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Re: Bad Astronomer - Bad Universe TV Show

Postby ProfWag » 28 Jul 2010, 02:23

Eteponge wrote: and what did Phil Plait do in response? He responded with personal attacks, rather than standing corrected.

This is hilariously ironic, because in an interview Phil Plait did with my friend Alex Tsakiris of Skeptiko, he said that if he is ever wrong about something, and someone corrects him with counter-evidence, he will go "Oh thank you!" and be greatful, and blah blah blah.

The incident I speak of where, rather than standing corrected on his sweeping blanket statement (which also proves he's never actually researched the topic in any real depth, as just barely scratching the surface, you can find astronomer accounts of UFOs and Lunar Anomalies going back hundreds of years) he gets pissed and personally attacks the guy who corrected him on a blog.

Not someone I'd consider objective in the slightest.

In a vain attempt to be fair, isn't this entire website about personally attacking people? I mean, look at the spelled out name of this forum or look at some of the comments about Shermer, Randi, etc...
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Re: Bad Astronomer - Bad Universe TV Show

Postby Wilhelm » 28 Jul 2010, 02:29

ProfWag wrote:In a vain attempt to be fair, isn't this entire website about personally attacking people? I mean, look at the spelled out name of this forum


There is no possible interpretation in which the name of this forum could ever be considered a personal attack. That's absurd. Against whom?
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Re: Bad Astronomer - Bad Universe TV Show

Postby ProfWag » 28 Jul 2010, 03:05

Wilhelm wrote:
There is no possible interpretation in which the name of this forum could ever be considered a personal attack. That's absurd. Against whom?

Me, for one. I realize you are relatively new here (welcome wilhelm, by the way), but I have over 2k posts and have been called a pseudoskeptic quite often. I find that term very derogatory. I'm proud of the way I try to think things through logically and critically. Sure I may not believe most stories when I first hear them, but so what? Sue me. It's just that some people hear a story such as ESP and (possibly because I used to be a magician), the first thing I ask myself is "how was it done" rather than believing it was real and working my way backward. That's just me and the way I was brought up. I have "lashed" back with pseudo-believer, but that just doesn't seem as bad. This whole forum is about how we "skeptics" don't do this or that, behave like that way or this way, etc. (see characteristics of a pseudoskeptic on the main page.) Personally, I see little difference between that or if I were to start a forum about the negative characteristics of the Oompa Loompas (no offense to the Oompa Loompas, I hope...) or other such categories or groups of people.
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Re: Bad Astronomer - Bad Universe TV Show

Postby Wilhelm » 28 Jul 2010, 03:39

ProfWag wrote:
Wilhelm wrote:There is no possible interpretation in which the name of this forum could ever be considered a personal attack. That's absurd. Against whom?

Me, for one.


if you are personally offended, then you think you, yourself, are guilty of pseudoskepticism?

ProfWag wrote:I realize you are relatively new here (welcome wilhelm, by the way), but I have over 2k posts and have been called a pseudoskeptic quite often.


Thanks for the welcome, it's fun to get into some debate. Anyway, I've read a bunch of threads here, and i can't recall seeing you, personally, engage in pseudoskepticism, but you have certainly defended it in this thread.

ProfWag wrote:I find that term very derogatory. I'm proud of the way I try to think things through logically and critically.


Why is it derogatory? Pseudoskepticism is an irrational, fundamentalist belief, and it should be subject to critique.

ProfWag wrote:Sure I may not believe most stories when I first hear them, but so what?


You appear to have believed Sanal Edamaruku's stories, even though I demonstrated that he was being extremely deceptive. So you may not believe some stories when you first hear them because they are at odds with your own belief system? Isn't that pseudoskepticism?

ProfWag wrote:It's just that some people hear a story such as ESP and (possibly because I used to be a magician), the first thing I ask myself is "how was it done" rather than believing it was real and working my way backward.


Working your way backward? Has it never crossed your mind that suspending judgement on a case by case basis, rather than deciding first, might be more in line with being skeptical or scientific?

ProfWag wrote:That's just me and the way I was brought up. I have "lashed" back with pseudo-believer, but that just doesn't seem as bad.


Maybe because the term doesn't make any sense. A false believer? Like they are pretending to believe something but in reality they don't? There are almost 7 billion people in the world, so I guess it's possible that there exist some actual pseudobelievers, but I'm guessing the psychiatric community has a different, more broad classification of them.

ProfWag wrote:This whole forum is about how we "skeptics" don't do this or that, behave like that way or this way, etc. (see characteristics of a pseudoskeptic on the main page.)


Ok, I will. One sec.

Got it. It lists characteristics of Skeptics and of Pseudoskeptics. If you think you are guilty of some of the irrational beliefs and stances in the pseudo set, wouldn't it be more constructive to perhaps come up with a more agnostic worldview? Model Agnosticism, I can't stress it enough. It's perfectly correct to suspend belief, but to be fair, you also have to suspend disbelief. That's what skepticism is.

Do you have a problem with all the sites talking about pseudoscience? Or is that ok?

ProfWag wrote:Personally, I see little difference between that or if I were to start a forum about the negative characteristics of the Oompa Loompas (no offense to the Oompa Loompas, I hope...) or other such categories or groups of people.


Which leads me back to ask if you consider yourself a pseudoskeptic.
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Re: Bad Astronomer - Bad Universe TV Show

Postby ProfWag » 28 Jul 2010, 04:09

I do not consider myself a pseudoskeptic in the least. I do, however, have some traits of a pseudoskeptic according to Winston's treatise (which is probably why I get a little defensive). Here's how I see it: ESP, dowsing, mediums, etc. have essentially failed to live up to scientific testing. I pretty much dismiss those claims outright. I would love to see someone demonstrate ESP and if they do, I'll be the first person to admit I was wrong. As an example, Dean Radin's experiments in ESP lasted several years and he totally believes in ESP. Unfortunately, even he admits that he hasn't proven psi and this is a person who's been working on it since before Clinton was in office! So, if a positive article on psi were to be released in a peer reviewed journal in something other than the Journal of Parapsychology, then I'll be happy to look at it. Otherwise, I'm pretty much going to throw out the BS flag. I, as well as all other skeptics I know, don't close the door on those things, but it's open so slight that a gnat could barely fit through.

Wilhelm wrote:You appear to have believed Sanal Edamaruku stories, even though I demonstarted that he is extremely deceptive. So you may not believe some stories when you first hear them because they are at odds with your own belief system? Isn't that pseudoskepticism?

And you appear to believe Dr. Shah even though he can’t produce his findings in a peer reviewed journal. Believing that a person can live 60+ years without food doesn’t meet my own common sense rule. Hell my plants die after a few days without water, how can a human do it? I don’t think he can so if he’s going to say he can, then he better be able to prove it without leaving anything open to question or interpretation which it appears he has not done or if he has, we’ll see when his findings are published somewhere other than a blog.
To answer your question though, I don’t know if being at odds with my own belief system is pseudoskepticism or not. That word is not in the dictionary so I’m unable to find the true meaning of the word… ;-)
While I’m on the subject though, I’d like to point something out that has tickled me here since day 1. Scepcop discusses on is home page about “scientific methods,” and “scientific criticism,” and then, the next paragraph, he uses wikipedia.org as a source for one of his comments. Seeing as how I know a little bit about research papers, I can tell you that Wikipedia.org is not a valid source for anything, much less is it considered a “scientific method.” That just tickles me, but since Scepcop never reads my posts anyway, I know it won’t get changed so I can continue to get a chuckle out of it. Okay, sorry. I’m off my soapbox now.
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Re: Bad Astronomer - Bad Universe TV Show

Postby Wilhelm » 28 Jul 2010, 04:26

ProfWag wrote:I do not consider myself a pseudoskeptic in the least. I do, however, have some traits of a pseudoskeptic according to Winston's treatise (which is probably why I get a little defensive). Here's how I see it: ESP, dowsing, mediums, etc. have essentially failed to live up to scientific testing. I pretty much dismiss those claims outright. I would love to see someone demonstrate ESP and if they do, I'll be the first person to admit I was wrong. As an example, Dean Radin's experiments in ESP lasted several years and he totally believes in ESP. Unfortunately, even he admits that he hasn't proven psi and this is a person who's been working on it since before Clinton was in office! So, if a positive article on psi were to be released in a peer reviewed journal in something other than the Journal of Parapsychology, then I'll be happy to look at it. Otherwise, I'm pretty much going to throw out the BS flag. I, as well as all other skeptics I know, don't close the door on those things, but it's open so slight that a gnat could barely fit through.


So, if it's published in the Journal of Parapsychology, which is obviously where such a thing would belong, you automatically dismiss it? Where should such a thing be published, a journal of chemical physics?

ProfWag wrote:
Wilhelm wrote:You appear to have believed Sanal Edamaruku stories, even though I demonstarted that he is extremely deceptive. So you may not believe some stories when you first hear them because they are at odds with your own belief system? Isn't that pseudoskepticism?

And you appear to believe Dr. Shah even though he can’t produce his findings in a peer reviewed journal.


Since I never even came close to saying that, and I stated very clearly that I didn't know and also stated very clearly that I would like to see some evidence against him, how would it appear that i believe Dr. Shah?

ProfWag wrote:Seeing as how I know a little bit about research papers, I can tell you that Wikipedia.org is not a valid source for anything


I always get a kick out of that, when people say that Wikipedia isn't a valid source. Of course it is. It has footnotes, links to relevant material, and you can plainly see when edits were made and what the edit was. it's a perfectly valid source when writing things on the internet because it is an open-source encyclopedia. Are other encyclopedias freely available to all online? No.

When one does research papers, they must use sources which are not open, cost money, or require owning a physical copy. In other words, you can't always follow up on the source material unless you're at a well-equipped library.
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Re: Bad Astronomer - Bad Universe TV Show

Postby ProfWag » 28 Jul 2010, 04:54

Wilhelm wrote:I always get a kick out of that, when people say that Wikipedia isn't a valid source. Of course it is. It has footnotes, links to relevant material, and you can plainly see when edits were made and what the edit was. it's a perfectly valid source when writing things on the internet because it is an open-source encyclopedia. Are other encyclopedias freely available to all online? No.

Wikipedia.org is a great place to get started researching, but using it as a reference is a no-no in the classroom. From their own website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:FAQ/Schools
“Students should never use information in Wikipedia (or any other online encyclopedia) for formal purposes (such as school essays) until they have verified and evaluated the information based on external sources. For this reason, Wikipedia, like any encyclopedia, is a great starting place for research but not always a great ending place.”
Other references that support my stance include, but not limited to:
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2007/01/26/wiki
http://www.pbs.org/teachers/learning.no ... ion_1.html
http://www.virtuallyadvising.com/conten ... pedia.html
Wilhelm wrote:So, if it's published in the Journal of Parapsychology, which is obviously where such a thing would belong, you automatically dismiss it? Where should such a thing be published, a journal of chemical physics?

Since you like Wikipedia.org so much, why don’t you do a search there on “psychology journals” and pick one.
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Re: Bad Astronomer - Bad Universe TV Show

Postby Wilhelm » 28 Jul 2010, 05:09

ProfWag wrote:
Wilhelm wrote:I always get a kick out of that, when people say that Wikipedia isn't a valid source. Of course it is. It has footnotes, links to relevant material, and you can plainly see when edits were made and what the edit was. it's a perfectly valid source when writing things on the internet because it is an open-source encyclopedia. Are other encyclopedias freely available to all online? No.

Wikipedia.org is a great place to get started researching, but using it as a reference is a no-no in the classroom.


Goal-post change. First it isn't a valid source, then it isn't a valid source in the classroom.

Even though what I typed was, "it's a perfectly valid source when writing things on the internet." My apologies because I thought this website was on the internet and not in a classroom.

ProfWag wrote:
Wilhelm wrote:So, if it's published in the Journal of Parapsychology, which is obviously where such a thing would belong, you automatically dismiss it? Where should such a thing be published, a journal of chemical physics?

Since you like Wikipedia.org so much, why don’t you do a search there on “psychology journals” and pick one.


And to the insults. How typical. And you get offended by being called a pseudoskeptic? Weird.

Since I like Wikipedia so much? Sure, I must like it so much simply because I know how it works. Astonishing, coming from someone who pretends to value reason and logic.

It's not like it matters, since you're wrong. Didn't Rhine himself publish plenty of work in various psychology journals and medical journals? Or does none of that count for some crazy, unsupported reason?
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Re: Bad Astronomer - Bad Universe TV Show

Postby ProfWag » 28 Jul 2010, 05:18

Wilhelm wrote:
Goal-post change. First it isn't a valid source, then it isn't a valid source in the classroom.

Let's get that goal post back upright then. I'm an adjunct professor. I usually think in terms of the classroom and that is what I say when I begin my classes. However, my references still stand that wikipedia.org is not a valid reference for formal papers (even according to themselves so not sure why you're wanting to disagree with me on this).
Also, I apologize if I came across as rude with the "since you like wikipedia so much comment." I don't like getting offended so I don't like offending someone else (unless they instigate, then, well...) :-)
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Re: Bad Astronomer - Bad Universe TV Show

Postby ProfWag » 28 Jul 2010, 05:23

Wilhelm wrote:
It's not like it matters, since you're wrong. Didn't Rhine himself publish plenty of work in various psychology journals and medical journals? Or does none of that count for some crazy, unsupported reason?


Hmmmm, using wikipedia.org as a source... ;-)

Theoretical and review papers, and editorials

Rhine, J. B. (1937). The effect of distance in ESP tests. Journal of Parapsychology, 1, 172-184.
Rhine, J. B. (1937). The question of sensory cues and the evidence. Journal of Parapsychology, 1, 276-291.
Rhine, J. B. (1938). The hypothesis of deception. Journal of Parapsychology, 2, 151-152.
Rhine, J. B. (1942). Hypnotism, "graduate" of parapsychology [Editorial]. Journal of Parapsychology, 6, 159-163.
Rhine, J. B. (1943). The mind has real force! [Editorial]. Journal of Parapsychology, 7, 69-75.
Rhine, J. B. (1945). Telepathy and clairvoyance reconsidered. Journal of Parapsychology, 9, 176-193.
Rhine, J. B. (1945). Precognition reconsidered. Journal of Parapsychology, 9, 264-277.
Rhine, J. B. (1946). The psychokinetic effect: A review. Journal of Parapsychology, 10, 5-20.
Rhine, J. B. (1948). Conditions favoring success in psi tests. Journal of Parapsychology, 12, 58-75.
Rhine, J. B. (1952). The problem of psi missing. Journal of Parapsychology, 16, 115.
Rhine, J. B. (1958). On the nature and consequences of the unconsciousness of psi. Journal of Parapsychology, 22, 175-186.
Rhine, J. B. (1969). Position effects in psi test results. Journal of Parapsychology, 33, 136-157.
Rhine, J. B. (1969). Psi-missing re-examined. Journal of Parapsychology, 33, 136-157.
Rhine, J. B. (1971). The importance of parapsychology to William McDougall. Journal of Parapsychology, 35, 169-188.
Rhine, J. B. (1974). Security versus deception in parapsychology. Journal of Parapsychology, 38, 99-121.
Rhine, J. B. (1974). Telepathy and other untestable hypotheses. Journal of Parapsychology, 38, 137-153.
Rhine, J. B. (1975). Psi methods reexamined. Journal of Parapsychology, 39, 38-58.
Rhine, J. B. (1977). History of experimental studies. In B. B. Wolman (Ed.), Handbook of Parapsychology (pp. 25-47). New York, NY, US: Van Nostrand Reinhold.
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Re: Bad Astronomer - Bad Universe TV Show

Postby Wilhelm » 28 Jul 2010, 05:35

What's with your last post? Did you not look two sections down on that page and see the list of equal size under the heading Non-parapsychology sources containing all of his papers published in non-parapsychological journals?

Seriously, I hope you just highlighted the wrong section, because if it was a mistake, it's pretty funny since it makes it appear as if you were trying to intentionally deceive people.

Anyway...

ProfWag wrote:
Wilhelm wrote:
Goal-post change. First it isn't a valid source, then it isn't a valid source in the classroom.

Let's get that goal post back upright then. I'm an adjunct professor. I usually think in terms of the classroom and that is what I say when I begin my classes. However, my references still stand that wikipedia.org is not a valid reference for formal papers (even according to themselves so not sure why you're wanting to disagree with me on this).


The reason I disagree is because a writing on a blog or a website - which is what you were referring to when you made the comment - is not a formal paper. I'm actually forced to disagree with you, otherwise I could accuse you of the same offense when you linked to the Wikipedia page about not using Wikipedia as a formal source. See how it gets ridiculous?

But, on the internet when we are writing informally, Wikipedia is a much more valid source than when people just point to random websites that "prove" whatever they want to prove. it just really irks me when people try to downplay Wikipedia; it is essentially the most important source of information on the internet, insofar as it's free, open, and a wiki, enabling a sort of democratic "peer-review." Get an account and put some nonsense info on a well-traveled page and see how quickly the defacement disappears.

That's not to say I don't have some issues with a democratized knowledge base, because it does invite some problems with the fairness and accuracy of controversial info, but it's still an invaluable source for the free flow of information.
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Re: Bad Astronomer - Bad Universe TV Show

Postby really? » 28 Jul 2010, 09:05

Wilhelm wrote:
So, if it's published in the Journal of Parapsychology, which is obviously where such a thing would belong, you automatically dismiss it? Where should such a thing be published, a journal of chemical physics?





I can think of a few
Science
Nature
JAMA
Archives of Internal Medicine
Physical Review Letters [possibly]
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Re: Bad Astronomer - Bad Universe TV Show

Postby Wilhelm » 28 Jul 2010, 09:44

really? wrote:
Wilhelm wrote:
So, if it's published in the Journal of Parapsychology, which is obviously where such a thing would belong, you automatically dismiss it? Where should such a thing be published, a journal of chemical physics?





I can think of a few
Science
Nature
JAMA
Archives of Internal Medicine
Physical Review Letters [possibly]


LMAO! Riiight.
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Re: Bad Astronomer - Bad Universe TV Show

Postby ProfWag » 28 Jul 2010, 18:30

Wilhelm wrote:What's with your last post? Did you not look two sections down on that page and see the list of equal size under the heading Non-parapsychology sources containing all of his papers published in non-parapsychological journals?

Seriously, I hope you just highlighted the wrong section, because if it was a mistake, it's pretty funny since it makes it appear as if you were trying to intentionally deceive people.

Anyway...

ProfWag wrote:
Wilhelm wrote:
Goal-post change. First it isn't a valid source, then it isn't a valid source in the classroom.

Let's get that goal post back upright then. I'm an adjunct professor. I usually think in terms of the classroom and that is what I say when I begin my classes. However, my references still stand that wikipedia.org is not a valid reference for formal papers (even according to themselves so not sure why you're wanting to disagree with me on this).


The reason I disagree is because a writing on a blog or a website - which is what you were referring to when you made the comment - is not a formal paper. I'm actually forced to disagree with you, otherwise I could accuse you of the same offense when you linked to the Wikipedia page about not using Wikipedia as a formal source. See how it gets ridiculous?

But, on the internet when we are writing informally, Wikipedia is a much more valid source than when people just point to random websites that "prove" whatever they want to prove. it just really irks me when people try to downplay Wikipedia; it is essentially the most important source of information on the internet, insofar as it's free, open, and a wiki, enabling a sort of democratic "peer-review." Get an account and put some nonsense info on a well-traveled page and see how quickly the defacement disappears.

That's not to say I don't have some issues with a democratized knowledge base, because it does invite some problems with the fairness and accuracy of controversial info, but it's still an invaluable source for the free flow of information.

I was just trying to make a little joke (note the wink). Sorry if it didn't come across that way.
I agree with you that wikipedia can be a very valuable source of information, but what one should really do, IMHO, is check it out and then follow the references to get to the real source of the information to see if it was taken out of context (as I was trying to show), or even if the source is valid. I don't discourage my students from looking up info on wikipedia, but only for a quick reference or starting place to look for additional information.
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Re: Bad Astronomer - Bad Universe TV Show

Postby Wilhelm » 29 Jul 2010, 00:13

Exactly. People should use Wikipedia like Google.

But since this has been derailed way off topic, I'd like to make an observation to steer things back.

What the hell does "Bad Astronomy" mean? Not looking at stars correctly? Misaligning your telescope? Because from what I can tell, Phil Plait includes stuff about Astrology, UFOs, and so forth, thus demonstrating that this clown doesn't even know what Astronomy means! I take back my comment from earlier that I thought he was a smart guy when it comes to Astronomy - he isn't. He's astronomically stupid.
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