Posts Tagged pseudoskeptics

Pseudoskepticism

In 1987 Marcello Truzzi revived the term specifically for arguments which use scientific-sounding language to disparage or refute given beliefs, theories, or claims, but which in fact fail to follow the precepts of conventional scientific skepticism. He argued that scientific skepticism is agnostic to new ideas, making no claims about them but waiting for them to satisfy a burden of proof before granting them validity. Pseudoskepticism, by contrast, involves “negative hypotheses” – theoretical assertions that some belief, theory, or claim is factually wrong – without satisfying the burden of proof that such negative theoretical assertions would require.

In 1987, while working as a professor of sociology at Eastern Michigan University, Truzzi gave the following description of pseudoskeptics in the journal Zetetic Scholar (which he founded):

In science, the burden of proof falls upon the claimant; and the more extraordinary a claim, the heavier is the burden of proof demanded. The true skeptic takes an agnostic position, one that says the claim is not proved rather than disproved. He asserts that the claimant has not borne the burden of proof and that science must continue to build its cognitive map of reality without incorporating the extraordinary claim as a new “fact.” Since the true skeptic does not assert a claim, he has no burden to prove anything. He just goes on using the established theories of “conventional science” as usual. But if a critic asserts that there is evidence for disproof, that he has a negative hypothesis—saying, for instance, that a seeming psi result was actually due to an artifact — he is making a claim and therefore also has to bear a burden of proof.

— Marcello Truzzi, “On Pseudo-Skepticism“, Zetetic Scholar, 12/13, pp3-4, 1987

Truzzi attributed the following characteristics to pseudoskeptics:

  1. Denying, when only doubt has been established
  2. Double standards in the application of criticism
  3. The tendency to discredit rather than investigate
  4. Presenting insufficient evidence or proof
  5. Assuming criticism requires no burden of proof
  6. Making unsubstantiated counter-claims
  7. Counter-claims based on plausibility rather than empirical evidence
  8. Suggesting that unconvincing evidence provides grounds for completely dismissing a claim

Truzzi characterized “true” skepticism as:

  1. Acceptance of doubt when neither assertion nor denial has been established
  2. No burden of proof to take an agnostic position
  3. Agreement that the corpus of established knowledge must be based on what is proved, but recognising its incompleteness
  4. Even-handedness in requirement for proofs, whatever their implication
  5. Accepting that a failure of a proof in itself proves nothing
  6. Continuing examination of the results of experiments even when flaws are found

See also:
- Cognitive Dissonance
- Pluralistic Ignorance
- The Memory of Water
- Prof. Luc Montagnier’s Extended House of Numbers Interview
- Stupidity
- The Neuropsychology of Pseudo-Skepticism

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Stupidity

Stupidity is a lack of intelligence, understanding, reason, wit, or sense. It may be innate, assumed, or reactive – “being ‘stupid with grief’ as a defence against psychological trauma“, a state marked with “grief and despair…making even simple daily tasks a hardship.

Definition of Stupidity
The modern English word “stupid” has a broad range of application, from being slow of mind (indicating a lack of intelligence, care or reason), dullness of feeling or sensation (torpidity, senseless, insensitivity), or lacking interest or point (vexing, exasperating). It can either infer a congenital lack of capacity for reasoning, or a temporary state of daze or slow-mindedness.

… always learning and yet never able to come to an accurate knowledge of truth …

James F. Wells, Ph. D., in his book, “Understanding Stupidity,” defines stupidity thusly, “The term may be used to designate a mentality which is considered to be informed, deliberate and maladaptive.

Dr. Welles distinguishes stupidity from ignorance; one must know they are acting in their own worst interest.

Secondly, it must be a choice, not a forced act or accident.

Lastly, it requires the activity to be maladaptive, in that it is in the worst interest of the actor, and specifically done to prevent adaption to new data or existing circumstances.

Being smart means thinking things through – trying to find the real answer, not the first answer.
Being stupid means avoiding thinking by jumping to conclusions.

According to Dr. Welles, mental schemas, which help us adapt to our environment and process new ideas, can also, simultaneously, be maladaptive: “However adaptive a schema may be, it will also be maladaptive to the extent that built-in biases compromise data so that perceptions will conform to expectations and desires. In addition, a schema’s behavioral program (which presumably was adaptive when formed) might become maladaptive as conditions change. If fundamental conditions change significantly, maintaining a schema may be maladaptive. On the other hand, altering behavior to fit fantasies may also be maladaptive. Just when and how much change is needed are very subjective matters, and the schema is inherently biased about maintaining both its integrity and existence.

For a stupid man there is no absolute truth. He says:”Everything is relativ!” or “What is truth?”

Laws of Stupidity
The economic historian Carlo Maria Cipolla is famous for his essays about human stupidity. The essay, The Fundamental Laws of Human Stupidity, explores the controversial subject of stupidity. Stupid people are seen as a group (see the pseudoskeptic community), more powerful by far than major organizations such as the Mafia and the industrial complex, which without regulations, leaders or manifesto nonetheless manages to operate to great effect and with incredible coordination. These are Cipolla’s five fundamental laws of stupidity:

  1. Always and inevitably each of us underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.
  2. The probability that a given person is stupid is independent of any other characteristic possessed by that person.
  3. A person is stupid if they cause damage to another person or group of people without experiencing personal gain, or even worse causing damage to themselves in the process.
  4. Non-stupid people always underestimate the harmful potential of stupid people; they constantly forget that at any time anywhere, and in any circumstance, dealing with or associating themselves with stupid individuals invariably constitutes a costly error.
  5. A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person there is.

Further readings:
- Illusion-of-truth Effect
- Denial
- Cognitive Dissonance
- Intellectual Stupidity
- Collective unconscious

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Prof. Luc Montagnier's Extended House of Numbers Interview

Luc Antoine Montagnier (born 18 August 1932 in Chabris, Indre, France) is a French virologist and joint recipient with Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Harald zur Hausen of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, for his discovery of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). He currently works as a full time professor at Shanghai Jiaotong University.

In 2009 he published two controversial research studies which, if true, “would be the most significant experiments performed in the past 90 years, demanding re-evaluation of the whole conceptual framework of modern chemistry.” While homeopaths claim his research as support for homeopathy, many scientists have greeted it with scorn (typical for pseudoskeptics who are not willed to accept the truth) and harsh criticism.

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The Memory of Water

A clip showing how Jacques Benveniste and his team provided convincing evidence showing the mechanism for the efficacy of homoeopathy.
The clip also shows the extraordinary tactics employed by the magazine Nature to discredit his findings.

Regarding the pseudoskepticism from the magazine Nature, I can tell you after more than a decade of paradigm research, they will never allow a paradigm shift because they love to remain in the old materialistic worldview. They will move hell and heaven before they would allow any scientist to be successful in finding a sponsor or a industry applying this fascinating phenomena of the memory of water. It’s typical for pseudoskeptics to use scum words and to try to ridicule every effort done outside mainstream science. Their closed mindedness is partly pathological and partly a kind of protection. It’s all about money and power. Fortunately soon money will play no role anymore on this planet.

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Pluralistic Ignorance

In social psychology, pluralistic ignorance, a term coined by Daniel Katz and Floyd H. Allport in 1931, describes “a situation where a majority of group members privately reject a norm, but assume (incorrectly) that most others accept it…It is, in Krech and Crutchfield’s (1948, pp. 388–89) words, the situation where ‘no one believes, but everyone thinks that everyone believes.’”. This, in turn, provides support for a norm that may be, in fact, disliked by most people.

Pluralistic ignorance can be contrasted with the false consensus effect. In pluralistic ignorance, people privately disdain but publicly support a norm (or a belief), while the false consensus effect causes people to wrongly assume that most people think like them, while in reality most people do not think like them (and express the disagreement openly). For instance, pluralistic ignorance may lead a student to drink alcohol excessively because she believes that everyone else does that, while in reality everyone else also wish they could avoid binge drinking, but no one expresses that due to the fear of being ostracized. A false consensus for the same situation would mean that the student believes that most other people do not enjoy excessive drinking, while in fact most other people do enjoy that and openly express their opinion about it.

Consequences of pluralistic ignorance
Pluralistic ignorance was blamed for a perception (among American whites) that grossly exaggerated the support of other American whites for segregation in the 1960s. It has also been named a reason for the illusionary popular support that kept the communist regime in the Soviet Union, as many opposed the regime but assumed that others were supporters of it. Thus, most people were afraid to voice their opposition. Witch hunts in the past and during the Cold War (as recently as the 1950s) could be other cases of pluralistic ignorance.

In a series of studies conducted to test the effect of pluralistic ignorance, Prentice and Miller studied the consequences of pluralistic ignorance at Princeton University. They found that, on average, private levels of comfort with drinking practices on campus were much lower than the perceived average. In the case of men, they found a shifting of private attitudes toward this perceived norm, a form of cognitive dissonance. Women, on the other hand, were found to have an increased sense of alienation on the campus but lacked the attitude change detected in men, presumably because norms related to alcohol consumption on campus are much more central for men than for women. Research has shown that pluralistic ignorance plagues not only those who indulge, but also those who abstain: from gambling, smoking, and drinking and among some who follow vegetarianism. The latter has found that Pluralistic Ignorance can be caused by the structure of the underlying social network, not cognitive dissonance.

Pluralistic ignorance may partially explain the bystander effect: the observation that people are more likely to intervene in an emergency situation when alone than when other persons are present. If people monitor the reactions of others in such a situation, they may conclude from the inaction of others that other people think that it is not necessary to intervene. Thus no one may take any action, even though some people privately think that they should do something. On the other hand, if one person intervenes, others are more likely to follow and give assistance.

Further Reading:
- Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media

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Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance is a discomfort caused by holding conflicting cognitions (e.g., ideas, beliefs, values, emotional reactions) simultaneously. In a state of dissonance, people may feel surprise, dread, guilt, anger, or embarrassment. The theory of cognitive dissonance in social psychology proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance by altering existing cognitions or adding new ones to create consistency.

The diagram below shows a new cognition being integrated into a person’s belief system to resolve such a conflict.

Diagram of the theory of cognitive dissonance. Rationalization (making excuses) is often involved in reducing anxiety about conflicting cognitions.

An example of this would be the conflict between wanting to smoke and knowing that smoking is unhealthy; a person may try to change their feelings about the odds that they will actually suffer the consequences, or they might add the consonant element that the smoking is worth short term benefits.

The phrase was coined by Leon Festinger in his 1956 book When Prophecy Fails, which chronicled the followers of a UFO cult as reality clashed with their fervent belief in an impending apocalypse. Cognitive dissonance is one of the most influential and extensively studied theories in social psychology. Cognitive disequilibrium is a closely related concept in the cognitive developmental theory of Jean Piaget: the inevitable conflicts a child experiences between current beliefs and new information will lead to disequilibrium, which in turn motivates the child’s progress through the various stages of development.

Cognitive dissonance theory warns that people have a bias to seek consonance among their cognitions. This bias gives the theory its predictive power, shedding light on otherwise puzzling irrational and even destructive behavior.
Read the rest of this entry »

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What is Alternative Science?

Every 3 or 4 years I get the urgent need to delete all the posts of my blogs and start over again. Why? Because something changed inside me, I got a new paradigm, acquired a new worldview. When this happens I cannot continue to write my posts on the base of the old ones. Therefore I have deleted them all and I desire to write new articles with a more holistic approach than before.

Let me first clarify what “Alternative Science” means to me:
People do a lot of things for money and personal power. This whole system in which we live is based on materialism and this has a profound effect on the worldview. Scientists cannot express their ideas if they are not based on materialism, they cannot get money for research if they presents their scientific research proposal based on something else than materialism. So “Alternative Science” is that kind of science which is not based on materialism, but on idealism, on the idea that consciousness is the base of everything and not matter. This time I have enabled the comment function in this blog. Please feel free to register and write your comments. Naturally I will moderate all comments first, because some pseudoskeptics will react allergic on the “idealistic content”. Please pseudoskeptics, stay away, we don’t need you!

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