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Skeptical thinking.

Discussion in 'The Vapor Lounge' started by Ricardo, May 9, 2019.

  1. Ricardo

    Ricardo Well-Known Member

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    Morning all. I'm not going to write a manifesto here but recently (only over the last 6 months or so) I've become much more aware of the need (my need) to be aware, vigilant, engaged in my life choices.

    One of the most interesting and accessible sources I've come across is this podcast:

    https://www.theskepticsguide.org/

    They talk a lot about "science v. pseudo science", the scientific method, and so on but in an engaging and entertaining way.
    They have also edited a book based on the podcast which goes through a lot of the material with a big section explaining the most common logical fallacies that we encounter (and commit) on a daily basis.

    I'd be interested to know what others think and to get any more recommendations. I'm not going to be able to read Descartes or Hume or Kant but hey, you gotta start somewhere!
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2019
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  2. Accept

    Accept Well-Known Member

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    Hume is very accessible. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding is freely available. Kant is still essential, IMO, but many of his works are difficult to read (an understatement). Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics is a good entry point - also freely available. In their development of epistemology, these philosophers provide needed perspective on science as its empirical branch. A perspective most scientists sadly lack, along with those who put their faith in them.

    Thanks for the link and good luck with the thread! Touched upon in the Hell in a Hand-basket thread, recently embarked on answering the bucket list of big questions. Catching up on cosmology - and Hume and Kant are very relevant. Through reason alone, they presaged the universe of general relativity. Of course, the universe has become an even stranger place in the last few decades. Few answers still, but fun to think about over a bowl.
     
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  3. C No Ego

    C No Ego Well-Known Member

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    best advice to be a conscious entity is to be aware of your breathing ( conscious breather). this shows you truth and awareness . the thing we take advantage of the most is the thing that brings best awareness.
    once fully conscious the world kinda stinks
    Edit - that push and pull too.... when you feel yourself being pulled away reel in gently, calmly, centered like to stay in your Body and complete awareness . second best advice ever = stay in your body!
     
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  4. Ricardo

    Ricardo Well-Known Member

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    You say that, but as Winnie the Pooh said: "...I am a bear of very little brain, and long words bother me".
    I hope and aspire to some day understand these giants but for now my access point is closer to "Idiots' guide to Skepticism". ( I haven't checked but I'm sure it exists).
    I'm more urgently interested in scientific skepticism than anything moral, theological, philosophical .... as the SGU guys say: "How to know what's real in a world increasingly full of fake".

    :peace::leaf:
     
  5. Accept

    Accept Well-Known Member

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    You never know until you try. You might even like it. Einstein himself said he believed in Spinoza's god. Doesn't that make you curious?

    Personally, formal education was almost exclusively science (genetics, molecular biology). Tried to make up for it by auditing undergrad classes afterward. One of the best was a survey class in which we read these works. The instructor deliberately focused on accessible works by philosophers from Descartes to Kant. (Hume was the breeziest of them, as entertaining as substantive.) It provides the context for critical thinking in general and science in particular. It's too bad it's not a prerequisite to science education. We'd have much smarter scientists.
     
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  6. OldNewbie

    OldNewbie Well-Known Member

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  7. Baron23

    Baron23 Well-Known Member

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    There is, IMO, an almost complete lack of logical and critical thinking in the USA today over many issues, all of which get wrapped up under the heading of "politics" these days.

    It makes honorable and open debate impossible.....a lot of people just seem impervious to any logic that is not in concert with their already hard taken, emotionally laden, positions.

    It seems its no longer a matter of if this or that idea or policy is sound...its more an issue of "well, I'm a XXX" or "I'm a YYY" as if that justifies all of their issue positions. We are debating (and defending/attacking) identities these days....not ideas or policy.

    Sad really.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2019
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  8. BestBuds

    BestBuds Well-Known Member

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    @Ricardo I dont know if you have already started this but have you tried some mindful meditation? I was doing/feeling the same as you the last few years.I got lost in all the philosophy books. I started listening to some podcasts of Alan Watts and Terence McKenna and then I got I to stoicism. I started to get disillusioned with it all and thought about my grandfather's wise words about the endless chase of "knowledge". He always said it was just a distraction. He was a scientist from the 60's to the 2000's. A very wise, meek, and humble man. I then started to meditate every day and things started to change. My mind is more aware and present. I have less conflict in my life. I am more forgiving and calm and the more I meditate the easier it is to be calm and present. It's actually funny because I am starting to really see how oblivious some people are in their daily lives. I have a long way to go but it's a path that really has changed me in some profound ways.
     
  9. Accept

    Accept Well-Known Member

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    Would debunking astrology, biorhythms, macrobiotics, etc. be examples of what you're looking for? Or rhetorical fallacies? Took a class on this too, called "Clear Thinking". Very enlightening (and an easy A).
     
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  10. Ricardo

    Ricardo Well-Known Member

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    All these responses are fascinating and I really think each deserves deep attention. But to clarify, I was literally hoping to connect with people interested in the scientific method and more specifically as espoused by the SGU guys. So yes, debunking but also promoting positive thinking. It's not so much answers I want as questions. And all of this ties in totally with Mindfulness /meditation. Absolutely proven benefits and something I've been doing (sitting) for years. Absolutely and without any mysticism. Totally compatible. It's when people try to convince me of the healing power of Reiki that I freeze. One earlier post mentioned the split in US politics but this is everywhere at every level, right down to who cut in front of who in traffic. We need to talk.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2019
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  11. C No Ego

    C No Ego Well-Known Member

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    the mind is a Trap... a perpetual holographic reproduction of whatever mindframe you hold within it... the heart releases you from the trap... OG thought ( IDEA "" better than ideals"" ) starts in the heart and then the electrical impulse sends it to brain where it gets stuck for you to fathom forever more... we are but mere observers not knowing what we are observing yet accepting it none the less. the less thought a thing takes the more real it is to you... the simplest most easy thing you ever do will be the most enlightening
     
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  12. Accept

    Accept Well-Known Member

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    Reiki does seem to inspire fanaticism, doesn't it?

    It's understandable that we have a difficult time distinguishing reason from faith. Most of us who prefer reason/science rarely read the studies we cite critically. Instead, we have faith in the researchers or in the peer-review process to spot the poor studies. But even legitimate science is facing a "reproducibility crisis", and data are piling up too fast for anyone to keep up. At a cosmological level, science currently predicts a tenseless multiverse that arose from quantum fluctuation. Even if true, it's not exactly testable, nor is it a very satisfying alternative to faith-based creation stories. Can we blame others for losing their faith in science and clinging to what they think they know, especially when they're being raised and educated by the internet?

    When confronting true believers, recommend the Socratic method - ask fair questions until both they and you come to understand how little you really know.
     
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  13. Ricardo

    Ricardo Well-Known Member

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    Totally agree @Accept, and I have downloaded that Hume piece and agree it's not difficult to read. I will get round to it, genuinly.

    @C No Ego , I see your avatar is a cat, and away I go again, off on a tangent and don't take this too seriously please...... We've always had cats in the countryside, recently brought two kittens down to the big smoke for sterilization, ended up keeping them. Turns out they have the Feline Immune deficiency virus so they're dead pussy cats walking. But, aren't we all? Right now these two are in perfect health and we get a kick ot of watching them play. The cat lives totally in the moment. If I step on one by mistake he'll miaow and hiss but once it's over he does not give a fuck. If I flick an elastic band at him, he'll jump in the air and spit at me but if I only draw it back and point it at him he won't flinch - try doing that with a person! I know it's all my projection, but I take inspiration from the cat and aspire to live in the moment without ruminating over the past or making catastrophic projections for the future. 100%.

    HOWEVER,
    I need tools to deal with a society which accepts all sorts of nonsense as if it were legitimate. Latest example: today I got a cold call from a nice young man called Francisco Javier who represents a financial entity associated with a credit card company associated with my bank. (DATA PROTECTION ISSUES). He wanted me to know that I had been "especially selected" (I USE THIS CARD ONLY OCCASIONALLY - PROBABLY TO A VALUE OF LESS THAN $500/YEAR) to qualify for an exciting new financial product which is "not yet even on the market" (YET HE'S OFFERING IT TO ME!). I hung up, of course but it's not enough for me not to fall into that trap - I fall into millions of others - I want to live in a world where nobody is so stupid as to believe this shit and no cynical bastard would even consider trying it on.

    Grrrrr! :horse: :chill::bigleaf::smug: :peace:
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2019
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  14. Ramahs

    Ramahs Fucking Combustion (mostly) Since February 2017

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    I've been listening to their podcast for at least a decade.
    If you like SGU, then you should check out these other podcasts in the ballpark of Science based skepticism:

    Skeptoid
    The Skeptic Zone
    Skeptics with a K
    Weird Things
    Monster Talk
    Point of Inquiry
    Skepticality
    Rationally Speaking
    Be Reasonable (he has all kinds of people with crazy beliefs on)
    You are not so Smart
    The Infinite Monkey Cage
    Geologic Podcast
    Star Talk
    Science Vs
    InKredulous
    The Heard Mentality Podcast

    There are many others I'm sure I'm forgetting, but those are some that come to mind that can be found on most podcast aggregators.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2019
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  15. Ricardo

    Ricardo Well-Known Member

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    My man, @Ramahs :tup:
    (must be vigilant around bias confirmation :razz:).
     
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  16. ClearBlueLou

    ClearBlueLou unbearably light in the being....

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    Don’t forget that a skeptical mind and an open mind are no the same...just as an open mind and an impressionable mind are no the same. Critical thinking and rational analysis are essential skills these days, not just for scientists, but for everyone with a crazy-email uncle, and everyone who stands in line with Fox News playing at them and everyone who works in a place where talk-radio has replaced Muzak.

    Use Occam’s Razor freely - which can be handily understood as ‘don’t make up things to account for what you can’t prove’ - when trying to evaluate claims and theories. Seems lie you’re doing alright so far....
     
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  17. Ramahs

    Ramahs Fucking Combustion (mostly) Since February 2017

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    Yeah, and there's always a balance.
    You know the old saying...it's good to have an open mind, just not so far open that your brain falls out.
     
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  18. Ricardo

    Ricardo Well-Known Member

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    @Ramahs - that's one helluva list! I know The Infinite Monkey Cage and Star Talk - the rest are new to me.

    One of my greatest frustrations in life is when the appeal to reason falls on deaf ears. Flat Earthers, vaccine deniers, Marijuana haters, UFO abductees, believers in "god". (With a single comment I dismiss half the earth's population :shrug:........).

    Then you have to interact with racists, misogynists, conservatives, sports fanatics, people in positions of power who shape the world in their image, "celebrities", people who give a shit about "celebrities"......

    My fear is that I do the same thing, seeking validation from like-minded people through, ahem, dedicated podcasts, news sources, obscure Internet threads.......

    When I was born there were 3 billion of us, now it's close to eight!!!!! And it seems that most of us have strong views on Reddit and Twitter. Everybody has an agenda, nobody listens.

    ¡Esto es una locura!
     
  19. Accept

    Accept Well-Known Member

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    Surely, people shouldn't have fewer babies? ;)

    All is not lost. Maybe we'll tire of being closed-minded and respond with a New Enlightenment. Reason is our nature. It will be expressed.

    Feel much the same, especially since the 2016 US election. Open-mindedness became a survival skill over night.

    Also sensitive to promoting an "agenda," animal rights, professionally. Initially (1980s), it seemed that we animal rightists were the open minded ones. But being "right" (in the sense that no one has been able to reasonably justify exploiting animals) is the most insidious enemy of the open mind. If we're not truly open to the possibility of being wrong, even in what's most important to us, we'll never convince others that they might be.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2019
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  20. Baron23

    Baron23 Well-Known Member

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    I know quite a few very closed minded, "belief based", liberals who are no better at rational and analytical thinking. Yeah?
     
  21. Ricardo

    Ricardo Well-Known Member

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    Yup.
     
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  22. OldNewbie

    OldNewbie Well-Known Member

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    https://local.theonion.com/liberal-relieved-he-never-has-to-introspect-again-after-1834720785

    MADISON, WI—Taking a moment to reflect on his hard-won personal accomplishment, area liberal Tom Hudson expressed relief Monday that he would never again have to engage in self-examination after finally assembling all the correct opinions. “It definitely wasn’t easy, but now that I have all the proper perspectives on the world all perfectly arranged inside of my head, I know I’ll never need to question my own thoughts, beliefs, or opinions ever again,” said Hudson, proudly recounting his previous efforts at researching all necessary sociopolitical issues, conducting a rigorous self-exploration to determine which of his behaviors were problematic or harmful, and finally achieving the proper balance of beliefs to ensure once and for all that he is an indisputably good person. “It’s such a huge weight off my shoulders. I never have to consider my place in society or my impact on the issues ever again now that I know exactly how to present myself as one of the good guys. This feels amazing.” Hudson was then immediately and savagely attacked by his fellow liberals, who insist that his current views are nowhere near progressive enough.​
     
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  23. Baron23

    Baron23 Well-Known Member

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    Wow....serious? He wrote this? :mental::disgust::tinfoil:

    Now, I also know many conservatives who also don't have an ounce of introspection and feel equally assured and unquestioning as to the correctness of their views.

    I just try to stay away from such self-righteousness and arrogant people, no matter their political leanings. Its like talking to a wall when you try to discuss anything with them.

    Which brings up an behavior I have often been baffled by. That is, and without respect to party or political leanings, that I have NEVER understood how any thinking, rational, independent person could adopt a political party's complete platform as their own views...I mean, every fucking plank and splinter.

    How is it that so many people think absolutely identically on such a broad spectrum of issues. Well, IMO the answer is that they simply do not....think that is. They just ceded their thinking to others and and let other define their positions and values based on their "self-identity", e.g. "oh, I'm a liberal/conservative (take your pick) so this platform is now my personal views"

    The true believers and the dedicated faithful just blow my mind.
     
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  24. OldNewbie

    OldNewbie Well-Known Member

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    It's the Onion. I wouldn't have even posted except I was linked to that article/satire just today and I thought it fit.
     
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  25. Accept

    Accept Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]
    (Meme ancestor)
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2019
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