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Ricky
SFN Die Hard

USA
4907 Posts

Posted - 01/06/2005 :  16:09:06   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Ricky an AOL message Send Ricky a Private Message
quote:

Have you skeptically examined skepticism?

How rigorous are you in examining something which is so important to you?

If your examination of skepticism made you conclude that a skeptical view of the world hindered your aesthetic and emotional appreciation of the world, how would you go about changing yourself?



Skepticism is not a view on the world. All that skepticism is about is asking questions, taking what you know to try to figure out that which you don't.

I see absolutely nothing wrong with asking the hard questions, searching for answers instead of making them up, and going off what I know instead of what I don't. Do you see something wrong with that?

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
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Ricky
SFN Die Hard

USA
4907 Posts

Posted - 01/06/2005 :  16:19:16   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Ricky an AOL message Send Ricky a Private Message
quote:
So what's your opinion about Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle? Or is Heisenberg an "old" discussion on skeptic's forums?


Old? Heh, not at all. What is old on skeptic forums are things which people claim to have happened 6,000 years ago and a 200 year old theory with thousands of pieces of evidence that people just refuse to accept.

Now you have the two sets:

quote:

Set 1 consists of all those statements about which examination [of the subject] of the statement will make no change in the truth value of that statement.
Set 2 consists of all those statements about which examination [of the subject] of the statement will make some change in the truth value of that statement.



The only way we know how to observe something so small such as electrons (which is what the Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle applies to, correct?) is to change it. We simply don't know any other way.

This article uses a great analogy which I will change around a little bit.

So you have a car traveling. You need to know where it is and how fast it is going. However, there is catch. You are blind and deaf. The only thing you are given to detect the car is another car. To detect it, you must send your car into the traveling car, and if it crashes into it, you know it was there at that point in time.

However, when you crash one car into the other, because the car is just as massive as the other one, you must change the path of the other car.

Just replace "car" with "electron", and you have the very first part of the Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, how we detect electrons.

So the only way we can detect electrons is to change them. Is there another way? Most likely. We just don't know it yet.

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
Edited by - Ricky on 01/06/2005 16:19:52
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Isaiah
Skeptic Friend

USA
83 Posts

Posted - 01/06/2005 :  16:20:38   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Isaiah's Homepage Send Isaiah a Private Message
quote:
Skepticism is not a view on the world. All that skepticism is about is asking questions, taking what you know to try to figure out that which you don't.

I see absolutely nothing wrong with asking the hard questions, searching for answers instead of making them up, and going off what I know instead of what I don't. Do you see something wrong with that?



I'd like to pause on answering that for a moment, if you don't mind, because you make a perfect test case to explore whether being a skeptic is or is not a view on the world... and moreover whether that view of the world has an effect on the world you see.

Would you mind sharing all the feelings you have around the question "Do you see something wrong with that?" Is it just a basic question wandering through your mind? Do you already have a theory of whether I do or don't? Do you have emotions behind the question?

But perhaps our meanings are off-kilter here a little bit, what are some examples of "views of the world" which I can use to see what skepticism isn't?

Isaiah

PS - Man... With the nature of the responses I'm receiving, I feel like a skeptic that was dropped into an astrologer's conference.

For Real Things I Know - http://solomonj.blogspot.com

"My point is, that you cannot use lack of evidence for one possibility as proof for another." - Dude

“I would rather delude myself with comforting fantasies than face a cold reality” - Isaiah, altered from astropin
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Shacal
Skeptic Friend

USA
51 Posts

Posted - 01/06/2005 :  17:05:36   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Shacal a Private Message
quote:
And frankly, you can state as much as you like that skepticism doesn't hinder aesthetics or emotions, but that's a claim without any proof. You can make any claim you want, but without evidence, your own warning signals should be going off.



Let me assure you, my aesthetics and emotions are in great working order. Why just now I felt a twinge of anger at the statement that my method of determining truth somehow makes me less capable of feeling emotions.

And aesthetics? Well I will admit to not having Martha Stewart-quality tastes, but I can appreciate art. Do you really believe that because I won't accept a statement without solid evidence that I am lacking in some ability to understand emotions and comprehend other things on an emotional level?

quote:
Wow. You're saying that a methodology isn't subject to examination?


Though I'm sure Valiant Dancer will ably defend himself, I don't think that is what he meant. Skepticism is not a methodology you arrive at without critically examining it (in fact, critically examining things is skepticism.)

Edited for clarity

"The problem with communication is the illusion that we have accomplished it"
Edited by - Shacal on 01/06/2005 17:07:38
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26020 Posts

Posted - 01/06/2005 :  17:48:55   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Isaiah

I'm hardly an existentialist, but by this, are you saying that the methods by which we perceive the world are above questioning?
If you choose to, you can go so far as to posit that each person creates their own "reality," and that there is no underlying "objective" universe at all. Is such a question worthwhile? Not really.

Skepticism gets applied to truth claims, after all. If all truths are relative, there's no need for skepticism, or in fact any truth claims at all. "The sky is blue" would not necessarily be true for anyone but me, school would be a waste of time, and no form of government would function.

If, on the other hand, we begin with the assumption that there is an objective reality, that's when things get interesting. It gets even more interesting if we also assume that we can discover what that reality is. And these things are assumptions, in that we can never know if they are true (for all I can tell, everyone and everything I know is the result of a fever dream).

With those assumptions in hand (again: without them, everything is pointless), we can begin learning about the universe, the things in it, and how they act. We can start making statements about the world, and testing them to try to discover their truth values.

It's at this point that skepticism can be fruitful. All that a skeptic attempts to do is verify the truth value of some statement or another. Someone makes the claim (for example) that Chi exists. The skeptic responds, "how do you know that Chi exists?"

And that's pretty much all there is to skepticism. If it were, somehow, an invalid methodology (more a "rule of thumb," really), nothing would ever be questioned. You, Isaiah, acted like a skeptic when questioning skepticism. Did it hinder your asthetic or emotional appreciation of things?

Speaking of which, you wrote:
quote:
And frankly, you can state as much as you like that skepticism doesn't hinder aesthetics or emotions, but that's a claim without any proof. You can make any claim you want, but without evidence, your own warning signals should be going off.
Well, it's kinda tough to provide evidence of that sort of universal negative, but I (for one) cannot see any logical reason why skepticism should be a detriment to any emotional or aesthetic appreciation of the world. Sunsets are still beautiful to me, love hurts, and rock-n-roll rules!

If you would care to counter-claim that skepticism does hinder aesthetics or emotions, be my guest.

Earlier, you wrote:
quote:
As regards my belief that if Chi exists it's incredibly complicated, that's just from my thoughts on the nature of discovery. Those things that are simple are discovered and examined and understood early in human history and those things that are complicated are understood later. I think most of the fields of science being explored today that weren't being explored a century ago are immensely complicated, on level with quantum mechanics. You can throw genetic engineering and artificial intelligence into that mix.
So if Chi exists, it has evaded our understanding and examination until now, thus it must be very complicated.
Most things, however, once a principle is discovered, quickly lead to understanding. Quantum electrodynamic theory was presented about 20 years after Einstein's paper on light. Continental drift was widely accepted less than 50 years after Wegener proposed the idea. It's been just over 50 years since Watson and Crick's deduction of the structure of DNA, and look how far we've gone with it.

Compare the many such examples with that of Chi. The basic principles of Chi have been around for over 3,000 years (if I remember correctly), but no understanding of it has been forthcoming. Nobody has ever been able to measure it, and no one has ever found a meridian.
quote:
But my interest is mainly in examining skepticism and the scientific method and figuring what parts of reality lie outside of their grasp, and how proclaimed skeptics accept or deal with those things outside of their grasp, i.e. those things which at this point can only be accepted as true if one uses faith or belief.
Any claim which is potentially verifiable by anyone, and also potentially falsifiable, is amenable to scientific investigation. "My favorite color is blue" is, right now, a claim which satisfies neither requirement, and so lies outside of science.

Oh, and just to say it: the Uncertainty Principle is often misapplied to things in order to make claims appear to be grounded in science, when they really aren't.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Ricky
SFN Die Hard

USA
4907 Posts

Posted - 01/06/2005 :  17:58:26   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Ricky an AOL message Send Ricky a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Isaiah

I'd like to pause on answering that for a moment, if you don't mind, because you make a perfect test case to explore whether being a skeptic is or is not a view on the world... and moreover whether that view of the world has an effect on the world you see.

Would you mind sharing all the feelings you have around the question "Do you see something wrong with that?" Is it just a basic question wandering through your mind? Do you already have a theory of whether I do or don't? Do you have emotions behind the question?

But perhaps our meanings are off-kilter here a little bit, what are some examples of "views of the world" which I can use to see what skepticism isn't?

Isaiah

PS - Man... With the nature of the responses I'm receiving, I feel like a skeptic that was dropped into an astrologer's conference.



I would love to be dropped into an astrologer's conference. Then again, maybe that's just because I love debates.

Before we begin, let me go into a little bit of what I think of a view on the world. Now there are different kind of views on the world. For example, being an optimist and a pesimist. These, depending on which you have, change the way in which you see the world. One would see the glass half full... etc. However the world doesn't change, only your perception of it does.

Skepticism isn't like that at all. Skepticism is just a voice in the back of your head saying, "Just go off what you can see, what you can know." The opposite of skepticism, being irrational or woo-woo-ness (I guess?), would be going off of what we don't see and what we don't know. Some examples include astrology, homeopathy, and anything that includes quatum mechanics at a macroscopic level.

Skepticism doesn't change the way you precieve things. It just tells you to stick to what you see.

quote:
Would you mind sharing all the feelings you have around the question "Do you see something wrong with that?" Is it just a basic question wandering through your mind? Do you already have a theory of whether I do or don't? Do you have emotions behind the question?


I'm not exactly sure what I could share. That question was put forth to get your input. Skepticism, to me, is as what I said:

quote:
...asking the hard questions, searching for answers instead of making them up, and going off what I know instead of what I don't.


I personally don't see anything wrong with that. I considered the possiblity of it being wrong, but I just don't see how it could ever be. This is me being "skeptical of skepticism". Now if you see something wrong with that and I don't, that question would be where I asked for your opinion on the matter.

As for making the theory about your answer, no I didn't. I have no clue who you are or what you are thinking. However, right off the bat from the format of the question, it seems as if you are not a skeptic, or haven't been one for very long. But I won't really know that unless I ask you, now will I? (which is what the question did)

I've tried to answer you the best I could, but I'm not exactly sure what it is you are asking or trying to get at.

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
Edited by - Ricky on 01/06/2005 18:03:11
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woolytoad
Skeptic Friend

313 Posts

Posted - 01/06/2005 :  20:25:34   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send woolytoad a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Isaiah
Are you saying that the truth value of "Photon A has a quantum state of X?" doesn't change upon examination or testing of the photon?



This does not sound right at all ...

Say we have polarised light. Polarisation is a quantum state. We can test to find the polarisation by passing it through a polarised filter. The light on the other side of the filter still has its original polarisation. Nothing has changed. An example would be a laser. Laser light can be made to be polarised in some particular direction. Hence it is polarised in some direction upon leaving the laser. We can then check with the filter that it is indeed what we want.

What you are saying would only apply to systems where the particles were is superpositions of several quantum states. Then a measurement would destroy this and the system would collapse into a particular state. In this case your statement has no value. All you're doing, if anything, is trying to guess what state some particle will collapse into. Which is pretty useless.

We can have a superposition of position as well ...

An experiment with unknown position would be the double slit experiment. Say we just have a laser and the double slit, then we get a diffraction pattern on the wall. But here positon is unknown. Photons sorta pass through both slits at the same time.

Now let us put detectors inside each slit. These will tells us the position of each photon at the double slit (slit 1 or slit 2). However this collapses the wave function and we will get no more diffraction pattern. Just 2 slits on the wall. The position of each photon is deterministic after that. We can put a piece of paper anywhere between the wall and the double slits and say we will get 2 slits. Again saying a photon will enter slit 1 before the measurement and then measuring it is pointless. Until you measured it it would have sorta passed through both slits. Saying "The photon will enter slit 1" never had any truth to it.

How does this involve Uncertainty? Well, I'm not sure that it does other than the fact that by confining light inside one of 2 slits means that I cannot measure momentum as accurately.

To me, all Isaiah is doing is incorrectly applying some theories. You seem to be trying to use a quantum example as an analogy for something not quantum. This is generally a bad idea because pretty much everything about it is counterintuitive (I know, I studied quantum and still cannot get my head around some of the concepts, all I can do is solve textbook problems).

However I am quite sure that collapsing the wavefunction of a particle is not an example of "truth" changing upon examination as you could not have any knowledge before the fact. If you do know the quantum state of some particle, you can do a measurement to confirm it and not have the state change.
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Valiant Dancer
Forum Goalie

USA
4826 Posts

Posted - 01/07/2005 :  08:34:29   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Valiant Dancer's Homepage Send Valiant Dancer a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Isaiah

quote:
Originally posted by Valiant Dancer

quote:
Originally posted by Isaiah

But seriously, folks.

Have you skeptically examined skepticism?

How rigorous are you in examining something which is so important to you?

If your examination of skepticism made you conclude that a skeptical view of the world hindered your aesthetic and emotional appreciation of the world, how would you go about changing yourself?



Skepticism isn't a claim, it's a methodology. One cannot be skeptical of skepticism. It doesn't hinder aesthetics or emotions. I think at this point you've gone down that lonely path of existentialism where nothing is real because the methods by which we percieve the world cannot be trusted.





Wow. You're saying that a methodology isn't subject to examination?

And frankly, you can state as much as you like that skepticism doesn't hinder aesthetics or emotions, but that's a claim without any proof. You can make any claim you want, but without evidence, your own warning signals should be going off.





I'm saying that methodologies cannot be tested in terms of themselves.

It has been my experience that aesthetics and emotions are not rational thought and not subject to skepticism. These make no claims and there is therefore nothing to refute.

Cthulhu/Asmodeus when you're tired of voting for the lesser of two evils

Brother Cutlass of Reasoned Discussion
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Valiant Dancer
Forum Goalie

USA
4826 Posts

Posted - 01/07/2005 :  08:37:32   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Valiant Dancer's Homepage Send Valiant Dancer a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Isaiah

quote:
I think at this point you've gone down that lonely path of existentialism where nothing is real because the methods by which we percieve the world cannot be trusted.


I'm hardly an existentialist, but by this, are you saying that the methods by which we perceive the world are above questioning?



I am saying that if we question the means by way we percieve the world (i.e. hearing, sight, touch, taste) then discourse on any subject becomes useless. That includes theology, science, mathematics, balancing ones checkbook, etc.


Cthulhu/Asmodeus when you're tired of voting for the lesser of two evils

Brother Cutlass of Reasoned Discussion
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furshur
SFN Regular

USA
1536 Posts

Posted - 01/07/2005 :  09:48:16   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send furshur a Private Message
Isaiah welcome!
You make the statement:
quote:
But my interest is mainly in examining skepticism and the scientific method and figuring what parts of reality lie outside of their grasp, and how proclaimed skeptics accept or deal with those things outside of their grasp, i.e. those things which at this point can only be accepted as true if one uses faith or belief.

NO parts of reality lay outside of skepticism. I would say that Skepticism helps us to define reality.
Things that are accepted on faith or belief are assumed not to be real until proven. Prayer for instance, there are studies to determine if prayer can be measured. Some people believe that there is a Bigfoot creature - all I say is "I am not interested in what you believe, just show me some evidence.

You also state:
quote:
If your examination of skepticism made you conclude that a skeptical view of the world hindered your aesthetic and emotional appreciation of the world, how would you go about changing yourself?

I am not sure what you mean by that. If you are saying that not having faith or belief in something that can't be proven hinders me somehow, I would have to politely disagree.
I do not see how skepticism could possible hinder my aesthetic or emotional appreciation. When I listen to music and it brings tears to my eyes, do you think as a skeptic I dismiss the emotional response as an electro-chemical anomoly?? The love I have for my family has nothing to do with whether or not I am a skeptic. It is an interesting conjecture as to whether or not that emotional response is a result of evolution - but it is immaterial to the actual emotions that I feel.

I think you do not really understand what being a skeptic means.

Basically I don't believe in stuff that there is NO evidence for. The Easter Bunny may be real - but I am not going to accept it until I see him crapping out eggs.



If I knew then what I know now then I would know more now than I know.
Edited by - furshur on 01/07/2005 09:52:15
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BigPapaSmurf
SFN Die Hard

3192 Posts

Posted - 01/07/2005 :  10:03:23   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send BigPapaSmurf a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Isaiah

quote:
Originally posted by BigPapaSmurf

2) We(most of us) dont generally put things in one of two catagories around skeptic town either.



Sorry, number theory was my focus in college, so I often put things into categories of A and Not A; or A, B, and Not A or B.



Ok to examine my statement
1) we(most of us), dont generally put things in one of two catagories around skeptic town either.


This does not mean you and only your time spent on one subject, It was refering to most things for most skeptics, and clearly by your statements here you are much closer to a philosopher than a skeptic. Also I dont remember anyone bringing up number theory as a skeptic subject.

When you get down to it, existential philosophy and skepticism are polar opposites. Like scientific evidence of a faith based god.

And to clarify my quoted statement, We dont put things into "truth values" as certainty is not obtainable. Perhaps in math you can reach such informational absolutes, but when dealing with the math of gravity there will always be a possibilty of new information modifying or even usurping what we view as widely accepted. Whereas no mathmatician is expecting to find out in the future that one plus one in fact does not ever equal two.

"...things I have neither seen nor experienced nor heard tell of from anybody else; things, what is more, that do not in fact exist and could not ever exist at all. So my readers must not believe a word I say." -Lucian on his book True History

"...They accept such things on faith alone, without any evidence. So if a fraudulent and cunning person who knows how to take advantage of a situation comes among them, he can make himself rich in a short time." -Lucian critical of early Christians c.166 AD From his book, De Morte Peregrini
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Cuneiformist
The Imperfectionist

USA
4955 Posts

Posted - 01/07/2005 :  10:27:51   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Cuneiformist a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Dave W.

By the way, there are two types of people in the world: those who put everything into two categories, and those who don't.



Damnit, [b]Dave[/b! This is one of my favorite quotes. I was just talking about it with a friend the other day and thought it would make a nice signature (I seem to be one of the only SFNers not to thave one). Now that you've posted this, though, I'll look like I'm just quoting you, and we can't have that!
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Storm
SFN Regular

USA
708 Posts

Posted - 01/07/2005 :  10:36:00   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Storm's Homepage Send Storm a Private Message

I am saying that if we question the means by way we percieve the world (i.e. hearing, sight, touch, taste) then discourse on any subject becomes useless. That includes theology, science, mathematics, balancing ones checkbook, etc.

Why Valiant Dancer?
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Valiant Dancer
Forum Goalie

USA
4826 Posts

Posted - 01/07/2005 :  10:57:30   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Valiant Dancer's Homepage Send Valiant Dancer a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Storm


I am saying that if we question the means by way we percieve the world (i.e. hearing, sight, touch, taste) then discourse on any subject becomes useless. That includes theology, science, mathematics, balancing ones checkbook, etc.

Why Valiant Dancer?



Before you jump to a conclusion, that meant that we should question what we see, not whether or not we see it.

Cthulhu/Asmodeus when you're tired of voting for the lesser of two evils

Brother Cutlass of Reasoned Discussion
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BigPapaSmurf
SFN Die Hard

3192 Posts

Posted - 01/07/2005 :  11:14:17   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send BigPapaSmurf a Private Message
Although making sure the guy next to you sees it helps. The key word in your statement is we, because plenty of nutjobs have seen what others do not.

"...things I have neither seen nor experienced nor heard tell of from anybody else; things, what is more, that do not in fact exist and could not ever exist at all. So my readers must not believe a word I say." -Lucian on his book True History

"...They accept such things on faith alone, without any evidence. So if a fraudulent and cunning person who knows how to take advantage of a situation comes among them, he can make himself rich in a short time." -Lucian critical of early Christians c.166 AD From his book, De Morte Peregrini
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