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Dissecting "Debunking Pseudo-Skeptical Arguments"

Discuss conspiracies, mysteries and paranormal phenomena.

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Dissecting "Debunking Pseudo-Skeptical Arguments"

Postby skepticguy » Fri Jun 06, 2008 6:52 pm

On another board, a user rather fond of paranormal claims posted a link to one of your articles “debunking skeptics.â€￾ Knowing that this individual isn’t as critical of his sources as I’d like him to be, I was curious as to what he’d found on your site. I read your article and would like to comment. I found your own forum and hope you’d be open to a critique of your writing. I’d like to begin with the first “argumentâ€￾ you claim skeptics make.

Argument # 1: “It is irrational to believe in anything that hasn't been proven.â€￾

This is the main philosophy behind most skeptical arguments. As Dr. Melvin Morse, Seattle pediatrician and author specializing in child Near Death Experiences (www.melvinmorse.com) said:

“The notion that 'It is rational to only believe what's been proven' somehow got twisted into ‘It is irrational to believe in anything that hasn't been proven’.â€￾ (Interview from video: Conversations with God)


Is this an actual argument that skeptics have used, or is this a paranormal researcher’s characterization of a skeptical argument? You point to the paranormal researcher’s quote but not to an actual skeptic using this line of reasoning. I think, if you are going to say skeptics use this argument that you should at least give an example from an actual skeptic, and not a quote from a non-skeptic.

By "proven" skeptics mean proven according to the scientific method, which they consider to be the only reliable method.


While it is true that the scientific method is the most reliable method for determining the likelihood (or not) of a given proposal, no skeptic I’m aware of will claim that the method PROVES anything absolutely. In science, everything is provisional. Science is open to criticism and falsification. A good skeptic is ready to adopt new views given sufficient evidence. To claim that skeptics “proveâ€￾ things through science is false.

There are several problems with this argument:


Other than the fact that it’s a false characterization for which you’ve given no real evidence a skeptic uses.

First of all, just because something hasn't been proven and established in mainstream science doesn't mean it doesn't exist or isn't true.


Wait a minute. I thought the characterization here was one of not believing a claim to be true, not necessarily that something doesn’t exist. That’s a marked distinction which I see you are far too eager to blur.

If it did, then nothing would exist until proven or discovered. Bacteria and germs would never have caused illnesses until they were proven and discovered, smoking would not cause cancer until it was proven, the planet Pluto would not have existed until it was discovered, etc.


This is what happens when you attack a straw man instead of an actual argument. It’s also what happens when you make subtle changes to your own characterizations. Not believing in something has no effect on whether or not that something –if it turns out to exist—can do, or effect, something else. I don’t know of any skeptic who would make such a claim. Imagine a person 600 years ago claiming that illnesses were caused by tiny bugs, too small for a human to see (first of all, why would they propose such a thing without viable evidence, but that’s beside the point). A contemporary claims, however, that illnesses were caused by invisible demons, working under orders of a supreme evil entity. At the time, both claims are (relatively) equally absurd to those first hearing the proposals. However, beyond the surface unsubstantiated claims, we can see already that one is more likely to be true than the other. How? Because one references mechanisms that are already known (albeit on a much smaller scale!) while the other actually presents more questions than it can answer.

So, what is required to evidence these claims so that a reasonable person of the 1400s could decide upon which to hang his hat? The first rests solely on naturalistic mechanisms which –while not directly observable at the time—could be inferred from the larger, natural world. While tiny bugs causing illness might not have been directly observable to our 15th century friend, larger parasites known to exist could serve as models for these tiny equivalents. What, however, would suffice for evidence of the latter claim? Well, first of all, “demonsâ€￾ would need to be defined. Typically, demons are thought to be entities which exist not in the natural world but the supernatural. So, the first step would be to bring evidence that a supernatural world is likely to exist. And, this would have to be done without begging the question or resorting to circular argumentation. Not an easy task (and still not accomplished to this day). If a supernatural world could even reasonably be implied to exist, the next step would be to provide evidence that it was populated by such things as “demonsâ€￾. If demons could be reasonably established, then one would have to explain how something from a supernatural world could interact and influence the natural. If that was accomplished, one would next need to demonstrate why such a supernatural entity would have any interest in natural bodies, such as ours. And the list goes on and on and on with, it will be noted, NO known equivalent in the natural world.

The same is true of something like Pluto. Simply positing the existence of another planet in our solar system without any evidence to support such a claim is indeed absurd and should be rejected. Zecharia Sitchen has done as much for the so-called “12th Planetâ€￾. However, theorizing that an unseen planet exists beyond any visible planetary bodies in our solar system based upon observable evidence such as gravitational pulls on neighboring planets is a good reason to at least consider the possibility that such other planetary bodies may exist, investigate the claim cautiously and methodically, and most skeptics are at least provisionally open to such theories when so presented. Your characterization notwithstanding. Consider how Pluto was theorized to exist against Sitchen’s notion of the “12th Planetâ€￾. Observations of Neptune in the late 19th century caused astronomers to speculate that Uranus' orbit was being disturbed by another planet in addition to Neptune; and those observations and speculations led to the discovery of Pluto. Sitchin, however, bases his arguments on his personal interpretations of Pre-Nubian and Sumerian texts. He’s not basing his arguments on observable, astronomical data. Do you see the difference? Hardly the equivalents in scientific hypotheses. Does this mean a 12th planet, without a doubt, doesn’t exist? No. But what it does mean is that without better evidence we have no reason to believe that it might. We have other, more scientifically valid explanations for “mysteriesâ€￾ such as those Sitchen believes are answered only by his speculations.

As far as cancer and smoking, indeed one needn’t believe such a thing if there is no evidence. Without support, such a claim isn’t any different than claiming that smoking causes cleaner teeth, more intense color vision or the spontaneous growth of new limbs. Unsubstantiated claims should always be held suspect pending further information. However, if it was observed –even without knowing why—that people who smoked died at a higher rate than those who didn’t smoke, that would be sufficient reason to at least suspect that smoking might be dangerous to one’s health (all other things considered).

It’s not that skeptics like myself decide not to believe in things without proof, but, instead, we choose not believe something to exist without sufficient evidence or good reason. Sometimes we’re wrong. But we’re wrong for very good reasons and then we are humble enough to change our position. And, we’re only wrong when sufficient evidence or reason tips the scales.

Anyone knows that this simply is not so. For instance, when Acupuncture was first introduced in the West, skeptics and certain scientists claimed that it had no basis and only worked due to the placebo effect because they couldn’t understand how it worked.


Are you sure it was because they didn’t understand how it worked, or because they didn’t see sufficient evidence to support the claim of how it worked? I’m beginning not to trust your characterizations and straw men.

This reflected the typical false thinking of skeptics that anything they don’t understand must be due to superstition or chance.


I don’t understand quantum physics but I don’t believe it is superstition. You really enjoy beating the stuffing out of your straw men, don’t you?

However, practitioners and believers knew otherwise


I beg to differ. They didn’t “knowâ€￾ otherwise. They believed otherwise. There’s a difference.

and were later validated by extensive studies have been done to show that it indeed does work for treating various ailments and getting results which placebos can’t account for.


As a skeptic, I’m not persuaded by unsupported assertions. Exactly what “extensive studiesâ€￾ show that acupuncture (define it, please) works for which specific ailments? I’d like to see the names of the studies and where they were published. Also, do these studies not only support the claim that acupuncture appears to benefit the treatment of certain aliments but do they also go on to describe HOW it works and WHY?

An extensive listing of these research studies can be found on the Med lab website.


I’m not familiar with “Med labâ€￾. Could you mean PubMed? Regardless, can you please provide URLs for the relevant studies?

In fact, the AMA (American Medical Association) has already declared that Acupuncture works and is an effective treatment, proving the skeptics wrong.


I did a quick search in Google for the terms “American Medical Associationâ€￾ and “acupunctureâ€￾ and I cannot find any such statement. Not saying it doesn’t exist (!); I’m saying I can’t find it. Can you please provide that statement and the location of where I might be able to find it myself?

The point is that Acupuncture worked before it was proven to work, not after.


I find this “pointâ€￾ rather silly. If something works –observable evidence—then it works regardless of our knowing why. So, for instance, acupuncture may work for some ailments; however, it may not work for the reasons its adherents suggest. Or, as another example, apples fell from trees long before a rather bright young man figured out there was something called gravity. Knowing about gravity didn’t make apples that sometimes fell up into the sky suddenly start all falling to the ground. Just because we don’t understand how magnetism works, that doesn’t mean that a magnet cannot hold a child’s drawing to a refrigerator until we do understand it!

Skeptics assume that everything that exists must be able to be analyzed in a lab. That’s just not how reality works.


Again with the straw men! Skeptics do NOT assume that everything which exists must be able to be analyzed in a lab. Pluto, for instance, cannot be analyzed in a lab but that doesn’t mean skeptics don’t think it’s there on the outskirts of our solar system! There are many diverse ways of gaining scientific knowledge without dissecting something in a lab. One of those ways, however, does not include unsupported assertions or wishful thinking.

I look forward to your comments.
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Postby Winston » Sun Jun 08, 2008 9:07 am

Hi Skeptic Guy, thanks for taking the time to critique that paper here. I wish more would discuss it here. It will take me a while before I can respond in full. But let me just say that I don't think you know the same skeptics that I do.

I will be back later to respond and when I do, I'll let you know by email.

Thanks,
Winston
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Re: Dissecting "Debunking Pseudo-Skeptical Arguments&qu

Postby Winston » Thu Jun 19, 2008 3:44 am

skepticguy wrote:On another board, a user rather fond of paranormal claims posted a link to one of your articles “debunking skeptics.â€￾ Knowing that this individual isn’t as critical of his sources as I’d like him to be, I was curious as to what he’d found on your site. I read your article and would like to comment. I found your own forum and hope you’d be open to a critique of your writing. I’d like to begin with the first “argumentâ€￾ you claim skeptics make.


W: Hi skepticguy, certainly I am open to discussing it and hearing critical feedback regarding it. I will respond to your comments below.

Argument # 1: “It is irrational to believe in anything that hasn't been proven.â€￾

This is the main philosophy behind most skeptical arguments. As Dr. Melvin Morse, Seattle pediatrician and author specializing in child Near Death Experiences (www.melvinmorse.com) said:

“The notion that 'It is rational to only believe what's been proven' somehow got twisted into ‘It is irrational to believe in anything that hasn't been proven’.â€￾ (Interview from video: Conversations with God)

Is this an actual argument that skeptics have used, or is this a paranormal researcher’s characterization of a skeptical argument? You point to the paranormal researcher’s quote but not to an actual skeptic using this line of reasoning. I think, if you are going to say skeptics use this argument that you should at least give an example from an actual skeptic, and not a quote from a non-skeptic.


W: Yes. Dr. Morse is a VERY credible person who does not BS. He is not a kook. If you read his books or articles, you will see that he is skeptical, logical, sensible, down to earth, well read, and open minded. He obviously have read skeptics who said such things. Maybe you don't say such things, as I don't know you, but other skeptics out there have, including Randi, Dawkins, etc.

For example, skeptics claim that it's irrational to believe in psi if it hasn't been proven. Well it has, they just keep denying it.

By "proven" skeptics mean proven according to the scientific method, which they consider to be the only reliable method.

While it is true that the scientific method is the most reliable method for determining the likelihood (or not) of a given proposal, no skeptic I’m aware of will claim that the method PROVES anything absolutely. In science, everything is provisional. Science is open to criticism and falsification. A good skeptic is ready to adopt new views given sufficient evidence. To claim that skeptics “proveâ€￾ things through science is false.


W: No one would disagree with that. But skeptics claim that something is false if there's no evidence for it. They claim that God doesn't exist or that ESP doesn't exist cause there's no evidence. But in reality there is, from both science and anecdotes. Even without any scientific evidence, the anecdotal evidence is overwhelming, most than half the population of the world has had some type of paranormal experience. To discount all of it offhand is to be very ignorant.

A true skeptic makes open inquiries and asks good questions to try to learn the TRUTH. That's what I am, a truth seeker. A true skeptic doesn't deny all the evidence and ask no questions.

But that's what most pseudo-skeptics do. I've been dealing with them on my own paranormal list for years.

James Randi, probably your hero, has done this for years. He simply denies. He doesn't consider what he can't explain. He can't explain how Uri Geller passed some psi experiments in Stanford Research Institute, so he denies it. In one test at SRI, Geller guessed the roll of a die in a cup eight times in a row! Randi dismissed it by saying he must have cheated by bumping the table so hard as to flip the cup up. When it's pointed out to Randi that the tables were bolted down, he doesn't care. He dismisses it and that's that. He does not make an open inquiry into the truth.

Do you understand what I mean?

There are several problems with this argument:

Other than the fact that it’s a false characterization for which you’ve given no real evidence a skeptic uses.


W: You want to join my paranormal list? The skeptics on there do that. The smartest skeptic, a man who is an expert in every field, Dr H, says that God doesn't exist, yet he feels he doesn't have to prove that claim. He agrees with you even. Yet when caught in a contradiction, he merely denies and denies.........

Trust me, I've been doing this for years. I do not make up false strawman. No way. No sireeeeee.

First of all, just because something hasn't been proven and established in mainstream science doesn't mean it doesn't exist or isn't true.

Wait a minute. I thought the characterization here was one of not believing a claim to be true, not necessarily that something doesn’t exist. That’s a marked distinction which I see you are far too eager to blur.


W: But many skeptics DO CLAIM that God doesn't exist, ghosts don't exist, that ESP doesn't exist, etc. even though there is no way they can know or prove such claims. They DO make them though. I've read it in their own words. Even Randi has made such claims on his site. If you don't know this, then you are not well informed at all.

Sometimes they contradict themselves too. They will say that something doesn't exist, then say they never said that. When shown their own words from their own emails, they suddenly dismiss that too.

Can I ask you something? You think anecdotal evidence is unreliable and invalid evidence right? Is it zero evidence to you?

Let me ask you this. Do an experiment. Go to your local supermarket. Ask 5 of the staff there what aisle the bread is located on. Go to the aisle they tell you and check. Tell me if most of the staff there or all of them, pointed you to the correct aisle. If at least 3 of them tell you the correct aisle the bread is on, then you've proven my point. Anecdotal evidence, while not infallible, IS EVIDENCE. Hicks, rednecks and white trash folks know this and understand it too, but for some reason philosophical pseudo skeptics don't.

If it did, then nothing would exist until proven or discovered. Bacteria and germs would never have caused illnesses until they were proven and discovered, smoking would not cause cancer until it was proven, the planet Pluto would not have existed until it was discovered, etc.

This is what happens when you attack a straw man instead of an actual argument. It’s also what happens when you make subtle changes to your own characterizations. Not believing in something has no effect on whether or not that something –if it turns out to exist—can do, or effect, something else. I don’t know of any skeptic who would make such a claim.


W: Skeptics during that time DID claim that bacteria didn't exist. Even Thomas Jefferson said he didn't believe in meteors. He said he'd rather believe that people lied than that rocks fall from space.

There have always been critics of anything new. How can you deny that?

If you are merely referring to the organized skeptical movement, like CSICOP and JREF, then my point is true too. Don't you get it? They CLAIM that certain things don't exist because there is no proof (even if there is proof, they just ignore it). What could be more obvious?

This is not rocket science. Why is it so hard for you to understand?

Why do you think Randi calls everyone who believes in psychics "deluded"? If he is claiming that, then it obviously means he believes that all psychic stuff is bunk and false. It doesn't exist, in his paradigm. Why are you contesting the obvious?

Imagine a person 600 years ago claiming that illnesses were caused by tiny bugs, too small for a human to see (first of all, why would they propose such a thing without viable evidence, but that’s beside the point). A contemporary claims, however, that illnesses were caused by invisible demons, working under orders of a supreme evil entity. At the time, both claims are (relatively) equally absurd to those first hearing the proposals. However, beyond the surface unsubstantiated claims, we can see already that one is more likely to be true than the other. How? Because one references mechanisms that are already known (albeit on a much smaller scale!) while the other actually presents more questions than it can answer.


W: But at that time, there was no evidence for bacteria, so a skeptic cannot believe it. The skeptics reasoning fails in simple things, so how reliable can it be? Skeptics claim that anecdotes are zero evidence, yet how can they ask for directions if they get lost? Wouldn't they not believe any directions given them, since all words are zero to them? You cannot function in this world if you follow such skeptical fallacies.

Early in the 20th century, skeptics also denied the belief that a person's state of mind can affect his/her health, that there was a link between mind and body. Now, that is considered a fact. But long ago, skeptics denied it and scoffed at it.

Skeptics have been proven wrong before throughout history. How can you deny it?

By the way, ancient people in India drew diagrams of model airplanes and bacteria thousands of years ago. How can they do that? My friend has a reference list of many of these.

So, what is required to evidence these claims so that a reasonable person of the 1400s could decide upon which to hang his hat? The first rests solely on naturalistic mechanisms which –while not directly observable at the time—could be inferred from the larger, natural world. While tiny bugs causing illness might not have been directly observable to our 15th century friend, larger parasites known to exist could serve as models for these tiny equivalents. What, however, would suffice for evidence of the latter claim? Well, first of all, “demonsâ€￾ would need to be defined. Typically, demons are thought to be entities which exist not in the natural world but the supernatural. So, the first step would be to bring evidence that a supernatural world is likely to exist. And, this would have to be done without begging the question or resorting to circular argumentation. Not an easy task (and still not accomplished to this day). If a supernatural world could even reasonably be implied to exist, the next step would be to provide evidence that it was populated by such things as “demonsâ€￾. If demons could be reasonably established, then one would have to explain how something from a supernatural world could interact and influence the natural. If that was accomplished, one would next need to demonstrate why such a supernatural entity would have any interest in natural bodies, such as ours. And the list goes on and on and on with, it will be noted, NO known equivalent in the natural world.


W: You could, but your reasoning above is based on looking at it all in retrospect. At the time, the skeptics would not think like you are thinking now. You are too locked into these skeptical mantras that you can't see the big picture or think outside the box. There are so many flaws in the pseudo skeptical paradigm.

Let me ask you another thing. Skeptics say something that has no hard evidence cannot exist. And they say that if something exists, then it must leave behind evidence for us to examine.

So I've never been to France. I only hear anecdotes from those who went there. So, if I'm a good skeptic, should I assume that France doesn't exist, UNTIL I go there? Is that logical, rational, or realistic? Not even rednecks are that dumb. But skeptics and their philosophy don't hold up in the simplest real life examples.

Should we also claim that the Civil War never happened too, just because it's all anecdotes and testimonials, albeit documented?

The same is true of something like Pluto. Simply positing the existence of another planet in our solar system without any evidence to support such a claim is indeed absurd and should be rejected. Zecharia Sitchen has done as much for the so-called “12th Planetâ€￾. However, theorizing that an unseen planet exists beyond any visible planetary bodies in our solar system based upon observable evidence such as gravitational pulls on neighboring planets is a good reason to at least consider the possibility that such other planetary bodies may exist, investigate the claim cautiously and methodically, and most skeptics are at least provisionally open to such theories when so presented. Your characterization notwithstanding. Consider how Pluto was theorized to exist against Sitchen’s notion of the “12th Planetâ€￾. Observations of Neptune in the late 19th century caused astronomers to speculate that Uranus' orbit was being disturbed by another planet in addition to Neptune; and those observations and speculations led to the discovery of Pluto. Sitchin, however, bases his arguments on his personal interpretations of Pre-Nubian and Sumerian texts. He’s not basing his arguments on observable, astronomical data. Do you see the difference? Hardly the equivalents in scientific hypotheses. Does this mean a 12th planet, without a doubt, doesn’t exist? No. But what it does mean is that without better evidence we have no reason to believe that it might. We have other, more scientifically valid explanations for “mysteriesâ€￾ such as those Sitchen believes are answered only by his speculations.


W: Yes I see the difference. And I agree. I too think like that. I need evidence to infer that something is likely to exist or not. That is not what I am critiquing here. These skeptics DENY the evidence when given to them.

For instance, the Ganzfeld experiments clearly prove that telepathy exists. They were replicated in many labs and universities for many years. Yet skeptics don't accept them. They deny them. They have never debunked them. Ever. They just deny them.

Is that the mark of a truth seeker to you?

Same with the PEAR experiments with psychokinesis at Princeton.

Or more recently, with Rupert Sheldrake's telepathy experiments.

Skeptics are on a sinking ship, yet all they do is deny. They don't ask good questions or open questions to find out the truth. They deny. Instead of asking, they are telling.

As far as cancer and smoking, indeed one needn’t believe such a thing if there is no evidence. Without support, such a claim isn’t any different than claiming that smoking causes cleaner teeth, more intense color vision or the spontaneous growth of new limbs. Unsubstantiated claims should always be held suspect pending further information. However, if it was observed –even without knowing why—that people who smoked died at a higher rate than those who didn’t smoke, that would be sufficient reason to at least suspect that smoking might be dangerous to one’s health (all other things considered).


W: I agree, but that's not how all skeptics think. Take acupuncture for example. It works for maybe half the people who try it. Yet there is no scientific evidence that the meridian points used in acupuncture really exist, or that they are connected with specific body functions. Yet if it works, people will continue using it. Simple as that. It doesn't matter if scientists can't understand why it works.

It’s not that skeptics like myself decide not to believe in things without proof, but, instead, we choose not believe something to exist without sufficient evidence or good reason. Sometimes we’re wrong. But we’re wrong for very good reasons and then we are humble enough to change our position. And, we’re only wrong when sufficient evidence or reason tips the scales.


W: That's fine then. You may be a more middle of the road skeptic. My treatise was aimed at the more hard core skeptics like Randi, CSICOP, Joe Nickell, Richard Dawkins, etc. These are scoffers and deniers.

Perhaps you are more like the late Marcello Truzzi, a middle skeptic who is on the fence and has critics of both sides. Do you know about him?

Anyone knows that this simply is not so. For instance, when Acupuncture was first introduced in the West, skeptics and certain scientists claimed that it had no basis and only worked due to the placebo effect because they couldn’t understand how it worked.

Are you sure it was because they didn’t understand how it worked, or because they didn’t see sufficient evidence to support the claim of how it worked? I’m beginning not to trust your characterizations and straw men.


W: What, you deny that acupuncture has critics? They don't like the premise of acupuncture cause it doesn't fit the scientific models we have of the body. But it works for some people and has been proven for alleviating pain at least. So people continue using it.

This reflected the typical false thinking of skeptics that anything they don’t understand must be due to superstition or chance.

I don’t understand quantum physics but I don’t believe it is superstition. You really enjoy beating the stuffing out of your straw men, don’t you?


W: Again, maybe NOT YOU, but there ARE other skeptics out there for which my characterization applies. Why do you deny that people out there exist that make the claims I'm talking about? I am not making any claims about you personally. I don't even know you. But there ARE skeptics out there making such claims and denials.

When a psychic predicts the future accurately, skeptics claim that it was chance. When a prayer gets answered, skeptics claim it was coincidence. They are MAKING CLAIMS. Don't you get it?

and were later validated by extensive studies have been done to show that it indeed does work for treating various ailments and getting results which placebos can’t account for.

As a skeptic, I’m not persuaded by unsupported assertions. Exactly what “extensive studiesâ€￾ show that acupuncture (define it, please) works for which specific ailments? I’d like to see the names of the studies and where they were published. Also, do these studies not only support the claim that acupuncture appears to benefit the treatment of certain aliments but do they also go on to describe HOW it works and WHY?


W: You can google the info. Just type "acupuncture studies" or "evidence for acupuncture". It's been documented for years.

No, there is no explanation how it works or why. It is based on an ancient Chinese map of meridian points along the body. No one knows where that map originated from.

ESP has been proven to exist, but we don't know HOW it works or WHY it exists. So should we just deny it too?

An extensive listing of these research studies can be found on the Med lab website.

I’m not familiar with “Med labâ€￾. Could you mean PubMed? Regardless, can you please provide URLs for the relevant studies?

In fact, the AMA (American Medical Association) has already declared that Acupuncture works and is an effective treatment, proving the skeptics wrong.

I did a quick search in Google for the terms “American Medical Associationâ€￾ and “acupunctureâ€￾ and I cannot find any such statement. Not saying it doesn’t exist (!); I’m saying I can’t find it. Can you please provide that statement and the location of where I might be able to find it myself?


W: I'll try to find it. But if I did, what would you do? Revise your beliefs? Or just deny it?

The point is that Acupuncture worked before it was proven to work, not after.

I find this “pointâ€￾ rather silly. If something works –observable evidence—then it works regardless of our knowing why. So, for instance, acupuncture may work for some ailments; however, it may not work for the reasons its adherents suggest. Or, as another example, apples fell from trees long before a rather bright young man figured out there was something called gravity. Knowing about gravity didn’t make apples that sometimes fell up into the sky suddenly start all falling to the ground. Just because we don’t understand how magnetism works, that doesn’t mean that a magnet cannot hold a child’s drawing to a refrigerator until we do understand it!


W: Exactly! That's why pseudo skeptics and their reasoning falls apart at the seams!

Skeptics assume that everything that exists must be able to be analyzed in a lab. That’s just not how reality works.

Again with the straw men! Skeptics do NOT assume that everything which exists must be able to be analyzed in a lab. Pluto, for instance, cannot be analyzed in a lab but that doesn’t mean skeptics don’t think it’s there on the outskirts of our solar system! There are many diverse ways of gaining scientific knowledge without dissecting something in a lab. One of those ways, however, does not include unsupported assertions or wishful thinking.

I look forward to your comments.


W: It's not a straw man. Skeptics have claimed that if ghosts can't be analyzed or they don't leave "hard" evidence, then they don't exist. I had a flying dream recently. But if I can't prove that to you, does that mean it never happened?

I will email you to let you know I've responded.

Thanks,
Winston
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Skeptic eh?

Postby CMB » Wed Oct 29, 2008 4:37 pm

As a skeptic, I’m not persuaded by unsupported assertions.


From what I observed, "skeptics" will believe anything as long it supports conventional wisdom and reject anything that contradicts it, UFO's being an example; 1000's of credible reports, many of them in conjunction with radar and video evidence...but it's not enough. "Skeptics" still declare that there is no evidencee to supports the existence of UFO's. More often than not it 's in those exact words.

...So you people can play the "just the facts dear" game all you want, the a prior rejection of evidence makes you clear what your mission is: to defend the status que.
Last edited by CMB on Tue Nov 04, 2008 10:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Winston » Wed Oct 29, 2008 6:01 pm

So true CMB. Skeptics also use double standards. If a psi experiment shows a positive psi effect, they won't count that as evidence. But if it shows only chance results, then they DO count that as evidence against psi. And if an experiment shows that psi has an effect, then they will say that it was "uncontrolled", but if it shows only chance results, then they will say it was properly controlled.

Likewise, in the case of the eyewitness reports of UFO's, per your example, skeptics will dismiss it all as anecdotal, and therefore invalid. But when someone says "I didn't see any UFO's that night" then skeptics will count that as evidence against.

Sounds very "a priori" to me.
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