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Allan Mazur - Implausible Beliefs
Posted: 20 September 2008 12:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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(1) My understanding of all of these military reports you cite is that they did not decide that “there was a very real phenomenon occurring”, except, again, in the sense that these were UFOs in the literal sense of the words—things that appeared to fly and were unidentified. But this could be true and they could all be natural (non-alien) phenomena.

What is at issue for the general public and the UFO enthusiasts is not to prove that there are unidentified things that appear to fly. That would be banal. The issue is to prove that we are being visited by aliens. And there is still no good evidence of the latter, far stronger, claim.

(2) What would winning Randi’s prize mean? I disagree with you very strongly that it would be meaningless. Sure, it would require careful replication before the scientific community would take it as an important finding. But I can assure you that Randi has enough standing within the scientific community (even though he himself is not a scientist, his work is taken seriously) that if someone had won the $1M, there would be scientists willing and eager to try to replicate the experiment. If they could replicate it, then I can also assure you that the phenomena in question would be taken seriously as well.

(3) Re. ganzfield: there has been a lot of criticism of the experimental setup of those experiments. The problem is that psi phenomena were initially claimed to produce very clear and obvious results: this is why so called “sensitives” or “mediums” claim to be able to see into the future, or read clearly words written at a distance, et cetera. However, any competent tests of such abilities resulted in abject failure. So then the whole direction shifted from clear and obvious results to very small, statistically practically irrelevant results. And of course, once we are in the latter camp, a very small error in protocol can make a failure into a success. In general, one can believe that an effect is nonexistent when it shows up just at the edge of statistical relevancy, and shows up less relevant the better structured is the experiment. This shows that most positives are false-positives due to bad experimental setup.

For more on this and the problems involved read, e.g., HERE and HERE for example.

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Posted: 21 September 2008 07:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Ben Radford? But that is another thread - and there I did concede that I may have been less than rigorous in my critique of his investigation and I supplied my reasons. However I also pointed out that I could only use the information he himself supplied in his own description of his own investigation. If that description was itself misleading as to the nature of his own investigation – then what can I do about it – we live and die by our own words. I am sure you would not find it legitimate if I replied to one of your critiques of me that oh, you should actually have read a post I supplied on website X 4 years ago and there you will find that your critique of my current statements to be unfounded. No. You would cry foul immediately. I directly criticised Radford for the comments he made in the podcast. If one draws a conclusion that at the time has insufficient justification without reference to other material, one should either not make the claim or explain that the conclusion may only be justified by reference to that other material - and enable access to that material so people may accurately judge for themselves.

I agree Ben was polite to me and that does him credit.

I have never claimed to have a higher level of rationality than anyone at all – in fact it is probable that I do not have a higher level of rationality. I am completely fallible and doubt my own conclusions often. However, I do stand by the thrust of my critiques of Nickell, Mazur and Radford - that judging them according to their own words on their respective Point of Inquiry podcasts - it is clear to me (but possibly not others) that they are not as critically minded or as rationally sceptical as they claim to be. My point is that they should be more rigorous and less dogmatic in making their claims.

I was drawn to these people’s podcasts initially because some well qualified scientists of my acquaintance recently fell into a conversation wherein they completely ridiculed the approach taken by these people and I decided, rather than just accept and go along with their derision at face value, that I should find out for myself what they had to say. What I found is that my colleague’s derision and ridicule was somewhat overstated, but I also found a certain dogmatism and lack of critical thinking that I could easily see how my colleagues, in the heat of the moment, could turn into their derision. This is unfortunate because I believe Point of Inquiry to be otherwise a valuable addition to the cause of rational thought – but if qualified scientist who teach young minds at graduate and post-graduate levels can find cause for ridicule and derision in such a project, it does not bode well for anyone. Hence my advice to Point of Inquiry to jettison these people in favour of your true, humble, garden variety scientist who is able to adequately speak in their own field of expertise.

Finally, I repeat, I have no axe to grind concerning paranormal phenomena. I only accept that a range of phenomena exists for which we can find no prosaic explanation according to the current state of our knowledge (remember – Maxwell’s electromagnetic fields were derided as “supernatural action at a distance” when he first proposed the theory – now they are accepted science). I am disappointed in the fact that you, who is so obviously invested in this topic, seem to have only folklore conception of what “paranormal phenomena” actually means. “Paranormal phenomena” most certainly does not mean “abilities” aliens, ghosts, etc etc. It is you, not I, who seem to have this conception and it is exactly THIS conception of the paranormal that I am trying to argue is most unhelpful to the advancement of rational thought and useful knowledge

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Posted: 21 September 2008 01:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Rramjet - 21 September 2008 07:37 AM

...My point is that they should be more rigorous and less dogmatic in making their claims.

... I also found a certain dogmatism and lack of critical thinking that I could easily see how my colleagues, ...

Dogmatic is one of those 4-letter words in the science and science-fan community. We sort of hurl it like any vulgar profanity at whatever we disagree with. More specifically there is a trend toward conflating holding unsupported positions.. with holding any positions. Only in this way can a Joe Nickel be compared to a Pat Robertson.

Randi, scienstists and all reasonable men take a stand on an issue based on the weight of the evidence. People who are dogmatic take a stand with no regard for any sort of evidence. Ya see, your definition of dogmatic Rramjet is the usual definition of reasonable. Are we all supposed to ignore the mountains of evidence so that we can be “reasonable” like you? Are we supposed to hold implausible, negative beliefs to different standards from any other suggestion?

What you seem to be hedging at isn’t that we are or are not sure of UFOs but that we should never be sure of anything because we can not know anything. If you are correct then ghosts and UFOs become legitimate topics which will then lie in a grave next to all other topics and we shall all mourn the death of knowledge and discovery. But at least the dogmatism of people thinking they know things will end.

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Posted: 21 September 2008 07:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Okay sate –

I can see you require further evidence concerning my claim of dogmatism for Randi. Nickell, Mazur, Radford et al. because, as a true skeptic and critical thinker, you do not believe the concept applies as I have used it. I therefore supply the following link in my defense – I would be interested to hear what you think after reading the information contained therein:

http://www.skepticalinvestigations.org/exam/Prescott_Randi.htm

(Thereby also refuting your “Randi, scienstists and all reasonable men…” claim)

You stated “People who are dogmatic take a stand with no regard for any sort of evidence. Ya see, your definition of dogmatic Rramjet is the usual definition of reasonable.”

You will have to explain how your conclusion here logically follows from your premise – I cannot see the logic you imply exists here.

You stated “Are we all supposed to ignore the mountains of evidence so that we can be “reasonable” like you?”

Two points:
1.  WHAT “mountain” of evidence?
2.  I have never claimed to be reasonable. I am merely pointing out the “unreasonableness” of others. Just because you don’t like what I have to say does not mean you can abandon the evidence (of my own statements and claims) to attempt to assuage your outrage. This is not the thinking of a critical mind.

You stated ” Are we supposed to hold implausible, negative beliefs to different standards from any other suggestion?”

This does not make sense. What do you mean? You really must be a clear thinker to play in this sandbox. If you are not then why do you subscribe to a podcast aimed at promoting clear, rational thought? The same applies to the following twisted language from you “What you seem to be hedging at…”.  Language and its meaning become ALL important when we a seeking understanding. I suggest the language you use shows you are not as clear in your thinking as you might perhaps suppose.

When you state “…we should never be sure of anything because we can not know anything.” you imply that somewhere in my statements I have claimed, or that it is implied, that we can never know anything. I think if you read my posts carefully you will find this assumption unfounded. I contend that we can and DO know lots of information about the world we live in, but that we do not know everything. I think you will find that the statements of Randi, Nickell, Mazur, Radford, et al. imply that we DO know everything. THAT is the position I find implausible and am arguing against.

You stated “If you are correct then ghosts and UFOs become legitimate topics which will then lie in a grave next to all other topics and we shall all mourn the death of knowledge and discovery.”

Three points:
1.  Your use of the term “ghosts” implies that you know what the paranormal manifestation is? I stand to be corrected, but you mean by “ghost” “the incarnation of dead people’s souls in the physical world” don’t you?  I suggest that this conception has no evidential support whatsoever (or at least extremely circumstantial) and as a skeptical thinker you should be extremely wary of holding such beliefs without sufficient supporting evidence.
2.  I think also you have a misconception concerning the term “UFO”. The tone of your language implies that you have a belief that UFOs are somehow linked to “aliens”, “little green men”, or some such similar misconception. I contend that this belief also has no basis in fact. In holding such beliefs you are buying directly into the hoaxers and the fraudsters agenda. You really must be more critical in your approach.
3.  My contention is that there is a phenomenon (or set of phenomena) we loosely label “paranormal” for which we have no prosaic or rational explanation according to our current state of knowledge. There is irrefutable evidence for this. For example, if you hold to the belief that the “alien abduction syndrome” is merely an artifact of human cognition, then I believe that this is in itself a phenomenon entirely worthy of study. How can it be that so many disparate people from all walks of life have the experience in such a way that all describe it in strikingly similar terms? THIS begs explanation – merely stating that it IS an hallucinatory phenomenon just pushes the question further back – it does not explain it at all. I therefore do not understand how such lines of inquiry lead us to “the death of knowledge”. Surely you are a seeker of knowledge – or do you simply have a closed mind on the topic of “the paranormal” and seek to ridicule rather than critically examine?

As a final note I feel should be stressed here - I personally do not subscribe to ANY particular belief concerning paranormal phenomena, only the more general concept that SOMETHING is occurring for which we currently have no explanation (eg: alien abduction syndrome, but my point similarly applies to UFOs – remember “unidentified” means exactly that and nothing else - and so on). I find Randi, Nickell, Mazur, Radford et al.’s claims that NOTHING at all except overwrought imagination is occurring utterly unsupported by the evidence. When critically examined the evidence is overwhelming that SOMETHING is occurring – just what is a deep, deep mystery that has so far eluded rational explanation. It is mere denial and ridicule that will lead to the death of knowledge, not rational exploration and critical examination as you seem to imply.

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Posted: 21 September 2008 07:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Rramjet - 21 September 2008 07:30 PM

... SOMETHING is occurring for which we currently have no explanation (eg: alien abduction syndrome, but my point similarly applies to UFOs – remember “unidentified” means exactly that and nothing else - and so on). I find Randi, Nickell, Mazur, Radford et al.’s claims that NOTHING at all except overwrought imagination is occurring utterly unsupported by the evidence. When critically examined the evidence is overwhelming that SOMETHING is occurring – just what is a deep, deep mystery that has so far eluded rational explanation.

The question is how you claim to know this. What is the part that literally cannot be explained by present rational explanations?

Why can’t it all be explained by overwrought imagination? Give some detailed examples of cases that cannot be so explained, with independently documented evidence to back them up.

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Posted: 21 September 2008 11:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Doug - you conceded in a previous post (above) that the UFO investigation reports I referred to (eg: the French Government, Brazilian government and the U.S. Blue Book, Sign, Grudge etc) conclude that UFOs (in the strict sense of the phrase) exist without formal explanation. THIS I contend is compelling evidence that SOMETHING is occurring for which we have no rational explanation. Many hypotheses have been proposed for the UFO phenomenon. Your primary contention that it is purely imagination fails as a rational hypothesis simply (trivially) because of the officially documented radar/visual sightings by qualified military radar operators and pilots. Is it your contention that both civilian and military radar and highly qualified human observers are regularly and simultaneously hallucinating – this is a very worrying claim - no, I contend we simply use Occam’s razor and say that there IS something there – just that we cannot explain it. Is that so difficult a concept to grasp? What are you afraid of in not accepting this evidence? There are many such cases on official record. There are also many cases where literally thousands of witnesses have observed and completely independently provided descriptions of objects that we must conclude is (are) either the same object or a very close duplicate. The gigantic triangular daylight UFO that preceded the Phoenix Lights episode is one such of the more recent cases (I suggest you also look up the LA WWII incident for a case that preceded the so called “skeptics” UFO beginnings). These and similar cases also are listed in official government accounts. There are also literally thousands (indeed millions) of individual and group observations of UFOs that extend from present day as far back into recorded history as we care to examine. To claim that all this amounts to “imagination” is to deny the obvious. SOMETHING is going on here. I think what DOES scare you is the very fact that we CANNOT and DO NOT have explanations for many thousands of these UFO reports.

I contend that this is not “banal” (as you characterise it) - it is exactly the evidence for my contention that you call for.

I further reiterate. I have NO agenda here except to expunge the total credulity and lack of critical thinking of the so called skeptics (more accurately debunkers) when it comes to this topic. You have indicated you do not have an open minded, critical approach to this topic. It would be helpful if you allowed others to explore the issue rationally and critically without the prejudices and baggage you (exactly like the hoaxers and fraudsters) seem to have accumulated concerning the issue.

All I ask is for you and others to apply the same rigorous, critical analysis techniques to this topic as you would to any scientific line of investigation and allow that if we do not know the answer – we should be able to say so – without attracting ridicule and derision - which I can only speculate arises from a fear of the unknown.

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Posted: 21 September 2008 11:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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...Oh, I am compelled to add that because I stated “…observations of UFOs that extend from present day as far back into recorded history as we care to examine.” You of course will reply that we have accounts of fairies at the bottom of the garden that similarly extend back into history. I can only add that we have rational sociological explanations for people’s belief in fairies – we DO NOT have a similar account for UFOs. Also, I think you will find that very few people indeed actually report seeing fairies, as for UFOs, reports come in on a daily basis from all over the world.

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Posted: 22 September 2008 04:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Rramjet - 21 September 2008 11:27 PM

...Oh, I am compelled to add that because I stated “…observations of UFOs that extend from present day as far back into recorded history as we care to examine.” You of course will reply that we have accounts of fairies at the bottom of the garden that similarly extend back into history. I can only add that we have rational sociological explanations for people’s belief in fairies – we DO NOT have a similar account for UFOs.

Sure we do. UFOs are modern fairies, witches and night terrors for some people. We see things we don’t understand, and we interpret them using the templates that are around us at the time. Nowadays some part of the public thinks of B-movies and Star Trek, so we say “UFO”. In the old days people would have said Zeus or Thor.

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Posted: 22 September 2008 04:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Rramjet - 21 September 2008 11:16 PM

Is it your contention that both civilian and military radar and highly qualified human observers are regularly and simultaneously hallucinating – this is a very worrying claim - no, I contend we simply use Occam’s razor and say that there IS something there – just that we cannot explain it.

The point here is that you are making an unjustified conclusion, which is that what is there is an “it”, a singular phenomenon that is being repeated. All we have are disparate unexplained claims. And yes, it is perfectly plausible that some of them could be hallucinations, although that is nothing more than a modest hypothesis that does not require “extraordinary evidence”.

I am sure that if you go into any police department of a modern city you will find cases that are also unexplained; not simply murders and thefts, but odd noises that went reported but never followed up. Heck, I lose socks in the dryer, and that is unexplained.

Are you claiming that all of these are due to magic gremlins? Clearly not. You are going to say only that they are Unidentified Perpetrators.

Every day we see things which are, yes, trivially and banally unexplained, because we don’t have the time or interest to go about attempting to explain every last bump and light in the night. The problem is not that things are unexplained, although clearly it would be nice to know every last thing there is to know. The problem is the litany of mystery-mongers who make money off the unsuspecting public, and frighten many, with absurd and completely uncorroborated fables about “what’s really going on”.

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Posted: 22 September 2008 07:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Doug –

You stated: “UFOs are modern fairies, witches and night terrors for some people“

Are you serious? I cannot believe you are being serious. I think you are now just making things up for the sake of argument. Having some fun perhaps because you are bored? Or do you take me or anyone who might read this post for a fool? Or do you have no respect at all for rational thought? Or perhaps you are simply ignorant of history. Whatever, it is clear you have never studied the history of fairies, witches, night terrors or UFOs. Otherwise you could never make such a patently ridiculous statement. I thought you claimed a PhD in philosophy? Clearly it has not helped your rational thought processes in this instance. Please Doug – you must get real and argue your case rationally or just give it up. You are doing no service to anyone who might read this. In abandoning any sense of rationality here you disappoint me. I truly thought you were better than this.

“We see things we don’t understand, and we interpret them using the templates that are around us at the time.”

Tell me Doug – having a PhD in philosophy does not give you pause to consider what you just said here? Obviously history or historical precedent does not matter to you at all. I can only shake my head in disbelief.

“Nowadays some part of the public thinks of B-movies and Star Trek, so we say “UFO”.

Now you ARE playing me for a fool. You have not read or understood a single word I have written in all this time I have been posting. Doug – help me to understand – what part of UNIDENTIFIED Flying Object do you not understand? What part of “You are insensibly, gullibley, uncritically, irrationally buying into (AND perpetuating) the fraudsters and hoaxers agenda when you claim UFOs are aliens, or Star Trek dreams, little green men, etc etc”. I am truly bewildered by your insensible intractability – by the sheer closed mindedness you display – you wanton obtuseness…

“In the old days people would have said Zeus or Thor.”

Ughh… are you really this ill-educated?

“All we have are disparate unexplained claims. And yes, it is perfectly plausible that some of them could be hallucinations, although that is nothing more than a modest hypothesis that does not require “extraordinary evidence”.

According to you, all over the world billions of people are hallucinating the same things – (have you evidence that it is NOT a single phenomena being repeated?) - a good proportion of these people being highly qualified and trained observers and holding positions of vital power where their observations matter to human wellbeing and you have the insensible temerity, the bloody minded audacity, to claim this to be a “modest” hypothesis? Philosopher, philosopher, wherefore art thou? (I suppose you now also claim to believe in animism? Radars now hallucinate too?)

“I am sure that if you go into any police department of a modern city..” Here is EXACTLY your problem Doug. You make sweeping generalisations, loaded with unfounded assumptions, about which you “are sure” of but when examined you have absolutely no evidence for. You have mere beliefs Doug and this is not enough to convince anyone of you critical thinking credentials.

You lose socks in your dryer and have no explanation? The more you write the more I doubt your powers of rational cognition.

“Are you claiming that all of these are due to magic gremlins? Clearly not. You are going to say only that they are Unidentified Perpetrators.”

You have lost me here Doug. This statement, hanging in the middle of your post with no context, a sentence paragraph, refers to what exactly?…if it was supposed to be part of the previous paragraph, your powers of divination of my thought processes are clearly inadequate. I WOULD say the cause was unknown. Full stop. “Perpetrators” makes an unfounded assumption. You are too quick to make these types of assumptions Doug. You really must try and think clearly, for your own sake if not for mine. I will add an insight for free - I WOULD NOT claim the cause to be unknowable upon rational investigation. You deny even the possibility of rational investigation.

“The problem is the litany of mystery-mongers who make money off the unsuspecting public, and frighten many, with absurd and completely uncorroborated fables about “what’s really going on”.

First I think you should look up the meaning of “litany” (but now I am nitpicking – see how you frustrate me Doug?) … I actually tend to agree with your general meaning here EXCEPT for your utterly loose and imprecise language and unfounded assumption that people are “frightened” by the “mystery-mongers” (indeed a strange term to use here unless you have an a priori cognitive bias against mysteries).

I have absolutely no doubt you have never actually studied the UFO phenomenon. As a philosopher I would have thought you might understand the dangers of pronouncing on a subject about which you know only what the hoaxers and fraudsters have told you to believe. As you should know, mere beliefs do not constitute knowledge.

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Posted: 22 September 2008 07:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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I also get the sense from you Doug that your are living in fear. You are trying to make the entire world a completely rational enterprise as if your own sanity might be at stake. I refer you again to A F Chalmers and there you might discover that science itself is far from being the model of a truly rational enterprise you suppose it is. As a philosopher I would have expected you to pause when it comes to claiming that we can reduce everything to “rationality”.  There is a very real possibility that the universe is not amenable to (or reducible according to) human “rationality”. You should have a little humility Doug. You are not a God. You can legitimately argue against irrational thought and legitimately argue for a sound methodology for critical thinking. BUT you make illegitimate your own program if you do not apply that same critical methodology to your own circumstances and pronouncements.

It is clear to me now that on this issue (at least) your mind is completely closed and no amount of evidence or pleas for rational thought will convince you to open it one iota. You should perhaps explore another theory - Leon Festinger’s Cognitive Dissonance Theory – it may provide you with some valuable insights into human rationality.  Perhaps also you should study some basic psychology and you may understand more exactly in what ways human perception is fallible – for this seems to be misconceived in you also.

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Posted: 22 September 2008 07:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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That’s quite a blizzard of words and, frankly, personal abuse from you, Rramjet, about which you have been warned before. (“wanton obtuseness…” “ill-educated”, “you are living in fear”, etc.)

However, reading it over now three times, I can’t yet actually see any coherent arguments in it.

The only actually recognizable claim I can make out is that “all over the world billions of people are hallucinating the same things” which is a patent falsehood.

As for your obscurantist move against rationality (which for some reason you put in scare quotes), that is really the final refuge of those without argument.

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Posted: 22 September 2008 01:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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Rramjet - 21 September 2008 07:30 PM

I would be interested to hear what you think after reading the information contained therein:

http://www.skepticalinvestigations.org/exam/Prescott_Randi.htm

I have done as you asked and read Prescott’s essay. It is persuasive if only in a he-said, she-said way. Lots of references to statements and tape recordings that can not be substantiated. Still I find Prescott to be neither rigorous nor compelling. He nitpicks anecdotal details and strives so hard to find faults he makes .. well, stupid mistakes. For example he thinks Randi had never been to the SRI, even though in the same book he had produced drawn diagrams of the room and hole in the wall. Prescott’s proof? A line from the book (published in 1982) where Randi says he has not stepped foot at SRI. A little bit of research and Prescott would have found photographs of Randi at SRI -> http://www.randi.org/jr/082302.html and Randi admits the passage should have read “yet”. This is rigorous skepticism? This is a joke. The mysterious tape recording never emerges.

Add to the silliness the defense of widely-disproven scam artist Uri Gellar (I especially like his humiliation on Carson’s show) and you’ve lost all credibility.

Listen, I’m a follower of no one. You have good evidence Randi is a fraud? I’d love to see it. Frankly I’m not a big fan of Joe Nickel either.. I just think he’s honest and reasonable, so far as I can tell. I think Michael Prescott is probably a good guy too but he lets his bias-of-the-day and lack of research acumen embarass himself. He had no problem with Flim-Flam back when he agreed with its perspective but found all sorts of problems as soon as he didn’t. That indicates maybe he sees whatever he wants to see at the moment. Maybe.

Sate: “People who are dogmatic take a stand with no regard for any sort of evidence. Ya see, your definition of dogmatic Rramjet is the usual definition of reasonable.”

You will have to explain how your conclusion here logically follows from your premise – I cannot see the logic you imply exists here.

Sure. You have called the dismissal of what is widely called “paranormal” dogmatic. Here is a quote from earlier in the thread: It seems Point of Enquiry has become particularly dogmatic and close minded when it comes to so called paranormal or otherwise anomalous phenomena. To deny that there are unexplained or even inexplicable phenomena is to arrogantly assume the ultimate knowledge of a god.
Dismissing something for which there is no positive evidence and a wide array of disconfirming evidence is what most would agree is “reasonable”. There is no positive evidence for anything paranormal. If concievable mundane explanations are possible then the phenomena is normal by definition not paranormal. There is a wide array of disconfirming evidence in the documentation of how human senses are faulty and how the so-called “phenomena” echos our social fears and biases. There is a long, long list of debunked claims. Thus, no positive evidence… wide array of disconfirming evidence. Therefore it is reasonable to reject such claims. You call this very act dogmatic. I hope this helps to clear it up.

1.  WHAT “mountain” of evidence?

How about the long, long list of exposed deliberate frauds and natural phenomena misreported as UFO/ghost? How about the total, absolute 100% poverty of any physical evidence? How about the sociological research that reveals our biases projected onto the supernatural? It’s no accident that sexually repressed victorians reported seeing lusty Incubi and succubi. It’s no accident that a society of the mid 20th century terrified of technological annihilation from Nuclear Bombs, artificial satellites and so on started imagining menacing metal invaders in the sky. At least our fears are relatively benign- in some parts of the world they still burn witches who have become the target of social fears.

Sate:” Are we supposed to hold implausible, negative beliefs to different standards from any other suggestion?”

This does not make sense. What do you mean? You really must be a clear thinker to play in this sandbox

There is nothing unclear about what I said. implausible means implausible. Negative means a “prove there isn’t X” sort of belief. Maybe I just need to use smaller or more words to play in this sandbox. Hey is that your pail? What I am saying is no other theory has gotten to hold credibility after decades of zero evidence. Asking us to keep considering this one anew is asking for special treatment.

Cutting to the chase a bit..

When critically examined the evidence is overwhelming that SOMETHING is occurring…

I disagree. There is no evidence of any single pervasive “phenomena”. Individual instances can be studied but not grouped with other disparate unexplained events. Nor should any of it be taken in advance to be evidence of some “deep deep mystery” without cause.  There is no such cause, no such evidence.

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Posted: 23 September 2008 04:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Oh, don’t be so sensitive Doug… you should be happy, “wanton obtuseness”, “ill-educated” and “you are living in fear” are professional diagnoses (now further supported by the evidence of your most recent post) that I have provided you without a fee smile Besides it is clear from your statements you take me for a fool, so if that is the worst I call you, count yourself lucky :|

Nevertheless I will add another diagnosis – your comprehension of the English language is very poor.

You stated “The only actually recognizable claim I can make out is that “all over the world billions of people are hallucinating the same things” which is a patent falsehood.”

Here (for example) you display “wanton obtuseness” and “poor comprehension”. Wanton obtuseness because I began the statement (you quoted above) with “You claim…” (meaning YOU Doug) and yet you write as if it is I that is making the assertion. Poor comprehension of the English language because if I understand what you WANTED to say, it is not the “hallucinating” claim you question (for it is your very own), rather the fact that I put the words “billions” and “the same thing” into your mouth. That is I quantify and qualify your open ended “hallucination” claim with facts and it is veracity of those quantifications and qualifications that you really question – yet you were not sufficiently literate to convey that.

To provide some background for you - “billions” is extrapolated from official population prevalence studies of public reporting versus non-reporting of UFOs: “the same thing” because ostensibly we have all these reports of observed objects performing similar (known)-physics defying feats in and above earth’s atmosphere – and BECAUSE it is unknown what these objects are, it would be indefensible (unjustifiable) to claim more than one source for such a phenomena.

You stated: “As for your obscurantist move against rationality (which for some reason you put in scare quotes), that is really the final refuge of those without ”argument.”

No Doug: it is not “obscurantist” (I will allow you to make up words for this point) it is actually a philosophically relativistic position. Do you REALLY have an education in philosophy? As for it being a “final refuge” I know now you are ENTIRELY IGNORANT of philosophy and as for your claim of a PhD in philosophy…  – for your information relativism is a well established philosophical tradition extending back centuries – and for your further information I have not taken a “position” on the subject at all – if you read carefully I am merely pointing out that the philosophical position exists, not that I support it. You really MUST read things more carefully Doug…oh, you read it over three times!? Oh dear, you really do have problems with comprehension don’t you.

And –“scare quotes”? I do not understand what this term means. Is it something you have just made up that sounds good to you, or is it an established aphorism I am unaware of?

You also place “argument” in quotes as if the definition of “argument” might be in question. DO you question established definitions of “argument”? – I placed my quotes around “rationality” because that may be a disputable term in the context of our “argument” – that is the ESTABLISHED CONVENTION Doug. I am surprised you are unaware of this – actually no… by now I am not surprised at all by your ignorance in such matters.

Finally you stated in reference to my previous post “However, reading it over now three times, I can’t yet actually see any coherent arguments in it.”

I will let the readers judge this one….

I will read and respond to TAYLOR’s extensive post in due course – I will say I appreciate the time and thought put into it. I will respond accordingly.

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Posted: 23 September 2008 05:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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Thank you TAYLOR, you have done as I suggested and come to your own conclusions. I might not agree with them, and could argue more about them, but I respect the fact that you actually conducted a little research and made up your own mind. FYI another interesting article on the general topic may be found at: http://www.aiprinc.org/para-C05_Thalbourne_1995.pdf

You stated in reference to my claim that Point of Inquiry is dogmatic in dismissing paranormal phenomena : “Dismissing something for which there is no positive evidence and a wide array of disconfirming evidence is what most would agree is “reasonable”.

Would you deny for example that the alien abduction phenomenon does not exist? Clearly it does. Various hypotheses have been put forth to explain it, none hold up under rigorous investigation. The latter is an assertion based on all the empirical studies I have read concerning the phenomenon, but that is an entirely different thing to claim the phenomenon does not exist. Similarly with UFOs and ghosts. The very fact that they are PERSISTENT in MAINSTREAM society gives us a clue as to the lack of rational explicability concerning such phenomena. I would further suggest that things like vampires, fairies, werewolves, and other mythologies that are often lumped in with paranormal phenomenon are NOT “mainstream” beliefs in the way UFOs and ghosts are and I would suggest this is because we have sounder sociological explanations for the development of such mythologies – and consequently it is rare for reports of people claiming to see fairies, vampires, werewolves etc, in fact, historically and contemporarily, first hand reports of these things are extremely rare. UFOs and ghosts on the other hand are reported daily.

The reason werewolves, witches, vampires, fairies, goblins & c. are lumped into the “paranormal” by the dogmatist skeptics IS exactly an attempt to discredit by association in the face of a lack of disconfirming evidence. One needs to critically distinguish “mythology” (which includes established religions – concerning which some would like “theology” to be a breakaway) - which is a serious and well establish academic discipline with established investigative techniques supported by critically determined hypotheses and rationally determined conclusions - from the “paranormal” which has very little of any of these properties. If we constantly confuse the two, as the sceptical dogmatists would wish we do, we will never be able to rationally investigate and come to a rational conclusion concerning any of it

You don’t see any of the skeptics having PhDs in mythology or theology do you? And you don’t see any of them claiming to have studied UFO phenomenon either. Some do claim to have investigated ghosts – but only from the perspective that ghosts are “the incarnate souls of dead people” and that is but ONE of a range of competing hypotheses. Similarly with Psi, and here we have a range of competing evidence – although the skeptics never mention the positive studies…).

You stated: “There is a wide array of disconfirming evidence in the documentation of how human senses are faulty”

Someone should really study some psychology here. Perceptive illusions primarily occur under very precise and delineated circumstances, in other words we have a very good idea of when and where our senses will be mislead. Unfortunately for the skeptics the circumstantial criteria for our senses being mislead when it comes to UFOs, in most cases, is not met. In other words, “hallucination” is simply NOT a tenable hypothesis to explain the majority of UFO sightings. Mistaken identity of natural phenomena do occur, but the sheer volume and the independent observations of the same things at different times and places (ie: repeatability of observation IS observed) mitigates against many of the skeptics “mistaken identity” claims also.

“How about the long, long list of exposed deliberate frauds and natural phenomena misreported as UFO/ghost?”

I have covered natural phenomena, but deliberate fraud occurs in established science equally – there are many, many instances of established scientists discovered making bogus claims in peer reviewed journals – it happens all the time – we do not throw out physics or chemistry because there are nutters involved in the field.

“How about the total, absolute 100% poverty of any physical evidence?”

Oh but there is physical evidence – look up Lonnie Zamora for example. There are also many, many other cases where such physical trace evidence is left behind and officially documented. The skeptics just don’t tell you (or don’t know) about it. But if you are asking for a crashed alien craft…well, are you really asking for a crashed alien craft…? smile

“How about the sociological research that reveals our biases projected onto the supernatural?”

I think perhaps you mean psychology, here I would refer you to Tversky and Kahneman (co-authors of heuristics and biases), sociology is more broadly based but here I would refer you to Festinger (cognitive dissonance theory).

“Hey is that your pail?”

Why…so it is! And that’s my dump-truck too ...now how did that get in here!? smile

“What I am saying is no other theory has gotten to hold credibility after decades of zero evidence.”

Start with Zamora. Then go to The Battle of Los Angeles, then, come back for more if you’re interested.

To cut to the chase… examine the evidence (as you did with Randi) and then consider your response.

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