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    (Original post by garethDT)
    The witness testimony of millions of people, many of them previously sceptics, how is that not evidence?
    Not evidence, psychology does a good job explaining their reasons for their beliefs.
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    (Original post by garethDT)
    The witness testimony of millions of people, many of them previously sceptics, how is that not evidence?

    If scientists can't find a way to examine it then why don't they just say 'we don't know', rather than 'our conventional methods cannot measure this phenomena therefore it doesn't exist and millions of people are either lying or deluded'. That's actually a very childish way of looking at it.

    That's what they do say: "we don't know". You obviously don't know much about science. No-one would be more excited to find evidence of some crazy new phenomenon than a scientist; it would be the best day of their lives. Unfortunately, every single time we go and investigate something, we're disappointed to discover that, once again, the claimant is either a fraud or a lunatic.

    What are you talking about specifically anyway? Ghosts? Aliens? Water-divining? Uri Geller?
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    (Original post by garethDT)
    The witness testimony of millions of people, many of them previously sceptics, how is that not evidence?

    If scientists can't find a way to examine it then why don't they just say 'we don't know', rather than 'our conventional methods cannot measure this phenomena therefore it doesn't exist and millions of people are either lying or deluded'. That's actually a very childish way of looking at it.
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    I could continue forever. I assume you get my point?

    EDIT: It's not like scientists don't want to prove it, any scientist that manages to prove such occurrences using the scientific method will become famous and have kilotons of research grants thrown onto him as crowds of sultry opposite sex scientists crawl at their feet (or same sex for those inclined. Or both!) praising their mental prowess. However every single time a professor has gone out with a set of lab equipment, a bored team of undergraduates and a group of sycophantic postgrads to test these claims they have been consistently disappointed.

    EDIT2: I assume you know what Occam's Razor is? 'simpler theories are, other things being equal, generally better than more complex ones'. The problem with phony post-modern spirituality is that A) They are not really a viable explanation and B) They are rarely the simple solution.

    We could, quite easily, add leprechauns to every single scientific theory and still have it make sense.
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    (Original post by garethDT)
    therefore they consider anything not yet understood by science to be untrue which is foolish indeed.
    No they don't.
    We don't really understand how the universe was created, or black holes etc etc, yet they don't think either is foolish.

    (Original post by garethDT)
    It's about time scientists started trying to understand the nature of the paranormal (ghosts, poltergeists, past-life experiences, OBEs etc.) rather than trying to pretend it doesn't exist.
    They don't pretend they don't exist.
    There are many different explanations for what you are describing. We may eventually find the explanations to be false, but science is not pretending they don't exist

    (Original post by garethDT)
    The witness testimony of millions of people, many of them previously sceptics, how is that not evidence?
    Because many times it has been proven that these "tesimonies" are fake.
    Plus, as already been said, millions of people believe that there is one god, millions of people believe there are many, and millions of people believe there isn't one. They all can't be right. Just because "millions of people" believe something (or claim they have seen something), it does not make it true.
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    (Original post by py0alb)
    Possibly true, but I suppose you could argue that science is the idealised methodology that we strive for as scientists: just because in practice we occasionally (frequently?) fall short does not invalidate the method itself or make it no longer worth attempting to be as rigorous as external constraints allow. Clearly human error and fallibility is not impinging upon the power of the methodology so much as to render it completely impotent.

    I would always recommend increasing the depth of your knowledge in whatever scientific field you are interested in, so that you can back up your initial scepticism with a coherent understanding of the issues. Some fields of science are actually surprisingly accessible.
    I'd agree that science must defend itself in at least an aim for methodological rigour, as well as other important qualities, like an embrace of never-ending self-criticism (most obviously through peer-review). Beyond that we have to concede that not all branches of science do employ, or even can employ, an idealised methodology. One of the most powerful and defining features of science, imv, is predictive power, nothing else comes close to science in this respect. At the same time the extent to which predictive power is present in a given science varies significantly, in QM it is very, very high, in climatology it is relatively low. And what of those branches of science where much investigation is simulated and/or speculative, as in the realm of high-energy physics, string-theory, worm-holes and so on?

    Don't get me wrong, I'm very pro-science, but science isn't without its own practical and theoretical issues. And we haven't even toched on the extent to which science is pursued within or given political aims.
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    (Original post by garethDT)
    The witness testimony of millions of people, many of them previously sceptics, how is that not evidence?

    If scientists can't find a way to examine it then why don't they just say 'we don't know', rather than 'our conventional methods cannot measure this phenomena therefore it doesn't exist and millions of people are either lying or deluded'. That's actually a very childish way of looking at it.
    It is evidence. However it can be quickly refuted or discounted. Eye witness testimony is notoriously inaccurate; people often don't see what they think they see; they often lie or fabricate evidence; there is often a simple explanation for what they claim to have seen. The area of the paranormal is so susceptible to fraud that such people as James Randi guarantee to be able to reproduce the phenomena claimed as paranormal by using stage magic and Randi even offers $1 million to anyone who can prove they have paranormal abilities. Such claims have, so far, always failed under scientific scrutiny. It is the fact that such claims always fail under scrutiny that leads to the conclusion that they are always fraudulent and that such phenomena are unlikely to exist.

    I'll give you an example of how supposedly strange occurences usually have simple explanations. My physics teacher used to tell the story of widely reported sightings of UFOs many years before in Australia. At the time he was involved in military research and the team he was a member of was testing some new kind or radar. Part of the tests involved gliding a powered aeroplane with the engines switched off towards a scanner at night and swooping sharply upwards when it got close, and then gliding off. Many people reported mysterious sightings of silent and strangely moving spacecraft and, of course, military secrecy meant that nothing could be divulged. The papers were, therefore full of UFO reports that were never refuted and many people came to believe that this was another visitation by aliens. For them there was no other reasonable explanation.

    In any case, you are wrong - scientists have investigated the paranormal and, after these investigations, there is still no general scientific agreement that such phenomena are real.
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    (Original post by Fusilero)
    ...

    EDIT2: I assume you know what Occam's Razor is? 'simpler theories are, other things being equal, generally better than more complex ones'...
    Because I can.

    I'm not at all an enemy of Occam's Razor but I think it is too easily given a 'law' like status. Simpler theories, even all other things being equal, may be 'better' in the neatness of explanation, not to mention being easier for us to understand, but I'm not convinced that this of itself makes them more likely to be 'truer' than more complex ones. If, for the sake of argument, a 'simple' theory 'A' and a 'complex' theory 'B' are, all other things being equal, equally effective in their correspondence with a given phenomenon, it's only the fact that A is 'simpler and neater' that we choose it, and that's not really a scientific criteria, is it?
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    (Original post by Oswy)
    I'd agree that science must defend itself in at least an aim for methodological rigour, as well as other important qualities, like an embrace of never-ending self-criticism (most obviously through peer-review). Beyond that we have to concede that not all branches of science do employ, or even can employ, an idealised methodology. One of the most powerful and defining features of science, imv, is predictive power, nothing else comes close to science in this respect. At the same time the extent to which predictive power is present in a given science varies significantly, in QM it is very, very high, in climatology it is relatively low. And what of those branches of science where much investigation is simulated and/or speculative, as in the realm of high-energy physics, string-theory, worm-holes and so on?

    Don't get me wrong, I'm very pro-science, but science isn't without its own practical and theoretical issues. And we haven't even toched on the extent to which science is pursued within or given political aims.

    A structuralist viewpoint of science I'm fine with, although I'm inclined to think its more the swayer of the cultural paradigm and and less the swayee, in comparison to other fields like politics or the arts. But clearly, feedback mechanisms exist though the mindsets of the scientists themselves and need to be acknowledged. Not much we can really do about that though.
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    (Original post by Oswy)
    Because I can.

    I'm not at all an enemy of Occam's Razor but I think it is too easily given a 'law' like status. Simpler theories, even all other things being equal, may be 'better' in the neatness of explanation, not to mention being easier for us to understand, but I'm not convinced that this of itself makes them more likely to be 'truer' than more complex ones. If, for the sake of argument, a 'simple' theory 'A' and a 'complex' theory 'B' are, all other things being equal, equally effective in their correspondence with a given phenomenon, it's only the fact that A is 'simpler and neater' that we choose it, and that's not really a scientific criteria, is it?
    Well, what you say is true. But Occams razor almost makes a valid predictive point about the amount of assumptions compared to the amount of valid predictions two competing theories make, and with a little thinking we can see what it's hinting at.

    Let me try and explain this: if we have theory 1 that requires situation A to be the case for its validity, and theory 2 that requires situation A AND situation B to be the case for its validity, then theory 1 has a greater probability of being true than theory 2, regardless of the relative probabilities of situations A and B.

    Similarly, if theory 1 explains previously unexplained phenomenon C, and theory 2 explains previously unexplained phenomena C AND D, then a Bayesian analysis tell us than theory 2 has a greater probability of being true than theory 1, regardless of the relative probabilities that something else may adequately explain the two phenomena.


    So thats basically a more concrete, probabilistic version of Occams law. Underlying a simple and overused phrase, there's actually a perfectly valid piece of probabilistic reasoning why we should assign a greater likelihood of veracity to a theory with less assumptions and a greater predictive power.
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    (Original post by garethDT)
    I'm sceptical of scientists because they seem more concerned with disproving spirituality than in proving science.

    It's about time scientists started trying to understand the nature of the paranormal (ghosts, poltergeists, past-life experiences, OBEs etc.) rather than trying to pretend it doesn't exist.
    All those things have been proved to be fabrications of the brain a long time ago.

    Ask anyone who has had a lucid dream or tried hallucinogenic drugs or suffered psychosis.

    People don't understand how powerful the brain is.
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    (Original post by j.alexanderh)
    In the scientific community, anthropogenic global warming is considered as good as factual. There is not really any substantive debate over this issue anymore.
    In the scientific community this may be the case, but as evident by forms threads like this (and numerous surveys) it is not so clear cut with the wider population.
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    (Original post by garethDT)
    I think this accurately describes the point I've been trying to make.

    Scientists' faith in the tangible world being all there is means that they deny the observations of others (who have experienced the paranormal) to preserve their own stubborn and very unscientific stance on the matter.

    I think it's time scientists swallowed their pride and conceded that people who see ghosts are not just imagining it or seeing a trick of the light etc. These arguments just don't wash any more, ghosts sightings have been reported in every corner of the world since time began, often by people who were previously sceptics.

    Scientists ought to be trying to understand this phenomena rather than denying its very existence.
    There are also millions of UFO sightings arround the world etc etc. Scientits "deny the observations of others" on principle. You cannot have hearsay evidence in science!

    For example, I could come up with a theory that light was made up of all different colours that combined to make white light. I can insist I have seen evidence to support this. You, naturally, would say "ok, show me" and I would have to come up with a repeatable, recordable experiment to demonstrate the effect.

    Other people might not have to perform the experiment, but they could look up the results and draw their own conclusions. Scientific papers are heavily peer reviewed and need to be very thorough, it doesnt work like "yeah, I saw that last night when I woke up!"

    "These arguments just don't wash any more" Then show me some solid evidence as to an alternative.

    As for mass sightings, this clearly can't be taken at face value. A large population of the planet belive in quite similar religions - does this imply that those are true? I certainly don't think so! Are you religious, if so, are you picking the most common religion simply because the most people belive in it? (I dont want this to turn into a debate about religion, I was just using it as an example of how our brains seem wired to belive in strange things and that only mass belief/unconfirmed human sightings are not a replacement for recorded evidence)

    Why are there no independent photos of ghosts for example, with all those sightings you would expect loads of photos. People have dedicated their entire lives to recording ghosts and have found no evidence.
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    (Original post by Hanvyj)
    There are also millions of UFO sightings arround the world etc etc. Scientits "deny the observations of others" on principle. You cannot have hearsay evidence in science!

    For example, I could come up with a theory that light was made up of all different colours that combined to make white light. I can insist I have seen evidence to support this. You, naturally, would say "ok, show me" and I would have to come up with a repeatable, recordable experiment to demonstrate the effect.

    Other people might not have to perform the experiment, but they could look up the results and draw their own conclusions. Scientific papers are heavily peer reviewed and need to be very thorough, it doesnt work like "yeah, I saw that last night when I woke up!"

    "These arguments just don't wash any more" Then show me some solid evidence as to an alternative.

    As for mass sightings, this clearly can't be taken at face value. A large population of the planet belive in quite similar religions - does this imply that those are true? I certainly don't think so! Are you religious, if so, are you picking the most common religion simply because the most people belive in it? (I dont want this to turn into a debate about religion, I was just using it as an example of how our brains seem wired to belive in strange things and that only mass belief/unconfirmed human sightings are not a replacement for recorded evidence)

    Why are there no independent photos of ghosts for example, with all those sightings you would expect loads of photos. People have dedicated their entire lives to recording ghosts and have found no evidence.
    No I'm not religious. Religion is a belief in something.

    Ghost sightings have nothing to do with whether or not you believe in ghosts. I wouldn't expect scientists to believe in ghosts just because people say they have seen them. I would just expect them to have the maturity to recognise that there is clearly some phenomena going on that people from all beliefs and ages have witnessed and that for some reason it cannot be recorded using photography.

    It's about changing the stance from

    " no evidence therefore doesn't exist and people are just imagining it or need glasses"

    to

    "phenomena cannot be recorded using photography equipment, let's investigate other possibiliites which might explain why ghosts are only seen in certain circumstances."

    At the moment it seems like they're saying anything they can't explain doesn't exist. It shouldn't be a taboo to say they don't know.
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    cos its gettin well cold innit nd snowing moar so how can it b tru?
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    (Original post by garethDT)
    No I'm not religious. Religion is a belief in something.

    Ghost sightings have nothing to do with whether or not you believe in ghosts. I wouldn't expect scientists to believe in ghosts just because people say they have seen them. I would just expect them to have the maturity to recognise that there is clearly some phenomena going on that people from all beliefs and ages have witnessed and that for some reason it cannot be recorded using photography.

    It's about changing the stance from

    " no evidence therefore doesn't exist and people are just imagining it or need glasses"

    to

    "phenomena cannot be recorded using photography equipment, let's investigate other possibiliites which might explain why ghosts are only seen in certain circumstances."

    At the moment it seems like they're saying anything they can't explain doesn't exist. It shouldn't be a taboo to say they don't know.
    Oh come on!

    Your eyes. How do they see? Its pretty well understood how photons react with rod/cone cells etc etc resulting in an image (the complexities of your brains image processing however is very subtle and not well understood)

    So for someone to "see" something, these photons would have to either be produced by said object or reflect of it. Pretty simple scientific phenomena.

    Electronic recording equipment work in exactly the same way but have electronic sensors etc etc.

    How are photons supposed to "know" whether a human cell is going to intercept them or an electronic device?

    A much more reasonable solution would be to assume, rather than the very simple well understood repeatable and recordable physical process, that the most complex un-predictable (ie un-repeatable) part is the place where these "ghosts" are happening? Ie the human brain.

    This is of course an assumption. But its easily observed that the brain makes sight up all the time (hey, have you ever dreamed anything? The brain has also evolved to over-estimate threats in odd ways as a survival technique) and the lack of any other form (other than human sightings) of these phenomena rather than some idea that they are somehow separate from any known kind of physics?

    Also, how do you suggest we research them in any way? You seem to agree they cannot be detected in any provable way (eg a camera) so how can we study them, what are we supposed to do other than "admit they exist (other than as a construct of peoples minds)"

    Why don't you do some "science" on these ghosts, or whatever you think scientist should do with the knowledge of their existence!

    Its like "string theory" its not science, because its completely un-provable and no experiments can be made to test it, therefore its a belief system, not physics.
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    (Original post by Hanvyj)
    Oh come on!

    Your eyes. How do they see? Its pretty well understood how photons react with rod/cone cells etc etc resulting in an image (the complexities of your brains image processing however is very subtle and not well understood)

    So for someone to "see" something, these photons would have to either be produced by said object or reflect of it. Pretty simple scientific phenomena.

    Electronic recording equipment work in exactly the same way but have electronic sensors etc etc.

    How are photons supposed to "know" whether a human cell is going to intercept them or an electronic device?

    A much more reasonable solution would be to assume, rather than the very simple well understood repeatable and recordable physical process, that the most complex un-predictable (ie un-repeatable) part is the place where these "ghosts" are happening? Ie the human brain.

    This is of course an assumption. But its easily observed that the brain makes sight up all the time (hey, have you ever dreamed anything? The brain has also evolved to over-estimate threats in odd ways as a survival technique) and the lack of any other form (other than human sightings) of these phenomena rather than some idea that they are somehow separate from any known kind of physics?

    Also, how do you suggest we research them in any way? You seem to agree they cannot be detected in any provable way (eg a camera) so how can we study them, what are we supposed to do other than "admit they exist (other than as a construct of peoples minds)"

    Why don't you do some "science" on these ghosts, or whatever you think scientist should do with the knowledge of their existence!

    Its like "string theory" its not science, because its completely un-provable and no experiments can be made to test it, therefore its a belief system, not physics.
    I agree physics does not extend to the spiritual realm, therefore they should just admit that there's things they don't understand and leave it at that. Instead the scientific consensus is to be smug and patronising in dismissing something which they don't understand.
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    (Original post by garethDT)
    Instead the scientific consensus is to be smug and patronising in dismissing something which they don't understand.
    Er no. The scientific consensus is that phenomena which have been proved countless times to be the result of human deception, halucinations, dreams, mirages or other natural causes, or the result of drugs or illness and have never been supported by repeatable and provable evidence that supports the ideas you are propounding are not the result of supernatural or alien causes.
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    (Original post by garethDT)
    I agree physics does not extend to the spiritual realm, therefore they should just admit that there's things they don't understand and leave it at that. Instead the scientific consensus is to be smug and patronising in dismissing something which they don't understand.
    Once again, just like in an earlier discussion with you, you are placing your beliefs above any kind of scrutiny... Has it occurred to you, that maybe physics does not extend to the "spiritual realm", because the spiritual realm does not exist?

    All you have is anecdotal evidence, and eyewitness testimonies to support your belief; but eyewitness testimonies are notoriously unreliable. Here is a short excerpt from a study by Laura Engelhardt; outlining some issues with eyewitness testimonies:

    Several studies have been conducted on human memory and on subjects’ propensity to remember erroneously events and details that did not occur. Elizabeth Loftus performed experiments in the mid-seventies demonstrating the effect of a third party’s introducing false facts into memory.4 Subjects were shown a slide of a car at an intersection with either a yield sign or a stop sign. Experimenters asked participants questions, falsely introducing the term "stop sign" into the question instead of referring to the yield sign participants had actually seen. Similarly, experimenters falsely substituted the term "yield sign" in questions directed to participants who had actually seen the stop sign slide. The results indicated that subjects remembered seeing the false image. In the initial part of the experiment, subjects also viewed a slide showing a car accident. Some subjects were later asked how fast the cars were traveling when they "hit" each other, others were asked how fast the cars were traveling when they "smashed" into each other. Those subjects questioned using the word "smashed" were more likely to report having seen broken glass in the original slide. The introduction of false cues altered participants’ memories.
    If you are so inclined, you can read more here: http://agora.stanford.edu/sjls/Issue...er&tversky.htm

    I also have an issue with your claims regarding the attitude of science. Scientists most certainly do not dismiss things they do not understand; they merely try to form reasons as to why such phenomenon occur. As somebody has mentioned earlier, black holes are a good example, but others include: The Big Bang, Evolutions, Time, etc.

    I think it's also quite arrogant of you to assume that you 'know' something that is absent from the collective knowledge of all scientists, past and present; especially when you have no hard evidence to support your claims.
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    (Original post by Phil2202)
    Once again, just like in an earlier discussion with you, you are placing your beliefs above any kind of scrutiny... Has it occurred to you, that maybe physics does not extend to the "spiritual realm", because the spiritual realm does not exist?

    All you have is anecdotal evidence, and eyewitness testimonies to support your belief; but eyewitness testimonies are notoriously unreliable. Here is a short excerpt from a study by Laura Engelhardt; outlining some issues with eyewitness testimonies:



    If you are so inclined, you can read more here: http://agora.stanford.edu/sjls/Issue...er&tversky.htm

    I also have an issue with your claims regarding the attitude of science. Scientists most certainly do not dismiss things they do not understand; they merely try to form reasons as to why such phenomenon occur. As somebody has mentioned earlier, black holes are a good example, but others include: The Big Bang, Evolutions, Time, etc.

    I think it's also quite arrogant of you to assume that you 'know' something that is absent from the collective knowledge of all scientists, past and present; especially when you have no hard evidence to support your claims.
    Have you seen that thing with the gorilla and the basketball players?
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    (Original post by py0alb)
    Have you seen that thing with the gorilla and the basketball players?
    Can't say I have :p:
 
 
 
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