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Difference between revisions of "Pseudoskepticism"

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[[Image:zetetic-scholar-12-13.jpg|right|right|256px|thumb|[[Marcello Truzzi]] founded the [[Zetetic Scholar]] journal, in which he popularised the term '''''pseudoskepticism''''' in the mid 1980s]]
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[[Ian Tresman]] maintains '''pseudoskepticism''' towards the Big Bang, despite having never taken an actual class on the subject.
The terms '''pseudoskepticism''' (sometimes ''pseudo-skepticism'') and '''pathological skepticism''' are used to denote the phenomena when certain forms of [[skepticism]] deviate from [[Objectivity (science)|objectivity]]. The term has been in limited use in philosophy for more than a century, but has only recently been the object of more systematic attempts at defining the concept. The most well known analysis of the term has been conducted by [[Marcello Truzzi]], who in 1987 stated that:
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:Since "skepticism" properly refers to doubt rather than denial &mdash; nonbelief rather than belief &mdash; critics who take the negative rather than  an agnostic position but still call themselves "skeptics" are actually  pseudo-skeptics.<ref>"Marcello Truzzi, [http://www.anomalist.com/commentaries/pseudo.html On Pseudo-Skepticism]" ''Zetetic Scholar'' (1987)  No. 12/13, 3-4.</ref>
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==Characteristics of pseudoskeptics==
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The first extensive analysis of the term pseudoskepticism was conducted by [[Marcello Truzzi]], Professor of Sociology at [[Eastern Michigan University]], who in 1987 claimed that
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pseudoskeptics show the following characteristics:
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*The tendency to deny, rather than doubt,<ref>"Marcello Truzzi, [http://www.anomalist.com/commentaries/pseudo.html On Pseudo-Skepticism]"  ''Zetetic Scholar'' (1987)  No. 12/13, 3-4. "Though many in this category who dismiss and ridicule anomaly claims call themselves 'skeptics,' they often are really 'pseudo-skeptics' because they deny rather than doubt anomaly claims"</ref>
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*Double standards in the application of criticism, <ref>Truzzi, ''ibid'', ".. they seem less inclined to take the same critical stance towards orthodox theories. For example, they may attack alternative methods in medicine (e.g., for a lack of double-blind studies) while ignoring that similar criticisms can be levelled against much conventional medicine"</ref>
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*The making of judgements without full inquiry,<ref>Truzzi, ''ibid'', "those I term scoffers often make judgements without full inquiry"</ref>
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*Tendency to discredit, rather than investigate,<ref>Hyman, Ray, 1980. "Pathological Science: Towards a Proper Diagnosis and Remedy," ''Zetetic Scholar'', No. 6, 31-43. Truzzi wrote: ".. they may be more interested in discrediting an anomaly claim than in dispassionately investigating it"</ref>
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*Use of ridicule or ''[[ad hominem]]'' attacks,<ref>Truzzi, ''ibid'', "scoffers sometimes manage to discredit anomaly claims (e.g., through ridicule or ad hominem  attacks) "</ref>
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*Presenting insufficient evidence or proof, <ref>Truzzi, ''ibid'', "scoffers sometimes manage to discredit anomaly claims .. without presenting any solid disproof</ref>
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*Pejorative labelling of proponents as 'promoters', 'pseudoscientists' or practitioners of 'pathological science.' <ref>Truzzi, ''ibid'', "A characteristic of many scoffers is their pejorative characterization of proponents as "promoters" and sometimes even the most protoscientific anomaly claimants are labelled as 'pseudoscientists' or practitioners of 'pathological science.' "</ref>
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*Assuming criticism requires no burden of proof, <ref>Marcello Truzzi, "[http://www.anomalist.com/commentaries/pseudo.html On Pseudo-Skepticism]]", ''Zetetic Scholar'',  #12-13, 1987. "Critics who assert negative claims, but who mistakenly call themselves 'skeptics,' often act as though they have no burden of proof placed on  them at all, though such a stance would be appropriate only for the agnostic or true skeptic"</ref>
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*Making unsubstantiated counter-claims,<ref>Truzzi, ''ibid'', ".. the true skeptic does not assert a claim, ''he has no burden to prove anything''. He just goes  on using the established theories of 'conventional science' as usual. But if a critic asserts that there is evidence for disproof, that he has a ''negative hypothesis'' — saying, for instance, that a seeming psi result was actually due to an artifact — he is making a claim and therefore also has to bear a burden of proof."</ref>
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*Counter-claims based on plausibility rather than empirical evidence,<ref>Truzzi, ''ibid'', ".. many critics seem to feel it is only necessary to present a case for their counter-claims based upon plausibility rather than empirical evidence"</ref>
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*Suggesting that unconvincing evidence is grounds for dismissing it,<ref>Truzzi, ''ibid'', "Showing evidence is unconvincing is not grounds for completely dismissing it."</ref>
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*Tendency to dismiss ''all'' evidence, <ref>Truzzi, ''ibid'', "Some proponents of anomaly claims, like some critics, seen unwilling to consider evidence in probabilistic  terms, clinging to any slim loose end as though the critic must disprove all evidence  ever put forward for a particular claim."</ref>
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==Academic studies==
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A Spring 2006 course at the University of Colorado, "Edges of Science" which "Examines the evidence for paranormal phenomena, [and] reasons for skepticism", includes a section which shows "how a healthy skepticism can see through unsupported assertions, and how pathological skepticism can work against honest scientific inquiry." <ref>[http://ece-www.colorado.edu/~ecen3070/3070Syllabus.html ECEN 3070 - "Edges of Science"], Spring Semester Spring 2006</ref>
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The Laboratory for Advances in Consciousness and Health at the [[University of Arizona]], run by Prof. [[Gary Schwartz]], claims to provide "a responsible forum in which to conduct systematic research on pathological skepticism, illusory correlates, and self-deception in science, society, and human relationships."<ref>[http://lach.web.arizona.edu/hesl.htm Human Energy Systems Laboratory], University of Arizona</ref>  The lab's research into "the role of conscious intention in energy medicine and healing, and the possibility of survival of consciousness after physical death" has been criticized in The [[Skeptical Inquirer]] because it did not consider non-paranormal explainations for the observations recorded.<ref>http://www.csicop.org/si/2003-01/medium.html "How Not to Test Mediums: Critiquing the Afterlife Experiments"</ref>.
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==History==
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The term "pseudo-skepticism" appears to have its origins with 19th and early 20th century [[philosophy]].
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On 31 Aug 1869, Swiss philosopher [[Henri-Frédéric Amiel]] wrote in his diary:
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:"My instinct is in harmony with the pessimism of Buddha and of [[Schopenhauer]]. It is a doubt which never leaves me, even in my moments of religious fervor. Nature is indeed for me a Maïa; and I look at her, as it were, with the eyes of an artist. My intelligence remains skeptical. What, then, do I believe in? I do not know. And what is it I hope for? It would be difficult to say. Folly! I believe in goodness, and I hope that good will prevail. Deep within this ironical and disappointed being of mine there is a child hidden — a frank, sad, simple creature, who believes in the ideal, in love, in holiness, and all heavenly superstitions. A whole millennium of idyls sleeps in my heart; I am a pseudo-skeptic, a pseudo-scoffer."<ref>Charles Dudley Warner, Editor, ''Library Of The
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World's Best Literature Ancient And Modern, Vol. II'', 1896. Online at Project Gutenberg (eg. [http://library.beau.org/gutenberg/1/2/7/8/12788/12788-h/12788-h.htm#HENRI_FREDERIC_AMIEL here])</ref>
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In 1908 [[Henry Louis Mencken]] wrote on [[Friedrich Nietzsche]]'s criticism of philosopher [[David Strauss]] that:
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:"Strauss had been a preacher but had renounced the cloth and set up shop as a critic of Christianity. He had labored with good intentions, no doubt, but the net result of all his smug agnosticism was that his disciplines were as self-satisfied, bigoted, and prejudiced in the garb of agnostics as they had been before Christians. Nietzsche's eye saw this and in the first of his little pamphlets "David Strauss, der Bekenner und der Schriftsteller" ("David Strauss, the Confessor and the Writer"), he bore down on Strauss's bourgeoise pseudo-skepticism most savagely. This was 1873".<ref>H. L. (Henry Louis) Mencken, ''The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche'' (1908) publ. T.F. Unwin. Reprinted in ''Friedrich Nietzsche'', Originally published: Boston : Luce and Co., 1913. [http://books.google.com/books?id=_r71AzHvf64C&vid=ISBN1560006498&dq=%22pseudo+skepticism%22&pg=PA30&lpg=PA30&sig=GmCpU7uH_ZS-fJj_BF8vtbnaHrk&q=%22pseudo+skepticism%22 p.30].</ref>
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Professor of Philosophy at the University of Illinois, Frederick L. Will used the term "pseudo-skepticism" in 1942. Alasdair MacIntyre writes:
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:[Frederick] Will was no exception. He began as an analytical philosopher, distinguishing different uses of language with the aim of showing that certain traditional philosophical problems need no longer trouble us, once we have understood how to make the relevant linguistic distinctions. The enemies were two: the philosophical skeptic who poses these false problems and the philosopher who thinks that the skeptic needs to be answered. So in "Is there a Problem of Induction?" (''Journal of Philosophy'', 1942) it is two senses of "know" that are to be distinguished: "All the uneasiness, the pseudo-skepticism and the pseudo-problem of induction, would never appear if it were possible to keep clear that 'know' in the statement that we do not know statements about the future is employed in a very special sense, not at all its ordinary one".<ref>Alasdair MacIntyre "[http://www.uea.ac.uk/~j018/FLW-P&R.htm Foreword]" to the book ''Pragmatism and Realism'' by Frederick L. Will (1997) quoting his earlier paper "[http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0022-362X%2819420910%2939%3A19%3C505%3AITAPOI%3E2.0.CO%3B2-M&size=LARGE Is There a Problem of Induction?]" ''Journal of Philosophy'', Vol. 39, No. 19 (Sep. 10, 1942), pp. 505-513</ref>
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[[Notre Dame]] Professor of English, John E. Sitter used the term in 1977 in a discussion of [[Alexander Pope]]: "Pope's intent, I believe, is to chasten the reader's skepticism &mdash; the pseudo-skepticism of the overly confident 'you' ... "<ref>John E. Sitter, "[http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0039-3657%28197722%2917%3A3%3C435%3ATAOPET%3E2.0.CO%3B2-F&size=LARGE The Argument of Pope's Epistle to Cobham]" ''Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900'', Vol. 17, No. 3, Restoration and Eighteenth Century (Summer, 1977), pp. 435-449</ref>
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The term ''pseudoskepticism'' was popularised and characterised by Truzzi in 1987, in response to the [[skeptic groups]] who applied the label of "[[pseudoscientist]]s" to fields which Truzzi thought might be better described as [[protoscience]].<ref>Truzzi, ''ibid'', "A characteristic of many scoffers is their pejorative characterization of proponents as 'promoters' and sometimes even the most protoscientific anomaly claimants are labelled as "pseudoscientists" or practitioners of 'pathological science.' "</ref>
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Science writer C. Eugene Emery, Jr. compared the degrees of [[skepticism]] of CD-ROM-based encyclopedias of articles on [[pseudoscience|pseudoscientific]] subjects.  He called such articles "pseudoskeptical" if only suggested or stated that the subject was "controversial, but the author may not have a clue as to why". <ref>C. Eugene Emery, Jr., "[http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2843/is_n6_v20/ai_18920372 CD-ROM encyclopedias: how does their coverage of pseudoscience topics rate?]", ''Skeptical Inquirer'',  Nov-Dec, 1996</ref>
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==Criticism  of the term==
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The Society for Scientific Exploration<ref>[http://www.scientificexploration.org/ scientificexploration.org]</ref> has been criticized by science journalist [[Michael Lemonick]] as "fringe" but also as showing a "surprising attitude of skepticism"<ref>[http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1064461,00.html Science on the Fringe.] ''[[Time (magazine)|Time]]''</ref>. One of its members, L. David Leiter, thinks that organized skepticism might be called pathological or pseudoskepticism. According to Leiter, the label "Skeptic" "labels someone whose mental processes are continually and rigidly out of balance, in the direction of disbelief."  He says of members of a certain skeptical organization, that "[i]nstead of becoming scientifically minded, they become adherents of [[scientism]], the belief system in which science and only science has all the answers to everything" and that even many pseudoskeptics are unwilling to spend the time to "read significantly into the literature on the subjects about which they are most skeptical"  <ref>L. David Leiter, "[http://www.scientificexploration.org/jse/articles/pdf/16.1_leiter.pdf#search=%22%22Pathological%20skepticism%22%20pathology%22 The Pathology of Organized Skepticism]" (PDF), in ''Journal of Scientific Exploration'', Vol. 16, No. 1, pp. 125–128, 2002.</ref>
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It also happens that groups accuse each other of pseudoskepticism. Commenting on the labels "dogmatic" and "pathological" that the "Association for Skeptical Investigation" puts on critics of paranormal investigations, Robert Todd Carroll of the Skeptic's Dictionary<ref>[http://skepdic.com/refuge/sheldrake.html Skepdic article on positive pseudo-skeptics]</ref> argues that that association "is a group of pseudo-skeptical paranormal investigators and supporters who do not appreciate criticism of paranormal studies by truly genuine skeptics and critical thinkers."
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==Notes==
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<div style="font-size:87.5%; -moz-column-count:2; column-count:2;">
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<!--See [[Wikipedia:Footnotes]] for an explanation of how to generate footnotes using the <ref(erences/)> tags-->
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<references/>
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</div>
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==External links and resources==
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* Truzzi, Marcello, "''[http://www.anomalist.com/commentaries/pseudo.html On Pseudo-Skepticism]''".  Anomalist. (Commentary)
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* Truzzi, Marcello, "''[http://www.skepticalinvestigations.org/anomalistics/practices.htm On Some Unfair Practices towards Claims of the Paranormal]''".  Oxymoron, 1998
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* Drasin, Daniel, "''[http://members.aol.com/ddrasin/zen.html Zen and the Art of Debunkery]''". aol.com, 1997.
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* Milton, Richard, "''[http://www.alternativescience.com/skepticism.htm Scientific skepticism]''".
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* Mooney, Chris, "''[http://www.csicop.org/doubtandabout/abuses/ Abuses of Skepticism : Doubting is a powerful tool, but it can definitely be taken too far]''". CSICOP, December, 2003.
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* Haack, Susan, "''[http://www.csicop.org/si/9711/preposterism.html Science, Scientism, and Anti-Science in the Age of Preposterism]''". CSICOP, December 1997.
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* Hall, Stephanie A. "''[http://www.temple.edu/isllc/newfolk/skeptics.html Folklore and the Rise of Moderation Among Organized Skeptics]''" Paper presented at the 1999 Annual Meeting of the American Folkore Society
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* Sofka, Michael D., "''[http://www.rpi.edu/~sofkam/papers/skeptik.html Myths of Skepticism]''". ISUNY, March, 2002.
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* Beaty, William J., "''[http://www.bccmeteorites.com/pathsk.html Symptoms of Pathological Sketicism]''". 1996.
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* Hyman, Ray, "''[http://www.csicop.org/si/2001-07/criticism.html Proper Criticism]''". (csicop.org)
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* Martin, Brian, "''[http://www.scientificexploration.org/jse/articles/pdf/12.4_martin.pdf Strategies for dissenting scientists]''". Society for Scientific Exploration. Journal of Scientific Exploration, Volume 12 No 4. 1998. ([[Portable Document Format|PDF]])
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* [[John Baez|Baez, John]], "''[http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/crackpot.html The crackpot index] : Method for rating potentially revolutionary contributions to physics.''".
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* Kruger, Justin, and David Dunning "''[http://www.phule.net/mirrors/unskilled-and-unaware.html Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments]''". Department of Psychology, Cornell University.
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* [http://www.geocities.com/wwu777us/Debunking_Skeptical_Arguments.htm  Debunking Pseudo-Skeptical Arguments against Paranormal and Psychic Phenomena ] by Winston Wu
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* [[Robert Anton Wilson|Wilson, Robert Anton]], [http://www.nii.net/~obie/1988_interview.htm interview] in which he discusses CSICOP and pseudoskeptism, what he calls "irrational rationalists" and "fundamentalist materialism"
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* Sarma, Amardeo, [http://www.gwup.org/themen/texte/skeptikerpuc/phact.pdf#search=%22%22misguided%20stigmatization%22%22 Misguided Stigmatization of "Organized Skepticism"]
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Revision as of 08:21, 23 February 2007

Ian Tresman maintains pseudoskepticism towards the Big Bang, despite having never taken an actual class on the subject.