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Re: [skeptical] Why the need to prove?

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  • Tom Morris
    ... Not in some places. Take India. They have homeopathy as part of the state-funded health system. In Britain (my country of residence), we have homeopathy
    Message 1 of 3 , Aug 3, 2004
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      On 25 Jul 2004, at 22:51, aelindemann wrote:

      > My concerns are:
      > 1. Isn't it "begging the question" when you argue fundamental belief
      > systems? So, for a skeptic and a fundamentalist Christian to argue
      > about who is "right" is ultimately futile, correct? Arguing science
      > with someone who simply does not believe in science is absurd as the
      > reverse, correct?
      > I've never felt the need to "prove" that my belief system is the only
      > correct one. Therefore, if someone wants to believe in homeopathy, or
      > Creation Science, if I find the discussion offensive or just plain
      > old stupid, I just walk away. This is a free country and people have
      > a right to be stupid and/or ignorant if they chose.

      Not in some places. Take India. They have homeopathy as part of the
      state-funded health system. In Britain (my country of residence), we
      have homeopathy and acupuncture on the National Health Service (a
      socially funded health service that we all pay for via taxes).

      > Sure, lobby to keep religion out of the classroom, and out of
      > government, but save your energy that is wasted on one dumb
      > individual and save it for activism.
      > Life is just to short to be arguing with idiots. Who cares about
      > the "Shroud of Turin" anyway?

      Often skeptics will argue with people who aren't "true believers" but
      "fence sitters" (to use Michael Shermer's terminology). In that case,
      you are trying to convince the audience not just the individuals.

      Tom Morris
    • Tom Morris
      (Sorry, Ari sent this direct to me, but I ve sent it back to the list, because it might foster discussion) Thanks for your email. ... But, wouldn t you say
      Message 2 of 3 , Aug 5, 2004
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        (Sorry, Ari sent this direct to me, but I've sent it back to the list,
        because it might foster discussion)

        Thanks for your email.

        On 3 Aug 2004, at 16:37, Ari _s wrote (in private email):

        > We do not have nationalized healthcare, thank God (oops, skeptic
        > list). I
        > have excellent insurance which I worked for, just like my salary. I
        > believe the indigent have the right to better healthcare access,
        > however,
        > I believe that like any commodity - you have to work for it. It's not
        > free, and that means someone's got to pay for it. I find being in the
        > 40%
        > tax bracket sufficient as far as I'm concerned.
        > I know the alternative argument, I worked for a British man for over a
        > year and he was a strong believer. However, the people who I know in
        > the
        > US who believe in HMO's (kind of like nationalized health care), and
        > nationalized healthcare have never been ill.
        > I, on the other hand, have very expensive medications due to a
        > disability,
        > and I know for a fact that no "nationalized" system would supply me
        > with
        > the most up-to-date medications due to their phenomenal expense. Since
        > past medications have been recalled, it's very important to get the
        > most
        > up to date one. Sure, I'd like to give them all up, but I've tried and
        > it's just impossible. I've even spent $30,000 on alternative care in
        > the
        > last 4 or so years. No luck.

        But, wouldn't you say that, regardless of politics, regardless of
        whether or not you agree with something like social health care, it is
        a worthwhile ambition to bring rationality to politics?

        For example, I have recently lobbied my government on the topic of
        polygraph testing, demanding that their policy toward polygraph testing
        is based on rational and skeptical perspectives. Look at the evidence
        critically. Until the evidence shows a positive effect for the use of
        polygraph testing, don't use it.

        And, on the topic of finance, isn't it important that we should ensure
        that in either system - whether it be a system like in Britain or in
        the US - that healthcare is based on science and rationality rather
        than pseudo science. Of course, when it is a state-run national system,
        you have to do that by lobbying. While in a private system, you have to
        deal with individuals and health insurance providers. For example,
        wouldn't it be great if skeptic's decided to build a list of health
        insurers who didn't use homeopathy or acupuncture or any other
        fraudulent or irrational alt-med treatments? Then, imagine, if people
        decided to use their choice of health provider not to fund

        > But, what do I know! And I *won't* argue about homeopathy or any other
        > modality. Homeopathy has no basis in science, defies physical laws, and
        > there's really no other argument. My best friend believes in homeopathy
        > and I keep my mouth shut. My friendship with her is more important than
        > what she does with her health.

        That may be. But, it is important, as a society, to ensure that
        irrationality doesn't get a foothold. I think debate does have a useful
        part to play in this.

        > Thank you for responding. To be honest, as I stated earlier, I'm a
        > skeptic
        > reject because I'm a scientist, but I am not an atheist. Having worked
        > in
        > science for 20 years or so, I knew almost no other atheists, even
        > amonst
        > brilliant minds.

        You do not have to be an atheist to be a skeptic. Look at Martin
        Gardner. He's an ├╝ber-skeptic and believes in God because it consoles

        Thanks for your email!

        Tom Morris
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