What’s Wrong With The Skeptical Movement

November 22, 2009 at 6:03 am 3 comments

Serious

There are many so-called “free thought” movements or ‘enlightenment’ movements out there. Some have noble intentions but develop cult like qualities (See the ‘New’ Atheism or Objectivism) and some were complete crap to begin with (Insert New Age philosophy of choice here.) But lately there has been a movement gathering quite a bit of momentum, a group of people who like to refer to themselves as simply skeptics. The leading voices of this movement are basically anyone who posts here.

Where some movements and philosophies don’t clearly define how they understand the world (a sure sign of their being crap,) skeptics propose that the world is best understood through critical thought and formal logic. This may seem fairly familiar (indeed this is nothing new) but there is another aspect to Skepticism, the notion that neuroscience and psychology show us that memory and human perception are flawed, and therefore the premises and assumptions on which we found logical arguments should be scientific studies. Or more simply put: induction in labs > personal observation.

This makes the Skeptical Movement distinct from Objectivism (which emphasizes ego and therefore places a higher value on personal experience) and the ‘New’ Atheism (which is inherently… well atheistic, while Skepticism is gnostic-agnostic.) Now, not all of us are scientists, and even scientists specialize in some field, so this leaves those of us without home laboratories at the mercy of scientific research done elsewhere. Now that isn’t even so bad, we can always read up on the studies being presented if we want. (Well, actually we can’t always do that, because then we’d have to spend every night and day doing reading up on research just to make sure that it’s valid.) So eventually the Skeptics must trust the scientists to give them the knowledge base they need in order to reach their logical conclusions and form an informed Skeptical position.

There’s just one major flaw in this: scientists lie. Yes believe it or not, many scientists have an agenda, we call them sociologists, psychologists, and economists. Generally if someone is in one of the “gray sciences” (grey sciences if you’re American) then they’re not really a scientist (according to a strict answer to the demarcation problem) as there’s absolutely no causality in any of those ‘sciences,’ it’s all just correlation. Here’s another thing, who’s paying for the science? You want politically ‘right’ leaning science? Find some business funded research. Want some politically ‘left’ leaning science? Try government funded research. Acupuncture is clearly beneficial (if we only look at East Asian studies) but clearly not so if we look at all studies. Is this because ‘science’ is different in East Asia? no it’s because of cultural biases and they DO influence and infiltrate science.

Oh and also sometimes scientists just lie for the hell of it.

Now if Skeptics simply held to trusting long established science, this might not be much of a problem, but they in fact make a point of keeping abreast of the most recent scientific knowledge, as a matter of intellectual pride, haplessly absorbing it as tasty morsels of truth despite the fact that many of these ‘truths’ are latter overturned. Now they quickly recant as soon as the “scientific community” (I say that knowing that really there is no such thing, but that’s another topic) corrects itself but what they do not realize is that all the while they are complete parrots of and true believing disciples for the “scientific community.” What they have neglected to realize is that if you give a foreign authority the ability to modify your premises at will, then your ability to critically think doesn’t matter, as they can define the premises in order to dictate what your conclusions will be.

It’s really sad. Here watch this video to demonstrate an example:

Now this whole thing is one big straw man argument based on an argument from authority. I’m all for gay rights (I support gay marriage,) but to pretend that we have any idea what causes homosexuality just because we have found some correlations is ridiculous. There is also a correlation between homosexuality and being molested as a child. Why isn’t that in this video? Human sexuality is caused by a variety of factors, and we don’t understand it very much at all (at the time I’m writing this post which is 2009). This is the kind of misrepresentation of facts under the mantel of ‘science’ that Skeptics are predisposed to be fooled by. It’s just trading prophets in white robes for ones in white lab coats. The Skeptical Movement is just one more group thought echo chamber. But like all such groups, they think that they are the only ones who are truly enlightened

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Entry filed under: Evil, Good.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sabio Lantz  |  December 2, 2009 at 1:01 am

    Skeptical about our Skepticism is incredibly important ! Thanx

    Reply
  • 2. metalliska  |  December 8, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    So eventually the Skeptics must trust the scientists to give them the knowledge base they need in order to reach their logical conclusions and form an informed Skeptical position.

    There’s just one major flaw in this: scientists lie. Yes believe it or not, many scientists have an agenda, we call them sociologists, psychologists, and economists.

    Scientists do lie. Everybody lies. The facts, data, and other recordings, review papers, and other pieces of information do not lie. They are simply a revelation of what has been written.
    Don’t trust “Scientists”, but use their peer-reviewed, process-refined publications to inform oneself.

    Now, as you pointed out with your stem cell example, peer-reviewed publications are sometimes retracted. This is, indeed, a step back for the entire human front of knowledge. So those that trust one paper, and base a political / economic / social agenda off of said paper runs the risk of looking increasingly foolish should the data turn out to be falsified.

    But, as more and more peer-reviewed papers pour in, cross-verifying and testing one another, the answers become less blurry and more clear. Let’s take your homosexuality case for example.

    but to pretend that we have any idea what causes homosexuality just because we have found some correlations is ridiculous

    http://www.pnas.org/content/105/27/9403

    The present study shows sex-atypical cerebral asymmetry and functional connections in homosexual subjects. The results cannot be primarily ascribed to learned effects, and they suggest a linkage to neurobiological entities.

    ‘=Cannot be ascribed to learned effects.’

    Here’s another one:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080628205430.htm

    The study shows that genetic influences are important but modest, and that non-shared environmental factors, which may include factors operating during foetal development, dominate. Importantly, heredity had roughly the same influence as shared environmental factors in women, whereas the latter had no impact on sexual behaviour in men.

    ‘=non shared environmental factors, such as heredity and fetal development’

    so, based on these 2 papers, people don’t need to “pretend that we have any idea”, these 2 papers in fact funnel the possibilities / factors way down.
    Thus, Homosexual research doctors change the possibility of Causality away from “pretending that we have no idea” and in the direction of “we can raise the possibility of Causality by X%”.

    (For more on this, if you are interested, read Judea Pearl’s book on Causality.)

    That’s called Scientific, methodical progress.

    What are the chances that one of these papers had contained falsified data? Slim.
    They happen, as is the case with Hwang Woo Suk, but they’re still very slim. What are the chances that these 2 papers had contained falsified data? Even more remotely slim.

    As the data mounts up, removing false possibilities slowly but steady, we all can achieve better understanding of the world around us.

    Anyone can inform themselves in their own manner. A lot of the “Skeptical Community” chooses to use Scientific research for the very reason you had mentioned:

    (Well, actually we can’t always do that, because then we’d have to spend every night and day doing reading up on research just to make sure that it’s valid.)

    which is an issue of personal time.

    That, as far as I’ve seen, is the real test – how much does one learn about background information before speaking?

    Reply
  • 3. andrewclunn  |  December 8, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    To respond to your comment, (now that I have read the articles you linked to) the neurological abstract was very fascinating, although as science shows us that we are not born with our brains fully formed, this does not imply prenatal over environmental causes for homosexuality.

    http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/253786/new_studies_shows_human_brain_reaches.html?cat=58

    http://www.loni.ucla.edu/~thompson/MEDIA/edweek.html

    The second article didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know. Simply showing that individuals are more likely to have similar sexuality if they are twins only indicates that genes do influence sexual behavior and sexuality (something I do not dispute.) However, to claim that there are not environmental factors as well (especially when there were cases where only one of two twins were gay) based on this would also be fallacious. My comment regarding a currently unknown variety of variables influencing sexuality stands.

    Reply

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