Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘metaphysical’

This is a rewritten version of an earlier post –

These three phenomena cover a wide array of activities and beliefs but share the same broad sense that they break away from what could be considered to be ‘natural’ and move towards trying to produce or support events that cannot be explained unless there is an unsupported theory behind the curtain. They use a selection of common defences in order to make sure of their own continuation, these are claims that are often made outside of the sorts of other logic and reasoning that perhaps every other part of our lives are subjected to. If I were to claim that I was in fact the best stock broker in the world (I know that in these times of financial melt down that most likely is not a difficult claim to make) then you would expect me too to back it up with at least something. If however, I were to claim to have the ability to speak to a family member of yours who has died, if I were really good at reading you and had been through some sort of education which might include Barnum statements & showmanship, I could actually make you believe that I was doing it. Based not on my actual ability but because you are vulnerable (primed even) and you were brought up in a society where even the slight possibility of these things being real means something to you! These three things which I will refer to as general superstitions rely on at least these five common defences that have to be in place or they will simply fail. There are two wider questions; are such superstitions true (the answer is no) and why do they even exist at all, of course these have very complex answers. Part of the reason behind this post was a promotional video for the Centre of Inquiry which describes superstition as ‘uneducated answers’ and how science makes it possible to have educated ones. Still I think it should go further; superstitions are failures in reasoning, as René Descartes promoted – reason & rationality are the sources of truth and the guarantors of progress.

Read the rest of the post here: http://www.rationalunderstanding.co.uk/superstition/the-common-defences-used-by-superstitions-religion-and-sometimes-conspiracy-theories-rational-thinking-pushed-aside/

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

https://i2.wp.com/i126.photobucket.com/albums/p109/Arthur_Vandelay99/fallacy2.gifLogical fallacies are errors in reasoned thinking and they happen to appear a lot, these are simply the result of a method of argument that appears to work on the surface but which does not stand up when questioned. I tend to view fallacies not as bits of knowledge that have been created rather they are concepts direct from intelligence, so the more you learn about them the better you will be able to think. It also links with critical thinking which is something that I tried to do although don’t always succeed in and something that I hope will remove the ideas of religion and superstition. There are both informal and formal fallacies, the former describes mistakes in reasoning based on interferences and the latter arguments to which will always be wrong from the way they have been constructed, both are forms of deductive reasoning. See my earlier post on how science uses induction; it explains the difference between the two forms of reasoning. An example of an informal fallacy would include differing definitions and concepts, such as freedom must be preserved at all times, freedom is relative when dealing with freedom of religion since it also includes freedom to live without religion. This is why I don’t really like using the word freedom. Formal on the other hand might be; all men are born free therefore, all women are born free. Since the original statement only refers to men, it is illogical to conclude that women are born free based on the original statement. Both of these are present in the ideas of religion and these are some of the ones that I have come across during my travel of blogs and websites.

Ad Hominem – attack the person making the argument rather than the argument, this includes saying the person is a racists therefore, anything that person produces is the result of that. Atheists get accused of this; there unwillingness to believe in a God is more important than their arguments to why they should not believe. Even within this blog I have been accused of being an “atheist” so the things I say are implied to be less relevant still if I was a believer and made the same comments it is sort of suggested that they would be worth more. The arguments are the arguments deal with them rather than who I am. Of course people tend to seek justifications so they can place a comment or article within a larger perspective, this is normal still they should self ban involvement rather than encourage it, after all if you cannot deal with others that don’t think like you do then you are simply unable to understand the points that are being raised. There are two fallacies in this area; the first is that of abusive which Pat Condell if he was a weaker man would react to! The death threats or personal attacks force someone into defending themselves rather than discussing the arguments. The second is Circumstantial which is the attack of a position, as I said being an atheist of course I would not understand metaphysical feelings of God; this is often an assumption and allows the argument to be dropped. Overall it is a distraction of the topic!

Circularity – as the name suggests it is just an argument that goes around and around, if you believe something then you already know the reasons to why you believe it, if you don’t believe then nothing will be able to convince you that the argument is true. This is what a lot of arguments about the metaphysical are based upon, you have to believe that there is something if you don’t then you cannot just understand it so the implication is that you have to assume that it is true before it can be justifiable. This could include believing in something and then seeing the arrangement of life in accordance within that belief, in other words using evidence to support your conclusion rather than the correct way in looking at the evidence and then coming to a decision. The original argument is the purpose of any further argument for example; the bible is God’s word therefore God is real, the notion of God’s Word is required in order to show the God is real. God is required to be real in order for the bible to then be God’s word; this does not say or add anything. Likewise saying we do something since it makes us lucky is often based on this type of logic, a lucky rabbits foot is a useful thing since it brings me luck, is all based on the first assumption in the first part of the sentence of ‘lucky rabbits foot’. I have also heard that Reiki will only work if you give it a chance, this is a notion that should always be rejected, it only assumes that it will work if you have belief in it. We should always reject this if Reiki works then it will work regardless of the level of belief that is invested into it

Correlation not causation – my favourite saying is that religion is not born from poverty, it simply benefits from it. They are found together still it cannot be said that either one causes the other. Let’s go one further and argue that religion causes good things to happen; they might be found together in some cases still this does not promote the goodness of religion. If it is a causational relationship then religious people should only be the ones that commit good actions, this is not the case plus religion can cause really negative acts as well. People sometimes commit good acts while others sometimes commit bad acts, this is a far more honest statement. There might be many reasons behind good acts and to simply assume religion is the cause is to ignore a great deal of other factors. It is like saying the more music I listen to the more cavities I get in my teeth, since the older I get the more my teeth get damaged although it is also true the older I get the more music I have listened to, the two have nothing to do with each other. Likewise when people say they have had a metaphysical experience when they walk into a cathedral it does not necessarily have anything to do with the cathedral being a religious place. The authoritative aspect, the size, the colour, the music, the smell and many other factors could set off a reaction inside your head which you think has to do with God but to assume that it is, even if you strongly believe it so, does not add weight to those feelings.

Generalisations – we take the small cases and apply them to the whole situation, this is something that I am at times guilty of. It differs in some situations, still normally when the particular cases are somehow very different to the normal process. Someone pointed out to me that I was using a small number of occasions where Islam mistreated women causing me the formation of opinion and I have to reject their arguments on this one. What I always am referring to is the scope of things that is allowed for under a set of believes still I use statistics to show the general trend of things. Of course it is always wrong of anyone to say Islam is bad because something happened, that was not my point rather it was to show that the core belief is different from my own and perhaps under the banner of human rights certain things are wrong. It does bring us to the question though of how to deal with religious people since they are meant to believe the same things but often don’t. Still generalisations are conclusions only based on a small number of cases so if you can include a larger base then you will never be guilty of this although it is sometimes justifiable to look at small numbers.

Straw Man – is a misrepresentation of a position in order to reject it, although it leaves the position alone and does not address the necessary issues. The misrepresentation does that, it shows the real situation in a different light and thus ignores the original factors or effects the caused the situation in the first place. This differs from Ad Hominem since rather than attacking the person making a statement, the statement is taken out of context or further along than it was meant to. Conclusions are made from the first statement to which nothing ever referred to them and then these conclusions are rejected on perhaps better grounds than could be achieved on the first statement. The line of reasoning would first start off with a particular statement about Jesus being able to forgive your sins then making further reasoning on the matter by saying it does not matter what you do since Jesus will forgive your sins anyway. It is a lot easier to see why we should reject Christianity based on the further reasoning even though the original statement never said this.

These are just a few of the ones that I liked still there are many more, watch out for them since we are all guilty of making logical errors.

A little more on this matter…

The amazing atheist did a video about this and he goes through a lot of other logical fallacies in his usual manner. It is interesting to watch…

Read Full Post »

There is an old Irish saying, religion is the superstition of fools and I cannot help but think that should be religion is the religion of fools! I will give religion one point though, not that I’m actually keeping a record of points awarded or anything, at least for the most part it is perhaps a clearer distinction to where certain thoughts or behaviour come from, this is certainly not as clear when you consider luck for example. That is to say if you hate gay people then it comes completely justifiable once the understanding of a religious belief becomes apparent, even though such a position is easy rejected under the broad label of a modern society. If you believe some things are lucky and others are not, then it’s a little more difficult to see the thought process that has gone on in order for that to be justifiable to anyone especially to those that believe it. I think that I will start off with Superstitions since under my own broad definition this includes Luck, horoscopes, homeopathic medicine, anyone that argues they can speak to the dead, faith healers, Reiki, card reading and anything that can come up along those lines. I want to argue that these things have never been proven to work, at all, from what I hear people argue it works as there is a kind of feeling that it does. Rather than simply putting my focus in to that, I want to answer the question of what harm these things can do and the investment which is placed within these superstitions. In general I am not celebrating despair, rather extreme levels of hope which can be achieved by removing these things from people’s minds. If anyone points the finger at me saying that I am trying to remove their hope I wish to comment that this is not the case, there are real benefits to abandonment and also real empowerment to be taken back from both superstitions & religion.
www.blacksunjournal.com

I like this analogy; if you go and get health care treatment in America and increasingly in Western European countries as well, once your condition is found out the burden of deciding on treatment is pushed back to the person who is ill, this is not the issue of consent which should always happen unless it is agree that you no longer can give it, it is a list of treatments that you can pick. This comes from the fear that doctors or hospitals might be sued if they get things wrong and you suffer in this event. This might sound really good, still consider who is more likely to make mistakes a doctor with at least 7 years of training who is at heart a professional or a sick person who knows next to nothing about medicine? It might seem an empowering notion to go through after all what is bad about choice, nothing and it does give the ill person a sense that they are in control of the situation. Even so you can see why this is illogical and perhaps wrong; a doctor who might make a mistake is always in a better position to make decisions than a sick person who is more than likely completely unaware of what is involved in the medical treatments offered. It is these supernatural things that create their own inbuilt despair as the same thing is happening, things like Reiki, faith healers and homeopathy give people who are ill or suffering the feeling of control over their own lives, still do we ever consider the possibility that an ill person is no good at deciding what one of these treatments will be best for them? Who is to say that Reiki will work and faith healing will not. This might seem like an overlaboured point to make but it is not as empowerment and control is so important to us. This leads me to the next objection; the level of hope that is given to people by these superstitious treatments often falls short of expectation, so they create despair often. Richard Dawkins puts this best by saying that people in India are choosing scientific medical treatment over useless superstitious treatments in overwhelming numbers, mean while in the west we are stuck in the reverse!

There is no evidence to suggest luck, horoscopes, homeopathy, Reiki or the other things ever work or are real reflections of the world. If these things are not based on truth, then it is perfectly possible to reduce them down to personal feelings and ‘I thinks’, this is a move towards the metaphysical. There is no evidence to suggest that someone’s metaphysical feelings are real, you might have really strong personal feelings that black people should not share the same space as you, that is just racist and if we end up deciding what is true based on our personal feelings then to me that is just a judgement call and ultimately dangerous to us all. The human brain is an amazing inability to decide what is true or not. Let’s take the case of 9/11 where almost 3000 Americans died, this is sad and deserves our action in every way. Only three days later, exactly to the minute after these attacks 3,300 Americans had died as a direct result of cigarettes, a further 1,100 would die every single day for the rest of the year (Chris Jordan). Since these terrorist attacks the American budget for health care has been reduced in real terms and homeland security has been increased by a significant amount, even though if a small percent of the homeland security budget was direct at healthcare prevention it could save more people. Of course we must stop terrorists, I am not suggesting we don’t, still is an example of how sometimes we can worry more about the things that are not really all that much of a threat to us. We think that smoking cigarettes is a choice, it might be in the start but often turns out to be an addiction, still we assume that it is controllable thus making it a safe known rather than perhaps an unsafe unknown. We have an error in our understanding when it comes to threats to safety of ourselves and the people we care about. In order to remove judgement from within our personal feelings we must check science and in order to remove errors in our understanding, even at national level, we must come to understand what logic is showing us – these create true things unlike personal feelings!

I use the word investment when we are talking about superstitions; this describes the situation the best since I don’t think that you walk into these superstitions not giving up things, this could be time, energy, money or your mental ability to cope in a rational way. Please keep in mind the idea of truth when I talk about these things here. When I talk about luck, I assume that most people do things that they hope will result in good things happening to them still when they don’t do these things it can often result in changes in thoughts, behaviour and a great deal of anxiety. The loss we make is great, we change our thoughts with the end result being irrational thinking, we change our behaviour as a result making us do things that are not justifiable and if we put our hope into something that is not true how can it be anything other than despair. Let’s go to Reiki for example, the process where someone puts their hands over your body and it heals you magically, people put time and often money, our hopes and often ill people go there in order to receive treatment. I think it is dishonest to say that you can treat someone when there is no evidence that you can, it scares me that someone can do Reiki who could possibly not be going through proven treatment or spending the time & money into going for a nice massage that would make their life better without the false hope. Of course both luck and Reiki can provide us with something but at what cost to ourselves. All these things chip away at the thing we call science and that will harm everyone in the end, you move the mind set away from the logic and towards the irrational. If you think that computers, vaccines, antibiotics, Cognitive behavioural treatments, MIR scans, X-ray scanners either at airports that keep you safe or at hospitals, possible fusion energy in the future, gene therapy, disease, chemical & infection control and much more are not only useful but saving people’s lives every single day, then how can you reject what all these things that are based on rational and reasoned thinking. To accept superstitious rubbish is the full face rejection of science, there is one proven thing that has improved & saved the lives of millions of people – science. There is nothing that as caused more suffering and death than superstition, and this brings me to the biggest one of all time, Religion!

www.issr.org.ukReligion is not based on the hope that there is a supernatural being rather extreme fear that there is not, with the wish that belief is not wasted. Religious people see the same evidence that God is not real as the rest of us; still it suits their needs to promote the irrational idea, it is indeed a real problem and why should anyone settle for this? Either you make the decision to give your life, mind or often death over to someone else or you do not. The debate should never be about morality or the evidence that a certain religion is either right or wrong, the evidence is clear for all to see. Focus should be on the implications of belief, we should not be scared into religion since it is our only hope in explaining things, I even reject this idea, it ends up explaining very little. If the result of belief is anything negative then it must answer for this, many people claim to be good Christians unless you are homophobic, racist and don’t agree with the idea of women’s rights then you are not a good Christian at all, this is God’s word and you cannot pick what you want from the bible. Religion can make people do the upmost stupid things, there justifications comes from faith even though morality tells us that these things are wrong and I am not talking about extremists that blow themselves up, I am talking about the everyday believers here. Bringing up your child in just one religion is child abuse, you have no evidence that you are picking the right religion so how can you justify placing rules & guide lines for a child without knowing whether it is right or not! Mutilation of children’s genitals is wrong no matter how many metaphysical feelings you, as a parent, might have. I object to religion on so many grounds, you can read some of it on my blog or go look on the internet for yourself. Now let us turn to science.

A lot of crap science is out there and this is not the result of science at all, rather people claiming that something is science when it is not. So I will give you a little rule to remember; if you come across something that is claiming to be science in order for you to check whether it is or not, ask yourself under what conditions could this be completely wrong! If you can’t work out how it could be wrong then it is not science, for example a new drug that helps people with depression this can be proven false if it is found not to work correctly. The creationist’s argument that dinosaurs were on Noah’s Ark umm… dinosaurs lived before humans and around 64 million years ago? Ok you know that or you think the earth is only 4000 years old. I think you get the picture there is no condition in the creationists approach that allows me to say that would be false thus it is not science. If you go up to anyone that claims to be a true scientist and ask them the most important factors are the fact it can be wrong is the most significant, followed by peer review, reason and reliability of both method & result. You might not understand it at all but if you wanted to then you could go out and repeat the experiments of science. The method is always published within the peer review in order so others are able to find the same findings. Other than that it is a rational & reasoned response, not always but the things that go to create general laws or known facts are checked and the feedback loop checks them well so you can take from it that they are true things. To me the wonders of science far surpass that of anything else, the beauty of the surface of Mars or viewing atoms through powerful electron microscopes, how can anything else challenge these things? The hope that science brings is also amazing, around the time of the Enlightenment was a period were humans took control of the world they found themselves in, no one should ever want to lose that power, it is so important to us. I have gone on about how useful it is, I will end with this; it is thanks to science that I am still alive and that most of us are, we don’t owe science anything but we do owe the method of thinking that allow humans to think, imagine and create the things that saved so many people and that will save many more in the future. You should feel optimistic about the future; with science and its reasoned thinking we can do almost anything we can dream.

I have written about science and religion so far, I hope to write more about the things I consider as Superstitions soon. I decided to write this post now since I felt ready and confident about these issues. I have really enjoyed the journey that has being going on with me in the last six months, I hope it will continue. It is a little sad though that my posts offering insults about religion seem to get more views than anything else, so if you are reading this and have not done so already, please go read a science post. Thank you for reading my blog!

A little more on this matter….


Michael Shermer – Why we should think before we believe things. I like this man, he also thinks that intelligent design is the end of the conversation and science is an attitude rather than anything else. He discusses UFO and other things along that nature. Humans tend to see patterns and use their cognitive abilities to make sense of unclear data, this does not, as he suggests, be the end of investigation or be used as evidence. Our brains change the things we perceive into a workable pattern and this is what is happening, the more difficult it is to hear or see something clearly the more likely it is we will start to see with our brains and not our eyes.

Read Full Post »