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 SPR Study Day - The Psychology of the Sceptic
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13455 Posts

Posted - 11/27/2008 :  09:51:40  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Here's an interesting article that I think is deeply flawed. But I present it here anyway for comment.

SPR Study Day - The Psychology of the Sceptic
But the intensity of dogmatism of many of the critics, their violent responses and seeming inability to connect with our reasoning, makes us suspect that there is such a thing as a skeptical psychology. It's not just the believer who is special - there's an awful lot going in skeptics' heads as well. Where skeptics see their automatic dismissal of paranormal claims, even when made by serious scientists, as a necessary and healthy reaction, we often see it as dogmatic, intolerant, and religious in its intensity, indicating a deep emotional commitment to the mechanist worldview. Some even see it as a rerun of the Reformation in a secular setting - with dissenters beating at the gates of the establishment, and embattled scientists defending orthodoxy against their heresies.

Strictly speaking, this isn't skepticism at all, at least in its original sense. Where skepsis, in the original Greek, means rational doubt and probing, the word skeptic has increasingly come to mean defensive and doctrinaire, and a skeptic as someone who identifies with a position and defends it to the bitter end, often striving to downplay, misrepresent or simply ignore the evidence. This is by not necessarily a fair or universal definition, but it's nevertheless one that is increasingly made.

It's important to stress that not all critics think that outright abuse is such a great idea. The point was made explicit by American psychologist and CSICOP member Ray Hyman in the mid 1980s. When confronted with extraordinary claims, he suggested, if would be better for critics, instead of accusing parapsychologists of fraud and charlatanism, to respond with 'rationality, objectivity, fair play, integrity - in short, with accepted scientific principles.'

Unfortunately, he went on,

scientists are not trained or given models about how to behave under such circumstances. The reactions, understandably if regrettably, are typically confused, ambivalent, erratic, and emotional [...] If there is truly 'pathology' in these cases, the pathology seems to be exhibited as much in the reaction of the scientific community as in the claims of the offending scientist. The gut reaction of the scientific orthodoxy is to discredit the offending claim by any means possible - ad hominem attacks, censorship, innuendo, misrepresentation, etc.

We often see this overreaction where there is the prospect of change and risk. During the 1990s the big controversy was European integration, with skeptics bitterly opposing the implied loss of national identity. Today it's climate change, with skeptics first attempting to deny that it's occurring, and now that that's a dead letter, insisting it's not caused by humans, and there's nothing we can do to stop it. In this particular instance we see tactics that we experience in our own field. Scientists condemned as fraudulent, evidence clumsily altered or misrepresented to support the critics' version. (The Elusive Quarry, 1989, 245 )


Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project

Simon
SFN Regular

USA
1992 Posts

Posted - 11/27/2008 :  11:32:41   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Simon a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The main mistake of the article is that he brings together the actual skeptics and the pretend-skeptics, the deniers (sorry Mr Nisbet).

The first paragraph ain't so bad and certainly there are among us people which are not skeptical rather than just close-minded.
Of course, I imagine that it is tough to remain open-minded when you receive another example of woo that seems almost identical to the one you spend hours debunking earlier. But, as skeptic, we should be examining each claim independently and with open-mind.

For the second paragraph, it is just a muddling of the debate that only serve to prove how much we need the term 'denier' to differentiate us from these guys.

Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
Carl Sagan - 1996
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Dr. Mabuse
Septic Fiend

Sweden
9664 Posts

Posted - 11/27/2008 :  15:05:59   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Simon

The main mistake of the article is that he brings together the actual skeptics and the pretend-skeptics, the deniers (sorry Mr Nisbet).
Not only that but he conflates the idea of being skeptical of a proposition with real people who may or may not be skeptical.

Politicians who was "skeptical" of the expansion of the European Union weren't skeptics, they were grifters pandering to their voters for political reasons. They weren't skeptics.
Of course, there may have been real skeptics among them too, but it only proves that just because someone claims to be skeptical does not mean they truly belongs to a "skepticism movement".

What I see when I read the article is someone who can't see the difference between a "true" skeptic and a cynic.


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:
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25970 Posts

Posted - 11/27/2008 :  16:18:18   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I left a comment over there.

- 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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Dr. Mabuse
Septic Fiend

Sweden
9664 Posts

Posted - 11/27/2008 :  20:53:27   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.

I left a comment over there.
Nice...

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.
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13455 Posts

Posted - 11/27/2008 :  21:58:58   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.

I left a comment over there.
Good comment. I wonder if he will reply to it.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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dglas
Skeptic Friend

Canada
397 Posts

Posted - 11/27/2008 :  23:30:26   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send dglas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I commented as well. His is a call for systematic attacks on any person who dares disagree with him. Pretty standard stuff, really. Skeptics don't have the gift, have suffered trauma that keeps them from seeing, or have been brainwashed fluff and nonsense. Perfectly unoriginal.

--------------------------------------------------
- dglas (In the hell of 1000 unresolved subplots...)
--------------------------------------------------
The Presupposition of Intrinsic Evil
+ A Self-Justificatory Framework
= The "Heart of Darkness"
--------------------------------------------------
Edited by - dglas on 11/27/2008 23:33:24
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25970 Posts

Posted - 11/30/2008 :  02:18:06   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
McLuhan has replied, and so did I.

- 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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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 11/30/2008 :  03:48:17   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.

McLuhan has replied, and so did I.
It's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it. Thanks for effectively representing real (non-denialist) skeptics, dglas and Dave W.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Edited by - HalfMooner on 11/30/2008 03:50:30
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 11/30/2008 :  09:45:34   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The easiest way for them to shut up the "militant skeptics" would be to provide positive evidence. They can't in any rigorous fashion. That's game, set, and match. Dave's comparison to ID proponents who spend all their time claiming they want to overturn "materialistic" science while providing nothing that would actually do so was dead-on target. This article is empty bloviating. Nothing more.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13455 Posts

Posted - 11/30/2008 :  12:28:18   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I just dropped Randi a note. Let's see if he takes a look at the essay and discussion...

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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Dr. Mabuse
Septic Fiend

Sweden
9664 Posts

Posted - 11/30/2008 :  13:06:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I wish I was as eloquent and dead on target critically analytical as Dave_W...          <sigh...>



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.
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 11/30/2008 :  17:19:13   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
That whole article strikes me as little more than a straw-man created so skepticism can be dismissed by the believers.

Its good for a laugh, but little more.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25970 Posts

Posted - 11/30/2008 :  18:05:30   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
This Mark guy seem intent on proving the converse of McLuhan's argument.

- 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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dglas
Skeptic Friend

Canada
397 Posts

Posted - 11/30/2008 :  18:36:53   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send dglas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.

This Mark guy seem intent on proving the converse of McLuhan's argument.


He did rather aggressively charge into your trap.

--------------------------------------------------
- dglas (In the hell of 1000 unresolved subplots...)
--------------------------------------------------
The Presupposition of Intrinsic Evil
+ A Self-Justificatory Framework
= The "Heart of Darkness"
--------------------------------------------------
Edited by - dglas on 11/30/2008 18:37:16
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25970 Posts

Posted - 11/30/2008 :  20:38:57   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I do hope that I'm remaining civil.

- 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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