The Skeptics Set The Record Straight

March 18, 2011 at 5:01 pm Leave a comment

So I suggest reading my last post to see the context for this one:

Somebody at the Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe forum posted a link to that post and, well a heated discussion ensued. Though were weren’t able to find common ground on my issue of personal observation (by which I mean the actual events witnessed by someone, not the conclusions they infer from them) and the demarcation problem. However, it became clear that not all skeptics agree on the demarcation problem, so while this remains a point of contention (and something I’m at odds with the skeptical community about) it’s by no means an entirely resolved issue in their book.

To my complaints about logical fallacies, the discussion eventually convinced my that it was merely widespread misuse of them, not the fallacies themselves, that were the source of the error. More specifically I said:

It would seem that most of my complaints there stem from having them used improperly. That just seems to happen an awful lot, but that’s individual skeptics’ faults not skepticism itself. I will say though that I personally despise the logical fallacy method of deconstructing arguments. I don’t think that the names of the fallacies are intuitive and that they lend themselves to misuse, and even when used effectively that there are better ways of going about a discussion. I think we would be much better off saying exactly why an argument is wrong each time, rather than using the logical fallacy short hand. As anyone who properly understands the fallacies shouldn’t be making them regularly, and anyone who doesn’t needs the full explanation, not a 4 word remark (which sounds both dismissive and condescending).

It’s always good when people engage dissenting perspectives in honest discussion. Sadly this wasn’t the response from all the members of the forum, but there’s as much a variety amongst the social and emotional… approaches with skeptics as there are any other group. Thankfully some made a real attempt to understand my grievances and we were able to learn where exactly the two disagreements were and I was shown my error in one case. So here’s to open respectful discourse and being as open to the idea that you might learn something as to teaching someone something.

Entry filed under: Good.

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