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Author Topic: Skepticism vs obstinancy
Kahuna Burger
I Saw Three Shipments


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It seems to me that more and more I see people describing themselves as "skeptics" when they are really just beng obstinant (sometimes verging on paranoid) in refusing to aknowlege actual evidence for something they don't wish to accept. Since this could be fairly seen as a 'skeptic's website' of sorts, I wondered if others here had noted this phenomenon and where you all draw the line between being skeptical and being obstinant.
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LikeHeyScoob
The First USA Noel


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I'm an obstinant skeptic, but I'm not skeptically obstinant.

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Support you local community newspaper! CNN.com probably won't be covering your child's spelling bee.

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Malruhn
The "Was on Sale" Song


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I will agree, I have seen more bull-headed folks that call themselves "skeptics" in the last year. By the way, I haven't said, "Hi" yet.

Hi! Welcome to the boards!!

My line is drawn when it comes to sources. "I heard" is not a source. NBC news is not NECESSARILY a source... but when it comes from TWO independent sources, THEN I can begin to believe...

Then I look at those sources. First off, what is their track record? If the National Enquirer leads with, "Sun rises today," I'd still be skeptical. The Wall Street Journal I would tend to believe, however... just because of a history of solid reporting.

I guess the line is how far back people have to go to accept something. When a person has to have more than three independent sources - and checks the veracity of all three sources - and the veracity of those sources' sources... THAT person is obstinant.

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Opinions aren't excuses to remain ignorant about subjects, nor are they excuses to never examine one's beliefs & prejudices...

Babies are like tattoos. You see other peoples' & they're cool, but yours is never as good & you can't get rid of it.

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ThistleSoftware
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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I dunno, I know people who would describe me as obstinant because I don't take "But my dad's a chemist and he said it's true!" as proof.

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Officially Heartless

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Ganzfeld
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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I don't understand why acknowledging evidence or "accepting" should be considered the norm. Maybe they're being obstinate or maybe you're being foolhardy or gullible.

I also don't understand how the word "paranoid" could be be associated with a simple lack of acceptance. That is, distrusting all sources is something completely different from simply not accepting evidence until you feel it has reached a high level of probable veracity.

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Errata
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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1000 anecdotes from believers doesn't constitute undeniable evidence. The proof of this is that you can find such believers with contradictory beliefs. No matter how fervently you believe in your epiphany, don't expect your raw confidence to melt any skeptics heart and then start calling them obstinate and paranoid when it doesn't.

One or two sketchy experiments that aren't readily reproduced around the world doesn't constitute irrefutable evidence. Real science takes time and consistent results for multiple groups of researchers. No matter how much you want something to be true, mainstream researchers not finding statistically significant results do not constitute a worldwide conspiracy by the corporate new world order military industrial complex neocon joos.

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Kahuna Burger
I Saw Three Shipments


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quote:
Originally posted by Errata:
1000 anecdotes from believers doesn't constitute undeniable evidence. The proof of this is that you can find such believers with contradictory beliefs. No matter how fervently you believe in your epiphany, don't expect your raw confidence to melt any skeptics heart and then start calling them obstinate and paranoid when it doesn't.

One or two sketchy experiments that aren't readily reproduced around the world doesn't constitute irrefutable evidence. Real science takes time and consistent results for multiple groups of researchers. No matter how much you want something to be true, mainstream researchers not finding statistically significant results do not constitute a worldwide conspiracy by the corporate new world order military industrial complex neocon joos.

This is fascinating information, and though it has nothing to do with my question or the experiences which prompted it, I thank you for your insight. [Roll Eyes]
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Kahuna Burger
I Saw Three Shipments


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quote:
Originally posted by Malruhn:
I will agree, I have seen more bull-headed folks that call themselves "skeptics" in the last year. By the way, I haven't said, "Hi" yet.

Hi! Welcome to the boards!!

Thanks, it seems like a nice enough board so far...
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Errata
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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You asked for highly generic information, and then scoff when a generic answer is given? What do you expect us to respond with, that you must be right, whatever generic thing you're talking about?

Call me skeptical, but you can't label skeptics as obstinate in the abstract, because thats what every nutbar ever in the history of nonsense has thought. People who have a problem with their ideas being subjected to critical analysis usually just realize how poorly founded their cherished beliefs are.

Examples of what you're asking, please.

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Kahuna Burger
I Saw Three Shipments


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quote:
Originally posted by Errata:
You asked for highly generic information, and then scoff when a generic answer is given? What do you expect us to respond with, that you must be right, whatever generic thing you're talking about?

Call me skeptical, but you can't label skeptics as obstinate in the abstract, because thats what every nutbar ever in the history of nonsense has thought. People who have a problem with their ideas being subjected to critical analysis usually just realize how poorly founded their cherished beliefs are.

Examples of what you're asking, please.

Actually, the question was open ended, and at least one other poster was capable of answering it without assumptions that I really meant people had been subjecting my cherished beliefs to critical analysis.

I did not include examples because I wished to avoid getting bogged down into discssuion of specific issues. If you've never seen the phenomenon, thats fine, and its what I was curious about.

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Paulie Jay
O Little Down-Payment of Bethlehem


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I think that there is a tendency for some skeptics to automatically put up the wall before really listening to the claim. It can be very easy for a skeptic (and I do this myself from time to time  - ) to make an assumption and start dismissing before actually hearing the other person out. This is usually because as a skeptic I have addressed the particular subject before, and I'm keen to get on with the debunking. I know that when I do this the other person doesn't appreciate the one way conversation, and they usually say that I'm being deliberately contrary. But when I let the conversation flow more and let the other person have their say, without "steamrollering" them, I have a much better chance of changing their mind.


I suppose the term "actual evidence" is one that needs to be defined for this discussion. My interpretation of "actual evidence" is that of credible evidence that fits within the scientific method.

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All the way with Paulie Jay

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Errata
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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Some fields have been so thoroughly discredited over the years that if you want to make a new claim of the same sort, you justifiably will have to put up with added levels of skepticism. If you're in that field and know about all the false claims in the past, then you should be willing to put up with extra resistance going forward. If you're correct, then eventually it will be borne out. But you also have to accept that maybe you're not right, like all the other wrong people before you.

Most importantly do your research, and either make a new claim, or address all the flaws in previous claims. If you say the same nonsense that many many other people have made, then its only reasonable to expect people to react to it reflexively rather than to give you the time of day. You are in fact wasting people's time by covering the same ground with nothing new. Show them the respect of doing your homework first if you want respect.

When a skeptic seems stubborn to you, you have no idea how many dozens or hundreds of times they've heard essentially similar claims to yours without anything to back it up.

There are always going to be people with perpetual motion machines that already work but need some more money to invest to finish it. There are always going to be faith healers doing sleight of hand with bits of animal meat. There will always be homeopathic healers selling vials of distilled water for $20.

If someone makes a claim of that sort, they are going to get shot down, and they have no particular reason to expect people not to take the default position of assuming they're a charlatan. If they're right, they can easily overcome all the doubts, but any sensible person has to understand why its going to be an uphill battle for them given the history.

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Wolf333
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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Simple:
If I hear your position and ask for evidence, I am being skeptical.
If I maintain my position in spite of the evidence provided, I am being obstinate.

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"We take evil really seriously"

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Menolly
We Three Blings


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I'm very skeptical. This attribute comes from having lived close to a college for many long years.* Alternative practices abound there. Evidence has to be presented to me, then I have to research said evidence for myself. Snopes has also taught me that evidence to person A does not equal evidence to me, nor does it guarantee it is fact.

*Did you know that the Flat Earth Society still exists? No, really: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_Earth_Society

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Let's just pretend we're normal for a minute ~ New favorite T-shirt quote

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Ganzfeld
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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I found myself unwillingly on the front lines of this war this afternoon, in a seminar about psychology that turned out to be one person talking about pschology, physics, biochemistry and adding all of his pseudoscientific BS to it. Nearly all of the people who participated were clapping and smiling but the one physicist in the audience was extreeeemly pissed. I'm sure that lots of people there thought he was "just being obstinate", after all, they had seen the evidence (a bunch of parlor tricks and known illusions). I was only allowed to participate under a specific request that I not ask any difficult questions and that I "be good" but boy did I regret that promise. It was all I could do to stop myself from standing up and saying, "No, you're wrong, that has nothing to do with what you're claiming. It's just a trick that everyone who has ever studied phsyics or psychology can understand."

Frankly, I don't know any people who are "too obstinate". There are some conspiracy theorists who disbelieve things like the moon landing or 9-11 but they usually do so because they accept the wrong evidence, not because they are obstinate people. What most people consider obstinate, I consider normal.

After the "symposium" I wanted to give that physicist a big hearty handshake and tell him how much I appreciated him being there but he was too busy screaming at the organizers. (My hero of the day!) I will never ever make a promise not to be obstinate again.

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jimmy101
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by Wolf333:
Simple:
If I hear your position and ask for evidence, I am being skeptical.
If I maintain my position in spite of the evidence provided, I am being obstinate.

Not really. If the evidence presented does not justify the position then you are not being obstinate.

There are many positions in which I think it is perfrectly logical to be permanently obstinate, regardless of the evidence provided. "Perpetual Motion" claims for example. I don't need to hear someone's evidence, it is either wrong or insufficient to prove the claim.

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Silas Sparkhammer
I Saw V-Chips Come Sailing In


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Errata and Ganzfeld have the right of it. If you'd been lied to as often as, say, James Randi has been lied to, you'd be obstinate too!

Silas

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Purple Iguana
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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I'm not only inherently skeptical, but I am also, on occasion, a pig-headed, opinionated cow.

However, I do listen when someone points out an error I have made, as has happened many times right here on the snopes boards. [Wink]

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They just don't make crazed, beserk robots like they used to. --Sheen Estevez, Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius

If I manage to post something swipe-worthy that you would like to make your sig, you may do so with my blessing.

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