The Skeptical Thread

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by BrianW, Dec 11, 2010.

  1. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 1999
    Messages:
    2,564
    Likes Received:
    29
    Real Name:
    Brian
    I almost never start new threads. And I'm sure I'll soon regret starting this one. But that's another matter. I'd like to dedicate this thread to the skeptics among us who have felt misunderstood, downtrodden, and wedgied.


    I'd like first to define some characteristics of skeptics, just to set the record straight:

    • Skeptics are not close-minded. The world seems to think that we are closed-minded, unwilling to consider alternatives, unable to embrace new ideas, or unwilling to change our beliefs. But the truth is, a skeptic is willing to believe absolutely anything if presented with sufficient evidence.
    • Skeptics don't think they are never wrong. On the contrary, a skeptic is always willing to be convinced he is wrong. Again, all it takes is sufficient evidence. This is, after all, the very heart of the Scientific Method.
    • To a skeptic, claims and anecdotes to not rise to the level of evidence, or even data. This does not mean, however, that skeptics believe claims are not worth investigating. Only through investigation of claims can proper data arise and be evaluated.

    It's not necessarily easy maintaining a rigorous method of incorporating new beliefs. To some of you, that may translate as, "It's not easy being a jerk." That's okay. If you want to tell us off, or if you want to debate our methods, then that sounds fun, too.
     
  2. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 1998
    Messages:
    9,690
    Likes Received:
    159
    I like that you started this thread, Brian. A skeptic is really only saying "show me". It's a source of fascination that some people seem to dislike it so much whenever skeptics aren't immediately credulous about various claims.
     
  3. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2004
    Messages:
    26,471
    Likes Received:
    3,687
    Location:
    The basement of the FBI building
    I don't really care what people believe or don't believe but I hate the people who have the "Gawd, you believe in [fill in the blank]? What are you stupid?!" attitude. They just come off as the kid in fifth grade that would tell kindergarteners that there was no Santa Claus. As if someone else believing in ghosts or aliens or the Easter bunny or any other silly thing has an effect on them and they must stop immediately or face intellectual ridicule.
     
  4. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 1998
    Messages:
    9,690
    Likes Received:
    159

    Actually, it's more equivalent to asking other fifth graders (or adults, for that matter) why they still believe in Santa Claus when they should know better, and not continue to behave like kindergarterners.
     
  5. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2001
    Messages:
    17,388
    Likes Received:
    1,341
    Location:
    One Loudoun, Ashburn, VA
    Real Name:
    David Fischer
    I'm going to be a bit annoying for a moment and ask, "Skeptical about what?"

    You're using a pretty generic term in a way that implies a high-context meaning: if you know what a "skeptic" is then you don't need the definitions needed because you already know what it is. And if you're not in the "club", then the definitions only dancing around the core issue(s) of what "skeptics" are "skeptical" about.


    Or is it that broad?

    "Nice day we're having!"

    "I don't know. I'm remaining skeptical until the day's over and I've polled a scientifically valid sample of the population to determine that's true, independent of location, race, and income."


    :)
     
  6. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 1997
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    289
    Real Name:
    Cees Alons
    If your head is in an oven while you're having your feet in a frozen ice-tub, a statistician may point out that your average temperature is comfortable.



    OK, after the excellent starting post by Brian, here's a first skeptical remark.


    People who try to prove that a specific occurrence in violation of the laws of physics took place, fail miserably as far as logic is concerned. All they can claim is that a local violation of laws of physics seem to have been present, but there's no proof which one(s).


    Example: producing a photo of a heavy object that's floating in the presence of a gravitation field without being supported, not being in motion and without being attached to strings or forces of any other kind, the so-called levitation, is no proof that it happened. Accepting the proof would imply the acceptance of the optical (+ chemical or electrical) laws leading to a proper photograph being intact there, and why would they?


    Likewise: "I saw a ghost with my own eyes" is absurd, because you cannot be sure the representation of images in your brain is normal while what those images seem to mean to you is, or looks like it is, abnormal. The skeptical question should be: "the end-product (your interpretation of what you see) is not according to the physical laws, so where exactly is (or are) the flaw(s)?

    (Excuses for the weak rhyme.)



    Cees
     
  7. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 1998
    Messages:
    9,690
    Likes Received:
    159

    One of the chief skeptical organizations is the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP)


    Note that there's nothing paranormal about a nice day. I'd like to add something to the points Brian made. I've read a lot of science fiction and seen a lot of SF movies. I would find it exciting if there was convincing evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence (quite the opposite of hostility to the idea). However, my desire to see such evidence has no effect on the fact that such evidence must be of an extraordinary nature (as opposed to the typical UFO reports).
     
  8. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2001
    Messages:
    17,388
    Likes Received:
    1,341
    Location:
    One Loudoun, Ashburn, VA
    Real Name:
    David Fischer
    So "The Skeptical Thread" could be renamed "The Thread for Those Who Don't Believe in the Paranormal"?
     
  9. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 1997
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    289
    Real Name:
    Cees Alons
    No.


    "Skeptical" is a generally accepted term with a well-known meaning. Why change it?


    Furthermore, your title isn't correct. It should rather read something like "... who don't believe beforehand in abnormal ("para-normal") claims and are eager to see convincing proof".



    Cees
     
  10. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2001
    Messages:
    17,388
    Likes Received:
    1,341
    Location:
    One Loudoun, Ashburn, VA
    Real Name:
    David Fischer
    "Skeptical" is a basic vocabulary word that means "inclined to doubt." "Skeptic" is "a person who questions the validity or authenticity of something purporting to be factual" (all taken from dictionary.com).



    I suspect that "skeptic", as used here, implies a specific subset of disbeliefs. That is, if I say "I'm a 'believer'", we generally know that really means I'm a Christian of some stripe", and not generally one who simply believes things. I think, but am not sure, that "skeptic" is similarly such a general word that actually carries substantial cultural meaning giving it much more limited meaning than its basic definition.


    But maybe not. Maybe this is a wholly general thread about doubting things that are purported to be true, including but not limited to: Anthropogenic Global Warming, Keynesian Economics, Whether people can actually judge the quality of wines, observable differences in lossless audio, etc. :)
     
  11. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2001
    Messages:
    17,388
    Likes Received:
    1,341
    Location:
    One Loudoun, Ashburn, VA
    Real Name:
    David Fischer

    And no, from the basic definition of "skeptical", I think my proposed title is correct as written. A skeptic is one who doubts. Nothing is said about awaiting (eagerly or not) or looking for evidence otherwise. (but maybe I need a better dictionary)


    :)
     
  12. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 1998
    Messages:
    9,690
    Likes Received:
    159

    Given that Brian likely started this thread in response to the "Ghost Post", I think your definition is overly broad. He is referring to the type of skeptics referenced in my link (ie, investigators of claims of the paranormal). He is not, for example, referring to someone who doubts that the Chicago Cubs will ever win the World Series.
     
  13. SWFF

    SWFF Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2010
    Messages:
    1,896
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    USA
    Real Name:
    Shawn Francis
    I had no idea my GHOST POST thread was going to be so threatening to the skeptics on this forum. Ah, my plan is coming together nicely. (Cue evil laughter).


    I can't help believing what I believe. I wonder if what you believe is hardwired into your genes before birth, or is it conditioning of what and who you encounter in you formative years. Maybe, it's a combination of both. But, I can't apologize for my beliefs, and you guys shouldn't either. I tolerate any belief system as long as it doesn't lead to the death and or harming, physical or psychological, of other people.


    Okay, guys, I'm ready, let me tense up my gut, go ahead and let the believer have it. I can take it.


    Just stay away from the face. That's my money maker.
     
  14. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 1998
    Messages:
    9,690
    Likes Received:
    159
    Here's some text from an article on csicop.org about a test for X-Ray vision. Readers are invited to decide for themselves if the test conditions were unfair, prejudged, or unduly hostile to the claimant:



     
  15. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2001
    Messages:
    17,388
    Likes Received:
    1,341
    Location:
    One Loudoun, Ashburn, VA
    Real Name:
    David Fischer
    Originally Posted by RobertR
     
  16. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 1997
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    289
    Real Name:
    Cees Alons

    ???


    All I said was that it has a general accepted meaning (in this context: roughly since the eighties, I believe).


    If you're not aware of that, you're not thread-farting, but again: this general term (as defined in the dictionary) has been given a more specific meaning in the context of discussing abnormal, paranormal and extranormal subjects.





    How threatening? I think it was a nice gesture of Brian to start a separate thread and not try to "ruin" your own (SWFF) thread.

    No need to mock him now for that, IMO.



    Cees
     
  17. SWFF

    SWFF Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2010
    Messages:
    1,896
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    USA
    Real Name:
    Shawn Francis
    My God, man, why the hell would you think I'm mocking him?! What in that sentence cries mocking? I was stating something that I thought was the case, which it obviously isn't. No harm intended.
     
  18. mattCR

    mattCR Executive Producer
    Reviewer

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2005
    Messages:
    10,513
    Likes Received:
    385
    Location:
    Lee Summit, Missouri
    Real Name:
    Matt
    I am skeptical that every day is a figment of my imagination, and all of you people are nothing but the Matrix out to trick me, and I just haven't figured out how yet.
     
  19. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 1999
    Messages:
    2,564
    Likes Received:
    29
    Real Name:
    Brian

    Your plan? No, MY plan is coming together! At least it would be if the Eskimos weren't running late. AGAIN!
     
  20. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 1998
    Messages:
    9,690
    Likes Received:
    159


    I'm skeptical of your skepticism.
     

Share This Page