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Differences between Skeptic and Believer?


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#1    Slave2Fate

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 10:58 PM

I've always wondered at the fundamental difference between how Skeptics and Believers (of anything paranormal really, not just the ETH) view the world and what constitutes significant evidence for either of their respective stands on any given topic. I have seen articles and such before (I'll see if I can dig some up if necessary) that propose a more biological or psychological difference as opposed to an intellectual one. I think that is most likely the case and any subsequent arguments about methodology or weight of evidence just detracts from any progress toward a resolution, if any such resolution is indeed possible. I think we all know however that such resolutions are few and far between in these forums with the ETH and UFOlogy most often being the forerunners for unexplainable phenomena. I would like to get any input from others if they think that the differences between Skeptic and Believer are psychological, biological or any other of a number of reasons so that hopefully there can be a mutual understanding, or barring that, a mutual tolerance between either side of a debate in an effort to narrow the field to look exclusively at the evidence from all angles pro and con.

Having read an article recently I found an interesting take on the Believer/Skeptic rift that indicates that the rift isn't nearly as wide as we sometimes make it out to be.

Quote

And here's an important point. This is a charge that I think we are nearly all guilty of, to some degree: In their process of selecting which evidence to turn away at the door and to which to give further attention, skeptics and believers both tend to select evidence they are likely to be predisposed to accept. Everyone does this. Whether you know anything about the scientific method or not, whether you believe in Bigfoot or not, whether you're trying to justify a preconceived notion or not, and whether you're a skeptic or a believer, we all have our own individual standards by which we select evidence to consider....

So don't focus on buzzword labels like "closed minded" or "true believer". You can be both of those things and still be able to properly analyze evidence and draw a supported conclusion. You can also be guilty of neither fault, and yet be unable to distinguish a well-supported conclusion from mountains of poor evidence. Focus on the method behind the conclusion. Focus on the quality of evidence that supports the conclusion. The ad-hominem attack of "He's closed minded" says nothing at all about the quality of evidence.

http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4134

To sum up, I want to know what others think of the difference in methodology between Believer and Skeptic, hopefully with something to back up any opinions whether it be logic or a scientific journal or anything in between. I don't want to delve into which methodology is better or worse or to create a springboard for insulting the opposition. Leave that for the other threads. If you think the opposition is just being stupid then you had best offer something to support that other than ridicule.  It's a mystery to me that has just as much validity as the ETH or UFOlogy and I'd like to see any replies to help diminish this particular one. :tu:

Edited by Slave2Fate, 30 January 2013 - 11:19 PM.

"You want to discuss plausibility then you have to accept reality." -Mattshark

"Don't argue with an idiot. They'll drag you down to their level then beat you with experience." -Obviousman

You know... the plural of ``anecdote'' is not ``data''. Similarly, the plural of ``random fact'' is not ``mystical symbolism''. -sepulchrave


#2    jugoso

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 11:11 PM

Believers like Justin Beiber. Skeptics know that his music is crap. :w00t:

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Free your mind and you ass will follow.
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#3    ReaperS_ParadoX

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 11:23 PM

I think the difference  is pretty much the peoples genetic make up, its like you said I think a lot of it is psychological for some they need very little evidence to go on while others want significant evidence before they can claim something exists.  I dont know if thats really any help

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#4    bison

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 11:31 PM

It's said that reasonable people can disagree about certain things. These are apparently instances where there is not enough solid information to make wholly factual determinations; Religion, politics, flying saucers. We tend to apply our intuitions to such matters, filling in the gaps. Intuition comes from experiences and attitudes. These, of course, differ widely from one individual to another. As long as mutual respect can be maintained, I see no reason why persons with widely varying opinions can not at least talk together, learn from one another, and possibly see some merit in each other's points of view.

Edited by bison, 30 January 2013 - 11:33 PM.


#5    seeder

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 11:32 PM

View PostR4z3rsPar4d0x, on 30 January 2013 - 11:23 PM, said:

I think the difference  is pretty much the peoples genetic make up, its like you said I think a lot of it is psychological for some they need very little evidence to go on while others want significant evidence before they can claim something exists.  I dont know if thats really any help

there is a thing called the convincer strategy..

http://sourcesofinsi...incer-strategy/

not the best link but it'll do

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#6    Slave2Fate

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 11:35 PM

View Postbison, on 30 January 2013 - 11:31 PM, said:

It's said that reasonable people can disagree about certain things. These are apparently instances where there is not enough solid information to make wholly factual determinations; Religion, politics, flying saucers. We tend to apply our intuitions to such matters, filling in the gaps. Intuition comes from experiences and attitudes. These, of course, differ widely from one individual to another. As long as mutual respect can be maintained, I see no reason why persons with widely varying opinions can not at least talk together, learn from one another, and possibly see some merit in each others points of view.

I wholly agree, regardless of where a particular mindset springs from, civility is always conducive to investigative progress. :tu:

"You want to discuss plausibility then you have to accept reality." -Mattshark

"Don't argue with an idiot. They'll drag you down to their level then beat you with experience." -Obviousman

You know... the plural of ``anecdote'' is not ``data''. Similarly, the plural of ``random fact'' is not ``mystical symbolism''. -sepulchrave


#7    Slave2Fate

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 11:45 PM

View Postseeder, on 30 January 2013 - 11:32 PM, said:

there is a thing called the convincer strategy..

http://sourcesofinsi...incer-strategy/

not the best link but it'll do

That sounds similar to the VAK learning style.






Quote

Neil Fleming's VAK/VARK model

One of the most common and widely-used [17] categorizations of the various types of learning styles is Fleming's VARK model (sometimes VAK) which expanded upon earlier Neuro-linguistic programming (VARK) models:[18]

Fleming claimed that visual learners have a preference for seeing (think in pictures; visual aids such as overhead slides, diagrams, handouts, etc.). Auditory learners best learn through listening (lectures, discussions, tapes, etc.). Tactile/kinesthetic learners prefer to learn via experience—moving, touching, and doing (active exploration of the world; science projects; experiments, etc.). Its use in pedagogy allows teachers to prepare classes that address each of these areas. Students can also use the model to identify their preferred learning style and maximize their educational experience by focusing on what benefits them the most.


http://en.wikipedia....Learning_styles

Which would make sense, given that if someone has a preferred style, visual, auditory or kinesthetic, they would then of course be more influenced by complimentary data.

"You want to discuss plausibility then you have to accept reality." -Mattshark

"Don't argue with an idiot. They'll drag you down to their level then beat you with experience." -Obviousman

You know... the plural of ``anecdote'' is not ``data''. Similarly, the plural of ``random fact'' is not ``mystical symbolism''. -sepulchrave


#8    QuiteContrary

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 11:55 PM

I had touched, superficially, on this in a thread before, though I'm not certain it is what you are looking for. But anyway, I realized for me and others I know who do not consider themselves believers in the paranormal or cryptids--
that when faced with an unknown (whether it be a sound or a glimpse of something or an unknown light or craft in the sky) we just don't jump to or look for a paranormal/cryptid/alien explanation. It just isn't there. Period.
We've heard plenty of "what is that?" sounds while camping in the woods, but we think "Hmmm I wonder what [known] animal that is?"

Sure, I love to be "creeped out" but it is a  conscious decision to let suspension of disbelief take over like when watching a movie, to get into it and enjoy it. But I don't walk away from mysterious experiences with paranormal/etc explanations gnawing at my brain. Instead, if I heard footsteps in my home when alone or if I thought things had been moved around or something fell off a shelf, I would look for the human or animal or natural source. No one in our home would think a ghost was up to something.

And so  because my skeptical mind doesn't go to the paranormal/etc explanation I don't find the paranormal/etc either. I find natural known explanations or it remains a mystery for me.
Again, don't know if that is what you are looking for.

Keep your eyes wide open and don't run!

P.S. Just to be clear, because sometimes I am not. I do not believe...
in the existence of a large previously unknown undiscovered hairy biped roaming North America.
But I like to hear the accounts, read the books, watch the shows, discuss and argue about the phenomenon.

#9    CakeOrDeath

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 12:03 AM

Hmm slave, I'm going to say, some people maybe pre-disposed to think a certain way, but honestly learning to think critically and/or just take things in from varying perspectives can be learned.

I was more of a "believer" years ago, and learned through reading, research and just general maturation that alot of my original thought and logic processes were just flawed.  So I think it can be learned if the learnee is willing! (Pretty sure learnee isn't a real word!)

At the end of the day the word "believer" applied to any topic, aliens, angels, gods, bigfoot, is just a term for someone who wants very much to think there is "more" and is willing to look past the obvious to do so.

Frankly, I don't blame them, I desperately want there to be "more" but I am still in the "show me" phase  at 42 and haven't been able to "trick" myself into ignoring the obvious and mundane.

Edited by CakeOrDeath, 31 January 2013 - 12:05 AM.

What time is it? "peeas nuh burder" and Jelly time!

#10    psyche101

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 12:31 AM

Hey S2F

Quote

And here's an important point. This is a charge that I think we are nearly all guilty of, to some degree: In their process of selecting which evidence to turn away at the door and to which to give further attention, skeptics and believers both tend to select evidence they are likely to be predisposed to accept.

I am really not sure this part is much of a revelation, of course one will be predisposed to that which seems most likely, or logical to that individual. This is directed often by ignorance. It seems to be rather stating the obvious, but in general, I think the big hurdle is that there are two types of "believer". One does not really even belong in the discussion at all IMHO. It depends on what type of believer you are up against, Some are so unidirectional that it is pointless even trying to look at any  angle.

I think threads in that past such as the Edgar Mitchell claims have been a major success, and uncovered pretty much everything that is assumed, and it was without doubt due to the diligent efforts of Quillius whom not only debated me, but did it so well that I have no recourse but to respect such methodology, well researched information and politeness. People like this are the way forward with this phenomena. We skeptics are pretty patient IMHO, and offer long detailed explanations that outline exactly what we propose, once media spin, hearsay, and assumption not to mention worshiping old camp fire tales, are behind one, and one can debate facts as they stand, the process move along much faster and smoother. I would go so far as to say that cases Quillius and I have discussed are proof that the combination is not only workable, but productive. Back and forthing cases like Roswell will ensure the tin foil hat stays firmly affixed, and that the gap will remain.

I just really wish believers could see the inroads people like this make, and take a page from their book. IMHO, the rely on the credibility that people like Quillius provide, the least they could do is take note of what he is doing well. It is only our loss that he has been so busy of late. The bar has dropped significantly in his absence.

Cheers.

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#11    psyche101

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 12:39 AM

View Postbison, on 30 January 2013 - 11:31 PM, said:

It's said that reasonable people can disagree about certain things. These are apparently instances where there is not enough solid information to make wholly factual determinations; Religion, politics, flying saucers. We tend to apply our intuitions to such matters, filling in the gaps. Intuition comes from experiences and attitudes. These, of course, differ widely from one individual to another. As long as mutual respect can be maintained, I see no reason why persons with widely varying opinions can not at least talk together, learn from one another, and possibly see some merit in each other's points of view.

Hi Bison

Whilst it always feels like you are thumbing your nose at me whilst you type LOL, I do appreciate that fact that you do have a more academic approach to the subject and do initiate courses of noteworthy discussion.
In fact, like it or lump it, this is not the first time I have agreed with you. I do feel input such as yours does benefit the forum, even if my responses do not colourfully illustrate such. You strike ma as rather a Gentleman. I hope you do not take my blunt construction background forward manner as anything more than serious consideration of your posting. I do not always agree, but I do think about what you propose. And I think if you can make someone think then you have done something worthy.
I am sure you expect some skeptical reaction to what you propose, after all, you are swimming in the deep end so to speak.

Edited by psyche101, 31 January 2013 - 12:42 AM.

Things are what they are. - Me Reality can't be debunked. That's the beauty of it. - Capeo 'If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.' - Sir Isaac Newton. "Let me repeat the lesson learned from the Sturrock scientific review panel: Pack up your old data and forget it. Ufology needs new data, new cases, new rigorous and scientific methodologies if it hopes ever to get out of its pit." Ed Stewart. Youtube is the last refuge of the ignorant and is more often used for disinformation than genuine research.  There is a REASON for PEER REVIEW... - Chrlzs. Nothing is inexplicable, just unexplained. - Sir Wearer of Hats.


#12    Slave2Fate

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 02:27 AM

Here is another interesting article on an apparently biological (or possibly psychological as well) distinction between Skeptic and Believer.

Quote

Although people’s general inclination toward supernatural beliefs may be understood as a form of natural information processing, weak cognitive inhibition may explain why supernatural beliefs are not typical of everybody but especially of, for example, children, old people, creative individuals, intuitive thinkers, people in distress and with mental disorders, as well as during decreased sense of control and altered states of consciousness.

http://www.secularne...tural-thoughts/

A test was done with an MRI and found that parts of the brain process information either more or less depending on whether they were a believer or a skeptic. Fascinating stuff in my opinion.

Edited by Slave2Fate, 31 January 2013 - 02:29 AM.

"You want to discuss plausibility then you have to accept reality." -Mattshark

"Don't argue with an idiot. They'll drag you down to their level then beat you with experience." -Obviousman

You know... the plural of ``anecdote'' is not ``data''. Similarly, the plural of ``random fact'' is not ``mystical symbolism''. -sepulchrave


#13    Slave2Fate

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 02:41 AM

Quote

Many people believe in fate. When bad or good things happen, they tend to think they happened for a reason – even for events that are entirely random (winning the lottery, for instance). Often, people think that these things happen because some guiding hand or supernatural force caused them.

So the question is, why are these delusions so common? Do we humans have an inbuilt predisposition (a cognitive bias) that leads us to anthropomorphize events? That’s one explanation that’s been suggested. The idea is that the brain machinery devoted to figuring out what’s going on inside another person’s head (the so-called ‘theory of mind’) also acts to interpret major life events as purposeful and meaningful.

Alternatively, fatalism might simply be one other aspect of basic errors in thinking that lead to all sorts of mistakes about how the world operates. Perhaps fatalism is just a kind of paranormal delusion, and they are all caused by an inability to understand how the world works.

http://epiphenom.fie...all-or-you.html


Another interesting article however I'm not sure I agree with the bit about 'delusion'. I do sometimes think that one of the believer/skeptic differences is a core understanding of how the world/universe works. I'm not saying skeptics are smarter though they do seem to have a better grasp on the varied fields of science (as a general rule, not always).

Edited by Slave2Fate, 31 January 2013 - 02:42 AM.

"You want to discuss plausibility then you have to accept reality." -Mattshark

"Don't argue with an idiot. They'll drag you down to their level then beat you with experience." -Obviousman

You know... the plural of ``anecdote'' is not ``data''. Similarly, the plural of ``random fact'' is not ``mystical symbolism''. -sepulchrave


#14    Slave2Fate

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 03:10 AM

Sorry for posting more article excerpts, just trying to prime the conversation with information.

Here is another one well worth a read.  http://www.psycholog...agical-thinking

Just so I don't appear biased, it has this to say about too much skepticism.

Quote

You wouldn't want to be at the skeptic end of the spectrum anyway. "To be totally 'unmagical' is very unhealthy," says Peter Brugger, head of neuropsychology at University Hospital Zurich. He has data, for example, strongly linking lack of magical ideation to anhedonia, the inability to experience pleasure. "Students who are 'not magical' don't typically enjoy going to parties and so on," he says. He's also found that there's a key chemical involved in magical thinking. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter that the brain uses to tag experiences as meaningful, floods the brains ofschizophrenics, who see significance in everything, but merely trickles in many depressives, who struggle to find value in everyday life. In one experiment, paranormal believers (who are high in dopamine) were more prone than nonbelievers to spot nonexistent faces when looking at jumbled images and also were less likely to miss the faces when they really were there. Everyone spotted more faces when given dopamine-boosting drugs. Brugger argues that the ability to see patterns and make loose associations enhances creativity and also serves a practical function: "If you're on the grassland, it's always better to assume that a tiger is there."


"You want to discuss plausibility then you have to accept reality." -Mattshark

"Don't argue with an idiot. They'll drag you down to their level then beat you with experience." -Obviousman

You know... the plural of ``anecdote'' is not ``data''. Similarly, the plural of ``random fact'' is not ``mystical symbolism''. -sepulchrave


#15    psyche101

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 03:25 AM

View PostSlave2Fate, on 31 January 2013 - 02:41 AM, said:

http://epiphenom.fie...all-or-you.html


Another interesting article however I'm not sure I agree with the bit about 'delusion'. I do sometimes think that one of the believer/skeptic differences is a core understanding of how the world/universe works. I'm not saying skeptics are smarter though they do seem to have a better grasp on the varied fields of science (as a general rule, not always).

I feel the study is too limited to draw any conclusions, although I would like to have carried it out. (two thousand Finns (mostly women)

Quote

Do we humans have an inbuilt predisposition (a cognitive bias) that leads us to anthropomorphize events?

I guess this more caught my eye, and yet again, I think this is stating the obvious? By nature we anthropomorphise everything. From insect to Gods. As such, surely it is to be expected that looking for deeper meaning to events is naturally going to follow? I guess it is in a way vanity, but I think it also shows curiosity.

Things are what they are. - Me Reality can't be debunked. That's the beauty of it. - Capeo 'If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.' - Sir Isaac Newton. "Let me repeat the lesson learned from the Sturrock scientific review panel: Pack up your old data and forget it. Ufology needs new data, new cases, new rigorous and scientific methodologies if it hopes ever to get out of its pit." Ed Stewart. Youtube is the last refuge of the ignorant and is more often used for disinformation than genuine research.  There is a REASON for PEER REVIEW... - Chrlzs. Nothing is inexplicable, just unexplained. - Sir Wearer of Hats.





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