« Bread for success | Main | Opportunity Missed »

December 29, 2005


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Just because I've never met that guy doesn't mean he's not a complete idiot.

I have met Larry King, (he hosted an awards show that I was working on) he may or may not be an idiot (current evidence suggests he is), but I can assure you, from personal experience, that he is a self centered jerk. And, this does not surprise me.

As everyone knows, Blogspot sucks and doesn't support trackbacks.

I referenced your article on my blog when I saw it today. Man that LKL show had me ticked. I tried to get on the show, but nothin doin...

This James Van Praagh must be one of the wooliest thinkers on the planet. How can he think that Pluto wouldn't have existed before we (well, someone) discovered it. This is like saying the Earth was really flat before Copernicus discovered that it wasn't. What an idiot! Even more idiotic to expound his view on national tv. And even more idiotic and worrying - people believe him! Btw, what is wrong with people like Larry King that they can't bring themselves to point out the fallacies in these kind of arguments. It's not difficult. Are they too stupid themselves, or do they actually take pleasure in increasing public ignorance?

Here's a book I recommend to all rational thinkers:
"How Mumbo Jumbo Conquered The World", by Francis Wheen. It should be compulsory reading in all schools, in all subjects.

So if the believer has evidence then his claims are worthy of consideration?

Sure. Worthy of consideration, yes.

Of course, you then have to investigate to see how good his evidence is.


To be fair, Van Praagh wasn’t saying that.

I’ve often queried, and I don’t know if this was Van Praagh’s point, about the appeal to what we might call the “science says” argument. It seems to me that this argument is rather circular since it presupposes that scientific evidence is the only “real kind of evidence” (of course we must define our terms).

How do we get outside the circle to prove the claim that only what science supports must be true? At first glance one might say ‘well science has shown this to be the case,’ but then this is begging the question.

Please shed some light on this matter for this a serious consternation for me, a real thorn in my flesh!

Scientific evidence simply means that we can observe and measure the effects of a phenomenon.

So if psi can produce effects that can be observed or measured, it can be recorded scientifically.

If it produces no observable or measureable effects, what good is psi?


Take a look at The appeal to other ways of knowing

It’s not that science must be true. It's that science is the most consistent and reliable method for evaluating claims. Other ways of knowing are just unreliable.

Thanks Skeptico. I appreciated your article (and I thouroughly enjoy your writing)and I agree that science is the most reliable method for evaluating claims. However, I think the question is still being begged.

How do we justify science as being the most reliable method for evaluating claims apart from using the scientific method? Is this some sort of innate knowledge, or is it inferred from another belief, etc.?

p.s. Do you mind if I post our conversation on my blog?


I would say it’s inferred from the progress science has made. Look at how much we learned up to the point when Galileo and Newton started testing things – not much. Look at what we have learned since. What other method of knowing can boast any degree of success? I think it is up to the proponents of other ways of knowing to explain their method and show that it is actually better.

I understand though potential criticism that this is circular – we are asking them to demonstrate their system is better, but “asking them to demonstrate their system is better” is how science works. But it’s hard to see how else we are supposed to know their system is better unless they explain how it is better. They can justify it any way they want though, which goes in part to counter the criticism. But in my experience they rarely have any method in mind – they just “know” their woo belief is true. All we can do is point out that “just knowing” has proven unreliable. And point out that unless you have a method that rules out things that are wrong, you will believe in anything. Although they would make good customers for this bridge I can see outside my window.

And sure – write about it on your blog. More discussion is always good – this is a tricky one to nail down conclusively, so I’ll look forward to reading how you view it.

"unless you have a method that rules out things that are wrong, you will believe in anything."--Indeed!

I will put this on my blog and see if I can develop the conversation any further.

It must be said that the comment alone, that "science doesn't know everything", demonstrates an ignorance of what science is and, more to the point, what it isn't. Surely the point to be made is, science doesn't "know" anything - it is just a process of observation, testing, evaluation and re-evaluation. It's not a faith or religion (both of which are defined as beliefs without evidence, or in spite of the lack of evidence). Nor is science absolute - it is about probabilities and depends on the notion that evidence might be discovered that will change the evaluation. These anti-science people don't (or don't want) to understand the notion of falsification - unless maybe it concerns their accounting practices. They want the certainty of absolutism and no reponsibility for giving any meaning to their lives. Is it all about fear and exploiting the feasr of others?

> Pluto, we would not have known it existed until we discovered it. That does not mean it does not exist.

Before Pluto 'existed', did astronomers travel the land selling rubes $100 photos of it? I had no idea.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Search site