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Brand Skeptic PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Steve Cuno   

I would normally advise against introducing a line of lingerie called “Itches Like Hell,” or a line of cat food called “More Hairballs.” Likewise, if we were on the eve of birthing the world’s first critical thinking movement, I might look for a more positive-sounding brand name than "skeptic."

But let’s not waste our time. The eve has passed, the movement has been snowballing for years and, with it, "skeptic" has strongly emerged as moniker-of-choice. Trying to change the name now would be about as fruitful as trying to get old movie buffs to start calling the late, rough'n'tough cowboy actor John Wayne by his given name, Marion Morrison. "Skeptic," at least for now, is here to stay.

Not to worry. Many respected brands rise above names which, in isolation, might not seem optimal. For a modest sampling, consider names like Smuckers, Wii, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Grey Poupon, Virgin, Crab Shack, Dress Barn, The Beatles, PMS (Pantone Matching System), Chubb, Gap, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Allied Waste, Athlete’s Foot, Costco, Beano, and Seimens. By comparison, making something positive out of "skeptic" doesn’t seem so daunting after all.

Besides, a name isn’t a brand. It is a trapping of a brand, much like a logo or the use of fonts and colors. Ensuring that people have a consistent, positive experience with a brand matters more than what you call it. The fact that skeptics are a little-understood, little-trusted minority may be due in part to how the word "skeptic" resonates, and in part to ignorance about skepticism. But we should also consider the possibility of a causal relationship between how skepticism is perceived and the way that some of us behave some of the time.

So rather than obsess on the merits of the word "skeptic" perhaps we should focus on giving people a positive experience in our day-to-day dealings as skeptics. Here are a few suggestions for doing that, culled mostly from my own vast experience with getting it wrong.

Time and place, Part 1. When I’m asked to write an article or give a speech, I’m direct when it comes to debunking. That’s appropriate in a public forum, where people log on or attend expecting to hear strong views. But among friends, neighbors and associates--people I need to get along with on a day-to-day basis -- different rules apply. It’s one thing to say to a large audience, “Chiropractic should be outlawed.” It’s quite another to say that at a friend’s dinner party where serendipity has seated me next to a chiropractor’s adoring spouse.

Say what you’re for. I cringed when an associate referred to TAM as “that gathering of naysayers.” Though I am normally impervious to bouts of self-honesty, I have to admit that her perception was my fault. Over time, my serving up of one debunking after another had led her to conclude that the skeptical mission is to disbelieve everything. It’s important that we remember to talk as much (or more) about what we affirm as about what we reject. There was a holocaust. There was a lunar landing. Immunizations do save lives. We are one human family. Opening a conversation about skepticism with positive statements such as these plays better than, say, “Let me tell you why you’re nuts if you believe in psychics.”

Personal growth. In our zeal to debunk, let’s not overlook our own development as human beings. Living a life of integrity, broadening our horizons and perspective, developing listening skills and empathy, telling the truth, treating people with kindness and fairness, giving an employer an honest day’s work instead of tweeting--these are all good practices for anyone. We owe it to ourselves to grow. Coincidentally, it helps skepticism’s brand when we do.

Play nice. There’s no need to respect silly beliefs, but there’s also no need to treat with open derision the people who hold them. We may think we’re standing up for science, when in reality we’re only conveying, “Skeptics are ill-mannered.”

Resist urges to pounce. I have a hard time sitting still and listening to malarkey. But pouncing never serves. On the rare occasions that I manage to pause and use my head, I have better luck saying something like, “I can tell this is important to you. I have a differing perspective that I can share if you’re interested.” If the other person isn’t interested and says so, it’s just as well--something about not being able to make a horse drink. Note that I don’t shy from expressing disagreement. I simply leave the bludgeon in the armory.

Time and place, Part 2. I live in Salt Lake City, where twice each year the Mormon Church holds a conference. When they do, members of another church gather outside to brandish signs and holler at them for being in “the wrong religion.” Their timing, approach and choice of venue do not win many converts. So far, the count is zero. Moreover, the public sees this church only at its nastiest, which doesn’t do much for its brand. We skeptics might weigh that. Challenge your city commission for displaying the Ten Commandments on public property if you must. But be nice about it. And be sure that opposing what many in your community hold dear does not represent the entirety of your public presence.

Throw away some pawns. H.G. Wells said, “No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else’s draft.” Were he talking about skeptics, he might have said: “No passion in the world is equal to the passion to fixate on minutiae.” A compulsion to correct every detail doesn’t promote skepticism. It makes us tiresome. Knowing when to give it a rest makes us more interesting when we take on topics that matter.

A good strategic rule for advertising is show, don’t tell. If we want people to see skepticism as a positive movement, and to see skeptics as good people, it begins with our doing positive things, and with our being good people. Our brand is not what we claim. It’s what we live.

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written by ralfnausk, December 26, 2009
Essentially You are saying: Don't go outing yourself as a Skeptic in a more personal enivironment. And in that point, i do disagree. Of course You wouldn't shout "BS" if somebody on the dinner-table praises Homeopathy, but starting a discussion seams very helpful. You may not convert a Homeopath, but You may keep a lot of your lovedones from "Woo" by doing so. Also, You might miss some very inetersting discussions. The most interesting discussion about my being not only a Skeptic, but an atheist i had with a roman-catholic priest on a friends birthday-party. It was very interesting and very polite indeed. So in German we say "Der Ton macht die Musik" (The tone makes the music), and i think that is what it should be about. If You don't speak up to your friends on those topics, you won't be believed when speaking out publicly - which very few of us have the opportunity to do.
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written by CasaRojo, December 26, 2009
Funny, I was thinking about the word 'skeptic' the other day and was thinking the same thing. Personally, I don't have an issue with it but it seems that many people associate skepticism with cynicism. Many look on it as a negative and I'm not sure why.

I conduct my behavior a bit differently in live social situations and I've found that most 'believers' do as well. Often I will casually object to whatever, state my position and it's usually on to something a little closer to the surface. smilies/cool.gif
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..., Lowly rated comment [Show]
Some positive messages I've adopted.
written by Skeptigirl, December 26, 2009
At least for me they are positive messages though some may disagree with my views.

Science is successful. Rather than constantly being on the defensive against those who discredit science claiming corrupt data or corrupt processes by corrupt people, I instead remind the 'science skeptic' of the incontrovertible evidence that science is successful.

Don't let the woo promoter control the debate. This is especially problematic when Creationists and ID promoters try to make the argument about the fairness straw man, claiming science denies evidence supporting religious beliefs. Why take the bait and start discussing why science doesn't investigate 'designers'? Dismiss the straw man for what it is and bring the debate back to the evidence.

Follow the evidence, don't try to fit the evidence to the conclusion. This is the most controversial of my views debating other rational thinkers. There is overwhelming evidence gods are mythical beings. There is no evidence any real gods exist. One doesn't need to test every single god myth to draw a conclusion from that evidence any more than we need to map out every genome before drawing a conclusion about evolution theory.

Keep the definition of 'untestable' true to science, don't mold it to rationalize irrational beliefs. Outside the Universe and before the Big Bang are currently considered untestable. There is no way for science to gather evidence about those conditions/places. But extending that to say, science doesn't have a way to collect evidence about purely imaginary thought, may be true, but it is a useless construct. So what we can’t disprove the invisible pink unicorn exists? It may have meaning when discussing scientific principles, but it doesn't have meaning that invisible pink unicorns may exist.

None of this means I don't agree there is a time and place to criticize or address religious beliefs. Just as you wouldn't attack chiropractic falsehoods at the dinner example, I am not advocating one attack theists in any situation that is not going to be productive in some way. But giving religious beliefs some kind of special 'not in the realm of science' place to exist results in hypocrisy when you then deny that 'not in the realm of science' status to other bogus claims. It leaves the rationalist dancing around one's own position with contortions like saying, "a god exists", is somehow not a claim. Try explaining how that is not a claim and see how convoluted your argument becomes.

And, if a theist can claim credibility by saying you cannot disprove gods exist, then why can't an acupuncturist claim you cannot prove chi doesn't exist? Is "chi exists" a claim or not? Only if you go on to say what chi does? Baloney.

In these cases we don't need to prove things do not exist. But we need to be careful that our position is consistent. Inconsistency leaves the door open for attack and that damages the rational thinking movement in the long run.

In regards to being stuck with the brand, skeptic, I see no reason we can't insert better terms when they fit. I know what a JREF member means by the term, skeptic. But when I discuss my hobby of promoting rational thinking or critical thinking to my non-skeptic friends and strangers, the brand name, skeptic, is very awkward. So I use the term, rational thinker. Skeptic not only connotates cynic, it is also too easily hijacked. Climate change skeptic, vaccine skeptic, and so on, are blurring our position just as 'evidence based' is problematic terminology now in medicine. We need to add 'scientific' to 'evidence based' because 'evidence' is subject to being hijacked.

Unless we had copyright or trademark protection of the brand, the analogies in the Swift entry above are not exactly analogous. The problem is not just that the term skeptic can have the connotation of cynic, it is also that the brand is diluted with all the unskeptical applications of the term.

There has been a discussion before about changing the TAM name to "International Critical Thinking Conference". The reason is to give more credibility to the conference than the name TAM gives. Merging the name seems like a potential option to bridge the change. "TAM of International Critical Thinking" is a possible positive change in the direction the movement might well consider taking.
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written by Skeptigirl, December 26, 2009
written by popsaw, December 26, 2009
Whilst I agree withe the sentiment of the article, there is a subtle, almost subliminal inference that belief in the bible/God and skepticism are in compatible. I do not believe this to be true.

Chiropractors and acupuncturists exist within the otherwise scientific evidence based medicine community. Does that mean their beliefs are evidence based? Does it mean they are not 'real' medical providers? What about the medical doctor who is still treating ulcers with antacids despite the overwhelming evidence most ulcers are the result of a bacterial infection? Is that doctor not a doctor because he/she has one unscientific evidence supported belief?
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written by Caller X, December 26, 2009
I recently said about an article that I considered quota-filling, "I expect better of the JREF".

This article is something better.

Skeptigirl added some good points.

My only suggestion would be to stop saying "woo" altogether. Anytime you have the urge, imagine saying "nigger" instead.
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my earlier post
written by Caller X, December 26, 2009
For some reason, the BB software left off my last sentence: "Imagine living in a world where people think 'sceptics are douches because they call me 'woo'."
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oh, one more thing, Lowly rated comment [Show]
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written by GeekGoddess, December 26, 2009
@popsaw Whilst I agree withe the sentiment of the article, there is a subtle, almost subliminal inference that belief in the bible/God and skepticism are in compatible. I do not believe this to be true.
Interestingly, HG Wells (quoted) believed in God and published 'God The Invisible King


Yes, and he also wrote:

“Indeed Christianity passes. Passes--it has gone! It has littered the beaches of life with churches, cathedrals, shrines and crucifixes, prejudices and intolerances, like the sea urchin and starfish and empty shells and lumps of stinging jelly upon the sands here after a tide. A tidal wave out of Egypt. And it has left a multitude of little wriggling theologians and confessors and apologists hopping and burrowing in the warm nutritious sand. But in the hearts of living men, what remains of it now? Doubtful scraps of Arianism. Phrases. Sentiments. Habits.”
-- H.G. Wells, Experiment in Autobiography, 1934, cited by Ira D. Cardiff, What Great Men Think of Religion, 1945


Wikipedia notes: Wells wrote in his book God The Invisible King that his idea of God did not draw upon the traditional religions of the world: "This book sets out as forcibly and exactly as possible the religious belief of the writer. [Which] is a profound belief in a personal and intimate God."[30] Later in the work he aligns himself with a "renascent or modern religion...neither atheist nor Buddhist nor Mohammedan nor Christian...[that] he has found growing up in himself." [31]

Of Christianity he has this to say: "…it is not now true for me. … Every believing Christian is, I am sure, my spiritual brother … but if systemically I called myself a Christian I feel that to most men I should imply too much and so tell a lie." Of other world religions he writes: "All these religions are true for me as Canterbury Cathedral is a true thing and as a Swiss chalet is a true thing. There they are, and they have served a purpose, they have worked. Only they are not true for me to live in them. … They do not work for me.



Some of the anti-science web sites, such as answersingenesis, selectively quote him on his nontheists beliefs, which they blame on his acceptance of the science of evolution.
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written by Skeptigirl, December 26, 2009
written by Caller X, December 26, 2009...
My only suggestion would be to stop saying "woo" altogether. Anytime you have the urge, imagine saying "nigger" instead.

I'm open to suggestions. But I also wonder how you tell someone they believe in nonsense or that they are irrational thinkers without insulting them.
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written by popsaw, December 26, 2009
I agree that his writings about the religions of the world. I believe the bible is grossly misrepresented in religion and for this, religion is reprehensible. One does not have to follow the secular religions of the world to believe in the bible and God. HG Wells rightly expressed a similar view.
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written by MadScientist, December 26, 2009
@skeptigirl: I just say that there is no science studying fairies, hobgoblins, and gods simply because there is absolutely no evidence for their existence. I always try to get the audience to think of the whole pantheon and to (correctly) associate them with fairies, imps, and other mythical creatures. Every chance you get, make the connection back the the other mythical creatures which people reject so that eventually they can't hear "god" mentioned without perhaps thinking of zeus, odin, santa claus, the tooth fairy. Hey, it worked for Mel Brooks and "Hitler in Springtime".
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written by Otara, December 26, 2009
Would it be over sceptical of me to ask what the evidence is that these approaches would be more effective? Change is a tricky beast and doesn't only come about by polite friendly conversations. It might seem counter productive to remove 10 commandments displays or whatever, but those kinds of things should be evaluated rather than assumed, what causes a hullabaloo in the first 6 months might make more difference in the next 10 and all that.

I personally prefer science to skepticism as a general descriptor.
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written by Willy K, December 26, 2009
written by Skeptigirl, December 26, 2009
And, if a theist can claim credibility by saying you cannot disprove gods exist...

I've been saying the following when confronted by this kind of challenge.

I say, "Prove to me that Santa Claus doesn't exist and I'll use your proof."

They sputter and usually say "But everybody knows Santa doesn't exist blah, blah blah."

Then they ALWAYS change the subject and/or go off on some tangent. It's like watching a "logical fallacy" garden bloom. smilies/tongue.gif
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written by hopfen, December 26, 2009
I once worked at a place where we had a person with the secondary job title of "official skeptic." Whenever someone had a bright idea and wanted to implement a new procedure, it was necessary to secure the approval of this person. Essentially, he was a bright, logical mind who communicated the idea "I'm open to your idea, but you'll have to convince me. Better get your idea completely thought out before trying."

No one minded this extra step, because our official skeptic was quite reasonable, despite being rather unforgiving of half-baked ideas.

My concept of being a skeptic goes back to those days, so my mindset is just "Hey, convince me!" rather than any predisposition to debunking.
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@Skeptigirl
written by Caller X, December 26, 2009
c

written by Skeptigirl, December 26, 2009

written by Caller X, December 26, 2009...
My only suggestion would be to stop saying "woo" altogether. Anytime you have the urge, imagine saying "[edited by original poster because there's no reason to overdo it]" instead.


I'm open to suggestions. But I also wonder how you tell someone they believe in nonsense or that they are irrational thinkers without insulting them.


Step one is don't call people names.

Step two is to inventory one's one social skills and ask if one is deploying them as skillfully as possible.
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written by Caller X, December 26, 2009
written by popsaw, December 26, 2009
I agree that his writings about the religions of the world. I believe the bible is grossly misrepresented in religion and for this, religion is reprehensible. One does not have to follow the secular religions of the world to believe in the bible and God. HG Wells rightly expressed a similar view.


At least Wells never did undercover work for the Rumson, NJ police department. No one else did, either. No tapes.

Not using the shift key makes the baby Jesus cry. It's "Bible" goddamit!
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Willy K Steps on His Willy, Lowly rated comment [Show]
What's in a name...
written by Kajabla61, December 26, 2009
According to the ignorant masses:
Skeptic = Cynic
Atheist = Evil
Theory = Wild Ass Guess

With a large group of misinformed folks any word can be turned into something derogatory. As more folks become informed the stigma of these words can, and hopefully will, change. We should stick with what is accurate and correct misconceptions when we can.

And yes, we need to play nice as much as possible to keep up appearances even though we are not always treated nicely by themasses. smilies/smiley.gif
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written by KingMerv00, December 26, 2009
Not using the shift key makes the baby Jesus cry. It's "Bible" goddamit!


It's "God damn it!" goddamit! smilies/grin.gif
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written by Skeptigirl, December 26, 2009
@Skeptigirl
written by Caller X, December 26, 2009
Step one is don't call people names.

I don't use the term, woo, to refer to people. I use it to refer to irrational beliefs people have.

I ask again, how do you tell someone they have irrational beliefs without offending them? You can side step around the whole affair by some soft peddling claim that their evidence is not convincing. And in social situations, this is what I do.

But there comes a time when one must also go a step further and say the evidence is against what they believe, not just that there is no supporting evidence. You cannot always avoid the problem of evidence against even if you can sometimes invoke the statement there is no convincing evidence for.
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There's something to be said
written by incredulous, December 27, 2009
for we skeptics lightening up and appearing less negative, but were generally saying negative things to people espousing positive nonsense.

Hard to make that very cuddly, Steve.

The 'perception is reality' mantra of marketers is also something that I think is fundamentally at odds with skepticism, although we may need to learn to live with it.

I like the humorous tone of you piece and while I do not agree with you, I enjoyed reading it.
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written by flyinlion, December 27, 2009
To digress slightly... my favorite respected brand which may, or may not have been overcome is Toyota's label for their performance trucks - TRD (pronounced turd).
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written by Willy K, December 27, 2009
Willy K Steps on His Willy
written by Caller X, December 26, 2009
You are the one engaging in a logical fallacy. All they have to do is point out that you are asking them to prove a negative. Lose the smiley.


Either you didn't read the entire comment or didn't understand what I said. My writing skills are not very good but I'm sure that most readers could easily see my line of reasoning.

I shall explain what I said in another manner.
I've had people, who believe in deities, to disprove the existence of their deity. I asked them to disprove the existence of Santa Claus and then I would tell them I would use their explanation to disprove the existence of their deity.

Once again, they were the ones who asked me to prove a negative! As soon as I said I would use their "proof" they instinctively knew that they couldn't continue and they would change the subject. Try it sometime.

Oh yeah, add some smileys to your comments. smilies/grin.gif
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written by Steel Rat, December 27, 2009
You forgot one of the best, the Ayds Diet Plan
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written by CasaRojo, December 27, 2009
"You forgot one of the best, the Ayds Diet Plan"

LOL! I remember those chocolate candy diet things! I'd forgotten all about them. It seems that they didn't actually start working until about 1983ish. smilies/cool.gif
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written by battigoal, December 27, 2009
There's a spa-type outfit in my town called "Tan Me, Nail Me".
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skeptic
written by Dr.Sid, December 27, 2009
I guess many of us use this phrase time to time:
"I'm skeptical about it" while actually meaning "I don't believe it".
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written by MightyDrake, December 27, 2009
My skepticism often evokes the accusation of hating religion or of actively not wanting psychic phenomenon to be true. My come-back is, "It would be great if psychic phenomenon were true. Not only would be just plain cool. It would also mean that there's a lot more to learn about the universe and how it works." And for me, that holds true for pretty much all of the woo I can think of off the top of my head.

I try to make the point that I don't let my emotional delight at the idea of the stuff being true overwhelm my knowledge that none of it has any credible evidence in its favor. Show me some new evidence that isn't just variations of the the same tired stuff I've seen a thousand times before. I'm also not interested in Proof by Repeated Assertion.

Unfortunately, most people treat their imagination as more real than reality.
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written by latsot, December 28, 2009
popsaw:
Since “God is a Spirit,” he simply cannot be subjected to direct scientific scrutiny.


Don't be absurd. If a god exists and has some kind of observable effect in the universe (answering prayers, for example), then it can be studied scientifically. The same goes for spirits: if there is some way to detect them either directly or by some influence they have on the world, then they can be scrutinised scientifically.
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@Latsot
written by popsaw, December 28, 2009
According to your reasoning, that which cannot be studied scientifically cannot exist! However, science cannot prove, thought, conscience,memory etc. These things are intangible and we rely on the testimony of others. They are not in the scientific realm which is a physical realm.
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written by Caller X, December 28, 2009

written by Skeptigirl, December 26, 2009

@Skeptigirl
written by Caller X, December 26, 2009
Step one is don't call people names.


I don't use the term, woo, to refer to people. I use it to refer to irrational beliefs people have.


Consider the term "nigger behavior" or "niggerness". Saying "woo" is not helpful.
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written by Caller X, December 28, 2009
written by Skeptigirl, December 26, 2009
[...]

I'm open to suggestions. But I also wonder how you tell someone they believe in nonsense or that they are irrational thinkers without insulting them.


Pretty simple. Just tell them that using those words. Because saying "woo" isn't insulting, right? Unfortunately in the real world, the way you use a term and the way it is perceived by the retards you're talking about might not be the same. And you need to manage those retards. So "woo" is out. This is where you need to step up your social skills and deal with the fact that when you say stuff on the interwebs, people are going to judge you by it, Asperger's be damned. It's not just you talking to your buds, it's you saying "woo" over and over again, and "woo" becomes the new [no real need to say it again], which makes you a Kluxer. That's just the way people see things. You've got to manage the retards.




Anyone think I don't get the irony?
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basic rules of etiquette for dealing with people with differing opinions
written by r jackson, December 28, 2009
Whenever we are expressing points of view or beliefs(even if we regard these as facts) that are different from those of our friends and family, we should follow these rules of etiquette. If we feel that their beliefs are completely idiotic then we should seriously rethink our choice of friends. In my experience with people in intellectual circles- Triple Nine Society, medical conferences, scientists, etc- I have run into people with vastly different belief systems and people were able to get along fine as long as they approached the issues from a stance of mutual respect. When people throw out their beliefs as the only logical conclusion and treat everyone else as either delusional or imbecillic relationships end rather quickly and no one is convinced of the others belief. I think that Mr. Cuno has expressed this well and it should be a model for any group, religion or otherwise in addressing people who may disagree with them.
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Minutiae
written by wallacej14, December 28, 2009
I particularly like the notion of not fixating on tiny mistakes. Posters here often mock mercilessly any grammatical error or typo, which seems ineffective at best, thoughtlessly cruel at worst.

Also, while I know Hitchens and others have answered the charge of "joylessness" before, it does seem to me a symptom of skepticism. Randi and many others often write, when chronicling some perceived nonsense, "I was helpless with laughter" or "read this if you can without falling out of your chair laughing" or some such sentiment. While I understand hyperbole, this kind of laughter can only be described as cynical. Laughter should be among the utmost expressions of joy. I have less and less patience for sniggering.
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That's not how I use the word, woo.
written by Skeptigirl, December 28, 2009
I asked for an alternative word for 'woo'. I need a shorthand noun that encompasses all irrational beliefs. I'm not using the word with people face to face. And if I were, I find it hard to believe a person would be any less offended if I said their beliefs were irrational, were nonsense, or any other calling-it-like-it-is terminology.

When face to face, I generally side step that aspect of people's irrational belief and address the fact there is evidence against and no evidence for their conclusions.

But in discussions with other skeptics, the term, 'woo', means all of the nonsense as a whole.

So I ask again, in that context, what is your substitute term? And who is it you think we are offending when we use the term? And do you really think they'd be any less offended by other terms which mean the same thing?
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written by Caller X, December 28, 2009
The 2 posts above, by r jackson and wallacej14 were reasonable and well expressed. However, I am offended by the use of the term "sniggering".

I would also like to welcome the return of Girl to the Mike O'Meara Show, www.mikeomearashow.com

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written by Kitty, December 28, 2009
Well, it's ok, but I have to say I wish Skeptigirl would write an article. Her more bullet point post was far more clear to me. Also, you gotta call people out sometimes. I am not an atheist, but I have a LOT of atheist friends. They aren't all skeptics it should be noted! A couple of my atheist friends are hard core UFO believers! But they said they are very careful where they openly admit they are atheists, because it leads to "controversy". In fact, they'd rather admit they believe in UFOs than not believe in God. I was at a dinner in New York several years ago after having joined the JREF. It was for artists and patrons of art. I was talking to a fellow artist that is an atheist, and he was "oh well I can talk with you about being an atheist, but I don't want to hurt sales...". I had a chance to make a few remarks, and I simply got up and said "OK I want everyone to try a little experiment. First, everyone close their eyes and promise not to peek. Second, you have to be 100% honest. If you are an atheist please raise your hand." I could NOT believe the number of hands that went up. Both artists and patrons, it was about 30%. I had everyone put their hands down and then reported the number I counted. I then asked, "hey should we do it again with our eyes open?" We agreed, and everyone that had put their hands up before did so again! It was a shock. A lot of "wait, how many of us are there?" To the beleivers, who were very lovely I should put in and handled it well, they kept saying "I didn't know there were so many atheists, I should be more careful what I say, I just assume everyone believes." (this is NY and a very tolerant artistic community). The atheists it was like old home week. "I didn't know YOU were an atheist!!"

The point is that being open about your belief or lack of belief is important. Homosexuality really became more "acceptable' with the advent of AIDS where people began to really speak OUT and say "hey, I'm gay and I'm proud." You can be honest and hang back and NOT mention it unless asked. Or you can be outspoken and you know handle the questions and comments with a dignity and grace that will bring admiration and acceptance. I know so many people that say "well I don't know any atheists" and I always say "YOU DO, you just don't know who they are."

ahhh raise a little heck.

You may not convert people by kicking up a fuss every now and again, but you wont convert people by being quiet either. There is a time and place for everything, but skeptics deserve as much time and space as believers in woo. Sorry to use woo but a good replacement for it hasn't really been voted on.
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written by Alan3354, December 28, 2009
Just call it superstition. And remember,

Religion = Superstition + $$$$$

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written by Otara, December 28, 2009
Was writing this and as I was doing it realised Kitty has said something similar, to which I say hear hear. I guess when I think about it the main issue for me is 'getting along' to the point where your brain feels like its melting. This probably comes down to what direction people are coming from, ie as a polite not say anything type trying to be more assertive about ones beliefs, or as a former combatant trying to tone it down a bit.

For me also I think a middle ground between between eternally polite and getting along and being an absolute tyrant works best as a goal, if not something I always achieve in practise. As in I dont care if someone says they go to a chiropractor but when someone starts telling me to go to one and not letting it go after the first polite refusal, the gloves may come off a wee bit. This doesnt mean I will try and 'educate' them about the entire field but I may say something about my general belief in conventional medical practise as a preferred option and make it clear this is not a topic Im dying to go into detail about.

I guess what Im trying to say is saying nothing can often be taken as tacit acceptance that you're dying to hear about alternative medicine for hours on end, that you accept it as an inherently legitimate concept or that you're at least a potential convert. Sometimes making it clear you're not keen on the topic at least once has its value, for self preservation if nothing else.

Most importantly I find after a while generally people can live with your point of view, even if they react to it a bit at first. If you dont try to crush at first, they just put you in that box and move on. It doesnt change the world, but it means you dont have to keep quiet about your own views for the rest of your life.
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written by Caller X, December 28, 2009
That's not how I use the word, woo.
written by Skeptigirl, December 28, 2009
I asked for an alternative word for 'woo'. I need a shorthand noun that encompasses all irrational beliefs. I'm not using the word with people face to face. And if I were, I find it hard to believe a person would be any less offended if I said their beliefs were irrational, were nonsense, or any other calling-it-like-it-is terminology.

When face to face, I generally side step that aspect of people's irrational belief and address the fact there is evidence against and no evidence for their conclusions.

But in discussions with other skeptics, the term, 'woo', means all of the nonsense as a whole.

So I ask again, in that context, what is your substitute term? And who is it you think we are offending when we use the term? And do you really think they'd be any less offended by other terms which mean the same thing?


"But in discussions with other skeptics, the term, 'woo', means all of the nonsense as a whole."

It's the term that sceptics use in the socially challenged world of sceptics talking on the internet. It's simply bad PR. And it should be noted, short for "woo-woo". You make yourself look socially challenged by using the term.


"But in discussions with other white people, the term, 'nigger', means all of the niggers as a whole."

I hope none of [them] are reading this site.

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written by Kitty, December 28, 2009
oh how about using the word...

beetch or something.. .enough with the N word. that word is WAY more offensive and has a historical background that is far more volatile than "woo". To compare "woo" and the N word is like comparing Mrs.Smitch my 4th grade teacher that was really mean and evil and Hitler.
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written by Kitty, December 29, 2009
hey back at you strangelove because we all know the UK has SUCH a history of free speech. Still got that queen? At least I can touch her. Too bad you can't (or won't).
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You missed one
written by Griz, December 29, 2009
Do your homework. I have seen too many amateur skeptics eager to argue who have no idea what they're talking about. This is epidemic when it comes to the subject of religion, but it extends to many other areas where the skeptic jumps to the wrong conclusion without thinking it through or doing their research.
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CallerX
written by Griz, December 29, 2009
Imagine the feeling you got when you read the N-word just now.


I got the feeling people probably think you're a douche whether or not you use the word woo.
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You want to know why "skeptic" has become a dirty word?, Lowly rated comment [Show]
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written by GeekGoddess, December 30, 2009
@Karmakaze

Scientific research is restricted to what humans can actually observe or study."

Ever heard of Dark matter or Dark Energy? Go look them up. What about multiple dimensions? Or the interior of a black hole? What about the Big Bang and it's cause? Is none of that open to scientific research because we can't directly observe them?


Not very smart, are you? When a scientist *observes* something, it doesn't mean that he necessarily actually *sees* it with his eyes. Observations can be in the form of measurements. For instance, if you calculate the orbit of a planet, and then, through measurements, observe that the planet's trajectory or velocity or period of rotation is different than calculated, you know that it is being affected by some other factor such as the gravity from a yet-unobserved planet, and then you can go look for it. You can't see individual molecules, but you can observe chemical reactions by measurements.

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@Karmakaze
written by popsaw, December 30, 2009
Here is an article on OBSERVABLE dark matter for your perusal.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/s...3fc453de
It is not necessary to insult people to put forward your point of view. The majority of posters are able to offer opposing views in a polite, mature manner. smilies/wink.gif
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written by popsaw, December 30, 2009
I see the link does not work so here is the text which is all chines to me, being a retard and all.

Light Higgses at the Tevatron and at the LHC and observable dark matter in SUGRA and D-branes

Daniel Feldmana, E-mail The Corresponding Author, Zuowei Liua, E-mail The Corresponding Author and Pran NathCorresponding Author Contact Information, a, E-mail The Corresponding Author

aDepartment of Physics, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, USA

Received 29 November 2007;
revised 25 February 2008;
accepted 28 February 2008.
Editor: M. Cvetič.
Available online 6 March 2008.

Abstract

Sparticle landscapes in mSUGRA, in SUGRA models with nonuniversalities (NUSUGRA), and in D-brane models are analyzed. The analysis exhibits the existence of Higgs Mass Patterns (HPs) (for μ>0) where the CP odd Higgs could be the next heavier particle beyond the LSP and sometimes even lighter than the LSP. It is shown that the Higgs production cross sections from the HPs are typically the largest enhancing the prospects for their detection at the LHC. Indeed it is seen that the recent Higgs production limits from CDF/DØ are beginning to put constraints on the HPs. It is also seen that the Bs→μ+μ− limits constrain the HPs more stringently. Predictions of the Higgs production cross sections for these patterns at the LHC are made. We compute the neutralino–proton cross sections View the MathML source for dark matter experiments and show that the largest View the MathML source also arise from the HPs and further that the HPs and some of the other patterns are beginning to be constrained by the most recent data from CDMS and from Xenon10 experiments. Finally, it is shown that the prospects are bright for the discovery of dark matter with View the MathML source in the range 10−44±0.5 cm2 due to a “Wall” consisting of a copious number of parameter points in the Chargino Patterns (CPs) where the chargino is the NLSP. The Wall, which appears in all models considered (mSUGRA, NUSUGRA and D-branes) and runs up to about a TeV in LSP mass, significantly enhances the chances for the observation of dark matter by SuperCDMS, ZEPLIN-MAX, or LUX experiments which are expected to achieve a sensitivity of 10−45 cm2 or more.
Article Outline
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@GeekGoddess
written by Karmakaze, December 30, 2009
"Not very smart, are you?"

Smarter than you, obviously.

"When a scientist *observes* something, it doesn't mean that he necessarily actually *sees* it with his eyes."

No shit, Sherlock? Some things we can't directly observe, but we can still study them, and we can even study things that CAN'T or haven't been observed. I mean take Hawking Radiation for example. Never been observed, can't actually even measure it at the moment, but we sure are spending a lot of money to try. In fact NASA recently launched a satellite to see if maybe we CAN see something - if it even exists... Funny how science works, isn't it?

"For instance, if you calculate the orbit of a planet, and then, through measurements, observe that the planet's trajectory or velocity or period of rotation is different than calculated, you know that it is being affected by some other factor such as the gravity from a yet-unobserved planet, and then you can go look for it."

Yes, very good. Your point? Let me put it this way: Prior to 1998 there was NO INDICATION that 'Dark Energy' even existed, and in fact our 'laws' then AND now say it can't. Does that mean that prior to 1998 anyone who suggested there might be such a force was being unscientific or was a fraud or crazy?
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@popsaw
written by Karmakaze, December 30, 2009
"Here is an article on OBSERVABLE dark matter for your perusal."

Unfortunately your link is broken. It appears to have been copied and pasted from a site that truncates inline URL's - try going to the link and then copying it from your browser's address bar.

I am very interested to see how we can observe Dark Matter.

"It is not necessary to insult people to put forward your point of view. The majority of posters are able to offer opposing views in a polite, mature manner."

Woo Woo!!!

I am not the one who decided that these issues couldn't be discussed without name calling and retard 'insults' like "woo woo" - I'm just going with the flow. smilies/smiley.gif

-

"I see the link does not work so here is the text which is all chines to me, being a retard and all. "

Oh, thanks for that, but perhaps you shouldn't have bothered. I do appreciate your intellectual honesty though (assuming you read the abstract) for what do we see:

"Finally, it is shown that the prospects are bright for the discovery of dark matter"

"significantly enhances the chances for the observation of dark matter by SuperCDMS, ZEPLIN-MAX, or LUX experiments"

So, your evidence proved you wrong.

Basically, we HAVEN'T observed it, but we HOPE we MIGHT. Yep, sounds familiar! Woo Woo!!!
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@Karmakaze
written by popsaw, December 30, 2009
I stated
"Scientific research is restricted to what humans can actually observe or study."
If dark matter is being studied. My statement is correct. Regarding the actual 'observation ' of dark matter It appears to depend on ones interpretation of the word 'observation'.
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@popsaw
written by Karmakaze, December 31, 2009
"If dark matter is being studied. My statement is correct."

Oh I see...

So if paranormal events can be studied, then that is scientific research?

Thanks for agreeing with me.
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@ karmakaze
written by popsaw, December 31, 2009
My contention as that God cannot be studied and observed since he is a Spirit. I made no mention of paranormal 'events'. An event can be recorded. Hope this helps.
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written by Skeptigirl, December 31, 2009
written by Kitty, December 28, 2009
Well, it's ok, but I have to say I wish Skeptigirl would write an article. Her more bullet point post was far more clear to me.

Thank you for the compliment. And the fact you are not an atheist is even more rewarding. I managed to state my case without offending you. smilies/grin.gif
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written by Skeptigirl, December 31, 2009
Skeptigirl: "But in discussions with other skeptics, the term, 'woo', means all of the nonsense as a whole."
Caller X: "It's the term that sceptics use in the socially challenged world of sceptics talking on the internet. It's simply bad PR. And it should be noted, short for "woo-woo". You make yourself look socially challenged by using the term."


I asked for a substitute word. I haven't see one in your posts.

(BTW, I was born socially challenged. I'm not bothered by that fact. I chalk it up to genetics and early childhood experiences which were out of my control. I have worked to overcome it and am successful most of the time. But we cannot all be born gifted in every aspect. I have many other exceptional skills. I live a very satisfied life.

How about you? Your posts indicate you are very frustrated and/or angry at the people in this thread. Have you not heard the adage that other people cannot make you angry, you have to let them?)
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written by Skeptigirl, December 31, 2009
written by popsaw, December 31, 2009
My contention as that God cannot be studied and observed since he is a Spirit. I made no mention of paranormal 'events'. An event can be recorded. Hope this helps.
See any parallels to dark matter here? We cannot directly observe dark matter since it doesn't interact with light. We can, however, use other observations to draw conclusions about dark matter.

We cannot directly test for magical sky beings or invisible pink unicorns. We can, however, use the overwhelming evidence these are fictional beings created within human imagination to draw a conclusion about these entities. And without any evidence whatsoever to the contrary, we can also draw a reasonable conclusion of fact that all gods are mythical beings.

And, just as we need not test every lifeform to draw conclusions of fact about evolution, we also need not test every god hypothesis to determine there is sufficient evidence to conclude they are all mythical beings.
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@ Karmakaze
written by Skeptigirl, December 31, 2009
The terms "dark matter" and "dark energy" encompass a set of observations about the Universe. Should it turn out 'matter' and 'energy' are not the correct terminology once we conclusively determine the nature of these phenomena, scientists may choose to rename the things. So far the terminology appears consistent with the observations.

But regardless, the names refer to certain observations (gravity and speed of expansion of the Universe combined with what we know about the laws of gravity, speed of light, special relativity, and matter/energy in the Universe). You need to consider the names have merely been assigned to the observations and the observations are real. We don't need a full understanding of the nature of these phenomena in order to name them. The names stand for the observations whatever the underlying phenomena turn out to be.
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edited to add
written by Skeptigirl, December 31, 2009
With woo phenomena, the observations suggest explanations other than the named woo account for the phenomena. And in many cases, the observations fail to confirm the woo altogether. For example, when tested using reliable scientific methods, psychic predictions turn out not to exist. Coincidence accounts for any successes.
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written by Steel Rat, December 31, 2009
My understanding of "dark matter" is that we can't account for the matter that should be there, therefore we call what we think might be there, "dark matter". It's a placeholder for when they figure out if there's anything there.
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@popsaw
written by Karmakaze, December 31, 2009
"My contention as that God cannot be studied and observed since he is a Spirit."

Whoa, hold on there, pardner! That's a mighty big assumption, right there!

We couldn't observe time dilation until we had sensitive enough instruments moving at high enough relative speeds, or seperated enough in a gravity well. Does that mean time dilation couldn't be studied? So how do you know that a god-like entity couldn't one day be measured by sensitive enough instruments looking for the right thing?

"I made no mention of paranormal 'events'. An event can be recorded. Hope this helps."

At one time we couldn't record time dilation... we still studied it.
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@Skeptigirl
written by Karmakaze, December 31, 2009
If I may interject a moment:

"I asked for a substitute word."

What was wrong with "bunkum", the word that is the root of the words "bunk" and "debunk"?

Why did Randi have to invent a totally new (and retarded) phrase/word to describe the same thing? (How do those trademark laws go again?..)

-

"See any parallels to dark matter here? We cannot directly observe dark matter since it doesn't interact with light. We can, however, use other observations to draw conclusions about dark matter."

Oh yes, I do. That's why I pointed it out.

"We cannot directly test for magical sky beings or invisible pink unicorns."

How do you know? Maybe we're just looking in the wrong place?

"We can, however, use the overwhelming evidence these are fictional beings created within human imagination to draw a conclusion about these entities. And without any evidence whatsoever to the contrary, we can also draw a reasonable conclusion of fact that all gods are mythical beings."

Umm no. We can can use the overwhelming evidence to say that we have never seen any such beings. We can not say we will NEVER see such beings. Subtle, but important difference.
Maybe there ISN'T a god NOW, but maybe in the past there was? How do you know? Maybe there WILL be one in the future... how do you know?

All we can say with the evidence is that humans have the tendency to believe things they can't prove, simply because it fits their worldview.

You're a perfect example.

-

"The names stand for the observations whatever the underlying phenomena turn out to be."

Which is exactly what I said. But if you skeptics actually were skeptics, you might have followed the logic and thought:

Something is happening that can not be explained by our current understanding. That means:

There is something real out there we haven't seen before and can't yet see.

or

Our undeerstanding is wrong and what we THINK we SHOULD see is NOT what we REALLY should see, because we don't know the REAL rules.

therefore

To claim that our 'rules' prevent something therefore it is impossible, is faulty logic because it is highly likely, based on current knowledge, that our rules are wrong in some important ways.

-

"With woo phenomena, the observations suggest explanations other than the named woo account for the phenomena."

Once again, a suggested alternative is nothing more, until you can prove it IS happening, or the other ISN'T. Simple logic. However we CAN say how likely the options may be.

For example "Ghosts MAY be real, but if they are, we have no way of detecting them, and as such we have never proven them to exist."

What is so bad about that? Why can you not even concede the possibility of their existence?

If you CAN concede the possibility, then what concern is it of yours if people want to believe or not? No one is forcing YOU to believe. If you think education is your purpose, then why do you go around using retarded insults like "woo woo" to label everyone who disagrees as a nut? You think that makes them more likely to listen to you?

How likely are you lot to listen to me when I call you retards? Is the view any different, now?

"For example, when tested using reliable scientific methods, psychic predictions turn out not to exist."

Buulshit. There you go again, asserting certainty where the is none. You do know you can't prove a negative, right? So why do you keep insisting you have?
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@Steel Rat
written by Karmakaze, December 31, 2009
"My understanding of "dark matter" is that we can't account for the matter that should be there, therefore we call what we think might be there, "dark matter". It's a placeholder for when they figure out if there's anything there."

Exactly right, but you're focusing on the wrong part of the concept - the not knowing if it is there, rather than the we can't account for it.

The former simply indicates there is a problem - the latter indicates the problem is that we don't know what we're talking about well enough. What we think we know is either wrong or incomplete.

Thus, making claims of certainty based on something we KNOW is wrong or incomplete is not only illogical - it is retarded.
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written by Skeptigirl, December 31, 2009
written by Karmakaze, December 31, 2009
What was wrong with "bunkum", the word that is the root of the words "bunk" and "debunk"?

Why did Randi have to invent a totally new (and retarded) phrase/word to describe the same thing? (How do those trademark laws go again?..)
I fail to see how bunk, bunkum or woo are substantially different.

And I'm skeptical that James Randi coined the term, woo. We had a forum discussion on the origin of the term and there was no consensus.

Also, it is my understanding that the word, retarded, is offensive to many people. Were you unaware of that or are you using the word because you know it offends some people?
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written by Caller X, December 31, 2009
written by Skeptigirl, December 31, 2009

Skeptigirl: "But in discussions with other skeptics, the term, 'woo', means all of the nonsense as a whole."

Caller X: "It's the term that sceptics use in the socially challenged world of sceptics talking on the internet. It's simply bad PR. And it should be noted, short for "woo-woo". You make yourself look socially challenged by using the term."

I asked for a substitute word. I haven't see one in your posts.


I suggest "kayparker". There. Concern addressed. No one will say "That's a bad term because once I saw... oops, never mind."


(BTW, I was born socially challenged. I'm not bothered by that fact. I chalk it up to genetics and early childhood experiences which were out of my control. I have worked to overcome it and am successful most of the time. But we cannot all be born gifted in every aspect. I have many other exceptional skills. I live a very satisfied life.



Okay, I'm getting an image of a card. It's the Asperger's card. I'm Patrick Jane over here.


How about you? Your posts indicate you are very frustrated and/or angry at the people in this thread. Have you not heard the adage that other people cannot make you angry, you have to let them?)


Mind reader now she is. Exceptional skills she has.

For Steve Cuno, the original author (thought about that surname at all?) it's not "Seimens" it's "Siemens" and the German word for white ropy spooge is "Samen". I sense Catholic grade school.
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written by Skeptigirl, December 31, 2009
written by Karmakaze, December 31, 2009
Umm no. We can can use the overwhelming evidence to say that we have never seen any such beings. We can not say we will NEVER see such beings. Subtle, but important difference.
Maybe there ISN'T a god NOW, but maybe in the past there was? How do you know? Maybe there WILL be one in the future... how do you know?
By the same way I know the Earth's crust is made up of moving plates, by the same way I know all life on Earth evolved, by the same way I know the Earth is a sphere, you follow the evidence to the conclusion.

In the scientific process, there is always built in uncertainty. But it is not practical to treat all conclusions as if they have the same degree of uncertainty.

We typically refer to some things which are very certain as scientific facts even though said facts may be wrong. This differs from the uncertainty of things for which science does not have overwhelming evidence.

Sometimes the evidence is strong enough to call something a scientific fact. It is currently a fact that the Earth is a sphere. In science, facts are still tentative, but we are typically confident they describe the Universe correctly. At one point in history, it was a fact the Earth was flat, (long before Columbus). At one point in history it was a fact the Earth was at the center of the solar system. At one point in history, it was a fact the Earth's crust was solid.

We can look back after new evidence is found and discover we had a fact wrong. So we know that there is always a possibility that we have a scientific fact wrong today. But do you act as if it is a fact the Earth is a sphere, or do you consider the required scientific uncertainty every time you speak of the Earth being a sphere, or the position of the Earth in the solar system or the scientific fact the Earth's crust is made up of moving plates?

I don't have an issue with other people not being convinced to the same degree of certainty as I am about the overwhelming evidence that all gods are mythical beings. But I do have an issue with the inconsistency of of the position, we have enough evidence to conclude it is a fact that the Earth is a sphere, while claiming no amount of evidence could ever be found to draw a conclusion it is a fact all gods are mythical beings.

More importantly, I have an issue with the inconsistency of following the evidence to the conclusion in all other cases in science except in the case of god beliefs. For god beliefs we are somehow supposed to accept the conclusion(s), gods could exist, may exist or do exist. Then we go about trying to fit the evidence to one or more of those conclusions.

When I follow the evidence about god beliefs, I come again and again to evidence those beliefs are based on human imagination. I don't come to any other conclusion. In my science book, I call it a fact then, that all gods are fictional characters humans invented. Any other conclusion is baseless. And in science, one does not concern oneself with totally baseless conclusions.


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written by Steel Rat, December 31, 2009
At one point in history, it was a fact the Earth was flat, (long before Columbus). At one point in history it was a fact the Earth was at the center of the solar system. At one point in history, it was a fact the Earth's crust was solid.


This depends on which culture/civilization you're talking about. The ancient Greeks apparently knew the earth was round.
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written by Skeptigirl, December 31, 2009
written by Karmakaze, December 31, 2009
If you CAN concede the possibility, then what concern is it of yours if people want to believe or not? No one is forcing YOU to believe. If you think education is your purpose, then why do you go around using retarded insults like "woo woo" to label everyone who disagrees as a nut? You think that makes them more likely to listen to you?

How likely are you lot to listen to me when I call you retards? Is the view any different, now?
Now I see you are using the term intentionally. I still maintain, just because you think "woo" is as bad as "retard" or "nigger", that the real problem is people are insulted when you don't believe them and when you tell them their beliefs are irrational. You are fixating on the term, "woo", as if everyone agrees this word is worse than, "irrational", "bunk", "bunkum", "wrong", and so on. It is the fact one is telling another the other's beliefs are irrational that is offensive and there are very few ways, if any, to put that nicely in every case. Your insult analogies have not convinced me that other people would find the term, 'bunkum', any less offensive. I'm really not sure why you do.


...but I digress.
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written by Skeptigirl, December 31, 2009
Skeptigirl: "With woo phenomena, the observations suggest explanations other than the named woo account for the phenomena."
written by Karmakaze, December 31, 2009
Once again, a suggested alternative is nothing more, until you can prove it IS happening, or the other ISN'T. Simple logic. However we CAN say how likely the options may be.

For example "Ghosts MAY be real, but if they are, we have no way of detecting them, and as such we have never proven them to exist."

What is so bad about that? Why can you not even concede the possibility of their existence?
Skeptigirl: "For example, when tested using reliable scientific methods, psychic predictions turn out not to exist."
written by Karmakaze, December 31, 2009
Buulshit. There you go again, asserting certainty where the is none. You do know you can't prove a negative, right? So why do you keep insisting you have?
If there was any evidence of psychic abilities or ghosts or gods, I would have expected by now that someone would have produced some bit of evidence. These things have been meticulously pursued. The million dollar challenge goes unclaimed.

If you wish to continue trying to fit the evidence to these conclusions, be my guest. Like I said above, in my science book you follow the evidence to the conclusion, you don't start with the conclusion and try to find the evidence to support it.

You might start with an hypothesis to explain the evidence and then test the hypothesis. But I've seen nothing that suggests gods or ghosts or psychic abilities are viable hypotheses to support continuing to keep these on the table.
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written by Caller X, December 31, 2009
written by Skeptigirl, December 31, 2009

written by Karmakaze, December 31, 2009
If you CAN concede the possibility, then what concern is it of yours if people want to believe or not? No one is forcing YOU to believe. If you think education is your purpose, then why do you go around using retarded insults like "woo woo" to label everyone who disagrees as a nut? You think that makes them more likely to listen to you?

How likely are you lot to listen to me when I call you retards? Is the view any different, now?

Now I see you are using the term intentionally. I still maintain, just because you think "woo" is as bad as "retard" or "nigger", that the real problem is people are insulted when you don't believe them and when you tell them their beliefs are irrational.


"Now I see you are using the term intentionally".

You took some time to pick up on that social cue? I'm seeing a card...

No, the real problem is that people who use the term sound like mildly challenged children who are oh so satisfied with themselves and need a good slapping. They taint other sceptics just like some high-spirited young people taint other members of their race by using that other word. Pindindjara tribe, meself.

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written by Skeptigirl, December 31, 2009
We've heard that "bunkum" is not supposed to be as bad as "woo". "Nigger" and "Retard" both have long histories behind them from which the insult is derived. Both have alternative terms not burdened with the baggage of that history.

I'm now waiting for the rationale as to why "woo" is so much worse than "bunkum", given there is no such history with the word, 'woo', or, how any terminology is supposed to be inoffensive to the people who have irrational beliefs when describing their beliefs as irrational beliefs.
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written by Caller X, December 31, 2009
written by Skeptigirl, December 31, 2009
We've heard that "bunkum" is not supposed to be as bad as "woo". "Nigger" and "Retard" both have long histories behind them from which the insult is derived. Both have alternative terms not burdened with the baggage of that history.

I'm now waiting for the rationale as to why "woo" is so much worse than "bunkum", given there is no such history with the word, 'woo', or, how any terminology is supposed to be inoffensive to the people who have irrational beliefs when describing their beliefs as irrational beliefs.


I've offered you the alternative of "kayparker" and if you offered me Kay Parker we'd be done. Let me quote our 44th white President: "Let me be clear." The use of the term "woo" by you or anyone else sounds like it's coming out of the mouth of someone born socially challenged, who enjoys either D&D or that strategy game from the 70s with the hexagons. It is terrible PR. If you are socially challenged, as you wrote that you are, maybe your opinion on this is not going to be shared by people in the bigger world. It don't make you a bad person.

Why not just say "nonsense"? How hard is that?
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@ Caller X,
written by Skeptigirl, January 01, 2010
Last time on this subject unless you post something new. I don't see any benefit in continuing around the mulberry bush on this one.

What the heck is "kayparker"? smilies/cry.gif

I said something to the effect, I was not born with natural social skills. I didn't say I was ignorant or not intelligent.

We get it that some people don't like the word, 'woo'. My contention is, it is not the word that is the problem. No matter which word you choose, it insults people when you state or imply their beliefs are unfounded and irrational. The concept itself is inherently insulting. There is no easy way around it.

You have chosen to focus on the word choice as if that was the issue. I contend it would be the same with any word you chose that you defined as encompassing every stupid/foolish/unfounded/irrational thing people believed. In many situations one needs to avoid stating the truth directly or bluntly. We agree there. It's a no brainer even to someone who has to work at the skills needed to do that.

OTOH, it is useful to have a single word that encompasses all stupid/foolish/unfounded/irrational things people believe. As you probably noticed that long description is also offensive. And it is also inconvenient.

The word you seem to be sarcastically suggesting (because it appears to be just a random name) indicates you have no better word that has a universally understood definition meaning stupid/foolish/unfounded/irrational things people believe, yet is magically inoffensive.

Your personal preference has been heard. You have not convinced me you have a better alternative. I would accept an alternative if it met the goal we both seek, (to not offend), and the goal I seek, (to be a useful term for the occasions I use it). No one wants to offend people. But as the song goes, "You can't always get what you want."

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edited to add
written by Skeptigirl, January 01, 2010
Calling something, nonsense, is just as offensive as something, woo, I assure you.
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written by Steel Rat, January 01, 2010
Calling something, nonsense, is just as offensive as something, woo, I assure you.


In that case, you're just going to have to live with either not confronting people about it, or dealing with them being offended. There isn't a nice way to say you believe in bullshit.
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written by Caller X, January 01, 2010

written by Skeptigirl, January 01, 2010
Last time on this subject unless you post something new. I don't see any benefit in continuing around the mulberry bush on this one.

That's internet code meaning you'll be posting again real soon. And just to save you time, I am exactly like Hitler.



What the heck is "kayparker"? smilies/cry.gif


If only there were some worldwide computer system where one could find information.



I said something to the effect, I was not born with natural social skills. I didn't say I was ignorant or not intelligent.

We get it that some people don't like the word, 'woo'. My contention is, it is not the word that is the problem. No matter which word you choose, it insults people when you state or imply their beliefs are unfounded and irrational. The concept itself is inherently insulting. There is no easy way around it.

You have chosen to focus on the word choice as if that was the issue.



The whole effing article is about word choice! Branding, remember? Social cue! I get it that some people don't like the word Ass-pie. So I don't use it (that was a one-off and I won't repeat it). Social cue!


I contend it would be the same with any word you chose that you defined as encompassing every stupid/foolish/unfounded/irrational thing people believed. In many situations one needs to avoid stating the truth directly or bluntly. We agree there. It's a no brainer even to someone who has to work at the skills needed to do that.

OTOH, it is useful to have a single word that encompasses all stupid/foolish/unfounded/irrational things people believe. As you probably noticed that long description is also offensive. And it is also inconvenient.

The word you seem to be sarcastically suggesting (because it appears to be just a random name) indicates you have no better word that has a universally understood definition meaning stupid/foolish/unfounded/irrational things people believe, yet is magically inoffensive.

Your personal preference has been heard.



Ah, president of debate/AV club checking in. Any of the words you mentioned would be superior to "woo" which sounds silly coming out of an adult's mouth. Below, or I guess above at this point, I echoed someone else's suggestion of "nonsense".


You have not convinced me you have a better alternative. I would accept an alternative if it met the goal we both seek, (to not offend), and the goal I seek, (to be a useful term for the occasions I use it). No one wants to offend people. But as the song goes, "You can't always get what you want."

Calling something, nonsense, is just as offensive as something, woo, I assure you.


Based on your own description of your social skills, I dismiss your assurance out of hand. It simply sounds silly, and the article is about branding.
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@Skeptigirl
written by Karmakaze, January 01, 2010
"I fail to see how bunk, bunkum or woo are substantially different."

To be honest, neither do I - they are all words that imply insanity or dishonesty based on nothing but a mistaken notion that we know how the universe works.

"And I'm skeptical that James Randi coined the term, woo."

Him and his followers are the only people I've seen use it. And I have spent years arguing with believers and skeptics alike. My personal experience may only be a partial picture though, so I will concede it is possible that Randi didn't invent the term. It may just seem that way.

See how that works?

"Also, it is my understanding that the word, retarded, is offensive to many people."

Yes, it is. Very. Especially to people who have an over-inflated sense of their own intelligence/knowledge. But, turn-about is fair play, and I wasn't the one who decided that insults were an appropiate debating tactic - I'm just going with the flow. Woo Woo!

"Were you unaware of that or are you using the word because you know it offends some people?"

You mean like "woo woo"? Or does it only count if YOU are offended?
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@Skeptigirl continued
written by Karmakaze, January 01, 2010
"By the same way I know the Earth's crust is made up of moving plates, by the same way I know all life on Earth evolved, by the same way I know the Earth is a sphere, you follow the evidence to the conclusion."

A few points that you SHOULD be considering if you WERE a skeptic:

1) Ok, so BEFORE we had evidence for plate techtonics or Evolution, would it have been unsicentific or crazy to suggest them? Absence of evidence, is NOT evidence of absence. It is simple logic.

2) There is an important difference between believing something doesn't happen and KNOWING it doesn't. You are doing the same thing the 'true believers' are doing - you are turning uncertainty into certainty based on nothing but your own worldview. You are simply choosing the inverse position, regardless of what the evidence can actually say.

"In the scientific process, there is always built in uncertainty. But it is not practical to treat all conclusions as if they have the same degree of uncertainty."

I didn't say they had to be. I said you can't claim certainty where the is none. You can not (nor can anyone) prove that these things CAN'T happen, so your assumption of them being bunk or woo is simply that: an assumption based on your worldview - not the evidence - and our assumptions are more often wrong simply because most of our science is based on observation, and we're not really that good at observing the universe, yet.

"We typically refer to some things which are very certain as scientific facts even though said facts may be wrong."

Yes, and there is no difference between that and someone asserting the existence of god based on their personal experience/feelings - overstating certainty is not coming from one side, it's coming from both, and neither of the factions are willing to concede any middle ground for fear of opening their own unfounded beliefs to criticism.

I just decided to come and give you guys a taste of your own medicine.
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@Skeptigirl continued
written by Karmakaze, January 01, 2010
"Sometimes the evidence is strong enough to call something a scientific fact."

Yeah, like Newtonian Mechanics or indeed Big Bang Cosmology... turns out that further investigation showed we were wrong - at least partially. The biggest problem science advocates have is overstating the certainty, only to be shown to be wrong, which then calls all of their claims into question. That is what allows 'deniers' etc to jump on the errors and paint the whole field as nothing but a 'religion'. You keep acting like one, then get pissy when people point it out.

What I am trying to say is that the one thing we know for a certainty is that these things MAY be possible, but they may not, and we have not proven it either way. That is all we know for sure. By choosing to proclaim certainty, you are NOT following the evidence, you are simply using some of the evidence to confirm your preconcieved notion, which it can't.

"It is currently a fact that the Earth is a sphere"

See there is what I mean. The Earth is not a sphere. It is spherical in shape, but it is not a perfect sphere, in fact it is flattened at the poles - sort of like a lawn bowl.

"In science, facts are still tentative, but we are typically confident they describe the Universe correctly."

And our confidence is OFTEN misplaced. But still, how does your version ('tentative facts'!) differ from mine? You accept that we don't know everything, you accept the fact that we DO know that what we know is probably wrong, you accept the fact we can't prove these things DON'T exist, and yet you still insist on ignoring all that evidence and declaring that science need not even bother to study this stuff any more - and then do your level best to make sure no one dares to try. You are the new inquisition defending the faith - whether you like the comparison or not.

"But do you act as if it is a fact the Earth is a sphere"

To be honest, the need has never arisen. In my life it doesn't matter if it is or not. But yes, I do often act based on my beliefs that science has it mostly right. But I am under no illusion that my beliefs are any more valid than theirs. Valid in the scientific sense that an argument can be valid but still be wrong. The evidence leans in my favour, but in 1989 the evidence leaned in the favour of a slowing expansion of the universe, but we were wrong. Lucky someone checked... isn't it?

"I don't have an issue with other people not being convinced to the same degree of certainty as I am about the overwhelming evidence that all gods are mythical beings."

Yes you do! Anyone who dares to suggest you're wrong is spreading "woo woo"... right?

In fact here you are on a website devoted to making sure everyone else believes the same things you do. If you don't care what other people believe, why are you spending so much time trying to convince me you're right?
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@Skeptigirl continued
written by Karmakaze, January 01, 2010
"For god beliefs we are somehow supposed to accept the conclusion(s), gods could exist, may exist or do exist. Then we go about trying to fit the evidence to one or more of those conclusions."

And you are doing the exact same thing, just inverse. You have decided they DON"T exist, and are trying to fit the evidence to that preconcieved notion.

"When I follow the evidence about god beliefs, I come again and again to evidence those beliefs are based on human imagination."

Oh I see. You're having trouble seperating the "belief in something" from the "existence of something". We can show that most if not all human religious beliefs are based on imagination. That doesn't prove that gods can't or don't exist. See what I mean about making the evidence fit your preconcieved notions?

We can also prove that most of science is based on human imagination too - after all who else thought it up? Yes, there is evidence to say in this case we have been pretty good at imagining how the universe might work, but Dark Energy alone proves we don't know it COMPLETELY. We can still be shown to be wrong.

"In my science book, I call it a fact then, that all gods are fictional characters humans invented."

And that is why you are a true believer and not a skeptic. Just like the fundies. They declare facts without evidence in their books too. You argue their 'facts' and I am arguing yours. Where is the proof that it is a FACT that no god's have or ever will exist? Don't pull out references to Christianity or whatever, because that is evidence that THAT god doesn't exist. Show me how that extends to all gods everywhere, past, present and future.

"Any other conclusion is baseless."

So is yours.
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@Skeptigirl
written by Karmakaze, January 01, 2010
"Now I see you are using the term intentionally. I still maintain, just because you think "woo" is as bad as "retard" or "nigger", that the real problem is people are insulted when you don't believe them and when you tell them their beliefs are irrational."

No, I am saying it is insulting when you make up words to denigrate people because YOU BELIEVE their beliefs are irrational. Why can't you simply say "I believe your beliefs are irrational"? Why do you need a label? Labelling is one of the main techniques in propaganda. If you don't like it, don't do it.

"You are fixating on the term, "woo", as if everyone agrees this word is worse than, "irrational", "bunk", "bunkum", "wrong", and so on."

No, I am fixating on the term "woo" because it was simply invented to insult and denigrate. As you agree, the term "woo woo" means nothing more than the commonly accepted words already long in use, but thanks to the way it sounds, and the people who use it, it is clear that it is not intended to convey information, but to insult, and it is thrown around by fools who think they know more than they do. And it makes TRUE skeptics look bad too.

Remember what this article was about? Why "skeptic" had become a dirty word? That is why. YOU (and people like you) made it that way.

"It is the fact one is telling another the other's beliefs are irrational that is offensive and there are very few ways, if any, to put that nicely in every case."

So screw it, why even TRY? Hmm? Let's just poke fun, and turn our noses up and show our mental superiority... even though we're wrong! Guess what, welcome to THEIR world. I've been doing the same thing to you lot.

"Your insult analogies have not convinced me that other people would find the term, 'bunkum', any less offensive."

I never said it was. I was simply saying there were other words already in use, so why did a NEW word/term need to be invented? I am asserting it is becasue Randi decided (well that's what the evidence leads me to believe) that those previous words were not sufficiently insulting enough or he wanted a term he could trademark...

"I'm really not sure why you do."

A small hint for you. I try to educate you with my posts, not just beat you over the head. So I say things that are designed to make you THINK. For example, rather than just saying the term "woo woo" is insulting, I gave an argument that was designed to lead you to think about WHERE the word came from and WHY it was invented. The meaning we already agree on, but what is the INTENT by it's creation and use? The intent is CLEARLY to insult (as of course was the word bunkum or bunk).

But another point I've also been trying to lead you to - why do you assume that "rationality" is actually to be found in science? Relativity, Quantuum mechanics, and now even Big Bang Cosmology have shown that at a fundamental level our universe is IRRATIONAL. Your view of the universe is no more valid than the mystics, because it is NOT based on reality as we now understand it.

You have been left behind by the science.

When Randi first started debunking, the universe seemed pretty well figured out, and based on solid rules. People like Randi decided that no more evidence was needed, and seemingly that science could just stop - we knew it all. However as time went on, we found we were just being arrogant, and the universe was tricking us. Randi just hasn't kept up. See his posts regarding AGW.

He has been left LONG behind by the science, but he refuses to accept the reality. Sound familiar?
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@Skeptigirl
written by Karmakaze, January 01, 2010
"If there was any evidence of psychic abilities or ghosts or gods, I would have expected by now that someone would have produced some bit of evidence."

Pseudo-Skeptic circa 1989:

"If there was any evidence of accelerating universal expansion, I would have expected by now that someone would have produced some bit of evidence."

Oops. smilies/cheesy.gif

"The million dollar challenge goes unclaimed."

Well, when Randi lets someone actually TAKE the challenge... we'll talk. PS you do know a "challenge" is not science right?

"If you wish to continue trying to fit the evidence to these conclusions, be my guest."

Good try, retard. I'm not fitting the evidence to ANYTHING. You are. I am saying the evidence CAN'T be fit to what YOU say it is. (I threw in that "retard" just to highlight that you are acting like one. No insult intended! Or at least it's not my fault if you take it as one.)

"Like I said above, in my science book you follow the evidence to the conclusion, you don't start with the conclusion and try to find the evidence to support it."

No, in your 'science' book you make a conclusion and say no evidence could possibly ever be found so don't even bother looking for it.

"But I've seen nothing that suggests gods or ghosts or psychic abilities are viable hypotheses to support continuing to keep these on the table."

Well then, the science is settled! YOU haven't seen anything YOU consider to be good evidence and thus THERE IS NO POSSIBILITY that YOU could be wrong...

Another fundamentalist in the Church of Make Randi Rich!
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@Caller X
written by Karmakaze, January 01, 2010
"No, the real problem is that people who use the term sound like mildly challenged children who are oh so satisfied with themselves and need a good slapping. They taint other sceptics just like some high-spirited young people taint other members of their race by using that other word. Pindindjara tribe, meself."

I am so glad that I am not the only one here that understands that. I am not defending the "woo woo" I am simply pointing out that pretending the term is not INTENDED simply to insult, is a transparent falsehood.
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@Skeptigirl
written by Karmakaze, January 01, 2010
"We've heard that "bunkum" is not supposed to be as bad as "woo"."

Your reading comprehension is as bad as your science. Where did I say the word "bunkum" was not as bad as "woo"? You asked what other words are there, and I gave one that means exactly the same thing and has been around for a long time. I never said it was less insulting.

I simply asked why this NEW term had to be invented, when there were already accepted terms for the phenomena described. The intent of my question was to get you to THINK about WHY the word is used, not what it MEANS. Seems you didn't even TRY.

""Nigger" and "Retard" both have long histories behind them from which the insult is derived. Both have alternative terms not burdened with the baggage of that history."

'Retard' means "hold back" - colloquially it is also used to label the people who have been "held back" mentally. You are behind the times, and seem unable to comprehend that, so "retarded" would be a perfectly valid description of your views. It ALSO has an insulting connotation, so we decide not to use it because of that reason. You want "woo", and I want "retard" to describe the people like you. Fair enough? You stop, and I'll stop.

"I'm now waiting for the rationale as to why "woo" is so much worse than "bunkum""

Wait, I thought you said I had already claimed that? You weren't just jumping to a conclusion without evidence, were you? Funny that.

"given there is no such history with the word, 'woo', or, how any terminology is supposed to be inoffensive to the people who have irrational beliefs when describing their beliefs as irrational beliefs."

Your beliefs are retarded, so why are you insulted by me calling you a retard?
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@Skeptigirl
written by Karmakaze, January 01, 2010
"What the heck is "kayparker"?"

What the heck is "woo woo"?

"I said something to the effect, I was not born with natural social skills. I didn't say I was ignorant or not intelligent. "

I must say, Caller X's comment was uncalled for and below the belt (although this might be a slight case of the pot calling the kettle black). I must say though in hotly debated topics like this, if you have a personal issue that you would rather not be taken advantage of, best to keep it to yourself.

"We get it that some people don't like the word, 'woo'. My contention is, it is not the word that is the problem."

Ok, if the word is not necessary but some people find it insulting, why use it? Is it because the people who find it insulting - are the people you WANT to insult?

"I contend it would be the same with any word you chose"

You choose "woo woo" and I choose "retard". What's the difference?

"OTOH, it is useful to have a single word that encompasses all stupid/foolish/unfounded/irrational things people believe."

Why? Why not say it is stupid, foolish, unfounded, or irrational based on the argument at hand? Why the need for a label?

"As you probably noticed that long description is also offensive."

Not to me it isn't. I know I hold some irrational beliefs - like that humans are essentially good. I have no evidence apart from my own experience, so it is irrational for me to believe it. But I do. Calling it "woo woo" only makes YOU look stupid.

Then again I don't find "woo woo" insulting either. I know some do, however, and I am simply highlighting the fact that that is WHY you use it, regardless of what you claim it means.

"universally understood definition"

I went to Merriam-Webster, recognised as one of the better sources for American English definitions and put in "woo woo". here is what they said:

"The word you've entered isn't in the dictionary."

So I thought I would have a look for the word "woo". Turns out it doesn't mean what you say:

"1 : to sue for the affection of and usually marriage with : court
2 : to solicit or entreat especially with importunity
3 : to seek to gain or bring about"

So, where is this universally recognised definition? Not even Americans agree that that word means what you say, so where is your evidence? Or is it only universally recognised by you Randi Fanboys and Girls? Are you trying to woo me to your redefinition of the word "woo"?

I had never seen the term used ANYWHERE the way it is used here. Hell I had never seen the term "woo woo", period, until I came here a week ago. And I get around smilies/smiley.gif

"I would accept an alternative if it met the goal we both seek, (to not offend)"

Bullshit. That is the whole purpose of the word - to poke fun at, and thus offend, the person it is fired at. Just like "retard".

"No one wants to offend people."

Oh? All of the evidence suggests otherwise, but I can't PROVE that NO ONE, EVER, has "not wanted to offend" when using that word. So I will concede it is possible - but I doubt it.
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@Skeptigirl addendum
written by Karmakaze, January 01, 2010
Further to my research about the definition of the term "woo woo" - to put it into perspective, "google" is in there:

"Main Entry: goo·gle
Pronunciation: ˈgü-gəl
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): goo·gled; goo·gling -g(ə-)liŋ
Usage: often capitalized
Etymology: Google, trademark for a search engine
Date: 2001

: to use the Google search engine to obtain information about (as a person) on the World Wide Web"

So you can't claim it is too new a term to show up in the dictionary but still claim it is "universally recognised".
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@ Karmakaze (from the bottom up, and maybe not all today)
written by Skeptigirl, January 01, 2010
That is the whole purpose of the word - to poke fun at, and thus offend, the person it is fired at.


If you can determine the motives of people via some kind of sixth sense or other magical means, have you considered applying for the million dollar challenge?

From the "Double Tongued Dictionary
(The Double-Tongued Dictionary records undocumented or under-documented words from the fringes of English, with a focus on slang, jargon, and new words. This site strives to record terms and expressions that are absent from, or are poorly covered in, mainstream dictionaries. )


http://www.doubletongued.org/i...y/woo_woo/
woo-woo
adj. concerned with emotions, mysticism, or spiritualism; other than rational or scientific; mysterious; new agey. Also n., a person who has mystical or new age beliefs.


I see nothing derogatory noted in that definition. It would appear the perception this is all about insulting people supports my point that no matter how you label it, some people are going to be offended when you describe their beliefs as irrational nonsense.
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@ Karmakaze (from the bottom up, and maybe not all today)
written by Skeptigirl, January 01, 2010
Your beliefs are retarded, so why are you insulted by me calling you a retard?
Actually you are insulting, however, I am confident that I know what I am talking about and that my scientific and skeptic skills are above average, so I am not insulted. Sorry. smilies/grin.gif
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@ Karmakaze (from the bottom up, and maybe not all today)
written by Skeptigirl, January 01, 2010
So screw it, why even TRY? Hmm? Let's just poke fun, and turn our noses up and show our mental superiority... even though we're wrong! Guess what, welcome to THEIR world. I've been doing the same thing to you lot.


My goal is to play a part in improving the level of rational thinking in the human collective consciousness. Irrational thinking threatens us all. It's time for the human race to get on with the paradigm shift. I find it mind boggling in this day of modern science which is so successful and so many people have ready access to, you still find primitive thinking about such things as blaming illness on witchcraft, and hurricane destruction on the wrath of God against gays. How is it marketers can dupe so many people so often?

We need to do more to teach critical thinking skills to our children. We need to do more to expose the pitfalls that lead to irrational beliefs and thereby immunize people against those pitfalls.

Insulting people is the furthest thing from why I promote skepticism. And giving up before you've even explored the underlying problem thoroughly is not how science addresses problems.
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@Skeptigirl
written by Karmakaze, January 01, 2010
"(from the bottom up, and maybe not all today)"

It's all good, take your time, I'm not going anywhere. I know we all have real lives too smilies/smiley.gif

So have no fear of me declaring victory because you haven't answered yet. I simply ask the same consideration.

"If you can determine the motives of people via some kind of sixth sense or other magical means, have you considered applying for the million dollar challenge?"

Oh, it has to be a magical means? Not reasoned argument based on the available evidence? You will also note I said I can't PROVE that no one ever said it without that motive...

"From the "Double Tongued Dictionary"

Ok, let's compare and contrast:

"universally understood definition" vs "absent from, or are poorly covered in, mainstream dictionaries."

You didn't say it was a rare term used by a subsection of the "skeptic" community. You said it was universal. My point still stands.

See the comemnt on that entry:

"I looked the word up on your site as I was not familiar with it. Thanks.
by Michelle Jerome 14 Nov 08, 0446 GMT"

Funny that.
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@Skeptigirl continued
written by Karmakaze, January 01, 2010
"I see nothing derogatory noted in that definition."

Once again you are focusing on the definition, rather than the use. "Retard" as I have said has a non-insulting definition. But people find it insulting none the less. Especially when I use it smilies/smiley.gif

"It would appear the perception this is all about insulting people supports my point that no matter how you label it, some people are going to be offended when you describe their beliefs as irrational nonsense."

I am sure they will. But you just showed you can do it without saying "woo woo". So why do you NEED to use the word? Is it because YOU think it is insulting (as in you want to make fun of the beliefs and people who hold them).

"Actually you are insulting"

Am I? Isn't that unfortunate. Maybe if I had chosen a different way to express myself...

"I am confident that I know what I am talking about"

Unfortunately your confidence is misplaced.

There! I found a way of calling you a retard without being insulting...

"that my scientific and skeptic skills are above average"

They are? Could have fooled me. Maybe above average for a retard... shit there I go again...

"so I am not insulted."

You sure seem it. But I'll take you at your word. So you surely can't mind that I keep calling you a retard then... right? I am glad we got that sorted out.
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@Skeptigirl continued
written by Karmakaze, January 01, 2010
"My goal is to play a part in improving the level of rational thinking in the human collective consciousness."

You're failing. Miserably. Perhaps if you concentrated on being rational yourself...

(PS, isn't "collective consciousness" woo woo?)

"Irrational thinking threatens us all."

You mean like when Randi decided to stick his nose into the AGW debate? That kind of threat? I agree, irrational thought does threaten us all - so why do you lot keep doing it?

"It's time for the human race to get on with the paradigm shift."

It is? But only if YOU get to define the terms of the new paradigm? How arrogant.

"I find it mind boggling in this day of modern science which is so successful and so many people have ready access to, you still find primitive thinking about such things as blaming illness on witchcraft, and hurricane destruction on the wrath of God against gays. How is it marketers can dupe so many people so often?"

A small distraction from your rant:

You do know that "faith healing" has a sound scientific backing right?

Of course in science we call it the Placebo Effect. Go put that term into google and see what has been happening while you lot thought the science was settled...

Tell me, are the two thirds of American doctors who have prescribed placebos, 'quacks'?

Maybe reading this might open your eyes a bit:

http://www.wired.com/medtech/drugs/magazine/17-09/ff_placebo_effect?currentPage=all

A taste:

"Half of all drugs that fail in late-stage trials drop out of the pipeline due to their inability to beat sugar pills."

"It's not only trials of new drugs that are crossing the futility boundary. Some products that have been on the market for decades, like Prozac, are faltering in more recent follow-up tests. In many cases, these are the compounds that, in the late '90s, made Big Pharma more profitable than Big Oil."

Now, back to your regularly scheduled self-delusion...

"We need to do more to teach critical thinking skills to our children. We need to do more to expose the pitfalls that lead to irrational beliefs and thereby immunize people against those pitfalls."

What if the placebo effect is actually the best "medicine" we could ever make? No possibility of harmful side-effects, very little cost to manufacture... all we need is for people to believe it works, and it will. Is your crusade against irrationality so important that you'd risk depriving us of such a benefit?

Just asking...

"Insulting people is the furthest thing from why I promote skepticism."

I never said it was WHY, I said it was HOW... and it's not working.

"And giving up before you've even explored the underlying problem thoroughly is not how science addresses problems."

But it's what you advocate. You've decided YOU have seen enough evidence, and thus no further research is neccessary (or seemingly, allowed).
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...
written by Caller X, January 02, 2010
Let's stay focused here people. This quota-filling article started out as "maybe 'skeptic' isn't a good name for 'skeptic.'" I do however congratulate Steve for his use of the term "snowballing." Skeptigirl might want to find some sort of worldwide computer network where she could research the meaning of "snowballing." Could be enlightening.

Steve makes a false distinction between a brand and a name. A brand necessarily involves a name. But the article quota was filled, so we move on. Steve made sort of a good point in half of the sentence quoted below:

"Ensuring that people have a consistent, positive experience with a brand matters more than what you call it."

Saying "woo" or more properly "woo-woo" is not the golden road to "a consistent positive experience" and anyone who could recognize social cues, or even take advice from people who can recognize social cues would know that.

"Woo-woo" is properly accompanied by some sort of hand waving gesture.
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The Relativity of Wrong
written by metzomagic, January 04, 2010
Skeptigirl said:

It is currently a fact that the Earth is a sphere.


To which Karmakaze inevitably replied:

See there is what I mean. The Earth is not a sphere. It is spherical in shape, but it is not a perfect sphere, in fact it is flattened at the poles - sort of like a lawn bowl.


Well, in the very spirit of what we're discussing, I'm going to roll in with Skeptigirl here. Isaac Asimov had the following to say about people who try to pick little holes in the science of things like evolution and AGW, where we have mountains of evidence supporting these theories (they try to pick holes in the science because they have a political or religious agenda of their own that will not allow them to accept the scientific explanation of the empirical evidence). What Asimov said was:

When people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together.


To read Asimov's whole take on this, just google 'relativity of wrong' (I don't want the comment to get held up in moderation).
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Woo Woo
written by boredagain, January 04, 2010
Language evolves... new words are created or take on new meanings; old words die or loose meanings. You can't control it or dictate how it should change. Kamikaze is obviously a control freak on a bit of a manic bender, but try as he might he cannot demand our obedience or post 6 posts in a row of circular thinking and desperate grasps for attention to change word usage. I like Woo Woo and think it has a nice catchy ring. I also am not too concerned about offending. Anytime you try to do something new or make real changes in the world you will offend and you will be met with Kamikazes who either oppose what you are doing or just want something to oppose. I think Richard Dawkins comment fits Kamikaze nicely, "As they say about wrestling with a pig, it makes you filthy and the pig happy." Kamikaze will do this all day and night because he is enjoying it, not because he has a particularly novel or urgent message. As far as I'm concerned Skeptigirl won this a long time ago, but made the mistake of trying to get the last word, which would upset Kamikaze ethics as a professional arguer.
Yup, "Woo Woo" works for me. I'm also a fan of the word "Troll".
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LOL!
written by CasaRojo, January 04, 2010
"Ok, let's compare and contrast:

"universally understood definition" vs "absent from, or are poorly covered in, mainstream dictionaries."

Obviously the concept of context escapes you. Troll away woo woo meister. I certainly have to laugh, if someone takes offense at being said to be a proponent of woo, woo woo, are woo/wooish whatever, they should probably grow a bit more hide on their bones. I could think of worse things to call them if my intent was to belittle them that would be far more effective.

I think the term arose from the subdued exclamation of a person being mystified by a magic trick.
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Rev.
written by kunjamuk, January 05, 2010
Wow what a Row...that is Raahhhwooooooo.
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@metzomagic
written by Karmakaze, January 05, 2010
Thanks for your input - there's always room for Asimov's opinion, in my book. smilies/smiley.gif

I understand what you are getting at but I think you miss the point of what I am trying to say - I am not saying the theories aren't sound - I am saying that we CAN'T say they are infallible, and when you do, and later it turns out to be wrong, people stop listening to you.

Take the "eggs are bad", "no eggs are good", "no eggs are bad"... rigamarole we got from the dieticians (or whatever they're called). I am sure each step of the way was thoroughly provable in its own small context - but by asserting an absolute (eggs ARE bad, rather than eggs can sometimes be bad, or may be bad) when further information contradicts earlier findings, the trust in scientists (or in this case skeptics) evaporates and people start saying "you're as bad as a religion".

That's what I am trying to point out. Only religion and politics deals in absolutes, the real world is far more fuzzy.
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@boredagain
written by Karmakaze, January 05, 2010
"Kamikaze is obviously a control freak on a bit of a manic bender"

The manic bit may be right - the control freak bit is thoroughly wrong. It seems if someone has an opposing position that they defend as strongly as you defend your position, they become a "control freak" after all you HAVE to be right, so I MUST have some sort of problem... is that how it goes?

"I like Woo Woo and think it has a nice catchy ring."

A retard would. Nice and simple and carries just the right amount of derision for the subject and those who disagree with you. Of course, I like calling people like you retards, but I am under no illusion that it helps my case.

"I also am not too concerned about offending."

That is because you are a retard. Non-retards know that saying shit simply because it makes YOU feel better, despite it insulting others, simply leaves you looking like an idiot - it doesn't make you seem clever.

"Anytime you try to do something new or make real changes in the world"

What real changes? All you are doing is substituting faith in science for faith in god. You have the same dogmatic way of pushing your views despite them often being wrong.

"I think Richard Dawkins comment fits Kamikaze nicely, "As they say about wrestling with a pig, it makes you filthy and the pig happy.""

Oh, I see. Let me interpret your message: "we can't argue what he says, so we'll just say he is a nut, and "filthy" (ie 'untouchable') and ignore him."

And you think you are NOT acting like a religion?

"Kamikaze will do this all day and night because he is enjoying it, not because he has a particularly novel or urgent message."

Why the hell do YOU do it? See how you lot work? Now that you are arguing someone who has all the same tools as you, suddenly you resort to saying "ignore him" and "he's nuts" and questioning my motivation without accepting it is the same as yours. There has to be something WRONG with me, because I won't accept your conclusions, so my arguments can be safely ignored.

"As far as I'm concerned Skeptigirl won this a long time ago"

Oh yeah, but you couldn't possibly actually SHOW how she won - oh no, it's a matter of dogma right? She's saying the approved 'skeptic' things and as such she automatically wins.

"but made the mistake of trying to get the last word"

I do believe I ASKED her to take her time and fully flesh out her argument. You see, I actually care what the opposing viewpoint is, because it helps me to either solidify my own, or reject it. I don't assume I am right - I ARGUE I am right - and I am more than willing to defend my arguments with logic and evidence rather than simply declare victory and move on, and I am asking you lot to do the same. Seems when confronted like that, you are forced to resort to namecalling and sticking your fingers in your ears metaphorically speaking.

"Yup, "Woo Woo" works for me. I'm also a fan of the word "Troll"."

You know what I find funny? The fact that "troll" has become something far more than intended. A troll was meant to be someone who added nothing to the conversation but simply hurled insults or otherwise flamed in order to get a reaction... kind of like you have just done.

"Troll!" is the new "Blasphemer!" around here it seems.

By the way, my name is all over this thread. How do you manage to get it wrong?
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@CasaRojo
written by Karmakaze, January 05, 2010
"Obviously the concept of context escapes you."

Ok smart ass. What was the context? I read the post as saying the word had a clear and widely accepted meaning ("universally understood definition") and said that no, it doesn't have a universally understood definition... and proved it.

But I have to be a "troll"... right?

"I certainly have to laugh, if someone takes offense at being said to be a proponent of woo, woo woo, are woo/wooish whatever, they should probably grow a bit more hide on their bones."

Tell that to all your retard mates around here. They seem to get awful pissy when I call people like you retards. Seems that namecalling is only OK when YOU do it.

"I could think of worse things to call them if my intent was to belittle them that would be far more effective."

Oh I see. You can think of WORSE things to say, so people should just be happy you're only being mildly insulting? The gollywogs should be happy I'm not calling them nigger... right? Not going to happen, retard.

"I think the term arose from the subdued exclamation of a person being mystified by a magic trick."

So YOU don't even know where it comes from - but it's universally understood? Jesus you tards make me laugh!

Maybe I need to explain my argument in a nice and simple bulleted list so the retards can understand it (and thus accept I am not a troll):

* The term "woo woo" is insulting in it's intent
* it makes the person saying it sound like a retard
* it makes the person hearing it reject the arguments out of hand simply because they feel insulted
* it adds NO benefit and can easily be replaced by less offensive words without losing any power from the argument.

You don't need it, so why use it? The obvious answer is because it is insulting, and THAT is what you WANT. You want to insult and make fun of anyone not agreeing with you, even if it means you do not further the conversation. Acting like a retard is fun, but it doesn't accomplish anything, as I have been demonstrating.

I came here and acted just like you lot do, and now everyone is calling me a troll or mentally ill. Funny that. Now imagine I was a 'skeptic' trying to enlighten a 'true believer'. Would I have succeeded? Fuck no. So why do you lot keep doing it?
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@Karmakaze
written by CasaRojo, January 05, 2010
"You don't need it, so why use it? The obvious answer is because it is insulting, and THAT is what you WANT."

Yes, some woos woos I *really* want to insult. Others, not so much and they're probably not as offended by the term. You've some specific instance where some wooish type has rejected a reasonable argument out of hand simply because they felt insulted? Post it.

"Now imagine I was a 'skeptic' trying to enlighten a 'true believer'."

Why would one do such a thing?

smilies/grin.gif
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...
written by CasaRojo, January 05, 2010
"What real changes? All you are doing is substituting faith in science for faith in god. You have the same dogmatic way of pushing your views despite them often being wrong."

Not been around long have ya? Sit back, relax, have some fun and perhaps start here---> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WidsgIt3lfw
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...
written by metzomagic, January 05, 2010
OK Karmakaze, your troll droppings are all over this thread. Not supposed to feed the trolls, but let me just test the waters one more time. Skeptigirl said:

We typically refer to some things which are very certain as scientific facts even though said facts may be wrong.


To which you replied:

Yes, and there is no difference between that and someone asserting the existence of god based on their personal experience/feelings - overstating certainty is not coming from one side, it's coming from both, and neither of the factions are willing to concede any middle ground for fear of opening their own unfounded beliefs to criticism.

I just decided to come and give you guys a taste of your own medicine.


Sounds like you believe in some kind of superstitious nonsense alright. There is no evidence whatsoever for any god (in the many, many religions that have ever existed), but there are tons of evidence published in thousands and thousands of peer reviewed papers for evolution (and, BTW, not one shred of peer reviewed evidence *against* evolution in any respectable peer reviewed journal that I am aware of).

So... what is your opinion on evolution by natural selection? Likely true or likely false? There is no middle ground for a scientific theory (which is as close as we can come to a fact for something as well documented as evolution). Either you have *personally* examined a good amount of the evidence and found it wanting, or you accept it. And so?
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I'm convinced...
written by sandlinj, January 05, 2010
I realize I'm commenting on a days old post... but I keep finding myself being pointed back here, so:

Karmakaze and Caller-X have convinced me (or I've allowed myself to be convinced... whatever) that the word "woo" and the use thereof are necessary and appropriate when describing the belief systems of the poor misinformed souls that have fallen for supernatural bunk.

Caller X may have said:I've offered you the alternative of "kayparker" and if you offered me Kay Parker we'd be done. Let me quote our 44th white President: "Let me be clear." The use of the term "woo" by you or anyone else sounds like it's coming out of the mouth of someone born socially challenged, who enjoys either D&D or that strategy game from the 70s with the hexagons. It is terrible PR. If you are socially challenged, as you wrote that you are, maybe your opinion on this is not going to be shared by people in the bigger world. It don't make you a bad person.

As one that enjoyed D&D and strategy games on Hex-grids, and may occasionally be called socially inept by such socially adept as yourself, I find your arguments less than compelling. Indeed, I find them devoid of value. A google search of Kay Parker returns 2,040,000 results. Which one should I read and why would using that be better than the word "woo"?

I suspect the density of your noggin precludes sufficient coherent thought to provide an honest or useful answer. However, I am prepared to listen should I be proven incorrect in that assumption.
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Question, Don’t Attack, Objections
written by MetaEd, January 07, 2010
A friend of mine, a salesman I respect*, privately circulated an article titled "Question, Don’t Attack, Objections".

Paraphrasing, he made the point that when you tell a person flatly that they're wrong, or make them feel stupid, or paint them into a corner, or preach at them, you are not going to endear yourself, are you? And you are not going to make the sale.

He wrote that you must first help the person to doubt their existing beliefs. If they do, then they will become more open to what you have to offer as an alternative.

He offered a two step process for creating doubt. First, think through in advance the reasons the person might object to a new idea. Second, develop questions which isolate and create doubt about each objection in a non-adversarial way. Be prepared for possible answers and your next responses.

Suppose you know a mother who tends to believe the anti-vaccine propaganda, and you want to sell her the idea to vaccinate her baby. An objection to the idea might be, "I hear that vaccines can cause autism".

Instead of contradicting, an isolating question might be, "If it weren't for the concern about autism, would you vaccinate your baby?" If so, a doubt-creating question might be, "Let's talk about the risk of autism then. How much risk of autism would your pediatrician say is created by this vaccination?"

Be prepared for her to answer, "I don't know," or "none," or, "my sister is a nurse and she heard lots of babies got autism from vaccines," and prepare questions to ask next.

My friend pointed out that it's impossible to anticipate or answer every objection, or to be sure of getting the person to the point of openness right away, or to make every sale. The goal is to plant seeds of doubt. Doubt will grow in its own good time. And that is when you pitch your new idea to them.


* I realize I may have lost my audience with that phrase alone :-)
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