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4436Re: Theos-World The "possibility/plausibility" method of argument: An example

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  • Steve Stubbs
    Dec 23, 2001
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      --- danielhcaldwell <danielhcaldwell@...> wrote:
      > I give below an excellent example of this method of
      7> argument from THE
      > TRANSCENDENTAL TEMPTATION by Paul Kurtz, a founding
      > member of
      > CSICOP.

      CSICOP exists for the purpose of pleading a case
      decided before the fact, just as theosophical
      fundamentalism does. What I am saying is that the
      question remains open until solid evidence is
      produced. There is an important difference there.

      > That is not to say that the questions entertained by
      > Kurtz are not
      > worthy of consideration. But such questions should
      > lead to further
      > research on the subject and to the accumulation of
      > evidence.

      The questions should be dealt with by replicating the
      experiment with improved test conditions.

      As we have seen with Sai Baba, some people are so good
      at sleight of hand and some witneses ae so dishonest
      that even seeing is not believing. The only way to
      prove that dishes can be materialized out of thin air
      is to do it yourself. That was you can absolutely
      rule out sleight of hand and every sort of other
      nonsense. Once you prove it possible, then you prove
      the plausibility of claims made in the past.

      > The above example illustrates Ray Hyman's statement
      > that "it is
      > ALWAYS possible to 'imagine' SOME scenario in which
      > cheating no
      > matter how implausible, COULD HAVE occurred."

      That's not quite fair. I open the regrigerator and
      pull out an orange. You can say it materialized out
      of thin air a moment before. I say I put it there
      when I got home from the store last Friday. Neither
      theory can be proved to a True Believer in the other.
      But which one makes more sense?

      > By using this "possibility/plausibility" method of
      > argument, "one
      > can 'HYPOTHETICALLY' explain away ANY result [even]
      > in science [or
      > history or the paranormal]."

      Not true. I place a pot of water over a fire. The
      water boils. The experiment can be replicated. How
      would you explain that away?

      Bear in mind the question here is not of urging people
      to believe or disbelieve what fundamentalists believe.
      The question is one of how to think clearly and
      evaluate evidence.

      Steve


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