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Author Topic: I just don't like religion
bootjes
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sylvrdragon:

I feel a little misinterpreted here.

For a scientific approach you make a few assumptions too many.

I. An example is not a case. Itís to illustrate, not to prove.

II. I ment not to illustrate that intuition is better, I ment to illustrate that I am careful with my intuition.

III. I am not attacking science. I studied social science, including a course in science-philosophy. I understand what you say about science and I agree on that. Despite itís flaws itís still our best way of understanding nature and society. I am just saying that in some cases I also use my intuition. Always carefully, and mostly in the realms where science can give no answers at all.

So this is not for or against science.

There is one thing that I find dangerous about science. And that is the same thing I find dangerous about religion:

The Netherlands are pretty much secularised. Believers are a minority here, and science has become the new religion. Most scientists themselves are careful with how they present their results. They should, they are trained to do so. But users of scientific results are not that careful. Especially not the bureaucrats. They take it as gospel. ďWant to know something for a fact?Ē Ask a scientist and they give the answer. In the case of social science there are so very many variables that cannot be controled that using the results is tricky. I have seen this in studies where I was involved.

Again (I feel I repeat myself now) this is not to say science is to be replaced by religion. Just to point out that both systems are fallible.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
I studied social science, including a course in science-philosophy.
It's worth noting that this is the reason why many people consider "social science" to not be science at all. [Smile]
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Samprimary
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Of all the things I've taken in school, I've by far gotten the most mileage out of the social sciences.

People are weird and crazy and are a desperately chaotic weave of rationality, axiom, and inflexible belief structures they could have locked themselves into at practically any point in their lives. Anything that even vaguely helps make sense of the human condition is worth the price of admission.

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bootjes
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
I studied social science, including a course in science-philosophy.
It's worth noting that this is the reason why many people consider "social science" to not be science at all. [Smile]
Wasn't aware so many people know I studied social science. [Smile]
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The Reader
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
Of all the things I've taken in school, I've by far gotten the most mileage out of the social sciences.

People are weird and crazy and are a desperately chaotic weave of rationality, axiom, and inflexible belief structures they could have locked themselves into at practically any point in their lives. Anything that even vaguely helps make sense of the human condition is worth the price of admission.

You needed classes to realize that people are wierd and crazy? [Smile]

Tom, I say the same thing about Political Science as well.

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King of Men
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quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
[QB]But can you demonstrate that the above statement is true? Or is it just your belief?

This is my definition of the word 'knowledge'. Perhaps you have a different one. In any case arguing over definitions is never productive.

I still await kmb's answer to how she knows that her intuition is reliable.

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kmbboots
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Sorry. Got bored and wandered off. Same as any other form of knowledge is reliable. It works. Where it doesn't work, it gets adjusted.

Not sure about the term "intuition" for faith.

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Noemon
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quote:
Originally posted by bootjes:
quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
I studied social science, including a course in science-philosophy.
It's worth noting that this is the reason why many people consider "social science" to not be science at all. [Smile]
Wasn't aware so many people know I studied social science. [Smile]
[Laugh] bootjes
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King of Men
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Sorry. Got bored and wandered off. Same as any other form of knowledge is reliable. It works. Where it doesn't work, it gets adjusted.

Not sure about the term "intuition" for faith.

What other word would you use for "I always (well as long as I can remember) knew there was Something."?

Perhaps you would like to define 'works'. If you mean "makes kmb happy", I can't argue - although again I question which Standard Atheist Kmb you are comparing yourself to - but this strikes me as a really low standard for truth. If you mean "produces accurate beliefs" then again I must ask how you know.

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Tresopax
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quote:
This is my definition of the word 'knowledge'. Perhaps you have a different one. In any case arguing over definitions is never productive.
So when you argued that you need to be able to demonstrate something in order to know it, you were making a point only about word definitions and not about reality?

If you want to argue we can only rely on beliefs we can prove, you must in turn prove that statement, using more than just a personal definition as your proof.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
If you want to argue we can only rely on beliefs we can prove...
For a given value of "rely," this statement is absolutely true. But while we might have some real difficulty proving something completely, we can get close enough for government work.

It'd be nice if there were a word besides "proof" that we could use for when we'd actually conclusively proven something, to indicate a state of absolute surety and/or logical inevitability.

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King of Men
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quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
quote:
This is my definition of the word 'knowledge'. Perhaps you have a different one. In any case arguing over definitions is never productive.
If you want to argue we can only rely on beliefs we can prove, you must in turn prove that statement, using more than just a personal definition as your proof.
Would you like to give an example of a statement that you

a) Believe is true
b) Cannot prove to, say, 95% confidence
c) Actually rely on, in the sense of it affecting your assessment of consequences of actions?

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bootjes
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King of Men:

I found out (by your thread) you live in Norway. That gives me a chance to clarify on my use of the word God.
My parents took me on vacation to the Hardangervidda and the Fjords. I so loved it. (I also love Scotland and people say I should see Ireland as well).

It is so really really really really beautiful out there. Now there should be more reallyís in there. Its beautiful beyond beautiful. Being in such vast nature makes me feel: insignificant, overpowered, at peace . . .. Okay, again not the words to describe the feeling. Itís the feeling that I am lifted up out of the normal world.

Instead of trying to pin down this feeling in words I choose to call it Godly or Devine. I can understand people saying that it was made by Gods hand. I use this as a figure of speech, not as reality. These moments where I feel lifted up are the moments that I speak of as being close to God. (Not only nature can do this) It is as if something is coming to beyond my five senses.

So for me this is not about proving, but about describing an experience that feels somehow greater than reality. Than the word God comes in. Hope this clarifies something. I keep on running around the subject without actually hitting it. But that, for me, is part of the nature of it.

Now your question about how this influences my decisions:
Usually I have done all the fact-finding already. Now there are still important personal decisions where one choice doesnít outweigh the other, regarding just the facts.. Then thinking about one decision brings me closer to (the previously described) godly feeling than thinking of the other decision. This is how God (or intuition, or . . . . .) tells me what to do.

I can not prove that I am making the right decision. Your questions seem to me as if your asking me to prove (for example) Norway is beautiful. So that is why I can not give a more meaningful answer to you. Will keep on trying.

PS
I envy you. You live in Rohan (the way I pictured it when I only knew the book) I sometimes have dreams about emigrating to Norway. The Nehterlands *no* , netherland *no*, Netherlnad *sigh* (now I understand why people refer to it as Holland) In The Netherlands we have beautiful places, but hey are so small. Always a highway, a factory or some flats around the corner.

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Tresopax
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quote:
Would you like to give an example of a statement that you

a) Believe is true
b) Cannot prove to, say, 95% confidence
c) Actually rely on, in the sense of it affecting your assessment of consequences of actions?

First of all, you avoided answering the question... If you cannot offer solid proof that there are no reliable unprovable beliefs then you've contradicted yourself when you ask us to rely on that assertion when we evaluate religion.

Secondly, there are tons of examples of beliefs we rely upon everyday that we lack evidence to prove:
"That bridge won't collapse if I drive over it"
"That science textbook isn't making up all those experiments it talks about that I have neither the time nor equipment to conduct"
"I'm not hallucinating everything I see right now"
"When my friend said he'll be at the movie theater at 8:00, he'll be there at 8:00"
"I smell apple pie"
"I feel tired"
"The stuff I remember happening yesterday actually happened"
"My brother would like this gift I'm buying him"
"That babysitter will keep the children safe"
"It is wrong to needlessly hurt people"
"When someone uses the word 'rely' they mean the same thing that I mean when I use the word 'rely'"
"So-and-so is attractive"
"That joke was funny"
"The laws of physics will work tomorrow as they have in the past"
"Nazi genocide happened"
"1 is a number"
"If the premises are true and the logic is valid, then the conclusion is always true"

For some of these things I have some evidence in their favor, but nothing that would justify calling it 95% certain that they must be true. Some of these things are provable in theory, but I lack the time/resources to actually test. Some of these are totally unprovable. Some are just judgement calls. Some are based entirely on trusting what people have told me.

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sylvrdragon
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quote:
It is so really really really really beautiful out there. Now there should be more reallyís in there. Its beautiful beyond beautiful. Being in such vast nature makes me feel: insignificant, overpowered, at peace . . .. Okay, again not the words to describe the feeling. Itís the feeling that I am lifted up out of the normal world.

Instead of trying to pin down this feeling in words I choose to call it Godly or Devine. I can understand people saying that it was made by Gods hand. I use this as a figure of speech, not as reality. These moments where I feel lifted up are the moments that I speak of as being close to God. (Not only nature can do this) It is as if something is coming to beyond my five senses.

So for me this is not about proving, but about describing an experience that feels somehow greater than reality. Than the word God comes in. Hope this clarifies something. I keep on running around the subject without actually hitting it. But that, for me, is part of the nature of it.

The thing is, Atheists can have these same feelings, as can people who've never even heard or imagined the concept of god. Also, different things can evoke these feelings- these chemical impulses- in different people. For you, it's scenic views and likely a slew of other things. For an Atheist and the such, maybe it's the same exact views, but for different reasons. Maybe it's the complexity of Particle Physics. Maybe it's chocolate. Maybe it's a good book. God is not necessary to have these feelings, and if you have the education, time, and patience, then god isn't necessary to describe them either.

I am of the opinion that god is the title that religious people give to things- or the causes of things- that they don't understand. This does NOT mean that it isn't possible to understand these things with the proper education (some of which may be beyond humanities current capabilities). As such, I firmly believe (on the same level that you believe in god) that it is all in your head.

...and that's fine with me... up until the point where it starts affecting me.

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Tresopax
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quote:
Also, different things can evoke these feelings- these chemical impulses- in different people.
Sidenote: Feelings are not chemical impulses. It is possible that chemicals impulses cause feelings, but that is different from saying chemical impulses literally are feelings.

quote:
God is not necessary to have these feelings, and if you have the education, time, and patience, then god isn't necessary to describe them either.
I think religion is not necessary to have those sorts of feelings, but it is helpful. In this respect you might compare religion to a map; you can get where you need to go without the map, but it is harder.
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King of Men
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quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
First of all, you avoided answering the question... If you cannot offer solid proof that there are no reliable unprovable beliefs then you've contradicted yourself when you ask us to rely on that assertion when we evaluate religion.

If I assert "There are no pixies in my garden", do you ask me to prove this negative, or do you set out to catch a pixie? And to take your proposed pixies one by one:

quote:
"That bridge won't collapse if I drive over it"
100 cars just did the experiment for you, and it did not collapse. That's well over the 95% confidence limit.

quote:
"That science textbook isn't making up all those experiments it talks about that I have neither the time nor equipment to conduct"
The experiments that I did have time to conduct all matched up to what the textbook said. In any case, just how many science-textbook statements do you rely upon in the sense I gave above?

quote:
"I'm not hallucinating everything I see right now"
You do not rely on this statement; rather you recognise that even if it were false, you would have to act as though it were true. In other words, its truth value has no bearing on your actions, and therefore you are not relying on it in the sense I gave above.

quote:
"When my friend said he'll be at the movie theater at 8:00, he'll be there at 8:00"
You have tested your friend's behaviour against his word before. An easy 95% confidence.

quote:
"I smell apple pie"
"I feel tired"
"The stuff I remember happening yesterday actually happened"

Same as the hallucinations above.

quote:
"So-and-so is attractive"
"That joke was funny"

Attractive to whom, funny to whom? If to yourself, then it comes under the hallucinations above. Of to someone else, just see if they are attracted, or laugh.

quote:
"My brother would like this gift I'm buying him"
I don't believe anyone relies on this statement; rather they say "This is the best gift I can find within my time and money constraints", and hope for the best.

quote:
"That babysitter will keep the children safe"
Well over 95% of babysitters do. An easy confidence-level test.

quote:
"The laws of physics will work tomorrow as they have in the past"
What would you do differently if you believed this weren't the case?

quote:
"Nazi genocide happened"
Is effectively equivalent to "Eyewitnesses and historical records, when both sides agree, can be trusted", which is testable.

quote:
"When someone uses the word 'rely' they mean the same thing that I mean when I use the word 'rely'"
You will observe that in fact I do not rely on this, instead giving an explicit definition. That's because I instead trust the statement "Tres can be assumed to speak whatever English-looking language will allow him to continue the argument", and I rely on this because I've seen it happen many times.

quote:
"1 is a number"
What would you do differently if it weren't? Again, you do not rely on this statement.

quote:
"If the premises are true and the logic is valid, then the conclusion is always true"
A tautology.


quote:
"It is wrong to needlessly hurt people"
The most interesting one, so I move it down here. I don't think this statement actually changes anyone's behaviour; if humans want to hurt someone, they will either invent a reason why it was necessary, or else assert that no harm was done. So again, this is not something that anyone relies on.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
there are tons of examples of beliefs we rely upon everyday that we lack evidence to prove
Rightly or wrongly, we often -- for convenience's sake -- have a great deal of faith in things we do not know for sure. What does this have to do with the conversation?
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Tresopax
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quote:
If I assert "There are no pixies in my garden", do you ask me to prove this negative, or do you set out to catch a pixie?
You are the one saying you can prove everything you know. If that is true, then yes you should definitely be able to prove that negative. Otherwise, there is something you know that you can't prove.

quote:
Rightly or wrongly, we often -- for convenience's sake -- have a great deal of faith in things we do not know for sure. What does this have to do with the conversation?
It relates to KoM's claim that we should not rely on beliefs which we cannot give proof for. He has suggested that because of that, if we can't provide evidence for religion, we shouldn't believe it. And he has suggested evidence only counts as evidence if it can prove something to, approximately, 95% certainty.

If everyone relies on intuition and/or other shaky evidence regularly in everyday life, then I don't think one can automatically single out religion and say it is unreasonable for anyone to rely on intuition and/or shaky evidence when it comes to judging religions.

[ July 09, 2008, 02:06 PM: Message edited by: Tresopax ]

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King of Men
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quote:
and even if I did it would not tell me that the 101st car would not crash the bridge
Yes, it would, actually, to the 95% confidence level. This suggests to me that you need to brush up on your statistics.

quote:
Otherwise, there is something you know that you can't prove.
All right, but as the one making the assertion that no such beast exists, I am under no obligation to go hunting for it.

quote:
If I thought 1 was not a number, I'd have failed math, and count rather poorly too!
Well? What of it? How would your actions change?

quote:
If the laws of physics weren't likely to be the same tomorrow as they are today, I wouldn't trust many things to work tomorrow.
Right, but what specifically would you do differently? Bearing in mind that if the laws of physics changed very much, you'd be dead from failure of your body's chemistry. And in any case, you have certainly seen more than 100 dawns with no perceptible change in physics.

quote:
If I thought something I was seeing was a hallucination, I would definitely act differently towards that thing.
Your stipulated case, however, was that everything you saw should be a hallucination. If it were only one thing in your environment, then that's an easy 95% test: Most things aren't.

quote:
If the premises are true and the logic is valid, then the conclusion is always true.
Very well, we can go back to experiment: Have you ever tested this and found it false? If not, bing, 95% confidence.


Incidentally, Overcoming Bias discussed this recently.

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Tresopax
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I apologize - I edited out the section of my post that started getting into detail on each example right after I posted because I thought it would end up causing a bunch of side arguments about each example which weren't really relevant. You ended up posting while I was editing away...

But I will add one general thing: You can't observe something happen 100 times and then claim you now have a 95% certainty that it will happen again. You'd have to already know something about the distribution of future events. For instance, if you observe 100 days in the summer that are above 90 degrees, you can't then say that there is a 95% probabilty that any given day during the year will be above 90 degrees. That would be way off when it came to December. The distribution changes over time. For that reason, unless you make unprovable assumptions about the distribution of events across the past, present, and future, you can't calculate the probability of future events based on past events.

Also, the article from Overcoming Bias makes some of the same points we've discussed - it concludes by saying that everything needs justification, but then admits that "reflective loops" (including reflecting on your own mind) must sometimes count as justification. This is the sort of justification that people mentioned earlier, and that was referred to as intuition. Religious folk don't just make an assumption about God and then accept it without question. Well, okay, some do - but others consider the questions much more carefully. Ideally, I think a religious person should come to his or her religious beliefs by carefully reflecting on the world, the information they have, and what seems to be true and then using their own judgement. Yes that relies on what the article termed a "reflective loop", and yes it cannot give any kind of absolute, knock-you-in-head, full-proof argument, but it is still a reasonable way of approaching the questions and is not unlike how people approach other questions in their everyday life.

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King of Men
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quote:
For instance, if you observe 100 days in the summer that are above 90 degrees, you can't then say that there is a 95% probabilty that any given day during the year will be above 90 degrees.
Yes, you can, and in the absence of other information you would be right to do so. A Martian knowing nothing of Earth's seasons would do exactly this, and he would be right from the information he had. You cannot apply the standard of "All the information that exists"; you have to operate with the data you have. ("You don't calculate probabilities with the information you wish you had...") The Martian would find out that his information was incomplete, and would then set about updating his probability estimate. But in August, the 95% estimate is the best he can possibly make.

quote:
[Reflective loops are] the sort of justification that people mentioned earlier, and that was referred to as intuition.
That is a very bad misunderstanding of the argument made in the Overcoming Bias post. I suggest you read it again.
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swbarnes2
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quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
quote:
If I assert "There are no pixies in my garden", do you ask me to prove this negative, or do you set out to catch a pixie?
You are the one saying you can prove everything you know.
Or, perhaps he's saying that using the word "know" is confusing, if you are talking about something that you just believe, but have no evidence for.

Surely you think that there is a difference between saying "I know that July 9, 2008 is a Wednesday" and "I know that the Cubs will win the World Series in 2010, four games to two".

I 'know' the former statement based on what the calander says, and the facts of how we measure days and weeks and years. I may be wrong about the facts, but at least the statement is adequatly supported by the facts that are either available to me, or that I could look up.

Can you say that about the second statement? Or would most people agree that barring use of a time traveling machine, that I don't actually "know" much at all about the 2010 World Series, and that my use of the word is misleading, if not intentionally so?

I think it is that use of the word "know" that is being objected to. Much clearer is to say that I believe the the Cubs will win the World Series, because the word 'believe' doesn't have the implication that I've verified my claim at all in the real world, which I think the word 'know' does.

quote:
Rightly or wrongly, we often -- for convenience's sake -- have a great deal of faith in things we do not know for sure.
Again with definitions, I'd say that people accept claims which are not proved 100% totally, absolutely (proving a negative being among the claims that is usually ipossible to do), but where the claims is adequately supported by the eidence. Extraordinary claims require exatraordinary evidence, but for most things, the 95% threshold that KOM suggested is considered adequate. If a bridge has been supporting cars for decades, it's a > 95% chance it will take one more car. If you were told that there was a 95% chance that a surgery was necessary to save your life, you'd undergo it.

I'd say that the definition of faith is believing in things for which the evidence is not adequate. It's not faith to think that the sun will rise tomrorow. It is faith to think that wine becomes divine blood, while still looking exactly like wine.

quote:
It relates to KoM's claim that we should not rely on beliefs which we cannot give proof for.
You send me $1000, and I'll send you $10,000. Really, I will. You should rely on that.

When can I expect my money?

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Teshi
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I love religion, especially in its raw, broken down form (symbol, story, metaphor, meaning where none exists etc.). I find it to be one of the most exciting and fascinating expressions of humanity that exists.
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Shanna
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quote:
Originally posted by Teshi:
I love religion, especially in its raw, broken down form (symbol, story, metaphor, meaning where none exists etc.). I find it to be one of the most exciting and fascinating expressions of humanity that exists.

I've just been checking in on this this thread occasionally and when I read this I had to make sure I hadn't sleep-posted because I couldn't agree more.

I've had atheist friends and classmates argue with me for hours because they can't understand how I can call myself a fellow atheist and still be so fascinated and interested in religion and what it says about our species and our thoughts and ideas throughout history.

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Tresopax
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quote:
I think it is that use of the word "know" that is being objected to. Much clearer is to say that I believe the the Cubs will win the World Series, because the word 'believe' doesn't have the implication that I've verified my claim at all in the real world, which I think the word 'know' does.
It really doesn't matter to me what particular words he uses to formulate his assertion. I will take out the word 'know' if that helps. My problem is that he seems to be holding religion to a standard of evidence high enough that his own claims in this thread don't pass that same standard. The evidence given so far for the claim that "beliefs not justified with evidence can't be reliable" is... well he hasn't directly answered my question. Is it based on intuition?

If so I don't think there is necessarily anything wrong with that. I believe there are "Basic beliefs" which we simply observe to be true. I also believe there are plenty of beliefs which we build upon incomplete or shaky evidence, because we lack the time or ability to find stronger evidence. I believe the ultimate test for the reliability of a belief is our own human judgement. I think we are acting rationally if we take the evidence available into account, consider carefully, and then use our best judgement to determine whatever belief seems most likely. If we do that, I think we can rationally rely, at least to some degree, on the conclusions of our judgement.

On that note, you can expect your $1,000 when my best judgement tells me you are telling the truth about giving me the $10,000. [Wink]

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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
My problem is that he seems to be holding religion to a standard of evidence high enough that his own claims in this thread don't pass that same standard.

Do you think that everything should be held to the exact same evidencial standard? Because I certainly don't.

The 'larger' the assertion, the more complicated or 'out-of-the-ordinary' something is, the more evidence it needs to support it.

If you tell me it's raining in Detroit, all I really need is your word and some sort of visual evidence. Maybe even just audio evidence.

If you tell me it's raining liquid gold in Detroit, I'm going to need more evidence than that.

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Teshi
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quote:
I've had atheist friends and classmates argue with me for hours because they can't understand how I can call myself a fellow atheist and still be so fascinated and interested in religion and what it says about our species and our thoughts and ideas throughout history.
Shanna, I have a similar problem. Despite the fact that I am entirely atheist (not agnostic) and skeptical, I still wish to examine religion in a way that seems to utterly confuse my fellow atheists, and to look at the world in a way that allows for things that are usually discarded entirely by most skeptics. It causes me no end of arguments.
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quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
quote:
Would you like to give an example of a statement that you

a) Believe is true
b) Cannot prove to, say, 95% confidence
c) Actually rely on, in the sense of it affecting your assessment of consequences of actions?

First of all, you avoided answering the question... If you cannot offer solid proof that there are no reliable unprovable beliefs then you've contradicted yourself when you ask us to rely on that assertion when we evaluate religion.

Secondly, there are tons of examples of beliefs we rely upon everyday that we lack evidence to prove:
"That bridge won't collapse if I drive over it"
"That science textbook isn't making up all those experiments it talks about that I have neither the time nor equipment to conduct"
"I'm not hallucinating everything I see right now"
"When my friend said he'll be at the movie theater at 8:00, he'll be there at 8:00"
"I smell apple pie"
"I feel tired"
"The stuff I remember happening yesterday actually happened"
"My brother would like this gift I'm buying him"
"That babysitter will keep the children safe"
"It is wrong to needlessly hurt people"
"When someone uses the word 'rely' they mean the same thing that I mean when I use the word 'rely'"
"So-and-so is attractive"
"That joke was funny"
"The laws of physics will work tomorrow as they have in the past"
"Nazi genocide happened"
"1 is a number"
"If the premises are true and the logic is valid, then the conclusion is always true"

For some of these things I have some evidence in their favor, but nothing that would justify calling it 95% certain that they must be true. Some of these things are provable in theory, but I lack the time/resources to actually test. Some of these are totally unprovable. Some are just judgement calls. Some are based entirely on trusting what people have told me.

What is your definition of provable? In reality, it is irrational to have 100% confidence in any statement. Ideally we could all be truly Bayesian but we don't have the computational capacity for that. Regardless, we can make good estimates and I would have no problem expressing over 95% confidence in most of the statements that you listed.
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Tresopax
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My definition of provable for the above list was "there exists evidence from which we can logically deduce that there is at least a 95% probability that the statement is true".

I am confident of the statements too. My point is that that confidence cannot be derived solely from the evidence I have.

quote:
The 'larger' the assertion, the more complicated or 'out-of-the-ordinary' something is, the more evidence it needs to support it.
I don't think larger assertions automatically require more evidence. But I do think our beliefs about how the world works operate as evidence. So claims that contradict our beliefs about how the world works begin with a ton of evidence already against them, so they need more evidence to tip the scales of belief in the other direction. Gold rain would require a lot of evidence on the "yes it happened" side, because on the "no it didn't happen side" everything I know about weather already counts heavily as evidence against it.
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swbarnes2
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quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
It really doesn't matter to me what particular words he uses to formulate his assertion.

But words mean things. So you are saying that it doesn't matter what he means?

quote:
My problem is that he seems to be holding religion to a standard of evidence high enough that his own claims in this thread don't pass that same standard.
The usual standard is "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence".

Do you really wish to argue that there is no difference in extraordinariness beween secular, factual claims and religious ones?

quote:
The evidence given so far for the claim that "beliefs not justified with evidence can't be reliable" is... well he hasn't directly answered my question. Is it based on intuition?
No, its based on solid data. People make mistakes. People are very likely to make mistakes in the direction beliving things they want to be true, even when they aren't. Intutition, because it's not rigorous, very often will tell people that what they think is true, and what they want to be true, really is true.

Whereas being rigorous, making a point of reaity testing one's ideas, and making sure that one's ideas are supported by evidence works. People throw out wrong ideas all the time by being rigorous, and conclusions drawn this way do stand up to testing. Bridges, by and large, do continue to hold lots of cars safely for decades, because the thinking behind their design and construction was rigorous.

quote:
I believe there are "Basic beliefs" which we simply observe to be true.
If we observe them, then they are supported by evidence.

But sure. There are lots of people to whom it is a basic truth that women can't do math, or that black men want to rape white women.

Why you wish to to open the door on discussing all the wonderful "basic truths" that intuition leads one to, I don't see.

And sure, scientists used to believe that kind of crap too. But then science showed then that it wasn't real, and they threw those ideas out. How many people have thrown away bigotry becuase their instincts changed? Or, easier to answer, how many people have clung to their instincts, even when showed all the evidence in the world proves them wrong?

quote:
I also believe there are plenty of beliefs which we build upon incomplete or shaky evidence, because we lack the time or ability to find stronger evidence.
But for many of those beliefs, we know that the evidence is out there, and that other people have verified it. You may not know how much weight a bridge can bear, but someone does. At some point along the line, real, rigorous evidence was used. And you could do the eact same test, if you wanted to. You choose not to, and reality demonstrates that this is usually a safe choice. Bridges don't collapse every day.

quote:
I believe the ultimate test for the reliability of a belief is our own human judgement.
You have to be kidding. So you have a dream that God give you a system for winning at roulette.
And you think that testing it to see if you win is not the best way to determine if it is reliable? What's best is to rely on your judgement? Which is not guided by facts, but your "intution"?

What if a devout believer payed their preacher $1000 for the system. When is that gullible person's judgment ever going to tell them that they made a mistake?

The evidence across history is quite clear. Human judgment, unaided by reason and evidence sucks.

quote:
I think we are acting rationally if we take the evidence available into account, consider carefully, and then use our best judgement to determine whatever belief seems most likely.
So an employer is acting rationally if he rejects the more qualified female candidate, becuase his "judgment" tells him that women can't do the job as well as men. And gamblers are acting rationally when they ignore all the money they've lost, and continue to trust in the betting system that their "judgement" tells them must work eventually.

When you say "judgement", what you mean is "throw away the reason and evidence if I don't like what they are telling me".

And history shows us that that is a very, very bad idea.

quote:
On that note, you can expect your $1,000 when my best judgement tells me you are telling the truth about giving me the $10,000. [Wink]
So you can think of no rational reason to refuse my generous offer?

No wonder you scorn reason so much, you can't even apply it in the most trivial of cases.

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Tresopax
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quote:
When you say "judgement", what you mean is "throw away the reason and evidence if I don't like what they are telling me".
That is not at all what I mean by "judgement".

quote:
quote:

The evidence given so far for the claim that "beliefs not justified with evidence can't be reliable" is... well he hasn't directly answered my question. Is it based on intuition?

No, its based on solid data. People make mistakes. People are very likely to make mistakes in the direction beliving things they want to be true, even when they aren't. Intutition, because it's not rigorous, very often will tell people that what they think is true, and what they want to be true, really is true.
If KoM has, or you have, done a rigorous study to get solid data that demonstrates that there can never be a situation where it is helpful to trust a belief that is not well supported by hard evidence, I'd be interested in the data. I'd think that people rarely have the time and ability to conduct a careful study for every belief they need to rely upon - especially in areas like religion where conclusive evidence may not even exist. In those cases, better to believe something and risk a mistake than to believe nothing.
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King of Men
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quote:
If KoM has, or you have, done a rigorous study to get solid data that demonstrates that there can never be a situation where it is helpful to trust a belief that is not well supported by hard evidence, I'd be interested in the data.
Nothing of the sort is needed. All we need to do is point out that when people do rely on intuition, they are wrong more than 95% of the time. Therefore, kmb's intuition is not a reliable guide to true facts about the universe, and she should

a) Drop her beliefs
b) Explain what it is she calls 'belief' if it's not "I think this is a true fact"
c) Point to her other evidence.

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swbarnes2
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quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
quote:
When you say "judgement", what you mean is "throw away the reason and evidence if I don't like what they are telling me".
That is not at all what I mean by "judgement".
But you can't seme to give an explanation that is distinctly different from what I suggetsed.

I take that as evidence in my favor.

quote:
If KoM has, or you have, done a rigorous study to get solid data that demonstrates that there can never be a situation where it is helpful to trust a belief that is not well supported by hard evidence,
I'm sure that your judgment informs you that someone has claimed that intuition is never, ever right, but the evidence does not support that.

Hence, you throw away what reason and evidnece tell you, and you argue a point that is wrong.

Thanks for illustrating my point so nicely.

I believe at least one poster was perfectly willing to admit that there might be times where the conclusion drawn from all the evidence a person is concious of might be less accurate than the conclusion drawn from evidence which a person picked up unconciously. For instance you pick up a "vibe" that a person was lying, because you unconciously noticed their deceitful body language.

But even in this case, the person who is trained to read body language, who can say "I conclude this person is lying becuase they did this, and this, and that" is going to do a better job of spotting liars than the person who trusts his instincts, becuase, being human, the latter is going to make more mistakes than the rigorous person.

quote:
I'd be interested in the data.
Look up research of heuristics. A common one was posted a few weeks ago, it runs something like this.

Which is more likely:

A) California will suffer a major flood

b) California will suffer a bad earthquake, which will cause a major flood.

Which answer do you think people's instincts lead them to? Which answer will stand up to logical rigor?

quote:
I'd think that people rarely have the time and ability to conduct a careful study for every belief they need to rely upon
Well, they don't have to, if they know that someone has already done the careful study.

quote:
In those cases, better to believe something and risk a mistake than to believe nothing.
So better to believe that I will repay your $1000 ten fold then to believe nothing?

Wonderful. When do I get my money?

I mena, really this is the best argument you have?

"Just believe something. Don't worry if its right or wrong. And since you are picking arbitrarily what to believe, believe what you want and wish to be true. Then sign the check, you want to believe that it's going to starving Nigerian princes, don't you?"

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quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
My definition of provable for the above list was "there exists evidence from which we can logically deduce that there is at least a 95% probability that the statement is true".

I am confident of the statements too. My point is that that confidence cannot be derived solely from the evidence I have.

I think you're discounting the value of "outside" views (as opposed to an inside view). I can have a high degree of confidence in the accuracy of scientific results that I do not understand by virtue of the fact that the a priori likelihood of mass conspiracy is very low (especially when taking into account my prior experience with scientific topics). This doesn't apply to all scientific theories.
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Tresopax
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quote:
But you can't seme to give an explanation that is distinctly different from what I suggetsed.
I did earlier... By "judgement" I mean taking all the evidence, reasoning, observations, intuition, and other factors available to you and weighing them to decide what belief seems mostly likely to you to be true.

(Whereas throwing away evidence and simply believing whatever you want is virtually the opposite of judgement.)

quote:
All we need to do is point out that when people do rely on intuition, they are wrong more than 95% of the time.
You just made that statistic up on the spot - and I definitely think it is not true. Intuition is often right.
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King of Men
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quote:
I did earlier... By "judgement" I mean taking all the evidence, reasoning, observations, intuition, and other factors available to you and weighing them to decide what belief seems mostly likely to you to be true.
But why put intuition in there at all? We know that it is almost always wrong! The whole point of science is to get away from all that.

It occurs to me that we may be using different senses of the word 'intuition', which would not surprise me. I am referring to things like kmb's statement that she had 'always known' something. Conceivably you are referring to something like a mathematician's skill at manipulating the symbols in the right direction, which comes from long experience with the problem. That sort of intuition is valuable, certainly, but you will note that it is testable - either you get the result you want, or you don't. Nobody will listen to you if you say that "Well, I can't prove this, but it seems reasonable".

quote:
(Whereas throwing away evidence and simply believing whatever you want is virtually the opposite of judgement.)
Right. I'm still waiting for some sort of argument showing that this is not what kmb is doing. 'Always known' does not cut it.
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swbarnes2
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quote:
Originally posted by Tresopax:
By "judgement" I mean taking all the evidence, reasoning, observations, intuition, and other factors available to you and weighing them to decide what belief seems mostly likely to you to be true.

Making "judgment" trump evidence and reason alone is the same as having "intution" and all those mysterious other "factors" trump reason and evidence.

History is quite plain...ask your intuition what is most likely to be true, and it will tell you that what you already believed, or what you want to be true is most likely to be true. That's how humans are wired.

quote:
(Whereas throwing away evidence and simply believing whatever you want is virtually the opposite of judgement.)
Well, it's the direct result of allowing one's "intution" to trump reason and evidence. It's your problem if your judgment is in fact, terrible at judging.

quote:
Intuition is often right.
Well, yes. Evolution long ago selected against people whose intuition told them that saber-tooth tigers were nice pets.

Our intution is, afer all, based on our obervations, among other things, and those are usually real, if not always complete enough to give us a true, accurate picture of the situation.

But the question is, when reason and evidence say one thing, and your "intuition" says another, which is more likely to be right?

I think history is pretty clear on that point.

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dkw
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quote:
Originally posted by swbarnes2:



quote:
I'd be interested in the data.
Look up research of heuristics. A common one was posted a few weeks ago, it runs something like this.

Which is more likely:

A) California will suffer a major flood

b) California will suffer a bad earthquake, which will cause a major flood.

Which answer do you think people's instincts lead them to? Which answer will stand up to logical rigor?

In that thread a few weeks ago no one ever did present any evidence that most people's instincts would lead them to the wrong answer. Do you have any?
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kmbboots
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In my case, evidence, judgment and "intuition" all lead the same direction.
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Dagonee
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quote:
But the question is, when reason and evidence say one thing, and your "intuition" says another, which is more likely to be right?
I think history is pretty clear on that point.

There's a whole bunch of people who faced enormously bad consequences for allowing their reason to trump their intuition. Check out "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin de Becker some time for examples.
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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by Dagonee:
quote:
But the question is, when reason and evidence say one thing, and your "intuition" says another, which is more likely to be right?
I think history is pretty clear on that point.

There's a whole bunch of people who faced enormously bad consequences for allowing their reason to trump their intuition. Check out "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin de Becker some time for examples.
Care to give a few examples?
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Dagonee
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They're in the book. I can't do them justice without it.
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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by Dagonee:
They're in the book. I can't do them justice without it.

Just some general outlines would be great. If you don't mind.
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MightyCow
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Dag: That's a perfect example, because it uses interesting and compelling personal anecdotes rather than considering the facts behind the stories.

For every story about a person who ignored their instincts and faced bad consequences, I can give you another story about a person who followed their instincts rather than doing what was logically correct and faced bad consequences as a result.

I think the best conclusion we can draw here is that while instincts may be very useful, they're also quite unreliable, on the whole.

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swbarnes2
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quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
In that thread a few weeks ago no one ever did present any evidence that most people's instincts would lead them to the wrong answer. Do you have any?

Sure. I googled the "conjunction fallacy".

Here's the one cited in the wiki, the first one used in research:

Linda is 31 years old, single, outspoken, and very bright. She majored in philosophy. As a student, she was deeply concerned with issues of discrimination and social justice, and also participated in anti-nuclear demonstrations.
Which is more probable?
Linda is a bank teller.
Linda is a bank teller and is active in the feminist movement.

85% of those asked chose option 2.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by The Reader:
You needed classes to realize that people are wierd and crazy? [Smile]

naw that was the internet's job.
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swbarnes2
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quote:
Originally posted by Dagonee:
There's a whole bunch of people who faced enormously bad consequences for allowing their reason to trump their intuition. Check out "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin de Becker some time for examples.

How many books do you think could be written about the people who followed the intution over reason, and lost their savings in Vegas?

I bet you could write a book of the same length using all such people that pass through Vegas in one month.

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King of Men
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
In my case, evidence, judgment and "intuition" all lead the same direction.

Under Tres's definition, judgement is the sum of evidence and intuition, so that should be removed from the list. And then we come to that good old question: What dang evidence?
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Dagonee
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quote:
That's a perfect example, because it uses interesting and compelling personal anecdotes rather than considering the facts behind the stories.
Actually, it heavily examines the facts behind the stories, but it does so by examining them with methods and information not available to the person at the time the decision had to be made.

quote:
For every story about a person who ignored their instincts and faced bad consequences, I can give you another story about a person who followed their instincts rather than doing what was logically correct and faced bad consequences as a result.
I think the best conclusion we can draw here is that while instincts may be very useful, they're also quite unreliable, on the whole.

As is failing to account for intuition (not instinct).

The problem with reason and evidence - which I believe in very strongly - comes about when someone uses that methodology to arrive at a conclusion when they can't precisely define all the relevant factors. This is a fairly common situation in human existence.

In math, one can take the time to prove the intuited result. Unfortunately, a lot of decisions have to be made when there either isn't time to perform that proof or where there is no way to resolve the question solely with reasoning and evidence.

I haven't at all said that the intuition is superior to reasoning and evidence. Rather, intuition is one of our important cognitive abilities, and writing it off in favor of solely relying on reasoning and evidence is, in effect, mentally crippling oneself.

Which means that the fact you can find lots of anecdotes about intuition going badly doesn't at all contradict the premise that intuition is an important component of human cognition.

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