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Trouble in the Skeptic Kingdom

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

Re: Trouble in the Skeptic Kingdom

Postby NinjaPuppy » 20 Feb 2013, 04:25

justintime wrote:Is it then fair to shatter their delusions considering they developed it during their extra free time?

You can always try. I don't know how successful that mission may be however. 8-)
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Re: Trouble in the Skeptic Kingdom

Postby NinjaPuppy » 20 Feb 2013, 04:29

justintime wrote:Is the skeptical movement having some growing pains? Are skeptics struggling with the exact same identity crisis?
Steven Novella thinks both are true.

And there is more bad news for Skeptics.

"Skepticism is the rigorous application of science and reason to test the validity of any and all claims."

But new research challenges the skeptics reliance on science and scientific method to dispel woo.

"Andrew Ede recently argued that science education may do little to raise the level of rational thinking and may, in fact, actually deter it!"

"The notion that having a strong scientific knowledge base is not enough to insulate a person against irrational beliefs."

"In other words, there was no relationship between the level of science knowledge and skepticism regarding paranormal claims."

If skepticism and science are synonymous (according to Dr Shermer) why don't we see that reflected in the study. On the contrary "a strong scientific knowledge base is not enough to insulate a person against irrational beliefs."

What more can skeptics educators do than merely debunk extraordinary claims, short of controlling what people can believe, when science is not the skeptic’s best friend?

Going back to your OP, these are all valid questions and I see where you're coming from in each sentence.
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Re: Trouble in the Skeptic Kingdom

Postby Arouet » 20 Feb 2013, 07:00

So you're not interested in knowing whether you are using the correct definition of skeptic? If you are not using the right definition from the get go then wouldn't you be worried that any of your analysis that follows would be off?
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Re: Trouble in the Skeptic Kingdom

Postby Arouet » 20 Feb 2013, 07:49

Are you capable of answering a direct question? Do you not know the answer, feel embarassed about that and must deflect? Is it just part of your troll routine? Are you interested in pursuing a line of argument or do you just want to flitter from one topic to another in sequential posts?

If you are a troll, you're going to ignore this and continue to deflect. If you're not a troll, prove it by engaging in an actual back and force discussion.
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Re: Trouble in the Skeptic Kingdom

Postby NinjaPuppy » 21 Feb 2013, 01:17

Arouet wrote:So you're not interested in knowing whether you are using the correct definition of skeptic? If you are not using the right definition from the get go then wouldn't you be worried that any of your analysis that follows would be off?

Personally I don't think that there is a correct definition for "skeptic". The definition can vary from individual to individual and from individual to individual on the opposite side. Yes, you can define "skeptic" as a term for a group of similar thinking people but just like a rear view mirror.... objects may be closer than they actually appear". Some are more cynical, some are more scientifical, some are more or less educated, some are experts in a particular field and some are just going with the flow of the mindset that sounds good. It takes all types.

It reminds me of something that ProfWag quoted awhile back... "Somewhere out there is the worst doctor in the world".
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Re: Trouble in the Skeptic Kingdom

Postby Arouet » 21 Feb 2013, 01:20

justintime wrote:
Arouet wrote:Are you capable of answering a direct question? Do you not know the answer, feel embarassed about that and must deflect? Is it just part of your troll routine? Are you interested in pursuing a line of argument or do you just want to flitter from one topic to another in sequential posts?

If you are a troll, you're going to ignore this and continue to deflect. If you're not a troll, prove it by engaging in an actual back and force discussion.


You are having a problem getting started. We are 3 pages into the discussion and you have not found your footing yet, but persist on asking if there is a need for more definitions of skeptics and skepticism. I responded to your question several posts ago by saying No, the facts define the skeptics.

If we have to slow down for every struggling skeptic with an attitude, an attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity either in general or toward a particular object. We would never get past the definition of skepticism.

If you have anything to contribute, perhaps a defense of skeptics who may not be cyclist but found other less crystallized avenues to embrace scientific skepticism? We might be less inclined to stereotype skeptics as cyclist (after Shermer) or pigs wearing lipstick.

Spare us you indignation and either butt in or butt out.


Here's the thing Justin- I find you somewhat entertaining. But from what I see you very rarely answer direct questions and your replies tend to constantly deflect. I'm happy to engage on any of these topics with you but only if you actually engage. Engaging requires a back and forth conversation.

Let's give it a try: Your response that " No, the facts define the skeptics" is incorrect. Facts don't define anything. Definitions may be structured to fit facts. Then you can look at the facts in other situations to see if they adequately should be covered under the label you are using.

You posted some definitions about skeptics some of which I agree with some of which I didn't. Before determining whether skeptics meet the definition of skepticsm we have to agree on what definition we are using.

Right now, for this conversation, we seem to have different definitions of skepticsm - so if we continue to use that word we will be meaning different things. That wouldn't make for a useful conversation. So my suggestion was to start by defining our terms. While I agree that at times it can be frustrating to spend the time agreeing on a definition - it is impractical to continue with a conversation if everyone is talking past one another by meaning different things. It really doesn't matter if we use the word "skeptic" or "shmungle" - the important thing is that we agree about what we're actually discussing.


Do you agree? If not, why?
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Re: Trouble in the Skeptic Kingdom

Postby Arouet » 21 Feb 2013, 01:23

NinjaPuppy wrote:Personally I don't think that there is a correct definition for "skeptic". The definition can vary from individual to individual and from individual to individual on the opposite side. Yes, you can define "skeptic" as a term for a group of similar thinking people but just like a rear view mirror.... objects may be closer than they actually appear". Some are more cynical, some are more scientifical, some are more or less educated, some are experts in a particular field and some are just going with the flow of the mindset that sounds good. It takes all types.

It reminds me of something that ProfWag quoted awhile back... "Somewhere out there is the worst doctor in the world".


Indeed. Definitions - and language in general for that matter - are living trees. They change over time. Dictionaries are simply collections of commonly agreed upon definitions.

The actual words we use are not important - what is important is our meaning. We can use whatever words we want if they adequately convey their meaning to the other party. So we start by defining our terms and at least having some agreement for the sake of the conversation, to avoid talking past each other.
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Re: Trouble in the Skeptic Kingdom

Postby NinjaPuppy » 21 Feb 2013, 01:25

Arouet wrote:the important thing is that we agree about what we're actually discussing.

We're discussing skeptics. They are mythical creatures that exist only on internet BBS forums. 8-)
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Re: Trouble in the Skeptic Kingdom

Postby NinjaPuppy » 21 Feb 2013, 01:26

Oh, and they are lead by an old, furry man from a place called New Jersey with these magic abilities.
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Re: Trouble in the Skeptic Kingdom

Postby NinjaPuppy » 21 Feb 2013, 02:50

justintime wrote:But skeptics see this magician as a Moses of sorts leading them out of the wilderness of pseudoscience and paranormal irrationality. A man that made a living from trickery and deception becomes their dowsing rod to wean out charlatans.

IMO, that was just some schitck to bump him up from being just another great magician. Back in the day, he was very good, if not excellent in this field but magicians are pure entertainment. Exposing charlatans is a crusade and adds value to the general public. SCORE! This secured his repeated seat between Johnny and Ed, rather than performing an act and watching the curtain close as Doc played some swami music on his horn. It made him conversation worthy, rather than just a great performer.

For those too young to know who Johnny, Ed and Doc are, I am referencing "The Tonight Show" (1962–1992) with Johnny Carson, Ed McMahon and Doc Severinsen
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Re: Trouble in the Skeptic Kingdom

Postby NinjaPuppy » 21 Feb 2013, 03:00

Here's and interesting tidbit:
Randi says Johnny Carson was a major sponsor; giving several six-figure donations.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Rand ... Foundation
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Re: Trouble in the Skeptic Kingdom

Postby NinjaPuppy » 21 Feb 2013, 03:14

justintime wrote:Strange way to look for respectability by becoming a dowsing rod for a disparate group of insecure skeptics preoccupied with charlatans. I think he picked skeptics because the word "doubt" does not exist in their vocabulary. What a bunch of easy "pushovers". :lol:

From what I'm finding, the ball got rolling with people who are/were magicians or wannabe magicians.
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Re: Trouble in the Skeptic Kingdom

Postby NinjaPuppy » 21 Feb 2013, 04:30

justintime wrote:There is no institutional recognition behind the Skeptic movement so they will never be part of any global or national debate on issues that matter.

Hence my quote on skeptics being mythical creatures.
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Re: Trouble in the Skeptic Kingdom

Postby Arouet » 21 Feb 2013, 07:08

NinjaPuppy wrote:
justintime wrote:There is no institutional recognition behind the Skeptic movement so they will never be part of any global or national debate on issues that matter.

Hence my quote on skeptics being mythical creatures.


What is a myth is that skeptics are a homogenous group or that it has any particular leader. Skeptics are diverse. Some are involved in various organised groups, each of which has people at the head.

Frankly, I'm not much concerned what the various leaders think as leaders. I like to read Shermer on psychological issues, I don't read Randi on much of anything, Phil Plait on astronomy, etc.

Being a skeptic is a method of thought. One can be a skeptic without being a member of any group, and not be a skeptic even though one has joined a group.
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Re: Trouble in the Skeptic Kingdom

Postby Arouet » 22 Feb 2013, 01:44

justintime wrote:If skeptics are just a disparate group of insecure individuals indoctrinated to follow a process called Skepticism and not having any particular position. It is left to the individual skeptic's ability to apply his skepticism and determination to arrive at a conclusion(not a position) which can vary from skeptic to skeptic because of any number of factors (IQ, background, education, biases) etc.


Of course I didn't say skeptics are a "disparate group of insecure individuals indoctrinated to follow a process called Skepticism - but I don't have to point that out to you as its part of your trolling routine. I am sure there are skeptics who are insecure, and those who are less so, just like in the general population. Yes, individual skeptics abilities will affect how they apply their critical thinking, and this will vary from skeptic to skeptic. Not sure why this is worth pointing out because it applies to everyone, but yes.

How then does a skeptic(individual) justify showing such disdain for the billions of people who share a common belief(religion) in a social context or hold in suspicion the undiscovered potential of the human mind over matter, or even promote a new scientism when science does not even promote/advance skepticism.


Individual skeptics have to decide what they disdain or not. I don't think disdain has anything to do with skepticsm. Disdain is an emotion - it's not an argument. Personally, I don't disdain people for their thoughts most of the time - my approbation will generally apply to actions. Sometimes disdain is warranted, sometimes not. Different people have different standards for disdain. But they are personal preferences - I don't think they are related to skepticim. If by "hold in suspicion" you mean "be skeptical of the undiscovered potential of the human mind over matter, I think that is sound for anyone. As for promoting a "new scientism" - I guess it depends what you mean by scientism.

I guess I technically agree that science does not promote or advance skepticsm in that you can't use science to promote or advance skepticsm. The scientific method is inherently skeptical. I guess you could say improving the scientific method advances skepticsm but really what advances skepticsm is pointing out how skeptical methods tend to produce more reliable results than non-skeptical methods. Science is one example of a skeptical method, but there are others.


I get that you are apparently endlessly entertained by your troll routine, but you might want to give it a shot playing it straight for a change. You might be surprised to find that you enjoy that too!
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