Lately, I’ve been inundated with comment trolls who have asked me why I try to spoil everyone’s fun or asking why I even care, or suggesting I’m wasting my time. So I thought it might be fun to start a new potentially reoccurring category of posts titled “Insane Troll Logic,” where I’d share some of my comments along with some hopefully entertaining responses. In this post, I’ve decided to share two recent comments.
The first one comes from someone calling themselves M.D.M., who posted a comment on one of my more popular pieces, which was about the “University of Metaphysical Science”:
Why do you care? Shouldn’t you be focusing on something positive than what you believe is negative? Posting your “beliefs” is a scam too. You have no proof to your so called findings. After all, isn’t that what science is anyway? Proof? If you cannot prove it, then take your bandwagon on a trip to solve something that can be proved. As a fellow Doctor, we are supposed to have supporting information before we claim something to be true. Otherwise, it is just an opinion. . .everybody has one.
Save the world by doing something useful, not by trying to tear down others.
I care because I care about what is true and I believe the more people that are educated in what is true and educated in how to distinguish truth from fiction, the better society will be. I am focused on a positive goal, science education. If you’re going to judge me on a single blog entry, I can just as easily accuse you of being negative based on your critical comment.
As for your claim that I have no proof for my position, you’re shifting the burden of proof. Science bases its every conclusion on falsifiable, empirical evidence. If one is charging money to teach a scientific curriculum that is not based on sufficient evidence, they are not really teaching science at all and are merely using the name of science to deceive customers into believing that what they’re teaching is science. This is false advertising and fraud. So not only do the claims of this school directly contradict proven scientific principles but it fails to provide any proof of those claims, and the burden of proof is on them. This is like claiming Santa Claus exists and charging money to teach people how to do Santa’s job, and then insisting it’s everyone else’s job to disprove the existence of Santa Claus. Science doesn’t work that way. Nor do the laws of logic. It’s always the claimant’s job to prove their claim.
Actually, I’m quite happy saving the world doing exactly what I’m doing now, regardless of whether you misinterpret it as “tearing down others.” On the contrary, all I’ve criticized is a scam. I have not torn down any person who has the misfortune of falling victim to it.
The next one comes from someone calling themselves Python, who posted a comment on my piece on “Quantum Jumping”, which thanks to Google, has probably become my most viewed and most commented on post ever:
Skepticism is dogmatism. It’s doubting something else because it doesn’t align with your personal truths. It is literally saying “I don’t believe in X because I believe in Y.”This is one reason I can’t trust skeptics, ever. You people don’t trust yourselves or others, and these put forward a false front. You are charlatans, in your mind and in your lives. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one truly happy skeptic, ever. That doubt creeps through their lives spreading fear, pride and resentment. They can’t just relax because they are on edge, ready to defend all attacks on their beliefs, both real and imagined threats, mostly imagined.
In the end, skeptics can’t be dealt with. They are so stubborn and insistent. If you try and tell them your view, they argue with it, or demand proof. If you ask them to prove their own view they get upset and start spouting off nonsensical words like “burden of proof” and “reasonable doubt”. No one has to prove anything, there’s no law saying you need to prove what you know to a complete stranger. It would get silly if everything you did required some burden of proof. Every time you buy bread “Prove to me that this bread really is made of flour! I don’t believe it is!” Every time you fill up with gas “Prove to me how the four stroke engine works! I don’t believe that cars work this way!” Burden of proof and reasonable doubt are legal terms for court cases, not for inquiries into the human experience.
Skeptics doubt everything except their own beliefs, and that’s the first thing that should be doubted. It’s a wonderful and complex universe out there, no one really knows what is and what is not possible. Being open to the possibilities and being curious is the path to truth, not skepticism and doubt.
Well, no. What you’re describing is denialism. I’m also not talking about “philosophical skepticism,” the idea that it’s impossible to know whether we actually know the things that we know.
Scientific skepticism is the exact opposite of dogmatism; it means specifically aligning one’s beliefs with the best available evidence. And the mission of Skeptical activism is simply to further the role of reason and evidence in our society.
To quote Steven Novella:
“A skeptic is one who prefers beliefs and conclusions that are reliable and valid to ones that are comforting or convenient, and therefore rigorously and openly applies the methods of science and reason to all empirical claims, especially their own. A skeptic provisionally proportions acceptance of any claim to valid logic and a fair and thorough assessment of available evidence, and studies the pitfalls of human reason and the mechanisms of deception so as to avoid being deceived by others or themselves. Skepticism values method over any particular conclusion.”
As I’ve said repeatedly in this comment thread, if you can present sufficient empirical evidence for a claim and it survives the peer review of experts in the relevant fields, I will happily change my mind and admit I was wrong. See, I don’t have any problem admitting when I’m wrong. I was wrong before and I’ll be wrong again. What separates me from a dogmatist is that I can admit when I’m wrong and change my mind when presented with new evidence. That’s called critical thinking.
On the contrary, if these ad hominem attacks on my character and straw men arguments against a position I do not actually hold are any indication, it seems like it’s YOU who cannot tolerate differences in opinion, not me. If I appear stubborn, it’s because I haven’t been given sufficient reason to change my mind, not that I’m unwilling to change my mind even when presented with a good reason to do so.
The one thing you said that does hold some legitimacy is you said I don’t trust myself or others. To that accusation, I say guilty as charged. As a student of human psychology, I recognize the flaws of human perception and the mechanisms of deception so as to avoid being deceived by others or even myself. Again, as Novella said in the quote posted above, “skepticism values method over any particular conclusion.”
If you haven’t studied logic maybe you should better educate yourself before concluding that terms like “burden of proof” are “nonsensical.” Burden of proof is a well established law of basic logic and it’s recognized in just about every court room in the world for a very good reason. If you don’t think it applies outside of a courtroom, why doesn’t it?
As for no one needing to prove anything, if they are charging money for a service, then they very well better be able to prove they can indeed perform that service or else this is a crime known as fraud. Your bread analogy is a false one in that the existence of bread is not an extraordinary claim. But yes, if someone on the street promises that if you pay them now, they will mail you a loaf of bread, you have sufficient reason to be skeptical that you will get your bread. Pretending that there’s no distinction in plausibility between any claim is utterly absurd. 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 flying saucer 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 a alien ship. Your car analogy actually works against you because we understand exactly how cars work. If I believed they worked by magic and someone wanted to convince me that it was actually scientific principles at work, I can read books and learn precisely how a car works. But because cars are anything but extraordinary in our modern world and I at least have a vague understanding of how they work, I have no reason to doubt “every time I fill up with gas.” You on the other hand seem to prefer to believe in magic rather than educate yourself about how the world really works. And you’re free to do so. Just like I’m free to ridicule you for your fuzzy, superstitious thinking.
But since you are such a critic of close-mindedness, tell me, what would change YOUR mind?
Actually, this one came first chronologically, but it was also posted on my ever-so-popular “Quantum Jumping” piece by commenter CallMeNutz:
you are sound like a person with a very bleak outlook on life. Am I wrong? here are a couple of suggestions, Live a little, Maybe instead of trying to tell people how wrong they are, you should be be out there making the best of your life. It’s pretty short you know. Maybe you’ll be able to live to 100 years but after that you’re dead to this Earth. If people want to believe quantum jumping then they can do that, they seem to be doing something with their lives instead of telling people how stupid they are. I agree with the fact that this Burt guy is obviously ripping people off but if they want to to that follow that, that’s their choice. I know one thing in life, you sure can’t control humans.The best you can do is make suggestions. Do you really feel happy mr.jr, on the web, trolling? Science can’t explain everything. It really can’t. Einstein and other scientist were just people, you can’t base all your beliefs on people. We’re too unreliable. I may seem like a mother scolding you via the inter web but I just couldn’t let this go by. Have a good life, and lighten up, big guy! Haven’t you heard? “Don’t take life so seriously, no one gets out alive anyway”.(If you want, ignore this comment. I know you probably will anyway )
Sincerely, That Laid back follower of God.
You’re wrong. I’m actually quite jolly. Glad to hear your wonderful solution to the world’s problems is to throw up your hands and say, “Ain’t my problem,” and then completely ignore it.
“Science can’t explain everything. It really can’t.”
Prove it. Bonus points if you do so without using science.
‘Einstein and other scientist were just people, you can’t base all your beliefs on people.”
This is Peter Pan, isn’t it? Are you commenting while flying through Never Never Land?