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Old 03-24-2014, 07:24 AM
 
Location: Maine
19,176 posts, read 22,864,621 times
Reputation: 23445

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Interesting experiment. See full story at:

Can Skepticism Blind You to the Truth?

Long story short. An engineer tried an experiment in front of his class. He asked several of his colleagues to concentrate on levitating a bowl of flowers with their minds while chanting "om." The bowl levitated.

After, he asked for their reactions. One denied that the bowl had levitated at all, because he disbelieved in such things. Another claimed to have seen a "grayish" substance rising from the floor, through the table, to the bowl.

The truth: The guy used an electromagnet to levitate the bowl. It really did levitate, but the die-hard narrow-minded skeptic refused to believe in obvious reality, because it conflicted with his core beliefs. The other invented all sorts of supernatural mumbo jumbo to fill in the blanks.

Conclusion: Preconceived belief can cause us to deny reality. But preconceived disbelief can do the same thing. That bowl really did levitate. The skeptic, rather than accepting what he say and trying to find out the cause, simply denied what he saw because it conflicted with his own personal doctrine.

Just keep that in mind next you read about a ghost or Bigfoot or Elvis sneaking slurpies and mackerwave pizzas at the local 7-11.
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Old 03-24-2014, 08:46 AM
 
Location: Greenville, SC
5,783 posts, read 4,497,469 times
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Yeah, it's called the Semmelweis Reflex, and the stronger the belief in a paradigm, the less likely it is that the observer will accept data that conflict with his paradigm. It's a way of dealing with cognitive dissonance and it cuts both ways: the skeptic defends his belief in a rational world by not seeing the levitation, the true believer defends his belief in the paranormal by imagining a mystical mist. There's also group dynamics going on when you have a bunch of people observing an event that can affect perceptions. An interesting article on conceptual conservatism:

COGNITIV
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Old 03-24-2014, 09:02 AM
 
Location: Fort Wayne
360 posts, read 732,529 times
Reputation: 483
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vasily View Post
Yeah, it's called the Semmelweis Reflex, and the stronger the belief in a paradigm, the less likely it is that the observer will accept data that conflict with his paradigm. It's a way of dealing with cognitive dissonance and it cuts both ways: the skeptic defends his belief in a rational world by not seeing the levitation, the true believer defends his belief in the paranormal by imagining a mystical mist. There's also group dynamics going on when you have a bunch of people observing an event that can affect perceptions. An interesting article on conceptual conservatism:

COGNITIV
Actually, the "Semmelweis Reflex" is a metaphor,it has never been proven scientifically and its existence is a matter for debate.
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Old 03-24-2014, 09:41 AM
 
Location: Maine
19,176 posts, read 22,864,621 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fortwaynebandit View Post
Actually, the "Semmelweis Reflex" is a metaphor,it has never been proven scientifically and its existence is a matter for debate.
Kind of like string theory.
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Old 03-24-2014, 01:55 PM
 
Location: Greenville, SC
5,783 posts, read 4,497,469 times
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True of Semmelweiss, but psychologists often speak in metaphor. And there's been plenty of research into cognitive dissonance ... It's a standard topic covered in clinical training. Scratch the first sentence and I'll stand by the rest of my statement.

Did you actually read the paper, which was the main point of my reply, not the supposed Semmelweiss relex?

On the history of the use of metaphor in psychology:

http://www.amazon.com/Metaphors-Hist.../dp/0521421527
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Old 03-24-2014, 04:09 PM
 
Location: Bel Air, California
23,572 posts, read 24,664,033 times
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I doubt it matters anyways.
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Old 03-24-2014, 09:42 PM
 
Location: Sinking in the Great Salt Lake
13,145 posts, read 20,412,505 times
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I don't like to get too complicated with complexes, paradigms and so forth. My rule of thumb is simply to keep an open mind...but not so open a mind that my brain falls out.

Balance is usually found in the middle...
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Old 03-26-2014, 10:02 PM
 
Location: Tucson, Arizona
339 posts, read 751,402 times
Reputation: 343
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark S. View Post
Interesting experiment. See full story at:

Can Skepticism Blind You to the Truth?

Long story short. An engineer tried an experiment in front of his class. He asked several of his colleagues to concentrate on levitating a bowl of flowers with their minds while chanting "om." The bowl levitated.

After, he asked for their reactions. One denied that the bowl had levitated at all, because he disbelieved in such things. Another claimed to have seen a "grayish" substance rising from the floor, through the table, to the bowl.

The truth: The guy used an electromagnet to levitate the bowl. It really did levitate, but the die-hard narrow-minded skeptic refused to believe in obvious reality, because it conflicted with his core beliefs. The other invented all sorts of supernatural mumbo jumbo to fill in the blanks.

Conclusion: Preconceived belief can cause us to deny reality. But preconceived disbelief can do the same thing. That bowl really did levitate. The skeptic, rather than accepting what he say and trying to find out the cause, simply denied what he saw because it conflicted with his own personal doctrine.

Just keep that in mind next you read about a ghost or Bigfoot or Elvis sneaking slurpies and mackerwave pizzas at the local 7-11.

Yes I totally agree and have always known this. When you are of a mindset that you don't believe in anything supernatural then your mind can trick you into not even believing when something IS real. Skeptics are guilty of the very thing that they accuse believers of. They say if you want to see something bad enough you will, but also if you don't want anything to be there bad enough you can be totally blind to what's right in front of your face. Skeptics will try to grab a hold of any explanation no matter how much sense it doesn't make just to make it fit their comfortable beliefs that nothing supernatural exists. Especially when you are raised in a society where you are taught to ignore and disbelieve anything that's supernatural/spiritual and especially when society has been conditioned to ridicule those who believe in supernatural things. So it's easy for skeptics to blind themselves to things they really do see. Some skeptics would rather believe they themselves have gone crazy and are delusional just because it makes more logical sense, than to believe they actually saw something supernatural. They are just as bad as fanatics but in the reverse way. And when you try to tell them this, they can't comprehend it. People live in denial of things that are right in front of their face all the time but skeptics refuse to believe that could also apply to them. That's why I don't listen to skeptics because they are just as blind as they accuse believers of being. They think because they can spout out science that that somehow excludes them from being blind and in denial. Even when something IS real, it will never be real for skeptics.
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Old 03-26-2014, 10:13 PM
 
Location: Tucson, Arizona
339 posts, read 751,402 times
Reputation: 343
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chango View Post
I don't like to get too complicated with complexes, paradigms and so forth. My rule of thumb is simply to keep an open mind...but not so open a mind that my brain falls out.

Balance is usually found in the middle...
I agree, I will listen to those of an open mind more so than a die hard skeptic who will be blind to everything just to make everything fit their skeptical mind. A person should be open minded, don't fall for everything but also don't deny everything either. Science doesn't know everything and we humans don't know everything. Just because it can't be explained by what we know now doesn't make it not real. The skeptic students refused to believe what they saw simply because they could not understand it, if they can't understand it then it must not be real.
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Old 08-06-2014, 02:03 PM
 
7 posts, read 4,265 times
Reputation: 16
There is no problem with skepticism itself, despite the skeptics in this story having arrived at false conclusions. Skepticism doesn't ask that we disbelieve everything indiscriminately, just that we don't believe anything without good reason. If everyone in the room sees something levitated, that is reason to believe that it did. The debate should have been "how" it levitated, not whether it did or not. Skepticism isn't about jumping to conclusions, especially not against the evidence (in this case the evidence being that everyone saw the bowl levitate).

On the other hand, if I see a bowl levitate, the guy next to me doesn't, another person sees it disappear, another sees it turn into a dove, and so on, then I would be justified in doubting what I saw. Our senses are fallible, but independent verification strengthens the veracity of our experiences. The difference between this and supernatural claims is that we have a natural explanation of how something like this could happen. Supernatural claims on the other hand have never been verified once. Ever. Does this mean there is no supernatural realm? No. It just means belief in the supernatural is unjustified until it can be scientifically verified. Anecdotal evidence alone isn't enough because it is highly vulnerable to human fallibility.

In conclusion, and to answer the question, skepticism is essential for weeding out bad ideas and getting closer to what is likely true. I would believe in anything granted the evidence was strong enough. Belief and degree of certainty should always be proportional to the evidence, especially in regards to extraordinary claims. I hope this helps
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