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Skeptical Philosophy

  1. May 25, 2003 #1
    I know there are plenty of people here who consider themselves to be skeptical, but is there a common outlook for all of us? I personally see it broken up into at least two camps. One is the type who says 'that's nonsense' to most everything not accepted by science, and leaves it at that. The second group attempts to show reasons behind why an idea is wrong, and suggests alternate explanations and avenues of inquiry.

    I don't know if I have a point, except to say that the first group is useless, and the second group may be useful in certain situations.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 25, 2003 #2
    So? Where is this going? Give a lead-in or something!
  4. May 25, 2003 #3
    Ok, so...do you think it isnough to call religion or pseudoscience 'bunk', and walk away, or do you think you should try to present actual evidence, and even guide people towards some sort of reason? After all, not all bunk is really bunk.
  5. May 25, 2003 #4
    Because of the logical and statistical and scientific methods I used on religion (which only need to be used once in a lifetime) I walked away. It doesn't take long and once you do it your done for a lifetime.

    Kind of like getting your tonsils removed.

    So yes, from my perspective it can be bunked forever. But religion isn't pseudo-science, it's mythology, a big difference!

    I would urge others to use the processes I did, or others if they wish, and thus to draw the conclusion, and walk away. I wouldn't urge someone to walk away without doing this, and I would urge those would have walked away without doing this, to do it and then walk away again.

    I guess the importance lies in the methods I used. But my answer to your question is yes they can be debunked....

    PS: Remember the burden of proof of an existance claim lies on the side claiming the existance. It's only a kind gesture if the other side wishes to present it's defense.
  6. May 25, 2003 #5
    On the other hand, if that is all you are going to do, you may as well just save a step and not say anything, don't you think? If all you are doing is stating your beliefs for the sake of hearing yourself talk, what good is that?
  7. May 25, 2003 #6
    What is the problem?

    You ask a question, I answer it - and then you say I shouldn't answer it?

    Perhaps you're unhappy you don't get the responses you wish to get!
  8. May 25, 2003 #7
  9. May 25, 2003 #8
    Are you asking anyone to argue in favor "of" religion? Because it sounds like you've already concluded there's no need for it. Except of course that it would be nice if we could somehow find a way to convince those poor deluded souls who haven't realized it yet, that it wasn't necessary.

    I'm not even a religious person (spiritual perhaps?), and yet the problem is not religion, it's what people do with religion. And this is the key, because religion is so close to the core of what we are -- as "creatures of belief" -- that it's subject to so much exploitation. And indeed, this is what gives it bad name ... while also explaining the nature of addiction.

    And, while there's no doubt a good percentage of people who go to church who are under such delusions, I don't think the solution would be to outlaw religion, because people still need their "fixations." Ironically, just like Prohibition! And yet if properly understood, religion can ultimately provide the means by which to overcome our "earthly fixations," and possibly "escape the Matrix" so to speak.

    This I'm afraid is what science fails to understand, that people can't help but be this way, for they need time to mature and open their eyes to reality. And yet the problem with Mother Church, is that She becomes so possessive about the whole thing (again, the nature of addiction), that She won't allow Her little children to do grow beyond the need for Mother Church, and become independent "spiritual beings." But doesn't this sound like a problem with most parents?

    So the problem is not religion (which isn't to say there aren't things which couldn't be addressed about "formalized religion"). The problem is to understand why we have the need for religion ... And hey, it might even be possible for Science and Religion to get together and bridge some of their differences. Now wouldn't that be something!
  10. May 25, 2003 #9
    I think the point you are making is that Skeptics come in two essential varieties, intellectual and reactionary. Reactionary politics are as old as humanity and are not quite totally useless, but certainly are a reflection of the cultures they emerge from. In the long run they can bring about changes that otherwise might not occur, especially in male dominated Patriarchal societies which place violence, assertiveness, and rugged-individualism in general on a pedistal. In the short run, of course, reactionary politics can cause as much embarassment and backstepping as possible.

    Sometimes people simply refuse to listen and when they have the overwhelming advantage and dominate the floor, raising hell becomes an attractive alternative. Reactionary Skeptics multiply and grow louder the less people listen to them. Likewise, the more intellectual Skeptics refrain from expressing their own feelings, the more reactionary Skeptics fill in the gaps. The less empowered people feel and the less heard, the more outrageous their behavior.

    The ancient Athenian motto for democracy was, "Strike if you must! But hear me first!" Instead of merely putting down reactionary Skeptics as useless, a truly intellectual Skeptic would ask why they act the way they do. This is apparently what you seem to be doing here in a sort of high handed, demeaning way. Note that this is perfectly in character, appropriate, and socially acceptable in western societies but not so much in Asian cultures. In Asia they tend to have to opposite problem, people bend over backwards to at least appear they are not insulting each other or otherwise taking advantage of each other. :0)
  11. May 25, 2003 #10


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    i think as a general rule, each individual should


    for themselves...this means to think for yourself, and not be insulted, swayed, brainwashed by what another individual has to say unless you 100% completely agree with them for your own reasons...

    that to me is skeptical philosophy...
  12. May 25, 2003 #11
    Most importantly, a real Skeptic questions themselves.
  13. May 25, 2003 #12

    This idea is useless in reality. It's not only impossible but simply strange.

    You don't question weather your cereal is poisoned, or weather you have aids today. Or weather you're going to fall through the floor, and weather ghosts are going to kill you right NOW... or a million other things.

    To questions things isn't an intelligent decision unless you're going to use empirical data to back your claim up. I could question newtons 2nd law, but I'd be a jackass for it if I didn't have a better theory.

    The whole notion of "question everything" like I see these childrens commercials on TV for is just strange. It's part of why we have people who are intellectual without any intelligence or knowledge.

    It's a big problem in society today. It also goes back to the whole philosophy thing, philosophy is intellectualism without any knowledge. Science is the intellect to ask why with the knowledge and intelligence to back it up.

    Philosophy itself is a poor choice, skeptical philosophy is unbelievably worse!
  14. May 25, 2003 #13
    Re: Re: Skeptical Philosophy

    This cuts to teh heart of what I was trying to get across...that it isn't enough to say 'you are wrong, therefore you must be stupid', and move on. I think it is important to understand the reasons people believe differently from you, if only to better understand humanity as a whole. I mean, why do people believe in things that are patently false? Or believe without what some would consider sufficient evidence?
  15. May 25, 2003 #14
    Exactly...question, and then measure the answers against everything you know. Be open to new ideas, new information. Like The Amazing Randi likes to say, it isn't that astrology or psychic powers can't exist, it is simply that teh evidence doesn't sway me. If new evidence comes to light, I look at it, compare it to what I know about the world, and see if it rings true.
  16. May 25, 2003 #15
    Re: Re: Re: Skeptical Philosophy

    Zero - I've done a few short publications on this "why" you propose. Using many angles. Perhaps I will post them in a new post and see why other atheists propose religion not only became a mythology, but why also it was superimposed.

  17. May 25, 2003 #16
    As usual, your logic ignores the simple facts of emotional life and the common emotional connotations of natural language which give it context. Genuine questions do not demand answers, are not habitual, etc. When a Skeptic says "question everything" it is not a command to question every breath you take. Question your own insistence on taking things out of context and, perhaps, you will gain some insight into what a sincere question involves.
  18. May 25, 2003 #17
    I think what's she saying is to question everything, as much as possible, when it comes to people's underlying motives, including yourself's (which is what wuliheron was saying). For indeed, nothing is as it appears, or at least very little of it anyway.

    Yes, and the rest of the things which you don't have time to question -- so long as they don't appear too serious -- you have to pretty much leave up to faith. Hmm ... very interesting!
  19. May 25, 2003 #18

    Les Sleeth

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    Re: Re: Re: Skeptical Philosophy

    Thank you Zero for posting this, I think you are asking an important question.

    My opinion is, this is a forum, not a dumping ground for opinionated people to come and unload their dogma on the rest of us. The entire purpose of a forum is to discuss, and listen, and hopefully learn/contribute.

    The first variety of skeptic you cite contributes nothing useful, and in fact only wastes everyones' time because when one tries to reason with them, they ignore what you say and merely repeat what they've already said. Rather than a healthy skepticism, it really just ends up being the rantings of the self-absorbed.

    Your second example is what I think Kerrie is referring to, not to literally question everything, but rather to wonder about everything which is open to question (and that's a lot of stuff). To me, that is a sign of someone who wants to learn and grow.

    Some of the best discussions I've had here when debating with someone, is when they answer me and begin by addressing the important points I made before moving on to their own points, and they do so with an honest willingness to acknowledge anything I said that made sense. It makes no difference whether ultimately people agree as long as they are willing to listen and admit when they don't make sense or make a mistake with facts.
  20. May 25, 2003 #19
    It's funny you should mention James Randi here, because he's a prime example of what skeptic shouldn't be, "died-in-the-wool" that is. At least this is my own opinion. For he claims to be open to the possiblity that the "super natural" might exist, yet he all he does is mock and ridicule and slam the door shut in the face of it.

    Whereas I think James Randi is just in it for himself, and this is what the big hoopla is all about.
  21. May 25, 2003 #20

    Everything = Somethings

    Hmmm. Does not compute.
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