Augustine feels the interaction brought out many things that needed to be said, particularly a more accurate representation of the best that the skeptical eye could bring to the table. Reber and Alcock had argued in Skeptical Inquirer in 2019 as to why physics makes psi impossible. Under Braude’s final year as JSE Editor-in-Chief, either the whole issue or a significant portion of the JSE was devoted to refuting Reber and Alcock’s arguments.
Refuting arguments that “psi is impossible” is antecedently easy to do, since anyone claiming that a thing is impossible puts a large burden on oneself to show that. Saying that the evidence makes it highly improbable, or that science needs to reject psi as a working hypothesis in order to investigate things empirically at all, is a more nuanced and defensible position. It’s also one that the echo chamber of JSE readers have likely not heard before (which is why lead author Braude’s reply to Augustine missed the mark on so much–it seems like he’s never even thought about the best skeptical arguments that could be made, just the easy-to-refute caricatures, judging by how much space in that earlier JSE issue was devoted to refuting Reber & Alcock, 2019).
Augustine is just giving voice to what non-fringe scientists have actually argued in an echo chamber that would otherwise never hear it, but only their caricatures of “materialists” or whatever. There are popularizers saying the same things Augustine’s said. He already quoted Sean Carroll on UAP/UFOs and Sam Harris on neuroscience. Consider Neil deGrasse Tyson:
- On NDEs and testimonial evidence, at the start (the hypercube/tesseract discussion comes later): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r43Mdq2MWjk
2. On an afterlife being scientifically unlikely (esp. at 2:25 about strokes destroying mental capacities): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwncyLyTXQ4