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What will skeptics accept as "evidence"?

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

Re: What will skeptics accept as "evidence"?

Postby Arouet » 24 Nov 2010, 02:52

Jackal wrote:"In philosophy, the theory of materialism holds that the only thing that exists is matter; that all things are composed of material and all phenomena (including consciousness) are the result of material interactions. In other words, matter is the only substance."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Materialism


That's a better definiition. My point is, whether a skeptic is a materialist or not, they are unlikely, for the most part, to be thinking on such a philosophical level. What skeptics want is reliable evidence. If that reliable evidence shows that there is more to this universe than matter and energy, then so be it! I'm no astrophysicist - if they report that they found a new substnace out there and it is rigourously confirmed, who am I to argue? So I suggest we stay away from philosophical terms that are poorly understood and really only serve to distract and lead to longwinded conversations about definitions.

No one who is a real Buddhist doesn't believe this. Buddhism is based on the Four Noble Truths. Karma and rebirth are a main feature of the Four Noble Truths. Rebirth implies that the mind can exist independently from the body. People who just go to meditation classes, but leave all their western assumptions unchanged are not real Buddhists.


I'm going to withdraw from the buddhist discussion. My understanding is different, but I'm not an expert and recognize there are different sects who have different interpretations. I'd have to do too much research and it's beyond the scope of this thread/webstie to go into this part further!


In order to make that statement meaningful, you need to first have a good definition of consciousness and this is always a slippery thing to try and do. Perhaps on an internet forum, this definition doesn't matter so much because we generally know what we mean, but for scientists who are trying to understand it, the definition itself in an important question.


Well, from what I can see, there is no good definition of consciousness. But is there any definition whereby beings with more developed brains don't have more developed consciousness, in any measurable way?

Some NDE experiences when the brain and heart are no longer functioning provide evidence that the mind can function without the brain.


This is a big topic of debate right now and it has not been demonstrated conclusively (IMO) that NDE's demonstrate that the mind can function without the brain. The jury is still out here. There is a big study going on right now, the AWARE study, that is looking at NDE's very closely. One thing they are doing is putting images on the wall up high. It wil be interesting to see whether any NDEr's experiencing OOBE's duering the OBE will see them. If a number of them do, I will consider it to be evidence in favour of your proposition. So long as there was no cheating, etc. It will have to be replicated, but it will certainly be stronger evidence in favour of that proposition.

That's still relying on the assumption that the brain creates the mind. Buddhists would say that the mind is attracted to the embryo of an appropriate type of being. Which being is "appropriate" depends on the state of the mind.


That's a pretty big assumption that also must be demonstrated.

In the west, we celebrate this narrow, self-centered ego-awareness. In Buddhism, it's the root of ignorance and blinds us from the most vast, unlimited aspects of our minds.


that's a different question though, isn't. We're asking about conciousness. Most definitions I've heard at a very minimum require recognition of the self. Buddhism meditation aims to remove that, (though I don't think they deny that the self is part of conciousness, but again, let's not get into a buddhim debate). If recognition of the self is not part of consciousness, how do you define conciousness?

Yes, scientists have learned many amazing things, and I'm not putting down what they've already discovered, but you have to walk before you can run.

If they don't even have a complete understanding of an insect's brain, then they aren't yet ready to speculate about physical causes of consciousness. They just have guesses which fit their current assumptions.


Guesses, maybe, but educated guesses based on everything else that is known about how the brain works, etc. Scientists have not declared they have fully understood how we are concious, but as I understand it, progress is being made.
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Re: What will skeptics accept as "evidence"?

Postby Jackal » 24 Nov 2010, 23:50

Hi Arouet,

Let me first thank you for being such a gentleman while discussing things.

Arouet wrote:That's a better definiition. My point is, whether a skeptic is a materialist or not, they are unlikely, for the most part, to be thinking on such a philosophical level. What skeptics want is reliable evidence. If that reliable evidence shows that there is more to this universe than matter and energy, then so be it! I'm no astrophysicist - if they report that they found a new substnace out there and it is rigourously confirmed, who am I to argue? So I suggest we stay away from philosophical terms that are poorly understood and really only serve to distract and lead to longwinded conversations about definitions.

To a typical modern person, these distinctions might be pointless, but to a Buddhist they are important because Buddhists believe that ordinary reality is illusory in the absolute sense. There is no fixed "thing" which is your body, for example. It's really changing continuously, and each moment it's different than the next. It's true that the word "body" is a convenient label for ordinary activities, but this also gives us the false sense of it existing independently of the environment and of other causes and conditions. Your body only exists because of your parent's bodies and their parents' parents' bodies, .... You breathe in molecules from the environment and it causes changes in your body, and you breathe out molecules into your environment causing it to change.

Arouet wrote:Well, from what I can see, there is no good definition of consciousness. But is there any definition whereby beings with more developed brains don't have more developed consciousness, in any measurable way?

Buddhism says that the true nature of all beings minds' is the same. However, non-humans are not able to access it.

A scientist thinks of both potential and actual consciousness as being fairly similar. To a Buddhist, they are quite different, and that's why Buddhists try not to harm any living creatures in most situations.

Arouet wrote:that's a different question though, isn't. We're asking about conciousness. Most definitions I've heard at a very minimum require recognition of the self. Buddhism meditation aims to remove that, (though I don't think they deny that the self is part of conciousness, but again, let's not get into a buddhim debate). If recognition of the self is not part of consciousness, how do you define conciousness?

A Buddhist would say that the mind functions on different levels. First there are the five senses plus the ordinary thinking mind. Then are deeper levels of mind which deal with the continual flow of thoughts and their causes and effects. The sense of self is one of the deepest levels, but is not the very deepest.

So Buddhists would say that the sense of self is an illusory concept which the mind (not just the brain!) creates.
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Re: What will skeptics accept as "evidence"?

Postby derrida » 25 Nov 2010, 00:19

are you a buddhist?
:?:
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Re: What will skeptics accept as "evidence"?

Postby Arouet » 25 Nov 2010, 01:49

Jakal: I suggested that we stay away from buddhism, this is not a religious forum. In any event, there are different sects in buddhism, and you probably can't speak for all of them. I'm no expert in buddhism,but what you are saying sounds different than what I have learned, but I don't want to get into it here. The buddha, AFAIK, advocated reason above dogma in any event, and would have been a big fan of the scientific method. So let's stay away from philosophy here.
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Re: What will skeptics accept as "evidence"?

Postby Jackal » 25 Nov 2010, 07:16

derrida wrote:are you a buddhist?
:?:


Yes, I am.
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=530
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Re: What will skeptics accept as "evidence"?

Postby Jackal » 25 Nov 2010, 07:23

Arouet wrote:Jakal: I suggested that we stay away from buddhism, this is not a religious forum.

But religions historically have had close ties with the paranormal, and there is a subforum for religions on this site.

Arouet wrote:In any event, there are different sects in buddhism, and you probably can't speak for all of them. I'm no expert in buddhism,but what you are saying sounds different than what I have learned, but I don't want to get into it here. The buddha, AFAIK, advocated reason above dogma in any event, and would have been a big fan of the scientific method. So let's stay away from philosophy here.

Every sect of Buddhism is based on the Four Noble Truths if it is really Buddhist, no matter which other beliefs have been built on top of them. But yes, there are different Buddhist models of the mind. The one I described roughly above was basically the Yogacara model.

Arouet wrote:The buddha, AFAIK, advocated reason above dogma in any event, and would have been a big fan of the scientific method. So let's stay away from philosophy here.

Yes, the Buddha advocated reason, but he also started a religion based on his deepest experiences and insights during meditation (these included karma and rebirth).

Buddhists and many other paranormal believers view meditation as a legitimate method of inquiry into the mind and reality.

Anyway, I think I've said all I need to say about Buddhism in this thread.
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Re: What will skeptics accept as "evidence"?

Postby derrida » 25 Nov 2010, 15:23

Jackal wrote:
Arouet wrote:Jakal: I suggested that we stay away from buddhism, this is not a religious forum.

But religions historically have had close ties with the paranormal, and there is a subforum for religions on this site.

Arouet wrote:In any event, there are different sects in buddhism, and you probably can't speak for all of them. I'm no expert in buddhism,but what you are saying sounds different than what I have learned, but I don't want to get into it here. The buddha, AFAIK, advocated reason above dogma in any event, and would have been a big fan of the scientific method. So let's stay away from philosophy here.

Every sect of Buddhism is based on the Four Noble Truths if it is really Buddhist, no matter which other beliefs have been built on top of them. But yes, there are different Buddhist models of the mind. The one I described roughly above was basically the Yogacara model.

Arouet wrote:The buddha, AFAIK, advocated reason above dogma in any event, and would have been a big fan of the scientific method. So let's stay away from philosophy here.

Yes, the Buddha advocated reason, but he also started a religion based on his deepest experiences and insights during meditation (these included karma and rebirth).

Buddhists and many other paranormal believers view meditation as a legitimate method of inquiry into the mind and reality.

Anyway, I think I've said all I need to say about Buddhism in this thread.


mmm.. i dont think i can discuss with you
since you are taking the perspective of YOUR religion
nothing will change your position.. what´s the point?

is like me saying i am Raelian and saying.. well.. buddha was just a guy, which by the way BY GOD (Rael) talks about.. so i win,

really.. lets dont talk religion. we cant move forward
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Re: What will skeptics accept as "evidence"?

Postby NinjaPuppy » 25 Nov 2010, 19:48

But isn't religion all about 'belief'? For some, religion is the very first introduction to things deemed paranormal. You've got Holy Spirits, angels, Gods, the power of prayer and the list goes on. How about religious belief in things like the afterlife and reincarnation? How can you say that by discussing religion we can't move forward?
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Re: What will skeptics accept as "evidence"?

Postby really? » 25 Nov 2010, 21:50

NinjaPuppy wrote:But isn't religion all about 'belief'? For some, religion is the very first introduction to things deemed paranormal. You've got Holy Spirits, angels, Gods, the power of prayer and the list goes on. How about religious belief in things like the afterlife and reincarnation? How can you say that by discussing religion we can't move forward?


Because you can't reason someone out of something they did not reason themselves into.
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Re: What will skeptics accept as "evidence"?

Postby Jackal » 26 Nov 2010, 00:24

really? wrote:Because you can't reason someone out of something they did not reason themselves into.

I understand what you mean, but I think you're assuming here that science is the only legitimate system of reasoning. There are also logical arguments in different philosophical systems which are also compelling. So even if one doesn't make a decision based upon science, he may still rely on some type of logical reasoning.

derrida wrote:really.. lets dont talk religion. we cant move forward

Well, I might talk about religion in other threads, but I see what you're saying: our conclusions depend on our assumptions. The results of laboratory experiments--but not necessarily the assumptions of the western, scientific worldview--are universally agreed upon. Despite my Buddhist assumptions, if a scientist discovers something new in the lab and the experiment was done correctly, then I accept the results. I don't have anything against scientists. I just accept other methods of proof and inquiry as well.

I think the main reason why believers and skeptics will never agree is that each group has a different set of assumptions. An argument which is valid in one system is often invalid in the other. It's like having one algebraic system in which 1+2=0 (addition mod 3) and having another in which 1+1=0 (addition mod 2).

I was just trying to get skeptics to look a bit more closely at their assumptions, so that they'd realize that many of us (whether religious or not) believe in assumptions which (at least the present time) can't be proven by laboratory science. Whatever conclusions skeptics want to draw is up to them.
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Re: What will skeptics accept as "evidence"?

Postby Arouet » 26 Nov 2010, 00:46

Jackal wrote:I understand what you mean, but I think you're assuming here that science is the only legitimate system of reasoning. There are also logical arguments in different philosophical systems which are also compelling. So even if one doesn't make a decision based upon science, he may still rely on some type of logical reasoning.


Fair enough, but then set out the logical argument. Don't just say "buddhists say this", this gives us very little to evaluate. Set out the buddhist argument, then we can look at it. Otherwise you're not really making an argument, you're simply telling us your conclusion.
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Re: What will skeptics accept as "evidence"?

Postby derrida » 26 Nov 2010, 15:35

Jackal wrote:
really? wrote:Because you can't reason someone out of something they did not reason themselves into.

I understand what you mean, but I think you're assuming here that science is the only legitimate system of reasoning. There are also logical arguments in different philosophical systems which are also compelling. So even if one doesn't make a decision based upon science, he may still rely on some type of logical reasoning.

derrida wrote:really.. lets dont talk religion. we cant move forward

Well, I might talk about religion in other threads, but I see what you're saying: our conclusions depend on our assumptions. The results of laboratory experiments--but not necessarily the assumptions of the western, scientific worldview--are universally agreed upon. Despite my Buddhist assumptions, if a scientist discovers something new in the lab and the experiment was done correctly, then I accept the results. I don't have anything against scientists. I just accept other methods of proof and inquiry as well.

I think the main reason why believers and skeptics will never agree is that each group has a different set of assumptions. An argument which is valid in one system is often invalid in the other. It's like having one algebraic system in which 1+2=0 (addition mod 3) and having another in which 1+1=0 (addition mod 2).

I was just trying to get skeptics to look a bit more closely at their assumptions, so that they'd realize that many of us (whether religious or not) believe in assumptions which (at least the present time) can't be proven by laboratory science. Whatever conclusions skeptics want to draw is up to them.


look man.. all the power to you if your are buddhist
but i see no point in discussing with someone that thinks out of faith and not out of logic or reason
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Re: What will skeptics accept as "evidence"?

Postby Jackal » 26 Nov 2010, 22:19

Arouet wrote:Fair enough, but then set out the logical argument. Don't just say "buddhists say this", this gives us very little to evaluate. Set out the buddhist argument, then we can look at it. Otherwise you're not really making an argument, you're simply telling us your conclusion.

I skipped the details because I didn't think anyone would be interested. Anyway, books by Buddhist masters are better sources than I am.
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Re: What will skeptics accept as "evidence"?

Postby Twain Shakespeare » 27 Nov 2010, 09:11

ProfWag sez: Skeptics say there is no PROOF for any paranormal or psychic phenomena, not that there is no EVIDENCE.

Arouet* sez: I don't quite like the word "proof" which really only applies to math. I think in terms of degrees of confidence and strong/weak evidence. “
"what evidence would have to be presented so we would accept as confident in something's existence?” ... would have been more appropriate than the question he asked.

Jackal wrote: I understand what you mean, but I think you're assuming here that science is the only legitimate system of reasoning. There are also logical arguments in different philosophical systems which are also compelling. So even if one doesn't make a decision based upon science, he may still rely on some type of logical reasoning.

I am Twain, and also Shakespeare. Twain always see more than two sides to a coin, even if he operates on the null of empiricism and materialism. Shakespeare, my right brain and rat brain, and Catsmeat, my bonobo and autonomic nervous system, on the other hand, are capable of actually “believing” contradictory things, and agree with Jackal, even to the extent of making heavy use of empirical Zen Buddhism in daily life.

Twain and Shakespeare are aspects of the two magisteria of thought identified by Stephen Jay Gould. Catsmeat is simply my physical body existing.
Shakespeare is my mind “thinking” in the mode of the traditional magisterium of “belief”, which Gould identified as “religion”. “Religion”operates on what the Greeks call “episteme”, and is grounded on thought in the forms of intuition and training, whatever use it may make of “sophe” (reason).
Twain is often in control of communicating, and as Twain I follow the other magisterium, which is equally ancient, and is grounded in “techne” (what works). Add enough replicable observation and valid reasoning, and science evolves.
I suspect, throughout history, most people have been able to operate on both levels simultaneously, and been able to, for example, simultaneously “believe” they are eating the infant Christ and know damn well that ain't the way to cook suckling long pig (I tried to think of a more polite example. I couldn't)

Writing as Twain, I agree with Arouet that one should speak of degrees of confidence, not only in regard to evidence, but proofs. As a radical agnostic, I accept evidence as constituting real “technical” facts, but proofs I regard as epistemological constructs of the mind.
Living as a poorly trained bonobo though, I have to act on the basis of some theory. I could operate on the theory that I am stuck in the Matrix, except that that theory is unfalsifiable, and is lacking extraordinary proof.

Scecop's question was, as Arouet rephrased it, and I in turn paraphrase, "what (degrees of confidence and strong/weak evidence) would have to be presented so (Arouet, presumably speaking as a “skeptic”) would accept as confident in something's existence?”
This question had originally been posed specifically to “psi”, but I have noticed ufo talk as well.

My friend Mike, when I met him, had adopted hard materialism as a “religion” in the sense that he did not believe his memory of being abducted and anal probed. That “could not have happened.”
I asked him then what level of extraordinary evidence would it take to convince him it had happened. Massive repetition involving other people hasn't done it, except to make a Jungian out of him ( a “soft” one, by my standards, even if he “believes” in mass hallucinations). Repetition of the experience, he thought, would be likelier to result in a mental breakdown than acceptance, unless he got some control over the situation. However, he “believes” his NDE, perhaps because he felt he had some control.
Likewise, reports of physical evidence had not convinced him, and we had to both agree that if the US government were to announce we had been invaded from outer space, it would make us less likely to believe in “aliens” than government denial does.
Basically, it came down to control. We agreed that if Mike could book a trip through Solar Tours that would take one on a cruise on a flying saucer flown by eetees through the rings of Saturn, he would reach the point where he would admit is was true all along.

“It is impossible to fly!” “It may be possible to fly, but it will never be practical” “I knew I should have invested in flight technology when I had the chance. Shit, how could I have been so stupid?”

As a skeptic, and not a pseudoskeptic, my preferred sequence would be “It is not proven to exist.” “It is proven, (in the evidential sense) but we don't have a theory.” “We have an accepted theory.”
The issue seems to be control. I do not merely belief in infrared radiation, I have sunburn and operating radio to convince me. Radio is far more evidential than sunburn. The difference between sunburn and watching the lunar landing on teevee was like the difference between a mouse and an elephant. An elephant is bigger. Without radio, I would be willing to consider other theories of sunburn.

Pseudo-skeptics will accept psi when the old ones are dead, and a new generation of pseudo-skeptics has grown up that takes the then current theory of psi as sufficient and unassailable.
UFOs are a harder sell. There are pseudoskeptics who would die from a heat ray before they admitted to seeing a Martian tripod, just as there are Christians who would do the same before they admitted a demon could have power of them. Buddhists, I think, would say “Who cares if it is an illusion, I am going to run/hide/dialogue.”

Based in part on what I have read here, I have a high degree of confidence that precog has reached the point of replicable science, and I see possibilities in it for education. It appears that Niven may be right, and “luck” exists. Can it be trained? Can it be breed for? (that would account for the English, especially the Bush family and other Icheans)

As for ufos. All my evidence is anecdotal. It is sufficient to convince me, at a minimum, that a phenomenon exists. I would not be surprised if it is demonstrated to be largely hallucinatory, but it would take development of a replicable means of inducing such experiences as evidence to “convince” me. But even this much acceptance of the existence of “Mass Hallucination” would change our understanding of human history as much as the germ theory has done.

Shakespeare, on the other hand, thinks Iche is underestimating the depth and complexity of the situation. My personal suspicion is that the transition from the paleolithic society to the space travelling society is so rare, and so inherently difficult to make, that it may well happen only once at a time in the galaxy. In such a situation, I can easily see an interdiction on open contact being compatible with massive covert contact, which would operate on principles and for purposes inexplicable to us.

The evidence for this is about as soft as the evidence for the beneficial effects of Catholicism, but it is strong enough that if some US colonels, or even Europeans, staged a coup against our present ruling class on the grounds that they were Ichean infiltrators, I would say “About time! Bring on the guillotines!” and bury my doubts at least as long as I did for Prez 43.

*Arouet, what does “Arouet” mean? Knowing that will help me remember how to spell it
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Re: What will skeptics accept as "evidence"?

Postby Arouet » 27 Nov 2010, 09:57

Twain Shakespeare wrote:*Arouet, what does “Arouet” mean? Knowing that will help me remember how to spell it


It's from François-Marie Arouet - otherwise known as Voltaire. He was my favourite philosopher back in my university days. I can't for the life of me remember what it was for, but I needed to pick a user name for something on the net (the world wide web was just getting started around then. I picked Arouet as an homage and have pretty much been using it as my username on the net ever since.
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