Friday, November 25, 2005

a sceptic to be sceptical of?

can we trust this man?
I’ve been having a look at the self-proclaimed sceptic Richard Webster’s website, and though I generally approve, I do have a few qualms. For example, his response to a criticism of his Bryn Estyn book is certainly thorough, but his description of the critic as unscrupulous goes a little too far – though he’s at pains to explain his case, and considering that the critic is solicitor Richard Scorer, who wrote his review for ACAL, the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers, and who has represented some of those who have come under attack from Webster, it’s understandable that there’s a bit of personal biffo going on here.

Of course I’ve not read Webster’s book, and I’m about to order a copy online, or at least price one, but I’m already becoming a little sceptical of the sceptic. He’s thorough, but I sense the thoroughness, if not obsessiveness, of the crusader rather than the sceptic. My own scepticism tends to undermine my obsessiveness, and if you think that’s just me looking for an excuse for slackness, you’d be right.

There’s no doubt that Webster successfully counters most of Scorer’s critique, and I think he’s especially strong on Scorer’s attempts to undermine his personal integrity. For Scorer to imply, as he does, that Webster’s ‘true views on the subject of child abuse’ are somehow unhealthy or even doubtful, is to attempt a very low blow indeed.

This, though, is very easy stuff for Webster to counter (not that it shouldn’t be countered all the same). The more interesting question is one that I’ll probably never be able to answer, at least not without a lot of research work. That is, was the Bryn Estyn case and its corollaries really a witch-hunt, or did the verdicts reflect, as Scorer has described them, ‘a far more balanced characterisation of the evidence than appears in this book’. Unfortunately, it won’t be just a matter of reading the book, all 700 pages of it, to find out.


At 12:54 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was wondering if you have read the bryn estyn book yet and if so what was your judgement

At 12:40 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have not read this book either. I have read most of richard websters essays. I think that the 'trawling' operations used by the police in the 80's and 90's are quite clearly (to me) indications of a witch hunt. I think that perhaps webster's sites abundance of info on cases of alledged Child abuse are not that he is obsessed (and therefore not a skeptic?) but more that there was so much of it happening (mass allegations)and by the look of it so many innocent peoples lives being ruined by obsessed '?therapists' that even the slightly skeptical had to admit something did not add up. Lucky for Dawn Reed and chris Lille, Webster and Co manged to clearly uncover a dreadful miscarriage of justice (read independent media accounts of sheildfield libel trial) if you get that far follow the leads and you will come across a truely obsessed person (judith jones also involved in Rochdale scandel) claiming satanic abuse where a childs belly was slit open in a front room (as told by a detective on the case who said that even when the family doctor stated the scar was from an operation J. Jones stated that satanist are good at hiding their work by cutting a long scar lines (which the doctor also discredited). I am concerned that you have made statements about Richard Websters work for reasons other than intellectual criticism as you call his character into question while admitting to not having read his work. That does not seem right somehow. Logically I would accept your assertions if you had first read his book.

The other thing I want to know is if there are different types of skeptics i.e "self-proclaimed " vs ... then what other sketics are there? which one/s are you. Is one type of skeptic better than another? if you are not self proclaimed, then who proclaimed you? (any evidence, i.e letter of recommendation to be admitted to the society of non self proclaimed skeptics etc)

Is this all a bit too hard?


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

pavlov's cat