Argument # 1: "It is irrational to believe in anything that hasn't been proven."
This is the main philosophy behind most skeptical arguments. By "proven" skeptics mean proven according to the scientific method, which they consider to be the only reliable method. There are several problems with this argument:
First of all, just because something hasn't been proven and established in mainstream science doesn't mean it doesn't exist or isn't true.
WINSTON, THAT IS TRUE. THAT IS WHY SKEPTICS HAVE NEVER SAID WHAT YOU ARE ATTRIBUTING TO THEM.
If it did, then nothing would exist until proven or discovered.
WINSTON YOU ARE QUITE CORRECT.
For instance, when Acupuncture was first introduced in the West, skeptics and certain scientists claimed that it had no basis
WINSTON, THAT IS STILL TRUE.
and only worked due to the placebo effect because they couldn’t understand how it worked.
WINSTON, ACUPUNCTURE DIDN’T WORK DUE TO THE PLACEBO EFFECT; THE PLACEBO EFFECT WORKED DUE TO THE PLACEBO EFFECT. ACUPUNCTURE DOES NOT WORK AT ALL. AS FOR YOUR COMMENT “THEY COULDN’T UNDERSTAND HOW IT WORKED;” THAT IS BECAUSE - IT DOESN’T.
This reflected the typical false thinking of skeptics that anything they don’t understand must be due to superstition or chance.
WINSTON, WE DO UNDERSTAND THAT IT DOES NOT WORK AND IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SUPERSTITION OR CHANCE; POSITIVE RESULTS HAVE BEEN SHOWN TO BE NOTHING MORE THAN THE RESULT OF THE PLACEBO EFFECT.
However, practitioners and believers knew otherwise and were later validated by extensive studies that have been done to show that it indeed does work for treating various ailments and getting results which placebos can’t account for.
WINSTON, THAT IS PURE WISHFUL THINKING ON YOUR PART.
Second, just because something hasn't been proven to established science doesn't mean that it hasn't been proved firsthand to certain people.
WINSTON MEANS PEOPLE LIKE HIM.
Established views are not the dictum of all reality.
WINSTON, NO ONE SAID THEY WERE.
Many types of paranormal phenomena have been proved firsthand to eyewitnesses and experiencers. For example, even though the cases of NDE’s don't prove the existence of an afterlife (at least not yet), those who have experienced them claim that the experience of the separation of body and spirit is firsthand proof to them of an afterlife, just as riding in a car is firsthand proof that cars exist, and they fear death no more.
WINSTON, I DON’T FEAR DEATH AND I DON’T NEED TO DELUDE MYSELF IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE THAT STATE. I AGREE WITH YOU THAT NDE’s DO NOT PROVE THE EXISTENCE OF AN AFTERLIFE. AS FOR THE ‘SPIRIT’ YOU REFER TO, WE ARE ALL ANXIOUSLY AWAITING YOUR PROOF FOR ITS EXISTENCE. I MEAN REAL PROOF - NOT EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS FROM PEOPLE WHO AREN’T EVEN CONSCIOUS.
Those who have OBE’s (Out of Body Experiences) also make similar claims, and they need no proof nor do they need to convince anyone.
WINSTON, YOU JUST GAVE US A PERFECT VIEW OF HOW THINGS IN YOUR WORLD WORK: NO PROOF AND NO NEED TO CONVINCE ANYONE OF ANYTHING. JUST BELIEVE WHATEVER YOU WANT AND IT WILL ALL MAGICALLY COME TRUE.
These claims are further supported by the fact that in many documented cases the subject could hear conversations or see things in other rooms and other places, which are later confirmed and verified to be remarkably accurate.
WINSTON, I THOUGHT YOU SAID THEY NEEDED NO PROOF? I THOUGHT YOU SAID THEY NEEDED TO CONVINCE NO ONE? SO WHAT IS THIS? IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU ARE OFFERING PROOF AND TRYING TO CONVINCE.
Who's to say that they're wrong just because we haven't had the same experiences?
“WHO’S TO SAY?” THAT WOULD BE ME.
That would be equivalent to saying that because I’ve never been to Japan, everyone else who claims to have been there is mistaken or deluded.
WRONG AGAIN WINSTON. THERE ARE MANY OTHER WAYS TO VERIFY THE EXISTENCE OF JAPAN WITHOUT ACTUALLY TRAVELING THERE.
The same goes for eyewitnesses of ghosts, UFO's (Unidentified Flying Objects), alien abductions, Bigfoot, etc. These sightings and encounters range from the obscure and distant to ones that are crystal clear and at point-blank-range, making them much harder to dismiss.
WINSTON, YOU WOULD THINK THAT WITH ALL THOSE “CRYSTAL CLEAR SIGHTINGS AT POINT-BLANK RANGE THERE WOULD HAVE AT LEAST BEEN ONE SINGLE PIECE OF EVIDENCE.
Likewise, the Ganzfeld experiments in telepathy done in the early 70’s also had repeated success, with receivers in 42 controlled experiments scoring an average of 38 to 45 percent compared to the chance rate of 25 percent. The odds of that occurring by chance are less than one in a billion.
WINSTON, THE GANZFELD EXPERIMENTS WERE REDONE WITH TIGHTER CONTROLS AND THE RESULTS WERE VERY CLOSE TO THE 25% EXPECTED BY CHANCE.
More recently, controlled experiments involving four prominent mediums accuracy were done by Dr. Gary Schwartz of the Human Energy Lab of the University of Arizona. These mediums achieved a hit rate 70 to 90 percent, even when in one experiment they were NOT allowed to ask any questions of the sitters or see them! Skeptics repeatedly continue to ignore this fact!
WINSTON, IF THERE WAS EVEN ONE HUMAN WHO COULD DO THAT, THEY COULD HAVE EASILY WALKED AWAY WITH THE ONE MILLION DOLLAR PRIZE THAT HAS BEEN OFFERED FOR MANY YEARS NOW BY THE JAMES RANDI FOUNDATION TO ANYONE WHO CAN PROVE THEY POSSESS PARANORMAL ABILITIES. NO ONE HAS EVER BEEN ABLE TO PROVE THEY CAN DO WHAT THEY CLAIM THEY CAN DO AND THE PRIZE REMAINS UNCLAIMED TO THIS DAY. THIS IN A WORLD OF OVER 6 BILLION PEOPLE.
A list of studies that produced psi results can be found in Dean Radin's book The Conscious Universe: The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena.
JESUS WINSTON, NOW THERE’S A REAL OBJECTIVE SOURCE.
Many researchers will tell you that these studies prove that telepathy and micro-psychokinesis exist at least on the micro level. The skeptics, of course will say that those tests yielded impossible results and therefore were not done under properly controlled conditions, or else the researchers’ overzealous desire to get psi results botched the results. But this of course reflects their bias and an ‘a priori’ dismissal of facts that don’t fit in with their beliefs. It is not logical to deny the facts that don’t support your beliefs, it is more logical to update your beliefs to account for the facts.
WINSTON, THAT IS NOT HOW SCIENCE WORKS. IF A SCIENTIST HAS A BIAS THAT AFFECTS HIS RESULTS, HIS WORK WILL BE THROWN OUT BY COLLEGUES. “DISMISSAL OF FACTS THAT DON’T FIT IN WITH BELIEFS” IS A PERFECT DESCRIPTION OF HOW THE IRRATIONAL MIND WORKS. THAT WOULD BE YOUR MIND, WINSTON.
WINSTON IS DOING WHAT HE DOES IN VIRTUALLY EVERY ONE OF HIS ARGUMENTS: THE THINGS HE ACCUSES SCIENTISTS AND SKEPTICS OF, ARE EXACTLY THE THINGS THAT APPLY INSTEAD TO HIM AND OTHER IRRATIONAL THINKERS. IN OTHER WORDS, HE TURNS EVERYTHING AROUND BASS ACKWARDS: HE DEFINES RATIONAL THINKING AS IRRATIONAL, AND IRRATIONAL THINKING AS RATIONAL. THE SCARY THING IS THAT HE IS NO DIFFERENT THAN MANY OTHER IRRATIONAL THINKERS.
Fourth, just because something is irrational to skeptics doesn't mean that it is irrational to others who know or believe that it is real.
WINSTON, SOMETHING EITHER IS IRRATIONAL OR IT ISN’T. IT ISN’T A QUESTION OF WHO BELIEVES IT. IT IS A QUESTION OF WHAT EVIDENCE EXISTS TO PROVE THE CLAIM.
Skeptics and scientific materialists do not have the monopoly on rational thinking.
WINSTON, I WISH YOU WERE RIGHT. I WISH THAT SKEPTICS AND SCIENTIFIC MATERIALISTS DID NOT HAVE THE MONOPOLY ON RATIONAL THINKING. UNFORTUNATELY WINSTON, YOU ARE WRONG AGAIN.
Lots of rational intelligent intellectual people believe in God, spiritual dimensions, or that there is more to reality than the material world.
WINSTON, THEY MAY BE RATIONAL IN SOME AREAS SUCH AS IN THEIR JOBS OR PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS, BUT REGARDING RELIGION, SPIRITUAL DIMENSIONS, AND OTHER REALITIES THEY ARE IRRATIONAL BY DEFINITION.
The skeptics' system of rational thinking is not the dictatum by which all things that exist must conform to. This can easily be demonstrated by all the things that skeptics have been wrong about before, such as flight, laws of physics, quantum mechanics, giant squid, etc. proving their fallibility.
WINSTON, THE DISCOVERIES YOU CITE SUCH AS FLIGHT, PHYSICS, QUANTUM MECHANICS, ETC. WERE ALL GIVEN TO US BY SCIENTISTS. NOT BY GHOSTS, NOT BY GOD, NOT BY ALIENS. WE ARE NOT GIVEN THE ANSWERS - WE MUST DISCOVER THEM FOR OURSELVES. YOUR LIST WAS MEANT TO BE A CRITICISM OF SCIENCE. AS USUAL, YOU ARE STANDING THERE WITH EGG DRIPPING DOWN YOUR EARS BECAUSE INSTEAD, YOU JUST DID A GREAT JOB OF LISTING SOME OF SCIENCE’S GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENTS.
This seems to be the mantra of hard nosed skeptics. One common way it is presented goes like this: "If my friend told me that on the way here he was delayed because his car got a flat tire, then I would believe it because it is an ordinary claim. However, if he claimed that on his way here he was temporarily abducted by aliens in a UFO, then I would not believe his claim because it is extraordinary in nature. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."
Now it would help if the skeptics who proclaim this argument specify what they would accept as extraordinary evidence. Otherwise, arbitrarily stating this argument gives one an out no matter what evidence is shown.
WINSTON, I KNOW THIS IS GOING TO COME AS A SHOCK TO YOU, I’LL ADMIT IT IS EVEN A SHOCK TO ME, BUT I COMPLETELY AGREE WITH YOU. EXTRAORDINARY CLAIMS REQUIRE EVIDENCE PERIOD.
While it is reasonable to expect a higher standard of evidence for more extraordinary claims, there are nevertheless 6 difficulties to keep in mind.
1) First, although this rule is good as a general guideline, the fact that 3 possible alternatives exist make this rule fallible.
a) It is possible for something to exist without leaving behind collectable evidence as a souvenir to us. For example, planes, radio waves, electromagnetism, and light move around without leaving "hard evidence" yet they exist.
NOT TRUE WINSTON, IF THEY DIDN’T LEAVE BEHIND “HARD EVIDENCE” WE WOULDN’T KNOW THEY EXISTED.
b) It is possible for something to exist yet the evidence for it hasn't been found or understood yet, which is the case for almost every discovery in history from fire and wheels to gunpowder and gravity, to planets, atoms and electromagnetism.
VERY TRUE WINSTON, BUT SKEPTICS ALREADY KNOW THIS.
c) It is possible that the evidence is already there but that it's subject to interpretation, making it controversial. This is true for instance, of the alleged mysterious implants found by doctors and surgeons in alleged alien abductees. So even when something leaves a trail, residue or mark, they are subject to interpretation anyway.
WINSTON, THE KEY IS THE EVIDENCE. IT CAN BE PERSUASIVE AND ACCEPTED. IT CAN BE BOGUS AND REJECTED. OR IT CAN FALL ANYWHERE IN BETWEEN. IN THE LAST CASE THAT’S WHAT PROMOTES DEBATE. HOWEVER, TRYING TO ELEVATE BOGUS EVIDENCE TO THE LEVEL OF GOOD EVIDENCE IS JUST DISHONEST AND DOOMED TO FAILURE.
WHEN, AND IF, GOOD EVIDENCE FOR ALIEN ABDUCTION IS PRODUCED THEN IT WOULD BE UNSKEPTICAL TO DENY IT.
2) Definitions of "extraordinary claims" vary based on prior beliefs and experiences.
WINSTON, EXTRAORDINARY CLAIMS ARE JUST THAT. THEY ARE CLAIMS THAT DEFY THE LAWS OF NATURE OR STRETCH THE CREDULITY OF REASON AND HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH PRIOR BELIEFS AND EXPERIENCES.
For example, the internal body energy of chi gong (or quigong) is mystical to Westerners but has been a natural everyday part of life for thousands of years in Asia. Chi is used, felt, and observed by its practitioners much the same as the effects of gravity are felt and observed by us.
WINSTON, YOU ARE NOT EVEN CLOSE TO REALITY ON THIS ONE. GO UP ON A ROOF AND TEST THE EXISTENCE OF CHI AND THEN TEST THE EXISTENCE OF GRAVITY. IF THERE WAS NO DIFFERENCE - YOU WIN. OTHERWISE, HAVE A RELATIVE NOTIFY US WHERE WE CAN SEND THE FLOWERS.
Likewise, the concept of Astral Projection and Out of Body Experiences is extraordinary to those who have never experienced them, but for those who experience them regularly, it is an ordinary thing to them that they know is a reality.
WINSTON, PLEASE, PLEASE TELL ME YOU’RE NOT ONE OF THEM.
3) Different people have different standards for what is "extraordinary evidence." Depending on your definition, it could be said that we already have some extraordinary evidence for certain types of paranormal claims. Take the following 4 types of phenomena for instance.
a) UFO's (Unidentified Flying Objects): It can be said that there is extraordinary evidence to support the existence of UFO's from unexplainable photographs, video camera footage, multiple eyewitness sightings, abduction reports, Air Force radar reports, etc. All of these constitute convincing evidence for some people, but not for others. Although much of it can be explained as misperceptions, natural phenomena, weather balloons, aircraft, birds, balls of lightning, luminous Earth lights, etc. there are still many cases which are unexplainable and display features not known of any natural phenomena.
WINSTON, THAT’S WHY THEY CALL THEM UFO’s, BECAUSE THEY HAVEN’T BEEN IDENTIFIED OR EXPLAINED. THAT ISN’T EVIDENCE OF EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL VISITATIONS.
Since it’s not always possible for extraordinary things to leave behind some type of tangible evidence, if I saw a UFO at close range and didn't have my camera with me and then it flew away, how am I expected to have extraordinary evidence? Am I supposed to be able to call that UFO back as if it were under my command or chase it like Superman? The fact that this event happened without our control makes us unable to satisfy this criteria. The same goes with ghosts and other things.
BUT WINSTON, YOU WANT US TO BELIEVE THAT WITH ALL THESE MILLIONS OF SUPERNATURAL ENCOUNTERS NOT ONE PERSON EVER CARRIED A KODAK?
b) Ghosts and Spirits: The same goes with ghosts. There are many credible witnesses who have seen ghosts and experienced unexplainable things taking place in haunted houses, such as sudden apparitions, the feeling of an unseen presence, unnatural movement of objects, frequent displacement of things around the house, sounds, voices, etc. Paranormal investigators have even used geiger counters that detected electrical activity in a haunted area.
WINSTON, BAD NEWS: GEIGER COUNTERS DO NOT DETECT ELECTRICAL ACTIVITY. THEY DETECT RADIATION.
c) ESP (Extra Sensory Perception) and Telepathy: This is also especially true for ESP and telepathy. Experiments under controlled conditions have been done that revealed consistent well above chance results, which strongly point to the conclusion that ESP and telepathy exist at least to a small degree.
I AGREE WINSTON. ESP AND TELEPATHY DO EXIST TO A SMALL DEGREE, AND THAT SMALL DEGREE WOULD BE ZERO.
This is an obvious double standard, which is typical of closed-minded skeptics.
ACTUALLY WINSTON, SKEPTICS ARE THE ONLY ONES WHO ARE OPEN-MINDED. THEY ARE THE ONLY ONES CAPABLE OF CHANGING THEIR BELIEFS.
Besides experiments, countless accounts of psychic experiences abound, both documented and undocumented. The most common type of psychic experience is telepathy, such as when loved ones and close friends from vast distances apart know at the exact time when something traumatic happened to the other. Sometimes, every detail of the traumatic event is observed or felt from afar. They are extremely powerful personal proof. I've had a few of these kind myself.
WINSTON, I WAS GOING TO SUGGEST THAT YOU HAVE THOSE FRIENDS MENTIONED ABOVE TRY FOR THE MILLION-DOLLAR PRIZE, BUT NOW THAT I KNOW YOU HAVE THIS POWER, I SAY - GO FOR IT YOURSELF.
d) Mystical Experiences: And what about mystical experiences, spiritual enlightenment, being "born again", Near Death Experiences and Out of Body Experiences? These can also be said by those who experience them to be extraordinary evidence as well, because they are often self-authenticating and life changing in themselves. Experiencers will describe these experiences not as faith-based, but an "inner knowing." The fact that these types of experiences are dramatically life changing makes them "extraordinary evidence" themselves simply because ordinary experiences don't alter people's lives in this way. To say that these self-authenticating, life changing experiences are just pure imagination is closed minded to say the least.
WINSTON, YOU ARE A SALESMAN’S DREAM.
I like the example of the person working in an inner office with no windows. A co-worker could come in and tell them it is raining out. IF they accept That as truth... it is ONLY a chosen belief. But.. If they were to go outside themselves and stand in the driving rain and get soaking wet... then that is no longer a chosen belief... that would qualify as an actual Knowing.. by Direct experience.You cannot really know that what I say is really illogical babble
WINSTON, THAT WAS THE FIRST THING YOU’VE SAID THAT I TOTALLY AGREE WITH.
The argument favors conservatism or retaining the established theory in spite of contrary evidence. This has its pros and cons. Obviously, it makes sense to retain what works until something better comes along. However, when it comes to modifying our paradigms or world view we also tend to resist change, even when the data calls for it. This argument I fear, is used as an excuse for those who resist change. But if we never abandoned theories or expanded them, then science would not make progress. History has shown that progress comes with new discoveries and abandoning old outdated theories that no longer fit the new data acquired.
WINSTON, WHAT YOU SAID AT THE END ABOUT HISTORY COMPLETELY NEGATES THE FIRST PART OF YOUR ARGUMENT. YOU TRY TO MAKE THE CASE THAT SCIENCE RESISTS CHANGE AND THEN YOU ADMIT THAT PROGRESS CAME WHEN SCIENCE DID MAKE THE CHANGES. WHICH IS IT?
NOW WRONG CLAIMS CAN LAND ASTROLOGERS, TANTRIKS AND
FAITH-HEALERS IN JAIL
In Britain, astrologers can now end up in prison, if they fail to warn their prospective customers that their services are “not experimentally proven” and “for entertainment only”. So can godmen, tantriks, tarot cards readers, faith healers, occultists, fortune tellers, seers, soothsayers, psychics, mantra-healers, mediums and babas.
Since May 26, 2008, the flourishing spiritual business in the country – estimated to bag an annual income of more than forty million pounds - has come under the scanner of new customer protection regulations. Result of the biggest overhaul of Britain’s consumer laws since forty years, these regulations are implementing the European Union’s Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD) from May 2005 that will soon govern consumer laws all over Europe.
Besides door-to-door-sellers, children’s advertisements etc., the new British law targets miracle mongers of all kinds and backgrounds - no matter, if they are resident Brits or visiting Indians. It compels them to state in a disclaimer that their services are “for entertainment only” and that they are not “experimentally proven”. Such disclaimers have to be well visible for all potential customers, put up on name boards, invoices, printed papers with terms and condition, in advertisements and in websites. If the “entertainment only” nature of their services is not made clear to a client before the session, they can be taken to court and will be liable to a prison sentence up to two years and a fine up to 5000 pounds.
Huge science news in the field of evolution! For years creationists have demanded that scientists produce proof of “evolution actually occurring today.” They felt very safe making this demand because they knew that evolution worked extremely slowly and would be next to impossible to “catch in the act.”
They didn’t’ figure on Professor Richard Lemski of Michigan State University.
Lemski, using the E. Coli bacteria, has done just that. He started 20 years ago with 12 colonies of bacteria. E. Coli cannot consume citrate (citric acid in salt form). His ingenious experiment involved giving the bacteria just enough food to survive but not thrive. But with the food, he also made available to them the undigestible citrate. Over 30,000 generations later, the descendents of the E. Coli have evolved to not only consume the citrate, but actually thrive on it. The evolutionary process involved 3 mutations: The first mutation occurred after more than 20,000 generations. This mutation did not enable the E.Coli to metabolize the citrate, however, this mutation was a necessary precursor for the following two mutations. The second mutation allowed the E. Coli to somewhat metabolize the citrate. After more than 30,000 generations, the third mutation allowed the E. Coli to actually thrive on the citrate. Something no other E. Coli is capable of doing.
This experiement not only showed evolution in action, but showed how it works in detail. The other 11 colonies did not develop the mutation and therefore never developed the ability to survive on citrate. Evolution involves the random mutation of genes which are then passed on to offspring. Survival is determined through a process known as “natural selection.”
Why isn’t this earth-shattering news splashed all over the television and newspapers? Why is it likely that you are hearing it here for the first time? We live in a Christian nation (75%) plus another 10-15% are believers in gods of other faiths. The media will show you every friggin slice of pizza that someone finds with an “image” of christ, or a piece of toast with some lines on it that they claim looks like the virgin mary. But as you’ve noticed, scientific breakthroughs that destroy biblical dogma, are not things you’re likely to find on your TV set.
Naturally, this scientist has come under immediate attack by creationists. If you follow the link below, you can read an exchange between Professor Lenski and the creationist founder of “conservapedia.” After reading this link, you will get an idea of what scientists face today when they try to do honest experimentation.
He is an American stand-up comedian, television host, political commentator, actor and author. He hosted the late-night television talk show Politically Incorrect on Comedy Central and ABC, and is currently the host of Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO. On June 1, 2006, he also began hosting an Internet-exclusive talk show on Amazon.com entitled Amazon Fishbowl. Maher is known for his political satire and sociopolitical commentary. His commentaries target a wide swath of topics, from the right-wing to the left-wing, bureaucracies of many kinds, political correctness, Hollywood, the mass media, and persons in positions of high political and social power, among many others. He supports the legalization of cannabis and gay marriage and serves on the board of PETA. He is also an outspoken critic of organized religion and is an advisory board member of The Reason Project.
"We are a nation that is unenlightened because of religion. I do believe that.
I think that religion stops people from thinking. I think it justifies crazies.
I think flying planes into a building was a faith-based initiative.
I think religion is a neurological disorder.
If you look at it logically, it's something that was drilled into your head
when you were a small child. It certainly was drilled into mine at that age.
And you really can't be responsible when you are a kid
for what adults put into your head."
"Why does the Bush administration want a constitutional amendment about weddings?
Hey, birthdays are important, too - why not include them in the great document?
Let's make a law that gay people can have birthdays but straight people get more cake - you know, to send the right message to the kids."