Amazing Randi Telegraph (UK Newspaper) Article

Discussion in 'Critical Discussions Among Proponents and Skeptics' started by Alan Amsberg, Dec 9, 2014.

  1. Alan Amsberg

    Alan Amsberg New

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  2. Hmmmmm....

     
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  3. Arouet

    Arouet Member

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    I found this comment interesting: " I began to notice there also were plenty of people in the sceptical-atheist movement who seemed to suffer from the same biases and accidents of reasoning as the eccentrics."

    What would be surprising is if this weren't the case!

    What many people - including many skeptics - don't realise is that we are all biased to one extent or another. Being a proponent of skepticsm does not remove that bias. It helps one to identify it. Skepticsm is not a cure for bias, it helps treat the symptoms of it! Our biases are still there - and they are not easily overcome!

    This is the reason why promoting skepticsm is important.
     
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  4. DasMurmeltier

    DasMurmeltier New

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    I'd even go as far as saying that it is not even possible to totally overcome bias. Humans will always be biased. Even if you know you are and you want to avoid it, you will still be biased towards something.
     
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  5. Arouet

    Arouet Member

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    Yes! My point exactly.
     
  6. Types With Fingers

    Types With Fingers New

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    I guess the next logical question is, knowing we're all biased, who should promote skepticism, and how should it be promoted?
     
  7. Arouet

    Arouet Member

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    We all should! Unfortunately, not many do! Personally I think a course on critical thinking should be mandatory in high school.

    There's a lot I don't like about the way the skeptic organisations go about it but as I've said before, I'm grateful to them for bringing it to my attention.
     
  8. DasMurmeltier

    DasMurmeltier New

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    To be honest, im thinking about sceptic organisations as not being really sceptical. They mean something different with that these days. Some of them hide behind the meaning of being sceptical.
     
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  9. Typoz

    Typoz Member

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    I guess the first requirement is to understand the meaning of the term. Someone like Raymond Moody might be a good place to start.
     
  10. Arouet

    Arouet Member

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    I think it's more accurate to say that they are not perfectly skeptical in practice. That said: they do specifically and directly promote skeptical thinking. And they are largely the only ones doing it on any kind of large scale. Unless things have changed (which would be great!) they sure aren't promoting it in our schools!
     
  11. Arouet

    Arouet Member

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    What's his definition? I'll give you mine Skepticism is the withholding of belief in a proposition/claim absent sufficient and reliable evidence. A skeptical method is one that assesses the sufficiency and reliability (including the validity) of the evidence supporting a claim.
     
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  12. Types With Fingers

    Types With Fingers New

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    The challenge I have with this is we already have organizations on both sides of the aisle who report to be "skeptical." JREF, Dawkins Foundation, CSICOP, etc., are debunkers of paranormal phenomenon, and on the other side SCEPCOP, Open Sciences, etc., are debunkers of materialism. In between is a fire-scorched No Man's Land where no one's getting an inch of territory on the other.

    The Oxford Dictionary doesn't help too well with the definition of skepticism, which is listed as a skeptical attitude (thanks, didn't know that :P). So I looked up skeptical, which is defined as "not easily convinced; having doubts or reservations." I don't think that helps much either because who's to say how much is "easily" not convinced?

    So I'm taking up my own definition of skepticism, as accepting or denying data and conclusions from data in spite of one's own beliefs. Which to me makes the Buddhists the best skeptics we have in the world.
     
  13. Arouet

    Arouet Member

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    What I'm talking about is the promotion of skeptical methodology as distinct from the application of it. The tools to evaluate claims including (but not limited to):
    • critical thinking
    • the identification of logical fallacies
    • how bias can impact on our views
    • the role of the scientific method
    • the importance of methodology
    That is a common definition of skepticsm - but it is not what the skeptic organisations mean by skepticism.

    I think your definition is implicit in mine, but yours is missing any kind of direction about how we should be evaluating evidence or deriving conclusions.
     
  14. Types With Fingers

    Types With Fingers New

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    Yes, I love it! You should make a thread of it, so we could refer to it in future forum discussions.

    Yes, well, that's because I'm an adorable sky-bison, not a wordsmith.
     
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  15. Arouet

    Arouet Member

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    I made this post in the main podcast thread by accident, thought I was in this thread:

    That was a strange statement. I don't see a link. It seems to be a variation of this article: http://www.sptimes.com/Floridian/41498/The__quack__hunter.html


    Which makes a lot more sense!
     
  16. JCearley

    JCearley New

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    I think this is a gross understatement. I believe the complaint being levied here is that they are not agnostics promoting reason, they are "true believers" who have simply replaced what their religious idols are to something else.

    This is, really, just a marketing term. I've seen some of the assigned reading from college professors, and the books involved were almost directly geared towards training debunkers (such as every example being used to mock UFO'ers for instance.) In one case it conflated an argument being bad logic for sample size (the example was "I put this crystal to my forehead and my headache got better", cited as a logical fallacy for having too small of a sample size; that is not a fallacy of reasoning, as sample size is a topic argued by scientists and not philosophers.)

    A person does not need to be trained in "critical thinking". They need only be shown how to do formal logic, which is a process of building new thoughts along a supportable framework--critthink advocates generally bring up their flavor as a tool for deconstructing and debunking, which is the opposite of why logic was invented in the first place!
     
  17. Arouet

    Arouet Member

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    I don't particularly care what you call it - there are a number of ways one could design such a course, and a number of ways one could promote these skills.

    I'd have to see the actual quotation, but again, doesn't really matter - like I said, there are different ways one could present the material . The important thing is to teach the skills.

    I've taken a course in formal logic. I'm not saying it wasn't useful, and I enjoyed the puzzle aspect of it - but it was pretty divorced from the kind of critical thinking we need in day to day life.

    Again: my point is that it is important to teach these skills and that from what I can see, the skeptic groups are really the only groups publicizing this on a wide scale. It doesn't have to be this way - if our education systems put a bigger focus on these skills, the skeptical movement would become far less necessary.
     
  18. Types With Fingers

    Types With Fingers New

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    Now, under your personal definition of skepticism and the skeptical method correctly, if I understand them correctly, where would the folks fall who were trained as materialists/physicalists, found data which challenged their beliefs, assessed the reliability, sufficiency, and validity of the evidence for materialism, and concluded other ideas (let's lump them under the term "non-physicalistic" for now) as having more weight?

    While they of course would not have the infrastructure to publicize their research on the same scale as Skeptical Inquirer, Pharyngula, etc., would they not also be skeptics by using what you see as the skeptical method?

    Mind you, I'm not saying you have to agree with people like Dr. Eben Alexander, Dr. Brian Weiss, etc., I'm hoping perhaps we can establish a common agreement on terms, which seems to trip up so many people on here before their ideas can even get off the ground.
     
  19. radicalpolitik

    radicalpolitik New

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    I was under the impression that the most basic definition of skepticism was 'take no ones word for it'
     
  20. Arouet

    Arouet Member

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    Take no one's word for what? Context matters.
     

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