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Reconstructo
 
Reply Thu 13 May, 2010 02:03 pm
@Amperage,
Amperage;163908 wrote:
If you do have a car that can teleport you from place to place, then maybe that is a miracle, and I'm not going to sit here and say, if you've seen it happen, that it's not, but it only effects me to the extent that I can be a part of the miracle.


Well said. As as good skeptic I feel that it's only right to be skeptical about my skepticism. We assume that we doesn't happen to us is impossible for others, and yet this does seem to be nothing more than an assumption.

I've met those who believe in ghosts, etc., and I really can't join them in this. And yet it's not hard to imagine what a difficult situation any of us would be in if we happen to be that statistical exception who saw the UFO, for instance, or something natural but infrequent. It seems that on the micro level, individual particles can only be predicted in their movements statistically. Who would have believed in the middle ages that a man in China could have a video conference with a man in Mexico? Perhaps a few...
 
Amperage
 
Reply Thu 13 May, 2010 02:04 pm
@Pyrrho,
Pyrrho;163924 wrote:
Isn't calling it "a long shot" just another way of saying that it is probably false? In other words, you think the story is more likely false than true, and so you don't believe it.
maybe so, but it really doesn't matter what I think happened....what matters is what actually happened.

My grandpa, when it happened, and to this day, didn't/doesn't believe Neil Armstrong and crew landed on the moon.

But his belief about it doesn't change that fact that it either did or did not actually happen.

Similarly. You may truly have some miraculous thing at your house. Whether I believe it or not and whether I see it or not, doesn't change the facts of whether it was or is(did) actually there(happened).

And to discredit you solely based on what I witness would not be fair. This is why I think it is better to simply maintain that, while it may in fact be real and significant for you, it remains trivial to me since I was not able to see it or make it happen.

---------- Post added 05-13-2010 at 03:14 PM ----------

here is a possible example that I just thought of.

You may or may not know that we have some kind of satellite pointed into space trying to pick up radio waves. Well ,sometime back in like the 70s, I think, they picked up some amazing anomalous signal to which the guy wrote, Wow!, in the margin or something like that. Anyway, they've been pointing satellites in that direction ever since and have yet to reproduce or re-find that signal. To my knowledge, they have no explanation for it and, as of yet, it remains a mystery.

Now, it is not out of the realm of possibility that they picked up some kind of alien signal but, then again, maybe not.

But whether anyone believes they did or not doesn't change the fact of what it actually occurred on that faithful day.

Maybe it was a miracle. Maybe not.


here I found the article.
Wow! signal - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 
Jebediah
 
Reply Thu 13 May, 2010 02:27 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;163942 wrote:
Well said. As as good skeptic I feel that it's only right to be skeptical about my skepticism.


As a good skeptic, I'm skeptical that it is right to be skeptical about my skepticism :shifty:

Amperage wrote:
I just mean that my having not seen it happen doesn't mean that it didn't happen.

Therefore, having not seen it myself, I would not say you are lying but would probably reply something like , "Great, but it doesn't mean anything to me."


But these claims don't exist in a vaccuum. If you said to me "The moose beat the Foxes in a game of squareball, 22-1" I would have no idea what you were talking about, and have no particular reason to think you were lying. I might very well say "my having not seen it happen doesn't mean that it didn't happen". If you tell me that the Rams beat the Colts 22-1, then I have a frame of reference, and I am quite right to assume you are lying.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 13 May, 2010 02:28 pm
@Amperage,
Amperage;163943 wrote:
maybe so, but it really doesn't matter what I think happened....what matters is what actually happened.

My grandpa, when it happened, and to this day, didn't/doesn't believe Neil Armstrong and crew landed on the moon.



But the issue is not what is believed or not. The issue is what is believed or not given the evidence. People are gullible, and most are inclined to believe anything that fits into their preconceptions of how the world is. (Or does not fit into their preconceptions of how the world is). Thus, ignorance breeds ignorance. The crucial thing to remember is, as David Hume wrote, "The wise man proportions his belief to the evidence".
 
Amperage
 
Reply Thu 13 May, 2010 02:30 pm
@Jebediah,
Jebediah;163960 wrote:
As a good skeptic, I'm skeptical that it is right to be skeptical about my skepticism :shifty:



But these claims don't exist in a vaccuum. If you said to me "The moose beat the Foxes in a game of squareball, 22-1" I would have no idea what you were talking about, and have no particular reason to think you were lying. I might very well say "my having not seen it happen doesn't mean that it didn't happen". If you tell me that the Rams beat the Colts 22-1, then I have a frame of reference, and I am quite right to assume you are lying.
well just as I was trying to point out in my previous example about the Wow! signal, since it is not something we have been able to re-find, repeat, or reproduce it becomes trivial in the sense that it doesn't effect anything. But not being able to re-find it, reproduce it, or repeat it does not the change what actually occurred that 1 time.

---------- Post added 05-13-2010 at 03:32 PM ----------

kennethamy;163961 wrote:
But the issue is not what is believed or not. The issue is what is believed or not given the evidence. People are gullible, and most are inclined to believe anything that fits into their preconceptions of how the world is. (Or does not fit into their preconceptions of how the world is). Thus, ignorance breeds ignorance. The crucial thing to remember is, as David Hume wrote, "The wise man proportions his belief to the evidence".
Evidence, in my mind, presupposes some measure of repeatability. If something ever only occurs once, and you cannot duplicate the results, then you may be inclined to disbelieve what happened the first time but this does not discredit the fact that what happened the first time may have actually been legitimate.

Not being able to repeat something, does not discredit that something but it does make that something become trivial to anyone who did not witness it
 
Pyrrho
 
Reply Thu 13 May, 2010 02:35 pm
@Amperage,
Amperage;163943 wrote:
maybe so, but it really doesn't matter what I think happened....what matters is what actually happened.



If you mean that what you believe does not affect what happened, of course, I agree. But that does not mean that it does not matter what you believe. Do you think that it does not matter whether someone's head is filled with rubbish or not? Don't you think the world would be better off if people were more reasonable? Don't you think it is unfortunate that many people waste time and effort on things that are not going to work, and are such that they should have known that they do not work? For example, don't you think it is a bad thing that people waste their money on fraudulent products and services?

As William Kingdon Clifford expressed it:

Quote:
And, as in other such cases, it is not the risk only which has to be considered; for a bad action is always bad at the time when it is done, no matter what happens afterwards. Every time we let ourselves believe for unworthy reasons, we weaken our powers of self-control, of doubting, of judicially and fairly weighing evidence. We all suffer severely enough from the maintenance and support of false beliefs and the fatally wrong actions which they lead to, and the evil born when one such belief is entertained is great and wide. But a greater and wider evil arises when the credulous character is maintained and supported, when a habit of believing for unworthy reasons is fostered and made permanent. If I steal money from any person, there may be no harm done by the mere transfer of possession; he may not feel the loss, or it may prevent him from using the money badly. But I cannot help doing this great wrong towards Man, that I make myself dishonest. What hurts society is not that it should lose its property, but that it should become a den of thieves; for then it must cease to be society. This is why we ought not to do evil that good may come; for at any rate this great evil has come, that we have done evil and are made wicked thereby. In like manner, if I let myself believe anything on insufficient evidence, there may be no great harm done by the mere belief; it may be true after all, or I may never have occasion to exhibit it in outward acts. But I cannot help doing this great wrong towards Man, that I make myself credulous. The danger to society is not merely that it should believe wrong things, though that is great enough; but that it should become credulous, and lose the habit of testing things and inquiring into them; for then it must sink back into savagery.

The harm which is done by credulity in a man is not confined to the fostering of a credulous character in others, and consequent support of false beliefs. Habitual want of care about what I believe leads to habitual want of care in others about the truth of what is told to me. Men speak the truth to one another when each reveres the truth in his own mind and in the other's mind; but how shall my friend revere the truth in my mind when I myself am careless about it, when I believe things because I want to believe them, and because they are comforting and pleasant? Will he not learn to cry, "Peace," to me, when there is no peace? By such a course I shall surround myself with a thick atmosphere of falsehood and fraud, and in that I must live. It may matter little to me, in my cloud-castle of sweet illusions and darling lies; but it matters much to Man that I have made my neighbours ready to deceive. The credulous man is father to the liar and the cheat; he lives in the bosom of this his family, and it is no marvel if he should become even as they are. So closely are our duties knit together, that whoso shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.


The Ethics of Belief

I don't think it is a trivial matter at all what people believe. What they believe affects their actions, and their actions affect others. Being careless about what one believes can easily lead to bad actions. Clifford's entire essay is well worth reading (it can be found at the link above).


Amperage;163943 wrote:
My grandpa, when it happened, and to this day, didn't/doesn't believe Neil Armstrong and crew landed on the moon.

But his belief about it doesn't change that fact that it either did or did not actually happen.



Yes, of course. But do you think it is a good thing that your grandfather believes what he believes?


Amperage;163943 wrote:
Similarly. You may truly have some miraculous thing at your house. Whether I believe it or not and whether I see it or not, doesn't change the facts of whether it was or is(did) actually there(happened).



Again, we agree on that point.


Amperage;163943 wrote:
And to discredit you solely based on what I witness would not be fair. This is why I think it is better to simply maintain that it may in fact be real and significant for you, it remains trivial to me since I was not able to see it or make it happen.



That is where we disagree. What is fair is to weigh the evidence impartially and without prejudice, to consider what is most likely, and to believe in proportion to the evidence. Now, it might be the case that sometimes it is unwise to express one's disbelief, but that does not mean that one ought in such cases to believe something for unworthy reasons. It may be, for example, an impossible task to convince your grandfather that he is mistaken, and it may upset him and strain your relationship with him, so it might not be worth discussing the matter with him. But that does not make it in any way reasonable to believe he is correct.

With the story of my teleportation, it would not be reasonable to believe it no matter what I said. Even though I have never lied to you in the past. (And, if you have been reading carefully, you will be able to tell that I am likely telling the truth in this thread as well, as I have not actually claimed to be able to teleport.)

If you express belief in such stories, you encourage people to tell them. And consequently you help further superstitious nonsense. As Clifford expressed it:

Quote:
And no one man's belief is in any case a private matter which concerns himself alone. Our lives are guided by that general conception of the course of things which has been created by society for social purposes. Our words, our phrases, our forms and processes and modes of thought, are common property, fashioned and perfected from age to age; an heirloom which every succeeding generation inherits as a precious deposit and a sacred trust to be handed on to the next one, not unchanged but enlarged and purified, with some clear marks of its proper handiwork. Into this, for good or ill, is woven every belief of every man who has speech of his fellows. An awful privilege, and an awful responsibility, that we should help to create the world in which posterity will live.

In the two supposed cases which have been considered, it has been judged wrong to believe on insufficient evidence, or to nourish belief by suppressing doubts and avoiding investigation. The reason of this judgment is not far to seek: it is that in both these cases the belief held by one man was of great importance to other men. But forasmuch as no belief held by one man, however seemingly trivial the belief, and however obscure the believer, is ever actually insignificant or without its effect on the fate of mankind, we have no choice but to extend our judgment to all cases of belief whatever. Belief, that sacred faculty which prompts the decisions of our will, and knits into harmonious working all the compacted energies of our being, is ours not for ourselves, but for humanity. It is rightly used on truths which have been established by long experience and waiting toil, and which have stood in the fierce light of free and fearless questioning. Then it helps to bind men together, and to strengthen and direct their common action. It is desecrated when given to unproved and unquestioned statements, for the solace and private pleasure of the believer; to add a tinsel splendour to the plain straight road of our life and display a bright mirage beyond it; or even to drown the common sorrows of our kind by a self-deception which allows them not only to cast down, but also to degrade us. Whoso would deserve well of his fellows in this matter will guard the purity of his belief with a very fanaticism of jealous care, lest at any time it should rest on an unworthy object, and catch a stain which can never be wiped away.

It is not only the leader of men, statesmen, philosopher, or poet, that owes this bounden duty to mankind. Every rustic who delivers in the village alehouse his slow, infrequent sentences, may help to kill or keep alive the fatal superstitions which clog his race. Every hard-worked wife of an artisan may transmit to her children beliefs which shall knit society together, or rend it in pieces. No simplicity of mind, no obscurity of station, can escape the universal duty of questioning all that we believe.


So, I very much disagree with your assertion that it doesn't matter what you think happened.
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Thu 13 May, 2010 02:39 pm
@Jebediah,
Jebediah;163960 wrote:
As a good skeptic, I'm skeptical that it is right to be skeptical about my skepticism :shifty:

And as an aspiring perfect skeptic, I'm skeptical as to whether I can ever be skeptical enough in regards to skepticism to attain perfect skepticism concerning my skepticism or whether I'm...losing my mind. Smile

I don't know even know whether I don't know whether I don't know or (k)not. :detective:
 
sometime sun
 
Reply Thu 13 May, 2010 02:44 pm
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead;163938 wrote:
Some of us weirdos revel in our weirdness

Yeh what's that about?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 13 May, 2010 02:45 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;163968 wrote:
And as an aspiring perfect skeptic, I'm skeptical as to whether I can ever be skeptical enough in regards to skepticism to attain perfect skepticism concerning my skepticism or whether I'm...losing my mind. Smile

I don't know even know whether I don't know whether I don't know or (k)not. :detective:


Sigh...............................
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Thu 13 May, 2010 02:45 pm
@platorepublic,
Can we assume that "belief" or "faith" has no effect on the situation at hand? Ecluding the "supernatural" it's obvious, in my opinion, that those with a stubborn confidence in success are more likely to succeed. They think they can so they do.

This doesn't mean I want to stick pins in voodoo dolls.

---------- Post added 05-13-2010 at 03:46 PM ----------

Well, this thread is derailed, and I must confess my own little piece of guilt.
 
Amperage
 
Reply Thu 13 May, 2010 03:00 pm
@Pyrrho,
Pyrrho;163965 wrote:
If you mean that what you believe does not affect what happened, of course, I agree. But that does not mean that it does not matter what you believe. Do you think that it does not matter whether someone's head is filled with rubbish or not? Don't you think the world would be better off if people were more reasonable? Don't you think it is unfortunate that many people waste time and effort on things that are not going to work, and are such that they should have known that they do not work? For example, don't you think it is a bad thing that people waste their money on fraudulent products and services?
sure I do, but at the same time, I can look at history and note that the many have always believed the few were foolish, right until they accomplished something that is.
I agree that we have to go by the evidence in cases where we are not witness to that something.

But I disagree that is fair to call someone a lier or diluted if they say something or did something that we didn't or couldn't.
As I said, it seems much more reasonable to me to say, ''while that is all well and good, it remains trivial to me since I couldn't get it to work or do it''



Pyrrho;163965 wrote:
IAs William Kingdon Clifford expressed it:



The Ethics of Belief
Firstly that is a very well said passage and in terms of the passage, I am not so much believing someones claim of a miracle as allowing for the possibility. With me, I typically, at least on this site, never try and get someone to believe in something as much as I try and get them to allow for the possibility of something. As I said, if we cannot reporduce the event then it becomes trival, be it true or be it false. It crosses the line, to me though, to call someone a lier for it though.

I don't expect someone who has not experienced God themselves to believe in God for this very reason. Proof and evidence only matters to those who are looking for validation. Take a miracle, or God for example. Say I experience a miracle; I may tell the whole world of what I have experienced and they may not believe me since there is no evidence to support my claim. But having no evidence simply means they were not able to reproduce or corroborate my claim, it has no bearing on the truth what I actually experienced right or wrong. Clifford even says that someone can believing something without evidence and that belief can be correct, but he simply maintains this is an overall bad thing. I don't necessarily disagree but I do maintain that personal experience is an evidence if but to no one but yourself.

Next, comes the idea of what one would rather get out of life. Is is more important to you to hold true beliefs or not hold a false beliefs? For me, it is more important to hold true beliefs. All this really means is that, at times, I am more willing to go out on a limb with my beliefs in an attempt to hold something that is true at the risk of being wrong, while others(and I believe Clifford would certainly fall in this category) will reserve judgment on a belief in general as to not risk possibly being wrong. The trade off is that they will miss out on holding true beliefs due to their doubt.


Pyrrho;163965 wrote:
That is where we disagree. What is fair is to weigh the evidence impartially and without prejudice, to consider what is most likely, and to believe in proportion to the evidence. Now, it might be the case that sometimes it is unwise to express one's disbelief, but that does not mean that one ought in such cases to believe something for unworthy reasons. It may be, for example, an impossible task to convince your grandfather that he is mistaken, and it may upset him and strain your relationship with him, so it might not be worth discussing the matter with him. But that does not make it in any way reasonable to believe he is correct.

With the story of my teleportation, it would not be reasonable to believe it no matter what I said. Even though I have never lied to you in the past. (And, if you have been reading carefully, you will be able to tell that I am likely telling the truth in this thread as well, as I have not actually claimed to be able to teleport.)

If you express belief in such stories, you encourage people to tell them. And consequently you help further superstitious nonsense. As Clifford expressed it:



So, I very much disagree with your assertion that it doesn't matter what you think happened.
it not so much that I believe such stories as I am willing to stipulate for the possibility while maintaining its overall unimportance to all those unaffected. If you can fly but you can only do so when no one is watching, it becomes a trivial fact be it true or false. Do you not agree?


---------- Post added 05-13-2010 at 04:39 PM ----------


Actually, upon re-thinking about Cliffords position, I think he would maintain it is better to be wrong while claiming that something is false than it is to be right while claiming something is true with no corroboration from others. And I don't see his very claim to be justifiable.

justified belief only matters to the extend that you feel the evidence suffices. If I see something with my own eyes, that may be enough for me to be justified in my belief while my having seen something might not be enough to justify someone else's belief in what I saw.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 13 May, 2010 03:01 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;163972 wrote:
Can we assume that "belief" or "faith" has no effect on the situation at hand? Ecluding the "supernatural" it's obvious, in my opinion, that those with a stubborn confidence in success are more likely to succeed. They think they can so they do.

This doesn't mean I want to stick pins in voodoo dolls.

---------- Post added 05-13-2010 at 03:46 PM ----------

Well, this thread is derailed, and I must confess my own little piece of guilt.


That we believe (disbelieve) that p is true has nothing whatever to do with whether p is true. But if we believe that p will be true, that might, sometimes, effect whether p will be true.

"Just a little thought". But for some even a little thought is difficult, and not everyone has a talent for it.
 
Pyrrho
 
Reply Thu 13 May, 2010 04:12 pm
@Amperage,
Amperage;163978 wrote:
sure I do, but at the same time, I can look at history and note that the many have always believed the few were foolish, right until they accomplished something that is.
I agree that we have to go by the evidence in cases where we are not witness to that something.

But I disagree that is fair to call someone a lier or diluted if they say something or did something that we didn't or couldn't.
As I said, it seems much more reasonable to me to say, ''while that is all well and good, it remains trivial to me since I couldn't get it to work or do it''



There is a difference between calling someone a liar or deluded, and believing that the person is a liar or deluded. So if you are worried about being polite, that need not enter into the matter, as I am not advocating telling every liar you meet that he or she is a liar, or telling every deluded person that he or she is deluded. You can believe someone is a liar without rudely stating the truth, as one may generally keep quiet about such things if one wishes.


Amperage;163978 wrote:
Firstly that is a very well said passage and in terms of the passage, I am not so much believing someones claim of a miracle as allowing for the possibility.



I am a bit unclear on your precise meaning. Do you mean that you wish to be polite, and not contradict the person verbally or in writing, or are you saying that you take claims seriously, no matter how ridiculous they may be? Is there nothing too absurd for you to not take it seriously and not regard it as a possibility?


Amperage;163978 wrote:
With me, I typically, at least on this site, never try and get someone to believe in something as much as I try and get them to allow for the possibility of something. As I said, if we cannot reporduce the event then it becomes trival, be it true or be it false. It crosses the line, to me though, to call someone a lier for it though.

I don't expect someone who has not experienced God themselves to believe in God for this very reason. Proof and evidence only matters to those who are looking for validation. Take a miracle, or God for example. Say I experience a miracle; I may tell the whole world of what I have experienced and they may not believe me since there is no evidence to support my claim. But having no evidence simply means they were not able to reproduce or corroborate my claim, it has no bearing on the truth what I actually experienced right or wrong. Clifford even says that someone can believing something without evidence and that belief can be correct, but he simply maintains this is an overall bad thing. I don't necessarily disagree but I do maintain that personal experience is an evidence if but to no one but yourself.



Personal experience is obviously evidence. But when one has an experience of some kind or other, there is always the issue of what it is that one has experienced. For example, suppose you hear a voice from on high, and it says that it is god talking. There are several possibilities. One is that god is talking to you. Another is that the devil is talking to you, trying to fool you. Another is that someone is playing a trick on you. Another is that you are hallucinating. The exact circumstances will give us a clue about which of these is most likely. For example, if one has just taken a massive amount of LSD, hallucinating is a very strong possibility. Or if one has mental problems and one is prone to hallucinations, then that is a reason to think that that is probably what is happening. Another thing known to cause hallucinations is a lack of oxygen to the brain. This most often occurs when there is a lack of proper blood flow to the brain, as when someone has a heart attack.

If we look at near death experiences, for example, people are typically such that their brains are oxygen deprived, and so they often hallucinate. People tend to interpret these hallucinations in accordance with their beliefs. Thus, Christians imagine that they are confirmations of Christianity, Muslims imagine that they are confirmations of Islam, etc. The reality is, they are hallucinating, and this is known to be the case, but most people do not bother with researching what is going on with their experiences, and simply believe whatever they want to about them. It is important to note that they are not being dishonest; they really believe that they have had some great mystical experience. But their experience has a very mundane cause, and is no sign of anything supernatural at all.

If we look at the Bible and its recommendations for prayer, it is a guide for how to have hallucinations. One of the things to do is fasting. It is known that fasting for a few days can cause hallucinations. Another thing to do is "pray in your closet". It is known that sensory deprivation can cause hallucinations (do some research into "sensory deprivation chambers" for more on that). Some native Americans take a more direct approach and recommend peyote, but the essential idea is the same: Do something to induce hallucinations.


There was a Nova episode ("Secrets of the Mind") that is also relevant to this:

Companion website:
NOVA Online | Secrets of the Mind

Transcript:
NOVA | Transcripts | Secrets of the Mind | PBS


Amperage;163978 wrote:

Next, comes the idea of what one would rather get out of life. Is is more important to you to hold true beliefs or not hold a false beliefs? For me, it is more important to hold true beliefs. All this really means is that, at times, I am more willing to go out on a limb with my beliefs in an attempt to hold something that is true at the risk of being wrong, while others(and I believe Clifford would certainly fall in this category) will reserve judgment on a belief in general as to not risk possibly being wrong. The trade off is that they will miss out on holding true beliefs due to their doubt.



I think you should read the entire book at:

The Ethics of Belief

A.J. Burger has something to say about your remarks here in connection with William James saying something very similar to your remarks:

Quote:



Amperage;163978 wrote:

it not so much that I believe such stories as I am willing to stipulate for the possibility while maintaining its overall unimportance to all those unaffected. If you can fly but you can only do so when no one is watching, it becomes a trivial fact be it true or false. Do you not agree?



Actually, it would matter if I could fly whenever no one was watching me. I would be able to get places much faster which would be a great advantage in life.
 
Amperage
 
Reply Thu 13 May, 2010 04:49 pm
@Pyrrho,
Pyrrho;164002 wrote:
There is a difference between calling someone a liar or deluded, and believing that the person is a liar or deluded. So if you are worried about being polite, that need not enter into the matter, as I am not advocating telling every liar you meet that he or she is a liar, or telling every deluded person that he or she is deluded. You can believe someone is a liar without rudely stating the truth, as one may generally keep quiet about such things if one wishes.
indeed there is a difference. What I am saying is not about being polite but about rejected someone's claim outright while having not actually witnessed it especially if you have no previous reason to doubt the person.

Pyrrho;164002 wrote:
I am a bit unclear on your precise meaning. Do you mean that you wish to be polite, and not contradict the person verbally or in writing, or are you saying that you take claims seriously, no matter how ridiculous they may be? Is there nothing too absurd for you to not take it seriously and not regard it as a possibility?
If I do not personally witness the event of the claim, then it would be bit presumptuous to immediately believe they are lying. If I then test out what they have claimed and find that I cannot reproduce their results, then it is still presumptuous to believe they lied. It seems much more reasonable to me to say I don't know if they are or are not lying, but whether they are lying or not doesn't matter because I couldn't reproduce their results, therefore it becomes unimportant to me personally whether what they say is true or not.

Pyrrho;164002 wrote:
Personal experience is obviously evidence. But when one has an experience of some kind or other, there is always the issue of what it is that one has experienced. For example, suppose you hear a voice from on high, and it says that it is god talking. There are several possibilities. One is that god is talking to you. Another is that the devil is talking to you, trying to fool you. Another is that someone is playing a trick on you. Another is that you are hallucinating. The exact circumstances will give us a clue about which of these is most likely. For example, if one has just taken a massive amount of LSD, hallucinating is a very strong possibility. Or if one has mental problems and one is prone to hallucinations, then that is a reason to think that that is probably what is happening. Another thing known to cause hallucinations is a lack of oxygen to the brain. This most often occurs when there is a lack of proper blood flow to the brain, as when someone has a heart attack.
I both agree while still realizing this does not exclude the possibility that their experience was legitimate.

Pyrrho;164002 wrote:
If we look at near death experiences, for example, people are typically such that their brains are oxygen deprived, and so they often hallucinate. People tend to interpret these hallucinations in accordance with their beliefs. Thus, Christians imagine that they are confirmations of Christianity, Muslims imagine that they are confirmations of Islam, etc. The reality is, they are hallucinating, and this is known to be the case, but most people do not bother with researching what is going on with their experiences, and simply believe whatever they want to about them. It is important to note that they are not being dishonest; they really believe that they have had some great mystical experience. But their experience has a very mundane cause, and is no sign of anything supernatural at all.

If we look at the Bible and its recommendations for prayer, it is a guide for how to have hallucinations. One of the things to do is fasting. It is known that fasting for a few days can cause hallucinations. Another thing to do is "pray in your closet". It is known that sensory deprivation can cause hallucinations (do some research into "sensory deprivation chambers" for more on that). Some native Americans take a more direct approach and recommend peyote, but the essential idea is the same: Do something to induce hallucinations.
This entire quote, to me, is a textbook example of the genetic fallacy.

Pyrrho;164002 wrote:
I think you should read the entire book at:

The Ethics of Belief

A.J. Burger has something to say about your remarks here in connection with William James saying something very similar to your remarks:
Apparently I should. Well I respectfully disagree with Mr. Burger because I think he undervalues the implications of the difference between gaining as many true beliefs as possible vs. gaining as few false beliefs as possible. It seems that he would hold a similar view to the man who thinks it would be better to be blind because one may certainly view many bad things while not realizing the overwhelming amount of great things that will overshadow the bad. I do think it is somewhat funny and even somewhat hypocritical that he thinks he is justified in calling someone a lier for a miracle claim while risking the possibility that he is wrong. It would seem that a more logical response would be to simply reserve judgment entirely.

One can obviously always look at life from the sideline never forming an opinion, never asking a girl out, never getting involved for fear of being rejected, for fear of being wrong, for fear of failure, but such a life, to me, is no life at all.

Einstein did not worry that prior to 1921(or whatever year...I forget exactly) the theory of relativity was thought of as nonsense and neither did many others throughout history. In fact I would argue that the people who have achieved the most important discoveries and inventions throughout history, were those men and woman who formed a belief when no one else felt they were justified. A justified belief is only important on a subjective scale. Believing something is justified is about what the amount of evidence necessary for you to personally feel your opinion is reasonable; nothing more.


As I added in my previous post, which you may not have saw, I actually think that Mr. Clifford would maintain it is better to be wrong while claiming that something is false than it is to be right while claiming something is true with no corroboration from others. And I don't see his claim itself to be justifiable.

Justified belief only matters to the extent that you feel the evidence suffices. If I see something with my own eyes, that may be enough for me to be justified in my belief ,while my having seen something, might not be enough to justify someone else's belief in what I saw.
 
Pyrrho
 
Reply Thu 13 May, 2010 05:47 pm
@Amperage,
amperage wrote:
pyrrho wrote:
there is a difference between calling someone a liar or deluded, and believing that the person is a liar or deluded. So if you are worried about being polite, that need not enter into the matter, as i am not advocating telling every liar you meet that he or she is a liar, or telling every deluded person that he or she is deluded. You can believe someone is a liar without rudely stating the truth, as one may generally keep quiet about such things if one wishes.


indeed there is a difference. What i am saying is not about being polite but about rejected someone's claim outright while having not actually witnessed it especially if you have no previous reason to doubt the person.


pyrrho wrote:
i am a bit unclear on your precise meaning. Do you mean that you wish to be polite, and not contradict the person verbally or in writing, or are you saying that you take claims seriously, no matter how ridiculous they may be? Is there nothing too absurd for you to not take it seriously and not regard it as a possibility?


if i do not personally witness the event of the claim, then it would be bit presumptuous to immediately believe they are lying. If i then test out what they have claimed and find that i cannot reproduce their results, then it is still presumptuous to believe they lied. It seems much more reasonable to me to say i don't know if they are or are not lying, but whether they are lying or not doesn't matter because i couldn't reproduce their results, therefore it becomes unimportant to me personally whether what they say is true or not.



Lying is only one of the possibilities. In every post, I have been careful to point out that the person may be mistaken in what they state. So, I agree that it would be presumptuous to suppose that every ridiculous story was a lie, as it may be that the person honestly believes what they are saying.

As for whether it is important to you personally or not, many times stories of miracles are purported to support some religion or other, typically with the message that if you do not convert to that one, you will be punished. If that is true, then it surely does matter to you, even if, at the moment, you think it is unimportant.



amperage wrote:
pyrrho wrote:

personal experience is obviously evidence. But when one has an experience of some kind or other, there is always the issue of what it is that one has experienced. For example, suppose you hear a voice from on high, and it says that it is god talking. There are several possibilities. One is that god is talking to you. Another is that the devil is talking to you, trying to fool you. Another is that someone is playing a trick on you. Another is that you are hallucinating. The exact circumstances will give us a clue about which of these is most likely. For example, if one has just taken a massive amount of lsd, hallucinating is a very strong possibility. Or if one has mental problems and one is prone to hallucinations, then that is a reason to think that that is probably what is happening. Another thing known to cause hallucinations is a lack of oxygen to the brain. This most often occurs when there is a lack of proper blood flow to the brain, as when someone has a heart attack.



i both agree while still realizing this does not exclude the possibility that their experience was legitimate.



????


amperage wrote:
pyrrho wrote:

if we look at near death experiences, for example, people are typically such that their brains are oxygen deprived, and so they often hallucinate. People tend to interpret these hallucinations in accordance with their beliefs. Thus, christians imagine that they are confirmations of christianity, muslims imagine that they are confirmations of islam, etc. The reality is, they are hallucinating, and this is known to be the case, but most people do not bother with researching what is going on with their experiences, and simply believe whatever they want to about them. It is important to note that they are not being dishonest; they really believe that they have had some great mystical experience. But their experience has a very mundane cause, and is no sign of anything supernatural at all.

If we look at the bible and its recommendations for prayer, it is a guide for how to have hallucinations. One of the things to do is fasting. It is known that fasting for a few days can cause hallucinations. Another thing to do is "pray in your closet". It is known that sensory deprivation can cause hallucinations (do some research into "sensory deprivation chambers" for more on that). Some native americans take a more direct approach and recommend peyote, but the essential idea is the same: Do something to induce hallucinations.



this entire quote, to me, is a textbook example of the genetic fallacy.



Combined with your remarks above, it would appear that you believe that if I induce hallucinations of visits from god by using massive amounts of LSD, it really is god talking to me. Is that what you are saying, or do you mean something else?

Also, I think you need to reread a textbook on the genetic fallacy. We are in this case talking about what the experience is, and what caused it. If I see a man flying, and it is caused by me watching a movie, don't you think that is relevant to whether or not I really saw someone fly, or just saw what appeared to be someone flying?



amperage wrote:
pyrrho wrote:


i think you should read the entire book at:

the ethics of belief

a.j. Burger has something to say about your remarks here in connection with william james saying something very similar to your remarks:


apparently i should. Well i respectfully disagree with mr. Burger because i think he undervalues the implications of the difference between gaining as many true beliefs as possible vs. Gaining as few false beliefs as possible. It seems that he would hold a similar view to the man who thinks it would be better to be blind because one may certainly view many bad things while not realizing the overwhelming amount of great things that will overshadow the bad.



No. He or she is not advocating being blind. He or she is advocating believing in proportion to the evidence. There is no advocating that one shirk away from harsh truths in that essay.


amperage wrote:
I do think it is somewhat funny and even somewhat hypocritical that he thinks he is justified in calling someone a lier for a miracle claim while risking the possibility that he is wrong.



Neither Burger nor I make the mistake of supposing that the only alternative to the story being true is that the person is lying. That is one possibility. Another is that the person is mistaken.

Also, if you wanted to always avoid being wrong, you would need to suspend judgment always, as it is always possible to make a mistake. Neither Clifford nor Burger advocate that, nor do I.


amperage wrote:
It would seem that a more logical response would be to simply reserve judgment entirely.



The most logical response is to believe in proportion to the evidence. Reserving judgment is only reasonable when there is insufficient evidence to make a determination. You don't withhold judgement on everything, do you?


amperage wrote:
One can obviously always look at life from the sideline never forming an opinion, never asking a girl out, never getting involved for fear of being rejected, for fear of being wrong, for fear of failure, but such a life, to me, is no life at all.



You are again sounding like William James in his essay "The Will to Believe". I think it would be best for you to read the book, and then start a thread about it so we can discuss it. If I fail to notice the new thread, you can send me a private message to give me a link to your new thread and let me know of its existence.

However, in case you do not do that, there is a difference between an action and a belief. With your example of asking a girl out, one can do that action without first having the belief that she will say "yes". Often times, the point in asking a question is to find out the answer.


amperage wrote:
Einstein did not worry that prior to 1921(or whatever year...i forget exactly) the theory of relativity was thought of as nonsense and neither did many others throughout history. in fact i would argue that the people who have achieved the most important discoveries and inventions throughout history, were those men and woman who formed a belief when no one else felt they were justified.



Other people regarding you as justified and you being justified are two different things.


amperage wrote:
a justified belief is only important on a subjective scale. Believing something is justified is about what the amount of evidence necessary for you to personally feel your opinion is reasonable; nothing more.


As i added in my previous post, which you may not have saw, i actually think that mr. Clifford would maintain it is better to be wrong while claiming that something is false than it is to be right while claiming something is true with no corroboration from others. And i don't see his claim itself to be justifiable.

Justified belief only matters to the extent that you feel the evidence suffices. If i see something with my own eyes, that may be enough for me to be justified in my belief ,while my having seen something, might not be enough to justify someone else's belief in what i saw.


I think it would be best for me to wait until you have read the book, and start a new thread about it. You may then, if you wish, detail what you think is wrong with Clifford and Burger. Of course, they might convince you if you read them in their entirety, but we can wait and see.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 13 May, 2010 05:55 pm
@Amperage,
Amperage;164011 wrote:

Justified belief only matters to the extent that you feel the evidence suffices. If I see something with my own eyes, that may be enough for me to be justified in my belief ,while my having seen something, might not be enough to justify someone else's belief in what I saw.


How could whether justified belief matter only to the extent you feel it matters? Why should it matter at all to whether justified belief matters what you happen to feel about it? If you think you see something with your own eyes, then that may be enough for you, but why would you think (let alone feel) that would be enough evidence? If you saw something with your own eyes but had just taken a powerful hallucinogen, then you should clearly not think that it was enough evidence for you. You should very much distrust what you see. On the other hand, if you were a trained observer, what you claim to have seen may very well override the beliefs of others. Wouldn't it have to depend on the circumstances?
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Thu 13 May, 2010 05:58 pm
@platorepublic,
It seems to me that, besides all of this debate being entirely removed from the point of the OP, that it has become yet another debate about the merit, or otherwise, of anything that can be called 'religious'. I have an interest in philosophy of religion, have studied comparitive religion, and practise Buddhist meditation, to declare my hand. Whatever science proves, I do not dispute. But the nature of many fundamental categories of reality is still unknown. There is much we don't know. I agree that there is much delusion in religion, but to go one step further and to declare religion a delusion per se, is to actually ignore a lot of evidence to the contrary. There are many phenomena in the history of religion which simply cannot be explained by our current knowledge of human nature and nature itself. I have studied religious phenomena from the viewpoint of psychology, history and anthropology, and there are many inexplicable or irreducible phenomena in it. Now the Skeptic, and I actually deny that this hardline anti-theism is actually skepticism at all, will always dispute that any of this could have happened and in fact will usually take the view that it is not worth considering whether any of it really might have happened, as it is a priori a delusion, and 'cannot be reproduced in a laboratory'.

Now I am someone who has had spiritual experiences. I have interpreted these in a particular cognitive framework, which is Buddhist philosophy. Within this framework, the experiences are meaningful and significant and they convey information about the human condition. Buddhism is not generally a 'supernaturalist' religion, to put it that way. But at the same time, from the earliest sources, Buddha is described as 'lokkutara', which means 'world-transcending'. So through Buddhist meditation, one definitely comes to understand something which, for want of a better word, is called spiritual. One does develop the view that much of what people assume is real is actually empty of intrinsic substance. And this is a religious view.

Looked at in light of this understanding, the variety of religious experience, as William James referred to it, may certainly contain elements of projection, wishful thinking, and delusion, and religious sentiments may well be manipulated by both institutions and con-men. But even when all of this is taken into account, to say 'all religious belief is a delusion' is to go a step further. It is actually a religious belief in its own right.

Anyway I will take this up in another thread. I will have a good solid read of that Ethics of Belief. I am sure it is not without merit, but at the same time, there are many aspects of religious psychology which may not be comprehended by it. William James is a writer I have deep respect for.
 
Amperage
 
Reply Thu 13 May, 2010 06:00 pm
@Pyrrho,
Pyrrho;164018 wrote:
Lying is only one of the possibilities. In every post, I have been careful to point out that the person may be mistaken in what they state. So, I agree that it would be presumptuous to suppose that every ridiculous story was a lie, as it may be that the person honestly believes what they are saying.

As for whether it is important to you personally or not, many times stories of miracles are purported to support some religion or other, typically with the message that if you do not convert to that one, you will be punished. If that is true, then it surely does matter to you, even if, at the moment, you think it is unimportant.






????





Combined with your remarks above, it would appear that you believe that if I induce hallucinations of visits from god by using massive amounts of LSD, it really is god talking to me. Is that what you are saying, or do you mean something else?

Also, I think you need to reread a textbook on the genetic fallacy. We are in this case talking about what the experience is, and what caused it. If I see a man flying, and it is caused by me watching a movie, don't you think that is relevant to whether or not I really saw someone fly, or just saw what appeared to be someone flying?






No. He or she is not advocating being blind. He or she is advocating believing in proportion to the evidence. There is no advocating that one shirk away from harsh truths in that essay.





Neither Burger nor I make the mistake of supposing that the only alternative to the story being true is that the person is lying. That is one possibility. Another is that the person is mistaken.

Also, if you wanted to always avoid being wrong, you would need to suspend judgment always, as it is always possible to make a mistake. Neither Clifford nor Burger advocate that, nor do I.





The most logical response is to believe in proportion to the evidence. Reserving judgment is only reasonable when there is insufficient evidence to make a determination. You don't withhold judgement on everything, do you?





You are again sounding like William James in his essay "The Will to Believe". I think it would be best for you to read the book, and then start a thread about it so we can discuss it. If I fail to notice the new thread, you can send me a private message to give me a link to your new thread and let me know of its existence.

However, in case you do not do that, there is a difference between an action and a belief. With your example of asking a girl out, one can do that action without first having the belief that she will say "yes". Often times, the point in asking a question is to find out the answer.





Other people regarding you as justified and you being justified are two different things.




I think it would be best for me to wait until you have read the book, and start a new thread about it. You may then, if you wish, detail what you think is wrong with Clifford and Burger. Of course, they might convince you if you read them in their entirety, but we can wait and see.
I will try to get to the reading it when I can. Cav's game starts in 5 minutes though. But just in closing, at least until I read the article, when I was talking about someone lying I also meant just flat out claiming someone is wrong, mistaken, or whatever. Y'all wasn't making the mistake of claiming someone is only lying, but you are mistaken in making the claim that what they are saying is explicitly false(regardless of the reason).

The point being we can't really make such a claim since we weren't there, we can only claim it is unlikely and it really becomes unimportant since we cannot replicate the result.

Also, I really don't know what the phrase, "believe in proportion to the evidence", i supposed to mean and seems to me, quite a strange thing to say. Can I believe something a little bit? I mean either I believe something or I don't.

I'll try and read the link and start a thread but it certainly won't be tonight.

---------- Post added 05-13-2010 at 07:03 PM ----------

kennethamy;164020 wrote:
Wouldn't it have to depend on the circumstances?
to an extent. but taking an hallucinogen and seeing God doesn't necessarily imply you didn't infact see God. And I mean necessarily in a logical manner in this instance.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Thu 13 May, 2010 06:06 pm
@Amperage,
Amperage;164024 wrote:


Also, I really don't know what the phrase "believe in proportion to the evidence", and that seems quite a strange thing to say. Can I believe something a little bit? I mean either I believe something or I don't.


Not me. I believe some things a little, and some other things a lot more. And I really do try to proportion my belief to the evidence. That is, the more evidence I have (or at least believe I have) for the belief, the more strongly I believe it. Isn't that true for you too? For instance, I very strongly believe that there is a tree in my front yard, but my belief that Obama knows what the hell he is doing is very weak if it even exists at all. You see what I mean?

---------- Post added 05-13-2010 at 08:09 PM ----------

Amperage;164024 wrote:

to an extent. but taking an hallucinogen and seeing God doesn't necessarily imply you didn't infact see God. And I mean necessarily in a logical manner in this instance.


Well of course not. But who would think that is what I meant? No one who could read what I wrote with any understanding, and could separate it from what he might believe I wrote given his prejudices.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Thu 13 May, 2010 06:22 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;164027 wrote:
I believe some things a little, and some other things a lot more. And I really do try to proportion my belief to the evidence. .


Then you would accept that the kind of beliefs you have might at least in part be influenced by your experiences. It might be conceivable, for example, that one is entirely unreligious up until the point where one has, for one reason or another, a religious experience, leading one to re-evaluate one's prior attitude to questions of the nature of such experiences?
 
 

 
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