Monday, August 22, 2011

Metacrock's discussion of ECREE

An important point is from this quotation from Marcello Truzzi.

The central problem however lies in the fact that "extraordinary" must be relative to some things "ordinary." and as our theories change, what was once extraordinary may become ordinary (best seen in now accepted quantum effects that earlier were viewed as "impossible"). Many now extraordinary claims may become more acceptable not when they are replicated but when theoretical contexts change to make them more welcome.

8 comments:

Brenda said...

I've long thought that the demand for extra ordinary evidence is special pleading. Whether it's bigfoot or the empty tomb all we need for any claim is evidence. We are all the judge as to whether or not an evidentiary claim is sufficient or not.

As for me I don't believe the central claim of Christianity that Jesus was god but I don't accept the common atheist belief that he never existed and all religion is evil. I dislike all black or white fundamentalist thinking wherever I find it. Today I find it more among the New Atheists but I find certain fundamentalist sects (Christian, Jew or Muslim) equally alarming.

I think skepticism has the better argument. The squabble between today's atheists and the (mostly) evangelicals sounds to me like a schismatic dispute among rival denominations.

John Loftus is as much a priest as his opponents are.

Hiero5ant said...

You say relativism is a "problem", but it's not a bug, it's a feature. And a fact of life, so get used to it.

Consider this: the "why would they die for a lie" argument is relativized to our background model built up from a lifetime of experiences with hominid psychology. Scrap the notion that the past is a reliable guide to the future in proportion to the robustness of the experiences, and the argument evaporates in a puff of smoke. "Oh, you see, it is simply special pleading to demand extraordinary evidence that people gave their lives for something they knew to be false, just because our uniform experience tells us that people wouldn't do that!"

Papalinton said...

Great point, Hiero5ant.

All of life is relational.

Hiero5ant said...

I was only referring to the relativism of probability judgments to prior experience, not relativism in any broad sense.

Other arguments you pull the rug out from under when you deny that evidence needs to be proportional to the magnitude of the claim include "not enough time passed before the stories were written down for legendary embellishments to creep in", "a watch implies a watchmaker", "eyewitness testimony is highly reliable" etc.

Anonymous said...

Scrap the notion that the past is a reliable guide to the future in proportion to the robustness of the experiences, and the argument evaporates in a puff of smoke.

Who's wholesale scrapping the idea that "the past is a reliable guide to the future", especially when just what happened in the past is under question?

What's happening is that what is and isn't an adequate "proportion" is being questioned. What's more, even if some was utterly relativizing things the way you're saying, the result wouldn't be that "a watch implies a watchmaker" is an unreasonable conclusion, only that it wouldn't necessarily be an utterly persuasive conclusion.

In other words, the reply to "why would they die for a lie?" - if it does evaporate - only does so insofar as "they died for a lie" loses whatever persuasive power it could hope to have anyway.

Either way, I don't see anyone making the claim that we should "scrap the notion that the past is a reliable guide to the future". What's being questioned is the proportion, what's extraordinary and why, and what evidence is reasonable to take for a given claim. There can be disagreements about that, the very problem with quantifying "extraordinary" can be pointed out, without scrapping what you're talking about.

That reasonable people can disagree about the best conclusion and still be reasonable is also a feature, not a bug. Get used to that first. But to get used to that is to get used to the New Atheist argument going down in flames.

Morrison said...

Truly rational discussion is not possible at the John Loftus blog.

He deletes, and even has been caught altering comments.

Unfortunately, Victor has picked up the dishonest habit and is now also deleting comments.

Which is his right, but he it is dishonest to...as the same time...pretend like he has a unmoderated blog.

Morrison said...

Truly rational discussion is not possible at the John Loftus blog.

He deletes, and even has been caught altering comments.

Unfortunately, Victor has picked up the dishonest habit and is now also deleting comments.

Which is his right, but he it is dishonest to...as the same time...pretend like he has a unmoderated blog.

Victor Reppert said...

What got deleted? I delete some types of personal attacks, but mostly keep a free speech zone.

However, I have heard complaints of posts disappearing when I had nothing to do with it.