Article: Do Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence?

#2
Very well written. My normal reply to this ECREE statement is to simply ask people to define "extraordinary." That usually sends the worst ideologues off on a different rant because science is about measurement and if you set an unmeasurable standard, then it isn't science.
 
#3
The resistance to acceptance via 'extraordinary claims' is not based on the data itself, but by skeptics extrapolating on its implications. The fact someone can discern the playing cards held by an individual in the next room could be treated as a natural precocity, a novelty or a wonder. The fact it's held as none of these but a mischievous aberration is entirely down to its implications for those with a rigid world view. That rigidity has become a positive cultural value among a small group, but it isn't the whole story, even among scientists.
 
#4
Here's an article on Marcello Truzzi, the well-known skeptic who coined the phrase. Here's an excerpt and a direct link:

I might note here that it was Marcello, not Carl Sagan, who coined the often-misattributed maxim "Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence." In recent years Marcello had come to conclude that the phrase was a non sequitur, meaningless and question-begging, and he intended to write a debunking of his own words. Sad to say, he never got around to it.

http://www.anomalist.com/milestones/truzzi.html

Even Truzzi thought it was total nonsense.
 
#5
Welcome, Aaron. Good to have you on board!:)

I enjoyed your blog post, as well as another I checked out on the topic of ketosis, both well-researched. I also scanned your previous blog, theinfinityes.com and looks like there could be more good stuff there. The extraordinary claims business has been extensively raised and discussed at Skeptiko in the past, and I don't think you'll find much disagreement on the proponent side here.

Incidentally, on the old Skeptiko blog (which we moved over from in November), you could include a link to your blog or website in your signature line. I'm not sure if you can do that here, but on checking out one's personal details (click on your own name near the top right of this page), there's a place you can enter a "Home page" URL. Maybe you could try entering your blog address to see if it will appear under your avatar every time you post: check out John Mguire's post (4th on this page) to see what I mean. Might help get you more traffic in future. Incidentally, Craig: maybe you could do the same?
 
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#6
Michael,

Not 100% sure but think there might be a vetting period before that option to link a homepage become available. Pretty sure I had to either A) wait a certain amount of time, or B) accrue a certain number of posts, before I was able to provide a link to my site under "Personal Details". I may just be totally illiterate however and just not realized I could have done it right off the bat. Perhaps another mod can clarify if they know.

Sorry to detract further from the OP. Its a well written article.

Regards,
John
 
#7
Sorry to detract further from the OP. Its a well written article.
I don't think it detracts or derails much, John; Aaron's a new member and I'd say it's good to make him feel welcome. He may also care to post an introduction to himself in the "Guidelines & Introductions" forum.

It's just that I feel I can't add much to the topic of his post as we've discussed it often in the past at Skeptiko: but I certainly look forward to Aaron's future posts! :)
 
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F

Frank Matera

#8
What's funny to me is the double standard by those who use the term. To me the most extraordinary claim of all is this notion that all Psychics and Mediums cold read, hot read and warm read and google information about people.... and that this is how they con people into believing they are speaking with the dead and seeing the future. Really?

I think you have to be a special kind of stupid to just accept this as fact without actually bothering to investigate this extraordinary claim of fraud for yourself.

I don't walk into a restaurant and start abusing the cook of being unable to make a decent risotta because my neighbour told me they didn't like the food there once. I try it for myself to see if it's true.

It's kind of like someone saying they have the body of a YETI... and someone else coming out and saying it's been debunked. Sure my prec-conceived ideologies may lend me into believing the person who says it's been debunked... but I won't accept it as fact until I have studied both sides with equal skepticism.

It seems way too much of the skeptic community are only skeptical about the extraordinary claims that go against their personal beliefs.
 
#9
Thanks to everyone for the kind words! I kind of assumed the topic must've been done to death here, but thought someone might get something out of it.

Michael, I'm glad you enjoyed the post on Ketosis as well.. took a lot of work to put together. :)

Will definitely be sticking around the forum.. I always hear Alex 'tea up' questions for the forum, I just never put the effort into joining, until now.
 
#11
What, from a scientific viewpoint, could be defined as an "extraordinary" claim, is a claim that only is supported by its' phenomenology.
In that case, in absence of a theoretical framework, this claim should have much and impeccable evidence, extraordinary evidence we might say.

Whether psi claims are judged by a double standard can be confirmed if we find phenomena that are accepted in mainstream science, despite having only weak evidence and no plausible theory.
We did this exercise before and never came up with something comparable.

Maybe I need to take that discussion to the dogma-free forum, maybe start a thread there.
So you are arguing for judging psi research by an unmeasurable standard?
 
#13
Whether psi claims are judged by a double standard can be confirmed if we find phenomena that are accepted in mainstream science, despite having only weak evidence and no plausible theory.
We did this exercise before and never came up with something comparable.
For dark matter/energy, there's not even direct phenomenological evidence (look around: point some out, or even demonstrate in the laboratory its effects). It only "exists" as a means to explain such things as the rotation speed of galaxies. Yet it is a widely accepted, mainstream claim: one of the most extraordinary ever made, as it conjures up 96% extra stuff in the universe.

Personally, I think it's complete bullshit and an artifact of a view of physics that imputes unwarranted influence to gravity. There's much better phenomenological evidence for electrical influences in the universe that might account for such things as "quasars", "black holes", "dark matter" and so on.

What is accepted in science is often dependent on theoretical underpinnings rather than empirical evidence. "Extraordinary claims" are often asserted in relation to those theoretical underpinnings. In Ptolemaic astronomy, the underpinning was geocentricity, and it's notable that for quite some time, it was more accurate in terms of its predictions for planetary movements than was heliocentricity, even though it too was bullshit.

What if dark matter/energy stands in relation to galactic rotation speeds as geocentrism did to what was interpreted as Ptolemaic epicycling (i.e. the occasional observed retrograde motion of the planets)? What if cosmology turns around and accepts a much greater influence for electrical forces in the universe? Changes in scientific paradigms are hardly unknown.
 
#14
What, from a scientific viewpoint, could be defined as an "extraordinary" claim, is a claim that only is supported by its' phenomenology.
In that case, in absence of a theoretical framework, this claim should have much and impeccable evidence, extraordinary evidence we might say.
Whether psi claims are judged by a double standard can be confirmed if we find phenomena that are accepted in mainstream science, despite having only weak evidence and no plausible theory.
We did this exercise before and never came up with something comparable.
This is turning scientific methodology on its head. You're talking about a recent philosophical shift in science, not the scientific method itself. Science has always been driven by experiment, with no need of theory until later on. Any scientific finding can be accepted, if deemed experimentally rigorous, without theory. Superconductivity was accepted without theory for 40-50 years. This is but one example. Michael's reference to cosmological ideas is also highly relevant. Also the well-accepted idea that life exists in other parts of the universe is purely a statistical argument with no direct observational evidence whatsoever.
 
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#15
Actually it was David Hume that came up with this axiom aka Hume's Fork which predates Marcello and Sagan by centuries.
Interesting. Thanks. It's good to be historically accurate. Be that as it may, as it relates to modern day debates, people take the phrase seriously because it was thought to have originated with Sagan, a "High Priest" of Skepticism. And I'm not sure whether Truzzi knew about Hume or not, I'm assuming he didn't, so I still think its relevant that he came to detest an idea he thought he had originated.

Regards,
John
 
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Bart V

straw materialist
Member
#16
I will answer posts directed to me in the new thread i created in the discussion sub forum.
Aaron, i didn't want to derail your thread, i hope this way the subject can continue here on a less confrontational tone.
 
#17
I will answer posts directed to me in the new thread i created in the discussion sub forum.
Aaron, i didn't want to derail your thread, i hope this way the subject can continue here on a less confrontational tone.
You're out of order coming here, throwing in a stink bomb, and then retreating to the CD forum to start your own thread. I for one won't be going over there to argue with you.
 
F

Frank Matera

#18
Whether psi claims are judged by a double standard can be confirmed if we find phenomena that are accepted in mainstream science, despite having only weak evidence and no plausible theory.
Isn't that kind of chicken or the egg.

Accepted into Mainstream science is based on idealogies not evidence... no matter how much you flap your wings and pretend it isn't... and that it is a noble profession.

If it's outside of an ideaology then it's considered "extraordinary" which is ridiculous but is the truth. Science should never be about that though and should always be about testing theories based on observations and coming up with a hypothesis for these and then testing these hypothesis over and over again.

So let's not pretend that this has anything to do with the leveI of evidence or lack of plausible theory because that is rubbish. If you need any further convincing that Science is practised incorrectly by idealogical based particpants.. look at the Ganzfeld Vs The effect Asprin has on preventing heart attacks.

There is something like 5 x the effect size shown up in the Ganzfeld.... than there is evidence for Asprin preventing heart attacks... yet guess which one is accepted by Science and printed on the side of boxes of medicine to sell $$$$ and which one is considered "An Extraordinary claim"... when the facts and data are in fact the exact opposite.
 
#19
I think your initial premise is flawed.
If I told you a red car was parked in front of your house, you would likely nod and accept this as a fact without much further investigation. However, if instead I claimed that a hyperdimensional stagecoach carrying the entire pantheon of Greek gods had just landed on your front lawn, you might decide to run to the window and check before believing me. It’s common sense. The weirder the claim, the more evidence we look for.
If that was the case there wouldn't be the intensive campaign by some believers in materialism to attack any and anything beyond it. I think "common sense" might be a warning sign you want to keep an eye out for. What is "common sense" to one person is often ridiculous to others.


For me, "red car outside" I don't look because I don't care. " hyperdimensional stagecoach" I look - if I believe that the person is telling me the truth - because that's something of interest to me.
 
#20
I thought you all might enjoy this article I wrote. Much of it was definitely inspired by Skeptiko.

Love to hear what you think!

http://www.aaronmoritz.net/2014/01/11/do-extraordinary-claims-require-extraordinary-evidence/
No...

The phrase "Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence" is IMO a rhetorical fallacy i.e.; Poisoning the Well, Red Herring, and could be Begging the Question. But, it is at least an Ad hoc hypothesis; Moving the Goalpost (a priori).

There is only a claim and the evidence that validates it. Something is either real or not. Implying or demanding extraordinary evidence would be equivalent to asserting something is more real, which is nonsense, irrational, and impossible.

This phrase, IMO again, is often used in order to create an imaginary high ground in a debate, an attempt to control a discussion and or steer an argument, but is in actuality a meaningless statement.

Matt
 
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