The cult of skepticism

Part 4

Some strange skeptical arguments

In an interview about his book on naturalism, Sean Carroll explains Problems: Indeed, here is the last point to be added to the above list of ways for skepticism to escape falsifiability. One French skeptic science youtuber once made a video on parapsychology where he blames the available evidences obtained by this field of research for the supernatural, for being "too scientific". His line of reasoning can be summed up as follows
  1. The supernatural cannot exist
  2. But the scientific method proves that it exists (there is strong scientific evidence for it)
  3. Therefore the scientific method is invalid.
He refers to Ben's work indicating that the chances for someone to guess right the side of a computer screen (determined at random) which would reveal an image, raises from 50% to 53% when the hoped for image is porn. Along these lines he quotes some other skeptics views about this. Two of them are from the podcast "RationallySpeaking" (7:50): Then he quotes a book of prominent French skeptics Jean-Michel Abrassard (founder of the French podcast website Scepticisme scientifique and Michel Leurquin in their book Pour en finir avec le paranormal (to end with the paranormal) The speaker then gives his view: Then the last part of his video aimed to fill the need of "defending a bit the scientific consensus in psychology" Now if what matters to skeptics, really is the correct measure of the strength of arguments rather than the truth of the conclusion, then... I can respect his attempt to refer to theoretical physics as an important criterion of plausibility, even while disagreeing about which lessons are actually to be drawn from there (details in Parts 5-6); however I can only see as laughable his reliance on the economic argument as the most reliable one in his eyes, as I do not see it any more reliable than Lewis's trilemma, or the argument of qualifying a crop circle as "too precise to be done by a human". Indeed the reliability of an argument can only be asserted on the basis of a good understanding of its content matter, namely here both fields of economics and parapsychology, while, I would say only a ridiculously naive approach to both fields might let this argument seem to have any possible weight. Indeed, this appeal to some superficial appearance of the outcome of free market, is just another word for the invitation to follow the crowd in guise of much more reliable criterion for truth than the scientific method...

Now my skeptic debater, who clearly judged me as an idiot for what seemed to him fuzziness in my thinking, also put forward himself something of the economic argument. First by complaining that, in some discussion, I did not seem as interested as he thought I should be about potential industrial or military applications (the use of remote viewing to uncover military secrets) or for winning the lottery. He asked whether all remote viewers (such as out-of-body experiencers) refuse such uses of their abilities. Like, 2 ants debate on the existence of humans, that the one believes in, and the other challenges her to respond about why humans could not be used as a tool to get food or compete against the next ant colony.

Somehow, these are still good questions. I will not try to develop detailed answers, but only mention a few things.

Something I happened to stumble on in some facebook groups (long ago, I did not keep references). One story I read is (unless I am mistaken in some detail) an OBEr guy who had undertaken a sort of game with a female friend of his (also OBEr ?) consisting in, from time to time as they are far away from each other, doing an OBE visit to check what the other is doing. One day he did an OBE and wanted to check about her but he couldn't, as he faced a kind of dark veil while trying. Later he called her to talk about this, and she explained that at that time she was having sex with another guy.
Another time I read that a similar phenomenon occurred when trying to unveil military secrets.

Moreover, how can anyone tell that the use of paranormal abilities is not actually widespread ? Somehow it is, somewhere in alternative medicine, just under cover because the world may not be well organized to properly identify and officially recognize what works. On this subject I saw in particular the documentary film in French by Stephane Allix "Guérisseurs, magnétiseurs et barreurs de feu" showing that many well-established hospitals are actually using some alternative medicine in complement to their main standard medical practices, and it appears efficient. I also saw somewhere the info that in the US there are some mediums working with the police to investigate murder cases, and happen to be useful there.
Now as macro-economical issues cannot be well understood without a look on some micro-economical cases, I can comment about economic sides of my experience with magic stones. I suffered many years the trouble which turned out to be cured in this way. If only during all those years I stumbled on someone who saved me in that way I could have thanked such a person with much money ; but there wasn't. Why ? I don't know. First, of course, I was not telling loud around about my trouble, as it was not something so good to claim around. Second, very few are the people aware of the power of stones. Some people may have sensations with these, and yet not know how much it would have helped me. Actually the Tiger eye stone I have is a gift from a friend I knew from some time before, was aware that this stone gave special energy sensations, but had not the idea how useful to me it would be before I discovered the power of Boji stones with the man I met later.
Since then, I only personally know a couple of people who I "converted" to the interest for these stones by direct meeting (= independently of my online activities). I informed them for free, not for any profit. And none of these had any big need of these comparable to the need I had.
All that said, I fail to see what skeptics mean by their economic argument : what more consequences of the supernatural would they see as altogether strongly expected and missing ?

To finish this overview of few oddities of skepticism, here is my transcript of the main content of a video in French of a skeptic (author of a youtube channel on dinosaurs and other evolutionary topics), reacting to previous videos (the skeptical ideology is also called "zététique" in French), namely

That is one of their rare expressions of awareness that they are not only preaching to their own choir but their viewpoint may not be the only one out there... as it may even be rejected by people who know about it. So he reviews diverse advantages and disadvantages of being a skeptic, in his experience. In short: we should all be motivated to become skeptics by the fear of fear.
That reminds me of so many testimonies I heard among Evangelical Christians, along the lines of how much their lives changed because they were previously into alcohol, drug addictions and other kinds of vices, and Jesus saved them from that... forgetting that not all non-Christians are into such unhealthy things. And then they don't understand how it is possible for non-Christians to have a healthy life and moral values without God... as if it was the problem of those others to provide explanations for this, which the Christians could understand.
Similarly my skeptic debater, unable to distinguish my non-skeptical way of thinking from the most ridiculous kind of gullibility, proclaimed that "in the same way" that he imagined to be mine, I should also believe just any foolish claim, so he challenged me to explain how I can sort things out. As if his inability to either figure it out, or to at least take seriously the hypothesis that such a discernment ability may exist even if he cannot decipher it, was my problem... (hint: being introvert, intuitive and math genius may help to filter out some BS, already in mere terms of categories of interest).

In the rest of the video he presents 3 criteria to identify "bullshit":

  1. Emotions : appeal to emotions is a trap, so for example when something is in the news he focuses on reading the scientific paper at the origin of it, to assess the content without emotions ;
  2. Conspiracy : conspiracy theories are usually wrong;
  3. Authority : any claim is based on some authority but the one of a single or very few scientists should be dismissed when the overwhelming majority of other scientists are against them.
The last point may be good in many cases (not all), however, even when it would be good, like any good principle, it may remain unobvious to properly apply it in particular cases ; an example of skeptics' failure to apply it when it should, will be explained in Part 5.

Taking the tree to hide the forest

When Mormons go on mission, they normally go in pairs. The reason for this is clear : being more makes you stronger. So, when they meet a new person to undertake a discussion, the balance of forces in the debate is about 5 against 1 : on one side are 2 Mormons, one God the Father, one Jesus, and one Holy Ghost. How could a single person be correct against all of these ?

Similarly, when skeptics undertake to discuss with someone on either philosophical issues or paranormal phenomena, they usually come along with their big brothers named "Reason" and "Science". They do not hesitate to put these on their side in their picture of the balance of forces against their opponent seen as an isolated individual having to stand against all of these. Indeed, presuming that no evidence for the supernatural could be found until now, anyone's claim of having any good reason to believe in such a thing, would mean being the first such person in the world, against all the best experts of the world who regularly proved all such claims wrong. In such a picture, obviously, the chances for supernaturalists to look serious are very poor.

This is why Near Death Experiences did not seem to exist until 1975 when it was suddenly discovered that there are millions of these. Indeed : when one patient in critical condition comes to be placed under the authority of a doctor who did long studies to get high professional recognition for knowing everything about what goes on in the human body much better than the rest of people... how can this doctor listen to such a story and still not send the patient who told it to a psychiatric hospital ? Such horrors were actually committed. To avoid these, patients needed to shut up. And leave the doctors in ignorance, sincerely believing that no such thing ever happened in their hospitals. Still more recently, such research-blocking denialism persists about other end-of-life phenomena. So there are such times when those who are supposed to best know about something in their field of professionalism with its materialistic dogmas, namely medicine, turn out to be those who know the least about it and block the actual research.

They picture themselves on the side of science, as if they knew what science really says... but what is science ? Science means to know, and to understand what we know. But what is there to know ? There are megatons of scientific articles out there, plus even much more data available beyond these. No matter the effort, nobody has had any chance to study and understand more than a ridiculous fraction of all of that in one's lifetime. Therefore, claiming to speak in Science's name is about as nonsensical as claiming to speak in God's name.

Given this, all that anyone can do in trying to have a scientific viewpoint, is to try to explore things that are there... make one's own selection of what to study, trying not to miss what would be relevant for the topics one is trying to have a scientific view about. How to make the best selection to minimize the worst omissions of crucially relevant information for what one needs ? Only God really knows... but is not on the phone to answer this.

In a sense, there is no possible way to be objective. Anyone can search for the kind of information one believes to be relevant, and blame others for following wrong choices and biases, missing the relevant information.

From that ocean of possible knowledge, skeptics made their selection as follows. Metaphorically speaking, they have specialized themselves in the science of mud, and of all the possible reasons to doubt the possibilities in building any stable construction on top of the most slippery possible mud. From that viewpoint, of course, mud seems to be everywhere and everything looks like mud, so whenever someone is coming to mention any new finding or new kind of evidence, skeptics will dismiss it as mud since that is all that they know about and they analyze everything in such terms. But without reliable ways to prove anything, no way remains to refute wrong views either.

About the experiment of putting envelopes in ceilings in operation rooms

Some experiments started to put targets out of reach of ordinary sight in hospitals for out of body perceptions, so as to give chances for these perceptions to be proven. A reply in French by a near death experiencer here at 27:30-28:30 : We may develop other scenarios that have more chances to succeed, such as (these are only my suggestions, which may need review by near death experiencers): Nevertheless there are many cases of "subjective proofs" in the sense that experiencers remembered things not physically perceivable, yet followed a skeptical attitude of investigating whether their perceptions were correct, and then found these were correct ; without being proofs for others in the sense that they did not write down and certified their memories to prove to others that they indeed remembered this before doing the check. Now it is very natural and expectable for experiencers to focus efforts on checking things for themselves in priority, especially in the given troubled circumstances, than on caring to plan everything to ensure things to be undeniable for everybody else, isn't it ?

Another report of NDE study with diverse interesting info, including how patients did not happen to look at the targets.

The politeness argument

In my few attempts at discussion with skeptics (both as a side note of the long discussion, and in short other ones), referring to this and other pages, I was criticized for the lack of politeness of the tone of these texts, how I was visibly more trying to "attack" them than really discuss. Someone I tried to discuss with, wrote in the first reply: Uh ?? They might perceive themselves as very gentle people and full of passion for what they are doing indeed (which however I have trouble calling "science", sorry, when they are not mathematicians nor physicists, while I see other sciences as less relevant to metaphysical questions, as I'll expand later), this no way contradicts the possibility for them to have very stupid views, casting absurd and insulting calumnies against who does not think like them. As long as they have no little mirror to look at themselves, they cannot see how they really behave, how often many skeptics just ignore and fail to addressing the objects of debate on a rational level, but lazily satisfy themselves with ad hominem arguments, based on personal accusations which moreover can sometimes be completely baseless or circular, just based on the assumptions of their skeptical ideology. To discover the problem, one would need to change viewpoint... which may be far from obvious. So I am amazed at the irrelevance of this remark. The members of any cult, I guess, can legitimately say as much on their intentions and their attitudes of dedicated care to their respective conceptions of the truth. In the next reply, Uh, what is this supposed to mean ? I admit I knew perfectly and confidently well the topic being discussed (quantum mechanics), and that I was trying to discuss about it with someone for whom this is supposed to be the main work (and who even posed as reference I was kindly invited to learn everything from in case I was ignorant on the topic, after failing to read that I clearly announced the contrary in my first message), but who is visibly confused about it, with positions I knew to be indefensible, so that I was confident to find these coming from some gross mistakes as I develop below. Sorry but how is this my fault if my opponents positions are ridiculously indefensible and I clearly know how, all in advance ? If someone cannot stop proclaiming ridiculous nonsense in discussions but at the same time cannot bear the risk of being quoted and criticized for the mistakes committed, both on the topic of quantum interpretations which is supposed to be one's own field of expertise, and on everything around, i.e. describing the conditions for thoughts and discussions to be qualified as rational, then maybe it was a bad idea to get displayed as an active and reputable reference member of a skeptical organization having things to teach to the world about the meanings of quantum mechanics and rational thinking. (And, I promise I cared to try picking someone who seemed hopefully among the wisest there, i.e. with a minimum of physics background and somewhat exceptionally aware of how much this minimum physics background is needed but unfortunately lacking in other skeptics who mistakenly proclaim arguments from physics which are in fact ridiculous...) Well, can they start looking at themselves in a little mirror ? Can they have any clue about the huge amount of despise which, generally, skeptics continuously throw at all the people who don't think like them ? Visibly, they don't.
This reminds me of Christians who say "Hate the sin, love the sinner", where "sin" usually includes homosexuality, to which skeptics reply they "hate the belief but love the believer". I mean, of course it is normal for anyone to dislike what one sees as wrong in others while still "loving" them as people in the sense of wishing the best for them (and that "best" usually means to change their mind or anything one sees wrong in them of course). Now what I consider odd from anyone is to point out this "good intention" of criticizing/dislinking an opinion or practice while respecting/loving the person, as if it was anything remarkable. Thus, while I see sense for skeptics to point out the mirror image of this in reply to Christians who made that fuss in the first place, I see it odd for anyone to point out anything similar outside this excusing context of not being the one who started it. Indeed what is the point ? I think, the act of explicitly pointing out the need to distinguish the wrong thing (opinion or attribute to be criticized) from the person to be respected, is one of the really insulting possible acts, for the following reasons: The state of affairs in this world, in case someone did not notice, is that there are multiple viewpoints or ideologies, a number of which having their respective communities of very sincere, dedicated and well-intended followers, which are not just logically opposed to each other, but violently so on an intellectual level, i.e. very insulting to each other. Concretely, the members of each group usually do not consider themselves infallible, but admit the possibility to be mistaken and see life as a long path of continuous research to try to correct their possible mistakes. For this, they remain open to criticism. Or at least they see themselves in this way. However for a criticism to be worth consideration, it obviously needs to be reasonable and justified. This means it needs to be a minimum coherent with the general body of the rest of known truths. More precisely, this means it must not diverge in more than, something like 10% the average amount of disagreement with other ideologies out there. Any candidate "criticism" which would oppose more than that, would obviously lose the status of "reasonable criticism" to get that of ridiculous insult not worth any attention.
This is why genuine debates between followers of really different ideologies, usually do not happen and cannot happen. This is why everybody's genuine and sincere willingness and impression of being "open to criticism" and practicing self-criticism, remains hopelessly ineffective in terms of real chances to depart from the main bodies of mistakes which can be committed.
I recognize that many skeptics are somewhat aware of this problem : this is why they developed their method of "epistemic interview", which can be respected for being a candidate solution to this problem of how to bridge the gap between incompatible ideologies, problem which in many people's lives remains otherwise unsolved. And I do recognize that this method can be really beneficial to some people, like I also recognize that many people's lives could be genuinely changed for the better by being preached the Gospel and becoming Christians.
It is just not my favorite method, as I see it too superficial and incomplete in terms of the range of mistakes it can help to uncover (and I'm afraid it can be somewhat hypocritical as a way of hiding how much you despise the thoughts of the people you are discussing with). For the rest of possible mistakes and misunderstandings, I do think they need to be addressed, and yet I cannot find a logical possibility to do so in a non-insulting manner. This is why I conclude in the necessity to practice insensitivity to insults, in order for genuine rational debates between truly different viewpoints to become possible. I am aware that not many people are able and ready for that. However, I do not think that those who aren't have a legitimate place as active members of the skeptical movement, considering what their activity is supposed to be all about. This raises the question: in these terms, how much of the active members of the skeptical movement may be legitimately in their place ? To my link to the main discussion group I know dedicated to critical discussion of the skeptical ideology and related topics, the reply was What a strange excuse. First, there is usually no trace of any race-related stuff in that group, there only exceptionally happened to be there one recent news with one racial detail at that time. There sometimes happens to be mentions of anthroposophy, but I could not see there anything close to what might be called a "pro-anthroposophy propaganda". I am not interested in anthroposophy (and cannot see the "social danger" of the Waldorf schools whose originality seems to be to treat children as free individuals instead of slaves of some dictatorship of nonsense as standard schools do...). As for vaccines, yes the usual trend there is critical of vaccines, so what ? at least this view seems to come with its rational grounds, which I would see no sense to just run away from in Science's name. Now, while the above explanation for the lack of skeptics participation to that group is not worded in terms of sensitivity to insults, it still seems to work the same. At least I don't see much difference in how it works, namely the behavior of avoiding discussions due to a too big amount or intensity of disagreements perceived as unbearable. Moreover this group seems to me very civilized and reasonable, much more civilized and reasonable than typical skeptics-dominated spaces. Different perspectives, so different perceptions of the same things. What did I write ???? I was comparing skeptics with Christians, in that both are as well-intended and passionate (insofar as these qualities were supposed, not by me but from the above quote, to be the main criteria for judgement that deserved consideration), NOT comparing science and dogma. Indeed, especially, my main point is that skepticism is not science but pseudo-science.

Skeptics may find very interesting to study the thinking of people who believe that the Earth is flat, however they will run away crying as soon as someone has the madness of going to criticize the skeptical ideology. Poor dears fearing to have a heart attack if they ventured in discussion spaces that are not properly censored by their peer skeptics to fit the way they need discussions to look like. Yet they proclaim themselves champions of self-criticism and accepting criticism. They are even ready to crush the world with their super proclamations of good intentions about it. Yes of course they are open to the criticism from the people who agree with them, like everyone else.

Let us come back to what it was which I was calling a "lie" rather than a "mistake" and why:

Really I cannot help but find this a masterpiece in the art of committing great fallacies to fool the people as badly as possible. Starting from a piece of math which was roughly correct (even if this form of its report can still be somehow criticized as detailed below), this goes on in 2 steps into some completely wrong claims, through some extreme abuse of the ambiguities of natural language, as if that precise use of natural language could be an appropriate translation of what the math of decoherence meant. All the opposite holds. People who hate math may like this "explanation" which they might mistake as clear and fine. But those who properly understand it must be horrified of the falsity of where this went. In reply to my remark on this coherence/superposition ambiguity, and that in many-worlds the superposition persists, the excuse was So much BS here.

On the math content of what is wrong. The reason why coherence and superposition must not be confused, is not that superposition is only a part of coherence, but the other way round (more comments below). Then, there is logically no such concept as the "probability to stay coherent". Quantum "coherence" consists in the presence of nonzero "interference terms" among the components of the state of a system. These terms are numbers which can contribute positively or negatively to the probabilities for the possible results of some kinds of measurements which can be made, in ways which differ from what a classically probabilistic superposition would provide. But these contributions to probabilities cannot consist in giving any non-zero probability for any measurement result which would have zero probability in non-superposed (or classically superposed) cases (indeed more precisely, mathematically changing the sign of an interference term must still give non-negative values of all probabilities).

About this "standard point of view" being "standard". Sorry I have no interest to investigate what the majority of other teachers happened to be saying on the topic, to find out whether it was really here a great parrot's intelligence which deserved my praise in a world dominated by the same BS, rather than an unfortunate fruit of a personal misunderstanding or distortion away from some more defensible "standard".

About this "standard point of view" being a point of view at all. How could it be ? The fact is, in the whole list of all conceivable and inconceivable interpretations of quantum physics, there does not exist any one in which the end of superposition would coincide with decoherence. And there is a good reason for this : that there is not and cannot be any exact definition for decoherence in terms of the precise state of a system at a precise time. Because the concept of decoherence is only defined as emergent from the fundamental evolution laws, without any straightforward definition of its precise amplitude from the given state of a system at a precise time. It all remains relative to the precise abstract way of analyzing the system, whose relevance must be meant as trying to reflect the possibilities of solving the engineering problem of coming up with a measurement device from outside the system (a concept itself dependent of how you defined the limits of the system outside of which a measuring device is allowed to come up), that could achieve this or that much difference of probabilities of results mentioned above. How much hopeless it could be to try designing such a measuring device, and how daunting the complexity of such a device you can still afford to make, which would be needed for a given achievement. All that matters to the definition of how much "coherence" there is left at any given time (and becomes practically insignificant only due to how fast all of this is wiped out by the exponential decrease with a so extremely short time unit which applies to any given variant of the definition). So whenever a given precise value of an interference term is given, which you may like to call "the probability for coherence to remain", it does not mean that the complementary probability would be the probability for the end of superposition to have really occurred; only that you gave up trying to design a measurement device more sensitive than this to the quantum superposition.

About the many-worlds interpretation being "not the topic". On the contrary the only possibly meaningful sense or relevant explanation to give to decoherence is the one it takes in many-worlds, for the clear reason that :

About the need to omit the math content for the sake of a better pedagogy. It is one thing to make efforts of trying to develop relatively good translations of math into words for this purpose. It is another thing to take this need of avoiding math for the public's sake as an excuse to conform one's own mind to this pedagogical standard of hatred of math, dismissing any care to understand this math for oneself, and then making heavy use of this personal ignorance of the actual content of known science, as a means to keep feeling innocent when proclaiming to the world that this math would prove the opposite of what it really does, while not letting people a chance to discover what might be wrong with the claimed conclusion.

About the need to help someone to "not feel attacked". It is one thing to divert from the topic by insisting on the duty of trying to adapt the expression of stuff for that purpose. But then specifying the expected expression of this requirement, first as "always interpreting the speech of another assuming he's intelligent", and later as "talk about mistakes rather than lies, which is not connoted with a negative intention" without anyhow noticing the contradiction, drives us further into the abyss of nonsense (but it would have been naive to not expect it to end up there anyway ; of course one might try to reject the contradiction, not in terms of lack of knowledge background for this case where competence is claimed, but of the possibility for some people to practice the art of sincerely using their intelligence inappropriately away from truth ; this would drive us too much away from the topic, moreover the methods of skepticism are not supposed to be the art of unintendedly using one's intelligence inappropriately, or are they ?)

About my reason to call this a "lie" rather than a "gross but still unimportant approximation for public understanding anyway" : I actually explained this valid reason before the request to talk of mistake rather than lie came as a reply:

Details of how this "misunderstanding" effectively serves as the main basis which so many skeptics heavily rely on when loudly proclaiming having physical arguments for physicalism.

What should I conclude from this ? Poor dears are these skeptics victims of such a conspiracy of the laws of Nature which once entangled with their holy concerns for pedagogy throughout the math-dumb masses of people, drives them to so honestly and unwillingly fool everybody into the conviction that there would be a solid physical argument for physicalism when there really is none ! They deserve our compassionate understanding instead of a criticism don't they ?

On the diversity of skeptics

Similarly, the feeling about this exposition (reply to my link to this exposition): Well, how can I take this dismissal, except as evidence that they're so unconscious of themselves they'll never recognize themselves in a little mirror. What the heck is this dismissal supposed to mean seriously ? The claimed evidence for the discrepancy in this reply seems to be "we are doing everything we can to do a quality job". So what ? Did I ever accuse any skeptics of not doing everything they could in their own eyes to do a quality job ? No I didn't. Therefore I cannot find any sign of a genuine difference from this reaction.
Once again, I find here the same cause of misunderstanding I experienced with Christians, who cannot recognize themselves in the description I make of them, because I described how they effectively, externally behave, which is all what matters to me, and this does not match the way they believe and intend to behave, which is what they focus on. The temptation to look at one's own intentions can have 2 alternative excuses, one is that intentions would be what really mattered for itself instead of effective results (i.e. a call to switch the topic to matters of personal judgement at the expense of effective concerns for actual states of the matter on realities which those beliefs, intents and researches were supposed to be about), the other being that effective outcomes would be mainly determined by these intents. And I reject both. If you don't understand what I mean by the discrepancy between internal attitudes and external behaviors, please refer to the Chinese room experiment. This is not just a crazy fictional thought experiment, but a faithful description of what really happens most of the time with Christians doing their best to follow God's will and wisdom, and skeptics doing their best to follow what they imagine as "the scientific method" — except that, of course, this Chinese room works much better to make super-wrong outcomes emerge from the best quality internal causes than the other way round.

Another aspect of how irrelevant it is to dismiss a criticism under the excuse of not recognizing oneself there, is also well explained by the famous atheist Greta Christina in these words

More quotes from my discussion: Well, that reminds me the experience that, among the large number of Christians I happened to meet randomly since my deconversion, I cannot remember anyone of them not explaining away my deconversion by blaming me for the stupid mistake of having extrapolated a misfortunate experience of having stumbled on the wrong Christians (unless they blame me for something still more serious like betraying God...), ignoring the fact (which they never had the curiosity to ask the question of) that I actually had, in average, much more negative experiences with Christians after my deconversion than before (a phenomenon which the above section explains well). See also about politically correct fanatics by another author.

What I reported in this exposition, for many quotes aside some less quoted others, is my experience with the only skeptic who, until now, had the patience and willingness of sustaining a very long and in-depth discussion with me on quite a number of topics. Moreover, if you really, seriously think that this one does not stand your standards of quality skeptical thinking, please say it so loud, denounce the mistakes so committed to stop other skeptics from committing the same mistakes in the future, and report it to him (I'll share contact), that would be a big news to him I am sure. Then if you believe that there is at least a noticeable fraction of the skeptics community with more intelligent and respectable behavior than this, it is up to them to prove it. First by understanding that my analysis deserves consideration without needing me to bother running after them, for serious reasons including the quality of my work of clarifying the foundations of mathematics and physics better than most other so-called science popularizers around. Then, by understanding that it needs serious replies publicly and officially in their publications. Because I have no time to waste for more private discussions with idiots speaking in the name of skepticism, in ways which could be more waste of time and nerves as, if I then tried to use these by writing further public reports on these (unless I'd be forbidden to, which would mean it really was an abuse of my time), that could be seen worth dismissing as another ridiculous attempt of extrapolation from a misfortunate experience with the wrong specimens of skeptics.

The idea of a diversity of views among skeptics raises the following issue. There is hopefully this fundamental observable difference between proper science which successfully studies reality, and cults with their dogmas or other failing research methods disconnected from reality : that in any given question altogether meaningful, important enough to get attention and work of serious and skilled investigators, old enough to have got that since quite a time, and easy enough to be accessible to clearly successful investigation in such time, science eventually reaches consensus, while cults fail and stay divided. There is the famous argument from locality, to criticize religions claims of knowing the truth of God for that reason.
Now if it happens for the community of skeptics to keep a heavy and persisting internal discrepancy of different views and different recognized lists of valid arguments on matters with the above mentioned qualities, then it should be seen as a bad sign to the credibility and claims of rationality of this community and its methods as a whole, rather than anything to be proud of.

If the limit to the possibility for skeptics to reach a reliable set of statements on important issues for their concerns is the too small number of active skeptics working on these, which would be ridiculously small compared to the more general scientific community, then they need to admit this: the skeptics community is only a tiny group of people still in their research at a speculative stage, not a proper representative and trustworthy voice of any kind of established science like other sciences can be.

This brings to remember a crucial structure of normal, mainstream science, that is the importance of clear distinctions between 3 different kinds of scientific activities in every field : research (which may be speculative towards new results), teaching of core established knowledge, and popularization. Skeptics do not seem to draw these lines so well in what they are doing. They may point out, as a useful part of rational thinking and debates, the need for people to specify, when making any claim, how sure these claims are seen. However beyond individual discussions done for practice and exploration, there are some topics of wide enough public interest, for which skeptics, in order to be serious and deserve the image of scientific credibility they are expecting, would need to better sort out their activities by not sharing what is sure and what isn't in the same communication spaces, but reserving their more speculative ideas for some more internal discussion spaces, while only spreading to channels for large audiences what was sufficiently checked and found to reach consensus among competent people, for which the risks and rights to commit mistakes can be ruled out.

Here is an example from another part of the conversation:

So, there are different alternative possibilities : either psychiatry is a respectable, reliable science serving well the public interest ; or it is a dangerous pseudo-science largely manipulated by financial interests working as a mafia and destroying the lives of many people; or anything in between. But these possibilities cannot be all true ; moreover the question does matter, naturally falls inside the expectable range of skeptics fields of interests, is old enough and does not seem to be out of reach of affordable successful investigation or is it ?

Now if it happens that official skeptics publications defend psychiatry as a proper science and dismiss its critics then I cannot see how any reasonable person aware of the damage of psychiatry can decently bear being featured as an active member of a skeptics organization without at least dedicating some energy to speak out loud publicly against those skeptics publications and their authors, declaring them a shame for skepticism, in imperative need to be clearly disavowed and contradicted through channels with at least as many readers or viewers as those through which the wrong views were spread in the first place. It should not be the duty of other people who discuss and try to assess the credibility of the skeptics community and its methods as a proper voice of reason, to happily praise the wisdom of true skepticism while excusing and ignoring the big faults committed in the most official skeptics channels, just in the name of the invisible existence of a minority of members of this community who silently think better. The burden to sort out such things should stand on the shoulders of skeptics themselves.

An important reason for this, is that it would be a great matter of practical application and testing of the belief according to which, in average, active skeptics would be no less rational and open to valid criticism and correction of mistakes than the rest of the population.

Summing up my old report

Long ago I spent quite some time reviewing the situation of the debate in France, and wrote a report in French.

The main categories of those points:

To roughly sum up some diverse aspects:

Some historical aspects in France and in the world

More stuff I wrote long ago There is a list of articles in French in the web site of IMI. For example in that article Here is an explanation once given by a member of the students group of IMI in 2007 in a newsgroup, about what is wrong with the practice of the so-called scientific skeptics ("OZ" = Observatoire Zététique):

Previous : Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3
Next : Part 5 - Part 6
List of links on skepticism
Back to site : Antispirituality main page