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Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

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

Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Postby ProfWag » 10 Aug 2009, 21:09

ciscop wrote:
nice investigation profwag
so i guess george anderson claims were without proof..
"how weird for a psychic"
BRAVO!!!

i didnt know about george anderson.. i did know about john edward, that guy rightly deserved when southpark called him the biggest douche on the universe.. taking advantage of people griefs is something quite horrible.

Thank you. It takes a little time, effort, and patience, but it's better than spreading information that only tells part of the story. And yes, his claims are without proof as of yet. Of course, if there was substantial proof, we wouldn't be having this kind of discussion or debate which is why I was confident that my hypothesis would be supported.
I became a serious skeptic after watching what Sylvia Brown said to the parents of Shawn Hornbeck and I think supporting that kind of paranormal ability is almost as wrong as being the psychic him/herself. Hence, one of the reasons I'm so vocal. Thinking logically, if one could really speak to the deceased, we would know where Jimmy Hoffa, Natalie Holloway, Madelie McCann, and a host of other people are. Mediums have been around for centuries, but only in the past couple decades have they become so popular. Surely someone, somewhere, would have provided some specific information that could only be explained by actual communication by now.
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Postby quantumparanormal » 27 Aug 2009, 03:29

As is the case with any medium, sourcing the information is the issue. Put another way, from where the information originates is virtually indeterminable.

Even if George were able to obtain relevant, accurate information about the sitters' deceased loved ones, figuring from where the information emanates is largely empirically untestable. It is easier, however, to test related psi hypotheses (i.e., telepathy being the "source" of information), as we can work with and test the living, but not with discarnate humans (i.e., discarnate humans can't have a clear, unambiguous dialog with researchers, unfortunately :lol:).
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Postby ProfWag » 27 Aug 2009, 03:37

quantumparanormal wrote:As is the case with any medium, sourcing the information is the issue. Put another way, from where the information originates is virtually indeterminable.

Even if George were able to obtain relevant, accurate information about the sitters' deceased loved ones, figuring from where the information emanates is largely empirically untestable. It is easier, however, to test related psi hypotheses (i.e., telepathy being the "source" of information), as we can work with and test the living, but not with discarnate humans (i.e., discarnate humans can't have a clear, unambiguous dialog with researchers, unfortunately :lol:).

I agree totally, but be prepared for the onslaught of people asking how you KNOW you can't talk with spirits and how that hasn't been proven and how there is all sorts of evidence (ref. Gary Schwartz)and ...blah, blah, blah...,yadda yadda yadda
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Postby quantumparanormal » 27 Aug 2009, 03:55

ProfWag wrote:...but be prepared for the onslaught of people asking how you KNOW you can't talk with spirits...


QP wrote:And that would be a valid question. How would I know we can't talk with spirits? Well, I know many can't, but can all not? I haven't been able to, so I know I can't, at least not in hindsight. Who knows what the future holds, though. This is another one of those non-black-and-white issues. There are many shades of gray here. People might be able to "talk" with spirits, but how can we demonstrate that empirically and logically? That's the problem. So, as it stands, we can neither KNOW people CAN talk with spirits nor KNOW people CAN'T talk with spirits, at least not in a strictly scientific way. It's another one of those indeterminate states. We'll have to let our biases, predispositions, and preconceptions make up our minds.


Gentlemen, allow me to add one more wrinkle to your line of questioning. If it is possible that there are some people who may be able to communicate with spirits, how does anyone know if those spirits are reliable as to their information? Without considering that spirits may also be capable of being dead wrong (pardon the pun) or are sworn to some sort of no telling lies sort of death pack, it's a possibility.
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be required?

Postby Pegasus » 26 Nov 2009, 22:17

ProfWag wrote:I agree totally, but be prepared for the onslaught of people asking how you KNOW you can't talk with spirits and how that hasn't been proven and how there is all sorts of evidence (ref. Gary Schwartz)and ...blah, blah, blah...,yadda yadda yadda


This is once again people with false logic... you can never disprove a negative statement and they know it. This is all circular arguments and must be dismissed in the court of reasoning. You need to keep faith and opinion separate from a factual discussions. Faith and personal opinions are important but can't be present in a factual context.


quantumparanormal wrote:Gentlemen, allow me to add one more wrinkle to your line of questioning. If it is possible that there are some people who may be able to communicate with spirits, how does anyone know if those spirits are reliable as to their information? Without considering that spirits may also be capable of being dead wrong (pardon the pun) or are sworn to some sort of no telling lies sort of death pack, it's a possibility.


Yes... who says that spirits can't be evil or good. Who's to say they even want to tell you the truth or even understand you in the first place and tell you the wrong thing...;)

I'm not arguing that there are no spirits... the problem are that not even the spirit talkers can explain what a spirit is... they can only explain what they believe it to be.
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be requir

Postby The_Grand_Illusion » 11 Sep 2010, 08:06

ProfWag wrote: Thinking logically, if one could really speak to the deceased, we would know where Jimmy Hoffa, Natalie Holloway, Madelie McCann, and a host of other people are. Mediums have been around for centuries, but only in the past couple decades have they become so popular. Surely someone, somewhere, would have provided some specific information that could only be explained by actual communication by now.
Wag


Hi, I'd just like to address the first sentence here briefly. One problem is that it assumes "speaking to the deceased" would be analagous to speaking to someone physically embodied (i.e. a living human). Given that an invisible spirit obviously doesn't have vocal cords, communicating with it would be very different that having a simple chat with words. It might even be more difficult that using sign language to communicate with the deaf. It also assumes a few other things Re: Hoffa, McCann, etc, etc., like assuming there is no deeper meaning, reason or purpose behind this info not being forthcoming (I know ppl won't like that line of reasoning but noone seems to consider it). For example, maybe people aren't "meant" to know certain things until "the time is right". I''m sure we could all think of scenarios where we might withold factual information for the protection of someone not "ready" for it, or whatever the reason might be. There's no reason to think that if spirits are real that they are not intelligent and have their own modus operandi, after all.

Regarding "someone somewhere..." (3rd sentence), there are indeed various mediums who have provided highly detailed, specific information that has led to missing persons being located, and bodies of murder victims being found, for instance. Gordon Brown comes to mind. BUT once we realise that verifiable information HAS been forthcoming (supposedly from "spirits"), we who are NOT clairvoyant can still decide to eschew the spirit hypothesis and resort to inane "explanations" like Super-psi, even when the spirit hypothesis is the most parsimonious under the circumstances. So the final definitive proof of the reality of spirits isn't agreed on, and we can always "explain" accurate data however we might like, even if it makes less sense than the spirit communication idea. We even have film and photographic evidence by the truckload, but most ppl seem unaware of most of it and the hardcore sceptic always comes up with another excuse anyway...
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be requir

Postby The_Grand_Illusion » 11 Sep 2010, 08:10

pardon my typo's there. for some reason i turned "than" into "that"...! :S
Brendan D. Murphy is the author of the forthcoming book series on the nature of reality and consciousness, The Grand Illusion: A Synthesis of Science, Mysticism and the Occult. Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/The-Grand-Illusion-TGI/151764238172173?ref=ts

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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be requir

Postby Twain Shakespeare » 12 Oct 2010, 10:55

Franc28 wrote:
“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. “

An idol or a fetish is “something like a god.” Do they exist?
On a god by god basis, one can examine the claims, but I am too much of a Jungian polytheist to deny the existence of “gods” as archetypes.
I have, for example, as a Pentecostal, encountered the YHWH archetype, and the claims about it appear to be exaggerated. Having encountered that one and a multitude of others from other pantheons from animism to zoology, I am prepared to consider the claims on a one by one basis.
Not all gods are bodiless. The planets, for example, are “gods” in the Jungian sense. Hirohito was a god until 45, and the Dalai Lama still is.
As for the claim “(God) is both Creator and ... brings about the highest good, while we observe in fact ... a great deal of ... suffering (etc).” I agree, anyone tells you that, god or man, reach for your wallet before he picks your pocket, he's selling bs. Perhaps a certain class of atheists would do better to focus their ire on clerics?
Gods without any bodies are epistemological. They exist as ideas, however invalid.

Scecop wrote:
“You are taking the classic Christian concept of God. I am just talking about a generic God. I never said whether he had a body or not. He is supposed to either be a super being in the upper astral planes, perhaps one of many deities, or one all powerful supreme God, or the collective cosmic consciousness of the universe that we are all a part of. Therefore he's not supposed to be a normal human and you can't use normal human standards to judge him by.”

Correction, Scecop, or friend is talking about Platon's God, the epistemological ultimate, and an easy target, Franc, as it is nothing but a straw man, based on premises that must be treated as axioms. Scecop mentioned four other epistemological hypotheses that I find less flawed than Platon's. However, until a real world referent can be pointed out for one of them, these abstractions are models, at best, and beating them by showing their absurdity in real world terms is applying the wrong standard. By definition, there is nothing phenomenal, much less human about them.

Franc28 wrote:
“Doesn't matter what your conception is... whatever it is, it can either be discussed or it can't. If it can't, then we're talking about an entirely private belief, and there's nothing further to discuss. If it can, then the basic principles still apply”

I think, Franc, we have reached a point where we can discuss my Beta hypothesis about what, other than “archtypes”, might be the semantic referents for “gods”. All Beta, all having different possible examinations by which they might be something other than “unfalsifiable.” I will try to be agnostic and rational if you want to discuss any of them.
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be requir

Postby Epimetheus » 24 Nov 2011, 12:56

Scepcop, congratulations on a great little forum. As I'm a newbie here, and one that sits pretty comfortably on both sides of the fence, I think I'd like to take a poition on your 'test'. Even though this is such a long dead thread, it's the principle of the thing, and there's an issue I feel had been left unaddressed.

First, The lie under the circumstances was innappropriate, and destroys the credibility of the skeptic's evidence, leaving them to rely solely upon the raw structure of their argument. Whether you'd bother to continue to engage in debate with them after such a bizarre exchange is another question.

All that said, I disagree your notion that wide use of ebay feedback ratings prooves the validity of anecdotal evidence.

Ebay feedback ratings are certainly a reliable measure of sentiment, and I agree that they are fairly reliable (though I've only used ebay once, the principle seemed sound), but they are only a measure of sentiment based on user experience, not proof of any underlying cause for that sentiment. That is, feedback mechanisms reliably measure what they are deisgned to measure, but not much else.

Music charts are a great example, they tell you what music is popular, not which artist is the peak of musical prowess. Like Bieber :twisted:, a terrible blight upon our radios, but topping the charts nonetheless.

If I may steal a few examples from your article, you'll see where I'm going.

"For example, if someone told me that there was a man dressed in a Santa Claus suit at the local mall taking photos with kids, the odds are that if I went to the mall to verify it, it would check out most of the time (and if the Santa dressed man isn’t there at the time, he was there earlier at least)."

It is indeed a safe bet that the anecdotal evidence was correct that there was a guy dressed as Santa, but this does not make the leap required to prove the existence of the real fairy tale version of Santa Claus. The same way a large group of people reporting David Copperfield can really fly does not make it so (no matter how much they believe it). The same way anecdotal reports of supernatural phenomenon do not prove that the phenomenon actually had a true supernatural origin. They do certainly prove *something* happened though. :D

"One argument I use that always gets these skeptics goes like this. I ask them about a country they’ve never been to before, such as France for example. And I state it like this: “Since you’ve never been to France before, and you have no real evidence that it exists other than anecdotes you heard, do you assume then that it doesn’t exist for now? After all, the photos, videos, and souvenirs from that country could all be forgeries, you just don’t know do you?” The skeptic will usually reply with “But I can fly to France and verify that it exists.” And that answer totally misses the point, so I then counter with the key question “Yeah but UNTIL you go to France, do you assume for NOW that it doesn’t exist, based on your skeptical philosophy that anecdotal evidence is invalid?” That stumps them EVERYTIME! They NEVER have a response to that one."

I can directly observe the effect of France, and so indirectly infer its existence. I can compare the anecdotal evidence of news reports reflected in financial markets and political movements around the world. This occurs in much the same way as I observe the effect of gravity or magnetism, things that I can only observe indirectly, by their effect. On the other hand, I can very easily account for a materialist world without needing to account for some effect caused by the supernatural. There is no gap in material knowledge that requires I hypothesise the paranormal to fill.

In short, the absence of France would create a great big France shaped void I have to account for somehow, the absence of psi requires no such thing.

I do, however, choose to believe in psi because of the colour it lends to life, and because I think it's necessary to stay sane.

Another good example is in a link I stole shamelessly from the Fallacy Files: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/06/scien ... ref=slogin

Superstitious purchasing of insurance doesn't keep planes in the air... or does it? ;)

Anyway, anecdotes are great for indicating sentiment, providing eyewitness collaboration, and as lead indicators for research, they are rather rubbish at describing the causes and mechanisms of phenomena.
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be requir

Postby craig weiler » 24 Nov 2011, 13:25

Parapsychology skepticism is a joke to start with, so asking parapsychology skeptics to be objective is not going to change anything.

The literature surrounding parapsychology skepticism has been growing in the past 5 years and it doesn't paint a pretty picture.

It paints of picture of people desperate to maintain the status quo and willing to go to extraordinary lengths to achieve this. Whether we're talking about Wiseman's long list of hatchet jobs on everything from the ganzfeld studies to the staring studies to Sheldrake's dog experiment, or Hyman's vague arguments about how parapsychology "just isn't there yet" or Randi's Totally Bogus Prize, the whole skeptical canon is based on creating doubt.

For example, you will find no mention in any CSI literature of the fact that there are literally hundreds of SPR studies done on poltergiests, mediums and crisis apparitions. They just forgot I guess.

The point here is that the main sources for skeptical literature are hopelessly biased, so it's no surprised that the people who are attracted to that literature, (and almost never examine the source material) are also biased.
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be requir

Postby Craig Browning » 24 Nov 2011, 22:39

Yep! That's where things lay.

Now Duck! The Stuff is About to Fly :lol:
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be requir

Postby Arouet » 24 Nov 2011, 22:59

craig weiler wrote:For example, you will find no mention in any CSI literature of the fact that there are literally hundreds of SPR studies done on poltergiests, mediums and crisis apparitions. They just forgot I guess.


Why don't you pick a study you find particularly convincing and we can discuss it here?
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be requir

Postby craig weiler » 25 Nov 2011, 03:04

There are literally hundreds of SPR studies, a fact that CSI neglects to mention. Why don't you discuss that?
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be requir

Postby Arouet » 25 Nov 2011, 03:40

craig weiler wrote:There are literally hundreds of SPR studies, a fact that CSI neglects to mention. Why don't you discuss that?


Because I'm not a member of CSI, don't read their stuff much (unless I'm linked to an article from there). I have no idea what their position is on those studies, or whether they mention them or not. So I really have nothing to say about that.
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Re: Objectivity test for Skeptics here - Should it be requir

Postby craig weiler » 25 Nov 2011, 03:53

Well, there is no point in picking out an individual case study for examination. There are any number of ways to explain away the phenomena after the fact and ignore nagging questions and there is absolutely no way to convince a skeptic that the investigators were thorough or unbiased.

We can safely skip to the part where you tell me that the evidence isn't convincing to you.
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