noting “Jesus loves everybody, even atheists.”

The BAS suggested that before providing evidence that their Jesus god loved anyone, it would be helpful for the letter writer to provide evidence for the existence of their god outside of the imagination, and after such evidence as offered was verified, only then could the letter writer provide evidence that their gods loved someone. Professional evidence-gathering was a good idea, so myself and other High School students created The Skeptic Tank to accumulate and debunk claims of the paranormal with a focus on avoiding deity beliefs.

The Skeptic Tank was born in 1978 when myself and other High School friends wrote one of the first modern (at the time) Bulletin Board System software in Z80 assembly code for the TS-80 with magnetic tape cassette file and message storage. As the IBM PC became relatively inexpensive, The Skeptic Tank split off in to two entities, one of which was the very popular “Astro Net BBS” which covered a much broader arena of subjects, and the more modern Skeptic Tank which culled-and-removed years of on-line discussions and philosophical discussions of untestable claims.

What became a curious phenomenon in the early 1990s was watching Astro Net BBS become much more popular than the Skeptic Tank BBS was, even though Skeptic Tank was accumulating tens of thousands of text files and group discussions about claims of the paranormal and the scientific debunking – and public relations dissemination of same. More people seemed to be interested in deity-oriented religious beliefs than in the debunking of testable claims, so in the before-time, before the DARPANet opened up commercially and became the Internet, two highly popular BBS core systems became dominant albeit with a large overlap of subject material.

Alas, the old Astro Net dissolved, with its files and old message archives being moved to the highly popular HolySmoke web site which is now defunct, and with about half of The Skeptic Tank’s original file base and message discussion archives surviving to the current form of the ‘Tank.

As far as the most notable of the half million or so files on The Skeptic Tank, the most popular, most aggravating, and most amusing file is the large text “Vanishing Point: How to Disappear in America Without a Trace” which I started writing decades ago, a text file which has been stolen, published, and sold in various versions without my permission.

The file has been read and downloaded tens of millions of times, peaking with the aftermath of the Presidential election of Al Gore, amusingly enough, and peaking again with the election of Trump. People search the Internet for tips about disappearing, it is a very popular fantasy in this highly-digital, high-surveillance society.

About 19 years ago a local police officer came to my door and left a note asking me to phone an FBI agent concerning a web page on The Skeptic Tank. Intrigued I called the FBI agent while I was at work in Pacoima, California and immediately asked what file could he be interested in despite having a suspicion that it was “Vanishing Point.”

It was. He wanted to know how many previous versions of “Vanishing Point” there had been and, if possible, to let him know if there had been any major changes in the past two years. A suspect in a double homicide had allegedly murdered his wife and her lover and had researched disappearing in America as well as had researched the disposal of human remains using the Internet, and “Vanishing Point” was the one web page that the suspect had allegedly dumped to paper at his local library.

Jacobsen: What are the key elements in skeptical thinking, critical thinking, and scientific methodology? How can these better inform the general public’s view of extraordinary claims, e.g., miracle cures, Bigfoot, UFOs, astrology and horoscopes, crystal power, prayer, seasonal fad diets, and so on? 

Rice: One of the biggest difficulties to overcome in debunking claims of the paranormal is not to laugh at the people who believe in such things. Laughing and mocking is the normal primate response to highly humorous and highly ironic exclamations of certain forms of belief, and if one attempts to adhere to David Hume-class skepticism, mocking is a bad thing to do, however difficult it is to avoid when looking at Creationists’ claims, astrology, horoscopes, flat Earth and such.

If someone were to wake up one morning and honestly believe that during the night they have been taken over by aliens beaming sonic control messages in to their heads and now have no control over their actions, skeptics don’t mock that, scientists don’t mock that, mental health academics don’t mock that, we search for a physical cause of what is “obviously” a malady caused by a real, biological phenomena. That’s one form of paranormal belief which skepticism has no difficulty not mocking.

But when it comes to Creationism, astrology, Tarot cards, the flat Earth and other highly-laughable beliefs, it gets difficult not to laugh at the people who harbor them.

A highly successful way to address testable beliefs is to deep-dive, learn the broad spectrum of those beliefs, perform tests on the claims which are testable, and share the results. For example, the Astro Net BBS’s system operator and creator learned astrology, reading countless books, learning enough math to be able to compute planetary positions and motions, and he became an advocate for the process of astrology even as he debunked the claims resulting from astrological computations.

Performing astrology, offering Tarot card readings, and committing the process of some things can become an enjoyable past time, even if you do not believe that the results have any predictive value beyond mere celestial mechanics, and so it was with the Astro Net and later the Skeptic Tank. Skeptics and believers alike learned real science, real math alongside pure bullshit, shared our findings, argued, fought, and discussed our findings, and exactly zero minds were changed: The skeptics moved on to some new claim of the paranormal while believers walked away continuing to believe, honestly believing that their encounters survived scientific scrutiny.

Such is the nature of belief.

When it comes to other arenas of testable as well as untestable beliefs – quack medical beliefs, flying saucer landings, alien abductions, crystal power, pyramid power, ancient astronauts – skeptics who have been advocating the scientific debunking of testable claims find that advocates of nonsense are starkly split in to three groups of people: (1) The con-man crook who knows that he or she is selling lies and does so for money. (2) The believer who may or may not lack a basic understanding of the Scientific Method who none-the-less believes in a suit of nonsense even as he or she rejects other avenues of nonsense (which includes people who have mental difficulties.) (3) The con-man who has suffered mental debilitation enough to start believing his or her own blatant frauds, such as L. Ron Hubbard with his Scientology and Dianetics frauds.|

So when you ask about how to best inform the general public about why it is a good thing to employ reason, evidence, and science to claims, you’re fighting a battle against criminals who defraud people, you’re fighting against people who have no marketable skills other than to defraud people while your motives for advocating science are less tangible. The con-man sells miracle cures that will keep people’s children from dying, if you believe, while you’re selling the less-tangible ideal of the need for scientific reasoning in all things for the betterment and the survival of the species, if not the entire planet’s biosphere.

Skeptics work to reduce misery among the hopeful and the hopeless, scammers work to the detriment of society. That’s a hard hill for skeptics to climb, and after 40 years of organized skepticism, I have yet to find an effective way to combat bullshit, a problem which has gotten ever worse as financial and political interests work to ensure that people are kept uninformed, stupid, ignorant, and believing in nonsense.

Jacobsen: Who are the perennial fraudsters? Who are upcoming or new ones? How can the public protect themselves and others from their bogus salesmanship?

  Alas, all of the old-timers have long ago fallen extinct, we no longer have the likes of self-proclaimed psychic Jeane Dixon, nor do we have the likes of any Uri Geller-like buffoon utilizing simple (yet effective) conjuring tricks to rook and swindle the rubes, marks, and suckers.

I say “alas” because what has taken their place is a flood of less-skilled-at-trickery men and women who have taken to the Internet to sell their scams and frauds, crooks who are further strengthened by foreign adversary governments who also utilize the Internet to sow fraudulent beliefs in populations to disrupt and degrade a nation’s economic and scientific standing in a global market place.

About fifteen years ago, if I remember things correctly, a Chinese national was charged with accessing a computer without the owners permission, the so-called “Unauthorized Computer Access” law in California, Penal Code section 502. The Chinese national was in California and had hacked a well-known national Creationist organization in an effort to acquire the organization’s mailing list.

Federal agencies got involved when it was discovered that the individual was employed by a well-known Chinese electronics company and had successfully hacked the Creationist organization’s with the specific intent of acquiring the names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of believers in Creationism.

Prosecutors determined that the eventual goal was not to take money from the believers but to join the Creationist arena to assist in spreading anti-science nonsense in the United States, a deliberate effort to adversely impact the reasoning and economic competition of Americans in an increasingly-global economy.

The Skeptic Tank was one of the set of computer servers that had been attacked, and I dimly recall wondering why someone in Simi Valley was SYN-flooding my servers, trying SQL injections, and buffer-overflows to test well-known vulnerabilities. It wasn’t until some two years later that the FBI asked if I retained Radix or SysLog records going back that far before I learned about the incident.

I mention all this because with the advent of the Internet, the landscape has changed. Industrialized countries are now information-age countries, so it is through information and misinformation that anti-science adversely impacts us now.

What used to be con-men and women rooking the rubes for money has become well-funded organizations and nation-states joining the assault against reason for the political and economic benefit of those who advocate un-reason.

The only protection against falling for nonsense is to know that any one of us can fall for anything. Across 40 years of organized skepticism, the number 1 thing I have noticed is that any of us can fall for scams and frauds and that when we tell ourselves that we are immune from believing in nonsense, we are exactly the type of people that crooks seek.

I would like to underscore that, if I may. The belief that you can’t call for scams and frauds is one of the main reasons why people fall for scams and frauds. The person who knows that he or she is susceptible to getting swindled is someone who is on the look-out and paying attention. The person who thinks that they can’t be swindled are the people that swindlers seek first because none of us are immune regardless of our intelligence.

When it comes to belief, intelligence takes a back seat. It’s why some people think they have gods despite otherwise being smart, together, rational, and despite their employment of science in all other things.

So my advice to people to avoid falling for nonsense, scams and frauds is this: Accept the fact that you are not immune, accept the fact that what looks to be solid evidence for an extraordinary claim will almost certainly fall apart once you dispassionately evaluate the claim.

Jacobsen: What makes the human brain distinctly capable of believing patent nonsense?

Rice: I blame leopards for that. And Darwin. The noise coming from behind that bush may or may not be a leopard, you can’t see what’s making that noise so you don’t know whether it’s a leopard or not, so what does Darwin suggest you do to avoid getting eaten and failing to pass along your genes? Believe without evidence that it’s a leopard and to act accordingly by running away.

Our species was arboreal, our brains developed to map the world in three dimensions while simultaneously evaluating the risk of reaching for a tree limb that leads to darkness and unknown predators or food sources. What our ancestors worked with was close-up to hand, the world was within reach and manipulable to some extent.

Our species then became plains apes. That gave our species an added longer-distance perspective on the world and enabled us to see food sources and dangers at a distance. We adapted to evaluate risks and benefits from a broader perspective than most species whose ancestors have always been aquatic, or arboreal, or happy in their ecologic niche.

So our species, like all others to various degrees, developed an ability to measure risk versus benefit, and because we are a species that harbor the capacity to believe in things that are demonstrably not true, Darwin suggests that the ability to believe nonsense, and the ability to bifurcate and compartmentalize our thinking is a successful survival mechanism, at least successful so far.

One other thing I would note is what the future likely holds. As humans left agricultural society and entered the Industrial age, the world’s populace split in to two half’s, what we call the “first world” countries and the “third world” countries. It is a stark bifurcation of economics and access to food, medicine, and anti-fertility drugs.

In industrialized nations, something around 1.3 million people die in vehicle-related collisions every year in a world population numbered around 7.7 billion. The number of people killed by leopards has declined sharply in the past couple of hundred years. From that perspective, cars are a risk that is acceptable, and leopards have also become an acceptable risk to humans. We literally believe that we are safe from cars and leopards because our risk evaluation faculties tell us that we’re safe.

Now we come to the warming climate and the ability for a percentage of the world’s populace who know about it to dismiss the risk of climate change. Roughly a third of any populace in an industrialized nation right now rejects the truth about human-driven climate change whereas the rejection among third-world people is much less (I don’t have poll data to offer on that, I go by news articles and on-line discussions for those numbers.)

When it comes to the human brain’s ability to believe nonsense, my point is that there is also the human brain’s ability to reject demonstrable fact, such as a warming climate. The very people who refuse to accept the fact of a warming climate are those who are being adversely impacted by the consequences of a warming planet right this very moment, while those who accept the research and publications covering climate change are generally the least impacted, so far.

Whose survival is dependent upon the acceptance or denial of demonstrable facts? Darwin says that it’s those who accept the real world around them and accept what their very own eyes tell them. I mention it because Darwin also says that believing bullshit is also a survival mechanism, thus our species has the ability to compartmentalize and literally believe things that we also know are not true.

Jacobsen: What is the true architecture of pseudoscience? How does this relate to cults, cult-like behavior, and fundamentalist ideologies?

Rice: One of the more disturbing things that The Skeptic Tank has been involved with over the years is with gangs, specifically with rituals and expected behavior of gang members. Initiation rites and the expected behavior of gang members sharply mirror those of traditional cults.

Operating at core within cults as well as within criminal gangs – as well as operating within police departments, large corporations, and any other grouping of humans – is human behavioral science. Cult leaders, gang leaders, corporate leaders, police departments, they all understand the basics how to control and manipulate other people within a layered political and economic hierarchy. That phenomena are organized control and manipulation of people in groups.

On the other hand, individuals who operate on their own to manipulate and control other people in ones and twos also understand the basics of human behavior, however that is often disorganized. Once an individual manages to rook a fair number of victims, that disorganized control of others becomes more and more controlled. Just take a look at the history of Scientology as a very good example of that phenomena.

The architecture of our species belief and spreading of nonsense is, as always, nature and nurture. Just as Darwinian section molded our brains, so has social interaction with other humans molded our behavior. We get hit by people who teach us nonsense in large groups, as we get hit by people who teach us nonsense in ones and twos. The large arenas of nonsense: Religious belief in deity constructs, belief in magic diet fads which lack any basic science whatsoever, astrology, Creationism, Chiropractic, and all the other mass piles of nonsense out there. The small arenas of nonsense: Horoscopes, biorhythms, Tarot card readings.

If we could isolate humans from the consequences of nurture so that they are not subjected to the nonsense beliefs of their parents, friends, and neighbors, what would result? (Other than possibly an unhealthy child who grows up in to psychotic adults?) I believe that we would end up with humans who would re-discover all the nonsense that their immediate ancestors believed in because our brains are hard-wired to make-up and believe things that we also know aren’t true.

Jacobsen: How did the Satanic Ritual Abuse panic emerge? What is its basis, not in fact but in social psychology? As James Randi notes, anyone can be fooled. How was this a good example of this cautionary note from a skeptic pioneer?

Rice: Satanic Ritual Abuse panics appear to be cyclic in nature, they come on suddenly and then disappear just as suddenly. As readers may recall, the McMartin Preschool fiasco started with a woman with some significant mental difficulties who examined her child one day, found a rash and, because she couldn’t accept the fact that keeping the child clean had failed coupled to her mental difficulties assumed that “something” at the preschool was responsible for the rash.

From such little things can spring the abject criminal nonsense that we saw with the McMartin incident. People – innocent people – actually went to prison in McMartin although they were eventually released after the False Memory Syndrome Foundation and other professional psychologists and psychiatrists worked with law enforcement to debunk the many “SRA” claims implanted in to children despite all lack of evidence.

The Skeptic Tank got involved in the McMartin Satanic Panic and assisted in small ways to develop and distribute information about false memory implantation in children by adults in authority. A great deal of scientific research had already gone in to the phenomena of making people confess to crimes and other acts which they did not commit, and in to making people honestly, actually believe things had happened to them which could not possibly have happened.

Communist and Fascist States have honed the behavioral science behind the actions which were utilized against the children and parents of McMartin, but lagging far behind the glut of research and experimentation in making people believe false memories was the means, the behavioral science needed to debunk, expose, and remove such false memories.

So we ended up with a number of SRA incidents over the course of some five years, driven in part by Janet Reno, the Attorney General of the United States who was herself a believer in “Satanists” roaming the united States ritually birthing, killing, eating, and cremating up to some 300,000 children in the United States annually.

Reno believed that “Satanists” were committing such activities despite any evidence to back-up her Christian beliefs, so she latched on to claims of SRA where they emerged and she worked to inflate such incidents, doing so due to her Christian religious beliefs.

If Reno had  not gotten involved, the McMartin fiasco would have been a small blip, a number of parents who thought that there was sexual child abuse taking place who would have seen absolutely zero evidence for anything remotely like it who would have subsided and mostly accepted the fact that there was nothing happening – aside from one or two parents who had a history of mental difficulties who would cling to their beliefs regardless.

Years after McMartin had died down and the victims were released and vindicated, I was contacted by one of the mothers who I believe suffered from serious mental difficulties, she contacted me via Email to reiterate her abject belief that there were tunnels under the preschool grounds, tunnels that were “confirmed” after excavators found a crushed soda can.

Because she – and other people nationwide – believe that evidence for tunnels was found, they also believe that children were abducted through those tunnels, taken to a secret airfield which nobody knew about, flown to Peru where they were ritually raped, ritually slaughtered, parts of them were ritually eaten, and the children were magically sewed back together, transported back to the preschool, and were picked up by their parents at the end of the school day with no apparent indication of what had been done to them, other than an occasional rash.

Jacobsen: What makes some faiths and fundamentalism more dangerous than others, when things stop being rather benign – comparatively speaking – and humorous?

Rice:  It used to be that someone believing in astrology advising the President of the United States (and holder of the world’s largest nuclear stockpile of weapons) was a concern. It used to be that politicians who control armies and weapons harboring anti-science beliefs were a limited, regional threat, threats controlled by the people around them: assistance, aids, lawyers, people who could control the man or woman who had power as well as held bizarre, un-true beliefs.

Thanks to the advent of science and technology, such people have the means to kill millions, tens of millions, if not destroy all mammals on this planet. Climate change denial among politicians paid by corporations who believe that their economic success or failure rests upon denial or acceptance is likely to result in a great many of us dying as populations are displaced, refugees migrate, water sources dry up.

Lynn Wilson worked on the United Nation’s climate change sub-group, and she suggested that the time to evacuate California is now. That was some four years ago and, of course and as expected, California’s human population continued to grow, nobody evacuated, at least not enough people to show.

In a sane world, with a sane species, with scientists demonstrating and describing how and why the planet’s climate is changing, with scientists advocating measures to mitigate what’s undeniably going to happen, California’s evacuation would be underway, some 30 million people would be working toward relocating, knowing what’s coming.

But corporations and the politicians that work for them see economic and political benefit by advocating a denial of what’s happening and what’s going to happen. And after all, change is difficult for our species to accept even as it’s happening, and a warming climate happening slowly so far is only adversely impacting a small percentage of us, so it’s fatally dangerous to ignore what’s happening even as we can all see it happening.

Jacobsen: How is Scientology a crime syndicate? Why should buyers, even sellers, beware of it?

Rice: The Scientology corporations a criminal enterprise because it engages in criminal activities. One can isolate the untestable beliefs that some Scientology customers have from the testable, falsifiable, fraudulent claims that the Scientology corporation makes.

I do not consider Scientology to be a cult first and foremost, I consider it to be organized crime first and foremost due to its history as well as due to what the corporation currently does to its customers and to innocent people, reporters, Judges, prosecutors, the family members of victims who fall for Scientology’s obvious, blatant frauds.

If you were to plot-out a Venn Diagram of Scientology’s actions with the actions of other, more traditional organized crime syndicates, the vast majority of actions would overlap. If you were to diagram the beliefs of Scientology customers against the beliefs of traditional organized crime members, you would find few which overlap.

The dangers of falling for Scientology’s frauds are almost always merely financial, statistically Scientology customers only get rooked and swindled for less than 2 years before they walk away and stop handing their money over. It is extremely rare for Scientology customers to stick with the scams long enough to become crooks themselves who scam others. That is the second danger of falling for Scientology: Falling so deeply in to it that you become a crook yourself, victimizing others.

Scientology is a lot like pyramid schemes in that some people who stick with it long enough “advance” to positions where they attempt to swindle other victims of their money, with the Scientology customer getting a percentage of the take.

There is one other risk when buying Scientology’s programs: They are highly debilitating when inflicted for prolonged periods. Carl Sagan in “The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark” noted that L. Ron Hubbard had created a documented process which literally drives people insane, and looking at the consequences of Scientology, it certainly does appear to be an accurate summation of Scientology.

Scientology sells its customers what they call “Training Routes” or “TRs” for short. They literally consist of activities which work to subvert and then supplant a customer’s primate behavior and reasoning faculties in an effort to make their customers pliable and obeying, all with an eye toward taking as much money from their victims as possible.

As an example, their “Communication Course” which is one of the first scams they try to sell to people involves TRs which involve sitting in a chair and then being ordered to do things. “Stand up” where-after the customer stands up. Then the Scientology operative says “thank you” and then instructs them to “Take three steps forward.” The customer takes three steps forward after which the Scientology operative says “thank you” and orders them around the room, step by step until the customer is returned to her chair.

That activity advances to what Scientology calls “No Blink” and then “Bull Bait.” A customer and a Scientology agent sit in chairs facing each other, kneed not quite touching, and the customer is ordered not to respond to anything that the agent says or does, not even blink their eyes. The agent goes on to perform actions, make jokes, whatever he or she can think of in an effort to make the customer react. If the customer reacts, the agent yells “Flunk! Lifting your leg. Start over!” and it starts over again.

This goes on for hours and hours until the Scientology agent says they “pass” and the “session ends,” hours which the victim pays a considerable amount of money for.

During “No Blink” and many other “processes” that Scientology sells to its customers, people find that they start to hallucinate and to have their motile senses edited or culled by their brains. Victims of Scientology report that sitting there motionless for hours staring at someone else they find the can no longer feel the chair they’re sitting in, they loose the kinetics awareness of where they arms and legs are located,

“Bull Bait” is like No Blink except that the Scientology agent gets further in to demeaning behavior, insulting and physically attempting to elicit a response from the customer.

What the intent here is to eliminate primate behavior and remove normal human self volition. Humans are omnivore primates, we have our eyes where carnivores wear them, out front. Staring at each other is a hostile behavior for carnivores, it means we’re plotting to either screw you or eat you or otherwise cause you harm. Scientology forces abnormal behavior by forcing people to stare at each other, suppressing the normal primate flee/fight response.

Ordering customers around, literally controlling their limbs and their decisions, supplants their self volition and trains them to follow orders, including handing over their money upon demand.

Finally many customers who fall for this nonsense report that after their TR session ended, they honestly felt that it had done them good some how, that they had benefited some how. Being released from the tension of such activities is such a relief that it imparts a pleasant feeling. Induced hallucinatory events can impart a warm, comfortable, satisfied feeling, so customers who have subjected themselves to Scientology and walk away at most two years later often report that when they first started, they honestly believed that Scientology helped them some how, though they can’t explain how.

Jacobsen: What are the more concerning anti-fact and pseudoscience movements and ideas cropping up, as we mover into 2019?

Rice: Anti vaccination for emerging infectious diseases as well as vaccination for long-time viral and bacterial foes of humanity is a growing problem, right up there with the growth of climate change denial and the growth of Flat Earth belief.

I’m involved in the arena of emerging infectious diseases since I have worked professionally within offices maintained by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) and I deal with potential disease vectors in the San Gabriel Mountains of California which has a long history of Yersinia pestis which causes plague and other bacterial or viral zoonotic organisms.

The growth of anti-vaccination ideologies and the belief that vaccinations some how cause autism is, I believe, going to be one of the largest arenas of concern in the coming years.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Fredric.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-books, free or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott:

Do not forget to look into our associates: Godless Mom, Nice Mangoes, Sandwalk, Brainstorm Podcast, Left at the Valley, Life, the Universe & Everything Else, The Reality Check, Bad Science Watch, British Columbia Humanist Association, Dying With Dignity Canada, Canadian Secular Alliance, and Centre for Inquiry Canada.

Image Credit: Fredric L. Rose.

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