Brain Game show and paranormal

#2
I take issue with this series in general because of the gross overgeneralizations and presenting certain things as fact when they are far from being established as such. I understand they have "dumbed down" certain things for public consumption, but I essentially no longer watch it because I literally couldn't stand the BS anymore.

Sad thing is, most people will watch this and not even begin to question even a fraction of what they're told.
 
#3
I take issue with this series in general because of the gross overgeneralizations and presenting certain things as fact when they are far from being established as such. I understand they have "dumbed down" certain things for public consumption, but I essentially no longer watch it because I literally couldn't stand the BS anymore.

Sad thing is, most people will watch this and not even begin to question even a fraction of what they're told.
Yeah. Some of the episodes of Brain Games, like the paranormal ones, make me want to smash a chair. Same thing with Cosmos.
 
#4
Stephen Hawking says "The afterlife is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark".
Well I think "Materialism is a fairy story for people who don't like the idea of a larger reality". And the Cosmos and Brain Games shows are teddy bears for some "materialists".
The skeptics might call this forum and other websites like this, teddy bears and stories for us "believers". Oh well.
 
#5
You know, I think it's time we stopped calling these people skeptics. They're not skeptics. A skeptic is someone who questions the authenticity of something reported as fact because they have doubts that it is true. Folks like Hawking, Cox, Coyne; they're not questioning the authenticity of the paranormal, they believe they've already answered the question, and now they're out to expose and eliminate what they see as lies. This makes them debunkers, not skeptics. They are militant, conservative, antispiritual debunkers, who speak in the language of science, but make it very clear that we are their infidels.
 
#9
You know, I think it's time we stopped calling these people skeptics. They're not skeptics. A skeptic is someone who questions the authenticity of something reported as fact because they have doubts that it is true.

Yes, if anything, WE'RE the skeptics, because we're not saying materialism can't answer any question, we're questioning that materialism can answer EVERY question.
Just to be clear - although "doubting that something is true" is one definition of skeptic - its not the one used by the people who identify themselves as "skeptics". It's not about doubt (although can involve doubt). Rather, it is about the methods used in evaluating claims. So one can believe something is true, having adopted a skeptical approach to coming to that opinion. Skepticsm in this context means withholding belief absent suffiicient reliable evidence.

Now, I know you'll still probably make the same argument using this definition (and if we were to get into it, I'd say its true in some circumstances, and not in others - from both sides- but that's for another thread) but just thought I should at least clarify what is generally meant when someone refers themselves as a skeptic in the context of this forum.
 
#10
You know, I think it's time we stopped calling these people skeptics. They're not skeptics. A skeptic is someone who questions the authenticity of something reported as fact because they have doubts that it is true. Folks like Hawking, Cox, Coyne; they're not questioning the authenticity of the paranormal, they believe they've already answered the question, and now they're out to expose and eliminate what they see as lies. This makes them debunkers, not skeptics. They are militant, conservative, antispiritual debunkers, who speak in the language of science, but make it very clear that we are their infidels.
I couldn't agree more. As you and I have discussed before. Atheism is not skepticism. Materialism isn't skepticism. Spiritualism isn't skepticism. I'd go as far to say the only true skepticism is agnosticism. And what a chaotic existence it is!!

Not to place myself on some sort of high horse, agnosticism, true agnosticism, is a chaotic way to be mentally. Speaking for myself here, it all comes down to trust. I trust nearly no one. I do not believe anyone has all the answers, nor do I believe that there always are answers. I'm incredibly comfortable with ambiguity. It doesn't mean I wouldn't like to know, but I think that some things are ultimately unknowable from the human perspective.

Some believe science, even as a method not just an -ism, is beyond reproach. It isn't. It's a man made system. A tool invented by man. It's an incredibly useful tool, but it's still just a tool. To put any faith in science, the community or the method, is just that...Faith.

Most self-described skeptics like to believe they are beyond such frail mental constructs, but they are not.

A skeptics does not engage in absolutes. A skeptic realizes absolutes are nothing more that evidence based faith.

Just to be clear - although "doubting that something is true" is one definition of skeptic - its not the one used by the people who identify themselves as "skeptics". It's not about doubt (although can involve doubt). Rather, it is about the methods used in evaluating claims. So one can believe something is true, having adopted a skeptical approach to coming to that opinion. Skepticsm in this context means withholding belief absent suffiicient reliable evidence.
While I agree, skepticism can be situationaly dependent, most of the so called skeptics out there couldn't be farther from. You're seriously going to tell me that Dawkins, Hawking, Coyne, Neil D. Tyson, Bill Nye, Dennett, Brian Cox, etc ad nauseum, really look at the evidence in a skeptical manner? They eye their own brethrens scientific"findings" with skepticism? They actually LOOK at the evidence of psi, including NDEs? No. No they don't. They made up their minds a long time ago to put all their pennies in the scientism pot. Even if something were to possess them and they actually looked at and believed the evidence for psi, they are so incredibly entrenched in their world view they'd rather die than admit as such.

True skepticism is real, but it is rare. I'd dare say nearly impossible. We are all biased in one way or another. But some of us are more open to the idea that we might actually be wrong.
 
#11
Thats what those guys say they do huh. In reality, most of those "sceptics" bend the word reliable until it fits in their little biased world. In fact we propably all do that, including proponents aswell. What is actual reliable evidence? Everyone can define that differently. I personally dont believe that anything like that exists at all.
Those people that you call sceptics are no different from others. They also believe like everyone else - they just believe that something isnt true while others do. Its a matter of opinion/belief, not of evidence. Scepticism as a whole is a shallow thing.

But thats just me, criticising everyone and everything.
You raise some questions that I think are very relevant to this forum and I agree with you in some and disagree in others. I'll respond here briefly but unless OP doesn't object we should probably move this to its own thread:

1) Are skeptics biased?

Yes, as are proponents, as are everyone. But that's the point of using skeptical methods. Such methods are (should be anyway) designed to help us control for or reach reliable conclusions in spite of our biases.

2) What is reliable evidence.

Very good question, and one that is not asked enough (in my opinion) on this forum. We're not - or rather I should say shouldn't be - defining reliable based solely on our own personal preferences, intuitions, or what just "seems" reliable to us. Given the fact that we are all biased, this approach is doomed to failure.

Figuring out which methods are reliable should be based on research aimed specifically at answering this question. This involves controlled comparisons of methodology, identifying factors that enhance or diminish reliability.

For example: take blinding in experiments. Scientists didn't just think this this concept up and declare it more reliable than unblinded experiments based on their personal whims. Research was done comparing the results when blinding was used and when blinding wasn't used.

I've often referred to the cochrane group - (cochrane.org). This is a group of expert scientists, spread out over the globe, who over the last 20 years have been researching methodology, comparing different methods, and identifying which methods produce the most reliable results, what factors reduce the risk of bias/error and what factors increase it. Again: not mere personal preference, but research based conclusions.

Now, there may be situations where research has not yet been done on a particular question of reliable, and even where such research might not be feasible for any number of reasons. That doesn't permit us to just assume the methods used are reliable or not. Rather: we have to acknowledge that we can't say whether the results are reliable, and should therefore be cautious in reaching firm conclusions based on it.

Also, when I say research, I don't necessarily mean that it must be by way of formal scientific experiments. Again, that might not always be practical. But if we're using other methods of evaluating reliability we should have specific justification for believing it to be so. Justification that should go beyond "it just feels right to me!"

So why I accept that you currently don't believe in the concept of reliability, my suggestion is to take a look at some of the research on this issue. Most of it will not be in the parapsychological field though. I would start by spending some time on the cochrane site. There's some good background info there, including a video explaining their history. It might give you a better feel for what I'm getting at (and no question those guys can explain it way better than I can!).

3) Opinion/belief not evidence

Minor quibble here. There's nothing wrong with opinion or belief. We're filled with them. The question is what is the opinion or belief based on: is it evidence based or not. And if so what kind of evidence is it based on? Remember: not all evidence is created equal. Some evidence supports multiple hypotheses. All evidence must be interepreted (the term "follow the evidence" is pithy but not as easy as it sounds in all cases!

4) Skepticism being shallow:

At its best, I completely disagree. But I get what you are getting at, which is that some skeptics do not employ all that skeptical thinking in reaching certain conclusions. That's true and the reasons can be diverse - some justifiable, others less so - but have to get back to work!
 
#12
I couldn't agree more. As you and I have discussed before. Atheism is not skepticism. Materialism isn't skepticism. Spiritualism isn't skepticism. I'd go as far to say the only true skepticism is agnosticism. And what a chaotic existence it is!!
As an creative agnostic and a constructive sceptic, I can say that Chaos is underesimated and undervalued in our law-and-order culture. But Chaos is essential for a process, a dynamics, a transformation. That's why the Star of Chaos is my symbol here on forum.

Chaos is a requisite for an existence which seeks movement, not stagnation; yet in mass perception, it is mistakenly confused with meaningless destruction. Mathematician and philosopher Ralph Abraham explain the necessity of Chaos, and falsity of its confused demonisation, here in more detail.
 
#13
You raise some questions that I think are very relevant to this forum and I agree with you in some and disagree in others. I'll respond here briefly but unless OP doesn't object we should probably move this to its own thread:

1) Are skeptics biased?

Yes, as are proponents, as are everyone. But that's the point of using skeptical methods. Such methods are (should be anyway) designed to help us control for or reach reliable conclusions in spite of our biases.

2) What is reliable evidence.

Very good question, and one that is not asked enough (in my opinion) on this forum. We're not - or rather I should say shouldn't be - defining reliable based solely on our own personal preferences, intuitions, or what just "seems" reliable to us. Given the fact that we are all biased, this approach is doomed to failure.

Figuring out which methods are reliable should be based on research aimed specifically at answering this question. This involves controlled comparisons of methodology, identifying factors that enhance or diminish reliability.

For example: take blinding in experiments. Scientists didn't just think this this concept up and declare it more reliable than unblinded experiments based on their personal whims. Research was done comparing the results when blinding was used and when blinding wasn't used.

I've often referred to the cochrane group - (cochrane.org). This is a group of expert scientists, spread out over the globe, who over the last 20 years have been researching methodology, comparing different methods, and identifying which methods produce the most reliable results, what factors reduce the risk of bias/error and what factors increase it. Again: not mere personal preference, but research based conclusions.

Now, there may be situations where research has not yet been done on a particular question of reliable, and even where such research might not be feasible for any number of reasons. That doesn't permit us to just assume the methods used are reliable or not. Rather: we have to acknowledge that we can't say whether the results are reliable, and should therefore be cautious in reaching firm conclusions based on it.

Also, when I say research, I don't necessarily mean that it must be by way of formal scientific experiments. Again, that might not always be practical. But if we're using other methods of evaluating reliability we should have specific justification for believing it to be so. Justification that should go beyond "it just feels right to me!"

So why I accept that you currently don't believe in the concept of reliability, my suggestion is to take a look at some of the research on this issue. Most of it will not be in the parapsychological field though. I would start by spending some time on the cochrane site. There's some good background info there, including a video explaining their history. It might give you a better feel for what I'm getting at (and no question those guys can explain it way better than I can!).

3) Opinion/belief not evidence

Minor quibble here. There's nothing wrong with opinion or belief. We're filled with them. The question is what is the opinion or belief based on: is it evidence based or not. And if so what kind of evidence is it based on? Remember: not all evidence is created equal. Some evidence supports multiple hypotheses. All evidence must be interepreted (the term "follow the evidence" is pithy but not as easy as it sounds in all cases!

4) Skepticism being shallow:

At its best, I completely disagree. But I get what you are getting at, which is that some skeptics do not employ all that skeptical thinking in reaching certain conclusions. That's true and the reasons can be diverse - some justifiable, others less so - but have to get back to work!
God damn. Cant hide a post from you. Gotta stop the habit to delete my posts after i read them again and did deem them not good enough. One thing though.

At its best, I completely disagree
I pretty much expected a disagreement here since i define evidence in a way so that something like that cant exist at all. You obviously dont do that. So theres that.
 
#14
God damn. Cant hide a post from you. Gotta stop the habit to delete my posts after i read them again and did deem them not good enough. One thing though.
Heh- well your comments are representative of many posts that I've seen on skeptiko.

I pretty much expected a disagreement here since i define evidence in a way so that something like that cant exist at all. You obviously dont do that. So theres that.
I'm not sure what you're saying here? I was saying that at its best, skepticism is not shallow. Note - I didn't say, at its best, skepticism is perfect!

In terms of evidence my basic definition is: Anything that supports the truth of a proposition. Note that this is much broader than the scientific definition - which requires the evidence to meet certain minimum criteria. Note that my broad definition does not distinguish between different types of evidence, including whether the evidence is weak or strong!)

But I wasn't disagreeing with you that some people who identify as skeptics don't exhibit "skepticism at its best" all the time! And some of these people think they are at times exhibiting skepticism at its best when they actually are not (I'm sure that applies to myself at times as well!)
 
#15
Just to be clear - although "doubting that something is true" is one definition of skeptic-- one used by the people who identify themselves as "skeptics". It's not about doubt (although can involve doubt). Rather, it is about the methods used in evaluating claims. So one can believe something is true, having adopted a skeptical approach to coming to that opinion. Skepticsm in this context means withholding belief absent suffiicient reliable evidence.

Now, I know you'll still probably make the same argument using this definition (and if we were to get into it, I'd say its true in some circumstances, and not in others - from both sides- but that's for another thread) but just thought I should at least clarify what is generally meant when someone refers themselves as a skeptic in the context of this forum.
If I understand you correctly, we're saying a skeptic is someone who confronts a subject and essentially states, "I find the evidence compelling, but I have concerns over the methods used to produce that evidence, and so I have doubts that the evidence is exactly what it says it is." I can go with that, yes. My next question then would be, once that statement has been made, what are the roles of the skeptic and researcher? Does the researcher conduct a new experiment with amended methods, or does the skeptic, since it was the skeptic who had concerns and not the researcher? After all, such a statement invites abuse from the skeptic, if they wish to see the evidence squashed no matter what method is used.

Does it not then follow that scientists such as Hawking, Coyne, Cox, Harris, and their ilk, who are not questioning the methods but are flatly stating the evidence is false or absent, flatly stating no further investigation is warranted, and attacking the researchers if possible, are abusing the role of skeptic? Have they not moved from true skepticism into debunkery (if such a term exists), and if so, have they not moved from being scientists to politicians?
 
#16
As an creative agnostic and a constructive sceptic, I can say that Chaos is underesimated and undervalued in our law-and-order culture. But Chaos is essential for a process, a dynamics, a transformation. That's why the Star of Chaos is my symbol here on forum.

Chaos is a requisite for an existence which seeks movement, not stagnation; yet in mass perception, it is mistakenly confused with meaningless destruction. Mathematician and philosopher Ralph Abraham explain the necessity of Chaos, and falsity of its confused demonisation, here in more detail.
I agree. In the past, and likely present, people tend to call me wishy washy, flakey, whatever, or they get frustrated by the fact that I refuse to sit on any given side of anything. My "beliefs " change constantly because as I am presented with new evidence, I entertain certain beliefs and ideas. That's why I say I really don't believe in much of anything. If one is to remain open to all possibilities, I don't see how you really could. I will note, I tend to believe in there being more to consciousness than materialism wants to concede. But there is a lot of "paranormal" stuff I don't really buy into either. But I always hold that I could be wrong.

I'm a relativist, really. So much depends on perspective, I don't see how anything, including"reality", can be said to be anything absolute.

My chaotic mind can be annoying sometimes. Sometimes I wish I could be a true believer of anything just to put my mind to rest. So, I see it as a positive in some ways, a negative in others. Imagine that, nothing is absolute!

Maybe I AM a quantum particle, and I exist only as possibilities. I might be one thing right now in this present moment, but now even that moment has passed and I'm no longer what I was just a second ago.

Maybe the only thing that can be said about reality is that it only exists as possibilities.
 
#17
I couldn't agree more. As you and I have discussed before. Atheism is not skepticism. Materialism isn't skepticism. Spiritualism isn't skepticism. I'd go as far to say the only true skepticism is agnosticism. And what a chaotic existence it is!!

Not to place myself on some sort of high horse, agnosticism, true agnosticism, is a chaotic way to be mentally. Speaking for myself here, it all comes down to trust. I trust nearly no one. I do not believe anyone has all the answers, nor do I believe that there always are answers. I'm incredibly comfortable with ambiguity. It doesn't mean I wouldn't like to know, but I think that some things are ultimately unknowable from the human perspective.

Some believe science, even as a method not just an -ism, is beyond reproach. It isn't. It's a man made system. A tool invented by man. It's an incredibly useful tool, but it's still just a tool. To put any faith in science, the community or the method, is just that...Faith.

Most self-described skeptics like to believe they are beyond such frail mental constructs, but they are not.

A skeptics does not engage in absolutes. A skeptic realizes absolutes are nothing more that evidence based faith.



While I agree, skepticism can be situationaly dependent, most of the so called skeptics out there couldn't be farther from. You're seriously going to tell me that Dawkins, Hawking, Coyne, Neil D. Tyson, Bill Nye, Dennett, Brian Cox, etc ad nauseum, really look at the evidence in a skeptical manner? They eye their own brethrens scientific"findings" with skepticism? They actually LOOK at the evidence of psi, including NDEs? No. No they don't. They made up their minds a long time ago to put all their pennies in the scientism pot. Even if something were to possess them and they actually looked at and believed the evidence for psi, they are so incredibly entrenched in their world view they'd rather die than admit as such.

True skepticism is real, but it is rare. I'd dare say nearly impossible. We are all biased in one way or another. But some of us are more open to the idea that we might actually be wrong.
My personal, layman definition of science is the amalgamation of investigative fields and methods with the purpose of turning us all into God. After all, science won't quit until it has all the answers, right? So when I think about that, I think that until we're God, we won't know everything, which leaves opportunity for subjects we previously dismissed to come back and say howdy-do. So for me, the role of a scientist is to find a dead horse and beat it until the horse is turned into a fine powder, which makes the skeptic the guy standing next to the scientist saying, "hey, I see you're beating a dead horse there. Have you thought about using a club made of bone instead of wood?"

Or something like that.
 
#18
As an creative agnostic and a constructive sceptic, I can say that Chaos is underesimated and undervalued in our law-and-order culture. But Chaos is essential for a process, a dynamics, a transformation. That's why the Star of Chaos is my symbol here on forum.

Chaos is a requisite for an existence which seeks movement, not stagnation; yet in mass perception, it is mistakenly confused with meaningless destruction. Mathematician and philosopher Ralph Abraham explain the necessity of Chaos, and falsity of its confused demonisation, here in more detail.
After reading that three times slowly, I think I get it. The questions I have then is: what is Chaos transforming in our daily lives, what is Chaos transforming them into, do we like the result of the transformation, and if not, what can we do abou it?

If I understand you correctly.
 
#19
Heh- well your comments are representative of many posts that I've seen on skeptiko.



I'm not sure what you're saying here? I was saying that at best, skepticism is not shallow. Note - I didn't say, at its best, skepticism is perfect!

In terms of evidence my basic definition is: Anything that supports the truth of a proposition. Note that this is much broader than the scientific definition - which requires the evidence to meet certain minimum criteria. Note that my broad definition does not distinguish between different types of evidence, including whether the evidence is weak or strong!)

But I wasn't disagreeing with you that some people who identify as skeptics don't exhibit "skepticism at its best" all the time! And some of these people think they are at times exhibiting skepticism at its best when they actually are not (I'm sure that applies to myself at times as well!)
Thank you for the Cochrane.org site, I'll check it out later. I agree with much of what you said. I'm beginning to wonder, though, this discussion of skepticism isn't perfect, skeptics aren't perfect, and skeptics aren't perfect skeptics... are we not heading into a vicious, Who Watches the Watchmen cycle? Who says What does How, and Why?
 
#20
I agree. In the past, and likely present, people tend to call me wisby washy, flakey, whatever, or they get frustrated by the fact that I refuse to sit on any given side of anything. My "beliefs " change constantly because as I am presented with new evidence, I entertain certain beliefs and ideas. That's why I say I really don't believe in much of anything. If one is to remain open to all possibilities, I don't see how you really could. I will note, I tend to believe in there being more to consciousness than materialism wants to concede. But there is a lot of "paranormal" stuff I don't really buy into either. But I always hold that I could be wrong.

I'm a relativist, really. So much depends on perspective, I don't see how anything, including"reality", can be said to be anything absolute.

My chaotic mind can be annoying sometimes. Sometimes I wish I could be a true believer of anything just to put my mind to rest. So, I see it as a positive in some ways, a negative in others. Imagine that, nothing is absolute!

Maybe I AM a quantum particle, and I exist only as possibilities. I might be one thing right now in this present moment, but now even that moment has passed and I'm no longer what I was just a second ago.

Maybe the only thing that can be said about reality is that it only exists as possibilities.
Wonderful, reality is abstract, subjectivity is objective, black is white, and I really m the Queen of England. Guess it's Miller Time.
 
Top