Mythbusters Put it in the Moon Skeptics' Pipe and Smokes Them

Jameson's picture
Submitted by Jameson on Tue, 2009-07-21 22:25

These guys are stalwarts for truth, using the scientific method to expose or confirm myths. This is arguably their best episode ever as they systematically dismantle the crazy Moon Skeptics' anti-heroic delusions.

Be sure to watch it in High Quality mode (HQ - comes on after you push go) as they prove what you and I already know to be fact. In one experiment they fire a laser at the landing module's base on the moon and get a bounce-back signal. To use their vernacular, it's very, very cool. Smiling


( categories: )

um....

Kasper's picture

Still waiting Sharon

Kas

Matty Orchard's picture

"Gravity and stealing whether equal or not I do not wish to trip up into there. Stealing is wrong and gravity does exist. "

You seem to be suggesting that they might not be equal (in concreteness? Objectivity?). At the same time that you (presumably) accept that 'stealing is wrong' might not be as concrete as the fact that gravity exists I'm sure you wouldn't go as far as to say the notion that stealing is wrong is arbitrary. Neither would I. I believe there's a middle ground, a gray area where there may be 'truth' but that truth is not objective and is open to legitimate dispute. If you don't agree with that then why isn't the notion that gravity exists equal to stealing being wrong?

As to the whole NZ thing, all I'm saying is that the assertion that freedom and liberty are necessary for the peaceful coexistence of people is wrong at least by your definition of a truly free country. That doesn't mean to say freedom and liberty aren't great, I'm just saying it's pretty hard to argue for either on those grounds, specifically.

As to the the last part of what you wrote, although I don't think you've accurately summarised my position, I could be living in a facsict police state and still be able to base my morality on grounds which I find to be arbitrary. No one ever fought for and won my right to think and form opinions.

I would also add that the vast majority of histories soldiers almost certainly weren't objectivists.

Kasper

sharon's picture

"For simplicity and structure let's leave out concretes such as eBay for now and limit the debate to the theoretical and practical defence of your idea of Anarchism (DRO's etc) against the concerns I have just listed below. As suggestion for clarity and making sure these concerns are address perhaps if you could use them as your objective or outline."

That’s fair enough indeed.

But one thing....

"You criticize the upholding of government because it is forceful. So is the DRO."

You think it is the same thing?

DROs and force:

Let this be understood: Force is employed only if one party refuse to abide by a DRO ruling (let’s say a contractual conflict or violation) that all parties agreed to in advance—the agreement being this: if said party infringes a contractual agreement, having signed on the dotted line, they have *agreed* to submit to a DRO ruling (in the event of dispute) where principles, specifics, penalties--all of it--have been clearly outlined.

This is a core point: There is no coercion evolved to use the services of a DRO, and the only reason you would employ one is for the purpose of rational self-interest. A DRO service truly is for one's protection. It is value driven and utterly voluntary. Period, net sum.

In this case, “consent of the governed” is factually and actually true, and not the floating abstract fairytale that has been handed down to us.

Ok, that’s all I wanted to touch on…for now.

Sharon

Kasper's picture

I'm glad that you have taken on the challenge. For simplicity and structure let's leave out concretes such as eBay for now and limit the debate to the theoretical and practical defence of your idea of Anarchism (DRO's etc) against the concerns I have just listed below. As a suggestion for clarity and making sure these concerns are addressed perhaps you could use them as your objective and outline. Smiling

Thank you

sharon's picture

Kasper, I welcome this invitation and feel inspired to oblige you. I have felt a certain lack of motivation to address a hostile audience and so, naturally, my energy and motivation ebbs. That’s understandable, don’t you think.

I will tend to the matter and elaborate the DRO model at a greater length, but I am doubtful that you may not have read all my comments about DROS and anarchism that has been a scattered debate/discussion on various threads, some of which you may be unaware of. (I think Mr. Perigo may be aware of them all, actually. LOL.)

For now, let me say this: the concern you express is not uncommon; there are tons of people who are worried about this specific issue—this and others issues. Does it stand to reason that DROs, in their eagerness to capture a market, would assuage these issues by making their core principles consistent and objective whereby the violation and infringement of those principles would loose them customers?

Yes, it has been asked of me if there are any instances in reality of an Anarchist society, and I would affirm the positive. More specifically, I would say that there proxy DROs in existence. This is no mystery and even Objectivists know this—but prefer to skirt the issue. Sorry, that's what I think.

Some proxy examples would be: eBay, World of Warcraft, and Amazon.com (As to ebay, it uses reciprocal reporting).

Personally, I don’t use Ebay, but an anarchist friend of mine practically makes his living from it and itemizes these points:

1.Ebay uses positive interactions as its main driver of ratings. The only drive appropriate to crime seems to be lack of negative interactions.

2. Disputes not only contain facts, but acceptable methods of resolution of disagreement.

3. Ebay does not contain provisions for disputes involving anything other than individuals.

4. Ebay disputes have two central authorities tied into the system from the beginning. Ebay & Paypal.

Also, the record is private, unlike ebay ratings. It’s more like a credit report. (You don't have to show it to anyone, but you can't falsify its contents).

AND, consider this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A...

**

This is not an exhaustive presentation, but it is something to chew on.

Sharon

Kasper's picture

On good faith yes. No malice intended.
If you believe that ethics can be acquired from science and objectivity then you haven't demonstrated how that sizes up with your DRO model.

You criticize the upholding of government because it is forceful. So is the DRO. You have not addressed issues such as the "standardized, consistent and objective delivery" of the law under your DRO model. Also countless times it has been requested that you offer a defence to your claim that a DRO is not susceptible to arbitrary laws that will exist by provincial vote that may detrimental to minorities in that province.

You make claims that you are rational and that you're committed to reason in your deliberations. However, I feel that the crunch of your defence for a DRO has simply not been provided. This will cause you to Gasp I know.

Lindsay's post, not matter how much it may misconstrue your idea of anarchism, will have a number points that it raises. You may wish to address all of them like a shopping list 1,2, 3. In places where you feel you have dealt with a certain claim just provide a link.

Matty

Kasper's picture

Dispute this all you like Matty. I strongly recommend you read ITOE as it will give you something concrete and original to dispute. I also think it will clear up your concerns regarding abstract and concrete.

Gravity and stealing whether equal or not I do not wish to trip up into there. Stealing is wrong and gravity does exist. I do think however these are inferred from our knowledge of existence.

NZ is not entirely free. We are pissing on property rights left right and center. Knocking people's houses down, Maori are putting their hands up for the seabeds, taxes etc. NZ fails to protest as they don't understand the liberty and non initiation of force principles. These two are alienable to democratic rule here. My position is that they shouldn't be. You might say that we still have peace and that we should just keep quiet and let the country function and give up upholding these funny ideas. This would mean, as it always does, a rapid increase in the size government and in the number of authoritarian (fascist) laws that govern not only trade but our personal lives too. When is too far? What principles would you use that would be a point of difference from the opposition that harps on about "social responsibility" and "public good" and the "needy".

I did not vote of McCain. I am of the opinion that he would have been a better option for America.

You're secure enough in your beliefs that you're happy to hold them on the grounds which you accept to be arbitrary. That is all well and good Matty but the fact is that you are only able to do that because of those men before you who didn't see such ideas as individual rights and the non initiation of force principle as arbitrary. Hence you are free to believe what ever you like. Am I wrong in thinking that you were open to those premises being challenged?

Kas

Matty Orchard's picture

“The thing that you have overlooked here Matty is that in objectivist theory there is no conflict or severance between the abstract and concrete.”

I don't think I've overlooked that, Kasper. I'm merely disputing it.

“So long as the abstracts are properly formed concepts with direct reference to reality.”

Well this is obviously a very tricky argument we're getting in to but lets start with this: I put to you that the statements “Stealing is wrong” and “Gravity exists” are not as objective as each other. One is a rock solid fact and the other is an opinion that can be justified through logical reasoning. But just because you come to a conclusion through reason doesn't mean your conclusion is a fact.

“Individual rights and freedom are necessary for the peaceful co-existence of individuals in a society.”

I'm surprised you believe that. By your standards is New Zealand really a free society? Are people in NZ (on the whole) co-existing peacefully?

“you vouched for a left wing government expanding junkie, wtf?”

Correct me if I'm wrong but you were for the McCain-Palin ticket wern't you? If yes, wtf yourself.

Thanks for the thoughtful response, Kas. I think the problem here is you think that morality or political positions are 'arbitrary' if not directly based on 'reality.' Reality being scientific fact in this case? Or merely conclusions came to through logical deduction? There's an important difference.

I'm secure enough with myself to not need objective verification of my personal beliefs. They're mine and I can argue them with reference to facts but they're not nececarily categorically true. The same is true for objectivists, in my oh so humble opinion.

Apollo 11 on the Sea of Tranquility...

Marcus's picture

...should shake up the sceptics and bring them to tears! Smiling

This should be a good start!

Bill Sipes's picture

Thanks for the links. I can't wait to chew on these articles. I'm just having a hard time understanding how Objectivism should exclude anarcho-capitalism. Seems that Galt's Gulch is a completely voluntary community.

So far, I completely understand man as a rational creature and as such capitalism is the necessary system for a person to reach their capacity in happiness, productivity, health, ect. I don't understand why the state is seen as anything other than an idea that snowballs with individuals ready to see their prejudices enforced. It is all of the good intentions in the world wrapped up into one ball and inflicted upon the people who are forced at gunpoint to pay for it all. And it always wants to get bigger and better.

This is the nature of government and I am supposed to believe that it is necessary that to protect my rights, I am supposed to surrender jurisdiction to an idea that is most equipped to destroy my rights.

I can't wait to read these articles. This has been a real quandary for me.

Bill

NASA's moon mapping...

Ross Elliot's picture

...Lunar Recce Orbitor has taken pics of the lunar landing sights.

But, I guess those pics could have been faked, too.

Rights?

Ross Elliot's picture

Surely thou doth protest too much?

Who--other than you--will defend your "rights" under anarchism?

You may contend a nice cosy set of rights but if the security force in the next neighborhood sees the situation in a slightly different light then your rights are just an assertion. No?

Of course, if *your* security force is large enough they can defend your rights.

Wonderful.

But that would be equivalent to living in a dreaded state, really, wouldn't it?

Sharon, tell me, if our goal is the most efficacious--not theoretically perfect, mind you-- defence of individual rights, how does anarchism achieve that more practically than minarchism?

I see

Ross Elliot's picture

Sharon, it's you who deifies Rand, not I.

Hell or high water? Do you know how many subjectivists claim that logic and reality themselves are out-of-date rites to which their adherents cleave?

There's no shame in holding certain premises as true; premises based upon logic and reality, as Rand did.

Would you claim that 2 + 2 = 4 is nothing more than a tenet of mathematics? No, you'd identify it as true and progress from there. But since anarchism is a subjectivist dogma, then you may indeed need to shoot it out with your neighbor who asserts that the sum is five.

Ross

sharon's picture

"Anarchism is subjective to the core and therefore one massive assertion."

Very basically, the term Anarchism derives from the Greek “anarchos’, meaning “without rulers.”

So far, how is this necessarily either objective or subjective?

Ross

sharon's picture

"...baby, your attempts to portray Objectivism as a religion, and me a disciple, are just a little rich. Anarchism is subjective to the core and therefore one massive assertion."

It is not I who ascribe to any “ideological tenets” but only to logic and reality. There are no “tenets” in my philosophy as outlined by a philosopher; there is only my own judgment of what I have come to learn from others as filtered through my own intellectual work...with reality and logic as my guide. Anyone who adopts a philosophy and adheres to it come hell or high water—even in the face of inconsistencies and errors—makes it a religion by their own actions (no matter how rational the philosophy.)

Sharon...

Ross Elliot's picture

...baby, your attempts to portray Objectivism as a religion, and me a disciple, are just a little rich. Anarchism is subjective to the core and therefore one massive assertion.

Let's get past that.

Er...excuse me...

sharon's picture

"You and Sharon tend to utilize concepts as exclusive concretes. They are not. Concepts such as freedom and individual rights are not mere concretes such as doing whatever the hell you like only to be curbed by a DRO with rules that differ between province with no objective standardized basis for implementing the law.

Kasper, I will offer you the benefit of the doubt that you are making an honest error in reporting what you believe to be my stand on the issue of ethics.

Let it be understood and clarified: I ascribe to the view that there is a scientific--non supernatural--objectively verifiable code of ethics for human beings.

I do not ascribe to the dictum that anybody can do “whatever the hell they want” if that means trampling over the rights of others.

Mr. Perigo.

sharon's picture

Well, well, I underestimated you. I didn’t know you took a stab at anarchism. You have been mute on the subject during my entire posting time here. Well, I look forward to reading your article.

I would like to address Ross now, except he has nothing substantive to respond to, just a big honking assertion: “Objectivism sez so!”

Waaaaa-waaaa!

Il n’y a pas de quoi

Jeff Perren's picture

De rien, mon ami. C'est mon plaisir.

(Sorry, I'm watching a terrific French film, Bon Voyage.)

Mr. P

Lindsay Perigo's picture

There are several others here (including one by Lindsay Perigo).

Thanks for the reminder. Smiling I've copy/pasted and stickied it here.

No contradiction

Ross Elliot's picture

"This is a very brave and perceptive insight. As a matter of fact, there is a gaping contradiction in Rand’s philosophy and you noted it."

That is nuts. A philosophy with an objectively-based morality requires an objectively-based politics. This couldn't be simpler. It's totally consistent.

This idea that anarchists seem to have that Objectivism goes most of the way but falters at the final hurdle--which is to abolish the state in its entirety--bespeaks a fundamental misunderstanding of objectivity versus subjectivity, especially with regard to rights and morality.

Oist Arguments Against Anarchism

Jeff Perren's picture

I recommend Robert Bidinotto's article, The Contradiction of Anarchism as a first start.

There are several others here (including one by Lindsay Perigo).

Matty

Kasper's picture

Lindsay said: "Speak for your own Obama-worshipping ideological beliefs, Matty. Objectivists' are abstractions based on concretes. Read up on the epistemology if you can tear yourself away from your Headbangers for Obamadinejad seances."

Matty said: What part of that did you want me to address? The only thing I'd pay attention to in that is "Objectivists' are abstractions based on concretes" but you'd have to build a little more on that statement, if you wouldn't mind.

The thing that you have overlooked here Matty is that in objectivist theory there is no conflict or severance between the abstract and concrete. So long as the abstracts are properly formed concepts with direct reference to reality. You can read more about this in Rand's book: Introduction to objectivist epistemology. It's a fantastic book and it blows up all those false little dichotomies in our present culture of thinking such as "it may work in theory but not in practise" or what you posited about abstract knowledge being independent of the facts of reality and (therefor ultimately arbitrary?), to empirical facts such as the moon landing.

You and Sharon tend to utilize concepts as exclusive concretes. They are not. Concepts such as freedom and individual rights are not mere concretes such as doing whatever the hell you like only to be curbed by a DRO with rules that differ between province with no objective standardized basis for implementing the law.

Individual rights and freedom are necessary for the peaceful co-existence of individuals in a society. That is why there needs to be a split between economics and government (you vouched for a left wing government expanding junkie, wtf?). As for Sharon these rights are to be inalienable and defended on a consistent and objective basis throughout the land. Competition between enterprises gives you the wonderful benefit of diversity and prosperity of products and services. This would be a disastrous however if applied to the deliverance of the law which should only exist in the defence of individual liberty. Can you imagine diversity between not only how the law would be applied but which law to apply? Several? or just one? What would be the penalties? etc. Point is that the DRO model was coined by concrete bound freedom lovers with no in depth understanding as to the consistency required by those that apply the law to individuals as to protect their freedoms and deliver just justice. Hence the justification for an inalienable protection of individual liberty which would rest on a central body. If the central body wanted other local bodies in the form of councils or police stations or law courts then they would all report to and be under instruction from the central hub. A run free law system such as the DRO model is an enormous contradiction to the individual liberty concept.

If you want individual liberty. It must protected. It must be protected uniformly, consistently and in a progressively more civilized manner. It shouldn't be dealing with individual by arms.

A real knee-slapper

sharon's picture

By all means, Gregster, address any question and fill any gaps that Bill might point out. Argue the case for Objectivism! Let’s sit back and watch.

Oi Sharia, he said "great minds"

gregster's picture

"if the great minds of SOLO can point to things to read and non-personalized arguments to help me sort this out, I would be very grateful.

Bill

sharon's picture

"I was shuttled to most of my beliefs by reading Ayn Rand but I am having a hard time trying to understand her belief that government is necessary. She never seemed to have much positive to say for government and I am having a hard time distilling what she writes about anarchism without contradiction."

This is a very brave and perceptive insight. As a matter of fact, there is a gaping contradiction in Rand’s philosophy and you noted it.

Answers to your questions? I would be happy to oblige your request—unless you find me boring. ;]

Do you have specific questions? I would be happy to answer, short of a "personalized" sort.

Late in the game.

Bill Sipes's picture

I know that I am late in the game but this is puzzling me. I usually enjoy just lurking but sometimes the discussions about anarchy get personal and boring and I quit reading 15 replies in, while everyone is still in chest puffing stages of discussion.

I was shuttled to most of my beliefs by reading Ayn Rand but I am having a hard time trying to understand her belief that government is necessary. She never seemed to have much positive to say for government and I am having a hard time distilling what she writes about anarchism without contradiction. From what I can gather, there seems to be a breakdown between Rand and Rothbard that could be bringing personal issues to this table. It seems to me that the ball would be in Rand's court to prove that it is necessary.

I study Objectivism to great delight and have some understanding of market anarchism and DRO's. Please, if the great minds of SOLO can point to things to read and non-personalized arguments to help me sort this out, I would be very grateful.

Bill Sipes

It was a great episode, the

AShortt's picture

It was a great episode, the show is always worth watching.
__________________________

"is a critical attitude which systematically questions the notion that absolute knowledge and certainty are possible, either in general or in particular fields."
__________________________

Skepticism wastes time examining the impossible (an absolute absolute) like atheists mess about trying to prove that something which isn't there...isn't there.

Demonstration

atlascott's picture

"There was no point to it, Scott."

Yeah, I know, Sharon. It was my way of poking fun at a parallel being drawn between you and Matty.

You are a freedom-loving anarchist. We differ on a few things, but I do not doubt that you have individual liberty placed as a core value in your hierarchy.

Matty is a comedian and nice guy. He supports Obama. I disagree with Matty in his support and defense of Obama VASTLY more than I have any dispute with your positions.

I do not find either of you objectionable as people, though mistaken on some issues.

I do not know how any comparison of concepts leads to any equivalence between the two of you.

That's all.

Heh

Matty Orchard's picture

Nice Scott, you win by technicality. I should have said 'substantive' opinions I guess.

Lack of talent at hand...

sharon's picture

There was no point to it, Scott. It was Mr. Perigo's attempt at a la Mark Twain wit by linking me and Matty together anchored to nothing from which drollness or humor could have sprung.

Easy

atlascott's picture

"Can you name 3 similarities?"

Sure. Human beings. Have hair. And eyes.

"Let me qualify that: They have to be specific verifiable beliefs."

Dang it! Okay. Both believe the world is round-ish, not flat. Both believe that George Bush was a right turd. Both believe...er...that quality of music is subjective.

Ha!

Not sure what this proves.

Not much to say

Matty Orchard's picture

"Speak for your own Obama-worshipping ideological beliefs, Matty. Objectivists' are abstractions based on concretes. Read up on the epistemology if you can tear yourself away from your Headbangers for Obamadinejad seances."

What part of that did you want me to address? The only thing I'd pay attention to in that is "Objectivists' are abstractions based on concretes" but you'd have to build a little more on that statement, if you wouldn't mind.

Glenn - Its a sad world that some people are permitted to vote

Sandi's picture

One Christian man at toastmasters this evening referred to the moon landing as a hoax and 2 other men both voiced their support. Of course they are also Christian, so there is no great surprise of the absence of reason between the lot of them.

Mr. Perigo.

sharon's picture

"Contrary to what you both think, there's no difference between you and Sharon."

That’s a large brush you are painting me with, sir—and Matty as well. But let me ask you, in what regard are we so similar? In music tastes or epistemological approaches? What? Speak up. You don't answer Matty.

Easy!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Can you name 3 similarities? Let me qualify that: They have to be specific verifiable beliefs. 'Both Matty and Sharon believe the quality of music is subjective' would be a valid example.

Indeed it would, and that's no accident. But you should address this first:

Speak for your own Obama-worshipping ideological beliefs, Matty. Objectivists' are abstractions based on concretes. Read up on the epistemology if you can tear yourself away from your Headbangers for Obamadinejad seances.

Long time no talk

Matty Orchard's picture

"Contrary to what you both think, there's no difference between you and Sharon."

Can you name 3 similarities? Let me qualify that: They have to be specific verifiable beliefs. 'Both Matty and Sharon believe the quality of music is subjective' would be a valid example.

'Both Matty and Sharon are cunts.' would be an invalid one…

Goodness Me!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I think there’s a world of difference between an attachment to certain ideological beliefs that are at the end of the day based on the abstract and someone like a moon landing conspiracy theorist.

Speak for your own Obama-worshipping ideological beliefs, Matty. Objectivists' are abstractions based on concretes. Read up on the epistemology if you can tear yourself away from your Headbangers for Obamadinejad seances. Contrary to what you both think, there's no difference between you and Sharon. You and she should get married, in fact.

Skeptics continued

Matty Orchard's picture

Thanks for the definition Jeff but I was thinking more along the lines of the ‘ordinary’ skeptics:

“Ordinary skeptics doubt the miraculous claims of religions, the claims of alien abductions, the claims of psychoanalysis, etc. But they do not necessarily doubt that certainty or knowledge is possible. Nor do they doubt these things because of systematic arguments that undermine all knowledge claims.”

When I think of the word Skeptic I think of someone who applies critical, scientific analyses to seemingly outlandish claims. It’s the definition which I believe comes 1st to most people’s minds when they hear the word and I like to think such a disposition is broadly viewed as a positive one. Moon walk deniers don’t deserve the label.

As to your point Sharon, I would say most people can be guilty of being overly attached to pre conceived conclusions, Objectivists (and admittedly my self) included. But I think there’s a world of difference between an attachment to certain ideological beliefs that are at the end of the day based on the abstract and someone like a moon landing conspiracy theorist.

Theories like these are (as I’m sure the Myth Busters demonstrate I’ll be watching this evening) can be scientifically debunked. I don’t think there’s much of a comparison to be made

Sharon...

Ross Elliot's picture

...why don't you explain how your anarchism fits with Objectivism's definition of capitalism.

Argue the definition if you like, but it doesn't change the fact that Objectivists distance themselves from anarchism precisely because it is not consistent with Objectivist politics.

more effects, no arguments

sharon's picture

"Objectivists subscribe to capitalism. Rand defined capitalism as the system that recognises and protects individual rights. That's why Objectivists reject anarchism.”

The anarchism I ascribe to fully recognizes the rights of the individual and assigns no special rights to an aggregate of people calling themselves “The Government.”

"Whatever anarchism is, it sure ain't capitalism, and therefore not something with which Objectivists can agree."

This is asserted and not argued for. Why would anarchism be incompatible with capitalism when I have gone to great lengths to argue for DROs? After all, I am a Market Anarchist.

"Objectivist rejection of anarchism is perfectly consistent with the tenets of the philosophy."

Hmmm, the tenets. Yes, I know. This speaks to the ideological allegiance I spoke of—one eye on Rand and the other on reality…and that is being generous on my part.

Jameson

sharon's picture

What do you think my postion is on 9/11 that makes me a barking-mad conspiracy theorist?

My views on the Iraq war are not a special category of a lunatic fringe. They are, in fact, perfectly aligned with large sections of the American public (and beyond) and of many political stripes. The war was largely protested among a great mass--and cross fires among a bevy of politicians, writers, commentaries and essayists took to fighting and criticizing that war too. So I hardly think you can summarily paint me as a "conspiracy theorist."

I truly believe you speak more for effect than meaning.

Thanks for that thorough definition, Jeff

Jameson's picture

... and that marvelously succinct retort, Ross. Smiling

Oh, Sharon - but you are a barking-mad conspiracy theorist - starting with 9/11 and the the war in Iraq.

Sharon...

Ross Elliot's picture

...you're incorrect.

"The issues regarding a centralized government and the anarchist philosophy is the perfect example of standard-issued Objectivists tossing out arguments and facts to cling to ideological allegiance and purity."

Objectivists subscribe to capitalism. Rand defined capitalism as the system that recognises and protects individual rights. That's why Objectivists reject anarchism. Whatever anarchism is, it sure ain't capitalism, and therefore not something with which Objectivists can agree.

Objectivist rejection of anarchism is perfectly consistent with the tenets of the philosophy. What is *not* consistent is the assertion by anarchists that they are advocates of capitalism.

Skepticism Defined

Jeff Perren's picture

Philosophical skepticism "is a critical attitude which systematically questions the notion that absolute knowledge and certainty are possible, either in general or in particular fields. Philosophical skepticism is opposed to philosophical dogmatism, which maintains that a certain set of positive statements are authoritative, absolutely certain and true.

Philosophical skepticism should be distinguished from ordinary skepticism, where doubts are raised against certain beliefs or types of beliefs because the evidence for the particular belief or type of belief is weak or lacking. Ordinary skeptics are not credulous or gullible. They don't take things on trust, but must see the evidence before believing. Ordinary skeptics doubt the miraculous claims of religions, the claims of alien abductions, the claims of psychoanalysis, etc. But they do not necessarily doubt that certainty or knowledge is possible. Nor do they doubt these things because of systematic arguments that undermine all knowledge claims.

On the other hand, philosophical skeptics can be quite gullible. Most of what we know about ancient philosophical skepticism comes from Sextus Empiricus, who flourished around the year 200, and who believed, among other things, that some animals bypass fertilization in reproduction and originate in fire, fermented wine, mud, slime, donkeys, cabbage, fruit, and putrefied animals.

Philosophical skepticism is very ancient. For example, the sophist Gorgias (483-378 BCE) claimed that nothing exists or if something exists, it cannot be known, or if something does exist and can be known, it cannot be communicated. Gorgias, however, is known primarily as a Sophist rather than as a philosophical skeptic. Pyrrho (c. 360-c.270 BCE) is generally considered the first philosophical skeptic in western philosophy. Little is known of Pyrrho or his followers, or of the next big names in the history of skepticism, Arcesilaus (ca. 316-241 BCE) and Carneades (214-270 BCE), each of whom headed the Academy founded by Plato. The first group of philosophical skeptics are known as Pyrrhonists, the latter are known as the Academics. Neither the Pyrrhonists nor the Academics seem to have advocated the kind of nihilism Gorgias maintained.

Other sophists can also be seen as philosophical skeptics. For example, Protagoras (480-411 BCE) said that "Man is the measure of all things." This statement is usually interpreted to mean that there are no absolute standards or values and that each person is the standard of truth in all things. When applied to moral rules, this view is known as moral relativism, a type of philosophical skepticism that denies there are any absolute moral values.

Gorgias's skepticism was based upon his belief that all knowledge originates in sense experience and sense experience varies from person to person, moment to moment. His view might be called sensory Skepticism, the philosophical position that we cannot have absolute certainty about anything that is based solely on sense experience. Throughout the history of philosophy, arguments demonstrating the unreliability of sense experience have flourished, especially among dogmatists such as Plato and Descartes. One common argument is that what we perceive via the senses cannot be a reliable guide as to what is really beyond those appearances. The materialist Democritus (460-370 BCE), a contemporary of Gorgias and not generally considered a philosophical skeptic, made such an argument."

Delete

sharon's picture

Delete

LOL

sharon's picture

"That descriptor doesn't describe any Objectivist I know... but it certainly befits the odd irrational anarchist around these parts."

Come on, Jameson, scratch that dome real hard and think, man, think! The issues regarding a centralized government and the anarchist philosophy is the perfect example of standard-issued Objectivists tossing out arguments and facts to cling to ideological allegiance and purity.

Jameson

sharon's picture

"A better description for them is barking-mad conspiracy theorists.

I think one of them bit Sharon."

But I don’t ascribe to any conspiracy theories.

Tend to agree with you, Fruit-Trees

Jameson's picture

A better description for them is barking-mad conspiracy theorists.

I think one of them bit Sharon.

Jeez, take a happy pill, Sharon...

Jameson's picture

... put us all out of your misery. : /

That descriptor doesn't describe any Objectivist I know... but it certainly befits the odd irrational anarchist around these parts.

The Mind shut-down

sharon's picture

“They have pre conceived conclusions and no amount of logical argument can convert them.”

By this description or standard, many Objectivists would fall into this category on a vast array of subjects.

Doncha' think, Matty?

One thing...

Matty Orchard's picture

Can we stop referring to these people as 'skeptics'?

I know technically it's a correct description because they're skeptical towards the moon landing but When I think of the word 'skeptic' I think of someone who demands scientific evidence for any given claim.

These people don't care about real critical thinking the way the mythbusters do. They have pre conceived conclusions and no amount of logical argument can convert them. They're schmucks and they don't deserve any title more distinguished than that.

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