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

Dec 23, 2001 08:56 AM
by Steve Stubbs

--- 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 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.


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