Skeptics Conference

On July 23, 2016, we discontinued our forums. We ask our members to please join us in our new community site, The Hartmann Report. Please note that you will have to register a new account on The Hartmann Report.

9 posts / 0 new

For any interested, all it takes is a sense of doubt. Hone your bullshit detector skills, smell a conservative, spot a tea party goon from body language, and a GOP from the knot in their tie. http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/15-02-25/

Your first test is to recognize all I wrote as bunk, my own skills for my own benefit, and hype for a conference that ought to be good.

The first line I stand by, Skeptics Magazine has a bullshit detector site. My bad, they call it Balony detection, I call it bullshit detection. The difference between balony and bullshit is a matter of degrees.

douglaslee's picture
douglaslee
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Comments

It's one thing to wire trip the assholes who believe they are so rational, it's quite another to come around with something that makes holistic sense in our modern fragmented cultures.

One of your Skeptic articles attempts to make sense of the lost Gordian knot of cultural wholeness:

Has Science Made Us Better People?
Michael Shermer argues that science has not only improved our lives materially but morally and ethically as well. It’s an argument both stimul(a)ting and flawed.

Yes, the skeptics deconstruction will be flawed because you can't just do skepticism when faced with a fragmented, untied Gordian Knot of modern human consciousness that presents a litany of contradictions about the beneficial effects of modernity on a daily basis. No one I've encountered illustrates that better than an anthropologist who, with many among his intellectual tribe, has looked at the differences between fragmented modern rational Western culture and those still intact cultures anthropologists began to study years ago:

We Have Never Been Modern by Bruno Latour

What does Bruno mean to state we have never been what we so arrogantly and rationally conclude we are? The book explores that dilemma.

Skepticism alone is only one part of one of the components of modernism -- the rational, scientific mind. We find ourselves in a crisis of the critical stance because of the ever fragmenting adventure of compartmentalized skepticisms that leads to various criticisms. The rational mind is a compartment, and being skeptical with it alone does not necessarily lead to a holistic understanding, thus a potential for wise action.

At best skepticism may open the mind with question, at worst it may leave one in a state of irresolvable doubt, and thereby induce a kind of catatonia. Like: what the hell do "we" (as in all of humanity) do about an impending, human-caused sixth mass extinction event with CO2 induced global climate chaos? Ahh, Skepticism! Let's just doubt it's even happening, we can do that! Cultural catatonia follows; if not overcome with something non skeptical, like power, cultural catatonia induces ever fragmenting crisis. That seems to be our constant state of awareness -- in case anyone hasn't looked around lately:

Quote Bruno Latour:

Our intellectual life is out of kilter. Epistemology, the social sciences, the sciences of texts - all have their privileged vantage point, provided that they remain separate. If the creatures we are pursuing cross all three spaces, we are no longer understood. Offer the established disciplines some fine sociotechnological network, some lovely translations, and the first group will extract our concepts and pull out all the roots that might connect them to society or to rhetoric; the second group will erase the social and political dimensions, and purify our network of any object; the third group, finally, will retain our discourse and rhetoric but purge our work of any undue adherence to reality - horresco referens - or to power plays. In the eyes of our critics the ozone hole above our heads, the moral law in our hearts, the autonomous text, may each be of interest, but only separately. That a delicate shuttle should have woven together the heavens, industry, texts, souls and moral law - this remains uncanny, unthinkable, unseemly.

(We Have Never Been Modern, Latour, Bruno, 1991, Harvard translation 1993, p.5)

(I have both a hard copy and a recently downloaded PDF copy that makes quoting this Zen-like, sound of one hand clapping anthropological tome much simpler).

.ren's picture
.ren
Joined:
Apr. 1, 2010 6:50 am

It seems the meaning of "skepticism" has been distorted to further undermine not only critical thinking, but equally as important, if not more so, if I understand this, but also "critical feeling"? Authoritarian science employs "skepticism" to deny other ( often ancient) ways of knowing?

michellekovalik's picture
michellekovalik
Joined:
Oct. 15, 2013 1:25 pm

"Authoritarian science..."

I think you've hit upon one of those epistomological crossovers that Bruno Latour is talking about as a "crisis of critical stance."

In his scheme, I would translate authoritarian power as the Modernist's human cultural realm that is held as distinct from the objective rational science realm, and never the two shall meet, ideally.

But the problem in our out of kilter lives is they do.

When authoritarian power, as in corporate or political managed hierarchies, gets ahold of the discoveries of science, then science can indeed become "authoritarian science."

People employ the scientific method, not science. "Science" is merely a description for that very disciplined, rational and exploratory process. Science is not an entity -- either institutionally or otherwise -- that acts. Thus we must be careful in that we can often fool ourselves into creating an illusion of facts with our use of our own grammatical constructions, especially as we attempt to simplify the logically un-categorizable into a form of communication.

People don't always manage to use what the scientific method reveals with supreme objectivity. While that may be a Modernist's prescription for what the Western Modernists do, the truth about modernity may lie elsewhere. The employment of power through authoritarian institutions turns out to be filled with contradictions. And that's also the never ending skeptic's ever fragmenting rub.

Now critical feeling... Hmmm. What is a critical feeling? Have to think about that.

.ren's picture
.ren
Joined:
Apr. 1, 2010 6:50 am

critical feeling as verb, not "a", as a noun?

This will be clumsy, but given how even the most vigilant minds can subconsciously succumb the the triggered amydala, which not only tips the first domino with our body's hormonal responses- the adrenals and adrenaline, cortisol etc, a triggered amygdala shuts down our the frontal lobe, the cognitive mind, our ability to think critically. So, the first step is to "feel critically", maybe what is otherwise known as "mindfullness"? We must "feel critically" in order to short-circuit the amygdala trigger, to avoid "shutting down". It's teamwork, "critical thinking" and "critical feeling", mind/brain, most optimal- this ensures not just survival but progression?

hope this made sense

michellekovalik's picture
michellekovalik
Joined:
Oct. 15, 2013 1:25 pm

Yeah, ok, verb. Therefore a subjective state of mind, not a definitionally prescribed one. I had in mind the definition of critical when you combined it with feeling which leads down a different pathway. Communication is never a certain endeavor.

Mindfulness to me is what I am when I'm open and non judging. Observing without conscious preconception, for instance. Though I would not feel myself to be entirely mindful if I deliberately closed my awareness of my preconceptions and their knee-jerk responses as I'm going along. I need those to become wholly aware of myself. I guess I'm aware of the technical science involved without knowing about it, so I'll just take your word for it. I don't know if it matters to be. Probably Zen Buddhists of a thousand years ago were in the way I would be, that is without the technical language, while they meditated and eventually came up with the notion of mindfulness. I don't think it matters much what name is used to describe being mindful when it's about being in the moment. Many problems come about in trying to describe our subjective experiences to others.

I think also that "succumb" would be subjective according to whatever organization of mind an individual creates and lives with. Some of us may be more internally rule bound than others; we see at least some inicative evidence of that in such attempts to measure personality differences in efforts like the Myers Briggs personality assessment. I tend to work more in terms of openness to myself and the cultivating of an awareness than the sense of struggle against internalized rules. But it's not something I'd want to debate. I prefer not to debate about subjective experience. I don't assume anyone is like me, though of course I'm open to the possibility. Certainly no one should be from my perspective. An authoritarian might see it differently.

.ren's picture
.ren
Joined:
Apr. 1, 2010 6:50 am

Yes, I'm still trying to work out "mindfullness", I find different descriptions, or variations, basically "awareness". Then I bump into what then is "consciousness", and no one agrees on this, even if it exists! Consciousness, states of consciousness, awareness............What then is instinct? Maybe I'm confusing emotion with feeling, awareness with consciousness, Being and Nothingness! lol.........

michellekovalik's picture
michellekovalik
Joined:
Oct. 15, 2013 1:25 pm

I find a lot of crossovers with Buddhism, phenomenology and existentialism.

.ren's picture
.ren
Joined:
Apr. 1, 2010 6:50 am

I Never-Metaphor-I Didnt-Like-ebook

We've used a a variety of metaphors in some discussions, from chess and stew to laborisgood's Cosmic breadcrumbs. The do soften the explanation so a feeling or personal understanding is possible. Intuition is feeling, sometimes based on experience, or deja vu.

Critical thinking can be learned and rewards are usually seen in short order. (I thought so, or I told you so, or see?)

drc2, metaphors were key to one thread awhile ago we both participated in.

michelle, http://www.consciousentities.com/ usually has a discussion going re:consciousness, and great resources for related topics. I like the Stanford philosophy encyclopedia.

"What garlic is to salad, insanity is to art" is in the metaphor collection.

douglaslee's picture
douglaslee
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Trump and His Billionaire Buddies Plot to Destroy Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid

Thom plus logo Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are officially in the crosshairs of the Trump administration, and they intend to go after them this year.
Powered by Pressflow, an open source content management system