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skeptic email list post 9/27/98

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  • Eric Krieg
    People on the skeptic list. Just a general discussion with ... I think those assumptions are axiomatic to skeptics and most people they take on. ... I think
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 27, 1998
      People on the skeptic list. Just a general discussion with
      a friend who is pondering the meaning of skepticism:

      > Eric,
      > It seems to me that your skeptics group may want to consider that if one
      > looks at different groups (including skeptics), one may be able to identify
      > "implied assumptions" from their actions.
      > One such implied assumption with regard to skeptics may be: a desirable
      > goal for human beings is to seek and find "the truth". Another implied
      > assumption may be that human beings are "better off" when they pursue this
      > goal. I am not aware of any rigorous proof for either of these
      > assumptions...

      I think those assumptions are axiomatic to skeptics and most people they take

      > Could it be that human beings are so flawed (i.e. so competitive and
      > ruthless in this competition), that if they "seek and find the truth" with
      > respect to the physical and biological sciences, that they will destroy
      > themselves? I am not aware of any hard data, much less rigorous proofs...

      I think among living systems, destroying 90% of your population base is
      no problem at all in the big picture - it is probably good, those who survive
      best, stay. Ideologies, cultures and nations compete just as members of
      species. I of course still abhor holocausts and plagues
      > As a human who has worked in the general field of biology -- or at least
      > looked at life from the perspective of biological sciences - it seems to me
      > that at least some human beings derive comfort from feeling identified with
      > some "goals", "values", "causes" or "objectives" that seem greater than
      > their own limited existence on this earth. I do not mean to imply that all
      > human beings find comfort in such activities.... But this does seem to apply
      > to your skeptics society - and other groups with intellectural interests...

      I think skeptics are motivated by such feelings - but so were the worlds
      greatest villains. That is where the detail of "being right" weighs heavy]]
      > Of course, human beings also derive comfort from drinking booze, taking LSD,
      > having sex, and escaping to fantasies.... It seems to me that escape into
      > fantasy need not imply any well defined cause, but others might differ with
      > this viewpoint.

      I used to think such escape was a horrible waste of humanity. Now that
      I'm a closet elitist, I now feel that many such losers into such abuse would
      never have much to contribute anyhow and may as well stay sedated. I'm not
      convinced of that and realize it ain't PC
      > And of course, some of the "causes" that have brought comfort to human
      > beings have included things like running the gas chambers in concentration
      > camps, preaching hatred of Jewish people, preaching hatred of the United
      > States, working toward the advancement of International Communism,
      > delivering car bombs, and so on...

      I like to think that promoting rational thinking would help reduce the
      of people sucked into those beliefs. That makes me one more person with a
      > It seems to me that such causes may provide emotional comfort by providing a
      > certain amount of "stability", "meaning" and "significance" to one's life...
      Couldn't agree more, and hence the revulsion that proselytizing atheists find.
      > Is there any value in trying to list and classsify such "causes"? For a
      > person who looks at life from the perspective of biology, such a project
      > seems potentially interesting... altho terribly vast, and perhaps even
      > undoable...

      As a cataloger of crackpots, I've only had a simple general cladistic with
      categories of causes being: religious, political, nationalistic,
      pseudo scientific, liberal, and anti-technology. There must be some better
      way to catalog true believers.

      > Perhaps, from a perspective of biology, various religions may reflect
      > efforts to find significance to one's life, similar to the significance that
      > others find by various "causes"...

      I like the memetics model of them, personally.
      > Doubtless, many historians and anthropologists already have listed and
      > classified such "causes"...
      > Could it be that at least some skeptics may be willing to accept that most
      > "causes" espoused by humans -- including skepticism - imply some
      > assumptions that are not rigorously proven?

      Yes, I think most have accepted that. Skeptics live in constant jealousy that
      the pro-paranormal message is 100 times more popular.
      > Could it be that some "causes" - such as moral and religous values that have
      > endured for many thousands of years - may have some survival value for the
      > human species, even tho the validity of these values is difficult to "prove
      > beyond all doubt"?

      That's all part of the theory of memetics. They can have a symbiotic
      relationship with their host ( us). A great starting point on memetics is:
      best wishes,

      Eric Krieg eric@... fax (215) 654-0651
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