Skeptic Friends Network

Username:
Password:
Save Password
Forgot your Password?
Home | Forums | Active Topics | Active Polls | Register | FAQ | Contact Us  
  Connect: Chat | SFN Messenger | Buddy List | Members
Personalize: Profile | My Page | Forum Bookmarks  
 All Forums
 Our Skeptic Forums
 General Skepticism
 Just how open should your mind be?
 New Topic  Topic Locked
 Printer Friendly Bookmark this Topic BookMark Topic
Next Page
Author Previous Topic Topic Next Topic
Page: of 2

beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 09/26/2004 :  03:52:29  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
Dave asked so I bring this up at his request. I know I have discussed this before but I couldn't find the bulk of it on the BBs I have posted to. If any of this sounds familiar, feel free to ignore its rerun. Anyway, it all started when I said one might consider being skeptical of automatic rejection of certain possibilities normally seen as items to be skeptical of. In other words, sure I'm skeptical of paranormal claims, but I don't want to reject their being possible without evidence to the contrary either.

There is a narrow line between rejecting an hypothesis out of hand because it doesn't appear to be realistic and rejecting a theory or hypothesis because there is overwhelming evidence against it. We do have to be careful and I'm sure every one of us has probably been guilty at some time of discarding an hypothesis that later proved to have merit.

On the other hand.... everything does not have merit. There are times when you just can't, for the sake of politeness, keep your mind open to every possibility that every single person brings to the discussion.

One would be lying to say they were open to 'every possibility' unless they were also open to every bizarre claim that has ever been made. Maybe the Earth is flat, maybe it it is 6,000 years old, maybe fairies and leprechauns exist.

I am not closed minded to legitimate inquiry and I am by no means of the opinion we know everything there is to know. So I am ready to reject things such as a flat Earth because there is evidence we live on a sphere. And I am not going to accept psychic events occur because I have not seen convincing evidence. But in the case of the latter, I don't have enough evidence to negate the possibility of some kind of perception we have not yet discovered.

It gets to be a bit muddy. Someone could easily question why I reject fairies while I haven't totally rejected ESP. Each claim has to be evaluated on its merits individually. There are probably animals yet to be discovered since our latest discoveries have been fairly recent, but fairies would more than likely have been discovered by now since they specifically interact with humans. We could argue this all day. It is just an example here. If you want to believe fairies possible but feel ESP has been disproven, I wouldn't argue. These things do require some opinion be involved.

The mind is not yet completely deciphered. There is room for at least a few new discoveries. Perhaps we should not totally write off psychic phenomena. I am in no way suggesting that there are enough unexplained events to consider accepting such occurrences at this time. I merely say that skepticism should be a two way street.





Edited by - beskeptigal on 09/26/2004 03:57:34

Dr. Mabuse
Septic Fiend

Sweden
9677 Posts

Posted - 09/26/2004 :  07:33:44   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message
Every single scientific testing of ESP has to my knowledge failed to produce evidence of ESP. Since science do not deal with absolutes, there is still a remote possibility that it might be real.

Absence of Evidence does not equal Evidence of Absence, but as have been addressed in other threads, overwhelming lack of evidence is a strong indicator of absence.

It's like the Loch Ness Monster: Lack of evidence, and the few potential pieces of evidence has been frauds. We can safely say there is no monster. We can also safely say there is no ESP, though I'd love to be proved wrong.

Edit: Spelling and formatting.

Dr. Mabuse - "When the going gets tough, the tough get Duct-tape..."
Dr. Mabuse whisper.mp3

"Equivocation is not just a job, for a creationist it's a way of life..." Dr. Mabuse

Support American Troops in Iraq:
Send them unarmed civilians for target practice..
Collateralmurder.
Edited by - Dr. Mabuse on 09/26/2004 07:35:36
Go to Top of Page

Siberia
SFN Addict

Brazil
2322 Posts

Posted - 09/26/2004 :  08:25:35   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Siberia's Homepage  Send Siberia an AOL message  Send Siberia a Yahoo! Message Send Siberia a Private Message
I'm from the perspective it's not healthy to truly deny something's existence without proof. I can deny the Earth is flat, because there are numerous evidences that it is indeed a geoid. I can deny it's a sphere, because it's a geoid slightly flat on the poles.

But I can't deny ESP, simply because I don't know. I can have a strong hunch it doesn't exist - I can believe it doesn't exist, but I can't downright say, "it doesn't exist."

I can't deny fairies and pixies and elves exist, but I might suspect (even believe) they don't.

What I should do is give the benefit of doubt - approach the situation, study it, analyse it. Get to know it, then make my conclusions. That, to me, is be open minded; the difference relies if you accept everything or use your critical thinking on it. Whether your conclusions fit the whole, or are true, only time will tell. Belief, IMHO, is very personal.

"Why are you afraid of something you're not even sure exists?"
- The Kovenant, Via Negativa

"People who don't like their beliefs being laughed at shouldn't have such funny beliefs."
-- unknown
Go to Top of Page

Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 09/26/2004 :  10:01:53   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message
Once again I must refer you all to "The Burden of Skepticism" by Carl Sagan. This is the best essay I have ever read on the subject of how open minded we skeptics should be...
quote:
Sagan:
If you are only skeptical, then no new ideas make it through to you. You never learn anything new. You become a crotchety old person convinced that nonsense is ruling the world. (There is, of course, much data to support you.) But every now and then, maybe once in a hundred cases, a new idea turns out to be on the mark, valid and wonderful. If you are too much in the habit of being skeptical about everything, you are going to miss or resent it, and either way you will be standing in the way of understanding and progress.

On the other hand, if you are open to the point of gullibility and have not an ounce of skeptical sense in you, then you cannot distinguish the useful as from the worthless ones. If all ideas have equal validity then you are lost, because then, it seems to me, no ideas have any validity at all.

http://www.uiowa.edu/~anthro/webcourse/lost/sagskept2.html

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
Go to Top of Page

Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 09/26/2004 :  11:11:14   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message
quote:
beskeptigal:
Anyway, it all started when I said one might consider being skeptical of automatic rejection of certain possibilities normally seen as items to be skeptical of.


Or the automatic acceptance of things we should be skeptical of?

I don't mean to be a tease, or maybe I do, but this hits close to home for me right now. My girlfriend and I are working on an essay that will call into question the acceptance of false memory to the complete rejection of repressed memory by many skeptics. While we do not take issue with the idea that false memory happens, we do take issue with the notion that false memory and repressed memory are mutually exclusive with the nod always going to false memory. We also take issue with the idea that there is an actual, well defined syndrome associated with false memory. We smell junk science and convenient thinking in the conclusions of people who we believe should know better...

I'm sure this will piss off some skeptics. Do me a favor though. Don't start the flaming now. Wait until the essay is published on the site. I have no wish to hijack this tread. I only mentioned what we are doing because it seems relevant to this thread in general...


Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
Go to Top of Page

Ricky
SFN Die Hard

USA
4907 Posts

Posted - 09/26/2004 :  12:04:21   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Ricky an AOL message Send Ricky a Private Message
It is perfectly fine to reject claims such as ESP, fairies, or monsters, so long as that rejection is not absolute. Basically what you are saying:

"All known data points towards the conclusion that it doesn't exist."

Is there unknown data? Yes, there always is, and always will be. Does this unknown data evidence for these claim? How the hell are we suppossed to known, its freaking unknown. We must make our conclusions based on data that is known, not data that is unknown. As long as there is unknown data, all conclusions can change. Being a skeptic just means that you must be ready to change your conclusions based on new evidence.

Why continue? Because we must. Because we have the call. Because it is nobler to fight for rationality without winning than to give up in the face of continued defeats. Because whatever true progress humanity makes is through the rationality of the occasional individual and because any one individual we may win for the cause may do more for humanity than a hundred thousand who hug their superstitions to their breast.
- Isaac Asimov
Go to Top of Page

Siberia
SFN Addict

Brazil
2322 Posts

Posted - 09/26/2004 :  12:09:48   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Siberia's Homepage  Send Siberia an AOL message  Send Siberia a Yahoo! Message Send Siberia a Private Message
quote:
It is perfectly fine to reject claims such as ESP, fairies, or monsters, so long as that rejection is not absolute.

Precisely; not reject the possibility is to be as close-minded as accepting everything your rabbi/priest/minister says as the Total and Absolute Truth.

"Why are you afraid of something you're not even sure exists?"
- The Kovenant, Via Negativa

"People who don't like their beliefs being laughed at shouldn't have such funny beliefs."
-- unknown
Go to Top of Page

Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26012 Posts

Posted - 09/26/2004 :  20:04:47   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
Good thread, beskeptigal.

Ricky wrote:
quote:
"All known data points towards the conclusion that it doesn't exist."
I just wanted to say that much of the time, here on the SFN, the above idea is simply (perhaps too simply) stated with a single word: "baloney." Much of the time, when people use such a word - or words with equivalent meaning - here on these boards, what they really mean is, "show me the evidence, and if it's good I'll change my mind, but right now, the phenomenon of which you speak has failed every test to which it has been subjected."

Understandably, people get tired of being so verbose. And they get even more tired of being so verbose in the face of the same old crappy evidence being presented, just warmed over. Not that that's what happened in the thread which prompted this one (in which it appears that evidence was presented which was unfamiliar to several people), but it's happened so very many times that there can be a sort of knee-jerk "baloney" reaction which is not necessarily indicative of a completely closed mind or a lack of proper skepticism.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
Go to Top of Page

beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 09/27/2004 :  09:51:31   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
Thanks, Dave.

No one said anything about automatic acceptance, Kil. I think we most all agree on that point.

Some examples, to explore the principles of when can you say it ain't so. The examples here are not the point, the examples of exclusionary evidence are.

Adequate research to rule it out.
Loch Ness -- been pretty much ruled out with 2 studies in particular:
  • inadequate food supply to support large animal pretty well documented
  • some fairly thorough sonar soundings of the entire loch, if you discount the one "flipper" sonogram that hasn't held up to scrutiny
  • less convincing but contributory, the claim the original photo was faked

Inadequate research to rule it out.
ESP has not been demonstrated in study after study. Normally, this would be enough to conclude it isn't real. But in this case there are some scenarios that have not been tested. In particular, one cannot test ESP occurring in situations which so far we cannot set up in an experiment. Also, evaluating such things as psychic detective outcomes is confounded by false psychics being counted and the possibility even true psychic events are not consistent. Again, hard to rule this out until better means of evaluating the evidence are developed.

No reason to consider it in the first place.
Fairies, fire breathing dragons, -- I'm not willing to entertain the possibility of things such as fairies that are based strictly on fantasy. I have no problem remaining open to discovery of something not yet imagined. But what I have a gripe with is saying we can't disprove this totally literary object.

Need you disprove every fantasy ever imagined by a human? Seems unnecessary. Compare fairies to the latest incredible imaginary objects from the Harry Potter series. Should we really consider Diagon Alley is possibly real because it hasn't been dis-proven?

I distinguish imagined objects from imagined interpretations of observed objects. With the latter, there is at least some phenomenon that needs explaining.
Edited by - beskeptigal on 09/27/2004 09:54:45
Go to Top of Page

Ricky
SFN Die Hard

USA
4907 Posts

Posted - 09/27/2004 :  10:04:18   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Ricky an AOL message Send Ricky a Private Message
You have to understand there is a difference between:

quote:
I'm not willing to entertain the possibility of things such as fairies that are based strictly on fantasy.


and:

quote:
Should we really consider Diagon Alley is possibly real because it hasn't been dis-proven?


If someone came up to you yelling, "LOOK, LOOK! I got evidence of fairies!" Would you just say, "I'm not even going to look, because I know its fake."? This is how I interpret "not willing to entertain the possibility of..." You have to look, you have to consider possibility of evidence.

Why continue? Because we must. Because we have the call. Because it is nobler to fight for rationality without winning than to give up in the face of continued defeats. Because whatever true progress humanity makes is through the rationality of the occasional individual and because any one individual we may win for the cause may do more for humanity than a hundred thousand who hug their superstitions to their breast.
- Isaac Asimov
Go to Top of Page

Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26012 Posts

Posted - 09/27/2004 :  10:15:56   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
As far as I can tell, beskeptigal, ESP and psychic communications are "based strictly on fantasy," just like Diagon Alley, fairies, and even God.

I mean, modern spiritualism, with its aspects of people being able to communicate with the dead, did not start with observations of a phenomenon that needed explaining, but with the Fox sisters and their acknowledged deception.

"Mind reading" and other aspects of ESP are not based upon recurrent observations of real phenomena, but upon stories which have probably been around longer than we've had writing to record them.

If we did have a published record in which the term "fairy" is first used to describe an observed entity, things would be very different regarding arguments over their existence. Much the same for "psychic" phenomena, though: claims of psychic abilities appear to post-date the concept of those abilities, and without good positive evidence, there isn't much of a basis for not considering such claims to be - at best - wishful thinking by people who really desire to be psychics.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
Go to Top of Page

beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 09/27/2004 :  10:42:00   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Dave W.

As far as I can tell, beskeptigal, ESP and psychic communications are "based strictly on fantasy," just like Diagon Alley, fairies, and even God.

I mean, modern spiritualism, with its aspects of people being able to communicate with the dead, did not start with observations of a phenomenon that needed explaining, but with the Fox sisters and their acknowledged deception.

"Mind reading" and other aspects of ESP are not based upon recurrent observations of real phenomena, but upon stories which have probably been around longer than we've had writing to record them.

If we did have a published record in which the term "fairy" is first used to describe an observed entity, things would be very different regarding arguments over their existence. Much the same for "psychic" phenomena, though: claims of psychic abilities appear to post-date the concept of those abilities, and without good positive evidence, there isn't much of a basis for not considering such claims to be - at best - wishful thinking by people who really desire to be psychics.

Gad, your fast. I didn't even get my post fixed.

I don't think someone wrote a story about ESP before it was imagined. Fire breathing dragons and fairies began as stories. I could be wrong, but I don't think someone came running home and said they saw a fairy. Dragon stories have been speculated to be from observances of real creatures, but I believe the fire breathing stuff originated as a story. If I am wrong then I'd have to discount those things with additional evidence, which is why I said I was giving evidence examples, not examples of things to believe or not believe in.

Irregardless of the specific examples, if it started in a book or story, it doesn't need to be dis-proved. If it started because someone thinks they observed it, we should look to dis-prove it.

So the question becomes, do you think ESP events have been completely dis-proven. Clearly, from your post, you think so. I don't think they have been proven, but I don't think they have been completely dis-proven.

You can say Etta's story can be explained by fraud, but can you prove that is the explanation?
Go to Top of Page

beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 09/27/2004 :  10:51:21   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
After re-reading your post, Dave, I add to clarify: When I speak of being written or began as a story, I mean intended as a work of fiction.

I include some myths and legends because I think many were meant as fiction even if they were describing some ancient religious belief. This doesn't apply to all myths. People may have believed they were writing about real events when they wrote about Adam and Eve. But I'm not sure people believed Pele really had a physical battle with the sea. It makes more sense to me those kind of stories were knowingly meant as metaphors. I could be wrong. So again, it isn't the specific thing that was originally written as fiction, but rather the simple statement, if it started as fiction, no need to explore it. If it started as a bad interpretation of something real, it's not in the same category.
Go to Top of Page

Ricky
SFN Die Hard

USA
4907 Posts

Posted - 09/27/2004 :  10:53:49   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Ricky an AOL message Send Ricky a Private Message
quote:
So the question becomes, do you think ESP events have been completely dis-proven. Clearly, from your post, you think so. I don't think they have been proven, but I don't think they have been completely dis-proven.

You can say Etta's story can be explained by fraud, but can you prove that is the explanation?


In the case of ESP the evidence against, or disproof, is just the simple fact that there is no means to get the data from one person's head to another. You can always say, "What if its done be a means that is unknown?" to which I reply that there will always be unknowns, we must go off what is known. What is known is that there is no known way to transfer thoughts. I feel this is pretty strong disproof.

Why continue? Because we must. Because we have the call. Because it is nobler to fight for rationality without winning than to give up in the face of continued defeats. Because whatever true progress humanity makes is through the rationality of the occasional individual and because any one individual we may win for the cause may do more for humanity than a hundred thousand who hug their superstitions to their breast.
- Isaac Asimov
Go to Top of Page

beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 09/27/2004 :  11:21:31   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Ricky

quote:
So the question becomes, do you think ESP events have been completely dis-proven. Clearly, from your post, you think so. I don't think they have been proven, but I don't think they have been completely dis-proven.

You can say Etta's story can be explained by fraud, but can you prove that is the explanation?


In the case of ESP the evidence against, or disproof, is just the simple fact that there is no means to get the data from one person's head to another. You can always say, "What if its done be a means that is unknown?" to which I reply that there will always be unknowns, we must go off what is known. What is known is that there is no known way to transfer thoughts. I feel this is pretty strong disproof.

I don't want to be in the position of defending ESP here, so don't take it that way.

But as to your argument, we don't know how lots of things work but we observe the outcome. That's the least best reason to dis-count ESP.
Go to Top of Page

Ricky
SFN Die Hard

USA
4907 Posts

Posted - 09/27/2004 :  11:38:10   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Ricky an AOL message Send Ricky a Private Message
I'm sorry, I kind of took that out of context. What I meant was for that to go along with "we haven't seen it." We have never observed ESP and no one even tries to explain why it happens.

Why continue? Because we must. Because we have the call. Because it is nobler to fight for rationality without winning than to give up in the face of continued defeats. Because whatever true progress humanity makes is through the rationality of the occasional individual and because any one individual we may win for the cause may do more for humanity than a hundred thousand who hug their superstitions to their breast.
- Isaac Asimov
Go to Top of Page
Page: of 2 Previous Topic Topic Next Topic  
Next Page
 New Topic  Topic Locked
 Printer Friendly Bookmark this Topic BookMark Topic
Jump To:

The mission of the Skeptic Friends Network is to promote skepticism, critical thinking, science and logic as the best methods for evaluating all claims of fact, and we invite active participation by our members to create a skeptical community with a wide variety of viewpoints and expertise.


Home | Skeptic Forums | Skeptic Summary | The Kil Report | Creation/Evolution | Rationally Speaking | Skeptillaneous | About Skepticism | Fan Mail | Claims List | Calendar & Events | Skeptic Links | Book Reviews | Gift Shop | SFN on Facebook | Staff | Contact Us

Skeptic Friends Network
© 2008 Skeptic Friends Network Go To Top Of Page
This page was generated in 0.19 seconds.
Powered by @tomic Studio
Snitz Forums 2000