ISF Logo   IS Forum
Forum Index Register Members List Events Mark Forums Read Help

Go Back   International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » General Skepticism and The Paranormal
 


Welcome to the International Skeptics Forum, where we discuss skepticism, critical thinking, the paranormal and science in a friendly but lively way. You are currently viewing the forum as a guest, which means you are missing out on discussing matters that are of interest to you. Please consider registering so you can gain full use of the forum features and interact with other Members. Registration is simple, fast and free! Click here to register today.
Tags skepticism

Reply
Old 7th October 2018, 06:50 AM   #201
kellyb
Philosopher
 
kellyb's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 9,102
Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Dictionary writers would, of necessity, always lag actual usage, wouldn't they? It's their job to keep up with changes in usage of some word. That's what they're supposed to do.
Yep. Webster's has a blog called "words we're watching" to give the curious a heads up into potential changes they're considering making at some point in the future, if the emerging new definition ends up "sticking".

Quote:
Incidentally, kellyb, this recalls a discussion we'd had, on a different thread, about what skeptics generally think about such-and-such aspect of skepticism. I wonder how representative these forums might be of skeptics in general?
"Reasonably" representative, I'd say, especially on the international level.

Quote:
If 'we' can claim to represent skeptics in general, then absolutely, dictionaries must reflect our usage of terms that relate to skepticism, if with some lag ; else they aren't doing their job properly.
Yes. I just don't think the word has hit their radar yet. Apparently it's only now hitting our radar, too. It's just sort of never come up, or rarely came up before.

Quote:
But if we don't, in fact, represent skeptics in general, then I suppose the consensus view of some random fringe group may or may not be very relevant, depending on how large the fringe is. Even if the fringe (that we represent) is large, then 'our' view would, at best, be an alternative, fringe view (if that). If, that is, we're no more than a fringe within the larger body of skeptics.
Yeah. I've just never encountered anyone within any part of the skeptical community before who would argue that the current dictionary definitions of skepticism/skeptic are truly sufficient and that the dictionaries should not be updated to include some "a person who tries to practice critical thinking and values evidence" type of 4th definition. All over the internet in "skeptic spaces", the word is used overwhelmingly in the "tries to practice critical thinking and values evidence" kind of way.

Most use it in the way wiki describes it here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skepti...fic_skepticism

Quote:
Scientific skepticism or rational skepticism (also spelled scepticism), sometimes referred to as skeptical inquiry, is a practical, epistemological position in which one questions the veracity of claims lacking empirical evidence.
__________________
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts ~ Bertrand Russell
I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend.
kellyb is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 7th October 2018, 07:05 AM   #202
kellyb
Philosopher
 
kellyb's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 9,102
Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
I suppose, then, that other things being equal*, a flat-earther who's arrived at his flat-earth views through actual enquiry (no matter how ham-handed) would be a 'better' skeptic than a regular normal spheroid-earther who's not personally gone into the issue but only accepted received conventional wisdom, right?
In a way, yeah, and in a way, no, I'd say. None of the flat earthers I've encountered have ever engaged in any actual inquiry. They just hopped onboard as some bizarre counter-cultural trend (and I the modern flat earth movement appears to have begun as a joke and clever trolling.)

I do have a friend who almost became a flat earther, but he also went out looking for opposing evidence, and since he couldn't spot the fakery in the maps of earth and people's airplane rides, he went back to favoring round-earth theory.
__________________
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts ~ Bertrand Russell
I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend.
kellyb is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 7th October 2018, 07:22 AM   #203
Chanakya

 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 629
Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
Yep. Webster's has a blog called "words we're watching" to give the curious a heads up into potential changes they're considering making at some point in the future, if the emerging new definition ends up "sticking".

Thanks for the reference. Probably fun to browse that blog later, at leisure. It might make sense to let them know -- as you suggested -- they're missing out on perhaps the most important sense that the word has evolved to convey.



Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
"Reasonably" representative, I'd say, especially on the international level.

Ha! Neither of us would be properly skeptical if I didn't ask you, and you didn't explain to me, why you'd say that!


Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
Yes. I just don't think the word has hit their radar yet. Apparently it's only now hitting our radar, too. It's just sort of never come up, or rarely came up before.



Yeah. I've just never encountered anyone within any part of the skeptical community before who would argue that the current dictionary definitions of skepticism/skeptic are truly sufficient and that the dictionaries should not be updated to include some "a person who tries to practice critical thinking and values evidence" type of 4th definition. All over the internet in "skeptic spaces", the word is used overwhelmingly in the "tries to practice critical thinking and values evidence" kind of way.

Most use it in the way wiki describes it here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skepti...fic_skepticism

Right. This would suggest that 'our' sense of skepticism is what would more properly be termed 'scientific skepticism' or 'rational skepticism', and that we here tend to use the word 'skepticism' and 'skeptic' as a shorthand for those somewhat longer terms.
Chanakya is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 7th October 2018, 07:29 AM   #204
Chanakya

 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 629
Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
In a way, yeah, and in a way, no, I'd say. None of the flat earthers I've encountered have ever engaged in any actual inquiry. They just hopped onboard as some bizarre counter-cultural trend (and I the modern flat earth movement appears to have begun as a joke and clever trolling.)

I do have a friend who almost became a flat earther, but he also went out looking for opposing evidence, and since he couldn't spot the fakery in the maps of earth and people's airplane rides, he went back to favoring round-earth theory.

I've never ever personally interacted with a "flat-earther", actually, not even online ; and frankly have some trouble wrapping my head around someone actually believing that in all earnestness.

But of course, when it comes to things religious, people do believe things that are just as crazy, if not more, so why not, I suppose, when it comes to some non-religious craziness as well?
Chanakya is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th October 2018, 02:02 AM   #205
psionl0
Skeptical about skeptics
 
psionl0's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: 31°57'S 115°57'E
Posts: 13,158
Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Not to beat this to death --
ftfy

I never intended my definition to be the the final word on the meaning of "skeptic". For example, it turns out that "commonly held" is not a requirement for a belief that somebody could be skeptical about. Also, having no opinion whatsoever about a belief may not be sufficient to make somebody a skeptic.

However, most of the arguments against my definition are pure nonsense. Testing evidence is not part of the description of a skeptic. And the contortions that some people go through over the words, "does not support" are unbelievable.

Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
I think it's more like saying "sun is shining" when it is in fact midnight.
So if I say the sun is shining you automatically insist that it is midnight? Now that is what I call being a "contrarian".
__________________
"The process by which banks create money is so simple that the mind is repelled. Where something so important is involved, a deeper mystery seems only decent." - Galbraith, 1975

Last edited by psionl0; 8th October 2018 at 02:03 AM.
psionl0 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th October 2018, 02:18 AM   #206
Dave Rogers
Bandaged ice that stampedes inexpensively through a scribbled morning waving necessary ankles
 
Dave Rogers's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Cair Paravel, according to XKCD
Posts: 27,682
Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
However, most of the arguments against my definition are pure nonsense.
OK, let's go through a nonsense-free one.

Would you accept that, in order ofr a definition to be useful, it has to distinguish between the thing it defines and its complete opposite?

Consider, for example, a Christian fundamentalist, whom one might define as the opposite of a skeptic because he believes unquestioningly everything written in the Bible. This is not a pathological case; many such people exist. Now place him in a predominantly Buddhist country, where there is a widely-held opinion that we evolve through many lives and many reincarnations, carrying forward into each new incarnation the karma we have from the previous ones. Again, not a pathological case; many Christian fundamentalists have visited Buddhist countries, often in order to convert the locals to Christianity if they can. Our fundamentalist does not share the widely-held opinion that people are reincarnated many times, because he knows from the Bible that after death we are judged and admitted to Heaven if we have accepted Christ as our Saviour. By your definition, then, he is a skeptic, even though he never approaches opinions from a point of view of doubt or questioning.

Your definition of a skeptic as 'someone who does not share a widely-held opinion' is worthless. I reject it.

Dave
__________________
Me: So what you're saying is that, if the load carrying ability of the lower structure is reduced to the point where it can no longer support the load above it, it will collapse without a jolt, right?

Tony Szamboti: That is right
Dave Rogers is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th October 2018, 05:36 AM   #207
psionl0
Skeptical about skeptics
 
psionl0's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: 31°57'S 115°57'E
Posts: 13,158
Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
OK, let's go through a nonsense-free one.


Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
. . . . . Our fundamentalist does not share the widely-held opinion that people are reincarnated many times, because he knows from the Bible that after death we are judged and admitted to Heaven if we have accepted Christ as our Saviour. By your definition, then, he is a skeptic, even though he never approaches opinions from a point of view of doubt or questioning.
Are you saying that a Christian doesn't doubt reincarnation?

Just to be clear, in the land of the Buddhist, a Christian is the skeptic. In fact, since "popular" is not part of the dictionary definition, a Christian and an Atheist could equally regard the other as a skeptic.

In this forum some of us call ourselves "skeptics" AND we demand critical thinking. We don't call ourselves skeptics because we demand critical thinking.
__________________
"The process by which banks create money is so simple that the mind is repelled. Where something so important is involved, a deeper mystery seems only decent." - Galbraith, 1975
psionl0 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th October 2018, 05:49 AM   #208
Dave Rogers
Bandaged ice that stampedes inexpensively through a scribbled morning waving necessary ankles
 
Dave Rogers's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Cair Paravel, according to XKCD
Posts: 27,682
Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
Are you saying that a Christian doesn't doubt reincarnation?
Absolutely. A fundamentalist Christian is not uncertain as to whether the soul is reincarnated; he is absolutely certain it is not. There is no doubt involved.

Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
Just to be clear, in the land of the Buddhist, a Christian is the skeptic. In fact, since "popular" is not part of the dictionary definition, a Christian and an Atheist could equally regard the other as a skeptic.
So a skeptic is, in effect, anybody who disagrees with anyone else about anything. As I said, it's a worthless definition.

Dave
__________________
Me: So what you're saying is that, if the load carrying ability of the lower structure is reduced to the point where it can no longer support the load above it, it will collapse without a jolt, right?

Tony Szamboti: That is right
Dave Rogers is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th October 2018, 05:52 AM   #209
Chanakya

 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 629
Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
ftfy

Agreed! If I don't lay off this thread now, I will truly be guilty of cruelty to animals!


Quote:
Testing evidence is not part of the description of a skeptic.

Well yes, you're right I suppose, when it comes to the dictionary meaning of the word 'skeptic'.

Like kellyb suggests a few posts upthread, it seems that what we commonly refer to as 'skepticism' here on these forums is 'scientific skepticism' or 'rational skepticism'. Given that that is the sense which we overwhelmingly use on here, it seems that we here tend to use the word 'skepticism' as shorthand for those somewhat longer terms. And yes, it seems dictionaries have been slow in picking up this newer sense of the word (not that I personally have trawled or "researched" dictionary meanings at all, beyond clicking two or three of the most obvious ones, for this word).

So while it seems you're right when it comes to the dictionary meaning, nevertheless, given that we're all discussing things here on these forums, your insistence on the dictionary meaning appears pedantic. And incorrect too, in a way, given that it is the dictionaries that appear to be lagging.

You know : like when it comes to investing, words like 'haircut' and 'shorts' carry meanings very different from their primary dictionary meanings. (I haven't checked the dictionaries to see if these senses are listed in dictionaries ; they probably will be, I guess ; but for the sake of the argument, let's assume the dictionaries still haven't caught on, and don't list these particular meanings of these words.) In that scenario, if in a room full of investment bankers and portfolio managers, you insisted that the words "shorts" and "haircut" refer to short pants and a hair trim, then that would be being pedantic, and also in a sense plain wrong. As well as deliberately and pointlessly contrarian.

But irrespective, thanks for bringing this up, psion10 : that clarification about "skepticism", as we use it here, being a shortcut for "scientific skepticism" or "rational skepticism" -- which clarification of kellyb's I'll assume is right, although I remain open to correction by others -- would not have emerged but for your comments ; and I for one would not have been aware of this then.


Quote:
So if I say the sun is shining you automatically insist that it is midnight? Now that is what I call being a "contrarian".

#Looks sideways at stick, and at poor suffering animal. Looks again. Walks away resolutely.#
Chanakya is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th October 2018, 05:57 AM   #210
JoeMorgue
Self Employed
Remittance Man
 
JoeMorgue's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Florida
Posts: 13,106
Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
So a skeptic is, in effect, anybody who disagrees with anyone else about anything. As I said, it's a worthless definition.
Like most times when this argument is used it's because people want to argue pure dictionary definitions and do the whole "Let's pretend usage and context aren't a thing that exists."

Yes pure "philosophical" skepticism is just basically... doubt with flair but it's safe to say that as a social movement the term skepticism is meant for the broad, loosely organized opposition to commonly held unsupported religious, spiritual, mystical, pseudo-scientific, and conspiratorial beliefs.
__________________
"Ernest Hemingway once wrote that the world is a fine place and worth fighting for. I agree with the second part." - Detective Sommerset, Se7en
JoeMorgue is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th October 2018, 06:49 AM   #211
Chanakya

 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 629
Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
Your definition of a skeptic as 'someone who does not share a widely-held opinion' is worthless. I reject it.

As do I, Dave, in the context of these forums : but, as I was saying to psion10 just now, in my post just preceding, it seems here in these forums we're using the word 'skepticism' as a shorthand for 'scientific skepticism' or 'rational skepticism' ; and apparently this particular usage for the word dictionaries haven't (so far as I checked, entirely cursorily) caught on to yet.

I agree that in a skeptics' forum, where skepticism is often discussed or at least referred to, and where this is the sense that is almost invariably meant, it would be silly to disagree to this established usage by quoting dictionaries that have not yet caught on to this change of usage.

But while 'our' usage clearly holds sway here in these forums, nevertheless, if we were to have this same discussion with someone out in the world at large, then perhaps it might make sense for us to clarify that that we're speaking of 'scientific skepticism' or 'rational skepticism'.

I agree with you that psion10's objection appears pedantic within these forums ; but out in the world at large they may be valid. Out there, in the world at large, it could be that our particular usage may be ... not wrong, not that ... but something of an outlier, and therefore best explained clearly if someone does not understand.
Chanakya is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th October 2018, 07:00 AM   #212
psionl0
Skeptical about skeptics
 
psionl0's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: 31°57'S 115°57'E
Posts: 13,158
Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
Absolutely. A fundamentalist Christian is not uncertain as to whether the soul is reincarnated; he is absolutely certain it is not. There is no doubt involved.
And I get accused of pedantry?

Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
So a skeptic is, in effect, anybody who disagrees with anyone else about anything.
Taken in the extreme, that could be said to be the case. We don't usually do so. "Skepticism" is normally associated against certain ideas -especially the paranormal and the religious. It could be extended to other ideas, even those held by a handful of individuals but it is not normally useful to do so.

As usual, you and others ignored the most salient point about my post:
Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
In this forum some of us call ourselves "skeptics" AND we demand critical thinking. We don't call ourselves skeptics because we demand critical thinking.
__________________
"The process by which banks create money is so simple that the mind is repelled. Where something so important is involved, a deeper mystery seems only decent." - Galbraith, 1975
psionl0 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th October 2018, 07:01 AM   #213
Dave Rogers
Bandaged ice that stampedes inexpensively through a scribbled morning waving necessary ankles
 
Dave Rogers's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Cair Paravel, according to XKCD
Posts: 27,682
Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
I agree with you that psion10's objection appears pedantic within these forums ; but out in the world at large they may be valid. Out there, in the world at large, it could be that our particular usage may be ... not wrong, not that ... but something of an outlier, and therefore best explained clearly if someone does not understand.
Fair enough, in that we use a fairly specialised definition in these forums; in the big chatrrom with the blue ceiling I probably wouldn't assume the same shared culture that we have here, and explain my terms better. Even so, I think any definition of skepticism has to include the concept of lack of certainty, as opposed to simple disagreement.

Dave
__________________
Me: So what you're saying is that, if the load carrying ability of the lower structure is reduced to the point where it can no longer support the load above it, it will collapse without a jolt, right?

Tony Szamboti: That is right
Dave Rogers is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th October 2018, 07:19 AM   #214
Roboramma
Penultimate Amazing
 
Roboramma's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Shanghai
Posts: 11,154
Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
And I get accused of pedantry?
. Yes, and there was nothing pedantic about what you quoted.


Quote:
As usual, you and others ignored the most salient point about my post:
Because it's wrong.
__________________
"... when people thought the Earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the Earth was spherical they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the Earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the Earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together."
Isaac Asimov
Roboramma is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th October 2018, 07:55 AM   #215
psionl0
Skeptical about skeptics
 
psionl0's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: 31°57'S 115°57'E
Posts: 13,158
Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
. Yes, and there was nothing pedantic about what you quoted.
Puh-leeze! "Doubt" can range anywhere from mild reservations to total disagreement. Redefining a word so that you can redefine another word is as silly as it gets.

Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
Because it's I'm wrong.
ftfy.
__________________
"The process by which banks create money is so simple that the mind is repelled. Where something so important is involved, a deeper mystery seems only decent." - Galbraith, 1975
psionl0 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th October 2018, 02:28 AM   #216
Roboramma
Penultimate Amazing
 
Roboramma's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Shanghai
Posts: 11,154
Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
Puh-leeze! "Doubt" can range anywhere from mild reservations to total disagreement. Redefining a word so that you can redefine another word is as silly as it gets.
You are the one who is redefining words.


Quote:
ftfy.
I'm certainly not wrong in my own case: I call my self a skeptic because I demand critical thinking. You are free to think that I'm wrong to do so.

I suppose it's possible that that's not the case for you, but on the other hand given how many other people in this thread are disagreeing with you I suspect that more people on this forum are like me than like you in this particular way.
__________________
"... when people thought the Earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the Earth was spherical they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the Earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the Earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together."
Isaac Asimov
Roboramma is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th October 2018, 11:00 AM   #217
psionl0
Skeptical about skeptics
 
psionl0's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: 31°57'S 115°57'E
Posts: 13,158
Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
I call my self a skeptic because I demand critical thinking. You are free to think that I'm wrong to do so.
You are but there will be no convincing you. The common theme in this thread is that the rest of the world is out of step with this forum and needs to revise the definition of "skeptic" so that it matches yours.
__________________
"The process by which banks create money is so simple that the mind is repelled. Where something so important is involved, a deeper mystery seems only decent." - Galbraith, 1975
psionl0 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th October 2018, 11:50 AM   #218
Chanakya

 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 629
psion10, I see you haven't responded to my post #209. Have you read it? Could you follow my analogy there?

I am surprised that you are able to continue insisting here that you're right, without first refuting that argument.

Again, I thank you for making me aware that 'our' particular sense of the word 'skepticism' -- apparently a shortcut for 'scientific skepticism' or 'rational skepticism' -- is not (yet) recorded in major dictionaries : but like I said, if when speaking with investment bankers you keep piping up that a haircut is something you pay a barber for, thenn you may be technically correct, but you're definitely being pedantic, and in a larger sense plain wrong.

I'm no physicist, but I expect the actual physicists who frequent this site can quote me a good many technical terms that lay everyday dictionaries haven't yet recorded. Will you start visiting Physics websites and seminars, and try to convince them that they're using non-existent words?

Last edited by Chanakya; 9th October 2018 at 01:03 PM.
Chanakya is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th October 2018, 12:59 PM   #219
Chanakya

 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 629
On the other hand -- and to be fair -- we haven't really established, at least here in this thread, that our use of this term comports with how the skeptic community in general (apart from these forums) defines this term.

If it turns out that it is just here that we favor this usage, and skeptics elsewhere don't, then -- like a single physics forum or a single Christian forum using idiosyncratic terms that physicists in general (or Christians in general) do not use -- your position would be valid.

And I see that it is on us -- we who claim this specialized usage for the term 'skeptic' -- to show that this is how skeptics in general, outside of these forums, use that word.

I have no clue, myself, how to do that. Nor do I really even know of other skeptic spaces, other than these forums.

Perhaps some oldtimers here, better informed than I am, can pitch in here? It would be nice to be able to settle this issue to everyone's full satisfaction, by clearly showing that the skeptic community in general does favor this usage of this word 'skeptic', and that this usage is not peculiar to just these forums.

Last edited by Chanakya; 9th October 2018 at 01:09 PM.
Chanakya is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th October 2018, 07:00 PM   #220
Roboramma
Penultimate Amazing
 
Roboramma's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Shanghai
Posts: 11,154
Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
You are but there will be no convincing you. The common theme in this thread is that the rest of the world is out of step with this forum and needs to revise the definition of "skeptic" so that it matches yours.
Not really. I have no problem with other people using a different definition of skeptic. I think the common usage is different from the definition you are presenting, and I think the definition used by those of us who call ourself skeptics is one based on the skeptic movement and different from the more general term skeptic. That difference has been well spelled out by Dave Rogers in this thread.

But you are free to claim that I can't be moved by reason before you've even attempted to do so. That's quite convenient, but whatever.
__________________
"... when people thought the Earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the Earth was spherical they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the Earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the Earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together."
Isaac Asimov
Roboramma is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th October 2018, 07:07 PM   #221
psionl0
Skeptical about skeptics
 
psionl0's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: 31°57'S 115°57'E
Posts: 13,158
Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
psion10, I see you haven't responded to my post #209. Have you read it? Could you follow my analogy there?

One of the claims you make in that post is:
Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Like kellyb suggests a few posts upthread, it seems that what we commonly refer to as 'skepticism' here on these forums is 'scientific skepticism' or 'rational skepticism'.
Although that is a reasonable position to take, you and Kellyb are unfortunately in the minority here. Others are insisting that the dictionary is wrong and must be amended to comply with the "official" way that skeptic is defined. IE so that it is consistent with the way the word is used in ISF (even though it hasn't been established that the majority of ISF members use "skeptic" that way).

The other point you raise is profession specific jargon:
Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Like kellyb. . . . if in a room full of investment bankers and portfolio managers, you insisted that the words "shorts" and "haircut" refer to short pants and a hair trim, then that would be being pedantic, and also in a sense plain wrong.
Yes, in the scientific world, a new scientific phenomenon is often described by an English (or sometimes another language) word whose meaning may at best be incidental. Sometimes dictionaries will evolve to add the new scientific meaning of the word. Also, the scientific meaning of some words (like "animal" or "weight") differs from its common usage meaning.

Some within the scientific community may insist that the scientific meaning of a word is its only official definition. Most however, accept scientific jargon should remain in the scientific community and that they are apt to be misunderstood if they bring their jargon to the outside world. "Legalese" is a classic example of how legal matters can be misunderstood in the outside world (although some might claim that this is deliberate).

Again, this is not the position being taken here at ISF (you and kellyb excepted). Other posts here insist that the way the word has evolved at ISF must become the official definition of the word.
__________________
"The process by which banks create money is so simple that the mind is repelled. Where something so important is involved, a deeper mystery seems only decent." - Galbraith, 1975
psionl0 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th October 2018, 11:17 PM   #222
Hlafordlaes
Disorder of Kilopi
 
Hlafordlaes's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: State of Flux
Posts: 8,702
In philosophy, skepticismWP can refer to:
  • a mode of inquiry that emphasizes critical scrutiny, caution, and intellectual rigor;
  • a method of obtaining knowledge through systematic doubt and continual testing;
  • a set of claims about the limitations of human knowledge and the proper response to such limitations.
In common use (Merriam Webster), skeptic refers to:
  • 1 : an adherent or advocate of skepticism
  • 2 : a person disposed to skepticism especially regarding religion or religious principles
  • First Known Use of skeptic: 1587, in the meaning defined at sense 1
  • History and Etymology for skeptic: Latin or Greek; Latin scepticus, from Greek skeptikos, from skeptikos thoughtful, from skeptesthai to look, consider
Recent Examples on the Web
  • The State Department is quite Russia-skeptic, but Trump seems quite pro-Putin. — Robert Hutton, Bloomberg.com, "U.K. Worries About What Trump Could Promise Putin," 28 June 2018
  • Hotez and a few other doctors, many of them pediatricians, have been taking on this vaccine-skeptic movement. — NBC News, "Anti-vaccine hotspots on rise across U.S., study finds," 12 June 2018
So: In common use, went from term's origin to "doubter." In rigorous use, say, by skeptics themselves, the terms normally refer to philosophical skepticism.
***
@OP: At this point, I'd have to say a noobie skeptic is one who has never heard of sociolinguistics and likes to argue single, "true meanings" in language, also known as an advocate of nailing jello to walls.
__________________
Driftwood on an empty shore of the sea of meaninglessness. Irrelevant, weightless, inconsequential moment of existential hubris on the fast track to oblivion. Spends that time playing video games.
Summer Ongoing penance for overeating: His real name is Count Douchenozzle von Stenchfahrter und Lichtendicks. - shemp

Last edited by Hlafordlaes; 9th October 2018 at 11:20 PM.
Hlafordlaes is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th October 2018, 02:06 AM   #223
Dave Rogers
Bandaged ice that stampedes inexpensively through a scribbled morning waving necessary ankles
 
Dave Rogers's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Cair Paravel, according to XKCD
Posts: 27,682
Originally Posted by Hlafordlaes View Post
@OP: At this point, I'd have to say a noobie skeptic is one who has never heard of sociolinguistics and likes to argue single, "true meanings" in language, also known as an advocate of nailing jello to walls.


Dave
__________________
Me: So what you're saying is that, if the load carrying ability of the lower structure is reduced to the point where it can no longer support the load above it, it will collapse without a jolt, right?

Tony Szamboti: That is right
Dave Rogers is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th October 2018, 06:44 AM   #224
Chanakya

 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 629
Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
...that is a reasonable position to take ...

Thank you. I’m glad you agree.


Quote:
you and Kellyb are unfortunately in the minority here.

I don’t see that. That is, it is true that none of the others have raised this POV before I did, but, as kellyb (who has spent time more here in these forums, and apparently is better acquainted than I am with the skeptic community outside of these forums) suggests, perhaps this issue, although so basic, hasn’t really been discussed at all, hasn’t really been brought to people’s notice.

I don’t see people disagreeing. In fact, within the small sample of people who have participated in this thread, you see Dave Rogers already agreeing, don’t you?

There does remain that one issue that I am not satisfied with : Do our forums actually represent the skeptic world at large, when it comes to how we view skepticism? Once that is settled -- I'm not sure how or if it will be settled, of course -- then the issue will be cut and dried, so far as I can see. I do not expect disagreement, then, from a forum full of (more or less) reasonable, properly “skeptical” people.

But yes, that future and wider agreement is still in the realm of conjecture, I agree with you there. But that is very easily dealt with : once this difficulty (about the view of skeptics outside of these forums) is taken care of, we could simply have a poll here. That would give us as good a means as any of gauging agreement.

Notwithstanding : that still does not make your earlier contention right, does it? Since you seem to find my particular stance reasonable, and seem to agree with me, wouldn’t you say that directly negates your own initial position?


Quote:
Yes, in the scientific world, a new scientific phenomenon is often described by an English (or sometimes another language) word whose meaning may at best be incidental.

I agree with you when you say this -- not surprisingly, since you’re expressing agreement with me -- but I have one small nitpick here : This would apply anywhere and everywhere, not just the “scientific world” or to “new” phenomena or ideas. Take the Christian community, or any very overtly religious community (as an egregious example of a “Woo”-ridden, often irrational POV). We may or may not agree with their ideas, but if a large number of these people are agreed about how they view certain words, then we cannot possibly argue with those words (even as we argue about the validity of the ideas those words represent).


Quote:
Most however, accept scientific jargon should remain in the scientific community and that they are apt to be misunderstood if they bring their jargon to the outside world. "Legalese" is a classic example of how legal matters can be misunderstood in the outside world (although some might claim that this is deliberate).

Again, this is not the position being taken here at ISF (you and kellyb excepted). Other posts here insist that the way the word has evolved at ISF must become the official definition of the word.

I suggest we look at POVs expressed after this argument of mine was put forth (because before that, people may not have even considered this at all). And as you see, the admittedly very small sample does clearly show evidence of agreement.

But irrespective of general agreement or the lack of it, my short point is : this does go, very clearly, in the face of your initial position, doesn't it? Given that you seem to find my position reasonable, I don't see how you can continue to insist that your original position also is reasonable.
Chanakya is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th October 2018, 06:53 AM   #225
Chanakya

 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 629
Originally Posted by Hlafordlaes View Post
In rigorous use, say, by skeptics themselves, the terms normally refer to philosophical skepticism.

Agreed with the rest of your post, but in the context of my own previous post, posted just now, as well as my earlier post #209 : would you be able to substantiate that?

That is : I see, myself, that this is indeed the sense in which we here, in these forums, use this word. But would you say that skeptics in general, outside of these forums, also tend to use this word in this sense? And can you substantiate that, not necessarily by actually reproducing conversations or quoting extracts (which is time-consuming), but at least recounting in which spaces (outside of these forums) you've personally found this word used in this sense?
Chanakya is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th October 2018, 08:38 PM   #226
psionl0
Skeptical about skeptics
 
psionl0's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: 31°57'S 115°57'E
Posts: 13,158
Originally Posted by Hlafordlaes View Post
In philosophy, skepticismWP can refer to: . . . . . . .
It looks like a weasel word slipped its way into the definition.

While critical thinking and evidence evaluation may be a feature of some forms of skepticism, it is not a necessary part of the definition.

Originally Posted by Hlafordlaes View Post
At this point, I'd have to say a noobie skeptic is one who has never heard of sociolinguistics and likes to argue single, "true meanings" in language, also known as an advocate of nailing jello to walls.
They also have a habit of projecting without realizing what they are doing.
__________________
"The process by which banks create money is so simple that the mind is repelled. Where something so important is involved, a deeper mystery seems only decent." - Galbraith, 1975
psionl0 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th October 2018, 09:49 PM   #227
Skeptic Ginger
Nasty Woman
 
Skeptic Ginger's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 69,501
How to spot a rookie skeptic

They try to gaslight the rest of us.
__________________
Restore checks and balances no matter your party affiliation.
Skeptic Ginger is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th October 2018, 12:04 AM   #228
psionl0
Skeptical about skeptics
 
psionl0's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: 31°57'S 115°57'E
Posts: 13,158
Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
How to spot a rookie skeptic

They try to gaslight the rest of us.
I know what the dictionary has to say but I have no idea how this word is "officially" defined in ISF.
__________________
"The process by which banks create money is so simple that the mind is repelled. Where something so important is involved, a deeper mystery seems only decent." - Galbraith, 1975
psionl0 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th October 2018, 12:51 AM   #229
Roboramma
Penultimate Amazing
 
Roboramma's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Shanghai
Posts: 11,154
When I am with my BJJ friends and we talk about guillotines we all know exactly what we are talking about.

Here on ISF when we talk about skepticism, I think we all know what we are talking about too.
__________________
"... when people thought the Earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the Earth was spherical they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the Earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the Earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together."
Isaac Asimov
Roboramma is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th October 2018, 01:04 AM   #230
psionl0
Skeptical about skeptics
 
psionl0's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: 31°57'S 115°57'E
Posts: 13,158
Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
When I am with my BJJ friends and we talk about guillotines we all know exactly what we are talking about.
I take it you haven't redefined guillotine to mean something different to the original apparatus.
__________________
"The process by which banks create money is so simple that the mind is repelled. Where something so important is involved, a deeper mystery seems only decent." - Galbraith, 1975
psionl0 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th October 2018, 01:09 AM   #231
Roboramma
Penultimate Amazing
 
Roboramma's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Shanghai
Posts: 11,154
Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
I take it you haven't redefined guillotine to mean something different to the original apparatus.
It's a type of choke.

ETA: Some sample phrases:
"Man, that guillotine you caught me with today was tight! I almost went out."
"I need to work on my arm-in guillotine, I keep catching guys with it, but I am having a really hard time finishing from there."
"Can you show me that guillotine set up you used today? Every time I shot for a take-down I couldn't finish because I was worrying about my neck..."
__________________
"... when people thought the Earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the Earth was spherical they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the Earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the Earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together."
Isaac Asimov

Last edited by Roboramma; 11th October 2018 at 01:15 AM.
Roboramma is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th October 2018, 01:15 AM   #232
psionl0
Skeptical about skeptics
 
psionl0's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: 31°57'S 115°57'E
Posts: 13,158
Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
It's a type of choke.
I believe that you believe that.
__________________
"The process by which banks create money is so simple that the mind is repelled. Where something so important is involved, a deeper mystery seems only decent." - Galbraith, 1975
psionl0 is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th October 2018, 01:18 AM   #233
Roboramma
Penultimate Amazing
 
Roboramma's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Shanghai
Posts: 11,154
Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
I believe that you believe that.
You think that my friends and I don't know what we are referring to when we're talking about guillotines?
__________________
"... when people thought the Earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the Earth was spherical they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the Earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the Earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together."
Isaac Asimov
Roboramma is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th October 2018, 07:45 AM   #234
lomiller
Philosopher
 
lomiller's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 9,253
Originally Posted by Darat View Post
If one was to take a skeptical approach to whether the earth is flat or round one would follow the evidence which would lead one to conclude the earth is - as far as everyday language usage is concerned - round.

Skepticism isn't tied to any particular conclusion, just that one uses the evidence that is available to come to a conclusion. For a skeptic that could be - for example - the earth is round and for a skeptic "don't have the evidence to be able to come to a conclusion" - or as it is usually put "I don't know" is an equally valid conclusion.
To my previous post. Simply disputing that they earth is round (or disputing the evidence that it’s flat) holds very little value. The real value comes in weighing the evidence and picking the best answer given the currently available evidence. (keeping in mind we don’t know may be the best answer)

Regardless I think it's obvious that a large number of self proclaimed skeptics view do in fact view skepticism as the first. That is they view skepticism as disputing the evidence/arguments for the things they don’t believe. Promoting and accepting this type of skepticism is in fact a major problem in todays skeptic community
__________________
"Anything's possible, but only a few things actually happen"
lomiller is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th October 2018, 08:06 AM   #235
varwoche
Penultimate Amazing
 
varwoche's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Puget Sound
Posts: 11,467
There's no zeal like that of the recently converted. So to speak.
__________________
To survive election season on a skeptics forum, one must understand Hymie-the-Robot.
varwoche is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th October 2018, 08:06 AM   #236
Chanakya

 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 629
Originally Posted by lomiller View Post
they view skepticism as disputing the evidence/arguments for the things they don’t believe. Promoting and accepting this type of skepticism is in fact a major problem in todays skeptic community
Ah. You think that, do you? That's different from what kellyb and Hlafordlaes have said here on this thread.

To be clear -- in case you haven't read all of this thread, and especially my comments -- I'm in full agreement with your larger point. However, as far as I am concerned, there was this element of doubt : It is obvious (to me) that an overwhelming majority here on these forums subscribe to 'our' view of what skepticism is -- which is a view that agrees with what you say. But the question that remains unanswered (or at least, not quite unanswered, but unsubstantiated) is this : Do self-described skeptics outside of these forums also subscribe to "our" view, that is, to "our" particular usage for the term "skepticism"?

You seem to saying, here, that many self-described skeptics think differently. Do you mean here in these forums, or do you mean skeptics outside of these forums?

If you mean within these forums, then obviously that is your subjective take. And one obvious way to substantiate that would be hold a poll.

But if you mean outside of these forums, then can you substantiate that? (I don't mean literally back that up, I don't mean actually go to the trouble to produce 'evidence' in the form of quotes, et cetera. I mean, can you simply discuss which particular skeptic spaces, online or offline, you've visited, from where you carry off this impression?)
Chanakya is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th October 2018, 08:08 AM   #237
Dave Rogers
Bandaged ice that stampedes inexpensively through a scribbled morning waving necessary ankles
 
Dave Rogers's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Cair Paravel, according to XKCD
Posts: 27,682
Originally Posted by lomiller View Post
Regardless I think it's obvious that a large number of self proclaimed skeptics view do in fact view skepticism as the first. That is they view skepticism as disputing the evidence/arguments for the things they don’t believe. Promoting and accepting this type of skepticism is in fact a major problem in todays skeptic community
That's what I personally would describe as pseudoskepticism - skepticism plus confirmation bias. I suspect that's also a widely-held opinion on this forum, which I think means that anyone who disagrees with it is a skeptic.

Dave
__________________
Me: So what you're saying is that, if the load carrying ability of the lower structure is reduced to the point where it can no longer support the load above it, it will collapse without a jolt, right?

Tony Szamboti: That is right
Dave Rogers is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th October 2018, 08:08 AM   #238
Chanakya

 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 629
Originally Posted by varwoche View Post
There's no zeal like that of the recently converted. So to speak.

I've seen plenty of very passionate defenders of the skeptic idea amongst those who've been around here, in these forums, for a very long time.
Chanakya is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th October 2018, 08:15 AM   #239
Chanakya

 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 629
Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
That's what I personally would describe as pseudoskepticism - skepticism plus confirmation bias.

That makes sense. I guess I agree, in principle.

Except : Isn't this all a bit subjective? Very few, I guess, if any, of those who do harbor "confirmation bias" are self-aware enough to be aware of this bias. Given that, who is to decide whether a certain individual, or a certain piece of evaluation, is actually so biased? Other skeptics? Which others? What if there is no unanimity in that evaluation?

But sure, that small quibble about subjectivity apart, I guess I agree with you.
Chanakya is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th October 2018, 08:25 AM   #240
lomiller
Philosopher
 
lomiller's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 9,253
Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
The dictionary writers are still a tad behind the times, it seems, on how members of "the skeptical community" and "skeptical movement" use the words skeptic/skepticism. Many of us generally mean "someone who makes a serious attempt to use critical thinking and evidence" when we use the word "skeptic".
Do we? I think it’s fairly common for people here to insist they don’t need to bring their own evidence to the table and that being “skeptical” of someone else’s position is sufficient.

IME what typically happens here is that challenging evidence supporting scientific beliefs is held to a different standard than challenging evidence for supernatural beliefs. While this undeniably reaches better conclusions the underlying process and logic isn’t really any different, rather each side is using the same type of logic and argument to support different things. It’s not really obvious in many discussions because we tend to ignore it when it’s used to support orthodox science. It becomes obvious, however, when it comes to topics like climate science denial that many skeptics criteria for accepting/rejecting ideas isn’t any better they just normally start off supporting better ideas so they get a pass on how they got there.
__________________
"Anything's possible, but only a few things actually happen"
lomiller is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Reply

International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » General Skepticism and The Paranormal

Bookmarks

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 11:52 PM.
Powered by vBulletin. Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

This forum began as part of the James Randi Education Foundation (JREF). However, the forum now exists as
an independent entity with no affiliation with or endorsement by the JREF, including the section in reference to "JREF" topics.

Disclaimer: Messages posted in the Forum are solely the opinion of their authors.