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  1. TopTop #31
    podfish's Avatar
    Supporting Member

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Quote rossmen wrote: View Post
    your post is a good example of "science" being used to dismiss medical treatments, such as accupuncture. in general it is very difficult to do scientific studies on human health. your description of the scientific research on accupuncture is inaccurate and biased, as a simple google search will demonstrate. science is a dynamic method for exploring the world and the understanding which develops is constantly being refined, as time and money allows. your claim that accupuncture effectiveness is explained by the placebo effect is not supported by scientific research.
    so many things.... "science" actually doesn't need quotes. I must cop to using unnecessary quotes a lot myself, so I suppose I'm on shaky ground here. But yeah, science is good at eventually dismissing useless medical treatments. To be more accurate, it's good at identifying which ones work and the mechanisms behind them. So technically you certainly can say accupuncture "works" (i told you I like unnecessary quotes). But it works solely by the placebo effect. It's been well studied, I bet Google has lots o great stuff about it. Medical journals do too, and blogs by researchers - and some of them are easily found using Google. Maybe you did find some research reports that were convincing in support of accupuncture. My simple Google search didn't find any that fit that. Sure there are some authors with MD or PhD after their names who claim there's scientific evidence. I didn't find the content of their arguments (I like italics too) matched the implied expertise of their credentials. For example, one started his argument by pointing out that western medicine doesn't understand chi, so it can't measure what accupuncture's doing. Sadly, that just leads to the need to explain why chi exists and has effects but can't be measured by science - accupuncture becomes a lesser component of a broader (undefended!) claim about a powerful but unmeasurable life force.
    Typical skeptical disclaimer: I don't say that I know for sure chi doesn't exist, or that accupuncture doesn't work. I do know that neither has been proven, that other explanations for the effects some attribute to chi/accupuncture do exist and are sufficient. So if real evidence ever does show up, well then, my current skepticism is still justified, but I'll accept the evidence as it is. I don't have a horse in this race, chi's a cool idea, but it seems an arbitrary construct to me. I don't see the difference between it and the Force emitted by the midichlorians (or however George Lucas spells them). Dismissing one because it was invented more recently than the other seems unfair.
    Your observation that "scientific studies on human health" are difficult (quotes correct here!) is absolutely true, it's why there's been years of research regarding some of the alternative medicine world's claims - especially regarding accupuncture, which has good anecdotal evidence in its support - even though there's been little success finding an effect that can't be otherwise explained. It's important to be careful and critical about accepting poorly supported results. To belabor a point: the scientific method can be used to test the efficacy of treatments such as accupuncture. There does not exist a body of successful experiments that demonstrate a clear effect, or show a mechanism by which it works. There are several studies that fail to disprove any effect. I suppose that's something. As you say, it's difficult to isolate one factor when we're talking about health studies, but there don't seem to be any that are strongly indicative in accupuncture's favor, and there doesn't seem to be a large number that are slightly indicative either. So it can be regarded at best as an unproven treatment. For a treatment that has been around for so long, to have the best evidence in its support being anecdotal or even weirder being that it's been around a long time, so there must be something to it, should lead one to be skeptical at best.
    Last edited by podfish; 06-08-2011 at 09:53 PM. Reason: my grammar sucks
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  3. TopTop #32
    rossmen
     

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    it was interesting to read the study i think you are refering too, and the responses to it. having done that, i find your summation misleadingly charming.

    Quote Barry wrote: View Post
    As I remember, the scientific bottom line was that "acupuncture" had a statistical benefit, however it didn't matter whether the needles were placed according to standard acupuncture meridians as opposed to being placed randomly. I suppose you could call that a placebo effect.

    More and more I think that the placebo effect is the strongest and most natural medicine! That makes techniques that support and encourage the placebo effect valid!
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  5. TopTop #33
    Barry's Avatar
    Barry
    Founder & Moderator

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Quote rossmen wrote: View Post
    it was interesting to read the study i think you are refering too, and the responses to it. having done that, i find your summation misleadingly charming.
    Please elaborate!
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  6. TopTop #34
    Claire's Avatar
    Claire
     

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Podfish, I don't always agree with you, but you write so well, I really give it a try. Even after two glasses of wine (yeah, yeah, Kunde sustainably farmed) I will work to find your logic and appreciate the reasoning.

    Hey, let's start a new thread! The Placebo Effect. Chock full of anecdotes and personal wisdom, oh, and studies too, why not? Everyone's invited.
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  8. TopTop #35
    rossmen
     

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    the quotes were to differentiate the way you use science from my understanding. medical science has made some progress in figuring out what works, less in understanding why. we humans and our health turn out to be complicated. there is some proven effectiveness for acupuncture, and lots of skepticism because the theory is not useful for scientific exploration.

    and the business of medicine is a powerful complicating factor. the majority of medical research is motivated by profit. just look at the $ going into research based on the germ theory of disease vs hygiene theory. both are proven scientific theory. both are useful in understanding how to be healthy. yet germ theory gets all the play. so we get bad advice from well meaning scientific medical practitioners.

    how many years did the ama sue chiropractors before they lost, had to pay their legal costs, and stop calling them quacks?

    homeopathy works too according to scientific study, just don't know why.

    Quote podfish wrote: View Post
    so many things.... "science" actually doesn't need quotes. I must cop to using unnecessary quotes a lot myself, so I suppose I'm on shaky ground here. But yeah, science is good at eventually dismissing useless medical treatments. To be more accurate, it's good at identifying which ones work and the mechanisms behind them. So technically you certainly can say accupuncture "works" (i told you I like unnecessary quotes). But it works solely by the placebo effect. It's been well studied, I bet Google has lots o great stuff about it. Medical journals do too, and blogs by researchers - and some of them are easily found using Google. Maybe you did find some research reports that were convincing in support of accupuncture. My simple Google search didn't find any that fit that. Sure there are some authors with MD or PhD after their names who claim there's scientific evidence. I didn't find the content of their arguments (I like italics too) matched the implied expertise of their credentials. For example, one started his argument by pointing out that western medicine doesn't understand chi, so it can't measure what accupuncture's doing. Sadly, that just leads to the need to explain why chi exists and has effects but can't be measured by science - accupuncture becomes a lesser component of a broader (undefended!) claim about a powerful but unmeasurable life force.
    Typical skeptical disclaimer: I don't say that I know for sure chi doesn't exist, or that accupuncture doesn't work. I do know that neither has been proven, that other explanations for the effects some attribute to chi/accupuncture do exist and are sufficient. So if real evidence ever does show up, well then, my current skepticism is still justified, but I'll accept the evidence as it is. I don't have a horse in this race, chi's a cool idea, but it seems an arbitrary construct to me. I don't see the difference between it and the Force emitted by the midichlorians (or however George Lucas spells them). Dismissing one because it was invented more recently than the other seems unfair.
    Your observation that "scientific studies on human health" are difficult (quotes correct here!) is absolutely true, it's why there's been years of research regarding some of the alternative medicine world's claims - especially regarding accupuncture, which has good anecdotal evidence in its support - even though there's been little success finding an effect that can't be otherwise explained. It's important to be careful and critical about accepting poorly supported results. To belabor a point: the scientific method can be used to test the efficacy of treatments such as accupuncture. There does not exist a body of successful experiments that demonstrate a clear effect, or show a mechanism by which it works. There are several studies that fail to disprove any effect. I suppose that's something. As you say, it's difficult to isolate one factor when we're talking about health studies, but there don't seem to be any that are strongly indicative in accupuncture's favor, and there doesn't seem to be a large number that are slightly indicative either. So it can be regarded at best as an unproven treatment. For a treatment that has been around for so long, to have the best evidence in its support being anecdotal or even weirder being that it's been around a long time, so there must be something to it, should lead one to be skeptical at best.
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  10. TopTop #36
    anathstryx
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    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Quote Barry wrote: View Post

    So it's fine to say "thus and so" are not supported by science, or even "is not science". it's not fine to say that if you believe something outside of science that the person is having delusions.
    Well said, Barry! Even scientists have difficulty agreeing with each other, tamper and skew "evidence" and data to support their theories (and maintain their funding), suffer from epistemological anarchism, and denegrate other bona fide scientists for theories outside the mainstream. I could cite dozens of cases but one notorious example is what Thomas Edison did to Nikola Tesla. One of my favorite contemporary scientist is Rupert Sheldrake who is constantly maligned by some scientists (and skeptics...who I'm often quite skeptical about), yet supported by others.

    Science does not have the only or last word on reality. It may be fine and good to say "there is data that suggests" to support ones arguments but, dollars to donuts, if you look hard enough, there will be data that suggests just the opposite.

    It is entirely possible (and much more enjoyable and engaging) to discuss our differences of opinion without being puerile about it. Too often, in this thread particularly, the use of disparaging language, passive-aggressive reactions, and inflammatory emoticons, have reduced what might have been an intelligent discussion into a schoolyard brawl. Such behavior sucks credibility right out of the mix.

    Anathstryx
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  12. TopTop #37
    SandBar's Avatar
    SandBar
     

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    I used an example of acupuncture here to show that science takes a long time to study what is not objectively explained. [look how long it took to begin to study the role of stress, attitudes, etc on health and disease) I believe someone corrected me and said acupuncture was shown not to work. I then added more confusion perhaps by saying that perhaps it was the placebo effect, that initiated the immeasurable healing. Seeing all of the resulting discussion, I had to look up what NCCAM (national center for complementary and alternative medicine) said = a great resource if you don't know about it. http://nccam.nih.gov/health/acupuncture/

    This is the federal govt's research arm into the alternatives to mainstream medicine. There are biases on both sides of a discussion around science - the believers that science is the only answer to truth, and the other that science is the boogey man covering up truths and preventing progress. It is neither - it is a way of asking questions, observing and making conclusions.

    and what works for one person, be it acupuncture, homeopathy, or pain meds, doesn't necessarily work for another. Don't think science will be able to answer that, not in my lifetime.
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  13. TopTop #38
    Dixon's Avatar
    Dixon
    Supporting Member

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Hey Barry, thanks for responding so expeditiously with an attempt to clarify. When I'm feeling misunderstood, abused, etc., I'm always in a hurry to get things resolved to stop my, and everybody's, pain.

    Unfortunately, your response here isn't satisfactory (I explain why below), but at least it starts the ball rolling for a (hopefully) satisfactory result for everyone.

    Quote Barry wrote: View Post
    Dixon, you first used the term delusion in response to Gene's comment: "Three's are magical, can't offer any proof but some things just prove themselves over and over in one's life. You can't prove their true but you know they are."
    While that's not factually true, it's also not factually untrue or "false". So your claim to the partially circular definition of delusion that I didn't quote: "something that is falsely or delusively believed or propagated" doesn't apply.
    On the contrary, it does, and here's why: To assert that a claim is false, one needn't disprove it beyond all doubt--that's impossible! If total certainty about the truth or falsity of a claim were required to justify calling it a "delusion", it would be impossible ever to use the word in that sense, yet the dictionary has it in there. Believing that something is false (delusional) is sufficient reason to call it such--with the caveat that one should always hold any belief tentatively, willing to be shown that a belief thought delusional is really true. And that is, in fact, one reason I engage with people who disagree with me--to give them a chance to show me that their belief was true and mine a delusion!

    For the record, there is good reason to presume that some objective "magic" quality of the number three is most probably false. Firstly, I've never seen any evidence that it's true, and any claim unsupported by evidence is waaaay likely to be false, if only because most possible claims are false. Could some evidence for the claim exist? Sure! But I've been begging Sondra for evidence for it since before this thread started, and all she has is the same fallacy--the confirmation bias--over and over again. If you know of some good evidence for it, point it out, Barry. I'd be happy to publicly announce that I was the deluded one on that or any issue.

    Furthermore, if a claim invokes some dubious construct like "magic" when the facts can be explained more prosaically, it's less likely to be true--that's the logical rule known as Occam's Razor (I'll cover that one in more detail in an upcoming column).

    Finally, a belief that's arrived at simply because someone has a feeling that it's true but cannot articulate any reasonable arguments for it (which is what we're dealing with here) is most likely to be false. That process of accepting a "feeling" as evidence of objective truth will dependably give us beliefs that meet our emotional needs for security, excitement, etc., but are they true? Sometimes, but usually not. The burden of proof is always on the claimant. So it's entirely reasonable for me to label Gene's belief a delusion (in the sense of a false belief, which is clearly how I meant it, not a psychotic one) until someone gives me reason to see it differently.

    Even if you were right about my application of "delusion" in the softer, non-psychotic sense being inappropriate to the situation, it wouldn't follow that I meant it in the psychotic sense--only that I'd misused the word through misunderstanding the definition. Or is it your intention to accuse me of lying when I say I didn't mean it in the psychotic sense?

    And given that the second meaning is commonly used, the use of the word "delusion" is easily, perhaps commonly, construed to mean the person is not in their right mind and is taken as an insult.
    Yes, and that's why I understood that my wording could be "provocative". From the beginning, I took steps to stop people from interpreting my use of the term "delusion" in the psychotic, insulting sense. You yourself quoted what I said, Barry: "Yeah, that's an experience we've all had. There's a term for it; it's called "delusion"." Note that I was taking care not to single out Gene, by describing the experience as a universal one that we've all had, including myself. Whatever I was saying about Gene, I was saying about all of us, including myself--right, Barry? Do you think I was saying that everyone, myself included, has been delusional in the psychotic sense? Really? REALLY? I shouldn't even have to point this out--it's in black and white in the quote from me that you yourself quoted, and I explicated the same point in my post #12! The question is: Why did you ignore it in order to make the insulting, obviously false assumption that I was calling Gene psychotic--and continue to make that claim even after I tell you it's not true?

    Note also that the examples you cite below (from the M-W dictionary) referred to a person rather than to the proposition that the person is holding. This is an example of how your writing easily veers off the objective and becomes personal (i.e. "abrasive and huffy"). This is only case and there have been other recently.
    I can't really respond to this, Barry, because it's incomprehensible. I honestly don't understand what you're trying to say. The 3 examples I cited, along with the example of my remark to Gene, all refer to both a person and a proposition they hold. So I can't respond intelligently or fairly to your concern unless you clarify it--and also clarify what it has to do with some purported abrasiveness and huffiness on my part.

    Anyway, regarding your (and others') tenacious desire to misinterpret my word-choice in the worst possible light, in spite of my efforts to be clear from the beginning and in spite of my subsequent clarification in my post #12 in this thread, it seems that you're either calling me a liar (saying I meant the term one way when you insist I meant it the other) or that I'm so confused about what I myself mean to say that I must be virtually psychotic, demented, or...? It's not okay for you, Barry, or any of you to treat me this way. It seems clear that there are deeper issues than my use of any particular word involved here, and I have some ideas about what those issues are. Read on...

    It's gotten to the point that I have received two private complaints from members, which is pretty unusual.
    Yes, you've sent me one of them. Thanks for doing that; we all want to know what people are saying about us behind our backs! If the other one was about me, please forward it to me too, even if you feel you must redact it a bit to keep the sender's identity secret.

    Complaints are always a sign that something's wrong. The question is: Is something wrong with the person being complained about, with the complainant, or both?

    This person complains that I "dominate" WaccoBB "in a negative way". She characterizes my tone as "aggressive", "provocative", "put-down", "off-putting" and angry.

    Well, of course, upon hearing such stuff I feel hurt and misunderstood and fearful that people aren't going to love me. I also feel extremely frustrated and, yes, angry, because I feel that people are, on some level, projecting shit onto me that I don't deserve and looking for excuses, however bogus, to invalidate me, as a defense mechanism.

    The first thing I do when criticized is to try my best to see truth in the criticism, as a way of countering my natural human defensiveness. So for these recent criticisms, let me say this:

    Do I sometimes respond in ways that are more sarcastic or sharp-tongued than need be? Yes, that is a fault of mine, an issue I'm working on (though I don't think this current "delusion" flap is an example of it). In my defense (see my defensiveness here?), let me say that I don't usually give anybody a little jab unless I think they're asking for it. Maybe they've zapped me in some way--often in the sort of passive-aggressive ways preferred by New Agers who'd like to believe they're all about peace and love while making implicitly snotty remarks about anyone who'd dare to "make them wrong" (i.e., disagree with them).

    Sometimes I can't help poking fun at some belief which seems totally bizarre and unfounded--including beliefs held by many of you reading these words now. Let me explain this, so hopefully you won't judge me too harshly. If someone called me a lazy slob, I'd have no complaint about that, because it's true. I'd rather be called neat and tidy, but I haven't earned that, because I don't do the work to be neat and tidy, such as cleaning my house. So I can't gripe if I'm called a slob, and I ought to be able to take a little ribbing about it.

    By the same token, while we all have the right to believe anything we want, even if it's totally unsupported by evidence or reason, we don't have a right to expect that people will regard our beliefs as reasonable, or us as reasonable people, unless we do the hard work of being reasonable! That means using valid standards of reason to decide on what to believe. It means we can give good reasons for our beliefs, reasons that withstand critical scrutiny. It means we can be reasoned into or out of a belief by a compelling argument. If we allow ourselves the luxury of believing whatever feels good without submitting ourselves to the constraints of reason, we'll get the comforting or fun beliefs we want, but we forfeit the right to have our beliefs or ourselves regarded as reasonable because we're not being reasonable (in the sense I just described)! When I'm trying to reason with someone who's grabbing onto one defense-mechanism after another to avoid doing some basic reasoning, so it seems like they're not reasoning "in good faith", I get really frustrated and this can manifest as sarcasm, wisecracks or a subtext of scorn. I regret this and will try to do better. Most rationalists I know would tear some of you to pieces, or just roll their eyes and laugh their asses off at you, or simply not try to engage with you at all, writing you off as hopeless cases.

    Some of what comes across as "abrasive" or "huffy" may be my defensiveness. I'm acutely aware that, as a rationalist/atheist/skeptic, I'm in a tiny minority both in Wacco and the larger society--for many, a despised minority. It's a scary and often uncomfortable, alienating position to be in. So when someone here implies that I'm closed-minded or unreasonable or oppressive or not as spiritually sensitive as them because I disagree with them, I feel hurt and scared again. I feel that if I can just make people understand me, they'll love me, so I desperately jump onto the argument and try to pin down every detail, to show that I'm NOT being unreasonable and am in fact therefore lovable. But of course, most people aren't enlightened enough to appreciate being out-argued!

    I think a lot of what this ultimately comes down to is a difference between two approaches to the issue of belief itself--two different cultures, really. They seem so different, so incompatible, that they might as well be two different planets. I'm talking about Rationalism versus the more popular culture of--what can I call it? Anti-rationalism? Faith? For the current discussion, let's call it New Age culture, since most of you readers seem to fit that general rubric.

    Nowadays, I'm a Rationalist. I'm more comfortable with other Rationalists than I am with you New Agers; I feel a lot safer with them. They're more likely to understand me, while you New Agers are more likely to hurt me (again and again and again) with your various ways of trying to invalidate me as a defense against my ideas that scare you. Many behaviors and traits that other Rationalists love about me are the same things that get me labeled "abrasive", "huffy", "dominating", "aggressive", etc. here on Wacco. For instance, ideally (and with many exceptions):

    1. Rationalists freely express disagreement. We show respect for one another by honestly saying "I think that's bullshit!" -- while being willing to discuss the issue enough to give the other guy a chance to show you his/her position isn't bullshit after all! Such confrontive expression of disagreement carries a nice message: "I assume you're adult enough to handle some disagreement logically and open-mindedly", and also an invitation: "Let's dialogue about this thing we disagree on to help each other get to the truth."

    2. Rationalists are humble enough to realize how fallible we all are, and therefore submit ourselves to the discipline of time-tested strategies designed to correct for our human fallacies--strategies collectively known by such terms as "science" and "critical thinking".

    3. Rationalists want to know the truth, regardless of whether it's pleasant or depressing. They cannot respect the path of choosing beliefs that meet our needs and accepting them on "faith" or "feeling" or bad evidence; they see that as a road to probable delusion.

    4. Rationalists see honest disagreement as far better than phony agreement. Telling someone you think they're deluded about something is far more authentic, honest and respectful than nodding, smiling and pretending to respect some belief which seems totally unfounded, and it opens the possibility for a dialog that will increase understanding.

    5. Rationalists believe that, in the long run, more good and less bad comes from being reasonable rather than superstitious or illogical. We believe that bigotry, war, environmental degradation, oppression and other evils are largely the result of people's reasoning improperly. Thus we insist on logical reasoning out of love for our brothers and sisters (and those in between), and often feel a moral obligation to challenge fallacious thinking.

    In contrast, let me go out on a limb and make some generalizations about New Age culture (understanding that, as with what I said about Rationalists, there'll be lots of exceptions):

    1. New Agers believe it's rude, domineering, aggressive to suggest that somebody's cherished belief is mistaken, especially if you mount a good argument against it. Simply asserting that someone is wrong about something is often described as "making them wrong", as if an act of aggression has been committed. An attack on an idea, even when phrased gently, is seen as an attack on the person holding that idea.

    2. New Agers tend to see science and logic as an arbitrary worldview, no better or worse than any other. They readily accept claims that meet their emotional or social needs, requiring no more proof than "feeling", tradition, or transparently fallacious arguments.

    3. Since such beliefs aren't well-founded in evidence or reason, defending them requires various ego-defense mechanisms and/or just avoiding critique entirely. New Agers are commonly hostile to critique and to those who would engage them in it.

    4. New Agers tend to prefer vague, fuzzy thinking to precision and clarity. Often, when asked the probing questions necessary to determine just what they're really saying and what if any evidence supports it, they feel attacked, under siege, and become defensive.

    5. A common New Age strategy for evading critique is to tell themselves that "Everyone has their own truth" or "All is illusion", even though they themselves actually behave every day as if that's not true. (See my WaccoBB column "Reality Is Real--Really").

    6. Intuition is often over-valued by New Agers--seen as not just a good source of ideas to be tested, but a valid stand-alone source of knowledge requiring no further verification. In practice, this means that any idea someone likes can be dignified as an "intuition", thus justifying believing whatever they like regardless of evidence.

    7. New Agers often mount fallacious attacks on science and reason, implying, for instance, that since science is fallible, it's therefore no better than their favorite belief system.

    8. New Agers often seem to feel that they're infallible, having no need for the kinds of correction afforded by science and logic, as if they're just not subject to the universal human fallacies. Suggestions that they are fallible are often taken as an insult. They commonly exhort those they disagree with to be open-minded while showing no sign of open-mindedness themselves.

    The differences between Rationalists and New Agers are not as cut-and-dried as these lists make them sound, and are mostly matters of degree, with plenty of fallacy among Rationalists and plenty of honest attempts at reasoning among New Agers. And on some issues, the New Agers will turn out right and the Rationalists wrong. But these cultural differences are real and in some ways profound, so that, considering the huge differences in assumptions and values, when you put a Rationalist in with a bunch of New Agers (or vice versa), there's gonna be lots of discomfort and misunderstanding. The common defense mechanisms of New Agers being what they are, anyone who makes a habit of critiquing their beliefs would be seen as "aggressive", "dominating", etc. etc. no matter how gently phrased. A lot of what I'm doing--telling people their beliefs are mistaken, demolishing their arguments, refusing to pretend to respect beliefs that simply aren't respectable because they lack good evidence--is me being a good rationalist! I'm following the Golden Rule, doing unto you what I want you to do to me. Challenge my beliefs, as long as you do it reasonably. Call me on my bullshit, as long as you'll engage me in dialogue so I have a chance to show you it's not bullshit--or to find out you're right.

    This brings us back to the letter of complaint you got about me, Barry. It cited one of my posts--post #12, my response to Claire Ossenbeck in this thread-- as an example of my "aggressive", "negative", "put-down" behavior. I find that astounding! Re-reading it (and I urge all of you to do so), I couldn't find anything in it that seemed harsh. The closest to it was when I light-heartedly ribbed Claire about having attributed "tyranny" (!) to me in her previous post, suggesting that was a defense mechanism on her part, and mentioning that it was an insult. I think that's waaaay gentler than her calling me a tyrant, don't you? Perhaps I should complain to you about her aggressive behavior?

    Hopefully, whoever complained to you about me will specify what I said in that post that bothered her so it can be addressed constructively. Lacking that info, my tentative conclusion is that my behavior that bothers the complainant so much is simply my reasoning with Claire. As I often do, I (quite politely) refuted some of her positions. My arguments are typically precise, thorough, detailed and powerful (thus long-winded! ), leaving no room for those who don't want to hear what I have to say to squirm away, and to the extent that people are closed-minded, not wanting to be corrected, that feels "aggressive", "domineering", like a "put-down", etc. This isn't the first time I've been excoriated for the crime of being right and politely pointing out flaws in other people's positions, and it won't be the last. If someone is open to being corrected when they're mistaken, they'll have no problem with me. They'll take my critique as intended--as a gift! If their agenda is to be unchanged by our discussion, maintaining their beliefs regardless of whether they're true, I could be very scary indeed. In most if not all cases, people's discomfort with me is a measure of their closed-mindedness--they're scared to death of being shown they're mistaken about something by a guy who can do it. That's a problem they have--not a problem with my behavior.

    Here's an obvious question: Why in the world would someone choose to participate in a thread called "The Gospel According to Dixon" and then complain that Dixon is dominating it?

    Now back to the question of why you and others would insist on interpreting my use of the term "delusion" as a reference to psychosis when, from the very beginning, I made it pretty clear I wasn't using the term in that sense. For you, Barry, there's one factor that doesn't apply to others. Wacco's your livelihood; if people get pissed enough at me to drop their Wacco memberships, you lose money. So, consciously or not, you may be a bit biased to see it their way.

    But beyond that, you're a New Ager, too, and as the editor of my column, you've seen some good arguments from me that, as far as I can see, substantially demolish some things you'd probably like to believe. As a Rationalist among New Agers, there is no way I could challenge people's beliefs, no matter how politely phrased, which wouldn't engender complaints, because critique itself is considered to be a personal attack. So, apart from my occasional sharp-tongued wisecrack, which I acknowledge as a problem, most of the time people's seeing me as "aggressive", "dominating" etc. is because I'm committing the crime of challenging people's beliefs so well that they lash out at me as a defense mechanism. I suspect this is the case for you among others. I can't think of any other explanation for your treating me so shabbily around this "delusion" (non-)issue.

    I know that this topic, what's science and what's not, is of great personal interest to you and it's a very worthy point and an important line to keep distinct. And at the same time, science only understands so much. I'd venture to say way less than half of the fundamental nature of reality and what's really pulling all the strings behind the curtain is understood by science.
    Probably less than that, but if you think there's any other "way of knowing" that comes anywhere near science (actually, more broadly, rationality) as a way of getting to the truth about objective reality--well, make your case. (And I hope you're not sliding into the fallacy that I listed above under #7 of the New Age habits of thought.)

    So it's fine to say "thus and so" are not supported by science, or even "is not science". it's not fine to say that if you believe something outside of science that the person is having delusions.
    Barry, I want you to acknowledge that I didn't say nor even imply that anyone was having psychotic delusions.

    For reasons explicated above, I stand by my assertion that whenever someone makes a claim about objective reality (such as claiming that some number is "magic") based on nothing more than their "feeling", without adducing any other evidence for it, the greatest likelihood by far is that their claim is false (i.e., a delusion in the non-psychotic sense I clearly meant). If you or anyone has a problem with that, I'm happy to hear you make your case, but it is not okay to bend over backwards trying to interpret my words in negative ways that I clearly did not mean, nor to imply that I'm lying or crazy when I tell you what I meant. That's abusive.
    Last edited by Dixon; 06-09-2011 at 03:52 PM. Reason: softening the language
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  15. TopTop #39
    podfish's Avatar
    Supporting Member

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Quote Dixon wrote: View Post
    Here's an obvious question: Why in the world would someone choose to participate in a thread called "The Gospel According to Dixon" and then complain that Dixon is dominating it?
    +1
    some other good comments in your post too, but that observation was funny and spot on... nicely put, sir.
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  17. TopTop #40
    podfish's Avatar
    Supporting Member

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Quote rossmen wrote: View Post
    . medical science has made some progress in figuring out what works, less in understanding why. we humans and our health turn out to be complicated. there is some proven effectiveness for acupuncture, and lots of skepticism because the theory is not useful for scientific exploration.
    well, lots of skepticism because of a couple of key problems: a treatment's efficacy is easier to test and accept if there's a proposed mechanism by which the treatment works, based on other well-established knowledge. Another is that there are a wide variety of similar treatments - using needles, suction cups, electrically-charged probes, and non-penetrating probes (accupressure, I suppose) - that all seem to have interchangeable results. That doesn't seem to indicate a clear effect.
    and the business of medicine is a powerful complicating factor. the majority of medical research is motivated by profit. just look at the $ going into research based on the germ theory of disease vs hygiene theory. both are proven scientific theory. both are useful in understanding how to be healthy. yet germ theory gets all the play. so we get bad advice from well meaning scientific medical practitioners.
    that's of course true. Also, it's easy to assume that "scientific medical practitioners" is a synonym for well-trained doctors, but actually few doctor are particularly concerned with the scientific justifications behind their practices. They're taught from knowledge based on scientific analysis but they're given fact-based training - meaning they're given a lot of data and a lot of techniques for applying it. That's not the same skill set as designing, applying and interpreting scientific studies.
    how many years did the ama sue chiropractors before they lost, had to pay their legal costs, and stop calling them quacks? homeopathy works too according to scientific study, just don't know why.
    that was a lawsuit regarding monopolistic business practices and isn't particularly relevant as an endorsement of chiropractice. And I have no clue what you mean by the claim that homeopathy "works", at least in the context of this discussion. I don't think any scientific studies have shown that.
    Of course to a large degree this is irrelevant to most people seeking a treatment. Hell, if someone offered to accupunct my shoulder I'd probably try it - certainly before I'd let an orthopedist cut into it. There's better evidence that surgery would help, but it's not overwhelming, and I'm scared of knives. I'm not all that excited about needles either, but they won't damage much.
    In that sense, science is useful mostly in the search for meaningful knowledge about reality. (Bringing this thread back on topic!). If you're looking for a way to deal with a painful shoulder, there are a lot of interventions you can use. Some are well-based in scientific principles. Others have no provable scientific justification. Of those, some may work and the reasons why they work may eventually be understood. Others actually don't "work" in the sense that the treatment itself has only an indirect association with any benefit you receive. Mommy's kiss on the ouchie falls somewhere on the spectrum between those last two.
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  19. TopTop #41
    Barry's Avatar
    Barry
    Founder & Moderator

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Quote Dixon wrote: View Post
    ..
    For reasons explicated above, I stand by my assertion that whenever someone makes a claim about objective reality (such as claiming that some number is "magic") based on nothing more than their "feeling", without adducing any other evidence for it, the greatest likelihood by far is that their claim is false (i.e., a delusion in the non-psychotic sense I clearly meant). If you or anyone has a problem with that, I'm happy to hear you make your case, but it is not okay to bend over backwards trying to interpret my words in negative ways that I clearly did not mean, nor to imply that I'm lying or crazy when I tell you what I meant. That's abusive.
    Sorry, I don't have time to respond in full, or even read your missive in full. A few quick points: I really didn't mean that you were accusing anybody of being psychotic. Rather the term delusion is very commonly taken as a personal insult, and thus inflammatory, as opposed to saying "there's no evidence of for that", or even "that doesn't stand to reason", or "I can't accept that" etc. There's plenty of, dare I say scientific data on this thread (such as the number of people who react negatively and emotionally) to support the claim that it is an inflammatory way of "speaking".

    Also, again, just because something isn't or can't be proved does not make it "false". It's "false" when it can be objectively proven to be not true, not when there is simple no evidence to support it. (I presume you'll take issue with this definition) There is a place for faith and intuition in this world. And we may live long enough to see few bits of intuition proven to be true. Faith and intuition are not "false". And thus by your definition are not a "delusion".
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  21. TopTop #42
    podfish's Avatar
    Supporting Member

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    back to the thread's theme --
    A lot of the discussions about the nature of reality seem to suggest there are categories of phenomena where science can't be applied. That's not a silly argument, but it's harder to make than some might think.
    It's common to find people conflating a scientific approach with a mechanistic, reductionist approach. For example, the world can be seen as a giant machine which can be studied by recursively breaking off each part - the ocean is a machine you can understand by studying its currents, which are themselves machines, composed of water of varying densities and salinity, driven by energy from the sun. And so on....
    There're useful insights to be had when you follow that approach. Grade school science pretty much limits itself to that. But there are huge areas of research that require more holistic perspective. That's a term more often associated with "new age" (to follow Dixon's usage) - a scientist is more likely to say that a systems-oriented approach is needed.
    One easy example of this is the study of "mind". It's a phenomenon that is apparent to everyone but is extremely difficult to study. It's a very active field of scientific research. To be scientifically tractable, there needs to be a set of clear definitions made, and predictions made from observations. Once that's done, you have a scientific understanding of the concept of mind. Now that computers ("thinking machines") are available, there are more avenues for study. These are based on the idea that "thinking" is a related concept to "mind" and study of one can give insight into the other.
    Other areas subject to scientific research include the existence of other universes, the nature of time, and broadest of all the nature of physical reality - what is an "object" really? The thing that distinguishes science from fairy tale is the relentless challenge to any explanation.
    When people observe a phenomenon, they inherently try to come up with an explanation, and a collection of explanations becomes a belief system. Science is good at poking holes in explanations since it consists of a large body of knowledge, but it has no monopoly on that. A person's belief system can change when some of the explanations they rely on are challenged by new observations.
    The mistake some people make is to trust their belief systems too much. Obviously, your standards for personal use of your belief system are different than those for proselytizing it - or should be!! If you're functioning just fine as is, why worry? But belief systems that aren't really representative of reality aren't adequate for dealing with new circumstances. There aren't a lot of candidates out there for ways to improve the performance of your belief system.... science has the best record and the best justifications for its continued application. Science can be used to explain and defend why certain changes to your beliefs are appropriate. Most other candidates can do no more than say "well, it worked for that guy, it'll work for you!".
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  23. TopTop #43
    DynamicBalance's Avatar
    DynamicBalance
     

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Quote podfish wrote: View Post
    For example, one started his argument by pointing out that western medicine doesn't understand chi, so it can't measure what accupuncture's doing. Sadly, that just leads to the need to explain why chi exists and has effects but can't be measured by science - accupuncture becomes a lesser component of a broader (undefended!) claim about a powerful but unmeasurable life force.
    Typical skeptical disclaimer: I don't say that I know for sure chi doesn't exist, or that accupuncture doesn't work. I do know that neither has been proven, that other explanations for the effects some attribute to chi/accupuncture do exist and are sufficient. So if real evidence ever does show up, well then, my current skepticism is still justified, but I'll accept the evidence as it is. I don't have a horse in this race, chi's a cool idea, but it seems an arbitrary construct to me. I don't see the difference between it and the Force emitted by the midichlorians (or however George Lucas spells them). Dismissing one because it was invented more recently than the other seems unfair.
    Since this discussion has somewhat veered onto the topic of acupuncture, I thought some of you might be interested in this series of articles from Chris Kresser (The Healthy Skeptic) on Chinese Medicine and acupuncture: http://thehealthyskeptic.org/acupuncture

    He asserts that much of the confusion surrounding acupuncture is a result of poor translations from the original Chinese texts. For example, he says that qi is not some mysterious invisible energy that flows through the body, but that most of the evidence points to qi being a word for air or oxygen, something that physically flows through our bodies! He also says that the Chinese texts did not discuss the concept of meridians at all, and that meridians are an idea originally presented by a French bank clerk! I don't personally know anything about acupuncture and I've never tried it, but the ideas he brings up are very thought-provoking, and I do know that Kresser is very knowledgeable when it comes to nutrition.

    Laurel Blair, NTP
    www.dynamicbalancenutrition.com
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    Claire's Avatar
    Claire
     

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    I enjoyed reading these quotes from genius Richard Feynman just yesterday, so I thought I'd share:

    An introduction to one of his lectures:

    What I am going to tell you about is what we teach our physics students in the third or fourth year of graduate school...It is my task to convince you not to turn away because you don't understand it. You see my physics students don't understand it. That is because I don't understand it.

    We can imagine that this complicated array of moving things which constitutes "the world" is something like a great chess game being played by the gods, and we are observers of the game. We do not know what the rules of the game are; all we are allowed to do is watch the playing. Of course, if we watch long enough, we may eventually catch on to a few of the rules. (i.e. fundamental physics)

    When someone says, "Science teaches such and such," he is using the word incorrectly. Science doesn't teach anything; experience teaches it.
    If they say to you, "Science has shown such and such", you might ask, "How does science show it? How did the scientists find out? How? What? Where?"

    Now there's an ever-inquiring mind!
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  27. TopTop #45
    Marty M
     

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Quote Barry wrote: View Post

    Also, again, just because something isn't or can't be proved does not make it "false". It's "false" when it can be objectively proven to be not true, not when there is simple no evidence to support it. (I presume you'll take issue with this definition) There is a place for faith and intuition in this world. And we may live long enough to see few bits of intuition proven to be true. Faith and intuition are not "false". And thus by your definition are not a "delusion".
    Thank you Barry,

    examples:

    My grandfather, a geologist born in the 1800's was a proponent of plate tectonics. Before he died he said "you watch, this will be proven in your lifetime".

    I wish I knew history better, but many of our important scientific ideas were not proven until many years after they were published, when we had developed the technology and instruments. (Copernicus, Einstein.)

    Marty
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  29. TopTop #46
    SandBar's Avatar
    SandBar
     

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    And then there's this told to many physicians that the healing power of aspirin (willow bark) for lowering a fever was never tested in a double-blind placebo trial.

    Quote Marty MacMillan wrote: View Post
    Thank you Barry,

    examples:

    My grandfather, a geologist born in the 1800's was a proponent of plate tectonics. Before he died he said "you watch, this will be proven in your lifetime".

    I wish I knew history better, but many of our important scientific ideas were not proven until many years after they were published, when we had developed the technology and instruments. (Copernicus, Einstein.)

    Marty
    Last edited by Barry; 06-09-2011 at 11:03 PM.
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  31. TopTop #47
    Marty M
     

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Quote claire ossenbeck wrote: View Post
    I enjoyed reading these quotes from genius Richard Feynman just yesterday, so I thought I'd share:

    An introduction to one of his lectures:

    What I am going to tell you about is what we teach our physics students in the third or fourth year of graduate school...It is my task to convince you not to turn away because you don't understand it. You see my physics students don't understand it. That is because I don't understand it.

    We can imagine that this complicated array of moving things which constitutes "the world" is something like a great chess game being played by the gods, and we are observers of the game. We do not know what the rules of the game are; all we are allowed to do is watch the playing. Of course, if we watch long enough, we may eventually catch on to a few of the rules. (i.e. fundamental physics)

    When someone says, "Science teaches such and such," he is using the word incorrectly. Science doesn't teach anything; experience teaches it.
    If they say to you, "Science has shown such and such", you might ask, "How does science show it? How did the scientists find out? How? What? Where?"

    Now there's an ever-inquiring mind!
    Hello Everyone,
    I have really enjoyed Richard Feynman's books and lectures and youtube clips. I have the highest respect for him.
    There is a great DVD you can check out from the library called something like "The Smartest Man Since Einstein"

    And here is the classic youtub clip:
    http://youtu.be/PsgBtOVzHKI
    called Feynman: Take The World From Another Point Of View (1/4)

    I almost posted these earlier in one of the recent threads, but wasn't sure if they were relevant.

    Marty
    Last edited by Marty M; 06-09-2011 at 10:46 AM. Reason: forgot a detail
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  33. TopTop #48
    peggykarp's Avatar
    peggykarp
     

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    I like the way Iris Dement says it: "Guess I'll just let the mystery be" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlaoR5m4L80
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  35. TopTop #49
    Marty M
     

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Quote Marty MacMillan wrote: View Post
    Hello Everyone,
    I have really enjoyed Richard Feynman's books and lectures and youtube clips. I have the highest respect for him.
    There is a great DVD you can check out from the library called something like "The Smartest Man Since Einstein"

    And here is the classic youtub clip:
    http://youtu.be/PsgBtOVzHKI
    called Feynman: Take The World From Another Point Of View (1/4)

    I almost posted these earlier in one of the recent threads, but wasn't sure if they were relevant.

    Marty
    oops forgot to say that this is Part 4 of a series.
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  36. TopTop #50
    anathstryx
    Guest

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Quote Dixon wrote: View Post
    That's the trade-off: Believe whatever wacky beliefs you like regardless of logic or evidence, and then don't bitch and moan when someone calls you a wacko. (Having said that, let me point out that I never call anybody here a wacko, though plenty of you qualify.)
    So, essentially then, you are calling "plenty of us" wackos by implication. Is "plenty" a scientific term?

    Quote Dixon wrote: View Post

    Some of what comes across as "abrasive" or "huffy" may be my defensiveness. I'm acutely aware that, as a rationalist/atheist/skeptic, I'm in a tiny minority both in Wacco and the larger society--for many, a despised minority. It's a scary and often uncomfortable, alienating position to be in. So when someone here implies that I'm closed-minded or unreasonable or oppressive or not as spiritually sensitive as them because I disagree with them, I feel hurt and scared again. I feel that if I can just make people understand me, they'll love me, so I desperately jump onto the argument and try to pin down every detail, to show that I'm NOT being unreasonable and am in fact therefore lovable. But of course, most people aren't enlightened enough to appreciate being out-argued!.)
    This is a classic example of a passive-aggressive trait. Dixon is hurt, scared, and misunderstood, and is a victim of persecution because of his belief system. So here's the fundamental rub. I find that the hubristic hypocrisy of your arguments completely undermines any of your posits of rationalism and makes productive philosophical discourse or debate with you virtually impossible. You do not present your theories without some manner of ridicule and usually resort to an emotional obfuscation of the discourse by nit-picking, chest-thumping, and essentially throwing rationalism right out the window. How can you possibly expect reasonable people to accept or learn from your philosopy when you yourself don't abide by it? And yes, there are reasonable people in the New Age community but I think that trying to convince you of that is like my trying to stand on my head while I type.

    You accuse New Agers of "having it all figured out" and

    8. New Agers often seem to feel that they're infallible, having no need for the kinds of correction afforded by science and logic, as if they're just not subject to the universal human fallacies. Suggestions that they are fallible are often taken as an insult. They commonly exhort those they disagree with to be open-minded while showing no sign of open-mindedness themselves.
    and yet you persistantly demand that you are right and we New Agers are wrong.

    This isn't the first time I've been excoriated for the crime of being right and politely...

    Is a yellow, flashing WTF? considered polite? There are no positive, polite definitions of "delusion".
    ...pointing out flaws in other people's positions, and it won't be the last. If someone is open to being corrected when they're mistaken, they'll have no problem with me. They'll take my critique as intended--as a gift! If their agenda is to be unchanged by our discussion, maintaining their beliefs regardless of whether they're true, I could be very scary indeed. In most if not all cases, people's discomfort with me is a measure of their closed-mindedness--they're scared to death of being shown they're mistaken about something by a guy who can do it. That's a problem they have--not a problem with my behavior.


    There's that hubris again. It could be just as easily said that your discomfort with we New Agers is a measure of your closed-mindedness.

    As a Rationalist among New Agers, there is no way I could challenge people's beliefs, no matter how politely phrased, which wouldn't engender complaints, because critique itself is considered to be a personal attack.
    As you clearly feel attacked by our "critique". A nice gentle word that, "critque". I am reminded of the say,"Keep your words soft and sweet. You never know which ones you'll have to eat."

    Challenge my beliefs, as long as you do it reasonably. Call me on my bullshit, as long as you'll engage me in dialogue so I have a chance to show you it's not bullshit--or to find out you're right.
    I call bullshit! Not because you're a rationalist but because you don't walk the talk. Not because you're an atheist. I rather like atheists and their worldview as a whole. Personally, I don't think it matters a wit either way whether there is a god or not to get along spectacularly in this life. But I have little hope of ever having a dialogue with you because you do not engage in dialogue (except with people who agree with you) but, rather, diatribe. If you could be reasonable and rational, Dixon, it would be worth the effort.

    Anathstryx
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  38. TopTop #51
    Gene's Avatar
    Gene
     

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    O.K. people I think we need a timeout here. This thread has become way to personal and is in a nose dive toward the negative. I propose that for the good of the community as well as the individuals involved we stop posting to this tread for 24 hours. It's beginning to remind me of a relationship I stayed in for way to long. Turn off your computer. The Sun is shinning and the birds are singing. Love & Peace, Gene.
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  40. TopTop #52
    rossmen
     

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    i think science is mostly useful for predicting the result of actions observed or taken. scientific theory is a means to this end, and the best accurately predict the result of new actions (experiments).

    in the field of human health proven scientific theories are really just beginning to be useful. so treatments like homeopathy, chiropractic care and acupuncture, which through scientific study have been shown to more effective than the placebo effect, are often more effective than treatments suggested by current scientific theories of human health. the ama lost because chiropractic care is effective and back surgery is a statistical nightmare. they lost 20 years ago and this is still true.

    there is a solid case that scientific understanding is advanced by engineers rather than scientists. the acupuncturists i know sense chi through pulse with their fingertips. maybe we just haven't invented devices capable of doing this so acupuncture theory is currently scientifically senseless?

    there is a lot of conflicting health advice in this info full world and much of this conflicting advice comes from science based perspectives. skeptically driven dismissal of proven health strategies that are not scientifically understood is a prescription for possible pain and suffering.

    Quote podfish wrote: View Post
    well, lots of skepticism because of a couple of key problems: a treatment's efficacy is easier to test and accept if there's a proposed mechanism by which the treatment works, based on other well-established knowledge. Another is that there are a wide variety of similar treatments - using needles, suction cups, electrically-charged probes, and non-penetrating probes (accupressure, I suppose) - that all seem to have interchangeable results. That doesn't seem to indicate a clear effect.
    that's of course true. Also, it's easy to assume that "scientific medical practitioners" is a synonym for well-trained doctors, but actually few doctor are particularly concerned with the scientific justifications behind their practices. They're taught from knowledge based on scientific analysis but they're given fact-based training - meaning they're given a lot of data and a lot of techniques for applying it. That's not the same skill set as designing, applying and interpreting scientific studies.
    that was a lawsuit regarding monopolistic business practices and isn't particularly relevant as an endorsement of chiropractice. And I have no clue what you mean by the claim that homeopathy "works", at least in the context of this discussion. I don't think any scientific studies have shown that.
    Of course to a large degree this is irrelevant to most people seeking a treatment. Hell, if someone offered to accupunct my shoulder I'd probably try it - certainly before I'd let an orthopedist cut into it. There's better evidence that surgery would help, but it's not overwhelming, and I'm scared of knives. I'm not all that excited about needles either, but they won't damage much.
    In that sense, science is useful mostly in the search for meaningful knowledge about reality. (Bringing this thread back on topic!). If you're looking for a way to deal with a painful shoulder, there are a lot of interventions you can use. Some are well-based in scientific principles. Others have no provable scientific justification. Of those, some may work and the reasons why they work may eventually be understood. Others actually don't "work" in the sense that the treatment itself has only an indirect association with any benefit you receive. Mommy's kiss on the ouchie falls somewhere on the spectrum between those last two.
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  42. TopTop #53
    rossmen
     

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    googling "acupuncture research" the first thing i found that resembled your description of research assessment was the wikipedia entry for acupuncture. i read the report cited for this part of the entry and some peer responses to it. the conclusion of the report is mischaracterized by both you and wikipedia, and the report itself (a review of twelve original research studies of acupuncture effectiveness which had placebo groups), didn't seem well received. the report conclusion was more research needed, not same as placebo.
    Quote Barry wrote: View Post
    Please elaborate!
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  44. TopTop #54
    Dixon's Avatar
    Dixon
    Supporting Member

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Quote anathstryx wrote: View Post
    So, essentially then, you are calling "plenty of us" wackos by implication.
    Yep. There are plenty of wackos in this wacky world. Wouldn't you agree? Perhaps you think I'm one? Perhaps if I knew you, I'd think you're one? Perhaps we'd both be right? Or neither?

    Is "plenty" a scientific term?
    Obviously not. Is there some reason you think I should have used a scientific term in that context? Or are you just being sarcastic?

    This is a classic example of a passive-aggressive trait.
    I'm not sure what trait you're referring to here. Please clarify. I'm open to any criticism, including the possibility that I may be passive-aggressive somehow, but you need to give me an example or two of my supposed passive-aggressive behavior. Without examples, calling me that is just slapping me around (passive-aggressively?).

    Dixon is hurt, scared, and misunderstood, and is a victim of persecution because of his belief system.
    Yes, all of that is part of the picture. I thought sharing my feelings would help folks understand where I'm coming from a little better, and maybe help me do some introspection. It seems your mention of it is sarcastic. Are you trying to be helpful in some way, or just slapping me around a bit?

    So here's the fundamental rub. I find that the hubristic hypocrisy of your arguments...
    Again, I can't assess whether there's any truth to this until you give me at least one or two examples of my hubris and my hypocrisy. I'm open to criticism, but you need to give me something more to work with than generalizations.

    ...completely undermines any of your posits of rationalism...
    Clarify, please. By "posits of rationalism" do you mean my positing that I'm a rationalist, or posits I've made about the characteristics of rationalism, or...?

    ...and makes productive philosophical discourse or debate with you virtually impossible.
    This is manifestly untrue. Look back over this and my previous articles-with-comments and you'll see quite a bit of productive philosophical discourse, most of which seemed pretty satisfying for all participants. I must say, your exaggerated criticism is starting to sound more like emotional spew than constructive criticism, but I'm gonna give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you wish to reason with me rather than just slap me around...

    You do not present your theories without some manner of ridicule...
    So here you assert not just that I engage in ridicule sometimes, but that every time I present my theories, I do it with ridicule. Surely you're intelligent enough to know that an absolutistic statement like that, allowing for no exceptions, is almost certain to be bullshit. Anyway, if it's even anywhere near true, it will surely take you at most a minute or two to find at least six or eight examples. I look forward to seeing them.

    ...and usually resort to an emotional obfuscation of the discourse by nit-picking, chest-thumping, and essentially throwing rationalism right out the window.
    Hmmm...now a list of three criticisms. Honestly, I'm not aware of these behaviors. I'm not even sure what "chest-thumping" means apart from gorilla behavior. One or two examples of each ("nit-picking", "chest-thumping", and "essentially throwing rationalism right out the window") are necessary here.

    How can you possibly expect reasonable people to accept or learn from your philosopy when you yourself don't abide by it?
    I've always affirmed that I'm far from perfect. If you mean something stronger than that...well, I'm open to that, too. How am I not abiding by my philosophy? Make your case.

    And yes, there are reasonable people in the New Age community but I think that trying to convince you of that is like my trying to stand on my head while I type.
    Note that you assumed I'm unconvincible of that prior to even trying! In fact, this statement from you showed me that my presentation of the Rationalistic versus New Age communities overemphasized the differences a bit, so I went back and added some clarification: "The differences between Rationalists and New Agers are not as cut-and-dried as these lists make them sound, and are mostly matters of degree, with plenty of fallacy among Rationalists and plenty of honest attempts at reasoning among New Agers. And on some issues, the New Agers will turn out right and the Rationalists wrong." That has been my position all along. Thank you for prodding me into clarifying it. Is that satisfactory, to your mind?

    You accuse New Agers of "having it all figured out" and...yet you persistantly demand that you are right and we New Agers are wrong.
    Anathstryx, how many beliefs do you hold about which you don't think you are right (and, by extension, that those who disagree with you are wrong)? To believe something is to assert that you're right about it (and this includes the implication that those who disagree are wrong). If you think I'm wrong about that, please provide an example or two of exceptions. The issue is whether we're open to the possibility that we're wrong and the other guy is right instead. While nobody's open-mindedness is perfect (partly for reasons I explicate in my upcoming column, "Truth Seeking and Faith Keeping"--get it at your local Wacco), I regard myself as more open-minded than most. I've said more than once here on Wacco that I've been profoundly wrong, sometimes about my basic beliefs, before, and assume I'm wrong about some of my beliefs now, and that will always be the case. Rather than comfortably surrounding myself with my fellow rationalists, I often engage with those I disagree with, such as you, partly because I want to be corrected in those areas where I'm wrong. How about you?

    My point about New Agers implicitly claiming infallibility (well, OK--near-infallibility) is this: Science and, more broadly, critical thinking are largely just systems designed to correct for our universal human fallacies--the confirmation bias, placebo effect, effort justification effect, self-centered thinking, wishful thinking, and a thousand other fallacies most of which, apparently, every human is subject to. By rejecting the canons of science and reason, which, as you know, many (I think most) New Agers do, they're rejecting mechanisms that could correct for their fallacies and replacing them with--nothing. Doesn't this imply that they feel no need for fallacy-correction because they think they're not subject to those fallacies? How many times have we heard people reject the findings of a zillion scientific studies, saying, for instance, "Science is wrong. I know astrology is true because I've experienced it!" Note the arrogant implication that their unsystematic judgment is superior to the work of thousands of trained scientists, and the apparent total ignorance or denial that they have any natural fallacies in their thinking that may require some careful measures to compensate for. Does this not imply a grandiose feeling of (near) infallibility? That's what I'm talking about. Fair enough?

    Is a yellow, flashing WTF? considered polite?
    Why wouldn't it be? All it means is "What the fuck?" In other words, "This is totally incomprehensible to me; please explain." Do you have a problem with that for some reason? If you're inferring a more negative implication that really isn't there, you're just causing yourself needless distress.

    There are no positive, polite definitions of "delusion".
    I'm getting really tired of being harassed on the basis of people's willful negativization of my use of the term "delusion". I've dealt with this before and you should have read it, but you apparently didn't get the message, so here it is once again. I said: "Yeah, that's an experience we've all had. There's a term for it; it's called "delusion"." Note that the statement, while made to Gene, was not specific to Gene or anybody. It was a statement about universal human experience--that we all, including me, have been deluded (i.e., have had false beliefs). Do you see that it wasn't about Gene any more than it was about me (and everybody else)? If you want to interpret it as my somehow attacking Gene, then I must have been attacking the whole human race, including myself, because that's who I was explicitly talking about--me, you, everybody; we're all subject to delusion. It's part of the human experience. Now do you get that simple concept, or would you prefer to remain obtuse so you can have a bogus excuse to torment me a little more, Anathstryx?

    You mention that "delusion" is not a positive thing. So what? Neither are lots of things we've been talking about. Is it bad to point out some negative things? If so, how can you justify your screed directed at me? If you should harass me on the basis of your gross distortion of my obvious meaning about human delusiveness, how much more should you be harassed for the numerous bad attributions you direct at me in your ill-considered screed? "Hey folks, we've gotten tired of beating up on Dixon for our distorted interpretation of something he said. Let's beat up on Anathstryx for awhile; she said so many more nasty things than Dixon did." But of course, that won't happen; I'm the designated target in this dysfunctional family system.

    (Anathstryx then quotes this passage from me: "...pointing out flaws in other people's positions, and it won't be the last. If someone is open to being corrected when they're mistaken, they'll have no problem with me. They'll take my critique as intended--as a gift! If their agenda is to be unchanged by our discussion, maintaining their beliefs regardless of whether they're true, I could be very scary indeed. In most if not all cases, people's discomfort with me is a measure of their closed-mindedness--they're scared to death of being shown they're mistaken about something by a guy who can do it. That's a problem they have--not a problem with my behavior.")

    There's that hubris again.
    It's not clear to me that there's any sign of hubris in that passage. Please elucidate. You sound like you're assuming that some or all of what I'm saying there is unreasonable in some way. Make your case. And note that I'm not saying nor implying that I'm always right, or anything of that sort.

    It could be just as easily said that your discomfort with we New Agers is a measure of your closed-mindedness.
    Once again, it's unclear to me that this is true. Please make your case or retract your accusation.

    As you clearly feel attacked by our "critique". A nice gentle word that, "critque". I am reminded of the say,"Keep your words soft and sweet. You never know which ones you'll have to eat."
    A clever saying, and I think very wise. I'll try to keep it in mind. But it seems ironic that you're quoting it in the context of your screed against me, Anathstryx. Look back over your words. Can you honestly say they're "soft and sweet"? Would it be fair to say that your preaching "soft and sweet" to me is both ironic and hypocritical?

    I call bullshit! Not because you're a rationalist but because you don't walk the talk...I have little hope of ever having a dialogue with you because you do not engage in dialogue (except with people who agree with you) but, rather, diatribe. If you could be reasonable and rational, Dixon, it would be worth the effort.
    I always affirm that I, being human, am imperfectly rational. But your attack (it's fair to call it that, right?) asserts something much stronger. Even if we assume that I fall short of "walking the talk" occasionally, you seem to be dismissing my entire oeuvre in those terms. Have you read all of my interactions with those who disagree with me on the threads associated with my several essays, and elsewhere, in order to appropriately make this blanket dismissal of me? And if not, aren't you yourself giving an example of not walking the walk?

    You accuse me of engaging in diatribe ("A forceful and bitter verbal attack against someone or something", according to my dictionary), not just sometimes, but every time in my interactions with those I disagree with. This is manifestly untrue, as an honest perusal of my posts will show you. It's another absolutistic zinger, an accusation allowing for no exceptions. In fact, few if any of my posts can be accurately termed diatribes, but I know of one that can--your screed against me. Think I'm wrong? Read it again, Anathstryx, with the definition of "diatribe" in mind.

    Anathstryx, your screed has been a blast of criticism delivered in general terms, often exaggerated, sometimes to the point of absolutism, with few if any examples to back up your negative characterizations of me. I hope you can appreciate that, rather than dismissing you as abrasive and huffy, I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt, responding from the assumption that your intention is constructive criticism rather than just self-righteous verbal abuse. Accordingly I've asked for examples in every case where your accusations aren't self-evidently true to me, so I can show you the respect of exploring them honestly and open-mindedly, to the purpose of becoming a better person. I await the examples I need from you in order to continue this exploration. Thank you for your time and effort. The ball is in your court.
    Last edited by Barry; 06-13-2011 at 04:34 PM.
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  46. TopTop #55
    podfish's Avatar
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    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Quote Dixon wrote: View Post
    My point about New Agers implicitly claiming infallibility (well, OK--near-infallibility) is this: Science and, more broadly, critical thinking are largely just systems designed to correct for our universal human fallacies--the confirmation bias, placebo effect, effort justification effect, self-centered thinking, wishful thinking, and a thousand other fallacies most of which, apparently, every human is subject to. By rejecting the canons of science and reason, which, as you know, many (I think most) New Agers do, they're rejecting mechanisms that could correct for their fallacies .
    bingo!
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  48. TopTop #56

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    I have expressed, both publicly here and privately to Dixon, that if I had a criticism of his contributions here it would be that he had a tendency towards over-strong and impatient language, that could sometimes be described as scornful. I have just read his response above to anathstryx's "critique" (which I had been considering "critiquing" myself for fear that he would get himself into more trouble with a heated response) and it seems to me, under the circumstances, to be a model of restraint and politeness. I await with great interest anathstryx's (I hope) equally thoughful and considered explanation of the many contentions she made that, as Dixon has pointed out, seem to be unsupported in her post, and for which I for one can find little support for in my reading of this thread.
    One of her points was that Dixon indulges himself in diatribe rather than dialog. To me one of the hallmarks of dialog is a willingness to respond to those who have contrary viewpoints with detailed and on-point backup for one's position. Diatribe is simply asserting one's point of view without presenting evidence or argument for it. I invite readers to read anathstryx's post and Dixon's response in this light, and judge for themselves which one falls under the heading of diatribe, and which one demonstrates dialog.

    Patrick Brinton
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    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Quote rossmen wrote: View Post
    googling "acupuncture research" the first thing i found that resembled your description of research assessment was the wikipedia entry for acupuncture. i read the report cited for this part of the entry and some peer responses to it. the conclusion of the report is mischaracterized by both you and wikipedia, and the report itself (a review of twelve original research studies of acupuncture effectiveness which had placebo groups), didn't seem well received. the report conclusion was more research needed, not same as placebo.
    Barry, I would like to suggest that this side discussion of acupuncture, which really has very little to do with the topic of this thread, but which I find really interesting and educational (particularly the articles referred to by Dynamic Balance, which explained acupuncture in a whole new way (at least for me)) could benefit from being broken out into its own thread where it might be seen by people who are interested in acupuncture but are not following this thread.

    Patrick Brinton
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  52. TopTop #58
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    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Quote rossmen wrote: View Post
    googling "acupuncture research" the first thing i found that resembled your description of research assessment was the wikipedia entry for acupuncture. i read the report cited for this part of the entry and some peer responses to it. the conclusion of the report is mischaracterized by both you and wikipedia, and the report itself (a review of twelve original research studies of acupuncture effectiveness which had placebo groups), didn't seem well received. the report conclusion was more research needed, not same as placebo.

    Yes, more research is needed. This is a better resource for actual research than wikipedia - http://nccam.nih.gov/health/acupunct...e-for-pain.htm
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  54. 06-10-2011, 08:31 AM
    SandBar

     

    Reason
    dupe

  55. TopTop #59

    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Quote SandBar wrote: View Post
    Thanks for the reference, but that is pretty much the aceepted "western" view of acupuncture, with meridian lines and so forth, which many people of a scientific bent find difficult to swallow, since the theory of how it works seems to fly in the face of much of what we have found to be true and repeatable. It posits the existence of a system of lines that have no parallel in western medicine, and a mysterious force that runs along them that can be cleared by sticking in needles. While all of this may indeed be true (and I am talking about the way it works rather than whether or not it works) the fact that we have not found any evidence for these meridian lines despite a huge amount of medical research, considerably lessens the probability.
    Laurel's link, which is worth repeating (http://thehealthyskeptic.org/acupuncture) is to a series of articles by someone who seems very well qualified to talk about the subject. He says that the whole meridian line idea came about through a misunderstanding on the part of the original translator of the main Chinese work on the subject, who was not a medical expert but a bank clerk. It seems that the actual Chinese theory of acupuncture is completely consonant with what we know from studying the body. Chi does not refer to some mysterious life force, but to the oxygen carried by the blood, and there is no reference at all to meridian lines, which were a complete fabrication. But please do not use my inadequate explanation to decide whether this is helpful to you, but go read the articles themselves, which are well worth the time spent.

    Patrick Brinton
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    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    I'm not going to expound here (you're welcome, you're welcome) but something I learned early on in my forum days was,
    If you are going to dish it out, you'd better be able to take it.
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