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Old 3rd October 2018, 12:54 PM   #81
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I think a rookie skeptic is one who acts as if skepticism itself is a belief system or some philosophy in counterpoint to metaphysics, religion, whatever. It's not that. It's simply the application of critical thinking skills; nothing more, nothing less.

For example, many budding skeptics start out with a firm, "psychic powers do not exist," kind of outlook. Well, not exactly. A skeptic isn't trying to make a claim either way. A skeptic simply looks at the evidence, evaluates it critically and reaches a reasonable conclusion: "This demonstration/study/claim does not support the existence of psychic powers."

Skepticism might inform the skeptics personal philosophy, but I don't think it's a philosophy in and of itself. It's a tool.
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Old 3rd October 2018, 01:55 PM   #82
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In short, the elimination of mental fluff is a lifelong journey. Still working on it, so a self-confessed rookie. Any other profoundly irritating questions?
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Old 3rd October 2018, 06:29 PM   #83
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Originally Posted by fromdownunder View Post
Are you suggesting that the Higgs boson was in the human mainstream thousands of years ago, or is it just a recent concept, say proposed in the 1960's?
The Higgs itself? Yes, it's been causing matter to have mass for as long as the universe has existed. It was there thousands of years ago. It was there millions of years ago. We've only had the idea of its existence for fifty years or so, and we've only really known that our ideas were right for about five.
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Old 3rd October 2018, 08:16 PM   #84
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Space Travel would be so much easier if Newton hadn't invented Gravity.
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Old 3rd October 2018, 10:38 PM   #85
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
If you subscribe to the ideas of Yuval Noah Harari, the Belief in Atheism is a kind of Religion.
The Belief in the lack of belief in Gods??
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Old 3rd October 2018, 10:52 PM   #86
The Great Zaganza
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Originally Posted by steenkh View Post
The Belief in the lack of belief in Gods??
Yep
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Old 3rd October 2018, 11:14 PM   #87
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I think we're going to have to try and interrogate that idea a little further.

Do you mean that the belief that atheism exists is itself a kind of religion? 'cause I'm pretty sure it's not.
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Old 3rd October 2018, 11:25 PM   #88
The Great Zaganza
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
I think we're going to have to try and interrogate that idea a little further.

Do you mean that the belief that atheism exists is itself a kind of religion? 'cause I'm pretty sure it's not.
For Harari, every shared view of the world is serving a normative purpose that allows people from vastly different backgrounds to trust each other enough to cooperate: if you are a firm Atheist, you might be very open to listen to and even support an ex-Muslim-turned-atheist, because you feel a degree of kinship that you probably wouldn't with anyone else from the same background.
Your shared Belief that atheism is as least as good as religion serve a similar function as belonging to the same Religion would (in the absence of any other commonalities).
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Old 3rd October 2018, 11:52 PM   #89
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Um... huh?
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Old 4th October 2018, 12:01 AM   #90
The Great Zaganza
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Um... huh?
would it help if I tell you that for Harari, the belief in the Dollar as a global currency is also a religion?
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Old 4th October 2018, 12:06 AM   #91
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Originally Posted by Hlafordlaes View Post
In short, the elimination of mental fluff is a lifelong journey. Still working on it, so a self-confessed rookie. Any other profoundly irritating questions?
Where do the missing socks go?
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Old 4th October 2018, 12:09 AM   #92
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
would it help if I tell you that for Harari, the belief in the Dollar as a global currency is also a religion?
Yep, he's extended the meaning of religion to be pretty much any belief shared by people?

(Granted money is a shared belief.)
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Old 4th October 2018, 12:16 AM   #93
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Yep, he's extended the meaning of religion to be pretty much any belief shared by people?

(Granted money is a shared belief.)
Ah, got it. And with the money example, now belief in practically anything that exists is a religion. My belief in my weekly salary is a religion. Nice to know.
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Old 4th October 2018, 12:23 AM   #94
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Well, belief in the existence of your company is belief in something completely fictional.
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Old 4th October 2018, 12:40 AM   #95
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
Well, belief in the existence of your company is belief in something completely fictional.
I work for the government. Is that fictional?
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Old 4th October 2018, 12:41 AM   #96
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
I work for the government. Is that fictional?
yes, of course. As is every nation state.

This is pretty easy to see from the number of people in America rejecting the Federal Government.
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Old 4th October 2018, 01:06 AM   #97
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
yes, of course. As is every nation state.

This is pretty easy to see from the number of people in America rejecting the Federal Government.
rejecting as in not recognizing the legitimacy of the Federal government?
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Old 4th October 2018, 01:10 AM   #98
The Great Zaganza
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Originally Posted by Venom View Post
rejecting as in not recognizing the legitimacy of the Federal government?
yes.
Most claim that the US was legitimately established, but some disagree - and there is no objective way to say one is more right than the other: it is a social convention, a shared agreement to act as if the US was a real thing.
But countries get dissolved, taken over, merge with others all the time. If countries were a "real" thing, this should not be possible.
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Old 4th October 2018, 01:44 AM   #99
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
yes.
Most claim that the US was legitimately established, but some disagree - and there is no objective way to say one is more right than the other: it is a social convention, a shared agreement to act as if the US was a real thing.
But countries get dissolved, taken over, merge with others all the time. If countries were a "real" thing, this should not be possible.
Surely a country is far more than just its government? What about ethnicity, culture, language, religion, customs or history? Are they not real, and do they not make up a large part of what makes a country a country?
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Old 4th October 2018, 01:56 AM   #100
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
Well, belief in the existence of your company is belief in something completely fictional.
That's stretching the meaning of the term 'fiction' beyond its breaking point. The belief in the existence of a company is the belief that a group of people have formed an agreement to co-operate in certain ways and assuming certain roles - the word 'company' actually means 'a group of individuals who work together for a common purpose' - and that agreement is not fictional. It is, of course, abstract, but that's a different concept.

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Old 4th October 2018, 01:56 AM   #101
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Originally Posted by Cosmic Yak View Post
Surely a country is far more than just its government? What about ethnicity, culture, language, religion, customs or history? Are they not real, and do they not make up a large part of what makes a country a country?
In what sense are they real? Not in any physical sense.
In the sense that they affect people's behavior? Not directly - only people affect other people's behavior by propagating certain concepts and ideas.
Religions, languages, customs all disappear or change beyond recognition. What we believe History to be depends much more on the present and our view of the future, than actual historical events.

None of these things exit in any form other than shared ideas and world-views.
As the Sowjet Union and Maoist China have demonstrated: if you remove everyone of a certain language and culture, you remove that culture; it doesn't exit anywhere else.
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Old 4th October 2018, 01:59 AM   #102
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
That's stretching the meaning of the term 'fiction' beyond its breaking point. The belief in the existence of a company is the belief that a group of people have formed an agreement to co-operate in certain ways and assuming certain roles - the word 'company' actually means 'a group of individuals who work together for a common purpose' - and that agreement is not fictional. It is, of course, abstract, but that's a different concept.

Dave
How can a company be real, if you can tear down its buildings and fire all its employers, yet it still exists as far as the law is concerned?
But when a Judge or Notary signs a piece of paper, a company with thousands of employees and many buildings can be created or destroyed.
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Old 4th October 2018, 02:01 AM   #103
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
The Higgs itself? Yes, it's been causing matter to have mass for as long as the universe has existed. It was there thousands of years ago. It was there millions of years ago. We've only had the idea of its existence for fifty years or so, and we've only really known that our ideas were right for about five.
It is a concept with explanatory power that is contingent on available observations.
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Old 4th October 2018, 02:51 AM   #104
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Thanks for posting this, I liked the above information.
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Old 4th October 2018, 03:16 AM   #105
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
How can a company be real, if you can tear down its buildings and fire all its employers, yet it still exists as far as the law is concerned?
It can exist because the company is an agreement, whereas the buildings are possessions of the company and the employees are people contracted to work for the company. The company itself is the agreement, not the physical objects that are associated with that agreement.

Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
But when a Judge or Notary signs a piece of paper, a company with thousands of employees and many buildings can be created or destroyed.
Because the agreement has been dissolved, therefore it no longer exists. All this is perfectly consistent with the fact that a company is not fictitious, but abstract. I can see that anyone too simple-minded to understand that there are more categories of object than physical and fictitious might struggle with this, but personally I have no difficulty with assigning a third category to the universe.

So is one of the signs of a rookie skeptic the inability to distinguish between fictitious and abstract objects?

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Old 4th October 2018, 03:20 AM   #106
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what is the difference between fictitious and abstract? Is there an actual Platonian Realm in which LLCs exit? Is there a natural law that requires humans to act in a way that necessitates LLCs?

I don't really care to draw a line here, because as far as I am concerned they mean the same thing: they are concepts in the mind that can be shared.
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Old 4th October 2018, 03:41 AM   #107
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
what is the difference between fictitious and abstract?
History. If you and I sit down together and have a conversation, in the course of which we agree to do certain things, that conversation is abstract but real, as is the agreement we formed. If I tell someone that you and I sat down together and had a conversation and agreed to do certain things, but in fact we didn't, that conversation is fictitious, as is the agreement. And it's one of the things I find most disturbing about the current state of the world that this sort of thing is even worth bothering to say.

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Old 4th October 2018, 03:47 AM   #108
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I understand what you mean.

But this would put Religion in the Abstract, rather than the Fictitious category, as it creates commitments and agreements.
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Old 4th October 2018, 03:55 AM   #109
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
I understand what you mean.

But this would put Religion in the Abstract, rather than the Fictitious category, as it creates commitments and agreements.
Fine; I have no problem with the claim that the Roman Catholic Church exists. Nor do I have any problem with the claim that some people believe God exists. Neither of these in any way support the claim that God exists.

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Old 4th October 2018, 04:00 AM   #110
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
Fine; I have no problem with the claim that the Roman Catholic Church exists. Nor do I have any problem with the claim that some people believe God exists. Neither of these in any way support the claim that God exists.

Dave
Of course not.
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Old 4th October 2018, 06:01 AM   #111
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Originally Posted by JJM 777 View Post
This is not rookie skepticism. This is rookie religiosity.

All it is is a joke. Or at least an attempt at one. Rookie humor, if you will. Or rookie failure to appreciate humor, depending on your perspective.

As far as Pascal's Wager, I agree that is full-on rookie religiosity. A child can, with ease, debunk that nonsensical argument ; so that I imagine Pascal himself must have meant it as a joke. (I suppose this last can be ascertained by anyone willing to actually put in effort to actually 'research' Pascal's writings and views on religion.)
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Old 4th October 2018, 06:08 AM   #112
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
If you subscribe to the ideas of Yuval Noah Harari, the Belief in Atheism is a kind of Religion.
Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
would it help if I tell you that for Harari, the belief in the Dollar as a global currency is also a religion?

I've read his Sapiens, and that is the only one of his books I've read. He does speak of "narratives" there, using that word to carry the same sense you mean.

Using the word "narrative" or "fiction" in this sense is fine ; but it seems troublesome to use the word "religion" to carry this sense of 'fictive'. At best it is a highly idiosyncratic, and probably metaphorical, use of that word.

Because religion is fictive, therefore to claim that everything fictive is religious, doesn't that sound comically topsy-turvy? No doubt there is some elementary logical error or fallacy lurking there (although I cannot, myself, put a name to it)?
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Old 4th October 2018, 06:20 AM   #113
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Is this redefinition of religion by Harari useful? Or is it, as I suspect, just designed to stir things up, and sell books?
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Old 4th October 2018, 06:30 AM   #114
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Originally Posted by steenkh View Post
Is this redefinition of religion by Harari useful? Or is it, as I suspect, just designed to stir things up, and sell books?
Call it narrative, then(he doesn't really make a distinction).

His point is that humans are unique because they can share new narratives. His famous example is that you will never get a monkey to give up a banana for the promise of mountains of bananas in heaven.

I recommend watch an interview with him, if you are skeptical.
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Old 4th October 2018, 06:35 AM   #115
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
His point is that humans are unique because they can share new narratives. His famous example is that you will never get a monkey to give up a banana for the promise of mountains of bananas in heaven.
Terry Pratchett made a similar point; he suggested that Homo Sapiens wasn't a particularly good name for our species, and that Pan Narrens, the storytelling ape, might be a better one.

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Old 4th October 2018, 07:09 AM   #116
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
I understand what you mean.

But this would put Religion in the Abstract, rather than the Fictitious category, as it creates commitments and agreements.

That's not really the distinction: Religion as a concept is an abstraction from the different specific religions: Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism etc. But even the word Hinduism is also an abstraction from the various kinds of Hinduism.

Based on their reading of Hegel, Marx and Engels explains it like this:

Quote:
If from real apples, pears, strawberries and almonds I form the general idea "Fruit”, if I go further and imaginethat my abstract idea "Fruit”, derived from real fruit, is an entity existing outside me, is indeed the true essence of the pear, the apple, etc., then in the language of speculative philosophy — I am declaring that "Fruit” is the "Substance” of the pear, the apple, the almond, etc. I am saying, therefore, that to be a pear is not essential to the pear, that to be an apple is not essential to the apple; that what is essential to these things is not their real existence, perceptible to the senses, but the essence that I have abstracted from them and then foisted on them, the essence of my idea — "Fruit”. I therefore declare apples, pears, almonds, etc., to be mere forms of existence, modi, of "Fruit” My finite understanding supported by my senses does of course distinguish an apple from a pear and a pear from an almond, but my speculative reason declares these sensuous differences inessential and irrelevant. It sees in the apple the same as in the pear, and in the pear the same as in the almond, namely "Fruit”. Particular real fruits are no more than semblances whose true essence is "the substance" — "Fruit”.
Marx, Engels: The Holy Family

Fruit is an abstraction from pears, bananas, melons and apples, but apple is also an abstraction from the different kinds of apples, Pink Lady, Cox Orange etc. And, of course, even Cox Orange is an abstraction from the actual Cox Orange apple that you are holding in your hand.
Hegel pokes fun at some people's problems with abstractions. He points out that it would be absurd to ask for, say, some fruit, and then object to being given an apple because you didn't ask for an apple, you asked for fruit!

Religion may be fictitious, but it's another kind of fiction than novels and short stories, i.e. literature (i.e. art!).
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Old 4th October 2018, 07:12 AM   #117
Dave Rogers
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
Hegel pokes fun at some people's problems with abstractions. He points out that it would be absurd to ask for, say, some fruit, and then object to being given an apple because you didn't ask for an apple, you asked for fruit!
I don't see what he's getting at, personally. Set theory makes all this sort of thing trivially clear.

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Old 4th October 2018, 08:33 AM   #118
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
Of course not.
Which is to say that God is fictitious but Catholicism is not.

And if that was your point, well, I'm pretty surprised you felt the need to make it.
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Old 4th October 2018, 09:00 AM   #119
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
Which is to say that God is fictitious but Catholicism is not.

And if that was your point, well, I'm pretty surprised you felt the need to make it.
It wasn't.
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Old 4th October 2018, 10:39 AM   #120
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
Another rookie move is to assume that debunking one idea cannot be done without promoting a different one.
First, while you certainly can debunk one idea without promoting a different one, doing so actually isnít all that common IME. Most of the time when someone is questioning one explanation they are explicitly or implicitly promoting another. In my opinion this implicit support is the real problem because you should never be able to promote an explanation without positive evidence. For example, when Alex Jones is ďasking questionsĒ is he being a skeptic? Clearly no, heís trying to promote some other ideal or explanation for which there is no positive evidence.

Second. Comparing multiple theories to see which is superior is the best way to advance understanding. Most science actually involves doing just this, comparing multiple theories to see which best fits the available data. Itís rare for there to be only a single explanation proposed and there are frequently known problems with the one we accept as the best. There may be cases where none of the proposed explanations have explanatory/predictive power so new explanations or modification to existing explanations is required. In these cases obviously you canít appeal to there being a superior answer available, and you need to fall back on the approach of questioning without providing an alternative.
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