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View Full Version : Boston Globe column - June 11, 2002: "Rational skepticism v



2002-Jun-12, 09:17 PM
Boston Globe columnist Chet Raymo yesterday (June 11, 2002) published a really neat piece in his "SCIENCE MUSINGS" column.

You can read the whole gem at:

http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/162/science/Rational_skepticism_vs_Hopeful_delusionP.shtml

.... and here´s a quote:

"In his book, [Michael] Shermer lists problems common to most conspiracy theories and superstitions, including: 1) anecdotes are accepted as evidence, 2) coincidence is mistaken for causality, 3) heresy is assumed to imply correctness (''They laughed at Copernicus, too.''), and 4) the unexplained is taken as inexplicable.

Science, too, is not immune to these fallacies, which is why organized doubt is built into the scientific process. Scientific method is a highly evolved b-s detector, that relies on double-blind experiments, quantitative observations, reproducibility, and rigorous citation of all other relevant work, pro or con. In science, it is as important to show something is wrong - even a favored theory - as to show it is right.

Is the b-s detector perfect? Of course not. But it's the best tool the human race has yet evolved for choosing between various weird theories. (What could be more weird than the big bang, say, or the four-letter code of the DNA?) Behind all scientific skepticism is the assumption that what makes us feel good is not necessarily true.

Shermer's book will never sell as many copies as Meyssan's ''L'Effroyable Imposture.'' We love to have our most irrational hopes and direst illusions apparently confirmed. The question is: Will tough-minded skepticism or hopeful delusion best ensure a happy future for the human race? "

Well, I hereby cast my vote for "tough-minded skepticism" !!!! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

And, eh, Bart Sibrel, YOUR vote goes to .... /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Cyberspaced on 2002-06-12 17:23 ]</font>

Jovianboy
2002-Jun-13, 02:30 AM
Excellent article. Good stuff, Cyberspaced - I printed that one out.

It's interesting, I had an argument with an American friend of mine who postulated the idea that the Israelis were behind the events of Sept 11. It isn't just Muslims who are suggesting that. I pointed out the obvious flaws in his theory. But anyway, let's get this back on topic. How's your "hopeful delusion" coming along, Cosmicdave?

beskeptical
2002-Jun-13, 11:30 AM
From the article, "We love to have our most irrational hopes and direst illusions apparently confirmed. The question is: Will tough-minded skepticism or hopeful delusion best ensure a happy future for the human race?"

I do watch all those 'life after death' shows hoping someone will read the sign you can only see from the ceiling in the emergency department when they float out of their bodies. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

But I still think we need to get past the irrational thinking if the human race is going to survive. We could cure cancer if we took the money wasted on all the bogus medical cures and put it into research instead of giving it to the product pushers. War could end if people weren't so stupid. The benefits of rational thinking are endless.