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Tags reason , thinking , critical

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Old 12th June 2003, 07:25 AM   #1
Upchurch
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Are we giving up on critical thinking and reason?

Ironically, this is more a rant than an argument.

The more I listen to political and philosophical discussions (read: tirades) the less I seem to feel that there is critical thinking being used in the modern world. Consider the recent threads on this board that critical thought and reason are just another kind of faith system or that critical thought isn't suitable for understanding or pursueing reality. I've recently come to the conclusion that this is an attempt to marginalize critical thought to the point that it is just another belief system. After all, critical thought is often a threat to one's faith or belief.

Do you think that, as a society, we've given up on wanting to know Reality in favor of believing what makes us feel good about ourselves?
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Old 12th June 2003, 07:34 AM   #2
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Critical thinking takes work, and time. It's much easier to use the supernatural explanation for something that isn't known.

That's pretty much the whole of it. For some people, the world is much more excititng if they can believe in and apply UFO's, ESP, etc. to things they find mysterious.

As a society, we've never applied critical thinking in favor of what makes us feel good about ourselves!
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Old 12th June 2003, 07:37 AM   #3
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While I agree that critical thought is not valued as highly as it should be, I would argue that we are far from having "given up". Rather, it seems that there is a greater voice for critical and skeptical thought today than ever before.

And, yes, some people are going to try to minimalize critical thought into an opinion, but this is not done by everyone. If you feel like it is a losing battle, just realize that the JREF and other organizations exist, and actually have members to support them; such causes have not always had support.

I am still of the opinion that, eventually, critical thought will "win".
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Old 12th June 2003, 07:37 AM   #4
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Re: Are we giving up on critical thinking and reason?

Quote:
Originally posted by Upchurch
Do you think that, as a society, we've given up on wanting to know Reality in favor of believing what makes us feel good about ourselves?
"given up" implies that there was once a time that our society pined for critical thinking and reality. I think critical thinking has always been in the minority.

I don't think there's any more charlatans today than there ever were before, I just think they get more media coverage now.
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Old 12th June 2003, 07:42 AM   #5
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While I would love to see more and more people embrace critical thinking and I am concerned about seeing it marginalized, I don't worry too much about its demise. It's too effective a tool.

We've all become used to technological change. We like having new gadgets, greater communications, improved medicine. And none of these things is possible without critical thinking. Science is built on critical thinking. So to some extent, there is a built in hedge against it's abandonment.
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Old 12th June 2003, 07:44 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by A_Feeble_Mind

I am still of the opinion that, eventually, critical thought will "win".
I keep wondering if there isn't a dark ages/renaissance cycle that we humans are stuck in. And further, I wonder if we aren't heading towards the dark age part. Especially when I listen to politics.

I mean, what do you think George Bush, the leader of arguably the most powerful nation on the Earth at this time, values more: reason or religion?
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Old 12th June 2003, 07:49 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ipecac
While I would love to see more and more people embrace critical thinking and I am concerned about seeing it marginalized
I didn't mean to imply that critical thinking was being marginalized by it's [u]over[/i]use. I'm saying that faith believers down play the "critical" part of critical thinking in an attempt to make it "just another faith".

Although you do bring up another valid concern. Those who use non-critical thinking but call it critical thinking to add more validity to their own mythos. Consider Franko in this respect.
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Old 12th June 2003, 08:09 AM   #8
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What a question!

For one I believe that critical thinking is a tool, a very useful tool but not the only tool. That said it is also the philosphers stone, very idea should have to pass the test.

There seem to be two camps that are critical of critical thinking. (Dept. of Redundancy)

A. The philosphical camp: it would appear that they unerstand the concept that they are using. To me they seem to be engaged in a closed discussion that is self referencing. And perhaps if I knew the code I could engagae them in a discussion without it seeming to come down to 'because I say so, and you just don't understand'. I would be happier if they would use the conventions of critical/scientific thought. But it may be that thier discussion are like math and partake of the closed language.

B. The believer's camp: There does seem to be a certain element which would like to say, 'critical thing is just another form of thinking', where the fallacy lies is when they then make the assertion that 'scienece requires faith'. My rejoinder to them is this: I have studied the spiritual real, it does not suffer when you apply the scientic/critical method to it.

I mean to offend no one.

I agree that perhaps critical thinking has always been sperate from the moo-cow herd mentality. However it is taught in school and there are new minds using it everyday. My daughter is such a sceptic that she does question the axioms of science which is a very good thing.

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Old 12th June 2003, 08:19 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ipecac

We like having new gadgets, greater communications, improved medicine. And none of these things is possible without critical thinking. Science is built on critical thinking. So to some extent, there is a built in hedge against it's abandonment.
I agree with that.
Quote:
Originally posted by A_Feeble_Mind


I am still of the opinion that, eventually, critical thought will "win".
I wouldn't go that far. I think that critical thinking is a tune that is played on a different instrument than belief in the supernatural. Woowoo belief systems appeal primarily to emotion.
Quote:
Originally posted by No Answers

For some people, the world is much more excititng if they can believe in and apply UFO's, ESP, etc. to things they find mysterious.
Exciting and fun. Feels good. Literally -- there is a payoff in brain chemistry. "I got chills up and down my spine" said the typical 'observer' of some supernatural event. It isn't about what makes sense, it's about what 'feels right'.

Part of the thrill for believers is feeling that one is part of an alternative belief system, one which defies the rigidity of some stagnant 'old order'. Should society enter some great new era of logic and reason, it would only provide an even richer environment for the emergence of new supernatural belief systems.
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Old 12th June 2003, 08:20 AM   #10
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critical thinking

Critical thinking is not dead, it's just in hiding. Our foremost critical thinkers, trained in the Scientific Method, remain mute on almost every political subject. I am speaking of our leading Scientist represented by the National Science Foundation. I think it is time for them to step up to plate and beat down the growth of irrational thought as it spreads through our society. They need to make it very clear that "Creationism and Intelligent Design" have no basis in scientific reasoning.

Perhaps they are afraid of losing their government grants, which all too often rely on the approval of Bible Belt Congressmen, but their obligation as Scientist is to lead humanity. They need to find a scientific solution for growing bigger cajones!
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Old 12th June 2003, 08:22 AM   #11
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Great thoughts....I must admit, I see much closed-mindedness here (often disguised as critical thinking), but it doesn't really worry me because of the unique situation. Much like science is not done in solitary, but as part of a scientific community, the critical thinking that goes on here is done as a community. We are never lacking for a devil's advocate on any issue; this forum is very much like peer review on a forum scale. Like science, progress can be very slow, and may not happen at all for individual researchers, but the overall effect is progress, at least in the long term.

It would be interesting (but, I would imagine, exceedingly difficult) to find out what the effect is of all the "debate" (the pseudocritical-thinking support or refutation of positions, esp. in the PCE forum) on the lurkers. Those who are not in the fight (and subject to all the social reasons not to back down from a fight) might be in the best position to measure whether a point has or has not stood the test of debate.
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Old 12th June 2003, 08:31 AM   #12
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Its not at all like we've given up critical thinking, it just as a society we've all become dumber...er. For some reason now there are actually people like Jack Chick and Kent Hovind who try to apply critical science to faith... idiots. Its not at all like we dont know how to go about critical thinking, its just that many of us refuse to because we have been brainwashed into accepting faith before science. No one who is of average intellect and religious wants to read Asimovs "Origins of Universe, Life, and Mankind" or any Stephen "Hawk Man, the Wheelchair Guy" Hawking essays because they gots all this kinds of words that is wheelly hard to understand and stuff. Instead its alot easier to say "Because thats the way god made it."

Why is grass green?
"Thats the way god made it."
Does it have to do with the Chlorine in the Chlorophyll?
"God made the Chlorine Green, because thats the way he wanted it."
Why is the sky blue?
"God made it blue."
What about that ozone in the atomsphere, does that make it blue?
"It might, but god made the sky blue."

Heres what I hate, I hate it when something good happens to someone like winning the lottery and someone else says "Its Gods will, he wanted you to win the lottery", BUT when something bad happens like a tornado destroys a neighborhood someone will no doubt say "God works in mysterious ways, he has a plan for everyone that cannot be known". Yeah... take 2 seconds to think about what you said. Why dont you think to yourself "Well, the lottery is completely random and I just happened to get the ticket with the exact numbers that happened on to show up on the TV" or "Hmmm... maybe it wasnt such a good idea to live in house right in the middle of the tornado capitol of the world."

Faith is also a bad idea. You dont say things like "I believe in this religion because I was raised to believe in it" or "I believe in God because what if I'm wrong and he does exist, boy my face would be red". No, take a second to think critically and ask yourself "Hmmm. Science proves everything. But there is no science that can be applied to the supernatural. Science proves that blackholes exist but it cant prove that you can lift a cotton ball by looking at it... is there really a god? Because I cant just say there is one and maybe I'll be right... I have to prove to myself god is real otherwise I might be a little dumb. I think I'll make a sandwich to help me through this painful process of thinking."
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Old 12th June 2003, 09:08 AM   #13
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Re: critical thinking

Quote:
Originally posted by Landis
Critical thinking is not dead, it's just in hiding. Our foremost critical thinkers, trained in the Scientific Method, remain mute on almost every political subject. I am speaking of our leading Scientist represented by the National Science Foundation. I think it is time for them to step up to plate and beat down the growth of irrational thought as it spreads through our society. They need to make it very clear that "Creationism and Intelligent Design" have no basis in scientific reasoning.

Perhaps they are afraid of losing their government grants, which all too often rely on the approval of Bible Belt Congressmen, but their obligation as Scientist is to lead humanity. They need to find a scientific solution for growing bigger cajones!
I agree. Too often the woo woo's get center stage because of the unwillingness of scientists to engage in a debate w/ these people (and we know all the arguments against doing so). It really is time for the scientific community to get on CNN, Fox, MSNBC,the nets, etc. and actually challenge these idiots and point out - specifically - why they are full of crap.

But - I won't be holding my breath until this occurs.

Barkhorn.
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Old 12th June 2003, 09:13 AM   #14
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I think it's human nature to say "my father can kick your father's ass" or "my cohones are bigger than yours". If it weren't for religion and irrational thinking, would all our problems disappear? I don't think so. Whereas we can deny it, I think we're still caught in the darwininan survival-of-the-fittest loop.
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Old 12th June 2003, 09:17 AM   #15
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Re: Re: critical thinking

Quote:
Originally posted by Barkhorn1x

It really is time for the scientific community to get on CNN, Fox, MSNBC,the nets, etc. and actually challenge these idiots and point out - specifically - why they are full of crap.
Take, for instance, the debate about the tax cut. There ought to be enough statistical information out there to calculate it's actual effectiveness. Why is there such a wide variety of opinion on the issue? Why don't we have a pretty good idea, with in statistical error, what it will do to the economy? Is economics that soft of a science?

I'm not suggesting that scientists should get into science here. I'm suggesting that scientists should take the politics out of something that should be a science.
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Old 12th June 2003, 09:44 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by Upchurch
I keep wondering if there isn't a dark ages/renaissance cycle that we humans are stuck in. And further, I wonder if we aren't heading towards the dark age part. Especially when I listen to politics.

I mean, what do you think George Bush, the leader of arguably the most powerful nation on the Earth at this time, values more: reason or religion?
I've often thought the same thing, about a dark ages/rennaiscance cycle. I also happen to thik we are headed intoa new dark age.

It seems to me that people are increasingly mistrustful of science and reason. Look at the reaction to things like genetic engineering. On the other hand, look at the popularity of 'alternative' medicine.

Political discourse is a joke, at least in the US (and I presume the rest of the world, though I couldn't say for sure). It ahs been replaced by the slinging of invective and accusing the other side of terrible crimes. Listen to any political talk radio show to see this phenomenon in action or for that matter try to engage nearly anyone in a political discussion.

People seem to be increasingly looking to authority to solve all of their problems. They are willingly giving the governemnt more and moe authority over their lives. They are moe and more looking to religion (God being the uber-authority) to solve their lives problems.

I think a dark ages is coming and there isn't a d**n thing we can doa bout it, it has too much momentum behind it.
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Old 12th June 2003, 10:25 AM   #17
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I think some parts of the world have suffered more than others due to a decline in critical thinking. At one time, the Arabs were some of the best critical thinkers in the world. Now look at them.

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Old 12th June 2003, 11:46 AM   #18
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No, we haven't given up, but we are in a state of change.

The Enlightentmen is over. A new period of history is beginning. We won't know what to call it until it's over, but one thing is clear: the compromise between Science and Religion is over. The God of the Gaps is dead, and something new has to take its place. It's not so much dark age/rennisance as it is old structure/new structure.

Here's a little more on that by an unusually clever fellow:

http://members.cox.net/mcplanck/essays/moral.html
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Old 12th June 2003, 01:00 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by Frostbite
I think it's human nature to say "my father can kick your father's ass" or "my cohones are bigger than yours". If it weren't for religion and irrational thinking, would all our problems disappear? I don't think so. Whereas we can deny it, I think we're still caught in the darwininan survival-of-the-fittest loop.
What if believers and religion are the fittest?

Where does that leave skepticism and science?

-Who
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Old 12th June 2003, 01:02 PM   #20
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"the compromise between Science and Religion is over."

I doubt it.

In Shermer's latest commentart email thingy he said something like nature and god are deterministically inseparable, or something (from memory here).

Science and religion could get along fine, if it wasn't for politics and fear (mostly fear).

-Who
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Old 12th June 2003, 01:03 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally posted by Whodini


What if believers and religion are the fittest?

Where does that leave skepticism and science?
Worse. Where does that leave humanity?
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Old 12th June 2003, 01:24 PM   #22
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Originally posted by Upchurch
Worse. Where does that leave humanity?

Hey, how do you think we got this many people so far?


Science will help out. As long as it doesn't blow us up first. You know, bombs and stuff.


-Who
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Old 12th June 2003, 02:04 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally posted by Whodini

...
Science will help out. As long as it doesn't blow us up first. You know, bombs and stuff.

-Who
And who will use the science for destruction?
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Old 12th June 2003, 02:11 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally posted by Whodini



Hey, how do you think we got this many people so far?
er.... science and reason?
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Old 12th June 2003, 02:18 PM   #25
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Originally posted by A_Feeble_Mind

And who will use the science for destruction?
Whoever is fearful enough to push the button. I'd say it could be a religious person or a non-religious person. Whoever is afraid the most.

-Who
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Old 12th June 2003, 02:19 PM   #26
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Originally posted by Upchurch
er.... science and reason?
That, and other things too, I'm sure.

I mean, don't forget some 'reason's that led to wars and stuff.

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Old 12th June 2003, 02:32 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally posted by Whodini
I mean, don't forget some 'reason's that led to wars and stuff.
land and resources?
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Old 12th June 2003, 02:41 PM   #28
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The science of destruction has been around for a while but on another hread i pointed out that in Rwanda they killed three million people without high tech. I think that people can blame science for war just like they blame religion for war.

On the return of the dark ages, I have a feeling that those who use critical thinking have always felt this way, there are always the undercurrents of faith based fanaticism that are lurking.
I was terrified at the start of the eighties that the world was going to be blown up.

I think that if we go back we will find that the wolf is always at the door.
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Old 12th June 2003, 03:46 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally posted by Upchurch
I keep wondering if there isn't a dark ages/renaissance cycle that we humans are stuck in. And further, I wonder if we aren't heading towards the dark age part. Especially when I listen to politics.

I mean, what do you think George Bush, the leader of arguably the most powerful nation on the Earth at this time, values more: reason or religion?
Is this a rhetorical question?
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Old 12th June 2003, 04:08 PM   #30
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Re: Are we giving up on critical thinking and reason?

Quote:
Originally posted by Upchurch
Ironically, this is more a rant than an argument.

The more I listen to political and philosophical discussions (read: tirades) the less I seem to feel that there is critical thinking being used in the modern world. Consider the recent threads on this board that critical thought and reason are just another kind of faith system or that critical thought isn't suitable for understanding or pursueing reality. I've recently come to the conclusion that this is an attempt to marginalize critical thought to the point that it is just another belief system. After all, critical thought is often a threat to one's faith or belief.

Do you think that, as a society, we've given up on wanting to know Reality in favor of believing what makes us feel good about ourselves?
I think it is quite obvious, generally speaking, that the truth of things has always been, at most, a secondary consideration in the affairs of men. Certainly noone could argue it has ever been a primary consideration. In fact, I would argue that throughout all the ages of civilization the "truth" has really been an incidental consideration. Relationships, families, communities, nations, entire civilizations are largely built around a framework of comfortable untruths. We in the USA have a President who is a born again Christian who believes his sins have been forgiven by having accepted the Lord Jesus Christ into his heart and who believes he has a personal relationship with God - WITH GOD, FOR CHRISTS SAKE. Wow, to have a personal relationship with the very creator of the universe. Must be pretty heady stuff. Now, for me, personally, that is pretty scarey.

There are certain disciplines that have always been inclined toward the truth, toward a desire to the actual factual reality of the world. I think scientists (little "s"), generally, are inclined in this way. I don't think this inclination is shared generally by humanity. I agree that it is a favorite tactic of, say, creationists, to attempt to marginalize sience by suggesting that it is just another belief system - and evolution is "just a theory" - jackasses. It is a simple fact of reality that there are some people who are inclined to love the truth - whatever it make actually be, and there are those who don't, those who love and devote themselves to whatever it is that takes their fancy and decide that that is what the truth is, the facts be damned.
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Old 12th June 2003, 04:19 PM   #31
billydkid
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??????

Quote:
Originally posted by Whodini


What if believers and religion are the fittest?

Where does that leave skepticism and science?

-Who
Believers in what, precisely? Satanists? Moonies? Those who believe angels fly out of their butts at night and put Hershey's Kisses under the pillows of the good little boys and girls of the world? Science is an approach by which we attempt to determine the actual factual reality of the world we live in. The truth about reality. If you can find some way to believe that merely adopting any one of an infinite possible number of entirely arbitrary, baseless and irrational belief systems is somehow nobler and more worthy in any respect at all to the honest, careful study of the world around us, more power to you.
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Old 12th June 2003, 04:55 PM   #32
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It's common for people to seek allies for their causes.
If one operates on the premise,'the friend of my enemy is my enemy while the enemy of my enemy is my friend', it is easy to enter into dysfunctional alliances for the sake of attaining an immediate objective.
Logically perceived,demonology is the common enemy of both science and religion however science merely seeks to prove that demons are unreal therefore demonology is a waste of time. Religion is dependent upon the existence of those demons so it shores up the position of its' demon enemies rather than risk having it's daemons and deities come under equal scrutiny.
Perhaps another thread would be in order to determine what science holds as 'sacred cows', sacrosanct and indispensible, to it's own interests.
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Old 13th June 2003, 06:20 AM   #33
aggle_rithm
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Re: ??????

Quote:
Originally posted by billydkid


Those who believe angels fly out of their butts at night and put Hershey's Kisses under the pillows of the good little boys and girls of the world?
What a seductive philosophy. Where do I sign up?
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Old 13th June 2003, 07:11 AM   #34
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Quote:
Originally posted by PygmyPlaidGiraffe
Quote:
Originally posted by Upchurch

I mean, what do you think George Bush, the leader of arguably the most powerful nation on the Earth at this time, values more: reason or religion?


Is this a rhetorical question?
Pretty much. I was trying to make a point.
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Old 13th June 2003, 08:09 AM   #35
LCBOY
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Quote:
Originally posted by Whodini


What if believers and religion are the fittest?

Where does that leave skepticism and science?

-Who
This is a false dichotomy here. A person can be a believer and critical thinker. I believe I am. Over the past five years I've worked as an engineer building commercial spacecraft. I spent a lot of time trying to resolve manufacturing issuesand that takes a lot of critical thinking in that I have to evaluate a problem, hypothesize causes and generate solutions. And all this has to be done under the pressure of demanding production schedules.

Why does it have to be an "us vesus them" mentality?
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Old 13th June 2003, 08:17 AM   #36
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I only give up critical thinking for Lent...



But yeah, there's many occassions in P&CE that critical thinking seems to go by the wayside, which is not that odd for the subject matter, but certainly odd for a board devoted to skepticism. It also feels like some people use the trappings of skepticism to avoid critically thinking about an issue, particularly wrt their particular holy cow.

Quote:
Do you think that, as a society, we've given up on wanting to know Reality in favor of believing what makes us feel good about ourselves?
Hell yeah! Imo the two are often in conflict.
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Old 13th June 2003, 08:20 AM   #37
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Quote:
Originally posted by LCBOY


This is a false dichotomy here. A person can be a believer and critical thinker. I believe I am.
Whilst I respect your right to be such, I wonder, what's the criteria here for applying critical thinking to certain tasks but not to others? How do people reconcile one with the other?
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Old 13th June 2003, 09:16 AM   #38
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I'm reminded of a story:

My neice and nephew spent the last summer here in town with thier grandparents, and my wife and I decided to take the kids out to the Science Museum nearby. I'm a physicist and thought it'd be fun to have a day at the museum.

There's an exhibit on centripetal forces and how a rotating body produces an artificial gravity. I decided to ask my nephew Daniel, 10, what he thought the cause was.

"So what do you think makes it happen?"
"I dunno."
"Ok, suppose you wanted to know, how would you go about finding out?"
"Ask someone like you. You probably know, since you do science."
"True, I do know. But let's suppose that you have no way to ask me. Is there some way you could figure out for yourself"
"Um, ask a teacher?"
"But that's not figuring it out for yourself."
"Look in a book."
"Good. But how do you think the writer of the book found out the answer?"
"From a teacher, or a scientist."
"And how do you suppose the first scientist, without books or teachers to ask, figured it out?"
"I don't know."
"But Daniel, what do you think?"

There was a pause. "I don't know, I just want to know why it happens. Tell me"

I share the opinion that there's a certian agnosticism with respect to critical thinking; it's pervaded education. A child should be aware that there's a process to discovering information. The scientific method, as simplified as it is for children, simply isn't being taught. Nor is the supporting structure of philosophy that makes it not only valid, but trustworthy.

But then again, trust in epistemologically sound observation, in logically thinking, undermines the foundation of faith. And schools have decided to take no stance with respect to religion, even if that means not teaching the skills that would bring a child to questioning it.

And the babysitting service called "school" can do its job better if there's no annoying questions from the charges. Thinking rocks the boat, and none of us wants to be here anyway. Sit down, shut up and regurgitate the answers on cue, and we'll all make it through the next 12 years without conflict. Isn't that what you want?

Johnny can barely read, can't balance his checkbook and doesn't understand compund interest. What makes you think, if he struggles with these life skills, that he's any more disposed towards science and critical thinking than he is about watching ESPN?

Also, think of the social network that depends upon stupidity. There are companies that specialize in structuring a plan to get people out of the debt they got themselves into by not thinking! Auto mechanics make a killing on people's ignorance, casinos on people's inability to do math, and preachers on people's belief in absolute nonsense.

That schlubs think that bottled water is "better" than tap water? That homeopathy works better than allopathy? That magnets in your shoes will cure your backache?

Imagine the economic industry around lack of critical thinking. No wonder my nephew refuses to think, he's got all kinds of pressures not to!
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Old 13th June 2003, 10:18 AM   #39
aggle_rithm
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Quote:
Originally posted by BillyTK


Whilst I respect your right to be such, I wonder, what's the criteria here for applying critical thinking to certain tasks but not to others? How do people reconcile one with the other?
It's called "compartmentalization". Devote one part of your brain to science, another part to nonsense, and never the twain shall meet.
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Old 24th October 2017, 01:05 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by Upchurch View Post
I keep wondering if there isn't a dark ages/renaissance cycle that we humans are stuck in. And further, I wonder if we aren't heading towards the dark age part. Especially when I listen to politics.
Fourteen years later, it seems worse than ever.
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