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Chars. and Behaviors of PseudoSkeptics - a critical review

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

Re: Chars. and Behaviors of PseudoSkeptics - a critical rev

Postby Arouet » 05 Sep 2010, 21:21

Craig Browning wrote:
Yeah, wtf Craig? I'm trying to take a critical look at Scepcop's article, which deals with some very specific topics, and you keep on derailing (including making some very serious allegations which may very well be libelous).


Thus far NO ONE has ever been taken to court for calling Randi a sexual deviant... and I'm certainly not the only person to have ever done so, even some of his "own" joke about it. Secondly, your comment in the parenths above are the exact words every JREF member chants whenever anyone brings up Randi's past transgressions.

Such allegations should not be so callously brought up and I hope its not just homophobia.


Now this is one I had to laugh at... I'M GAY... so it's far from anything homophobic but certainly not supportive of pedophilia... which IS the primary issue here.

My reaction above centers on the use of the "Poisoning of the Well" parrying move... it is more or less part of the skeptic's handbook. I find it amazing how a group of people that claim to use intellectual superiority lean on so many cleverly worded "outs" and worse, they live my the adage that they can use such contentions without judgment but the same rule isn't allowed to be invoked by their opponent... such as how skeptics put down any legitimate researcher's support of anything metaphysical/paranormal.

As I've pointed out, skeptics deliberately play the "prove it to me" card when it comes to citations or links (typically links because they seem to refuse book or physical magazine references for some reason), knowing that very few "believers" collect such information... they just aren't that anal retentive and come from a place in which such extreme levels of "defending" one's beliefs are simply not the norm; why should they have to defend their beliefs? The result being a "soft target" that allows the intellect to gloat success around when in truth, very little opposing challenge exists.

I'm stepping out of this mess... don't need it.


If Randi was a pedophile I would certainly want nothing to do with him and would denounce him. But I don't like smear campaigns either.

I brought up poisoning the well, because you were using personal attacks to refute intellectual arguments. It wasn't a trick. If you feel I have incorrectly labelled your post as such, then please elaborate.

And asking for evidence is indeed in the skeptics bag of tricks. It should be in everyone's bag of tricks.

Step out if you want, but with all due respect, none of your posts ITT have directly addressed the topic at hand.
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Re: Chars. and Behaviors of PseudoSkeptics - a critical rev

Postby Scepcop » 01 Dec 2010, 11:24

Gee I like to keep things concise. But where do I begin?

Arouet, the reason I don't respond to posts like this is because it goes around in circles and ends up being nonproductive. All you do is deny and stick to your core beliefs that "No evidence for anything paranormal exists". So what's the point? No matter what happens, you stick to the core belief.

I'm only interested in open minded truth seekers like myself, who asks questions.

Anyone can have a closed mind and deny. So what's new?

If you want to prove my list wrong, I told you before, dig up the JREF archive of thousands of articles. Show me where Randi has challenged the establishment, or where he asks big questions, or even where he has ever admitted to being wrong. Same with Michael Shermer.

None of you have. EVER. Derrida's example of astrology in the newspaper doesn't hold. Get serious. Otherwise you are playing games and always in denial and wasting my time.

So my point stands. Case closed.
“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: Chars. and Behaviors of PseudoSkeptics - a critical rev

Postby Arouet » 01 Dec 2010, 11:37

Scepcop, you can't possibly have read my posts in this thread and still made the comment you just did. I put forward an example for every point that you raised (at least as far as i got to). I didn't spend a terribly long time searching for each one, and I am quite confident there are more. I could go and find them, but you haven't even acknowledged the examples I did find!

This is truly mystifying. I post example after example, and you ignore them all, once again issuing your challenge to find the examples that I put forward. I've met your challenge. Will you acknowledge the examples I found? If you think some of those examples are wrong, then I'd be happy to hear why. But you can't just declare case closed when it clearly isn't.

I took the time to deconstruct your argument. Your response is to refer to derrida and astrology, from another thread? I have been serious in this thread. Why don't you be serious and actually respond to my arguments rather than ignoring them completely.
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Re: Chars. and Behaviors of PseudoSkeptics - a critical rev

Postby Scepcop » 06 Dec 2010, 11:07

I've revised and updated the list of true skeptic vs. pseudoskeptic traits. Here is the new version:

http://www.debunkingskeptics.com/characteristics.php

True Skeptics / Open-Minded Skeptics
Able to adapt and update their beliefs to new evidence and does not resist new information
Asks questions to try to understand new things and are open to learning about them
Applies critical examination and inquiry to all sides, including their own
Are nonjudgmental and do not jump to rash conclusions
Seeks the truth and considers it the highest aim, unafraid to challenge the status quo
Does not consider the official version of anything to be infallible and above examination
Thinks in terms of possibilities rather than in terms of rigidity and limitations
Fairly and objectively weighs evidence on all sides
Acknowledges valid convincing evidence rather than ignoring or denying it
Possess solid sharp common sense and objective reasoning
When all mundane explanations for a phenomenon are ruled out, are able to accept paranormal ones
Urges others to think for themselves rather than adopting fixed beliefs of organizations and institutions


PseudoSkeptics / Closed-Minded Skeptics
Holds fixed belief systems that are resistant to change and denies data which doesn't fit into them
Does not ask big questions to try to understand things, but judges them by whether they fit into their fixed beliefs
Applies "critical thinking" only to that which opposes their beliefs and the status quo, but never to the status quo itself
Carries a fixed set of rigid beliefs and denies everything outside of it without investigation
Are not interested in truth, evidence or facts, only in defending their views
Unable to challenge or apply skepticism to the status quo, establishment, or official version of anything
Considers the official version of things to be infallible and above examination
Unable to accept mysteries and uncertainty, cannot think in terms of possibilities
Scoffs and ridicules anything outside their narrow and rigid paradigm
Insists that everything unknown and unexplained must have a conventional mundane explanation
Uses semantics and word games with their own rules of logic to try to win arguments
When all mundane explanations for a phenomenon are ruled out, will still insist on them
Does not encourage you to think for yourself, but preaches you to adopt the position of the establishment on every subject
Denies all the above PseudoSkeptic traits, yet DOES them all and holds none of the traits of True Skeptics listed above



Here is an example and epitome of a true skeptic. Darryl Sloan, author of Reality Check, emphasizes right from the introduction of his book that to be liberated and free, one must question everything and never hold beliefs that are resistant to change. That is the hallmark of true skepticism, which is rare and not encouraged by any belief system (including Scientism), as they are designed to resist change. Listen to Sloan explain it himself below in his reading of his book intro, and notice that none of the Randis or Shermers, who rail about "Science" and hold fixed belief systems, ever encourage you to think for yourself the way Sloan does. Instead, they preach that one should adopt the views of orthodoxy on every subject, as explained above. Notice how refreshing Sloan is in comparison to that.



“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: Chars. and Behaviors of PseudoSkeptics - a critical rev

Postby ProfWag » 06 Dec 2010, 22:36

As I've already pointed out, Mr. Sloan takes people's word for things rather than physical evidence. This does not make him a skeptic in any sense of the word.
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Re: Chars. and Behaviors of PseudoSkeptics - a critical rev

Postby Craig Browning » 07 Dec 2010, 09:31

What can I say? :roll:

:idea: I'll be back to post a link here... I've got to write the post first :ugeek:
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Re: Chars. and Behaviors of PseudoSkeptics - a critical rev

Postby jakesteele » 20 Dec 2010, 09:33

I am going to show a classical example of pseudoskepticism at its worse. This transcript came from a talk Phil Plait was giving at a conference and was asked if he believed in UFOs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c75N4reUpHs

“Who’s looking at the sky all the time? Some random guy on the street looks up and sees something he doesn’t understand, that’s not surprising, right, because he doesn’t spend a lot of time looking up.

Amateur astronomers spend more time looking up than anybody. They’re all the time looking up at this stuff, and yet they never report UFOs. Why? Because they know what they’re looking at. They know when they’re seeing Venus, the Moon, swap gas, the Araura, satellites, the reflections off things. And so the fact of the matter is, if UFOs were real, if these were really aliens visiting us, overwhelming the most number of reports would be from amateur astronomers, and yet they never seem to report ‘em. And I think that indicates that, you know - - it doesn’t indicate there are no aliens visiting us, but it certainly indicates that the overwhelming number of cases reported
are just simple things being misunderstood.”


I’m going to debunk Phil’s debunking by starting out with some assumptions about amateur astronomers. I may be wrong on some of these so feel free to correct me, please.
1. I believe that amateur astronomers only look at night, which is on average an 8 hr. segment of the day (1/3 of 24 hrs. in the day)
2. I’m assuming that during that 8 hr. period that the amateurs have to take time to pee, maybe eat a quick meal, rest their eye, stretch their back and neck and possibly spending time charting. I’m going to say that at best, they spend maybe 6 hrs. per night actually looking.
3. I’m also going to assume that astronomers don’t look at stars and planets 365 days of the year. This cuts down on ‘hours looking at the stars’.
4. Astronomers “look at the skies” which means in that context stars, planets, etc., not the immediate airspace occupied by planes that fly at or near many UFO sightings.
5. I’m going to assume that through a telescope that it is more of a narrow tunnel of vision than an airplane or someone looking up.
6. I will also assume that they have poor depth perception compared to pilots.
7. If you look at this link that shows how many airplanes there are in the air at any given time, I seriously doubt that the same map with lights representing the amount of amateur astronomers would be anywhere near the amount of planes. http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/sust ... images/at/

Now let’s compare that with airplanes:
1. Almost complete coverage of the airspace 24/7 by many more people simultaneously.
2. Pilots are at or near the heights of reported UFOs.
3. Pilots have a much better depth perception.
4. Pilots have a much broader field of vision just staring straight ahead, let alone banking right or left, ascending, descending and even turning back around. So in a matter of a few seconds a pilot can in effect have 360 omnivision.
5. Many credible reports have come from highly experienced and trained pilots, primarily in the military and commercial applications. Military and many commercial have gone through airplane silhouette training, especially the military.

In summation, as you can see, Phil’s logic is flawed and skewed. He puts too much weight and emphasis on amateurs and virtually none on pilots. The amount of time, blanket coverage, numbers of pilots vs. amateur astronomers, field of vision, depth perception, area of focus is far greater than amateur astronomers. It’s little wonder that you don’t get any sightings from them. That, and of course, they are also susceptible to pattern recognition and confirmation bias like everybody else.

To me, this has some unpleasant ramifications in that debunkers are would like nothing better than to eliminate woo from the airwaves and schools, etc. but at the same time, in the areas of woo, they put out info that is misleading, and at times, deceptive.

That is James Randi’s legacy.
Debunkers think all UFO photos are fake,
especially the real ones.
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Re: Chars. and Behaviors of PseudoSkeptics - a critical rev

Postby Arouet » 20 Dec 2010, 10:06

Don't underestimate just how many amateur astronomers there are out there staring up in the sky and the role that they are playing in astronomy. Check out Galaxy Zoo http://www.galaxyzoo.org/ where from what I understand amateur astronomers are playing a significant role in maping out the galaxy and making discoveries.

The point is, there are a LOT of them - and remember, it's always night somewhere! Phil's point is that with so many eyes on the sky, its odd with all the reports of UFOs that occur day in and day out that none of them would have reported seeing any of these objects coming from space. He's not saying that this decides the question, but that its a check in the "ufo's are not alien spacecrafts" column.

Pilots who see UFOs are seeing objects that are already in our atmosphere. And they are moving fast, focussing on other things, and won't generally have too much time really study what they see.

If an amateur astronomer saw a UFO, they'd be able to focus in on it and follow it, perhaps alerting others, and soon there would be many eyes on an approaching spacecraft.

You call Plait's argument pseudo-skepticism: I disagree. Even if he's wrong, he's still making an evidence based argument focussing on probabilities. You can be a skeptic and be wrong. He's putting forth a hypothesis and making a logical argument. Nothing non-skeptical about that.

A pseudo-skeptic argument would be someone saying: that UFO you saw, it was probably a such -and-such, without having suitable information to even begin to hypothesize about what such-and-such could be. Plait's not making an argument like that. He's simply saying that its odd, with so many eyes on the skies, that none of these amateur astronomers have seen alien space crafts, despite scanning the the skies.
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Re: Chars. and Behaviors of PseudoSkeptics - a critical rev

Postby jakesteele » 20 Dec 2010, 14:40

"Arouet"]
Don't underestimate just how many amateur astronomers there are out there staring up in the sky and the role that they are playing in astronomy. Check out Galaxy Zoo http://www.galaxyzoo.org/ where from what I understand amateur astronomers are playing a significant role in maping out the galaxy and making discoveries.


Galaxy, not earth's atmosphere, that the key concept. The areas of focus are totally different between pilots and astronomers.

The point is, there are a LOT of them - and remember, it's always night somewhere! Phil's point is that with so many eyes on the sky, its odd with all the reports of UFOs that occur day in and day out that none of them would have reported seeing any of these objects coming from space. He's not saying that this decides the question, but that its a check in the "ufo's are not alien spacecrafts" column.


What is 'a lot' of amateurs astronomers in comparison to 'a lot' of pilots. I looked for numbers and an overlay map like the airplane one, but I couldn't find one. The question would be what is the ratio of how many pilots per astronomer are there?

Pilots who see UFOs are seeing objects that are already in our atmosphere. And they are moving fast, focussing on other things, and won't generally have too much time really study what they see.
]
If an amateur astronomer saw a UFO, they'd be able to focus in on it and follow it, perhaps alerting others, and soon there would be many eyes on an approaching spacecraft.


That doesn't make sense. Many have been clear sightings which have been tracked on radar and pursed by the jets. That's like saying pilots who see enemy aircraft are moving too fast and focusing on other things and don't have too much time to really study what they are. Why on earth is an astronomer able to focus and track a fast moving object in the earth's atmosphere better than a trained, experienced pilot while standing flatfoot on the ground?

You call Plait's argument pseudo-skepticism: I disagree. Even if he's wrong, he's still making an evidence based argument focussing on probabilities. You can be a skeptic and be wrong. He's putting forth a hypothesis and making a logical argument. Nothing non-skeptical about that.


Evidence based with all the evidence being weighed and measured, not just what Phil's confirmation bias selects for him to see.

A pseudo-skeptic argument would be someone saying: that UFO you saw, it was probably a such -and-such, without having suitable information to even begin to hypothesize about what such-and-such could be. Plait's not making an argument like that. He's simply saying that its odd, with so many eyes on the skies, that none of these amateur astronomers have seen alien space crafts, despite scanning the the skies.

[/quote]

That was my point. 10 people searching for something don't stand as good a chance statistically as 100 people searching for the same thing. It's numbers, depth perception, close to omni-field of vision, what's being scanned, planets or earth's atmosphere, and while it's always night somewhere, it's always light somewhere twice as much. Astronomers are limited to but 1/3 of viewing time as aircraft. Astronomers are out manned and out gunned by the sheer numbers involved. That's why it doesn't surprise me that they don't report. Odds are greater they won't than they will.
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Re: Chars. and Behaviors of PseudoSkeptics - a critical rev

Postby capri2 » 20 Dec 2010, 15:33

This is a fascinating area and I am only new on this blog but I have enjoyed reading it and can only put in my own experiences. I was once in Court. The person giving evidence told the Court that one of the parties in their opinion at the time of the incident was drunk. The Barrister for that person obviously asked what right did the witness have to give such an opinion, they weren't qualified and here is my problem with all of the arguments OK, does anyone really know that is the question? Not really.
So this is debate? Essentially I would say yes, some might say no. Any debate is good debate. Maybe my logic is wrong. Still I don't really know if I am right or wrong and in reality in this field there are no true experts that could stand up in a court.
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Re: Chars. and Behaviors of PseudoSkeptics - a critical rev

Postby Arouet » 20 Dec 2010, 17:23

Jake he's not saying that this is absolute proof against ufos being aliens - its just a check in the unlikely box.

Bringing it back to the context of this thread: in that video Plaitt clearly says that it is possible that aliens have visited the earth, and that it is likely that they exist somewhere in the universe.
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Re: Chars. and Behaviors of PseudoSkeptics - a critical rev

Postby really? » 21 Dec 2010, 04:14

jakesteele wrote:"[quote=Arouet"]Don't underestimate just how many amateur astronomers there are out there staring up in the sky and the role that they are playing in astronomy. Check out Galaxy Zoo http://www.galaxyzoo.org/ where from what I understand amateur astronomers are playing a significant role in maping out the galaxy and making discoveries.


jakesteele wrote:Galaxy, not earth's atmosphere, that the key concept. The areas of focus are totally different between pilots and astronomers.


The point is, there are a LOT of them - and remember, it's always night somewhere! Phil's point is that with so many eyes on the sky, its odd with all the reports of UFOs that occur day in and day out that none of them would have reported seeing any of these objects coming from space. He's not saying that this decides the question, but that its a check in the "ufo's are not alien spacecrafts" column.


You call Plait's argument pseudo-skepticism: I disagree. Even if he's wrong, he's still making an evidence based argument focussing on probabilities. You can be a skeptic and be wrong. He's putting forth a hypothesis and making a logical argument. Nothing non-skeptical about that.


arouet wrote:Evidence based with all the evidence being weighed and measured, not just what Phil's confirmation bias selects for him to see.



jakesteele wrote:What is 'a lot' of amateurs astronomers in comparison to 'a lot' of pilots. I looked for numbers and an overlay map like the airplane one, but I couldn't find one. The question would be what is the ratio of how many pilots per astronomer are there?
That was my point. 10 people searching for something don't stand as good a chance statistically as 100 people searching for the same thing. It's numbers, depth perception, close to omni-field of vision, what's being scanned, planets or earth's atmosphere, and while it's always night somewhere, it's always light somewhere twice as much. Astronomers are limited to but 1/3 of viewing time as aircraft. Astronomers are out manned and out gunned by the sheer numbers involved. That's why it doesn't surprise me that they don't report. Odds are greater they won't than they will.


This many
Estimates of the total number of amateurs in the U.S. range from 200,000 to 500,000,...
Astronomical League currently has a combined membership of almost 13,000 people

That's a lot of people. Source http://www.astrosociety.org/education/r ... duc06.html
Amateur astronomers are the persons scanning the sky with telescopes, binoculars and their eyes yet they don't appear to report ufos much.
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