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Are "skeptics" logical?

                                                                                                                    June 2005 Update

Bruce Kettler (BK) comment:

In my experience, the expression of the PSEUDO-SKEPTIC-FANATIC (not actually "skeptical") disbelief is very seldom done with actual logic.  They may utilize logical thinking ability with other endeavors, such as programming, or writing about other subjects.  However, their irrationality comes through, quite clearly, when they explain their so-called "reasons" for **blind denial of the paranormal.  It's rational and logical to state actual skepticism, which means doubt, about the paranormal.  One needs no other reason to take that position, than the fact that one has not witnessed sufficient evidence.  Skepticism is much different than **blind denial.

On these pages, read debate between pseudo-skeptic-fanatics (PSF) and Brian Zeiler.  Ask yourself, who
has an understanding of, and ability to utilize, logic?

NOTE:  My, "DK" discussion on this page is indented, in bold, and noted with the letters, "DK."

From:  xyz@psn.net (The_Sage)
Newsgroups: sci.skeptic, alt.alien.visitors, alt.paranet.ufo, alt.paranet.skeptic, alt.paranormal, alt.misc.forteana, alt.fan.rawilson
Subject: The best damn Paranormal Science FAQ you'll ever read!!!
Organization: XYZ Software and development
Message-ID: <3925fba9.8060027@news.psn.net>
X-Complaints-To: support@usenetserver.com
Date: Sat, 20 May 2000 02:43:05 GMT

==================THE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS======================

1. What is paranormal science all about?
2. Where did the idea of paranormal phenomena first originate from?
3. Doesn't quantum mechanics imply the existence of paranormal
4. What about the experimental results of people or organizations like
   Rhine, PEAR, or PEER?
5. Why would people choose to believe in paranormal phenomenon, if it
   really doesn't work?

=========================AND THE ANSWERS==============================

-------------------Answer to question number one----------------------

The term "paranormal science" does not accurately describe what
paranormal science is all about because the paranormal science is only
a label and not an objectively factual description of what it really
is. There are alot of things that people concatenate the word
"science" to just so it sounds like it actually could be a respectable
science, but a rose by any other name is still a rose.

DK:  The words "respectable" and "science" above are
         fabricated.  There is no absolutely correct meaning
         to the those words.  The PSF, with delusional thinking,
         assume there is a "correct" science, and everything that
         does not conform to their "science" is non-science.
If you take the time to look at all the links on the internet
regarding paranormal science in the search engines, you will notice
that all anyone has to offer in favor of the study of paranormal
phenomenon are explanations. One mechanically repeatable experiment is
worth 10,000 of the best sounding explanations. This highlights the
fact that explanations are not evidence, they are storytelling. For
example, I can pretend in the existence of invisible pink elephants
and can use that belief to perfectly explain how the world was created
or how stars go supernova, but it wouldn't have a thing to do with
reality now, would it? Likewise, explanations of paranormal phenomenon
are just another modern day retelling of the "Emperor's New Clothes".

You cannot study something that you cannot demonstrate with anything
other than mere words.

DK:   Scientific study of the paranormal goes far beyond "mere words."
I can claim to be able to powerlift 1500 pounds, and I can scientifically explain
how it is possible for someone with the right characteristics to do that, but it is a
completely different matter to DEMONSTRATE that I can actually do it.
DK:  The analogy, above, is unrelated to the mainstream paranormal evidence.
          Evidence of paranormal phenomena is the main thrust, these days, not
          explanations of cause-effect.
Offering explanations instead of evidence is putting the cart before
the horse! It isn't very scientific and the conflict of interest
factor is overwhelming when one takes a pet hypothesis and tries to
find ways to explain it instead of taking the logical and scientific
approach of looking at the actual available evidence and seeing the
evidence for what it really is instead of what one wishes it were.
DK:  The only evidence I see, in the above statement, is that this "Sage" has
          looked at very little actual evidence of paranormal phenomena, and it
          seems he/she has mostly read the CULT literature that attempts to
          debunk it.
-------------------Answer to question number two----------------------

Psychologists are all very aware of the fact that the mind deceives
us. We are especially prone to distorting the details of cause or
sequence. The unconscious ignores time and it remembers things in
terms of narratives and emotional content and not sequence or logic.
Rarely do people ever tell a completely straight story -- any
psychology textbook will tell you that. It is in people's nature to
confabulate, misperceive, and acquire false memories -- in fact the
longer the elapsed time between an event and the time it actually gets
documented, the taller the tale becomes. The problem with many people
is that they want to incorporate their feelings alongside the facts
because many people would rather see reality for what they wish it
were instead of what it actually is. Is it any wonder then, that
something like 50% of all Americans believe that the earth is
approximately 6000 years old merely because a contradictory and
contrived mythical storybook called "The Bible" says so?

What this all indicates is that ESP experiences don't happen, they
only appear to happen.

BK:   The above was discussed with "Sage" at length in newsgroups.
          Charles Gregory, myself, and others had a dialogue with
          him/her about the fact that the laboratory tests of  PEAR did
          not allow for such mistaken "appearances."  See DEJA for
          such discussions during the year 1999.  I usually refrain
          from such "discussions" because "skeptics" just run them
          in circles, and are unable to go on with a continuous train
          of thought, or with the use of real logic.

BK:   A logical argument does not include methods such as:

          Red herring

          This is the introduction of irrelevant material to the matters being discussed.

Straw man

           This fallacy is about misrepresenting the other's position so that it can be
           attacked more easily.

           Other logical fallacies are illustrated at the Edmond H. Wollmann site.

BK: Premises

There should be a number of basic assumptions, called premises, in an argument.   Premises should
be agreed upon by all participants in a debate, or they must be proven before continuation.

BK: Inference

After the premises are established, the argument proceeds in steps, and this is called inference.
Inference usually consists of phrases like "therefore..." or "...it implies that..."

BK: Conclusion

You can come to a proposition which is the conclusion of the argument - the proven results.

The conclusion is considered to come about, based on the premises and resulting inference.

BK: There can be valid arguments from true premises and true conclusions.  Valid arguments can also
         come from false premises and conclusions.


The above URL page explains what logical arguments are, and are not.

Take the example of psychic healings and faith healings. Both are placebo effects...
BK:   Double-blind studies preclude the possibility of "placebo" effects, but then
         "Sage" doesn't know about these things.  He/she seems to know the cult
         literature, and nothing more.  Premise of this argument is false.
and hence the reason why they cannot cure most people, especially people with
physically real defects such as deformed limbs, third degree burns, etc.
Interestingly, when such healings fail, the failure is always blamed
on the client for lacking faith, instead of blaming the practitioner
as one would logically do if a ordinary everyday medical doctor failed
to treat a patient.

Where did the fairytale of the existence of ESP originate from, if it
were not from prior observation or a logical extension of already
existing facts (ie -- deduction)? The answer can only be, "From
someone's imagination". I can imagine anything I want to imagine but
that doesn't make it possible, it makes it irrelevant. I mean if there
has never been a single verifiable occurrence of this mythical ESP
ability being demonstrated, then what logical and common sense reason
do people have for thinking that it could have or must physically
exist at all? They have none because all the characteristics of ESP
perfectly fit the definition for make believe and not physical
reality. If you choose to consider the possibility that ESP exists,
then you must also choose to consider the possibility that all science
fiction writers are actually modern day historians.

------------------Answer to question number three---------------------

At this point in time, there is no difference between Alchemy and
Quantum Mechanics. Many modern day sciences started off as fringe
sciences (alchemy led us to the modern day science of chemistry, for
example), all of which utilized wild-ass speculations and the
unconscious projections of fantasy whenever and wherever possible.
That is why psychologists like Carl Jung were so interested in
bleeding edge research in physics, not because of what it "proved" in
relation between matter and spirit, but what it exposed about the
psychology of humans through their projections when faced with the
currently unknown and unexplainable.

Certainly, if you follow the logic of quantum mechanics, you can find
it easy to accept the belief that things affect one another on a
cosmic scale in ways that we are yet incapable of explaining but
"incapable of explaining" does not mean it can never be explained, it
is only a matter of time before there will be an explanation. What
quantum mechanics illustrates for us is that when a particular subject
is sufficiently beyond comprehension of an individual, they will tend
to think of that subject in terms of being mystical and magical. A
little understanding can go along way towards eliminating
superstitious thinking like that.

The efforts that some "scientists" make to find room for the operation
of a supernatural divinity or magic or metaphysics are as futile to me
as the crudest attempt of a witch doctor to make it rain by sprinkling
water on the ground. All ESP is pure delusion based on misdirected
emotion, and inaccurate and illogical thinking. ESP isn't a matter of
physics but of chemistry. People high on chemicals like drugs can see
or hear things too, but that doesn't make them physically real things,
they still remain what they always were: hallucinations. The current
laws of physics AND psychology are adequate to sufficiently explain
all paranormal phenomenon and in fact, Jung himself adequately
explained much parapsychological phenomena in his research article,
"On the Psychology and Pathology of So-Called Occult Phenomena".

I see nothing mystical or magical about quantum mechanics. What is
truly mystical or magical is when someone tries to imply that what
supposedly happens on a scale as small as 1e-14 meters is going to
have a huge effect on something 200,000,000,000,000 times larger,
instead of the other way around. Scientists like Roger Penrose and
Jack Sarfetti have their own pet quantum mechanical theories which can
"explain" (...there's that word again...) consciousness and maybe also
PSI but what these people fail to see is the obvious point that the
quantum mechanical effects of one tiny electron is hardly going to
have any noticeable effect on something containing trillions and
trillions of electrons -- especially when you consider the fact that
the indeterminateness of one or two electrons is something that only
occurs in laboratories under artificial conditions and not under
ordinary or natural conditions.

BK:  Check the Web Sites of  3 physicists who believe in the paranormal...
 Jack Sarfatti  Brian Josephson and David Bohm
------------------Answer to question number four----------------------

Carl Jung states that, "Great credit is due to JB Rhine for having
established a reliable basis for work in the vast field of these
phenomena by his experiments in extrasensory perception, or ESP. He
used a pack of 25 cards divided into 5 groups of 5, each with its
special sign (star, square, circle, cross, two wavy lines). The
experiment was carried out as follows. In each series of experiments
the pack is laid out 800 times, in such a way that the subject cannot
see the cards. He is then asked to guess the cards as they are turned
up. The probability of a correct answer is 1 in 5. The result,
computed from very high figures, showed an average of 6.5 hits. The
probability of a chance deviation of 1.5 amounts to only 1 in 250,000.
Some individuals scored more than twice the probable number of hits.
On one occasion all 25 cards were guessed correctly, which gives a
probability of 1 in 298,023,223,876,953,125. The spatial distance
between experimenter and subject was increased from a few yards to
about 4,000 miles, with no effect on the result" (On Synchronicity, by
Carl Jung, Portable Jung, pg 509).

Now note the following facts:

Why is it that the only evidence that we supposedly have for ESP is
just a bunch of numbers on a piece of paper? Why can't anyone actually
demonstrate something for us? Statistics is not proof, it's a way to
indicate a trend. If you want to determine a new value for a constant,
you resort to statistics to narrow down the margin of error. If you
want to know what the weather may be like tomorrow, you resort to
statistics. If you want to determine typical behavioral reactions of
humans to certain stimuli, you conduct a statistical experiment. But
all of the above examples are still prone to unpredictability...

BK:   Nothing is absolutely, without doubt, predictable.  There
          are only greater or lesser degrees of probability that a certain
          stimulus will produce a certain response.
...and in order to be valid, must be confirmed by independent researchers.
BK:   Again, "Sage" reveals his ignorance about all but
          "skeptic" cult literature.  Independent researchers
          have examined evidence, and have repeated the
          experiments.  Premise of the non-existence of
          independent researchers is false.
What many fail to understand is that the weather is something that
happens everyday and is easily observable despite its statistical
unpredictability, but on the other hand, ESP is not easily observable
and is so unpredictable that so far that no one can even predict if it
will happen at all. In the sciences, statistics is not considered as
proof but as confirmation. Hard facts are much more useful to science
in this regard. Furthermore, the only thing that can be expected from
statistics is deviations from the calculated average. Nothing unusual
BK:  Now, here is where the irrational tendency of the
         PSEUDO-SKEPTIC-FANATIC (PSF) shines through,
         quite clearly.
The reasoning of people like Rhine is like saying that if someone wins
the lottery, that person won because of ESP and not by chance, as if
it were impossible for someone to guess the correct numbers by pure
chance alone.
BK: The above statement is irrational.  That is not their reasoning.

         This is known as a "straw man" argument.  See above references.

But what about the thousands of tickets that person must have bought in previous
attempts, before happening across the winning number?
BK:   The PSF, typically, begins with the premise of a non-existing argument.
          See how deluded they are?  This writing is typical.  Check the DEJA
          archives.  Check out their writing quoted in links from the SCISTUDY
Only if everytime a particular person plays the lottery they win, then one could say something
out-of-the-ordinary was happening. What's important here is the previous trend and not whether
the person got the winning number. Likewise one person guessing all 25 cards in Rhine's experiment
is not impossible and should be expected to occur on occasion.
BK:  That's another non-existent argument from the other side.
         No-one has asserted that one person guessing all 25 cards
         was proof of ESP's existence.  As for "only if everytime a
         particular person plays the lottery they win..." the argument
         is illogical, since the RHINE experiments show consistent
         results.  One cannot logically compare the results of a lottery
         that typically occur once in a lifetime, with results of ESP
         experiments that occur consistently.
If ESP exists, it should NOT occur at random times among random
individuals within a group but it should be consistently repeatable
for any one particular individual.
BK:  In ESP experiments, the individuals with the best results are
         again chosen to participate.

So why is it that ESP can only assert itself when people are in a group and not individually?

BK:   For scientific experimentation, that is the most efficient method for purposes
          of verification, etc.  Uri Geller, as an indiviudal, was scientifically tested.  Others
          are tested, but not with the most rigid scientific controls.  Again, a false premise
          from "Sage."
It is individual odds that are the most important thing to note in ESP
research, yet no researcher ever provides individual results.

Case in point, if PEAR or PEER research has proof of ESP, why can't
they provide individual evidence as proof ESP? Why does it always have
to be a nameless, faceless crowd, where ESP never occurs consistently
for any one individual, but instead can only be barely gleaned from
extensive data, and even then the bias is extremely small? Maybe it is
because one of the nice things about using statistics instead of
evidence is that it is easy to fool yourself or lie with statistics;
As Benjamin Disraeli said, "There are lies, damned lies, and
statistics". Afterall, it is possible by sheer coincidence for a
person to go through their entire life and guess every lotto number
correctly. It wouldn't be ESP, it would be the law of averages. Trying
to prove ESP by washing down the data by submerging individual results
in a sea of people is stupid. It proves nothing.

Let me illustrate this point with a perfect example: Go to a casino
sometime and visit the bingo parlor. Note how many people come forward
each hour to claim their winnings -- the number of winning individuals
per hour is quite high (ie -- "proof of ESP"), but pick out a lone
individual and note how many times that individual comes forward to
claim their winnings -- it is very low (Oops! ESP theory doesn't look
too good now!). So what these ESP researchers are really doing is
reporting the high number of "winners" each hour but not listing the
individual results which is much lower. The drawing line is that
paranormal phenomenon have to consistently (not randomly or
intermittently) display an ability or it isn't called an "ability" but
an "inability". No NFL quarterback can be said to have an "ability" if
it were only random or intermittent and no person can be said to have
a psychic ability since it has only been displayed randomly and
intermittently amongst a group and not for any one particular

Then there is the mystical and magical use of the word "significant",
ie -- the results of every paranormal experiment are always
"significant". Who decided what is significant or not and how did they
objectively determine it was significant? Was it the person conducting
the research or an independent and objective observer? The reality is,
"significant" is another word for "interesting". It was statistically
interesting that one person guessed all 25 cards one time in Rhine's
experiment, but since the subject couldn't repeat his performance more
than once, it statistically proved nothing.

------------------Answer to question number five----------------------

The question is not whether parapsychological abilities work, the
question is, "For whom does it work?". The answer is obvious, for it
works for the blind-faith believer. The autosuggestive magic of the
paranormal serves to extend the person's will..."You may have grand
delusions, for example, of being 'psychic' -- of exercising special
magic powers of telepathy, psychometry, clairvoyance, clairaudience
and clairsentience, and so of being 'somebody special'. Yet only when
you have abandoned your delusions of 'specialness' are they likely to
work at all reliably. Only when you have acquired a total inner
conviction of oneness with the world around you will the comprehensive
forms of awareness to which ESP belongs start to operate. Yet by then
you will no longer be the slightest bit interested in proving your
'specialness' by demonstrating extra-sensory powers. You may be
attracted to the idea of acquiring the power to heal others. It all
sounds highly admirable. And yet the very fact that you think of them
as 'others' reveals what you are really about. The real object of the
exercise is to 'do good', to be of value, to inflate yourself in the
eyes of yourself and those around you. Your object, in other words, is
division, not unity, fragmentation, not healing or wholeness. Once you
attain the level of consciousness at which you, the patient and the
whole of the universe are one, and the healing takes place of its own
accord. The desire to heal others can only be a diversion. Look to
your own wholeness, to your identity with all that is, and there is no
disease to cure. Wholeness, you could say, is catching." (Beyond All
Belief, Peter Lemesurier).

The internet is filled with huge rewards for any actual demonstration
of psychic abilities, such as the one by Randi, yet not one of the
paranormal "scientific" organizations anyone can think of has ever
come forward to claim the reward. Why not? As I've pointed out before
in these newsgroups, anything your psychic can do, Randi can do

BK: The Randi so-called challenge is probably bogus.  The gullible
so-called "skeptic" followers of Randi believe in this fantasy of a "challenge."
Read this web page, with related links.
You have to realize that the only reason I have concluded that ESP is
pure delusion, etc is because of actually viewing the actual available
evidence. My conclusions are not voluntary, they are logically and
scientifically mandatory.


[1] "The tendancy to confuse imagination with memory is called
    confabulation. Women workers sometimes confabulate wild stories
    about their employers making ungentlemanly advances to them. Many
    workers confabulate alibis to explain their failure to follow
    orders" (Practical Business Psychology, Laird and Laird, pg 87).

[2] "Just being exposed to a story about a fictitious childhood
    experience can alter people's memories to the point that half of
    them believe the incident probably occurred even though they
    previously said it didn't..." (http://www.washington.edu/

[3] "Memory can be treacherous, not only because forgetting is so easy

    but because the mind can mistake imagined scenes for reality"
    (Creating False Memories, Elizabeth F Loftus, Sept 1997 issue of
    Sci American).

[4] "All that I experience is psychic. Even physical pain is a psychic

    image which I experience; me sense-impressions...My own psyche
    even transforms and falsifies reality, and it does this to such a
    degree that I must resort to artificial means to determine what
    things are like apart from myself" (Collected Works of Carl
    Jung, Vol 8, para 680).

[5] http://www.newscientist.com/ns/980905/zombie.html

[6] "...I know of three more cases where certain objects were seen in
    the clearest detail (in two of them by two persons, and in the
    third by one person) and could afterwards be proved to be
    non-existent. Two of these cases happened under my direct
    observation...people who are entirely compos mentis and in full
    possession of their senses can somethings see things that do not
    exist...For as a rule we do not verify things we have seen with
    our own eyes, and so we never get to know that actually they did
    not exist" (Collected Works of Carl Jung, Vol 10, para 597).

[7] "Doctors and patients ascribe healing powers to many treatments
    that have no direct physiological influence on a malady. This
    placebo effect, in which the very act of undergoing treatment aids

    recovery, has generally been disparaged by medicine..." (The
    Placebo Effect, Walter A Brown, Jan 1998 issue of Sci American).

[8] "...without realizing it, scientists the world over have been
    unconsciously validating the reality of Star Trek © with their
    experiments, instead of validating actual reality."

The Sage

My Home Page      :                   http://www.psn.net/~xyz
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