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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 Jackal » 09 Dec 2010, 06:32

Twain Shakespeare wrote: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.

The word "Zen" comes from the Sanskrit word "dhyana" which means "meditation," and meditation is no less empirical than observing your own thoughts right this moment. There's only a contradiction when you think that "Zen" is just some vague, nebulous thing that hippies and beatniks wrote about. Those people were mostly confused when they first encountered Eastern religions. There's little education about these things in the West.

But it doesn't matter, as I can see that you're not really here to discuss anything, since you just use everything as fuel for your jester's songs.
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Re: What will skeptics accept as "evidence"?

Postby Scepcop » 15 Dec 2010, 01:33

Skeptics,
Do you realize that you are guilty of confirmation bias and double standards regarding evidence? I mean you accept evidence that supports your belief or position, but deny evidence that doesn't and consider it to be "no evidence".

We are all guilty of such confirmation bias, but skeptics seem more rigid about it than the average person is, for some reason. Why? Do skeptics have an axe to grind? Are they nonhuman sentinels or artificial intelligence?

I don't get them or what makes them tick. Truth is not what makes them tick. That is obvious. They do not live in a world of possibilities, but of rigidity. So what makes them tick? Fear?
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Hypothetical question for skeptics

Postby Scepcop » 15 Dec 2010, 01:41

Skeptics,
I have a hypothetical question for you.

Suppose you saw Bigfoot in the forest at point blank range. And you were sober and had no history of hallucination. And you knew what you saw. It was close in front of you, and looked like a real creature, not a man in a costume. Then, before, you could take out your camera and take a photo, it darts away at amazing speed, out of sight.

Then, when you return to civilization, and tell your skeptic friends about your experience, they all tell you that without hard physical proof, your experience is not evidence. Hence there is no evidence for Bigfoot still, despite what you claim. As they say "anecdotal evidence is invalid".

What would your position on your experience be then?

1) Would you agree with your skeptic friends that your experience does not count as evidence, and that therefore, no evidence for Bigfoot exists, even though you saw one at point blank range and knew you were not hallucinating?
2) Or would you count your direct experience as evidence for the existence of Bigfoot?
3) Or would you say that it was evidence to you only but not to science and third parties?

Which one and why?

I'd like to hear this one.
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Re: Hypothetical question for skeptics

Postby Arouet » 15 Dec 2010, 02:12

Scepcop wrote:Then, when you return to civilization, and tell your skeptic friends about your experience, they all tell you that without hard physical proof, your experience is not evidence. Hence there is no evidence for Bigfoot still, despite what you claim. As they say "anecdotal evidence is invalid".


Ok, first, if my friends told me that my personal experience was not evidence, I would disagree with them. It clearly is evidence, as is all personal experience. The question is not whether it IS evidence, but whether it was reliable evidence. Anecdotal evidence is not invalid, it just isn't that reliable. It has a low confidence rating.

What would your position on your experience be then?

1) Would you agree with your skeptic friends that your experience does not count as evidence, and that therefore, no evidence for Bigfoot exists, even though you saw one at point blank range and knew you were not hallucinating?
2) Or would you count your direct experience as evidence for the existence of Bigfoot?
3) Or would you say that it was evidence to you only but not to science and third parties?


Well, first of all, you've set out in your hypothetical that "you knew what you saw". I have a bit of a problem with that. I can't imagine a situation where I would saw that. The most I would say is that this is what I think I saw, and describe it. I would consider there could be various interpretations of what I saw. One, of course, is that it was a bigfoot, which I guess we're describing as some large, walking, apelike creature. So one possibility of course is that I did, indeed, see such a creature. Another is that I saw something, interpreted it as a bigfoot, but it was really something else. Yet another, of course, is that I hallucinated it. We're getting a bit away from your hypothetical here, which is a bit unfair, but I did want to set this out.

Answering the question directly:

1) I would agree that my one siting was not strong evidence for the existence of a bigfoot. But that it was weak evidence. By definition I can never know that I am not hallucinating, but even if we posit that, I could simply be mistaken.
2) yes, it is evidence, albeit weak evidence
3) no, I would strive to be objective and not consider it scientific, and try to treat it like a third party.

Now, in practice, what I would do (if I really cared that much) would be to use this siting as a launching point for further investigation. Presuming that I remembered exactly where I was, I would use that as a launching point for a search, engaging someone experienced in tracking. If it was there, there should be evidence in the area: footprints, waste, carcasses from prey (presuming its not a vegetarian). I would focus the search in that area. I'm presuming that if this creature was there, then there were others, that it has a family, and bred, etc. (if we're going to posit some supernatural creature that is immortal - or is the last of its kind and lives for centuries, whatever, then certainly it would be harder to find). If no other evidence turned up I would have to seriously question my initial interpretation. No matter what, though, I probably saw something cool, and would consider it a cool experience.
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Re: What will skeptics accept as "evidence"?

Postby caniswalensis » 15 Dec 2010, 02:16

Great question Skepcop. plus, I loves me some bigfoots. :)

I would go with #3 for sure.

If I was really sure that I had seen a bigfoot, I suppose that I would have no choice to believe the evidence of my eyes. I am not sure that anyone can ever be 100% positive about seeing something like that, but in your scenario it looks like it is pretty ironclad. Still, I wonder how I could be so sure? It doesn't sound like I saw it for very long. Like most people, I don't have a very good idea of what a bigfoot really looks like. How do you identify something you have never seen before? In a moment of startled surprise, is it possible to take in enough detail to say for sure that I wasn't seeing a costume or a bear? Just wondering. Chances are also good that the more time that passes, the more my memory of the event will degrade, allowing for further errors.

That said, I wouldn't expect anyone else to take my story as factual evidence. There is no reason for others to take my word for it. My story would justly become one of thousands of incredible and not to convincing tales told around the campfire. It would have been a golden opportunity lost forever. Curse my overly complicated camera bag! :)

However, I don't think your scenario covers every option. If I ran into a giant hairy biped, There is a good chance that he would leave some physical evidence. Rather than just leaving the area empty handed, I would look for something tangible I could take with me. Hair, a peice of gnawed on bark, or something like that to back up my claims.

That's my take.

regards, Canis
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Re: What will skeptics accept as "evidence"?

Postby ProfWag » 15 Dec 2010, 21:47

Since I'm rather busy today, can I just say that I am in 100% agreement with caniswalenis. #3 for me as well and I couldn't say it better myself with what he had to say.
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Re: What will skeptics accept as "evidence"?

Postby Scepcop » 16 Dec 2010, 03:04

Arouet and caniswalensis,

Thanks for your response to the hypothetical question. Now for some follow up questions:

1. Usually skeptics say "I'll believe it when I see it". Even in movies, the skeptic usually changes his mind when he sees the "out of this world thing" that's going on. Doesn't that simple rule apply to you?

2. If you saw Bigfoot, wouldn't you consider it more likely that it exists, since you've seen it and know what you saw?

3. Suppose that scenario applied to ghosts. Obviously you know you can't capture a ghost in a test tube or find remains of it. And photos/videos can be faked. So if you saw a ghost, what would you conclude? Wouldn't you say that it's possible that they exist, now that you've seen one?

4. One more scenario. What if you were in a scene like in the movie The Exorcist, and some demon possessed kid in the room started levitating objects that fly around and hit you? And you even experience an invisible force hit you and knock you across the room. And the bed shaking by itself too? With all that happening, would you still insist that there can only be a mundane explanation for objects flying across the room at you without any physical cause, even though no mundane explanation could explain such things? How would you resolve such a crisis between your beliefs and what is happening?

Skeptics in paranormal films usually become believers once they experience it for themselves. So doesn't that apply to you?
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Re: What will skeptics accept as "evidence"?

Postby ProfWag » 16 Dec 2010, 03:37

Scepcop wrote:Arouet and caniswalensis,

Thanks for your response to the hypothetical question. Now for some follow up questions:

1. Usually skeptics say "I'll believe it when I see it". Even in movies, the skeptic usually changes his mind when he sees the "out of this world thing" that's going on. Doesn't that simple rule apply to you?

2. If you saw Bigfoot, wouldn't you consider it more likely that it exists, since you've seen it and know what you saw?

3. Suppose that scenario applied to ghosts. Obviously you know you can't capture a ghost in a test tube or find remains of it. And photos/videos can be faked. So if you saw a ghost, what would you conclude? Wouldn't you say that it's possible that they exist, now that you've seen one?

4. One more scenario. What if you were in a scene like in the movie The Exorcist, and some demon possessed kid in the room started levitating objects that fly around and hit you? And you even experience an invisible force hit you and knock you across the room. And the bed shaking by itself too? With all that happening, would you still insist that there can only be a mundane explanation for objects flying across the room at you without any physical cause, even though no mundane explanation could explain such things? How would you resolve such a crisis between your beliefs and what is happening?

Skeptics in paranormal films usually become believers once they experience it for themselves. So doesn't that apply to you?

You didn't mention me, but I'm butting in anyway... :-)
I've seen a couple ghosts and I've seen two very credible flying ships that I couldn't identify. I've never seen Bigfoot so I can't say precisly how I would feel, guess it would be the scenario. The first ghost image was of my deceased grandfather BEFORE I knew he had died. Was it an apparition from the dead? Could it have been my mind playing tricks? Could it have been a shadow? Could it be a false memory? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. If there was concrete evidence of an afterlife, then I would be more inclined to believe what I saw was a ghost, however, from the evidence I have studied about similar experiences points me to the direction that it was my mind playing tricks on me. (My mother later reminded me that I had known he was in the hospital and not doing well and that she found out he died quite some time before she told me. Could I have subconsciously heard that he died and I wa daydreaming about him, not realizing I had already known? Yes, it's quite possible.
As for the UFO, the first time I saw it (the triangle--just like the famous one in Belgium) was a few years before I saw the second one. As I studied more about them, I became convinced that what I saw was of this earth. Just a few years ago I saw the exact same flying machine again, only this time was much more up close and sobering. I did some quick research, utilized a contact I had with a fellow Air Force friend, and I now know what it was I saw. It, too, was of this earth. So, just because a skeptic sees something unexplainable doesn't mean they will change their skeptical views, I don't think anyway. I just believe that we skeptics usually look for a more rational explanation as there almost always is one. Not to say that non-skeptics are irrational, just that some people look at things differently. The glass is half full for some/half empty for others.
As for another one of your questions, could you please clarify "paranormal films?" Do you mean movies or do you mean TV shows? Both? Movies are, well, movies. Shouldn't really use that as an example of how people behave.
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Re: What will skeptics accept as "evidence"?

Postby Arouet » 16 Dec 2010, 04:31

Scepcop wrote:1. Usually skeptics say "I'll believe it when I see it".


I've never said that. I have said: "I'll believe it when I see reliable evidence for it."

Even in movies, the skeptic usually changes his mind when he sees the "out of this world thing" that's going on. Doesn't that simple rule apply to you?


I don't know what fictional characters do, but I think I laid out my approach. In the scenario you've laid out, I see this creature for a very short period of time. This would make me very suspicious of my interpretation of what I saw. I would assume that I saw something, but how reliable could I be about what it was that I saw.

Obviously there will be times where I will have more certainty. Ie: if bigfoot had stuck around and and I petting him, and fed him some snacks, I might be more convinced (Course then I would have had time to take a pic!). But more importantly, if there was no other evidence of this bigfoot aside from my two second glimpse: I would not assume I'd see anything strange. How could I justify such a belief?

2. If you saw Bigfoot, wouldn't you consider it more likely that it exists, since you've seen it and know what you saw?


I've basically answered this. The problem with your scenario is that you've added the condition: "you know what you saw." Under that condition, sure, we are positing that I have a high degree of confidnece in what I saw, but then I consider it more likely by definition. In the real world, with your scenario and a glimpse so brief that i don't even have time to pull out my blackberry, I don't know how I ever could state with any degree of certainty that "I know what I saw".

3. Suppose that scenario applied to ghosts. Obviously you know you can't capture a ghost in a test tube or find remains of it. And photos/videos can be faked. So if you saw a ghost, what would you conclude? Wouldn't you say that it's possible that they exist, now that you've seen one?


I already say that its possible that ghosts exist. I simply don't have reliable evidence of them at this time. But again, it really depends on what we're talking about. What exactly am I seeing. How long am I seeing it for? Do I interact with it in any way? Do I talk to it. Etc. Etc. Etc. Depending on what we're talking about I may be more or less confident about what I saw. Last night I awoke with a start and could swear I saw something nasty crawl across my blanket. And for all intents and purposes I "saw" it. But do I believe that some big nasty monster creature crawled across my blanket? No. I believe I was deluded, a trick of the mind being half asleep and the light.

4. One more scenario. What if you were in a scene like in the movie The Exorcist, and some demon possessed kid in the room started levitating objects that fly around and hit you? And you even experience an invisible force hit you and knock you across the room. And the bed shaking by itself too? With all that happening, would you still insist that there can only be a mundane explanation for objects flying across the room at you without any physical cause, even though no mundane explanation could explain such things? How would you resolve such a crisis between your beliefs and what is happening?


Well, I guess it would depend. I would of course want to rule out trickery. But I can imagine scenarios that would be pretty convincing for me of that. There are plenty of tests that I could come up with which I would find pretty convincing.

As for the crisis between my current beliefs and what is happening? I don't think I'd have a crisis at all. Why would I? I learn new things all the time. I find out I'm wrong often. I have no problem changing my views on things. I'd actually be pretty excited. I've long been a fan of fantasy novels. To think that I could possibly perform what can be labeled real magic would be very cool indeed!

Skeptics in paranormal films usually become believers once they experience it for themselves. So doesn't that apply to you?[/quote]
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Re: What will skeptics accept as "evidence"?

Postby Scepcop » 21 Dec 2010, 23:48

Arouet wrote:
4. One more scenario. What if you were in a scene like in the movie The Exorcist, and some demon possessed kid in the room started levitating objects that fly around and hit you? And you even experience an invisible force hit you and knock you across the room. And the bed shaking by itself too? With all that happening, would you still insist that there can only be a mundane explanation for objects flying across the room at you without any physical cause, even though no mundane explanation could explain such things? How would you resolve such a crisis between your beliefs and what is happening?


Well, I guess it would depend. I would of course want to rule out trickery. But I can imagine scenarios that would be pretty convincing for me of that. There are plenty of tests that I could come up with which I would find pretty convincing.


So what if you couldn't find any trickery and the above things happened during the exorcism? What would you make of it? Would you admit that the supernatural is real? What mundane explanation could there be for objects flying at you and beds shaking?

And what if you had a premonition of something that you couldn't have known, and it happened exactly the way you saw it in advance? Remember that premonitions are not worries or fears, they are like "memories of the future". Would that convince you or make you into a believer?
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Re: What will skeptics accept as "evidence"?

Postby Arouet » 22 Dec 2010, 00:42

Scepcop wrote:So what if you couldn't find any trickery and the above things happened during the exorcism? What would you make of it? Would you admit that the supernatural is real? What mundane explanation could there be for objects flying at you and beds shaking?

And what if you had a premonition of something that you couldn't have known, and it happened exactly the way you saw it in advance? Remember that premonitions are not worries or fears, they are like "memories of the future". Would that convince you or make you into a believer?


Like I said, I can imagine scenarios that would convince me that the supernatural was real. I would approach it skepticially of course, but I could be convinced. Keep in mind, I would still be holding it as a strong confidence level. I would still be open to other explanations and evidence that could change my mind.

My position has been, that if the supernatural exists, then it fits somehow with our system - even if we do not currently understand how. For example: if a supernatural entity is throwing around stuff around a room, then there must be some sort of mechanism that allows it to interact with matter. Perhaps it is even made of matter but in a way that we don't currently understand. Just saying "immaterial" just means not matter, it doesn't mean that its not made of "something".

As for premonitions: those I would be extremely skeptical of. There can be just luck: IE: I have a premonition that I'm going to roll a 6. I then roll a 6. Should I draw anything from this? Let's say its an event: I have a premonition of something going to happen. Something happens that I then associate it with that premonition. How much can I trust my memory of the premonition. Am I shaping my memory to fit the event that happens? I suppose it could happen in a way that is reliable, but in most cases I would be quite wary.
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Re: What will skeptics accept as "evidence"?

Postby derrida » 22 Dec 2010, 00:52

Arouet wrote:
Scepcop wrote:So what if you couldn't find any trickery and the above things happened during the exorcism? What would you make of it? Would you admit that the supernatural is real? What mundane explanation could there be for objects flying at you and beds shaking?

And what if you had a premonition of something that you couldn't have known, and it happened exactly the way you saw it in advance? Remember that premonitions are not worries or fears, they are like "memories of the future". Would that convince you or make you into a believer?


Like I said, I can imagine scenarios that would convince me that the supernatural was real. I would approach it skepticially of course, but I could be convinced. Keep in mind, I would still be holding it as a strong confidence level. I would still be open to other explanations and evidence that could change my mind.

My position has been, that if the supernatural exists, then it fits somehow with our system - even if we do not currently understand how. For example: if a supernatural entity is throwing around stuff around a room, then there must be some sort of mechanism that allows it to interact with matter. Perhaps it is even made of matter but in a way that we don't currently understand. Just saying "immaterial" just means not matter, it doesn't mean that its not made of "something".

As for premonitions: those I would be extremely skeptical of. There can be just luck: IE: I have a premonition that I'm going to roll a 6. I then roll a 6. Should I draw anything from this? Let's say its an event: I have a premonition of something going to happen. Something happens that I then associate it with that premonition. How much can I trust my memory of the premonition. Am I shaping my memory to fit the event that happens? I suppose it could happen in a way that is reliable, but in most cases I would be quite wary.


i am also skeptical about premonitions
they have to be open and clear
i dont want nostradamus poetry ambiguity..
i want 2 PLAINS ARE GOING TO CRASH THE SEARS TOWERS ON 9.11 before it happens
nothing after that i didnt say.. everything is gotta be released and said
just like HF2 did here.. John Murie.. he always stated his premonitions.. of course they were insane (like moving a statue) and they didnt happened
but at least he was kind of brave enought to post them in advance
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Re: What will skeptics accept as "evidence"?

Postby Paradox » 31 Jan 2011, 14:07

Directly responding to the OP here this is why I don't consider myself a 'sceptic' or even a 'true open-minded sceptic' such as this site implies because the term 'sceptic' itself to me implies a faith in any orthodox veiwpoint. To me you've already choosen a side when you classify yourself as a 'sceptic' of any kind. I've debated enough of these sceptics on other forms and from what they even directly have told me: "It's our job to debunk the paranormal and the evidence for it, that's why we're called sceptics to begin with moron". Yes that was the typical types of response I would get when debating sceptics.

There is a difference between being a sceptical person and being a sceptic (correct me if I'm wrong here). There is also a difference between being open-minded and guillable. I do personally believe it's impossible for ANY person to NOT have some bias regardless of a position. The key is to use common sense here in dealing with a certain bias. This is why I don't consider myself a 'sceptic' or even an 'open-minded sceptic' anymore but prefer to describe myself as a freethinker who is very sceptical. The term sceptic by itself stains of a rigid belief system within itself. In fact how many skeptical websites support ANY possibilty of psi to be a potentially real phenomenon? I will add another one here: How many skeptics on skeptical websites even have an attitude where they may say "well it's possible and science doesn't know everything yet but let's not jump to conclusions at this time" type of mentality? If these few types of skeptics do exist than I haven't seen too many of them because their attitudes are generally (paranormal=bunk end of story).

That above is my answer to the OP. Paranormal sceptics will never accept any paranormal evidence because like so many have told me it's their jobs as sceptics to reject all paranormal concepts to begin with hence sceptism is a religion within itself. I think the self proclaimed 'open minded sceptics' on this site should really be calling themselves 'sceptical freethinkers' and not 'sceptics'. Unfortunately even the term freethinker has been hijacked by the religion of scepticism as well.
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Re: What will skeptics accept as "evidence"?

Postby ProfWag » 31 Jan 2011, 21:44

Paradox wrote:That above is my answer to the OP. Paranormal sceptics will never accept any paranormal evidence because like so many have told me it's their jobs as sceptics to reject all paranormal concepts to begin with hence sceptism is a religion within itself. I think the self proclaimed 'open minded sceptics' on this site should really be calling themselves 'sceptical freethinkers' and not 'sceptics'. Unfortunately even the term freethinker has been hijacked by the religion of scepticism as well.

I'm not sure I agree that we will never accept any paranormal evidence, it's all in the level of evidence that's presented. Finding a strong correlation in the paranormal would change the world as we know it and I, personally, can't accept evidence that doesn't have a strong probability of confirmation (notice I didn't say "proof"). Anectdotal evidence usually just simply isn't strong enough. We skeptics would prefer to see a successful replication of the evidence which, at least to this day, hasn't been presented in anything currently considered paranormal.
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Re: What will skeptics accept as "evidence"?

Postby Arouet » 31 Jan 2011, 23:12

Paradox wrote:Directly responding to the OP here this is why I don't consider myself a 'sceptic' or even a 'true open-minded sceptic' such as this site implies because the term 'sceptic' itself to me implies a faith in any orthodox veiwpoint. To me you've already choosen a side when you classify yourself as a 'sceptic' of any kind. I've debated enough of these sceptics on other forms and from what they even directly have told me: "It's our job to debunk the paranormal and the evidence for it, that's why we're called sceptics to begin with moron". Yes that was the typical types of response I would get when debating sceptics.


Just because there are some individuals on skeptical forums who think its their job to have a certain viewpoint, doesn't mean that they are correct about the term. The standard definition of skepticism is to withold belief absent sufficient reliable evidence. Sure there are people who misapply that. But that's the way things go. You will not hear most well-known skeptics saying that they're job is to debunk. In fact, what you will most often hear is that their job is not to debunk, but to evaluate the evidence. In doing so the end result will often be a debunking, but that's not the goal.

And there is no orthodox viewpoint - well, except that of following the scientific method or other reliable ways of information gathering. Within the skeptical community there are all sorts of differing viewpoints. And different approaches. Different people have different interests. Some of us are more interested in psi as a topic, others in alternative medicine, others in UFOs. Not everyone is interested in the same topics so there will be differing amounts of knowledge across the board.

There is a difference between being a sceptical person and being a sceptic (correct me if I'm wrong here).


Yes and no. I think the distinction you are looking for is really between someone who is just a skeptical person (or skeptic) and someone who actively associates with the skeptical movement, and identifies themselves as a skeptic. I mean, I was a skeptic before I knew what the skeptical movement was all about or had ever even heard of it. I just didn't identifiy myself in that way. There certainly is an organized skeptical movement. One can be a skeptic without having anything to do with that movement.

There is also a difference between being open-minded and guillable.

Yes. And a difference between being closed-minded and a skeptic.

I do personally believe it's impossible for ANY person to NOT have some bias regardless of a position. The key is to use common sense here in dealing with a certain bias.


Agreed on the first part, but less on the second. We all have our biases, no question about it. And they are VERY hard to shake. But that is why we don't rely on common sense to deal with it. Common sense can be very wrong, and common sense can just accentuate bias. As a skeptic, we want to try and neutralize our bias. We do this through following the scientific method, evaluating evidence, reading multiple sources and evaluating them. We want to take the common sense out of our thining!

This is why I don't consider myself a 'sceptic' or even an 'open-minded sceptic' anymore but prefer to describe myself as a freethinker who is very sceptical. The term sceptic by itself stains of a rigid belief system within itself.


Call yourself what you want, but "freethinker" has it own set of characteristics associated with it- such as a dislike of government and belief in conspiracy theories. I would stick with skeptic personally!

In fact how many skeptical websites support ANY possibilty of psi to be a potentially real phenomenon?


How many skeptical websites say there is NO possibility of psi to be potentially real? I haven't seen any. What I've seen are statements that some psi claims go against the known laws of physics. I've seen claims that psi has not been sufficiently established. I've seen statements that if psi were real we would have to go back to the drawing board on many of the laws of physics. But I haven't seen statements that there is no possibility that it could be real. Now, there may be some blogger out there who has said that, but from the organized skeptical sites? Show me a link.


I will add another one here: How many skeptics on skeptical websites even have an attitude where they may say "well it's possible and science doesn't know everything yet but let's not jump to conclusions at this time" type of mentality? If these few types of skeptics do exist than I haven't seen too many of them because their attitudes are generally (paranormal=bunk end of story).


But that is essentially the skeptical position although worded slightly differently, as I states above.

There are some believers who used to be skeptics and some skeptics who used to be believers. People change their minds on these things all the time!
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