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Argument # 1

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

Argument # 1

Postby Tothumn » 16 Mar 2014, 12:23

Hi guys,
I'm new to this forum and im suprised to see there is no topic yet to discuss a fallacy individually. As a skeptic im interested in challenging my own views so I began to read Winston Wu's book. ...aaand i got stuck right at the beginning... with like everything... Maybe you could help me out here.

Argument # 1: It is irrational to believe anything that hasn't been proven.

Im willing to understand how is this a fallacy, but I happened to find a flaw very quickly.

"1) First of all, just because something hasn't been proven and established in mainstream science doesn't mean it doesn't exist or isn't true."
Completely true, noone states otherwise. Time to introduce the flaw:
"irrational to believe" NOT EQUALS its not true/doesnt exists.
"I dont believe" means I dont act like it is true because I have no good reason. But it can be true.
Example: Intelligent life exists on 55 Capri e. Someone states that he knows intelligent life exists on 55 capri e because they connected him once. It is irrational to believe him although he is right.
Once evidence supports it (scientists can contact them too), it will be rational to believe. Its just you have no better way to navigate in reality than to remain skeptical until there is no evidence.
Im well aware that I dont believe things that can be possibly true, because I dont have enough information. All I can do is willing to reconsider when I get new information.
Alhough its irrational to believe, its rational to make an assumption out of it and put it to the test. But only if there is no evidence already that falsifies the possibility.
Someone please show me a better method and ill follow that!
"2) Second, just because something hasn't been proven to established science doesn't mean that it hasn't been proved firsthand to certain people."
Yep, good for them. But the question is: should I believe it? Nope, see above.
I have no way to determine what is true based on others experience that only gets to me as anecdote. Good thing there is a logically consistent self-correcting system faulty humans can use to verify information. It misses some truth we cant verify yet, it might temporary misrepresent or supress some information but in return its still a very effective system. You either rely on established science (try to make it better, larger as everyone else in it) or you believe nothing but your own firsthand experience plus trust in others experience who you selectively decide to follow with all their confirmation bias. Maybe there are other options, do you have anything better than science or anything like science?
"3) Third, many research experiments and studies conducted under the scientific method HAVE passed with positive results."
...and others repeated the experiments with different results and conclusions were drawn using metaanalysis by different scientific groups (most time really independent and looking for the truth). How do I know?
If established science were a complete mess like the introduction indicates it is, then it would not work. But it does! People make discoveries every day based on others publications. People who are doing science actually find almost everthing true every time they checking it by taking it one step further. There are some exceptions that HAVE passed, and you give credibility to these. Cant get my head around this argument, somekind of reverse logic.
"4) Fourth, just because something is irrational to skeptics doesn't mean that it is irrational to others who know or believe that it is real."
Not irrational to them because they determine irrational differently. and they are wrong. or maybe skeptic do not have the right to determine who is wrong... fine so be it. This fourth argument does not adress the point of how to determine wheter something is irrational or wrong.
"...all the things that skeptics have been wrong about before, such as flight, laws of physics, quantum mechanics, giant squid, etc. proving their fallibility."
I dont think deniers are skeptics in the sense we are talking about (critical thinking). But not believing these things before theories indicated them (which is different than saying they are impossible) is completely consistent, see above.

(But first, lets get a look at the quote:

“The notion that 'It is rational to only believe what's been proven' somehow got twisted into ‘It is irrational to believe in anything that hasn't been proven’.” (Interview from video: Conversations with God)

Cant see how is this a twist. What is the difference between the two statements?
rational ONLY to believe whats proven = not rational to believe whats not proven
Not rational is by definition irrational.)

The () is the original text, I noticed that "only to" means something else than "to only" - sorry english is not my first language.
Everything else still stands. btw both sentences make sense to me independently and i dont think that ones credibility relies on the others meaning.
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Re: Argument # 1

Postby NinjaPuppy » 16 Mar 2014, 21:10

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Re: Argument # 1

Postby Tothumn » 18 Mar 2014, 02:11

well... Reading about the psychology of skepticism might help to determine what amount of doubt should I apply in everyday life.
But id like to discuss the validity of this 1 # argument here. Wu challenged what he found irrational,I read it, and I found that he really only argues against denial while he intended to address doubt.
He says "It is irrational to believe anything that hasn't been proven" is a fallacy. But it really is not, or he just forgot to mention the real, logically valid argument against it.
I need help finding that argument if it exists.
Im sure there are pseudoskeptics out there who deny everything, who misunderstand the word 'believe' in the sentence above like Wu did.
'believe' has several meanings, it can express religios faith, hope ,trust, think, etc. But when we use the most common definition which is: "To accept as true or real" , the argument makes perfect sense.

It is irrational to [accept as true or real] anything that hasn't been proven.

You might assume it is possible, however thou shalt not take it as fact, coz that's a sin :D
or because it simply misleads you most time therefore its an unreliable method therefore it is irrational to follow.
Requiring evidence makes you open minded. When you believe something you dismiss all alternative explanations instantly.
I believe I described my point well enough by now and I hope someone will adress this issue or agree with me that Wu is wrong on this one.
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Re: Argument # 1

Postby Tothumn » 18 Mar 2014, 20:31

justintime wrote:Maybe I can point to a few skeptics who have answered your question.
Carl Sagan wrote. The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Im totally with Sagan on this one, but not with Wu. I have to repeat what im saying in my other posts. The absence of evidence makes it irrational to believe, but by no means it is evidence of absence. Please try to understand my point: There are things that true but you should not believe because you dont have enough information. When you have no way to tell whether something is true then you do not take it as true!

justintime wrote:Steven novella wrote. Anything that is outside the realm of methodology cannot be measured by the methods of science. In short paranormal phenomena cannot be measured by the methods of science. Therefore science can neither prove or disprove its existence.

Well he is right. Science can only explore what is natural. When something does not interacts with nature we have no way to tell whether it exists or not. Therefore we do not take a position and believe it. Is there a method other than science to tell something is true or not? I dont know any.

Low dopamine levels and hypothesises to explain what we do not know if exists in the first place is a distraction and not part of the topic. Hypothesis is not something to accept as truth anyway.
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