Daily Archives: Wednesday, 16:52, February 3, 2010
Some people confuse arguments with explanations, when in fact these are two separate sorts of entities in both function and form. Mistaking the two is a common error among believers in certain…unscientific concepts and doctrines, who assert that any proposed conventional explanations for whatever paranormal or fringe-science belief they may have are arguments that conflict with said doctrine or belief system, whatever violates their personal intuitions or notions of sensibility, and therefore refuse to accept the validity of said explanations.
One thing I’ve noticed about a lot of fringe-scientific and paranormal believers is that they are happy to cherry-pick any scientific findings and reasoning that seem to them to support their belief, grossly misinterpreting them if necessary, and on the other hand, freely dispensing with those that don’t validate the same. This applies to even to portions of the same overall theory they otherwise accept that are unfavorable to their views.
This includes confusing explanations for the seemingly paranormal and belief in it – such things as the ideomotor effect, subjective validation, cold reading techniques, sleight of hand, hot reading techniques, hypersensory perception, the fantasy-prone personality and numerous other well-studied and well-established phenomena — with arguments against the paranormal, which are therefore prejudged by believers to be weak, confusing, boring, and overly technical, and these thus branded carry little weight with them.
This is intellectual sloth…
These are dismissed as ‘only untested theories,’ not the observationally supported and reality-tested tentative facts that they have been shown to be at this point in time, pending a better understanding of reality.
None of the above phenomena are arguments used to refute psychic ability, they are merely alternative mechanisms that more parsimoniously and plausibly describe the superficially paranormal abilities of psychics and belief in psychics without having to invoke anything paranormal, because we know these phenomena to demonstrably exist, unlike as yet unproven psychic powers, that is.
This is frequently done by believers in psychic phenomena who try to appropriate quantum mechanics, or rather, their interpretation of it, even going so far as to dismiss the reality of an important part of it, decoherence, because it is a ‘mere seeming’ of a phenomenon that contradicts their belief in a universe where All are One by way of quantum entanglement.
They do this without even considering our present understanding that it is entanglement itself that causes decoherence by the very way it operates when multiple quantum entities interact indiscriminately with each other, that you cannot have one without the other. I suspect that some are in dire need of checking their facts and reading the relevant current literature as they so accuse skeptics of not doing. Both entanglement and decoherence are empirically-tested phenomena, shown quite real beyond a rational doubt.
But not everyone’s doubt is rational…
Thus do some try to impose their personal cognitive limitations on reality, thereby reinforcing those same limitations: ‘If I don’t know, understand, imagine, or believe it, it must not be true. If it must not be true, I don’t have to know, understand, imagine or believe it.’ Then again, according to many with New Age affiliations, we create our own reality, because obviously, objective reality doesn’t exist, and this is objectively true they argue, however evidently and logically unsupported and self-contradictory that claim may be.
Thus do some believers keep believing, never challenging their own assumptions as they enjoin others, but I suppose that’s neither here nor there…
To wit — An argument is the provision of one or more premises, in the form of data, assumptions, facts, and other supporting reasons, in the form of a statement which attempts to establish a particular conclusion. These premises are strung together by a chain of reasoning, of logic, connecting them to the conclusion.
An explanation on the other hand, at least in science, is an entirely different beast. It is nothing more and nothing less than a detailed and testable answer to the question of how or why something works the way it does, or how or why it came to be. Yes, Virginia, science does ask why questions! It is a description of the workings of external and internal phenomena alike…something that can be shown true by way of evidence, independent of your likes, wishes, beliefs, culture, or ideology.
THAT is the difference between the two.
(Last Update 2010/2/5, Grammar Correction)