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Should Skeptics Be Certified?

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

Should Skeptics Be Certified?

Postby Kevin Kane » 13 Feb 2010, 21:51

Should professional or semi-professional skeptics (people who are paid for their opinions, or appear in the public eye as authorities) be licensed, registered or certified?

Should they be required to pass a test of scientific aptitude to show they understand the scientific method and have a good working knowledge of science?

Should they be required to pledge an oath of moral conduct? Of honesty and integrity? Of impartiality and non-corruption? Should they be responsible and mindful of the laws of the land?



The question arises from unethical practices from skeptics. For instance, global warming skeptic Steven Malloy, who runs 'junkscience.com' and a column on Foxnews, while speaking as a climate authority .. has openly acknowledged recieving funding from Oil and Tobacco companies. In fact, he defends the practice.

The practice of defamation of character is another unethical practice that skeptics engage in. And the practice of making claims not supported by scientific evidence. All of these things, the public should be aware of.

Should skeptics be certified?

Are skeptics certifiable?
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Re: Should Skeptics Be Certified?

Postby NinjaPuppy » 13 Feb 2010, 22:15

IMO anyone who gets the attention of the media should disclose their so called 'expertise' in the field. Being the brother-in-law of a network honcho is not what I would consider to be a qualification for a media position or merit your personal opinion on any subject to be aired as if it were gospel truth.

As far as skeptics on this forum, they have every right to speak their mind and debate their POV. It's a public forum. It does not give them the right to question the mental health of a believer or to debate or debunk a topic based on lack of scientific evidence. Especially if that skeptic does not have the education and credentials to intelligently debate the topic without doing a 'copy and paste' from some self proclaimed 'expert'. Just because some Joe Blow says it's bull, doesn't make it so.

A good example is when a believer says they saw a ghost. A skeptic will tell them that they didn't because ghosts don't exist. That skeptic has a ton of published material (by other skeptics) to back up that claim. It still doesn't prove that the believer making the claim didn't see a ghost. It only means that the published material that the skeptic is quoting from has proven that the particular situation from that other experience has been explained.

Anyone who believes that they have seen a ghost obviously has seen something to make them feel that way. Unless skeptics approach each claim individually to either debunk each claim or consider the information with an open mind, it's always going to be the same song and dance.... Ghosts don't exist. Period! No need to waste time on that subject. I just don't get the mentality.
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Re: Should Skeptics Be Certified?

Postby ciscop » 14 Feb 2010, 01:50

ideally
any expert should be certified..

but the media would take the word for granted that anybody is an expert
you just need to call youself one

i was just hearing on the radio a woman
prasing NPL while knowing nothing about the topic
it was just a bunch of new age modern mumbojumbo
and she called herself an expert...


now.. skeptics need certification?
i think the check list is kind of small
know how to think rationally and logically..YES Or NO? .. YES
ok thats it.. you are certified!
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: Should Skeptics Be Certified?

Postby Kevin Kane » 14 Feb 2010, 15:37

I agree with what NP is saying.

ciscop wrote:i think the check list is kind of small
know how to think rationally and logically..YES Or NO? .. YES
ok thats it.. you are certified!


Rationality and logicality are subjective. Every type of logic and reasoning has alternatives, flaws, limits or specific applications. Who is the decider of what is rational or logical? Should it be solely or mostly science and scientists? No, probably not. Should it be lawyers and judges? No, probably not. Should it be philosophers and logicians .. "experts". No, probably not. Depending upon the field, ANYONE can be an expert.

One thing that annoys me is how skeptics can despute or 'debunk' something (homeopathy, Esp, ghosts, etc) without even trying it, or having experienced it, or even spending much time researching and considering it, but relying solely on third hand or agenda-biased information. These are necessary to be called an expert.

Skeptics have made the same argument when asking to observe the Uri Geller SRI lab tests, and other psychic testing. That they were the experts at magic skills, and not the scientists.
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Re: Should Skeptics Be Certified?

Postby ProfWag » 14 Feb 2010, 21:46

I don't want to sound mean with this answer, so I apologize if it comes across as arrogant or whatever, but personally, I think this is the most ridiculous question ever. Should I be certified because I want to see proof of something before I believe in it? I mean, c'mon. Let's say for a moment that the answer is yes, one should be certified to be a skeptic. Okay, I'm not certified to be a skeptic, so that means I'm supposed to believe than John Edward talks to the dead? It makes no sense to me whatsoever.

EVERYONE should be skeptical of claims and not take things at face value unless they've done their own research enough to be satisfied in formulating their opinion.

Should one be certified to be a "ghost hunter?" I think there should be, yet, I know of no certification institute for ghost hunting (though I could be wrong.) Essentially, you're saying that one should believe everything they read or see unless you have a Ph.D in that subject. THAT, my friendly anti-skeptics, is dangerous as hell. I am a professor of management, but that doesn't mean I know everything about management and that also doesn't mean that those of you who aren't professors can't have an opinion in a management style.
For those of you who are "anti-skeptic," I can understand if you have done your own research and had your own experiences and formulated a belief in something paranormal (whatever it is.) I think that the way some skeptics (especially in other forums) come across is that they ridicule those that have those beliefs and I loath that. Personally, I would like to think that myself and most other skeptics have no issue with you believing what you do, as long as you are not fraudulent in presenting those beliefs. Sure, we like to ensure you have as much accurate information as possible. I'm not in the business to tell you that if you saw a ghost, it doesn't exist, just that if you saw a ghost, are you aware that it COULD have been something else...

I'll say this again for the umpteenth time, skepticism is a method, it's NOT a belief system.
Now, if you're saying that one should be certified to conduct experiments attempting to repeat published experiments from others, then yes, they should be. I wouldn't want an architect conducting experiments verifying the validity of an experiment in the movement of planets and astrology, I'd want an astronomer. But I don't need to be a certified astronomer to have an opinion on the published results of said experiments.

I think believers get defensive and don't understand skepticism. If you tell me you saw a ghost and I ask you if you considered that it could have been a shadow, believers get defensive right away and retort by saying that we're calling you a liar. No, we're not. We're saying that are you aware it could have been something else. Did you think about that before formulating your conclusion that you saw a ghost? That's all skepticism is, at least, the way I view what skepticism should be about, but again, I can't speak for all skeptics as there are some rude ones out there (just as there are rude anti-skeptics as well.)
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Re: Should Skeptics Be Certified?

Postby Craig Browning » 15 Feb 2010, 01:51

(Kevin Kane) One thing that annoys me is how skeptics can despute or 'debunk' something (homeopathy, esp, ghosts, etc) without even trying it, or having experienced it, or even spending much time researching and considering it, but relying solely on third hand or agenda-biased information. These are necessary to be called an expert.


This has been a huge gripe with me for decades and the most common retort given once you point this out is “I don’t have to do heroin to know it’s bad for me…” said line being on a long list of typical cop-outs used by self-proclaimed “skeptics”. Then too, the scenario that has been noted already, in which these “experts” simply regurgitate something they read in this or that cult-approved materials. Not only is this non-scientific it’s far from “proof” in that it rarely comes from an outside/non-biased source. Which takes us back to that spokesman on Quack Science & Global Warming when you are being supported by two major polluter groups… it don’t add up!

EVERYONE should be skeptical of claims and not take things at face value unless they've done their own research enough to be satisfied in formulating their opinion.


I agree BUT, we are looking at a scenario akin to someone that’s finally hit a bottom in life and looking for answers and everywhere they turn they keep hearing about God… even the soup Spamalamadingdong won’t feed you until you pray and listen to the sermon… eventually you will be CONvinced that God must be the answer.

When it comes to the skeptical scenario a person has a great deal of pressure placed on them at the social and psychological level that is akin to how religious groups gain converts. The biggest lever being the lie that is expressed along these lines… “only fools and idiots believe that stuff…”
No one wants to be viewed in such a dim light, we naturally want to “fit in” and because of this, people will tend to side with the view that feels “safer”. This is especially true when we come to the other socially stigmatizing trick exploited by certain skeptical evangelists; “Being intelligent means you don’t have imaginary friends…” i.e. ghosts, fairies, angels, gods, etc.

In my world (professional magic) there is an unofficial tenet in place now days that basically states that “magicians don’t believe in things fantasiful, paranormal, psychic or fantastic” Again, a social insinuation that creates external pressure on someone that is asking questions but this leads us to the other problem… source material.

In order to make up your own mind you must study either side of the given issue and do so in a manner that is fair. Not just reading the opinions and views of others, both pro & con, but likewise getting your hands a bit dirty and wadding through the water long enough to understand it from the experiential level. This is the one thing less than 5% of the skeptical world seems willing to do, which means that 90%+ are little other than opinionated arm chair experts.

I know dozens of former skeptical fanatics that changed their only AFTER they accepted my challenge and actually started doing “the work” for real, without all the psycho-babble crap sold them by the magic shops about psi phenomena, doing Readings, etc. I’d be amiss to not say that I know of a couple of believers who’ve gone the other way BUT, for the same reasons…

That is to say, they learned how to look at things in a more critical manner rather than the blind and gullible manner so many “believers” tend to do when the only thing they ever hear is the approved literature of their group. Just as I’ve pointed out with the Skeptic, this is what creates a biased “cult mind” scenario in which no balance or integrity can exist.

Personally, I would like to think that myself and most other skeptics have no issue with you believing what you do, as long as you are not fraudulent in presenting those beliefs. Sure, we like to ensure you have as much accurate information as possible. I'm not in the business to tell you that if you saw a ghost, it doesn't exist, just that if you saw a ghost, are you aware that it COULD have been something else...


I understand and on a greater level than not, agree with this. The problem here is that (as you’ve acknowledged) fanatics exist in the skeptics cult who will attempt to “save your soul” by preaching the gospel according to (or any number of other canonized “experts” of their world.) These are the one’s that get my hackles up in that they ARE NOT “Skeptics” but rather CYNICS – people that want everything and fitting into the niches they assign it (niches not all cynics might agree to however).

What you describe here is close to how I work with the general public. My personal belief that if one claims to be “walking the path of the wise” means that you aren’t being a blind and gullible fool and look at things in a far more realistic/down to earth level. As I’ve explained elsewhere, I believe the more down to earth explanations were understood by the ancient masters of wisdom & mysticism but not so much their students and followers. This is because of how teachings were divided into Exoteric vs. Esoteric arenas of understanding; the former being made up of metaphor and not to be taken literally which the latter refers to the myriad of “codes” or “Keys” of understanding one needs to look at the teaching/scripture with so as to gain the deeper and frequently more mundane truths behind it. Esoteric truth comes in several forms and has always been part of the inner-temple mysteries… kind of how today’s corporate and military secrets are handled… (hehehe)

I’ve rambled sufficiently… NEXT!
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Re: Should Skeptics Be Certified?

Postby Kevin Kane » 15 Feb 2010, 02:04

ProfWag wrote:EVERYONE should be skeptical of claims and not take things at face value unless they've done their own research enough to be satisfied in formulating their opinion.


You're making the assumption that everyone doesn't think about what they believe or experience, don't test it, don't know about science methods and logic proofs. An arrogant and incorrect assumption. For me, I've was reading (and comprehending) Darwin and Einstein at the age of 12. So if you're going to make a statement that "believers" have flawed thinking, it should be on you to prove that's the case. And I don't mean; speculate or pose half-assed maybe theories for the paranormal, but real science and logic. And if you can't prove it, STFU.

ProfWag wrote:I'll say this again for the umpteenth time, skepticism is a method, it's NOT a belief system.


And I'll say again .. science is a method, skepticism is just doubtful thinking. Neurotic and OCD ridden mental confusion. In some cases, an automatic reaction to something else. For instance, many people become atheists because they are simply reacting to something they don't like about religion. If they actually thought about atheism logically, they'd see that it too is flawed and illogical.

And skeptics don't like things that go bump in the night. They don't want to think about them. Mommy, I'm scared of ghosts. Please tell me they aren't real = skeptic.

And yet, doubt creeps into skeptic thoughts. What if they are real? What if mommy was lying to me? And that's why so many skeptics are drawn to the paranormal. Just to make sure ghosts really aren't real.
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Re: Should Skeptics Be Certified?

Postby Craig Browning » 15 Feb 2010, 02:22

And I'll say again .. science is a method, skepticism is just doubtful thinking. Neurotic and OCD ridden mental confusion. In some cases, an automatic reaction to something else. For instance, many people become atheists because they are simply reacting to something they don't like about religion. If they actually thought about atheism logically, they'd see that it too is flawed and illogical.

And skeptics don't like things that go bump in the night. They don't want to think about them. Mommy, I'm scared of ghosts. Please tell me they aren't real = skeptic.

And yet, doubt creeps into skeptic thoughts. What if they are real? What if mommy was lying to me? And that's why so many skeptics are drawn to the paranormal. Just to make sure ghosts really aren't real.


:lol: :lol: :lol:

Thanks for This, it's Priceless!
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Re: Should Skeptics Be Certified?

Postby Kevin Kane » 15 Feb 2010, 02:44

Craig Browning wrote:
When it comes to the skeptical scenario a person has a great deal of pressure placed on them at the social and psychological level that is akin to how religious groups gain converts. The biggest lever being the lie that is expressed along these lines… “only fools and idiots believe that stuff…”
No one wants to be viewed in such a dim light, we naturally want to “fit in” and because of this, people will tend to side with the view that feels “safer”. This is especially true when we come to the other socially stigmatizing trick exploited by certain skeptical evangelists; “Being intelligent means you don’t have imaginary friends…” i.e. ghosts, fairies, angels, gods, etc.


Agreed.

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Part of the crowd.
One of us.







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Re: Should Skeptics Be Certified?

Postby ProfWag » 15 Feb 2010, 05:31

Kevin Kane wrote:
You're making the assumption that everyone doesn't think about what they believe or experience, don't test it, don't know about science methods and logic proofs. An arrogant and incorrect assumption.

No, I'm not making that assumption.
Kevin Kane wrote: For me, I've was reading (and comprehending) Darwin and Einstein at the age of 12. So if you're going to make a statement that "believers" have flawed thinking, it should be on you to prove that's the case.

Where did I EVER say "believers" have flawed thinking? I don't even think I suggested it. I don't have scientific studies to prove this, but let's take John Edward's show. If you look at the people in the audience, I can almost guarantee you that very few of them will have any knowledge whatsoever of how cold/hot readings work. I'm sayiong, if you want to believe John Edward is a true medium, fine. But if you're going to believe he speaks to the dead, you should also be well aware of what cold reading is and how it works.

Kevin Kane wrote:And I'll say again .. science is a method, skepticism is just doubtful thinking. Neurotic and OCD ridden mental confusion. In some cases, an automatic reaction to something else. For instance, many people become atheists because they are simply reacting to something they don't like about religion. If they actually thought about atheism logically, they'd see that it too is flawed and illogical.

Well, you're wrong in this, plane and simple. Your personal experience with rude skeptics may have caused you to believe this, and I can understand that, but skepticism is not just doubtful thinking. Technically, science is doubtful thinking if you think about it. When conducting an experiment, a scientist goes in with a null hypothesis and they test if that hypothesis could be true.
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Re: Should Skeptics Be Certified?

Postby Kevin Kane » 15 Feb 2010, 13:57

Science is a method, it does use questioning, exploring both the possibilities and limits of an unbiased question. That's not to imply that science doesn't have an agenda. But the method strives towards objectivity and balance.

Skepticism isn't a method. Method implies organization, a system; standards, practices, proofs, results ... and that leads to the proper use of the method, checks and balances, ethics, expertize, certification, regulation.

Skepticism is just a way of controverting, disputing, debating, arguing, opposing, or just tossing monkey scat.

Skepticism is opinion making .. politics .. social engineering .. propaganda. It's designed to do one thing .. change people's minds. Proselytize, evangelize, convert, convince, persuade.



PS: People often accuse me of sounding like a thesaurus. It's unintentional.
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Re: Should Skeptics Be Certified?

Postby ProfWag » 15 Feb 2010, 19:19

Sorry, you're still wrong, but people who have a bad experience with something often times can't see where they have become misguided.
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Re: Should Skeptics Be Certified?

Postby Kevin Kane » 15 Feb 2010, 19:59

If you believe skepticism is a method .. it should be methodically documented and registered. Skeptics should be licensed and certified.

What sort of business model do you see for skeptics?

To Do List:
Go to Grocers .. get bananas.
Go to Dry Cleaners .. pick up shirts.
Go to Skeptic .. get superstitious beliefs debunked.
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Re: Should Skeptics Be Certified?

Postby Kevin Kane » 15 Feb 2010, 21:15

Skeptic #1 To Do List:
Go on Letterman show
Debunk all religions
Do magic tricks


Skeptic #2 To Do List:
Go to Harry Potter movie
Debunk it
Dodge popcorn


Skeptic #3 To Do List:
Debunk homeopathy
Post Youtube video of it
Reply to assman666


Skeptic #4 To Do List:
Watch Uri Geller video
Laugh
Get a job
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Re: Should Skeptics Be Certified?

Postby ProfWag » 15 Feb 2010, 21:42

Yes, emotional responses based on your experiences. I, like you, wish that those skeptics who are so confrontational and deameaning would change their tune.
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