Anyway, I don't accept her hypothetical for one primary reason. After laying out the four propositions one is invited to take on board, she says this,
Just for now, just assume those things. I won’t hold you to them later. I may point out that it’s creepy to assume a woman is lying unless you’ve got corroborating evidence, but I won’t say, “Well, you said here….”Well, it's that unless I've got corroborating evidence bit. I do. I've written about it. It's publicly available, independently verifiable and not contested by any of the relevant parties as being a genuine photograph of the time in question, the place in question, and the people in question. It is, therefore, direct evidence. And it is relevant.
Now, we are met with a story (I don't mean that in a pejorative sense one notes) about some set of events that are alleged to have happened. 1.) is that EG was at the bar and 2.) EG was listening to Rebecca Watson.
Ok then. 2 propositions. If either or both of them is correct, one should expect that a randomly taken photograph of the group at the table would have EG in it. It doesn't. Further, this is a wide shot of the bar, and seems to include everyone in the bar in it except for the photographer (PeeZus) himself. No one disputes this.
It is therefore a proper question (at least in keeping with the maxim that one should always name names) to ask of Rebecca Watson: which of these dozen people is the one in question?
And ask it of her I did. She answered. Apparently, she has an extremely rare and yet proven-to-be-congenital brain defect which prevents her from being able to recognize faces, called prosopagnosia. I'm no expert on this, but let's do that thing that skeptics do: analyze public information.
A person with prosopagnosia has difficulty recognizing faces in pictures of even people with whom they're familiar,
Experiments have shown that when presented with a mixture of familiar and unfamiliar faces, people with prosopagnosia may be unable to successfully identify the people in the pictures, or even make a simple familiarity judgementThe congenital variety is still, as I implied earlier, not yet established such as I know,
The reported cases suggest that this form of the disorder may be heritable and much more common than previously thought (about 2.5% of the population may be affected), although this congenital disorder is commonly accompanied by other forms of visual agnosia, and may not be "pure" prosopagnosia.Whether it's pure or visual agnosia, one thing remains patent: those afflicted have difficulty in recognizing faces and/or familiar objects. So, let's have a look at Watson looking at pictures to see how she fares:
Watch this video (if you dare). At about the 9:20 mark, she puts up a photograph and correctly identifies 100% of the people in it, to include the stranger in disguise.
What is life for someone who is actually suffering from prosopagnosia?
Less severe case of a congenital variety, accepting it's pure prosopagnosia.
A clinician discusses it.
Note that people with this disorder tend to dislike watching movies (and presumably television shows because keeping track from one scene to the next is difficult if one cannot keep track of who's who).
But Watson loves Mythbusters, and seems to have no trouble picking out the cast at a crowd! Or picking out Dawkins, Myers, AronRa or anyone else for that matter.
If you know a good amount about this condition, I'd love to hear/read your take on the claim by Watson that she has it. Or, if you write an article, let me know and I'll link to it.
So, she claims to have this disorder, but could recognize EG in the elevator having never before met him (only having seen him in attendance at two disparate events), but can't pick him out of a picture the day after? Wow! This condition of hers is mysterious!
One also notes that, despite their attempts to suggest otherwise, it is not at all my problem that the public evidence freely available to all doesn't comport with Watson's versions of events. That's her problem entirely since she's the one expecting people to believe her.
What's likelier: that the picture is wrong and useless anyway because of this never before mentioned disease she has, that the inconsistencies in her story and inability to verify any of it is imaginary, or that a drunken ideologue might tell a lie? You decide!
Edit: Steph writes at her blog, almost diamonds,
This is untrue. The 'reason' for my skepticism is that I'm being given a positive claim that obviates all need for Twatson to make any effort to identify her coffee-inviter. And it's a very, very rare condition that isn't demonstrated to be congenital. There's no information anywhere indicating she's taken a blow to the head. So, seeing all of that together, I decided to start looking through some of her 'lectures'.
Sure, Munkhaus, just like you’ve posted every disability you’ve ever had on the web for everyone to mock. Oh, wait. It’s not like anyone would ever mock Rebecca for anything, right?
Justicar’s basis for his “skepticism” is that Rebecca could name the people in pictures in her own PowerPoint. Are you saying you actually find that somehow compelling?
The very first one I opened finds her accurately identifying and putatively recognizing 100% of the people in a photograph.
Add to this her perfect ability to recognize and intercept celebrity atheists at conventions and it makes one rather dubious of her ad hoc claim to having a very rare brain defect.
First, I was presented with a claim: she has that disease.
Second, I postulated a hypothesis: she doesn't have this disease.
Third: I went looking for evidence that might bear on it.
Fourth: I noticed that in all cases of which I can reasonably obtain she demonstrates no indication of having the disease.
Fifth: I rejected the claim she has the disease because all available evidence is inconsistent with how people with prosopagnosia seem to operate: namely, she can identify people in pictures.