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Kebsis
2003-Jun-20, 07:19 AM
I don't like the term 'skeptic'. I prefer 'rational'.

Nanoda
2003-Jun-20, 09:51 AM
I agree that "skeptic" seems overly broad and negative, but it has an established meaning. "I'm a skeptic" would imply you like to have proof for extraordinary claims. "I'm a rational" would imply you belong to a saucer cult or something. :D

Kebsis
2003-Jun-20, 03:38 PM
Well, I mean to me, to be skeptical you have to be in a situation that borders on being believable, like if your looking at a really awesome deal at a garage sale, you could be 'skeptical' of the honesty of the dealer.

But if you're arguing with someone who believes a massive planet will be here in a couple of days to kill us all, then you're really just being 'rational'.

Archer17
2003-Jun-20, 06:17 PM
I'm a skeptic, but I'm rational about it

The Supreme Canuck
2003-Jun-20, 06:55 PM
So you rationalize being a skeptic?

Kebsis
2003-Jun-20, 06:57 PM
No, I only rationalize about not being a skeptic, but only in the most skeptical manner. Although I try to be rational about it.

The Supreme Canuck
2003-Jun-20, 06:59 PM
:o Okay, you win!

Kebsis
2003-Jun-20, 07:11 PM
lol!


Well really, all I was getting at with the original post is that I don't like the broadness of the word 'skeptic'. Also, as far as conspiracy theory type things like the Apollo hoax and Planet X, saying that you're skeptical implies that the theory is possible when it really isn't anything like that. I mean, sure, Planet X is 'possible' in the same way that it's 'possible' that world war I and II never happened, but thats really just stretching it in my opinion.

The Supreme Canuck
2003-Jun-20, 07:16 PM
How about "debunker" then?

tracer
2003-Jun-20, 07:19 PM
From the title, I thought I thought this thread was going to be about Skeptic Magazine (http://www.skeptic.com).

Kebsis
2003-Jun-20, 08:03 PM
I do enjoy Skeptic magazine from time to time. And 'debunker' sounds good.

dgruss23
2003-Jun-20, 08:18 PM
Here (http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=skeptic) is the dictionary.com definitions for skeptic. My dictionary gives the following defintion:

One who questions the validity or authenticity of something purporting to to be knowledge; one who maintains a doubting attitude.

It seems the definitions of skeptic place emphasis on doubt while scientists accept something only after presented with sufficient compelling evidence. But "skeptic" can't strictly be replaced with "scientist" because the latter implies science is the persons career.

So what is the best term for a person that thinks scientifically, but may not in fact be a scientist?

Archer17
2003-Jun-20, 08:27 PM
So what is the best term for a person that thinks scientifically, but may not in fact be a scientist? a realist?

Kebsis
2003-Jun-20, 09:04 PM
I had a whole big thing written out, but I've narrowed it to this :)

I dislike the connotation of the word skeptic, not the definition. The connotation, in my opinion, is that of someone who is close minded and refuses to believe anything unless they see it. That doesn't describe your average scientist if you ask me. Thats pretty much the reason that I prefer 'rational thinker', because it doesn't have that same connotation.

Oh well, I guess it doesn't really matter. I was just mentioning it, the linguist inside of me coming out I suppose :D

dgruss23
2003-Jun-20, 09:08 PM
I dislike the connotation of the word skeptic, not the definition. The connotation, in my opinion, is that of someone who is close minded and refuses to believe anything unless they see it. That doesn't describe your average scientist if you ask me. Thats pretty much the reason that I prefer 'rational thinker', because it doesn't have that same connotation.

I think you're exactly right - many hear skeptic and think - "Aha -you'll just doubt everything you close minded snob."

I like "rational thinker", but it would be nice to capture the essence of rational thinker in one catchy word.

tracer
2003-Jun-20, 10:56 PM
Who was it that first said, "Keep an open mind, but not so open that your brain falls out."?

beskeptical
2003-Jun-21, 04:56 AM
I agree that "skeptic" seems overly broad and negative, but it has an established meaning. "I'm a skeptic" would imply you like to have proof for extraordinary claims. "I'm a rational" would imply you belong to a saucer cult or something. :D

What's wrong with seeking evidence for ordinary claims?

beskeptical
2003-Jun-21, 05:17 AM
Well, I mean to me, to be skeptical you have to be in a situation that borders on being believable, like if your looking at a really awesome deal at a garage sale, you could be 'skeptical' of the honesty of the dealer.

But if you're arguing with someone who believes a massive planet will be here in a couple of days to kill us all, then you're really just being 'rational'.

And, skeptical of 'too good to be true' you should be.

But you might consider being skeptical of a lot of things that appear rational. For example, it may appear rational that the Earth is motionless and the objects in the sky are moving overhead. But if one has a skeptical mind, one would look to see if the evidence supports the conclusion. And it doesn't. This may seem obvious to you now, but it wasn't always obvious.

This is all speculative mind you, but skeptical may have a negative connotation because people want to be believed.

Why we have an innate desire to be believed, I don't know, but there is evidence to support such a claim. People often say, 'it happened to my friend, or cousin, or neighbor or whoever when they repeat an urban legend. The person does not want to 'not be believed' even when they have no investment in the story.

Instead of buying into the negative connotation, what being skeptical means to me is that we should question things whether they appear rational or not. We should be looking for supporting evidence even for so called 'common knowledge'.

My 14 year old constantly cites what he knows and I constantly ask him to tell me how he knows it. I hope to teach him to think about where his knowledge comes from. Does it come from a little data and it makes sense so he believes it to be true? For now, yes, because he is a normal teenager. But in the future, I hope he thinks about why he has drawn a particular conclusion, and that it is because there was sufficient evidence for that conclusion, not because it just seemed right.

BTW, Michael Shermer of Skeptical Inquirer is one of my heros.

sarongsong
2003-Jun-21, 06:19 AM
I hope to teach him to think about where his knowledge comes from. Does it come from a little data and it makes sense so he believes it to be true?
Forgive the poetic foray; brings Walt Whitman to mind:
"...Only what proves itself to every man and woman is so, Only what nobody denies is so..."---Leaves of Grass

Kebsis
2003-Jun-21, 07:42 AM
Why we have an innate desire to be believed, I don't know, but there is evidence to support such a claim. People often say, 'it happened to my friend, or cousin, or neighbor or whoever when they repeat an urban legend. The person does not want to 'not be believed' even when they have no investment in the story.

I read an idea for why we have the innate desire to believe that sounded interesting. It stated that we need some basic form of 'belief' to function as creatures of reason. For example, my car is in the driveway right now. At the moment I have no concrete proof of this; I cannot see my car, hear it's engine running or anything like that. Right now I have no evidence to support my claim that my car is still in the driveway, other than I believe that to be the case. It could have been stolen, or towed, or fallen into a wormhole or any number of other fates could have befallen it.

In other words we need at least some amount of belief, because if we didn't we would only think of things we can immediately sense as being 'real'. Without belief I would assume my car didn't exist anymore because I can't sense it. These basic belief principles that we live our day to day lives on, according to this idea, manifest themselves in belief of more extrodinary claims.

edit: whoops! I misread the above quote as 'why we have an innate desire to believe ...' by mistake. Dont ask me how it happened, it was late!

I'll keep my response up though cause I think it's interesting.

Nanoda
2003-Jun-21, 09:26 AM
I agree that "skeptic" seems overly broad and negative, but it has an established meaning. "I'm a skeptic" would imply you like to have proof for extraordinary claims. "I'm a rational" would imply you belong to a saucer cult or something. :D

What's wrong with seeking evidence for ordinary claims?

Are you serious? I've read the thread twice, and I'm not sure I get your meaning. Well... as has been pointed out by dgruss23:
I think you're exactly right - many hear skeptic and think - "Aha -you'll just doubt everything you close minded snob."
For example, should I care to make such statements as "I have a webcam", "It rained today", or "I recently aquired an oscillating fan", I'd assume you didn't need proof, but I would find it odd if someone required even evidence of these. The first would of course be easy, the second fairly trivial, and the last harder. I believe this is part of Kebsis's problem with the word "skeptic", as it should literally imply a lack of credulity, but reasonable people get by without any for all sorts of trivial stuff.

kilopi
2003-Jun-21, 03:42 PM
Why we have an innate desire to be believed, I don't know, but there is evidence to support such a claim. People often say, 'it happened to my friend, or cousin, or neighbor or whoever when they repeat an urban legend. The person does not want to 'not be believed' even when they have no investment in the story.
I think there is one more possibility--there are many people who would tell such stories as if it did happen to themselves, just to poke fun at the persons they're telling the stories to. And of course there are plenty of people who would believe those stories because their friend or relative told the story.

There is a word for that, but I couldn't find it in my dictionary.

beskeptical
2003-Jun-22, 08:25 AM
Why we have an innate desire to be believed, I don't know, but there is evidence to support such a claim. People often say, 'it happened to my friend, or cousin, or neighbor or whoever when they repeat an urban legend. The person does not want to 'not be believed' even when they have no investment in the story.
I think there is one more possibility--there are many people who would tell such stories as if it did happen to themselves, just to poke fun at the persons they're telling the stories to. And of course there are plenty of people who would believe those stories because their friend or relative told the story.

There is a word for that, but I couldn't find it in my dictionary.

Certainly some of those folks on Godlike fit your description. They have to be making stuff up for the reactions. But I really started noticing how many people cite stories of things that are so highly unlikely they couldn't be true, yet the story often has a personal witness in it.

For example, there has not been a single health care worker on record in WA state that contracted meningococcal meningitis from a patient. I can't tell you how many times I've been told by someone that they knew a health care worker personally that died from m. meningitis they got from a patient. One that didn't make the record, maybe, but several, not possible. So why would the person feel the need to say they have first hand knowledge of such an incident?

My hypothesis is that the person believes the story themselves and wants others to believe it as well. Whether it is an ego issue of not being believed, or an ego issue of wanting to be knowledgeable I think varies with the situation and the story.

kilopi
2003-Jun-22, 08:46 AM
I can't tell you how many times I've been told by someone that they knew a health care worker personally that died from m. meningitis they got from a patient. One that didn't make the record, maybe, but several, not possible. So why would the person feel the need to say they have first hand knowledge of such an incident?
Have you ever followed up on such a report? I mean, got a name?


My hypothesis is that the person believes the story themselves and wants others to believe it as well. Whether it is an ego issue of not being believed, or an ego issue of wanting to be knowledgeable I think varies with the situation and the story.
But that story is easy to check--just ask them the name of the person who died. Perhaps the person actually did die of the disease? Is that possible?

beskeptical
2003-Jun-22, 09:02 AM
What's wrong with seeking evidence for ordinary claims?

Are you serious? I've read the thread twice, and I'm not sure I get your meaning. Well... as has been pointed out by dgruss23:
I think you're exactly right - many hear skeptic and think - "Aha -you'll just doubt everything you close minded snob."
For example, should I care to make such statements as "I have a webcam", "It rained today", or "I recently aquired an oscillating fan", I'd assume you didn't need proof, but I would find it odd if someone required even evidence of these. The first would of course be easy, the second fairly trivial, and the last harder. I believe this is part of Kebsis's problem with the word "skeptic", as it should literally imply a lack of credulity, but reasonable people get by without any for all sorts of trivial stuff.

One doesn't need evidence for carrying on everything in one's daily life. I don't need evidence that you bought a fan to have a conversation with you. But in reality, I may have that evidence anyway. I may have had many conversations with you. If you have been truthful in the past, that would be evidence that you were truthful now.

But that really isn't the point. I'm talking about needing evidence for claims made such as cause and effect and beliefs of a similar nature. I think you misunderstood what I meant by 'ordinary'.

Should we take it for granted that vitamin C prevents and/or helps one battle a cold because it apparently is 'common knowledge'? Well, it turns out that of all the research done so far, very few studies support that fact, and many studies do not.

If you tell me you bought a fan, well you would know that so your statement is more than adequate evidence. But, if you tell me vitamin C helps you when you have a cold, well I want more evidence than your personal experience. You may believe it helped, but on what basis? You took it and got better. But you might have gotten better whether you took it or not. Regardless of how many 'experiences' you had with vitamin C, it isn't strong evidence unless a well controlled study is done.

But what do people do? They pass the belief from person to person without questioning the evidence.

Vitamin C is not important. But what about global warming? There was a discussion on Crossfire, (CNN), about the Bush administration censoring the scientific report on global warming. Bob Novak said there was no global warming because it was colder this winter where he lived. The vast majority of scientific studies show global warming is occurring. Is Bob Novak's personal experience that it was colder where he lived really evidence global warming wasn't occurring? Obviously some people accept such as statement as fact. If you are skeptical of such statements, you are more likely not to buy it. You would seek out the research and find out what it shows rather than what someone else told you it showed.

If you aren't skeptical, you just soak up facts as they are fed to you.

Kiwi
2003-Jun-22, 10:02 AM
beskeptical: Getting way off astronomy here, but I've been an invalid for 14 years with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Because my immune system is down, I actually rely quite a lot on Vitamin C as an infection-fighter. But the important thing is, I use what some people would call mega-doses -- I usually take a level teaspoon-full, which I believe is about 12 or 15 grams. And it has worked, time and time again. In the last week I used it to clear up some minor grazes that had turned swollen and septic. Sometimes, though, after getting flu or cold symptoms I have not got in soon enough, and have to take it within about 4-6 hours of the onset of symptoms for it to be effective. The trouble is, it's sometimes hard to gauge in that time whether I have a temporary sniffle or something more diabolical. Bouts of flu can come on at highly differing rates.

I'm not an expert on the subject, but have heard that in many of the studies done, too-small quantities have been used, e.g. only 200 to 1,000 mg. In my experience, such quantities are usually just a waste of money.

I'd be particularly interested in any studies where megadoses have been used.

Sorry about the anecdote -- I can't offer any proof! :oops:

tracer
2003-Jun-22, 07:02 PM
Didn't Pauling's old studies involve megadoses of Vitamin C?

(Of course, his studies weren't on patients with CFS.)

Musashi
2003-Jun-22, 07:53 PM
To start with, I am not a scientist nor an expert on vitamin C.

Now that that is out of the way, I remember reading somewhere that mega doses of vit-c could cause kidney stones. Not sure if anything further has been found about that, it was a few years ago. Good thing about C is that it is water soluble, so any excess will (mostly) just be eliminated through urination. I guess the trouble is that at some point is accretes into masses that become kidney stones (or something like that).

Hope that helps.

beskeptical
2003-Jun-22, 11:36 PM
I'll take the vitamin C discussion to private mail. Linus Pauling's research has not been repeatable, one of research's criteria for confirmation. Mega doses of vitamin C mostly cause the body to get rid of it. Persons who have abruptly stopped megadoses, including newborns whose mothers were on megadoses, have developed scurvy due to excessive excretion. I'll post some citations to PM for the 3 of you.