Mod+ UPCOMMING INTERVIEW: DR. MICHAEL SHERMER, THE MORAL ARC

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by alex.tsakiris, Jan 27, 2015.

  1. Alex

    Alex New

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    Dr. Michael Shermer will be joining me next week to talk about his new book, The Moral Arc. Any questions?
     
  2. Far.From.Here

    Far.From.Here New

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    Any question with the phrase "biological robot" would be awesome.
     
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  3. DasMurmeltier

    DasMurmeltier New

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    That interview will be interesting. Well, you wanted to talk to sceptics, right alex? I imagine you cant get someone else who is just as much a personification of that what we call sceptics these days.

    I'd be interested if hes just as sceptical when it comes to science and human reasoning as he is about everything else since he seems to base his scepticism on those two things.
     
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  4. lhl

    lhl Member

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    The first thing that comes to mind is Shermer's misrepresentation of van Lommel's Lancet study. As far as I'm aware Shermer never did retract his misleading treatment of that study. It would be interesting to know if the subject matter of NDEs is treated in his book. And if so, if he has corrected his mistake.
     
  5. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    How about probing his recent experience with the synchronicity at his wedding?

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/a...-that-can-shake-one-s-skepticism-to-the-core/

    The emotional interpretations of such anomalous events grant them significance regardless of their causal account. And if we are to take seriously the scientific credo to keep an open mind and remain agnostic when the evidence is indecisive or the riddle unsolved, we should not shut the doors of perception when they may be opened to us to marvel in the mysterious.

    Did he mean it when he said it had shaken his scepticism? Is he managing to remain agnostic?
     
  6. Types With Fingers

    Types With Fingers New

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    Shermer! It's Shermer! *howls, runs in circles, and foams at the mouth*

    Phew, I'm okay now.

    He does know this is SkeptiKO, not SkeptiCO, right?

    But seriously, I have to agree with Michael, his spooky-radio story has got to be featured in the interview. However, what I'd like to know is:

    1) his thoughts on the reaction of his fans and colleagues when the story was released. Commenters on the SciAm page immediately scrambled to explain away his special experience with his newlywed wife as nothing-to-see-here, while many others sprang to chastise him for giving attention to it at all. Dr. Coyne even threw the "woo" label at him. Does he feel the reaction he received was representative of a rational, unbiased, progressive, scientific crowd? Is this what we are all to expect every time we have an anomalous episode?

    2) Did his experience have an affect on how he sees the paranormal crowd? What did he feel was the reaction to his story from our side of the aisle? Did he come closer to understanding what we know about the impact of personal experience on a person's worldview?

    3) How much of his concerns about what is called the supernatural stems from the data of which he is aware, and how much stems from the fear of letting religion seep in? Can he acknowledge the possibility that most scientists are biased against psi, ?DEs, ADCs, etc., not because of what they see as a lack of concrete data, but because they fear an acceptance of it will open the door to religion? Does he see any way the sciences can let psi come into the mainstream knowledge without being tainted by religion?

    4) Does he feel science is still an anthology of fields and methods, or has it become a political position? Has politics and funding replaced the threat of religion? What are his thoughts on Randi's MDC, considering so many laypeople and even scientific publications have used it to debunk the paranormal, in spite of it being not repeatable, virtually impossible to measure compared to standard scientific experiments, no scientific journal would publish it, and Randi is not a scientist? What are his thoughts on Dawkins and militant atheists, is this what the founders of the various fields of science would have wanted? What are his thoughts on the Open Sciences program, can he understand their concerns, and does he believe they are acting as scientists who feel they're in the minority position should act?

    5) What are his definitions of a proponent, skeptic, and debunker, what are the differences, and when should scientists be in one position or another?

    UPDATE 6) From his point of view, when is a subject worth investigating? What does it take to get from, "Huh, that's weird," to, "Hopefully, this experiment will show that..." Is there a point in science when research should be ended, and who and what should make that decision?

    That's all I have for the moment.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2015
  7. Ian Gordon

    Ian Gordon Ninshub Member

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    Alex, I'm guessing you'll be confronting the claim that "science and reason are leading humanity toward truth"... :)
     
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  8. Doppelgänger

    Doppelgänger New

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    Wow, just saw this. Really looking forward to the interview. I will have to think of questions! (scurries off to find time to write down questions for Skeptiko.)
     
  9. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    How about asking him if it is reasonable to recount his own extraordinary experience at his wedding, and yet discount the many other experiences of others - including NDE's. If he settles into his usual line - as put out in Scientific American - we really won't learn much.

    David
     
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  10. Is Shermer - someone who has always struck me as an intellectual lightweight - talking about science, or "science" resting on philosophical assumptions that he conveniently thinks will lead to a utopian Age of Reason? Does he mean Freedom as an intrinsic right part of an objective morality, or materialist "freedom" as defined by particular cultures in particular times where the civilization in Orwell's 1984 is only as tyrannical as cultural norms in the time period decide it is?

    What does he have to say about the materialist Rosenberg's argument in Atheist's Guide to Reality that science leads to nihilism? Or that since matter can't be about anything our thoughts are not about anything at all? What about the research that suggests telling people they have no free will undermines morality?

    It seems to me the materialist cultists in groups like JREF and CSICOP have no definitive argument that justifies the spread of their faith since they've never genuinely dealt with the nihilistic implications. As for the catechisms of their religion, they can't provide anything that addresses the quantitative-qualitative leap at the heart of the Hard Problem, nor do they have a solution to how matter can be about something in the way neurons supposedly are about thoughts. Even the "laws" of physics are observations of regularities extrapolated into exclusionary, universally applicable certainties.

    Would also be amusing to see if he appeals to the Multiverse when asked about the issues relating to fine tuning and intelligent design that made the atheist philosopher Anthony Flew into a theist.
     
  11. Bertha Huse

    Bertha Huse New

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    Ask him if he's ever been involved in any scientific work himself, such as participated in NDE or parapsychological research. Or if not, has he visited any good mediums? I assume this is what a real Skeptic would do. Right?

    And if he says no, then why not? Some famous Skeptics such as Richard Hodgson, James Hyslop actually did visit mediums, even debunked them.

    My Best,
    Bertha
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2015
  12. Dmitch

    Dmitch New

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    Alex, there are increasing reports of how meditation causes positive shifts in behavior, (not just as a stress reducer but kids report feelings of anger dissipate) especially demonstrated in California school systems. As a Neuroscientist, does Dr. Shermer consider meditation a science based strategy or a spiritual based strategy. Why would the practice of 15 minutes of meditation cause a child to feel compassionate?

    http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/openf...transforms-roughest-San-Francisco-5136942.php

    http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/01/should-schools-teach-kids-to-meditate/283229/
     
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  13. Shermer has a neuroscience degree?
     
  14. MysteryGuest

    MysteryGuest New

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    How do you fancy Arsenal's chances against Villa tomorrow? I've got £10 on it and I'd appreciate your input as a man of science. Thx.
     
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  15. Ian Gordon

    Ian Gordon Ninshub Member

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    Wiki says he's got a bachelor and master's in psychology, and a Ph.D in the history of science.
     
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  16. Dmitch

    Dmitch New

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    My apologies Sciborg. He has a Ph.D in Science History and a Masters in Psychology. Plus he was a competitive racing cyclist! Hey the guy's not all bad LOL!
     
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  17. Bertha Huse

    Bertha Huse New

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    According to Wikipedia Shermer was also once a fundamentalist Christian.

    Here is an excellent link on Shermer: http://www.skepticalaboutskeptics.o...s/whos-who-of-media-skeptics/shermer-michael/

    Here is an excerpt from the article:
    Shermer is also a close associate with James Randi who has been known to invent "facts" and make evidence up.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2015
  18. Matt²

    Matt² New

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    This interview should prove to be very interesting. I for one, look forward to it.
     
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  19. I don't think he's all bad. But he has what Nagel calls a Cosmic Authority Problem - he can't stand the idea that there might be a God. That, and the materialist cults' bigotry against religious belief, has led them to all sorts of questionable tactics and Multiverse silliness.

    The intellectual dishonesty stemming from skeptics' political aims (end goals I partially share) is rot on the souls of science and philosophy. Better to say we don't know anything about God than to sow the seeds of the nihilism materialism entails.
     
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  20. Bertha Huse

    Bertha Huse New

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    A great deal of my personal anger against Skeptics derives from the kind of propaganda campaign ongoing right now - especially on highly visible platforms such as Wikipedia. Their methods became clear to me given how quickly you were banned from participation on Wikipedia based on the deliberate misuse and abuse of Wikipedia rules - it was like attempting to play a game of football with an opposing team that did not hesitate to deflate a football, or reinterpret rules (or literally alter them) to make sure they won the game.

    The assault upon any forms of spirituality, and the demeaning language used, such as "woo" or "pseudo-science" to attack other people, many of whom have been highly credentialed in academia and might have spent decades of their lives researching psychological phenomena such as psi or NDEs - I have had the most difficulty restraining my bitterness and anger toward, which remains latent beneath the surface - whenever I attempt to engage with a Skeptic. You can even sense it in Alex - when he has conducted his many admirable interviews with Skeptics - but he possesses far more control over some of the "angst" I must admit, than I am able to manage. I admire Alex for that! And realize it is better to forego the name-calling and attempt to remain level headed. It is a kind of challenge to the self.

    For Shermer most likely does very much believe what he is doing is "righteous" - to frame his and his colleagues actions in theological terms. For materialism is just another kind of truth and belief about reality, just as any theology has been. And Shermer appears to me to have faith in materialism just like any devout theologian would have faith in some religion. What is however morally contemptible, and you are correct, is the kind of tactics Skeptics have been known to engage in. Though certainly not as severe as the tactics of priests during the Spanish Inquisition, such as burning heretics at the stake, there is certainly an echo of absolute faith and the willingness to censor and character assassinate other human beings in order to maintain the integrity of their righteous materialistic cause.

    My Best,
    Bertha
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2015
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