Open Ears, Open Mind

I have hosted a paranormal radio show in the Washington, DC area for most of the past 10 years. The show was known primarily for a skeptical view of the esoteric. Over the years I’ve taken a lot of criticism from the paranormal community who felt that I believed in nothing and the skeptics who said that I was too gullible.

I have always an hoped that it would be possible to bridge the gap between the two points of view. It would seem to me that people of goodwill who are truly interested in seeking truth would be able to put any differences aside and try to find common ground.

Unfortunately, today’s environment seems to breed hostility for those with whom we don’t agree, be it paranormal or political. I am reminded of the old roman god Janus, a single entity looking in different directions and not seeing the other. Our technology has allowed us to become more fragmented, hurling insults at each other without ever having to look into the face of those we offend.

How are we as a society ever get anything done? The Biblical tale of Babel warns us that those who cannot communicate cannot coexist. All of our machines and all of our education cannot make us speak to each other. We must do that for ourselves.

Today’s programming choices made it easy for us to segregate ourselves from people who are different than us. Specially cable channels, talk radio and pod casts (my stock in trade) and selective social media allow us to spend every waking second listening and preaching to the converted. No wonder we never hear each other. It’s just so easy not to.

Many people were concerned when I began doing a radio show for the Mutual UFO Network ( because my name was what often preceded by the word skeptic. The assumption was that people who take a critical look at extraordinary claims are biased and will engage in character assassination. I can understand that thought. It has been done many times in the past. I’ve been guilty of many sins but that is not one of them.

When you do anything for this long , you’re bound to learn a few things if you keep your mind remotely open. What I found is that the vast majority of people that come forward with stories of the unusual are rational and honest and not trying to turn a quick buck. Sure there are exceptions but there are examples of that in the scientific community as well. Anyone remember Piltdown man?

Another important lesson for me was that a adherence to any dogma, being skeptical, the paranormal, or religious is a certain way to pull the wool over your own eyes. As a recent guest told me, once you “know” something you’re in trouble. I may not be a very bright guy but after hundreds of conversations with bright articulate people, a little common sense is bound to rub off on anybody.

My points are these. No one is a smart as we all are together. No one has cornered the market on truth. Not everyone who holds a different point of view is evil or a liar. We learn more with open ears than with open mouth.

Let’s all take a few minutes and listen to the other guy. All we have to lose is our own preconceived notions.

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