Debunking (The Method)

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  • #26
Strilanc
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To say there is NO evidence is a lie. Also, anecdotal evidence is evidence. It doesn't qualify as scientific evidence, but that specification is almost never included. It is a common mistake made by those who misrepresent the facts; be it intentional or not.
I'll agree to that. Anecdotal evidence is evidence. But we need to keep in mind how incredibly bad it is as evidence. It's like taking publication bias and making it an art form. I believe alt med lives on anecdotes (note: at least SOME alt med must be incorrect, since some alt med contradicts other alt med, eg magnets are good vs EMF is bad).

What frustrates me is people arguing over what 'really' happened when all they are going on is a few short sentences about the event. It doesn't matter if their theory is paranormal or scientific; they don't know what they're talking about.

I do like that, as we observe more and more of the world, we can actually show some these things exist. You mentioned a bunch of them ("...ball lightning, earthlights, earthquake lights, sprites/jets/ELVES/TIGERS..."). Keep it up, NASA and others.
 
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  • #27
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A dead or live body found by a so called psychic is physical evidence that supports the claims made, and there is no calculation showing that this is all in the odds - there is no way to even calculate the odds of such things so there is no way defend such a claim. And comparisons to winning the lottery are leaps of faith again because we can't calculate the odds.
So the essence of your claim here is that since we can't calculate the odds of a correct prediction by a psychic then we must qualify any correct prediction as evidence? Yet you accuse me of a leap of faith? You also conflate a description of a place and actually "found by a so called psychic". This distinction is a prime logical error that psychics use to great effect by mincing words.

How many debunkers assign all such events to long odds as a matter of fact when they wouldn't even know how to begin to calculate the odds? That is crackpottery.
What long odds are you talking about here? What odds can't we calculate? I know that in a group of 23 people there is a 50% chance that at least two of them will share the same birthday. It is you that must assume long odds to claim any sort of evidence. Yet here you ascribe this to what debunker's do. Isn't that calling the kettle black?

To say there is NO evidence is a lie. Also, anecdotal evidence is evidence. It doesn't qualify as scientific evidence, but that specification is almost never included. It is a common mistake made by those who misrepresent the facts; be it intentional or not.
So here you make the distinction between evidence and scientific evidence. The problem here is that you are using an open ended search space from which to define the anecdotal evidence. As a matter of scientific certainty this definition of evidence must, with absolute certainty, produce evidence with extreme regularity (millions of times a day), regardless of the absurdity of the claim. So if there is zero uncertainty that the evidence can be found, regardless of any truth behind the claim, how can you call it evidence even in a loose non-scientific sense?

If the ability to cite fraud can be used to disprove any similar claim or to disqualify anyone associated with a particular set of claims, then all of science is in trouble because there are frauds in all walks of life including science.
It's not the fraud that constitutes evidence against such claims. It is the fraudsters that has made a science out of the above errors in logic you are purveying to create a billion dollar business. The fraud demonstrates your logical errors. The same logical errors that lead honest people to believe they are psychic. For you to twist the use of fraudsters to demonstrate the logical errors and imply that the skeptic claim was that since fraud exist the paranormal doesn't is very disingenuous.

Do I think Sylvia is a fraud? Of course!!! Do I believe that John Edwards talks with the dead? Of course not!!! The interesting claims [of any sort addressed in this forum] are typically rare and require effort to find. But time and time again we have seen that anecdotal claims can be legitimate no matter how silly or outrageous they may sound on the face of things - ball lightning, earthlights, earthquake lights, sprites/jets/ELVES/TIGERS and other newly names strange lights in the sky, rogue waves, the sliding rocks of death valley, the "mythical" "milky sea" which has now been imaged by satellite, animals detecting disease in humans, and blind-sight, which I would bet has been interpreted as being psychical in the past, and which I think qualified as being "extrasensory" until it was proven to exist [note the irony]. Going back further, to most of the world even the great apes were once nothing but stories that were dismissed by many as nothing but wild stories, as were other "wild stories" about strange new lands. Also, it seems that real "hobbits" have lived alongside modern humans, so one has to wonder about the legends. At one time or another these were all nothing but wild claims void of scientific evidence.
You say, "The interesting claims [of any sort addressed in this forum] are typically rare and require effort to find." Why is it so rare, especially considering the certainty that the evidence as you defined it must occur? I can give a dozen examples from my personal experience. You then make a list of things previously interpreted as paranormal. Does finding legitimate phenomena legitimize the previous characterizations of the phenomena? If you don't think these legitimized explanations were a previous part of the possible solution domain with skeptics then you have never actually looked very close at what skeptics do. You are conflating the skeptics denial that the evidence as yet points to a particular solution to a denial of any phenomena whatsoever. I would not say "wild stories" of any kind are devoid of content. The question is what kind of content. You are the one that characterizes the content as evidence for "extrasensory perception" and when called on it you accuse me of denying any content whatsoever. Again very disingenuous.

The most common error made by debunkers is to assume that any anecdotal account void of scientific evidence and not easily explained is false or erroneous. It seems that many people can't live with "I don't know". They are compelled to say yay or nay, today - everything must have an answer right now.
Now see you ended up back-tracking on your above distinction between evidence an scientific evidence. You have even gone farther than saying just that X is evidence. You have said X is evidence of Y, in spite of a large solution space of what that evidence may actually represent and a large body of empirical evidence that your choice of Y would likely be better explained by known science. You then accuse skeptics of wanting answers to everything right now when it was you who defined X as evidence of Y in particular. That sounds like calling the kettle black again to me.

Why make assumptions that are not necessary?[/QUOTE]

Like the assumption of paranormal?
 
  • #28
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my_wan,

From what I can tell, your understanding of evidence is anything which allows a judgement to be made with certainty or the force of probability.

Ivan Seeking seems to view evidence as anything which supports a claim, regardless of sufficiency.

I am certainly no dictionary, and I may have misinterpreted either one of you, but my point is that there is a significant difference between your definition of evidence and Ivan's definition of evidence.

As a result, you misunderstood what Ivan said and then criticized what you thought he meant instead of what he actually stated.
 
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  • #29
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my_wan,

From what I can tell, your understanding of evidence is anything which allows a judgement to be made with certainty or the force of probability.

Ivan Seeking seems to view evidence as anything which supports a claim, regardless of sufficiency.
Not exactly. I didn't require the "force of probability" to to define something as evidence. I did require that the "force of probability" not demand with certainty the same evidence regardless of the truth value of the claim the evidence is purported to support.

I am certainly no dictionary, and I may have misinterpreted either one of you, but my point is that there is a significant difference between your definition of evidence and Ivan's definition of evidence.

As a result, you misunderstood what Ivan said and then criticized what you thought he meant instead of what he actually stated.
My criticism was initiated when Ivan Seeking stated categorically that debunker's constantly lie saying that there is no evidence.

Okay, frauds and deluded people. But I do take exception to debunkers that constantly lie by saying that there is no evidence for any of this. Clearly they are more interested in their opinion than any potentially credible evidence, which is a hallmark of a crackpot debunker.
Yes I tore through many of his supporting arguments on technicality because the main argument he was attempting to support remains patently false, i.e., "is evidence" and "debunkers lie". The claim that "debunkers lie" is no more valid than me attempting the same accusation wrt Ivan, it's simply not true. There is in fact no evidence, even in loosest common sense you can possibly define as I pointed out here.

So here you make the distinction between evidence and scientific evidence. The problem here is that you are using an open ended search space from which to define the anecdotal evidence. As a matter of scientific certainty this definition of evidence must, with absolute certainty, produce evidence with extreme regularity (millions of times a day), regardless of the absurdity of the claim. So if there is zero uncertainty that the evidence can be found, regardless of any truth behind the claim, how can you call it evidence even in a loose non-scientific sense?
Had it not been for the accusation of lying this probably would have went under my radar, but I fall into the group he accused of lying. Too many people to face off to all but the worst. This thread is about the debunking method and the points I made about evidence, even in a loose non-scientific sense, remain a valid and important contribution to the OP.
 
  • #30
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my_wan


Imagine I said people could walk on water through force of will.
Just like with most claims of this nature, an anecdote is provided in support of this claim.

By one definition, there is evidence for my claim simply because an anecdote was provided.

By another definition, there is no evidence for my claim because you cannot confirm this claim based on an anecdote alone.

No responsible thinker would consider this claim as true based on the anecdote alone, but some would say there is evidence, and others would say there is no evidence.


In my opinion, you were in essence arguing with Ivan over a definition, not over the general trustworthiness of anecdotes.
 
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  • #31
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my_wan


Imagine I said people could walk on water through force of will.
Just like with most claims of this nature, an anecdote is provided in support of this claim.

By one definition, there is evidence for my claim simply because an anecdote was provided.

By another definition, there is no evidence for my claim because you cannot confirm this claim based on an anecdote alone.

No responsible thinker would consider this claim as true based on the anecdote alone, but some would say there is evidence, and others would say there is no evidence.


In my opinion, you were in essence arguing with Ivan over a definition, not over the general trustworthiness of anecdotes.
Yes but his definition come with the accusation of debunker's lying. You now pick up his argument on definitional grounds. He was not allowing a distinction based on definition, he said lying.

Even so billions of dollar are scammed every year on nothing more than this distorted idea of evidence, to the financial and physical detriment of the customers. The use of this way people think about evidence is a science to the people who could care less whether you lived or died. Even then, I only took exception due to the unequivocal characterization of lying. The technical correctness of the remainder of my argument was just collateral.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/11/26/MN5QTJ8C1.DTL
Yes even Wall Street Traders:
http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/investigators&id=5945583
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2004108648_fortuneteller05m.html [Broken]
http://www.rickross.com/reference/terri_hoffman/terri_hoffman2.html [Broken]
http://crime.about.com/b/2005/01/03/psychic-charged-with-stealing-100000-from-woman.htm
http://www.religionnewsblog.com/9804/psychic-charged-with-theft
http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2002/02/accessresource.shtm [Broken]
http://skepdic.com/refuge/harmarchive.html

How easy a target are you? This kind of stuff is not possible because everybody is a con but because of the honesty of most believers and a distorted concept of evidence.
 
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  • #32
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my_wan,
I have attempted to summarize the argument you are opposing.


1. Anecdotes are a form of evidence.
2. Anecdotes are always or nearly always provided in support of paranormal claims.
3. Some debunkers say there is no evidence for such claims.
Therefore, some debunkers lie.


Are either of the 3 premises invalid?
If so, then the argument is unsound.

Does the conclusion follow logically from the premises?
If not, then the argument is unsound.

What do you think?
 
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  • #33
There's nothing wrong with anecdotal evidence on its own, it's a valid source of evidence. However if you want to prove anything you have to be more objective.

There are no invalid forms of evidence, except out and out lies. Provided you are honestly relating what happened whether it did or not (because you are 1 coconut short of a shy or whatever) that is valid.
 
  • #34
CEL
656
0
There's nothing wrong with anecdotal evidence on its own, it's a valid source of evidence. However if you want to prove anything you have to be more objective.

There are no invalid forms of evidence, except out and out lies. Provided you are honestly relating what happened whether it did or not (because you are 1 coconut short of a shy or whatever) that is valid.
The truth about the report of an event needs two conditions:
1. The event must be true.
2. The person reporting it must believe it is true.
 
  • #35
The truth about the report of an event needs two conditions:
1. The event must be true.
2. The person reporting it must believe it is true.
Well whether the event is "true" or not, the person could well have seen something anyway. Which is why I say that anecdotal evidence is valid, but it is not the same as proof. If after you examined the evidence you found no reason why the story might not be true, then that is sound anecdotally, and a form of viable evidence. As viable or sound as witness testimony gets anyway.
 
  • #36
868
3
my_wan,
I have attempted to summarize the argument you are opposing.


1. Anecdotes are a form of evidence.
2. Anecdotes are always or nearly always provided in support of paranormal claims.
3. Some debunkers say there is no evidence for such claims.
Therefore, some debunkers lie.

Are either of the 3 premises invalid?
If so, then the argument is unsound.

Does the conclusion follow logically from the premises?
If not, then the argument is unsound.

What do you think?
1. makes the logical error of being true by definition yet failing to provide evidence for that which is being claimed. You then specify the evidence as pertaining to claims in 3, a specification not contained in 1.

The logic in 1. requires the law of the excluded middle, i.e., it excludes a third possibility, yet you include the "middle" in 3. when you say "evidence for such claims". "Evidence" and "evidence of X" are not even the same logical category.

The truth about the report of an event needs two conditions:
1. The event must be true.
2. The person reporting it must believe it is true.
Even in the rarer situations where the witness outright lies about the event the anecdote is still evidence of 'something'. The belief of the witness has nothing to do with the truth of what occurred, it is still evidence of 'something'. Courts know that eyewitnesses are 'the most' unreliable form of evidence. It is so easy it is trivial to convince people they said things they didn't say and seen things they didn't see. I do it all the time.
 
  • #37
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Debunking in graphics.

I've mentioned this guy previously, he's expert in debunking. Why did he take "3 man and baby"? Cause...oh, just look and answer yourself. Somewhere on Youtube)
 
  • #38
I've mentioned this guy previously, he's expert in debunking. Why did he take "3 man and baby"? Cause...oh, just look and answer yourself. Somewhere on Youtube)
???
Who?
 
  • #39
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Captain Disillusion

Sorry, missed his name. Captain Disillusion!
 
  • #40
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I was impressed with the idea that if there is in fact a viable form of psychic ability, the ability to see images and events of the future, then there would indeed have been an influx of these known persons gifted in the ability spewing warnings and dangers and other actions of the like before the destruction on the world trade centers. How many persons took up a space on the street corners around these now destroyed buildings, to warn of the dangers ahead? Surly if the ability exists in any way, the visions would have run rampant through the cerebral cortex`s of the gifted beforehand.

For me, this is an acceptable form of evidence that the ability of fortune telling has no merit to it.
But I was never one to consider it a verified gift anyways.
I believe this method of observation and questioning the results of an event is a simple form of dubunking in everyday life
that can be accomplished by anybody and if things were more often approached in this manner, could make a more realistic and peaceful world without the notions of mystic oppurtunities and our everyday happenings controlled by good or bad influences. Way off topic.

Serine
 
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  • #41
Ivan Seeking
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
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I was impressed with the idea that if there is in fact a viable form of psychic ability, the ability to see images and events of the future, then there would indeed have been an influx of these known persons gifted in the ability spewing warnings and dangers and other actions of the like before the destruction on the world trade centers. How many persons took up a space on the street corners around these now destroyed buildings, to warn of the dangers ahead? Surly if the ability exists in any way, the visions would have run rampant through the cerebral cortex`s of the gifted beforehand.

For me, this is an acceptable form of evidence that the ability of fortune telling has no merit to it.
But I was never one to consider it a verified gift anyways.
I believe this method of observation and questioning the results of an event is a simple form of dubunking in everyday life
that can be accomplished by anybody and if things were more often approached in this manner, could make a more realistic and peaceful world without the notions of mystic oppurtunities and our everyday happenings controlled by good or bad influences. Way off topic.

Serine
Not that I'm defending the claims of "psychics", but I wanted to address the logic used: If ESP existed, it would manifest itself for what we consider to be significant events, but since that didn't seem to happen, there are no psychics.

Please provide supporting evidence for your theory that if it existed, ESP would be event-significance dependent.
 
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  • #42
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Evidence of theory? A simple hypothesis at most, and referring to the methods used in questioning the existence of (ESP) not in any way defending the existence or non existence as this is not the discussion of the topic in which the issue is catagorized under. Would not like to discuss validity of ESP as it is not my fortay. Just wanted to note that I liked how the thought and method of questioning the existence of the stimulation of visions within the said groups were apparent in the times before impending disaster, and if not I (I) (I) would consider it a benifitial way of bearing witness to whether or not the gift of fortunetelling is indeed real. For me, that would be a good basis for a building hypothesis.
 
  • #43
Ivan Seeking
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You are suggesting that something can be judged based on an assumption that has no supporting evidence or logical motivation.

Given that we don't know if psychic events occur, we certainly can't say how it might work [the characteristics of the phenomenon] if they did.
 
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  • #44
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I am stating that had there been people standing on the corners warning of impending disaster, I would consider that a sign that there might be something to the whole idea of psychics. Evidence. If there had been any form of seeing that people were indeed picking up images of great flying objects with stiff unmoving wings flying into the two tallest towers of the world, if there HAD been people, then I surley would reconsider psychic ability. Real people. Camped out. Being arrested. Many of them, so as not to consider it a coin flip chance, conventions of them, as many psychics that can fit hand to hand surrounding the two buildings. Evidence. Blood samples to see if they are really human.

Like that answer better? Maybe you didnt understand me the first two times.
 

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