Psuedoskepticism vs scientific skepticism

Discussion in 'UFOs, Ghosts and Monsters' started by Magical Realist, Apr 24, 2016.

  1. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    We often see the former masquerading as the latter here. What IS pseudoskepticism? It is the posing as an objective analyzer of the facts of a case while secretly pushing an agenda to confirm a dogmatic worldview. What is that worldview? Usually it is the belief that there are no anomalous phenomena in the universe that need studying at all. The aim of the pseudoskeptic is always to conclude this before he has weighed the evidence for such, and so to dismiss the evidence as faked or erroneous in every single case. It is the biased and self-serving denial of any evidence whatsoever for the phenomena in question because it assumes the phenomena can't exist or is too extraordinary and therefore too improbable to ever happen. We see this especially in the persistent attempts to push a "default position" of mundane causes over any we don't presently have an explanation for. So it turns out that the pseudoskeptic effectively eliminates the very possibility of evidence for an anomalous phenomenon simply by suggesting alternative mundane explanations that only fit a few cherry picked facts of the case to the neglect of all others. Here's a more detailed distinction between these two types of skepticism:
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    "In 1987 Marcello Truzzi revived the term specifically for arguments which use scientific-sounding language to disparage or refute given beliefs, theories, or claims, but which in fact fail to follow the precepts of conventional scientific skepticism. He argued that scientific skepticism is agnostic to new ideas, making no claims about them but waiting for them to satisfy a burden of proof before granting them validity. Pseudoskepticism, by contrast, involves "negative hypotheses"—theoretical assertions that some belief, theory, or claim is factually wrong—without satisfying the burden of proof that such negative theoretical assertions would require.[5][6][7][8]

    In 1987, while working as a professor of sociology at Eastern Michigan University, Truzzi gave the following description of pseudoskeptics in the journal Zetetic Scholar (which he founded):

    'In science, the burden of proof falls upon the claimant; and the more extraordinary a claim, the heavier is the burden of proof demanded. The true skeptic takes an agnostic position, one that says the claim is not proved rather than disproved. He asserts that the claimant has not borne the burden of proof and that science must continue to build its cognitive map of reality without incorporating the extraordinary claim as a new "fact." Since the true skeptic does not assert a claim, he has no burden to prove anything. He just goes on using the established theories of "conventional science" as usual. But if a critic asserts that there is evidence for disproof, that he has a negative hypothesis—saying, for instance, that a seeming psi result was actually due to an artifact—he is making a claim and therefore also has to bear a burden of proof... Both critics and proponents need to learn to think of adjudication in science as more like that found in the law courts, imperfect and with varying degrees of proof and evidence. Absolute truth, like absolute justice, is seldom obtainable. We can only do our best to approximate them.'

    — Marcello Truzzi, "On Pseudo-Skepticism", Zetetic Scholar, 12/13, pp3-4, 1987[5]

    Truzzi attributed the following characteristics to pseudoskeptics:

    1. Denying, when only doubt has been established
    2. Double standards in the application of criticism
    3. The tendency to discredit rather than investigate
    4. Presenting insufficient evidence or proof
    5. Assuming criticism requires no burden of proof
    6. Making unsubstantiated counter-claims
    7. Counter-claims based on plausibility rather than empirical evidence
    8. Suggesting that unconvincing evidence provides grounds for completely dismissing a claim
    He characterized "true" skepticism as:[5]

    1. Acceptance of doubt when neither assertion nor denial has been established
    2. No burden of proof to take an agnostic position
    3. Agreement that the corpus of established knowledge must be based on what is proved, but recognising its incompleteness
    4. Even-handedness in requirement for proofs, whatever their implication
    5. Accepting that a failure of a proof in itself proves nothing
    6. Continuing examination of the results of experiments even when flaws are found
    Subsequent usage
    Psychiatrist Richard Kluft noted that pseudoskepticism can inhibit research progress:

    ".. today genuine skepticism of the benign sort that looks evenly in all directions and encourages the advancement of knowledge seems vanishingly rare. Instead, we find a prevalence of pseudo-skepticism consisting of harsh and invidious skepticism toward one's opponents' points of view and observations, and egregious self-congratulatory confirmatory bias toward one's own stances and findings misrepresented as the earnest and dispassionate pursuit of clinical, scholarly, and scientific truth."

    Susan Blackmore, who lost her initial belief in parapsychology and in 1991 became a CSICOP fellow, later described what she termed the "worst kind of pseudoskepticism":

    'There are some members of the skeptics’ groups who clearly believe they know the right answer prior to inquiry. They appear not to be interested in weighing alternatives, investigating strange claims, or trying out psychic experiences or altered states for themselves (heaven forbid!), but only in promoting their own particular belief structure and cohesion.'

    Hugo Anthony Meynell from the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Calgary, labels the "extreme position that all significant evidence supporting paranormal phenomena is a result of deception or lies" as pseudoskepticism.'====

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudoskepticism
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2016
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  3. Daecon Kiwi fruit Valued Senior Member

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    Maybe you should learn why photos, videos, and anecdotes aren't good enough to prove things like ghosts, bigfoot, and flying saucers.

    Then perhaps you can comment on the difference between skepticism and pseudoskepticism.
     
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  5. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Ofcourse its good enough. It's good enough for the news, for history, for crime investigation, and for biographies of people's lives. It's the gold standard for deciding what actually happened.
     
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  7. Daecon Kiwi fruit Valued Senior Member

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    But NOT good enough to prove that ghosts, bigfoot, flying saucers, fairies, unicorns, or the Loch Ness monster exist.
     
  8. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Sure it is. If those are all events that happen in our spacetime, then the evidence should be exactly the same. It's how we always prove what happened. There is no exception in these cases at all.
     
  9. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Moving the goalposts:

    "When trying to provide evidence to convince pseudo-skeptics, believers in paranormal phenomena often observe that the skeptics keep moving the goal post. For example, after a parapsychologist improves an experimental design and repeats an experiment in response to a criticism of a skeptic, the skeptic always seems to come up with a new objection. This can be easily understood if one considers why skeptics raise objections to evidence. When skeptics raise objections to evidence, it is not because they would actually believe the evidence if you satisfied their objection. Skeptics raise objections because they don't want the phenomenon to be proven. They raise objections to maintain their disbelief. That is why if you satisfy their objections, they will not change their minds and give up their disbelief, they will just come up with another objection to allow them to maintain their disbelief.

    This is why it can be pointless to discuss the evidence with a pseudo-skeptic or to let a pseudo-skeptic dictate what evidence you should obtain. They are not sincerely interested in evidence, they are interested in maintaining their prejudice and they will invent as many new hypothetical problems with the evidence as necessary. Any hypothesis that supports his world view no matter how tenuous will be preferable to a pseudo-skeptic than any non materialist explanation no matter how much evidence there is supporting it. Repeated observations and repeatable experiments haven't convinced skeptics. Statements by Nobel prize winning scientists who were convinced by evidence hasn't convinced skeptics. When pushed to the limit, the skeptic always has recourse to the last bastions of skepticism: accusations of fraud, incompetence, and self-delusion."====https://sites.google.com/site/chs4o8pt/skeptical_fallacies#skeptical_fallacies_goal_post
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2016
  10. Daecon Kiwi fruit Valued Senior Member

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    Of course, it HAS to be a conspiracy by EVERY SINGLE SCIENTIST IN THE WHOLE WORLD EVER instead of, say, your "evidence" just isn't good enough.
     
  11. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    I don't think scientists even think much about these subjects. It doesn't pay their bills or get them published in prestigious journals. You on the other hand? Yeah, you do everything in your power to deny the evidence because you don't want it to be true. You're a typical pseudoskeptic who speaks for noone but yourself.
     
  12. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    And who do you speak for in pushing the nonsense you so often push?
    Oh the irony of it all!

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  13. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    I speak for all honest and determined seekers of the truth out there and for the true scientists and investigators who aren't afraid to research fields that only solicit jeers and mockery from the mainstream science community and pseudoskeptics like yourself.
     
  14. Daecon Kiwi fruit Valued Senior Member

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    If you say so.

    So how's your Nobel prize (and immortality in the history books) going with your "proof" of ghosts, bigfoot, or aliens?
     
  15. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    You mean the Nobel prize they only give out for well-funded fields and peer-reviewed published research projects ? THAT Nobel prize? lol!
     
  16. Daecon Kiwi fruit Valued Senior Member

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    Make up your mind.
     
  17. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    No contradiction here at all. Are you having trouble with language comprehension?
     
  18. Xelasnave.1947 Valued Senior Member

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    What would you call me given I do not believe ghosts etc and say they are nonsence not worthy of wasting time upon and will hold that position even when I have been presented with all the evidence you can present in support of said ghosts etc. and say there is absolutely nothing valid in any arguement hinting at the existence of ghosts etc. and anyone entertaining the prospect of ghosts have it all wrong.... Cause thats me... Would you say there is no hope for me?

    Alex


    Alex
     
  19. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    No, you speak for no one other than those gullible enough to accept as fact, that which there is no scientific evidence for.
     
  20. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    MR has graciously provided the very thing we have have been trying to educate him about all along.

    Before extrapolating a definition of a bad skeptic, MR's expert on skepticism first defines a skeptic. Here is the excerpt from the OP in which Truzzi eloquently describes the position of the skeptic:

     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2016
  21. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    I think that the first post in this thread is perhaps the best thing that anyone has ever posted in the 'alternative' fora. It speaks directly to the epistemological problems that we encounter when faced with extraordinary claims. (Epistemological problems typically only arise in problem cases, which is one reason why the problem cases can be so fascinating.)

    Of course. I doubt that any evidence will ever prove the existence of something in a logical apodeictic sense. But photos, videos and anecdotal reports do constitute evidence for those things. Denying the existence of any evidence in the face of that evidence is just stupid and disingenuous, an expression of closed mindedness.

    Of course not all evidence is strong evidence. Any evidence presented can obviously be criticized and perhaps even in some cases entirely rebutted.

    But that requires effort and can't just be done a-priori, based only on the fact that the evidence being summarily dismissed is evidence for something that's unwelcome, threatening to one's beliefs or inconsistent with one's worldview.

    Perhaps you should comment on it.

    It's an excellent distinction. Do you agree with it, or do you dismiss it for some reason? If you don't like it, please explain why. Which side of the distinction do you think best applies to you?

    It reminds me of the difference between agnostics (the true skeptics) and the pseudoskeptical militant atheists who like the religious fundies they so resemble, are already convinced that they possess the answers.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2016
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  22. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    I would accept video of President Obama shaking the hand of an alien outside his craft on the front lawn of the White House, surrounded by reporters and eyewitnesses who, afterward, can be interviewed and can corroborate the event.

    An extreme case, but one that makes the point that something can have such a preponderance of evidence that it can be compellingly accepted as fact.

    A less extreme case: a craft or body that is extant and available for examination by multiple, trusted independent bodies. The key here being that examinable evidence remains after the incident and various hypotheses can be falsified.

    Why have we never in the last few decades of cell phone ubiquity, seen an incident where two people, each with cellphones have caught a craft close-up on video?
    We've got videos of fireballs falling from the sky from multiple cameras, yet this never occurs with UFOs in today's world of technological omniscience.
     
  23. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

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    Except that the quality levels of the evidence are nowhere close to the same. You're essentially comparing the "history" of Atlantis to, say, that of the US Civil War.
     

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