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Skeptical Inquirer 31:3

The May/June 2007 issue of Skeptical Inquirer has been released, and as usual there is an assortment of articles from the print mag available freely online:

More free content besides, check out the full contents list of the print mag at the Skeptical Inquirer website.

  1. Freudian slip and a load of self-delusion
    I read the entire “Myth” piece and honed in on the last sentence. And while it may appear to be a paragon of honest self-awareness, it actually betrays the true position of the dogmatic skeptic with regard to anyone who researches, shows interest in or believes in the paranormal.

    The operative word is “despises.” As in, “However, if we ignore our own selective skepticism and inconsistently apply the method of skepticism, we run the risk, like Einstein, of deluding ourselves in certain areas like the “true believer” that every skeptic despises.” Um, I thought you guys defined yourselves as rational, objective thinkers far superior to those of us delusional enough to look at the evidence for psi, for example, and think, “Hmm, there appears to be something here.” Despises? You DESPISE people who don’t agree with your belief system? Please explain to me how that makes you in any way different from Christian fundamentalists or for that matter, Islamic jihadists. We’ve all experienced the sudden, irrational, frothing rage that dogmatic skeptics exhibit when confronted with a comment like, “Well, the PEAR labs actually showed a consistent psychokinesis effect, even if it was small.” We know that rage is the default position of these people when confronted with disagreement.

    I love the definition of a skeptic at the beginning of the piece, too: “We are defining a “consistent skeptic” as an individual whose entire belief system is composed of beliefs that have been subjected to objective skeptical inquiry.” Give me a break. You expect us to believe that everyone in your skeptical congregation has vetted every belief via experimentation? How about the person with clinical depression who believes if he exercises his depression will ease? How about the mother who believes her child is not autistic but just going through a phase? It’s not remotely possible to vet everyone’s every belief via skeptical inquiry. Once again, this reveals the true mindset behind this movement: self-esteem. To wit: “We’re superior to all you poor deluded woo-woos because our lives are guided by nothing more than perfectly rational, skeptical inquiry.”

    What a joke. You hate those who disagree with you and you tell yourselves stories about how wonderful you are to make yourselves feel better, meanwhile ignoring reams of evidence that suggest your beliefs are at least partially in error. Bravo. You’re qualified to be part of the Religious Right.

    1. complete skeptics
      Someone who wants to complete skeptic, you would end up a sopilsist. Trying to prove everything, every day, from first principles is just plain silly.

      Everyone, scientists and believers in the paranormal, need to have a base of reasonably reliable assumptions.

      You can’t re-check all that every five minutes, there must be a good reason.

      meetings, n.:
      Where minutes are kept, and hours are lost.

    2. Good and bad beliefs?
      [quote]We are defining a “consistent skeptic” as an individual whose entire belief system is composed of beliefs that have been subjected to objective skeptical inquiry[/quote]

      A belief is a belief and it does not matter if it is ‘your’ belief or not, as if those of others were of poorer quality.

      A belief system is just that and thinking from within that system forces to think thoughts that everyone in that system thinks, therefore these are common thoughts and have no personal value. You don’t create your thoughts, the system does it for you.

      A belief is a limit to the possible within the mind and defines the psychologically impossible. While believing, it becomes impossible to know. Beliefs totally condition the mind to a pre-set function that is always conditioned by the subtle or sometimes not so subtle need for psychological security.

      Belief is the work of ignorance and skeptics, by adhering to a belief system, rely on a dogma that shields them from their ignorance to allow themselves to think they are intelligent and in control of their environment.

      There is neither good nor bad beliefs. A belief is just that, whether it limits the mind of a skeptic or that of any other way of thinking.

  2. Hypocrites
    “… did a skeptic eat your baby or something ?”

    LOL. No, though I’d kiss James Randi if he could make my wife go into labor right now. She’s overdue and miserable.

    I just hate hypocrisy, and many skeptics reek of it.

    1. Hypocrisy
      [quote=pacificwhim]”… did a skeptic eat your baby or something ?”

      LOL. No, though I’d kiss James Randi if he could make my wife go into labor right now. She’s overdue and miserable.

      I just hate hypocrisy, and many skeptics reek of it. [/quote]

      We’re all guilty of being a hypocrite. The important thing is realizing you contradicted yourself. Everyone needs a little humility in their life. It’s healthy.

      About the skeptics article. As long as politics stays out of the science of global warming more people will listen. Right now all skeptics see are power hungry people taking advantage of other people about this global warming scare to make a buck. Put fear in enough people and they’ll believe anything you say. Most people are naive and believe anything.

      Skeptics on the other hand ask questions that need to be asked. Skeptics keep the power hungry in check.

      1. Definitions
        Good morning everyone,
        First of all we need clarification of language. For instance, we have the US skeptic, with a ‘k’, and the proper English sceptic with a ‘c’. To save argument here, and in my quest for moderation, I suggest we remove the offending letters completely.
        So what can we say about septics? First of all, a touch of septicism is vital, especially in politics. I, for one, never trust a party animal. A political party is a ‘structure’ with career prospects. Career and joint ideology will always come before what is right.
        But septicism in knowledge is a different thing. Yes, we must again retain a touch of septicism in everything, but what we think of as a ‘septic’ needs defining. Too much septicism means you have too absolute a certainty of rightness.
        This, I’m afraid, is too close to a belief system. For instance, science can never offer an absolute proof of anything, but a septical stance can BE absolute. Yes, they will say if evidence to the contrary arises, they will accept it. But can such evidence ever be accepted by them? If it is a belief system, then the same applies as to religion. The sad answer is, it is unlikely.
        However, I have noticed that, recently, some septics are beginning to question septicism. This may be a good thing, for septicism as a fundamental stance must always have been wrong. After all, by implication a septic must always be septical of himself.
        As to knowledge, Earthling pointed out we must have ‘reasonably reliable assumptions.’ This is quite true, but it must form a balance. Descartes had only his ability to think. I would class a valid assumption as being a certainty that present knowledge is wrong – but only just.
        In this way, we are open to new ideas, but only take a small step into the darkness of the unknown. Once that step is taken, and knowledge is redefined, then we must hold a certainty that present knowledge is wrong …

        I’m certain of only one thing. nothing is certain.

        Anthony North

        1. court jesters…….
          they can make us laugh, they can make us cry, they make us doubt and think, they can make us deny……..but they are always entertaining……..;-{)

          To know a cube, one must see it from all angles.

          To get upset or disturbed by one angle view, then the full picture may not be understood.

          Necessary evil….not evil in the sence of the word, more of an annoyance.

          I’d love to talk to you about wholism one day Anthony.

          “Life can be whatever you want it to be, as long as you do what your told.”

          1. Holism
            Hi Floppy,
            I’ve got to keep very still ‘cos the bell on my hat keeps distracting me …
            To me holism is quite simple. It must include everything. And as specialisation exists, it must also include that.
            Hence, holism becomes my discipline of Patternology, or P-ology – a bedfellow to specialisation, showing where specialisation misses the whole picture, but taking their ‘proofs’ on board. It is a discipline that plays with patterns, like a constantly changing jig-saw, the pieces the separate specialisations.
            P-ology can never offer absolute proofs because it is too wide a discipline. So it can never offer ‘truth’, simply ideas for the specialists to consider – this is the hardest part of it, ‘cos they don’t accept validity outside their specialisations.
            Holism can so easily become belief or fundamental ideology. This is where moderation comes in. Everything, in holism, must be moderate, or it leads to trouble. That’s why I say all the philosophy in all the world isn’t worth the spilling of a drop of blood.
            Moderation is also important because ‘everything’ holds contradiction. Moderation takes away the power of contradiction to affect outcomes.
            I guess that’s it, in a nutshell.

            I’m fanatical about moderation

            Anthony North

          2. I’m sorry Anthony….
            but you don’t fit the jester catagory, that’s for septics only…….. ;{)

            Whilst reading your above post, I was hit by an image of a public debate….the panel of “for” and the panel of “against” and in the middle, the panel of “moderates”.

            As simple and crude as that seems, it may well be.

            “Life can be whatever you want it to be, as long as you do what your told.”

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