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Should Skeptics Be Certified?

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

Re: Should Skeptics Be Certified?

Postby ProfWag » 16 Feb 2010, 05:35

Kevin Kane wrote:
The point is to test whether skeptics have some reasoning skill, fraud detection or perception beyond the average person. Or if those claims are merely based on a belief. Alledged or magical thinking skills that only skeptics possess.

I guess I can't speak for other skeptics but for myself, I do not think I have any of those traits beyond the average person. All I say is that if you can read minds, prove it--If you can talk to the dead, prove it--Because as of 2/15/2010 at 3:30 p.m. C.S.T., no one has proved it, yet many claim to do it. And, if I could talk to the dead, you better be damned sure I would prove it.
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Re: Should Skeptics Be Certified?

Postby Kevin Kane » 16 Feb 2010, 06:03

I'm collecting research material to design a test.

Standard IQ tests. Winston Wu's thesis on skeptics should also come in handy. I suspect that skeptics are more visually oriented .. ie .. magic tricks, so it will probably include visual puzzles or illusions. Fraud detection tests. And superstition testing. This will be a little tricky, but my hunch is that skeptics are actually more superstitious than the average person. They just hide it better. Skeptics also appear to be strongly socially oriented .. peer pressure. And that figures into the irrational demand for proof .. from others. This goes to laziness of thinking and dependency upon others to inform their beliefs about reality.

It will take a while, maybe months. Recommendations and suggestions from all will be considered, and it should be peer reviewed and tested.
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Re: Should Skeptics Be Certified?

Postby ciscop » 16 Feb 2010, 06:27

ProfWag wrote:Cute Kevin. Now, since you're not a skeptic, I thought I'd brag about how I spent last weekend with Elvis hanging out in a shack next to Graceland. Pretty cool huh! What? You need proof? Sorry, don't have any but you should just believe me. Really. I wouldn't lie to you... :roll:


I was having a beer on a stripclub with John Edward and Bill Clinton on Valentine´s Day
somehow.. that doesnt seem that impossible

and you have to believe me
cause i wouldnt lie
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 » 16 Feb 2010, 15:05

Test design notes. These require no response.

A test to determine if skeptics have ESP .. Extra Skeptical Perception.

(actual test title more neutral .. ie .. test for skepticism/faith)


Method 1:

Burden of Proof:
The individual claiming to be a "skeptic" must prove their claim of skepticism .. ie "debunk" something .. scientifically.

This method is by far the laziest and most apathetic of testing methods. Requiring no effort or guidelines by the tester, and presuming an absolute right by the tester to be ignorant. Such a right does not exist, and any skeptic who falls for this method fails at critical thinking.

IT'S A TARP!

Method 2:

Challenge and Response.
The skeptic is challenged to prove they have skeptic powers. A glamorous reward is promised in return for their proof, ie, win a Million Dollars, win a date with Pamela Anderson, etc.

This method is almost as lazy as Method 1, requiring little effort by the tester, but does require some critical thinking. Any skeptic who falls for this method is being conned. Logic FAIL.


Method 3:

Logic Pass/Fail.
A test to determine the existance of skeptical thinking using routines similar to an IQ test.

This method requires the skeptic to actually think about answers, and testing is conclusive for the individual claims of skepticism.


Method 4:

Comparison / Placebo.

Group testing A: This vs. That.

Scores on logic proficiency tests by self-described "skeptics" are measured against scores by self-described "believers" .. paranormals, creationists, etc.

Group testing B: Effect Above Average.
Scores on logic proficiency tests by self-described "skeptics" are measured against scores by non-skeptics or the general public.

Testing self-identified groups privately through internet contact, with publishing permissions and published results.

For practical purposes, all 4 methods can be combined into 1 test. Envisioned as an anonymous online test. While not strictly scientific or immune from testing fraud, it shoud be generally reliable due to volume and foolproofing, and a solid indicator of subject with solid results.

Test Subject data to be collected:

Self-identification as:
A: Skeptical Minded (list of subjects)
B: Inclined to Believe or Have Experienced (list of subjects)
C: Neither/Unknown/Inquisitive

This is what the test is designed to show.
Additional breakdown: How close self-description matches results.

Additional useful data (for breakdown):
Gender.
Age Range.
Last edited by Kevin Kane on 17 Feb 2010, 07:42, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Should Skeptics Be Certified?

Postby Kevin Kane » 16 Feb 2010, 19:45

addendum .. To Be Continued.

Areas to be tested

All tests should be Pass/Fail. Those that aren't should be conformed or reconsidered.

Objectivity:
Testing for unproven assertions, assumptions, presuppositions, biases, agendas, weak axioms. What the test subject brings to table, if anything which could cause a logic fail.
-Testing for Supersitition #1. Test questions of cause-and-effect.
-Testing for Supersitition #2. Test questions of character assessment or bias.
-Testing for Predictive Assumptions. Storyline questions, tests of omission, etc.
-Testing for Self Presumption. This is just a reminder.
-Testing for Social Presumption. This is just a reminder.
-Testing for Reactive Choices. Given a set of relevant proposititions, this test is determine whether the subject chooses the neutral or reactive choice. Alternatives to neutral choices also can be tested.
-Testing for Active Denial (traditionalism/close-mindedness/xenophobia). Test needs to be worked into logic pass/fail. TBC.
-Testing for Active Acceptance (over-eagerness/gullibility/too-trusting). Test needs to be worked into logic pass/fail. TBC.

Doubt:
-Testing for Logic Avoidance Zero Yield thinking, in which the subject fails to follow up with a logical process, causing an accumulation of uncertainty, expressed as a logic fail function.
-Testing for Endurance Following. Based on previous indiction, a test of patience, attention, and ability to follow a meandering line of details, clues and asides.
-Testing for Credibility Assessment. This is just a reminder.
-Testing for Willingness to Doubt. Given established, yet improble sounding facts, the willingness to choose the improbable-sounding right answer, or feasable-sounding wrong answer.
-Testing for Willingness to Believe, or Faith. Flip the previous question. Look for alternatives as well.

Critical Thinking :
-Testing for Fault Finding. Given an assortment of useless or faulty puzzle elements, the ability to find ones that lead to solid conclusion will be tested. Alternatively, given a puzzle without any apparent flaw will be tested until one hidden flaw has been found.
-As a follow up, Testing for Willingness to Blame, to be critical. After fault has been found, the willingness to assign blame and punishment, either as a rating scale of severity, or as a multiple choice option.
-Testing for Skeptical Choices. Given the choice of tasks, one difficult but firmly established (right), the other: easy yet fanciful (wrong, or iffy). Will the test subject choose the harder logical choice, or the softer illogical choice.
-Testing for Function Assignment. Basic measures, probably just rip off some IQ tests. Useful as a general gauge on all testers.

Visual:
-Testing for Visual Perception. Images of Which Goes With Which/Which Does Not Belong tests. Similar ... What Is Wrong With picture tests. Useful to break monotony as well as topical logic indicators.
-Testing for Image Recall. Test subject is asked to study image, recall details (how many/size/shape/etc). Similar reasons.

Ethics:
As this is an important test element, a series of example-type questions, randomly interspersed, well-disguised and whose intent is not easy to discern .. ie, science/paranormal-looking, with definitive pass/fail results.
-Testing for Willingness to Cheat or Commit Fraud. Given a choice (other than for mere convienence/laziness/fanciful) of apparent gain potential, will the subject choose to lie or cheat.
-Testing for Endorsement or Perpetuation of Fraud. Several example questions where the subject is asked to choose correctness of behavior for different social status types (relevent). These must be non-consecutive.
-Testing for Fraud Detection. This is just a reminder.

Psychology:
As this element is usually the most controversial, questions should be direct and conclusive. Focusing on critical skills instead of personality traits. Differing from standard logic tests by the attempt to annoy the blank out of the subject, perplex, mystify, decohere. Logic + Magnified Psychological Factor. Relevence should be obvious.
-Testing for Attention to Detail. This could be a image test, story test, arrangement test of some manner in which the small details become important.
-Testing for Memory Order. A test involving series of similar (confusing) repetitive elements arranged or disarranged. The test is to remember orders ... alternatively, to reorder.
-Testing for Skewed Proportions. Several similar tests to determine the value or importance to the test subject of similar or different things compared. Because value judgements are somewhat relative, this test must establish a clear pattern of warped, disproportionate thinking to qualify as a logic fail. For instance, a car is headed towards your dog and your child. You have enough time to save the life of one of them. The subject who chooses the dog may have a reason for doing so, but it's a pretty clear logic fail by any standards.
-Testing for Exaggeration Propensity (this may be a more valid method than previous test). Given examples, will the subject choose to describe examples with a more vivid/urgent/dangerous descriptor, or choose a more neutral and accurate one.

These will be fleshed out over time, and more and varied tests.
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Re: Should Skeptics Be Certified?

Postby ProfWag » 16 Feb 2010, 21:38

Don't forget test validity! i.e. you will also have to test the same number of people who don't claim to be skeptical.
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Re: Should Skeptics Be Certified?

Postby Kevin Kane » 16 Feb 2010, 22:51

Absolutely. I intend to be fair, open and objective. All input is welcome, even stupid comments from ....
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Re: Should Skeptics Be Certified?

Postby ProfWag » 16 Feb 2010, 23:51

I think you would also have to test personality as well as past experiences which would be quite difficult to do. For example, if I shelled out $500 for an astrology reading and subsequently lost much more thana that thanks to bad advice from the astrologer, I would turn extremely skeptical to any and all astrologers regardless of my intelligence level. Similarly, if I went to see John Edward and forked over $750 for a reading in hopes that I would hear from my Mom and Dad (both "J" names I might add for fun), but subsequently was told that my dead uncle came through (I don't have a deceased, 1st generation Uncle), I would be skepticala of any and all mediums as well regardless of my intelligence level.
So, you see Kevin, this might be a much bigger task than even what you are thinking currently.
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Re: Should Skeptics Be Certified?

Postby Kevin Kane » 17 Feb 2010, 00:19

That's actually a good point. Thanks. I'll think about it.

ETA: I think that's what the objectivity tests are designed to cover. Past experiences, biases, what the person is bringing to the test, without an explicit history review.
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Re: Should Skeptics Be Certified?

Postby Craig Browning » 17 Feb 2010, 01:19

I will "down-play" Cold Reading for many reasons but the main reason centers on the fact that most Mentalists who also do Readings and work from the "old school" way of doing things, will all tell you the same things I've expressed; there's a huge difference between Cold Reading and doing Readings using an Oracle system exactly as it has been used for eons. I can list dozens of well known entertainers that were shocked as to how accurate their Readings were simply by working with the cards or whatever and having no knowledge at all about Cold Reading and all the other psycho-babble the magic & skeptic's world want to insist upon as the "truth".

Yes, John Edward is a showman and a damn good business man. By all standards he's probably the best "Mentalist" out there these days and if we go by some of the yesteryear ideologies, he's simply working things the same way the old timers did. That is, if you want to look at what he does through a skeptic's pair of blinders. The irony here is that "believers" view John, Sylvia, James, etc. as being frauds as well. Not because they "cheat" but because they chase after fame & fortune rather than keeping their work simple, quiet and more down to earth. I'm guessing it's a rocking the boat sort of thing :lol:

I take it all with a small Ukrainian Salt Mine but in my experience with Edwards too much information came through in a very brief period of time that would have been impossible for him to access... even a CIA Agent would have problems revealing similar details, especially that fast. However, I know from working around people like John (and even myself :roll: ) that genuine talent is oft times supported by little helpers; as they say, "The Show Must Go On" and when people are paying between $50.00 and $200.00 a seat to attend a seminar you had best deliver!

:evil: I do loathe the fact that I haven't sufficient larceny flowing through my veins to do the same thing. It would beat the hell out of living on SSI :lol:
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Re: Should Skeptics Be Certified?

Postby ciscop » 17 Feb 2010, 02:36

mmm...
i think he is the best medium, not the best mentalist

Mentalists are getting away from that sort of thing
even thought those were the origins of mentalism
nowadays you use PNL, Body language, psychology, intuition and all that mumbojumbo to sell your tricks

instead of the usual spirits or higher power that used to be good enought explanation.
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 Craig Browning » 17 Feb 2010, 04:38

On one front you're correct but let me clarify things a bit.

There are two disciplines in existence now days when it comes to Mentalism; the Old School and New School. Old School leans on the older modes of performance in which you allude to the idea that it's all real, never confirming or denying things one way of the other. No disclaimers, or other such intelligence insulting antics.

New School more or less believes its ok to do a crap job and if what you do looks like a bunch of magic tricks because that's what it is... at least that's my observation... Oh! I left out that you must model yourself off of Derren Brown, Banachek, or Criss Angle in order to be "original" :o

Yes, rather than lie about being clairvoyant or telepathic we now have 15 year old experts in NLP and FACS :? Of course, we have 12 year old veterans of shock hypnosis as well (sadly, many inhabit 40 year old bodies).

I know I'm sounding rather crass here but the sad fact is, very few of today's up and coming types "have it" and given the next big novel thing to hit the air waves, they'll be running off on that tangent and finally leaving mentalism & bizarre magick alone.

The year before David Blaine's first special you would have been hard pressed to find more than 200 professional mentalists working world wide. Two weeks after that special you could find that many with a hick-town with a 1,500 population... or so it would seem. I think it's all a matter of knowing how the spell the world and thus, being able to claim it :cry:


I'm an old Carney that loves clinging to tradition because the old ways work best; they deliberately left doubt or a big question in people's minds (probably why it was known as a "curiosity"). Fact of the matter is, kids today don't have the brass to do it "for real" and the few that do, are moving in the direction of ultimate darkness so as to preserve the old ways :twisted:
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Re: Should Skeptics Be Certified?

Postby ciscop » 17 Feb 2010, 10:10

i see nothing wrong in modeling yourself after an idol
randi did it with houdini
and penn and teller with randi

houdini even got his name from robert houdin
a french magician he admired. and althought houdin didnt do escapes which became the trademark of houdini
he was the father of modern magic.

many more examples...
derren brown did it with chan canasta and david berglas
patrick martin modelling himself after channing pollock
david blaine did it after houdini and paul harris

now, the key word is modeling, not copying, not imitating
but modelling
one of the honest apportations of NLP to human behavior.
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 Nostradamus » 27 Feb 2010, 01:16

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 professional or semi-professional hoaxers, anti-vaccination lunatics, diet and wellness claimers, paranormal claimers, Creationists, crystal sellers, advice columnists, ... (people who are paid for their opinions, or appear in the public eye as authorities) be licensed, registered or certified?

It might come as a surprise to some, but ministers often have insurance to cover suits filed against them for bad advice. Take a look here:
http://www.interfaithfoundation.org/content/ministers-insurance-proposal-form

That happens to be a UK site, but the same happens in the US.
Here is what the PDF says the policy covers:
This cover includes all the standard activities of an Interfaith Minster and Spiritual Counsellor (including
services, ceremonies, rituals, pastoral work, counselling, ministry, prayer groups, meditations, healing, supervision, public
speaking, workshops, teaching).
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