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what exactly drives the skeptical ??

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

what exactly drives the skeptical ??

Postby brett » 25 Oct 2009, 14:27

as i sit here perusing the various articles on this forum and others , i am perplexed by one question , and that is WHAT drives the skeptics , what is their agenda ??

to explain : for the believer in the "paranormal " there are many amongst which may be ,they have /are/do

had an experience that is out of the ordinary and wish to share it with others

are curious about possibilities of afterlife existence

realise that "science" does not have ALL the answers

but the skeptic and debunkers - WHAT drives them ?? after all IF the paranormal is all BS ,delusion , made up , whatever , WHY do they waste their lives posting so much vitriol ?? - surly any normal person would just dismiss them as weird and let them get on with it , do someone else's beliefs REALLY matter that much to them , that they NEED to somehow PROVE to the world that THEY are right ?? -or do they have some "mission" to protect all "right thinking " people from us nutters ?? :lol: :lol: who believe in ghosties and ghoulies and things that may ( or may not ) go bump in the night

are they afraid that a tide of "irrationality" ( in their eyes) is going to sweep the world - corrupting the children and , maybe, leaving them to actually ASK questions of accepted dogma and "perceived " wisdom , - or is this all part of an orchestrated campaign to "dumb down " the populous ( heck there's enough of that going on on TV now :lol: :lol: ) - so that it is some how considered WRONG to ask questions - to investigate things that others seemingly "disapprove " of - to DARE to question the "OFFICIAL LINE " ??

and WHO are these people ?? - go to any forum and you will find virtually everyone hides behind a sudonim , here forinstance so far only myself and bill use our real names ( my apologies if there are others ) - and whilst i realise that some may wish to protect their identities for perfectly good reasons ,( in the case of those who "believe" fear of ridicule by friends,family and possibly work colleagues ) i do wonder if those who are so vehement in their skeptical beliefs should not at least have the guts to say who they really are - IF one is convinced in the rightness of ones arguments , why hide behind a name ??

may be its along the lines of those who have different sexual orientations - they FEAR ' coming out " :? - but whats to fear ?? - why not stand up fore square and proclaim your beliefs ?? - do any of you REALLY think the world will think worse of you ?? ( or more to the point WHY do you care ?? ) after all do any of those who you worry about OWN you ?? - no of course they don't , none of you OWN me , and 99.9999% of the world does not give a rats arras about what I believe - so why do you skeptics ?? - and what if anything would you gain from "turning " me , compliance ?? , loyalty to the cause ?? - what ??

so my question to the SKEPTICS is simply this ?? - what IS it that drives you ?? - WHY do you care so much that some of us "believe " ?? , after all do you care so much if someone has faith in a particular GOD ?? - DO YOU spend hours on sites attacking THEIR beliefs ?? - when by the demonstrated standards of skeptical thinking , god has as much credibility as your average ghost - just what IS the difference in the "entities" and possibility of continuance of existence that we believe in ,to those postulated by many world religions ??

probably to be fair , some skeptics are as puzzled about us as we are about you - - but in this case I am asking the question :lol: :lol:
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Re: what exactly drives the skeptical ??

Postby brett » 26 Oct 2009, 14:29

no replies yet ??- well I AM surprised :lol: :lol: :lol: - aww come on guys you must know what causes you to be a skeptic - or maybe I have made you stop and think :?
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Re: what exactly drives the skeptical ??

Postby ciscop » 27 Oct 2009, 01:08

hello!..

well there´s 2 topics that concern me the most

since i am a magician (more a mentalist, but lets keep it real, mentalism is magic)
i like to follow the footsteps of people i admire like houdini, randi, richard wiseman and penn and teller and keep it real with the claims of the psychics and espiritist, i live in a country where people still perform ¨cleaning ups¨ with eggs, and i care for people giving up their hard earned money to nothing but a scam artist.

and all the alternative paraphernalia.. i had an aunt that was about to die because she went to one of those naturists doctors.. i hate the thought that because and out of ignorance, instead of attending herself with a real doctor he went to this snake oil salesman..

so in the real world i think i am educating people
here on this forum.. since i know i wont convince anybody, i am just having fun :p

good enough?
For every person who reads this valuable book there are hundreds of naïve souls who would prefer to have their spines tingled by a sensational but worthless potboiler by some hack journalist of the paranormal. You who now read these sentences join a small but wiser minority. Martin Gaardner (Psychology of the Psychic)
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Re: what exactly drives the skeptical ??

Postby brett » 27 Oct 2009, 02:38

ciscop wrote:hello!..

well there´s 2 topics that concern me the most

since i am a magician (more a mentalist, but lets keep it real, mentalism is magic)
i like to follow the footsteps of people i admire like houdini, randi, richard wiseman and penn and teller and keep it real with the claims of the psychics and espiritist, i live in a country where people still perform ¨cleaning ups¨ with eggs, and i care for people giving up their hard earned money to nothing but a scam artist.

and all the alternative paraphernalia.. i had an aunt that was about to die because she went to one of those naturists doctors.. i hate the thought that because and out of ignorance, instead of attending herself with a real doctor he went to this snake oil salesman..

so in the real world i think i am educating people
here on this forum.. since i know i wont convince anybody, i am just having fun :p

good enough?


yes fine ciscop - well at least you know what drives you - and i agree (as you know ) with debunking any type of scammer ( and the self interested aggrandisement merchants who cynically USE the paranormal ) ;) ;)

any more takers ??
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Re: what exactly drives the skeptical ??

Postby wjbeaty » 28 Oct 2009, 03:37

brett wrote:probably to be fair , some skeptics are as puzzled about us as we are about you - - but in this case I am asking the question :lol: :lol:


Maybe this is really a question about groups who indulge in misbehavior.

The problems don't appear until a crowd of people with similar ideas get together and adopt an artificially narrow consensus position. The internet has certainly made such things much more common. ALL groups are prone to this mistake. It's called group-think, and see if the following seems familiar:

Groupthink symptoms:
1 Illusions of invulnerability — Belief that nothing can go wrong. Members take thoughtless risks, ignore impending consequences.
2 Discredit/rationalize/explain away all warnings that might call the group's assumptions into question
3 Unquestioned belief in the morality of the group. Members stay blind even to major unethical behavior. If the group does it, then it wasn't a crime.
4 Stereotyping/dehumanizing of opponents — Unspoken superiority of group members, inferiority of outside rivals. Use of derogatory labels, etc.
5 Direct pressure to conform — Members are attacked as "disloyal" if they try to correct group failures or offer any criticism.
6 Self censorship — quashing of diversity. Members hide dissenting views and evidence contrary to the narrow public concensus
7 Illusions of unanimity — members hide their criticism, then assume that the general lack of criticism implies widespread agreement/approval.
8 Mind police — a few members appoint themselves as internal cops who protect group beliefs by actively attacking members who stray from the concensus

If a group is accused of "being like a cult" or "like a religion," then groupthink is probably the real problem. I've seen the effect in action while working for a small science education company. All self-correcting feedback is halted; internal criticism is silenced, and the group slides into insanity. The individual members might be somewhat normal, but the group as a whole resembles a psychopath, or perhaps a victim of the manic phase of Bipolar disorder. (In my case I refused to participate, became the devils advocate, then quit in disgust after a few months. The company was later dissolved by state intervention under Chapter 7.)

Groupthink cures:
1. Have top group members study the Groupthink phenomenon and take it very seriously
2. Interfere with leader-pleasing. The leader should avoid bias and keep all preferences and expectations hidden, while encouraging open inquiry
3. Leaders should give high priority to airing objections and doubts, and take action on received criticism.
4. Groups should always consider unpopular alternatives, assigning the role of devil's advocate to several strong members of the group.
5. Sometimes it is useful to divide the group into two separate deliberative bodies as feasibilities are evaluated.
6. Take seriously the criticism from outsiders. Spend a sizable amount of time surveying all warning signals from rival groups
7. After reaching a prelimiary consensus on a decision, all residual doubts should be expressed and the matter reconsidered.
8. Disinterested outside experts should be included in vital decision making.
9. Tentative decisions should be discussed with trusted colleagues not in the group.
10 The organization should routinely follow the administrative practice of establishing several independent decision-making groups to work on the same critical issue or policy.

Myself, I'd add to this list: Explicitly list the concensus assumptions which drive the group (don't hide them and try to prevent outsiders from discovering what they actually are.) Also, put the writing on the wall explicitly, by punishing the use of stereotyping and any any use of derogatory labels for opponents and outsiders. (Don't attack outsiders, instead attack group members who think it's OK to attack outsiders.) Also punish any members who try to block/rationalize/silence internal critics. (Don't punish critics, instead punish those who try to punish critics.) Learn from history by searching out and exposing even the slightest past unethical behavior committed by members or the group as a whole. (Establish a group-wide habit of honest self-assessment and a sense of shame for past errors.) All of this is aimed at converting the group from a psychopath to a "normal member of society" having wisdom and good character.
-----------------------------------------------
'Skeptic' does not mean scoffer
'Skeptic' does not mean debunker
'Skeptic' does not mean csicop member
'Skeptic' does not mean Atheist
'Skeptic' does not mean cynic
'Skeptic' does not mean woo-woo-hater
'Skeptic' does not mean anti-paranormalist
'Skeptic' does not even mean self-declared Skeptic
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Re: what exactly drives the skeptical ??

Postby brett » 28 Oct 2009, 13:35

well i had not thought about it that way bill - nice one :D - i know what will happen now , the Pskeptics will seize on this as PROOF that we believers are all psychopaths :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: - i wont be surprised if that reply gets syndicated round a few skeptic sites ;)
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Re: what exactly drives the skeptical ??

Postby NinjaPuppy » 28 Oct 2009, 21:01

'Group Think' is very true of most internet based communities and how they work. Thanks wjbeaty.
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Re: what exactly drives the skeptical ??

Postby wjbeaty » 30 Oct 2009, 03:25

NinjaPuppy wrote:'Group Think' is very true of most internet based communities and how they work


Earlier I'd been calling it "Stanford Prison Effect," where a group slowly turns into a crude cartoon of International Fascism, with a population of brutal 'prison guards.' The group becomes intolerant of any criticism, and while all outsiders can see what's happening, the group members themselves are totally blind to it.

But in the three cases I observed, those groups were large forums where users were "rewarded" by giving them moderator powers. (Some people are instantly corrupted, and should never be given power over others!) The moderator group formed itself into "Stanforc prison guards" who seemed to think the users were inferior subhumans, and treated them as such. The obvious problem was the lack of checks and balances on moderators; the 'guard' population was immune to any user complaint and beyond criticism or punishment. In governments, the users could vote them out of office, or get an outside corruption investigation started, or at least write complaining newspaper articles.

Various 'skeptic' organizations may or may not fall into group-think. Look at the symptoms.

Do they only criticize outside individuals or groups, but never themselves? If members publish a critical article, are those members taken seriously, or are they usually ignored, discredited, or even ejected? Do they listen to outside criticism and take it very seriously, or are they deaf to most complaints? Do they consider their enemies to be subhuman stereotypes, "all the same," even dangerous to society? Have they coined a sort of derogatory racial-slur to use against opponents?

And ...is the group very aware of the group-think phenomenon, guards carefully against it, and constantly publicizes the following warnings to all members?


"You can get into a habit of thought in which you enjoy
making fun of all those other people who don't see things
as clearly as you do. We have to guard carefully against it."
- Carl Sagan, 1987 CSICOP meeting


"...The chief deficiency I see in the skeptical movement is
its polarization: Us vs. Them -- the sense that we have a
monopoly on the truth; that those other people who believe
in all these stupid doctrines are morons; that if you're sensible,
you'll listen to us; and if not, to hell with you. This is non-
constructive. It does not get our message across. It condemns
us to permanent minority status."
- Carl Sagan
-----------------------------------------------
'Skeptic' does not mean scoffer
'Skeptic' does not mean debunker
'Skeptic' does not mean csicop member
'Skeptic' does not mean Atheist
'Skeptic' does not mean cynic
'Skeptic' does not mean woo-woo-hater
'Skeptic' does not mean anti-paranormalist
'Skeptic' does not even mean self-declared Skeptic
((((((((((((( ( (O) ) )))))))))))))
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Re: what exactly drives the skeptical ??

Postby Hellboy » 30 Oct 2009, 06:41

A lot of what Bill lists as psychopathic tendencies can be seen in everyday public services and large businesses with a monopoly in their respective markets.

I have experienced both the private and public sector as an employee in the UK. From my experience, the public sector seems to actively encourage: Ratting on other employees, bullying of others with minority viewpoints, bullying and demeaning of employees who can actively think for themselves without the need to follow opinion based on bias and herd mentality. Bullying of employees who demonstrate superior abilities to those who supposedly manage them.

Don't get me wrong the private sector does suffer from some of the aforementioned, however being subject to a bit more reality/market forces. The private sector has to be a bit more realistic without the need to be cushioned by pc nonsense that creates more problem than it solves! In effect the so called box ticking tactics are actually counterproductive to what they are trying to readdress.

The herd mentality exists within believer and skeptic forums/organizations whether one likes to admit it or not.
Personally I find this approach abhorrent and totally against true free thinking! I do not like anyone or any organisation that lays claim to the so called truth. The fact is truth is dependent on many factors in other words the perception of truth is dependant on the majority agreeing on a hypothesis, whether the hypothesis agrees with the evidence or group agreement.
In other words truth is mutable, not something set in stone for eternity.

I agree with true skeptics that evidence should be paramount; unfortunately there are many so called skeptics which deliberately distort and twist evidence or the lack of it into something it is not! At the other extreme you have the believer claiming I experienced it therefore it cannot be questioned! Ok these are probably extreme examples; however there are people who have these extreme points of view. Both extremes are great for inflaming passions and encourage the tub thumping idiots; however the actual debate yet again suffers.

Just my opinion of course. ;)
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Re: what exactly drives the skeptical ??

Postby wjbeaty » 30 Oct 2009, 17:15

Hellboy wrote:A lot of what Bill lists as psychopathic tendencies can be seen in everyday public services and large businesses with a monopoly in their respective markets.

And there are ways to fight the problem. Besides that 'groupthink' author's list of cures, there's also R. Feynman's description of what Science actually is: a way of not lying to yourself. A group can go far in stopping these problems if it has a policy of bend-over-backwards honesty and brutal self-criticism.

Some groups try to be "scientific" by mimicking the outer facade of a science group, but without including the brutal *self* criticism, and without the profound disdain for even slight dishonesties.



Hellboy wrote:In other words truth is mutable, not something set in stone for eternity.

ah, I like to say that Truth is fuzzy and variable and impossible to pin down, but it's also utterly simple. Truth is what's left behind after you stop lying.
-----------------------------------------------
'Skeptic' does not mean scoffer
'Skeptic' does not mean debunker
'Skeptic' does not mean csicop member
'Skeptic' does not mean Atheist
'Skeptic' does not mean cynic
'Skeptic' does not mean woo-woo-hater
'Skeptic' does not mean anti-paranormalist
'Skeptic' does not even mean self-declared Skeptic
((((((((((((( ( (O) ) )))))))))))))
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Re: what exactly drives the skeptical ??

Postby ProfWag » 30 Oct 2009, 22:53

I have this bad habit of not looking at all of the new posts. Sorry for not responding earlier. I've stated before on this and other forums just why I speak out. People get hurt, especially with psychics, mediums, and the like. They get hurt financially and emotionally. As for other things that may or may not hurt people, I think that people need to call out BS when it's seen. If nobody were to present evidence to the contrary concerning UFOs, Bigfoot, etc., then all sorts of lies and deceit would run rampant. I, personally, don't want to live in a society filled with lies. I prefer honesty. If someone honestly sees a ghost or a Bigfoot, then fine, let's investigate its authenticity. Things such as the Patterson Film, Roswell, etc. have so many holes in the story it's hard to know what's right and what is wrong and I tend to believe that much of the things surrounding these stories are dishonest attempts to spark controversy.
Susanne Somers is another examaple of why skeptics speak out. If you had her way and Jenny McCarthy's way, we would not use conventional medicine to treat cancers and autism. We would not have that vaccines that have wiped out polio and other extremely deadly diseases. Speaking of Somers, her new book that she is making the rounds touting is prime material for us skeptics who hopefully begin speaking out against her claims. She will cause people to die. Period.
I encourage you to visit http://whatstheharm.net/ if you haven't before. Granted, it's a site made by skeptics and it supports my agenda. Arguments presented therein on a topic such as homeopathy could also be attributed to current medicine as well. However, there are many people who have been harmed by all sorts of things paranormal and non-traditional. Hope that answers your question.
Oh, not sure why knowing my first name is important. If you feel the need to know my name, please PM me and I'll happily reveal my full name to you (with a couple of exceptions). I trust most of you. I would just as well not have trolls know it.
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Re: what exactly drives the skeptical ??

Postby brett » 31 Oct 2009, 00:21

yea now that's fair do's prof - i would agree with you there , and as you know or will come to realise i detest the BS from "our" side - the problem is that we have got SO MUCH BS surrounding the subject these days ( the paranormal that is , and other things as well :roll: ) that those of us with a GENUINE spirit of enquiry ( or who have had what they consider genuine experiences ) on EITHER side of the divide , cant see the wood for the trees - then throw in all the "MOTIVE" surrounding the whole thing ( mainly financial /ego/ whatever ) and we have the mess we are in today with the subject

personally i would love it if all the "wannabees /fakes/ BS merchants etc etc / armchair pontificators ET AL ALL just went away leaving the GENUINE BELEIVERS AND SCEPTICS ( note spelling please ) + some investigative scientific types , so we could TOGETHER go forward and REALLY investigate claimed paranormal activity in a sensible and logical manner ( oh and chuck in such disciplines as historical research etc for good measure ) - but as they say "it ain't gonna happen " :roll:

as to the hiding behind sudonyms - well that was a snipe really :oops: - and the fact you are happy to divulge your name privately - speaks volumes for you cred :D

( I use mine as i have no need to do otherwise - but that's my choice ;) )
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Re: what exactly drives the skeptical ??

Postby ProfWag » 31 Oct 2009, 01:56

brett wrote:yea now that's fair do's prof - i would agree with you there , and as you know or will come to realise i detest the BS from "our" side - the problem is that we have got SO MUCH BS surrounding the subject these days ( the paranormal that is , and other things as well :roll: ) that those of us with a GENUINE spirit of enquiry ( or who have had what they consider genuine experiences ) on EITHER side of the divide , cant see the wood for the trees - then throw in all the "MOTIVE" surrounding the whole thing ( mainly financial /ego/ whatever ) and we have the mess we are in today with the subject

personally i would love it if all the "wannabees /fakes/ BS merchants etc etc / armchair pontificators ET AL ALL just went away leaving the GENUINE BELEIVERS AND SCEPTICS ( note spelling please ) + some investigative scientific types , so we could TOGETHER go forward and REALLY investigate claimed paranormal activity in a sensible and logical manner ( oh and chuck in such disciplines as historical research etc for good measure ) - but as they say "it ain't gonna happen " :roll:

as to the hiding behind sudonyms - well that was a snipe really :oops: - and the fact you are happy to divulge your name privately - speaks volumes for you cred :D

( I use mine as i have no need to do otherwise - but that's my choice ;) )

I couldn't agree more! It's not that I care too much about people spending their money on these frauds, but many people are honestly unaware that there are frauds out there and I would prefer to educate these people that they should beware of cons.
I would love to be involved in a paranormal research, but as you alluded to, any sort of notoriety tends to bring ghosts out of the wordwork (pardon the pun.) I'm afraid that I would have to go through too many cases to find one legitimate case. I used to live in Wyoming and on the Air Force Base, there was an old hospital that had been converted to office space. It has been sworn to me by several people on different occasions (even the top military security policeman at the time), that the top floor, now being used as storage, was extremely haunted. The kicker was the statements from these reputable guys that military working dogs would not go on that floor at all. To me, that might be a credible location to conduct an investigation. Alas, maybe someday...
As to the sudonym, I have nothing to hide and all of my statements can easily be verified by a simple google search as my name is fairly uncommon (though there is a guy in Kentucky with the same name as mine, but he's a lawyer so those can be quickly discarded). However, I'm afraid that some people on this forum (or lurkers) who have real abilities would put a hex on me if they knew my real name... :-)
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Re: what exactly drives the skeptical ??

Postby NinjaPuppy » 31 Oct 2009, 04:02

A hex? Awwww, come on now ProfWag, you don't really believe in that do you? 8-)
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Re: what exactly drives the skeptical ??

Postby ProfWag » 31 Oct 2009, 04:05

NinjaPuppy wrote:A hex? Awwww, come on now ProfWag, you don't really believe in that do you? 8-)

Ya' just never know... ;-)
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