Re: The influence of skeptics [WAS Re: no more lottery talk]

From: Jeff Medina (
Date: Mon Jan 02 2006 - 11:42:14 MST

On 1/2/06, BillK <> wrote:
> As Michael Shermer has commented:
> "But wouldn't that mean that this claim is ultimately nonfalsifiable?
> If both positive and negative results are interpreted as supporting a
> theory, how can we test its validity?
> Skepticism is the default position because the burden of proof is on
> the believer, not the skeptic."

It isn't that positive and negative (i.e., any) results are
interpreted as support. Richard is claiming specifically that:

- Believers in such experiments have consistently positive results
- Skeptics in such experiments have consistently negative results

Chance would imply a lack of correlation between one's belief and
one's results; there should be positive and negative variance in equal
amounts for the believers and the skeptics, but there aren't,

Not that I support his take on psi. But there is a critical
distinction to be made between the object of your criticism and the
claim Richard's making, no matter what the explanation of these

Jeff Medina
Community Director
Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence
Relationships & Community Fellow
Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies
School of Philosophy, Birkbeck, University of London

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