Skepticism isn’t much fun

Ways and means of promoting skepticism
carumba17
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Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby carumba17 » Tue Mar 30, 2010 7:22 pm

In the most recent issue of Skeptic Magazine, James Randi’s column titled “How to Convince People You are Psychic” quotes one subject as saying, after being told that psychics aren’t real, “It doesn’t matter..”, confirms something that I’ve believed for a long time: most people believe that being a skeptic isn’t any fun. (Or, at a minimum, it's not as much fun as being a non-skeptic.)

I’m a confirmed skeptic. One of my hobbies is engaging in Internet debates with creationists. I even find being a skeptic “fun” because I think that it’s “fun” to be right and even more fun to have evidence to support what I believe.
But I firmly believe that many, and possibly most, people believe otherwise. Those other people firmly believe that it is more “fun” not to be a skeptic.

I worked in the Portland, OR, area for a while. One Monday morning a co-worker came in and told us that he was sure that he had seen a Sasquatch in the woods while camping out that weekend. Lots of people stopped over and talked to him about that. If, instead, he had described what he probably actually saw – some shadows in the trees that could have been a dozen different things – no one would have paid much attention.

I have a sister who checks her horoscope every day. She tells me that she doesn’t believe in astrology but it’s “fun” to look at her horoscope nonetheless.

Similarly, if you were to ask the average person would they rather stay in a “haunted house” or in a “house that makes noises at night because the foundation isn’t well constructed” almost everyone would pick the “haunted house” alternative.

Are ghosts real?

No.

Is it more “fun” to believe that ghosts are real than not to believe?

Yes!

You could put many things in place of “ghosts” – “angels”, “Sasquatch”, “Loch Ness Monster” and so on - and get the same answers.

While beliefs in pseudoscience are most often relatively harmless, believing in things solely because it is more “fun” to do so isn’t very rational and can have negative implications. It’s more “fun” NOT to believe in Global Warming because you won’t have to change your lifestyle if it is not true. But that is far from a legitimate basis for setting public polices regarding carbon emissions. It’s more “fun” to believe that your teenage child is not using drugs. But that is far from a legitimate basis for ignoring recently used drug paraphernalia you find in their bedroom.

One of the problems is that magazines like Skeptic don’t provide simple benefits for skepticism. The articles in the magazine show why various beliefs are false. But that won’t convince the majority of people who find it more “fun” to have those beliefs regardless of the evidence. It seems to me that more efforts should be made to explain the benefits of skepticism.

What are those benefits? I was hoping that the members of this forum could help with that.

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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby Chachacha » Tue Mar 30, 2010 8:05 pm

Freedom.

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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby Paul » Tue Mar 30, 2010 8:34 pm

carumba17


Nice post, fun to read. Well done, welcome to the board 8-)
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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby Paul » Tue Mar 30, 2010 8:43 pm

Paul wrote:
carumba17


Nice post, fun to read. Well done, welcome to the board 8-)


Intelligent people seek only to use their thinking to prove what they already believe to be true. Being Skeptic includes challenging and analyzing our own motivations, thought processes and conclusions.Rational and reflective thinking focused on deciding what to believe and/or how to act." Asking questions, questioning answers. Be ready and willing to drop your beliefs.Look For Alternative Explanations
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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby carumba17 » Tue Mar 30, 2010 9:09 pm

Paul:
"Intelligent people seek only to use their thinking to prove what they already believe to be true. Being Skeptic includes challenging and analyzing our own motivations, thought processes and conclusions.Rational and reflective thinking focused on deciding what to believe and/or how to act." Asking questions, questioning answers. Be ready and willing to drop your beliefs.Look For Alternative Explanations."

True enough. But you're preaching to the choir (if one skeptic can say that to another...)

When people are first told that there is no Santa Claus, most of us are disappointed. It was fun to believe in Santa Claus (and the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy). The problem for skeptics is that very many people - maybe a majority - carry such feelings into adulthood. They believe that it is "fun" to believe in ghosts and Sasquatch and the Loch Ness Monster despite the fact that their actual existence is really no more likely.

I don't even know that intelligence is as much of a factor as you make it out to be. In my view it is more than people feel that they live boring lives and if they happen to see some shadows in the trees and they are able to convince themselves that they actually saw Big Foot, then their life gets just a bit more interesting.

I don't think that skeptical thinking will be as widespread as I feel it should be until people are convinced that it is as interesting as non-skepticism.

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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby Paul » Tue Mar 30, 2010 10:46 pm

carumba17"]Paul:
"Intelligent people seek only to use their thinking to prove what they already believe to be true. Being Skeptic includes challenging and analyzing our own motivations, thought processes and conclusions.Rational and reflective thinking focused on deciding what to believe and/or how to act." Asking questions, questioning answers. Be ready and willing to drop your beliefs.Look For Alternative Explanations."

True enough. But you're preaching to the choir (if one skeptic can say that to another...)

When people are first told that there is no Santa Claus, most of us are disappointed. It was fun to believe in Santa Claus (and the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy). The problem for skeptics is that very many people - maybe a majority - carry such feelings into adulthood.

They believe that it is "fun" to believe in ghosts and Sasquatch and the Loch Ness Monster despite the fact that their actual existence is really no more likely.


People can believe what ever they want. I don't have a problem with anyone who thinks it's fun to believe in paranormal. They only run into the problem when they use belief to convince someone .When you own a belief it's important to understand why you believe.. It requires logic reason and when possible evidence to one's beliefs. But why should anyone feel compelled to attach beliefs to evidence at all.Why not stand on the evidence without beliefs? Or don't believe anything, once you believe in something you stop thinking about it.

I
don't even know that intelligence is as much of a factor as you make it out to be. In my view it is more than people feel that they live boring lives and if they happen to see some shadows in the trees and they are able to convince themselves that they actually saw Big Foot, then their life gets just a bit more interesting.

Its easier to believe what you don't know, then what you know isn't so.


I don't think that skeptical thinking will be as widespread as I feel it should be until people are convinced that it is as interesting as non-skepticism


Unfortunately, the worse a person is at doing this, the less likely they are to realize it; indeed, they can be among those who think they do the best. As a consequence, gullibility festers and encourages the development of false, irrational, and even dangerous beliefs.
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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby vanderpoel » Wed Mar 31, 2010 12:06 am

carumba17 wrote:The problem for skeptics is that very many people - maybe a majority - carry such feelings into adulthood. They believe that it is "fun" to believe in ghosts and Sasquatch and the Loch Ness Monster despite the fact that their actual existence is really no more likely.

What do you base that on?
carumba17 wrote:But I firmly believe that many, and possibly most, people believe otherwise. Those other people firmly believe that it is more “fun” not to be a skeptic.

Is this just your firm belief or can you back it up?
carumba17 wrote:Similarly, if you were to ask the average person would they rather stay in a “haunted house” or in a “house that makes noises at night because the foundation isn’t well constructed” almost everyone would pick the “haunted house” alternative.

Are you making this stuff up or have you asked "average" people about this?
carumba17 wrote:One of the problems is that magazines like Skeptic don’t provide simple benefits for skepticism. The articles in the magazine show why various beliefs are false. But that won’t convince the majority of people who find it more “fun” to have those beliefs regardless of the evidence.

And how do you know that?
The persistent display of critical thinking affects attitude change.
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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby carumba17 » Wed Mar 31, 2010 6:10 pm

Carumba17:
Those other people firmly believe that it is more “fun” not to be a skeptic.

Vanderpoel:
“Is this just your firm belief or can you back it up?”

Admittedly my evidence is primarily anecdotal, but I think that there is quite a bit to support it.

Consider astrology. Wikipedia (at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astrology) says that “according to one poll, 31% expressed a belief in astrology”. According to another poll (at http://www.emeraldinsight.com/Insight/v ... tId=864751)

“… over 50 per cent of people questioned had read their horoscope in the previous week.”

So something like 20% of the population reads their horoscope despite not believing in astrology. What other explanation could there be except that they find horoscopes to be “fun”?

As further support, at http://atheism.about.com/b/2008/08/14/d ... y-work.htm which is titled “Austin's Atheism Blog”, the author, named Austin Cline, posts this comment:

“So evidence doesn't cause people to stop believing in astrology. Reason doesn't cause people to stop believing in astrology. Science doesn't cause people to stop believing in astrology. Condemnation from scripture and/or religious leaders doesn't stop people believing in astrology. It would seem as though everything which a person could or should hold as authoritative on such matters argues against astrology, but despite this belief in astrology is as strong as ever.”

Here's one comment that I found on that blog:

“Sometimes it is fun to read my horoscope. Do I believe it? No!”

Here's another comment:

“Lots of people just find their horoscope to be ‘fun’ while secretly hoping that it could be true, so they would have some form of control over the future, which is this gaping hole of uncertainty and chaos (things that people don’t usually like).“

I’m confident that you’d find similar polls and comments for other pseudo-scientific beliefs: people don’t really believe in these things but they think that it’s “fun” (and generally harmless) to try to convince themselves to believe in them.

I believe that one of the hurdles for skepticism in order to make it more influential is this “fun” aspect of pseudoscientific beliefs.

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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby xbacksideslider » Wed Mar 31, 2010 7:34 pm

What's fun is the process. Skepticism is a method.
The results of that method should not matter. It is only the prejudiced inquirer who is dissappointed and declares skeptical inquiry to be not fun.

The results ARE supposed to be profitable however. That is the point of making the effort of inquiry - to find actionable (dare I say "true?") information.
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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby carumba17 » Thu Apr 01, 2010 1:41 pm

xbacksideslider:

"What's fun is the process. Skepticism is a method.
The results of that method should not matter. It is only the prejudiced inquirer who is dissappointed and declares skeptical inquiry to be not fun.

The results ARE supposed to be profitable however. That is the point of making the effort of inquiry - to find actionable (dare I say "true?") information."

I think that most people use skepticism legitimately when if applies to their personal lives. I've been an engineer for more than 40 years. In all that time I've never seen an engineer who attributed a design that didn't work to supernatural causes. Instead they all look objectively at the evidence in order to find the optimal "fix" that would get the design to work.

But I've met engineers who believed in ghosts and Sasquatch. I even met one who insisted that the Apollo Moon landings were faked. So - either consciously or unconsciously - people who understand skeptical thinking use it when it affects their personal lives but don't necessarily use it when they don't feel that it affects their personal lives.

The problem with that is that some things are not so black-and-white.

Does objective thinking help engineers in their profession?

Yes!

Does a belief in ghosts adversely affect someone's personal life?

Probably not.

But how about Global Warming?

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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby Paul » Thu Apr 01, 2010 3:18 pm

carumba17 wrote:
Does a belief in ghosts adversely affect someone's personal life?
Probably not.


Staying in focus with the topic I would have to disagree with you. Believing in ghosts can strongly affect someones personal life. The belief in ghosts is based on belief no evidence is required for the believer. The consequence is the concept of a resulting effect arising from another action. It promotes Magical thinking, Uncritical acceptance of claims. Diminished powers of a persons reasoning, it contributes in poor decision-making. And in a few instances can cause harm to others.
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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby landrew » Thu Apr 01, 2010 4:46 pm

Paul wrote:
carumba17 wrote:
Does a belief in ghosts adversely affect someone's personal life?
Probably not.


Staying in focus with the topic I would have to disagree with you. Believing in ghosts can strongly affect someones personal life. The belief in ghosts is based on belief no evidence is required for the believer. The consequence is the concept of a resulting effect arising from another action. It promotes Magical thinking, Uncritical acceptance of claims. Diminished powers of a persons reasoning, it contributes in poor decision-making. And in a few instances can cause harm to others.

Native Americans believed in ghosts, and consulted with their ancestors on a regular basis in their daily lives. Billions of people also do so today, in other cultures around the world.

But they're all wrong, and we are right, because they're all ignorant fools, right? That's the only true fact? But then again, that's what our culture demands of us, and it probably explains why we have been responsible for so much of the chaos in the world.

What a heresy to hint at having an open mind about such things in a skeptic's forum!
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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby Paul » Thu Apr 01, 2010 6:31 pm

landrew wrote:
Paul wrote:
carumba17 wrote:
Does a belief in ghosts adversely affect someone's personal life?
Probably not.


Staying in focus with the topic I would have to disagree with you. Believing in ghosts can strongly affect someones personal life. The belief in ghosts is based on belief no evidence is required for the believer. The consequence is the concept of a resulting effect arising from another action. It promotes Magical thinking, Uncritical acceptance of claims. Diminished powers of a persons reasoning, it contributes in poor decision-making. And in a few instances can cause harm to others.

Native Americans believed in ghosts, and consulted with their ancestors on a regular basis in their daily lives. Billions of people also do so today, in other cultures around the world.

But they're all wrong, and we are right, because they're all ignorant fools, right? That's the only true fact? But then again, that's what our culture demands of us, and it probably explains why we have been responsible for so much of the chaos in the world.

What a heresy to hint at having an open mind about such things in a skeptic's forum!


Instead of explaining why you disagree you rant. Your posts consist of nothing more then boring opinions. Instead of making intelligent contributions they are borderline intellectual functioning and that is giving you more credit then you deserve. The only heresy I can find is your own dogmatic opinions and credulity. If we have a forum rule that prohibits posting for sake of building up your post count I believe you would be in violation of that rule.
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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby landrew » Thu Apr 01, 2010 6:42 pm

Paul wrote:
landrew wrote:
Paul wrote:
carumba17 wrote:
Does a belief in ghosts adversely affect someone's personal life?
Probably not.


Staying in focus with the topic I would have to disagree with you. Believing in ghosts can strongly affect someones personal life. The belief in ghosts is based on belief no evidence is required for the believer. The consequence is the concept of a resulting effect arising from another action. It promotes Magical thinking, Uncritical acceptance of claims. Diminished powers of a persons reasoning, it contributes in poor decision-making. And in a few instances can cause harm to others.

Native Americans believed in ghosts, and consulted with their ancestors on a regular basis in their daily lives. Billions of people also do so today, in other cultures around the world.

But they're all wrong, and we are right, because they're all ignorant fools, right? That's the only true fact? But then again, that's what our culture demands of us, and it probably explains why we have been responsible for so much of the chaos in the world.

What a heresy to hint at having an open mind about such things in a skeptic's forum!


Instead of explaining why you disagree you rant. Your posts consist of nothing more then boring opinions. Instead of making intelligent contributions they are borderline intellectual functioning and that is giving you more credit then you deserve. The only heresy I can find is your own dogmatic opinions and credulity. If we have a forum rule that prohibits posting for sake of building up your post count I believe you would be in violation of that rule.


I suppose it wouldn't be a rant if you agreed with my point, which I think is obvious. Sometimes its readily apparent that a certain belief is a small island of elitism, when someone like me comes along and offers a new perspective. If you don't happen to like new perspectives, that's your right, and it doesn't mean I buy into it completely either, but I happen to think it's worth mentioning.

If you don't happen to like it, I think you could offer up something better than denigrating personal characterizations, like maybe some sound rationale or evidence perhaps? Don't bother to thank me for adding a new perspective to your world.
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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby carumba17 » Fri Apr 02, 2010 2:22 am

Paul wrote:
"Staying in focus with the topic I would have to disagree with you. Believing in ghosts can strongly affect someones personal life. The belief in ghosts is based on belief no evidence is required for the believer. The consequence is the concept of a resulting effect arising from another action. It promotes Magical thinking, Uncritical acceptance of claims. Diminished powers of a persons reasoning, it contributes in poor decision-making. And in a few instances can cause harm to others."

I feel that skepticism is a good thing to use in all contexts. I don't believe in ghosts or Sasquatch or alien abductions or the Loch Ness monster.

I don't know that you are really disagreeing with me. I said that a belief in ghosts "probably doesn't" hurt. You say that it "can" hurt. Those statements don't contradict each other. If one person in ten was adversely affected by a belief in ghosts, we would both be right.

I would disagree that believing in ghosts NECESSARILY adversely affects someone's personal life.

People are better off if they don't believe in ghosts. But most people are also better off if they never eat a chocolate eclair.

If people believe in every irrational form of supernatural belief then they will have trouble in their lives. But people who eat nothing but chocolate eclairs will probably have trouble in their lives as well.

If it doesn't drive their personal lives I contend that it probably isn't significant.

But if you think otherwise, what argument can you make to convince the person who believes in ghosts simply because it is "fun" that they are damaging themselves?

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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby Paul » Sat Apr 03, 2010 2:44 pm

carumba17"]Paul wrote:
"Staying in focus with the topic I would have to disagree with you. Believing in ghosts can strongly affect someones personal life. The belief in ghosts is based on belief no evidence is required for the believer. The consequence is the concept of a resulting effect arising from another action. It promotes Magical thinking, Uncritical acceptance of claims. Diminished powers of a persons reasoning, it contributes in poor decision-making. And in a few instances can cause harm to others."


I
don't know that you are really disagreeing with me. I said that a belief in ghosts "probably doesn't" hurt. You say that it "can" hurt.


No, I said. Believing in ghosts can strongly affect someones personal life
Here are 58 people who were harmed by not thinking critically.http://whatstheharm.net/ghosts.html

Those statements don't contradict each other. If one person in ten was adversely affected by a belief in ghosts, we would both be right.


2005 Gallup poll says it does. One-Third of Americans Believe Dearly May Not Have Departed
http://www.gallup.com/poll/17275/onethi ... arted.aspx

I would disagree that believing in ghosts NECESSARILY adversely affects someone's personal life.


Fallacy of Presumption, it directly presumes the conclusion which is at question in the first place. “Circular Argument” - because the conclusion essentially appears both at the beginning and the end.

People are better off if they don't believe in ghosts. But most people are also better off if they never eat a chocolate eclair.


There are many reasons to eat a chocolate eclair. But no reason to believe the dead haunt the living.

If people believe in every irrational form of supernatural belief then they will have trouble in their lives.

If it doesn't drive their personal lives I contend that it probably isn't significant


Thats my point. I said, believing in ghosts may affect a persons life, It could lead to other credulous beliefs.

But if you think otherwise, what argument can you make to convince the person who believes in ghosts simply because it is "fun" that they are damaging themselves


Any person who believes in ghosts simply because it is "fun" is already aware they are not real, having FUN is enjoyable it;s an amusing experience. You can have fun telling camp fire ghosts stories.
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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby xbacksideslider » Mon Apr 05, 2010 8:33 pm

carumba17 wrote:In the most recent issue of Skeptic Magazine, . . . . The articles in the magazine show why various beliefs are false. But that won’t convince the majority of people who find it more “fun” to have those beliefs regardless of the evidence. It seems to me that more efforts should be made to explain the benefits of skepticism.

What are those benefits? I was hoping that the members of this forum could help with that.


The benefit of skepticism is the efficiency that comes with truth, recognizing that truth is never perfect but insisting that the closer we get to truth, the better off I am.

The benefits are more apparent if you adopt a definition of skepticism as a method of knowing, as opposed to an attitude toward propositions of fact. The point of skepticism, in my opinion is empiricism - the sorting of the wheat from the chaff, of arriving at actionable knowledge, or placing good bets, while admitting that any conclusions drawn from the inquiry are subject to revision or even refutation.
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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby carumba17 » Sat Apr 10, 2010 12:34 am

"carumba17 wrote:
In the most recent issue of Skeptic Magazine, . . . . The articles in the magazine show why various beliefs are false. But that won’t convince the majority of people who find it more “fun” to have those beliefs regardless of the evidence. It seems to me that more efforts should be made to explain the benefits of skepticism."

"What are those benefits? I was hoping that the members of this forum could help with that."

xbacksideslider wrote:
The benefit of skepticism is the efficiency that comes with truth, recognizing that truth is never perfect but insisting that the closer we get to truth, the better off I am.

The benefits are more apparent if you adopt a definition of skepticism as a method of knowing, as opposed to an attitude toward propositions of fact. The point of skepticism, in my opinion is empiricism - the sorting of the wheat from the chaff, of arriving at actionable knowledge, or placing good bets, while admitting that any conclusions drawn from the inquiry are subject to revision or even refutation.

carumba17:
Good answer. It works for me.

But I don't think that it works for the people who read their horoscope in the morning paper as they ride to work on a bus or train in the morning.

This discussion proves something that I believe: the benefits of being a skeptic are purely intellectual.

I doubt that anyone would deny that reading a Shakespearean sonnet on your way to work is better for you than reading the National Enquirer. Even the people reading the National Enquirer are likely to agree.

But those same people are not going to stop reading the National Enquirer. That's because the National Enquirer is more "fun" to read than is a Shakespearean sonnet.

When skeptics debate non-skeptics it's sort of like they are talking at two different levels and about two different things. The reasons that one side believes as they do is completely different from the reasons that the other side believes as they do. Without an explicit understanding of such fundamental differences there hardly seems to be any point for one side to talk to the other.

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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby vanderpoel » Sat Apr 10, 2010 3:00 am

carumba17 wrote:When skeptics debate non-skeptics it's sort of like they are talking at two different levels and about two different things. The reasons that one side believes as they do is completely different from the reasons that the other side believes as they do. Without an explicit understanding of such fundamental differences there hardly seems to be any point for one side to talk to the other.

The point of talking to each other is to learn how to talk with each other.
Talking with each other breaths familiarity and willingness to understand other points of view. Judging posters harshly on their application of the scientific method is not effective in changing behavior. Continuous engagement and debate is.

For instance, I now no longer know for sure when X=0.
Because Landrew taught me that 0 is a known quantity.
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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby landrew » Sat Apr 10, 2010 5:58 am

vanderpoel wrote:
carumba17 wrote:When skeptics debate non-skeptics it's sort of like they are talking at two different levels and about two different things. The reasons that one side believes as they do is completely different from the reasons that the other side believes as they do. Without an explicit understanding of such fundamental differences there hardly seems to be any point for one side to talk to the other.

The point of talking to each other is to learn how to talk with each other.
Talking with each other breaths familiarity and willingness to understand other points of view. Judging posters harshly on their application of the scientific method is not effective in changing behavior. Continuous engagement and debate is.

For instance, I now no longer know for sure when X=0.
Because Landrew taught me that 0 is a known quantity.

Disinformation, all the way.
But that's what you do for a living, am I right?
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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby vanderpoel » Sat Apr 10, 2010 6:52 am

landrew wrote:
vanderpoel wrote:
carumba17 wrote:When skeptics debate non-skeptics it's sort of like they are talking at two different levels and about two different things. The reasons that one side believes as they do is completely different from the reasons that the other side believes as they do. Without an explicit understanding of such fundamental differences there hardly seems to be any point for one side to talk to the other.

The point of talking to each other is to learn how to talk with each other.
Talking with each other breaths familiarity and willingness to understand other points of view. Judging posters harshly on their application of the scientific method is not effective in changing behavior. Continuous engagement and debate is.

For instance, I now no longer know for sure when X=0.
Because Landrew taught me that 0 is a known quantity.

Disinformation, all the way.
But that's what you do for a living, am I right?

No Landrew, my business is not disinformation, it's misinformation.
But we don't call it that.

We call it a charming cloak on a selfish motive.
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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby Jayson_D_Cooke » Wed Apr 14, 2010 5:42 am

http://whatstheharm.net/ isn't much fun, but then http://www.fdhom.co.uk/about.asp is very much so.
I'm thinking more so for a skeptic. It's also really fun to explain a phenomenon to someone in a purely rational way, and have them get it, or even better, work it out for themselves. It's fun watching public consciousness raise on issues that we have investigated for years already. It's most fun of all for me to see so called psychics being de-bunked on television for all the world to see, for alternative medicines to be discussed critically by the public as well as regulatory body's, and to hear someone on a bus say "cold reading" or even "well how do you know?".

This isn't happening nearly enough if at all in most cases, now can we work out some ways to fix this please?

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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby landrew » Wed Apr 14, 2010 5:52 am

vanderpoel wrote:
landrew wrote:
vanderpoel wrote:
carumba17 wrote:When skeptics debate non-skeptics it's sort of like they are talking at two different levels and about two different things. The reasons that one side believes as they do is completely different from the reasons that the other side believes as they do. Without an explicit understanding of such fundamental differences there hardly seems to be any point for one side to talk to the other.

The point of talking to each other is to learn how to talk with each other.
Talking with each other breaths familiarity and willingness to understand other points of view. Judging posters harshly on their application of the scientific method is not effective in changing behavior. Continuous engagement and debate is.

For instance, I now no longer know for sure when X=0.
Because Landrew taught me that 0 is a known quantity.

Disinformation, all the way.
But that's what you do for a living, am I right?

No Landrew, my business is not disinformation, it's misinformation.
But we don't call it that.

We call it a charming cloak on a selfish motive.

Not so charming most of the time, I'd say.
I happen to think a bad may get your attention, but a good ad will get your attention and also earn your respect.
The job of a skeptic is to investigate the unexplained; not to explain the uninvestigated.

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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby vanderpoel » Wed Apr 14, 2010 9:10 am

landrew wrote:
vanderpoel wrote:
landrew wrote:
vanderpoel wrote:
carumba17 wrote:When skeptics debate non-skeptics it's sort of like they are talking at two different levels and about two different things. The reasons that one side believes as they do is completely different from the reasons that the other side believes as they do. Without an explicit understanding of such fundamental differences there hardly seems to be any point for one side to talk to the other.

The point of talking to each other is to learn how to talk with each other.
Talking with each other breaths familiarity and willingness to understand other points of view. Judging posters harshly on their application of the scientific method is not effective in changing behavior. Continuous engagement and debate is.

For instance, I now no longer know for sure when X=0.
Because Landrew taught me that 0 is a known quantity.

Disinformation, all the way.
But that's what you do for a living, am I right?

No Landrew, my business is not disinformation, it's misinformation.
But we don't call it that.

We call it a charming cloak on a selfish motive.

Not so charming most of the time, I'd say.
I happen to think a bad may get your attention, but a good ad will get your attention and also earn your respect.

Actually, bad ads don't get attention.
What makes an ad good has more to do with earning money than respect.
"When you put a toucan on a monkey’s ass, don’t be fooled by the brightly colored plumage, beware of the enormous bill!"

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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby landrew » Wed Apr 14, 2010 2:39 pm

vanderpoel wrote:
landrew wrote:
vanderpoel wrote:
landrew wrote:
vanderpoel wrote:The point of talking to each other is to learn how to talk with each other.
Talking with each other breaths familiarity and willingness to understand other points of view. Judging posters harshly on their application of the scientific method is not effective in changing behavior. Continuous engagement and debate is.

For instance, I now no longer know for sure when X=0.
Because Landrew taught me that 0 is a known quantity.

Disinformation, all the way.
But that's what you do for a living, am I right?

No Landrew, my business is not disinformation, it's misinformation.
But we don't call it that.

We call it a charming cloak on a selfish motive.

Not so charming most of the time, I'd say.
I happen to think a bad may get your attention, but a good ad will get your attention and also earn your respect.

Actually, bad ads don't get attention.
What makes an ad good has more to do with earning money than respect.

And therein lies the question of sustainable business strategies. You can sell more used cars by fibbing about them, but you get more repeat customers by being honest.
The job of a skeptic is to investigate the unexplained; not to explain the uninvestigated.

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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby Lausten » Wed May 05, 2010 6:00 pm

A very good skeptic's podcast I recommend is Reasonable doubts http://doubtreligion.blogspot.com/

One of the hosts teaches a college course on the topic. He started out with a rather dry format of discussing logical fallacies and explanations of how people are fooled, and it did about as well as you might expect. Then he started advertising it as a way to trick all your friends, get people to believe any outrageous thing you say, and various other "fun" techniques. The course is now very popular.

In other words, if we all could do magic tricks, there would be no magicians. Look at the outrageous lengths magicians have to go to attract an audience and you'll see this is true. Unfortunately people still drop 20 bucks on a table in Central Park for someone playing 3 card monte. Maybe 3 card monte should be part of the "no child left behind" curriculum.

Educating ourselves to understand how easily we are fooled is one thing. That could eliminate a lot of the hucksters. Getting people to stop looking for easy answers, that is a bigger challenge.
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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby carumba17 » Mon May 10, 2010 12:04 am

Lausten:
"A very good skeptic's podcast I recommend is Reasonable doubts http://doubtreligion.blogspot.com/

"One of the hosts teaches a college course on the topic. He started out with a rather dry format of discussing logical fallacies and explanations of how people are fooled, and it did about as well as you might expect. Then he started advertising it as a way to trick all your friends, get people to believe any outrageous thing you say, and various other "fun" techniques. The course is now very popular.

"In other words, if we all could do magic tricks, there would be no magicians. Look at the outrageous lengths magicians have to go to attract an audience and you'll see this is true. Unfortunately people still drop 20 bucks on a table in Central Park for someone playing 3 card monte. Maybe 3 card monte should be part of the "no child left behind" curriculum. "

Magic is an excellent example of what I'm talking about. If you see a magician appear to saw an assistant in half, no one really believes that the person really is being sawed in half. But we laugh and smile as we see it done in front of us.

As another example, if you have a meal at a Chinese restaurant, who doesn't open up and read the fortune cookie that you get at the end of the meal?

It's fun to be right. Skepticism is the "right" way to look at the evidence. In that sense, skepticism is "fun".

But most people - for better or worse - think that it is even more "fun" to believe in ghosts, the Loch Ness monster and Big Foot.

I guess that I am saying that there is an emotional appeal to believing in mysterious things. Until skeptics can match that appeal, it will never win over as many people as it should.

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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby bacsonh » Fri Sep 17, 2010 3:41 am

fun? the moment you say to yourself " I AM A SKEPTIC" , you have built prison walls around yourself.
you are not allowed to even give a thought to so-called superstitious stuff, even if some new evidence
has cropped up, lest you be made a laughing stock. fun???

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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby Chachacha » Fri Sep 17, 2010 4:37 am

bacsonh wrote:fun? the moment you say to yourself " I AM A SKEPTIC" , you have built prison walls around yourself.
you are not allowed to even give a thought to so-called superstitious stuff, even if some new evidence
has cropped up, lest you be made a laughing stock. fun???


When considered from the perspective of a non-skeptic who is free to believe any ridiculous nonsense he/she chooses, I can see where being a skeptic would appear as un-fun as being an adult appears to a child. Adults do have fun, but it's hard for a child to understand that.

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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby bacsonh » Fri Sep 17, 2010 4:55 am

in other words - how not to become part of a snobbish gang

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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby fromthehills » Fri Sep 17, 2010 5:07 am

bacsonh wrote:fun? the moment you say to yourself " I AM A SKEPTIC" , you have built prison walls around yourself.
you are not allowed to even give a thought to so-called superstitious stuff, even if some new evidence
has cropped up, lest you be made a laughing stock. fun???



:lol: You don't have a clue. Prison walls? That's absurd. Laughing stock? What, are you in high school? If so, my sympathies. We are a part of this forum, because we are finding like minded people to hang out with. If we make claims, we show our sources. That's it. Show the evidence, and there's no laughter. Or at least, show your logic.

Being a skeptic isn't being a cult member, being a skeptic is wanting to see the evidence. It's not anywhere close to prison walls, or worrying about whose laughing.

Show where the new evidence has cropped up.

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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby Gord » Fri Sep 17, 2010 7:01 am

bacsonh wrote:in other words - how not to become part of a snobbish gang

Why do people conclude that we're some sort of gang? We're a disparate group of people who rarely manage to agree with one another, except when it comes to crazy things people think (and even then, a consensus is not guaranteed).
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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby Chachacha » Fri Sep 17, 2010 12:28 pm

Chachacha wrote:
bacsonh wrote:fun? the moment you say to yourself " I AM A SKEPTIC" , you have built prison walls around yourself.
you are not allowed to even give a thought to so-called superstitious stuff, even if some new evidence
has cropped up, lest you be made a laughing stock. fun???


When considered from the perspective of a non-skeptic who is free to believe any ridiculous nonsense he/she chooses, I can see where being a skeptic would appear as un-fun as being an adult appears to a child. Adults do have fun, but it's hard for a child to understand that.


bacsonh wrote:in other words - how not to become part of a snobbish gang


Ummm, yeah, that's exactly what I said. Yeah. Bye bye now.

Although .. now that I think about it, we ARE the cool kids. (It ain't braggin' if it's true.)


Disclaimer: I use the word "we" loosely, anyone who is not cool or does not want to be a member of a snobbish gang of cool kids is not included in the "we" of which I speak.

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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby Frank Hoffman » Mon May 27, 2013 1:39 am

Language can be a blunt instrument. What do people mean when they say they believe something, or that something is believable? When I have gone to a movie, I have been known to jump at a scary part… did I, in that moment, believe that it was actually happening? Yes and no. Yes, enough to cause a physical reaction, but no because a split second later I realized how silly it was. Isn't a belief in a logical impossibility often described as a hope or a fear? Sometimes it's fun to pretend, and in the moment it is not a pretense… we do actually feel the emotions and construct a mental picture of what is happening that seems, at least temporarily, real. I think that we can even feel what others feel; allow the majesty of St. Peters in Rome or the low vibration of a Tibetan Buddhist chant wash over us, and then return to the light of day, refreshed. Simply because we are skeptics, I don't think we have to deny ourselves the full range of human experience. I think as skeptics we can have fun, and know it as fun. But, of course, I could be wrong.

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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby scrmbldggs » Mon May 27, 2013 2:01 am

Frank Hoffman wrote:Simply because we are skeptics, I don't think we have to deny ourselves the full range of human experience. I think as skeptics we can have fun, and know it as fun.

I feel the same way. And it seems more fun without the doubts that naturally accompany set beliefs, knowing there won't be a rude awakening. Being able to enjoy anything just for the sake of it's own beauty. And without anything false added, it is so much clearer and stronger.

And even not so fun experiences, however raw they can be, seem somehow a little less painful without a shadow of unnecessary guilt hovering over it all.

But, of course, I could be wrong.
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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby kennyc » Mon May 27, 2013 11:26 am

OMG, this thread is so old it smells!
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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby Gord » Mon May 27, 2013 6:59 pm

kennyc wrote:OMG, this thread is so old it smells!

Sorry, that was me.
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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby Luomo » Mon Aug 19, 2013 8:31 pm

What is a skeptical activist? Not enough people believe in skepticism, so you have to chain yourself to a unicorn to prove they don't exist?

:lol:
Just a guy trying to use reason to find my way through the jungle of ideas.

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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby Daedalus » Tue Aug 27, 2013 5:00 pm

Luomo wrote:What is a skeptical activist? Not enough people believe in skepticism, so you have to chain yourself to a unicorn to prove they don't exist?

:lol:


I'd guess that it's someone like James Randi, or Michael Shermer.
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Re: Skepticism isn’t much fun

Postby Monster » Tue Aug 27, 2013 5:15 pm

Regarding the opening post, yes, it's more fun to believe in mysteries. Yes, mysteries are fun.
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