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Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

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

Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Postby Scepcop » 23 Jul 2009, 20:50

Hi all,
Most of you have probably noticed that I am not a control freak, like most forum owners/moderators are. And that I am far more open, objective and rational than most people are. That's why I open issues up for discussion (for Christ's sake, at least give me credit for that, most people are not that open and objective!)

Nevertheless, as I said in the beginning of this site, I would like this forum to be a community of objective people rather than one of faith based belief or faith based denial.

Now that skeptics are pouring in, I propose this objectivity test for them. Let me know what you think.

On my mailing list, there is this skeptic I know who is very smart, well read and knowledgeable on a variety of topics. He is one of those rare people you meet in life who know a lot about any topic, compared to average people at least. He also argues without ridiculing and attackers others. However, I have caught him lying red handed once about his Ebay user name profile. The whole thing was proven and detailed here. You will see that he was caught lying red handed and has no explanation to offer for giving false info.

http://www.debunkingskeptics.com/Page5.htm#Ebay

Now here's the test to skeptics here.

What do you think of this? Are you willing to admit that a fellow skeptic is wrong for lying and deliberately giving false data about his Ebay username? Or will you religiously deny it, cover up for him, and try to pin the blame on me, like a religious cultist/dogmatist would?

I think this would be a good test, because an honest, objective truth seeker not blinded by dogma will admit that lying is wrong, even when it's by someone on their side. Don't you think? Most truth seekers will admit this of those on their own side, while on the other hand, people who are purely subjective will cover for their side and for their hero/icon even if they are wrong or lying. So the question is, will skeptics here do the same?

The rationale behind this objectivity test is this:

"If someone cannot even admit that one of their own is wrong for lying, even though they were caught red handed, then what good is it to spend time discussing or debating with them? What good could come out of it, when their objectivity and honesty are obviously shot? What hope is there of reasoning with them?"

Do you see my point?

I'm thinking of this objectivity test as a requirement for skeptics to remain here. What do you think? Good idea? Or flawed? Why or why not?
“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: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Postby General Zod » 24 Jul 2009, 00:21

If I were to be objective about your story, I'd have to hear both sides before determining who is right and wrong. But for the purpose of your question, I'll assume for the moment that everything you said is 100% true.

This person lied to you about his EBay credentials. So what? I'd have doubts about this person's personal integrity, especially if he was unable to come clean (I have my doubts about your sanity if you would send sensitive, personal information to this person, but that's another matter). It doesn't mean that he's incapable of making well reasoned arguments based on facts, and that anything he says should be dismissed. I wouldn't accept any arguments based solely on his authority- but the same goes if I thought he was the most honest person in the world.

As for whether or not people should be allowed to post here- as the site's administrator, I suggest you come up with a membership agreement for your users, with guidelines such as "Be civil and polite", "Attack the argument, not the arguer", etc.
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Postby Franc28 » 24 Jul 2009, 04:00

Your whole process of evaluation seems to assume that your moral premise "lying is wrong" is a valid principle. I'm not saying it necessarily isn't, but there are clear cases where lying is good (such as misdirecting a murderer so he doesn't kill children), so the principle is clearly not universal. All moral premises must be validated, and if you're asking us to operate on that basis, you need to validate or modulate it first.
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Postby Purple Scissor » 24 Jul 2009, 04:51

It's really not a bad test. I would question whether it would do you any good, but in dealing with skeptics I definitely note they will seldom, if ever, admit when someone on their side is wrong. Even in the most obvious cases. Even in the cases when they are in the process of castigating you for the same thing. In this case, however, they might not care enough (as with others, I assume it is a cut-and-dried case like you say). But if it is a case where a skeptic got it wrong, and that skeptic has a lot of emotional appeal, I think it is a rather good test. The principle is good, I do not know about the case.

You should probably have a case where a skeptic got it wrong. I think there was a case with a Russian girl where they said it was a "scientific test" when it was obviously not up to any standard of science, and the data were biased in an arbitrary way. That could be used as a test: "were they upholding the standards of science?"
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Postby Scepcop » 24 Jul 2009, 08:59

Franc28 wrote:Your whole process of evaluation seems to assume that your moral premise "lying is wrong" is a valid principle. I'm not saying it necessarily isn't, but there are clear cases where lying is good (such as misdirecting a murderer so he doesn't kill children), so the principle is clearly not universal. All moral premises must be validated, and if you're asking us to operate on that basis, you need to validate or modulate it first.


True but this is not a case of misdirecting a murderer or a case where lying is justifiable. If you read the link I provided on the full story, it was about an Ebay feedback test. A well read skeptic I know who claims that anecdotal evidence is worthless (except when it supports their view of course) also claimed that the Ebay feedback system is worthless as well, when I brought it up. Obviously he lacked common sense and was ignorant of the real world. So I asked him to find any experienced Ebayer that would vouch that the feedback system was worthless. He couldn't. So I probed his qualifications on the matter and asked what his experience on Ebay was. He waffled between saying he had a lot of experience and only "some experience", being very vague about it. So I asked him for his Ebay user ID, to get to the bottom of his waffling. I freely gave him mine too, which was WWu777. He said that his "public" Ebay ID was confidential and private info (WTF?! I told you these guys are weasels) Then he taunted me and said that he would only do it after I gave him my credit card number and expiration date. So I gave him an expired credit card (just to be safe). Then he in turn gave me his Ebay user name, which turned out to have zero feedback, meaning he has had NO TRANSACTIONS on Ebay, contrary to his claim.

Furthermore, the username he gave me said it was from another state, not his own. I asked him over and over again to explain this, but he wouldn't and merely avoided the topic. Then I asked him to prove that it was his Ebay ID by emailing my Ebay user name from it, through the Ebay website. He had no answer and wouldn't address it, period.

What does that tell you?!

This is not a case where his lying was justified, was it?

The point is, it just goes to show what skeptics will resort to - dishonesty, deception, etc. not to mention total lack of common sense and being out of touch with the real world. No one in their right mind thinks the Ebay feedback system is worthless. It is extremely difficult to fake feedback and many safeguards in place to prevent it. I've never been scammed by a seller with a high rating either. Plus when caught lying they will NEVER EVER admit they are wrong or apologize for it.

Says a lot don't you think?
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Postby Scepcop » 24 Jul 2009, 09:37

General Zod wrote:If I were to be objective about your story, I'd have to hear both sides before determining who is right and wrong. But for the purpose of your question, I'll assume for the moment that everything you said is 100% true.

This person lied to you about his EBay credentials. So what? I'd have doubts about this person's personal integrity, especially if he was unable to come clean (I have my doubts about your sanity if you would send sensitive, personal information to this person, but that's another matter). It doesn't mean that he's incapable of making well reasoned arguments based on facts, and that anything he says should be dismissed. I wouldn't accept any arguments based solely on his authority- but the same goes if I thought he was the most honest person in the world.

As for whether or not people should be allowed to post here- as the site's administrator, I suggest you come up with a membership agreement for your users, with guidelines such as "Be civil and polite", "Attack the argument, not the arguer", etc.


Well I applaud you for admitting that he lied. Most skeptics can't do that due to their dogmatic faith for their cause and own side.

So I guess in a sense, you've passed the test.

Sure it's good to hear both sides. But the problem is, if you ask him for his side, he will have no explanation for it. Believe me, I tried. When caught lying red handed, he simply ignores the issue altogether and refuses to discuss it. What does that tell you? If you wish to try I can PM you his email so you can get his side of the story.

You are right that his lie doesn't mean he can't make well reasoned arguments. Sometimes he does make well reasoned arguments, and is very knowledgeable as well about a lot of things. But he is very closed minded without a doubt, he says that the paranormal is impossible or close to zero probability, and that God doesn't exist. He claims it's all based on data. And as we've seen with the Ebay test, he can also be deceptive about some things too (not a good sign obviously).

He can also be a major butthead. One time, I said that some things you can infer from common sense without evidence or inquiry, for example if a car pulls into a parking on a hot day and out of many available parking spaces he picks a shaded one under a tree, then we can infer from common sense that he/she picked the shaded lot to keep his/her car cool from the heat. No one would dispute that right? But HE DID!!!

Isn't that crossing the line here? It seems like he's playing games, or is insane or enjoys playing devil's advocate and not about the truth, does it not?

Here is what he said about it in his own words in an email long ago:

It's a trivial assumption. And as we danced around the last time you
used that example, it could also be wrong. He/she might have just had
the car repainted and is parking it in the shade to keep the finish from
being sun-damaged. They could have just picked the most conveinently
located spot -- for whatever reason -- and it just happened to be under a
tree. It might have been the *only* spot available when they pulled into
the parking lot. The car might have been parked in a parallel space and
the parking brake slipped, and the car rolled into that space and stopped
against the tree.

Hell, *I* could have parked the car there deliberately because I knew
you were coming alone, so I did it deliberately just to see if you would
make unfounded assumptions and claim them as some sort of knowledge.


See what a butthead he's trying to be?

In our debates about the reliability of memory, he claimed that memory was invalid evidence because it was not 100 percent perfect and reliable. But don't you think it's unreasonable to demand 100 percent perfection? I guess in his world, it's either 0 or 100. So I provided a long list of things I remembered that checked out and that he could check out. He ignored it. He then claimed that memory was less than 50 percent reliable according to studies. He showed me these studies but I did not see that they proved what he claimed. So what he said was that MORE THAN HALF OF WHAT YOU REMEMBER ISN'T TRUE! BS!

My sanity was not in question here. I gave him an expired credit card number. But even if I gave him an active one, the credit card's fraud protection program guarantees that I will not be responsible for fraudulent charges on my account. Plus I've known this skeptic for years and do not think he would use my credit card.

Anyone can draft rules for a membership agreement. But rules rarely influence people's behavior. By human nature, we have egos. We like to be right and hate being wrong and admitting it. In debates, sometimes it gets personal and insults are exchanged. Think about this: Most people in America are decent moral good people. Do you think they are that way because of all the laws passed? No of course not (in fact we have the highest prison population in the world). They are like that cause they were taught right and wrong by their parents and ingrained with a conscience and values early on in life. (in some countries children are not generally taught right from wrong by their parents, believe me, I know) Plus middle class folks and above tend to have lived sheltered lives where they could afford to have morals and respect property rights of others.

The point is, behavior comes from within. Drafting rules doesn't control behavior. But sure, we will make some rules anyway, just to set a benchmark of standards. It won't deter those who come here to be trolls though. They will do what they want anyway.
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Postby Scepcop » 24 Jul 2009, 09:55

Purple Scissor wrote:It's really not a bad test. I would question whether it would do you any good, but in dealing with skeptics I definitely note they will seldom, if ever, admit when someone on their side is wrong. Even in the most obvious cases. Even in the cases when they are in the process of castigating you for the same thing. In this case, however, they might not care enough (as with others, I assume it is a cut-and-dried case like you say). But if it is a case where a skeptic got it wrong, and that skeptic has a lot of emotional appeal, I think it is a rather good test. The principle is good, I do not know about the case.

You should probably have a case where a skeptic got it wrong. I think there was a case with a Russian girl where they said it was a "scientific test" when it was obviously not up to any standard of science, and the data were biased in an arbitrary way. That could be used as a test: "were they upholding the standards of science?"


Good points. Yeah they will seldom every admit to being wrong, even if caught red handed, as in my Ebay example shows.

Perhaps though, like you said, we should make the test about someone who has more emotional appeal to them (since these skeptics are more about emotion than any real logic), like Randi or Shermer. Then that would be a real test, rather than some anonymous skeptic.

I think you're referring to that Natasha case where she failed the Randi Challenge and was allegedly set up and hindered. It's on the skepticalinvestigations.org site. But I'm not sure that's a cut and dried case. A lot of these cases are just one person's word vs. another.
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Postby Franc28 » 24 Jul 2009, 16:03

I don't know why the person lied, but I see no reason for that person to lie, apart from not wanting to lose the argument. So yea, I would prudently say that it seems pretty irrational for that person to lie about such a thing.
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Postby General Zod » 25 Jul 2009, 07:53

Scepcop wrote:Well I applaud you for admitting that he lied. Most skeptics can't do that due to their dogmatic faith for their cause and own side.

So I guess in a sense, you've passed the test.


I wasn't trying to pass, and I don't see this question as much of a "test". Some people who share my metaphysical views behave in ways that I don't necessarily approve of. It's not any kind of an admission on my part to acknowledge that you might have been lied to by a skeptic. I'm sure it's been your experience that people who believe in ghosts, EVPs, astrology, psychics, NWO conspiracy theories, or the tooth fairy might be less than perfect or honest from time to time.
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Postby Purple Scissor » 25 Jul 2009, 11:46

"Drafting rules doesn't control behavior. "

True, but it covers your ass when you need to ban someone.

"Perhaps though, like you said, we should make the test about someone who has more emotional appeal to them (since these skeptics are more about emotion than any real logic), like Randi or Shermer."

Yes, any appealing skeptic should do. It is interesting that many of the skeptics actually make the case against pseudoskepticism while sometimes seeming to practice it. Hyman, as a major example. I think in the Natasha case Hyman -I read his paper on it once but hardly remember- but he handicapped her case, then said the stats were not significant. But to do that he had to assume her claim was unlikely. If no assumption was made that her claim was unlikely, she passed. But the main thing was just that there were so many loopholes and you should not debunk a person if you test them in such a sloppy way.

We will have to think more, we need a really obvious case.

Here is another kind of test. A real pseudoskeptic will make a really obvious pseudoskeptical mistake at some point, and in that instance you could use a list of pseudoskeptical mistakes like what I've been talking about to see if they admit it. Then you don't have to "swear them in."
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Postby Scepcop » 26 Jul 2009, 12:15

There are some skeptics who will never admit that they are wrong though.

For example, the Dr H fellow in the Ebay feedback test, has said on numerous occasions on my mailing list that "God doesn't exist" and that "unicorns don't exist". Then later when I accuse him of trying to prove a negative, which is an impossibility, since no one can scan the whole universe and every dimension to make sure that they don't exist, he then denied ever making such a claim. Then when I pulled up past emails and posts from him where he said that, he just ignored them and refused to admit that he was wrong.

That's the kind of butthead behavior that they have, that even when caught red handed, will not acknowledge their error.

General Zod, what do you think of that kind of behavior by other skeptics?

BTW, that Dr H fellow is a lot like Cecil Adams of www.thestraightdope.com. Any of you ever heard of him? They have a ton of articles on all sorts of tidbit issues and questions, and provide a lot of fascinating info and content. Cecil Adams seems to be a human encyclopedia, a man who knows everything, almost that is. However, as soon as you bring up anything paranormal, his mind completely closes up and he immediately dismisses it as bunk, as though it were a Gospel law to do so, because anything paranormal must be false in his book. Dr H is the same way.

What I don't get though, is how someone with so much knowledge can also be so closed minded at the same time, and be so quick to deny anything that upsets their paradigm. That is odd.

Have any of you read the articles on Straight Dope? They are very pro-skeptic and anti-paranormal. Their forum is very active, but like a police state too. If you bring up points or evidence that they can't refute or questions that they can't answer, they automatically just ban you rather than deal with you. I guess some skeptic sites can't deal with truth.
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Postby Franc28 » 26 Jul 2009, 12:28

Actually Scepcop, it is far easier to prove a universal negative. Proving universal negatives (that is to say, falsification) is actually how science (real science, not consensus science) progresses. Likewise, it is very easy for me to prove that a god or a soul cannot exist, but it would be virtually impossible for anyone to prove that a god or a soul does exist (if only because of the impossibility of differentiating natural v hypothesized non-natural effects).
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Postby Scepcop » 26 Jul 2009, 13:14

How would you prove that God doesn't exist? Do you have the ability to comb the whole universe and outside of it too??? You can't even get into space!!! Explain.
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Postby Purple Scissor » 26 Jul 2009, 15:49

No, it is not really that he is trying to prove a negative so much. It is the lack of scholarship: he thinks that someone is saying that life after death is "non-natural." That is the third sign of pseudoskepticism http://wikisynergy.com/wiki/Pseudoskepticism#3

Anyway, I just listened to that video of the guy who questioned the challenge at the randi forum (I forget where it was posted). So for the record: the skeptics were right, I think: if Callahan wants to take the challenge he has to apply, it is not enough to post stuff on some web page. And the claim that they announced it wasn't going to happen at the beginning of the lecture is not verified because the video producer didn't show them saying it wasn't going to happen after all. If they didn't say that, then maybe they really never intended to have the challenge there. One has to be even handed, there is as much -well, more- bunk on the believer side as the skeptic side. It looks to me like propaganda against the challenge.

Randi said "contact the guy who didn't show up," saying that the speaker should contact the people who didn't show up to the challenge to see why they didn't: don't ask him to say why they often do not show.

I don't know where on this forum the vid was posted, but tell me and I will re-post. Did I miss something? Or did the people saying how lousy Randi looked?
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Postby Franc28 » 26 Jul 2009, 16:53

Scepcop wrote:How would you prove that God doesn't exist? Do you have the ability to comb the whole universe and outside of it too??? You can't even get into space!!! Explain.


Why would I need any such abilities to prove that something like a god doesn't exist? All I need to do is look at the claim made. It is claimed, for instance, that a god is a mind without a body. But minds are effects of brains, and cannot exist without bodies. Or it is claimed that a god is both Creator and always brings about the highest good, while we observe in fact the existence of a great deal of unnecessary suffering and evil in the world. That sort of thing.

There's nothing easier than refuting the existence of something hypothesized: all you have to do is wait until it fails one single test. But proving the existence of something, that's the challenge.

Besides, your question is pretty silly. How would YOU prove that God DOES exist? As you said to me, "you can't even get into space!!!" How would you recognize God, even if you COULD go in space? Do you have a photo of it? Do you know what it sounds like? Or are you just operating under a mental image picture that comes from old art, theology and other forms of conjecture or fantasy?

You're exactly like a skeptic who seeks out to show whether acupuncture is true or not by sticking people with needles. The definition of acupuncture is not "sticking people with needles," it's an old system of thought based on a number of premises which have nothing to do with needles. Sticking needles in people no more proves the validity or falsity of acupuncture than drinking water proves the validity or falsity of homeopathy or finding an old man with a beard in space proves or disproves the concept of God.
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