Of Woo and Scientism

RedFury asked me to stop posting in his thread so I will and I’ll bring the tangents here. I’d like to take the time to respond to some people in that thread.

Thanks. :wink:

Yes, I think that there is truth to this. People get too caught up in the narrative.

What I would say to this is I have no explanation. Maybe they actually were abducted by aliens. I do not know.

Yes, we tend to be antagonistic to personal experience.

I don’t think it has much to do with science but with the way people perceive themselves as being more rational. They believe themselves to be more rational by group affiliation.

I was mocking the whole thing. Basically how people get all upset that people believe in psychic phenomena.

Yes, that is true, but it also happens where group affiliation supersedes the ideology. That happens quite commonly. In this case, people act as if they are skeptics by essence, instead of skeptics by the fact that they use skepticism as a tool.

Nope. I don’t believe anything resembling this.

No, best not invoke demons lest they appear.

I agree. But what I meant was that I wouldn’t have any problem rejecting the Qi explanation if a superior explanation came along. But right now, I know that Shiatsu has an effect, so I’ll run with it rather than trying to overthink it.

Don’t ever change. :wink:

Yes, but I do not know what that physiological mechanism is, though I know some of the justifications used to explain it. You’ll notice I am not offering any of those justifications.

If it’s psychosomatic then why is that funny? My point is that just because something is ‘all in your head’ that doesn’t make it ‘not real’.

Yes, that’s an unfortunate circumstance, but people bring it upon themselves by needing an a priori explanation to every experience. Be open to something you can’t understand working for you, and it just might.

Yes, that is true, but just because you are atheist who likes to believe they are skeptical, that doesn’t mean that they are immune to this.

That’s a no-true Scotsman argument being used to rebut a straw man. :wink: Rationally inclined does not mean ‘rational’. There’s the rub. Everyone is irrational to some degree. I’ve yet to meet a person who is perfectly rational. Of course it can be claimed that I’d simply reject such a person if I met them but I don’t think that I would.

Actually this is a fallacy. Metaphysics are beyond the realm of science ‘sort of’ in that conflicting metaphysical belief systems can be mutually exclusive and yet both work. Like thoughts are metaphysical. That doesn’t mean that they do not relate to the physical world, only that a thought can contain something that is not adequately described by it’s physical components. Telling me what neuroreceptors are firing doesn’t tell me whether or not I am thinking about antidisestablishmentarianism or Eve Online as both are likely to engage the same parts of the brain as both are intellectual pursuits. An EEG cannot tell you the contents of someone’s thoughts.

No I do not, science is the study of the natural world, and nothing exists outside of the natural world. As I said before. Metaphysics are not supernatural, they are just not physical. The natural world contains more than that which is purely physical.

I disagree that atheists are left out in this regard. Atheists tend to cohere into groups the same as anyone else. One of the unique beliefs that is common amongst atheists is that atheists are less susceptible to group influence over their cognitive biases than others. That might be true to a certain degree, but atheists are not immune to groupthink. The lack of an official group does not mean that there are no groupings.

Well, that’s only because false equivalencies are useless. Atheists are susceptible to groupthink and irrational behavior. Trying to draw some equivalency is pointless. Some Christians are more rational than some atheists and some atheists are more rational than some Christians. I don’t think that one can really tell anything meaningful about a person’s level of rationality by their self-chosen ideological signifiers.

Not going to call people out, otherwise people will come in and feel the need to defend themselves. I can understand why you’d like some examples, I hope you can understand why I don’t want to single anyone out.

Yes, it is much the same thing. Which is why I don’t even try to explain why Shiatsu works scientifically. If someone else figures it out that’s great, but I am fine performing it and having it performed upon me.

Yes. I too think that, but I also think that the desire to engage in in-group/out-group behavior sometimes supersedes any rational motives. You and I used to play with this on #i knowingly and willfully when we would try to separate groups to pound on each other, or when we’d gang up on people together in order to mess with the groupings. Radar doesn’t work by lasers, but that was hardly the point was it? The point was making fun of the stupids and ultimately everyone there got a turn in the barrel.

Yes, I know. :wink:

From the other thread.

I don’t see why this really even matters. Yes the scientific explanation is superior. No one was arguing any differently.

You do realize that Semiotics is a valid part of the science of linguistics right? If I am remembering correctly The Hamster King is a trained Neurolinguist.

Why do you think you need to defend science? Who is attacking it?

What we are saying is that people will appeal to science as a way to justify their cognitive biases, and as such are less willing to look at their own cognitive biases because they see themselves as champions of science. One of the core aspects of scientism is the need to turn it into a defense of science when no one is dismissing the value of science.

Well, quite a few people, actually, even if we limit ourselves to the United States.

Ok, you can argue with the entire United States if you want, but what bearing does that have on this discussion?

It answered your questions.

Question : “Why do you think you need to defend science? Who is attacking it?”

Answer : It needs to be defended. And the attackers are much of America.

All of the United States is not participating in this thread. I am not interested in dealing with peoples OCD obsessions with people who are not present but in actually having a discussion with the people present.

So this thread is not about what the extended population of the United States thinks. If you are not responding to something that is said by a participant in this thread please go start your own.

The statement you were responding to referred to people who were not present.

Unless all of “man” is here, or all the people who were making “our best attempt”, it’s safe to assume he meant more than just SDMB members in that particular thread.

Anyway, science (and freedom generally) are under constant corrosive attack and thus require constant vigilance. I wouldn’t have thought this was in doubt by anyone.

Well, mswas, there is falsifiable woo, and unfalsifiable woo, and the falsifiable woo has generally already been falsified.

Personally, I’m happy for anyone to believe unfalsifiable woo. However, the moment they espouse anything that’s actually falsifiable, I’ll generally do my best to convince them that it has already been falsified. (Unless it’s lekatt)


I was responding to you. The very person I quoted, which should have been a clue.


Not that I’m discounting the validity of the possibility of extraterrestrials’ desire to conduct experiments on living specimens of beings millenia removed from their own evolutionary ascendancy and nor do I want to spoil my relish for that upcoming Milla Jovovic movie ‘The Forth Kind’ :D, but: Ockham’s Razor.


Really Ockham’s Razor? Really? Like really? If aliens do exist we don’t know either way whether they abduct people and perform experiments or not.

It’s really an assumption in either case, and has nothing to do with critical thought if you have a firm opinion either way there is no rational basis for it.

Do aliens exist? I don’t know. Do they probe people for real? I don’t know.

Seriously, when did, “I don’t know.”, become an unacceptable answer?

I suppose if you’re satisfied with muddling through Life with a C- grade point average, “I don’t know” is an OK answer. But sometimes, “That’s incredibly unlikely.” or “That violates everything we know about physics and natural laws.” is a better answer.
As a tangent, is there an actual debate contained in that word salad you call an OP? If so, can it be summed up in a more readable form?

This is an appeal to emotion fallacy. C- We don’t know how likely aliens are or are not, and anal probes do not violate the laws of physics.

Are you satisfied with a C- grade point average or are you not capable of recognizing when someone is addressing a particular person by directly quoting them? I refer you to the parent thread.

Actually, Ockham’s Razor and its relatives such as Bayesian probability are far from the fallacy of appealing to emotion. They let us make informed decisions about whether something is probable or not based on our understanding of the real world. Merely saying “I don’t know” is vacuous. Even saying “I don’t have enough information to make a decision at this time” is more useful because then you can form a plan to get that information.

If I wanted to be insulted rather than receiving a reasoned response, I would have piled on to one of the several threads you’ve been involved with in the Pit recently.

So I’ll ask again, just what is the debate you’re hoping to engender here? Or, having fulfilled your purpose in the OP, should we petition the moderator to close this thread?

[Your sarcasm notwithstanding <<] I’m no meteorologist, but as far as I understand it, weather forecasts are based on computer models and are in effect PREDICTIONS, PROGNOSTICATIONS, GUESS WORK. ie. Knowing doesn’t really enter into the equation when it comes to even this most mundane of day to day occurrences. So I have no problem with not knowing. I mean, what do we really know? A. Diddly squat. It’s all theory, probability and assumption. Hence why I often return home less dressed than when I went out. (And no – I’m not a pole dancer! --)

But, if some trailer park lumpen reeking of moonshine tells me his butt’s sore ‘curz one o’ thurm here hic extra testicle types fornicated’ with him the other night, I think Mr Occam’s point is well made. :rolleyes:

First of all, “extra testicle”: hee hee.

I’m wondering if the point I was trying to make from that example came across? Or perhaps it would be better to ask, what point did you think I was making here?

I brought up this as a silly example to illustrate what I see as our tendency (as humans) to either, a) accept experience reported by a large group of people, but draw unlikely conclusions to explain said occurances (like either assuming “those people were abducted by aliens” or “those people are suffering a mass delusion which I do not care to try to explain”, or b)simply ignore and dismiss people’s claimed experiences. I think it makes more sense to observe “a lot of people claim to have this experience. Wonder why?” I wrote that “alien abduction” seems highly unlikely to me, and I offered another WAG that might possibly be a partial explanation. But the greater point I was trying to make was not to argue about alien abductions, it was to make the point that a **commitment to rationalism sometimes leads a human to either ignore reported experiences or explain them away through irrational means.

I say, “yay, Science!!” as the very best method us hoomans have come up with so far to evaluate and learn, but the scientific method begins with observation. Dismissing experience (direct observation) out of hand is, I believe, antithetical to a truly scientific mindset.

And here I am getting dangerously close to ranting about how, if a person rejects every report of a personal experience as “anecdotal” and therefore useless, that person is throwing the baby out with all that nasty, useless bathwater. How much more interesting and productive (not to mention inline with the scientific method) it is to notice a whole bunch of people have said they have had this experience, and to wonder why?

:rolleyes: Ockham’s Razor isn’t an appeal to emotion. Your post was. You are not Ockham’s Razor. There should be a fallacy in there somewhere. I am not saying Ockham’s Razor is silly, I am saying your post was.

Merely saying “I don’t know”, isn’t vacuous it’s honest. What is vacuous is holding a strong opinion when the only correct answer is “I don’t know”.

Ockham’s Razor tells me that the most likely situation is that you have no fucking clue whether aliens actually exist or not.

So how would you form a plan as to whether or not there are aliens somewhere in the entire universe?

Well it helps if you read for context. I’m just saying.

I was responding directly to other posters. Go read the underlying context if you really care.

I find claims of mass delusion to be pretty far-fetched too. Which is why I stick with the tried and true, “I don’t know.”, maybe the redneck really was raped by aliens. As the answer is completely and totally irrelevant to my life I choose not to form a strong opinion.