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November 23, 2008

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Is it just me, or did you change the layout? The tiny text in the sidebars was a bit jarring. Is that just my computer?

I changed the design a little bit. Which browser are you using? It looks the same in Firefox but the sidebar text is smaller in IE.

What does anyone else think?

My Firefox has far smaller sidebar text.

Wow. I can't even read the whole rebuttal because Wu is so amazingly ignorant just reading his text gives me a headache. It's blatant sophistry, through and through, and I'm surprised he could publish it and feel satisfied with himself.

Amazing. After the grandiose introduction, I was at the very least expecting something, ANYTHING, that hasn't been thoroughly debunked in the past.

In fact, his "Debunking of Common Skeptical Arguments" was basically a restating, over and over again, of the following:


This particular argument is rubbish because skeptics are mean and closed minded. Also, lots of people believe in woo and you can't prove woo doesn't exist. I'm a credulous moron who doesn't even understand the arguments I'm not debunking... And anecdotes.

Quite how any of what he says debunks any of the individual arguments is beyond me. If I were a member of the woo community I would be embarrassed. Paul Sandoval has my utmost respect for not just his nice rebuttal, but for having the patience to read through all the stupid.

Yeah, I saw a comment by Winston Woo at amazon reviewing one of the Randi books (I think it was flim flam). so I checked out his site. My jaw pretty much hit the floor when I was reading examples like:

I have never been to Spain and yet I know it exists.

Too bad he isn't a member of some tribe in New Guinea who may not be able to say the same thing. Plus we would have been spared this long winded lunacy he put out.

I think he's a member of a tribe of total strokers!

Jeez, that was tedious to read. Page after page of "open-minded" meaningless drivel that proved less than a wet fart.

marvel at how he continues to insist he is winning the argument, long after his ass has been handed to him on a silver platter

Kinda reminds you of John Best, doesn't it?

I did end up pitying the skeptics he mentions in the introduction when he says "... years of experience debating skeptics" - those poor poor souls. Of course, if you replace "debating" with "failing to understand" or "missing the point with" it more accurately reflects reality and is funnier to boot.

Regarding the fonts: I would go with 1 point larger, if it were up to me. The links still span over multiple pages so you're not gaining much in terms of space saving. You probably are, however, losing a little regarding legibility.

Hell, that's just my $0.02 and I'm still in two minds about it anyway.

Happy to muddy the waters.

The text is significantly smaller than the text in the posts. It looks like 8 pt to me. But, upon re-inspection, it works for me.

The smaller text in the sidebar is perfectly readable on my screen (Firefox).

DAZZLING new header, Skeptico! I like what you've done with the place. :)

Thanks. I'd been unhappy with the old design and especially the banner, for some time. I finally decided to do something about it yesterday. The banner is probably not the one I'll end up with, but the basic color scheme - orange / red - is similar to what I'll be going for. I'll probably end up with something simpler, but with some kind of logo (if I can pull that off). In the mean time, it's an improvement.

I made the text in the sidebar bigger - thanks KoF for the feedback. On reflection, I think it should be the same as the main text, which it now is (in my browser, anyway).

The new design is lovely! And the text in the side bars is perfectly legible with Safari on a Mac. The sidebar text is smaller than main body text, but plenty readable.

Just as an aside, I no longer read JREF, because his weekly newsletter or whatever he calls it is full of the same ad hominum attacks that he sneers at the alties for using. I check your blog regularly for updates because you actually take the time to use logic instead of (only) sneering. Yes, I can understand the temptation to sneer, but it has nothing to do with logic and science. Thank you for keeping it to a minimum.

I'm genuinely interested to know what would constitute convincing, or conclusive, evidence for, say, 'psychic' communication with the dead? If there is no such thing (as conclusive evidence) then any investigation can only start out as a negative enquiry, suggesting other methods by which startling results may have been achieved. I can see that believers might use this standpoint as a criticism of sceptics, and that concerns me. They would say, I guess, that they 'can't win', so the investigation (debunking) angle is simply confirming a negative point of view. What's the best reply here?

Well, I for one always enjoy going to a supposed psychic and asking for her/him to talk with my dead biological grandfather, then just ask what his name is. By specifying "biological" it implies that you are unsure of what the answer is to a psychic giving them free reign to say anything. However, I fully knew my biological grandfather when he was alive.

My more favorite thing to do (and you can read about a similar thing done at StopSylvia) is to ask a psychic:

"what is the name of my biological mother?"

I also ask whether she is alive or dead and things like that.

Then I go home and ask my mom if she feels dead or if her name is Susan. My mom is from Denmark, she doesn't have a name that would be common here.

You may consider this to be negative, but if a) the psychic has no way to do background research on you (i.e. you went to see her, and didnt fill out information before entering a show or something), and b)actually got it right due to the fact that both of my grandfathers are foreign with funny sounding non common names, I would be pretty amazed.

strange that I have never been amazed, huh? Thats why Randi still has his 1 million dollars.

as for a more scientific test...i would propose:

Develop a list of 20 questions like:

first name
age
job description that they spent most time at
location of home they spent most time at
wifes name

The answers to these questions should be plentiful, not just limited choices like hair color.

Then have 20 people answer these questions in advance for 2 or three dead people they are related to.

Let the psychic agree to find out the answer to any 5 of those 20 questions.


Then put all 20 people in the room with the psychic, let the psychic pick and choose whos relative they want to "talk" to fully knowing that they have to answer these 5 questions.

dont accept answers like Scientist if the correct answer is engineer. Dont accept 55 years old if the answer is really 56. Dont accept any of the fallacies pointed out here before.

Don't let the psychic lead conversation anywhere near the answer to any of the questions agreed upon.

Make sure the psychic is doing his readings within 5 minutes after choosing the 5 questions they want to answer (to prevent figuring out ways to cold read these answers).

If the psychic is "talking to a dead person" but doesnt know who the dead person is related to, then they dont get credit for the first questions. For example, if they say to the crowd of 20 "I'm hearing someones name of John, raise your hand if your grandfathers name was john". They dont get credit if the question was "What is the first name of the dead person".

I'd be surprised if the psychic got more than 1 answer correct for more than 2 dead relatives.

If the psychic got the answer to all 5 questions for any dead person related to any of the 20 people in the room, I would accept that they could talk to dead people.

Derek, you wrote:

"If there is no such thing (as conclusive evidence) then any investigation can only start out as a negative enquiry, suggesting other methods by which startling results may have been achieved."

If anyone talks of investigating "startling results", you can stop them straight away. If they mean "results better than chance would predict", then there's nothing to talk about yet. No such results have ever been produced in a properly controlled setting.

Cold reading can produce results that startle people, but once you know how it works it stops being so surprising. (The article Techskeptic links to has good information about it.)

Any testing would have to exclude the possibility of such techniques being used.

You might also like to have a look at this article too on this site:

http://skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/2006/06/pretty_soon.html

Depending on the model of the "dead" we're using, it could be as easy as putting a playing card or other random object someplace where the psychic cannot see--such as on a high shelf or in a locked box--and asking them to ask the spirits what the object or card is. If they can do this reliably, it would be pretty good evidence that there's something more than just cold reading going on.

oh screw you tom!

My method was way longer, and far more complex and required many more people, it must have been better.

Leave it to a simpleton like you to come along and propose something so simple, so easy, so inexpensive that it could be done anywhere easily.

I think our methods operate on different models of "the dead," though. Mine, for instance, would have to be some kind of free-floating incorporeal spirit who can move about the room and observe real things. Yours would deal with the spirits who are tied to living people and can give information primarily about their lives. As with most things, we'd have to start with some kind of definition of the dead.

Thank you all for the responses to my question about how one could 'prove' claims of psychic ability. On the question of 'contacting the dead'; if a 'psychic' produced information that was verifiable by others then that information COULD, logically, have been obtained previously, so the outcome is not conclusive. If the 'psychic' produced, for example, details of a private conversation that is obviously not accessible to anyone else then the evidence becomes anecdotal in nature. It would be conclusive to the person concerned, but others could say that that person was simply mistaken, and could not prove that that conversation had ever taken place! Even IF a 'conclusive' result could be obtained wouldn't we say 'I don't know how you did that, but I still don't believe you spoke to the dead', or whatever.

Even IF a 'conclusive' result could be obtained wouldn't we say 'I don't know how you did that, but I still don't believe you spoke to the dead', or whatever.

They would still say that because the evidence is not conclusive, but rather 'conclusive', which is not conclusive obviously since you had to put quotes around it.

If the evidence was conclusive it would be indisputable.

For my money, the best evidence for psychic communication with the dead would be accurate predictions of archaeological finds. If the psychic can talk to an inhabitant of, say, Roman Colchester, and can describe the location, plan, and decorative detail of buildings which are currently unknown, by reference to buildings which are currently known, and then someone can dig those remains up and confirm the prediction, I'd consider that pretty damn convincing.

I think that gets round the question of whether the dead have access to current information, avoids the issue of foreknowledge on the part of the alleged psychic, and is much less open to interpretation than things like details of conversations. For example, a mosaic floor can easily be described to a high degree of accuracy, so that there can be no real doubt as to whether the description matches an actual find.

Derek, you seem to be suggesting that contact with the dead may, by its nature, be untestable.

May be so, too. But in that case, psychics would also have no way of confirming it either. And if they were honest, they wouldn't be taking money from the bereaved or "helping" the police.

Tom's point - that a lot depends on our model of death - is also important. Psychics assume that the dead can communicate, remember details of their life, can see from a "higher" perspective, etc. (All of which makes the psychic's information more valuable, of course!)

But why make all those assumptions?

Actually any test of a psychic can only test the psychic's assumptions about death, and not whether the dead are with us. Maybe the dead are with us, but in a completely different manner to the way psychics imagine it. It would be interesting to see how psychics would react to that kind of conclusive evidence.

Wouldn't it.

............

Dunc,

RE "the question of whether the dead have access to current information" - judging by the way channeled entities speak, I suspect the spirit world only has access to a very limited set of pseudo-scientific books from the 1970s.

But seriously, I think that's a good suggestion for what could constitute compelling evidence.

I wonder if any psychic, or supporter of psychics, would care to suggest what evidence would convince them that they have been mistaken. (Open-mindedness test.)

Derek:

Even IF a 'conclusive' result could be obtained wouldn't we say 'I don't know how you did that, but I still don't believe you spoke to the dead', or whatever.

And then we're getting into David Hume territory:is it a greater miracle that people survive their deaths, or that one of the participants is still being deceived, or that there is some third explanation (X-ray vision, Telepathy)?

Which is why I was careful to say that reliable success in one kind of test would be proof that there was something anomalous going on, though not necessarily ghost-talking in particular. In order to validate the "talking to the dead" hypothesis, we'd have to have a specific definition of what the dead are able to do, so we could make specific predictions for experimentation and devise methods of testing that would disconfirm alternate hypotheses. We'd need extraordinary evidence to confirm that hypothesis--in terms of its quality, amount, and specificity.

Dunc: I like that idea.

Tom;

"In order to validate the "talking to the dead" hypothesis, we'd have to have a specific definition of what the dead are able to do, so we could make specific predictions for experimentation and devise methods of testing that would disconfirm alternate hypotheses."

What are the chances of getting such a definition agreed to by all 'sides' of the argument? Surely, as this is an impossible task, we are compelled to say that any investigation, no matter how carefully conducted, can never demonstrate that communication with the dead is proven? IF that is the case, why bother to conduct any investigations, and why not state outright to believers what 'our' position is; that is, there MAY be such a thing as talking to to dead, it is highly unlikely, there is no direct evidence for it, but there is no way to prove the contention.(Of course, the onus is on the believer to prove,not us to disprove). Mr Wu needs to at least suggest a method of proof other than anecdote,'other' ways of seeing, etc. I still can't see how it can be done...?

Apologies! In my last response I spoke at least one piece of nonsense; 'other' ways of knowing, anecdote, etc ARE acceptable methods of proof for Mr Wu and others. So further debate is a waste of words...

What are the chances of getting such a definition agreed to by all 'sides' of the argument?
Well, note that throughout this I've been just talking about one "true" psychic who reliably passes the tests. If that psychic really is talking to the dead, then he/she ought to be able to provide a pretty detailed description of the dead's capabilities, as provided by the dead themselves. If we had multiple psychics who were reliably successful at the same tests, they should give corroborative descriptions of the dead's capabilities. If they were to give contradictory models of the dead, that'd be a significant indication that there was something going on besides talking to the dead.

I think we may be going at this from two different directions; you're approaching this from the practical standpoint using the examples we have of real-life psychics, who would perform terribly on the test and give conflicting definitions of the dead, because they clearly do. I'm approaching this from the assumption of a hypothetical psychic who has reliably performed successfully on our tests. I'm speculating on what could possibly happen to validate the idea that one can talk to the dead, while you seem to be operating from what we recognize as the likeliest truth--that psychics are charlatans and the dead don't speak.

What are the chances of getting such a definition agreed to by all 'sides' of the argument?

I'd say the chances are actually fairly good. Since skeptics don't believe in the dead communicating in general, they're not likely to argue with the medium and say "No, no, the dead communicate in this way!" I should think they're liable to accept (for the purposes of testing, at least) whatever the medium claims they can do, and form a test around that.

For instance, have you ever heard of the James Randi million dollar challenge? They test people who claim to have psychic/paranormal powers. To do so, they require a clear statement of what powers the person claims to possess, so that they can formulate a way to test it. They of course work with the alleged psychic as well, to ensure that the person believes this is a fair test of what they purport to be able to do.

Well, I think Randi's system is quite sound, at least in principle, and in the applications of it I've heard of.

1) You ask the psychic what he can do, not how he can do it, or what it means for humanity, but just a result they assure you they can get with their powers.
2) You go away and figure out wayus in which trickey could be used to acheive that effect.
3) You figure out countermeasures to those tricks.
4) Ask the psychic to agree to those countermeasures. If they agree because they think their powers are good enough, fine. If they don't, you simply cannot be sure that they are not using trickery.
5) Carry out the test with your counter-measures applied. If they fail, there is no evidence that they can do what they say they can do, excuses notwithstanding, but if they pass, they could still have been using trickery, but now you DO have some evidence that it's not all hot air.

“Critical thinking for an Irrational World”

I enjoy the irrational world. Irrationality is used not as self expression, but as self alteration. To become more open.

Cliff:

Ah yes, the old, "Skeptics are all close minded." How original of you.

It appears that old adage about being so open minded your brains fall out has just passed you by, hasn't it?

Cliff,

What do you mean by "more open"?

Jimmy_Blue

i never said, "Skeptics are all close minded."

All I said was that I enjoy and an encouraged by irrationality. You seem to have read too much into my comment? I was not calling anyone close minded.

Also, i am an irrational skeptic.

Self alteration???

Fine Cliff, then answer Martin's question. What do you mean by "more open"?

And just exactly how is one to be an "irrational skeptic"?

Hi all,
This is Winston Wu, the author of the treatise this blog is referring to. The new link to my debunking skeptical arguments treatise is at:

http://www.debunkingskeptics.com

Check it out. Me and two others have started a group called SCEPCOP, which stands for "Scientific Committee to Expose Pseudo-Skeptical Cynicism of the Paranormal." The new link above is the website of SCEPCOP. Check out some of my new essays there on the left menu bar too.

I know you folks, like most people, are closed minded to anything and everything that doesn't fit your world view (I'm actually one of the few that are totally open to any truth, no matter how shocking, as long as there's evidence) but I just thought I'd give you a heads up.

Oh and one more thing. Here are some deeply profound quotes I found that you skeptics should ponder over and contemplate:

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” - Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher

“Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.” - Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher

“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” - Søren Kierkegaard, Danish Philospher

“I shall not commit the fashionable stupidity of regarding everything I cannot explain as a fraud.” - Carl Gustav Jung

“It is entirely possible that behind the perception of our senses, worlds are hidden of which we are unaware.” – Albert Einstein

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes.” - Marcel Proust, French novelist

Anyhow, I wish you all the best.

Regards,
Master debunker of skeptics,
Winston
http://www.debunkingskeptics.com

Winston, you've never really argued with skeptics before, have you?

1. We're the open-minded ones. When someone makes a claim, we have a standard of evidence it takes to change our minds. Cynical diatribes aimed at tearing down everything we've accomplished through the scientific method don't work. It takes real evidence, and no, the plural of anecdote is not "evidence."

On the quotes you provide:

Arthur Schopenhauer: 1. No, not all truth goes through that pattern. Sometimes it can be accepted more quickly than expected. 2. You presume it to be true. If it's false, the stages don't apply. How about you give evidence instead of whining sour grapes?

Søren Kierkegaard: Yup. That pretty well covers two ways of being wrong. So what?

Carl Gustav Jung: Since when was it fashionable to label the unexplained as fraud? I don't know anyone here who does that. The big problem for woo, of course, is that we already have plenty of explanations. They're just too bitter, cynical, and egotistical to accept alternative explanations.

Albert Einstein: And Einstein knew science is the only method of exploring the world beyond our limited senses. Woos are defeatists because they aren't interested in anything outside what's in their head.

Marcel Proust: That's why we always seek new ways of looking at things. Woos are content to remain in their robotic ways and treat mysteries like stamps and shiny baubles without making the slightest effort to understand them.

I'm often surprised woos can live without suffocating under the pressure of their narrow, linear views.

So, Winston's post summarized: "Wah, wah. Instead of contributing meaningfully by providing evidence for any claim, I'll just hack together some quotes that demonstrate how many Hollywood stereotypes about skeptics I was indoctrinated into believing without question."

Seems my links didn't get formatted right. Might be one of those wandering bugs, but just in case:

http://rockstarramblings.blogspot.com/2009/04/get-out-of-circular-mill.html

Be sure to watch Qualia Soup's video on open-mindedness and what it really means.

Well Winston, if it is a case of who has the best quotes that wins an argument then this will be fun:

"Skepticism is a virtue in history as well as in philosophy."
-Napoleon Bonaparte

"The natural cause of the human mind is certainly from credulity to skepticism."
-Thomas Jefferson

"Skepticism is the first step on the road to philosophy."
-Denis Diderot

"Skepticism: the mark and even the pose of the educated mind."
-John Dewey

"The path of sound credence is through the thick forest of skepticism."
-George Jean Nathan

"Skepticism, like chastity, should not be relinquished too readily."
-George Santayana

"The only new ideas that are not subject to our skepticism or suspicion are our own."
-Cullen Hightower (see if you can figure out why I included this one Winston).

"The key to wisdom is this -- constant and frequent questioning ... for by doubting we are led to question and by questioning we arrive at the truth."
-Peter Abelard

"There are in fact four very significant stumblingblocks in the way of grasping the truth, which hinder every man however learned, and scarcely allow anyone to win a clear title to wisdom, namely, the example of weak and unworthy authority, longstanding custom, the feeling of the ignorant crowd, and the hiding of our own ignorance while making a display of our apparent knowledge."
-Roger Bacon

"Weary the path that does not challenge. Doubt is an incentive to truth and patient inquiry leadeth the way."
-Hosea Ballou

"By doubting we all come at truth."
-Marcus Tullius Cicero

"I see men ordinarily more eager to discover a reason for things than to find out whether things are so."
-Michel De Montaigne

"There are all kinds of devices invented for the protection and preservation of countries: defensive barriers, forts, trenches, and the like... But prudent minds have as a natural gift one safeguard which is the common possession of all, and this applies especially to the dealings of democracies. What is this safeguard? Skepticism. This you must preserve. This you must retain. If you can keep this, you need fear no harm."
-Demosthenes

"The important thing is never to stop questioning."
-Albert Einstein

"The civilized man has a moral obligation to be skeptical, to demand the credentials of all statements that claim to be facts."
-Bergen Evans

"Freedom of speech and freedom of action [is meaningless] without freedom to think. And there is no freedom of thought without doubt."
-Bergen Evans

"It is unwise to be too sure of one's own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err."
-Mahatma Mohandas K. Gandhi

"Advances are made by answering questions. Discoveries are made by questioning answers."
-Bernhard Haisch

"What are the moral convictions most fondly held by barbarous and semi-barbarous people? They are the convictions that authority is the soundest basis of belief; that merit attaches to readiness to believe; that the doubting disposition is a bad one, and skepticism is a sin."
-Thomas Henry Huxley

"Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intelligence"
-Dr. Samuel Johnson

"The skeptic does not mean him who doubts, but him who investigates or researches, as opposed to him who asserts and thinks he has found."
-Miguel Deunamuno Y Jugo

"There must be no barriers for freedom of inquiry. There is no place for dogma in science. The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors."
-J. Robert Oppenheimer

"The believer is happy, the doubter is wise."
-Hungarian Proverb

"In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted."
-Bertrand Russell

"The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt."
-Bertrand Russell

"At the heart of science is an essential tension between two seemingly contradictory attitudes -- an openness to new ideas, no matter how bizarre or counterintuitive they may be, and the most ruthless skeptical scrutiny of all ideas, old and new. This is how deep truths are winnowed from deep nonsense."
-Carl Sagan

"The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact than a drunken man is happier than a sober one."
-George Bernard Shaw

"I know that most men -- not only those considered clever, but even those who are very clever and capable of understanding most difficult scientific, mathematical, or philosophic, problems -- can seldom discern even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as obliges them to admit the falsity of conclusions they have formed, perhaps with much difficulty -- conclusions of which they are proud, which they have taught to others, and on which they have built their lives."
-Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoi (ouch, that's gotta hurt Winston.)

"I am aware that when even the brightest mind in our world has been trained up from childhood in a superstition of any kind, it will never be possible for that mind, in its maturity, to examine sincerely, dispassionately, and conscientiously any evidence or any circumstance which shall seem to cast a doubt upon the validity of that superstition..."
-Mark Twain

"Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd."
-Voltaire

"To believe is very dull. To doubt is intensely engrossing. To be on the alert is to live, to be lulled into security is to die."
-Oscar Wilde

"Nothing is too wonderful to be true if it be consistent with the laws of nature."
-Michael Faraday

"The high-minded man must care more for the truth than for what people think."
-Aristotle

"A witty saying proves nothing"
-Voltaire

We win.

And boy, the arrogance that goes with a "Everyone is closeminded but me." declaration is quite staggering. Informative of the sort of person who would proclaim it though.

Very informative.

Me and two others have started a group called SCEPCOP, which stands for "Scientific Committee to Expose Pseudo-Skeptical Cynicism of the Paranormal.

oh goody. now you can be on the skeptiKo show.

Oh winston...so sad


hmm...no linkies?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T69TOuqaqXI

All:

For some reason the html has just been stripped from all comments, even old ones. I have a help ticket in to typepad about this, and
I certainly hope they can fix it. Pretty fucking PISSED OFF with typepad right now.

Tell us how you are really feeling skeptico.

:/

I know you folks, like most people, are closed minded to anything and everything that doesn't fit your world view (I'm actually one of the few that are totally open to any truth, no matter how shocking, as long as there's evidence) but I just thought I'd give you a heads up.

Oh no, an appeal to be open minded. An open mind is open to all ideas, but it must be open to the possibility that the idea could be true or false. It is not closed-minded to reject claims that make no sense. If you can’t accept the possibility that an idea might be false, then you are the closed minded one.

Winston, you’re just open to any old crap you like the sound of.

Oh and one more thing. Here are some deeply profound quotes I found that you skeptics should ponder over and contemplate:

And now we’re going to have a set of appeals to authorities. I see you still love your logical fallacies Winston.

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” - Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher

No, all truth does not pass through those three stages.  However much bullshit does pass through the first two, and so it should be. But it is only ever “accepted as being self-evident” if it is, actually, true.  Unless your name is Winston woo – then, I agree, it may well be accepted as self evident. By you.

“Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.” - Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher

I disagree totally that “every man” does that. I accept my limits of vision, which is why I trust the results of scientific testing over the made up claims of woos – science is a method of systematized testing in a way that controls for our biases, or limits of vision. Read Pretty soon… – it’s not skeptics’ “limits of vision” that have resulted in psi giving us nothing despite looking for 125 years. What reason would you have for that Winston? Couldn’t the reason be that psi doesn’t exist?

“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” - Søren Kierkegaard, Danish Philospher

And your way to be fooled is primarily the first one. Thanks for pointing it out.

“I shall not commit the fashionable stupidity of regarding everything I cannot explain as a fraud.” - Carl Gustav Jung

Neither would I nor most skeptics. So that would be a straw man, Winston.

“It is entirely possible that behind the perception of our senses, worlds are hidden of which we are unaware.” – Albert Einstein

Yes it is possible. In fact, anything is possible. But pointing out that anything is possible will get you nowhere. “Is it possible” is not the question you should be asking.  The question you should be asking is, “is there a reason to suppose something is true?” So far you haven’t given me one.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes.” - Marcel Proust, French novelist

Agreed. But when you have seen something new you have to have a way to determine if what you saw was real. You don’t.

Anyhow, I wish you all the best.

Regards,

Master debunker of skeptics,


Winston


http://www.debunkingskeptics.com


You mean, “master at writing easily refuted drivel”. I took a look at that travesty of web design you linked there. I note you still have (if I’m not mistaken) your original screed that Sandoval debunked. And yet no response to Sandoval – nothing saying what he might have got wrong. It’s been several years now Winston, this is the best you can do? Still with the same logical fallacies?

Winston, you claim on your site that skeptics ridicule your ideas because they are desperate to "suppress anything that challenges their 19th Century scientific materialistic views" and remain within the "confines of the material paradigm in a competitive Darwinistic world".

Wrong. You get ridiculed because you write that sort of ignorant garbage. If you can't be bothered finding out what "Darwinism" actually means before shooting your mouth off about it, then why should anyone offer you anything but ridicule?

sorry to do this in your comments area...

yakaru, can you email me? You mentioned something a while ago that came up in recent conversation for me and I couldn't remember the details.

techskeptic(at)gmail(dot)com

(does doing that to email addresses really avoid spam?)

Why does Winston Woo not reply when he has gotten his ass well and truly kicked in arguments against "close minded skeptics"?
You'd think that a "Master debunker of skeptics" would show his Woo Fu technique by destroying his enemies by devastating them with reasoned argument, but instead he runs away. so much for him being a "Master debunker" of anything. He's more masturbator than "Master" anything!

Note from Skeptico - post opened for comments and Winston's comment transferred here at his request.

Hi this is Winston Wu. You locked the comments on the page about me, so I couldn't respond to it. Can you unlock it?

Anyway, check out my new SCEPCOP coalition and website:

http://www.debunkingskeptics.com

We have a new logo, mission statement, promo video. And in the intro letter on the home page, I present proof about why you skeptics do not understand the original meaning of the word Skepticism, nor do your views represent it. Have a look.

Thanks,
Winston
SCEPCOP Founder

Even if your assessment of the definition issue were accurate (and it's not), who gives a rat's ass? The meanings of words change over time as a natural consequence of usage. The word "charity" doesn't mean the same thing it did when it was penned into the King James Bible, for instance. Your argumentum ad dictionarium is asinine.

But that's beside the point, since you clearly just decided to pick and choose which definitions better fit your whining. One might read further into the Wikipedia article to find that Pyrrhonic skeptics dismissed logic as a means of discovering truth, or you might read the article on philosophical skepticism which goes into greater detail on the Pyrrhonic skeptics, including their Zen-esque preoccupation with contradictory claims and this money-quote:

Pyrrho and his school were not actually "skeptics" in the later sense of the word.

Well, whoops.

You might also read more of that initial article, to find out about scientific skepticism, which makes this point:

A scientific (or empirical) skeptic is one who questions the reliability of certain kinds of claims by subjecting them to a systematic investigation.

Gee, now which is the more relevant variant of the word skeptic: the one which belongs to an obscure philosophical tradition of Greek quasi-Buddhist contrarians, or the one which is in use today?

I'd also recommend reading that article for the section on definitions of skepticism, which is relevant as well. Quickly researched tymologies trace the word back to the Greek "skeptesthai," meaning "to examine" or "to consider."

So go ahead, rail on about those "pseudo-skeptics" doing exactly what the modern (and ancient Greek) definitions of skepticism say skeptics do. But your "skeptical of the skeptics" pablum and your ads from "Atlantis Rising" speak to the same tired old dogmatic woo-woo that we've seen forever. If you had anything of substance to offer, you wouldn't waste your time attacking your critics.

really? winston, isn't this just going to be more of the same? You know when your entire argument is "I've never been to spain, but I know it exists", and then forget that the reason that you know it exists is because there is an overwhelming amount of evidence for its existence, it really doesnt give me a whole lot of hope that this "new" stuff is going to be worth any time at all.

Can you describe what is actually new and different now? Becuase revisiting that same old tripe is rather boring. New logo, mission statement and promo just follows in the footsteps of Expelled, lacking any real meat to a debate.

Well, in August 2009 I unlocked this thread at
Winston's request so he could reply to his the responses to his earlier comment. He didn't really reply to any of the actual criticisms leveled at him, nor has he replied to any of the subsequent comments in nearly four months. Typical.

Winston: you had your chance. You didn't take it. I'm closing this thread again - this time for good.

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