What is it about woo that upsets you?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by wegs, Apr 23, 2019.

  1. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

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    I don't usually get angry at woo. Woo is usually clearly identifiable as such early on, and can be quite humourous.
    What I do get not angry so much as frustrated with is people's adherence to ignorance in the face of fact and logic, and subsequent dishonesty in their efforts to cling to that ignorance. Unfortunately that is not limited to practitioners of woo.

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  3. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    What is "woo"? To my mind, it involves some sort of scheme of ill-defined ideas about nature that cultivate an air of mystery and which misrepresent science in some way. Most often the ideas are not home-grown but something that has been fairly widely disseminated already. The chief reason it is irritating is for the same reason fake news is a curse: it propagates falsehoods, in this case about nature. It also encourages a sort of modern day superstition, rather than rational thought.

    So it is the antithesis of science, the job of which is to demystify nature and make its workings as comprehensible as possible.
     
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  5. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    amen
     
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  7. gmilam Valued Senior Member

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    Does creationism or intelligent design count as woo?
     
  8. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Good question. I'd be inclined to say not. Not all pseudoscience is woo, I think. Creationism, including ID, lack the essential mystical vagueness of woo, it seems to me.
     
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  9. Gawdzilla Sama Valued Senior Member

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    Most of my cousins only get taught woo. They finish their schooling dumber than they did when they started "school". I've watched their overall quality of life degrade over the past 60ish years. It's sad and horrifying.
     
  10. wegs With brave wings, she flies . . . Valued Senior Member

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    haha I agree, Sarkus. That tends to irk me, too. There was a guy on another science forum, he would relentlessly debate his woo theories, and there was a time when I thought he was really just trolling, and purposely wasting everyone's time. He eventually was banned, but he caused so much anger among the other members. That angered me because I felt that his intentions were malicious.
     
  11. wegs With brave wings, she flies . . . Valued Senior Member

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    It could fall into the woo category, simply because the claimant is making extraordinary claims, without offering evidence. But, I usually consider woo to be pseudo-science, or a tier down. The wild notion that Big Foot exists, that would be woo. But, the mythical legends of Norse Gods for example, wouldn't be (in my view). There's woo and then there's folklore. There's woo and then there's religion, faith, philosophy. There's grey areas, of course. But, this makes sense to me.
     
  12. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    May I ask in what way is Creationism or ID (the concept of a supernatural creator-designer) not imbued with mystical vagueness?
     
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  13. Gawdzilla Sama Valued Senior Member

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    Because ... reasons!
     
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  14. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    I see.......

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  15. RainbowSingularity Valued Senior Member

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  16. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

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    The only difference is creationism is older.
     
  17. Goldtop Registered Senior Member

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    I was a member of another forum in which the Science section was pretty much all woo. Unfortunately, the one mod running the whole forum didn't like the fact others were calling out the woo for what it was and started threatening to ban those who did. Of course, the membership took a nosedive and now the forum has been overun with woo woo's. What's really hilarious is that the moderator kept wondering why all the sane people were leaving in droves.

    Woo can damage a forum if allowed to propagate.
     
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  18. wegs With brave wings, she flies . . . Valued Senior Member

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    That's sooo true. If it's the same forum that comes to mind, it's actually improving. There is a mod there who used to post here, and he's quite diligent in keeping the wooishness down to a minimum. I find some woo to be interesting, perhaps thought provoking, but when it starts to overrun the mainstream science sections, those areas just derail into ad homs and arguing. It definitely can change the tone and spirit of an otherwise decent forum.
     
  19. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Perhaps then, by analogy with YECs and OECs, a case could be made for dividing woo into Old Age Woo and New Age Woo. Creationism would be OAW, whereas the type that comes most readily to my mind when the term "woo" is used would be NAW.

    The weakness of that, I think, would be that Intelligent Design, which is an actively deceitful (as opposed to just ignorant) form of creationism, is not vague or mystical enough to be woo, but is quite plainly dishonest pseudoscience.
     
  20. Goldtop Registered Senior Member

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    The one I refer just keeps getting worse. I noticed there are a couple of woo woo's here who some would like banned. The forum I refer has a membership in which over half of the active membership are quite wacko and they infect the entire forum with their nonsense, some of them copy and paste their posts over and over hundreds of times saying the same thing over and over, yet you can't say 'boo' to them. There's at least one you could swear is literally just hitting random keys on their keyboard, but he is considered a valued member who continues to post random stuff all over the forums. Crazy stuff.
     
  21. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    I do sometimes get frustrated when ideas that I think are bullshit dominate discussions and crowd out what I believe are better ideas. That happens quite a bit. I usually just stop reading those threads. Simple enough.

    On the other hand, 'fringe' ideas often raise interesting issues from epistemology, metaphysics and the philosophy of science. So oftentimes I welcome people raising those issues. Arguing for and against them might actually teach people something. That's why I've suggested that Sciforums' 'fringe' fora have the potential to host some of the board's most interesting discussions. But sadly, they are more usually just occasions for insult and abuse.

    One thing that motivates me is my antipathy towards bullies and bullying. That may be a virtue or a character defect, I don't know. I stand up to discussion board bullies and dare them to come through me (intellectually speaking). They never can and they rarely even try. But this means that I often find myself defending ideas that I don't 100% agree with myself, because I perceive that those who proposed them aren't being treated fairly, humanely or intelligently.

    Another thing: why is it so important to other people that I believe exactly as they do? For example, I'm a global-warming skeptic. That's simply intolerable to the bullies and the activists. Why? Because I don't believe. (It isn't an accident that Al Gore has no scientific training, but did study in a seminary to become a preacher.)

    People have this tendency to feel threatened by ideas that they disagree with and even more so by the idea that there are people in their group who aren't 100% bought-in. So they battle. And battle. And battle. All in hopes of driving out and silencing the unbelievers. It's a human thing, I guess. In paleolithic times when humans were evolving, group solidarity might have been the difference between surviving and dying. Today, it's more prevalent in politics than in religion, but religion still gets the bad rap.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2019
  22. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Exchemist already asked this question and it's a good one: what is "woo"?

    Working scientists often propose hypotheses. Some of them can be pretty 'out-there'. So, why aren't those ideas attacked as "woo"? I guess that one difference is that the hypotheses are clearly labeled "hypotheses".

    Ideas seem to me to often cross over the "woo" line when those who propose them insist that they are the Truth, as opposed to conjecture. Oftentimes the presentation is rather grandiose: the new idea is supposed to be so revolutionary that it will sweep-away existing ideas. The critic of Einstein is always going to rewrite physics. The 'aquatic-ape' guy was going to rewrite the history of human evolution. The "ID" champion is going to overturn most of post-19th-century biology (and methodological naturalism along with it). There's often a claim that conventional science is suppressing the new idea because it challenges something, existing scientists' careers, some deeply entrenched foundational assumption, it usually isn't clear exactly what. Sometimes it's even true.

    Interestingly (to me, anyway), is the resemblance between the proposer of "woo" and the "Speaking Truth to Power" psychological paradigm. I'm sure that's how the "woo"-ists perceive themselves. The biggest defect that I see is the inability to entertain the possibility that they might be wrong. But that's what we typically see with moral judgments, so it isn't anything new.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2019
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  23. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

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    I don't think that is a difference, to be honest, as "woo" can be labelled an hypothesis, theory, or just "this amazing thing I came up with that solves problem X" etc.
    The difference is that science can be supported with actual studies and not just extracts of tudies that support it - e.g. "woo" might take a single study that appears to confirm their theory while ignoring that it is within statistical norms over a wider series of performed tests.
    Science is open to review and criticism.
    Science is encouraging of experimental control within the testing of said theory.
    Etc.
    And I think there's a difference between "woo" and just bad science, e.g. in how deliberate it is, and how open the practitioner is open to being corrected etc.
    Science doesn't mind being shown it's wrong.
     

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