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The 'WHY' of PseudoSkepticism

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Re: The 'WHY' of PseudoSkepticism

Postby Arouet » 12 Oct 2010, 22:06

Don't have time to go through it in detail now, but I think most atheists would agree with Dawkins comments in that article. The author is not quite getting what he's saying. I'll try and expand on this another time.
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Re: The 'WHY' of PseudoSkepticism

Postby Twain Shakespeare » 13 Oct 2010, 09:10

Really said

“Simply put skepticism is the default position until reliable evidence compels one to think otherwise. It really is that simple.”

Somerandomguy said
“I've realized that motivation doesn't necessarily relate to truth.”
As someone pointed out, in an experiment the scientist's beta is what the scientist hopes is true, the default is what the scientist assumes if the experiment does not prove out.
The emotional appeal or repulsion of the default has no merit whatsoever. I adopt defaults, when I need, because I have no reason to assume anything else works better, and, if it is important enough to how I live my life, “for no other reason ,,,, other than 'it (appears) to be the truth'
Ellie wrote
“Essentially, what is the bleeding point? It's not truth and it's not science (ie. It's unfalsifiable epistemology. TS). It's about erroneously (? TS comments) trying to establish a world one can feel safe in.”
When it comes to the things one considers “unfalsifiable”, I believe some “unfalsifiable things”, like “human life has worth,” because they make me feel better and act better than when I “believed” it didn't. I “believed” at first “because I had no reason to assume anything else worked better.”
Likewise, for much of my childhood I was an atheist because it made me feel much better than thinking I was going to hell did, altho that was liberating for about five minutes, until I realized that if I was going to Hell, I not only could do exactly as I pleased as far as that was concerned, but I didn't have to believe any of it.
Very good and civil conversation everyone. I intend to take that test, Ellie, as soon as I decide rather I am Twain or Shakespeare (Doubter or Dreamer) these days. Peace
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Re: The 'WHY' of PseudoSkepticism

Postby Arouet » 13 Oct 2010, 10:34

Twain Shakespeare wrote:When it comes to the things one considers “unfalsifiable”, I believe some “unfalsifiable things”, like “human life has worth,”


Human life having worth is not a good example of an unfalsifiable position because it is a completely subjective process. Human life only has worth because people believe it does.

because they make me feel better and act better than when I “believed” it didn't. I “believed” at first “because I had no reason to assume anything else worked better.”


You may choose to believe something because it makes you feel better - many people do - but you should also recognize that that is not a skeptical position to take and may lead you to believe things that are false. This may not matter to you if you value feelings good about your beliefs more than valuing whether they are true. I'm not criticizing you here, just pointing this out.

Likewise, for much of my childhood I was an atheist because it made me feel much better than thinking I was going to hell did, altho that was liberating for about five minutes, until I realized that if I was going to Hell, I not only could do exactly as I pleased as far as that was concerned, but I didn't have to believe any of it.


This just shows that atheists aren't always so for skeptical reasons. However, I would probably say that if you considered yourself an atheist simply because it was less stressful than believing in hell, that you really weren't an atheist- you were simply pushing thoughts of hell out of your mind. Belief is not a choice, it is a recognition. You can't choose to believe something, you just do, or you don't.
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Re: The 'WHY' of PseudoSkepticism

Postby Twain Shakespeare » 14 Oct 2010, 15:27

Arouet said “Human life only has worth because people believe it does.”
Right, a star or a stone might feel it is intrinsically valueless. Which belief is unfalsifiable, That we have worth, or that we don't?
Being human, I choose to believe I and others have value. I tried the alternative, but sadism didn't appeal to me, suicide is statistically pointless from the timescale of stars and stones, and even schadenfreud loses it appeal. It gave me no basis to exist.
I live better, am kinder, and happier using this premise, and others. I do understand that they are premises, tho, Arouet, and I turn my skepticism on them regularly. False premises can bred virally. I don't generally describe myself as an atheist, because I regard all absolutes as unfalsifiable, and probably as false questions. I think radical agnostic jungian Jew sums me up, mostly.

“Belief is not a choice, it is a recognition. You can't choose to believe something, you just do, or you don't.”
Belief is one of the dirtiest of anglosaxon words. As a near lifelong agnostic, aside from a period of insanity, I do not use it, but I have enough prot jew monotheist in me to find that a ridiculous statement. Free will relating to “belief” in the “credo” sense is at the center of even the predestinarian calvinist world view
Now, my superstitions, those I believe rather I want to or not. I pray a prayer of thanx whenever I don't die driving. It's automatic, and annoyed the hell out of me when my credo was atheism. Finally I decided Henry Ford is a god and stopped worrying about it.
Those aren't the only meanings of belief I know. It is quite certain you would consider many of the things I think irrational, and I know I “believe” some “irrational things” in both senses I've used the word. It's a sloppy universe. ;) Peace love wisdom (3 unfalsifiable things I “credit”)
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Re: The 'WHY' of PseudoSkepticism

Postby Arouet » 14 Oct 2010, 15:51

Twain Shakespeare wrote:
Right, a star or a stone might feel it is intrinsically valueless. Which belief is unfalsifiable, That we have worth, or that we don't?


My point was not whether or not human beings have worth (I believe we do of course), my point was whether the worth of human beings is something that is subject to a falsifiability test: given that worth is not an objective fact, I would argue it doesn't. It's the wrong question to ask about human value. The only thing falsifiable about it is whether people are lying or not when they say they value human life. Once you accept they are not lying, then humans automatically have value. The believing they have value IS what defines the value.

Being human, I choose to believe I and others have value. I tried the alternative, but sadism didn't appeal to me, suicide is statistically pointless from the timescale of stars and stones, and even schadenfreud loses it appeal. It gave me no basis to exist.
I live better, am kinder, and happier using this premise, and others. I do understand that they are premises, tho, Arouet, and I turn my skepticism on them regularly. False premises can bred virally.


Again, I'm not saying not to value human life - frankly it would be absurd not to, it's just not subject to falsifiability. But you don't choose to believe humans have worth- you just do believe it. You acknowledge this when you say that you tried the alternative, but it didn't work: because it went against you're beliefs. You may have chosen to act in a certain way, but your beliefs didn't change automatically, did they? Belief is not a choice.

I don't generally describe myself as an atheist, because I regard all absolutes as unfalsifiable, and probably as false questions. I think radical agnostic jungian Jew sums me up, mostly.


Here is a very simple test to see if you are an atheist: If the answer to the question: "Do you believe that at least one deity exists?" is "yes", then you are not an atheist. Any other answer, and you are an atheist. People confuse agnosticism/gnosticism and atheism/theism. Atheism/theism is about belief. Agnosticism is about knowledge. You can be an agnostic atheist or an agnostic theist. The are on different continuums.

“Belief is not a choice, it is a recognition. You can't choose to believe something, you just do, or you don't.”
Belief is one of the dirtiest of anglosaxon words. As a near lifelong agnostic, aside from a period of insanity, I do not use it, but I have enough prot jew monotheist in me to find that a ridiculous statement. Free will relating to “belief” in the “credo” sense is at the center of even the predestinarian calvinist world view


I have no idea what you are trying to say here. Let's break it down more simply: If you believe that belief is a choice, then try this little experiment. Take the red colour that is on your screen right now. Choose to believe that it is green. Report back.

Now, my superstitions, those I believe rather I want to or not. I pray a prayer of thanx whenever I don't die driving. It's automatic, and annoyed the hell out of me when my credo was atheism. Finally I decided Henry Ford is a god and stopped worrying about it.


That's because belief is not a choice. Even when you wanted not to believe in your superstitions, you found yourself believing in them. That is not to say that we can't change our beliefs, but its not by choice. We can choose to research our beliefs, to seek out new information, critically analyse our beliefs, etc. etc. Then we can re-examine our beliefs to see if they have changed.

Those aren't the only meanings of belief I know. It is quite certain you would consider many of the things I think irrational, and I know I “believe” some “irrational things” in both senses I've used the word. It's a sloppy universe. ;) Peace love wisdom (3 unfalsifiable things I “credit”)


I don't doubt that you believe some irrational things. We all do to some extent. What a skeptic does is try to examine one's beliefs to try and ensure that one's beliefs are not irrational.
Last edited by Arouet on 14 Oct 2010, 19:31, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The 'WHY' of PseudoSkepticism

Postby NinjaPuppy » 14 Oct 2010, 18:00

Arouet - That is an excellent post.
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Re: The 'WHY' of PseudoSkepticism

Postby Arouet » 15 Oct 2010, 00:11

NinjaPuppy wrote:Arouet - That is an excellent post.

:oops:
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Re: The 'WHY' of PseudoSkepticism

Postby Twain Shakespeare » 15 Oct 2010, 03:05

Arouet, Def problems.
1. Re human value I has referring to intrinsic value, you were referring to value within human systems. Within human systems the reasons human beings are considered valuable are variable, from having value as cannon fodder (militarism) to having some sort of intrinsic value. It is intrinsic value I regard as unfalsifiable.
2. I think where you use the word "belief" I use the word "superstition". I don't find either word satisfactory, and I can talk only in terms of my limited understanding. My "superstitions" are thoughts that do not consciously form part of my world view, but emerge spontaneously in the special circs of, for example, having my life is threatened. This reaction seems instinctive. At the next level, there are the core beliefs of my mother's cult Xian/Sci, which I consciously reject, but which nonetheless always infiltrate my rationality to the extent that I just do not see doctors. This is not instinctive.
3. My premise that humans have value is also a conditioned reflex, one I worked hard to establish without any plausible evidence outside of human opinion that humans had “intrinsic” value.
4. RE: Free will. I do not “believe” in it. I suspect that both it and the concept of predestination are based on false questions. Given I do not believe either term has meaning, I may not be qualified to talk about either, and it gave me a head ache just to try to wrap my mind around it again. The whole subject produces so much cognitive dissonance in me I have gotten nauseous thinking about it.
5. “Then we can re-examine our beliefs to see if they have changed.” I would read this final step as “Then we can re-examine our (premises) to see if (our grounds for accepting them) have changed.” Again, I never had any grounds for believing I should thank Henry Ford for brakes, but I have the urge. I know my “hatred” of doctors is a conditioned reflex, but the only way I have ever reduced it is by hating my mother. It ain't worth it
My belief that human had no worth was my null, until I decided to try the experiment of believing the opposite The experiment worked in the sense my Beta hypothesis improved my fit with reality, and my “premise of (intrinsic?) value” moved closer to a probabilistic certainty. I think now I have “graven them on my heart.” The process was similar to what you described.

This relates to my “experience” of “free will”. The process of my becoming and ceasing to be a Xian is even closer to the process you described, but in the former, I was very aware of having a choice when I could have accepted the credo, or could have ignored the fact I found it plausible and declined to take the “leap of faith” Once I accepted the hogwash, its false premises quickly infiltrated my reasoning processes until basically I once again believed humans are sinful bags of shit with no intrinsic worth, being valuable only because they belong to YHWH, and if he said killing civilians with cluster bombs was fine, but aborting a life threatening pregnancy was wrong, I had no grounds to argue. Fortunately my wife left me, and I no longer had any earthly incentive to believe that hateful, anti-human bs. I begin to practice the zen of radical agnosticism. In seven years, I have found four things that strike me as being an epistemologically valid set, or as you would say, I “re-examine(d my) beliefs (and saw) they have changed.”

Of course, people think and experience differently. Here's to those with the skill and courage to keep reexamining. :)
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Re: The 'WHY' of PseudoSkepticism

Postby Twain Shakespeare » 15 Oct 2010, 03:21

By the way, Arouet, congrats on getting Ninja puppies endorsement of your post, Since you reposted it, i first thought you were commenting on mine, and I would have reposted your approval as you did Ninja puppy's! ;)
I have been enjoying this thread, although I can't tell if you think I am a valid skeptic or a nut case.
One last explanatory point. You seem to think we are our beliefs, while I think we merely have beliefs. As a method actor, however, I have been everything from a catholic priest to a vampire, and when I am on stage, I am those, right down to the beliefs. Theatre works on a distinctly different set of premises than my skepticism. That is why I call myself both Twain and Shakespeare (plus they are my name) :)
Vonnegut seems to have commented on both sides of this perception when he said "We are what we seem to be, so we must be careful what we seem to be."
(Mother Night)
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Re: The 'WHY' of PseudoSkepticism

Postby Twain Shakespeare » 30 Oct 2010, 13:45

typos
Last edited by Twain Shakespeare on 30 Oct 2010, 13:58, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The 'WHY' of PseudoSkepticism

Postby Twain Shakespeare » 30 Oct 2010, 13:53

“I have no idea what you are trying to say here.” Arouet said after my incoherent diatribe against belief and Calvinism. I don't blame you, Arouet.
I have no idea what belief means, as I have learned at least two opposite meanings for it. I understand your meaning as to the involuntary nature of belief. However, I was also taught that belief refers to the mental contortions a Calvinist must exert to reconcile “Free will” and “predestination” when the free will part says belief is something one wills (the opposite of your def) I was expressing more frustration at the lunacy of the concepts than an exposition of their lunacy.
Arouet continued. “Let's break it down more simply: If you believe that belief is a choice, then try this little experiment. Take the red colour that is on your screen right now. Choose to believe that it is green. Report back.”
It works. It just takes a lot more time than that. I alo rec'mend a different test. I had to stop driving until I could read traffic lights again.
As anecdotal evidence I am not just bs-ing, here is a poem I wrote referencing the experience.
http://www.facebook.com/notes.php?id=17 ... 7058113119

Ellie, I am proud to say that I took only one hit on the quiz about the consistency of one's beliefs, and that was because I misinterpreted the question.
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