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Can Skepticism Blind You to the Truth?

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#91    aquatus1

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 12:42 PM

Tone it down, you two.


#92    aquatus1

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 01:09 PM

For the record:
  • Demonstrable and repeatable evidence which provides strong evidence for the conclusion is a premise of Inductive Reasoning, which is considered a Logical Form.
  • Formal Logic is a method of applying an abstract inference rule regarding a given group of subjects.  It tends towards the more crystalline constructs of logic and has often been compared to math with words.  It has less to do with debating issues and more to do with defining what the issues encompass on a formal level.
  • Informal Logic is logic used in the natural language, particularly in discussion or debate.  It contains the known logical fallacies often used in arguments.
  • Heuristic Logic is a biological phenomena similar to muscle memory.  It is often confused with general bias.  While different types of cognitive bias are a part of heuristic logic, not all heuristic logic is composed of cognitive biases.



#93    Beany

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 01:55 PM

View PostFrank Merton, on 26 March 2014 - 04:59 AM, said:

It's hard for a scientist to be wrong because they always qualify what they say in ways that gets dropped by the press.  Thus, "We are getting a strong signal that looks like the presence of a Higgs particle" got transformed into "Higgs particle confirmed."

I think skepticism should be the default.  "I'm from Missouri -- show me."  The more unlikely an idea seems, the more skepticism should be brought to bear.  Also, the desire to believe something should always be seen as a danger signal.

That said, lots of people go through life believing stuff and even spend a lot of money and time on it, and it is all a waste, but so what so long as they are happy.  It is when beliefs begin to harm that the skeptic should really take aim.

I like your idea that skepticism would be a good default position. Despite my own experiences, that's usually where I stand. Some people have spiritual/religious explanations for what I've experienced, or alien theories, or higher light beings theories, I'm skeptical of all of them. I've done a lot of reading around this, in psychology, human behavior, sociology, religion, philosophy, etc., and I'm happier with the information I got from these sources than any New Age explanation.


#94    Hideout

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 03:24 PM

View PostWhite Crane Feather, on 26 March 2014 - 12:01 PM, said:

I think maybe you should take your own advice on this one. My speculation that VP might be responsible for space was just an example. There are various theories that VP are carriers of information......No they do say they pop out of nothing I have seen them do it.
Sure, but they have reasons to believe they pop out of nothing. I wasn't saying that isn't what virtual particles are, you said something along the lines of, they say it pops out of nothing because they have no answer. As of right now, the mathematical models show it behaving that way. Maybe someday we will discover something else, but that doens't mean there is no justification for the modern thought.

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That doesn't mean that all of them stop looking.
Glad we agree.

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It was not me that had a problem with this tendency in scientists I read it from Susskind. He is irritated with the view on the uncertainty principle and thinks just because we don't know something dosnt make in random. Im not sure I agree...but that's the way he felt at least when he was writing "The Cosmic Landscape." I think you are under a very typical misnomer that vacuum energy isn't real. Without it being real there is no such thing as hawking's radiation, the heat death of the universe, or the cassimere effect. Im not confused about anything but you are welcome to explain why you think that.  
When did I say vacuum energy isn't real? I didn't. I also never said you were wrong about how virtual particles function, just the reasoning you gave for why scientists believe that.

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Not at all...you are missing the point. Science isn't broken at all, its rather effective, but certainly sciencism is not science. Just so we are clear, my point was that we may know that the sun revolves around the earth, but that is only the tip of the iceberg of what's really happening, the majority of which is a mystery to us, so how can you make all kinds of assumptions about the nature of reality.
Who is making assumptions? We were talking about a specific point, the Earth orbiting the sun. Obviously there is more than that going on in the universe, but that is the sinlg epoint we were talking about. You don't have to talk about everything in the entire universe at once to have a justified belief in some particular thing.

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You have to do no such thing. See above.
I have no evidence that the Earth orbits the sun? Or that the eggs came from a frying pan? Not sure what your point here was.

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Yes... I don't see the point of contention here. I think you are trying to defend science as if its being attacked....that's not what is happening. Understanding its limits and faults, which are really human limits and faults is part of the greatness of the method. If science were a man he would frown very heavily on the pedestal it is placed upon.
Not sure where you're getting the underlined portion from, how do you know that? Anyway it doesn't matter. Sure science has limits. Science has always had limits. The more we discover the broader science's scope becomes. Our limitations are way beyond the limitations of science 100 years ago, and I firmly believe that as we keep exploring we will keep expanding our limits. I also firmly believe that everything in the universe can be explained through a scientific perspective, whether or not we can explain EVERYTHING right now is irrelevant.

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hahahhahaha I just gave that same argument to someone else on this thread...how funny. It seems I have to put it back on your plate as well. The bolded and red is ABSOLUTELY not a rule of formal logic....You do know that right? I'm not even saying its wrong, but formal logic is formal way to debate issues. and you are still being an apologetic here. You are making broad assumptions about many things.
I didn't say it was explicitly a 'rule of logic', but following inductive reasoning which does stem from logic, would lead to a demonstrable repeatable conclusion.

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Oh, please.....you have only established by your own words that you don't know what formal logic even is even while trying to tell me that I don't. its getting silly. Im shocked that you cant see your own illogical progression here. You jumped from "demonstrable, repeatable, evidence would be the best thing to believe in" as a tenant of formal logic to saying that you established that I don't make logical interpretations.......oh geese this is a logical pig sty if only because you are making it about me and not the arguments.....that's just the beginning.
Again, i didn't say "demonstrable, repeatable evidence would be the best thing to believe in" was a tenant of logic. I said it stems from logical reasoning.

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All this is more silliness. You are using logical fallacy in a logical fallacy. The first of many is simply petitio principii. Without even going into your grossly fallacious comparison to you being a vulture to someone else's Philosophical starting point, you are assuming that your position is automatically correct. This is not logic....its severe bias and you don't even cover it up well. In formal logic a logical argument is logical if it progresses from its premise to conclusion with no fallacys. This is completely independent of weather the premise is true or not. Since you are attempting to demonstrate faulty logic, I would expect that you would know this. What is really happening is that you don't agree with the Premise so you are constructing illogical arguments while using logical rhetoric. I have never seen this before... its fascinating that you have not self reflected upon your own progressions.
...do you understand why I typed that? It was simply to show you that a logical premise can be faulty. Your little critique of my 'argument' is exactly what I was trying to show. When you said earlier that there is no reason to give a logical premise any higher authority than another.

To those who do not know mathematics it is difficult to get across a real feeling as to the beauty, the deepest beauty, of nature ... If you want to learn about nature, to appreciate nature, it is necessary to understand the language that she speaks in.
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#95    Awake2Chaos

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 03:42 PM

View PostHideout, on 26 March 2014 - 02:47 AM, said:

I maintain that if someone 400 years ago had believed in modern quantum mechanical theory, they would have had unjustified beliefs. That is to say, sure they would have been right, but there would have been absolutely no way of proving that they were right, and therefore no good reason for believing it. It's all about proof. Why would anyone believe anything you say unless you could prove it? How would you tell reality from fantasy without a means of justification?
Yes, there are things we used to believe were magical and we have proven them to be scientific theories in modern times, and yes, that may mean that one day in the future something we don't have an explanation for could be proven, but so what? Until there is evidence, until there is a reason to believe, you should not believe.

I believe the things I do because of my own personal experience.  You can believe another scientists' research, deem it credible, but unless you do the leg work yourself, what are you doing, in essence?

You are taking his word for it....you are giving him your faith that his findings are correct.  You guys have been talking about gravity?  We know many properties of gravity, but do we really understand it completely??  Have we figured out every single thing it effects, and how it effects it?  Time facilitates new technology, new technology creates new modes of observation and record collection, and our understanding of things change with time.  

My reason for believing has nothing to do with data someone else collected, but rather on what I've witnessed and seen with my own eyes, at least when it comes to magic-type events.

View PostHideout, on 26 March 2014 - 02:47 AM, said:

Yes, it is a threat. Not because I feel insecure about my beliefs, but because the type of thinking that allows unjustified beliefs, the type of irrational, credulous, compartmentalization that leads to believing in magic, can affect other people. Believing in something for no reason can be incredibly dangerous. Do you know how many people have been irreparably damaged by homeopathy? How many people have lost insane amounts of money paying for psychics, tarot readings, etc. There are people who plan out their daily life based on a horoscope reading. That terrifies me. It absolutely terrifies me that we live in a world, where people who can affect my life are building their's upon an unproven basis of reality.

What should terrify you is that we live in a world where people still starve to death, and people kill each other in the name of religion.  Not another person's belief in something that you don't deem 'normal' or 'acceptable'.  

Everyone has free will to follow homeopathy, or use tarot cards or seers to find their way, and their use of these things has absolutely no effect on you what so ever.  There are way worse things in the world to be terrified of....And how would you feel if someone came along and took away your right to chose what type of medicine or prayer or WHATEVER, because all of a sudden a few people spoke out and said..."It scares me."  Think about what you are saying....because if I follow your train of thought, then anyone who believes in religion should scare you.  Is that really the case?

edit:
Is it really your right as a human being to tell another human being how to live their life?  If someone wants to believe in magic, or religion even, who the hell are you to tell them it's not 'right'?  The whole stance just seems very self-righteous to me.

Edited by Awake2Chaos, 26 March 2014 - 03:44 PM.

“Experience is not what happens to a man. It is what a man does with what happens to him.” Aldous Leonard Huxley

#96    DecoNoir

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 04:30 PM

View PostAwake2Chaos, on 26 March 2014 - 03:42 PM, said:

I believe the things I do because of my own personal experience.  You can believe another scientists' research, deem it credible, but unless you do the leg work yourself, what are you doing, in essence?

You are taking his word for it....you are giving him your faith that his findings are correct.  You guys have been talking about gravity?  We know many properties of gravity, but do we really understand it completely??  Have we figured out every single thing it effects, and how it effects it?  Time facilitates new technology, new technology creates new modes of observation and record collection, and our understanding of things change with time.  

My reason for believing has nothing to do with data someone else collected, but rather on what I've witnessed and seen with my own eyes, at least when it comes to magic-type events.

There's really nothing wrong with that. However, from my own personal experience, I know just how unreliable human perception can be. For example, I know when I'm exhausted I will hallucinate to a degree (usually seeing spiders and the like flicking around at the edges of my peripheral vision), hell just last night while drifting into sleep I saw what I otherwise could have mistaken for a humanoid figure. From a combination of my personal experience and by knowledge base, I concluded it was another trick of my mind and went to sleep.



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What should terrify you is that we live in a world where people still starve to death, and people kill each other in the name of religion.  Not another person's belief in something that you don't deem 'normal' or 'acceptable'.  

Everyone has free will to follow homeopathy, or use tarot cards or seers to find their way, and their use of these things has absolutely no effect on you what so ever.  There are way worse things in the world to be terrified of....And how would you feel if someone came along and took away your right to chose what type of medicine or prayer or WHATEVER, because all of a sudden a few people spoke out and said..."It scares me."  Think about what you are saying....because if I follow your train of thought, then anyone who believes in religion should scare you.  Is that really the case?

edit:
Is it really your right as a human being to tell another human being how to live their life?  If someone wants to believe in magic, or religion even, who the hell are you to tell them it's not 'right'?  The whole stance just seems very self-righteous to me.

No, nobody has the right to dictate how others should live their lives. What generally gets true skeptics concerned is when people try to substitute such beliefs for what is known to function when nothing indicates such beliefs can actually substitute. Again I point to the thread I linked to in post #25 for such an example. What do think would have happened if the poor sod in that story would have died? Do you think the "healers" personal experience would have stood up in the court of law? Hell no, they'd be charged with fraud and neglect.

I personally have no personal problem with psychics (or mediums and the like) on a whole, for me they are at the worst an interesting way to spend an afternoon (and can certainly liven up a party). My problem comes when you get the *******s who want to charge thousands for a reading at take advantage of people when they're at there most vulnerable, that's a con game in my view. Perhaps I would  view it a bit more lightly, but know psychic I've ever met has stood up to scrutiny, especially when I, being something of a showman myself, am well versed in their techniques. I can cold read with the best of them and convince an audience that they saw what I wanted them to see because that's what my career of choice focuses on.

I reject your reality, and substitute my own! Mostly because yours is boring as hell.

#97    Liquid Gardens

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Posted 26 March 2014 - 04:56 PM

View PostWhite Crane Feather, on 25 March 2014 - 02:29 PM, said:

Eons from now our galaxy will still exist after colliding with M82 ( I think). It will stand alone in a sea of darkness because space will have expanded all other galaxies beyond the speed of light horizon. If mankind evolved during this epoch, there would be no Inflation theory, no cosmic back ground radiation ( it will have cooled tremendously by then), and virtually only intergalactic cosmology. The story we will have of the universe will be totally and utterly wrong. In place of what we have now would be another story based on fact but yet still a fiction.

Isn't all this detail about what will happen eons from now itself derived from science?  If so, this is part of the 'story' we have of the universe and thus I'm not sure why that story will be totally wrong?  

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I am a logical thinking person, billions of years if evolution has given me a dam good system of evaluating information. While not infallible, I néed dam good reason to think its not working. Completely Trusting a system that I know is likely completely wrong most of the time, subject to economic manipulation, group dynamics, and interpretation   by its very trial and error nature over the one nature gave me seems wholly irresponsible. At best a blend of the two.

I understand your overall point concerning whether science arrives at 'truth' and I think agree with it, although I don't see such a 'complete trust' attitude touted by scientists themselves concerning science itself all that often.  I don't agree though that yours or mine or anyone's thinking processes should be privileged above the scientific method, we have abundant evidence to counter that.  Yes, science is corruptible by all the factors you listed, but everyone's information evaluation process is subject to cognitive and perceptual biases, lack of understanding of whatever subject, etc, which in my view are even more corrupting; it is precisely one of the strengths of the scientific method that it provides controls for these individual misperceptions and biases.  I think implicit in the scientific method is the blending of both the individual and consensus-driven evaluations you are looking for actually, again it's one of its strengths.

"You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into"
"That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence" - C. Hitchens
"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool" - Richard Feynman

#98    SolarPlexus

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 12:54 AM

View PostFrank Merton, on 26 March 2014 - 08:31 AM, said:

Magic is just technology we don't understand.  

Arthur Clarke :)

"In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual."
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#99    SolarPlexus

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 01:00 AM

View PostMerc14, on 26 March 2014 - 12:39 PM, said:

You don't sound harsh, you sound like a six year old.  Why don''t you explain the relationship of QM, relativity and Newtonian physiics as you see it,  I am sure we will all appreciate your keen insight.


FYI that poster knows things you can (probably) only dream of... Its obvious that you're just going with popular opinion, and not doing any thinking/researching yourself

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#100    Merc14

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 02:20 AM

View PostSolarPlexus, on 27 March 2014 - 01:00 AM, said:

FYI that poster knows things you can (probably) only dream of... Its obvious that you're just going with popular opinion, and not doing any thinking/researching yourself

Yeah, I read some of them.  Very impressive. :rolleyes:

Edited by Merc14, 27 March 2014 - 02:21 AM.

You asked for Obamamerica, now you are going to get it.  Stand by for suck or as Pelosi says, "Embrace the suck".

#101    Beany

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 04:15 AM

View PostProfessor T, on 26 March 2014 - 07:52 AM, said:

:lol: Cool, good point..
but the logic isn't about ego controlling what you have nothing to do with, it has everything to do with perception...

And you've used a great example here because I am from New Zealand, and know nothing about Buffalo Bills.. Therefore from my perspective/perception, (if I had an over inflated Ego) they don't exist.. And neither do Buffalo Bill Fans, because, deduced from available logic, if Buffalo Bill's don't exist then their Fan's don't exist either... There.. Point proved in a kind of stupid way...

But... That example is no different to Logical v's Magical thinking.. Both exist.. But by allowing ego to choose a side, we blind ourselves to a greater truth..


Brilliant.. but flawed, and I'm not smart enough to pinpoint the flaws except that the laws of the universe have been around a lot longer than Magical thinking, then Alchemy, Then Science... The momentum of our civilization began with magical thinking, and so rightly deserves some praise and recognition..

Yeah, I've always leaned towards the scientific side, but I practice what you'd probably call the mystic or magical as well.

IMO Magical thinking has got us to where we are today with scientific thinking, so personally I wouldn't so dismissive of magical ideologies.. And as Far as true Skepticism goes, I think people should rely on their own faculties of deduction, and not some pre-determined logic created for them by a so called authority.. Discovery and experience are the most trusted teachers of perception.. Everything else IMO is parroted and flawed.

And the universe will continue to operate as it does, with or without what we all universal laws or perceptions or magical thinking or inductive or deductive reasoning, all of our attempts to explain or understand or organize. I wonder how much of this conversation is more about trying to find our place in the big picture instead of actually looking at the big picture. The problem with looking at the big picture is that we'll only ever see just a small corner of it, yet from that glimpse we begin drawing conclusions, fashioning truths, formulating laws. Would Newton ever have dreamed that his theories were not universally applicable, since subatomic particles apparently were never informed of the laws of Newtonian physics? Yep, we have a lot to learn, science is only in its infancy, the universe is an immensely complex construct, we as a specie are just newly born. I've no doubt the future holds some amazing scientific discoveries, I just hope I'm around for some of it.


#102    Merc14

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 04:35 AM

View PostBeany, on 27 March 2014 - 04:15 AM, said:

And the universe will continue to operate as it does, with or without what we all universal laws or perceptions or magical thinking or inductive or deductive reasoning, all of our attempts to explain or understand or organize. I wonder how much of this conversation is more about trying to find our place in the big picture instead of actually looking at the big picture. The problem with looking at the big picture is that we'll only ever see just a small corner of it, yet from that glimpse we begin drawing conclusions, fashioning truths, formulating laws. Would Newton ever have dreamed that his theories were not universally applicable, since subatomic particles apparently were never informed of the laws of Newtonian physics? Yep, we have a lot to learn, science is only in its infancy, the universe is an immensely complex construct, we as a specie are just newly born. I've no doubt the future holds some amazing scientific discoveries, I just hope I'm around for some of it.

You are one of the good ones Beany. Very much enjoy the back and forth and respect your opinion, demeanor and intelligence immensely.  So busy right now but we/I need to start a thread and look at the next level.

You asked for Obamamerica, now you are going to get it.  Stand by for suck or as Pelosi says, "Embrace the suck".

#103    aquatus1

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 08:29 AM

There is a somewhat apocryphal tale that one runs into sooner or later in the academic hallways of the physics building.  I've heard it in a couple of different forms, but I think this version, written by a former professor of my acquaintance, sums up the lesson and the moral the best.  Please forgive him for the format; in all fairness to him, he did so because at the time, it encompassed a large part of the group he wanted his lesson to be imparted to:

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"I have a feeling," Harry said finally, "that we're coming at this from the wrong angle.  There's a tale I once heard about some students who came into a physics class, and the teacher showed them a large metal plate near a fire.  She ordered them to feel the metal plate, and they felt that the metal nearer to the fire was cooler, and the metal further away was warmer.  And she said, write down your guess for why this happens.  So some students wrote down 'because of how the metal conducts heat', and some students wrote down 'because of how the air moves', and no one said 'this just seems impossible', and the real answer was that before the students came into the room, the teacher turned the plate around."

"Interesting," said Professor Quirell.  "That does sound similar.  Is there a moral?"

"That your strength as a rationalist is your ability to be more confused by fiction than by reality," said Harry.  "If you're equally good at explaining any outcome, you have zero knowledge.  The students thought they could use words like 'because of heat conduction' to explain anything, even a metal plate being cooler on the side nearer the fire.  So they didn't notice how confused they were, and that meant they couldn't be more confused by falsehood than by truth.  If you tell me that the centaurs were under the Imperius curse, I still have the feeling of something not being quite right.  I notice that I'm still confused, even after hearing your explanation."



#104    Frank Merton

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 08:50 AM

View PostSolarPlexus, on 27 March 2014 - 12:54 AM, said:


Arthur Clarke :)
If Clarke had said that I would have credited him.  Clarke said something similar to the effect that technology seems magical.


#105    Whisperer

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 08:52 AM

"the teacher turned the plate around." Thats the first thing I thought while I was reading it....and I quite often get caught out from failing to look at the obvious first....

I be Ra...The river of life, the ebb and flow of summer tides...
Make not an image of me, nor offer unto me the limitations of form...
For I be Soul....and I will not be limited...




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