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The danger of false claims

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  • The danger of false claims

    This was said on the moderation discussion thread:

    Originally Posted by Open Mind:

    "I ask you, which is the greater threat to science and mankind, accepting a claim that can have no possible benefit, or rejecting a claim that can have great benefit?" -Dr. Edmund Storms

    Originally Posted by Arouet:

    There's no end to the damage that can be done by accepting false claims. It's not just accepting something that can have no benefit, false claims can cause harm. By the time you figure it out there may have been great damage done. Holding off on accepting claims until the evidence is strong enough agreed can result in delays in fixing problems, but you don't have the added difficulty of making existing problems worse.
    It was O/T for that thread, but is something I find very interesting. It was said in relation to possible false claims about the paranormal, but I think it has much wider application.

    First, what do you think about possible false claims about the paranormal? Second, what do you think about possible false claims in orthodox science? Which is more damaging?

  • #2
    The whole discussion appeals emotionally, but scientifically it is stupid because things just don't happen that way.

    Science doesn't damage. True science. Not this laughable substitute masquerading as science called "1/4 th part of the scientific method labelled skepticism".

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    • #3
      Scientific results aren't revealed in a vaccuum. They have practical effects. Perhaps not across the board, but often.

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      • #4

        Originally Posted by Arouet:


        There's no end to the damage that can be done by accepting false claims. It's not just accepting something that can have no benefit, false claims can cause harm. By the time you figure it out there may have been great damage done.
        That means materialism is potentially dangerous. If the 'skeptic movement' convince society they are just biological robots, perhaps damage will be done? It raises the question is a human life really more important than one's personal computer?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Open Mind View Post
          That means materialism is potentially dangerous. If the 'skeptic movement' convince society they are just biological robots, perhaps damage will be done? It raises the question is a human life really more important than one's personal computer?
          Sure, pretty well any world view can lead potentially to positive or negative actions. Considering that we are all one could lead someone to beleive that they're actions only harm or benefit themselves and that there are no real consequences because in the end its just us trying to have various experiences - good and bad.

          We must be cautious with philosophy! Course, I'm not sure that many people are keyed into the subtleties of philosophical discourse while the public at large can be affected by medical claims, for example.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Open Mind View Post
            That means materialism is potentially dangerous. If the 'skeptic movement' convince society they are just biological robots, perhaps damage will be done? It raises the question is a human life really more important than one's personal computer?
            It would only be a danger if we had a choice after coming to that realization. But we've been programmed to seek moral codes to propagate the species through things like secular humanism.

            Cheers,
            Bill

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            • #7
              Originally Posted by Arouet:

              Holding off on accepting claims until the evidence is strong enough
              Do extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence to be accepted?

              No. In my opinion the above catchphrase just suits conventionalists and materialists

              Surely a more sensible version would be ''dangerous claims requires extroardinary evidence' ?

              And 'completely harmless claims require no evidence' ? ... If someone want to claim porridge in the morning makes them happier ....who cares?

              Political materialists are often acting like non-materialism claims requires extraordinary evidence

              However the claim that classical mechanics explains consciousness is like materialists claims only requires a promise of future evidence to be commonly accepted.

              Ganzfeld Telepathy versus Drug ...which is more dangerous claim?
              So we have ESP meta-analyses with astronomical odds against chance for ganzfeld telepathy, dream telepathy, precognition.... are these dangerous claims? Not in my opinion.

              The effect size for the ganzfeld telepathy (harmless claim) is several times higher than aspirin prevents 2nd heart attacks (potentially dangerous claim) . Ganzfeld telepathy claim can send political materialists into desperate opposition ...the latter hardly any materialist worries about.
              Last edited by Open Mind; October 5th, 2012, 03:44 PM.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Open Mind View Post
                Do extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence to be accepted?

                No. In my opinion the above catchphrase just suits conventionalists and materialists

                Surely a more sensible version would be ''dangerous claims requires extroardinary evidence' ?

                And 'completely harmless claims require no evidence' ? ... If someone want to claim porridge in the morning makes them happier ....who cares?

                You might remember that I've made a similar claim but rather than "dangerous" I think I used "important". The more important the implications of a claim, the more scrutiny and higher standards are required. Importance is broader than danger. Accepting ganzfeld might not be dangerous (let's do that for the sake of the argument) but it does have an important impact on how we view the laws of physics and will involve time and expense and texbook changing, etc.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Open Mind View Post
                  That means materialism is potentially dangerous. If the 'skeptic movement' convince society they are just biological robots, perhaps damage will be done? It raises the question is a human life really more important than one's personal computer?
                  To peddle the notion that we are just meat-sacks without any purpose and we just react to our animalistic urges which are disguised as the illusion of free will - which we have none of - by an evolution which is a pointless mishap by nature, and in fact nothing means anything at all, ever??....
                  Yeah, that might bring people to disregard anything other than the law of nature that, which this notion suggest, we are just a by-product of..- kill or be killed (or kill yourself, since nothing matters really).

                  Viva El Materialismo

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Arouet View Post
                    You might remember that I've made a similar claim but rather than "dangerous" I think I used "important".
                    Not bad but I think 'dangerous' is better I think people can agree what is dangerous easier than what is important which is more personal.

                    Accepting ganzfeld might not be dangerous (let's do that for the sake of the argument) but it does have an important impact on how we view the laws of physics and will involve time and expense and texbook changing, etc.
                    No because one can accept a phenomenon without having a theory how it works. I think you mean psychology textbooks? Good All they need to do is delete any reference to 'skeptical inquirer' .. plus some other corrections ... I think.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Open Mind View Post
                      Not bad but I think 'dangerous' is better I think people can agree what is dangerous easier than what is important which is more personal.
                      I agree that its a bit more subjective (though so too can be "dangerous") but I think we can think in terms of objective impact: ie: this may not be directly relevant to me personally but will have import impacts to others. But yes, there's an element of subjectivity there - in which case I would err on the side of stronger criteria and you would err on the side of weaker criteria.


                      No because one can accept a phenomenon without having a theory how it works.
                      But what is it exactly that we are accepting? For example, I think there's something close to consensus that the results from Ganzfeld, say, are not likely to be due purely to chance. All we can say is: there is SOMETHING going on. Figuring out what that is is the tricky part.

                      I think you mean psychology textbooks? Good All they need to do is delete any reference to 'skeptical inquirer' .. plus some other corrections ... I think.
                      Psychology, but physics too. I have no idea if skeptical inquirer articles are referenced in psychological texts.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Open Mind View Post
                        Not bad but I think 'dangerous' is better I think people can agree what is dangerous easier than what is important which is more personal.

                        No because one can accept a phenomenon without having a theory how it works. I think you mean psychology textbooks? Good All they need to do is delete any reference to 'skeptical inquirer' .. plus some other corrections ... I think.
                        I guess what I see as dangerous is establishment science's tendency to get locked into paradigms, so that it's difficult for new ideas to be entertained. It might not be so bad if it were a mere matter of difficulty, but quite often, it's outright hostility, and control of funding and journals so that only paradigmatic views get a look in.

                        I think the scientific establishment should have an institutionalised protocol for dealing with non-paradigmatic research. It could include things like setting aside a percentage of funding and a percentage of the number of papers in given journals for that. It needn't be a large percentage. I'm thinking maybe 5 or 10%.

                        Anything is potentially dangerous. Drink too much water, take too many aspirin, drive a car, implement a well-meaning law that has unintented consequences...

                        We can't eliminate danger, and danger has a redeeming feature: it prompts us to carefully consider consequences. And of course, sometimes what is dangerous has to be done regardless. It's true enough that what is important is likely to attract more caution, but if one as a matter of course limits the resources allocated to certain areas of research (as opposed to trying to eliminate those resources), one is automatically limiting the dangers. And let us not forget, out of non-paradigmatic research, significant breakthroughs may be made.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Michael Larkin View Post
                          First, what do you think about possible false claims about the paranormal? Second, what do you think about possible false claims in orthodox science? Which is more damaging?
                          Is it the claims, that are damaging? Or is it the person that doesn't question the claim when feeling "damaged" by it?

                          Personally, I don't think a claim is damaging by itself. Damage is done by a dogmatic environment that supresses certain claims and advances others.

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