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Monday, November 17, 2008

A philosopher confronts the errors of debunkers

Debunking has fallen on hard times.

It used to mean explaining how some TV psychic "discovers" info that his handlers have gleaned from conversations with gullible fans.

(File under Rules for living: What you tell people in a TV studio is NOT private )

Unfortunately, in recent decades, "debunking" has come to mean any old hooey lobbed by materialists who cannot make their case with hard evidence.

Philosopher Neal Grossman of the University of Illinois at Chicago, in a letter to the Journal of Near-Death Studies , confronts typical "debunker" errors, including the error of confusing what is logically possible with what is really possible.

Look, it is logically possible that I am not the non-celeb whose profile appears in the upper right corner of this blog, but rather a space alien who is reading your DNA while you are reading this blog. But is that really possible? Is it worth taking seriously? Would you pay for insurance against it?

Grossman calls the people who are completely committed to a materialist view of life, "fundamaterialists."

Addressing the question of life after death, he comments,
... if the fundamaterialist says that the hypothesis of an afterlife is so extraordinary that we should prefer any other hypothesis, so long that it is consistent with materialism and not self-contradictory, my reply is as follows: There is absolutely nothing extraordinary about the hypothesis of an afterlife. The overwhelming majority of people in the world believe it, and have always believed it. I grant, however, that there exists a rather peculiar subgroup of human beings for whom the survival hypothesis is extraordinary. This subgroup consists of people who have been university-educated into accepting materialist dogma on faith. We have been brainwashed by our university education into accepting that the hypothesis of an afterlife is extraordinary. It is perhaps time to acknowledge this, and to acknowledge that we are all suffering from what Gary Schwartz has called ‘‘post-educational stress disorder’’ (Schwartz and Simon, 2002, p. 224). Part of this ‘‘disorder’’ is that we have internalized the academy’s materialist worldview, and we call anything that falls outside that worldview ‘‘extraordinary.’’

But it is the materialists’ worldview that is truly extraordinary, especially when one considers the ridiculous hypotheses that that worldview advances in order to save itself, ..
"Debunking" has become a vehicle for know-nothings to proclaim that whatever they don't know isn't knowledge. Or that solutions to huge problems (like how to understand human consciousness) are just around the corner. Or that if we give them another 200 years and another two million dollars, they'll come up with an answer ... not that you or I will ever know if they did ...

See also: Evidence? If you are a materialist, you need never bother with evidence.

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