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Still Waters

Can Skepticism Blind You to the Truth?

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Frank Merton

To take an old joke from Oscar Wilde, skepticism is like society; it is downplayed by those who aren't for one reason or another, usually an inability or unwillingness to think honestly.

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Beany

You know, maybe we've been pursuing a false dilemma, because there are more than 2 choices, we don't have to be a skeptic or a believer, those aren't the only valid positions. We can simply keep our minds open, use our intelligence, experience, knowledge, critical thinking skills, etc. and be well armed to deal with anything that might come along. Ah, walking the middle path, observing and being alert to our environment and acting upon what we see using all of our skills.

Edited by Beany
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Frank Merton

I see your point but have to disagree. When presented with unusual claims the only healthy approach is skepticism. This applies, for example, if someone asks you if you would like to make some easy money. Middle way can be foolish way.

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Frank Merton

Let me put it this way -- the spectrum runs from gullibility to skepticism to cynicism. Seen that way skepticism is the middle way.

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Classified Document

:nw: :nw:

What do you mean by this?

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White Crane Feather

They are. They simply aren't connected in any particular way that affects the macro behavior in any way since the discover of the quantum world, as White Feather claims there is.

Of course they are. A simple example is that quantum tunneling allows the necessary energy to tunnel into the core of a star the maintain fusion. The sun can shine, this allows photosynthesis to store energy that is then eaten by a cow and then is eaten at Mc Donald's. I cant see how you can say a quantum affect does not affect the macro behavior in anyway. It affects the shining of the stars. Is that not a macro behavior, I don't know what is. The burning of a massive star that burn out turn into black holes That then affects orbits of other macro bodies. Its and integrated system of physics everything has its place in the production of our reality.

Hey, you're preaching to the quoir. This doesn't, however, have anything to do with the actual point under discussion. The central problem here is that White Feather is accusing everyone involved in science as taking materialism as a belief, instead of as a theory. That, in addition to all the social challenges he makes, is what is creating the tension in the discussion. His actual claims aren't all that controversial.

No it shouldn't be... I suppose Ill have to get back into the habit of saying "Not all" in front of every generalization. But I also reject the belief that those that believe the materialistic premis do not have a belief. I also reject the atheist idea of non-beliefs. Sure it can be a theory but some (not all) certainly believe in the theory rather than recognize it as an evolving interpretation of various kinds of data. There doesn't need to be any kind of tension. Im sorry people are so sensitive, but like I have mentioned before you get the same kind of responses from fundamentalists when you question the validity of the bible. I realize that some (not all) will take that as an offense, but in reality its just an observation.

No problem, I get that you are speaking generally. Thing of it is, though, that you are making the same mistake as White Feather, and assuming some of the practices of the scientifically minded are actually beliefs. This compounded by having a somewhat incomplete concept of what these practices are, which leads you to incorrect conclusions, such as the "throw it in a trash can" idea.

Why is It an assumption? Certainly recognition of data is not a belief. But believing an interpretation of the data certainly is. Example. Some are partial to the Copenhagen interpretation of QM. Others are the Many worlds. Both are beliefs, because if they take it as truth. Sure there is a recognition that it may not be complete...by some (not all), but if they accept it as probably truth its a belief. This may or may not be what you are talking about, but what exactly is this "incomplete concept of what these practices are" that we are so ignorant about? Educate us. The "I just know more than you card doesn't cut it." Im skeptical.

Not at all. He wondered (whether he did so sincerely or not is a different question) why he was getting such a reaction from people (or rather, why others "had become so narrowly emotional at his suggestions"). I told him precisely why, and gave him the start to a solution. Whether he chooses to apply it or not is up to him. And, to clarify, an apology is not going to gain him acceptance, particularly if he doesn't know what he is apologizing for.

Indeed. I don't need any acceptance though. You did not "tell me precisely why" even though I asked you to clearly state it. people react emotionally all the time during debates, I see no reason to grant "skeptics" any more high ground than anyone else. They are not some group of smarter people that have better reasons for getting emotional than anyone else despite their [not all] beliefs to the contrary. As mention before show me where I went wrong, then I will determine for myself if it requires a clarification or even an apology if it is warranted. The problem of course is any sort of recognition of a communication problem is spun as "Changing your tune" Its a loose/loose situation. which brings me to my next point after the next comments.

I won't say mad, but yes, his attitude is fairly exasperating. He is the boor in the party, airily claiming to be the victim of all those pseudo-skeptics while he himself shines in the light of his own personal authority. Like I said, no one likes a poser.

No, his attitude is just what is causing the emotional reaction, which I tend to think he does on a subconscious basis as a pre-emptive defense mechanism. That he is wrong is an entirely different matter, which is addressed by the people quoting his specific claims and showing how they do not make sense logically, and on occassion, how they do not make sense contextually.

Im no victim. I expect those and these sorts of attitudes. I cant help it if focusing on a person instead of the arguments is completely counter to logical debate. Again, am I supposed to let someone get away with it? Am I a "boor in the party" because I disagree and am willing to go to bat for my position? Am I "shining in the light of my own authority" because I don't back down? Am I a "poser" because I can stick it out and am unwilling to bend over unless there is reason to. It is call reason for a reason. Am I supposed to accept name calling and ridicule ----"Victim, Boor, Poser,"--- et all without pointing out that this is a common tactic by those who no longer have anything to argue about. Oh...its not just me. All (not totally all) of us that believe in "Woo" have encountered this over and over and over and over and over again. Its not new. Nor is it logical, intelligent, or even effective.

A friend in a recent PM warned me that there are those that have knives for me. It told him that it is actually a good thing. This entire thread should be a shining example of the theme of the OP. How dare I challenge skeptics and put them into the same category as other fundamentalist. How dare I call it psudo-skptisism when I don't believe its the way real skeptics behave. How dare I suggest that there is even such thing as sciencism. How dare I challenge the status quo. How dare I continue defy faulty logic. How dare I dont accept that I am wrong simply because I am told that I am without any real evidence to the contrary. Does this make me "shining in the light of my own authority"? How dare I be a skeptic of skeptics. How dare a strong woman speak amongst men. How dare one question dogma.

Honestly I love this thread because it has become so very evident the wall that exists that the existence of which is denied so feverishly by one side.

Wordsmithing doesn't cut it, not to those that know better.

Edited by White Crane Feather
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Mikko-kun

Sorry I pick only this one thing, but

The purpose of science, if such a thing can be said to have a purpose, is to gather knowledge.

I know you might think I read you like the devil the bible when I say this, but that sounds like science would be there for archiving. Isn't the discovery of new groundbreaking things the aim? Or well, maybe I've misunderstood, maybe there are certain parameters along which the mainstream science focuses on making discoveries and intentionally leaves the rest out, I dont know. In practise it has some of this kinda taste. Science discovers new things, but usually only in their own given field.

What they are, are a set of observations that have been seen to be universal throughout all of history, even from time before these axioms were ever thought up. These axioms define what we refer to as scientific, no more, no less. It has absolutely nothing to do with whether something exists or is false. These axioms filter out that which is useful, from that which is not.

Now I'm getting it, so it isn't about new discoveries but discoveries in a certain set of area which is seen useful by certain criterias. So they must have some function that serves a purpose that the person studying them (scientist) sees meaningful for them to be taken to account? The purpose of the thing must be there or it's deemed as useless? So there's a thought that something can exist but be useless and thus have a right to be ignored from the picture depending what you study?

Edited by Mikko-kun

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Frank Merton

There is useful knowledge, potentially useful knowledge, and stuff that's a waste of time. Which is which isn't always obvious, but for example the number of flecks of dust on the ledge of a given window is not worth the trouble to count, or even calculate, with maybe some exceptions in some special activities.

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Beany

There is useful knowledge, potentially useful knowledge, and stuff that's a waste of time. Which is which isn't always obvious, but for example the number of flecks of dust on the ledge of a given window is not worth the trouble to count, or even calculate, with maybe some exceptions in some special activities.

That's dependent on whether you can get a government grant or funding to study it. That always makes it worthwhile!

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Beany

Of course they are. A simple example is that quantum tunneling allows the necessary energy to tunnel into the core of a star the maintain fusion. The sun can shine, this allows photosynthesis to store energy that is then eaten by a cow and then is eaten at Mc Donald's. I cant see how you can say a quantum affect does not affect the macro behavior in anyway. It affects the shining of the stars. Is that not a macro behavior, I don't know what is. The burning of a massive star that burn out turn into black holes That then affects orbits of other macro bodies. Its and integrated system of physics everything has its place in the production of our reality.

No it shouldn't be... I suppose Ill have to get back into the habit of saying "Not all" in front of every generalization. But I also reject the belief that those that believe the materialistic premis do not have a belief. I also reject the atheist idea of non-beliefs. Sure it can be a theory but some (not all) certainly believe in the theory rather than recognize it as an evolving interpretation of various kinds of data. There doesn't need to be any kind of tension. Im sorry people are so sensitive, but like I have mentioned before you get the same kind of responses from fundamentalists when you question the validity of the bible. I realize that some (not all) will take that as an offense, but in reality its just an observation.

Why is It an assumption? Certainly recognition of data is not a belief. But believing an interpretation of the data certainly is. Example. Some are partial to the Copenhagen interpretation of QM. Others are the Many worlds. Both are beliefs, because if they take it as truth. Sure there is a recognition that it may not be complete...by some (not all), but if they accept it as probably truth its a belief. This may or may not be what you are talking about, but what exactly is this "incomplete concept of what these practices are" that we are so ignorant about? Educate us. The "I just know more than you card doesn't cut it." Im skeptical.

Indeed. I don't need any acceptance though. You did not "tell me precisely why" even though I asked you to clearly state it. people react emotionally all the time during debates, I see no reason to grant "skeptics" any more high ground than anyone else. They are not some group of smarter people that have better reasons for getting emotional than anyone else despite their [not all] beliefs to the contrary. As mention before show me where I went wrong, then I will determine for myself if it requires a clarification or even an apology if it is warranted. The problem of course is any sort of recognition of a communication problem is spun as "Changing your tune" Its a loose/loose situation. which brings me to my next point after the next comments.

Im no victim. I expect those and these sorts of attitudes. I cant help it if focusing on a person instead of the arguments is completely counter to logical debate. Again, am I supposed to let someone get away with it? Am I a "boor in the party" because I disagree and am willing to go to bat for my position? Am I "shining in the light of my own authority" because I don't back down? Am I a "poser" because I can stick it out and am unwilling to bend over unless there is reason to. It is call reason for a reason. Am I supposed to accept name calling and ridicule ----"Victim, Boor, Poser,"--- et all without pointing out that this is a common tactic by those who no longer have anything to argue about. Oh...its not just me. All (not totally all) of us that believe in "Woo" have encountered this over and over and over and over and over again. Its not new. Nor is it logical, intelligent, or even effective.

A friend in a recent PM warned me that there are those that have knives for me. It told him that it is actually a good thing. This entire thread should be a shining example of the theme of the OP. How dare I challenge skeptics and put them into the same category as other fundamentalist. How dare I call it psudo-skptisism when I don't believe its the way real skeptics behave. How dare I suggest that there is even such thing as sciencism. How dare I challenge the status quo. How dare I continue defy faulty logic. How dare I dont accept that I am wrong simply because I am told that I am without any real evidence to the contrary. Does this make me "shining in the light of my own authority"? How dare I be a skeptic of skeptics. How dare a strong woman speak amongst men. How dare one question dogma.

Honestly I love this thread because it has become so very evident the wall that exists that the existence of which is denied so feverishly by one side.

Wordsmithing doesn't cut it, not to those that know better.

There should be no name calling, no attacking a person, according to the rules of this forum. Anyone who ignores those rules will deal with the consequences. And from a personal note, how you make your arguments says as much about you as the argument itself, and is as influential as your arguments. Sooner or later we all show up for who we really are.

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baro67

the skeptic who has not seen the flowers move simply lied to himself and that is what makes the hardcore skeptic: he prefers (perhaps unconsciously) lie to himself that accept a actuality which deeply undermine its small beliefs

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White Crane Feather

There should be no name calling, no attacking a person, according to the rules of this forum. Anyone who ignores those rules will deal with the consequences. And from a personal note, how you make your arguments says as much about you as the argument itself, and is as influential as your arguments. Sooner or later we all show up for who we really are.

Its only sparring to me Beany. Its a forum where people debate and some get competitive. I am perfectly capable of bowing and shaking hands at the end of a bout. If this were in person I would hug and take those I argue with out for dinner. In Martial arts some people simply cant handle sparring without getting mad at the other person. I work tirelessly to teach people that you leave it on the mat. I don't get mad or think less of people that are particularly competitive or aggressive. Passions may flare, words thrown, insinuations made, but in the end its competitive people behaving competitively.

I think the real measure of a person is the lengths one goes to show compassion to those that need it. Everything else is a sideshow.

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AlienDan

A must watch:

[media=]

[/media] Edited by AlienDan

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aquatus1

Sorry I pick only this one thing, but...

I know you might think I read you like the devil the bible when I say this, but that sounds like science would be there for archiving.

Don't worry about it. Focusing on something that sticks out to you is a perfectly acceptable way to learn about something, and you can never annoy me by sincerely trying to learn. Granted, drawing somewhat extreme conclusions can get me to sigh a bit, but that's on me, not you.

In all cases, science isn't there for archiving. Indeed, the act of using new data is an essential part of the verification process. Theoretical findings can wiggle their way past peer review based on validity and credibility, but when the theories are put to use, by researchers, and it begins to show results that are not in keeping with the expected results, that's when we find the mistakes.

A lot of people tend to think that there are scientists out there who read about a given claim and decide to replicate it just for the heck of it. The truth of the matter is that scientists have to work for paychecks like everyone else, and they only replicate a claim if it can be useful to their research. That's why it sometimes takes a long while before mistakes are uncovered. Sometimes the research needs to weed out a lot of variables, sometimes the research just isn't all that applicable to anything else.

Isn't the discovery of new groundbreaking things the aim?

It's more like the dream. Writers, actors, and dancers at Starbucks all around the world, work to become the next great thing. Scientists do the same thing, except instead of pouring coffee, they run lab rats through a maze.

Or well, maybe I've misunderstood, maybe there are certain parameters along which the mainstream science focuses on making discoveries and intentionally leaves the rest out, I dont know. In practise it has some of this kinda taste. Science discovers new things, but usually only in their own given field.

Yes and no. What you are seeing a lot of in that quote is the effect of capitalism on science. The science done on behalf of corporations funding you to make a profit tends to intentionally leave out things which are not of immediate use. Science done through grants by non-profit agencies has a broader aim. The process and techniques limit the amount of variables as much as possible, but the aim remains generally broad. Non-profit research can focus more on what is interesting, where for profit research has to focus more on what is useful.

Now I'm getting it, so it isn't about new discoveries but discoveries in a certain set of area which is seen useful by certain criterias. So they must have some function that serves a purpose that the person studying them (scientist) sees meaningful for them to be taken to account? The purpose of the thing must be there or it's deemed as useless? So there's a thought that something can exist but be useless and thus have a right to be ignored from the picture depending what you study?

You are almost there, but not quite!

Remember that we are talking about what comes before the discovery. The pre-requisites, the skepticism, the research, all of these thing eventually lead to the conclusion that may or may not be something new.

What needs to be useful is not the discovery itself, but the explanations for the discovery. The theories to be tested, the whys and hows of something, those need to be useful to research. If you have a theory, but it cannot be tested, then what use is it?

Let's say I have noticed that whenever I turn on my radio, a piece of paper on top of it begins to flutter. I can propose two theories, one that it is moving because of vibrations from the speaker, and another that it is moving because the music attracted faeries that like to dance on paper. One of these theories is testable, and the other is not. This does not mean that the testable theory is automatically correct, nor does it mean the untestable theory is automatically wrong. All it means is that with the useful theory, you can make progress, whereas the not useful theory leaves you spinning your wheels.

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Professor T

You know, maybe we've been pursuing a false dilemma, because there are more than 2 choices, we don't have to be a skeptic or a believer, those aren't the only valid positions. We can simply keep our minds open, use our intelligence, experience, knowledge, critical thinking skills, etc. and be well armed to deal with anything that might come along. Ah, walking the middle path, observing and being alert to our environment and acting upon what we see using all of our skills.

I see your point but have to disagree. When presented with unusual claims the only healthy approach is skepticism. This applies, for example, if someone asks you if you would like to make some easy money. Middle way can be foolish way.

Let me put it this way -- the spectrum runs from gullibility to skepticism to cynicism. Seen that way skepticism is the middle way.

I like this..

IMO the 3rd way is a neutral perspective.. One that sits on a very fine line between skepticism and open acceptance. From that perspective one has the ability to swing in whatever direction one chooses, and one's choice is not screwed by already having a perception that's leaning one way or another..

Think, Tipping point.. Think, a perfect 7 on the PH scale.. Think, Neutral balance on Bass and Treble on your stereo at home.. That is the 3rd way, it's open minded and able to gather information and resources from the entire scale and is not not just one end of it..

Edited by Professor T
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aquatus1

The thing of it is that skepticism can't be judged merely based on the strength of it, on whether there is too little and one is gullible or too much and one is cynical. Skepticism isn't something doled out by measuring spoon as much as it is added depending on necessity.

If someone tells me they went to see a movie last night, I'm not going to be too skeptical about it. Even if they are the sort of person who never goes to see movies, especially during the work week, I might be curious about it, but not really skeptical. There just isn't much need for it.

Alternatively, if someone tells me aliens are going to land tomorrow, I will not be curious about it at all (I simply wouldn't believe it), but I will be highly skeptical and ask to see supporting evidence.

A police officer trying to confirm an alibi on the guy who told me he went to see the movie would be much more skeptical than I, and would likely go so far as to check the background of his story to verify the truth behind it.

Certain people hear about aliens landing, and they start drawing up sign-posts welcoming them to Earth. If they even think to ask any questions, it will be about when and where they can go and if aliens like tofu.

Skepticism isn't something that can be measured on a sliding scale. At a minimum, you would need an Radar chart with one axis for Intensity, one level for Applicability, and one level for Necessity.

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Professor T

I wasn't talking about different strengths of skepticism in terms of a scale, I was talking about where the neutral balance is between skepticism & open acceptance of information..

There is though, IMO differing strengths of Skepticism within it's own scale.. The strength or level of Skepticism depends entirely upon the strength of our desire to know about something or gain information.. In essence we can control the level of skeptical strength by how emotional you are about the subject.. Emotion is the force that drives it.. If for instance, a mild interest that's pushing your sceptically minded thinking forward will result in a mild level of result.. Whereas a deep passion about a subject will result in a passionate to borderline evangelical (preaching it on the mountain) level of result..

So I guess, IMO, Skepticism is something that can be measured internally.. maybe even charted by science or psychologist, by charting level of emotion that drives it.. (I'm no PHD, but it makes sense that this is possible)

Even in this thread I think one or two people have been getting too "Emotional" about this subject.. While others have been neutral and not so involved.. There is a scale of emotion and intent.. I think intention and intensity go side by side in this.. It's a scale, I'm thinking, an emotional rev counter... One end is zero (i don't give a ****) and on the other end 1000 is (This means everything to me!) In between you have passing to mind interest, curiosity to excitement..

Vroooooom.. I'm idling..

I guess, to sum up.. Skepticism is a thought process.. Emotion is the engine..

Keep an eye on the revs..

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DieChecker

:nw: :nw:

What do you mean by this?

Huh? It means I value that Aquatus isn't giving up trying to explain stuff that has evidence and logic behind it.

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DieChecker

Why is It an assumption? Certainly recognition of data is not a belief. But believing an interpretation of the data certainly is. Example. Some are partial to the Copenhagen interpretation of QM. Others are the Many worlds. Both are beliefs, because if they take it as truth. Sure there is a recognition that it may not be complete...by some (not all), but if they accept it as probably truth its a belief. This may or may not be what you are talking about, but what exactly is this "incomplete concept of what these practices are" that we are so ignorant about? Educate us. The "I just know more than you card doesn't cut it." Im skeptical.

I agree. People that accept "facts" without understanding the evidence behind the facts are simply chosing to Believe that what they are told is true. When there are competing theorys on some point, it is belief that allows people to pick one side of the threory or the other. What you believe allows you at accept the evidence defending your position.

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Bildr
BELIEVE AND YOU WILL NEVER FIND, and whatsoever you find will be nothing but the projection of your own belief -- it will not be truth. WHAT HAS TRUTH TO DO WITH YOUR BELIEVING? Doubt, and doubt totally -- because doubt is a cleansing process. It takes out all junk from your mind. It makes you again innocent -- again the child which has been destroyed by the parents, by the priests, by the politicians, by the pedagogues. You have to discover that child again. You have to start from that point.

-Osho

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Frank Merton

If my daughter tells me she saw a man on a bicycle, I say, "fine." If she goes on to say the man had two heads, I'm skeptical. It will take something like a news story about two-headed bicyclists or something like that to cause me to believe, no matter how much I trust my daughter.

This is where, as the Americans say, the rubber meets the road. When people tell you things that are contrary to what is usually the case. Some people are actually eager to believe certain kinds of things and actively disregard good sense and contrary evidence and then have the chutzpa to accuse those who are unpersuaded of having a closed mind.

In most cases it is okay to sit back and say we will see if anything more happens, but when people demand acceptance of their claims, then it is time to let them know that they go too far. And then there are claims that have been debunked, usually many times, and people persist with them. This has got to be something not far removed from unhealthy.

The basic rule is there is no need to "believe" anything. Accept things as probably true if they are reasonable or have very good evidence, remain on the fence when there is little evidence or it is just testimony, and reject that which is untrue, no matter how exciting or beautiful or traditional it is.

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Beany

If my daughter tells me she saw a man on a bicycle, I say, "fine." If she goes on to say the man had two heads, I'm skeptical. It will take something like a news story about two-headed bicyclists or something like that to cause me to believe, no matter how much I trust my daughter.

This is where, as the Americans say, the rubber meets the road. When people tell you things that are contrary to what is usually the case. Some people are actually eager to believe certain kinds of things and actively disregard good sense and contrary evidence and then have the chutzpa to accuse those who are unpersuaded of having a closed mind.

In most cases it is okay to sit back and say we will see if anything more happens, but when people demand acceptance of their claims, then it is time to let them know that they go too far. And then there are claims that have been debunked, usually many times, and people persist with them. This has got to be something not far removed from unhealthy.

The basic rule is there is no need to "believe" anything. Accept things as probably true if they are reasonable or have very good evidence, remain on the fence when there is little evidence or it is just testimony, and reject that which is untrue, no matter how exciting or beautiful or traditional it is.

Darn, Frank, you're being way too reasonable.

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Mikko-kun

I actually agree Frank, about remaining on the fence at least. I just like to do it in such a sneaky way that believers could think I'm on their side and they spill the beans to me. Being the good cop from good cop, bad cop -routine.

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baro67

If in court three clues create a proof I wonder how many clues about paranormal reality it will take before that the hardcore skeptics will open eyes to the truth

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Frank Merton

If in court three clues create a proof I wonder how many clues about paranormal reality it will take before that the hardcore skeptics will open eyes to the truth

Paranormal reality is a contradiction in terms; something that is real is normal. It may be undiscovered or not understood, but if it is really there then it is really there, but if it is instead in your head or in your imagination, you need more skepticism.

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