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In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Discussions about the James Randi Educational Foundation and its Million Dollar Challenge.

Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Arouet » 20 Nov 2011, 02:05

You're just messing with me, right?
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby craig weiler » 20 Nov 2011, 06:13

Unfortunately, no. I think that you are so caught up in your side of the argument that you're starting to make up your own rules.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Arouet » 20 Nov 2011, 06:38

From M-W:

Definition of BELIEF

1
: a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing
2
: something believed; especially : a tenet or body of tenets held by a group
3
: conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence


"conclusion based on observations" certainly fits the bill. What do you think beliefs are? Is there a sentence that begins "I conclude based on my observation that" that you couldn't replace "conclude" with "believe"? What you conclude is what you believe.

I look out the window and see that the ground is completely wet. I conclude that it was raining. I also believe that it was raining. You can't conclude something without believing it or else you didn't really conclude it!
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Jayhawker30 » 20 Nov 2011, 14:22

Well then. It seems the real question that needs resolving here is if the examples that lead billions to conclude as being a result from psi are as obvious as concluding the wet ground as being a result from rain.

Now, how would we go about doing that?
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Arouet » 20 Nov 2011, 14:29

Well, that wasn't quite my point - I was just saying they're both beliefs. Psi doesn't have to be as obvious as rain, I suspect it never will be. The only point we're actually debating here is the logical fallacy and I guess whether conclusions based on observations are beliefs. for the latter I would never had guessed someone would challenge that, but here we are.

As for how to work out what's going on, that's the goal of parapsychology!
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Jayhawker30 » 20 Nov 2011, 14:48

Mr. Weiler, I think you might be overstating Arouet's resistance to play ball. He doesn't sound that far gone to me.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby really? » 20 Nov 2011, 23:13

Arouet wrote:Well, that wasn't quite my point - I was just saying they're both beliefs. Psi doesn't have to be as obvious as rain, I suspect it never will be. The only point we're actually debating here is the logical fallacy and I guess whether conclusions based on observations are beliefs. for the latter I would never had guessed someone would challenge that, but here we are.

As for how to work out what's going on, that's the goal of parapsychology!


As you know if you say the sky is blue someone will raise their hand and disagree.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby craig weiler » 21 Nov 2011, 00:05

So what you're saying is that all accumulated knowledge is nothing but belief. It's an interesting philosophical argument, but a rather unusual one for a materialist to make.

Since it negates the value of learning and removes all points of reference, I'm gonna have to reject that line of thought.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Arouet » 21 Nov 2011, 02:06

craig weiler wrote:So what you're saying is that all accumulated knowledge is nothing but belief. It's an interesting philosophical argument, but a rather unusual one for a materialist to make.

Since it negates the value of learning and removes all points of reference, I'm gonna have to reject that line of thought.


I'm not a philosopher, so I'm not sure we're getting caught in semantics here, but I would cautiously say that we have beliefs about our knowledge. But when I conclude something then I believe my conclusion. I could still be wrong about my conclusion. I may know it, but also be wrong.

I'm also not a materialist. Now, I may have positions that are similar to that of a materialist, but I think its silly to have a philosophical position about the nature of the universe, which is an empirical question And frankly, the term materialist seems pretty confused these days - proponents lock in "materialists" in the 19th century, when modern science including QM has shifted since then.

I'm more concerned with what we can reliably demonstrate than worry about whether the stuff of the universe is matter/energy or some other stuff that we haven't identified yet.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby craig weiler » 21 Nov 2011, 02:57

You have caught yourself in semantics by redefining the word "belief" to include experience. It opens up a can of worms that you cannot easily shut. You'll have to take a closer look at it to understand the implications. If you are not a philosopher you should probably stick to more conventional understandings of these terms.

When I refer to you as a materialist, all it means is that you ascribe to a mechanistic view of the universe in which does not require consciousness in order to exist. The universe is made up of stuff, including energy that follow certain laws and it all happens with or without any conscious intervention, whether by God or any other source. This is opposed to a dualist that does believe that consciousness is central to the existence of the universe as we know it.

That's the definition I'm familiar with. it does not require you to abandon modern science, merely reject consciousness as an explanation for any natural phenomena.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Arouet » 21 Nov 2011, 03:27

craig weiler wrote:You have caught yourself in semantics by redefining the word "belief" to include experience. It opens up a can of worms that you cannot easily shut. You'll have to take a closer look at it to understand the implications. If you are not a philosopher you should probably stick to more conventional understandings of these terms.


But I haven't, because we were talking about one's interpretation of one's experience, not the experience itself.

When I refer to you as a materialist, all it means is that you ascribe to a mechanistic view of the universe in which does not require consciousness in order to exist. The universe is made up of stuff, including energy that follow certain laws and it all happens with or without any conscious intervention, whether by God or any other source. This is opposed to a dualist that does believe that consciousness is central to the existence of the universe as we know it.


True that I'm not a dualist. But I'm not an anyist either - at least not with regard to the make-up of the universe. I have no reason to believe that conciousness is required in order for the universe to exist and suspect that it doesn't, and that conciousness is the result of matter moving around. But I don't have a philosophical position on it, and I don't claim to know it. conciousness is not currently understood at present and so it's role in the universe, if any, is also not understood at present. I don't believe the dualist sufficiently understands conciousness either so not sure how they come to their conclusions on that either.

That's the definition I'm familiar with. it does not require you to abandon modern science, merely reject consciousness as an explanation for any natural phenomena.


I don't know if conciousness is an explanation for any natural phenomena. I suspect its a part of what we call nature though. I think of it more as a process than an independant thing - or more precisely a collection of processes.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby craig weiler » 21 Nov 2011, 04:18

But I haven't, because we were talking about one's interpretation of one's experience, not the experience itself.


You literally cannot separate an interpretation of an experience from the experience itself, even if that seems counter-intuitive. All experience is an interpretation occurring in the mind. That line of thinking is a dead end.

If you are saying that people have deceived themselves somehow into thinking that an ordinary experience was psi, then I think that you have to show how that is possible and demonstrate some evidence to support your conclusion. You are after all, making the claim that the vast majority of people are wrong in their assumptions. Why are they wrong?
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby really? » 21 Nov 2011, 07:35

It is the natural condition of all humans to see the world, not as it is, but as they wish it to be.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Arouet » 21 Nov 2011, 08:02

craig weiler wrote:You literally cannot separate an interpretation of an experience from the experience itself, even if that sAnd eems counter-intuitive. All experience is an interpretation occurring in the mind. That line of thinking is a dead end.


Of course we can! And you've highighted why. Our experience is an interpretation of the mind, as you say. Often, the experience will be an interpretation of exterior things/events. So: I believe that my mind separated from my body. I have on the one hand the experience of the mind separating from the body, then I have the underlying question of whether my mind did indeed separate from my body! I have an NDE where I have the experience of floating through a tunnel and glimpsing Jesus and heaven. So I have on the one hand the experience, then the underlying question of whether I really did go through a tunnel and glimpse Jesus and heaven. I have the experience of predicting a future event. Then I have the underlying issue of whether I really did predict a future event. We could go on...

If you are saying that people have deceived themselves somehow into thinking that an ordinary experience was psi, then I think that you have to show how that is possible and demonstrate some evidence to support your conclusion.


Well no, the burden of proof is on the claimant.

You are after all, making the claim that the vast majority of people are wrong in their assumptions. Why are they wrong?


Well we haven't quite been talking about that (though I do believe it is very likely that many people are mistaken and there are a whole host of reasons why, confirmation bias being front and center as really alluded to). But the issue we've been discussing in this thread is whether because lots of people interpret the underlying reality to their experiences a certain way should that indicate that they necessarily are correct. And for that, I think the answer is clearly "no". It's a logical fallacy. The premises do not lead to the conclusion. That's it.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby craig weiler » 21 Nov 2011, 09:10

You've completely missed it. We do not see with our eyes nor experience anything through any of our senses. The job of experience lies solely with the mind and no one is quite sure how that works. So when you see, touch and smell a tree, everything about that experience is something created in your mind. It is an interpretation. We cannot interact with our environment at all without the mind to interpret it for us.

Therefore, all experience is interpretation. They are inseparable.

As to the rest of your comments, you're welcome to have an opinion, but if you're going to dismiss something that billions of people accept as normal, at least provide some evidence to support your opinion. Logic arguments just don't cut it.
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