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Thread: Hi, BAUT folks... [debunking "ancient astronauts", "psychics" and "ghosts"]

  1. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Beardsley View Post
    There is also the lingering problem that is being put about: One person's opinion is as good as any other person's opinion
    This kind of reasoning seems to often occur specifically at the threshold where a person's critical thinking gives way to wishful one. I suppose it would help to ease the scruples of letting go of ones critical and analytical faculties on a particular subject. Typically I see this in discussions where certain people's religious tenets conflict with empirical observations. In the crudest and most extreme form, this is expressed as "science is just another religion".
    The dog, the dog, he's at it again!

  2. #32
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    to the OP:

    I'm pretty sure the ancient astronaut stuff has been debunked here many times in the past. I'm too lazy to search for threads, but I'll bet there are over a dozen. I recall some of the previous discussions.

    The ghost stuff, less so here, because it isn't astro related.

  3. #33
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    I don't know why we can be so quick to dismiss everything "occultish" or "psychic".
    I am a skeptic at heart but I don't like absolutes when all the information is not available. I have had some strange pre-cog type of stuff happen but I think its all related to string theory anyway.

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by HenrikOlsen View Post
    Actually that's a bit harsh.

    Another description would be that he began with each discipline at the point it had developed to by the time he got there, he was fortunate to start with mathematics and physics at a time where their old paradigms were crumbling and thus were poised to take a great leap forward and he was one of those who participated in the leap.
    Chemistry was still entrenched in the previous paradigm of alchemy, which was one reason why his work there was not revolutionary at all.

    I can't help to think that if there had been something to alchemy, he could have been one to put it in proper order.
    Absolutely correct.

    Put in perspective, alchemy thrived in the absence of knowledge of the periodic table and atomic structure. Alchemy was the chemistry of the day.

    In terms of physics, Newton had something to work with -- Kepler's laws of planetary motion. He was the one who caused the old paradigms to crumble. The short version is that he set out to explain Kepler's laws, and invented calculus and differential equations as well as his law of universal gravitation to do it.

    Had Mendeleev's periodic table been known to Newton, there is no telling what he might have done, the guy was scary smart. We might have had atomic theory in the 17th century.

    Newton is a very bad example if you are looking for someone who believes in things known to be contrary to science. He was the science of his day. And on the side he ran the English Exchequer.

    There is a huge difference between Newton's pursuit and development of science based on what was known in his time and someone in today's world claiming to be educated and still believing in the supernatural. The former is a description of a huge intellect revolutionizing science. The latter is a complete misuse of the word "educated".

  5. #35
    so no truly educated person can believe in the supernatural, you think?

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrRocket View Post
    There is a huge difference between Newton's pursuit and development of science based on what was known in his time and someone in today's world claiming to be educated and still believing in the supernatural. The former is a description of a huge intellect revolutionizing science. The latter is a complete misuse of the word "educated".
    Very well said.

  7. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by tnjrp View Post
    This is of course a distinctive possibility, in fact even something I find likely. But still I've never personally met anyone who actually is so gullible as to believe absolutely anything.
    Spend more time in Conspiracy Theories. They come along every once in a while.

    So even people who don't really have the concept of critical thinking or skeptisism or whathaveyou are usually still able to, well, perhaps instinctively feel that in some cases they are indeed being fooled (by themselves, as the case may be).
    I have seen two kinds who are less likely to realize it. The first kind have been raised to wholeheartedly accept the aforementioned "all opinions are equally valid." (For the record, I think this is true, but in a much more specific way--the way where it really is an opinion and not something which can be objectively tested. I like peanut butter; Graham does not. Our opinions are equally valid, except he's wrong.) The other have a real and serious disconnect in their brains, alas, and we can't get beyond that.

    I have a friend who's an educated, intelligent woman--with a slight leaning toward CTs. This is because she is ignorant in the particulars. I've explained several details to her in the past, and I've put things in historical perspective, and generally, she changes her mind. However, when the next conspiracy comes down the pike, she leans toward it. However, as I recall, she graduated with a BA/** from a college which, while not much on what are called "quantitative skills" (math, mostly), does in some of its departments produce excellent scientists in the few fields it has programs for. (Environmental science and, apparently, viral phage research.) It's the only field where she posits ahead of her evidence. Then again, at least she'll change her mind based on evidence, right?
    _____________________________________________
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    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

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  8. #38
    I've e-mailed him the links to the BA Blog, JREF and this forum. Assuming he has any time to follow up on the search recommndations I provided him (did I mention he's a middle school principal AND taking his doctorate courses?), we'll see whether he clings to the "wishful thinking" perspective or shifts to a more evidence based view. ;-)


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  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Beardsley View Post
    Oh, and also, isn't the supernatural supernatural until it has been investigated and (begun to be) understood, after which it becomes part of nature?
    If the shows in question in the OP actually did investigation and not badly staged farce made to look like investigation, then the supernatural would rapidly become natural.

  10. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by korjik View Post
    If the shows in question in the OP actually did investigation and not badly staged farce made to look like investigation, then the supernatural would rapidly become natural.
    I think that's what I find most disturbing about this trend in "infotainment". It's presented as "scientific" investigation and no effort is made to apply real science techniques. Take, for instance, the "EVP" thing that television "ghost busters" seem so in love with. A real scientist who heard an "EVP" on a recording would not immediately leap to the conclusion that a "spirit" was attempting to communicate and would also beware of the temptation to "hear" a spoken word or phrase from the captured noise.

    These programs do such a disservice to science in general and to impressionable children that I find them reprehensible, which is why I felt obliged to comment to my uncle, the educator, expecting him to agree with me. Little did I know... ;-) It was made more annoying by the fact we had just had a prolonged discussion about the sad lack of critical thinking in modern curricula where he DID agree with me.

    Thanks so much for everyone who has commented here and reminded me about some of the resources available.


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  11. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrRocket View Post
    Absolutely correct.

    Put in perspective, alchemy thrived in the absence of knowledge of the periodic table and atomic structure. Alchemy was the chemistry of the day.
    Alchemy had a component of astrology woven into it (planetary metals, etc.), therefor it wasn't just wrong, it was superstitious.

    I wouldn't fault the man for provisionally accepting phlogiston theory as correct. There're probably theories now that will seem as quaint in centuries to come.

    Quote Originally Posted by DrRocket View Post
    There is a huge difference between Newton's pursuit and development of science based on what was known in his time and someone in today's world claiming to be educated and still believing in the supernatural. The former is a description of a huge intellect revolutionizing science. The latter is a complete misuse of the word "educated".
    Again, Jack Parsons. Would you argue the man wasn't brilliant in his area?

    How about electrical engineers that do amazing work, but are Young Earth Creationists?

    How about physicists that toss salt over their shoulder?

    Marine biologists that avoid black cats?

    Entomologists that believe in ghosts?

  12. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkepticJ View Post
    Alchemy had a component of astrology woven into it (planetary metals, etc.), therefor it wasn't just wrong, it was superstitious.

    I wouldn't fault the man for provisionally accepting phlogiston theory as correct. There're probably theories now that will seem as quaint in centuries to come.



    Again, Jack Parsons. Would you argue the man wasn't brilliant in his area?
    I am uniimpressed. I have done quite a lot of work in "his area".

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    How about electrical engineers that do amazing work, but are Young Earth Creationists?
    Like who ? And doing "amazing work" does not necessarily make one either educated or knowledgable with regard to science. I certainly would not want a Young Earth Creationist teaching science or being held up as a model of how to think critically and rationally.

    If your point is that crazy people can do good work, then that is nothing new. John Nash was a spectacular mathematician, and won the Nobel Prize in economics. He was also certifiably insane for much of his life. His good work was not a result of his imbalance, and amazingly he recovered after many years and is once again productive.

    If you are trying to justify superstition as an acceptable aspect of rational thought and logic then forget it. Whether someone has done good creative work or not has no bearing on the fact that irrationality is irrational. Some have done good work despite irrational episodes. Many more have not.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    How about physicists that toss salt over their shoulder?
    How about physicists that toss Young Creationists over their shoulder ?

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Marine biologists that avoid black cats?
    Maybe they don't like cats.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Entomologists that believe in ghosts?
    Sounds pretty buggy. Any examples of note ?

  13. #43
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    So it's all or nothing? If someone isn't a genius, they're an idiot? If someone isn't perfect, then they're the opposite? Seriously, that's the kind of logic we're dealing with here.

    Also, what's with redefining the word "educated"? Just because I learn mathematics, doesn't mean I can't believe in ghosts. Yes, my logic would be flawed if I believed in ghosts, but that doesn't mean that I suddenly don't know mathematics. Perhaps you can prove otherwise, Rocket?

  14. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by Gillianren View Post
    Spend more time in Conspiracy Theories. They come along every once in a while
    Actually, I don't think even the worst conspiracy or ATM nutjobs qualify for total absolute gullibility. Sure, they accept huge things unquestioningly without proper or no evidence, but if they still function in the society one would think they have some, if rudimentary, form of critical ability in regards to their mundane, daily lives. Of couse it's difficult to tell based on their Internet "performance"...
    The dog, the dog, he's at it again!

  15. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by tnjrp View Post
    Actually, I don't think even the worst conspiracy or ATM nutjobs qualify for total absolute gullibility. Sure, they accept huge things unquestioningly without proper or no evidence, but if they still function in the society one would think they have some, if rudimentary, form of critical ability in regards to their mundane, daily lives. Of couse it's difficult to tell based on their Internet "performance"...
    The problem is that what little critical ability they have is used when shopping, to identify which food items are bad according to the latest health scare article they read.
    It's not used on the article.
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  16. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by SolusLupus View Post
    So it's all or nothing? If someone isn't a genius, they're an idiot? If someone isn't perfect, then they're the opposite? Seriously, that's the kind of logic we're dealing with here.
    I don't think that's what's going on at all.

    Most of us have irrational aspects to our character, but they should be acknowledged for the blemishes they are.

    Quote Originally Posted by SolusLupus
    Also, what's with redefining the word "educated"? Just because I learn mathematics, doesn't mean I can't believe in ghosts. Yes, my logic would be flawed if I believed in ghosts, but that doesn't mean that I suddenly don't know mathematics. Perhaps you can prove otherwise, Rocket?
    I would hope that if you taught mathematics, you wouldn't attempt to promote a belief in ghosts in the lesson.

  17. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Beardsley View Post
    I don't think that's what's going on at all.

    Most of us have irrational aspects to our character, but they should be acknowledged for the blemishes they are.
    I have never argued for anything else. I still do not think that "also believes in ghosts" necessarily means "Is not educated". Dr. Rocket would disagree.

    I would hope that if you taught mathematics, you wouldn't attempt to promote a belief in ghosts in the lesson.
    What one teaches in the classroom is irrelevant to the main point.
    Last edited by SolusLupus; 2009-Dec-31 at 12:50 PM.

  18. #48

    Question

    While it's not explicit in the OP, I thought this thread was largely about cognitive dissonance specifically -- which would be reflected in things like a person being able to teach legit maths "by the book" and yet believe in ghosts simultaneously (relatively speaking)

    One might like to argue such a thing really doesn't exist but instead the evidence points to a different explanation of course. Still, I feel it's a more parsimonous explanation than full scale insanity or lack of proper education or whatever would be in many cases.
    The dog, the dog, he's at it again!

  19. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Beardsley View Post
    I don't think that's what's going on at all.

    Most of us have irrational aspects to our character, but they should be acknowledged for the blemishes they are.
    Well I believe in ghosts, and I don't consider it a blemishful opinion.

    I think it is more a blemish to be unable to grasp that we are a flea in a hurricane in this universe, and our fleeting 3score years and ten opinion isn't the be all and end all of the matter.



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    also what has cognitive dissonance got to do with this;;; I thought that came about through actual contradiction between thought, belief and deed..

  20. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frog march View Post
    Well I believe in ghosts, and I don't consider it a blemishful opinion.
    So do you regard your belief in ghosts as irrational?

  21. #51
    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Beardsley View Post
    So do you regard your belief in ghosts as irrational?

    no; I just think there are supernatural mechanisms at work that enable a person to carry on existing after they are physically dead. I believe in heaven too(and some sort of God if I can get away with mentioning that), and ghosts maybe trapped here or just visiting from there or just ideal thoughts of people there....yeah, that'll probably sound a bit irrational to some, ....I didn't believe in and after life until my late twenties, when I saw What Dreams May Come(the Robin Williams film)...and that sort of changed my view, for some reason.

  22. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frog march View Post
    no
    In which case, there's no reason for you to consider it a "blemishful" opinion.

    There may be supernatural forces at work (though I am convinced there are not); since they can't really be proved or disproved, belief in them (or disbelief) is not what I mean by irrational.

    Believing something that goes against evidence and reason is irrational.

  23. #53
    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Beardsley View Post
    .

    Believing something that goes against evidence and reason is irrational.

    that's what I don't understand.

    there may be evidence of things that were thought to be ghosts, but turned out to be something else, but that isn't evidence against the existenece of ghosts.

    And reason should lead one to try to see that one's own perspective may be a very small part of a greater picture...perhaps you could describe the reasoning behind the idea that a belief in ghosts is irrational.

  24. #54
    Quote Originally Posted by Frog march View Post
    also what has cognitive dissonance got to do with this;;; I thought that came about through actual contradiction between thought, belief and deed..
    I should think cognitive dissonance comes into the picture when the same person is found (1) completely capable of critically and even scientifically examining and demanding evidence for certain (types of) claims and (2) completely capable of ignoring evidence or the lack thereof for certain other claims.
    The dog, the dog, he's at it again!

  25. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frog march View Post
    so no truly educated person can believe in the supernatural, you think?
    If a person believes without evidence, is that person "truly educated"?

    eta...just saw this...

    ...perhaps you could describe the reasoning behind the idea that a belief in ghosts is irrational.
    Why should we agree to an obvious attempt to shift the burden of proof? Why don't you tell us why belief in ghosts is not irrational?

  26. #56
    yeah, well, personal experience=evidence
    as far as I see it.

  27. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frog march View Post
    yeah, well, personal experience=evidence
    as far as I see it.
    The plural of "anecdote" isn't "data"?
    _____________________________________________
    Gillian

    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

    "I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"

  28. #58
    Quote Originally Posted by Gillianren View Post
    The plural of "anecdote" isn't "data"?
    Hear, hear! ;-)

    Due to the specialization of knowledge in our society, it seems reasonable to me someone can be "well educated", "well read", "lettered", "erudite", even "learned" and still cling to one or more beliefs that are distinctly superstitious or possibly irrational because they are outside that individual's area of study. In my experience, it is a very human response to rely on the "expertise" of others in matters outside one's own sphere. The trouble is that popular media quite often use sensational reports to garner sales so the only "experts" many of us are likely to read or hear with regard to paranormal subject matter are the woo woo band leaders.

    It is my hope that my uncle will be willing to alter his stance regarding "evidence" of UFO sightings and spirit hauntings when he has examined the facts and sees that all of the presented material is actually wishful thinking and pareidolia combined with extremely unreliable anecdotes. I maintain this hope because of what I know about his intellect and his commitment to lifelong learning.


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  29. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frog march View Post
    yeah, well, personal experience=evidence
    as far as I see it.
    Really?...do you really think that a subjective personal experience qualifies as evidence?

  30. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frog march View Post
    yeah, well, personal experience=evidence
    as far as I see it.
    So we've come out of the Enlightenment and the empirical, and we're back in the dark ages with subjective miracles?

    Okay, let me a bit more fair about this. My friend from Singapore also believes in... ghosts, supernatural, weird things, whatever. And yes, she's had a personal experience, one that she finds very difficult to explain. (In fact, she's had several such experiences, although some seem more attributable to confusing dreams with reality, some less so).

    It's easy to disregard her story, since she, and only she has experienced them -- and even that's dubious, as human memory isn't the most trustworthy thing. But if her experiences are real, and they're very very difficult to explain normally, should she disregard her experiences anyways, or should she be influenced by them?

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