Extreme Scepticism

Gorilla66

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#1
How far can scepticism go? Seems to me that a proper sceptic should have doubts about all ideas, beliefs etc, not just some. So how about doubting the big one, the T Rex in the room, the physical world? If you see something, e.g. a tree, you're not seeing a tree but the mind's reconstruction of a tree. I think no way to prove there's a physical tree out there. Same for all physical things, so the conclusion is that the world is mental, not physical. So why should a man not walk through a wall, or a dog not turn into green mist? Fortean stuff is only to be expected!
 

Yithian

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#5
Science and philosophy are not overly concerned with the existence of the universe but rather its nature.

Whether Descartes succeeds in repopulating existence with his clear and distinct ideas is moot, but it's far more profitable to work with the physical world as it appears and only later see whether your model for these appearances grants you any peeks behind the sensory curtain.
 

Gorilla66

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#6
Science and philosophy are not overly concerned with the existence of the universe but rather its nature.

Whether Descartes succeeds in repopulating existence with his clear and distinct ideas is moot, but it's far more profitable to work with the physical world as it appears and only later see whether your model for these appearances grants you any peeks behind the sensory curtain.
Thanks Xanatic and Yithian for your replies. Please don't think I'm trying to be anti-scientific, I'm really not, I just can't shake the haunting notion that we've made a fundamental mistake in our interpretation of things.
 

EnolaGaia

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#7
How far can scepticism go? Seems to me that a proper sceptic should have doubts about all ideas, beliefs etc, not just some. So how about doubting the big one, the T Rex in the room, the physical world? If you see something, e.g. a tree, you're not seeing a tree but the mind's reconstruction of a tree. I think no way to prove there's a physical tree out there. Same for all physical things, so the conclusion is that the world is mental, not physical. So why should a man not walk through a wall, or a dog not turn into green mist? Fortean stuff is only to be expected!
Some clarification is called for here ... Are your questions focused on:

- Dogmatic skepticism - i.e., the knee-jerk dismissive reaction of scientific materialists to some, if not all, Fortean phenomena; or ...

- Negotiable skepticism of the sort innate to the scientific method (i.e., it's just a hypothesis until someone demonstrates its viability); or ...

- Philosophical skepticism of the sort induced by (e.g.) Descartes, embraced as a central problem by Kant, and still bedeviling us to this day in terms of physical versus phenomenological 'reality'?

????
 

Analogue Boy

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#8
Is there a difference between Extreme Scepticism and just being an awkward bugger?
I'm pretty cynical myself and don't believe anything I see as it's all upside down converted by my brain but if you don't have anything to hold onto, isn't there a danger of losing a grip of your own belief systems and internal logic?
 

Gorilla66

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#9
Some clarification is called for here ... Are your questions focused on:

- Dogmatic skepticism - i.e., the knee-jerk dismissive reaction of scientific materialists to some, if not all, Fortean phenomena; or ...

- Negotiable skepticism of the sort innate to the scientific method (i.e., it's just a hypothesis until someone demonstrates its viability); or ...

- Philosophical skepticism of the sort induced by (e.g.) Descartes, embraced as a central problem by Kant, and still bedeviling us to this day in terms of physical versus phenomenological 'reality'?

????
Some clarification is called for here ... Are your questions focused on:

- Dogmatic skepticism - i.e., the knee-jerk dismissive reaction of scientific materialists to some, if not all, Fortean phenomena; or ...

- Negotiable skepticism of the sort innate to the scientific method (i.e., it's just a hypothesis until someone demonstrates its viability); or ...

- Philosophical skepticism of the sort induced by (e.g.) Descartes, embraced as a central problem by Kant, and still bedeviling us to this day in terms of physical versus phenomenological 'reality'?

????
The dogmatic kind, I think. I call myself a sceptic: my problem is that some folk are not sceptical enough, eg when the material world is concerned
 

Gorilla66

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#10
Is there a difference between Extreme Scepticism and just being an awkward bugger?
I'm pretty cynical myself and don't believe anything I see as it's all upside down converted by my brain but if you don't have anything to hold onto, isn't there a danger of losing a grip of your own belief systems and internal logic?
Yes! I'm afraid there is a danger of that. I hope I am wrong!
 

EnolaGaia

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#11
Is there a difference between Extreme Scepticism and just being an awkward bugger?
Strictly speaking - yes, there is.

I'm pretty cynical myself and don't believe anything I see as it's all upside down converted by my brain but if you don't have anything to hold onto, isn't there a danger of losing a grip of your own belief systems and internal logic?
The dogmatic kind, I think. I call myself a sceptic: my problem is that some folk are not sceptical enough, eg when the material world is concerned
A skeptic is someone who expresses doubt or uncertainty about something stated declaratively (proposed, whatever ... ; call it X) - often for the sake of simply suspending final judgment pending further data, review, or discussion.

A cynic is someone who (a) is deeply suspicious of whomever stated X owing to a belief everyone acts out of self-interest (broadly defined) OR (b) dismisses or disputes X as a matter of course owing to an unshakably negative attitude.

If, in your parlance, 'extreme' skepticism means never offering an opening for judgment to evolve (i.e., always making the initial judgment the final answer), then yes - the two concepts overlap or merge at that point.

Otherwise, no - they're not necessarily identical.

Having said that ...

A certain amount of skepticism is healthy and usually constructive - particularly when confronted with insufficient data, ambiguous description(s), differing versions, multiple candidate interpretations, etc., etc. One or more of these justifying factors is practically guaranteed to be in play with Fortean reports.

Cynicism, on the other hand, is most often unhealthy / non-constructive whenever it reflects pre-existing bias toward a negative judgment 'just because'. There can be cases where such presumptive negativity is justified, but they're nowhere near as numerous as the incidence of knee-jerk put-downs would suggest.

Unfortunately, the label of 'skeptic' (as used in paranormal / Fortean circles) has come to be (mis-)used as a pejorative term connoting nothing more than a naysayer, thus blurring the distinction between constructive skepticism and outright cynicism (or 'extreme' / 'dogmatic' skepticism, if you prefer).
 

skinny

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#12
but if you don't have anything to hold onto, isn't there a danger of losing a grip of your own belief systems and internal logic?
You've read Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance? There's a take on the question which says yes, we fragment by degrees, first socially, then emotionally, and finally mentally.

IMO, our greek paradigm is as flawed as any other, but we have evidence to hold onto - it's empirical evidence which grounds us today whether we like it or not, not the museum pieces of our past practices in organised religion or animism. Skepticism is an evolved standpoint. Credulity and 'faith' are dead ends, I'm afraid.

I am innately mistrustful, yet I can't quite dispense with my intuitions altogether. They are so important. Intuitions seem to me to be quite measurable and explained by experience and that developed wariness of deception which comes from a lifetime of error. I am open to possibilities, but not so far as to allow anybody else's experience shape my values entirely. I'm still a hostage, to some extent, to my christian upbringing in a uniting church manse. It took me 20 more years afterwards to surrender to what my intuitions had been telling me all along, that there is no grand designer, no predetermined pathway. Born into circumstances quite at random, we respond by choice. Always.

One final thought - I believe our next step, in evolutionary terms is not to become automated intelligences, which is the current luddite fear of scientific futures, but to transcend subjectivity. That for me is the pure stuff we're yearning for, and the only hope for peace. Can that be achieved?

 
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#13
My experience with skeptics is that they reject everything they have not experienced themselves. If they are presented with evidence they will reject the evidence, If they see something with their own eyes they will pluck their eyes out, or kill you. and if God starts screaming in their ear they ll visit a psychiatrist. THen they claim to understand a phenomenon, make a wrong assumption of it demanding that you go over its limitations in order to believe you or demand a proof that will kill you in the process. But if you ask them to reproduce the phenomenon they claim to understand, as a scientist should by repeating an experiment, they are unable to do so.Forget experimentation and scientific method which they profess, since the scientific method does not reject phenomena, it just studies them and if they can't explain them they study them more.
As for those saying scientific method is different from meditation they should read phenomenology and learn a couple of things about modern scientific methods.
How far does skepticism go? All the way. When Galileo Galilei told them the earth is round, they told him he is a heretic. when he told them, look idiots I got a telescope they told him do not give us those hellish things.Then they published stupid theories of the type do not believe your eyes and how the earth became round after they started believing its round and not because Galileo was right.
Skeptics actually dirty the word skeptomai which is Greek for the word thinking, since they are unable to even do so. When thinking is required they utilize rejection which is, by the way, an emotional expression of anger, and not logic. Then they will go on forums where phenomena that they fail to understand are discussed, and troll by demonstrating how emotionally unstable they are by rejecting everything and everyone in a display of paranoia that is quite staggering.
Do they intend to share an experience and enhance the discussion? No cause they did not have one and if they did they rejected it. They just join to play inquisitor and start blaming all those discussing who, may even be in doubt of themselves since they are discussing experiences that are abnormal. When the discussion gets out of their control they go ahead to derail it, after they castrate everyone who tried to open their mind.
As such I make a point of ignoring anyone claiming to be a skeptic. The only reason I write this it's because a skeptic started this conversation with doubt in mind which is a fine first step into becoming an actual thinking person.
 

skinny

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#14
Welcome to the discussion board, Pornokastoras. If only rynner was about to give you the QUOTE="Pornokastoras "troll by demonstrating how emotionally unstable they are by rejecting everything and everyone in a display of paranoia that is quite staggering" that you're asking for. Alas, he's passed on the mantle now. The true acolytes will be along directly to help you out. I'm just the welcoming committee.

if God starts screaming in their ear they ll visit a psychiatrist
As opposed to doing what? Doing what the screaming voices in their heads tell them to do? :rollingw:
Which god are you referring to, btw?

As such I make a point of ignoring anyone claiming to be a skeptic
So this is not your first visit to our little corner of the internet? Or is that just your general approach to life? In either case, we have an ignore function custom built just for you. Take heed tho, it'll be a lonely old time for you around here, buddy. I get the feeling you know the place pretty well, so I won't waste any more of your time.

Don't forget that ignore function.
 

Xanatic*

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#15
Should I point out that Galileo was talking about the Earth orbiting the Sun, not about the shape of it? Or that looking through telescopes failed to show the parallax expected for such motion?
 

Gorilla66

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#16
Thanks everyone for taking the time to reply seriously to this thread. I know my point of view is a bit bonkers but it is based on thinking! I hope someone can prove me wrong, actually prove there is a physical world, so I can re-join consensus reality. I hate being in a minority of one!
 

Eponastill

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#17
Your view isn't bonkers at all, Gorilla66. There are good arguments that we're all in a simulation. Well, maybe we're not all in a simulation, I guess it could be just me. Which would certainly mean the physical world wasn't really there.
There was a very interesting programme I listened to the other day on this simulation idea. You might like it.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08zb4d8
even Brian Cox can't find a hole in it.

(And fortean things, I'd say, could be explained by anomalous programming or glitches in the matrix. But they don't actually discuss that).

No-one's mentioned Solipsism to you in the thread? But that sounds like your standpoint?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solipsism
 

Gorilla66

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#18
Your view isn't bonkers at all, Gorilla66. There are good arguments that we're all in a simulation. Well, maybe we're not all in a simulation, I guess it could be just me. Which would certainly mean the physical world wasn't really there.
There was a very interesting programme I listened to the other day on this simulation idea. You might like it.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08zb4d8
even Brian Cox can't find a hole in it.

(And fortean things, I'd say, could be explained by anomalous programming or glitches in the matrix. But they don't actually discuss that).

No-one's mentioned Solipsism to you in the thread? But that sounds like your standpoint?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solipsism
Hi Eponastill, matter of fact I really want to avoid solipsism since it's a kind of profound loneliness: I exist and no-one else does...yuck! I have read about the simulation thing, I guess that's possible. But my view is that life, or experience, is just a series of mental states, since that's all we can know.
 

EnolaGaia

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#19
Thanks everyone for taking the time to reply seriously to this thread. I know my point of view is a bit bonkers but it is based on thinking! I hope someone can prove me wrong, actually prove there is a physical world, so I can re-join consensus reality. I hate being in a minority of one!
To ask for proof of there 'being' a 'physical world' is to frame the problem with respect to the fundamental conceits of philosophical ontology specifically and Western physico-materialism generally - i.e., it's necessarily all about both (a) entitative objects of reference ('things') and (b) some transcendental quality or state or characteristic inherent in all such 'things' we allude to as 'being' or 'existence'. This is self-defeating from the skeptical position to which it seems you've arrived.

Phrased another way - to ask for proof of a physical world:

- from a vantage point of at least partial acceptance of the notion the physical world as-it-is isn't the physical world as-a-given-observer-sees / engages-it, and ...

- on the same terms as the conceptual presumptions ('things'; 'being') underpinning the naive notion there is a physical world as-it-is and all-there-is ...

... is an exercise in futility owing to self-contradiction.

Unless you wish to totally abandon and deny the relevance of subjective / phenomenological experience, the way out of this conundrum isn't to embrace the conceits that obscure or bypass this relevance, but rather to figure out what may be framed within a subjectively-framed perspective to serve as the analogues / corollaries / surrogates for traditional ontology's fundamental conceits ((a) and (b) above).

One more point ... 'Consensus reality' isn't a product of the physical realm per se. It's a construct of the interpersonal / social realm devised and maintained through language.

... And it's even more vastly overrated than plain old physical reality ... :omr: :roll:
 

Eponastill

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#20
Yeah, Gorilla, maybe on balance there are probably other people around! Or it's easier to assume so.

I think it's interesting how we're not even aware of how much or little we're taking in from the world. I mean this morning, I drove to work as usual, but my conscious brain isn't particularly engaging with the task. If it's awake at all it's listening to the radio. Part of this is because I'm half awake. But some of it is because I Don't Care. That is, my other half would have noticed the types of cars going past (at least subconsciously) and his conscious mind would have perked up if there were any interesting or unusual (to him) cars. Whereas I have little knowledge of such things and don't even see them. On the other hand, I would notice interesting (to me) plants growing at the roadside, which would be invisible to him.

I like to go out drawing - I think part of the reason I find it so nice is because you have to sit and See things, and really notice how they fit together and what's going on. Which is something we don't often do. We just assume we know what's going on. And if you can assume correctly quick enough, then you don't get eaten by a tiger or crushed by a falling rock. Which is good enough.

One thing I have noticed is how when I'm lacking in blood sugar, my awareness starts closing in a bit and I can't bear very busy environments. There's too much to process. I can't do the filtering job properly and everything bears in.
 

Coal

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#21
Nullius in verba
 

Gorilla66

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#22
To ask for proof of there 'being' a 'physical world' is to frame the problem with respect to the fundamental conceits of philosophical ontology specifically and Western physico-materialism generally - i.e., it's necessarily all about both (a) entitative objects of reference ('things') and (b) some transcendental quality or state or characteristic inherent in all such 'things' we allude to as 'being' or 'existence'. This is self-defeating from the skeptical position to which it seems you've arrived.

Phrased another way - to ask for proof of a physical world:

- from a vantage point of at least partial acceptance of the notion the physical world as-it-is isn't the physical world as-a-given-observer-sees / engages-it, and ...

- on the same terms as the conceptual presumptions ('things'; 'being') underpinning the naive notion there is a physical world as-it-is and all-there-is ...

... is an exercise in futility owing to self-contradiction.

Unless you wish to totally abandon and deny the relevance of subjective / phenomenological experience, the way out of this conundrum isn't to embrace the conceits that obscure or bypass this relevance, but rather to figure out what may be framed within a subjectively-framed perspective to serve as the analogues / corollaries / surrogates for traditional ontology's fundamental conceits ((a) and (b) above).

One more point ... 'Consensus reality' isn't a product of the physical realm per se. It's a construct of the interpersonal / social realm devised and maintained through language.

... And it's even more vastly overrated than plain old physical reality ... :omr: :roll:
Thanks, Enola. You've obviously studied philosophy more than me, I just know not to laugh at the word epistemology! Your point about reality being social and linguistic is well-taken and reassuring: it implies that there are people out there!
 

Gorilla66

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#23
Yeah, Gorilla, maybe on balance there are probably other people around! Or it's easier to assume so.

I think it's interesting how we're not even aware of how much or little we're taking in from the world. I mean this morning, I drove to work as usual, but my conscious brain isn't particularly engaging with the task. If it's awake at all it's listening to the radio. Part of this is because I'm half awake. But some of it is because I Don't Care. That is, my other half would have noticed the types of cars going past (at least subconsciously) and his conscious mind would have perked up if there were any interesting or unusual (to him) cars. Whereas I have little knowledge of such things and don't even see them. On the other hand, I would notice interesting (to me) plants growing at the roadside, which would be invisible to him.

I like to go out drawing - I think part of the reason I find it so nice is because you have to sit and See things, and really notice how they fit together and what's going on. Which is something we don't often do. We just assume we know what's going on. And if you can assume correctly quick enough, then you don't get eaten by a tiger or crushed by a falling rock. Which is good enough.

One thing I have noticed is how when I'm lacking in blood sugar, my awareness starts closing in a bit and I can't bear very busy environments. There's too much to process. I can't do the filtering job properly and everything bears in.
All very true, consciousness is a tricky concept. I suppose we all have to believe in something, and best of all is Homer Simpson's belief system: 'I believe I'll have another beer.'
 

Coal

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#27
Wise words indeed, except if taken to extremes then no-one would believe anything anyone said!
It depends. The implication is 'cite your source'.

Some knowledge can be assumed between parties, so for example two electronic engineers might assume each knows Ohm's law, Maxwell's equations and understand what SNR means, without recourse to quoting research papers.

If someone buttonholes you with claims of the existence of any phenomenon, then scepticism, correctly, is saying "That sounds interesting, what evidence can you provide?" which is an utterly reasonable stance.

The alternative is to believe claims made on nothing more than the word of the claimant. That's fine between two friends. It's not the basis for any rigorous examination of any phenomenon.

It doesn't denote a lack of openness, rather, not being so open-minded your brain falls out (i.e. credulity).
 

Gorilla66

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#28
It depends. The implication is 'cite your source'.

Some knowledge can be assumed between parties, so for example two electronic engineers might assume each knows Ohm's law, Maxwell's equations and understand what SNR means, without recourse to quoting research papers.

If someone buttonholes you with claims of the existence of any phenomenon, then scepticism, correctly, is saying "That sounds interesting, what evidence can you provide?" which is an utterly reasonable stance.

The alternative is to believe claims made on nothing more than the word of the claimant. That's fine between two friends. It's not the basis for any rigorous examination of any phenomenon.

It doesn't denote a lack of openness, rather, not being so open-minded your brain falls out (i.e. credulity).
Indeed, they are wise words. I may have them carved into my tombstone!
 

Gorilla66

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#29
And lo, the dead thread was restored to life...at least for a moment. Just thought I'd put up a few interesting quotes from better thinkers than myself.

“I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.” – Max Planck, theoretical physicist who originated quantum theory, which won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918

“It was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.” Eugene Wigner, theoretical physicist and mathematician. He received a share of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963

“A fundamental conclusion of the new physics also acknowledges that the observer creates the reality. As observers, we are personally involved with the creation of our own reality. Physicists are being forced to admit that the universe is a “mental” construction. Pioneering physicist Sir James Jeans wrote: “The stream of knowledge is heading toward a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter, we ought rather hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter. Get over it, and accept the inarguable conclusion. The universe is immaterial-mental and spiritual.” – R.C. Henry, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins University , “The Mental Universe” ; Nature 436:29,2005)
 
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