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How "skepticism" been hijacked to mean its opposite

Discuss PseudoSkeptics and their Fallacies. Share strategies for debating them.

Re: Has the term "skeptic" been hijacked and mind controlled

Postby NinjaPuppy » 14 Aug 2010, 00:15

Hi Ellie. Welcome to the forum!
Arouet wrote:Folks: skepticism is a thought process. It's not an agreed upon set of beliefs.

Agree. However, this forum is about pseudoskeptics, not skeptics in general.
Arouet wrote:I know you guys like to try to lump skeptics as part of some groupthink, but all I've seen to support this are vast generalizations, with no examples, and little response when examples are shown to prove otherwise.

Bah, HUMBUG! Sure you can find examples that prove otherwise in many areas of the paranormal. Those examples are not the difinitive answer to many other examples that have no real explanation.

Arouet wrote:Even a cursory reading of the JREF forums show great diversity in opinion and viewpoints.

Yeah, until someone mentions Bigfoot. :lol:
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Re: Has the term "skeptic" been hijacked and mind controlled

Postby Arouet » 14 Aug 2010, 02:56

NinjaPuppy wrote:Agree. However, this forum is about pseudoskeptics, not skeptics in general.


When Michael Shermer is being touted as a prime example of a pseudoskeptic, I'm afraid I don't know what critieria is being used in this forum to differentiate between skeptics and pseudoskeptics.
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Re: Has the term "skeptic" been hijacked and mind controlled

Postby really? » 14 Aug 2010, 03:18

Arouet wrote:
NinjaPuppy wrote:Agree. However, this forum is about pseudoskeptics, not skeptics in general.


When Michael Shermer is being touted as a prime example of a pseudoskeptic, I'm afraid I don't know what critieria is being used in this forum to differentiate between skeptics and pseudoskeptics.


As I understand the usage of the word pseudo-skeptics it is any one that won't listen to half baked ideas seriously. In order to qualify as a true skeptic one needs to consider all opinions, ideas and beliefs as equally valid, possible and plausible. To be a true skeptic you are forever required to never to come to this conclusion - Well that's not true.
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Re: Has the term "skeptic" been hijacked and mind controlled

Postby NinjaPuppy » 14 Aug 2010, 19:52

really? wrote:As I understand the usage of the word pseudo-skeptics it is any one that won't listen to half baked ideas seriously.

If I were to replace 'half baked ideas' with 'theories', your comment changes context. You obviously show that your mind is closed on perhaps many if not all areas of the paranormal. You have already indicated by your choice of words that you are set in your way of thinking and that anyone with an alternate theory obviously does not know what they are talking about.

really? wrote:In order to qualify as a true skeptic one needs to consider all opinions, ideas and beliefs as equally valid, possible and plausible. To be a true skeptic you are forever required to never to come to this conclusion - Well that's not true.

This sounds more like a discription of ego than skepticism. It's not a matter of right or wrong or a win or lose scenario. When people stop questioning what science can't put into some neat category, we all lose.

The subject of the paranormal is one of those areas of life that is still open to interpretation and exploration. Very little is actually known about it and to say that it's nothing more than 'half baked ideas' is also pretty accurate. But why ridicule or scoff? That's what I don't understand.
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Re: Has the term "skeptic" been hijacked and mind controlled

Postby Arouet » 14 Aug 2010, 20:54

NinjaPuppy wrote: When people stop questioning what science can't put into some neat category, we all lose.


Ok, I can accept the proposition that there are some facts that may not be provable by the scientific process. Maybe, for example, with psi, the very act of submitting it to a scientific experiment puts some kind of damper effect on it, and the psi won't come out, so to speak. Ok, I get that.

But then we're in a bit of a catch-22 aren't we? Skepticism is not just about questioning this or that. What it really is is about what process one should use in coming to accept a proposition. To be skeptical means not to accept claims without reliable evidence. The scientific method is the epitomy of skeptical thinking. It is the single best system we have of determining how things work in a reliable manner. It is possible that there are other techniques which may be even more reliable than the scientific method, but if so, no one has discovered it yet.

So where does that put us with regard to psi claims that don't lend themselves well to be tested by the scientific method? What process should we use to determine reliability? My take is that if something is not testable through reliable means, then I'm justified in not accepting it as being likely true.
Now one should note that there are several parapscyhologists who do believe that many psi claims are testable using the scientific method. So, IMO, there is still much discussion to be had.

I think most skeptics are open to the possibility that psi is something paranormal. The key is testing it in a reliable way. If its not well suited to science, then fine, but then you can't call someone a pseudoskeptic just for not believing in it.
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Re: Has the term "skeptic" been hijacked and mind controlled

Postby really? » 14 Aug 2010, 22:50

NinjaPuppy wrote:

really? wrote:As I understand the usage of the word pseudo-skeptics it is any one that won't listen to half baked ideas seriously.

NinjaPuppy wrote:If I were to replace 'half baked ideas' with 'theories', your comment changes context. You obviously show that your mind is closed on perhaps many if not all areas of the paranormal. You have already indicated by your choice of words that you are set in your way of thinking and that anyone with an alternate theory obviously does not know what they are talking about.

Half baked or the word theory used in the vernacular would mean the same. Changing the word wouldn't change a thing.

really? wrote:In order to qualify as a true skeptic one needs to consider all opinions, ideas and beliefs as equally valid, possible and plausible. To be a true skeptic you are forever required to never to come to this conclusion - Well that's not true.[/color]
This sounds more like a discription of ego than skepticism. It's not a matter of right or wrong or a win or lose scenario. When people stop questioning what science can't put into some neat category, we all lose.

That's my understanding for how this site views themselves [ true skeptics ] versus anyone else that thinks otherwise
NinjaPuppy wrote:The subject of the paranormal is one of those areas of life that is still open to interpretation and exploration. Very little is actually known about it and to say that it's nothing more than 'half baked ideas' is also pretty accurate. But why ridicule or scoff? That's what I don't understand.

Well should the existence of the Mars Face be seriously considered nowadays? Or the existence of persons that claim to need no food or water to live be taken seriously ? How about the Pyramids were built with the help of ET's ? These are the types and more of half baked ideas that I had in mind. It is permissible to be dismissive of extraordinary claims from the moment you hear them- especially when you've heard the claims many times before and still be a true skeptic. Why ridicule or scoff ? That's a last resort tactic. But it occurs in this fashion.
a. reason with a person
b. Ignore someone question
c. Resort to scoffing and ridicule.
If you chose to reason with someone and they refuse to be sensible enough to reconsider their position on a matter is erroneous then you resort to scoffing their position not for their benefit but for the others [ lurkers ] mostly that are sitting on the fence. A for instance, over at the JREF their are persons that post topics on their pet ideas for how the universe works. Another topic was posted was their were no jets [ aka No Planers } involved in the destruction of the twin towers. So what they get is nothing but scoffing after awhile even though they were presented with the real facts. The persons that get scoffed usually bring it on themselves.
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Re: Has the term "skeptic" been hijacked and mind controlled

Postby Scepcop » 16 Aug 2010, 14:04

Arouet wrote:
Scepcop wrote:Why do pseudoskeptics lack any skepticism or critical thinking toward whatever they are told by authority/media/government/establishment? Why do they have unquestioning faith in everything that's official, as if secrets and conspiracies didn't exist?.


Hi, new to the site, first post here.

This seems to be a very odd statement to make. Critique of media and the manner in which media cover the paranormal, scientific issues, etc. is a pretty common topic in the skeptical community, from what I've seen. As is critique of government policy. I've seen some pretty detailed posts, or discussions on podcasts going into great detail on such matters.

I would agree that anyone who accepted whatever they are told by anyone with unquestioning faith should not be labeled a skeptic. But that's true by definition.

Can you provide an example of a well-known skeptic making a completely unquestioning and faith based statement regarding from someone you consider to be part of the "establishment"?


Hi Arouet,
Welcome to the forum.

It's not odd if you think about it and look beyond your mind control. I guess the straight up info isn't clear to you. So try this:

Contact Michael Shermer and ask him:

- Name one thing that's official that is not true or is a lie
- Name one conspiracy or cover up that the government does not admit to
- Name one murder that was made to look like a suicide that successfully fooled the police

You will find that he cannot name any, and that such questions go against his programming.

If Shermer doesn't write you back, ask ProfWag on this forum those same questions. You will find the same response. His programming will not allow him to answer such questions. He will avoid them as if they don't exist or make excuses to dodge them. Try it and you'll see.

You asked for an example. Here's one.

Michael Shermer is ALWAYS anti-conspiracy, regardless of the evidence. Whether it's 9/11, the JFK Assassination, Roswell, Swine Flu scam, etc, Shermer does not care about the evidence. In those issues, the OFFICIAL reason is always right and blameless and only the dissenters are wrong. ALWAYS, regardless of the evidence.

Ask Michael Shermer, for instance, what the purpose of HAARP in Alaska is. He will tell you that it's simply a weather study program, cause that's the government's OFFICIAL explanation for it, and anything OFFICIAL is Gospel Truth to Shermer. There are not secrets in his world. Not because that's what's true, but because his programming says that authority and official explanations are always right, and dissenters are always wrong and the term SKEPTICISM means to debunk and ridicule ALL dissension.

Total mind control. Go ahead and ask him, and you'll see.

Try the tests I gave above. Don't make excuses or argue semantics please, like ProfWag does. Just DO the tests above. They will prove my point. Clear and simple.
“Devotion to the truth is the hallmark of morality; there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.” - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
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Re: Has the term "skeptic" been hijacked and mind controlled

Postby Scepcop » 16 Aug 2010, 14:18

Arouet wrote:
stevetrueblue wrote:Featuring only James Randi as the authority on everything,


I'm not a huge fan of the style of the show, so don't go out of my way to watch it, but the few episodes I've seen are enough to know that the above is demonstrably false. They site multiple sources in each show (the episodes I saw didn't feature James Randi at all). I'm curious as to why you would say this? If you've seen the show then you are deliberately misrepresenting it. If you haven't seen it, then you are basing your comments on erroneous informaton.

However, far from trying to get their viewers not to question things, the whole point of the show appears to me to be that they want people to question EVERYTHING!

Penn Jillette is a self described libertarian. It would be odd for him to also blindly support the government, wouldn't you say?


That's baloney. You either haven't seen the show or are delusional.

That show uses no evidence to back up anything, and they definitely MISREPRESENT the things they ridicule. For sure. How can you not see that? My God.

It's the same theme with that show. ALL paranormal claims and conspiracies that challenge establishment conventional views are FALSE, ALWAYS FALSE. And must be debunked. That's it. Plain and simple.

If Penn is really a libertarian, he would do an episode debunking the Iraq War, the fraudulent War on Terror, and expose Bush and Cheney as mass murderers who sit in unaccountable positions from the law, and expose the Swine Flu Scam.

Do they do any of that?

How do you know they are Libertarians? Maybe they just say that to try to appear independent.

Most of what we are told and shown on TV are lies. Did you know that?

Even the portrayal of other countries are lies, and the propaganda that every country in the world has no freedom except America. Most of the evidence contradicts that propaganda. But most Americans believe it cause they are programmed to. Ask most immigrants in America and they will tell you that they had MORE freedom (but less money) in their original countries. It's only Hollywood that shows the lie that everyone experiences more freedom in America than abroad. Reality is always different than what you see on TV.

Russians are portrayed in movies as cold, grim and sullen, while Americans as extroverted and wild. But when I went to Russia, it was the opposite. Everyone was very sociable and open to me, more than I could ever dream of. I met more people in one week in Russia, than I did in 10 years in America. In America, social interaction is mostly for business, not for bonding with others. Everyone lives in their own bubble. Neighbors don't talk to each other. It's a very isolated society, but Hollywood shows the exact opposite. Why the lie? And why the misportrayal of Russians? Why? Why? Why?

They also never use real Russian actors when they portray Russians. I wonder why. Maybe it's because real Russians do not like to portray false stereotypes about their people?

Another lie is that the TV always show women saying that men never call them as they promise, and always agree to dates and then flake out on them. But everyone I've seen in real life say the opposite happens, that women give men their number and then screen out their calls, or that men obsessively call women all the time to ask for dates, but the women screen out their calls or not answer the phone or flake out on the men after promising them dates. It's extremely rare that a guy will promise to call a woman and then not do it. I don't know of any guy who does that.

Yet the TV acts like that's common.

Obviously, someone up there is trying to remove us as far away from reality as possible.

Sorry for the rant. But I'm sick of TV showing the opposite of reality. It's obvious that most of what you see on TV are lies. If you travel a lot and don't just stay home and work and consume, you'll see that.

And if you tell the truth about everything, you don't get on TV, that's for sure. Only liars get air time.

This world is sick.
“Devotion to the truth is the hallmark of morality; there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.” - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
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Re: Has the term "skeptic" been hijacked and mind controlled

Postby Scepcop » 16 Aug 2010, 15:08

Regarding the mainstream media on TV, if it's not about jobs and companies laying off workers, then they talk about perverts, sex predators, and underage girls on craigslist, etc.

Why is any of that interesting to anyone? It's such boring trash and utterly useless. What does that teach you or help you? It's not even entertaining.

How does condemning sex perverts uplift anyone? What's the point of it?

Who listens to that shit? It's sickening. What a waste of broadcasting time.

The mainstream media is the most expensive trash program ever, a million dollars a minute to broadcast trash. Why can't people just turn it off and seek the truth and more relevant content instead?

It makes me sick.

I think I get it.

The reason the mainstream media always shows news about companies laying off workers, is so that it sends you an indirect message that you'd better work hard and appreciate your job like a happy slave, or else you could be next. Is that their purpose?

Also, the reason why they like to show news about sex perverts and predators is to give you the message that you'd better suppress your desires, or else you'll be condemned by everyone as a pervert. Make sense?

What other logical reason is there to broadcast such trashy content that's so boring and uninteresting?
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Re: Has the term "skeptic" been hijacked and mind controlled

Postby Scepcop » 16 Aug 2010, 15:51

Scepcop wrote:Russians are portrayed in movies as cold, grim and sullen, while Americans as extroverted and wild. But when I went to Russia, it was the opposite. Everyone was very sociable and open to me, more than I could ever dream of. I met more people in one week in Russia, than I did in 10 years in America. In America, social interaction is mostly for business, not for bonding with others. Everyone lives in their own bubble. Neighbors don't talk to each other. It's a very isolated society, but Hollywood shows the exact opposite. Why the lie? And why the misportrayal of Russians? Why? Why? Why?

They also never use real Russian actors when they portray Russians. I wonder why. Maybe it's because real Russians do not like to portray false stereotypes about their people?


Here is proof of what I'm talking about above, from my own video footage that I shot.

In this video I show how the real Russians are from my three trips there. It is totally UNREHEARSED and UNSCRIPTED. You will see how sociable and fun they are in their natural environments, outside the US matrix which is all about control and fakeness.

“Devotion to the truth is the hallmark of morality; there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.” - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
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Re: Has the term "skeptic" been hijacked and mind controlled

Postby ProfWag » 16 Aug 2010, 19:06

Scepcop wrote:
If Shermer doesn't write you back, ask ProfWag on this forum those same questions. You will find the same response. His programming will not allow him to answer such questions. He will avoid them as if they don't exist or make excuses to dodge them. Try it and you'll see.

G--dammit Scepcop, I am sick and tired of your bullsh!@ statements about me. Really, I am. I would have left this freaking stupid forum months ago if I didn't feel that everytime I turn around you're posting some f'd up comment about me. YOU, Scepcop, NEVER read what I say. Never. Your posts are bordering on slander, just like the JREF lawsuit they were throwing your way.
Here's what I said in your idiotic topic "2 Deprogramming Questions for Skeptics" on Aug 3. Here it is since I know you won't go back on your own:
ProfWag wrote:
Scepcop wrote:
2. If you dispute that you believe #1, then please name some conspiracies/secrets that are true that the government/establishment does not tell us. And list some things that the establishment is wrong about, and why.


Your move.

This is 100% impossible. If they are conspiracy secrets that the government doesn't tell us, there is no way for me to state unequivically they are wrong. Absolutely impossible.

And also, I HAVE given examples in the past, but you refuse to read them. That's not my fault.

Off the top of my head though, I'll remind you of the CIA secretly drugging people with LSD in the '60s, the Manhatten Project, Iran/Contra, the SR71, Bohemian Grove, and the 1919 Chicago White Sox.

I've also gone on record saying I believe the government knew more than they are telling us about what they were aware Al Quada was planning a massive terrorist attack (though I don't believe they knew when or where). Plus, I also believe we invaded Iraq for little more reason that so George W could finish what his Dad didn't.

Additionally, I do believe that certain departments within the CDC have come close to accidently exposing millions of people to deadly viruses. (On a side note, one of my favorite books is "The Hot Zone" by Richard Preston. I HIGHLY recommend it, especially for people such as Scepcop who are looking for info on true incidences that were originally covered up. Read the info on it in Amazon or Wikipedia if you don't believe me. It's truly THE most chilling thing I have ever read.)

Whaddya say Scepcop, is that enough and will you get off my back now?
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Re: Has the term "skeptic" been hijacked and mind controlled

Postby Arouet » 16 Aug 2010, 19:31

Scepcop wrote:That's baloney. You either haven't seen the show or are delusional.


As I said above, I've seen a few episodes, not many.

That show uses no evidence to back up anything, and they definitely MISREPRESENT the things they ridicule. For sure. How can you not see that? My God.


The point I was responding to was that they only use Jame Randi as a source. I simply commented that that's demonstrably false since the episodes I saw cited sources other than James Randi, and did not feature James Randi at all. Are you suggesting that you agree that the ONLY source they use is James Randi?

If Penn is really a libertarian, he would do an episode debunking the Iraq War, the fraudulent War on Terror, and expose Bush and Cheney as mass murderers who sit in unaccountable positions from the law, and expose the Swine Flu Scam.

Do they do any of that?


This doesn't appear to follow.

How do you know they are Libertarians? Maybe they just say that to try to appear independent.


I think the subtlety of that would be lost on most people, but who knows I guess. He could be a closet marxist for all I know!
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Re: Has the term "skeptic" been hijacked and mind controlled

Postby Arouet » 16 Aug 2010, 19:41

Scepcop wrote:Contact Michael Shermer and ask him:

- Name one thing that's official that is not true or is a lie
- Name one conspiracy or cover up that the government does not admit to
- Name one murder that was made to look like a suicide that successfully fooled the police

You will find that he cannot name any, and that such questions go against his programming.


I don't have to ask Michael Shermer directly. He's already told us. Here's a blog post dealing with this:

http://www.michaelshermer.com/2009/09/p ... ikes-deep/

Conspiracies do happen, of course. Abraham Lincoln was the victim of an assassination conspiracy, as was Austrian archduke Franz Ferdinand, gunned down by the Serbian secret society called Black Hand. The attack on Pearl Harbor was a Japanese conspiracy (although some conspiracists think Franklin Roosevelt was in on it). Watergate was a conspiracy (that Richard Nixon was in on). How can we tell the difference between information and disinformation? As Kurt Cobain, the rocker star of Nirvana, once growled in his grunge lyrics shortly before his death from a self-inflicted (or was it?) gunshot to the head, “Just because you’re paranoid don’t mean they’re not after you.”



The question should not be: can you name a conspiracy. The question should be: when preented with a conspiracy theory, how do you go about determining whether it is true or not? As he writes:

But as former Nixon aide G. Gordon Liddy once told me (and he should know!), the problem with government conspiracies is that bureaucrats are incompetent and people can’t keep their mouths shut. Complex conspiracies are difficult to pull off, and so many people want their quarter hour of fame that even the Men in Black couldn’t squelch the squealers from spilling the beans. So there’s a good chance that the more elaborate a conspiracy theory is, and the more people that would need to be involved, the less likely it is true.


You can read the whole article, and other writings of Shermer, but it seems evident that Shermer does question the official stories, and acknowledges that things like this happen. The trick is figuring out fact from fiction.
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Re: Has the term "skeptic" been hijacked and mind controlled

Postby Ellie » 16 Aug 2010, 22:27

really? wrote:
Ellie wrote:Hi, new here :)

Firstly, I'm not any more interested in conspiracy theories than I am in anything else, so I have no axe to grind on that score. My major concern with the increasingly popular 'Skeptics' groups that I have come into contact with is that they appear to be overwhelmingly based on a principle of 'group'. In my experience, mainly of 'Glasgow Skeptics in the Pub' and 'Edinburgh Skeptics in the Pub', these groups foster an attitude of safety in numbers, following only conventional views in the name of science, and self-congratulation/superiority.

Some short answers.

Science works that why it's used

I joined these groups online before I really knew anything about them. I had respected friends who had joined and I thought "hey, i'm a sceptic, this could be fun". It became clear very quickly however that actual scientific thinking played no part in their discussions and that it was really all about a group of psychologically troubled people finding comfort in allying themselves with others in the same position. This would be fine - people finding comfort is good. However, in this case, I noticed my friends becoming increasingly swept away by the dogma of other group members. People were being actively encouraged to push away from their former friends and lives as they increasingly took a harder and harder blind line on 'bunk', 'pseudoscience', 'quackery' etc. They became increasingly offensive in discussions and displayed a tendency to put axe-grinding their point home before everything else, including true scientific inquiry, regardless of the effects of this on personal relationships or the feelings of others.

You'll find the same thing happening anytime like minded people form groups. It's not specific to skeptic groups.

Essentially, for them truth, genuine curiosity, academic respect and common decency were no longer to be taken into consideration in their mission to establish their intellectual superiority and 'win' against the world. Now don't get me wrong, i'm not suggesting that one should always agree with others to preserve friendship and spare the feelings of others. Far from it. In any case, a mature intellectual discussion is quite possible between friends and should be beneficial to all parties.

What I was seeing were people who were very insecure in life, and of the people I knew before hand, had rather disrupted childhoods and troubling family situations. 'Skepticism' appeared to be a way for them to feel more secure about the world and their place in it. Based on dogma and the party line, these troubled folk could get together safe in the knowledge that they would not be contradicted, and could enjoy basking in the feeling that they had 'solved' the world. They had been duped a lot in life and 'skepticism' was a way to say to the world "hey look, no flies on me!". Myself and many others are now no longer friends with them unfortunately. This was instigated wholly by them and would appear to be mainly because we had questioned them, and pulled them up on inaccuracies in their methods of telling us we were stupid or wrong - I can assure you that where this was done it was with the greatest respect. We continue to be aggressively spammed by them, with invites to talks such as "Jesus doesn't exist" etc.. (I'm not particulary religious or anything, but this sort of pointless and redundant axe-grinding does offend me - it's not science, it's children having a tantrum against the world.)

Again not specifically a characteristic of skeptic groups.

So what do we have here? Well, we have individuals who, through no fault of their own (the brain is wired up in patterns in very early childhood and is dictated by the actions of others, not the choice of the individual), have developed certain dysfunctional coping mechanisms as a defence against a world that hasn't always treated them well. These defences can involve a need to re-balance a distortion that exists in their minds and in their view of themselves and the world. Often this is that they are 'not good enough' or 'different from others', 'don't fit in' etc. Now, the defenses which work everyday in all of our minds to protect us are rather primitive things, evolving as they did to protect us from lions or in-fighting etc. They are not the most sophisticated when left to their own devices. People who are not self-aware of the processes in their own brains leave them on auto-pilot - we have all been guilty of this. This shows itself in the continuation of the warped coping mechanisms learned in early childhood. To re-balance these negative views, which pose a threat, the primitive brain seeks to change them in what looks like the easiest, shortest route, perhaps by putting others down, trying to establish a sense of superiority over others etc. The need to be part of a group is also a perfectly natural human instinct and one which has contributed to us all being here today.

So individuals in this position often adopt a persona that they think will change their position in the world (note 'persona' - this is taking a short-cut - they don't become what they want to be, they merely adopt the appearance of it and mistake that for the same thing). They get themselves a 'shtick' if you like. "This is who I am, I am a SKEPTIC. I know my place in the world." That's an easy one to get into because there are plenty of people who will support this. Next, "I will align myself with this group of Skeptics, who are like me. With them I feel good about myself, and I know i'm right." Next, "Hmmm maybe they are more hard-line than me. Oh well, I can be more hard-line. All alternative medicine is BUNK!! YEAH!! If you don't agree you are an idiot!!". Time passes. Soon, "Hmm a lot of my friends don't really agree that I have solved the world and that I am superior - they keep being difficult and arguing that my sources are wrong, or that my methods are not very scientific. Well, they must be idiots then because I have a group of people who accept me and think i'm right!". A short step to "These 'friends' make me feel bad about myself. They exist as a contradiction to my new world belief where I am smart, better, superior. Well, if they won't accept my arguments then they don't accept me - they are clearly not my friends. Only my fellow Skeptics are my friends now. They are all I need."

I would point out here that the very idea of sceptics belonging to a sceptics group creates an unworkable dichotomy. The whole point of scepticism is that you make your own mind up and make your own individual enquiries about the world. Joining a group of people because they all think the same thing is not sceptical behaviour. I once asked why the groups had adopted the American spelling, being Scottish. I was told it was so they could be easier recognised as part of the world-wide group, and that 'Skepticism' is now a brand name. I leave you to draw your own conclusions from that.
Another reason being is English is the international language of commerce. Also Google from what I know is the foremost used search engine in the world. So if you want to be found quickly you are going to spell it the way the search engine which was programed by English speaking people will recognize easily. They were being practical that's why they spelled Scepticism with a K.



Ok, so it would appear these groups function at best as a support group. However, the support being offered is destructive as it encourages people to continue in this pantomime. It is a destructive co-dependant relationship where people can reinforce each other's dysfunctional coping mechanisms. While people may find some happiness through this (and that's pretty much all that matters afterall) it is a happiness based on relying on the actions of the others in their group. The new-found self-belief is fragile, being based on nothing that they can control. It allows people to wear a badge saying "I'm intellectually superior to others and therefore have worth". What if someone takes the badge away? I worry about my former 'Skeptic' friends.
At best, a support group. At worst, a cult. But it certainly doesn't have anything to do with scientific inquiry, scepticism or advancing knowledge and understanding of the world - and I find that both saddening and incredibly offensive.
You can belong to a skeptic group and still avoid all the pitfalls you claim.

On another note, I've only watched one of Randi's 'bits' and I found it rather disturbing. He lied - that's not science. He used horrible gimmicks, which did nothing other than make a big show. And all to delight an audience of people who need to feel superior and are on the wrong track to finding a balance in their lives. Now that is taking advantage of the vulnerable.

Please no allusions. Provide specific citations to the video. You've got it all wrong. Everyone in the audience goes there of their own free will. Wrong track to finding balance what do you mean ?

Let's see if you understand your argument as well as you think you do. Do you know why skeptics laugh ?


Apologies for the wall of text, but I hope at least some of you made it to the bottom. ;)

Ellie


What a pointless response.

"science works that's why its used". Yes. I am a scientist. This was part of my point. Not sure why you felt the need to say that. Perhaps it's just habit. However if you read what I wrote again, perhaps you will notice that part of what I found offensive about these groups was their pitiful understanding of the scientific method, and yet their tendency to argue that they must be agreed with "because of science".

Short answers 2 and 3. I don't really think that matters. I didn't say it was specific to 'Skeptics'. It's still rather worrying.

Answer 4. The point of that was the girl believing she had bought into a brand. Her words.

"You can belong to a skeptic group and still avoid all the pitfalls you claim". Possibly true. I just havn't seen that to be the case so far. However these specific groups that I know of, being as they are an anathema to science and logical thinking, would be very unlikely to hold the attention of anyone wishing to get involved because of an interest in scientific inquiry and furthering knowledge. That is simply not their function.

Randi bit. Why do they laugh? Because it's probably funny if you don't know that it isn't really the case. Observational comedy only works if it is based on real observation - or if the audience believe it is. Observational comedy also gives people a sense of togetherness, as usually it's based on things that we all experience and observe. As, being a scientist, I observe differently from Mr Randi, I don't find it very funny. Or relevant.

In response to other stuff:

"If you don't like them, don't go. There probably is a higher than average "geek" factor among them, which perhaps accounts for some of your perceptions."
I don't go. The post was about my concern over the effects that the groups have on others. I am a massive geek. ;) I'm not entirely sure why you think that would affect my perceptions of them, given that my observations are rooted in psychology and neuro-science.

"Folks: skepticism is a thought process. It's not an agreed upon set of beliefs. I know you guys like to try to lump skeptics as part of some groupthink, but all I've seen to support this are vast generalizations, with no examples, and little response when examples are shown to prove otherwise."

Yes. Scepticism is a thought process. What I was describing were groups of people who use the name 'Skeptics' but don't behave sceptically. Do you see? Perhaps I should have said Pseudosceptics instead to make it clearer, but I don't particularly like the phrase. The 'vast generalisations' were because I don't want to name names, and because absolutely nothing would have been added to my point if I had. What sort of in depth detail do you think you would require in order to decide that it wasn't full of generalisation?

Lastly, so far I havn't really seen any 'examples to prove otherwise'. I wasn't really expecting any because that would be to misunderstand the nature of what is possible in this discussion. There is also very little anyone on this forum could add which would change the nature of what I sepcifically observed. All I have done is tell you a story with facts. You should consider that either I am lying or that it is true. There is no reason to believe that I am lying in particular. Therefore it may possibly be true - i can assure you that certainly anyone with any background in this sphere of study would have no problem with accepting that this could be true. As a self-proclaimed sceptic you should have no cause to dismiss it so. You simply do not know - not your fault. However it may be better if you directed your actions towards finding out what you don't know, rather than wasting your time telling me that you have decided I'm wrong.

The correct response would probably be "wow, if that's true it's very interesting. I wonder how I can do my own investigation in order to assess the validity of it". That's scepticism by the way. ;)
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Re: Has the term "skeptic" been hijacked and mind controlled

Postby Arouet » 16 Aug 2010, 22:43

Ellie wrote:All I have done is tell you a story with facts. You should consider that either I am lying or that it is true.


False dichotomy. Your comments about that group were a matter of perception.

There is no reason to believe that I am lying in particular. Therefore it may possibly be true - i can assure you that certainly anyone with any background in this sphere of study would have no problem with accepting that this could be true. As a self-proclaimed sceptic you should have no cause to dismiss it so. You simply do not know - not your fault. However it may be better if you directed your actions towards finding out what you don't know, rather than wasting your time telling me that you have decided I'm wrong.


I didn't tell you you were wrong. I raised some possible different interpretations. I never said it couldn't have happened.

The correct response would probably be "wow, if that's true it's very interesting. I wonder how I can do my own investigation in order to assess the validity of it". That's scepticism by the way. ;)


Well, you were talking about a group overseas (for me) that I'm not likely to go and visit. However, what I did write was:

[qupte]I get that you don't like the gang you met up with, and maybe they are cultish (would surprise me, but I've been surprised before!). If they are actively trying to push your away from your other friends, and trying to isolate you that would, indeed, be shocking. And unacceptable. if that's actually the case you should post a thread on JREF or something. Some people there may know them and can help them cut out poor behaviour.[/quote]

Was that not a skeptical enough approach for you?
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