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Why post claptrap here?
Posted: 13 January 2010 10:03 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I hope this question draws interest from someone outside the usual suspects, not that I want the usual suspects to stay away. I am sincerely interested in the reasoning behind posting mystical ideas here and on other skeptic forums. We see it regularly. We currently have active threads on numerology and astral projection. Recently we’ve had threads on the benefits of using psychoactive drugs to gain enlightenment on cosmology, cryptozoology (Bigfoot etc.), sentient universe speculation, and of course the predictable Nostradamus believers and religious zealots. I know some of the religious zealots are here for course credit at their unaccredited universities, and I also understand their need to proselytize, so see no need to discuss them.

What I’d really like to know is why would anyone post new-age woo on a skeptic forum? (Other than the obvious trolls.)

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Posted: 13 January 2010 10:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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fotobits - 13 January 2010 10:03 AM

I hope this question draws interest from someone outside the usual suspects, not that I want the usual suspects to stay away. I am sincerely interested in the reasoning behind posting mystical ideas here and on other skeptic forums. We see it regularly. We currently have active threads on numerology and astral projection. Recently we’ve had threads on the benefits of using psychoactive drugs to gain enlightenment on cosmology, cryptozoology (Bigfoot etc.), sentient universe speculation, and of course the predictable Nostradamus believers and religious zealots. I know some of the religious zealots are here for course credit at their unaccredited universities, and I also understand their need to proselytize, so see no need to discuss them.

What I’d really like to know is why would anyone post new-age woo on a skeptic forum? (Other than the obvious trolls.)

I think part of the reason is similar to why atheists post on chrisitan message boards.

To challenge views, to debate with those on the other side of the debate, to try to win the argument, to pursuade.

Stephen

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Posted: 13 January 2010 10:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I would guess that a significant motivation is to share the “good news.” I think the vast majority of proponents of mystical and religious ideas truly believe they have discovered something wonderful, enriching, vital to a fulfilled life, and they feel sorry for those who don’t see it and they feel obliged to share. Sure, sometimes there’s an element of arrogance or condescension in this, but often it’s a true sense of moral obligation to try and convince others of what is good for them. I understand and espect this motive, even though the content strikes me as ridiculous. After all, I spend a fair bit of energy trying to convince people that medical nonsense is nonsense because despite how difficult and unrewarding it usually is, I feel obliged to try just for the occassional moment when I actually help someone see things in a way that might make their life better.

As long as such psters stay withing the boudnaries of the rules and basic civility, I have no problem with their posting here. Now, I rarely engage them in lengthy debate, since it is often pointless. But both Doug and Occam have strong points raised in the previous thread that addressed this subject: Namely, the wosrt type of evangelists will get bored and wander away if ignored, and there is always the chance of neutral or curious bystanders learning something, so presenting the reality along with the mystical stuff seems worhtwhile.

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Posted: 13 January 2010 10:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I don’t disagree with the OP’s basic negative feelings about these issues but my question is this…. if no one posts about religious, mystical, pseudo-scientific etc ideas .. then what would we discuss on the Forum ?

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Posted: 13 January 2010 10:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Reality?

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Posted: 13 January 2010 10:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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Posted: 13 January 2010 10:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Well, fotobits, I think scepticeye’s point was that much of the raison d’etre of skepticism is applying reason, science, and critical thinking to irrational or flawed ideas. If we limited discussion to agreeing with each other about reality, or even to the few but often vicious disagreements skeptics often have (say liberals vs libertarians for example), the material for discussion would be a lot thinner.

Part of the purpose of the Forum is outreach, which means connecting and engaging with people who don’t already share our worldview.

PS. Of course, if as suggested by the latest post scepticeye views reality is boring, well there I disagree vehmently!

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Posted: 13 January 2010 11:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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True, things might get boring around here if we all agreed on everything, but we do not. Sceptieye and I agree on about 98 percent of everything, but it is that two percent difference that keeps our relationship entertaining. LOL

We have a lot of things to discuss. The recent earthquake in Haiti and what we can do to help is one example. The History Channel and its gradual transformation into the New Age Woo channel. String Theory versus Quantum Gravity. Tubes versus transistors in audio. I’m sure other people can come up with other ideas.

But I didn’t open this thread to send the discussion down that road. As I said, I’m trying to understand the motivations for people invading skeptic forums with their woo.

And Stephen, it never occurred to me to join a Christian forum just so I could try to convince people they are close minded and need to come around to my way of thinking. That seems rather rude. I have no doubt people do it, but it just doesn’t sound like my idea of a good time.

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Posted: 13 January 2010 11:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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One of the points of inquiry is to illuminate and explode false beliefs. But we can’t do that if we don’t discuss them openly.

Put another way, if we aren’t going to discuss things like astral travel and numerology here, then who is going to investigate and inquire about them? It’s sort of like the complaint that I’ve heard re. the Skeptical Inquirer magazine—what’s the point of debunking stuff that we all know is false? Well, the point is that most people don’t know the stuff is false, so it’s imperative that someone investigate the stuff and debunk it if there’s no evidence or reason to be in favor of it. If SI doesn’t do it, nobody will because the science magazines don’t view it as their territory, and of course the believers won’t because they lack the intellectual background to do so. Similarly, if we don’t discuss these things skeptically (and other sister fora like the JREF, etc.) then nobody will, because the scientists don’t care and the believers don’t want to do the requisite work.

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Posted: 13 January 2010 11:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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fotobits - 13 January 2010 11:04 AM

I’m trying to understand the motivations for people invading skeptic forums with their woo.

I’m inclined to agree at least partly with Stephen: it’s for the same reason that atheists post on Christian forums. And I’m glad when Christian forums allow atheists to post. In the same way, we should do Christians (and other forms of believer) the courtesy of allowing them to make their arguments freely and openly so long as they follow the rules here.

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Posted: 13 January 2010 11:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Yeah, yeah, yeah. I understand the importance of debunking stuff when it crops up. I’m not arguing that. I just want to know why a person would post that kind of stuff on skeptical forums. Are they naive enough to think they will convince anyone? Do they really think rational thinkers will take them seriously? Are they just lonely?

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Posted: 13 January 2010 12:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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The latter gets my vote wink

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Posted: 13 January 2010 05:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Fotobits-

We have a lot of things to discuss. The recent earthquake in Haiti and what we can do to help is one example. The History Channel and its gradual transformation into the New Age Woo channel. String Theory versus Quantum Gravity. Tubes versus transistors in audio. I’m sure other people can come up with other ideas.

Depends on what audio? If it’s my guitar amp, it’s tubes. If it is a radio, or a TV set then I’ll take solid state. cool smile

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Posted: 13 January 2010 05:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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VYAZMA - 13 January 2010 05:18 PM

Fotobits-

We have a lot of things to discuss. The recent earthquake in Haiti and what we can do to help is one example. The History Channel and its gradual transformation into the New Age Woo channel. String Theory versus Quantum Gravity. Tubes versus transistors in audio. I’m sure other people can come up with other ideas.

Depends on what audio? If it’s my guitar amp, it’s tubes. If it is a radio, or a TV set then I’ll take solid state. cool smile

I’m with you 100 percent there. There’s just something that sounds right about an electric guitar through a tube amp, but when it comes to sound reproduction I’ll pit my Carver TFM-25 against any amp on the market.

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Posted: 13 January 2010 05:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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mckenzievmd - 13 January 2010 10:47 AM

Part of the purpose of the Forum is outreach, which means connecting and engaging with people who don’t already share our worldview.

Good point - while it’s tempting to call someone a loony-bird and tell them to get lost, we should strive to be kind and engage in rational discussion. Of course in some cases it becomes apparent that the person has no interest in discussing or listening. I feel that in that case, after an attempt at discussion has been made, the best course of action is to simply move on.

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Some people can read War and Peace and come away thinking it’s a simple adventure story. Others can read the ingredients on a chewing gum wrapper and unlock the secrets of the universe.    - Lex Luthor

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Posted: 13 January 2010 05:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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How well is your audio entertainment system set-up Foto?
When it comes time for me to put together a home entertainment system I’ll get your advice. I want premium audio-visual.

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