Jakal: I suggested that we stay away from buddhism, this is not a religious forum. In any event, there are different sects in buddhism, and you probably can't speak for all of them. I'm no expert in buddhism,but what you are saying sounds different than what I have learned, but I don't want to get into it here. The buddha, AFAIK, advocated reason above dogma in any event, and would have been a big fan of the scientific method. So let's stay away from philosophy here.
But isn't religion all about 'belief'? For some, religion is the very first introduction to things deemed paranormal. You've got Holy Spirits, angels, Gods, the power of prayer and the list goes on. How about religious belief in things like the afterlife and reincarnation? How can you say that by discussing religion we can't move forward?
ProfWag sez: Skeptics say there is no PROOF for any paranormal or psychic phenomena, not that there is no EVIDENCE.
Arouet* sez: I don't quite like the word "proof" which really only applies to math. I think in terms of degrees of confidence and strong/weak evidence. “
"what evidence would have to be presented so we would accept as confident in something's existence?” ... would have been more appropriate than the question he asked.
Jackal wrote: I understand what you mean, but I think you're assuming here that science is the only legitimate system of reasoning. There are also logical arguments in different philosophical systems which are also compelling. So even if one doesn't make a decision based upon science, he may still rely on some type of logical reasoning.
I am Twain, and also Shakespeare. Twain always see more than two sides to a coin, even if he operates on the null of empiricism and materialism. Shakespeare, my right brain and rat brain, and Catsmeat, my bonobo and autonomic nervous system, on the other hand, are capable of actually “believing” contradictory things, and agree with Jackal, even to the extent of making heavy use of empirical Zen Buddhism in daily life.
Twain and Shakespeare are aspects of the two magisteria of thought identified by Stephen Jay Gould. Catsmeat is simply my physical body existing.
Shakespeare is my mind “thinking” in the mode of the traditional magisterium of “belief”, which Gould identified as “religion”. “Religion”operates on what the Greeks call “episteme”, and is grounded on thought in the forms of intuition and training, whatever use it may make of “sophe” (reason).
Twain is often in control of communicating, and as Twain I follow the other magisterium, which is equally ancient, and is grounded in “techne” (what works). Add enough replicable observation and valid reasoning, and science evolves.
I suspect, throughout history, most people have been able to operate on both levels simultaneously, and been able to, for example, simultaneously “believe” they are eating the infant Christ and know damn well that ain't the way to cook suckling long pig (I tried to think of a more polite example. I couldn't)
Writing as Twain, I agree with Arouet that one should speak of degrees of confidence, not only in regard to evidence, but proofs. As a radical agnostic, I accept evidence as constituting real “technical” facts, but proofs I regard as epistemological constructs of the mind.
Living as a poorly trained bonobo though, I have to act on the basis of some theory. I could operate on the theory that I am stuck in the Matrix, except that that theory is unfalsifiable, and is lacking extraordinary proof.
Scecop's question was, as Arouet rephrased it, and I in turn paraphrase, "what (degrees of confidence and strong/weak evidence) would have to be presented so (Arouet, presumably speaking as a “skeptic”) would accept as confident in something's existence?”
This question had originally been posed specifically to “psi”, but I have noticed ufo talk as well.
My friend Mike, when I met him, had adopted hard materialism as a “religion” in the sense that he did not believe his memory of being abducted and anal probed. That “could not have happened.”
I asked him then what level of extraordinary evidence would it take to convince him it had happened. Massive repetition involving other people hasn't done it, except to make a Jungian out of him ( a “soft” one, by my standards, even if he “believes” in mass hallucinations). Repetition of the experience, he thought, would be likelier to result in a mental breakdown than acceptance, unless he got some control over the situation. However, he “believes” his NDE, perhaps because he felt he had some control.
Likewise, reports of physical evidence had not convinced him, and we had to both agree that if the US government were to announce we had been invaded from outer space, it would make us less likely to believe in “aliens” than government denial does.
Basically, it came down to control. We agreed that if Mike could book a trip through Solar Tours that would take one on a cruise on a flying saucer flown by eetees through the rings of Saturn, he would reach the point where he would admit is was true all along.
“It is impossible to fly!” “It may be possible to fly, but it will never be practical” “I knew I should have invested in flight technology when I had the chance. Shit, how could I have been so stupid?”
As a skeptic, and not a pseudoskeptic, my preferred sequence would be “It is not proven to exist.” “It is proven, (in the evidential sense) but we don't have a theory.” “We have an accepted theory.”
The issue seems to be control. I do not merely belief in infrared radiation, I have sunburn and operating radio to convince me. Radio is far more evidential than sunburn. The difference between sunburn and watching the lunar landing on teevee was like the difference between a mouse and an elephant. An elephant is bigger. Without radio, I would be willing to consider other theories of sunburn.
Pseudo-skeptics will accept psi when the old ones are dead, and a new generation of pseudo-skeptics has grown up that takes the then current theory of psi as sufficient and unassailable.
UFOs are a harder sell. There are pseudoskeptics who would die from a heat ray before they admitted to seeing a Martian tripod, just as there are Christians who would do the same before they admitted a demon could have power of them. Buddhists, I think, would say “Who cares if it is an illusion, I am going to run/hide/dialogue.”
Based in part on what I have read here, I have a high degree of confidence that precog has reached the point of replicable science, and I see possibilities in it for education. It appears that Niven may be right, and “luck” exists. Can it be trained? Can it be breed for? (that would account for the English, especially the Bush family and other Icheans)
As for ufos. All my evidence is anecdotal. It is sufficient to convince me, at a minimum, that a phenomenon exists. I would not be surprised if it is demonstrated to be largely hallucinatory, but it would take development of a replicable means of inducing such experiences as evidence to “convince” me. But even this much acceptance of the existence of “Mass Hallucination” would change our understanding of human history as much as the germ theory has done.
Shakespeare, on the other hand, thinks Iche is underestimating the depth and complexity of the situation. My personal suspicion is that the transition from the paleolithic society to the space travelling society is so rare, and so inherently difficult to make, that it may well happen only once at a time in the galaxy. In such a situation, I can easily see an interdiction on open contact being compatible with massive covert contact, which would operate on principles and for purposes inexplicable to us.
The evidence for this is about as soft as the evidence for the beneficial effects of Catholicism, but it is strong enough that if some US colonels, or even Europeans, staged a coup against our present ruling class on the grounds that they were Ichean infiltrators, I would say “About time! Bring on the guillotines!” and bury my doubts at least as long as I did for Prez 43.
*Arouet, what does “Arouet” mean? Knowing that will help me remember how to spell it
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