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How do you deal with crackpots?

by bigfooted
Tags: crackpots, deal
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chrisbaird
#37
Dec27-11, 11:06 AM
P: 617
To add to the comment by micromass, many crackpotteries are tied to pyramid marketing schemes, so the participants have a perceived financial interest in forcing their crackpottery on others. This can do a lot of damage to relationships among family and friends. To protect relationships, my spouse and I decided to set a ground rule: we never buy anything directly from a friend or family member or entertain any sales pitches from people we care about.
Ivan Seeking
#38
Dec27-11, 12:20 PM
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Quote Quote by Evo View Post
Then one could say what's the harm with psychic healing. Where do you draw the line when it comes to believing in nonsense?
When it starts to do significant harm. As I said, inductive reasoning can only be taken so far.
Evo
#39
Dec27-11, 12:27 PM
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Quote Quote by Ivan Seeking View Post
When it starts to do significant harm. As I said, inductive reasoning can only be taken so far.
I have to admit I enjoyed reading and watching shows about the supernatural and the unexplained before I joined PF. But to be honest, I think it's the ridiculously over the top reality tv shows that have killed it for me. Who can watch that garbage?
Ivan Seeking
#40
Dec27-11, 12:30 PM
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Quote Quote by micromass View Post
For me the danger is not so much what the people believe. If somebody wants to believe something crazy then they're free to. It becomes dangerous when they're starting to tell other people what to do.

For example, if somebody has the notion that blood transfusions are a sin and will rather let their child die instead of giving them blood. That's dangerous.

Or when people want to force their pet belief system into education. That's dangerous.
So then the beliefs aren't the problem. Rather it is the imposition of those beliefs on others. I think we have a Constitution to handle that.

Or if somebody found a new system to beat the casino and wastes all the money of their family. That's dangerous.
So should we assume that all of those people playing slot machines think they have a system? Of course not. People gamble all the time and the notion of a secret system has nothing to do with it. It is an addiction. It is a disease.
Ivan Seeking
#41
Dec27-11, 12:34 PM
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Quote Quote by Ryan_m_b View Post
I've only flicked through so forgive me if this has already been mentioned but regarding whether or not people are psychologically harmed by someone challenging their beliefs vs. harmed by stupid beliefs: if someone has a pseudo-scientific/ignorant belief it affects all of us. People arent islands, a person who believes in homeopathy is likely to spend money on it (enlarging the industry), are likely to suggest it to others and may vote for politicians on the basis of how the candidates treat homeopathy. It's all fun and games until a group of people with stupid beliefs vote in a politician that promises to divert government funding towards their stupid idea. Keeping with homeopathy the NHS spends millions a year on it just because enough people in positions of power either believe in it or see it as a vote winner; this damages society as a whole.
We were talking about the idea of beliefs in isolation. When it comes to arenas like national politics, these false beliefs can be and should be, and you can bet, will be exposed.
Ivan Seeking
#42
Dec27-11, 12:41 PM
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Quote Quote by Evo View Post
I have to admit I enjoyed reading and watching shows about the supernatural and the unexplained before I joined PF. But to be honest, I think it's the ridiculously over the top reality tv shows that have killed it for me. Who can watch that garbage?
I know. When I was moderating this forum there were times I thought my head would explode.

But I do have to step back and wonder where we draw the line. This entire point was really driven home for me recently with my mildly retarded uncle. He believes all sorts of nonsense because he is so vulnerable intellectually. But over the years it has become clear that one should only intervene so much. Beyond those times when his beliefs are self destructive, he is best to believe what he wants. That may be about the only happiness he has in life.

But I have also seen example after example over the years suggesting that most people believe weird things because they need to. As MacLaddy mentioned, it gives them something to live for.

Consider this: If you convince someone that there is no heaven, for them, you just stole their eternal salvation and everlasting life. If we die and that's it, they never would have known they were wrong.
micromass
#43
Dec27-11, 12:55 PM
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Quote Quote by Ivan Seeking View Post
When it starts to do significant harm. As I said, inductive reasoning can only be taken so far.
After a while, every crackpot idea starts to do harm in some way. It's important to fight it in its roots.
micromass
#44
Dec27-11, 01:00 PM
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Quote Quote by Ivan Seeking View Post
So then the beliefs aren't the problem. Rather it is the imposition of those beliefs on others. I think we have a Constitution to handle that.
The constitution alone cannot handle such things. Creationism was almost teached in schools!! And it might happen again.

Here, we have teachers trying to teach evolution to kids. And some of the kids were told by their parents to disrupt class and to not let the teacher talk. The other kids are harmed in this process. Consitution does not help in this cases.

So should we assume that all of those people playing slot machines think they have a system? Of course not. People gamble all the time and the notion of a secret system has nothing to do with it. It is an addiction. It is a disease.
Crackpottery is a disease. It's like a gambling addiction. I don't think the two are very two apart.
Pengwuino
#45
Dec27-11, 01:01 PM
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Quote Quote by Ivan Seeking View Post
We were talking about the idea of beliefs in isolation. When it comes to arenas like national politics, these false beliefs can be and should be, and you can bet, will be exposed.
That's the point, beliefs don't happen in isolation. In fact, that was the point of the thread; what happens when pseudoscience walks into the forum? If every psychic, paranormal, witchcraft believing person could be isolated on an island, never to bother the rest of us, then that would be great! Unfortunately, that's not how the world works.
micromass
#46
Dec27-11, 01:02 PM
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Quote Quote by Ivan Seeking View Post
Consider this: If you convince someone that there is no heaven, for them, you just stole their eternal salvation and everlasting life.
That's only part of the issue. If you people convince that their is no hell, then you saved them from fear. You saved them from the horrible thoughts that their family and friends will go to hell. The people might as well be relieved that they don't belief in it anymore.
Evo
#47
Dec27-11, 01:05 PM
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I always wished we had the ability to lock all of the crackpots in one sub-forum where they could only talk to other crackpots. I think that would be hilarious to watch. Oh wait, we have the philosophy forum...

(runs and hides)
micromass
#48
Dec27-11, 01:06 PM
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Quote Quote by Evo View Post
I always wished we had the ability to lock all of the crackpots in one sub-forum where they could only talk to other crackpots. I think that would be hilarious to watch.
Yes, especially if we'd force Evo to moderate it.
Evo
#49
Dec27-11, 01:07 PM
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Quote Quote by micromass View Post
Yes, especially if we'd force Evo to moderate it.
You were too quick, I added to the post, I thought you'd get a kick out of it.
micromass
#50
Dec27-11, 01:10 PM
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Quote Quote by Evo View Post
Oh wait, we have the philosophy forum...
Evo is funny as always!!
Ryan_m_b
#51
Dec27-11, 03:23 PM
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Quote Quote by Ivan Seeking View Post
We were talking about the idea of beliefs in isolation. When it comes to arenas like national politics, these false beliefs can be and should be, and you can bet, will be exposed.
That was a big point I was making, no one lives in isolation. Beliefs determine actions, actions affect others. Whether it's at a national political level or just when chatting over a pint.
bigfooted
#52
Dec29-11, 04:07 PM
P: 298
It's good to read about how others deal with this, inside the forum and in the real world.
I find it especially hard to point out to friends that water with salt or alcohol is not going to do anything useful. "It really works, I got better!". Yes, you would also have gotten better without it... A typical example of pseudo-science that got out of control.

That reminds me: I still have to read some philosophy posts...
Super Luminal
#53
Dec29-11, 08:34 PM
P: 17
You have cannot be indignant or condemning to someone who holds a false belief if you want to help them. You must be kind and respectful--as hard as that often is, I know. A person, even an extremely intelligent person, can cling almost endlessly to a fallacious belief if they are emotionally invested in said belief, and the belief becomes almost like a part of them because of that. Learning, evolving, and understanding life all can be filled with perils which sometimes leads to pretty smart people believing unbelievable things. Before anyone can assist anyone, the helper must make sure that the--for lack of a better term--victim wants help. There needs to be an agreement there. You cannot truly help an individual that does not want it. You can try, but your time and energy would be better spent even praying for that person instead.

If you're so inclined to help someone the first thing that you need to do is determine whether or they will entertain other points of view. If they are open to that you can proceed on to sharing your views with them in with hopes that you help them better understand a certain concept.

Unfortunately, some "crackpots" are less curious than the are already convinced. They don't seek to understand, they seek to proselytize. Maybe they are religious fanatics or perhaps suffer from one or many mental disorders; are they hoaxing trolls, or perhaps they are simply just very stupid people? Maybe a combination of all those things--anyway, this latter group isn't going to be helped by anyone in internet forum So if you suspect someone is of this group I would advise to just ignore them until the show you some evidence otherwise.
Ryan_m_b
#54
Dec30-11, 04:29 AM
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Quote Quote by bigfooted View Post
It's good to read about how others deal with this, inside the forum and in the real world.
I find it especially hard to point out to friends that water with salt or alcohol is not going to do anything useful. "It really works, I got better!". Yes, you would also have gotten better without it... A typical example of pseudo-science that got out of control.

That reminds me: I still have to read some philosophy posts...
That's a combination of placebo effect, confirmation bias and post hoc ergo propter hoc.


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