Join the Unexplained Mysteries community today! It's free and setting up an account only takes a moment.
- Sign In or Create Account -
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 3
S2F

Differences between Skeptic and Believer?

50 posts in this topic

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.

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
2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

3 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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
2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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://sourcesofinsight.com/convincer-strategy/

not the best link but it'll do

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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:

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

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.org/wiki/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.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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
1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey S2F

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.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.fieldofscience.com/2010/04/you-either-believe-in-it-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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

Here is another one well worth a read. http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200802/magical-thinking

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

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."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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)

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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)

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.

I agree on anthropomorphization (whew! mouthful) however there are degrees of such I'm sure and I think those with a more critical mind can recognize it even when they happen to be doing it. That's the difference I think. I do it myself more often than I would like though as you say, we all do it so it's kind of like trying not to inhale smoke inside a burning building.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Wash you mouth out with soap! :lol:

I am not sure of I have read this completely correct. I want to make sure I am reading this right.

Does it not say if you have enough of the right drug, that you are more likely to believe something? That in this case being Dopamine? Dopamine's action is reward driven learning, but that learning can be anything, Dr Suess or Grays Anatomy. So wouldn't a predisposition also be the precursor? i.e. if you want to believe something, and then you read about it, your brain will reward you with dopamine?

Mate, I will be cold and pushing up daisies before I slap a Magic Happen's sticker on my car window.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree on anthropomorphization (whew! mouthful) however there are degrees of such I'm sure and I think those with a more critical mind can recognize it even when they happen to be doing it. That's the difference I think. I do it myself more often than I would like though as you say, we all do it so it's kind of like trying not to inhale smoke inside a burning building.

The bolded - exactly what I was trying to say mate. :tu:

I think we all do it, and I am not sure that we have much choice in our pool of one, Maybe that s some deep seated desire to contact other life comes from. That is truly expressed in varying degrees. Do you feel the point of the article is to express this as a revelation, or kind of a slap in the face with a wet fish to any reader?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wash you mouth out with soap! :lol:

I am not sure of I have read this completely correct. I want to make sure I am reading this right.

Does it not say if you have enough of the right drug, that you are more likely to believe something? That in this case being Dopamine? Dopamine's action is reward driven learning, but that learning can be anything, Dr Suess or Grays Anatomy. So wouldn't a predisposition also be the precursor? i.e. if you want to believe something, and then you read about it, your brain will reward you with dopamine?

Mate, I will be cold and pushing up daisies before I slap a Magic Happen's sticker on my car window.

I was thinking along the same lines myself, as far as dopamine being a reward. I would think it would only enforce further thinking along such lines. That may be a fairly significant element of a believers inability to entertain other options.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do you feel the point of the article is to express this as a revelation, or kind of a slap in the face with a wet fish to any reader?

I'm not sure though I'm sure it may have that effect. At least for those that are willing to see the point for what it is, an observation on human behavior.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was thinking along the same lines myself, as far as dopamine being a reward. I would think it would only enforce further thinking along such lines. That may be a fairly significant element of a believers inability to entertain other options.

Interesting, I wonder how much "reward" Dopamine is capable of giving out, and if time affects that. I am not sure of age would offer a resistance, of the frailties might allow a more powerful effect. It could weel explain the "deathbed confessions" and older military men coming out. With the mindset and pop culture heavily influencing a Sci Fi perspective of space, it might well have been a more powerful influence in a book reading society than today's television society can fathom.

I'm not sure though I'm sure it may have that effect. At least for those that are willing to see the point for what it is, an observation on human behavior.

:tu: Well in that case, it does illustrate both aspects well. One might look at it and go "of course" but it might be an epiphany to some I guess. Sometimes things have to be in plain sight before we can see them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Hello S2F, great thread :tu:

Can I throw a curve ball into the mix?

ok, the question of what is the difference and how can it be bridge may be impossible to answer, why? well what if I suggest that there is no difference and they are/can be the same! they are not the opposite ends.

I would argue the two opposites are 'believer' versus 'non-believer'. Both of these sets can be skeptics/skeptical in both approach and method and display the same characteristics. The 'skeptic' will then interpret the data differently (at least that which is subject to interpreattion and is not conclusive), this interpretation then creates a 'believer' or a' non-believer,' but does not create 'believer or skeptic'.

So Basically I am saying would the Psychology of 'believer' versus 'non believer' be a more prudent path to take as its the bias in interpretation rather than method or approach that is different.

Edited by quillius

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

just going off topic for a moment.. Cake would you be church of england by any chance ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello S2F, great thread :tu:

Can I throw a curve ball into the mix?

ok, the question of what is the difference and how can it be bridge may be impossible to answer, why? well what if I suggest that there is no difference and they are/can be the same! they are not the opposite ends.

I would argue the two opposites are 'believer' versus 'non-believer'. Both of these sets can be skeptics/skeptical in both approach and method and display the same characteristics. The 'skeptic' will then interpret the data differently (at least that which is subject to interpreattion and is not conclusive), this interpretation then creates a 'believer' or a' non-believer,' but does not create 'believer or skeptic'.

So Basically I am saying would the Psychology of 'believer' versus 'non believer' be a more prudent path to take as its the bias in interpretation rather than method or approach that is different.

Hey Quill, glad you like it. :tu:

I've been aware for some time that skepticism cuts both ways, that believers are just skeptical of the proposed skeptical arguments and the 'status quo', so to speak. In that regard, yes we share more similarities than most would admit. I suppose the demarcation is between 'magical thinking' ( I don't like that term, it conjures thoughts of unicorns and crap) and critical thought based views. Those are the two ideologies (and subsequent rift) I refer to by labeling them believer and skeptic.

It's an interesting difference of thought processing that I've never received a clear reason behind, for either side. it's the 'why' that I'm interested in. Why do skeptics take a hard line approach to the unknown? Is it out of fear of being wrong? Or some OCD derived behavior? Or even different neural pathways and brain activity as proposed by an earlier link I provided? Even being a skeptic myself I don't have a good answer. I imagine that it is a little different for all of us (skeptics) however there has to be a kernel of commonality somewhere. The same questions could be asked of the believer mindset. That's where participation will help narrow down the possibilities I think. That's my hope anyway. :tu:

Edited by Slave2Fate

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey Quill, glad you like it. :tu:

I've been aware for some time that skepticism cuts both ways, that believers are just skeptical of the proposed skeptical arguments and the 'status quo', so to speak. In that regard, yes we share more similarities than most would admit.

To be honest this isnt exactly what I am alluding to in my suggestion. The bolded part limits the skeptisism to just the 'skeptical arguments' and not the pro ETH (or other) argument. I am suggesting that we are all (majority anyway) skeptical and the difference is only in conclusions drawn which lead to either believer or non believer. I think the opposing stances are either believer V non believer or 'blind believer V skeptic'. You see in the second grouping I would be called a skeptic, however in the first grouping I am classed as aa believer. I cannot differentiate between skeptic and believer for myself as I feel I am both and again I stress the skeptisismisnt restricted to 'prosaic explanations' put forth.

I suppose the demarcation is between 'magical thinking' ( I don't like that term, it conjures thoughts of unicorns and crap) and critical thought based views. Those are the two ideologies (and subsequent rift) I refer to by labeling them believer and skeptic.

At what point does it become 'majical thinking' as opposed to critical thought? during process or conclusion?

It's an interesting difference of thought processing that I've never received a clear reason behind, for either side. it's the 'why' that I'm interested in. Why do skeptics take a hard line approach to the unknown? Is it out of fear of being wrong? Or some OCD derived behavior? Or even different neural pathways and brain activity as proposed by an earlier link I provided? Even being a skeptic myself I don't have a good answer. I imagine that it is a little different for all of us (skeptics) however there has to be a kernel of commonality somewhere. The same questions could be asked of the believer mindset. That's where participation will help narrow down the possibilities I think. That's my hope anyway. :tu:

The 'why' gets closer to the question IMO. Why are different conclusions drawn? Why does a non-believer favour a conclusion in line with their current stance and the same goes for a believer

Fear is certainly an aspect worth pursuing whilst not limiting this to those you label skeptics and I label non-believers.

I am also wondering if religion plays a part? or at least religous influence in an upbringing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 3

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.