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Re: Random philosophical rubbish thread

Postby barnaclelapse » Fri Jan 06, 2012 4:24 pm

"I think God is dead."
"Spoken like a true Catholic."
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Re: Random philosophical rubbish thread

Postby Forever Jung » Sat Jan 07, 2012 9:44 pm

Jim Steinman wrote:God has left the building


:twisted: I've heard that quote used on Supernatural too :shock:
Someone on the show must be a Steinman/Meat Loaf fan 8-)
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Re: Random philosophical rubbish thread

Postby Dorset Girl » Mon Jan 09, 2012 1:34 am

Keren asked me how / why people are on Earth today, and although I've previously planned that when she asked this, I'd give her the Christian view of things as well as Evolution, I just couldn't bring myself to do it. It's one thing lying about Father Christmas - that seems pretty harmless as in a few years she'll suddenly realise it's just a story. But it's another thing entirely to think that what I tell her now about religion will probably shape her views for her whole life, what a huge responsibility. She heard the Christmas story at playschool, so how she'll put those things together, I don't know... I'm expecting more questions soon! :neutral:
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Re: Random philosophical rubbish thread

Postby Mr Blue Sky » Mon Jan 09, 2012 7:13 am

Dorset Girl wrote:Keren asked me how / why people are on Earth today, and although I've previously planned that when she asked this, I'd give her the Christian view of things as well as Evolution, I just couldn't bring myself to do it. It's one thing lying about Father Christmas - that seems pretty harmless as in a few years she'll suddenly realise it's just a story. But it's another thing entirely to think that what I tell her now about religion will probably shape her views for her whole life, what a huge responsibility. She heard the Christmas story at playschool, so how she'll put those things together, I don't know... I'm expecting more questions soon! :neutral:


Yeah, I have the same conversations with my kids. Things are slightly more complicated for me though as my wife is religious and wants the kids to believe too. I've said I'll just present them with the facts of evolution and the history of the universe etc. when they're around 9 or 10 and they can decide for themselves what to believe.

I also have to consider the fact that some people draw tremendous strength from their faith and I wouldn't want to deprive my kids of that if they actually believe in God. That was just never an option for me as I have always seen religious stories as the works of fiction they are and couldn't possibly believe them even if I wanted to.
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Re: Random philosophical rubbish thread

Postby Dorset Girl » Mon Jan 09, 2012 12:09 pm

Mr Blue Sky wrote:I also have to consider the fact that some people draw tremendous strength from their faith and I wouldn't want to deprive my kids of that if they actually believe in God. That was just never an option for me as I have always seen religious stories as the works of fiction they are and couldn't possibly believe them even if I wanted to.


Yes, that's the tricky thing. A work colleague of mine, who is immensely intelligent and has a PhD in Chemistry, is a practicing Catholic. She has a little 'shrine' in her home, and everything in her life revolves around her faith. I'd like to ask her how she reconciles her scientific knowledge with her religious beliefs, but she's a very private person, and I'm afraid she might think the question intrusive.
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Re: Random philosophical rubbish thread

Postby Moon-Crane » Mon Jan 09, 2012 1:44 pm

Have you ever read the Pharyngula blog by "noisy godless liberal", PZ Myers? He's a cracking read and he's not afraid to be as abrupt about religious people as they are towards the likes of him/us.

This was a good post at the end of last year.
http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/12/28/no-power-in-the-verse-can-stop-us/
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Re: Random philosophical rubbish thread

Postby barnaclelapse » Sat Feb 04, 2012 4:20 pm

I like stuff like that sometimes, but obnoxious and overbearing can be obnoxious and overbearing no matter what you believe.

This guy is pretty good though.
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Re: Random philosophical rubbish thread

Postby Forever Jung » Sat Feb 04, 2012 5:52 pm

:twisted: I think therefore I am.


There are a lot of people in the world who aren't.
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Re: Random philosophical rubbish thread

Postby Moon-Crane » Sat Sep 29, 2012 12:25 pm

The Worst Thing In The World

Note: The general blog is a NSFW place, but the particular post is fine.
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Re: Random philosophical rubbish thread

Postby Moon-Crane » Thu Jul 11, 2013 3:19 pm

Continuing from here:
http://www.frasieronline.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=4366&p=324434#p324434

Bee Gees Fan wrote:So you wouldn't have anything against, say, interested people attending psychic development circles? Or taking other such courses/classes which teach psychic or paranormal ability? Or people publicly demonstrating psychic abilities for zero charge?
[..]
Since you seem to accept that not everyone who calls themselves a 'psychic' is a deliberate fraud and that some of them genuinely believe they have these abilities...what would you like to see from these people (the ones who honestly think they have psychic ability.) Would you like to see more of them offer themselves to rigorous scientific testing, things like that?

I think i'd be repeating earlier comments here if I go down this route, so, can I reverse the situation using another area of quackery that I dislike, has no scientific basis, and also contains people who honestly(?) believe they have an ability? Homeopathy.

There are homeopaths who believe they can do all sorts of crap - up to and including curing cancer, diabetes, arthritis, etc.

I'm sure you'd agree that such serious and unsubstantiated claims should be stopped when people are making money by preying on the fear, anxiety and desperation of ill people – potentially interfering in genuine medical care?

Now, if they make these claims but practice their 'beliefs' free of charge, should we then allow them to get on with it because they are making no profit from practising that belief and they appear to genuinely believe they can cure people of cancer with nothing more than water? I, personally, want proof of concept before allowing anything of the sort. Can you see where it becomes a grey area to accept any belief goes as long as it's free or conducted by people who genuinely believe they are able to do something?

Bee Gees Fan wrote:P.S. As an exercise, MC, perhaps we could recommend to one another some blogs/websites reflecting our points of view. I think everyone can benefit from giving at least a little exploration to thoughts and opinions that differ to ours. I could recommend to you what I think are some fair, objective and well-written paranormal/psychic blogs/sites and you could recommend to me some objective, fair and reasonable blogs/sites that take a more sceptical approach.

The one caveat for me is that I'd be prepared to look at sceptical blogs/websites that are polite and respectful towards believers in the paranormal and which don't, for the most part, take a rude and snarky tone. If there are any sceptical blogs/sites you know of that don't routinely insult believers in the paranormal, mock/belittle them, and that have a reasonably respectful/civil tone, then I am happy to take a look at what they have to say.[...]


Difficult for me to direct you to something you'd consider 'polite and respectful'. I frequent blogs such as the FreeThoughtBlogs network (particularly PZ Myers Pharyngula blog and Ed Brayton's Dispatches From The Culture Wars), and you've already said you dislike Myers because of what other people tell you, and quote mine, about him.

How about Hemant Mehta's, the 'Friendly Atheist' website: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/

Or the Center For Inquiry: http://www.centerforinquiry.net/ and their series of podcasts: Point Of Inquiry http://www.pointofinquiry.org/ that delve into many areas of skeptical thinking.

Bee Gees Fan wrote:I can totally understand these issues that you have with the "old" religions, particularly the Abrahamic ones, which in my opinion are the faiths with the most unsavoury elements.

But what you don't seem to take into account is that none of the criticisms that you have apply to most of the modern neo-pagan religions that have evolved in the latter 20th century, Wicca being one of them.

So my question is, do you have "beef" with Wicca? And if you do, for what possible reason?

I honestly can't think of anything in Wicca that you could object to. (Morally, that is.) The problems/criticisms that you listed above don't exist in Wicca. To go through them one by one:

* Wiccans don't try to push their beliefs on others, they don't proselytise and the religion doesn't encourage its practitioners to do so. As Scott Cunningham wrote in his book about Wicca, "Wicca doesn't solicit because, unlike most Western religions, it doesn't claim to be the one true way to Deity."

* Wiccans don't perpetuate clearly debunked falsehoods as fact. Most of them believe in plenty of supernatural/paranormal things, and probably view them as "facts" personally, but they don't attempt to get their supernatural ideas taught as fact in classrooms, and don't try to badger other people to believe what they do.

* Wiccans don't push divisive rules based on sexual orientation, gender or race. The religion of Wicca is devoid of any prejudice against homosexuals and homosexuality, different races, and women - Wicca in fact gives equality to women, and the Goddess that Wiccans believe in is given equal status to the God. The fact that Wicca deems the feminine as equal to the masculine is a reason that it was so popular with some feminists in the 1970s.

So to be clear, Wicca the religion has no prejudice against people of any sexual orientation, race or gender. If there are any Wiccans who *do* have some of those prejudices, they haven't got them from their religion.

* Wicca is non-dogmatic.

* Wicca doesn't request money from its practitioners.

Wicca is a religion that is free from intolerance, prejudice and dogma. I can understand you being of the opinion that the mystical beliefs in Wicca are nonsense, but I can't think of anything that you could object to morally.

You once said something like (paraphrasing) that you could "accept the view that proponents of Wicca cause fewer problems them proponents of faiths like Christianity or Islam." But I don't think that goes far enough: as far as I can see, proponents of Wicca don't cause *any* problems.

I could be wrong here, and if so, my apologies, but the impression I get is that you know very little about Wicca and just assume that it's similar to the older, more intolerant religions. As someone who has some knowledge of Wicca, I can say (and have hopefully shown) that that is not the case at all.

I've seen too many people make negative judgments of Wicca (and other neo-pagan religions) based on false assumptions and lack of knowledge of the faith. And since I consider myself reasonably well-versed in such matters, I try to give a more accurate overview when I can.


For someone who belongs to a 'faith' which practices not pushing their belief on others, you're having a good run at repeating stuff over and over to get me to 'accept' it. ;) j/k.

Surely it should make no difference to you what i believe about Wicca, though. All the periphery about non-discrimination over gender, sex, race, not pushing beliefs, and accepting real world science/history, etc, is fantastic. I'm glad such sensible mindsets are a part of the wiccan lifestyle. In many ways, if you claim most, if not all, practitioners are that way inclined, then you have a head start on many stupid secular, atheist or so-called skeptical people. I can agree with all of that - all those points you make about that side of the culture are well and good. Ultimately, though, there is a belief in magic which i'm simply never going to accept without a whole bunch of tangible evidence. That's a major stumbling block to simply accepting a lifestyle without any questioning.

As i've said before, wicca falls way down my personal list of priorities for having a problem with it. There are many far more important fights for both a secular and skeptical approach to government, education and humanities.
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Re: Random philosophical rubbish thread

Postby Bee Gees Fan » Fri Jul 12, 2013 4:20 pm

Moon-Crane wrote:I think i'd be repeating earlier comments here if I go down this route, so, can I reverse the situation using another area of quackery that I dislike, has no scientific basis, and also contains people who honestly(?) believe they have an ability? Homeopathy.

There are homeopaths who believe they can do all sorts of crap - up to and including curing cancer, diabetes, arthritis, etc.

I'm sure you'd agree that such serious and unsubstantiated claims should be stopped when people are making money by preying on the fear, anxiety and desperation of ill people – potentially interfering in genuine medical care?

Now, if they make these claims but practice their 'beliefs' free of charge, should we then allow them to get on with it because they are making no profit from practising that belief and they appear to genuinely believe they can cure people of cancer with nothing more than water? I, personally, want proof of concept before allowing anything of the sort. Can you see where it becomes a grey area to accept any belief goes as long as it's free or conducted by people who genuinely believe they are able to do something?



I can see that when it's about something so serious as people's health. But I don't think it's fair to compare something such as homeopathy (which could, if false, not only adversely affect someone's health, but actually end in someone's death) with something like psychic ability or mediumship. Going to see a psychic or medium isn't going to kill anyone, and I can personally attest that going to see mediums is often of great benefit to people's emotional health. I've witnessed first hand the relief and consolation it provides people and I've communicated personally with people who have stated that going to see a medium has helped them handle their grief. In fact, there's a research project being planned, which Julie Beischel is involved in, which does a study into the positive effects of mediumship on bereavement. The study is called BAM - "Bereavement and Mediumship". http://www.gofundme.com/bamstudy

Potential harm needs to be taken into account, but people also need to be allowed reasonable freedom to indulge in their practices and share their experiences, particularly with people who have the same interests. If there is sufficient evidence of significant harm being caused, then different, perhaps stricter, protocols need to be worked out, but I just can't see, at the moment, that the average psychic/medium is causing people harm or pain. From my experience, they're doing the exact opposite.

And of course, when it comes to people's private lives, surely you'd agree that people should be able to do what they like in their homes or amongst their friends or family. Psychics and mediums should be allowed to flaunt their abilities to their heart's content when in their houses or with friends.

I just find your views somewhat unclear, as you state "everyone's got the right to do what they want with like-minded consenting adults" (which is what most psychics and mediums are doing) but then I also get the feeling that you'd want to see practices of this sort banned? I could have got the wrong impression there, though.

To be totally clear, I'll ask outright:

1: Do you think it should be illegal for people to attempt to learn/develop their own psychic ability (i.e. through teaching themselves or attending classes) or are you happy for them to do that?

2: Are you okay with psychics/mediums practicing their abilities in their homes and/or amongst their families/friends, or do you think that should be illegal?

3: Do you think it's okay for psychics/mediums to do demonstrations in public (free of charge) or do you think those should be illegal?

4: If you were to meet someone and this person confided to you that they were a psychic and/or a medium (not a professional one, but one who mainly, say, demonstrates their psychic abilities in their homes or when they're out with their social group or at their psychic classes) how would you treat them? Would you mock them, bully them? (To be honest, I can't really imagine you doing this.) Or would you be tolerant and accept them for who they were? Would you be willing to be a friend of this type of psychic?

I don't think it's unreasonable for me to say that psychics and mediums should be able to indulge in their practices in their homes and with their friends, nor would it be unreasonable for people to decide to learn these skills for themselves.

Moon-Crane wrote:you've already said you dislike Myers because of what other people tell you, and quote mine, about him.


No - I didn't say I disliked him because of what other people told me. That may be the impression you got, but it's not correct. I said I dislike Myers because of his rude, insulting and bullying behaviour and because I find him to be closed-minded and prejudiced when it comes to the paranormal. I included the quotes/articles to back up my opinions about him. My opinion of him wasn't formed through what other people told me, it was formed from going to his website, reading some of his blog posts and comments, and finding him very disagreeable and aggressive, and then witnessing some of his immature behaviour.

So to reiterate - I don't dislike Myers "because of what other people tell me." I have valid reasons for disliking Myers (or at least the side of himself that he presents on the internet) - his bad behaviour is the cause of my dislike. He's rude, he often makes personal attacks and he's prejudiced. Rudeness and prejudice are not exactly likeable characteristics.

Besides, surely the points that Greg (and I) made about him and his behaviour are valid? Surely you don't really think it was respectful and fair of Myers to label Sheldrake as "nuts"? Do you think Myers' little prank towards the Daily Grail was a mature thing to do? And his comment about Tim Costello being an "ignorant ass who'd never learned anything that matters" when a little research into Costello's background would have told him the opposite was true - Myers jumped to that conclusion simply because Costello was a reverend. He made a false assumption about Costello based not on the facts, but on his own prejudice. Greg described Myers as someone who would "ignorantly spout off at someone because they have a different view" and that's what Myers did here - ignorantly spouted off at Costello because Costello doesn't share his metaphysical views.

I think these are valid things to call Myers out on. I'm sure the man has numerous good points too, but his stance towards the paranormal and people who have opposing views, like Sheldrake, is disgraceful, in my opinion. Do you disagree that the criticisms I made are legitimate?

Another point is that, in at least some of his statements on psi research, what Myers says is factually incorrect. For example, his post about Sheldrake contained several inaccuracies. He referred to Sheldrake's work as "collecting anecdotes", when that's not the case - the experiments were based on controlled tests and they've also been published through peer-review. He also implied that Sheldrake hadn't proposed any theory for telepathy when he in fact has.

So in this case, at least, he was getting his facts wrong. Either this comes from a lack of knowledge of the scientific research into psi or he's lying/deliberately misinforming.

If Myers has a lack of knowledge of the scientific research into psi, then he doesn't have the authority to criticise it. If he's lying/deliberately misinforming, then that would be even worse, and I think it's far more likely that he just hasn't looked into psi research at any great length.

I can also speak up for Greg from the Daily Grail...he's a fair-minded guy. If he has a criticism of someone like Myers, then it's going to be a reasonable one, as I believe his criticisms have been. Here are the articles (along with the comments) regarding the crashing and manipulation of the Daily Grail poll, at Myers' encouragement. Myers' words/actions do not come across as particularly mature or objective to me. You can look for yourself? http://dailygrail.com/news/pharyngula-fail

http://dailygrail.com/Straight-Science/ ... Fail-Redux

Greg even posted at Pharyngula a few times to attempt to discuss the incident with them, and was insulted by quite a few of the blog's readers. If Myers encourages (and engages in) immature pranks, personal attacks and bullying, then I have a low opinion of the side of himself that he reveals on the internet. To be fair to him, he may be a lovely, polite and respectful individual when talking to him in person, but I don't think it's unreasonable to assert that his online behaviour can be rather awful.

Not only that, but I believe Myers was one of the people (along with Jerry Coyne) instrumental in getting Rupert Sheldrake's and Graham Hancock's recent TED talks banned and removed from the main TED webpage. Both talks were removed from youtube and they've now been relegated to a corner of the TED website where they are a lot more inaccessible than they were previously. I didn't get to see Hancock's talk before it was removed, but I watched Sheldrake's (I heard word that Myers and Coyne were trying to get it removed and realised I had to watch it quickly) and I really enjoyed it.

I wholeheartedly disagree with Myers and Coyne's actions in this regard. First of all, TED is not just an organisation that promotes mainstream science or mainstream ideas, there have been several talks connected with spirituality or the paranormal. (And Sheldrake's talk wasn't about psi or the paranormal, it was a brief talk on what he personally feels are some dogmas that are holding back current mainstream science.) Sheldrake and Hancock were both invited to give their TED talks and they have as much right to say their piece and have their messages heard as much as anyone else. Coyne's action, in particular, was promoting suppression, from my perspective. It's fine for him to disagree with Sheldrake and Hancock's views, fine for him to argue against them and rebut them, but it's *not* fine to launch an initiative to have them censored (or suppressed.)

Moon-Crane wrote: How about Hemant Mehta's, the 'Friendly Atheist' website: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/


I've read a bit of the blog before now (come across it in some of my travels.) From the little I've seen, it seems to be an entirely more agreeable place to some of the websites I've come across. It looks like someone like me could actually have a reasonable and mature conversation with people there. So thanks for that one! I'll look into it more.

Moon-Crane wrote:Or the Center For Inquiry: http://www.centerforinquiry.net/ and their series of podcasts: Point Of Inquiry http://www.pointofinquiry.org/ that delve into many areas of skeptical thinking.


Thanks for this one too. Currently, the recommendations of my own still stand at Paranormalia, Michael Prescott's blog and the Daily Grail.


Moon-Crane wrote:For someone who belongs to a 'faith' which practices not pushing their belief on others, you're having a good run at repeating stuff over and over to get me to 'accept' it. ;) j/k.


Well, first of all, I *don't* belong to the faith. I don't belong to, or follow, any organised religion. I'm not a Wiccan, nor have I ever claimed to be. Perhaps you got the impression that I was a Wiccan because I've defended it a lot? But one doesn't need to belong to a group or organisation in order to like and defend it. Overall, I have a very favourable view of Buddhism and would defend Buddhism from what I thought was an erroneous perception, but I'm not a Buddhist.

These days, I call myself a "spiritual occultist" or "spiritual new age occultist." Since I sometimes cast spells, I guess that also makes me a witch. But I don't belong to Wicca, I don't practice it, nor do I belong to or practice any other organised religion.

Second, there's a difference between pushing a faith on someone and *informing* someone about a faith. Simply put, I try to show people the facts. I think it's best for people to have an accurate and objective view of Wicca (or any other religion or anything else for that matter) but the problem with religions like Wicca is that there's so much misinformation and misconceptions about it from people with axes to grind. It's why witches and pagans still get a bad rap, in certain areas, today. Did you know, in fact, that coming out as a witch or a pagan is jokingly referred to in the community as "coming out of the broom closet"? :lol:


Moon-Crane wrote:Surely it should make no difference to you what i believe about Wicca, though.


It makes no difference to me what people believe about the *metaphysical* aspects of Wicca, but what they believe about the *cultural* side is a little different. For example, if someone believes that Wicca is a religion which promotes, for example, intolerance against gay people or women, then that *is* going to make a difference to me, because I know that to be untrue.


Moon-Crane wrote:Ultimately, though, there is a belief in magic which i'm simply never going to accept without a whole bunch of tangible evidence. That's a major stumbling block to simply accepting a lifestyle without any questioning.


Of course, I understand that. But I was talking about Wicca from a moral perspective, not on its metaphysical basis. I simply felt, and still feel, that there's nothing in Wicca that people could *morally* object to. Unless they think believing in magick is immoral?

I assume you don't believe that believing in, and practicing, magick, is immoral? Surely you don't think I'm being immoral by believing magick is real and casting spells?

But back to psi/general paranormal briefly. To me, the idea that there's *no* evidence at all, is false. There is *some*, and some of that is scientific evidence, based on research carried out by scientists, and it's peer-reviewed. There are the JSE articles, the Parapsychology journal links, and the Society for Psychical Research has a ton of work to its name. There may not be enough evidence to say definitively that this is true and real but I think there is enough to keep the question open. I'm in agreement with Robert McLuhan's statement from an interview with Michael Tymn:

“I don’t blame people for feeling sceptical about paranormal claims. In fact I think we should approach the subject with a good deal of caution. But it really makes you wonder about the extent that some scientists are prepared to go to, for instance saying that there is ‘no evidence whatever’ for psychic functioning. That makes no sense to me at all, if you consider all the thousands of reports and studies and investigations that have been carried out over more than a century, and which are published in specialist peer-reviewed journals. There’s an enormous literature. If they wanted to say, there is no ‘scientific’ evidence, that’s something I’d contest, but at least we could have a conversation about it. Or that they aren’t convinced by the evidence, that would be fair enough too. But to say there isn’t any is just silly, and I think rather disqualifies them from being taken seriously.”

What do you make of Richard Wiseman's statement about remote viewing? Richard Wiseman is a rather famous sceptic and even he has been quoted as saying "I agree that by the standards of any other area of science that remote viewing is proven." But then he continued to say that he thought there needed to be higher standards of evidence when people study the paranormal, so he still didn't believe in it. To me, that just sounds like moving the goalposts. If the evidence for remote viewing is sufficient by the standards of any other area of science, then shouldn't it be accepted?

But at least Wiseman admits that there is some scientific evidence for phenomena we call "paranormal" and that has been one of my points all along - there is some evidence for it.
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Re: Random philosophical rubbish thread

Postby Moon-Crane » Fri Jul 12, 2013 8:12 pm

jeez, there's so much there to dissect. I'll come back when i have time.

I will say, though, that i personally enjoy Myers approach, so maybe we'll have to disagree about the style. He is an avowed activist atheist and radical feminist, so he's going to go on the offensive. Reading so many of his posts I take things in context and i can see when hyperbole is used to make a broader point.

Your Greg Taylor is as much of an ass, in my opinion, for so many reasons - not least of which is the bizarre fascination with Dan Brown's crappy nonsense, to the extent of publishing books trying to predict what Brown is going to feature in his next releases. I can't imagine a more pointless exercise in life. But i disagree with many of his criticisms of The God Delusion amongst other things. And i find the generally wishy-washy approach to finding a 'middle ground' to be of no use in many a situation. It's horses for courses.

How did Myers have any part in Sheldrake's/Hancock's removal from the TED talks? What power does he hold? He certainly made vocal his reservations about allowing such rubbish to be a part of the proceedings, but he has no ability to ban or move anything.
http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/05/23/my-vast-but-unsavory-power/

I've read, and own, some of Hancock's books. The pyramids/Orion/mars theories were so easily debunked that he lost credibility over them. I genuinely like the guy, but he made some incorrect assertions in his theories. Assertions disproven by the ever-improving video technology on subsequent NASA missions (ruins on mars, the face on mars, and other features that were claimed to be evidence of intelligent beings having inhabited the planet). His Orion/pyramids links takes a great stretch of the imagination to 'work'.

As i say, i'll get back to the general post when able. :)
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Re: Random philosophical rubbish thread

Postby Bee Gees Fan » Sat Jul 13, 2013 1:20 am

Moon-Crane wrote:jeez, there's so much there to dissect. I'll come back when i have time.


Yeah, it gets long-winded with me. Sorry. :oops: I'm doing my best to be reasonable and objective, though. I hope it comes across.

Moon-Crane wrote:I will say, though, that i personally enjoy Myers approach, so maybe we'll have to disagree about the style. He is an avowed activist atheist and radical feminist, so he's going to go on the offensive. Reading so many of his posts I take things in context and i can see when hyperbole is used to make a broader point.


Well, we'll have to agree to disagree on Myers' approach. He just comes across to me an unnecessarily insulting and I don't think he's objective in his approach to the paranormal.

Moon-Crane wrote:Your Greg Taylor is as much of an ass, in my opinion, for so many reasons - not least of which is the bizarre fascination with Dan Brown's crappy nonsense, to the extent of publishing books trying to predict what Brown is going to feature in his next releases. I can't imagine a more pointless exercise in life.


Could you list some of the reasons? I must say, it surprises me that you call him an "ass". Whatever you may think of his views, he strives to be polite to everyone on the Daily Grail and doesn't regularly indulge in personal attacks. You may disagree with his views, but is it really fair to call him an "ass" because he thinks differently? Unless there is something in his general behaviour that leads you to that opinion, then I could understand more. But I find him to be, in general, a mature and respectful individual.

Greg may have interests that you don't share, and thoughts you disagree with, but does that make him an "ass"? Really? I'm don't think that's fair - can people not have differing interests/opinions without being maligned? (Remember, my criticisms of Myers are not due to his having a different worldview to mine, but because I dislike his insults, etc.) If you think he's an ass *solely* because he has interests that differ from yours and views that differ from yours, then I don't think that's very tolerant or even overly defensible. I have different interests and views to you. Does that make *me* an ass?

But then, I've been around on the Grail for a while, so I've seen more of Greg, and I know he's a nice guy. I suspect if you actually met him in person you'd probably like him. His approach tends to be sensible and balanced and he always encourages fair and civil debate. Maybe you should post there and get to know him. One of your first questions to him could be - "what do you see in Dan Brown's awful novels?" Something like that. :D

Moon-Crane wrote:How did Myers have any part in Sheldrake's/Hancock's removal from the TED talks? What power does he hold? He certainly made vocal his reservations about allowing such rubbish to be a part of the proceedings, but he has no ability to ban or move anything.
http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/05/23/my-vast-but-unsavory-power/


Perhaps I'm wrong about Myers having a hand in it. I assumed he had been one of those to directly contact TED an urge them to remove the videos. I know that Coyne did so and encouraged his readers to contact TED to complain about the videos and call for their removal. If TED hadn't been pressured so much about it, then the videos would have stayed where they were, with no controversy at all. Coyne and his readers didn't have the power to ban or move the videos themselves, but their actions resulted in the videos being removed.

You call the videos "rubbish" - did you actually watch either of the videos before they were removed? If not, how can you say they are "rubbish"? Is that your opinion of Rupert Sheldrake and his work and things he says - that it's rubbish? Do you agree with Myers' statement that Sheldrake is a "pseudoscientific kook"? And if so, why?

One thing I definitely disagree on is that Sheldrake is pseudoscientific. In my opinion, he's one of the most interesting scientists we have, and I think he's a reasonable and logical individual.

Sheldrake's video was a short talk about some of the dogmas he feels are holding back mainstream science. Surely there's nothing wrong with him saying his piece about that? How is it nonsense? Why should it be removed?

I didn't get to see Hancock's video, but as far as I can tell, it was nothing to do with theories on the pyramids/Orion/aliens, etc. The bulk of Hancock's talk appears to have been the experiences he had whilst taking ayahuasca, some sort of psychotropic drug. From what I've heard from people who *did* get to see his talk before it was pulled, he framed all of his speculation as just that - speculation. He made no definitive statements of fact. Nor did he actually *encourage* the practice of taking psychotropic drugs. If he had done, removing his video would have been entirely valid.

Perhaps more importantly, TED, as I pointed out, is not an organisation which promotes a particular worldview, nor is it an organisation which is compelled to host talks with *only* individuals whose worldview is mainstream science. They have had numerous talks in the past relating to spirituality, mysticism and also religion. Pastor Rick Warren has given a talk for TED, nobody complained about that and that's still there. Then there have been others who raised "spiritual" concepts in their TED talks - Wade Davis was one, I believe. No one complained, and his video is still there. So if these sorts of talks are allowed (which they obviously are) why are Sheldrake and Hancock being picked on?

Finally, no matter what one thinks of their ideas, Sheldrake and Hancock are entitled to their free speech. Surely you would agree here? Do you really think it's right to attempt to suppress them in this way?

One last thing...as for Graham Hancock making incorrect assertions, I accept that that's probably the case. I'm not overly interested in Hancock's work personally. But I see professional sceptics making incorrect assertions as well, yet most of the other sceptics don't call them out on it. Myers made false assertions about Sheldrake and his scientific research. There are other false statements I've seen. Part of the problem is that quite a few professional sceptics (not all) don't actually read/study the research/evidence for psi and the paranormal (Michael Shermer and Peter Atkins, for example, have admitted that they haven't read research that they've criticised.) How can they criticise it if they haven't bothered to read it? Why is it okay for sceptics to make false assertions?
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Re: Random philosophical rubbish thread

Postby Patrick » Sat Jul 13, 2013 9:42 am

I tend to disagree with people whose opinions differ from mine. Does that make me a bigot?
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Re: Random philosophical rubbish thread

Postby Bee Gees Fan » Sat Jul 13, 2013 12:45 pm

Patrick wrote:I tend to disagree with people whose opinions differ from mine. Does that make me a bigot?


No, of course it doesn't. But if someone is always rude, insulting and frequently acts in a bullying manner along with it, then that does come across as bigotry, to me.

Anyhow, now that you're over here, what are your thoughts on witches/occultists and the practices involved? People like me who spend some of their spare time casting magick spells and communicating with spirits?

I imagine it all sounds rather weird to you, but I assure you - it can be good fun! :D
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Re: Random philosophical rubbish thread

Postby Patrick » Sat Jul 13, 2013 4:53 pm

Bee Gees Fan wrote:
Patrick wrote:I tend to disagree with people whose opinions differ from mine. Does that make me a bigot?


No, of course it doesn't. But if someone is always rude, insulting and frequently acts in a bullying manner along with it, then that does come across as bigotry, to me.

Anyhow, now that you're over here, what are your thoughts on witches/occultists and the practices involved? People like me who spend some of their spare time casting magick spells and communicating with spirits?

I imagine it all sounds rather weird to you, but I assure you - it can be good fun! :D

If we go by "If you can't say anything nice then don't say anything at all" then my statement on this would be
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Re: Random philosophical rubbish thread

Postby Moon-Crane » Mon Jul 15, 2013 6:39 pm

Patrick wrote:If we go by "If you can't say anything nice then don't say anything at all" then my statement on this would be


:lol:
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Re: Random philosophical rubbish thread

Postby Moon-Crane » Mon Jul 15, 2013 7:13 pm

Bee Gees Fan wrote:Well, we'll have to agree to disagree on Myers' approach. He just comes across to me an unnecessarily insulting and I don't think he's objective in his approach to the paranormal.

There's no credible evidence for anything 'paranomal'. I again am talking about evidence that is repeatable and consistent in its results. He is right to dismiss it. Of course he's objective. He's asked for evidence and never received any. We can go round and round on this for ever. There is NO evidence. There is a lot of anecdotal data and maybe some tentative experimental data that doesn't really explain anything. Let's wait until these people who are doing the experiments provide the data that can be reviewed and measured, and critiqued, rather than reaching a conclusion that more experiments are needed.

Bee Gees Fan wrote:Could you list some of the reasons? I must say, it surprises me that you call him an "ass". Whatever you may think of his views, he strives to be polite to everyone on the Daily Grail and doesn't regularly indulge in personal attacks. You may disagree with his views, but is it really fair to call him an "ass" because he thinks differently? Unless there is something in his general behaviour that leads you to that opinion. But I find him to be, in general, a mature and respectful individual.

Being polite doesn't make somebody not an ass. Ray Comfort, for example, acts all polite to every scientist he pounces on for a soundbite when interviewing for his dumbass creationist videos. He's perfectly pleasant and friendly, right up to the point he releases his videos which skew the meetings with selective editing, intercutting and voiceovers which distort every part of the argument to match his specious position on Creationism.

Bee Gees Fan wrote:Greg may have interests that you find odd, and thoughts you disagree with, but does that make him an "ass"? Really? I'm not sure that's fair - can people not have differing interests/opinions without being maligned? (Remember, my criticisms of Myers are not due to his having a different worldview to mine, but because I dislike his insults, etc.) But then, I've been around on the Grail for a while, so I've seen more of a Greg, and I know he's a nice guy. I suspect if you actually met him in person you'd probably like him.

One of his criticisms of Richard Dawkins, and The God Delusion book, was a belief that Dawkins is incorrect because he pulls apart religion but doesn't come up with an alternative to God for a supposed need to have a figure of authority that he claims humans must have to hold a 'moral compass'. Eg:
Indeed, while Dawkins warns us of the dangers that religion poses, we might ask whether it is worth being concerned about a world with no religion. Are large populations truly capable of living without a moral compass? It is easy enough to pronounce from a nice office at Oxford University that morality comes from within, not from religion. But for those on the breadline, fighting for their very survival, is it as easy to not transgress moral guidelines if one feels they are arbitrary, rather than rules set in stone? On that arbitrariness – where is the line drawn; who, in effect, sets the morals? Oxford professors, politicians, perhaps corporate leaders? Certainly, there is an arbitrariness to religious morals as well, depending on where you were born, and the problem of morality does not rebut Dawkins’ queries against religion – but if he wishes to change a flawed system, he must also be able to propose a working alternative.

Oh Really? That's just ridiculous. A) Why do we need to have any figure to place our moral basis on. B) What is the point of keeping that figure if we decide it's fake just because we don't have an alternative? The whole point is that no one person, or group of people, can come up with the definitive definition of what is moral and what isn't. People as a whole create their own moral basis – not any one person or people. It's moral relativity.

There are inherent common moral positions taken by large portions of the populace (eg, don't steal or don't kill are just common sense motivations in life – not something people magically decided to start adhering to because some bloke found it written by god on some tablets up a mountain). That's going to be the same whether god is there or not. Nobody needs to be a replacement for god.

It's such a common argument from a false position used by many a religious believer. They can't see outside of a no-god situation and think the alternative is simply amoral disintegration. Millions of people live a perfectly moral life without any god input thank you very much. I don't see the point of Greg taking this position and validating that view.

Also, he uses the common trope of the alleged 'hive mind' and blind 'faith' following of Myers by the masses at Pharyngula. That's just plain lazy and factually incorrect. As lazy as any claim allegedly made by PZ, if you wish. I read pretty much every post on his blog. Trust, me there is significant disagreement about fundamental issues, and room for those disagreements to play out. Yes, in all likelihood you're going to have people drawn to ftb who are not going to take any paranormal stuff seriously. Again there's no evidence. These are going to be people who are told to study the same things over and over again to 'give it a chance' whenever they've politely rebutted the advance. People genuinely seem to believe they're the first people to ever present 'evidence' that should be read or watched as if it's never been seen or commented upon before. No wonder the members get more aggressive in a place where they don't need to be all nice and polite and accepting. I love the fact it keeps people out who get upset if their beliefs are butthurt.

And, so, anyone who plays that 'hive mind' card is an ass, in my eyes. yes, it doesn't mean i'd personally dislike him - just as because we agree Sylvia Browne was a fraud means he's going to endear me to him any more than i'd be endeared to Boris Johnson because he shares a liking of Andy Murray. Greg's entitled to his opinion, just as PZ is. Just as you know more about Greg, I know more about PZ.

Bee Gees Fan wrote:Perhaps I'm wrong about Myers having a hand in it.

No perhaps about it. But it doesn't matter.

Bee Gees Fan wrote:I assumed he had been one of those to directly contact TED an urge them to remove the videos.

That'll be because of erroneous posts such as this, which get repeated as fact throughout the places frequented by PZ haters without evidence to substantiate it. Chinese whispers and all that. No big deal. :)

Bee Gees Fan wrote:I know that Coyne did so and encouraged his readers to contact TED to complain about the videos and call for their removal. If TED hadn't been pressured so much about it, then the videos would have stayed where they were, with no controversy at all. Coyne and his readers didn't have the power to ban or move the videos themselves, but their actions resulted in the videos being removed.

Blame TED not the people complaining?

Bee Gees Fan wrote:You call the videos "rubbish" - did you actually watch either of the videos before they were removed? If not, how can you say they are "rubbish"? Is that your opinion of Rupert Sheldrake and his work and things he says - that it's rubbish? Do you agree with Myers' statement that Sheldrake is a "pseudoscientific kook"? And if so, why?

Removed, or moved? I don't frequent the TED site so don't know or care.

Did you see what Sheldrakee was talking about at TED? As far as I see it, it boils down to him believing some nonsense about 'life force' and all these inanimate objects such as the sun and rocks and whatever having consciousness. And because proper scientists say this is bollocks (and explain why it is nonsense), he decides that those scientists have a rigid dogma that makes them small minded and insular for not agreeing with his beliefs. Sorry, but that is just bizarre.

Bee Gees Fan wrote:One thing I definitely disagree on is that Sheldrake is pseudoscientific. In my opinion, he's one of the most interesting scientists we have, and I think he's a reasonable and logical individual.

It may well be that in general terms, and certainly in previous work, he's been perfectly reasonable. In this respect i think he is pseudoscientific. And so do many other scientists.

Bee Gees Fan wrote:Sheldrake's video was a short talk about some of the dogmas he feels are holding back mainstream science. Surely there's nothing wrong with him saying his piece about that? How is it nonsense? Why should it be removed?

See my post above about his talk. You see the strapline of TED: "ideas worth spreading" – that idea was, i'd suggest, such claptrap that it wasn't worth spreading. If you're going to allow any old shit ,then where's the line drawn. Do we get Ken Ham and Ray Comfort invited to TED spout their creationist beliefs? How about Fred Phelps coming along to tell us that god hates fags? Again, i don't care too much about TED. They can do what they like. Their site - their rules.

Bee Gees Fan wrote:I didn't get to see Hancock's video, but as far as I can tell, it was nothing to do with theories on the pyramids/Orion/aliens, etc. The bulk of Hancock's talk appears to have been the experiences he had whilst taking ayahuasca, some sort of psychotropic drug. From what I've heard from people who *did* get to see his talk before it was pulled, he framed all of his speculation as just that - speculation. He made no definitive statements of fact. Nor did he actually *encourage* the practice of taking psychotropic drugs. If he had done, removing his video would have been entirely valid.

Perhaps more importantly, TED, as I pointed out, is not an organisation which promotes a particular worldview, nor is it an organisation which is compelled to host talks with *only* individuals whose worldview is mainstream science. They have had numerous talks in the past relating to spirituality, mysticism and also religion. Pastor Rick Warren has given a talk for TED, nobody complained about that and that's still there. Then there have been others who raised "spiritual" concepts in their TED talks - Wade Davis was one, I believe. No one complained, and his video is still there. So if these sorts of talks are allowed (which they obviously are) why are Sheldrake and Hancock being picked on?

Ask TED? Nobody but themselves has the power to makes those decisions.

Bee Gees Fan wrote:Finally, no matter what one thinks of their ideas, Sheldrake and Hancock are entitled to their free speech. Surely you would agree here? Do you really think it's right to attempt to suppress them in this way?

Seriously? Nobody is suppressing their free speech! They have the right to say anything they like - and nobody is preventing them from saying it. They don't, however, have the right to have their stuff put in places where the owner of said place doesn't want it. They have 100% rights to free speech in terms of putting their talks up on their own paid for web hosting and promote it to death if they so wish. This alleged suppression of free speech nonsense holds zero water.

I know there's other stuff to get back to so i'll try later. :)
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Re: Random philosophical rubbish thread

Postby CatNamedRudy » Mon Jul 15, 2013 10:52 pm

That's a huge bugaboo of mine. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences if you say something stupid. It also does not mean that you are free to put up whatever posters or such things in a private business. The business owner has every right to tell you they don't want your stuff in their place.
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Re: Random philosophical rubbish thread

Postby Bee Gees Fan » Tue Jul 16, 2013 9:22 pm

Moon-Crane wrote:There is NO evidence. There is a lot of anecdotal data and maybe some tentative experimental data that doesn't really explain anything


Well, we'll have to disagree here. I can't agree that there's *no* evidence at all, not with all the research and experiments that have gone on for well over a century. There is literally masses of it - the SPR has a huge body of research to its name. There is evidence, and I think there would probably be more by now if parapsychology weren't so poorly funded.

Moon-Crane wrote:Oh Really? That's just ridiculous. A) Why do we need to have any figure to place our moral basis on. B) What is the point of keeping that figure if we decide it's fake just because we don't have an alternative? The whole point is that no one person, or group of people, can come up with the definitive definition of what is moral and what isn't. People as a whole create their own moral basis – not any one person or people. It's moral relativity.


I agree there, that people make their own moral basis. I also agree that that particular argument of Greg's is quite weak. I'm not in agreement with all of his opinions, as you (presumably?) don't agree with everything Myers says/thinks either. But I think he does have many valid things to say on things pertaining to psi an the paranormal and in my opinion has some valid criticisms of the organised sceptic movement.

Moon-Crane wrote:Also, he uses the common trope of the alleged 'hive mind' and blind 'faith' following of Myers by the masses at Pharyngula. That's just plain lazy and factually incorrect. As lazy as any claim allegedly made by PZ, if you wish. I read pretty much every post on his blog. Trust, me there is significant disagreement about fundamental issues, and room for those disagreements to play out.


Okay, he's wrong about that. Obviously he's not as informed as you are because you spend more time there. I can see how he could have come to that conclusion following his experiences there, though. But I accept that his conclusion doesn't necessarily reflect the reality of how things work on the blog.

While I don't think that (most) professional sceptics have a following of blind faith, I do think there is a tendency for some of the readers/fans (whatever you want to call them) to take sceptics' statements at face value, when they're on subjects about which the readers already agree with the sceptic anyway. There have been cases of some sceptics making false statements about parapsychology and psi research and the individuals commenting don't call it out, they just seem to take their word for it. They seem to assume that the sceptic knows what they're talking about and has all their facts right, where in some instances, that hasn't been the case at all.

So in my opinion, I think some are too willing to agree with sceptics' pronouncements on parapsychology without due investigation of their statements/claims to see if they are correct. My point is, there is plenty of scepticism towards parapsychology and psi, but seemingly very little scepticism, if any, to their own position. So when a sceptic makes a factual error regarding psi research, no one (seemingly) picks up on it, disputes it, or even investigates to see if it's true, because they take it for granted that the sceptic will be correct. Surely if someone is really sceptical, then they would occasionally cast some scepticism onto their own side of the debate? Myers did make some false statements about Sheldrake's work, and his pronouncement on Reverend Costello could easily have been questioned by someone doing a few minutes' reading on the man's background. But because those statements confirmed what probably most of the readers already thought was likely to be true, it appears that they didn't take a sceptical approach and check to see if what Myers was saying was actually correct.

It just seems to me that *some* people who call themselves sceptics are not really sceptics at all, because they've made up their mind that paranormal phenomena cannot, and do not, exist. If someone has made up their mind either way, then they're not a sceptic.

Moon-Crane wrote: No wonder the members get more aggressive in a place where they don't need to be all nice and polite and accepting.


A certain amount of aggression can be understood, perhaps, but there comes a point when people are just being plain mean. I don't think that does any good. And even if the people commenting there have heard a lot of the stuff before, does it really hurt them to attempt to be polite in response? It's not just a case of people having their beliefs hurt, sometimes it's a case of the individuals themselves being attacked and called names. I don't see the need for verbal abuse.

Moon-Crane wrote:Blame TED not the people complaining?


Oh, I do blame TED as well, I think they caved in to pressure and I think there's a bit of a double standard there. Talks involving spirituality and the paranormal can be found of TED, so quite obviously they're allowed. If TED are going to be consistent in their actions, why not move those other talks too? (I don't want TED to do this, I'm just giving an example of why I feel there is a double standard.)

Also, in Hancock's case, it seems that TED gave false reasons for the moving of Graham Hancock's video.

http://www.dailygrail.com/Fresh-Science ... am-Hancock


Moon-Crane wrote:Removed, or moved? I don't frequent the TED site so don't know or care.


I believe they were first totally removed, and then placed again on a part of the website that's not as accessible, and framed with a "warning" of sorts.

Moon-Crane wrote:Did you see what Sheldrakee was talking about at TED? As far as I see it, it boils down to him believing some nonsense about 'life force' and all these inanimate objects such as the sun and rocks and whatever having consciousness.


I watched the TED talk then and I've just re-watched it now. I don't think that's a particularly accurate description of what his talk is about. He doesn't use the phrase "life force" anywhere. I suspect you are referring to the part of his talk in which he spoke about his theory of morphic resonance? Sheldrake says, "I think the habits of nature evolve; the regularities of nature are essentially habitual." Then he relates it to his hypothesis of morphic resonance: "According to this hypothesis everything in nature has a kind of collected memory." He goes on to state that in his hypothesis "every species has a kind of collective memory, even crystals do." (Which is where I assume you got the "rock" thing from.)

I think he makes it clear that this is his own hypothesis, rather than a scientific fact that has been absolutely proven. I also don't think it's accurate to say that his talk "boils down" to this. He only spent about three minutes on that particular aspect. He then went on to question the idea of whether the "constants" of nature were actually "really constant." Sheldrake said he'd been interested in seeing any of the fundamental constants had changed, so he looked at the old volumes of physical handbooks and discovered that "the speed of light dropped between 1928 and 1945 by about 20km per second." He also spoke about how the gravitational constant has varied by about 1.3% in recent years.

He finished off by talking briefly about the nature of the mind. If he'd had more time, he could have gone into more detail about some of his hypotheses and ideas, but ultimately, I don't think it's at all accurate to say that his talk boils down to him believing in a life force. And as I said, he doesn't mention the idea of a life force at all.

Someone managed to post the video of his talk on youtube. Here it is. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKHUaNAxsTg

Moon-Crane wrote:And because proper scientists say this is bollocks


Are you saying that Sheldrake himself is not a "proper" scientist? If so, I completely disagree. I don't see how his views/hypotheses make him any less of a scientist.

Moon-Crane wrote:he decides that those scientists have a rigid dogma that makes them small minded and insular for not agreeing with his beliefs.


I don't think that's a fair/accurate way of summing up his position (at least not as it was given in his TED talk.) He just listed ten of what he feels are assumptions by mainstream science and that he feels some people are dogmatic about it and won't question them, at all, ever, or countenance opposing views/theories. I don't really see anything wrong with that.

Moon-Crane wrote:See my post above about his talk. You see the strapline of TED: "ideas worth spreading" – that idea was, i'd suggest, such claptrap that it wasn't worth spreading.


But who can define, or decide, which ideas are "worth spreading." That's only subjective opinion. There's no fundamental law that says certain ideas aren't worth spreading, it all comes down to people's personal viewpoints. And TED obviously felt that Sheldrake's ideas *were* worth spreading, as they invited him to do the talk.


If you're going to allow any old shit ,then where's the line drawn. Do we get Ken Ham and Ray Comfort invited to TED spout their creationist beliefs? How about Fred Phelps coming along to tell us that god hates fags? Again, i don't care too much about TED. They can do what they like. Their site - their rules.


Moon-Crane wrote:Seriously? Nobody is suppressing their free speech! They have the right to say anything they like - and nobody is preventing them from saying it. They don't, however, have the right to have their stuff put in places where the owner of said place doesn't want it. They have 100% rights to free speech in terms of putting their talks up on their own paid for web hosting and promote it to death if they so wish. This alleged suppression of free speech nonsense holds zero water.


Maybe "suppression" was too extreme. But it does seem to me that certain people are trying to interfere with the open discussion of spirituality and the paranormal, especially in what one might call mainstream outlets. It's like they want this stuff confined to the fringe. I like free, open and unhampered discussion.
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Re: Random philosophical rubbish thread

Postby Bee Gees Fan » Tue Jul 16, 2013 9:28 pm

Patrick wrote:[If we go by "If you can't say anything nice then don't say anything at all" then my statement on this would be


Oh, go on, I can take it. Let me guess: you think us witches and occultists are incredibly nutty? Total oddballs? Away with the faeries? Tree-huggers? Off our rockers? :D

(Quite a few witches probably are tree-huggers, now I think about it.)

One thing I will say is that while I, and other witches/occultists/mediums obviously take what we do seriously, we can have a laugh about it and kid around as well. Most of us aren't stuffy about it. We can fool around and joke a bit. Most of us like to have a bit of levity involved. And then there is the serious side, where we get down to work, perform spells and rituals, perform evocations or invocations, summon spirits, etc.

So Patrick, if you're ever cursed... :wink:
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Re: Random philosophical rubbish thread

Postby Moon-Crane » Wed Jul 17, 2013 11:54 am

Bee Gees Fan wrote:While I don't think that (most) professional sceptics have a following of blind faith, I do think there is a tendency for some of the readers/fans (whatever you want to call them) to take sceptics' statements at face value, when they're on subjects about which the readers already agree with the sceptic anyway. There have been cases of some sceptics making false statements about parapsychology and psi research and the individuals commenting don't call it out, they just seem to take their word for it. They seem to assume that the sceptic knows what they're talking about and has all their facts right, where in some instances, that hasn't been the case at all.

Wouldn't disagree. I'd say it's obvious that people, in general, will cut more slack to the people they admire. I'm also 100% certain that everybody, on all sides of any argument you can think of, gets things wrong. There are certainly times when i disgree with PZ, but more often than not he makes good points - and certainly appears knows his biology. I like that he's militant in his atheism, too. I like a bit of fire. Most importantly i like his feminist stance.

It just seems to me that *some* people who call themselves sceptics are not really sceptics at all, because they've made up their mind that paranormal phenomena cannot, and do not, exist. If someone has made up their mind either way, then they're not a sceptic.

There are shedloads of people who throw so much rubbish forward as indisputable evidence. I don't count anybody who dismisses all further evidence from constantly debunked people, as not being sceptical enough. Technically, you should take the line of studying each piece of information on it's independent merit. In reality, you have the boy-who-cried-wolf syndrome and you have to simply blank out that constant noise for sanity's sake. Of course, once you make a sweeping dismissal of somebody, their fans will point to a specific part of the argument and call those who ignore it as closed-minded.

There are, thankfully, constant debates within the skeptic community about the application of scepticism. People have their own privilege and don't always necessarily apply scepticism to their own world view. I guess it's a natural reaction in some respects. There are people who like to post timely reminders to the point of being a skeptic (or sceptic). The CFI is not perfect. but i believe they are (as far as i've read and heard) fair in their approach to subjects and the guests they interview.
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Re: Random philosophical rubbish thread

Postby Moon-Crane » Wed Jul 17, 2013 11:55 am

To bring things back to your own wiccan interests, while i see much vocal dissent directed towards the more radical Christians, Catholics, Muslims, etc, I don't really know of anyone who's as angry about anybody into so-called New Age beliefs. I'm certain it's looked upon as a benign practice, even if it's disbelieved. Those religious people of the abrahamic persuasion, with power and influence, are seen as the dangers to 'fight'.
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Re: Random philosophical rubbish thread

Postby Bee Gees Fan » Sat Jul 27, 2013 3:42 pm

Moon-Crane wrote:Wouldn't disagree. I'd say it's obvious that people, in general, will cut more slack to the people they admire.


Certainly, and I find that understandable. But sometimes I think it's a case of people not merely cutting slack to people they admire, but more a case of them not recognising the flaws in the first place, because of an a priori assumption that the individuals have their facts right.

In the end, I think almost everyone has their own biases and beliefs which can, to varying degrees, cloud their objectivity. Perhaps it's impossible to be one hundred percent sceptical in the truest sense of the word. I think people's subjective opinions and biases will poke through to some extent. And this can be the case with some paranormalists, as I sometimes call those in my own group. The paranormal community (well, there's not really a community as such, just swathes of people who believe in various supernatural phenomena, but no organised or defined community) does have some flaws. But I also think the same flaws are reflected in the organised sceptic community, and for people who ostensibly hold scepticism up as something they believe to be an important asset, it would be nice, in my opinion, if they could apply some more scepticism to their current opinions or line of thought. Critiquing others is okay, to a point, but I personally think it would be a good thing if the more critical sceptics maybe spent a bit less time criticising what they perceive to be flaws in paranormalists, and a bit more time working on their own errors.

It is hard to solidly define either group (or any group really) because even if they're like-minded, they also are all individuals and will have different perspectives, different opinions, etc. I think it's a bit more difficult to solidly define paranormal or New Age enthusiasts, however, as there is no typically no solid organised structure that they come under. It seems to me that the sceptical community is much more "organised" in the sense that the main religions are "organised" in that there is a set of core values and opinions to which the individuals appear to subscribe. Overall, paranormal/New Age/occult aren't organised in that way at all. Smaller groups devoted to a particular practice or belief might splinter off and form, but when taken in its entirety, there is really no structure to the field. That's why in online New Age or paranormal communities, you can get people who believe in faeries but don't believe in aliens, and you can have people who believe in aliens who don't believe in faeries, etc, etc.

But we could probably agree that the individuals in either camp are a diverse group. There are many genuine and open-minded sceptics in the sceptical community, and there are some paranormal enthusiasts who are credulous or maybe even just plain nutty (if harmlessly so.) At the same time, there are a lot of New Agers, paranormalists, etc, who are very sceptical themselves, don't take anything at face value, and will investigate. They have come to form their opinions based on what they feel is good evidence. There are also some people in the sceptical community who I believe let their personal biases cloud their thinking and are rather dogmatic and closed-minded to anything which might seem to challenge their worldview.

I think what I'm trying to say is that both groups have their good points and their flaws, and both groups have their sensible people and their cranks. The stereotype of paranormal enthusiasts as being credulous, gullible fools who will believe anything and everything could not be further from the truth for most of us lot. I also think that if sceptics and New Agers/occultists/spiritualists got to know each other better, they'd probably find they had a lot in common and agreed on many things outside of their metaphysical opinions. A lot of New Agers and occultists tend to be very socially liberal in their outlook, which I imagine is true of many sceptics, although I'm sure there are *some* ultra right-wingers among both.

Moon-Crane wrote:There are certainly times when i disgree with PZ, but more often than not he makes good points - and certainly appears knows his biology.


I'm sure he does know his biology, I would just argue that I don't think he knows his parapsychology or the paranormal - or at least not to the degree that would make him an expert on such things. PZ's expertise is in biology, obviously, and while that doesn't mean that he's not knowledgeable about other things, I *do* think it means that his is far from the last word on the topic.

If Myers makes a statement about parapsychology, paranormal research, the work therein and the individuals involved, my suggestion would be for people (if they have the time) to spend a few minutes researching to see if it is accurate. Perhaps sometimes, or many times he will be correct. But there are also times when he will be wrong and mistaken.

Moon-Crane wrote:I like that he's militant in his atheism, too. I like a bit of fire.


I would posit that you like the fire because it's on a stance that you already agree with anyway. If PZ was a militant Catholic, for example, would you like the fire then? I'm assuming you wouldn't.

Personally, "militant" anything is a big turn-off for me. I find militant belief and militant non-belief equally unpalatable, equally annoying and equally intolerant. Maybe I'm just a hippy at heart, but I like things to be nice and easy and friendly and non-aggressive. I have noticed that a seemingly a lot of people who are militant in either religion or atheism or scepticism seem to be male (not all, but many.) Is the desire to be militant in one's stance more of a masculine trait, perhaps? Is it in part due to all that testosterone? I think it's an interesting hypothesis and if there's anything to it, perhaps all the militants from whatever area should just have more sex?

That's a good idea now that I think about it. More sex, more chilled out people.

Moon-Crane wrote:There are, thankfully, constant debates within the skeptic community about the application of scepticism. People have their own privilege and don't always necessarily apply scepticism to their own world view. I guess it's a natural reaction in some respects. There are people who like to post timely reminders to the point of being a skeptic (or sceptic). The CFI is not perfect. but i believe they are (as far as i've read and heard) fair in their approach to subjects and the guests they interview.


If their approach is genuinely fair and they're not complete dicks to people they interview, then that's definitely a couple of points in their favour. I have respect for sceptics who can discuss their differing views in a friendly, reasonable and respectful way with paranormal believers or New Agers. CSICOP (or CSI as it's called now) is an organisation which I'm not convinced is very fair or objective. There are several reasons for this, which I don't have time to go into in great depth now, but one of the founders of CSICOP, a sceptic named Marcello Truzzi, left the organisation barely a year after he had helped form it, due in part to becoming "concerned about the intolerance shown by his colleagues". He was certainly a sceptic, he didn't believe that paranormal phenomena was real, but he wanted CSICOP's approach to be fair and balanced. In his opinion, that wasn't reflected by his colleagues. I found Robert McLuhan's post on Truzzi quite informative -

http://monkeywah.typepad.com/paranormal ... sicop.html - and it included this quote from Truzzi:

"Parapsychologists really want to play the game by the proper statistical rules. They're very staid. They thought they could convince these sceptics but the sceptics keep raising the goalposts. It's ironic, because real psychic researchers are very committed to doing real science, more than a lot of people in science are. Yet they get rejected, while we can be slipshod in psychology and sociology and economics and get away with it. We're not painted as the witchdoctors, but they are."

A second reason is their questionable approach they took to what, I believe, has been their only actual attempt to scientifically replicate a paranormal claim. The entire story was told in a 31-page article in Fate magazine by Dennis Rawlins, himself a former CSICOP member, who apparently was kicked out due to his objections to their methods in this affair. The 31-page article can be found online somewhere, as I remember reading it, but it's summarised here in Guy Lyon Playfair's series of articles relating to CSICOP - http://www.skepticalinvestigations.org/ ... war_2.html

Before CSICOP was founded an extraordinary claim had been made that called for thorough examination, since if true it would have far-reaching implications. This was that the position of a planet at the moment of birth had an influence on the future development of the baby. Sports champions, for example, tended to be born when Mars was at certain points in the sky far more often than chance would predict. The claimants, French psychologist, statistician and, ironically, debunker of many features of traditional pop astrology Michel Gauquelin and his wife Françoise, also a psychologist, had studied the birth data of more than 2,000 champions (and many times that number of non-champions), finding that 22 percent of the champions had been born with Mars ‘rising’ or ‘transiting’ when chance would only predict 17 percent - the exact figure for the non-champions. The size of the sample made the result highly significant statistically. Moreover, their findings had been replicated by a group of Belgian sceptics known as the Comité Para.

When the Gauquelins’ claim was mentioned by a contributor to The Humanist, Kurtz could hardly ignore it. This, surely, was just the kind of claim that his committee had been set up to investigate? He particularly wanted to debunk a claim involving astrology, having alleged that it had led to no less than 200 suicides and even had something to do with the rise of fascism. And so followed CSICOP’s first attempt to replicate a paranormal claim according to accepted scientific practice. It was also to be its last.

It was a total disaster. The percentages in the large control sample studied by a CSICOP team turned out to be the same as those of the Gauquelins. The whole story of what followed was told in great detail in a 31-page article in Fate (October 1982) with this editorial comment:

They call themselves the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. In fact, they are a group of would-be debunkers who bungled their major investigation, falsified the results, covered up their errors and gave the boot to a colleague who threatened to tell the truth.
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Re: Random philosophical rubbish thread

Postby Moon-Crane » Thu Sep 12, 2013 3:03 pm

I would posit that you like the fire because it's on a stance that you already agree with anyway. If PZ was a militant Catholic, for example, would you like the fire then? I'm assuming you wouldn't.

Personally, "militant" anything is a big turn-off for me. I find militant belief and militant non-belief equally unpalatable, equally annoying and equally intolerant. Maybe I'm just a hippy at heart, but I like things to be nice and easy and friendly and non-aggressive. I have noticed that a seemingly a lot of people who are militant in either religion or atheism or scepticism seem to be male (not all, but many.) Is the desire to be militant in one's stance more of a masculine trait, perhaps? Is it in part due to all that testosterone? I think it's an interesting hypothesis and if there's anything to it, perhaps all the militants from whatever area should just have more sex?

That's a good idea now that I think about it. More sex, more chilled out people.

There's nothing wrong with being militant, per se - it depends on the issue and what claims you can back up. You wouldn't think it unpalatable for someone to 'militantly' argue the knowledge about the age of our Earth; how it circles the Sun in our solar system; that circles our galaxy; that circles the Local group; that circles the Virgo Supercluster, etc. There are people who deny such things, in spite of any evidence you provide for it. There's no way to argue the facts without sounding militant to a certain type of ear. Militant is a semantic term.

People call Greta Christina, Ophelia Benson, Jen McCreight, Rebecca Watson, Maryam Namazie, etc, militant (amongst other things) - so i don't think it's a masculine trait particularly.

If their approach is genuinely fair and they're not complete dicks to people they interview, then that's definitely a couple of points in their favour.[...]


One thing's for certain. People calling themselves a sceptic/skeptic doesn't necessarily make it so, and it certainly isn't a get out of jail free card to partake in 'dickish' behaviour. You don't have to scratch too far beneath the surface to find idiots with terrible ideas aligning themselves to the so-called community. I certainly wouldn't place the likes of Myers in that bracket - whether you approve or disapprove of his tactics, it shouldn't take away from his drive to stamp out misogyny/sexism/patriarchy in society and to get people to recognise cultural privilege and rape culture. It's not all about bashing creationists; climate change deniers, anti-vaxxers and other anti-science campaigners; or all of the usual religious extremist fraudsters.

I don't align myself to any of the so-called atheists, or skeptics, who actively attack women on a daily basis, revel in their privilege and defend rape culture, and generally indulge in obnoxious misogynist behaviour.

If i had to choose to spend time with any inclusive Wiccan group (or anybody with a moderate religious belief who believed in equality), or an atheist MRA sexist asshole then there's no argument.
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