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March 22, 2005

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Your logic is correct, but it's stretching the defense a little. If someone can pass Randi's test, I'd be quite happy to accept that they are genuine.

The reason is that I have a level of faith that Randi's tests are constructed so that the chance against someone randomly guessing their way through would be at powerball-winner levels. So if someone took home the million bucks, there are two explanations: either they are genuine, or they are lucky. And mathematically, the chances that they are genuine are as overwhelming as the chances of not being a powerball-winner.

In response to the above, I'd modify it a bit. I'd say that if someone won Randi's challenge, that alone wouldn't necessarily prove them the real article. But it WOULD be justification to immediately launch some new tests with this person, specifically by other scientists to see if they can duplicate Randi's results. THEN, you might be ready to say you're on to something.

True Believers like Auerbach do love their straw men, though, don't they?

Mystery person-

A. No psychic has ever passed a real double-blind experiment. Ever.

B. There have been tons of Powerball winners.

Yet you say that someone passing Randi's test is more likely to be genuine than lucky?!

If Sylvia Browne took the challenge 50 times and passed once, would that convince you she is for real?

I hope you see the fallacy in your argument now. Powerball winners are real. Psychics are not.

I have to go now, it's in the bible code.

I can't find a way to email Richard Rockley directly. I love this site; however, I can't take the repetitious grammatical errors: even though they're small.

Mike: I deleted the rest of this post because it's off topic and uninteresting to anybody else. My email link is on the left.

Skeptico.

Mystery person here. My reasoning is purely mathematical.

Assume that the chance (p) is of guessing your way through Randi's pyschic test is very small. Say one in a million.

If someone does pass the test, there are two possible outcomes. Enumerating them, it could be that they are

1. Lucky, with a probability p = one in a million.
2. Genuine, with a probability of 1-p = 999,999 in a million.

So to Loyd Auerbach and other purported psychics, I say, yes, you pass the test, and I'll believe you have proved you are psychic, beyond a reasonable doubt.

Skeptics should remain open minded, and willing to be convinced. All a good skeptic demands is for psychics to prove their claims. Not much to ask, really.

Almost, but not quite.

Pure luck is a reason (one of them) that one experiment doesn’t prove anything. If someone won Randi’s million, the experiment would still have to be replicated a few times before it was accepted as proof of psi. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. That means, at the very least, a few replications. And if the person was really psychic, that shouldn’t be a problem for them.

Of course, if they’re not really psychic…

First off, this blog is awesome. I really enjoy it. On to business.

Statistics are so malleable...

Lest we forget the permutations involved in a "one-in-a-million" calculation. Instances that must be accounted for:

1. The test was not set up correctly, increasing the odds of passing by chance.

2. The so-called psychic gained foreknowledge of test answers, again increasing the chances of passing the test.

3. Experimenter bias, control bias, etc.

The point is, this is not cotton dry. This is not a good argument: They are either lucky or psychic. They are not lucky, therefore they are psychic.

This reinforces the idea that more experimentation would be necessary to prove the psychic.

I apologize for taking a snide tone earlier, I just jump to the critical thinking cause. Being a smart-aleck is sometimes a side effect.

I've got to go now, James Van Pragh is on.

I'm making the assumption is that Randi is not stupid, and that his test will have a low probability of being passed by luck, including all of the points above. All of that is contained within the probability variable.

I'm part of a Skeptical organisation and all the time people tell us "You say you'll test psychics, but you wouldn't want anyone to be successful - that would be the end of the Skeptics!"

There's this sense that if we found one real psychic that every other paranormal claim must be true. Would finding a real telepath mean that all ghosts, tv psychics, spoon benders, aliens etc were real? It's just like saying you've found a trusty accountant so all the shonky financial advisers must be trustworthy!

It'd be an amazing thing if we found a real psychic, though I think the odds are pretty much stacked against it. But if we did, they'd be studied, it would lead to advances in science and we'd all be enriched by the experience. There would still be fraudulent psychics and cases of mistaken identity out there - no need to dissolve the Skeptics yet!

None of the Skeptical Challenges are going to establish if someone really is psychic - they're just there to whittle down the droves of people who declare they can do something. If someone passes a Challenge it shows that they're worth further investigation.

On another note ...
I really hate the word "falsify"/"falsification"!
Before I started hanging out with Skeptics and philosophers, I only knew one meaning for the word. When I ask ordinary people they only know one meaning. Philosophers say they only know one meaning. But these two meanings are different!!!

For most people, "falsification" means "forgery". You falsify a passport, you falsify a signature. To your ordinary non-philosopher "falsifying a hypothesis" would mean something like creating a pretend hypothesis. (Perhaps similar to a straw man argument!)

To any non-philosophers reading this who are saying "Errm yes, that's what the word means!" - you should know that philosophers use the word "falsify" to mean "disprove". If I say I'm a cat and someone proves I'm not, they've "falsified" my statement. I assume someone (Popper?) took the word "verify" - meaning to prove a statement, and decided the opposite was "falsify".
Arrrgh! Why they don't just use the word "disprove"? I don't know.

C

Christopher:

Thanks for your thoughtful post. You are correct that finding one real psychic wouldn’t be the end of skepticism. Skepticism is not a belief system, it‘s a method for evaluating claims. If one claim were proved genuine with this method, it wouldn’t mean I had to lose the method - the method would still be good. Finding a real psychic would actually be incredibly exciting. It’s just with all the failed tests, I’ve come to the conclusion they probably don’t exist. I’m still willing to be shown though.

Regarding “falsifiable” – I agree the terminology is confusing. We should really say scientific hypotheses must be “potentially falsifiable” – ie must be capable of being tested in such a way that, if it were false, it would fail the test. (Because what’s the point of a test, where the thing is false and it still passes the test?) The requirement for scientific theories having to be potentially falsifiable is one that few people outside of science will understand, but it is one of the key differences between science and pseudoscience. We just need to try to explain it more effectively.

Further to the 'end of scepticism' (excuse the anglicisation of the spelling): it shouldn't need saying, I know, but it's cucial when confronted by that sort of reasoning to point out that scepticism is not applicable only to 'phenomena' such as psi but to the receipt of claims of all kinds (scientific included - the credulous tend to claim thaty the sceptical are credulous when it comes to the claims of the 'scientific establishment'). It would be entirely consistent with a sceptical approach to be wary of accepting as difinitive proof a single successful test of psi - although if someone *were* to pass Randy's test I for one would cautiously accept the possibility that there might be something worth investigating further...

Ouch.
The question to the author of this article (and a beg to the others TO READ the refe-
renced article before babbling):

Cite (after sniding and insulting remarks):
---------------------------------------
I’ll explain. The answer to Auerbach’s question is: no, if someone won Randi’s million it would not prove they were psychic. The reason,[...] should know, is that one experiment never proves anything.
Experiments have to be repeated, preferably using different methods.
-------------------------------------

Loyd Auerbach said in his article:
----------------------------
In the name of Science, many raise the
issue of repeatability. If someone beat Randi's Challenge once, how does this meet the criteria of repeatability? What does this prove?
-------------------------------------

So...for the author:
Why do you make sniding and insulting remarks for a "debunking" that is EXACTLY
the same that AUERBACH said ?!
Who is now the "idiot" ?

The same goes for (author):
----------------------------------------
But there are many other reasons to explain the results of parapsychology that don’t require us to believe in psychics.
-------------------------------------

Congratulations, that is exactly the same
that Auerbach said: So long as there are
reasons to explain the result of psi away,
I will never believe in psi.
And he concludes: What is the point of
Randis prize if a successful outcome can
be dismissed as chance, experimenter bias,
control bias etc. pp. ?

Ok, what is now the argument:
-------------------------------------
If psychics are real they would win
Randi’s million.
-------------------------------------

Excuse me, if you go to sites of cranks
and kooks, there will be thousand of dollars
waiting for the easy part to prove their
theories contradicting Einstein etc. false.
That noone (and even Nobel prize winners)
have yet received the price proves that
their theory is correct.

Er, I have a probably much easier explana-
tion for this result. Hint: Their loudly
spoken out utter contempt for modern
physics blatantly resembles Randis style.
So why should anyone trust him ?

So away from the part if psi is real or not,
the article is not convincing at all.

TSK:

Thank you, I did read the article. And your rant. Now please read the following:

1) Yes Auerbach mentioned repeatability, and other reasons why a “success” wouldn’t prove anything. If you read my post you’ll see I answered Auerbach’s question for him. The point is though, it is an irrelevant question, a point you apparently failed to grasp.

2) Randi’s prize is not like a “crank” who says “there will be thousand of dollars waiting for the easy part to prove their theories contradicting Einstein etc. false”. You have it back-to-front: Randi does not have a theory that he wants proven false; he simply invites others to test their theories. The fact that claimants either (a)fail or(b) refuse to be tested because they know they would fail, falsifies their claims. That, as I wrote, is the point of the challenge. If you knew anything about the scientific method you would have grasped that point too.

So as for your question, “Who is now the "idiot" ?” Considering the foregoing, I think the answer can only be: “you are”.

Oh, you DID read the article ? By the way, I
forgot to mention that your comment
------------------------------------------
In Auerbach’s own words (punctuation corrected), parapsychology is not a benchmark for science...
------------------------------------------
is WRONG. Auerbach refers to the "Randi
challenge" which is one sentence above, NOT to parapsychology. But you DID read the
article carefully ?

And you simply tried not only to answer Auer
bachs question, but called it a "monumental
stupidity" and added this remark:
----------------------------------------
The reason, as any science undergraduate (let alone an “adjunct Professor”), should know, is that one experiment never proves anything.
-----------------------------------------
The "adjunct Professor" refers undoubtly
to Auerbach himself. The use of the word
"should" alleged that Auerbach does NOT
know that one experiment never proves any-
thing. As the word for this phenomenon is
"repeatability" and Auerbach DOES use it
(together with the famous/notorious Occam)
it seems very probably that you DID NOT
read the article carefully, you galloped
through it at best.

And, worse, if this part is really "irrelevant" the use of snide remarks
and insults at that place are
entirely pointless. Why you did it then ?

And it is not irrelevant at all. The thing
Auerbach wants to point out is not only if
psi really exist, but under what circum-
stances skeptics will change their mind.

You know certainly the "Extraordinary
claims etc." stuff ? Now the point is:
What is extraordinary ? Because we accu-
mulate experiences and their alleged
causes we interpret events differently. Mostly we hope that our interpretation
is identical with the real cause, but due
to errors we all make misinterpretations.

We have now a specified event. An African
may have this possible explanations because
in his culture "supernatural" is not so
unprobable.

African
Supernatural 1:1 000
Fraud (countermeasures) 1: 50 000

Skeptic
Supernatural 1:1000 000 000
Fraud 1:1000

The point is: The conclusion is regardless
of the REAL cause. I am *not* going for
cultural relativity (No, I do not think
that the African has exactly the same
right as a skeptic), but the inevitable
subjective interpretation of an event.

Auerbach points out that skeptics have a
so extrem low probability for a real psi
event due to their culture that there is
always a better "natural" explanation INDEPENDENT if there is a real psi cause
or not.
And if someone offers a challenge if he and
others demonstrably and publicy declares
psi as fraud, when they will be convinced ?
If they are not convinceable, why do they
offer this price ? It seems pointless.

Now moving on.
The argument that there are not theories to
be refuted, but Randi simply invites to test
their theories is downright pathetic. Randi explicitly claims that he DOES NOT CARE A
DAMN what theories possible participants
have, he want to test their abilities !
https://www.randi.org/research/challenge.html
-------------------------------------------
PLEASE: Do not burden us with theories, philosophical observations, previous examples, anecdotal evidence or other comments! We are only interested in an actual demonstration.
-------------------------------------------
And naturally there are cranks who are
not theoretical, but offer their price e.g.
for measuring that their overunity device
does not offer more output than input.

Your claim that claimants refuse to be
tested or failed does *not* prove that
their claim is falsified (By the way, concerning my alleged incompetence, I
have a diploma (German Master degree)
as physicist...)

There are as in your alleged psi case many
reasons to not perform the test even if
you are a real psychic.

a) Animosity. (If I were Uri Geller
even if I really have psychic powers,
I would not accept the challenge)
b) You are already rich *because* of your
powers (or the gullibility of people).
c) The powers are irregular or so weak that
time accumulation is needed.
(Whats the problem ? You will be
ridiculed. Randi apparently avoids
challenges which are time-consuming.)
d) Randi knows beforehand that it is
bogus. In one of the JREF threads
someone challenged the "Oregon Vortex"
explanation.
The JREF man prefered to withdraw without
apparent cause.
e) The test is elaborate. In fact, the JREF
claimed that they does not offer help for
testing. A siderian astrologer offered
a clearly defined Vernon-Clarke-Test, but
the JREF man dumped it and offered
instead a ridiculous sun sign test (which
has no sense for an *siderian*
astrologer).

f) You have powers which would endanger a
normal human.
------------------------------------------
JREF will also NOT test claims that are likely to cause injury of any sort, such as those involving the withholding of air, food or water, or the use of illicit materials, drugs, or dangerous devices.
-----------------------------------------
You are a fakir ? You are out.
Randi himself denied a guy claiming
Breathianism a test. Ok, this is
understandable, but....

https://www.randi.org/jr/070105quality.html
Under II'LL BET SHE EATS Randi offers the
prize EVEN WHEN IT EXPLICITLY VIOLATES HIS
OWN CONDITIONS ! Yes, she is most probably
a fraud/deluded and he may freely rant on
her, but offering it then is either double
standard or a bad bluff.

Coming to the end, I gladly received your
ad-hominem "idiot" (It was your invented
term, so my quotation marks. I actually
intended that you recognize your style
and change it).
In fact, I dont want to be in the group
of people you actually LIKE and call
"intelligent" because that would deeply
irritate me.

My, what an angry little man you are. And deficient in scientific knowledge despite your “I have a diploma (German Master degree) as physicist...)” appeal to authority.

First, with “parapsychology is not a benchmark for science...” I know Auerback said “Randi’s challenge”, I was paraphrasing Auerbach’s words. I would have thought even an idiot would realize that. And btw, calling someone an idiot is not an ad Hominem. An ad hom is where you insult someone instead of refuting their arguments. If you refute their arguments and call them an idiot it is merely a gratuitous insult. You’ll need to understand logical fallacies better than you do if you want to quote them at me.

As for the rest, I only repeat that Auerbach has missed the point of the Randi challenge, as have you. The premise of his article is unscientific, but that is no surprise. However, it remains true that any person with real psychic powers would ace Randi’s challenge and win the $million, a point neither Auerback nor you seem to understand or are able to refute. And your reasons for not applying for the million are just old tired excuses and anecdotes. Apply for the million or be called on it.

So do you have evidence that any form of psi is real? If so please present it or better still apply to Randi yourself. Otherwise you have wasted a lot of energy writing nothing but drivel.

Angry ? Little ? Har har har...
And for the protocol I have never said that
I am right because I am a physicist (*that*
would have been a appeal to authority); I
merely answered to your allegation that I am
incompetent.
Let me summarize: You have until now not
- offered a formal education
- shown that you conducted an experiment
- you have no direct knowledge how science
is working in reality, but got it only
by apparently gluing to skeptical
literature
- you do not even know me
and still you are now alleging the second
time that I have deficiences in scientific
knowledge. May I ask you if you explain
your doctor how he must apply the syringe ?
Did it come sometimes in your mind that
even when you believe someone is doing it
not right, it may be a good idea to mention
it...er...diplomatically and be careful in
case YOU are wrong ?

For your quote: it is your responsibility
to write an article so that no misunder-
standings occur. If you are believing
that you must only write for people who are
"worthy" by finding your opinion out:
You know what a peer-review process is ?
Try to find someone with a scientific edu-
cation who will accept your article
full of..er..scientific knowledge and
prepare yourself that it will directly flown backwards into your face.

I pointed out in my last post that your
arguments in 1) or 2) are highly question-
able and certainly no refutation; so your
statement that "idiot" is no ad hominem
because you refuted me is obviously wrong.

Your answer for the "rest" is unsatisfactory. Your argumentation is:

If real psychics exist, they will apply
for Randis prize and win it.

First, it is not "real psychics" but
"persons who Randi will allow to participate
because *he* thinks they are psychic".
He refused physical feats even if they
seem impossible from a medical viewpoint,
e.g. apnoe diving in 100+ meters or nine
minutes without breathing. He refused
persons some other persons I have already
mentioned.

Second, it is not a valid conclusion that
real psychics will necessarily apply for
the price.
It is a honeypot, but no logical conclusion.
If a real psychic is already rich why he
should partake ? If a real psychic has an
animosity with Randi, why should he partake
when Randi will try to foul him ? If a
real psychic knows that under Randis
conditions he will fail and Randi adamantly
refuses further changes, Randi can always
opt out and say: "He is refusing to get
one million dollar !"

Third, even when a real psychic partake,
it is (like the cranks in the internet)
unknown if they have a chance to really win
the money. The preliminary tests (even if
necessary) are a very good countermeasure
to deny the money even after a successful
try. There are many options:
- Say that the participants have possibly
cheated and use this for raising the
goalpost really high in the real test.
- Say that you have heard from another
$UNKNOWN_SOURCE$ that the participant
have been caught cheated and deny him
the challenge.
- Sit it out. Take every other challenge
and answer truefully that you still
had not time to perform the real test.

No, it is not true that it is a valid
logical conclusion; it is a
Fallacy of Inclusion because you did not
consider several relevant points. The
easiest example: If Bill Gates offer
Randi 100 million dollars if he publicy
stated that Billy has paranormal powers
what do we learn from it ? If Randi
accepts it shows that there are human
factors which makes it impossible to
refer only to "scientific evidence". If
he does not accept, it clearly shows that
there are human motives which refuted the
unspoken condition "Every able person will
apply for one million dollars".

My last word:
Apparently "skeptics" have the problem
that they use derogatory language and
are wondering that no one listens to them.
The problem is: You need not only to be
right, but you need that people listen to
you. It is an easy and convienient alibi
to play the role of the misunderstood
civilised and intelligent prince who is
always right, but it is suppressed by
hordes of gullible cannibals. Oooohhhhh...
Every courtroom will tell them that being
right does not help if you cannot reach
the people you want to tell your arguments.
And yes, the people you want to reach
will steadfastly turn dumb if you have the
nasty habit to ridicule and insult them.

So many words and yet still nothing new to contribute. And still you miss the point.

I’m not going to reply to most of that drivel, so you have wasted your time. I will just reply to this:

“Your argumentation is:

If real psychics exist, they will apply
for Randis prize and win it.”

Straw Man. I never said a real psychic will apply for the challenge. What I said is any person with real psychic powers would ace Randi’s challenge and win the $million. This is still true. None have won it yet. Many have failed. Many refuse to take it because they know they would. Your excuses for them not taking it are just so much blather. Been done before: read this - just old excuses.

Let me summarize: You have until now not
- offered a formal education...

...I am a physicist...

See here jackass. Your unverifiable position as a pseudo-scientific physicist means approximately dick.

Education means nothing in the light of real science. I'm just a Rockstar, but that is something I can verify. You apparently don't get the whole scientific method thing anyway...

May I ask you if you explain
your doctor how he must apply the syringe ?

If your doctor told you you have 17 green gnomes living in your ass, would you question it?

Keep up the fight Skeptico!!

|I’m not going to reply to most of that
|drivel so you have wasted your time.
Do you think I am writing only for you ?

Your cited argumentation in the text:

[...] if psychics are real they would win
Randi’s million.

Ok, I change your sentence for the exact
meaning of the critised sentence:

If psychics are real they will apply for
Randis million and would win it.

Is there any possibility to alter the
meaning so that my sentence will be wrong
and yours is still right ? No, because
applying is a necessary condition for
winning it, isnt it ? Your condition quietly
assumes that the psychic and Randi will
always participate so the psychic would
win the prize ! And that is exactly a point
I critised because Randi is as human as any
contender and may find excuses for refusing
him a chance (and no, the article does not
answer all my points, worse, it confirms some of my criticism). No agreement, no contest. Your sentence is not a valid
conclusion.

Rockstar, I can verify that I am really
a physicist (do you know the magical word ?)
and I suppose that you too would be bothered
when I claim that you have no clue of music
and absolutely no talent for music-making
because I read a book about "real music"
(and never played an instrument, of course). BTW: Real science is not a "fight" where
opponents try to subdue the other (it
shouldnt be at least), but to find out the
truth by discussing.

At the end I am tired of obnoxious behaviour. Last warning: If someone cannot
behave himself, I will not discuss with
him anymore.

TSK:

The phrase “would win” is clearly in the conditional case that the psychic had applied for the million; it does not imply that any psychic will apply. It’s exactly like saying that Michael Schumaker (the world F1 racing car champion) would beat me in a motor car race. Of course, he’s not going to bother. But it’s a conditional statement – if he raced me he would win. Any real psychic would ace the test. Same difference. Period.

And as for your continued argument from authority, you should read the link Rockstar provided. I’ll repeat the argument here:

You are here on the internet, using an alias for yourself, conversing with others who may or may not be using aliases. You don't know who they are. Even if they tell you. We don't know who you are. Even if you tell us.

Let's say you tell us your real name. How would we check your claim to be a physicist? Most universities do not publish such information on their graduates. And how would we know you really are that person?

Suppose you claim you have multiple PhDs and give citations, and somehow we manage, despite the above, to verify this. We check those citations. We see if they are from peer-reviewed journals. We see if others cite them as well. We read the discourse in those journals and see how other researchers responded to the work.

Lets suppose you really weren’t that person but you still gave us the citations. We do the same checking as before.

So here is what we accomplished by:

asking somebody we don't know
whose name we don't know
and can't check
about a degree whose authenticity we can't check:

Nothing.

The evidence matters. No matter what you said, that is where we would end up looking, anyway. Argument From Authority is insufficient, and on the internet it is worthless.

Your qualifications mean nothing on an internet board.

Your behavior is the one that is tiresome. You play semantics and continue with fallacious reasoning after it has been pointed out to you. You do this because you have no answer to the fact that no psychic has won the million, and most don’t apply because they know they are frauds. We have seen through you and called your bluff. Thanks for playing.

First, you claimed that I have weaknesses in
scientific knowledge (which is ad-hominem, by the way) and as the term "scientific
knowledge" is ill-defined my only answer can be to actually prove that I am a scientist.
You may have saved time if you realised that
there are in fact ways to prove that I am
indeed a scientist (and yes, I read the
hint of Rockstar).

You can accuse me of fallacious reasoning
and repeat your mantra for Randis challenge
thousand times; it wont help you.

You actually asserted that your
statement does NOT imply that any real
psychic will apply. In that case your
argument is not applicable to Randis
challenge because it does not have the
properties of the real challenge, namely
that humans as a superset of real psychics
*must* apply. That is called (for your
fondness of logical reasoning) a False
Analogy. You must not use the result of
the *real* challenge for a conclusion of
a simplified *thought* challenge.

Applying to your example "Michael Schuh-
macher would beat me in a motor car race":
As Michael Schuhmacher actually didnt beat
you in a race, is that a prove that Michael
Schuhmacher does not exist ? You see the
problem: The willingness of Michael to
accept !

Anyway: The outcome of the challenge is
like the race against Michael Schuhmacher
not a reliable test. For the desired outcome you need fair conditions: No cheating, no
headstart, equal cars. Even then Michael
will lose if his engine give up. If the
premises are true ("There are real
psychics"/"You race with Michael Schuhmacher") and the conclusion is false
("You win because Michaels engine give up"/"Randi wont accept because he refuse a contender fearing that the challenge has
a hidden snag"), the inference is invalid.
In contrast to you I think that my
opponent is able enough to consult Logic
in a book or Google; in fact your reiterated
accusations of fallacious reasoning are
like the pot calling the kettle black.

I think I’ll just leave it to anyone else reading this to decide if TSK’s semantic games prove his point, or mine.

I'm afraid that Randi is wrong in this case. Auerbach's argument (when read as written) and TSK's logic are irrefutably solid.

Skeptico, your opinion is extremely biased as you evidently despise with heated passion any advocate of alternative beliefs other than your own. Auerbach apparently wants skeptics to be more open minded and less, dare I say, dogmatic in their practices. Not to say that Auerbach isn't biased, but he does seem a bit more objective in comparison as does TSK.

TSK doesn't seem to be one who might agree with Auerbach's philosophies either. He was merely pointing out flaws in your argument as well as Randi's. Valid arguments I might add.

Any person with a sufficient IQ is not an idiot, but geniuses can do idiotic things. Randi is a very smart man who happens to be a failed magician and a Marxist as well an atheist (this is true and researchable). Auerbach is a mentalist and magician who believes in ghosts and psychic powers.

Ultimately, you will have to wait until you are dead to find out who right.

Folklorist:

I'm afraid that TSK and you are both wrong in this case. My argument (when read as written) and logic are irrefutably solid.

Folklorist, your opinion is extremely biased as you evidently despise any advocate of beliefs other than your own. Auerbach apparently wants skeptics to be less critical and, dare I say, easier to fool. But that would lead to accepting anything. Not to say that Randi isn't biased, but he does seem a bit more objective in comparison to Auerbach and TSK.

TSK was manufacturing invalid supposed flaws in my argument as well as Randi's, but his were completely invalid arguments I might add.

Randi is a very smart man who happens to be a semi-retired and extremely successful magician (as well as an atheist, although the relevance of this or any supposed political views, are irrelevant). Auerbach is a creduloid who believes in ghosts and psychic powers based on the flimsiest of evidence.

(Hey, it’s easy making claims when you don’t have to back them up. Much easier than having to apply critical thinking and, you know, back up your claims. Thanks for playing though.)

Auerbach's argument (when read as written) and TSK's logic are irrefutably solid.

Funny, it looks fallacious to me. Perhaps I'm reading it wrong, then. Please connect the dots for me.

(Continuing from my above post)

Auerbach apparently wants skeptics to be more open minded and less, dare I say, dogmatic in their practices.

We are open minded. We're open to evidence. So present it. C'mon. We've been waiting.

Not to say that Auerbach isn't biased, but he does seem a bit more objective in comparison as does TSK.

TSK makes an appeal to self-authority. To me, that indicates a belief that the majikul letters after his name render him immune to foolishness. If he was objective, he'd talk about evidence and not shout for us to trust his infallible judgement. He also wouldn't lie about what Skeptico said.

My claims are easily backed up. All the claims I made are written in any number of books featuring Randi or Auerbach. Not to mention websites, new articles and the like which are easily researched on-line.

Rani follows a political mindset that has no place for religion or psychic powers. That makes him more biased than most "paranormalists" who believe what they believe without the extra baggage of being motivated by politics. Hence Randi will never believe in any phenomena of paranormal origin no matter how convincing it is. So, it doesn't matter if someone applies for the contest. They will lose because Randi will not let them win.

Randi actually gives skeptics a bad name when it comes to this. He is so closed minded as to be fanatical about his skepticism.

Auerbach will never stop believing in ghosts until he dies. Randi will never believe in ghosts short of Jesus (or any available deity depending on your preference) descending from heaven right in front of him. He still might not believe it then.

Your argument is that Randi's test is flawless. It is not.

I am a skeptic. I do not believe in ghosts. I do not believe in psychics. I want proof! However, the proof of ghosts and psychics is not what is being discussed in this blog chain. The topic is appears to be whether Randi has created a valid test and if Auerbach HAS created a good argument against Randi's challenge. So has TSK. Randi's test IS flawed. I am a skeptic, but I am also open minded enough to see the flaws in other skeptics.

You are not smarter than TSK, Randi or Auerbach. Sorry Skeptico, but once you started insulting people with name calling you proved you cannot have an intelligent argument with anyone. Even in Randi's most heated discussions, he never resorted to calling people an idiot. He didn't have too. He can carry a conversation just fine without lowering himself to your level.

You, Skeptico, give skeptics a bad name too. You are too arrogant to see you are wrong. In this case anyway. You should not have called Auerbach an idiot or insulted TSK. That's simply poor form and you should apologize. You have a public forum here and you berate anyone who challenges your opinion. Maybe you can put up a script at the top of the page that says, "If you disagree with anything I say or have a problem with me insulting people I have never met, get out!"

Remember BronzeDog, the above arguments were not about whether the paranormal exists in any form or not. It was about whether Auerbach had successfully found flaws in Randi's test. I believe he did. I think Auerbach is wrong about believing in ghosts without proof, but I don't think he is an idiot for it. Einstein believed in God after all.

Quite frankly, I am wasting my breath (or fingers on typing). Skeptico is incapable of understanding the flaws in his argument. Too stubborn.

OK Skeptico, you get the last word. Insult me if you wish. I'm out of here for good.

Randi is embarrassing some ghost hunters on the National Geographic Channel and I want to watch it.

PS

Read over this entire page again and you will see that TSK did not manufacture anything against what Skeptico posted. Why would he? All of Skeptico's aruments are posted here already. Some of the items Skeptico claimed are not exactly as Auerbach's article was written.

: We are open minded.

"Who thinks they're not open-minded? Our hypothetical prim miss from the suburbs thinks she's open-minded. Hasn't she been taught to be? Ask anyone, and they'll say the same thing: they're pretty open-minded, though they draw the line at things that are really wrong. (...)
When people are bad at math, they know it, because they get the wrong answers on tests. But when people are bad at open-mindedness they don't know it. In fact they tend to think the opposite." (Paul Graham, What you
can't say).

Dead on. And why are you talking for others, using "We" ? I have never found a group which is lacking idiots, so a generalized self-adulation sounds very suspicous.

: We're open to evidence. So present it.
: C'mon. We've been waiting.

Dear BronzeDog, the discussion is not about ghosts, psychics etc., but about the lack of
style, substance and respect of Skepticos "refutation". You need the original article of Auerbach, Skepticos article (here), and the JREF conditions (you know the way). So I don't know what do you mean with bringing up "evidence". So your claim that it looks fallacious isn't surprising; you simply haven't understood the discussion, so please do yourself a favor and read it carefully again.

:TSK makes an appeal to self-authority.

You are believing that you are able to be open-minded, fair and objective, hm ? Why did TSK told Skeptico that he was a physicist ? Well ?

: To me, that indicates a belief that the
: majikul letters after his name render him
: immune to foolishness.

No, a four-letter acronym helps you if you have problems in math. And you have better sex. Really.

[Accusations snipped]
It is always the same: It is not possible to discuss sth for correctness and fairness, it must be discussed for defeating an opponent. Skeptico cries "foul !" if someone called him falsely "a paid pharma shill" and told us all that it does not invalidate his arguments even if he is a paid pharma-shill.
But he has absolutely no problem to tell anyone that Auerbach is a "creduloid" and Randi a "very smart man" even if this is after his *own* definitions absolutely unnecessary (ahem, only arguments counts). You will be silent about this, BronzeDog.

Oh dear. Another content-free post from Folklorist.

I’ll reply to some of your points in a minute, but first I’ll let you in on something. You may have realized that in my last post I just repeated your comment back to you, with some minor tweaking so the comment applied to you instead of me. In case you were puzzling about this, I’ll explain: it’s a rhetorical device to demonstrate the vacuous nature of your post. You see, I only needed to change a few words and the comment applied to you instead of me. And of course, it’s just as meaningless as your original.

The thing is, you can’t use this device on a post that presents any actual data, evidence or facts. Try it – doesn’t work. It only works where the original post contained nothing of substance, just claims not backed up with evidence, and other fallacious reasoning. I hope this information will be a help, should you decide to continue with this leaving-comments-on-blogs hobby of yours.

Now, to some of your points:

Re: My claims are easily backed up. All the claims I made are written in any number of books featuring Randi or Auerbach. Not to mention websites, new articles and the like which are easily researched on-line.

Lame lame lame lame lame lame.

This is a critical thinking blog. If you want to make a claim you will have to back it up or I will expose you for the vacuous poseur you are. I don’t know where you normally go where “there are books that agree with me” works as an argument, but it won’t fly here. Stop posturing. Back up your claim.

Re: Your argument is that Randi's test is flawless. It is not.

I never said Randi’s test is flawless, did I? This is just a straw man, isn’t it? You’re not a skeptic, are you?

What I did say was that any real psychic would pass Randi’s test. Try and pay attention.

Re: I am a skeptic.

Bwaahahaha – sure you are.

Re: The topic is appears to be whether Randi has created a valid test and if Auerbach HAS created a good argument against Randi's challenge. So has TSK. Randi's test IS flawed.

Except that you can’t say how.

Re: You are not smarter than TSK, Randi or Auerbach.

It must be annoying for you then that you can’t refute any of my points.

Re: I think Auerbach is wrong about believing in ghosts without proof, but I don't think he is an idiot for it.

I don't think Auerbach is an idiot for believing in ghosts without proof. I think he is an idiot for thinking that EMF signals are ghosts without any reason to support that idea whatsoever, and in the teeth of prosaic explanations for those same EMF signals.

Re: Einstein believed in God after all.

Appeal to authority.

You’re really not a skeptic, are you? That’s just one of the many lame responses given by any number of believers. Including this one.

Anyway, Einstein did NOT believe in God:

Einstein wrote, "It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly.

(You’re really not very good at this, are you?)

Re: Quite frankly, I am wasting my breath (or fingers on typing).

You probably are, since you are incapable of understanding the flaws in your argument. Too stubborn. (That’s the rhetorical device again. See what I mean?)

Re: OK Skeptico, you get the last word. Insult me if you wish. I'm out of here for good.

Another lame victim-playing act. Bye. Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.

Talking of lame responses, TSK is back.

Just a couple of points. Your “physicist” claim is just an appeal to authority. Several people have told you this many times already. Look it up, you’re just tiresome.

Second, my “Randi is a very smart man” comment was just a rhetorical device to expose the vacuous nature of Folklorist’s post. (See the beginning of my above post for the explanation.) Sorry you couldn’t figure that out yourself.

: Einstein did NOT believe in God: [...]

Wrong. He was a pantheist or a believer in a "Spinozan God", that means he thinks that "God" is identical with the structure of the universe itself. No christian or "personal God" who is concerned about humans, no afterlife, no separated soul, but the belief that there is something outside our human experience as a cause of structure and harmony in our universe.

Re: He was a pantheist or a believer in a "Spinozan God", that means he thinks that "God" is identical with the structure of the universe itself. No christian or "personal God" who is concerned about humans, no afterlife, no separated soul, but the belief that there is something outside our human experience as a cause of structure and harmony in our universe.

Even if true it’s irrelevant. When people say “Einstein believed in God” they mean Einstein believed in a supernatural God, and therefore _____________ (and here they insert their own unsubstantiated supernatural belief) is true. Spinoza’s God is not God as most people understand it: to try to blur the distinction is to commit the fallacy of equivocation.

Dear BronzeDog, the discussion is not about ghosts, psychics etc., but about the lack of style, substance and respect of Skepticos "refutation".
You don't need style to point out logical fallacies. You don't need to present anything of substance if your opponent's arguments are fallacious. You don't need to give respect.

You need the original article of Auerbach, Skepticos article (here), and the JREF conditions (you know the way). So I don't know what do you mean with bringing up "evidence". So your claim that it looks fallacious isn't surprising; you simply haven't understood the discussion, so please do yourself a favor and read it carefully again.

I don't need to read everything to spot fallacies on your part. If you crash your car into a brick wall, I don't need to watch the rest of the race to know you've lost. You made some errors, and I simply pointed them out.

Remember BronzeDog, the above arguments were not about whether the paranormal exists in any form or not. It was about whether Auerbach had successfully found flaws in Randi's test. I believe he did.

Such as...?

You are believing that you are able to be open-minded, fair and objective, hm ?

I don't think I'm completely objective. I never claimed to be. I am, however, openminded where there's evidence involved. Unfortunately, there seems to be a vast shortage of evidence for the sort of things I'm skeptical about.

Why did TSK told Skeptico that he was a physicist ? Well ?

My guesses: Attempting to sway lurkers with the propaganda technique/logical fallacy of appeal to authority because he's unable to debate cleanly, using evidence. So, he fights dirty.

It is always the same: It is not possible to discuss sth for correctness and fairness, it must be discussed for defeating an opponent. Skeptico cries "foul !" if someone called him falsely "a paid pharma shill" and told us all that it does not invalidate his arguments even if he is a paid pharma-shill.

And he's right. "Argumentum ad homenim" and "poisoning the well" are logical fallacies, propaganda techniques, and are nothing but dirty tactics in an argument.

But he has absolutely no problem to tell anyone that Auerbach is a "creduloid" and Randi a "very smart man" even if this is after his *own* definitions absolutely unnecessary (ahem, only arguments counts).

Presenting an insult alongside a legitimate argument is not an ad homenim. Ignore the insults and read his arguments if they're that distracting.

You will be silent about this, BronzeDog.

Why?

BronzeDog wrote: [ignorance]
Double standard as usual. You are dismissed.

BronzeDog wrote: [ignorance]
Double standard as usual. You are dismissed.

Please point out my double standard and describe it in detail.

TSK wrote: [ignorance]
Double standard as usual. You are dismissed.

Hey Skeptico - that little rhetorical device does come in handy!

A few more hours, and it'll be three days since the accusation. There a statute of limitations on these things?

Ok, some pity: Do you now recognized that your theory that you don't need to give respect
overlooked something ? And as answer as a question: Why did TSK told Skeptico that he was a physicist ? or why should I describe something to someone who openly refused to read what I currently said....

Oh, I forgot:
This is your last chance.

Why did TSK told Skeptico that he was a physicist ?

My guesses: Attempting to sway lurkers with the propaganda technique/logical fallacy of appeal to authority because he's unable to debate cleanly, using evidence. So, he fights dirty.

Did you not read it the first time I posted it?

ROFL - I read about ten of the posts before thowing up my hands! I'm psychic and it matters not to me whether anyone believes it or not - anyway, it is not to be believed - either you are or you aren't. I wouldn't waste time trying to prove psi to anyone, just as I will not waste anymore time on this baloney,

Suzy:

You wouldn’t even want to prove psi for a million dollars? Are you that rich?

Wonderful. Suzy took time out of our day to provide us her word that she's received some perfect, undeniable, couldn't-possibly-be-mistaken revelation that she's psychic with her super-omniscience power.

And she doesn't care whether or not we believe. She doesn't care enough about us to actually do anything to prove it. She's skipping and dancing at the thought that she left us out of the loop, when it'd be so easy to prove psychic powers to us, with an experiment only marginally more complicated than the Pepsi Challenge.

(The Pepsi Challenge was probably single-blinded. We like double-blinded.)

Suzy, what sort of evidence would it take to prove you wrong?

You already know what simple test it'd take to prove us skeptics wrong. Yet, so few psychics are willing to go through with it. The silence is deafening.

Oh, and if you don't want the million, you can give it to charity. If I may be so bold, lots of little kids in third world countries need measles vaccines.

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