What is skepticism?

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by hurdy gurdy man, Aug 13, 2007.

  1. Hi all,

    I'd like to tell you about my personal belief system. It's called scientific skepticism.

    Why have I chosen this path for myself? Well, for one thing, it's based on what's real. Science has proven to be our best tool for making sense out of and manipulating our universe. This can be seen in all the technology you have in your room right now. Each piece of technology is proof that science works.

    Is science perfect? Of course not. Its findings are always provisional, always subject to change. But the important thing is that it provides us with the best current model of our universe. While it may not be perfect, it certainly gets closer to reality than any other method we have.

    The skeptical movement is a community of people who base their beliefs about the world on our current scientific understanding. Every claim must be scrutinized using the highest standards of logic and evidence. Logic- there's something I forgot to mention. There's nothing more beautiful than a logically constructed statement. I mean, what could be more true? Unfortunately many resort to logical fallacies when arguing a position. Here's a great list of logical fallacies from Dr. Steven Novella, host of a wonderful skeptical podcast that you should all check out called the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe: http://www.theness.com/articles.asp?id=38

    Skeptics are especially concerned with the errors humans make in reasoning. This is why they dedicate so much effort in educating the public about science, part of which includes separating the junk science from the good science. Examples of junk science, or as it's more commonly referred to, pseudoscience include: extraterrestrial UFO's, Bigfoot, homeopathy, astrology, grand conspiracy theories (such as the 9/11 Truth movement), Holocaust denial, creationism/Intelligent Design, Scientology & Dianetics, faith healing, Satanic panic (the mass paranoid belief that there are widespread, evil Satanic organizations).

    All of these things can be refuted with tools of skeptical inquiry: science and logic. I urge you to go to www.skepdic.com if you want to know specific reasons why.

    Alright, that's all for now!

  2. Scepticism is one of the most important tools in philosophical thinking. Some of the world's most influential philosophers (i.e. Descartes) utilize it to an extreme degree. If we don't scrutinize our beliefs, how can we ever prove them to be valid?

    Thanks for the link, it seems very interesting and I'm sure it will aid my understanding of philosophy and prevent any logical fallacies I may have been inclined to commit.

    Keep doubting!
  3. To clarify a bit, philosophical skepticism is a little different than scientific skepticism. It's possible to be a follower of both, or just one.

    A philosophical skeptic doubts the most basic metaphysical and epistemological questions: Am I real? Are other people real? Is it possible to know anything? The Matrix is a good example of a philosophically skeptical movie.

    Personally I would say that it's possible that we're living in The Matrix, or I'm just a brain in a vat, but I don't see it as a very useful of fruitful line of thought. It's all speculation, and just doesn't get you anywhere.

    Scientific skeptics are more concerned with concrete, scientific evidence for claims. For instance James Randi, the most famous figure in the skeptical movement, offers a $1,000,000 prize to anyone who can prove they have psychic or paranormal abilities. Randi's offer isn't just a publicity stunt; many have tried out for it. The applicant and Randi, or a representative of his organization, The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF), determine together what criteria need to be met in order to prove a psychic ability, and afterwards are put through the test.

    And surprise, surprise, no one's one it yet.
  4. He would have to be willing to take some acid and do some nitrous while being high on weed, million dollars shmillion dollars :D it's all in your head if you want to see it-

    They aren't speaking the right language or using the right senses to observe in my opinion if they can't see it or express it.

    So they have to take a different route I think, something that takes them inward instead of outward towards proving what another can do. The real proof is in what YOU can do with your mind I believe. So if this guy wants to see the power he doesn't have to pay a million dollars. All he has to do is take some shrooms and think really hard about his existance.

    Really, that's all. No million dollar game, just a bong and some shrooms.
  5. Ummm... I don't think you're following. Randi tests whether people, in the real world, the one we're existing in right now, can demonstrate psychic abilities such as being able to physically (we're still in the real world here) move objects with their minds, read the minds of others, be able to see things that aren't within view, etc. I don't think shrooming is standard scientific protocol...
  6. I wonder why people think that altering their brain with poison somehow opens their mind up to some great mystery. It doesn't. You get really high, think or feel something, because you're fucked up. No great mysterious truth in that. Drugs can allow you to look at something from another angle, marijuana can inspire you to think about a subject you have previously ignored, or realize the truth in something you over looked. Staying grounded in reality will help separate real truth from a wicked trip, real insight from a fanciful fantasy. If I took some shrooms and the devil came and had a talk with me, when I woke up in the morning I would not take that as some awesome revelation from Satan. I would instead think something along the lines of "That was a pretty fucked up trip man, this shit is good". *shrugs* To each there own, though.

    I am going to go gut a sheep and spill its entrails on the ground so the mysteries of the universe can be revealed to me.
  7. be careful hurdy gurdy, science isnt going to have all the anwsers and if you expect it too it may be a burden. i respect the fact that you are skeptical, as you should be, but if you rely too heavily on it you may be as bad as the hardcore catholics.

    my problem with science is they focus too much on objective reality, basically ignoring subjective. shrooming is obvioulsy going to be ignored because its a completely subjective experience. objectively their heart rate increases, pupils dialated, but those who have tried shrooms know its a completely different experience.

    i know theres some particle physics, or quantum physics that boreders on the metaphysical. i think science is getting backed in a position where the only thing they can do is accept the subjective experience.

    on a side note, everything in science backs up my spiritual understanding.
  8. Yep. I'm in the social sciences, so it's very heavy on subjectivity. Definitely more so than objectivity. And it's frustrating at times, lot of it makes little to no sense, tbh.

    There are hangups no matter what philosophy/metaphysics/science/relgion you choose.

    and maybe...the entire subject/object division is all wrong? Maybe this division is a false one. Maybe the division between religion and science is false. Maybe everything is connnected somehow.

  9. Do you not like how it sounds or something? You just answered your own question in the same paragraph. It was almost like you were thinking about it and then brought up the truth through rationalization.

    I'm saying it is the very act of staying grounded in reality that is not allowing him to see reality from another angle that others can and do on a regular basis.

    You saying it doesn't reveal the mysteries of the universe to people, with authority, doesn't make it logical or reasonable.

    You may not have eyes to see it or be able to accept that what your eyes saw was the truth.

    I altered my perception in order to see reality from a different angle- is that so hard to understand? Or just hard to accept?

    The reality I saw wasn't a different reality to me- it was another way to look at it. I would like to offer another the same path I took to understand what I do is all. It may sound ridiculous to you, but once again that is not something that makes it not logical.

  10. This man is a genius. Give him a hand!:metal:

    You know where I'm coming from too! :D
  11. No, I pointed out that science doesn't know everything in my post. You misunderstood me.

    The difference is that Catholics do not use evidence to back up their assertions. I can't think of how it's a bad thing to rely too much on evidence.

    Evidence = good

    I'm not sure you really understand what science is. What do you mean "shrooming is going to be ignored"? A recent Johns Hopkins study found that most people given their first dose of shrooms reported that it was one of the most important experiences of their life, and that they were a more positive person because of it. Their family members and close friends agreed. This is an example of using objective methods in order to discern subjective experience.

    You're right, science is all about objectivity. You're not going to open a scientific journal and find an article called "The Craziest Trip I Had Last Night." That would contribute nothing to science, because it's a personal anecdote. Scientists use large sample sizes so their results best match the entire population.

    Easy there, Buster. Quantum physics is mind-boggling, but it does not "border on the metaphysical." Particle physicists are studying very real things in their labs. If quantum physics were metaphysical, they wouldn't have to come into the lab. They could just write a paper from home.

    No... no, it really isn't. I haven't heard any physicists complaining that their work is completely meaningless because it doesn't take into account some message board user who had an acid trip. On the contrary, they're some of the most excited people in the world, because the new CERN particle accelerator on the border of France and Switzerland may uncover hidden dimensions, and reveal other mysteries of our universe.

    Okay. I don't know what your spiritual understanding is, or how science backs it up.
  12. hurdy gurdy, I want to buy you a drink someday. You made my day with, "I'm not sure you really understand what science is." Lots and lots of times I get into a conversation/debate and that thought (word for word!) flits through my head.

    It's like "You keep using that word... I do not think you know what it means."

  13. No but I bet if physicists did take acid they would feel their work was validated completely before their very eyes!

    If a scientist cannot see the other side than he may not feel his work is meaningless but that's only because he doesn't see the other side. Can't really miss what you've never experienced.

    It wouldn't take any meaning away to not do it, it would only add to the meaning if he did.

    PS if it wasn't for the buster comment I would have thought the writing was Rasta_Man.
  14. news flash for those who think we're geeky and wear lab coats to parties: scientists do drugs JUST as often as regular folks. I'd be interested to see the numbers, but I suspect that a higher percentage of scientists use drugs recreationally than your average person.
  15. Man, people suffer brain trauma and see all kinds of shit that is not there. Mental hospitals are filled with people who let their inner voices rule their lives (or who have no choice in the matter)... These are not prophets, nor are they people with great insight. Although you may believe it to be so, just because someone thinks of something, does not make it the truth or a revelation.

    It is not hard for me to understand that you altered your perception to see reality from a different angle. What is hard for me to understand is what you got out of it and why you consider it to be some kind of wisdom revealed instead of what it is, a trip. Everything is connected? Yeah, no kidding, we are all made of the same stuff, this whole universe is. There is nothing profound about that. God is everything and we are all God because God got bored and decided to make the Universe? That sounds far fetched, because you're turning God into an all-powerful human. Bored? We get bored because our minds are always seeking something knew, they are learning machines. Give it the same old, same old, and it will not be happy, boredom encourages us to go and enjoy new experiences. A being that knows everything could not get bored, it would not last very long if it did. It would have no need for new experiences, it has them all, knows them all. It does not need to play the Sims, or wait for the Sims 2 to come out in order to stop being bored.

    If you believe in it so strongly then set out to prove it, do not sit there and argue as if you already know everything, because you do not, nor do I, or anyone else for that matter. It is possible for people to know the truth without any facts, but they cannot be sure of it without those facts, and they certainly should not expect people to believe them without the facts to back up their claims. You had an awesome trip. I have had those too. Once, when I was on shrooms, I looked up into the sky and saw every single star connected by a thin line of light. It was like some massive connect-the-dot game in the sky. I did not come away from that experience believing I saw some spirit energy connecting all things, mainly because there was no evidence to suggest such a thing and it is much more likely that the shrooms were altering my brain and bleeding the light from the stars into each other. The shrooms did not allow me to see into the spirit realm. Just because you get the idea during one of these experiences that it is something more than it is, does not mean it is. The brain is just a machine, disrupt it and reality can be distorted, sometimes quite drastically. Your brain interprets these signals as reality, because that is its job. It is not infallible, I could plug your brain into a computer and start feeding you signals to make you think you were living on the sun. You would not be living on the sun, but you would not know that, to you the illusion would be complete. I do not consider cannabis to be a reality altering drug, shrooms can be depending on the dosage, and acid most certainly is.

    The brain is a machine, damage the machine and its ability to see and understand reality will be damaged as well. If there was truth to these things, we would be able to find evidence to support and prove these theories. Instead we cannot, and apparently we cannot because of faith... Which sounds to me like a great cop-out.

    Me: "I am an all-powerful wizard who can cast magic!"
    Jim: "Prove it, cast a spell."
    Me: "Uh... Sorry old boy, it does not work like that, take it on faith that I am an all-powerful wizard who can cast magic. I need not prove anything to the likes of you."

    The comment of mine that you put in bold and underlined can be explained like this... You go through everyday life, knowing but ignoring what actually goes on in the world, you buy into the media and our materialistic culture. One day, you smoke some cannabis, and on that day you look around and realize how unimportant all those material possessions are, you realize how poorly we treat one another, and how silly our hectic lives can be. All of the evidence for these things was around you all the time, in front of your face, you just ignored it. When you got high, you took a step back from the situation and were able to more clearly analyze it. Granted, it could be argued that the evidence for some of the things some claim is all around us and all we need to do is step back and look at it, but if that indeed were true, you could prove it and show it to be so, without the need for the drugs. So while yes, you can come up with some pretty insightful shit while high, that does not mean everything you think about while high is pure gold and pure truth, though.
  16. Nah, drinks are on me!

    geologyrox.. haha, that's funny on two different levels, or should I say... strata?

    Very true what you said about scientists... I definitely never got a labcoat. In fact I went to work today in ripped jeans and a Gram Parsons t-shirt.
  17. science is not god.

    Science is just as man-made as religion.

    Science is just as evil as religion in that the scientist has the same opportunity to mislead the casual observer. Maybe through bad science, or maybe through fudged data, or what have you...there are many ways to fool the public.

    Just because it is "scientific" does not mean it is necessarily credible.

    Science must be looked at through the lense of skepticism.

    There are no absolute truths in the realm of science. That is the bedrock, the foundation of scientific thought, imo.

    Don't be afraid to prove science wrong. It is often wrong, or incomplete.
  18. How do you prove science wrong, with wishful thinking and conjecture, or with some method like the... uh... scientific method?



    Indeed, hence why there are peer reviews. Checks and balances my friend, checks and balances.

    Who is afraid to prove "science wrong"? Incomplete it may be, but at least it does not sit still while pretending to have all the answers, while holding fast to logical fallacies in order to "prove" itself.

    I am really not sure what you are trying to say, all I get from that post is a profound misunderstanding of the subject matter that is being discussed. I could be wrong, so please, clarify your statements if you do not mind.
  19. Well, all I'm trying to say is that science is not objective...

    not completely, anyway. It is also subjective...in that you give a problem to 100 scientists, and they will probably find 100 different ways to solve it.

    See what I'm saying...

    Scientific method is just a system of guidelines...

    much like the bible is a system of guidlines for christians.

    In my opinion, of course. Both systems are imperfect.

    edit: haha, I think I'm basically just rehashing a lot of what was covered in the OP.

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