Are sceptics sometimes irrational?

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Re: Are sceptics sometimes irrational?

Post Number:#61  Postby Togo1 » May 19th, 2017, 5:09 pm

Eduk wrote:
Eh, I'd say that Darwin's idea, that the origin of the species was through evolution via natural selection, is not falsifiable.

Evolution and natural selection are two different things.


Yes, I'm well aware. That's why I specifically cited evolution, and not natural selection.
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Re: Are sceptics sometimes irrational?



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Re: Are sceptics sometimes irrational?

Post Number:#62  Postby Eduk » May 20th, 2017, 3:20 am

So my point in making the distinction was an attempt to say that evolution might be falsifiable (in expert opinion) but that natural selection is not falsifiable (in expert opinion) or both are not falsifiable (in expert opinion). Those are three different things, so I'd rather be clear on what you think the consensus is on specific points. Otherwise it's too general.
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Re: Are sceptics sometimes irrational?

Post Number:#63  Postby Londoner » June 18th, 2017, 12:52 pm

I do not think evolution is strictly a theory. I think that what evolution says is that species are the product of the same chemical and physical forces that we think accounts for everything else. Darwin 's theory lacked an account of how inheritance works, and no doubt our current understanding of biology is incomplete, however Darwin and most people think that the gaps in our knowledge can be filled in by science. However the theory of evolution has been, and will be, tweaked by scientific advances, it will still be evolution.

But what is the contrary theory to evolution? It would not be that our current theory contains scientific errors, but rather that the whole endeavour is mistaken because species arise by some process beyond science. It is that sort of theory which is unfalsifiable.

So I would say that 'evolution' is made up of falsifiable theories. But in itself, as a generality, it is the idea that life can be understood through such falsifiable theories i.e through science.
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Re: Are sceptics sometimes irrational?

Post Number:#64  Postby -1- » June 19th, 2017, 5:25 am

The description of evolution by Darwin is a description of a system. It is philosophy, not science. It is pure coincidence that the strength of similarity between the concept of the system and actual reality is full.

This is better understood if you consider the Relativity Theory by A. Einstein. That was not science, either; it started out as philosophical musings, later some math was slapped on to it to make the system more precisely described, and it turned out that the system matched reality. But that was almost pure coincidence.

Science starts out with observation, and it creates an explanation via the establishing of a background mechanism that can be tweaked to more and more precisely to predict outcomes of future events. For instance, the strength of steel is measured, observed, and later it is predicted and the prediction used, that under certain conditions the same compound of steel will have the same strength.

The "problem" with Darwin's theory of evolution was that he started with observations, and he created an imaginary system that explains reality eerily well, without, in his times, an ability to explain how this was possible. "This is how it works; don't ask me why." He said. We now know why it works that way.

The questionable parts of his theory were, of course, why offspring resemble their parents, and why they differ in some ways from their parents. These two concepts Darwin was at odds of explaining properly, or explaining in the first place altogether.

Add to this concept the confusion created by the religious right (AND the religious left, as you may, plus the religious centre), because their dogma is in direct opposition to the system of evolution, and they prefer to give more credence to their superstitious dogma than to the plausible explanation of observable and consistently happening reality.

-- Updated 2017 June 19th, 5:41 am to add the following --

Londoner wrote:So I would say that 'evolution' is made up of falsifiable theories. But in itself, as a generality, it is the idea that life can be understood through such falsifiable theories i.e through science.


A falsifiable theory in science is a theory which can potentially be contradicted by a physical event. For instance, according to gravitational theory, masses attract each other. It is falsifiable theory, because conceptually one day you may wake up and see things fall up, away from the big mass of Earth.

Evolution is falsifiable inasmuch as a change in DNA structure would not effect a macrobiological change in physiology or body chemistry; or else no change in DNA structure would somehow still produce an offspring totally different from his parents.

This is falsifiable now, because we are in possession of the knowledge of what creates change in diploid offspring; in Darwin's times it was not possible, therefore in his times his theory was not falsifiable, therefore it was not scientific (although bang on.)
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Re: Are sceptics sometimes irrational?

Post Number:#65  Postby Eduk » June 19th, 2017, 6:09 am

The "problem" with Darwin's theory of evolution was that he started with observations, and he created an imaginary system that explains reality eerily well, without, in his times, an ability to explain how this was possible. "This is how it works; don't ask me why." He said. We now know why it works that way.

You define coincidence differently to me. Exactly what theories did Einstein and Darwin present and exactly what evidence did they provide?
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Re: Are sceptics sometimes irrational?

Post Number:#66  Postby -1- » June 19th, 2017, 11:10 am

Eduk wrote:You define coincidence differently to me. Exactly what theories did Einstein and Darwin present and exactly what evidence did they provide?


Einstein started with the conservation of momentum and energy, and MADE an ASSUMPTION that in the universe the speed of light in a vacuum is the fastest possibly attainable speed. He went from here. His theory took evidence of nothing physical; the conservation of energy (kinetic) and momentum are concepts, theories themselves, and the light speed being maximum attainable was an assumption.

Einstein, according to the above, did not present a theory. (I said this in the previous post). He, instead, wrote a philosophical thesis with a physics application.

Darwin presented some evidence: the similarities of features between species, the widening differences between species, and the similarities and differences between parents and offspring. He then presented the theory that involved, as a premise, the differentness of offspring, and the differentness of survival chances created by environmental changes. Darwin proposed, that some changes in individuals that are nevertheless passed down to his or her offspring, despite him or her being the first one to appear with those features, or in combination thereof, are better suited to newly developed environments than the traditional status quo of features of a species, or than the differently developed changes in the offspring of some individual couples in the species.

-- Updated 2017 June 19th, 11:14 am to add the following --

The reason I say AE's Relativity theory and Darwin's Evolution system are philosophical treatises and not scientific theories is because they are true even if in REALITY there was no conversation of energy, and in REALITY there were no differences whatsoever between parents and offspring. These two treatises treat their subjects with taking premises, assumptions, and arriving at a logical consequence. There is no hole in the theory. And the theory was NOT made in either case to pursue a pragmatic purpose or to predict the future.
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Re: Are sceptics sometimes irrational?

Post Number:#67  Postby Eduk » June 19th, 2017, 12:05 pm

I assume you are talking about special relativity? I do not know what you are talking about when you say he started with conservation of momentum and energy? I also don't understand what you mean when you say he took evidence of nothing physical? I also don't understand what you mean when you say conservation of energy is a theory?

Einstein spent nine years (or something like that - it's quite muddy) to come up with a theory which fit all available physical evidence (evidence was very much front and centre) without contradiction. Admittedly it was a number of years before his theory could be falsified. But leading up to that point a number of physicists took his theory seriously enough to put the time and energy into falsifying it. Einstein was also not the only person who was thinking along the same lines, as is often the case in science the same ideas are being had independently all over the world. But Einstein was the first to express these ideas completely and get the credit for them.
This is not a coincidence. A coincidence is
a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection


I would also like to point out that coming up with a theory and testing that theory and finding out that the theory is wrong is a huge part of science. Einstein got many things wrong. Darwin got many things wrong. The smartest possible human being is likely wrong more often than they are right (regarding brand new theories). But this is not a coincidence. It is part of working hard through a process.

For Darwin I assume you are talking about natural selection? You really could be a little clearer, I'm not being pedantic here.

Similarly to Einstein he looked at all the evidence available, getting a lot of the evidence himself. Then basically putting it all together. Again evidence based, again fitting all the evidence without contradiction, again many other people were working independently on the same ideas. In Darwin's case it took him longer than nine years to publish his work. When he did it was complete and tied everything together, so he again, gets a lot of the credit. Again not a coincidence. It is the result of intelligent people working hard to achieve a goal using the scientific method.

You could for example say that the discover of penicillin was a coincidence. But I think accident is a better word personally.
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Re: Are sceptics sometimes irrational?

Post Number:#68  Postby -1- » June 19th, 2017, 2:37 pm

Eduk wrote:I assume you are talking about special relativity? I do not know what you are talking about when you say he started with conservation of momentum and energy? I also don't understand what you mean when you say he took evidence of nothing physical? I also don't understand what you mean when you say conservation of energy is a theory?

That's a lot of "I don't know"-s. Good luck in turning that around.

Remember, I said, "Einstein started with the conservation of momentum and energy, and MADE an ASSUMPTION that in the universe the speed of light in a vacuum is the fastest possibly attainable speed." The operative word is STARTED.

You go on below saying that Einstein worked for nine years on his theory, working out the snags.

I don't know what his EXACT thoughts were in those nine years, and what his thinking path was. All I know is that I don't know. You don't have to rub it in. Nine years of thinking by a genius is hardly a concept I can visualize or conceptualize. So please don't rub my nose in it.

The coincidence is what he started with. He must have done a lot of thinking, like you said, and I don't doubt that. But the INITIAL impetus to start him thinking was remarkably a coincidence. He could have started with (for instance) that there is 1. no limit to speed or 2. there is another limit but the speed of light, any specific limit he could have assumed. He ASSUMED THE RIGHT THING to later develop a flawless theory. THAT is a coincidence.

Einstein spent nine years (or something like that - it's quite muddy) to come up with a theory which fit all available physical evidence (evidence was very much front and centre) without contradiction. Admittedly it was a number of years before his theory could be falsified. But leading up to that point a number of physicists took his theory seriously enough to put the time and energy into falsifying it. Einstein was also not the only person who was thinking along the same lines, as is often the case in science the same ideas are being had independently all over the world. But Einstein was the first to express these ideas completely and get the credit for them.
This is not a coincidence. A coincidence is
a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection


I would also like to point out that coming up with a theory and testing that theory and finding out that the theory is wrong is a huge part of science. Einstein got many things wrong. No doubt. Name a few. Darwin got many things wrong.No doubt. Name a few. The smartest possible human being is likely wrong more often than they are right (regarding brand new theories). But this is not a coincidence. It is part of working hard through a process.

For Darwin I assume you are talking about natural selection? You really could be a little clearer, I'm not being pedantic here. As far as I'm concerned, Darwin is famous for one theory. If you know more than one that he got fame for, and you can't decide which of the many that you know I am talking about, then list them for me please and I'll choose the one I meant.

Similarly to Einstein he looked at all the evidence available, getting a lot of the evidence himself. Then basically putting it all together. Again evidence based, again fitting all the evidence without contradiction, again many other people were working independently on the same ideas. In Darwin's case it took him longer than nine years to publish his work. When he did it was complete and tied everything together, so he again, gets a lot of the credit. Again not a coincidence. It is the result of intelligent people working hard to achieve a goal using the scientific method.

You could for example say that the discover of penicillin was a coincidence. But I think accident is a better word personally.


I don't know why you are riding on this "coincidence" thing. As if it was the boogie man and I invoked it. All I said about coincidence was that Einstein started with the assumption that the speed of light was the limit of speed. I DID NOT SAY that Darwin's theory was based on a coincidence. I even stated, that he started out with a lot of evidence.

I think you have made several reading errors in my posts. This is nothing, no need to worry about that, now that we cleared up the snags. What worries me was your attitude as I perceive it: you misread some (not all) parts of my posts, and you assumed I said things I hadn't and didn't say; and you tried to pin on me the things I did not actually say.

The things you tried to pin on me were, but which I never said: 1. Darwin developed his theory through coincidence. 2. Einstein did not go beyond the first three things that started him thinking.

I resent the fact that you are trying to "get" me, if that's what your aim is. I am not saying that's your aim, but I feel like it is. You are criticizing me for things I did not say, and I find that unfair. If you read my words as they had been written, this wouldn't have needed to happen.
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Re: Are sceptics sometimes irrational?

Post Number:#69  Postby Eduk » June 19th, 2017, 3:36 pm

The description of evolution by Darwin is a description of a system. It is philosophy, not science. It is pure coincidence that the strength of similarity between the concept of the system and actual reality is full.

This is better understood if you consider the Relativity Theory by A. Einstein. That was not science, either; it started out as philosophical musings, later some math was slapped on to it to make the system more precisely described, and it turned out that the system matched reality. But that was almost pure coincidence.

I'm sorry but you seemed to be suggesting that both Darwin and Einstein arrived at their theory or theories through coincidence and that neither were 'science'. I can't think of anything further from the normative meaning of the words coincidence and science. If you meant something else I apologise, which is why I was asking for clarity. Not to 'get you', but to allow you to explain. This is why I mentioned I didn't understand some of what you said, and by your estimation I understood very little of what you said. In fairness I can only go by the normative definition of words and if I say I don't understand or can you please elaborate or be more specific I mean just that. I'm more than willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, so I apologise for any offense, it's not my intention.

Einstein got many things wrong. No doubt. Name a few. Darwin got many things wrong.No doubt. Name a few.

Einstein famously talked about a cosmological constant. Darwin talked about hereditary being a blend.

Also I'm not sure Einstein started his supposed nine years of work with the idea that the speed of light was a constant? I can't find a reference for that, so I could be wrong.
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Re: Are sceptics sometimes irrational?

Post Number:#70  Postby -1- » June 19th, 2017, 4:53 pm

You got me on the coincidence thing for Darwin, Eduk.

On how the relativity thing started: I can't remember where, but I read somewhere that AE stared at the mirror one day while shaving in the morning, and realized he could not intuitively answer the question "if an object is propelled from something travelling at the speed of light in the direction of the light's travel, won't it go faster than light?" He believed nothing goes faster than light, so he conceptualized that perhaps it is impossible to do that.

Why would that be impossible?

Well, because the energy needed would be infinite?

Why would that be infinite?

Because the mass of the object would be infinite? ETC.

He had a whole slew of questions and possible answers, and his first task, I reckon, without having any witnesses to cite, was to sort out which is possible and under what condition.
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Re: Are sceptics sometimes irrational?

Post Number:#71  Postby NicoL » July 5th, 2017, 10:37 am

Methodological sceptics are rational. Radical sceptics are neither rational nor irrational. After all they don't even exist, they are all just figments of my imagination. But even if, by accident, they did exist, then the truth of the proposition "this sceptic is being irrational right this moment" would not have an objectively determinate truth value anyway.
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Re: Are sceptics sometimes irrational?

Post Number:#72  Postby Togo1 » July 5th, 2017, 1:11 pm

Eh, it might. It depends on whether you consider 'irrational' to be a judgement call about a person in general, or something very specific - a formal violation of the rules of logic. The latter is fairly common, has an objectively determinate trueth value, and it seems extremely likely that sceptics are just as prone to it as anyone else.
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Re: Are sceptics sometimes irrational?

Post Number:#73  Postby NicoL » July 5th, 2017, 2:55 pm

Togo1 wrote:Eh, it might. It depends on whether you consider 'irrational' to be a judgement call about a person in general, or something very specific - a formal violation of the rules of logic. The latter is fairly common, has an objectively determinate trueth value, and it seems extremely likely that sceptics are just as prone to it as anyone else.


How can a radical sceptic be either rational or irrational, on his own terms, if he doubts the laws of logic? And why would he believe in the laws of logic in the first place? What is his justification? After all, he cannot observe entailment relations between propositions any more than he can observe causal relations between events.
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Re: Are sceptics sometimes irrational?

Post Number:#74  Postby Speedyj1992 » October 4th, 2017, 1:47 pm

Roel wrote:I see many very good debunkings and videos by sceptics in all kinds of subjects, and I consider them as intelligent, critical people. However I see an attitude to want to debunk everything, even if it's possible that something is actually real. A good example is the 4chan murderer of which people first thought he was acting with his girlfriend, until the police discovered her body in his house.

There is also the "Bible code" theory which, although not giving full proof is very convincing, but if you consider all instances in which the prediction comes true as cpincidence, how can yoh eved prove it to be true?

If you have a bias that something is fake, can you still be a good sceptic?


I'm with you on this, it's very easy for people to be irrational when it comes to God - in fact, I'd say that even those of us who believe in the God of the Bible can be irrational. With that said, it does take more faith to be an atheist than a theist, having been in both camps, and I would go even farther and say that both sides get a little too eager to prove the other side wrong. I think we need to be more humanizing in how we approach things and see where other people are coming from, which I think you are getting at, which is great. I'd love to show you some of the YouTube videos I plan on doing regarding this topic as I start plugging them out.
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Re: Are sceptics sometimes irrational?

Post Number:#75  Postby Eduk » October 5th, 2017, 4:16 am

it does take more faith to be an atheist than a theist

Only if you redefine the meaning of the word faith and don't mind that your new definition is basically meaningless and lastly are happy to apply the new definition to yourself. If you are happy to do all that then I think that's cool and while I don't agree with your definition I can agree with your right to change the meaning of words as you see fit. Words can and do change meaning and I'm not particularly precious about the word faith.
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