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Debunking a pseudo-skeptical criticism of your site

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

Debunking a pseudo-skeptical criticism of your site

Postby TheLight954 » 25 Jul 2016, 10:53

I found an entire paper that aims to "logically" debunk your site:
First off, many arguments there seem to be logical but in reality fail to do so, therefore, I'll employ a made-up word "Pseudologic" to describe the paper. The problem with this paper is it blindly employs and uses logical fallacy terms without even having an understanding of why they work.
I'll go ahead and debunk some points:
"His labeling of skeptic types, e.g. "scientific materialists, haters of religion, etc.", and his contention that they
receive unchallenged time to voice opinions is ad hominem, Appeal to Emotion and Appeal to Popularity. "
Nothing could be further than quoting out of context. This person hopes that the people don't actually read your site. First off, what you put is true, as many people ARE, in fact, scientific materialists and haters of religion. Ad hominem is a way of attacking the other person to make his arguments invalid. However, ad hominems generally refer to irrelevent attacks such as "you're an idiot". In this case, he's simply pointing out the biases that the pseudoskeptics might have beforehand, and this lowers their credibility.

"Mr. Wu's statement, "some of which is irrefutable" is subjective opinion, leading to the Appeal to Ignorance
fallacy -- Mr. Wu has assumed that because certain phenomena haven't been explained to his satisfaction, they
require paranormal explanations"
No, this is NOT subjective opinion. How do you explain the amount of veridical perception occuring in NDEs? Over 90% of the people in studies by NDE researchers report very accurate veridical perception, while they were brain dead or close to it. However, even if they weren't completely brain dead, how do 3 out of 4 people report heightened consciousness? This makes no sense, and pseudoskeptical arguments against these elements feel very similar to arguments protecting the JFK conspiracy thing.

"(Mr. Wu’s paragraph regarding evidence for the paranormal omitted to conserve space – Paul) "
LOL? The person writing this obviously doesn't want anyone to see verified evidence of the paranormal.

"Mr. Wu invents several varieties of skepticism. These are all matters of subjective opinion."
No, they aren't. A true skeptic seeks to inquire, not to debunk all evidence against your own position, which is the problem of many skeptical organizations. Instead of testing some paranormal claims(like they could try and conduct a test of NDE veridicity themselves) they ONLY seek to debunk such claims.

"There is a large difference between "fact" and "opinion". Unless both parties agree on what qualifies as "fact", there will be disagreements. "
Lol what? I disagree with 2+2=4. It is therefore not a fact.

"Mr. Wu commits the Straw Man fallacy as well as ad hominem. Alleged misbehavior by skeptics does not relieve the paranormal researcher of the obligations of good science. It is quite valid and responsible to require accurate, detailed reporting of methodology, observations, and circumstances, especially in the area of "paranormal" phenomena. Fakery has been known to occur even in the "hard" sciences, let alone the "paranormal" sciences. "
The distinguishment between hard sciences and paranormal sciences made me laugh. The problem with accurate, detailed reporting of observations is that it's impossible to truly verify something as accurate unless you test it yourselves. For example, I could claim that all the evidence of fossils found supporting evolution are "anecdotal" and "made up in videos" and according to you, I'd have a point.

"Anecdotes are unreliable. They require corroborating evidence."
There is no evidence that my parents gave birth to me, other than anecdotal evidence from my parents. For all I know, it's possible that I was dropped here by an alien. There is no corroborating evidence for this either.

"Any experiment must have sufficient controls to be considered valid. This is a basic tenet of science. If experiments contain flaws, it is reasonable to point them out. "
Fallacy of scientism, which is that the only way to gain information is by science. This is false, as first-hand experience is more important to me than anything what the status-quo said. Also, you're not pointing out flaws, you're pointing out possible flaws. In this case, it's YOUR burden of proof because you're claiming the experiment has a flaw.

"A few more ad hominem arguments. Earlier, Mr. Wu classified himself as a “true skeptic” and said that skepticism was useful; now, he says it is a useless philosophy."
Misinterpretation. What he means by skepticism here is pseudo-skepticism, earlier he meant true skepticism.

"Well, it is irrational to believe in anything that hasn't been proven. The term irrational means "not endowed with reason". Belief in something that has not been proved true is not an act of reason; it is either an act of foolishness or of faith, neither of which is based in logic. Perhaps a clearer statement would be that it is unreasonable to believe in anything that hasn’t been proven. "
Nope. According to you, it is irrational to believe that my parents gave birth to me, because for all I know I could've been dropped here by an alien. Come on, you should know better to pretend ANYTHING in science is PROVEN. You're mixing up the terms empirical evidence and proof here. Take a look on my 2048 data here to show how blind to the game's source code, I managed to come up with the rate of 4 spawns. Obviously, from the data, 10% is much more likely than 50%. Evidence supports 1 conclusion morer than it supports other conclusions. However, according to you, it is irrational to believe that the spawn rate of 4s is less than 50%.

"Although we cannot assume that the people who experience OBE are "wrong", neither can we assume that they are "right.""
Again, they're purposely ignoring veridical details for one. Furthermore, we can say with high probability and evidence that they are "right" because many people independently say that they have experienced similar things. This would be strong evidence, even though it's anecdotal.

". Hyman, by the way, has said that metaanalysis should not be applied to parapsychology"
A hypocritical claim, as you have said that Appeal to Authority is not valid.

Many more things. For example, they said "appeal to popularity", though although it's true that the SAME claim's truth value doesn't get affected by popularity, most of the time, people are aware of what's correct and what's wrong. That's why a claim that's believed by more people vs a different claim that's believed by less people usually has a higher probability of being right.

"Anecdotal evidence seems to be the basis of Mr. Wu's beliefs -- if someone tells a story, it must be assumed to be true"
Strawman - one story doesn't make something true obviously, and it is obvious that Wu knows this. However, many different independent stories being consistent has a much higher weight of evidence. More generally, this person knows that he can't function in today's society without anecdotal evidence - it's irrational according to him to believe that some parents gave you birth. Another form of scienticism.

" Appeal to Authority is not a valid argument unless the authority is qualified and reliable"
WHO TELLS YOU WHAT IS RELIABLE? This is anecdotal evidence which you automatically consider as invalid, so it is also a form of circular reasoning according to you to know what is reliable. As far as I know, paranormal researchers are just as reliable as many scientists, and subject to the same errors.

"Since we must rely on the witnesses to provide details of their state of mind, we are left with Circular Reasoning. "
No, sometimes we can easily see if they have a weird state of mind, such as if they just took a random drug, or were under hypnosis.

"The witness may be as honest as Mother Theresa. It does not follow that what they believe is true. Mr. Wu again resorts to Appeal to Authority and Appeal to Pity. "
Yes, everyone is aware of that. However, it makes the claim carry higher weight than a witness under drugs during the time of the experience. Again, you're conflating empirical evidence with proof.

Overall, this person sees this site as a major threat to his organization and attempts to use pseudologic to cover it up. He seems to have no understanding in when Appeal to Popularity is a fallacy and when it's valid, and similarly with Appeal to Authority. This person also doesn't know the difference between strong evidence and proof, and believes that everything must be 100% proven, thus making the claim "someone gave birth to me" irrational as for all we know, it is possible that "aliens from the andromeda galaxy dropped me off in this planet".
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