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  1. 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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  3. 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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  5. 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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  7. 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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  9. TopTop #55
    podfish's Avatar
    podfish
     

    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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  11. TopTop #56
    pbrinton's Avatar
    pbrinton
     

    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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  13. TopTop #57
    pbrinton's Avatar
    pbrinton
     

    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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  15. TopTop #58
    SandBar's Avatar
    SandBar
     

    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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  17. 06-10-2011, 08:31 AM
    SandBar

     

    Reason
    dupe

  18. TopTop #59
    pbrinton's Avatar
    pbrinton
     

    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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  20. TopTop #60
    Claire's Avatar
    Claire
     

    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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  22. TopTop #61
    Barry's Avatar
    Barry
    Founder & Moderator

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

    Hi Folks,

    I'm off to Harmony today and Sunday. You're welcome to carry on the acupuncture conversation here for the time being. I intend to create a new category next week along the lines of "Wholistic Health" and I'll split the acupuncture conversation into it.

    If you have any thoughts about the new category regarding its title, focus, or anything else your welcome to post about it in General Community or send me an email.

    I hope to see many of you at the Jubilee!
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  23. TopTop #62
    pbrinton's Avatar
    pbrinton
     

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

    Quote claire ossenbeck wrote: View Post
    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.
    I agree with the sentiment, Claire, but I am curious who your comment is aimed at.

    Patrick Brinton
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  25. TopTop #63
    Hotspring 44's Avatar
    Hotspring 44
     

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

    Quote Barry wrote: View Post
    ....Rather the term delusion is very commonly taken as a personal insult,...
    Yes it is at times....

    Quote Barry wrote: View Post
    ...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"...

    ...But who are the ones which are ultimately responsible for that result?; the one saying using the word "delusion" (Dixon’s semantics in this case) or the one misinterpreting the intent and literal meaning that was actually stated and meant?...

    Quote Barry wrote: View Post
    ...and thus inflammatory,...
    IMHO, inflammatory; only if and/or when the misinterpretations and misunderstanding of intent are excepted as “factual”.... ...Otherwise, (I think) not so in Dixon’s case here....
    ...I think the burden of proof of the alleged “inflammatory way of "speaking"” should rest on the one/s that had the misinterpretation/s as to if they are intended to be as such by the speaker.
    Dixon has stated his positions quite clearly on that.

    Dixon, AFAICT has been explicit enough to be understood (by "reasonable" folks) as not being
    intentionally “inflammatory”; therefore, at this point in time it seems to me that the at Dixon is simply retaliatory towards Dixon’s semantics, therefore the responses towards Dixon have been the ones that are actually much more-so ('supposedly') “inflammatory” than Dixon's apparent, unintended, semantic, inadvertence.



    ... “There's plenty of, dare I say scientific data on this thread”...

    Data yes ...scientifically analyzable data...Yes... ..."scientific data"...:no:Probably, not so “scientific” by itself, or as it is in its raw form.



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  27. TopTop #64
    anathstryx's Avatar
    anathstryx
     

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

    [QUOTE=Dixon;135686]
    Quote anathstryx wrote: View Post
    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?
    Thanks for your obviously well thought out responses, Dixon. I will do my best to reply although, I confess, I would much rather hit the reset button and move on, preferrably to my garden where the plants are rejoicing to the appearance of the sun after such a rainy start to June.

    No, I do not think you are a wacko at all. I think you're a very intelligent person with a passion for what you believe in. I find that to be an admirable trait. I would even go so far to say that I might even enjoy you as a friend but this is just based on seeing your video. I find a lot of contradictions between what I read in your posts and the impression I got from you in the video. But I digress.

    Yes, you might find me to be a wacko. Based on what you have written about New Agers, it's highly probable.

    Yes, I agree that there are plenty of wackos in the world. However, my point was that you said you have never called anyone on Wacco a wacko yet, by implication in the same sentence, you did. My intent was to show you the contradiction. Apparently, I did not suceed.

    Obviously not. Is there some reason you think I should have used a scientific term in that context? Or are you just being sarcastic?
    Yes, I was being mildy sarcastic. I do not use emoticons very often. They annoy the hell out of me although I do understand that they can be somewhat useful in the faceless world of electronic communication.


    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?).


    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?
    I was doing both. I found this to be a case of the pot calling the kettle black. What I would hope from you, or anyone (myself included) is that when we find ourselves critisizing others for their behavior, we acknowledge that we also engage in that behavior and give others the same slack we ourselves would like to be given.

    From my perspective, it seems that rationalists strive to curtail emotion so that it does not cloud logic. To use a popular icon, rather like Spock. I felt that, in the discussion, you were diverting the argument from the rational to the emotional...somewhat a slight of hand of misdirection. This muddies the waters of intellectual discourse. It causes one to get bogged down in subjective entanglements rather than stick to the logical argument. The passive-aggressive trait is to claim victimization rather than confront the fact that one is engaging in victimizing others.

    I was not, however, being sarcastic here. My intent was to emphasize two primary points: 1) Welcome to the club. We all feel sad, scared, and defensive when our belief systems are attacked. You are painfully aware of it and thus should be more sensitive to others when critisizing their belief systems, and 2) by introducing your feelings into the discussion, it diverts it from the topic being debated as I mentioned above.


    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.


    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...?
    I think your quote that I posted speaks for itself and throughout the body of your post entire there are several examples of hubris. You are as capable of returning to the original post and re-examining it as anyone.

    I'll be happy to clarify "posits of rationalism". You maintain that you are a rationalist and you clearly approach topics from that p.o.v., regardless of the context. To sum up my point, I am asking you to be a rationalist when you engage in discussion. Frankly, I would much rather dialog with a rationalist than with someone who lacks the intellectual tools to explore the grand philosophical questions. I would like to see you hone your skills as a rationalist and rise to the occiasions of challenge or inquiry with dignity. Perhaps it's a new path to you and, at times, you have stepped out into unfamiliar territory and what appears to me as failing around is you trying to get your bearings.


    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...
    I acknowledge there was quite a bit of emotion in my post but you should have seen what I edited out! I don't think my critism was exaggerated but I also acknowledge that I probably could have been more thoughtful in my approach. But I did not feel gentle, kind, or sweet at the time. Thank you for the benefit of the doubt. I would prefer to reason with you. I do feel emotional about certain things and I'm content that I do. I am as impassioned about my philosophy as you are about yours. I have no qualms about that nor do I make apologies for it.


    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.
    Yes, absolustic statements are bullshit. You busted me. I have not been present or witnessed every time you have presented your theories and can in no way prove that you always engage in ridicule. I did not mean to imply that you always do this. You'd done it enough times in my mind to bring it up.

    This is an example of "nit-picking" (see below), however. I am reminded of the classic debate between William F. Buckley and John Kenneth Galbraith where, when hitting an impasse, they engaged in critisizing each others grammar. Of course, neither one of us compare to these intellectual giants, so I imagine such forms of muddling around in linguistic entanglements will be more common for us.


    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.
    I don't know where you come up with three examples of this and six or eight examples of the other, Dixon. Is this in some sort of Rules of Engagement? Where do I get a copy of that? They seem arbitrary to me without defining your idea of said rules. Why should I be inclined to abide by them? Why wouldn't one example be sufficient or five rather than six or eight? This may seem facetious on my part but, truely, I'm curious.


    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.
    See my hope for you to hone your skills above. I don't want to be pendantic.


    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?
    Completely! It allows us all to strive for some common ground and understanding.


    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?
    Oh, I try to be diligent about examining my beliefs and discarding those which I think are erroneous because it is through our beliefs that we filter reality and relate and respond to experience. I want to have an authentic life. In fact, I think that is the most important goal of a human being. For me to not discard erroneous beliefs would be a profound disservice to myself! As for others disaggreeing with my beliefs, I do not necessarly think they are wrong and I am right. I don't usually see things so distinctly black and white/right and wrong. When it comes to philosophy, there are no absolutes as you are surely aware. Nor do I hold to one philosophy being more right than another. I prefer to think that each contains useful information that may be applicable toward helping me achieve my own goal of living an authentic life and I'll gratefully apply useful information and discard what is not.

    I like to use the analogy of going to a buffet. At that buffet I have several options of food to choose. If I just eat the chicken because I've become dogmatic about chicken, I'll miss out on the deliciousness and nutritious benefits of all the other options. I've stupidly put self-imposed limits on myself, denying myself a broadening of experience and the potential of enhancing experience. If I stay open to trying everything in the buffet I will, no doubt, encounter foods I will love, foods I will hate, foods that I can take or leave, and so on. Eventually, I'll have a plate of food that satisfies my hunger, and nourishes me. I know it's a simplistic analogy but it speaks on a very visceral level so many can relate.

    In my own community, I have been disparaged by many of my fellows because I have this approach to belief. The term applied to a person that does this is "eclectic". It is frequently a condemnation. But I contend that following strictly a particular tradition in a dogmatic manner is like living in a cage...or being confined to just eating chicken.

    I cannot ever say that my philosophy, which is constructed from parts of many philosophies, is right or wrong for anyone one else no more than I can say that these shoes I'm wearing will fit anyone else. There are far too many variables to take into consideration and, I'm afraid, it would take way too much time for me to elucidate further here.

    When I engage in dialog with others who have a disagreement with my philosophy, my hope is to find some common ground and we can each have a better understanding of where we're coming from. I think it would be a pretty boring, stilted, and deformed world if we all believed the same thing. And I think it would be impossible for us all to believe the same thing anyway, which is a great relief to me.

    However, I do not purposefully seek out the company of people who have radically opposing views to mine because I'm not a masochist. Nor do I wish to only be in the company of those who seem to have the same worldview as I do because that is insular and therefore limiting. I like to be in the company of people who are good-natured, intellectually stimulating, creative, and like cake. I love cake. Do 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?
    You're painting with a broad brush here but you have acknowldged that there are some New Agers who are exceptions to this rule and, I think, I would fall into that category. I am completely comfortable with the scientific tests of critical thinking to correct universal human fallacies. Without belaboring it (or attempting to), I completely agree that science and critical thinking techniques are excellent tools for hacking away fallacies and I, like you, wish more of my fellow New Agers would use them as well as everyone else, and some of everyone else more than others. But, once again, to rely purely on science is limiting. Science is a dynamic mechanism ever evolving. Those things which it cannot yet measure will be measurable in the future. To say that because we cannot quantify something now means it doesn't exist is fallacious. At one time, it was commonly believed that the human sperm was a homunculus and the female womb was a sort of hothouse for this little human to incubate in. This was the accepted scientific position. Clearly, science was wrong. Oh, happy day when Leeuwenhoek was born! So, I say, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy". One needs to stay open to possibilities. Even science needs to be critically assessed at every turn.

    I do not believe that astrology is an exact science and that it has degraded significantly as a type of tool since ancient times into a popular past time somewhat like watching soap operas. I do believe that physical bodies in motion have an effect on other physical bodies to a greater or lesser degree depending on distance and other factors and so I do not discount the possibility that Mars, which moves in a pretty predictable manner, might have some weak effect on me but that's no excuse for me to be careful about how I discuss washing the dishes with my lazy Ares daughter. I don't blame a Mercury retrograde because my car won't start. A Mercury retrograde is an optical illusion. I need a new battery. But if I'm going to cast a spell...and yes, I do from time to time cast spells...I will wait for a moon phase that is appropriate to the spell to enhance it because the moon does indeed have a strong effect on all things fluid and I need all the help I can get. So, I choose to use science as practically as possible in addition to those things which I intuit or seems reasonable to me but have no proofs other than the result.


    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.
    WTF is not at all polite, Dixon. Saying "this is totally incomprehensible to me; please explain." is. Perhaps this is a generational thing, but I would never say WTF and consider it polite even if I was hanging out with skateboarders.


    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?
    I'm tired of it, too. Moving along.

    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.
    This horse needs a decent burial.

    (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)

    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.."
    I don't think your method of pointing out flaws is so flawless in itself that you can claim pointing out someone elses flaws is a gift. Therefore, hubris...excessive self-confidence.

    And then I said: 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.
    Just using your own argument. You are beating people with a an intellectual stick and then, when it's wrestled away from you and you're whacked with the same stick, you cry foul. Just pointing that out.


    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?
    As I confessed way above, I was not feeling soft and sweet. Yes, it is a clever saying. We both seem to agree on that. Let's both work on it, okay?


    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?
    I don't claim to be a rationalist. We've already covered the fact that I have not perused your entire oeuvre.

    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.
    I don't think I was ranting. I thought I was pretty concise.

    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.
    I feel like I'm reading a red-penned note on my essay from my philosophy teacher in freshman philosophy class here, Dixon. I'm not looking for a grade. Yes, I vented on you yesterday. My words were harsh (but much, much softened by editing). I was angry.
    You may characterize me as being abbrasive and huffy if you like because I was being abbrasive and huffy. I had a pretty full on huff going. I allowed emotion to get in the way of reasonable discourse. Mea culpa. I apologize for harshness and huffiness. In future, I will be far more circumspect when you push one of my buttons and I feel compelled to let you know about it. I would hope that in trade, you would also be more circumspect when your "woowoo" button gets pushed.

    My intent was to point out to you that you can dish it out, but you can't take it, Dixon. I was hoping that, as a rational person you would see that and I, as a rational person, could help you see it. Hubris on my part then.

    Perhaps we can both take way from this experience that there are better ways to phrase criticisms that make them constructive rather than destructive. People hold their beliefs passionately and there are no winners when beliefs are attacked. It's not a contest. We can all be guilty of using the same stick to beat each other up. What can we discern from each other's beliefs that are uniting rather than fractious? Is it possible for people with distinctly different belief systems to co-exist harmoniously by seeking common ground rather than berating each other for perceived flaws? I hope so. How can we all push away from the table feeling satisfied and nourished instead of getting into a food fight?

    So, the challenge, I guess, is can you be a damn good rationalist and can I be a damn good New Ager (I'm a Pagan, actually), both of us continuing to hone our respective philosophical tools, and can we meet up and build something worthwhile together? Or should we just say, "WTF' and go have some cake?

    Anathstryx
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  29. TopTop #65
    seanpfister
     

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

    One issue in this thread is a kind of category error. It doesn't make sense to compare "science" with "New Agers". The first is a body of knowledge and methods, which are loosely codified by the community of scientists. The second is "people" who practice or believe in things that are not well codified or bounded. Comparing science and new agers is like comparing classical music and punk rockers (instead of classical music and punk music or fans of classical music and fans of punk music, etc).

    It's probably the case that we don't, in this thread, have a good referent for "new agers"--to show what's included in that category and what isn't. Astrology, channeling, shamanism....? What about yoga and meditation? Is acupuncture new age or not? And of course there's a similar issue with the term science: do we mean only the hard sciences, like physics. All of science? What about theories which have zero to very little evidence, like string theory? Is that science? Should we compare experimentally unsupported scientific beliefs with New Agers.... Seems like a category error to me

    So the thread might be better served if we were to either 1. agree on the beliefs we mean when we say "new age", and then contrast that set of beliefs with "science" or 2 compare new ager people and science-r people. Then we'll know what we're actually discussing
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  31. TopTop #66
    Claire's Avatar
    Claire
     

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

    Quote seanpfister wrote: View Post
    One issue in this thread is a kind of category error. It doesn't make sense to compare "science" with "New Agers". The first is a body of knowledge and methods, which are loosely codified by the community of scientists. The second is "people" who practice or believe in things that are not well codified or bounded. Comparing science and new agers is like comparing classical music and punk rockers (instead of classical music and punk music or fans of classical music and fans of punk music, etc).

    It's probably the case that we don't, in this thread, have a good referent for "new agers"--to show what's included in that category and what isn't. Astrology, channeling, shamanism....? What about yoga and meditation? Is acupuncture new age or not? And of course there's a similar issue with the term science: do we mean only the hard sciences, like physics. All of science? What about theories which have zero to very little evidence, like string theory? Is that science? Should we compare experimentally unsupported scientific beliefs with New Agers.... Seems like a category error to me

    So the thread might be better served if we were to either 1. agree on the beliefs we mean when we say "new age", and then contrast that set of beliefs with "science" or 2 compare new ager people and science-r people. Then we'll know what we're actually discussing
    Excellent points, Sean.
    I would also add that I don't consider myself New Age because I have never fit a particular category, although many of my interests are nonlinear, but not all. I love science and it was my favorite subject all through school along with language arts. People are often multi-dimensional. I'm intuitive and I'm rational and I have had so many nonlinear experiences that they no longer surprise me in the least, however, I still look at them from a skeptical angle, just to keep it interesting and to verify things for myself.

    Now I'm out of here for the day to sit with someone I dearly love in the hospital. If you have your health and mind today consider it a great boon. It's a pity to take such a gift for granted.

    PS And I sure didn't mean to imply that New Agers are not rational. :) I just find labels limiting.
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  33. TopTop #67
    anathstryx's Avatar
    anathstryx
     

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

    Quote seanpfister wrote: View Post
    One issue in this thread is a kind of category error. It doesn't make sense to compare "science" with "New Agers". The first is a body of knowledge and methods, which are loosely codified by the community of scientists. The second is "people" who practice or believe in things that are not well codified or bounded. Comparing science and new agers is like comparing classical music and punk rockers (instead of classical music and punk music or fans of classical music and fans of punk music, etc).

    It's probably the case that we don't, in this thread, have a good referent for "new agers"--to show what's included in that category and what isn't. Astrology, channeling, shamanism....? What about yoga and meditation? Is acupuncture new age or not? And of course there's a similar issue with the term science: do we mean only the hard sciences, like physics. All of science? What about theories which have zero to very little evidence, like string theory? Is that science? Should we compare experimentally unsupported scientific beliefs with New Agers.... Seems like a category error to me

    So the thread might be better served if we were to either 1. agree on the beliefs we mean when we say "new age", and then contrast that set of beliefs with "science" or 2 compare new ager people and science-r people. Then we'll know what we're actually discussing
    I think it's more of a case of the comparison of methods used or not used to sort out so-called fallacies from truths or facts. It could be Mormons, Vendantists or the Hopi Nation, etc., instead of New Agers vs critical thinking (science). The issue is that "people of faith" have belief systems that accept scientifically unsupported phenomena as being factual, i.e, gods, spirits, angels, elves, ghosts, healing energies, and so forth. Since it's been determined that a large community of New Agers both populate the west county and Wacco, they seem to be the group selected for these comparisons.

    Anathstryx
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  35. TopTop #68
    seanpfister
     

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

    Quote anathstryx wrote: View Post
    I think it's more of a case of the comparison of methods used or not used to sort out so-called fallacies from truths or facts. It could be Mormons, Vendantists or the Hopi Nation, etc., instead of New Agers vs critical thinking (science). The issue is that "people of faith" have belief systems that accept scientifically unsupported phenomena as being factual, i.e, gods, spirits, angels, elves, ghosts, healing energies, and so forth. Since it's been determined that a large community of New Agers both populate the west county and Wacco, they seem to be the group selected for these comparisons.
    Many of the belief systems that would probably be categorized as "new age" have formal methods to distinguish truth from fallacy. And, some scientific disciplines appear to not use such methods. As an example of the first, there are systems of meditation that describe in great detail the methods to use and the results that one should expect to achieve. One can check one's results by comparing one's experience against what the books describe. And one can check with other practitioners or teachers to verify, confirm, disallow, etc. As an example of the second, we might consider string theory (which has very little to no experimental basis) or various flavors of scientific materialism.

    When you dig in to either science or "new age", we find that the qualities of the practitioners are very important. Some kinds of "science" are largely taxonomic until someone comes along who can think clearly enough to advance theory. Some kinds of meditative instruction and practice suffer from insufficient grounding in experiment and discovery. But just as it's a mistake to disavow the scientific method because of mistakes made by specific scientists, it's an error to dismiss "new age" methods on the basis of what specific people do. (whatever "new age" might mean)

    So, again, we should talk about the people or talk about specific theories. But comparing the practice of science, as an abstraction, with wacco-ites as a specific set of individuals is a non-starter. Too vague
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  37. TopTop #69
    Glia's Avatar
    Glia
     

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

    Research study reports ALWAYS conclude that more research is needed! That's how researchers stay in business!

    Quote rossmen wrote: View Post
    ... the report conclusion was more research needed, not same as placebo.
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  39. TopTop #70
    Hotspring 44's Avatar
    Hotspring 44
     

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

    It seems to me after reading the last few posts that the term "New Agers" should be/ would be/ is (?) considered a generalization and therefore not all that specific and somewhat distracted and has veered this particular group away from the gist...

    ...even though Dixon has explained in some detail what he was referring to about what he meant when he used the term: "New Agers"; after all is (will be) said (and already thus-far has been said) , the term "New Agers" is still, at the end of the day going to be a generalization that ends-up being somewhat skewed one way or another.

    Dixon, I do empathize with your frustrations and feelings ... (I have had strikingly similar experiences on many occasions) ...and some of the things that you have laid out in regards to your descriptions of the things that (I interpret as bothering (?) you) from the so-called "New Agers".
    That being said, I think there are psychological walls of resistance that exist which will take time, lots of skill, finesse, and patients and (?... ...) to get-through (to most reasonable people anyway) to get beyond the various subjective pejoratives; (perceived, assumed, or implicit;) .
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  41. TopTop #71
    seanpfister
     

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

    Quote Hotspring 44 wrote: View Post
    ...even though Dixon has explained in some detail what he was referring to about what he meant when he used the term: "New Agers"; after all is (will be) said (and already thus-far has been said) , the term "New Agers" is still, at the end of the day going to be a generalization that ends-up being somewhat false
    He described the behavior of New Age people: they don't use rational or scientific methods, they believe that we each have our own truth and so on. We could take out the phrase "new age and' substitute anything else: bad scientist, dogmatic rationalist, unnice people, whatever. It still wouldn't help us contrast scientific method with new age method--because we don't know yet what new age method means. Nor does it help us compare new age people with science-r people, because we don't have any good way which would yield something meaningful.

    Instead we would all have to say something like what you've just said, "I've had unpleasant experiences with a New Age person who refused to listen to reason and was therefore irrational" And some New Ager will say, "I've had an unpleasant experience with a Science-r who refused to listen to how I felt and was therefore insensitive".

    And everybody would be right because--dare I say it?--we can see the rational position is that each would have her own truth in the matter.
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  43. TopTop #72
    Dixon's Avatar
    Dixon
    Supporting Member

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

    Hi, Sean! Thanks for weighing in.

    Quote seanpfister wrote: View Post
    One issue in this thread is a kind of category error. It doesn't make sense to compare "science" with "New Agers". The first is a body of knowledge and methods, which are loosely codified by the community of scientists. The second is "people" who practice or believe in things that are not well codified or bounded. Comparing science and new agers is like comparing classical music and punk rockers (instead of classical music and punk music or fans of classical music and fans of punk music, etc).
    Sean, I haven't noticed myself or anyone here committing the category error you describe, although I could easily be doing it myself without noticing, so this is a situation in which an example or two from you would help. Also, even if what you describe is happening, I'm not sure it would be anything so serious as an actual category error, as opposed to a mere word usage error, which could easily be fixed by (for instance) changing the term "New Agers" to something like "New Age thinking" wherever you see a problem with the usage of the term. I dunno--maybe that is a sort of category error, but it's easily fixed, even in the reader's mind, by just substituting one term for the other as needed.

    It's probably the case that we don't, in this thread, have a good referent for "new agers"--to show what's included in that category and what isn't. Astrology, channeling, shamanism....? What about yoga and meditation? Is acupuncture new age or not? And of course there's a similar issue with the term science: do we mean only the hard sciences, like physics. All of science? What about theories which have zero to very little evidence, like string theory? Is that science?
    As you know, Sean, all concepts are fuzzy around the edges, to varying degrees. This is very true of social movements that include millions of people, all of them individuals, like "science" and, even more so, "New Age culture". If you read my posts carefully, you'll see that I (usually? always?) qualify my generalizations carefully, acknowledging that there will be many exceptions, etc. You're welcome to make a case that any of my generalizations is wrong, but of course, unless a generalization is phrased absolutistically, implying that there are no exceptions (Hi, Anathstryx!), citing some exceptions doesn't invalidate the generalization. Are some "New Agers" more reasonable than some self-described "Rationalists"? Yup. Does that disprove my assertion that Rationalists in general are more reasonable than New Agers in general? Nope.

    Should we compare experimentally unsupported scientific beliefs with New Agers.... Seems like a category error to me
    I'd agree that that's some sort of error; maybe it is a category error. I await an example from you to see if someone (me?) is actually making that error. A more apt comparison might be comparing experimentally unsupported scientific beliefs (such as Einstein's relativity before it was validated by various experiments) with certain New Age beliefs that are not arrived at by correctly reasoning from empirical observations. Or, we could compare "Rationalists" with "New Agers" in terms of their typical assumptions, belief-making strategies and traits relevant to critical thinking--which is what I did in my post #38 in this thread (I think!).

    So the thread might be better served if we were to either 1. agree on the beliefs we mean when we say "new age", and then contrast that set of beliefs with "science" or 2 compare new ager people and science-r people. Then we'll know what we're actually discussing.
    I think I'm pretty much doing both. If you look at my comparison between "Rationalists" and "New Agers" (post #38), I'm comparing lists of their assumptions and reasoning strategies and traits relevant to critical thinking/truth seeking/belief making. Whether or not you agree with the accuracy of my statements, and in spite of the fact that in one place I say "New Age culture" while elsewhere phrasing it as "New Agers tend to...", I think my meanings are all clear--aren't they? Is there really a problem which impacts either the accuracy or clarity of the discourse, or could you be doing what amounts to nit-picking here?
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  44. TopTop #73
    Hotspring 44's Avatar
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    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Quote seanpfister wrote: View Post
    ...And everybody would be right because--dare I say it?--we can see the rational position is that each would have her own truth in the matter.
    That is so "New Age" it's almost a joke!
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  46. TopTop #74
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    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Quote Glia wrote: View Post
    Research study reports ALWAYS conclude that more research is needed! That's how researchers stay in business!
    what a cynical perspective...
    of course it's largely true...

    but anyway, other conclusions to draw when they say "more research needed" include that they've found flaws in the study's methods, or that their conclusions are leading in a direction that wasn't anticipated and the supporting evidence is too weak to support them, though it indicates new directions for research to go.

    it's not the same as saying, "hell, we don't know..."
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  48. TopTop #75
    Claire's Avatar
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    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Quote seanpfister wrote: View Post


    Instead we would all have to say something like what you've just said, "I've had unpleasant experiences with a New Age person who refused to listen to reason and was therefore irrational" And some New Ager will say, "I've had an unpleasant experience with a Science-r who refused to listen to how I felt and was therefore insensitive".

    Wait a minute, on one side is reason and the other is feelings? Did you really mean that?
    There are many reasons I may believe in something out of the norm, but it usually comes from some evidence I think is of worthiness (to me).
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  50. TopTop #76
    seanpfister
     

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

    Quote claire ossenbeck wrote: View Post
    Wait a minute, on one side is reason and the other is feelings? Did you really mean that?
    There are many reasons I may believe in something out of the norm, but it usually comes from some evidence I think is of worthiness (to me).
    I was being facetious.

    This division into people who use reason and people who don't comes from Dixon--the latter, those who don't use reason, are New Agers in his formulation.
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  52. TopTop #77
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    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Quote Dixon wrote: View Post
    If you look at my comparison between "Rationalists" and "New Agers" (post #38), I'm comparing lists of their assumptions and reasoning strategies and traits relevant to critical thinking/truth seeking/belief making. Whether or not you agree with the accuracy of my statements, and in spite of the fact that in one place I say "New Age culture" while elsewhere phrasing it as "New Agers tend to...", I think my meanings are all clear--aren't they? Is there really a problem which impacts either the accuracy or clarity of the discourse, or could you be doing what amounts to nit-picking here?
    The reason I ask what you mean by "new age"--people or culture--is because your list of assumptions and reasoning strategies held by New Agers is mostly a negation of the methods used by Rationalists. So you could just as easily say, "those who use reason do this, those who don't do this other thing." Do you tell us anything more about "New Agers" other than they don't use reason? Not a great deal. So the use of "new age" as a category seems more provocative than useful.

    the more interesting questions, which I believe are implicit in this thread and your other articles, are like this: what are the limits of reason as a mode of ascertaining truth? Is reason the only valid method? If reason/logic has limits, what are they? Are there other modes of ascertaining truth? What limits do they have? How does one know which to use and when? Are these various modes of truth-assessment complementary or opposed?
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  54. TopTop #78
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    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Quote seanpfister wrote: View Post
    " Do you tell us anything more about "New Agers" other than they don't use reason? Not a great deal. So the use of "new age" as a category seems more provocative than useful.
    .
    Amongst a community that is populated with a substantial amount of people that consider themselves to be within the category of being "New Age", of course Dixon's descriptions are provocative. Hopefully more provoking thought towards "truth" and good communication with a healthy dose of critical thinking


    Quote seanpfister wrote: View Post
    the more interesting questions, which I believe are implicit in this thread and your other articles, are like this: what are the limits of reason as a mode of ascertaining truth? Is reason the only valid method? If reason/logic has limits, what are they? Are there other modes of ascertaining truth?...
    ...Are there other modes of ascertaining truth?...
    Mathematics without the psychological bull-shit is one I can think of just off the top of my head.

    Quote seanpfister wrote: View Post
    ...What limits do they have?...
    I think as knowledge increases, the limits change therefore, the answer to that question hinges on the knowledge that is "reasonable" with the people in a particular group.

    Quote seanpfister wrote: View Post
    How does one know which to use and when?
    As with all things with exploration, sometimes someone just has to go-for-it.

    Quote seanpfister wrote: View Post
    Are these various modes of truth-assessment complementary or opposed?
    I think, yes, no and sometimes to both; that all depends on the people involved and the topic/s.
    Last edited by Barry; 06-13-2011 at 10:10 AM.
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  56. TopTop #79
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    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    All of these observations have merit.

    But seriously, have you ever read a study that concluded with something along the lines of "we now know exactly what is going on here and have solved the problem. Next we are going to try using this conclusion to do implement useful work." ??

    Quote podfish wrote: View Post
    what a cynical perspective...
    of course it's largely true...

    but anyway, other conclusions to draw when they say "more research needed" include that they've found flaws in the study's methods, or that their conclusions are leading in a direction that wasn't anticipated and the supporting evidence is too weak to support them, though it indicates new directions for research to go.

    it's not the same as saying, "hell, we don't know..."
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  57. TopTop #80
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    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Quote Glia wrote: View Post
    But seriously, have you ever read a study that concluded with something along the lines of "we now know exactly what is going on here and have solved the problem. Next we are going to try using this conclusion to do implement useful work." ??
    That’s a somewhat subjective question.
    How many people here actually read many actual studies in their entirety in the first place?

    Anyway, my personal answer to whether or not, I have read a substantial amount of studies (or even a single one that I could enumerate specifically for that matter) is: no, I have not read any actual “study” to conclude one way or the other based purely on the “study” itself.... ... have you Glia? Could you name one “study” specifically?
    I'm not in my question, referring to an article in a newspaper or on the internet about a particular "study"; (or) the conclusions or the preface of a particular study, but I am referring to the actual whole, complete study in it's entirety, in a knowledgeable sense as one whom is educated in that specific field of that study; not like somebody reading a book just for the sake of reading the book and remembering the end note, which may say, in essence; “needs more study” to answer new questions that came-up in that study.

    It seems to me it would be reasonable to answer that double question along the lines of the generalized knowledge we (in my case the knowledge that I) do have to answer yes to the second half of the two-part question.
    It seems logical to me that Otherwise, Homo sapiens (or whatever would have been otherwise) would still likely be “cave” people at best!
    There would not be automobiles, transoceanic shipping, airplanes, trains, satellite communications, computers etc. unless of course some other species evolved to that instead of us but I am getting too far off topic.

    That being said, the use of automobiles, transoceanic shipping, airplanes, trains, satellite communications, computers etc have their own issues that are causing present and future problems which will inevitably end up needing studies to solve. But that's another story and does not really change the (yes) answer to the second half of the double question above regarding using conclusions based on studies (a “study”) which have (did) actually get used for the implementation of actual “useful work”; (automobiles, transoceanic shipping, airplanes, trains, satellite communications, computers etc).
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  59. TopTop #81
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    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    MY RESPONSE TO ANATHSTRYX'S LATEST SCREED--Part 1 of 2:

    Quote anathstryx wrote: View Post
    Yes, I agree that there are plenty of wackos in the world.
    Thanks for your honesty. I think we all consider someone to be a wacko, though not all would use that term. I'm honest enough to say that sort of thing, which sometimes makes me a target for outrage--often abusively expressed--rather than the sort of constructive discussion I'm always trying to spark. I wish everyone who thinks I'm a wacko would be as honest and straightforward as me and say it to me, so we could hopefully have a dialogue through which I could either have my wacko-ness corrected or show them that I'm not wacko after all.:whackasmilie: That's the kind of result I seek when I say provocative things.

    However, my point was that you said you have never called anyone on Wacco a wacko yet...
    And do you see that it was true when I said it?

    ...by implication in the same sentence, you did. My intent was to show you the contradiction.
    I can see how my wording made it seem contradictory, and I'm sorry for any confusion that caused. I meant to convey that I'd never 'til then used the term, and then mentioned that there were many who qualify as wackos, without specifying anyone. I was hoping to get some credit for the considerable self-restraint I've employed, when people have expressed the wackiest beliefs without the slightest logical support, by not calling them wackos or similar terms. I think it's more "provocative" to directly call some individual a wacko than to assert in a general sense that there are plenty of them around (an assertion with which you agree). I hope you get that distinction now and, again, I apologize for the initial unclarity.

    Yes, I was being mildy sarcastic.
    Thanks for acknowledging that.

    (Anathstryx then responds to this quote from my previous post: "Are you trying to be helpful in some way, or just slapping me around a bit?")
    I was doing both.
    Thanks for acknowledging that.

    I found this to be a case of the pot calling the kettle black.
    It's not clear what specific behavior you're referring to here. Clarification would help.

    What I would hope from you, or anyone (myself included) is that when we find ourselves critisizing others for their behavior, we acknowledge that we also engage in that behavior and give others the same slack we ourselves would like to be given.
    I totally agree, Anathstryx, but it's not clear to me that I haven't been following that dictum pretty consistently. If you can point out an example or two of my criticizing others for some behavior I also do without acknowledging that, I'll be happy to look at it and respond in some constructive way. Until then, I hope you can see that it's just another instance of your making a criticism without giving any reason to believe it's true.

    From my perspective, it seems that rationalists strive to curtail emotion so that it does not cloud logic. To use a popular icon, rather like Spock.
    I'm glad you mention this rather insulting, and mostly inaccurate, stereotype of rationalists. Spock is an example of someone whose inability to relate to others' emotions constitutes an impairment in his social functioning. The nearest non-fictional analog would be a person with the mild form of autism known as Asperger's Syndrome. While folks with Asperger's would probably feel more comfortable with rationalists than with New Agers, and may therefore be somewhat over-represented in the ranks of rationalists, the vast majority of rationalists aren't like that.

    Rationalists do their best to set aside their emotions and consider the facts as dispassionately and objectively as possible when assessing truth-claims about objective reality, so the emotions don't impair the reasoning process. It's a way of avoiding self-centered reasoning, among other fallacies. This does not imply that rationalists are impaired in the emotional realm. Their emotional lives are just as rich, broad and deep as anyone else's; they just know the importance of not letting their feelings screw up their reasoning. Similar insulting stereotypes of rationalists are that they lack imagination, creativity, intuition, etc. All of that is insulting and untrue. If you think otherwise, maybe I should send you some of my poetry.

    I felt that, in the discussion, you were diverting the argument from the rational to the emotional...somewhat a slight of hand of misdirection.
    I gave you the good reasons I wrote about my feelings, and now you ignore those good reasons to make an unfounded and insulting claim about my motivation. I hope the people who have been haranguing me about my supposed nastiness are noticing all these things you're doing, Anathstryx. But somehow, they don't criticize you when you pull this kind of shit.

    This muddies the waters of intellectual discourse. It causes one to get bogged down in subjective entanglements rather than stick to the logical argument.
    You're confusing talking about feelings with actually getting caught up in those feelings, Anathstryx. Those are two very different things. In fact, sometimes, in order to reason properly, we must look at and talk about our feelings, if only to see whether they're distorting our reasoning in some way. If you had attended a bit more to your feelings when writing your previous rant, perhaps it wouldn't have been filled with sarcastic, emotional spew, of which you were too unaware at the time to edit it out. Note also that if I express no feelings, people will write me off as a Spock-like emotion-impaired rationalist, but if I mention my relevant feelings, I get fallaciously lambasted by you for it. I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't.

    The passive-aggressive trait is to claim victimization rather than confront the fact that one is engaging in victimizing others.
    The two aren't mutually exclusive; both could be happening in any case. Anyway, I've acknowledged repeatedly that I may be a little more sharp-tongued than necessary sometimes and that I'm trying to improve in that area, while not one single person among those who've been attacking me has acknowledged any problems with their behavior at all. No one has said "Gee, maybe I bear some responsibility for Dixon's frustration because of my utter, rigid closed-mindedness about the beliefs he's critiquing", or "Hey, maybe some of the things I've said about Dixon are inaccurate, insulting attacks", or "I guess I did grossly misinterpret what Dixon said, assuming negative intentions on his part so I could join the fun of attacking him. Maybe I should think about why I feel so threatened by him that I want to beat him up." The only (partial) exception is you, Anathstryx. You have, when confronted by me, admitted to being sarcastic and to "slapping me around", though without any expression of remorse nor any indication that you'll try to do better. None of my other critics, including those who expressed their delight in seeing you slap me around by giving you Gratitudes for it, have criticized you for being much rougher on me than I've ever been on anyone.

    ...Welcome to the club. We all feel sad, scared, and defensive when our belief systems are attacked. You are painfully aware of it and thus should be more sensitive to others when critisizing their belief systems.
    Here you miss one of my main points. I'm not sad, scared and defensive about my belief systems being attacked; I'm feeling that way because I'm being attacked with inaccurate or exaggerated accusations; needlessly negative, unfounded assumptions about my motivations; etc. That's a huge difference between most of what I'm calling Rationalists and most of what I'm calling New Agers: taking an attack on one's beliefs as an attack on the person who holds those beliefs. Most New Agers take that position, and it's a position of closed-mindedness. I take the open-minded, rationalistic position: Please attack my beliefs, not in a snotty way, but with rational arguments that will show me if I'm wrong! Pin me down, don't let me wriggle away, bust through my evasions, demolish my fallacious arguments, and show me the truth, even if it's an unpleasant truth! That's where I'm coming from, and that's the genesis of most of the ire on this thread--not that I'm abusing anybody, but that I'm telling them they're probably wrong about some belief they're addicted to, and they call that a personal attack so they can invalidate me as a mean guy, thus evading opening up to the possibility that they may be mistaken.

    ...by introducing your feelings into the discussion, it diverts it from the topic being debated as I mentioned above.
    I haven't discussed feelings in any way that diverts from the topic, only in relevant ways. See again my previous explanation for why I brought up my feelings in the first place.

    (Anathstryx then responds to my insistence that she make a case for my accusation that I'm afflicted with hubris)
    I think your quote that I posted speaks for itself and throughout the body of your post entire there are several examples of hubris. You are as capable of returning to the original post and re-examining it as anyone.
    As I've already said, I see no hubris in that quote. It's clear that I do feel that I have something to offer in terms of helping people see what's likely to be true and what false. I have more education, talent and experience than most in terms of distinguishing good from bad evidence, rooting out fallacies, etc. This is not the same as saying that I'm perfect, infallible, the best critical thinker in town, or a better person than anyone else. It's simply a (true) claim about my skills and talents, just as someone might claim to be a good cook, musician or dancer (BTW, I'm a pretty good dancer too). That ain't hubris, Anathstryx. So, if you think there's some hubris there that I'm not seeing, you are responsible to explicate that clearly or, failing that, to retract your accusation of hubris.

    I'll be happy to clarify "posits of rationalism". You maintain that you are a rationalist and you clearly approach topics from that p.o.v., regardless of the context. To sum up my point, I am asking you to be a rationalist when you engage in discussion. Frankly, I would much rather dialog with a rationalist than with someone who lacks the intellectual tools to explore the grand philosophical questions. I would like to see you hone your skills as a rationalist and rise to the occiasions of challenge or inquiry with dignity. Perhaps it's a new path to you and, at times, you have stepped out into unfamiliar territory and what appears to me as failing around is you trying to get your bearings.
    Here I'm gonna resist the temptation to specifically list your errors in logic and challenge you to list mine by way of comparison; playing "more rational than thou" is not constructive. I've acknowledged repeatedly many times, including in this thread, that I'm far from perfect and always will be--something we have yet to see you acknowledge about yourself. I'm always trying to hone my reasoning skills and I hope you can see that my interaction with you constitutes an example of that. But you're saying that I pretty much fail to be a rationalist at all. The only evidence you've given so far is a litany of accusations without evidence. I'm still open to looking at your evidence--maybe there'll be some coming from you shortly?--but, until we see some, who is it that's falling short of being rational? In this connection, please note that I can always provide examples to back up any criticisms I make, or will publicly retract the criticism. You have yet to meet that standard.

    I acknowledge there was quite a bit of emotion in my post but you should have seen what I edited out!
    I'm often tempted to say that very thing when criticized for something I've said, but I usually don't, because ultimately we're responsible for what we say and how we say it. But since you bring it up, I too practice considerable self-restraint in my public pronouncements; for every thing I say that pisses someone off, I've edited out ten or twenty stronger statements! But we get no credit for that, do we?

    I don't think my critism was exaggerated but I also acknowledge that I probably could have been more thoughtful in my approach. But I did not feel gentle, kind, or sweet at the time. Thank you for the benefit of the doubt. I would prefer to reason with you. I do feel emotional about certain things and I'm content that I do. I am as impassioned about my philosophy as you are about yours. I have no qualms about that nor do I make apologies for it.
    So, you acknowledge being sarcastic and "slapping me around", among other things, but you see no need for any apologies nor even qualms. Now what exactly is it you're asking me to do, and why? To apologize or express remorse for things I've said to others that were less nasty than how you've been treating me? And, to those of you who've been delighted to watch Anathstryx and others slap me around, and who have done so yourselves, please explain how you're not hypocrites.

    Yes, absolustic statements are bullshit. You busted me.
    Thanks for your honesty.

    I have not been present or witnessed every time you have presented your theories and can in no way prove that you always engage in ridicule.
    You're not stating it strongly enough. Even if you only look at my posts on this one thread, you will find it not even remotely true that I always engage in ridicule.

    I did not mean to imply that you always do this.
    You didn't just imply it; you flat-out said it.

    You'd done it enough times in my mind to bring it up.
    So it should be easy to present at least one example. Where is it? If you're one-tenth the rational reasoner you seem to think you are, I shouldn't have to ask you repeatedly for examples, should I?

    This is an example of "nit-picking" (see below), however. I am reminded of the classic debate between William F. Buckley and John Kenneth Galbraith where, when hitting an impasse, they engaged in critisizing each others grammar. Of course, neither one of us compare to these intellectual giants...
    I would argue that if they're so immature as to slide into (irrelevant?) criticism of one another's grammar, they probably don't qualify as "intellectual giants". But you're saying that my challenging your absolutism is "nit-picking", on par with a triviality like criticizing your grammar? Really? You see no substantial difference between accusing someone of occasionally doing some bad thing and accusing them of always doing so? If you think that's nit-picking, maybe I should point out your misspellings, just to give an example of what nit-picking really is so you can see the difference. Sorry, Anathstryx--your attempt to minimize the offensive seriousness of your exaggerated, absolutistic accusations by characterizing my challenge of them as "nit-picking" will not do as an example of nit-picking. You need to come up with an example of real nit-picking or retract that accusation.

    I don't know where you come up with three examples of this and six or eight examples of the other, Dixon. (etc. etc.)
    The point is that any accusation, to be reasonable, requires that you can provide at least one example (and it has to be a real example, not a bogus one like your "example" of nit-picking above). My usual wording was "an example or two". The only time I asked for more was in response to your claiming that I always did such-and-such. There, I was being easy on you by demanding 6 or 8 examples; strictly speaking, I should have demanded that you demonstrate that there were no exceptions. Fair enough?

    (Anathstryx then reproduces this quote from me:) "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."
    See my hope for you to hone your skills above.
    Let's see if I can interpret this vague answer. Are you saying that because, like all humans, my reasoning is imperfect, that means I'm not abiding by my philosophy? Please clarify or retract the accusation.

    I don't want to be pendantic.
    Again, it's unclear what you're trying to say vis-a-vis the current discussion. Are you saying that you could make a case that I'm not abiding by my philosophy, but you won't because that would be "pendantic" [sic]? Clarify, please.

    ...For me to not discard erroneous beliefs would be a profound disservice to myself! As for others disaggreeing with my beliefs, I do not necessarly think they are wrong and I am right. I don't usually see things so distinctly black and white/right and wrong.
    If your belief is right, and they say it's not, at least one of you must be wrong. Flat earthers and Nazis, just to give a couple of obvious examples, are almost certainly wrong. Surely you don't think it's mistaken or somehow "aggressive" or domineering to assert that some beliefs are wrong, as long as you're open to being proven wrong yourself?

    ...Nor do I hold to one philosophy being more right than another.
    This is manifestly untrue. You have a philosophy, maybe several, and to accept any philosophy or belief implies that those beliefs that are mutually exclusive with it (like flat earth versus roundish earth) must be wrong. This is not contradicted by the fact that a philosophy composed of many claims may have a few true claims amongst the false ones. So, like everyone, whether or not they even think consciously about philosophies, you do in fact "...hold to one philosophy being more right than another." The popular New Age dictum that "Everyone has their own truth" is a dishonest cop-out; see my Wacco article "Reality Is Real--Really!" for my explication of these ideas, then please correct me on that thread if I'm mistaken.

    I prefer to think that each contains useful information that may be applicable toward helping me achieve my own goal of living an authentic life and I'll gratefully apply useful information and discard what is not.
    Again, the fact that some mistaken philosophy may have a few truths mixed in with the bullshit does not mean the philosophy as a whole is right, nor that all philosophies are equal.

    I like to use the analogy of going to a buffet. At that buffet I have several options of food to choose. If I just eat the chicken because I've become dogmatic about chicken, I'll miss out on the deliciousness and nutritious benefits of all the other options. I've stupidly put self-imposed limits on myself, denying myself a broadening of experience and the potential of enhancing experience. If I stay open to trying everything in the buffet I will, no doubt, encounter foods I will love, foods I will hate, foods that I can take or leave, and so on. Eventually, I'll have a plate of food that satisfies my hunger, and nourishes me. I know it's a simplistic analogy but it speaks on a very visceral level so many can relate.
    It's a perfectly good analogy which implies, I think, that instead of dismissing or accepting a whole philosophy with one stroke, we must assess each individual claim (of which a philosophy may contain hundreds) on its own merits. I totally agree. But again, note that this doesn't mean that all philosophies are anywhere near equal. Note also that to say a belief "satisfies your hunger" or "nourishes" you may mean that it meets your needs in spite of being untrue. The question then becomes "Is your agenda to discover the truth whether or not it meets your needs, or to construct and defend a belief system which 'satisfies your hunger' even if it's superstition?"

    In my own community, I have been disparaged by many of my fellows because I have this approach to belief. The term applied to a person that does this is "eclectic". It is frequently a condemnation. But I contend that following strictly a particular tradition in a dogmatic manner is like living in a cage...or being confined to just eating chicken.
    I agree with you about the virtues of eclecticism versus doctrinaire dogmatism! My influences have ranged from the critical thinking and skeptical movements to Bucky Fuller, the Tao Te Ching, Alan Watts, Carl Rogers, political revolutionaries and psychedelic consciousness. The important thing when picking and choosing beliefs from all those presented in the "marketplace" is to have reasonable criteria for sorting the wheat from the chaff.

    I cannot ever say that my philosophy, which is constructed from parts of many philosophies, is right or wrong for anyone one else no more than I can say that these shoes I'm wearing will fit anyone else. There are far too many variables to take into consideration and, I'm afraid, it would take way too much time for me to elucidate further here.
    The comparison of philosophies to shoes that fit is not an apt analogy. If you're talking about truth claims about the objective universe, as opposed to subjective preferences, some will be demonstrably right, others wrong, while for others it may be more complicated than that, or there may be insufficient data, etc. Surely your hotly emotional arguing with me shows that you do believe it's possible to be objectively right or wrong about things, so let's not slide into that "Everyone has their own truth" cop-out.

    When I engage in dialog with others who have a disagreement with my philosophy, my hope is to find some common ground and we can each have a better understanding of where we're coming from.
    That's part of what I want too, but I also want more: I want an argument to be a collaborative effort to get better approximations of the truth. I don't care about the ego trip of whether I was wrong, or the other person was, or we both were, or in some sense were both right. It's not about who's right; it's about what's true (and therefore, it's equally about what isn't true). That process increases the chance that we can actually end up honestly agreeing with each other, instead of just accepting our differences with no ultimate chance of agreement.

    I think it would be a pretty boring, stilted, and deformed world if we all believed the same thing. And I think it would be impossible for us all to believe the same thing anyway, which is a great relief to me.
    I don't think we're in any danger of all believing the same thing any time soon, LOL! But wouldn't we have a better world with less fallacy, fraud and superstition and more truth?

    However, I do not purposefully seek out the company of people who have radically opposing views to mine because I'm not a masochist. Nor do I wish to only be in the company of those who seem to have the same worldview as I do because that is insular and therefore limiting. I like to be in the company of people who are good-natured, intellectually stimulating, creative, and like cake. I love cake. Do you?
    Some kinds, but I'm trying to lose some weight. Are you trying to be a bad influence on me?

    ...But, once again, to rely purely on science is limiting.
    A sweeping statement that would require explication if I (or anybody) were to assess whether it's true or just another excuse to ignore science so people can believe whatever superstition they like.

    Those things which it cannot yet measure will be measurable in the future.
    Some of them will, and some of them will turn out to be non-existent, just superstition. Agreed? Furthermore, until reasonable evidence is adduced for these various "things", the greatest likelihood is that they don't really exist. The burden of proof is on the claimant. It's not incumbent on skeptics to disprove something or accept it; it's incumbent on the claimant to prove it or stop claiming it. Fair enough?

    END OF PART ONE (THIS WAS TOO LONG TO WORK AS ONE POST). THE CONCLUSION FOLLOWS IMMEDIATELY--
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  61. TopTop #82
    Dixon's Avatar
    Dixon
    Supporting Member

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

    MY RESPONSE TO ANATHSTRYX'S LATEST SCREED--Conclusion

    Anathstryx said:
    To say that because we cannot quantify something now means it doesn't exist is fallacious.
    Ironically, this statement of yours is itself fallacious. Not that it isn't true, but your saying it in this context implies that science or rationalists or somebody is taking that position--but nobody is! So your statement is an example of the "straw man" (I prefer the gender-neutral term "straw figure") fallacy; you're distorting the position of science into something less reasonable, then attacking that. No scientist worth his/her salt would say "because we cannot quantify something now means it doesn't exist". A scientific statement would be more like "A claim which is insufficiently supported by evidence is probably false." Note that this statement leaves room for the occasional exception, while still leaving the burden of proof where it belongs--on the claimant.

    At one time, it was commonly believed that the human sperm was a homunculus and the female womb was a sort of hothouse for this little human to incubate in. This was the accepted scientific position. Clearly, science was wrong.
    Now you indulge in a typical New Agey fallacious attack on science. You cite its fallibility as if to imply that that somehow invalidates it or that it means that some unspecified other option is somehow therefore valid. Do you see that that's fallacious? In doing so, you ignore the obvious good implication about science--that every time it admits to being wrong about something, it is self-correcting, which is the "secret" of its success. Such self-correction is almost entirely absent in most (all?) "spiritual", paranormal, "New Age" beliefs.

    So, I say, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy".
    Instead of directing that quote toward science and rationalists, who already understand that, you'd do well to look into your bathroom mirror and say it, then repeat it to your closed-minded astrologer, "shaman", and alternative "healer" friends.

    One needs to stay open to possibilities.
    Well, duh!!! It's really kind of insulting that you'd even say that, as if you imagine I'm not. You know, Anathstryx, I've changed from being a Mormon to a Christian fundamentalist to something of a New Ager (yes!) to whatever I am now. Does that flexibility sound like someone who's not open to possibilities? Contrast me with your friends who are utterly closed to the possibility that they may be mistaken in their beliefs about astrology, god, channeling, the "magic" nature of the number three, or whatever. Why don't you give that openness advice to those who really need it?

    Even science needs to be critically assessed at every turn.
    Fer chrissakes, Anathstryx, what do you think they're doing??? Everything from their basic assumptions to the findings of every experiment is constantly critically assessed--that's science! In contrast, do you imagine that the proponents of your various New Age beliefs are critically assessing anything? This is one maddening thing I keep on hearing from New Agers--an exhortation to be open-minded (as if I'm not) from people who haven't shown the slightest iota of open-mindedness themselves!

    I do not believe that astrology is an exact science and that it has degraded significantly as a type of tool since ancient times into a popular past time somewhat like watching soap operas. I do believe that physical bodies in motion have an effect on other physical bodies to a greater or lesser degree depending on distance and other factors and so I do not discount the possibility that Mars, which moves in a pretty predictable manner, might have some weak effect on me but that's no excuse for me to be careful about how I discuss washing the dishes with my lazy Ares daughter. I don't blame a Mercury retrograde because my car won't start. A Mercury retrograde is an optical illusion. I need a new battery.
    Astrology is one of the most thoroughly and repeatedly disproven beliefs ever. Are you open to the possibility that the astrological hypothesis is just plain wrong?

    But if I'm going to cast a spell...and yes, I do from time to time cast spells...I will wait for a moon phase that is appropriate to the spell to enhance it because the moon does indeed have a strong effect on all things fluid and I need all the help I can get.
    That's an example of a common superstition, a variation of which I've believed too! When I used to work in a mental hospital, I believed in the "lunar effect"; I thought that the psychotics on the ward were crazier when the moon was full. I attributed it to a greater gravitational pull on the water in the brain when the moon was full. Imagine how embarrassed I was when I realized that the moon's phases have nothing to do with its degree of gravitational pull on us! It's true that the moon's pull on us is very slightly greater when it's closer in its orbit, and less when it's further away, but that has nothing to do with moon phase, which is a whole different thing. Furthermore, since gravitation decreases exponentially with distance, the moon's effect on us is infinitesimally tiny. An average-sized book held at arm's length exerts about a billion times stronger gravitational pull on you than the moon does! (The moon does exert a substantial enough pull on the ocean, and even really huge lakes, to create tides, but that's because those bodies of water present a much larger square area to be affected by the moon's pull--that's different from us.) So you see, any lunar gravitational effect on things as small as humans would be drowned out by the hugely bigger gravitational effects of the people, furniture and objects around you! Certain animals have natural rhythms that coincide with moon phases, probably because of the difference in illumination. But does human behavior correlate with moon phases? Apparently not. Studies have looked for correlations between any moon phase and everything from deaths, injuries and crime to accidents (vehicular, maritime and industrial) with negative results, last I knew.

    So why did it look to me like there was more craziness on the ward when the moon was full? Simple--the confirmation bias! That same ol' universal fallacy that causes people to "prove", for instance, that the number three is special by noticing instances of threeness and ignoring or minimizing other numbers. In my case, I'd notice and remember when the moon was full and the ward was extra-crazy (and exaggerate my perception of the degree of craziness when I knew the moon was full), and also notice when the ward was calm and the moon not full. But I would not notice, or just forget about, when the moon was full and the ward was calm, or when the moon wasn't full and the ward was wild. That's the confirmation bias--accentuate the "positive" (evidence for the desired belief) and eliminate the "negative" (disconfirming evidence). And Anathstryx, I'd be willing to bet that the confirmation bias would explain your perception that your spells work, too--though I'd be happy to have you prove me wrong.

    So, I choose to use science as practically as possible in addition to those things which I intuit or seems reasonable to me but have no proofs other than the result.
    Regarding any particular belief, are you open to the possibility that it's mistaken, based on misinterpretation of your experience? Open to the possibility that what seems like "results" of your spells, for instance, may be imagined, exaggerated, or caused by something other than the spell?

    WTF is not at all polite, Dixon. Saying "this is totally incomprehensible to me; please explain." is. Perhaps this is a generational thing, but I would never say WTF and consider it polite even if I was hanging out with skateboarders.
    This is a statement about your interpretation of the term "WTF", not about my intended meaning. Since I've already clarified my intended meaning, I don't understand why you consider it relevant to mention it again.

    (Re: the big flap around people's misinterpretation of my use of the word "delusion", Anathstryx says:)
    This horse needs a decent burial.
    Well hey--that's what I've been saying since before you harangued me about it!

    I don't think your method of pointing out flaws is so flawless in itself that you can claim pointing out someone elses flaws is a gift. Therefore, hubris...excessive self-confidence.
    Again, a general criticism without an example. And again, it requires an example of some flawed way I've pointed out flaws, or a retraction. I shouldn't have to keep mentioning this, should I?

    And then I said: It could be just as easily said that your discomfort with we New Agers is a measure of your closed-mindedness.
    Just using your own argument. You are beating people with a an intellectual stick and then, when it's wrestled away from you and you're whacked with the same stick, you cry foul. Just pointing that out.
    So I ask for an example of my supposed closed-mindedness, and not only do you fail to give one, but you respond with another general accusation (that I'm "beating people with a an intellectual stick", whatever that means ), which itself requires an example, which of course you don't provide. So now we need at least one example of my "closed-mindedness" and one of my "beating people with an intellectual stick". Fair enough?

    I don't claim to be a rationalist. We've already covered the fact that I have not perused your entire oeuvre.
    I see. You'll harangue me about every (mis)perceived fallacy you think I've committed, snipe about how I supposedly fall short of being reasonable while obviously feeling you're doing better, then when I mention some criticism you can't deny, your escape hatch is "I don't claim to be a rationalist."

    I don't think I was ranting.
    Well, you've admitted to sarcasm and to "slapping me around", and your previous post is clearly far more of a "diatribe" than probably anything I've ever written, but it's not ranting, eh? Clearly the level of introspection and self-criticism you're asking from me (and getting!) is more than you yourself are willing to give.

    I feel like I'm reading a red-penned note on my essay from my philosophy teacher in freshman philosophy class here, Dixon. I'm not looking for a grade.
    What kind of response do you expect to a sarcastic, harsh, "slapping around" diatribe such as yours that I was responding to? You deserved a shitstorm of a response, and instead got a gentle, open-minded one--much nicer than you were asking for, in which I ask for you to support your accusations. Now you criticize me for that? Anathstryx, this is beyond the fucking pale! You should be ashamed of yourself. This is one of those cases where a WTF? would be thoroughly appropriate. You need to make a case that there was something wrong with my response, or apologize.

    Yes, I vented on you yesterday. My words were harsh (but much, much softened by editing). I was angry.
    You may characterize me as being abbrasive and huffy if you like because I was being abbrasive and huffy. I had a pretty full on huff going. I allowed emotion to get in the way of reasonable discourse. Mea culpa. I apologize for harshness and huffiness. In future, I will be far more circumspect when you push one of my buttons and I feel compelled to let you know about it.
    Thank you for your openness to being corrected on this. I can empathize with your situation.

    I would hope that in trade, you would also be more circumspect when your "woowoo" button gets pushed.
    Once again, we have an obvious need for an example of my doing it badly.

    My intent was to point out to you that you can dish it out, but you can't take it, Dixon.
    Again, I'm open to your criticism, but I need at least one example of my "dishing it out" (whatever that means) and one of my not being able to take it. Fair enough?

    I was hoping that, as a rational person you would see that and I, as a rational person, could help you see it.
    How can I see things when you refuse to give any examples for me to look at, even when I'm practically begging you for them????

    Hubris on my part then.
    I appreciate your attempt at some self-criticism.

    ...People hold their beliefs passionately and there are no winners when beliefs are attacked.
    Not true. Again, an attack on a belief is not an attack on the person. If the people involved are open-minded, attacks (challenges, critiques) on beliefs can be a win-win situation, with everyone involved getting a better view of the truth regardless of who's wrong or right. It's only when people are closed-minded, rigidly defended, armored, that an attack on a belief is perceived as a personal attack and hurtful defensive processes are set in motion. Much of what you've said has constituted attacks on my beliefs, Anathstryx. Should I be angry? Should I call you aggressive, domineering, a tyrant? Should I write a rant in which I accuse you of numerous sins without giving any examples to support my accusations? Should I write a letter of complaint to Barry?

    It's not a contest.
    Exactly! That's one of my main points! It's not about engaging in argument to "beat" someone. It's about engaging with those who see things differently so we can help each other figure out what's likely to be true and what isn't. That involves shooting down others' beliefs if they're not well supported, accepting when ours our reasonably shot down, and being as willing to change from the process as we want the other person to be. But mostly I'm not encountering that kind of reasonableness--and it's not because of some evil power mean ol' Dixon has to change open-minded people to closed-minded ones. It's because they're determined not to lose these lovely woowoo beliefs they're addicted to.

    We can all be guilty of using the same stick to beat each other up.
    I eagerly await at least one example of my "beating someone with a stick".

    What can we discern from each other's beliefs that are uniting rather than fractious?
    As I've suggested, a process of mutual belief-critique in which we help each other correct our fallacies often results in people who had disagreed being able to agree. Contrast this with the New Age dictum "Everyone has their own truth" which results in a shallow, polite, inhibited socializing which will never allow us to honestly engage around our differences, and never allow us to be corrected by those who disagree with us.

    Is it possible for people with distinctly different belief systems to co-exist harmoniously by seeking common ground rather than berating each other for perceived flaws?
    If you think I've been berating anyone for their perceived flaws rather than criticizing flaws in their thinking--again, it's example time! If anyone could be described as berating someone for their perceived flaws--well, just look back on your previous diatribe, Anathstryx.

    How can we all push away from the table feeling satisfied and nourished instead of getting into a food fight?
    Ha ha! I love that analogy! If feeling satisfied and nourished means being able to keep our pleasant illusions, superstitions, and yes, delusions, I hope the answer is No--let's get beyond that bullshit into an era of truth-seeking. If feeling satisfied and nourished is because we've engaged in a challenging, reasonable search for truth regardless of what silly beliefs have had to fall by the wayside, then Yes, let's go for it!

    So, the challenge, I guess, is can you be a damn good rationalist
    I'm doing my imperfect best and hopefully improving with experience. I'll tell you one thing: trying to bring rational critique to a New Age hotbed like WaccoBB is a baptism of fire!

    ...and can I be a damn good New Ager (I'm a Pagan, actually)
    If that means closed-mindedly defending some superstitious belief(s), and in my experience, it usually does, I urge you to drop that agenda and go for enlightenment instead.

    IN SUMMARY: Your first attack on me, Anathstryx, included ten accusations, expressed in general terms without examples. These were:
    1. Passive-aggression
    2. Hubris
    3. Hypocrisy
    4. Ridiculing people (every time I present my theories!)
    5. Nit-picking
    6. Chest-thumping
    7. "essentially throwing rationalism right out the window"
    8. Not abiding by my philosophy
    9. Closed-mindedness
    10. Engaging in diatribe (every time!)

    As you know, a basic tenet of both reason and civility is that if you accuse someone of something, especially publicly, you either give evidence or retract the accusation. Let's see how you did on these ten accusations: To your credit, you retracted your absolutistic statements about my always ridiculing people and engaging in diatribe, but didn't retract the accusation that I do those things sometimes. As far as examples go, you gave two bogus examples, one of supposed nit-picking and one of supposed passive-aggression, both of which I refuted. So your score is: ten accusations, zero valid examples (for eight of the ten accusations you didn't even try to give an example).

    On top of that, your latest screed, although, to your credit, including a more conciliatory tone and a couple of appropriate mea culpas, added at least five more unsupported accusations:
    11. That I'm the "pot calling the kettle black"
    12. That I don't really behave as a rationalist
    13. That there's something wrong with my "method of pointing out flaws"
    14.That I've been "beating people with an intellectual stick"
    15. That I can dish it out but can't take it

    Anathstryx, I've bent over backwards to be pleasant to you in the face of your considerable nastiness, to the point where it feels I've bent over frontwards to be reamed by you. I've searched my soul for ways in which I could honestly agree with you and other critics about my shortcomings, and I've devoted many many hours--basically blown the equivalent of a whole weekend when I should be doing other things--just responding to your screeds as gently, fairly and rationally as I can. And what do I get from you in return? Abuse. That may seem like a strong word, but when someone publicly rakes another over the coals and then, when asked for examples, instead adds a few more unsupported, insulting accusations--well, it's just plain abuse.

    Here is my demand--and yes, it's a demand, not a request: for each of your fifteen accusations, you need to present at least one good, unambiguous example (not like the two bogus examples you gave in your last screed). For any accusation you can't back up with a good example, a public retraction is (obviously) required. If you fail to meet these minimal standards of reason and civility, you forfeit any right to criticize me or anyone for their supposed sins--and I will file a formal complaint with Wacco moderator Barry about your abusive behavior.

    And to those of you who apparently derived some sick pleasure from watching Anathstryx beat on me in a rant she herself concedes was abrasive, huffy, sarcastic, harsh, and "slapping me around"--her Gratituders claire ossenbeck, DynamicBalance and someguy, as well as you others; you know who you are--I warmly invite you to come out from behind the bushes and stop playing "Let's you and him fight." Anathstryx will need all the help she can get in finding examples (if any) to support her nasty accusations. I await with bated breath some examples of my sins from all of you. If you can't or won't find any, I encourage you to do some honest introspection and ask yourself "What really is my problem with Dixon?" and "What does my hostility toward him possibly say about my own rigid defensiveness around my beliefs, or my intolerance toward those I disagree with, or my primitive desire to see someone beaten down while I tell myself that I'm above that sort of thing?"
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  63. TopTop #83
    Dixon's Avatar
    Dixon
    Supporting Member

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

    Quote seanpfister wrote: View Post
    This division into people who use reason and people who don't comes from Dixon--the latter, those who don't use reason, are New Agers in his formulation.
    Sean, this gross oversimplification of my stated position, while it has a kernel of truth, does a disservice both to me and to the truth. For the record, I said in my post "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." Let's not lose the nuanced view I gave; there may be some people around who would love an excuse to start beating on me again!
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  64. TopTop #84
    podfish's Avatar
    podfish
     

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

    Quote Glia wrote: View Post
    All of these observations have merit.

    But seriously, have you ever read a study that concluded with something along the lines of "we now know exactly what is going on here and have solved the problem. Next we are going to try using this conclusion to do implement useful work." ??
    From NIH/National Cancer Institute
    New treatment improves long-term outlook for breast cancer survivors

    A Canadian-led international clinical trial has found that post-menopausal survivors of early-stage breast cancer who took the drug letrozole after completing an initial five years of tamoxifen therapy had a significantly reduced risk of cancer recurrence compared to women taking a placebo. The results of the study appear in today's advance on-line edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.The clinical trial has been halted early because of the positive results and researchers are notifying the 5,187 women worldwide who have participated in the study. Women on letrozole will continue taking the drug and those on the placebo can begin taking letrozole, if they wish.
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  66. TopTop #85
    anathstryx's Avatar
    anathstryx
     

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

    Quote Dixon wrote: View Post
    MY RESPONSE TO ANATHSTRYX'S LATEST SCREED--Conclusion
    I realize that my response to your post will be taken as a cop-out but, for the sake of restoring peace to the forum, I am more than willing to be perceived in whatever manner, even most negatively, for doing it this way.

    I do not want nor need to make an occupation out of continuing to engage in this argument. I appreciate, Dixon, that you feel so strongly about my screed and diatribe that you gave up the beautiful weekend to defend yourself. I don’t think it should be necessary for us to make further sacrifices of the kind to continue this because, in the long run, we obviously have very fundamental differences of opinion and to attempt to resolve them will only take up time and effort that are best spent elsewhere.

    More than forty years ago, when I was a young college student, my friends and I would spend countless hours over pitchers of beer at the pub, engaged in the sorts of philosophical arguments that are brought up on this forum. It was fun and exhilarating, challenging, often heated, bitter, and frustrating. Even a few friendships were forever destroyed. Such arguments are inevitably tail-chasers. To quote Whitehead, "There are no whole truths; all truths are half-truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that play the devil".

    To my fellow Wacco-ites, I most humbly and sincerely apologize for disturbing the peace in this forum. As I have clearly stated in my last posting in this thread to Dixon, I responded to him emotionally. I was hubristic. I was hypocritical. I have been criticized for those things, as well as being irrational, condemning, superstitious, huffy, abrasive, and being a bad speller. I accept those criticisms and will take them all to heart.

    I have turned myself in to Barry for being huffy and abrasive to Dixon and will contritely acquiesce to his decision about the situation.

    I don’t care about winning or losing my argument with you, Dixon. Such things seem to matter to you very much, though, and so in view of that, I readily concede. I humbly apologize. I retract all of my negative and accusatory statements I made toward and about you.

    Anathstryx
    Last edited by Barry; 06-13-2011 at 02:14 PM.
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  68. TopTop #86
    podfish's Avatar
    podfish
     

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

    Quote anathstryx wrote: View Post
    .. I most humbly and sincerely apologize for disturbing the peace in this forum.
    ?? I don't think this forum benefits from excessive pacifism. Disturbances seem inevitable unless we want to have yet another way to encourage preaching to the choir. There seems to be plenty of other forums for that.

    (yeah, I know, it's "fora"..)
    Last edited by Barry; 06-13-2011 at 04:42 PM.
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  70. TopTop #87
    seanpfister
     

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

    Quote Dixon wrote: View Post
    Sean, this gross oversimplification of my stated position, while it has a kernel of truth, does a disservice both to me and to the truth. For the record, I said in my post "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." Let's not lose the nuanced view I gave; there may be some people around who would love an excuse to start beating on me again!

    The distinction made by you between Rationalists and New Agers does not hinge on who is right more often. Instead, it's based on the methods of assessing truth. You define New Age culture as "not using reason". In fact, you iterate this notion in your lengthy reply to anathstryx when you say that science is based on critical self-assessment in contrast to New Agers who have not the "slightest iota of open-mindedness".

    So when you say New Age or Rationalists do thus-and-so, I'm parsing it as "Rationalist philosophy holds this view" in contrast to "new age philosophy holds this other view"--which I believe is something you suggested.

    So I summarize your position as something like: science has formal methods of assessing truth, which involve logic, reason and peer review/critical self-assessment. New age-ism does not use these methods, but determines truth by intuition, feeling--or simply avoids the question altogether.
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  72. TopTop #88
    Barry's Avatar
    Barry
    Founder & Moderator

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

    Quote Dixon wrote: View Post
    ...So your statement is an example of the "straw man" (I prefer the gender-neutral term "straw figure") fallacy; you're distorting the position of science into something less reasonable, then attacking that. ...
    Here's a whole set of Straw People:

    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 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?
    While I commend the care and thoughtfulness (and time! sheesh!) that has gone into this "discussion", it has gotten down to personal attacks (and/or feeling attacked) and I'd like that to stop.

    I also want to acknowledge anathstryx for her brave and worthy participation.

    To refocus the discussion, I think Dixon had a good point to draw a distinction between science and not-science. However, theories, beliefs, intuition and conjecture are not worthless just because they are not-science. They are neither true nor false.

    There is much about reality and life that science doesn't have a clue about yet. And until some seismic (ie Einstein-level) shift happens, its not going to. Embracing various ancient traditions, and creating new ones, that seem to be of value in helping to peak beyond the veil of science, and helping us to align with energies that seem to be present is a worthy endeavor, but should never be confused with science.
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  74. TopTop #89
    peggykarp's Avatar
    peggykarp
    Supporting member

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

    Science, religion and philosophies are all human inventions created by people seeking truth, which is not a human invention. Most of these truth-seeking endeavors have in common their belief that their particular method is the best, if not the only, one.

    In this age of everything-coming-apart maybe it's time to acknowledge our limitations, cultivate some modicum of humility, tolerance, and empathy as well as critical thinking, and keep an open mind.
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  76. TopTop #90
    Dixon's Avatar
    Dixon
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    Re: The Gospel According to Dixon: Science? Fiction!

    Big thanks to you, Anathstryx, for your constructive response. I know that apologies and retractions can be difficult, but ultimately, they leave the person who apologizes/retracts smelling like a rose. I am a little disappointed that some of the issues raised will apparently not be explored at this time, but I understand and, in fact, share your weariness around discussion. I'm still licking my wounds. Perhaps you are too.

    Quote anathstryx wrote: View Post
    I don’t care about winning or losing my argument with you, Dixon. Such things seem to matter to you very much, though...
    It was never about me "winning" by being right on everything. As I tried to make clear in my last post, I neither believe in nor respect the paradigm of trying to "defeat" the "opponent" in an argument. I believe in what I call the "collaboration" paradigm of discourse, not the "conflict" paradigm. Our "opponents", if they argue reasonably, serve to keep us honest by correcting our fallacies, and we do the same for them. Pooling our perspectives improves the perspective for both (which is not the same as pretending that everyone is right). It's only when people short-circuit that truth-seeking process by seeking to defend their belief above all else, to "win" the argument, that it all turns sour. I constantly sought from you examples of your accusations so I could be corrected; I practically begged you to give me something real to work with, but you had nothing to offer. For you to characterize me as being wrapped up in "winning or losing" an argument--well, let's just say it's consistent with your habit of dropping little insult bombs without logical support. You couldn't resist that little parting slap.
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  77. TopTop #91
    Barry's Avatar
    Barry
    Founder & Moderator

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

    Quote Dixon wrote: View Post
    ... For you to characterize me as being wrapped up in "winning or losing" an argument--well, let's just say it's consistent with your habit of dropping little insult bombs without logical support. You couldn't resist that little parting slap.
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  78. TopTop #92
    maclifford
     

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

    I just spent nine minutes reading over this thread. That's three times three. My two cats are in the room, plus my partner...another three! Dude, now the number three is really blowing my mind. But what confuses me is that I'm only using one computer, and accessing it with ten fingers.... oh, wait! That's 1 + 10 = 11, a prime number! Exactly like three, except different. I think I need a moment of silent awe now.

    More directly, I think it's good for everyone when people debate shaky science... I mean that in a quantum way, of course....
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  80. TopTop #93
    Glia's Avatar
    Glia
     

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

    AMAZING!! An actual conclusion and action resulting from a research study. It's also amazing that you had this handy.

    Quote podfish wrote: View Post
    From NIH/National Cancer Institute
    New treatment improves long-term outlook for breast cancer survivors

    A Canadian-led international clinical trial has found that post-menopausal survivors of early-stage breast cancer who took the drug letrozole after completing an initial five years of tamoxifen therapy had a significantly reduced risk of cancer recurrence compared to women taking a placebo. The results of the study appear in today's advance on-line edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.The clinical trial has been halted early because of the positive results and researchers are notifying the 5,187 women worldwide who have participated in the study. Women on letrozole will continue taking the drug and those on the placebo can begin taking letrozole, if they wish.
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  81. TopTop #94
    vallor's Avatar
    vallor
     

    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.
    Hi.

    There are some things we know subjectively, but have a lot of difficulty proving or understanding. One is the theory of other minds.

    By the standards of modern epistemology, consciousness is one of those things that everybody (hopefully) experiences, but is still difficult to pin down...especially if you admit the possibility of p-zeds.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P-zed

    So with that in mind -- how do we differentiate between you and a p-zed, Sir?

    In other words: Are you, indeed, conscious? If so, how do you go about giving evidence for this?

    (By the way, gentle reader -- I'm pretty certain that Deity is conscious. I'm just trying to establish that there can be things we know subjectively, and are real, but are very difficult to find scientific evidence for.)
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  83. TopTop #95
    Dixon's Avatar
    Dixon
    Supporting Member

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

    Quote vallor wrote: View Post
    Hi.
    Hi, vallor, and welcome to Waccoland! I'm honored to be the recipient of your first post here.

    You'll have to pardon me for giving a very brief response to your thoughtful comment. As I'm halfway through writing my latest column, which is late (Hi, Barry!), I can't justify taking much time on this.

    There are some things we know subjectively, but have a lot of difficulty proving or understanding. One is the theory of other minds.
    If by "knowing something subjectively" you mean having it directly in our mind without getting to it on the basis of reasoning from observation of the objective world, I do not agree that our theory of mind is such a thing. The theory of mind--i.e., our understanding that other people have rich internal subjective universes just as we do, rather than being empty automatons ("p-zombies" AKA "p-zeds")--is based on a type of reasoning called "induction by analogy", which works like this: You know something about Thing A and you see that Thing B is very similar to Thing A, so you conclude that the two are probably similar in other ways even if you haven't seen proof of all those similarities. With regards to our theory of mind, it goes like this: I see that you look and act like me--bipedal humanoid, two eyes, two ears, bleed when cut, behave in ways which, when I behave that way, signify internal states like happiness, sadness and ambition. From those observable similarities in structure and behavior, I infer that you have an internal subjective universe fundamentally like mine. Bingo--the theory of mind! Note that it's based on reasoning from empirical observations; it's not a case of knowing something subjectively in the sense I think you mean. The fact that such reasoning occurs automatically from infancy without our explicitly cognizing it as such may make it seem as if it's directly given in our subjective consciousness, but it ain't--it's reasoning from empirical observation.

    By the standards of modern epistemology, consciousness is one of those things that everybody (hopefully) experiences...
    I guess you didn't watch the Republican candidate debates.

    ...but is still difficult to pin down...especially if you admit the possibility of p-zeds.
    Well, in principle, anything is possible--which of course implies that it's possible that some things are impossible...

    So with that in mind -- how do we differentiate between you and a p-zed, Sir?
    In other words: Are you, indeed, conscious? If so, how do you go about giving evidence for this?
    See my explanation of induction by analogy, just above. Add to that the understanding that of the two hypotheses (that I'm a human like you or that I'm just a p-zed), the most parsimonious one is that I'm human like you, since you know that at least one human exists (yourself) and there's no evidence whatsoever that any p-zeds exist. Invoking the p-zed construct to explain my existence therefore violates Occam's Razor, so is very unlikely to be true. That leaves us with only one likely hypothesis--that I'm conscious, like you.

    I'm just trying to establish that there can be things we know subjectively, and are real, but are very difficult to find scientific evidence for.
    That argument didn't do the trick. What else ya got? Or are you prepared to agree that purely subjective knowledge about the objective universe is a dubious concept?
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  85. TopTop #96
    vallor's Avatar
    vallor
     

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

    Thank you for the kind response.

    I'm currently in a waiting room typing on my phone -- so a more in-depth reply will have to wait until I'm back on a kbd, but I thought I'd point something out:

    I agree that your theory of mind reasoning is based on empirical observations...but only if we accept that our own subjective experience is an empirical observation. That is the very can of worms under discussion, and with which our current modern epistemology can have difficulties.

    To put a finer point on this, please consider your reply as you wrote it out: you start with the subjective experience, and reason from there. But there are other subjective experiences -- say, kensho -- from which those who have experienced it might make inferences. But if you haven't experienced it yourself, you might question the initial subjective observation, even to the point of denying it happens.

    Do you see what i'm getting at?
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  86. TopTop #97
    vallor's Avatar
    vallor
     

    Re: Article: The Gospel According to Dixon #5: Science? Fiction!

    Maybe I should start another thread about "empirical subjective experience and conscious states".

    Here is a TED video of a brain scientist who relates her experiences from having a stroke:



    -Scott
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