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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 Craig Browning » 16 Nov 2011, 00:16

Jayhawker30 wrote:
craig weiler wrote:I am amazed at your cheekiness. You are right and billions are wrong? Somehow you, who has never had a psychic experience, feel confident that your mental abilities are superior to the common sense and rationality of billions of people?

I don't understand that at all.


Well, in that sense he could be like the one lemming not running his ass off the cliff like the rest.


No, Randi is the head lemming. He was smart enough to CONvince the others to buy into his hype. . . tell a lie big enough, often enough and long enough. . .

While I do pay heed and more often than not side with the genuine skeptic, I loathe cynics and more so the evangelic sort and deliberate trouble makers such as Randi has been over the years (so much so that other skeptic groups wanted nothing to do with him). At best we're looking at a man with some very questionable associations and morals which would suggest that his "ethics" are something that must be questioned as well. . . at least that's what most intelligent people would do. . . :roll:

I've found that the majority of these people are duplistic hair-splitters that want things both ways; it's ok if they use character assassination towards those that sustain a particular kind of analytical support but they can't do the same thing when it comes to their heroes. Same goes with the various studies and proofs; they are allowed to constantly add to "the challenge" so as to generate undeniable proof on things but do not hold themselves to similar standards, frequently staging (especially public) demonstrations with extreme controls that insure results to their favor (pays to have lots of magic buffs in your corner who understand how to do such manipulations).

Pardon my rant here, but when will the skeptic's community stop throwing rocks inside their glass house and start looking at their own soul. . . the people they've allowed to be their "leaders" and as the saying goes, make certain that their own house is in order prior to judging others.

Again, this what what intelligent people would do. . . at least those who couple their intellect with wisdom vs. venom.

Just something to consider as this pissing contest continues.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby craig weiler » 16 Nov 2011, 12:19

ProfWag,
You seem to be the only one with an intelligent criticism. Are the psi experiences the same? That's a good question because obviously, if these experiences are different, then what we have is more akin to religion.

The answer is that while people might describe the experiences differently, and experience different things, pretty much everyone agrees on how its done. You can open any book on how to develop your psychic ability and you will find them all to be remarkably similar in what they are trying to achieve through different approaches. You can find these similarities in every culture.

For individuals working alone:
1. A meditative state of mind
2. Intent without focusing too closely on the goal
3. A quiet space
4. An emotional state of acceptance and trust

You are not going to find much deviation from this anywhere.

I am quite amused, by the way, at the mental gymnastics of the other skeptics here. They believe that they're somehow superior in their thinking to most other people. It's a great ego massage but it's just not true. Our brains are wired to perceive the world from that egocentric viewpoint, but objectively of course, the rest of the world is much smarter than we give them credit for. Smarter than us quite a bit of the time.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Arouet » 16 Nov 2011, 13:03

You forget about situations of danger, situations when the person is near death or thinks they are near death, situations where someone is staring at the person, situations where someone is calling the other person, situations where the person studies for a test after the test, situations where the person is asleep, or just falling asleep, or just waking up, or on various recreational drugs.

There is a huge variety of experiences that are linked to psi. And accepting for the sake of the argument that psi is not real, wouldn't you still expect similarities from these experiences, given our common biology?

As for the skeptics around here thinking they are smarter than everyone else - there's only one person who comes to mind lately who recently joined this forum and immediately started belittling the intelligence of others. Hint, it's not a skeptic. Do you need another hint who it could be?
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby ProfWag » 16 Nov 2011, 21:38

craig weiler wrote:ProfWag,
You seem to be the only one with an intelligent criticism. Are the psi experiences the same? That's a good question because obviously, if these experiences are different, then what we have is more akin to religion.

The answer is that while people might describe the experiences differently, and experience different things, pretty much everyone agrees on how its done. You can open any book on how to develop your psychic ability and you will find them all to be remarkably similar in what they are trying to achieve through different approaches. You can find these similarities in every culture.

For individuals working alone:
1. A meditative state of mind
2. Intent without focusing too closely on the goal
3. A quiet space
4. An emotional state of acceptance and trust

You are not going to find much deviation from this anywhere.

I am quite amused, by the way, at the mental gymnastics of the other skeptics here. They believe that they're somehow superior in their thinking to most other people. It's a great ego massage but it's just not true. Our brains are wired to perceive the world from that egocentric viewpoint, but objectively of course, the rest of the world is much smarter than we give them credit for. Smarter than us quite a bit of the time.

I'm just honestly trying to wrap my hands around the whole psi issue.

As for your 4 points on developing psychic abilities, they sound an awful lot like a successful hypnosis session...
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Nostradamus » 16 Nov 2011, 22:12

I too very much doubt that billions of people have the same experience. It really doesn't matter how many believe. Believing does not make it true or not true.

What is in question is whether or not the JREF challenge is defensible.

Maybe these claims that bad thoughts affect the outcome are not correct since you claim there are billions of believers.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby really? » 16 Nov 2011, 22:21

Arouet wrote:
craig weiler wrote:If you want to hang on to your logical fallacy argument, hey, go for it. It seems a bit absurd to me, but we're obviously going to disagree here.


Craig, I didn't invent this! We're talking about basic argument structure here! It's on every list of common logical fallacies because - well - its a common logical fallacy.

Let's put it this way: let's just say that somehow James Randi becomes enourmously influencial and someone convinced the entire world that psi didn't exist - except for you. Would you argue that since everyone didn't believe in psi that psi must not exist?


Either Craig hasn't seen this or he's dodging.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby craig weiler » 16 Nov 2011, 23:01

ProfWag,
Yes, I agree, they're similar.

Now, to the other skeptics and their logical fallacy argument I've addressed this already . . . in detail . . . as to why I think that argument doesn't apply here. Let's agree to disagree.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Arouet » 16 Nov 2011, 23:43

craig weiler wrote:Now, to the other skeptics and their logical fallacy argument I've addressed this already . . . in detail . . . as to why I think that argument doesn't apply here. Let's agree to disagree.


But I've given you a reason for why it's not an exception.

Look: we both agree that the fact that so many people have experiences that we've labelled "psi" is interesting and worthy of serious study. Where we disagree is that the mere experiences give us much information about the underlying explanation. It's a logical fallacy for that reason: you can't go from many people experience psi and interepreting their experiences a certain way to conclude that the interpretation of those experiences are correct. Whether one person or a million people experience psi we still need to do further investigation to correctly interpret the experience.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby craig weiler » 17 Nov 2011, 00:23

But I've given you a reason for why it's not an exception.


You are welcome to view this in a different light than I do. I would suggest in that case, that you view the scientific evidence with this in mind. With billions of people accepting the existence of psi, there is no "extraordinary claim." Only an ordinary one. The bar for proof is therefore a low one. The science is a mere validation of something already known to exist.

The details about what psi is and how it operates is a question for another time.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Arouet » 17 Nov 2011, 01:43

craig weiler wrote:You are welcome to view this in a different light than I do. I would suggest in that case, that you view the scientific evidence with this in mind. With billions of people accepting the existence of psi, there is no "extraordinary claim." Only an ordinary one. The bar for proof is therefore a low one. The science is a mere validation of something already known to exist.


You're mixing things up again here, and switching gears to boot.

The argument from population fallacy has nothing to do with ECREE. It applies to arguments like you have made that billions of believe believe in psi therefore psi is likely to be true. We're not arguing over the fact that people have these experiences - they clearly do - we're arguing over the correct interpretation of those experiences.

As for ECREE: its not the fact that claims are made that fall under ecree: that is: if you told me that you had a friend who claimed to have a precognitive dream, I'd have a pretty low standard for believing that you did indeed have a friend who claimed to have a pre-cognitive dream. The ECREE comes in when we look at whether the claim is actually pre-cognitive. We consider it extroadinary because our current understanding of how things work reveals no mechanism for such a thing as precognition. We also know that there are plenty of non-immaterial ways for people to believe that they were precognitive without actually being pre-cognitive. For someone to be pre-cognitive it would have a tremendous impact on our understanding of the laws of physics. So I'm not sure how you get away from ECREE.

But ecree doesn't really matter. ECREE is really just saying that the more important the consequences of a conclusion, the greater care we want to take in confirming that our conclusions are correct. If the conclusion has wide ranging impact, we take great care. If the impact is inconsequential we take very little are.

If you tell me that you had a peanut butter sandwich for lunch I'm inclined to say ok even though you've provided 0 corroborating evidence. It's because I really don't care if you had a PB sandwich for lunch. If for some reason that was important whether you had a PB sandwich for lunch then we may require more evidence before accepting your word. The standard of evidence doesn't actually change: it's just how much we care about being accurate that changes.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Craig Browning » 17 Nov 2011, 04:54

really? wrote:
Arouet wrote:
craig weiler wrote:If you want to hang on to your logical fallacy argument, hey, go for it. It seems a bit absurd to me, but we're obviously going to disagree here.


Craig, I didn't invent this! We're talking about basic argument structure here! It's on every list of common logical fallacies because - well - its a common logical fallacy.

Let's put it this way: let's just say that somehow James Randi becomes enourmously influencial and someone convinced the entire world that psi didn't exist - except for you. Would you argue that since everyone didn't believe in psi that psi must not exist?


Either Craig hasn't seen this or he's dodging.


Which Craig? :roll:

I don't recall belittling and putting folks down though I will point out bias and a lack of direct knowledge on things others rip-apart.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Arouet » 17 Nov 2011, 04:58

We were talking to CW, who had ignored my rather simple example of why his appeal to the majority argument was flawed.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby ProfWag » 17 Nov 2011, 06:33

craig weiler wrote: With billions of people accepting the existence of psi, there is no "extraordinary claim." Only an ordinary one. The bar for proof is therefore a low one.

I alluded to it earlier, but perhaps this will help you understand your fallacy:

In the world, there are 2.1 billion Christians. That means there are 5 billion people who say Jesus Christ was not the son of God. Hence, just because there are billions of something, that doesn't mean there is no "extraordinary claim" involved.
Similarly, there are 1.5 Billion people who practice Islam. They can't both be right, hence just in that simple comparison assuming there is some sort of "deity," there are billions of people who are wrong about it...
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby Arouet » 17 Nov 2011, 07:00

CW is trying to differentiate the case of psi from the case of religion since he believes that psi is about the experience not the belief.

But that's not true. We all agree about the psi experience - it the belief about the interepretation of that experience that is important.

Craig is trying to argue special pleading here but it's not working.
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Re: In defense of the JREF Paranormal Challenge

Postby craig weiler » 17 Nov 2011, 11:16

We disagree! I see no point in re-arguing everything.
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