Do extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof?

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posted on Sep, 4 2012 @ 12:04 AM
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Belief is not a polar phenomenon, nor is it a dialectic phenomenon.

A Theist can disbelieve in God on Monday, so long as he believes in God on Wednesday.

An Atheist must never believe in God.

A man is less convinced by three good books than he is by one good book, one good friend, and one popular tale.

An extraordinary claim requires extraordinary proof.

For the most extraordinary kind of claim (i.e. the supernatural) there exists no proof extraordinary enough to satisfy the claim.

What makes a claim extraordinary? Is an extraordinary claim merely a 'supernatural' claim, or is it a claim outside the bounds of likely, sane, and corroborative human experience? If the latter, then human experience -- boundless and down through the ages -- is overwhelmingly in support of the supernatural. If a claim is made extraordinary merely by being a claim of the 'supernatural', then it is only so because we have accepted a particular dogma to the effect that the 'supernatural' is 'extraordinary'. In reality, they are mere synonyms! The statement: "A 'supernatural' claim is an 'extraordinary' claim" is a meaningless truism. What makes something 'supernatural', other than that it lies outside of accepted dogma?

The natural human instinct is to trust a man when he says he's seen a ghost, just as you'd trust him if he said he'd seen a murder. This is the human instinct, but not the scientific instinct. Why? There can only be three reasons (If you claim a false dilemma, please provide a fourth), 1) You do not believe the man who sees the ghost because he is a man, 2) You do not believe the man who sees the ghost because he says he saw a ghost, or, 3) You do not believe the man because he has not presented additional material evidence.

If the objection is of the third kind, then why do you accept the man's testimony about the murder at all? (Whether or not you consider it sufficient evidence for conviction) It is merely one man's memory, and subject to error, likely -- as equally with the murder as with the ghost -- of a suspect type. If you argue that we do not accept it, what then is the nature of practical human justice? The expert's opinion will always outweigh the little boy's. But the little boy may have truly seen the murder, and the expert may be mistaken. Allowance for error in judgement must be preserved, and in the absence of corroborating evidence the eyewitness testimony may not be sufficient to convict, but it is certainly sufficient to believe, if one chooses to.

Say we choose not to believe. What then? I have never been to Australia, yet it appears on maps. I have seen pictures of Australia, videos of Australia, and known people who went to Australia. What convinces me that Australia exists? It is not logic, or physical evidence, but the overwhelming weight of human witness and opinion that convinces me. If I see a soil sample from the Australian outback, I still need an expert to tell me where it is from. If I see an aerial photo of Melbourne, I still rely on trustworthy messengers to tell me that this is truly a photo of Melbourne. All these difficulties may be resolved by my going to Melbourne, but suppose I cannot? Suppose I haven't the means? The question is not "what proves Melbourne" but rather, "Why do I believe in Melbourne?"

I believe it, rightly or wrongly, on the basis of human evidence. Until I go to Melbourne, its existence is based on human testimony, and that alone. That the personal evidence for Melbourne is overwhelming is why I believe in Melbourne -- or why I believe in ghosts. And for no other reason.

Take the first case: I do not believe in Melbourne because the man who saw Melbourne was a man -- fallible, potentially insane, and naturally prone to delusion. Prone to delusion why? Because from time to time he sees Melbourne. It can be proved. He has said as much, and where in front of me is the evidence for Melbourne?

If Stephen Hawking said he saw a ghost, what would people think? Either they would think he was finally losing his wits, or they would say his testimony could not be believed in the absence of evidence. But neither need be true. The other possibility is that Stephen Hawking saw a ghost. We dismiss this possibility because the reality is that case one and case three are merely pedantic word play. They are circular and self-defeating as universal propositions. If we deny human evidence, we deny all empiricism.

The reality is that we disbelieve the ghost because we hold a particular dogma that ghosts do not exist. Whatever our rational justifications, the reality is that no amount of evidence will convince the materialist of the supernatural precisely because he is a materialist. This is what is meant by "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof." It is another way of saying that "Claims I cannot believe require more proof than anyone can possibly provide." If you will not accept human evidence, than you ought not to believe many of the things that you apparently do. You apply extra burdens of proof to the "ghost story", truly, because it is a "ghost story", and for no other reason. The claim is not merely extraordinary, it is indefatigably unbelievable. That is not rationalism, it is a dogma. It is a philosophical choice.

I choose to believe the man who says he saw a ghost as I believe the man who says he saw a murder. I make no distinction between crime stories and ghost stories, each are equally believable or unbelievable entirely on the basis of collective human evidence, and material evidence (as relayed by humans). The evidence for Melbourne is strong. The evidence for ghosts is not as strong. I have never seen either. I choose to believe in Melbourne, as I choose to not believe in ghosts. But that is a choice. But another man in other circumstances may have better reason for believing in ghosts than for believing in Melbourne. Is Melbourne more true?

"More men have seen ghosts than have seen Melbourne" may be a true statement. I expect it is a true statement. None of this tells me there are no ghosts. All I have learned is that there may be ghosts, and there almost certainly is Melbourne. If I choose to go farther than that, I do so on the basis of dogma, not rationalism.

If we choose to emphatically deny the existence of ghosts, we either deny the first principle of democracy, or we deny all human thought. This is not a false dilemma.

I do not believe in ghosts. But I do believe in ghost stories, and in doing so I accept the possibility of ghosts. This is pure rationalism. If I deny ghosts, I deny ghost stories. I make liars of countless millenia of collective human experience. I dare not lay so great a claim. I merely leave the question open -- where it ought to be.




posted on Sep, 4 2012 @ 12:45 AM
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Thanks, RedBird. I've always hated that statement, since I first heard Bill Nye apply it to UFOs. It just struck me as so... so... dogmatic. I'm glad you laid that out so clearly, and I'll keep it in mind everytime I hear some "skeptic" use it....



posted on Sep, 4 2012 @ 12:46 AM
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reply to post by RedBird
 


I have never seen either. I choose to believe in Melbourne, as I choose to not believe in ghosts.

Its not a matter of belief. If you see one, all this "believe or not believe"
stuff disappears... now you know.



posted on Sep, 4 2012 @ 12:50 AM
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I would just like to reassure the OP and everyone else that Melbourne does in fact exist.

At least being from there I hope it does,

totally agree with what ur saying OP, we should all keep an open mind but not so open that our brains fall out.

S&F



posted on Sep, 4 2012 @ 12:55 AM
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I have plenty of extraordinary claims and I don't feel obligated to prove a god damned thing.

What people mean when they say that is....

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof if you want ME to believe it".

Well, I don't give a rats fat ass whether or not you believe anything I have to say so........where does that leave us?

Some people have a real hard time understanding the obnoxious idea that their opinions don't make a god damned bit of difference and carry no weight whatsoever.

Also, can someone please tell me what exactly constitutes extraordinary???
If someone tells you that they can clearly remember being sent here before they were born, or that what you would consider "Aliens" would check on you frequently during childhood, Is THAT extraordinary????
Extraordinary to WHOM exactly?
YOU??

Your inability to cram what I have to say into that tiny brain of yours isn't going to make what I am saying go away.


So, let's revise that statement once more shall we?

"What 'I' deem to be extraordinary requires ME to have what 'I' deem to be extraordinary proof in order for ME to believe it"

At least that would be a little more intellectually honest.
A subject that needed to be brought up.
Thanks for the thread OP.

edit on 4-9-2012 by Screwed because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 4 2012 @ 01:02 AM
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reply to post by RedBird
 


All claims require equal proof. Why? Because that is the scientific approach to it.
You know, the approach where we are analytic and not making assessments based on emotional reactionism - which is what the extraordinary proof claim uses. Such an illogical statement is merely distraction and misdirection.



posted on Sep, 4 2012 @ 01:03 AM
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reply to post by Screwed
 


Holy s---, guy! I believe you!

Damn. You made me swallow my gum....



posted on Sep, 4 2012 @ 01:06 AM
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edit on 4-9-2012 by Domo1 because: (no reason given)



posted on Sep, 4 2012 @ 01:24 AM
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reply to post by Ex_CT2
 


The trouble with this cheap axiom (that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof) is that absent any strict definition of what those words mean, the phrase can be used to move the goalposts indefinitely in any argument.

I have yet to come across a satisfactory explanation of what constitutes an 'extraordinary' claim that is not either circular, or else underpinned by some dogma.

Ordinary is relative!

Say that a tribe of aboriginals living in Papua New Guinea decides one day (perhaps on the urging of some empiricist missionary) to accept the scientific method as the new grounds for assessing truth and falsehood in the world around them. Admittedly, they're starting from scratch, but let's assume they give themselves over feverishly to this new idea.

The mere acceptance of empiricism does not instantly change all of their past experiences, or the way they view they world, it can only do so over time.

Let's say that this tribe has an ancient tradition of communing with the ancestors through shamanic rituals; asking their forefathers for blessings and protection, and so forth. The sudden adoption of empiricism does not wipe that collective experience clean.

Now, let us say that, having adopted this new scientific attitude, the new Papua empiricists are faced with their first two claims: 1) An old woman claims to have had a vision in which her father spoke to her, and warned her of a coming volcanic eruption. 2) A man from the next village over claims to have seen a mechanical bird that can fly through the air.

Which claim is more extraordinary? Remember: They have no background -- no collection of already established scientific truths. But they do have their collective experience, which includes many communions with the ancestors, and precisely zero mechanical birds.

Which claim do you think these new empiricists would judge to be the most extraordinary, and the most desirous of extraordinary proof?

As far as the empirical method goes, the course is plain enough: In the first case, they merely wait around to see if there is a volcanic eruption. In the second, they send a team of explorers to go looking for the mechanical bird.

Let's say the volcano does erupt, and the explorers do (or claim to) see a mechanical bird. What now? Do the new Papua empiricists have reasonable grounds to accept both claims? I should say no. Maybe they ask the Old Woman to make another prediction. Maybe they ask the explorers to spot another mechanical bird.

But surely, by their own experiential standard, the erupting volcano is more satisfactory than the spotting of the mechanical bird, because the first claim is of a familiar and repeated kind, whilst the second is of an unusual and solitary kind. By the skeptical axiom of extraordinary claims/proofs they have better reason for believing in the ghost of the dead father than in the mechanical bird.

WE don't. We know better, because we have ascertained more scientific truths than these pioneer empiricists. But who's to say that some other intelligence doesn't know even more than we do, and have an even more elaborate array of experiences to draw on then us?

The point I am making is that which claims are extraordinary and which are not is relative to the collection of scientifically ascertained facts that we have available to us, and that is always changing and being revised. In this case, the axiom is unreliable. It is no better than confirmation bias, as this analogy shows.

The only way out of this dilemma is to assert that extraordinary and ordinary are objective and definable according to the nature of the claim, and the moment we say that we are denying the empirical model itself because we are maintaining that a universal and ultimately arbitrary dogma is responsible for defining which claims are and are not extraordinary. We can only reject claims as extraordinary by appealing to a materialist (or other) worldview which is itself metaphysical and a subject of mere belief. It is, after all, a matter or simple faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all whatsoever!



posted on Sep, 4 2012 @ 01:27 AM
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Originally posted by pirhanna
reply to post by RedBird
 


All claims require equal proof. Why? Because that is the scientific approach to it.
You know, the approach where we are analytic and not making assessments based on emotional reactionism - which is what the extraordinary proof claim uses. Such an illogical statement is merely distraction and misdirection.


I wholeheartedly agree that all claims require equal proof. I absolutely agree that this is the scientific approach.

My concern is with the statement "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof" as this appears to contradict what you yourself said.

If all claims require equal proof, why do some claims require 'extraordinary' proof?

Because they are 'extraordinary' claims? What makes them extraordinary?

This is my point.



posted on Sep, 4 2012 @ 03:11 AM
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People who have "never seen anything", are never going to.
Why bother? They are so busy arguing "proof" no spirit would waste the energy.



posted on Sep, 4 2012 @ 03:25 AM
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With your comments in mind I'd be interested to read a response of yours on the subject matter of this thread.



posted on Sep, 4 2012 @ 03:36 AM
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I think without any real common frame of reference, a person might find it hard to even believe the most plausible of testimony.

It should not be equated to just the paranormal however. There are things in this world that people experience that they have no solid footing in...so when they say they have experienced something it tends to throw off other like minded individuals in repsect to what they are translating the story to.

I think most of us can tell when someone is batshat crazy, and when there is soemone who genuinely beleives he saw something he cannot explain.

The offer of proof most times is lacking because most times in most accounts, we're not prepared for whats happening to us. Thus there is a lack of evidence. unless your activly looking for that kind of thing to begin with. Thus a lack of proof follows due to the sheer unpreparedness of the event that throws us into a area that we are not used to experienceing.

Just because we do not have proof, doesn't mean it never happened. And while most acclaims can be explained away. Others cannot.



posted on Sep, 4 2012 @ 10:13 AM
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Originally posted by Hardfelt
With your comments in mind I'd be interested to read a response of yours on the subject matter of this thread.


Ugh. Politics makes my stomach churn most of the time.

I'll tell you what: I don't like either of them. Mitt Romney is exceptionally wealthy, and I don't trust very rich people. In order to be clever enough to get all that money you first have to be dull enough to want it. And Mitt Romney is both rich enough and dull enough to give me a stomach ache.

As for Dawkins, he is certainly a very learned man, and I respect his depth of knowledge in the field of biology, but there is a smugness about him that I find disingenuous. Even Hitchens, who was a bit of a buffoon, at least had respect for people of genuine faith -- he could debate them in a friendly (if aggressive) way, and seemed to respect people of different beliefs even if he disagreed strongly with them. Dawkins, on the other hand, seems to take pleasure in others' ignorance whilst publicly decrying ignorance.

He's like a man who says "I am so sorry that you are a fool" but is not sorry at all. He rather revels in it. He claims he wants to abolish all religions and faiths, but in truth they are the only things that have given him any public prominence, and without them he would be a nobody.

I used to have a great deal of respect for Dawkins' intellect, until I watched a youtube video of him reading hate mail he had received from creationists. His disdain was too obviously for people and not merely their irrational beliefs. And that, unfortunately, is not something I can respect.



posted on Sep, 4 2012 @ 04:26 PM
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reply to post by RedBird
 


Ugh. Politics makes my stomach churn most of the time.

I'll tell you what: I don't like either of them. Mitt Romney is exceptionally wealthy, and I don't trust very rich people. In order to be clever enough to get all that money you first have to be dull enough to want it. And Mitt Romney is both rich enough and dull enough to give me a stomach ache.

Well said. Never heard it put quite like "dull enough to cherish money" before.



posted on Sep, 6 2012 @ 12:11 AM
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Originally posted by RedBird
Belief is not a polar phenomenon, nor is it a dialectic phenomenon.

A Theist can disbelieve in God on Monday, so long as he believes in God on Wednesday.

An Atheist must never believe in God.

For the most extraordinary kind of claim (i.e. the supernatural) there exists no proof extraordinary enough to satisfy the claim.


Good question; but I disagree with a few of your statements.

How do you figure that a Theist can disbelieve on one day, as long as he believes on another? Yet an Atheist must disbelieve all the time?? Can it not be that as a person learns and thinks, his opinion will change, as will his beliefs? What do you call the Theist on Tuesday? He disbelieved on Monday; he's going to believe on Wednesday; so what is he on Tuesday? Similarly, an Atheist on Monday might encounter God on Wednesday, and become a believer. He is permitted to change his mind. Come to think of it, he might just hear a compelling argument that convinces him to believe.

I definitely agree with you that there is no way to "prove" spiritual things. It is the nature of Spirit to be beyond objective proof or demonstration. it is a subjective experience.

You come to believe in Spirit when you experience it. You can be the biggest skeptic around, but once you meet a ghost, you suddenly find yourself believing. And then have fun trying to convince others.

I think a greater mystery than Spirit is, why do so many people think they have to prove it to everyone else?

For example, many years ago I had an experience, a miraculous healing, that convinced me of the reality of God. That's between me and God. I totally agree that I might have had a mini-breakdown, or deluded myself. I might not remember everything correctly. It might all have been a coincidence, or the treatments had a delayed effect. The illness might have been a misdiagnosis and I had something that wasn't life-threatening. Although I'm not lying, I can't blame others for not believing me. For all they know I might be some kind of con-man, or drugged or mentally ill, making stuff up. Why should anyone else believe it?

It's not my job to spread the word. What happened was enough to convince me. No one else needs to be convinced. If God wants to convince someone, He is perfectly capable of getting their attention without my help. So basically I just let God worry about spreading the word. So far He hasn't asked me to be His spokesman.

I've also had other spiritual experiences - seen ghosts, an OOBE, an occasional clairvoyant experience, that sort of thing. Not much, but enough to convince me it's real. But again - why do I need to convince anyone else of this? Who cares if someone believes in ghosts. He will, once he runs into one. If that never happens, he won't - and so what?

BTW - what is a "dialectic phenomenon"? I'm not familiar with that term.



posted on Sep, 6 2012 @ 12:14 AM
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Originally posted by IkNOwSTuff
I would just like to reassure the OP and everyone else that Melbourne does in fact exist.

At least being from there I hope it does,

totally agree with what ur saying OP, we should all keep an open mind but not so open that our brains fall out.

S&F

G'day, mate (I always wanted to say that).

Ah, but can you *prove* Melbourne exists? Come to think of it, can you prove that *you* exist? Smacking me on the head doesn't count...



posted on Sep, 6 2012 @ 12:28 AM
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Originally posted by Screwed
I have plenty of extraordinary claims and I don't feel obligated to prove a god damned thing.

What people mean when they say that is....

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof if you want ME to believe it".


Also, can someone please tell me what exactly constitutes extraordinary???

Couldn't agree with you more. It's exactly as you said - convincing someone else. Who cares if they believe what you've seen?

Still - the expression "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof" has a solid use in science. If someone does an experiment and finds that neutrinos are going at 99.99% of the speed of light, no one's going to think twice about it. It's an ordinary claim. They'll glance over the numbers, nod their heads, and move on to something more interesting.

But if they claim their neutrinos were going at 101% of the speed of light (like they were claiming at LHC), they're going to have to back it up six ways to Sunday. First, it conflicts with well-accepted theory. Second, no one has ever observed *anything* moving faster than the speed of light. It's an extraordinary claim. It's going to require lots of data to prove it.

Extraordinary, to me, means outside of what we commonly experience.

But like you said, so what if they don't believe? Do we get points for making converts?



posted on Sep, 6 2012 @ 12:37 AM
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reply to post by Hardfelt
 


Interesting, but... how are Romney's beliefs any crazier than any other religious person? OK, Romney (or the LDS, at least) believes the garden of eden is in Missouri or something. Other Christians place it in Mesopotamia. Is there a major difference? LDS says Jesus came to North America. Mainstream Christianity says he walked on water and came back from the dead. Which idea is crazier?

Religion should be kept strictly out of the US government. Whatever madness a person may believe, it should remain in his church, at his home, but not in his public office. Period.

But there is no one out there who doesn't have some crazy notions. Try to get rid of the crazy candidates, and you won't have anyone left. So just keep an eye on them while they're in office to make sure they don't cause too much trouble.

And come to think of it, why did Romney's religion (or Obama's) even come up? It is (or should be) irrelevant.



posted on Sep, 6 2012 @ 12:55 AM
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We struck diamond!

I would stumble upon this thread right before I was going to go to sleep.
I would attempt to add to the discussion but I am not in a position to do so.
I will be subscribing to this thread and am planning to go over any others you have authored.
Thank you for taking the time to post such a controversial topic with so much effort put into it. (and those who are contributing, unlike myself)

edit on 6-9-2012 by theshepherd2 because: (no reason given)



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