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Skeptic Vs Believers?


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#61 canuck

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Posted 24 April 2007 - 11:53 PM

Heavy sigh.................................!

"Dark Matter" is a hypotheis created in order to address an apparent discrepency between empirical observations and mass calculations predicated on Einstein's theories. If the empirical observations are wrong, the need for Dark Matter disappears; similarly, if Einstein is wrong, Dark Matter again disappears. This is a contentious issue, and by no means settled. Also, to date, nobody has placed a bottle of "Dark Matter" on my lab bench. I am waiting with baited breath.

You seem to have the definitive answers on supernatural phenomena generally, and "ghosts" in particular. I assume that your conclusions are based on extensive scientific research conducted in accordance with standard investigative protocols, conducted by competent and unbiased scientists, and not on anecdotal evidence?

Therefore, could you please give me the references to the studies that underpin your conclusions. Particularly, could you give me the references to the peer reviewed journals which published the results of these studies?

Regarding discarded scientific theory: It would probably be easier for you to take a course on the history of science, but just off the top of my head: the earth is flat; the earth is the centre of the universe; all life spontaneously arises from decaying materials; a doctor's competence and effectiveness can be judged by the amount of blood and gore on his hands and clothing; organic molecules cannot be synthesised; peptic ulcers are caused by eating spicy foods; poly-water; cold fusion; etc etc.

It may be instructive for you to check out:
http://www.bluffton....1/TenMyths.html
http://www.angelfire...rw/science.html

Also there is a relevant book: "Discarded Science: Ideas That Seemed Good at the Time" by John Grant

OK, being serious again: supernatural phenomena do exist, but at present we don't know enough about them to come to any conclusions. Unfortunately, the current paradigms of science are preventing the subject from being properly addressed. Ie: read the content of the two links given above.

#62 Grim Undertakings

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Posted 25 April 2007 - 09:34 AM

Well said, Canuck, well said!

:whee: :hug: :clap:

#63 plindboe

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  • Interests:I'm an atheist and a skeptic regarding paranormal beliefs, but nonetheless I find other people's belief systems fascinating. I think it's important for people who hold different beliefs to discuss with, and learn from, one another. The free exchange of ideas are essential to progress, and it's no coincidence that mankind's two greatest ideas, democracy and science, are based on this.<br /><br />Feel free to message me, if you want to talk. :)

Posted 25 April 2007 - 08:36 PM

Heavy sigh.................................!


Why post on the skeptics board if you don't like debating skeptics?


"Dark Matter" is a hypotheis created in order to address an apparent discrepency between empirical observations and mass calculations predicated on Einstein's theories. If the empirical observations are wrong, the need for Dark Matter disappears; similarly, if Einstein is wrong, Dark Matter again disappears. This is a contentious issue, and by no means settled. Also, to date, nobody has placed a bottle of "Dark Matter" on my lab bench. I am waiting with baited breath.


The general theory of relativity has performed admirably, which alone, makes dark matter anything but baseless speculation. The theory might not be complete, few scientists believe it is, but it's by far the best we have to describe matter on the macroscopic scale. Kepler's third law clearly indicates this missing matter as well. And in case you missed it, some of the strongest and most recent evidence was provided by the Bullet Cluster galaxies.

There's nothing strange about dark matter per say, it's merely defined as matter than does not emit or reflect light in adequate quantities to be directly observed through our telescopes. Unless you're of the curious opinion that matter can not possibly exist unless we observe it directly(even though we can indirectly), and then suddenly springs into existence as soon as we take a photograph of it, then you should not contest it's existence. If you for some reason insist on having something to contest, rather address the amount of dark matter measured, instead of it's obvious existence.


You seem to have the definitive answers on supernatural phenomena generally, and "ghosts" in particular. I assume that your conclusions are based on extensive scientific research conducted in accordance with standard investigative protocols, conducted by competent and unbiased scientists, and not on anecdotal evidence?

Therefore, could you please give me the references to the studies that underpin your conclusions. Particularly, could you give me the references to the peer reviewed journals which published the results of these studies?


No definite answers, even though I do realize I can sound a bit too sure of myself sometimes. Which of my statements are you looking for validation of?


Regarding discarded scientific theory: It would probably be easier for you to take a course on the history of science, but just off the top of my head: the earth is flat; the earth is the centre of the universe; all life spontaneously arises from decaying materials; a doctor's competence and effectiveness can be judged by the amount of blood and gore on his hands and clothing; organic molecules cannot be synthesised; peptic ulcers are caused by eating spicy foods; poly-water; cold fusion; etc etc.


Most of these things you mention have never had any scientific consensus behind them, which indicates that you're the one in dire need of such a course. But regarding the many ideas that at some point in history have been commonly accepted in the scientific community of that time, and have since been shown wrong, you still haven't explained why you consider any of them to be embarrassing idiocy. We all know that science started with humble beginnings and have grown from countless mistakes, that's how real progress is made, as opposed to the countless religions and paranormal beliefs that will remain unchanged no matter what evidence comes to light. I'm amazed every time I hear people consider an ability to learn from mistakes as a kind of weakness. Personally I consider it a strength.


It may be instructive for you to check out:
http://www.bluffton....1/TenMyths.html
http://www.angelfire...rw/science.html


Thanks for the papers, I enjoyed reading both of them, and agree with their excellent points. I've read similar papers before, and while the first one was good, it was the second article I found most interesting. Usually when people post links on paranormal boards it's simply the worst of the worst the internet has to offer that I have to go through, but both these articles were well worth my time.


OK, being serious again: supernatural phenomena do exist, but at present we don't know enough about them to come to any conclusions. Unfortunately, the current paradigms of science are preventing the subject from being properly addressed. Ie: read the content of the two links given above.


I notice this tactic often from believers who's favorite beliefs or hypotheses are currently not accepted by the scientific community. They seem to have the idea that invalidating science, and mentioning it's various problems will somehow give their own beliefs validity. It's quite true that science has those problems that the articles highlighted, but how that is support for the specific belief is beyond me. This might sound harsh, but such kind of whining will get you no where. Do science, that's the only chance you've got, and hopefully some day, if your beliefs have any validity, they will find their acceptance.
"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)

#64 Grim Undertakings

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 12:55 AM

....and then suddenly springs into existence as soon as we take a photograph of it....


I've often wondered if, it's not so much springing into existence, as it is the camera catching something that is too quick for the naked eye. :ghost:

#65 canuck

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Posted 28 April 2007 - 01:32 AM

Gee plindboe, I hardly know where to start...............

It seems that you have missed most of the points, then inadvertently restated the points in your own words, and then not understood that your points are a substantiation of the original points.

Firstly, regarding Dark Matter, I did not deny the existence of Dark Matter, I was merely establishing a context for its existence.

My point was that in Science, some observations are made, then a theory is made which aims to explain those observations. When additional observations are made, and they do not immediately fit the theory, or the theory is not entirely compatible with another theory, then any of a number of things can happen: the theory is scrapped; the theory is changed to accomodate those observations; an addendum is made to the original theory; the observations are ignored and discarded, and the original theory remains unchanged.

In the case of "Dark Matter", this is a theory that has been formulated to explain some anomolies, and to reconcile some gaps in the established theories. Not a deep concept.

As you yourself said: "The theory might not be complete, few scientists believe it is, but it's by far the best we have....". So, on the one hand you tell me it is incomplete and "the best we have", on the other you maintain the position that there is nothing more to learn.

Furthermore, you again miss the point of my somewhat short list of discarded ideas by saying that (and I am paraphrasing you here) they were believed at the time because people didn't know any better. You then explain how science came from humble beginnings and learns from its mistakes.

Seems to me that that is the central point of the whole discussion: the current level of scientific knowledge is a lot higher than it was 100 years ago, but there is still a long way to go. Clearly, the reason we spend zillions of dollars a year on scientific research is because most of us recognise that there is a lot yet to learn.

But despite you making this point, you then fail to apply it to the current discussion. The point, as it relates to this discussion is: for thousands of years, and across every culture on earth, probably millions of observations have been reported of supernatural phenomena. You are absolutely right when you say: there is an unchanging consistency in these observations. This, in itself, should be a trigger for a major effort on the part of science to explain this.

Therefore, issue here is the failure of "science" to investigate these observations, and to provide adequate credible explanations for these observations. The fact that the observations and phenomena have been embraced by religion and superstition is directly due to this failure of science.

In your final comments, you again miss the point. Nobody is invalidating science. The references to various aspects relating to the history of science and and its development on the back of discredited beliefs, are providing a context and continuity to the current situation in science.

In the end, you fail to understand the discussion, and its fundamental issue:

The discussion is not a rejection of science, but is a demand that the knowledge, methods, and processes of science be applied to the issues of the supernatural and scientifically valid and credible explanations be provided.

Within this discussion is the rejection of the scientific community's smug dismissal of supernatural phenomena, despite the fact that the scientific community has never subjected the phenomena to scientifically valid study.

There is a world of difference between the dismissal of science, and the dismissal of a position taken by science.

I guess the final irony is that you make dismissive comments about the "beliefs" of the people who are interested in the investigation of the supernatural. The irony is that your own position is based on belief, and not on scientific fact. This is why I asked you to provide a list of references to the scientific work which underpins your beliefs; not surprisingly, you have been unable to provide any.

To quote to you, your own comment: "Do science, that's the only chance you've got, and hopefully some day, if your beliefs have any validity, they will find their acceptance." Amen!

#66 Grim Undertakings

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Posted 28 April 2007 - 03:12 AM

:owl: :wow:

#67 Corey

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Posted 28 April 2007 - 03:43 PM

I use this quote from the initial post.

I myself am skeptical (I think everyone is to an extent) we have got to be, to rule out obvious things before we shout GHOST!!!!! but the skeptics (I feel don't give us credit of this) which is a shame for the research...

I think that nails it right there. I believe that Sasquatch exists, but I'm not willing to accept everything thats put forward as evidence. Unfortunately scientists tend to lump us all together. I say to a scientist that I believe in Sasquatch, and I get lumped in with those folks that believe that Sasquatch comes from UFO"S, or can shape-shift, or can become invisible. I'm sure there are alot of theories that all scientists dont agree on. Why can't they see that its the same with people that believe in things that are considered "paranormal"

#68 plindboe

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Posted 29 April 2007 - 05:38 PM

(I'll try to keep the following post as concise as I can, instead of pain-stakingly wading through all the arguments one by one, as is my normal practice. If you feel I've missed some of your most important points, please tell me, so I can address them. Btw, in the following post, when the term "believers" is used, it's not meant derogatory, but is simply short for "believers concerning the paranormal")

The central problem is this: Believers often haven't the faintest clue on what constitutes good and reliable scientific evidence, and what does not. Your comparison of dark matter to ghosts illustrated this to perfection. As believers tend to consider their favorite paranormal phenonema beyond question, their only resort is, certainly not introspection, but to put the blame elsewhere. Scientists are said to be stuck in their own paradigm, and too attached to their own theories to ever consider being wrong, yet these accusers never seem to realize that they could suffer from the same cognitive flaws. What's especially ironic is when a believer attacks science for changing when new evidence comes to light, while in the very same post claiming that science is entrenched in it's paradigm, unable to change to what he considers to be evidence. So two questions;

(1) How can you say that science changes and in the same post say that it suffers from an inability to change?
(2) How can you ridicule it's changes throughout history(and consider your own belief system's lack of change as a strength) while in the same post faulting it for being stuck in a paradigm unable to accommodate your belief system?

It seems you want science to be a logical impossibility.

What believers fail to consider is the possibility that the reason for the lacking acceptance by science could be because there is no such thing as the paranormal. It's rather impressive when scientists ask themselves "what if we're mistaken?" considering the extreme impact science have and has had throughout our societies, which makes it even more sad when people entrenched in the own paradigms use papers filled with such integrity to attack science. Even honest parapsychologists have had to come up with a term like the "decline effect" to explain that trials that look promising turns out less and less so, the more research is done. How's science supposed to research something that seems to vanish whenever proper controls are in place? Of course parapsychologists rarely start questioning their own paradigm, and due to this inability their only option is to conclude that the decline effect is some kind of attribute of the paranormal. A few do though. Here's Susan Blackmore on why she quit parapsychology after 30 years with no results:

------------------------------------------------
"Come to think of it, I feel slightly sad. It was just over thirty years ago that I had the dramatic out-of-body experience that convinced me of the reality of psychic phenomena and launched me on a crusade to show those closed-minded scientists that consciousness could reach beyond the body and that death was not the end. Just a few years of careful experiments changed all that. I found no psychic phenomena - only wishful thinking, self-deception, experimental error and, occasionally, fraud. I became a sceptic."
------------------------------------------------

It's so easy to accuse science of discarding and ignoring evidence that doesn't fit into theories, and while that certainly has some validity on an individual basis, history shows that this is not how science as a whole operates. Consider Newton's theory of gravity. This has possibly been one of the most famous and revered theories of science, as it could explain so much. Yet scientists were well aware of several anomalies, especially concerning the precession of Mercury, and these observations were by no means surpressed, as you seem to suspect should have happened. The scientific community knew that there was a problem, and they were not afraid to admit that an improvement of the theory or a new theory was needed. It's true that it did take a while before Albo's theory was accepted, mainly because so few understood it at that time, but it was the more accurate theory of the two, which lead to it's broad acceptance.

It needs to be pointed out that you seem to have gotten the impression that I think there's nothing more to learn, and I don't know what I've said that made you conclude that. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. I still consider science in it's early stages, with countless mysterious out there yet to be revealed. I further need to point out the absurdity of you asking me to provide scientific evidence, without telling me which of my beliefs you want evidence for.

To quote to you, your own comment: "Do science, that's the only chance you've got, and hopefully some day, if your beliefs have any validity, they will find their acceptance." Amen!


I'm looking forward to your results. :duel:
"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)

#69 canuck

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Posted 30 April 2007 - 02:57 AM

(I'll try to keep the following post as concise as I can, instead of pain-stakingly wading through all the arguments one by one, as is my normal practice. If you feel I've missed some of your most important points, please tell me, so I can address them. Btw, in the following post, when the term "believers" is used, it's not meant derogatory, but is simply short for "believers concerning the paranormal")

The central problem is this: Believers often haven't the faintest clue on what constitutes good and reliable scientific evidence, and what does not. Your comparison of dark matter to ghosts illustrated this to perfection. As believers tend to consider their favorite paranormal phenonema beyond question, their only resort is, certainly not introspection, but to put the blame elsewhere. Scientists are said to be stuck in their own paradigm, and too attached to their own theories to ever consider being wrong, yet these accusers never seem to realize that they could suffer from the same cognitive flaws. What's especially ironic is when a believer attacks science for changing when new evidence comes to light, while in the very same post claiming that science is entrenched in it's paradigm, unable to change to what he considers to be evidence. So two questions;

(1) How can you say that science changes and in the same post say that it suffers from an inability to change?
(2) How can you ridicule it's changes throughout history(and consider your own belief system's lack of change as a strength) while in the same post faulting it for being stuck in a paradigm unable to accommodate your belief system?

It seems you want science to be a logical impossibility.

What believers fail to consider is the possibility that the reason for the lacking acceptance by science could be because there is no such thing as the paranormal. It's rather impressive when scientists ask themselves "what if we're mistaken?" considering the extreme impact science have and has had throughout our societies, which makes it even more sad when people entrenched in the own paradigms use papers filled with such integrity to attack science. Even honest parapsychologists have had to come up with a term like the "decline effect" to explain that trials that look promising turns out less and less so, the more research is done. How's science supposed to research something that seems to vanish whenever proper controls are in place? Of course parapsychologists rarely start questioning their own paradigm, and due to this inability their only option is to conclude that the decline effect is some kind of attribute of the paranormal. A few do though. Here's Susan Blackmore on why she quit parapsychology after 30 years with no results:

------------------------------------------------
"Come to think of it, I feel slightly sad. It was just over thirty years ago that I had the dramatic out-of-body experience that convinced me of the reality of psychic phenomena and launched me on a crusade to show those closed-minded scientists that consciousness could reach beyond the body and that death was not the end. Just a few years of careful experiments changed all that. I found no psychic phenomena - only wishful thinking, self-deception, experimental error and, occasionally, fraud. I became a sceptic."
------------------------------------------------

It's so easy to accuse science of discarding and ignoring evidence that doesn't fit into theories, and while that certainly has some validity on an individual basis, history shows that this is not how science as a whole operates. Consider Newton's theory of gravity. This has possibly been one of the most famous and revered theories of science, as it could explain so much. Yet scientists were well aware of several anomalies, especially concerning the precession of Mercury, and these observations were by no means surpressed, as you seem to suspect should have happened. The scientific community knew that there was a problem, and they were not afraid to admit that an improvement of the theory or a new theory was needed. It's true that it did take a while before Albo's theory was accepted, mainly because so few understood it at that time, but it was the more accurate theory of the two, which lead to it's broad acceptance.

It needs to be pointed out that you seem to have gotten the impression that I think there's nothing more to learn, and I don't know what I've said that made you conclude that. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. I still consider science in it's early stages, with countless mysterious out there yet to be revealed. I further need to point out the absurdity of you asking me to provide scientific evidence, without telling me which of my beliefs you want evidence for.

To quote to you, your own comment: "Do science, that's the only chance you've got, and hopefully some day, if your beliefs have any validity, they will find their acceptance." Amen!


I'm looking forward to your results. :whee:


As I bang my head against the wall..........................

1. There are some universally observed phenomena, collectively known as "The Supernatural".
2. To date, "Science" has not provided a credible explanation for any of them.
3. In order to settle the issue, it is required that each phenomenon be characterised by means of the application of standard scientific investigative methods, applied by appropriately qualified scientists.
4. The issue will be deemed resolved when "Science" can reproduce the phenomena on demand.

#70 stevenedel

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Posted 30 April 2007 - 12:59 PM

As I bang my head against the wall..........................

1. There are some universally observed phenomena, collectively known as "The Supernatural".
2. To date, "Science" has not provided a credible explanation for any of them.
3. In order to settle the issue, it is required that each phenomenon be characterised by means of the application of standard scientific investigative methods, applied by appropriately qualified scientists.
4. The issue will be deemed resolved when "Science" can reproduce the phenomena on demand.


1. Are there? I never saw a ghost. I don't know a single person who ever did. I have never encountered any reason, anywhere, to assume the existence of "the supernatural". Many others may say otherwise, but that doesn't mean it is therefore real. These phenomena are not 'univerally observed'; at best, a significant number of people BELIEVES in them, and a significantly smaller number SAYS they have encountered them; a yet smaller number has produced 'evidence', and most of that doesn't prove much more than an inability to handle a camera under bad lighting conditions.

(A hilarious example of the inconsistency of people who think they have paranormal gifts could be seen in Dutch TV last week, in a show that runs a 'best psychic' contest. One of the candidates who went through to the finals called her mother: "Mom, I'm through to the finals! Isn't it fantastic!". To which her mother, clearly of the sceptic type, replied: "Yes, honey; but as a psychic, shouldn't you have known that?")

2. Hasn't it? Delusion; willful deception; wishful thinking (I quote from Plindboe's post a little above); misperception; gullibility. All sound explanations. The issue is not science failing to provide credible explanations; the problem is the supernatural failing to produce credible phenomena.

3. Science will do so as soon as a phenomenon occurs with enough credibility to warrant the expenditure of time and resources. But why would it waste those on vague claims and hearsay, or on 'evidence' that usually takes no more than a mere glance to debunk? If they had to do that, scientists might as well run into the woods looking for unicorns, scour the seas for mermaids, and uproot their backyard looking for fairies and gnomes.

In the past there have been formal divisions of parapsychology at Dutch universities; the one in Utrecht lasted longest, but they were all closed down eventually because none of the research yielded any positive evidence at all.

4. You are awfully strict on science and remarkably lenient towards believers. Don't you think THEY have something to prove? Nonetheless, many ghostly phenomena, such as the ridiculous 'orbs', can easily be reproduced on demand. All manner of strange misperceptions can be induced in people. You can be made to see movement where there is none, or hear voices where there are none, under experimental conditions.

Edited by stevenedel, 30 April 2007 - 01:03 PM.

Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. (Carl Sagan)

#71 howlongishtenight

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Posted 01 May 2007 - 01:25 AM

"Have you personally examined the points and counter-points of the argument thoroughly and open-mindedly with logic and the scientific method or do you instead rely upon “your betters” to appraise the truthfulness of your beliefs? Are you so completely convinced of your opinion, that before even examining new evidence, you will immediately discard the heretical data without thorough consideration? If the answer is yes, (and for many it is) then you must admit you have built your belief system using exactly the same method as any religious zealot. Though this zealotry will not culminate in terrorist acts, the results of an unexamined belief system pervading the scientific community could be devastating."
-Anti-relativity.com


I liked this quote because it shows the hypocrisy that some skeptics will easily fall into. "Science" becomes their religion, Randi their god. (whom, btw is a perfect example of someone not educated in science who is under the impression he has never been wrong)
A good skeptic will not only be skeptical of the claims made, but of the skepticism used to "debunk" those claims as well. Self-confirming bias and Fundamental Attribution error are everywhere in this general debate, especially on the internet.

A consider myself skeptical, but by no means am I biased. A truly open mind is vitaly critical for processing sensory input, but critical evaluation is as well. I see little point in turning this into a "political-style" debate( in the sense that everyone has their mind already made up coming in, with no intention of learning, listening, or compromising; thus rendering the whole debate pointless) If you are going to be a skeptic by trade, it should undermine your "perfect" critical thinking skills to hold a double-standard. Be critical of everyone, everything.

This being said though, I do have a strong opinion that will not easily change. It is, however, fairly ambiguous and I see little reason why it should be controversial. I believe that there are many things (physical laws, natural truths, new technology) which humanity has not discovered. Therefore, I do not believe that every single "anamolous event" has to conform with our current level of scientific understanding. If we try to make everything fit in where we are currently, then how shall we ever evolve as a scientific community? To me discovery and pseudoscience should be encouraged, not lambasted; it is the essence of science to challenge currently held beliefs and attempt to widen our true knowledge of the world.

Sometimes I ask myself what Tesla could accomplish if he were alive today. But then I realize, he would probably be shut down before his career even got off the ground. No one would take his work seriously and he'd have absolutely zero chance of recieving funding. Meanwhile James Randi would probably be sitting somewhere with a self-idolizing smirk on his face, staring at a fresh check for his newest book: "Nikola 'Flim-Flam' Tesla, a crackpot debunked."


To me, an impossibility is just a paradoxical concept (the only impossiblity is that a true imposibility exists) created to simplify the world for the human mind, a Gestaltian way of boxing in life’s possibilities. You tell a young kid that something is impossible, and a little bit of their potential dries up right there on the spot. There comes a time when we must ask ourselves, as humans, as individuals, as freely thinking beings, whether it is a crime to dream; whether questioning widely held beliefs makes you insane, or genius?

The best summary of my opinion is offered by author Charles W. Chesnutt : "Impossibilities are merely things which we have not yet learned.”

Disclaimer: This was an overview of the skeptics vs. "whoever skeptics are supposed to be against" arguement. There is no exact reference to ghosts, or any specific person on this board.
Also: Admit it please. The Wright Brothers were not a hoax. Impossible is nothing.

#72 Grim Undertakings

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Posted 01 May 2007 - 12:14 PM

:hug:

#73 stevenedel

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Posted 01 May 2007 - 01:58 PM

I liked this quote because it shows the hypocrisy that some skeptics will easily fall into. "Science" becomes their religion, Randi their god. (whom, btw is a perfect example of someone not educated in science who is under the impression he has never been wrong)
A good skeptic will not only be skeptical of the claims made, but of the skepticism used to "debunk" those claims as well. Self-confirming bias and Fundamental Attribution error are everywhere in this general debate, especially on the internet.


This is a very common instance of faulty reasoning often used to discredit scientists and skeptics. It is, as Richard Dawkins has observed, a red herring. It compares two things that are of an altogether different order. Religions (or believers in paranormal phenomena) presume to make statements about the nature of reality (the world, the universe). Skepticism (i.e., the scientific method) does not do any such thing. It does not make statements about the nature of reality; it is only concerned with methods for uncovering it. This it does by not taking anything for granted, but by systematically questioning and testing real world observations as well as claims regarding the real world. This approach has been immensely succesful. Without it, we wouldn't even have the PC or the internet that allow us to have this discussion. The method of systematic doubt has brought us closer to the essence of nature in any field of knowledge you can think of that has any bearing on the factual world. It has revealed the esoteric world of quantum mechanics, which is more fantastic than anything you will find on this site, and no doubt will reveal lots more in years to come. If evidence doesn't stand up to its scrutiny, it is not because the method is flawed or because skepticism is also 'just a belief', but because the evidence is no good. Good evidence will stand close scrutiny.

If you suggest we should doubt this method like all else, what you say is that we should be satsified with bad evidence. That we should, in fact, accept dogma. That we shouldn't ask questions. It would plunge us back into the darkest middle ages, quite apart from the fact that such an unquestioning, so-called 'open-minded' attitude is downright dangerous and very hard to distinguish from sheer stupidity.
Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. (Carl Sagan)

#74 plindboe

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Posted 01 May 2007 - 07:36 PM

I'm amazed when cranks, having read a few articles on the internet suddenly convince themselves that they are experts in a certain field. It's fascinating that this phenonemon especially happens with the natural sciences. No sane person without the proper education goes up to a airline pilot telling him how he is supposed to fly his plane, or to a historian specialized in the french revolution trying to educate him on the period, yet with natural science everyone seems to be an expert.

Studying science myself I know how hard it is. It's not something you learn from reading a few books or articles. You study extremely complicated and exceedingly boring books, that you have to read very slowly and do repetitive calculations on to fully understand them. You work on projects with others and are subjected to viewpoints that conflict with your own, and you are critiqued by the professors and fellow students if your work is not perfect. It's a humbling experience, which makes you realize that no matter how brilliant you think you are, there are plenty of people who are quicker and more knowledgable than you just around the corner.

And then you log online and the net is crammed with arrogant people convinced they know better than the dedicated scientists who have studied a certain problem for most of their lifes. It would be funny, if it wasn't so tragic.

That said, it's quite true that we shouldn't trust anyone blindly, and even educated people can be wrong. But how countless cranks manage to convince themselves that they are authorities of truth, and the scientific community just a bunch of closeminded idiots, I can only attribute to a lack of humility; the kind of humility that comes with education in the specific field.

As a skeptic I don't really buy anything anyone says as the absolute truth. Considering the extraordinary track record of science I believe that trust in it's discoveries and theories is the safest way to be as close to the Truth as possible. But science certainly ain't perfection, and my relationship with it is anything but dogmatic.

PS.Nice posts stevenedel :Spaz:

Edited by plindboe, 01 May 2007 - 07:37 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)

#75 MoonChild

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Posted 01 May 2007 - 08:36 PM

hahahahahaha dedicated scientists! I love that yeah!


Dedicated for what? For proving their own set of belief's with the parametres they let in and they define! The world is way bigger than the tunnel vision of a mediocre scientist!
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