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As a skeptic what would change your mind?


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#1 Axman

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Posted 02 October 2009 - 08:16 PM

Most skeptics would dismiss a photo as a hoax and a personal experience would just make them think it's a trick of the mind. What would be the clincher to make you believe 100%?
Ah. Well... I attended Juilliard... I'm a graduate of the Harvard business school. I travel quite extensively. I lived through the Black Plague and had a pretty good time during that. I've seen the EXORCIST ABOUT A HUNDRED AND SIXTY-SEVEN TIMES, AND IT KEEPS GETTING FUNNIER EVERY SINGLE TIME I SEE IT... NOT TO MENTION THE FACT THAT YOU'RE TALKING TO A DEAD GUY... NOW WHAT DO YOU THINK? You think I'm qualified? --BeetlejuiceI'm the ghost with the most, babe.--BeetlejuiceWe've come for your daughter Chuck--Beetlejuice

#2 OMPRDave

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 02:15 AM

As a skeptic I just want the things people claim to have an explanation. I don't want my mind changed, just some little thing to explain one little thing people claim happens.

Doesn't get much more skeptical than that.
"There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance - that principle is contempt prior to investigation." Herbert Spencer

#3 stevenedel

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 05:06 AM

Most skeptics would dismiss a photo as a hoax and a personal experience would just make them think it's a trick of the mind. What would be the clincher to make you believe 100%?


Actually, nothing would make me "believe" a 100%. As a skeptic I don't want to believe, I want to be convinced by evidence and my view of reality is determined by best evidence. So if somebody has a photo first of all I need solid evidence that it is not a hoax or a technical artefact or whatever. I need to see all natural explanations rigourously ruled out (and just saying it isn't a hoax is not enough!). In practice this would mean that the photo has to have been taken under well controlled, well documented circumstances. Even then though, if there really is something unexplained in the photo that in itself doens't imply that it's a ghost. So I would also need to see evidence that compellingly links that type of anomaly to ghosts. How does the owner of the photograph know it's a ghost? On what evidence does he base that conclusion?

The same goes for personal experience. Anecdotal evidence is never good enough. The mind, our memory, our eyes and ears can play endless tricks on us. It is well known how unreliable eye witness accounts are and how widely accounts of the same event differ. It is also well known and documented that what we think is a clear recollection of an event is in fact for the largest part a story constructed by our mind to string together the snippets of real memories that we retain from that event and make it into a logical whole. Then there is suggestibility, self-suggestion, misinterpretation of common occurences, and mental illness. What evidence does the person have that what he or she experienced did not come from inside him- or herself but existed in outside reality? How can he or she know for sure? And again, even if he or she does have such evidence and knows for sure, how does that lead to the conclusion that it must be a ghost?

Last night I was watching an episode of Haunted Homes. I'm always amazed at the 'anything goes' mentality regarding evidence in such shows. Getting a chill, the feeling of being watched, an increased heartrate, sweating, nausea, headache, the impression of seeing a fleeting shadow from the corner of your eye, a slight noise down the hall, everything is immediately and without question interpreted as evidence of a haunting. Yet we are talking about a group of people sitting around awake, in a darkened house in the middle of the night, all of them convinced a priori that the house is haunted, and feeding each other with sugeestions ("did you see that...?"). That situation in itself more than suffices to explain just about all of the experiences just listed. People don't see very well in the dark (I have truly never understood why ghost hunts have to be done with the lights out - do the dead actually care whether it's light or dark!?); sleep deprivation will give you chillls and a headache; and if you believe in the haunting your own tension and suggestibility are more than enough to set your heart racing, your stomach churning, and to make you see strange things. The bump down the hallway might have been attributed to the neighbours, the house in question being semi-detached, but again, nobody seemed to think of that...
Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. (Carl Sagan)

#4 Kristy

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 07:46 AM

As a skeptic I just want the things people claim to have an explanation. I don't want my mind changed, just some little thing to explain one little thing people claim happens.

Doesn't get much more skeptical than that.


Dave how about something as solid as a half full perfume bottle picking "itself" up off of a bedroom table and flying across the room-not once but twice? how would that grab you? what would you think since nothng could possibly explain it "naturally" ? This did it for me-I have seen alot of things! entities etc.......chalked those up to possible hallucinations, meaning they are not provable-I don't hallucinate as a rule..lol
Great question Axman.

Kristy
Oh I forgot to mention...this perfume bottle incidents happend in a room full of people - there were about 7 of us. We spent the night in the livingroom...wimps.

Edited by Kristy, 03 October 2009 - 07:49 AM.


#5 Axman

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 11:21 AM

I myself am a believer but I am also a skeptic. That's to say that I have witnessed some things like the moving objects similar to what Kristy encountered. I also am skeptical of certain things involving evidence like Steven has explained. I am 100% a believer that spirits do exist but am skeptical of what evidence is presented. The problem for me is how to get it truly documented. If there were a way to keep a truly controlled environment while gathering evidence, that would make the job of an investigator much easier.
Ah. Well... I attended Juilliard... I'm a graduate of the Harvard business school. I travel quite extensively. I lived through the Black Plague and had a pretty good time during that. I've seen the EXORCIST ABOUT A HUNDRED AND SIXTY-SEVEN TIMES, AND IT KEEPS GETTING FUNNIER EVERY SINGLE TIME I SEE IT... NOT TO MENTION THE FACT THAT YOU'RE TALKING TO A DEAD GUY... NOW WHAT DO YOU THINK? You think I'm qualified? --BeetlejuiceI'm the ghost with the most, babe.--BeetlejuiceWe've come for your daughter Chuck--Beetlejuice

#6 CaveRat2

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 11:35 AM

I thin kthe most convincing argument would be made by repeatability. That would be a situation where the activity could be triggered on demand in some way. Such a situation would allow for testing to be devised and conducted directly aimed at the event. As it is now we are at the mercy of whatever is happening. We are unable to set up the experiment so to speak. Predictability would allow us to use strict scientific protocols and develop tests accordingly.
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#7 OMPRDave

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 12:42 PM

As a skeptic I just want the things people claim to have an explanation. I don't want my mind changed, just some little thing to explain one little thing people claim happens.

Doesn't get much more skeptical than that.


Dave how about something as solid as a half full perfume bottle picking "itself" up off of a bedroom table and flying across the room-not once but twice? how would that grab you? what would you think since nothing could possibly explain it "naturally" ? This did it for me-I have seen a lot of things! entities etc.......chalked those up to possible hallucinations, meaning they are not provable-I don't hallucinate as a rule..lol
Great question Axeman.

Kristy
Oh I forgot to mention...this perfume bottle incidents happened in a room full of people - there were about 7 of us. We spent the night in the living room...wimps.

I think that would certainly get my attention!

What I was referring to isn't so much my belief that unexplained things can and do happen - it's more that skeptical side of me that has the need to know why it's happening. Like Jim posted I also aim for getting repetition in my research, and so far no dice.
"There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance - that principle is contempt prior to investigation." Herbert Spencer

#8 Axman

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 03:17 PM

I thin kthe most convincing argument would be made by repeatability. That would be a situation where the activity could be triggered on demand in some way. Such a situation would allow for testing to be devised and conducted directly aimed at the event. As it is now we are at the mercy of whatever is happening. We are unable to set up the experiment so to speak. Predictability would allow us to use strict scientific protocols and develop tests accordingly.



Predictability would also bring out the hoaxers more, which is unfortunate.
Ah. Well... I attended Juilliard... I'm a graduate of the Harvard business school. I travel quite extensively. I lived through the Black Plague and had a pretty good time during that. I've seen the EXORCIST ABOUT A HUNDRED AND SIXTY-SEVEN TIMES, AND IT KEEPS GETTING FUNNIER EVERY SINGLE TIME I SEE IT... NOT TO MENTION THE FACT THAT YOU'RE TALKING TO A DEAD GUY... NOW WHAT DO YOU THINK? You think I'm qualified? --BeetlejuiceI'm the ghost with the most, babe.--BeetlejuiceWe've come for your daughter Chuck--Beetlejuice

#9 greg_dragonlvr

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Posted 11 October 2009 - 07:32 AM

I would think in this case that predicability would mean that after you got done with your testing and evaluation, I could come in after you and get the same results. The conn man aspect of that would be a big warning flag and has been used enough that ppl are looking for that sort of thing

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#10 stevenedel

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Posted 11 October 2009 - 09:34 AM

Kristy
Oh I forgot to mention...this perfume bottle incidents happend in a room full of people - there were about 7 of us. We spent the night in the livingroom...wimps.


Seven people in one bedroom? And still room for a table? I wish I could afford to live on such a scale...
Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. (Carl Sagan)

#11 tommyhancock

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Posted 30 October 2009 - 05:02 AM

Most skeptics would dismiss a photo as a hoax and a personal experience would just make them think it's a trick of the mind. What would be the clincher to make you believe 100%?


Actually, nothing would make me "believe" a 100%. As a skeptic I don't want to believe, I want to be convinced by evidence and my view of reality is determined by best evidence. So if somebody has a photo first of all I need solid evidence that it is not a hoax or a technical artefact or whatever. I need to see all natural explanations rigourously ruled out (and just saying it isn't a hoax is not enough!). In practice this would mean that the photo has to have been taken under well controlled, well documented circumstances. Even then though, if there really is something unexplained in the photo that in itself doens't imply that it's a ghost. So I would also need to see evidence that compellingly links that type of anomaly to ghosts. How does the owner of the photograph know it's a ghost? On what evidence does he base that conclusion?

The same goes for personal experience. Anecdotal evidence is never good enough. The mind, our memory, our eyes and ears can play endless tricks on us. It is well known how unreliable eye witness accounts are and how widely accounts of the same event differ. It is also well known and documented that what we think is a clear recollection of an event is in fact for the largest part a story constructed by our mind to string together the snippets of real memories that we retain from that event and make it into a logical whole. Then there is suggestibility, self-suggestion, misinterpretation of common occurences, and mental illness. What evidence does the person have that what he or she experienced did not come from inside him- or herself but existed in outside reality? How can he or she know for sure? And again, even if he or she does have such evidence and knows for sure, how does that lead to the conclusion that it must be a ghost?

Last night I was watching an episode of Haunted Homes. I'm always amazed at the 'anything goes' mentality regarding evidence in such shows. Getting a chill, the feeling of being watched, an increased heartrate, sweating, nausea, headache, the impression of seeing a fleeting shadow from the corner of your eye, a slight noise down the hall, everything is immediately and without question interpreted as evidence of a haunting. Yet we are talking about a group of people sitting around awake, in a darkened house in the middle of the night, all of them convinced a priori that the house is haunted, and feeding each other with sugeestions ("did you see that...?"). That situation in itself more than suffices to explain just about all of the experiences just listed. People don't see very well in the dark (I have truly never understood why ghost hunts have to be done with the lights out - do the dead actually care whether it's light or dark!?); sleep deprivation will give you chillls and a headache; and if you believe in the haunting your own tension and suggestibility are more than enough to set your heart racing, your stomach churning, and to make you see strange things. The bump down the hallway might have been attributed to the neighbours, the house in question being semi-detached, but again, nobody seemed to think of that...



ok,admittingly you make numerous great points.that said i completely and utterly believe in ghosts.i cant "prove" to you that theyre real its just based on personal accounts that you would,understandably,write off as just some story.

what i want to know is this.are you skeptical:meaning you dont THINK theres anything out there,but at least open to the fact that you,just like me,COULD be wrong?or do you just flat out not believe and think its all nonsense?just curious because like you,i think half the "hunting" shows are rediculous and more funny than anything else

#12 plindboe

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Posted 30 October 2009 - 01:19 PM

Most skeptics would dismiss a photo as a hoax


I disagree. Most photos are explained by things like the flash fuction and things out of focus, and in many of the cooler photos out there, pareidolia is the culprit.

True hoaxes seem to be the rare exception. It's only when the photos look too good to be true, people suspect they are hoaxes. Curiously, this also seems to occur when adament believers see such impressive photos, their first reaction is proclaiming hoax.


and a personal experience would just make them think it's a trick of the mind.


That depends entirely on the experience.


What would be the clincher to make you believe 100%?


As Caveman mentioned, reproducibility would make all the difference, as that is one of the cornerstones of science. We can't test something, simply based on a bunch of random stories, and alas, we know all too well that anecdotes are notoriously unreliable. Human brains aren't infallible pieces of technology, they misobserve, misinterpret, misremember and distort recounts, the latter three of these are heavily influenced by bias. Reproducibility would remove these otherwise very rational doubts, and would make these things a part of scientific inquiry.

Personal experiences, witnesssed by others, where there was no doubt that something very weird was going on, and where people can agree on what happened, could convince me of a number of things, depending on what the experience actually was. Still, a part of me doubts that I would ask the same questions, reach the same conclusions and beliefs as non-skeptics. The vast majority of people simply form beliefs before doing too much scrutiny, that are either based on prior belief systems or by grabbing the nearest culturally induced belief system that seems to explain the experience in question.

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Edited by plindboe, 30 October 2009 - 01:21 PM.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." (Bertrand Russell)

#13 plindboe

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Posted 30 October 2009 - 01:46 PM

Great post, stevenedel.

I especially liked this part:

Last night I was watching an episode of Haunted Homes. I'm always amazed at the 'anything goes' mentality regarding evidence in such shows. Getting a chill, the feeling of being watched, an increased heartrate, sweating, nausea, headache, the impression of seeing a fleeting shadow from the corner of your eye, a slight noise down the hall, everything is immediately and without question interpreted as evidence of a haunting. Yet we are talking about a group of people sitting around awake, in a darkened house in the middle of the night, all of them convinced a priori that the house is haunted, and feeding each other with sugeestions ("did you see that...?").


And I found it especially ironic considering the following post describing a group experience where a perfume bottle was flying across a room.

A group of believers together, seem to be able to convince each other of just about anything, and combined with the malleability of memory the stories get more and more impressive with each retelling. Someone hitting a table and a bottle falling down, over time turns into bottles dancing in the air.

Peter :Spaz:

Edited by plindboe, 30 October 2009 - 01:47 PM.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." (Bertrand Russell)

#14 Axman

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Posted 30 October 2009 - 10:07 PM

I guess the skeptics that I refer to are the ones who are not interested in the paranormal. The skeptics with interest in the paranormal are more scrutinizing. As I mentioned before I am in that gray area where I believe spirits but will scrutinize any evidence and will check out any of my own personal experiences to see if there's any chance of it being natural. So I suppose that there's not going to be any 100% lean either way on my part. That's probably the most "healthy" way to be in this case.
Ah. Well... I attended Juilliard... I'm a graduate of the Harvard business school. I travel quite extensively. I lived through the Black Plague and had a pretty good time during that. I've seen the EXORCIST ABOUT A HUNDRED AND SIXTY-SEVEN TIMES, AND IT KEEPS GETTING FUNNIER EVERY SINGLE TIME I SEE IT... NOT TO MENTION THE FACT THAT YOU'RE TALKING TO A DEAD GUY... NOW WHAT DO YOU THINK? You think I'm qualified? --BeetlejuiceI'm the ghost with the most, babe.--BeetlejuiceWe've come for your daughter Chuck--Beetlejuice

#15 Corey

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 05:07 PM

Well actually, my mind doesn't really to be changed. It's more like my level of belief can always go up.
I entertain the possibility that ghosts exist, I'm just not sold on the idea.

What would it really take to convince me? A personal experience. A real head-scratcher as far as an explanation goes.
I don't need to be physically assaulted, but a good up close look at something would be nice.




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