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Skeptical Approaches to the Occult

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.paranet.skeptic,sci.skeptic,alt.magick
From: flufwikn 
Subject: Skeptical Approaches to the Occult 
Date: Fri, 17 Oct 2003 23:48:20 GMT

50031017 viii om

RE skepticism applied within occult usenet (/internet) forums

"Farside"  in alt.magick:
#> I'm under the impression 'SI Skeptic' is in reference to the
#> publication Skeptical Inquirer.  I've never read that publication 
#> nor have I spent significant time on its website so I don't know 
#> much about that organization.  My favorites are Robert Carrol's 
#> Skeptic's Dictionary website, James Randi's JREF website, and 
#> Stephen Barrett's Quackwatch.

thanks for the references. mostly I've seen Martin Gardiner's and 
Asimov's old material (maybe one of MGardiner's new books on 
pseudo-science, and one or two issues of The Skeptical Inquirer, 
with which he is or was associated and which I heartily recommend).
there's a about which you're speaking.

"Tom" :
# There are strong similarities.  You'd enjoy the magazine.


#> Fr. A.o.C. may think he's seen a skeptic as developed as
#> I am on this newsgroup  before, but I think he's mistaken.
# Well, we'll see.

are there levels of development for skeptics? like magic users
in role-playing games? 

	"I'm a 16th Level Skeptic with a Pencil
	 of Disillusionment! What you got, boyo?!" ;>

#> I've even searched the history of alt.magick on Google to 
#> check.  I couldn't find a single skeptic engaging this  
#> group specifically, just some typical cross-posted 
#> cut&pastes.

dunno what you mean. many of the regulars have applied very
strict skeptical inquiries to claims made in alt.magick, and
some of these discussions have been cross-posted to sci.skeptic.
realistically it intersects where specific ideologies or practice
are being analyzed from physicalist and literal paradigms. Tom,
Josh, Amanda, sri catyananda, gnome, I and others have entertained 
all manner of discussion here from very challenging perspectives 
through the years. Tom has even garnered a reputation for being 
anti-arcane at times (;>), when people fail to understand his 
motivations and interests. their loss, I say.

# They tend to come and go.  There have never been that many.  
# Of course, there's always me, but then again, I'm not a very 
# typical skeptic, in the sense you probably mean by the term.

in that sense, probably few hang around these paranormal groups.
the issue quickly becomes what level of skepticism is rational
to maintain given a familiarity with the subject matter. at a
basic level, all philosophic challenges are valuable, and beyond
this, challenges to outrageous or unusual phenomenal claims are
of course important. but certain practical axioms are important
to move discussion along else no knowledge is possible to attain
and it serves only to waste all of our time with quibbling. 

#> And since I value Wikipedia over any skeptic site, I plan on
#> making mincemeat of any flummerous fool dumb enough to
#> take my bait to defend his cherished superstitious notions.


# Again, we'll see.  You might be surprised at the kind of 
# people you encounter here. Then again, maybe you won't.

competition for skepticism? my ideal for it isn't cynical but
indwelling to the knowledge set being discussed, therefore
shifting with assent based on practical and coincident theory.

typically those who IDENTIFIED themselves as "skeptics" with
whom I've discussed occult topics (that is: alchemy, divination
and magic) were often ignorant of the history and theory and 
kept themselves that way by virtue of challenges to base-level
material without undertaking for themselves a practical and
thorough investigation. i.e. they weren't skeptics in the big
sense of wanting to *see* everything (which I value), but they
were skeptics in the sense that they wished to *dispute*
everything (which I equate to cynicism as it becomes a primary
activity on their part in their investigation/exploration of
the topic and ignores or avoids accepting base-level knowledge).


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