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What Is Skepticism????

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What Is Skepticism????

Postby _Ice_Ages_14_Aces_ » 06 Sep 2011, 07:20

Skepticism is not simple bigotry, but a justifiable position of interrogating, critiquing, and demanding evidence for propositions before accepting them. A true-skeptic does not hold and draw conclusions based on beliefs/prejudices, but based on empirical, substantial evidence. For instance, if a skeptic heard let's say telekinesis, the skeptic would not believe it, yet the skeptic wouldn't reject it out of hand. The skeptic would simply say: I have seen no evidence for telekinesis, so untill you show me evidence, I'll accept it.

If a skeptic saw substantial evidence for a proposition, the skeptic would accept the evidence. Anything else such as denying or rejecting it is pseudoskepticism and quite frankly hypocrisy.

Skepticism is all about evidence and searching for the truth nothing less nothing more......
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Re: What Is Skepticism????

Postby Arouet » 06 Sep 2011, 09:10

Yeah, my definition is similar. Skepticsm is the withholding of belief in a proposition absent sufficient reliable evidence.
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Re: What Is Skepticism????

Postby Arouet » 06 Sep 2011, 09:10

Yeah, my definition is similar. Skepticsm is the withholding of belief in a proposition absent sufficient reliable evidence.
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Re: What Is Skepticism????

Postby craig weiler » 21 Sep 2011, 10:33

I would add one more thing to the true skeptic. This person will look for a reason to believe; not a reason to disbelieve. They will read the original literature and let the authors try to convince them. It is really the only way that you can examine evidence objectively.

Only after they have a sufficient grounding in the area of study do they go looking for the criticism. And a real skeptic favors the opinions of people who are actively working in that area of study. They get the benefit of the doubt. Always. They know more about their subject than anyone else. The game, so to speak, is theirs to lose.
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Re: What Is Skepticism????

Postby Arouet » 21 Sep 2011, 11:56

craig weiler wrote:I would add one more thing to the true skeptic. This person will look for a reason to believe; not a reason to disbelieve. They will read the original literature and let the authors try to convince them. It is really the only way that you can examine evidence objectively.


What? How does that follow. I agree that we should examine evidence objectively, but how does looking for a reason to believe help us do that? At least without also looking for reasons to disbelieve? Just looking at the evidence with a view to believe will lead to all sorts of bias. Not looking hard enough for reasons not to believe can easily lead to overlooking flaws in the research.

I think evidence should be weighed, pros and cons of different views. Then you look back and see if you believe it or not.

Only after they have a sufficient grounding in the area of study do they go looking for the criticism. And a real skeptic favors the opinions of people who are actively working in that area of study. They get the benefit of the doubt. Always. They know more about their subject than anyone else. The game, so to speak, is theirs to lose.


We should of course defer to experts. But I don't know what you mean by always giving them the benefit of the doubt. You can have experts in a field who disagree with one another - so who do we give the benefit too? The good news is that most topics have experts with diverging views which give the lay person different perspectives to evaluate.
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Re: What Is Skepticism????

Postby craig weiler » 21 Sep 2011, 12:10

So by your logic we should examine the arguments against evolution while we're trying to understand what the heck it is? Do you see how crazy that is? Understand evolution first, so that you can see how all the pieces fit together, and then evaluate the counter arguments.

I don't know how you evaluate experts, but to me it is someone working in his field of study, not someone taking shots from the sidelines. So, for example I trust a quantum physicist to tell me what entanglement is before I trust a New Age Guru. Similarly, I trust a working parapsychologist to tell me about the results of his studies before I trust a skeptic who does no experiments to tell me why he thinks they are messed up.
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Re: What Is Skepticism????

Postby Arouet » 21 Sep 2011, 13:00

craig weiler wrote:So by your logic we should examine the arguments against evolution while we're trying to understand what the heck it is? Do you see how crazy that is? Understand evolution first, so that you can see how all the pieces fit together, and then evaluate the counter arguments.


You've shifted gears slightly . Yes: understand the argument being made, see how the argument is being made. That is different from looking for a reason to believe the argument. I agree more with how you've laid it out here.

I don't know how you evaluate experts, but to me it is someone working in his field of study, not someone taking shots from the sidelines. So, for example I trust a quantum physicist to tell me what entanglement is before I trust a New Age Guru. Similarly, I trust a working parapsychologist to tell me about the results of his studies before I trust a skeptic who does no experiments to tell me why he thinks they are messed up.


But you should never just be "trusting" the results. What do you do with Bem-Wagenmakers? Both qualified, both in the field. You need to look at the various arguments and determine which you find more persuasive. And if you're not qualified to properly evaluate them (as I am not) then you need to look at further discussion from others! Hopefully the lay person can sort something out to arrive at an informed opinion.

I'm not disagreeing that the edge can often go to the expert, but you seem preciously close to an argument from authority in saying: well, I'm just going to trust that Bem is right because he is an expert in the field.

50% of experiments turn out to be wrong. They're all done by experts in the field. And yet they are wrong. And people can criticise them. Some have more qualifications than others. But the arguments need to be taken on their own merits.

I agree, though, that all things being equal, you go with the expert. But even better: you go with a consensus of experts. Even then there is no guarantee about being correct: just that the odds go up.

Parapsychology is a strange field in that there is no consensus about anything (other than perhaps that they feel that something non-random is going on, but that doesn't take us very far!). Despite being around for 150 yrs or more, it's still a fairly young science, given the relative paucity in practioners. And some experiments receive precious little critical analysis. Makes it hard to evaluate.

To sum up: I'm not 100% disagreeing with you, but I think you have to be careful in how far you go here.

I'm pretty tired so hopefully this made sense...
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Re: What Is Skepticism????

Postby really? » 21 Sep 2011, 20:58

Arouet wrote:
craig weiler wrote:So by your logic we should examine the arguments against evolution while we're trying to understand what the heck it is? Do you see how crazy that is? Understand evolution first, so that you can see how all the pieces fit together, and then evaluate the counter arguments.


You've shifted gears slightly . Yes: understand the argument being made, see how the argument is being made. That is different from looking for a reason to believe the argument. I agree more with how you've laid it out here.

I don't know how you evaluate experts, but to me it is someone working in his field of study, not someone taking shots from the sidelines. So, for example I trust a quantum physicist to tell me what entanglement is before I trust a New Age Guru. Similarly, I trust a working parapsychologist to tell me about the results of his studies before I trust a skeptic who does no experiments to tell me why he thinks they are messed up.


But you should never just be "trusting" the results. What do you do with Bem-Wagenmakers? Both qualified, both in the field. You need to look at the various arguments and determine which you find more persuasive. And if you're not qualified to properly evaluate them (as I am not) then you need to look at further discussion from others! Hopefully the lay person can sort something out to arrive at an informed opinion.

I'm not disagreeing that the edge can often go to the expert, but you seem preciously close to an argument from authority in saying: well, I'm just going to trust that Bem is right because he is an expert in the field.

50% of experiments turn out to be wrong. They're all done by experts in the field. And yet they are wrong. And people can criticise them. Some have more qualifications than others. But the arguments need to be taken on their own merits.

I agree, though, that all things being equal, you go with the expert. But even better: you go with a consensus of experts. Even then there is no guarantee about being correct: just that the odds go up.

Parapsychology is a strange field in that there is no consensus about anything (other than perhaps that they feel that something non-random is going on, but that doesn't take us very far!). Despite being around for 150 yrs or more, it's still a fairly young science, given the relative paucity in practioners. And some experiments receive precious little critical analysis. Makes it hard to evaluate.

To sum up: I'm not 100% disagreeing with you, but I think you have to be careful in how far you go here.

I'm pretty tired so hopefully this made sense...


This makes perfect sense.
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Re: What Is Skepticism????

Postby craig weiler » 21 Sep 2011, 21:30

Both of you might be interested to know that within the field of parapsychology, psi is a done deal. The only holdout that I know of is Wiseman, and since he has a history of bad science and bad behavior and is funded by what is essentially an evangelical atheist organization, the importance of his views are greatly diminished. And his only one person in a field with an estimated 50 researchers.

By and large, they see the task of convincing skeptics as pointless and have moved on to more interesting experiments to better discover the nature of psi, which they are convinced exist. This leads naturally, to a lot of failed experiments, which no one inside the field sees as a problem. Only skeptics see this as a sign of failure.

Bem is only getting attention because he is getting published in THE most prestigious psychology journal. His precognition experiment has been around for at least 12 years and has been replicated many times. The one getting published is a greatly refined version. Who do I believe? The researchers.

Why? Because the skeptic arguments smack of desperation and an unreasonable demand for perfection. The complaints have a history of being trivial and of shifting to something else when they are addressed. I know this because I have followed the history of parapsychology skepticism. What convinced me that the ganzfeld experiments were legitimate for example, was the lack of a rebuttal that met the same scientific standards as the experiments.

Not only that, the skepticism is sloppy and almost always omits positive research or treats it as irrelevant. I just lost respect for their side of the argument.
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Re: What Is Skepticism????

Postby Arouet » 21 Sep 2011, 21:46

With all due respect Craig: you are coming across as far more dogmatic than the skeptics you critique.

What does "psi is a done deal" mean? Is there any solid conclusion that has been generated other than the results beat random chance? Sure there are hypotheses galour! But there is no Theory of Psi. There is precious little understanding of what is causing the greater than chance results. And given the relatively tiny field the consensus from those few researchers (who are not absent bias themselves) isn't as strong as consensus in other fields with far more experts involved.

Also: I don't believe parapsychologists are not interested in convincing the mainstream scientific establishment that psi is real. If they are they are terribly shortsighted. Parapsychology is horribly underfunded and if they are to have any chance of building the field they need to attract mainstream interest. Really, they need to come up with one or two results that actually convert into something useful - preferably something that can be monetized. This will attract much more funds to the field and maybe they can really figure something out - if there is something to figure out.

And yes: as long as we're dealing with relatively small effect sizes that could conceivably be the results of small researcher biases, we do need to demand very high standards of controls in these experiments. Psi is deduced by eliminating conventional causes. This is exceptionally difficult to do. So yes, controls are needed (as they are in conventional science!)
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Re: What Is Skepticism????

Postby Craig Browning » 21 Sep 2011, 22:00

_Ice_Ages_14_Aces_ wrote:Skepticism is not simple bigotry, but a justifiable position of interrogating, critiquing, and demanding evidence for propositions before accepting them. A true-skeptic does not hold and draw conclusions based on beliefs/prejudices, but based on empirical, substantial evidence. For instance, if a skeptic heard let's say telekinesis, the skeptic would not believe it, yet the skeptic wouldn't reject it out of hand. The skeptic would simply say: I have seen no evidence for telekinesis, so untill you show me evidence, I'll accept it.

If a skeptic saw substantial evidence for a proposition, the skeptic would accept the evidence. Anything else such as denying or rejecting it is pseudoskepticism and quite frankly hypocrisy.

Skepticism is all about evidence and searching for the truth nothing less nothing more......



Have some more Kool-Aid
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Re: What Is Skepticism????

Postby craig weiler » 22 Sep 2011, 05:48

With all due respect Craig: you are coming across as far more dogmatic than the skeptics you critique.


My disdain for the overall quality of parapsychology skepticism is the result of reading skeptical literature and dealing with skeptics. I am completely underwhelmed.

What does "psi is a done deal" mean? Is there any solid conclusion that has been generated other than the results beat random chance?


yes, psi has been proven to exist. It is not a mere hypothesis. They looked for it and they found it. There are positive studies going back over 60 years. The real researchers know this and they are satisfied that they have experimentally proven this. You're just a holdout.

Also: I don't believe parapsychologists are not interested in convincing the mainstream scientific establishment that psi is real.


Of course parapsychologists are trying to convince the rest of the science community. That's what Bem is doing.

And yes: as long as we're dealing with relatively small effect sizes that could conceivably be the results of small researcher biases, we do need to demand very high standards of controls in these experiments. Psi is deduced by eliminating conventional causes. This is exceptionally difficult to do. So yes, controls are needed (as they are in conventional science!)


Since it's been demonstrated to you fairly conclusively that parapsychology experimental results are not explainable by researcher bias, why the hell are you bringing it up? It's over. That argument is invalid.
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Re: What Is Skepticism????

Postby Arouet » 22 Sep 2011, 10:38

Craig: how do you define psi?

And no it has not been demonstrated conclusively that researcher bias does not play a role in parapsychology. It would be the only science in the world that had no researcher bias.

Anyhow, no offence, but you do not come across as wanting to engage in any real discussion. You have you opinions and make vague sweeping generalizations about people you disagree with. You've put parapsychologists on a pedestal and seem to accord them an almost reverential respect. You give the impression you conisder them to be flawless - which is a strange position to take.

Anyhow, I'm happy to try and converse with you, but the sweeping statements are getting a bit tiresome.
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Re: What Is Skepticism????

Postby craig weiler » 22 Sep 2011, 12:53

WTF??? How do I define psi? Jezuz crist! Who gives a f**k how its defined.

Go ahead and prove that researcher bias plays a role in a double blind automated study. You'll be the first. Have you learned NOTHING about how the ganzfeld experiments are done?

I will be glad to teach you what I know, but I'm not going to let you pretend that psi doesn't exist or that the studies didn't somehow prove it. That's ridiculous.
I don't consider the researchers to be flawless. They are, however, good enough. I cannot say the same for the skepticism.

We're not really having a discussion per se, because I know way more than you do. I've spent several years studying this stuff. You, not so much. I'm not going to suddenly pretend that you know what you're talking about. You don't. If you're open, you'll learn, but I'm not taking any skeptic nonsense.
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Re: What Is Skepticism????

Postby Arouet » 22 Sep 2011, 20:35

Craig: researcher bias plays a role in EVERY study. Across EVERY discipline. This is well known among scientists. Go ask one.

Anyhow, I'm here for discussion, you're here to make declarations. Guess I'll leave you alone...
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