UFO Conjecture(s)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

UFO Skepticism: Good or Bad?

I don’t think the skeptical brood found in the UFO arena really know the vicissitudes of skepticism, its historical and philosophical antecedents; they just block, from their mind, any possibility of UFO truth.

They’ve adopted, unknowingly, the view of Pyrrho [ circa 360 B.C.—270 B.C.], the Greek philosopher who held that one must suspend all judgment, about everything.

The Augustine/Cartesian views that allow for probabilities is not even considered by this gaggle of UFO commenters.

The dismiss probability out of hand, usually.

They would do well to enlighten themselves by reading Richard Popkin’s book, The History of Skepticism from Eramus to Descartes [1960] or find skepticism in the Dictionary of Philosophy Religion : Eastern and Western Thought, edited by W.L. Reese [New Jersey Humanities/Harvester Press, Sussex, 1980].

In the UFO field, I like Robert Sheaffer’s skeptical entries, even though I’ve excoriated him for taking on a hipster look when making TV appearances, His skeptical approach is refined by analysis of a serious kind.

There is Gilles Fernandez whom we/I laud here often. He tells me he uses Tim Printy’s skeptical ideas as a basis for his ufological skepticism.

Tim Printy, a model for skepticism?

Tim Printy, whom I once extolled at this blog, lost my admiration when he went to Anthony Bragalia imploring him to chastise me publicly for outing the Roswell Dream Team’s slide investigation.

That’s sneaky and leaves a taste in my mouth that his skepticism may be rooted in sneaky motivation, much as Phill Klass’s was, both men acting despicably behind the scenes.

Zoam Choamsky is the extreme Pyrrhonist: he accepts nothing about UFOs as true.

But I like ZC because he shoots from the hip, and while, an irrational unbeliever, he attacks with verve and commitment, even though his observations are vibrantly in philosophical error: illogical and biased in an opposite way (to UFO believers).

Lance Moody and CDA (Christopher Allan) pretend to be skeptics, but down deep they know that UFOs exist and may even have, possibly, an ET explanation. (They’ll deny this, of course, but one can read between their comment lines.)

Skepticism is a trait I like to think I have, in moderation, but I’m prone to think that anything is possible; probable is another matter, obviously.

That I like Paul Kimball and Nick Redfern, they are, both, open to the varieties of philosophical and paranormal truths, while looking at both intellectually, and philosophically.

They don’t argue points to make points, as some skeptics noted here do. They make points to make points.

Being heard is not their primary ambition, as it is with some who belabor UFO argumentation just to be argumentative.

Yes, skepticism is irksome, as it’s practiced in the UFO arena.

But its remains a viable alternative to what William James called “The will to believe” (even when that will to believe accepts that which is outrageously ridiculous on its face).

RR 

28 Comments:

  • Love you, Rich!

    Sure, UFO's exist. It's just that the evidence is that they are all of prosaic origin.

    The pile of stinking, worthless crap that believers think is evidence is laughable.

    Even more laughable are the self-proclaimed "researchers," most of whom are dumb asses or worse.

    I hope this clarifies my position.

    Lance

    By Blogger Lance, at Thursday, October 24, 2013  

  • And I love you too, Lance, but you know that.

    UFO research is an oxymoron, handled by morons....I agree.

    And what UFO mavens believe boggles the rational mind.

    However, I'm not convinced that all UFOs are of "a prosaic origin."

    The possibility that some are not is a valid, reasonable assertion where I come from.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, October 24, 2013  

  • However, I'm not convinced that all UFOs are of "a prosaic origin."

    The problem is that if I ask you to enumerate, to list, the reasons why you have this feeling/opinion/conviction, I will probably find exactly the same reasons invoked for UFO cases by UFO proponents, but cases which have become IFO and idenfied then without (reasonable) doubt.

    I love you too and I loled about this strange (and erroneous) portrait of UFO-Skepticism. An ingenuous one!

    Regards,

    By Blogger Gilles Fernandez, at Thursday, October 24, 2013  

  • Gilles, mon ami...

    i have had three UFO sightings in my life:

    Two in the 50s and one in the 70s.

    The 70s' sighting, of a v-formation that glowed a dull gray glow, in the early morning hours [4 a.m.] could have been a bevy of birds, although the things were flying a little fast to be so. But I concede the sighting wasn't outside the range of a prosaic explanation.

    The 1950s sightings, however, were so odd that they begged to be called anything but prosaic.

    One was the 1953 well-defined, hot iron colored square that was seen by many over the Detroit skyline (noted by media and Fate magazine at the time).

    I was playing touch football in the grass median of a major highway, with others, of course, and watch the thing for a considerable amount of time (an hour or so).

    The glowing rectangle remained in situ but then eventually evaporated or ascended and disappeared.

    That is, it had the appearance of evaporating or rising out of sight.

    The other, earlier sighting was of a few star-sized lights maneuvering in the overhead night sky, seen by me and a dozen other kids who were playing pom-pom pull away, a game of the era.

    The lights circled and darted among the background of stars, moving erratically, and stayed lit all during their acrobatics.

    A call to a Detroit newspaper was dismissed, as it was obvious to the story desk that it was a kid calling.

    But the lights remained in the sky for a long period, moving in circles and otherwise, never dimming, until they departed.

    Now what prosaic explanation could one have about such a sighting?

    That they were brightly lit birds, flying high in the sky...a la Lubbock? I don't think so.

    Meteors or comets? Come on. Moving erratically for an hour or so?

    Airplanes? No green or red lights and moving in odd ways?

    A meteorological phenomenon? I can't imagine what that might be.

    Anyway, that sighting and the defined orange rectangle, that hovered, watching what was going on below?

    What could it have been, in the prosaic sense?

    No, those personal sightings coupled with a few classic sightings defy prosaic explanations: the 1966 Ann Arbor/Hillsdale swamp gas sightings?

    I interviewed Frank Mannor and his son. They saws something non-prosaic at the very same time that a group of Hillsdale co-eds were seeing the same thing, 50 miles away.

    These are the personal events that allow me to keep open the door to a non-prosaic explanation for UFOs.

    What about you? What sightings have you have that convince you UFOs are down-to-Earth thingies, so odd but still prosaic that you remain skeptical about ALL UFO accounts?

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, October 24, 2013  

  • lost my admiration when he went to Anthony Bragalia imploring him to chastise me publicly for outing the Roswell Dream Team’s slide investigation.


    I would like to set the record straight on this issue about me "seeking out Bragalia" in a sneaky manner to implore him to publicly chastise RR.

    I am not sure what statements Bragalia has made privately but I NEVER went to Bragalia. As is his habit, he emailed me complaining that I was spreading rumors about the dream teams research. I responded at 9:59AM on September 4th (after two emails from Bragalia)with the comment:

    "Once again, I point towards the source of this rumor for others to evaluate. It is RR claiming this. Stop whining about me and publicly renounce him."

    Interpret it how you wish but I NEVER sought out Bragalia. My point was, if he wanted to complain to me about spreading rumors, he should have publicly renounced your writings for the same reason.

    By Blogger Tim Printy, at Thursday, October 24, 2013  

  • Rich,

    There are many many UFO narratives presenting a priori (and legitimaly by the witness) an high or very high level of strangeness, but receiving a prosaic explanation without any reasonable doubt, after investigations (or by luck). Again a vast topic and subject difficult to be complet in an simple reply of a blog.

    In other words, an UFO narrative(like the ones you provided) with an (and) a priori level of strangeness, or high level of strangeness, is not the garanty or an argument the case is then escaping to any rational explanation (aka the stimulus generating the tale/narration was NOT/can BE conventionnal). Therefore Aliens!

    IFOlogy DEMONSTRATED ordinary stimulus/stimuli can generate extraordinary narratives. You can attempt to ridiculize/caricaturize UFO-Skepticism as you did in this post, but it is something right and prooved ;)

    I regret it (regarding your own sightings, but you must take it into account) and it is not in order to ridiculize your sightings.

    But that's only a testimony (or several) you provided as "material" (or materials)... And only.

    No place here to document how testimony/ies must be taken with a dose of saltz...

    Another bemol and in no way again (and sincerly) to ridiculize your sightings : Do you realy think or believe that, with the informations you provided regarding your sightings, and IF a conventional stimulus generated them, there are scientific or suffisant elements to verify some pists?

    And more, imagine for the first one it was in reality, birds. How can an agnostic investigator verify and demonstrate birds passed face to you (OR NOT)? That's IMPOSSIBLE!

    Make a declinaison of like-one remarks I made (here or there abut UFO, as other did too) to your other sightings and the testimonies you gave/provided...

    What about you? What sightings have you have that convince you UFOs are down-to-Earth thingies, so odd but still prosaic that you remain skeptical about ALL UFO accounts?

    Hoo well. I have had the luck to assist to a triangular formation, flashing, mooving fast,very fast. I have had the impression that the objects or objects CANT be prosaic. I transposed my sighting to what I have readed about triangular UFO, escaping to any rational explanation... Excepted that...
    Due to the duration of my sighting, I have been abble to identify what it was. What if the sighting durated not enough time for me in order I identify what it was in reality?

    A very good testimony coming from a very credible person, as UFO sighting, and describing what he saw, honnestly, with high level of strangeness in his narration...

    I have had many others, with the same schematic frame. What if the schema to identify what it was was broken? I have been becomed a very accurated and credible testimoner/witness of several UFO sightings I experienced...

    I have followed many cases/investigations too (sometimes in real time) where, a priori, what was described was prototypical to UFO (aka ET craft or what you want as fortean), escaping to any rational candidat/explanation. But it was a conventional stimulus in reality...

    That's, among many other things and constats,what particpated to forge my UFO Skepticism.

    Regards,

    Gilles

    By Blogger Gilles Fernandez, at Thursday, October 24, 2013  

  • Gilles, I accept your rationale.

    But in the instances I observed, there was and is no prosaic explanation that comes easily to mind.

    And I'm open to any number of explanations, but none come to me, surely none that are "prosaic" -- the operative word.

    I think that being skeptical, for me, in the face of my first-hand experience -- by a rather smart guy (ahem) -- requires me to accept the possibility that some UFOs do not derive from common or prosaic, mundane causes.

    You are entrenched in your skeptical position, unshakable it seems.

    But not me. I am open to any number of "other realities."

    As a quantum mechanics aficionado, I'm inclined to accept realities that others don't.

    I'm not saying the UFOs I saw were ET craft.

    Possibly but not an explanation that comes readily to my mind.

    So, there you are.

    You have the basis for my non-skeptical stance.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, October 24, 2013  

  • Tim:

    When you write this...

    "publicly renounce him."

    I see that as similar to what Winston Smith said, in Orwell's "1984" when subjected to his great fear, after Big Brother caught him:

    "Give the rats to Julia!"

    And a key point is that I wasn't spreading rumors, as it turns out, but made an accurate appraisal of what was going on, supported by Nick Redfern and Paul Kimball, thankfully.

    No reason for me to be renounced and surprisingly that you would have liked that to take place.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, October 24, 2013  

  • Tim,

    I waited your comment (I mean I not wanted to comment this part of Rich original post here about you, Tony and the slides).

    I was sure Rich was misinformed (again). You as depicted like "went to Anthony Bragalia" or "imploring" [Bragalia], as I replied here or there "I loled". RED FLAG.

    Rich sometimes (often) sacrifices bon sens (common sens) regarding when Tony is implicated on something, Tony delivering a "smocking gun", etc, Rich lost any critical thinking cause "friendships" (or dunno what) with our Tony.

    Hoo, and I re-iterate that Tim Printy approach regarding UFO, his always discret work, SUNlite releases, his site, behavior on the UFO dramatic theater, etc. are a model or models for me... Despite Rich judging otherwise.
    Of course I have many other models and mentors.

    ++ Gilles.

    By Blogger Gilles Fernandez, at Thursday, October 24, 2013  

  • I think that being skeptical, for me, in the face of my first-hand experience -- by a rather smart guy (ahem) -- requires me to accept the possibility that some UFOs do not derive from common or prosaic, mundane causes.

    Again, there are many cases, examples, in the Ufology, where witness/witnesses required to accept their UFOs sightings are NOT, CANT be common or mundane causes derived/explained by... But becomed IFO.
    I understand what you mean and is expressing (I'm expressing empathy with UFO witnesses, not mocking them, etc.), but AGAIN it is not a suffisant argument to proove something EXOTIC (Fortean) taking place here.

    I'm sorry to say to you UFO testimonies have no scientific real values to proove something extraordinary:
    1) Because we KNOW conventional stimulus/stimuli can generate extraordinary testimonies.
    2) Because an extraordinary claim needs more than an ordinary evidence.

    And a testimony or 1 billion testimonies are not a scientific proof/evidence.

    As a quantum mechanics aficionado, I'm inclined to accept realities that others don't.

    Sorry, again a "stupid" argument and so and so read/write here or there by pseudosciences defenders.

    I think you have nothing understood about Quantums Mecanic, but projecting your fringe ideas and believing Q.M support ALL and what M.Q states is available to a macroscopic level (and not only for quantums).

    Fringe and pseudo-science proponents go often or always invoke to Q.M. It is well documented ;) Iloled again my friend.

    It seems you have another victim of it, with all due respect.

    Regards,

    Gilles

    By Blogger Gilles Fernandez, at Thursday, October 24, 2013  

  • Rich, this from your post:

    "Tim Printy, whom I once extolled at this blog, lost my admiration when he went to Anthony Bragalia imploring him to chastise me publicly for outing the Roswell Dream Team’s slide investigation.

    That’s sneaky and leaves a taste in my mouth that his skepticism may be rooted in sneaky motivation, much as Phill Klass’s was, both men acting despicably behind the scenes."

    Printy, in an above comment provided the context of Bragalia CONTACTING him, not the other way around. And you merely quote Orwell as part of your reply...

    Perhaps you should call Tony on the carpet...or do you think Printy's comment is a lie?

    Sorry for my sounding as an A-hole, but Printy is a friend and supporter of mine...Tony is not.

    By Blogger Tim Hebert, at Thursday, October 24, 2013  

  • Gilles,

    I have several lengthy posts here early on that make a case for macro-quantum effects.

    But you're not inclined to address the matter(s) academically.

    Using terms like "a priori" doesn't make your comments academic or intellectual.

    You have a tough, irrational skeptical stance, and good for you.

    But I am not impressed, nor are many others.

    You don't understand Quantum Theory or the arguments within that discipline, obviously from what you write.

    You state things aggressively, but your views are not regimented in the academic sense.

    They're emotional diatribes, and I love them. because they are so goofy.

    So, let's halt the "discussion" as it's going nowhere.

    You're defensive. I am obnoxious.

    That doesn't make for good debate.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, October 24, 2013  

  • Tim:

    Printy clarifies the back-and-forth but he still threw me under the bus, as it were.

    Why even bring me into the debate he was having with Tony; it was a totally different issue.

    I'm always going to take Tony's side. I find him to be truthful and tolerant of my misdeeds.

    And I accept his comments that I was making up the slide stuff from whole cloth.

    He was hoping to stop the information from coming out, further.

    That backfired, but I understand what he was trying to do: save the investigation.

    The Orwell quote sums up the matter in ways you seem not to comprehend, which surprises me.

    It's this: don't bitch at me about rumoring, Get Reynolds instead.

    But I wasn't rumoring. Moreover, that wasn't Tony's complaint about Tim Printy, which he took to Printy directly.

    That Printy tried to deflect Tony's plaint by implicating me in the crime goes against the grain.

    That you like Tim Printy is swell. I did too, once,

    But recently when I defended him from opprobrium online, he treated my defense of him cavalierly, dismissively.

    That irked.

    Now back to the topic, which you seem inclined to stray away from, taking me with you.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, October 24, 2013  

  • Gilles, let me put you on the spot, ... what conventional stimulus do you think might've generated the April 23, 2007 sighting over the english channel by captain Ray Bowyer and others ?

    Merçi de jouer avec moi. :-)

    By Blogger kolyma, at Thursday, October 24, 2013  

  • Kolyma,
    1) I have never stated all cases are explained or that there were no cases which cant receive a conventional explanation. But that to have a corpus with no-explained cases, aka residual cases, sounds "logic", not surprising, for several (possible) reasons. In other words, the presence of residual cases is imho not a reason for.. therefore aliens.

    2) Such reasons and because you read French, as to be registred in our French forum, are exposed and presented in the three links in my forum signature (or in the short bibliography in this article of its blog : ( http://ufocon.blogspot.fr/2013/08/gilles-fernandez-addresses-jose.html ). I recommand you to read them 3 to understand what "I" mean about residual cases and why this statut is not enough to claim exotic or fortean causes.

    3) This case (english channel) have a topic devoted on in our forum ( http://ufo-scepticisme.forumactif.com/t2453-channel-islands-ovnis-jaunes-pres-d-aldernay-23-avril-2007 ). One pist not envisaged by the "famous" Martin Sough study is presented. I dont say it is THE explanation.

    4) The game consisting each time a good case is explained (ie Yukon 1996) and to forget it and state "OK, now explain this one if you can now abruti de sceptiques, therefore alien" is not interresting and fallacious. We call it the "call to the residual cases when a solid case have been explained".
    Regarding each time it have been claimed by UFO proponents "this case is a solid one ! It cant be rationaly explained, so it seems the E.T. is the only possibility" and how many such solid cases have been later explained, call, imho a skepticism "de rigueur" on the UFO matter and residual cases.

    5) UFO-Skepticism is not the naive portrait Rich presented here. It is a form of scientific skepticism "à la Sagan". UFO-proponents understand UFO Skepticism as a form of negationism to any ETH possibility.

    The ones who claim it, or have never read UFO-Skepticism litterature - and then I recommand them to read it - or have the I.Q. of an banana, dunno. It is not the first time (or the last), UFO-Skepticism is carricaturize like it ;)

    Regards,

    Gilles

    By Blogger Gilles Fernandez, at Friday, October 25, 2013  

  • Tim Printy is a strange and sad individual.

    What Mr.Printy does not tell readers is this: He refuses to privately dialog with me -despite my many attempt to do so. He knows full well that I stand ready to answer his objections to my research and to help to clarify "issues" that he may have with my work.

    He instead makes his rabidly skeptical replies to my emails in his "SUNlite" magazine and on a paranormal forum. He would rather not respond to me privately first before shooting off his mouth about me, and often erroneously.

    Here is an excellent example of his being very wrong about me:

    He did not believe that I had really corresponded with Stirling Colgate re: Socorro or that if I had, what I said that Colgate said was distorted. Printy got Dave Thomas (who works at NMIT w/ Colgate) to ask Colgate directly if I was accurately reporting what Colgate had written me. Colgate confirmed that I indeed had.

    In his last issue of SUNlite Printy made mention of rumors that there was a connection between Roswell, Aztec and Silas Newton, and the two found 'alien slides.'

    When I explained to Printy that he was rumor-mongering and that it was not true that we had found any such connection whatsoever, in his only email to me in years- he implored my to publicly rebuke and excoriate Richard Reynolds. Printy is like a little-girl gossip monger.

    He is also not to be trusted. Like the reprehensible and now-discredited Paul Kimball, Printy has no problem in making private emails public. And like Kimball, do not trust Printy. Though he virtually never replies to my emails to him, he does see fit to selectively quote from them and post them publicly online.

    By Blogger Anthony Bragalia, at Friday, October 25, 2013  

  • What makes skeptics tick and what drives their personal agendas. Those are questions that beg to be asked. Of course skeptics can have their pet interests (ghosts or ufos or psychics or conspiracies ect.) and some take on the whole ball of wax and are way out of their depth as a result. A few are repugnant and may have a personality disorder (the late Phil Klass comes to mind, imo).

    This is an interesting snippet regarding Skeptic Sharon Hill's guest appearance on Paranormal Waypoint. It's a bit less than a half-hour long and one of the hosts (JR) sometimes posts here at UFO Iconoclasts. [I think skeptic Lance Moody had linked to an unrelated youtube video of Sharon Hill in a previous thread, so she's not an unknown skeptic]

    Hill here is revealed for being disingenuous on Facebook while her interview was going on. Aside from hypocrisy there's the instruction to fellow skeptics to initially play dumb when in an audience asking questions of "paranormalists". Hmmm....

    http://youtu.be/fWy_IioODYA

    ~ Susan

    By Blogger brownie, at Friday, October 25, 2013  

  • I know that in this very small and completely inconsequential corner of history I'm on the right side when Mr. Bragalia refers to me as reprehensible and discredited.

    PK

    By Blogger Paul Kimball, at Friday, October 25, 2013  

  • See my comment about you and your ethical position in the post above this one, Paul.

    It makes an essential point I think.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, October 25, 2013  

  • I feel an important distinction must be made between the true skeptics, like Gilles F., and the serial debunkers à la Robert Sheaffer who will throw in Venus or Jupiter, and sometime a supposed defect in the witnesses's characters, and quickly call it case closed.

    BTW, I've finished reading Gilles's Roswell : Rencontre Du Premier Mythe, and I am impressed. Well-documented, methodical and well-written too.
    I'm now satisfied with the prosaic explanation. :-)
    It answered my one nagging question about what could've happened at Roswell AFB when the debris were brought in by comprehensively putting the incident in the context of the summer of '47.

    Chapeau, Mr. Fernandez. No more Roswell for me.

    By Blogger kolyma, at Friday, October 25, 2013  

  • Dear Tony,

    Some people just don't' like talking to idiots.

    Lance

    By Blogger Lance, at Friday, October 25, 2013  

  • "Some people just don't' like talking to idiots."

    Exactly, or as I'm sure Tim will remember, "Don't Feed The Bores."

    And this Ant'ny character is his own walking-dead soap opera, looking for rational people to chomp at and slobber on.

    Cheers,
    Heisenberg

    By Blogger zoamchomsky, at Friday, October 25, 2013  

  • Thank you so much, kolyma about my French book concerning the Roswell case.
    I'm not, however, OK about your regard about Robert Sheaffer, but it is off-topic.

    Merci vraiment encore, toutefois.

    Regards,

    Gilles

    By Blogger Gilles Fernandez, at Friday, October 25, 2013  

  • Rich;

    Scientific skepticism is practical real-world doubt about extraordinary claims and the debunking of demonstrably false beliefs--particularly popular myths and delusions so a part of popular culture that they're identified as "pseudosciences." Scientific skepticism is zealously logical and factual, while it despises spiritualism and any unrealistic idea.

    Scientific skepticism is an application of our overwhelming worldview, modern Scientific realism. The scientific method and the continuously evolving truth about the world and the Universe it generates are advocated by Scientific skepticism to displace ignorance, irrationality and superstition in the world because stupidity and false beliefs degrade the quality of life on Earth and are increasingly dangerous in our technological democracy.

    There's not a dime's difference between the skeptics that post here and elsewhere on the Internet, we all know who we are. Some are more suited to scholarship and theory while others are better suited to debunking. We're all Null and Psychosocial advocates. And if I seem more virulent than others, it's because my teachers were real Skeptics! (g)

    Your Pelicanist in SoCal,
    zoamchomsky

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_skepticism
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-realism/

    By Blogger zoamchomsky, at Friday, October 25, 2013  

  • Thank you Zoam...

    You know I find your virulent skepticism enjoyable and full of verve.

    And you have the respect of the believers because you take them on seriously.

    But not to find possibilities in the world is sad, in a way.

    At any rate, you have carte blanche here....

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, October 25, 2013  

  • RR you are thanking "Zoam Chomsky"

    Whoever this individual is, he offers nothing. Like Lance Moody (who rarely makes original contributions to the field) this freakish "Zoam" character simply name-calls and derides.

    Neither has any idea whatsoever how to investigate, how to interview or how to evaluate evidence. So rabidly skeptical and anti-ET are they that they resort to childish, girlish behavior like name calling.

    Names will never hurt me.

    AJB

    By Blogger Anthony Bragalia, at Saturday, October 26, 2013  

  • Anthony...

    I'm both a Zoam and Lance fan.

    The fellows sparkle when they deride.

    They may be hawkish but they aren't devious or dissembling like some of the guys you hang with.

    When we (you and I) post something, we can expect derision or worse.

    The difference is that I don't put anti-RR comments online usually.

    And names won't hurt you. It's ufology as Gilles reminds us.

    RR

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Saturday, October 26, 2013  

  • > They would do well to enlighten themselves by reading...

    There is a closer source for Pyrrho, which I highly recommend: Outlines of Pyrrhonism by Sextus Empiricus (sometimes titled Outlines of Scepticism).

    Book I gives a clear description of skeptical assumptions, procedures and goals ("the aim of Sceptics is tranquillity in matters of opinion and moderation of feeling in matters forced upon us," I.30. "...tranquillity accompanies suspension of judgement" I.10).

    Book II is all about the logic of proofs. Though made as clear as such a subject can be, this section is not easy reading. However, there are numerous insights, often elegantly stated. Fringe buffs will be interested in the argument that "signs" are useless as proofs.

    (I have not read Book III yet but it is dedicated to commenting on various topics and looks like easy reading.)

    I will agree that some self-identified skeptics seem to be mere denialists, but I would also note that most fringe buffs simple-mindedly treat all of doubt as denial.

    Empiricus warns: "Those who say that the Sceptics reject what is apparent have not, I think, listened to what we say" I.19.

    By Blogger Terry the Censor, at Sunday, November 03, 2013  

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