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Old 6th February 2010, 07:06 PM   #1
Zeuzzz
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Comprehensive characteristics of the pseudoskeptic and the skeptic

I have noticed that there appears to be two main types of skeptics. One an admirable role, one quite the opposite.

Therefore we have a skeptic, and a pseudoskeptic.

Points courtesy of Proff Truzi,

Characteristics of a pseudoskeptic.

* The tendency to deny, rather than doubt.
* Double standards in the application of criticism.
* The making of judgments without full inquiry.
* Tendency to discredit, rather than investigate.
* Use of ridicule or ad hominem attacks in lieu of arguments.
* Pejorative labeling of proponents as 'promoters', 'pseudoscientists' or practitioners of 'pathological science.
* Presenting insufficient evidence or proof.
* Assuming criticism requires no burden of proof.
* Making unsubstantiated counter-claims.
* Counter-claims based on plausibility rather than empirical evidence.
* Suggesting that unconvincing evidence is grounds for dismissing it.
* Use of vague, exaggerated or untestable claims.
* Asserting that claims which have not been proven false must be true, and vice versa (Argument from ignorance).
* They speak down to their audience using 'arguments from authority'.
* They put forward their assumptions as if they were universal truths.
* No references to reputable journal material.
* If the pseudo-skeptic has a monetary interest (such as maintaining a funding stream or a salary) his criticisms often become vituperative.


True Skeptics / Open-Minded Skeptics

* Does not show any of the characteristics of a pseudoskeptic.
* Inquires and asks questions to try to understand things
* Applies open inquiry and investigation of both sides
* Is nonjudgmental, doesn't jump to rash conclusions
* Has honest doubt and questions all beliefs, including their own
* Seeks the truth, considers it the highest aim
* Fairly and objectively weighs evidence on all sides
* Acknowledges valid convincing evidence
* Possesses solid sharp common sense and reason
* Is able to adapt and update their paradigms to new evidence



Just a nice guide to fall back on, the skeptics bible in a way.

Its not amazingly consistant (ie, skeptics should not give people a stereotype and dismiss them due to that, so immediately labelling the pseudoskeptic, so has an early issue)

Are there better lists to check against than this one people know of?

And how correct do you think this one is?
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Old 6th February 2010, 09:18 PM   #2
Uncayimmy
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Originally Posted by Zeuzzz View Post
I have noticed that there appears to be two main types of skeptics. One an admirable role, one quite the opposite.

Therefore we have a skeptic, and a pseudoskeptic.

Points courtesy of Proff Truzi,

Characteristics of a pseudoskeptic.

* The tendency to deny, rather than doubt.
* Double standards in the application of criticism.
* The making of judgments without full inquiry.
* Tendency to discredit, rather than investigate.
* Use of ridicule or ad hominem attacks in lieu of arguments.
* Pejorative labeling of proponents as 'promoters', 'pseudoscientists' or practitioners of 'pathological science.
* Presenting insufficient evidence or proof.
* Assuming criticism requires no burden of proof.
* Making unsubstantiated counter-claims.
* Counter-claims based on plausibility rather than empirical evidence.
* Suggesting that unconvincing evidence is grounds for dismissing it.
* Use of vague, exaggerated or untestable claims.
* Asserting that claims which have not been proven false must be true, and vice versa (Argument from ignorance).
* They speak down to their audience using 'arguments from authority'.
* They put forward their assumptions as if they were universal truths.
* No references to reputable journal material.
* If the pseudo-skeptic has a monetary interest (such as maintaining a funding stream or a salary) his criticisms often become vituperative.


True Skeptics / Open-Minded Skeptics

* Does not show any of the characteristics of a pseudoskeptic.
* Inquires and asks questions to try to understand things
* Applies open inquiry and investigation of both sides
* Is nonjudgmental, doesn't jump to rash conclusions
* Has honest doubt and questions all beliefs, including their own
* Seeks the truth, considers it the highest aim
* Fairly and objectively weighs evidence on all sides
* Acknowledges valid convincing evidence
* Possesses solid sharp common sense and reason
* Is able to adapt and update their paradigms to new evidence



Just a nice guide to fall back on, the skeptics bible in a way.

Its not amazingly consistant (ie, skeptics should not give people a stereotype and dismiss them due to that, so immediately labelling the pseudoskeptic, so has an early issue)

Are there better lists to check against than this one people know of?

And how correct do you think this one is?
Different values of these...

* Fairly and objectively weighs evidence on all sides
* Acknowledges valid convincing evidence
* Possesses solid sharp common sense and reason

...often end up creating many of the things you list on your pseudoskeptics lists. C'mon, "sharp common sense" is just another name for **** you "know" is right but can't prove. "Valid convincing evidence" is what pseudoskeptics believe after they have dismissed all the unconvincing evidence. As for being "fair" well, "common sense" tells you that <whatever> is stupid.

I bet there are a lot of people who call themselves "true" skeptics that many others would call "pseudo" skeptics. Personally, I think your list for the real skeptic is way too long. I think you can narrow it down to just a few:

* Has honest doubt and questions all beliefs, including their own
* Applies open inquiry and investigation of all angles
* Inquires and asks questions to try to understand things
* Seeks the truth, considers it the highest aim

I think that about sums it up. I changed the order because in my mind that's how it works. It starts with questioning, then moves to investigating all angles (you wrote both sides), asks a lot of questions, all the while seeking truth. This last part connects back to the first part to form a ring, because a skeptic is always going to have a teeny bit of doubt that leaves the door open for re-investigation if warranted.
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Old 6th February 2010, 11:02 PM   #3
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I'd agree with UncaYimmy's assessment, and throw in for skeptics 'views conclusions as gradients of confidence', rather than dichotomies of true and false. I understand that's more or less what doubt refers to, but to me, seeing it as a degree of confidence in a conclusion allows you to break it down further.

Athon
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Old 6th February 2010, 11:38 PM   #4
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I like that - Gradients of Confidence. Along those lines I would add that a skeptic should be able to express their degree of confidence about something and explain what they have learned that moves the needle in either direction. Likewise, they should be able to point out what new information could move the needle in either direction.
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Old 7th February 2010, 11:35 PM   #5
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This list is in several places on the Internet.
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Old 7th February 2010, 11:48 PM   #6
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And basically, making such lists is just yet another attempt to pass the ball.

Believers in anything: It does not matter one bit what 'kind of skeptic' you are facing. ALL that matters is that your arguments hold. So I suggest you concentrate on that.

Hans
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Old 8th February 2010, 12:29 AM   #7
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I believe that it's possible to "make judgements without full enquiry" if the subject one is judging is one that has been thoroughly "enquired" previously. For example, I do not think it's necessary to enquire fully about Uri Geller's spoonbending in order to make the judgement that it's a magic trick.
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Old 8th February 2010, 01:45 AM   #8
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The term 'pseudoskeptic' is, in this or any other context, virtually worthless. My tentative conclusion on the common usage of this term, based on experience and subject to revision in the light of further evidence, is that it's a strawman definition used by the belief-driven to try to invalidate the views of any skeptic who disagrees with them, and that the very use of the term in itself is a strong indicator that the person using the term has a set of beliefs that they are not themselves prepared to question, and dislikes the fact that others do not hold that set of beliefs as self-evident. It's particularly telling that, from these lists, only a 'pseudoskeptic' ever criticises people whose points of view are not evidence-based, or indeed ever reaches a conclusion at all; in effect, this list is an attempt to redefine skepticism so as to exclude its conclusions. As such, it's simply a ploy by woo merchants to discredit their opposition.

Dave
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Old 8th February 2010, 02:33 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
The term 'pseudoskeptic' is, in this or any other context, virtually worthless. My tentative conclusion on the common usage of this term, based on experience and subject to revision in the light of further evidence, is that it's a strawman definition used by the belief-driven to try to invalidate the views of any skeptic who disagrees with them, and that the very use of the term in itself is a strong indicator that the person using the term has a set of beliefs that they are not themselves prepared to question, and dislikes the fact that others do not hold that set of beliefs as self-evident. It's particularly telling that, from these lists, only a 'pseudoskeptic' ever criticises people whose points of view are not evidence-based, or indeed ever reaches a conclusion at all; in effect, this list is an attempt to redefine skepticism so as to exclude its conclusions. As such, it's simply a ploy by woo merchants to discredit their opposition.

Dave
Well analyzed and put.
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Old 8th February 2010, 09:35 PM   #10
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Well if it is decided that the list is somewhat biased and inaccurate let me try one. Skeptics approach a topic from a mostly scientific viewpoint. They'll analyze a subject and apply reason and science. Occam's razor is rightly respected by skeptics.
Pseudoskeptics, a valid term, approach a topic mostly from an ex-believer type of viewpoint. They'll come to the realization that the woo they've been promoting and sometimes even creating is just that. They then apply that type of reasoning to a topic and even other topics as well. But still lacking any real scientific reasoning. That is when they develop the 'attitudes' specifically mentioned in the list, now debunked.
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Old 9th February 2010, 05:16 AM   #11
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Excuse me Zeuzzz but when I consider the persistent posting of the same garbage over time, your inability to defend your claims, you are pandering.
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Old 9th February 2010, 05:52 AM   #12
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I've only encountered the term 'pseudoskeptic' here. And then only from people who seem upset that their beliefs suffer when exposed to a critical examination, or who seem confused when their naive attempts at a skeptical review of a topic doesn't garner support. Now it may be that I am simply ignorant of its more general usage, but is this really a valid term? It looks more like its use is confined to name-calling.

Linda
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Old 9th February 2010, 06:02 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by fls View Post
I've only encountered the term 'pseudoskeptic' here. And then only from people who seem upset that their beliefs suffer when exposed to a critical examination, or who seem confused when their naive attempts at a skeptical review of a topic doesn't garner support. Now it may be that I am simply ignorant of its more general usage, but is this really a valid term? It looks more like its use is confined to name-calling.

Linda
It is.
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Old 9th February 2010, 06:21 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
It is.
Pseudoconcurer.
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Old 9th February 2010, 11:20 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by fls View Post
I've only encountered the term 'pseudoskeptic' here. And then only from people who seem upset that their beliefs suffer when exposed to a critical examination, or who seem confused when their naive attempts at a skeptical review of a topic doesn't garner support. Now it may be that I am simply ignorant of its more general usage, but is this really a valid term? It looks more like its use is confined to name-calling.

Linda
If you've only seen it here, then that means you didn't bother to take the 30 seconds to type it into Google. Rendering opinions without even doing a modicum of research...sure wish we had a term for that.

As for whether it's a "valid" term or not, what does name-calling have to do with it? It's valid if it conveys meaning. If people use use it for name calling, that doesn't make it any less valid than any other word.
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Old 9th February 2010, 11:22 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by UncaYimmy View Post
If you've only seen it here, then that means you didn't bother to take the 30 seconds to type it into Google. Rendering opinions without even doing a modicum of research...sure wish we had a term for that.

As for whether it's a "valid" term or not, what does name-calling have to do with it? It's valid if it conveys meaning. If people use use it for name calling, that doesn't make it any less valid than any other word.

Because words have meanings and often the meaning of a word can be pejorative.
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Old 9th February 2010, 12:03 PM   #17
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Let's deconstruct this criticism.

Originally Posted by UncaYimmy View Post
If you've only seen it here,
I stated that I'd only encountered it here. You took that to mean that I'd only seen it here. Fair enough. "Encounter" can refer to several different types of interactions. In this case, I'm referring to someone's choice to use the term to convey useful meaning in an interaction with me.

Quote:
then that means you didn't bother to take the 30 seconds to type it into Google.
Interesting choice of criterion for having "seen" a word. I'm not sure that's a particularly useful approach. I also can type "antidisestablishmentarianism" into Google and receive 90,200 hits, but I can't say that I have "encountered" that word either (except for its novelty as the longest word of some sort). I'm also not sure that multiple examples of the use 'pseudoskeptic' gets here goes any further towards answering my original question.

Quote:
Rendering opinions
Rendering opinions? What opinion am I rendering? I asked whether this is a valid term, that is, does it convey meaning? I know that the word exists and people intend to convey 'something' with its use. But how does any of that constitute an "opinion"?

Quote:
without even doing a modicum of research...sure wish we had a term for that.
Google U is the only game in town? I hope you're just trying to be an ass with that remark, 'cuz it would be kind of scary otherwise.

Quote:
As for whether it's a "valid" term or not, what does name-calling have to do with it?
If the meaning it conveys is pejorative rather than a reflection of the roots of the word.

Quote:
It's valid if it conveys meaning. If people use use it for name calling, that doesn't make it any less valid than any other word.
I am wondering if the list of characteristics in the OP reflects its real use. When my son says, "that show is so gay," it's of no use to tell me that the characteristics of 'gay' are 'cheery, bright and pleasant' or 'homosexual'.

Linda
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Old 9th February 2010, 12:06 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Because words have meanings and often the meaning of a word can be pejorative.
I can only think of a couple of people I know outside this forum who might take offence at being called a pseudoskeptic.

'Pseudoskeptic' seems to me to be another term for 'No True Scotsman'.
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Old 9th February 2010, 12:16 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Because words have meanings and often the meaning of a word can be pejorative.
Oh, I see. Words have meanings? Never thought of that before. The meaning of a word can be pejorative? News to me. Thanks for clearing that up.
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Old 9th February 2010, 12:23 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
The term 'pseudoskeptic' is, in this or any other context, virtually worthless. My tentative conclusion on the common usage of this term, based on experience and subject to revision in the light of further evidence, is that it's a strawman definition used by the belief-driven to try to invalidate the views of any skeptic who disagrees with them, and that the very use of the term in itself is a strong indicator that the person using the term has a set of beliefs that they are not themselves prepared to question, and dislikes the fact that others do not hold that set of beliefs as self-evident. It's particularly telling that, from these lists, only a 'pseudoskeptic' ever criticises people whose points of view are not evidence-based, or indeed ever reaches a conclusion at all; in effect, this list is an attempt to redefine skepticism so as to exclude its conclusions. As such, it's simply a ploy by woo merchants to discredit their opposition.

Dave
I disagree, based on my experience in skepticism.

I often meet card-carrying skeptics who believe that skepticism is iconoclasm. By 'skeptic' they mean 'person who rejects popular beliefs and beliefs endorsed by experts.'

These are pseudoskeptics.
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Old 9th February 2010, 12:27 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by fls View Post
I've only encountered the term 'pseudoskeptic' here. And then only from people who seem upset that their beliefs suffer when exposed to a critical examination, or who seem confused when their naive attempts at a skeptical review of a topic doesn't garner support. Now it may be that I am simply ignorant of its more general usage, but is this really a valid term? It looks more like its use is confined to name-calling.

Linda
I think there is a legitemate use of 'pseudoskeptic' and I do use it myself when working with others within organized skepticism. It is certainly a common term in the 'trade'. Perhaps it fell into disuse and another generation is rediscovering it.

Yes: it can be used perjoratively and incorrectly as part of namethrowing. But so can 'pseudoscience' or other words.
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Old 9th February 2010, 12:38 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by fls View Post
Let's deconstruct this criticism.
Picking apart a post phrase by phrase often seems like critical thinking, but typically it's not.

Quote:
I stated that I'd only encountered it here. You took that to mean that I'd only seen it here. Fair enough. "Encounter" can refer to several different types of interactions. In this case, I'm referring to someone's choice to use the term to convey useful meaning in an interaction with me.
Unless you are using software to read the posts to you, then the only way you to "encounter" it is to "see" it.

Quote:
Interesting choice of criterion for having "seen" a word. I'm not sure that's a particularly useful approach. I also can type "antidisestablishmentarianism" into Google and receive 90,200 hits, but I can't say that I have "encountered" that word either (except for its novelty as the longest word of some sort). I'm also not sure that multiple examples of the use 'pseudoskeptic' gets here goes any further towards answering my original question.
Your question was, "Now it may be that I am simply ignorant of its more general usage, but is this really a valid term?" I pointed out that you didn't even bother to see if you are ignorant of its general usage. A quick search shows that it is used quite a bit outside of this forum and in many different contexts.


Quote:
Rendering opinions? What opinion am I rendering? I asked whether this is a valid term, that is, does it convey meaning? I know that the word exists and people intend to convey 'something' with its use. But how does any of that constitute an "opinion"?
Your stated opinion was, "It looks more like its use is confined to name-calling."

Quote:
Google U is the only game in town? I hope you're just trying to be an ass with that remark, 'cuz it would be kind of scary otherwise.
Does pointing out one free source of information which is readily available even remotely imply that there are no other sources, especially when that source does nothing more than point to sources of information? I hope you're just trying to be a bitch with that remark.

Quote:
If the meaning it conveys is pejorative rather than a reflection of the roots of the word.
You didn't answer the question. "Valid" words can be pejorative. You suggested that I might be an ass. Is ass not a valid word simply because it's pejorative? How about bitchy? Stuck-up? Arrogant? Are these not valid words simply because they are pejorative?

Quote:
I am wondering if the list of characteristics in the OP reflects its real use. When my son says, "that show is so gay," it's of no use to tell me that the characteristics of 'gay' are 'cheery, bright and pleasant' or 'homosexual'.
In case you seriously don't know, gay in the context you describe is simply a generic insult. It's like saying something is stupid. It really doesn't relate to this discussion.

Last edited by Uncayimmy; 9th February 2010 at 12:43 PM.
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Old 9th February 2010, 12:48 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by UncaYimmy View Post
Different values of these...

* Fairly and objectively weighs evidence on all sides
* Acknowledges valid convincing evidence
* Possesses solid sharp common sense and reason

...often end up creating many of the things you list on your pseudoskeptics lists. C'mon, "sharp common sense" is just another name for **** you "know" is right but can't prove. "Valid convincing evidence" is what pseudoskeptics believe after they have dismissed all the unconvincing evidence. As for being "fair" well, "common sense" tells you that <whatever> is stupid.
But not all of them. For example, I don't see how using valid reasoning principles implies it is necessary to conduct "ad hominem" attacks.
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Old 9th February 2010, 12:48 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by blutoski View Post
I think there is a legitemate use of 'pseudoskeptic' and I do use it myself when working with others within organized skepticism. It is certainly a common term in the 'trade'. Perhaps it fell into disuse and another generation is rediscovering it.

Yes: it can be used perjoratively and incorrectly as part of namethrowing. But so can 'pseudoscience' or other words.
Thank you.

So the use within the 'trade' has little to do with the use referred to in the OP and is similar to what we tend to call denialism or contrarianism here?

Linda
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Old 9th February 2010, 12:55 PM   #25
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'pseudoskeptic' is a phrase much used by the gullible when they find their belief systems compromised with fact and evidence
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Old 9th February 2010, 12:55 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by UncaYimmy View Post
Picking apart a post phrase by phrase often seems like critical thinking, but typically it's not.
So where can one find out how to do "real" critical thinking?

Originally Posted by UncaYimmy View Post
Does pointing out one free source of information which is readily available even remotely imply that there are no other sources, especially when that source does nothing more than point to sources of information? I hope you're just trying to be a bitch with that remark.
So how would Google be used properly, then?
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Old 9th February 2010, 01:09 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by mike3 View Post
So where can one find out how to do "real" critical thinking?
Type that question into Google and see what comes up.

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So how would Google be used properly, then?
Gee, I dunno. Let me think really hard on this one...I got it! In this case somebody wondered how a word is used by people. So, search for web pages using that word and look at how people are using that word. Seems like a pretty good start to me.
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Old 9th February 2010, 01:16 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by UncaYimmy View Post
Oh, I see. Words have meanings? Never thought of that before. The meaning of a word can be pejorative? News to me. Thanks for clearing that up.

Glad to help you clear up your confusion.
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Old 9th February 2010, 01:23 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Zeuzzz View Post
...
Characteristics of a pseudoskeptic.

* The tendency to deny, rather than doubt.
* Double standards in the application of criticism.
* The making of judgments without full inquiry.
* Tendency to discredit, rather than investigate.
* Use of ridicule or ad hominem attacks in lieu of arguments.
* Pejorative labeling of proponents as 'promoters', 'pseudoscientists' or practitioners of 'pathological science.
* Presenting insufficient evidence or proof.
* Assuming criticism requires no burden of proof.
* Making unsubstantiated counter-claims.
* Counter-claims based on plausibility rather than empirical evidence.
* Suggesting that unconvincing evidence is grounds for dismissing it.
* Use of vague, exaggerated or untestable claims.
* Asserting that claims which have not been proven false must be true, and vice versa (Argument from ignorance).
* They speak down to their audience using 'arguments from authority'.
* They put forward their assumptions as if they were universal truths.
* No references to reputable journal material.
* If the pseudo-skeptic has a monetary interest (such as maintaining a funding stream or a salary) his criticisms often become vituperative.
...
.
Seems to correlate with:
.
Originally Posted by Stephen Colbert
"Cynicism is a self-imposed blindness. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics donít learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say no. But saying 'yes' begins things. Saying 'yes' is how things grow. Saying 'yes' leads to knowledge."
.
Just how far removed is a "Cynic" from a "Pseudo-Skeptic" anyway?
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Old 9th February 2010, 01:24 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by mike3 View Post
But not all of them. For example, I don't see how using valid reasoning principles implies it is necessary to conduct "ad hominem" attacks.
I have no idea what you're trying to say.

I will offer that many people misuse the term "ad hominem" on this forum. It means "an argument which links the validity of a premise to an irrelevant characteristic or belief of the person advocating the premise." All too often I see people crying "ad hom" when in fact there was no attempt to link the validity of the argument to the personal attack.

You can argue that someone is wrong and also call them a jackass. It's not an "ad hom" to say, "Oh, this guy is a jackass. He repeats the same tired argument that has been resoundingly debunked here, here, and here. This is the same argument, and I'm not going to waste any more time debunking it." By contrast an "ad hom" would be, "This jackass was wrong about XYZ and got his ass whipped in debates, so I wouldn't trust his opinions on this <unrelated> issue."
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Old 9th February 2010, 01:38 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by UncaYimmy View Post
You can argue that someone is wrong and also call them a jackass. It's not an "ad hom" to say, "Oh, this guy is a jackass. He repeats the same tired argument that has been resoundingly debunked here, here, and here. This is the same argument, and I'm not going to waste any more time debunking it." By contrast an "ad hom" would be, "This jackass was wrong about XYZ and got his ass whipped in debates, so I wouldn't trust his opinions on this <unrelated> issue."

In other words, he's not wrong because he's a jackass. He's wrong, too.
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Old 9th February 2010, 01:39 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by fls View Post
Thank you.

So the use within the 'trade' has little to do with the use referred to in the OP and is similar to what we tend to call denialism or contrarianism here?

Linda
I think Zeuzzz' checklists in the OP look basically OK. He cites Truzzi, who was a CSICOP founder and originally coined the phrase.

Yes: Truzzi and CSICOP parted ways, but Truzzi's concerns were mostly valid. Personally, I believe that his departure led to changes in CSICOP that meant its later investigations were more rigorous.

Here is the relevant part of Truzzi's entry at [Wikipedia].

Examples of pseudoskeptics who come to mind would be people like Stephen Milloy. [Bill Maher] also could be nominated.
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Old 9th February 2010, 01:41 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by GeeMack View Post
In other words, he's not wrong because he's a jackass. He's wrong, too.
You bet. I use this all the time:

He's not wrong because he's a prick.

He's wrong and he's a prick.
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Last edited by blutoski; 9th February 2010 at 01:41 PM. Reason: ETA: Just a phrase I use. I'm not talking about anybody on this thread.
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Old 9th February 2010, 01:47 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by blutoski View Post
You bet. I use this all the time:

He's not wrong because he's a prick.

He's wrong and he's a prick.
That's only one of the forms of ad hominem, it comes in at least three delicious flavors, and of course an ad hominem argument is not necessarily a fallacious argument.
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Old 9th February 2010, 01:47 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by UncaYimmy View Post
Picking apart a post phrase by phrase often seems like critical thinking, but typically it's not.
Necessary but not sufficient? (Maybe even the 'necessary' is arguable.)

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Unless you are using software to read the posts to you, then the only way you to "encounter" it is to "see" it.

Your question was, "Now it may be that I am simply ignorant of its more general usage, but is this really a valid term?" I pointed out that you didn't even bother to see if you are ignorant of its general usage. A quick search shows that it is used quite a bit outside of this forum and in many different contexts.
Wow. Okay, here's the thing. When I mean "general usage", I mean stuff like discussions with professionals (face-to-face, involving specialized devices like 'voice-box', 'ears', 'auditory nerve'), conversations with friends and neighbours, participation in online forums, e-mail groups, the reading of material published in peer-reviewed literature, magazines, etc. I actually did do a Google search first, which came up with Prof. Truzzi's article (which I had already seen) and then most of the rest of the links on the first page were the same kind of thing that I observed here - believers in UFO's or the paranormal or magick making reference to skeptics as 'pseudoskeptics'. It simply never occurred to me that anyone would consider the passive perusal of unfiltered web content a reasonable reflection of the real world use, so it never occurred to me to consider that I was no longer ignorant of the general usage because I did a Google search. Like I said previously, it scares me a little that you think otherwise.

Quote:
Your stated opinion was, "It looks more like its use is confined to name-calling."
I meant that as more of an observation. I've not seen any skeptic use this term here. I've only seen people who tend to get a bit trampled by criticism use it as a pejorative. I wouldn't assume that my experience is typical or generalizable. That's why I asked for more input.

Quote:
Does pointing out one free source of information which is readily available even remotely imply that there are no other sources, especially when that source does nothing more than point to sources of information? I hope you're just trying to be a bitch with that remark.
No, I was serious.

Quote:
You didn't answer the question. "Valid" words can be pejorative. You suggested that I might be an ass. Is ass not a valid word simply because it's pejorative? How about bitchy? Stuck-up? Arrogant? Are these not valid words simply because they are pejorative?
I don't disagree with that. I was thinking that it would make sense to include it as one of the main characteristics, rather than worrying about how to distinguish it from the process of skepticism.

Quote:
In case you seriously don't know, gay in the context you describe is simply a generic insult. It's like saying something is stupid. It really doesn't relate to this discussion.
Not generic - to say something is 'gay' means something different from calling someone a 'faggot', for example (when used as a pejorative). But it directly relates to my point. Typing "define:gay" into Google fails to tell me how the word is generally used in that context.

Linda

Last edited by fls; 9th February 2010 at 01:49 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 9th February 2010, 02:00 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by blutoski View Post
I think Zeuzzz' checklists in the OP look basically OK. He cites Truzzi, who was a CSICOP founder and originally coined the phrase.

Yes: Truzzi and CSICOP parted ways, but Truzzi's concerns were mostly valid. Personally, I believe that his departure led to changes in CSICOP that meant its later investigations were more rigorous.
Okay, that's helpful. I have to admit that when I first read Truzzi's article quite a while ago, I was a bit puzzled as to the point of using the descriptor. I got the sense that it was directed at some group or some individuals, but I didn't have the necessary background knowledge to figure out who or what that would be. It does seem to have been co-opted, though.

Quote:
Examples of pseudoskeptics who come to mind would be people like Stephen Milloy. [Bill Maher] also could be nominated.
To be honest, I wouldn't be able to place Bill Maher into one category or the other on the basis of that checklist. But I would easily be able to on the basis of what you said earlier - "'person who rejects popular beliefs and beliefs endorsed by experts".

Linda
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Old 9th February 2010, 02:17 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by George152 View Post
'pseudoskeptic' is a phrase much used by the gullible when they find their belief systems compromised with fact and evidence
It works both ways, though.

Aside from the abovementioned misunderstanding of ad hominem, skepticism has a really terrible streak of misunderstanding argument from authority.

As a consequence, everybody who questions authority thinks he's a skeptic. This may be true (questioning authority is not unskeptical) but where the pseudoskeptics split off is that they are unwilling or unable to accept authorities as any more correct than laypersons.

This is the iconoclasm aspect of pseudoskepticism.

At the end of the day, skepticism should be a shared process, but we sometimes accidentally include people who share conclusions. Even if they came to those conclusions through an unskeptical process.

I was having a debate about AGW with a colleague in another forum. He forwarded me an article about the email leaks and how this exposes the weakness of peer review. He appears to be able to maintain the following statements:
  • AGW cannot be accepted as probably true, because the experts are limited to findings that have gone through the terribly unreliable and corrupt insider process that is peer review
  • conventional medicine distinguishes itself from quackery in that it concentrates its decisions on findings reported in peer-reviewed journals that have credibility in the community of relevant experts

My opinion is that he's pretty flexible with the process - is this a skeptic or a pseudoskeptic?
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Old 9th February 2010, 02:22 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by GeeMack View Post
In other words, he's not wrong because he's a jackass. He's wrong, too.
Yep. Or he could be a jackass because he continues to be wrong in the face of clear evidence to the contrary.
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Old 9th February 2010, 02:28 PM   #39
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A shaman named Terry Fisk posits that there's three types:
Believer
Skeptic
Debunker
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Old 9th February 2010, 02:29 PM   #40
athon
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Originally Posted by UncaYimmy View Post
I have no idea what you're trying to say.

I will offer that many people misuse the term "ad hominem" on this forum. It means "an argument which links the validity of a premise to an irrelevant characteristic or belief of the person advocating the premise." All too often I see people crying "ad hom" when in fact there was no attempt to link the validity of the argument to the personal attack.

You can argue that someone is wrong and also call them a jackass. It's not an "ad hom" to say, "Oh, this guy is a jackass. He repeats the same tired argument that has been resoundingly debunked here, here, and here. This is the same argument, and I'm not going to waste any more time debunking it." By contrast an "ad hom" would be, "This jackass was wrong about XYZ and got his ass whipped in debates, so I wouldn't trust his opinions on this <unrelated> issue."
I sometimes think we need a site that explains how illogical fallacies can be improperly invoked. There are so many examples of 'ad hom' and 'appeal to authority' being called out without really understanding what the term means.

Maybe they're pseudoskeptics?

Athon
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