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chefcrsh
Skeptic Friend

Hong Kong
380 Posts

Posted - 10/28/2011 :  18:11:28  Show Profile Send chefcrsh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
This got my hackles up...it was posted by JREF and DJ on Facebook without comment.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/story/2011-10-28/atheist-magic/50978974/1

The reason I get annoyed is it seems hat the only way the headline can be true is by use of a "no true Scottsman" fallacy. And none of the posters bothered to say that the claim is obviously dodgy or provide some statistical data as to the superiority of the magician as theological philosopher king.

I know Randi is seen as the super magician, and Penn & Teller are too, but I find it annoying when such "skeptical luminaries" fail to practice what they preach, and it seems likely (as with any group - even scientists) we would find a reasonable proportion believe in something supernatural.

H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 10/28/2011 :  18:35:14   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't think you should take the headline as making any sort of claim. Headlines are written by copy editors (not the author of the article), who are usually willing to sacrifice accuracy for intrigue. But within the actual article the author explicitly states:
No one is suggesting that interest in magic turns someone, presto-chango, into a skeptic or unbeliever. Indeed, the Fellowship of Christian Magicians has members all over the world, and magician Jeff McBride holds a popular gathering of magicians who align magic with the mystical.
But I do think this will make a good article for the SFN Facebook page, so thanks!


"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
Edited by - H. Humbert on 10/28/2011 18:36:01
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chefcrsh
Skeptic Friend

Hong Kong
380 Posts

Posted - 10/29/2011 :  19:36:35   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send chefcrsh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Not the headline alone, but recent interviews from the same circle (Penn, DJ, Randi, et al), have set up magicians as an inside circle with superior reasoning power. This is the same tribal flapdoodle as a religious in crowd or when atheist cite some study or other showing why they are "better" than believers. Poorly supported, largely biased, base tribal behavior that I think will not help our species flourish. I am glad to see you at least put that DJ quote up top.
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26012 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2011 :  00:01:13   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Tribalism is going to be a necessary unifier and motivator for minorities to advocate for change until all potential majorities agree to be inclusive.

- 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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chefcrsh
Skeptic Friend

Hong Kong
380 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2011 :  03:02:09   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send chefcrsh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
It may be true that it will be a near certain result of human behavior, but I can't go as far as to agree to it as necessary. If the out tribe is only waiting until it is sufficiently large to be the "tribe in power" we may just flip flop between dominating tribes and minority tribes without progressing onto a new meme, where we recognize that there are no subspecies of the human race.

ETA: IT also seems to me that more often than not these tribal wagon circles are as much focused on attack and parry with other minorities as they are with any dominant majority. It is as often as not schism.
Edited by - chefcrsh on 10/30/2011 03:05:45
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26012 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2011 :  08:04:05   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, I think tribalism will end when the last hold-out against this new meme of yours either drops his defenses or passes away. Until then, he'll likely see himself as a persecuted minority who needs his out-group identity to survive, while tribe-less society will be (perhaps ironically) encouraging him to join the rest of humanity.

Everyone has to agree to progress before tribalism can end. And while it is still a fact of life, if the majority wants to continue to otherize the out-groups, then the minorities are going to require unified voices telling the world at least that they're not actually "other." If the majority is using their power in inappropriate ways, the minorities will need to fight back.

I agree that out-groups fighting against other out-groups isn't always productive, but some out-groups really would be dangerous if allowed to grow into or merge with majorities.

- 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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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2011 :  08:59:54   [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 don't know abut atheism. I have seen a preacher use magic tricks as a part of his evangelical spiel. And no, he didn't pretend that the tricks were real. It was a while ago and I can't remember his point, but he was both a magician and a Christian evangelist.

I do think that what magicians do learn applying their trade gives them some insight into the ease of which people can be fooled. That is the trade they master after all. Fooling people. And there is something of a tradition of magician skeptics who know exactly what someone like Uri Geller or John Edwards is doing. A bit of misdirection, some sleight of hand, cold and hot readings, and you have them. And sometimes it takes a magician to see what even scientists miss. Most magicians do not actually claim magical powers, and it seems to annoy them when their trade is used for entertainment purposes is misrepresented by those charlatans who claim special powers take money under false pretenses.

Michelle made the point that psychologists are pretty good at spotting self deception too. And there are many psychologist, the ones who care, also make great skeptics. Ray Hyman comes to mind and he is far from alone.

But I too think that it's a leap to say that proficiency at magic leads to atheism. I would have to see a poll of magicians and a statistical breakdown that substantiates that claim.We already know that the other groupe who's job it is to sort out natural processes, scientists, are not even mostly atheists. While they poll higher in atheism (or a lack of faith) then the general public, they still come in at 51% believing in "a higher power."

It does turn out that it seem to depend on what area the scientist is working in:

In 2009, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press polled members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science on belief in a higher power. The study found that 51 percent of members polled expressed such a faith, compared to 95 percent of the American public. Additionally, the National Academy of Science charted belief in God as low as 5.5 percent among biologists and 7.5 percent among physicist and astronomers in a 1998 study.


That might be true of magicians, and is almost certainly true of magicians who get envolved in skepticism, but who knows?


http://news.discovery.com/tech/are-scientists-atheists.html


Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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chefcrsh
Skeptic Friend

Hong Kong
380 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2011 :  18:01:41   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send chefcrsh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil


I do think that what magicians do learn applying their trade gives them some insight into the ease of which people can be fooled.

it seems to annoy [most magicians] when their trade is used for entertainment purposes is misrepresented by those charlatans who claim special powers take money under false pretenses.

Michelle made the point that psychologists are pretty good at spotting self deception too. And there are many psychologist, the ones who care, also make great skeptics.


This is what I am on about. Those are all claims of something for which there is no evidence. I just heard (I think on SGU) a talk with scientists studying magicians and the magicians were surprised to learn how they were fooling people. While they new the mechanisms of a trick they didn't know how or why the tricks worked.

I doubt most magicians have been asks what they think of some of the celeb fortune tellers and spoon benders, but I doubt a majority would be interested or offended. A small vocal (especially in the skeptical community) minority is.

As to Michelle (as wonderful as she is) she has not met the many woo woo psychologists practicing NLP and other forms of nonsense. Just as with the myriad nurses trained in SBM but believing in reiki; or doctors trained in sum but mixing in chiropractic, or naturopathy; so with psychologists. I would bet my bottom dollar that an unbiased pew style survey would not find a disproportionate amount of rationalism (as if that could be easily measured) in any of those groups.
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chefcrsh
Skeptic Friend

Hong Kong
380 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2011 :  18:15:35   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send chefcrsh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
And I wonder at such "news" and claims of salient difference...why are they always complimentary to the person and group making the claim - claims of being superior (at least from the groups perspective)? Why don't their spokespeople ever share negative or inferior correlations about their group? I suspect that is a large red flag of any such claim.

For the record, we all seem to get riled when religious make certain superior (but unproven/able claims. Indeed it is one of this communities oft used objections to religion...it's religious claims of being the "one true" dogma. I'm just saying these people ought (as with the backyard skeptics) hold them sleeves to a higher standard when making claims.
Edited by - chefcrsh on 10/30/2011 18:19:03
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2011 :  18:43:28   [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
Chef:
Those are all claims of something for which there is no evidence. I just heard (I think on SGU) a talk with scientists studying magicians and the magicians were surprised to learn how they were fooling people. While they new the mechanisms of a trick they didn't know how or why the tricks worked.

When I used to hang out at the Hollywood magic shop, and occasionally buy a trick to preform at campouts and such, I knew my goal was to fool the audience. And I knew the mechanics of the trick too. What I didn't know is exactly how they were fooled. What I mean by that is I didn't know the psychology behind it, because I was a kid. But I darn well knew that I was doing the trick to fool them. That's why it's called a "trick."

Still, it seems to me that if you know the art of slight of hand, and you know that illusions are created and they aren't real, that even not knowing the psychology behind how it fools still puts you in a better position to recognize that a trick is being done, and in some cases, how it's done, mechanically. I suspect that most magicians know that Uri Geller is not bending spoons psychically, because spoon bending is no big deal for most magicians. So again, a magician can spot what a scientist might miss, when testing someone like Geller. Just knowing the mechanics of slight of hand is probably enough to know that it's a trick.

I would love to see the study that you refer to Chef. Or be directed to the SGU episode. What I do know is the list of magician skeptics is long. But then, the magicians who actually write articles that I read are either by those guys or about those guys.

Here's one of many:

Magic and the Brain: Teller Reveals the Neuroscience of Illusion


Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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chefcrsh
Skeptic Friend

Hong Kong
380 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2011 :  19:10:09   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send chefcrsh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
http://www.theskepticsguide.org/archive/podcastinfo.aspx?mid=1&pid=326
And the researchers book http://www.sleightsofmind.com/
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chefcrsh
Skeptic Friend

Hong Kong
380 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2011 :  19:16:16   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send chefcrsh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil

When I used to hang out at the Hollywood magic shop, and occasionally buy a trick to preform at campouts and such, I knew my goal was to fool the audience. And I knew the mechanics of the trick too. What I didn't know is exactly how they were fooled. What I mean by that is I didn't know the psychology behind it, because I was a kid. But I darn well knew that I was doing the trick to fool them. That's why it's called a "trick."

Still, it seems to me that if you know the art of slight of hand, and you know that illusions are created and they aren't real, that even not knowing the psychology behind how it fools still puts you in a better position to recognize that a trick is being done, and in some cases, how it's done, mechanically.

What I do know is the list of magician skeptics is long.



They may know how a trick works or even how they would do a trick if it were them, but that does not in any reasonable way imply that they are more rational or prone to a less supernatural worldview than the average joe. I want to see real study that shows they are. Not just self congratulatory opinion pieces. I also think that given the claim being made they need to provide the studies or lose all credibility.

There well may be a "long" list, but in what context? Long has no meaning unless you also count the misses.

Edit for error correction
Edited by - chefcrsh on 10/30/2011 19:31:55
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chefcrsh
Skeptic Friend

Hong Kong
380 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2011 :  19:29:02   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send chefcrsh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The claim is Magicians are professional tricksters, therefore they are better at seeing other tricksters at work, therefore they are more likely to only be scientific naturalists. Can you see the flaw in that argument? The truth is there is a bit of non-sequitur in this.

ETA: And while it may be true, there has been no evidence provided that it is true, or even most likely true. I think that given the claimants position [that they are unlikely to be fooled either by themselves or others] they need to be able to provide much more evidence grounded claims of fact.
Edited by - chefcrsh on 10/30/2011 19:31:19
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2011 :  19:41:01   [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
Chef:
The claim is Magicians are professional tricksters, therefore they are better at seeing other tricksters at work, therefore they are more likely to only be scientific naturalists. Can you see the flaw in that argument?

Yeah. And I agreed that we have no idea how many magicians are atheists in my first post.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2011 :  20:21:20   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by chefcrsh

The claim is Magicians are professional tricksters, therefore they are better at seeing other tricksters at work, therefore they are more likely to only be scientific naturalists.
More likely than who? And who exactly do you think is making this claim? All the articles I've read have simply stated that the study of magic (or human psychology) can often lead people onto the path of skepticism. Do you really consider that to be a controversial statement?


"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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chefcrsh
Skeptic Friend

Hong Kong
380 Posts

Posted - 10/30/2011 :  21:14:32   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send chefcrsh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by H. Humbert
More likely than who?


That's what I'm saying brother.

And who exactly do you think is making this claim? All the articles I've read have simply stated that the study of magic (or human psychology) can often lead people onto the path of skepticism. Do you really consider that to be a controversial statement?


They all do to one degree or other from the headlines to some of the magicians direct statements. I do consider it controversial, and mostly meaningless unless you define "often" in some reasonable measurement term. Is it often as in more frequently than any other mindset, or is it as often as not, or is it often but in a majority of cases. These are all very different things. And I need only look as far as Doug Henning to find a confounding example that says that in some cases very accomplished magicians are no different than anybody else...a statement which seems far more reasonable on it's face.
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