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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 » 11 Nov 2011, 12:53

craig weiler wrote:Arouet,
It would be a fallacy if we were talking about a belief like "the world is flat." Or creationism. But we're not. We're talking about something shared by EVERY culture on earth throughout history. There are records from almost 4,000 years ago where people complained about how hard it was to find good psychics. (The more things change . . .) And waddaya know, everyone seems to agree on how you do it.
1. You need a minimum of distractions
2. Intent without focus
3. Acceptance and belief

Psychic ability is the same everywhere and it doesn't change. Can you think of anything else that fits that description? What possible explanation could there be besides "it's real."


It's still a fallacy if your argument is: we know its real because so many people believe it.

It has nothing to do with the topic - it's the argument that's a fallacy. It's possible for every human being on the planet to believe something - and still be wrong. Remember, we're talking about argument structure here, and what premises are valid to draw conclusions. Many people believing in something is certainly interesting, and worthy of attention, but its not a premise that can lead one logically to a conclusion about those beliefs. For that you need to probe further.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby really? » 11 Nov 2011, 22:38

really? wrote:
craig weiler wrote:Ninjapuppy: Nostradamus is cherrypicking evidence to come to his conclusions. Just because he has facts does not mean that he is evaluating them objectively.

ProfWag: LOL!

really?
Stop using logical fallacies that being the fallacy of large numbers and the band wagon fallacy.


Well that would certainly make it easier for you wouldn't it? Just explain away a view held by most of the world's population as a fallacy?

If you could narrow down belief in psychic ability to a narrow demographic, you might have an argument. But you can't. It covers a wide spectrum ranging from highly educated to uneducated, from rich to poor and high status to low status. (Skeptics on the other hand, are largely white, male and well educated. It indicates that skepticism is more a cultural trait than anything else.) There have been many studies on this subject and no one can point to any trait that distinguishes believers from skeptics.

Belief in psychic ability also doesn't change much over the year, nor do the demographics. It's not a fad.

Keep in mind that in the US at least, this is despite the fact that it is either ignored or attacked by our educational system.

Fallacy? Methinks not.

Any argument that these people are somehow deluded makes no sense.


The use of the of the argument from popularity is a fallacy because you are directly trying to sway the audience by shear weight of numbers of people that believe something is true rather than using any facts or compelling evidence. Arouet linked you to a definition of why this is a logical fallacy. Since you refuse to see why this is an inappropriate line of reasoning in debate there's nothing more anyone can do.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Arouet » 11 Nov 2011, 23:29

But remember, it's not irrelevant. It's just not enough. We should definetly seriously look into things that have a lot of belief behind it. SOMETHING interesting is likely going on - the question is what.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby really? » 11 Nov 2011, 23:50

Arouet wrote:But remember, it's not irrelevant. It's just not enough. We should definetly seriously look into things that have a lot of belief behind it. SOMETHING interesting is likely going on - the question is what.


Usually it seems that the what turns out not to be the something interesting everyone believed it to be. I don't recall anything historically living up to the expectations of a popular idea that turned out to be true. History is long. Do you know of something ?
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Arouet » 11 Nov 2011, 23:59

That's not my point: it's still interesting! There's still SOMETHING going on! I don't believe in god, but the study of why people do believe in god is facinating!

Just like with parapsychology. I'm not convinced that something non-physical is involved in getting anomalous results, but clearly something is going on - be it error, bias, variance, etc. The results do bear further investigation. When it comes to psi, I just wish there was at least one clear win! Tart came the closest with the OBE in the 60s, but hasn't repeated it!
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby NinjaPuppy » 12 Nov 2011, 02:20

really? wrote:They could very easily be deluded. From the beginning of this country's history and up to the civil rights movement of the sixties is was thought by many Negros were inferior. During that same time it was also thought that women weren't smart enough to have a say in politics until sense prevailed and women finally got the right to vote in 1920. Those are just two examples. People can very easily deluded themselves

Hmmmmm.... how to address this? But don't worry, I will.
really? wrote:The use of the of the argument from popularity is a fallacy because you are directly trying to sway the audience by shear weight of numbers of people that believe something is true rather than using any facts or compelling evidence.

But it's worked in the past such as the first quote. Which BTW, at the time was true and not deluded. There was a major fact behind this belief. The fact being that both of these groups were denied equal education and of course equal rights. When you are treated as if inferior from birth and kept as such, that's pretty much what you become. Try to disprove it and the system will make sure you know your place.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby craig weiler » 12 Nov 2011, 02:50

really? wrote: They could very easily be deluded. From the beginning of this country's history and up to the civil rights movement of the sixties is was thought by many Negros were inferior. During that same time it was also thought that women weren't smart enough to have a say in politics until sense prevailed and women finally got the right to vote in 1920. Those are just two examples. People can very easily deluded themselves


Bad examples: No one was asking the women or Negros what they thought. These were not consistent beliefs across every spectrum of humanity and relatively equal everywhere. Different cultures had different ideas about these things.

And one more thing: these beliefs could and did change over time. Belief in psi does not really change. It is unique in many ways.

Anyone who wants to investigate the interplay of human culture and psychic ability should read the massive tome "The Trickster and the Paranormal" by George Hansen. It is an amazing book with incredible insights. It's just a lot to read.

My point is that you need to look at the uniqueness of this belief. It is incredibly consistent and persistent through the ages everywhere. That alone should tell you that you're missing something important.

Remember, psychologists have tried for over half a century to find a way to explain this as a mere belief without success.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Arouet » 12 Nov 2011, 03:25

craig weiler wrote:My point is that you need to look at the uniqueness of this belief. It is incredibly consistent and persistent through the ages everywhere. That alone should tell you that you're missing something important.


That alone should tell us that something interesting is going on. But what? Remember, our brains are all pretty similar and it makes sense that we would respond to certain things in similar ways.

There is something worth studying, to be certain!
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby really? » 12 Nov 2011, 04:04

craig weiler wrote:
really? wrote: They could very easily be deluded. From the beginning of this country's history and up to the civil rights movement of the sixties is was thought by many Negros were inferior. During that same time it was also thought that women weren't smart enough to have a say in politics until sense prevailed and women finally got the right to vote in 1920. Those are just two examples. People can very easily deluded themselves


Bad examples: No one was asking the women or Negros what they thought. These were not consistent beliefs across every spectrum of humanity and relatively equal everywhere. Different cultures had different ideas about these things.

And one more thing: these beliefs could and did change over time. Belief in psi does not really change. It is unique in many ways.

Anyone who wants to investigate the interplay of human culture and psychic ability should read the massive tome "The Trickster and the Paranormal" by George Hansen. It is an amazing book with incredible insights. It's just a lot to read.

My point is that you need to look at the uniqueness of this belief. It is incredibly consistent and persistent through the ages everywhere. That alone should tell you that you're missing something important.

Remember, psychologists have tried for over half a century to find a way to explain this as a mere belief without success.


All I have to say is you are right and everyone else is wrong
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby ProfWag » 12 Nov 2011, 05:02

NinjaPuppy wrote:
really? wrote:They could very easily be deluded. From the beginning of this country's history and up to the civil rights movement of the sixties is was thought by many Negros were inferior. During that same time it was also thought that women weren't smart enough to have a say in politics until sense prevailed and women finally got the right to vote in 1920. Those are just two examples. People can very easily deluded themselves

Hmmmmm.... how to address this? But don't worry, I will.

It's an embarrasement to think that my grandmother (which wasn't that long ago), wasn't allowed to vote. What is also a travesty, almost along the same lines (sorry to get off subject here--perhaps start another thread--), but the Electoral College--the way we elect our President. This was started by our Founding Fathers because they felt the American public as a whole were too ignorant to have the final say in our President, hence they formed the electoral college in case Americans elected someone whom they thought was not a very good pick.
To this very day, we have the Electoral College--presumably because the government thinks we are still too ignorant to pick our own President. And how does that make you feel?
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby craig weiler » 12 Nov 2011, 07:32

All I have to say is you are right and everyone else is wrong


Uh, I'm part of the vast majority on this. You're part of the small minority.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby really? » 12 Nov 2011, 07:53

craig weiler wrote:
All I have to say is you are right and everyone else is wrong


Uh, I'm part of the vast majority on this. You're part of the small minority.


Trust me I'd rather be in the minority.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby craig weiler » 12 Nov 2011, 08:42

really? Come over to us, away from the Dark Side of the Force. We have cookies.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby really? » 12 Nov 2011, 09:36

NinjaPuppy wrote:
really? wrote:They could very easily be deluded. From the beginning of this country's history and up to the civil rights movement of the sixties is was thought by many Negros were inferior. During that same time it was also thought that women weren't smart enough to have a say in politics until sense prevailed and women finally got the right to vote in 1920. Those are just two examples. People can very easily deluded themselves

Hmmmmm.... how to address this? But don't worry, I will.
really? wrote:The use of the of the argument from popularity is a fallacy because you are directly trying to sway the audience by shear weight of numbers of people that believe something is true rather than using any facts or compelling evidence.

But it's worked in the past such as the first quote. Which BTW, at the time was true and not deluded. There was a major fact behind this belief. The fact being that both of these groups were denied equal education and of course equal rights. When you are treated as if inferior from birth and kept as such, that's pretty much what you become. Try to disprove it and the system will make sure you know your place.


You've missed the point of each example which was to illustrate that a group of people can lead themselves to believe something is true even when it's not.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby craig weiler » 13 Nov 2011, 23:30

You've missed the point of each example which was to illustrate that a group of people can lead themselves to believe something is true even when it's not.


In order to make that argument, you have to show that you at least have a group. This is basic psychology, which I'm not sure that you understand. If you are going argue that you are right and the rest of the world is wrong, you have to show why.

You need:
1. To show how skeptics think differently than the rest of the population. (Studies in this area have not found any difference.)
2. To isolate the reasons for the belief. (This is harder than it seems because psi crosses all educational, status, age, intelligence and ethnic boundaries. As far as I know, psychological studies have not been able to demonstrate this. It's all conjecture at this point.)

It is actually much easier to argue that skepticism is a belief system because the demographics are very narrow. (White, male, well educated for the most part.) A narrow demographic implies that you have a cultural trait, not the truth.
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