Insane Troll Logic 5.26.11

The trolls continue to bombard my piece on Quantum Jumping, and I do love addressing their asinine arguments even though I end up repeating myself a lot. And because the comments section of this one article would make for great source material for a game of Name That Logical Fallacy, I like to share it.

This time I’m responding to only one troll called Dstar, who posted several comments. To be fair, Dstar showed some fleeting moments of actual critical thinking and even agrees with some of what I said. The main reason I’m putting him in the category of troll is because, like so many trolls that come to pick a fight, Dstar’s main point of criticism has far less to do with the actual substance of my article and more to do with my having the audacity to suggest that reality itself is objective and that some ideas are simply wrong and even possibly fundamentally impossible. It’s basic New Age, post-modern anti-confrontationalism that boils down to nobody has a right to state that any idea, no matter how silly, is fairly definitively not true. This sort of extreme “anything is possible” ideology just really pisses me off.

But anyway, enjoy.

Dstar comment 1:

I would also like to hear your thoughts on what you believe to be “literal reality” as you have previously menitoned……..

I’m not sure of the context in which I may have used that term but I’ll take a stab at it. Scientific claims require falsifiability. And if one is going to sell a service that they claim is scientific in nature, they better be prepared to point to legitimate, peer-reviewed studies published in reputable journals that demonstrate the phenomena has survived proper testing. Science is a method of observation for determining how the world actually works. It’s not perfect but it’s the best method we have. And if we discover a new, better method, that will become part of science too. But if one makes extraordinary scientific claims without going through the scientific process of determining if they’re actually true and having those claims vetted by other scientists in appropriate fields, then that’s a problem. One ought to have an actual good reason to believe something is true beyond merely wanting to believe it is true. In other words, one’s level of belief in a claim ought to be proportional to the amount of evidence for that claim. If it isn’t, one does not have a good reason to believe said belief is true until such time as it can be properly demonstrated to be true, and the default position is not believe it. I hope that clarifies my position and the position of science.

Dstar comment 2:

I would like you to ask yourself two questions

What do you know?
What do you not know?

I believe, Sir, you are living out your ego/left brain and are overlooking true being.

Enjoyed comments made by Jay and restless [authors note: these two were among the worst trolls on the page]

And I believe you’re desperate to cling to comforting nonsense no matter what and will seek out any excuse to attack the character of people who disagree with you rather than consider the possibility that maybe you’re wrong.

You don’t seem to have any reasonable mechanism on which to apply critical analysis to your beliefs or test their validity, and you seem to prefer it that way I surmise because if a belief is unfalsifiable, you think you never have to ever face admitting you’re wrong. Tell me. Can anything convince you that you’re wrong? What would do so?

Dstar comment 3:

I was aiming to hihglight [sic] that: What cannot proved to be Real/True/Scientific fact, to me, also means some of the previously discussed, could be in the realm of possibility. I would like to stay open minded…

This is why I wanted to ask you, what do you actually know, and what is out there to find out. I would like to think that there is more to discover than the knowledge we hold to date, especially if you look at our current limited undertsanding of the reality we are supposedly living out.

Finally, I try not to think in terms of – true or false – right or wrong – beauty and ugliness

The above distinctions could be considered subjective and I feel that in this division we are creating the problematic world we live in. Division is destruction?

If we continue to build mental boundaries and erect mental fences around, what most consider to be outlandish beliefs, we can only play to the arhictecture we have built. And whether you believe in quantum jumping or not, this acrchitecture is starting to “stink”, but what did we expect?

I’m pretty sure we can rule out Santa Claus, leprechauns, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. While one ought to be open-minded to alternative hypotheses, that doesn’t mean one should treat absolutely every unfalsifiable claim they’re presented with as if it’s a perfectly legitimate and respectable possibility. Beliefs ought to be proportional to the evidence and the degree of likeliness considered. The burden of proof is always on the claimant; that’s just a basic rule of logic. For instance, as I’ve said before on this forum, if I said I went to Starbucks yesterday, I might be lying or confusing one day with another, but you have no reason to doubt that claim because it’s rather unremarkable. Whereas if I said I was abducted by space aliens yesterday and they let me fly their ship around the Earth, given the extraordinary nature of the claim, you’d have good reason to suspect that I was either lying or delusional. At that point, it would be quite reasonable for you to demand evidence. And if instead, I came up with a host of excuses, while that wouldn’t prove my experience didn’t happen, you’d have good reason to not believe it. And the responsibility would not be yours to prove it didn’t happen but rather it’d be on me to prove I did fly an alien ship.

This is ESPECIALLY important when charging people for a service. Caveat emptor, my ass. You commit fraud by selling a service you can’t provide, you’re going down. It’s that simple.
And as far as QJ goes, it’s about as likely as monkeys flying out of my butt. But again, I’m completely open-minded to look at compelling evidence under proper controlled conditions that might change my mind. Now I’ve told you what would change my mind; so to such an open-minded person as yourself, what would change yours?

You might not like to think in terms of true or false, right or wrong, but that doesn’t change the fact that reality is not subjective and that some ideas are in fact false and wrong. For instance, if I claimed the moon was made out of cheese, I would be dead fuckin’ wrong regardless of how you or I feel about it.

Dstar comment 4:

And I wanted to point out that my first comments were not intended as a dig at your character. Maybe I should have asked you whether you believe – yourself and your beliefs are trapped in a reality of YOUR own creation?

I agree with some of your reply to “what is literal reality”

very much so regarding this looking like a scam. If you have this knowledge, why make a quick buck from it, surely you would aim to openly share this knowledge to those who would like to listen and be open.

You also have to consider that education and science have also been heavily manipulated over time. What you (us/humans) are taught to be scientific fact, may not be due to the control on educational and religous systems on a truly global scale.

The only person you can implictily trust is yourself and your inner intuition. I will keep to this

No, myself and my beliefs are trapped in reality period. Now we can certainly have fun with thought experiments about how we might all be living in the Matrix and that the rules governing our observable reality are just the rules of the game in a grand simulation, but while that could all be hypothetically true, it gets us nowhere. And if you want to believe that, be my guest and hop out the nearest 30-story window or slice open your eye with a razor because it’s all the same anyway.

Whether entirely “real” (whatever that means) or if we’re just living inside a giant video game, the only rational approach is to learn the rules through observation as well as trial by error. That’s what science is, using the best tools at our disposal for figuring out how the world works. And this method has clear practical applications that have made our existence better in every measurable way. It’s this method of science that has allowed us to split the atom, develop life-saving vaccines, defy gravity with airplanes, and walk on the moon. So what has the we’re all living in a simulation hypothesis given us? Nothing. Nothing at all. But again, any time you want to hop out that window, feel free. After all, if we can’t rely on our own perspective to guide our behavior, suicide might be the only true way to win the game. Could be. Though I doubt it.

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5 Responses to Insane Troll Logic 5.26.11

  1. Brafarality says:

    Not really sure what Quantum Jumping is, but I do know that Michael Shermer is the worst thing to happen to scientific thinking since the Roman Catholic Church of the middle ages and early Renaissance.
    His followers and he think they are just being skeptical and scientific, but are really like those who would laugh first at Copernicus, while others saw and accepted.

    Science NEEDS a good amount of gullibility. It absolutely needs ideas to be embraced before being dismissed.
    The Michael Shermer way of thinking would never ever ever have led to the Scientific Revolution or Enlightenment.
    It is devoid of imagination and genuinely useless.

    The problem with Michael Shermer is that he is predisposed to dismiss before embracing, and he does it with quips and ad hominem insults, which is the furthest thing from science.
    Be adopting this mindset, you, whether you want to admit it or not, are hindering creativity and are a poison to true progress, which will undoubtedly come, at least in part, from one of the crackpots ‘debunked’ by ‘skeptics’, since most are admittedly charlatans, but when you adopt the Shermer position, you wont be able to spot the diamond in the rough. You just wont be able to discern the one ‘crackpot’ theory that is true since you will have categorically dismissed all of them.

    You will certainly disagree with this portrayal: you think you merely want ‘valid scientific evidence’ or reproducable results and are not dismissing stuff outright, but you are.
    Your mindset is biased and you dont realize it. Kind of sucks to be trapped within an oppressive mindset. Sorry.
    Anyway, nothing personal. Just have a problem with ‘skeptical’ thinking cause it seems so antithetical to the open mindstate needed for mankind’s progress.

  2. mjr256 says:

    I’m pretty sure Michael Shermer doesn’t have blind, obedient followers. Most fans of his I know quite publicly disagree with him on some matters. And you’re really going with the Galileo Gambit? Really? I really don’t want to get into that right now, so I’ll just link to a site that explains why it’s such a horrible argument: http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Galileo_gambit

    “Science NEEDS a good amount of gullibility. It absolutely needs ideas to be embraced before being dismissed.”
    Um, what? I don’t think you understand how science works. That’s just silly. I really hope this is a Poe and you’re just pulling my leg now.

    “The Michael Shermer way of thinking would never ever ever have led to the Scientific Revolution or Enlightenment.”
    Yeah, fuck that whole scientific method crap! Gravity, my ass!

    “The problem with Michael Shermer is that he is predisposed to dismiss before embracing,”
    Um, you mean the Null Hypothesis?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Null_hypothesis

    “and he does it with quips and ad hominem insults, which is the furthest thing from science.”
    We call that a non-sequitur, kids!

    “Whether you want to admit it or not, are hindering creativity and are a poison to true progress,”
    Oh, no! How dare I insist people prove they can actually perform a service before charging people money for said service and not just assume they have magical powers! Speaking of which, I’ve got some magic beans I’d like to sell you.

    “You will certainly disagree with this portrayal: you think you merely want ‘valid scientific evidence’ or reproducable results and are not dismissing stuff outright, but you are.”
    Yeah, what was I thinking when I thought I knew what I was thinking better than you knew what I was thinking?!

    “Your mindset is biased and you dont realize it.”
    Aw, you only say that because evil spirits are magically manipulating your thoughts. Remember, you don’t know it’s not true and therefore we must assume that it is true.

    “ind of sucks to be trapped within an oppressive mindset. Sorry.”
    I know, right? Totally. Damn you, reality!! You and I should totally hop out the nearest 30-story window together because we now we both know that gravity and painful death aren’t real but nothing more oppressive mindsets.

  3. Braftastic says:

    Michael Shermer and those who espouse his views do some good, no doubt, but the world would stagnate if EVERYONE was like that. Maybe we need a few like that, a few watchdogs, gadflies, whatever, but the world much more desperately needs people willing to let go of their old concepts in ways that people think they get but dont really get. Though a poet, John Keats’ notion of negative capability comes pretty close to explaining it, or at least capturing the gist.

    And, btw: 780 on GRE analytical reasoning section followed by 2 years teaching at Princeton Review, so trying to hint that I use flawed syllogisms may backfire. I write freeflowingly but not many can step to me in pure logic. And, also, I am the furthest thing from a frustrated amateur scientist. I am purely artistic, if anything, in temperament and have no aspirations of offering anything to science. So that’s out too. OK, back to the subject, but had to get that outtathaway since if you try to speak down to my thought processes again, you were warned and may find your own poor prose and ideas similarly demeaned.

    The more people that the school of thought of Michael Shermer belittle, the more likely, almost inevitable, it becomes that they will inadvertently knock on an unrecognized visionary. Probability suggests it is inevitable. What then?
    Keep dismissing preemptively cause 99.999% of the time new theories are wrong anyway? Isn’t that a pretty sad existence to resign yourself to?

    What about the opposite? The music rep who takes chances and doesn’t dismiss every new act because more than likely, they wont go anywhere anyway? He may find the next Jay-Z, but the person who dismisses everyone who is not already a rock star (analogous to proven theory) will not find anyone new.

    You can safely dismiss everything and be right 99.99% of the time due to the laws of probability and the rarity of true giftedness or creativity, but that is just safely and sadly playing the odds.

    Anyway, nothing personal, of course. Just an opinion and a bit of discouragement at such a negative, destructive outlook.

  4. mjr256 says:

    “but the world would stagnate if EVERYONE was like that.”
    How do you know this? Can you provide examples o worlds which did stagnate because everyone was Michael Shermer? Or are you just speculating because you don’t like having beliefs challenged and don’t believe beliefs ought to be proportional to the evidence? And how exactly would it lead to global stagnation anyway? Will the economy collapse if everyone stops being gullible saps and the scammers all go out of business?

    “But the world much more desperately needs people willing to let go of their old concepts”
    Michael Shermer couldn’t have said it better. That’s HIS position and MINE, that we need to discard the superstitions of the past and embrace newer, better concepts.

    “since if you try to speak down to my thought processes again,”
    I don’t recall doing it the first time. That was you, who explicitly stated you preferred gullibility. I didn’t call you gullible; you did…while also speaking down to Michael Shermer’s thought process. Those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

    “Keep dismissing preemptively cause 99.999% of the time new theories are wrong anyway? Isn’t that a pretty sad existence to resign yourself to?”
    But I haven’t yet dismissed anyone preemptively, only “emptively”. Perhaps YOU should stop preemptively deciding what other people’s positions are and just ask them. Me, on the other hand–I will gladly look at any evidence would wish to present for whatever belief you think I’ve dismissed out of hand. I’m willing to change my mind when given sufficient evidence. What would change your mind?

  5. Braftastic says:

    I used to respect Mr. Shermer and the Amazing Randi and Penn & Teller (Bullshit show) and find their commentaries and debunkings informative, entertaining and helpful to critical thinking, so I have gained from them, but something just turned me against Michael Shermer:
    I was reading something on information field theory and morphic resonance and wanted, of course, to get the ‘skeptical’ take on it and remember reading Mr. Shermer saying something like:
    “Did you ever notice how a crossword puzzle is easier to do later in the day?…Me neither”
    That was it. I realized then that that the intention was not to be skeptical but to attack that which doesnt fit classical physics and similarly established paradigms, but do it under the guise of being a critical thinker.
    TY for hearing me out, btw. Like, who am I to come to your site and mouth off? 🙂

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