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Connor replied the topic: Re: Riddle's Repository of Recollection

What is peace? How does a Jedi live in peace?

There is no emotion; there is peace. Such a difficult line to come to terms with. We all question it. We all say: “but…” And, then we make up a reason to get around it. Interpretation. We say that language is about communication (which it is), and then we vomit onto the page something that isn’t inter-personal communication, but intra-personal communication. Within us. Wrestling with these ideas that peace can only be found without emotion. I liken this to Liberal Christianity versus Fundamentalism. Some people say that interpreting the Bible as a metaphor is more important; others say that following the verbage at face value is more important.

To be honest, I wouldn’t say that one way is better than another. They both have their good ideas and they both have their disadvantages. I won’t get into them, but I will get into the pros and cons of interpreting the code versus taking it at face value. The pros of face value aren’t very many other than this: you are treating the code as sacred, and that provides a basis for all Jedi to work from. They would see the code as something to admire and revere. And, there would be continuity. The cons: the code was written for the fiction, without the guidance of Lucas (except for final approval) and without the intention of religious observance. So what? It’s the JEDI CODE, right? Wrong. I have a problem with taking anything face value. Why? Because sacred means it would have to be timeless. From the gods.

But, we know for a FACT that the Jedi Code is not timeless. It is specific to our cause. Therefore: it should be looked at critically by those who are scholars in it. After studying the five lines (in this case, four) for 10 years, I consider myself a scholar. I choose to take an interpretive stance on the code. It IS part of our Lore, so it should be included and important. But, it should be edited to match our current cause and behavioral ideology. I will not spend anymore time, though, talking about my interpretation or edit. I just wanted you guys to understand that I don’t approach the code from a traditional standpoint.

On to the topic at hand. What IS peace?

Peace is a river, as the Taoist might postulate. Many people, incorrectly, assume that peace is a pool, stagnant water. Many meditation programs say that peace is in stillness. But, I say, peace is achieved in consistent movement. Peace is a LIE. Our misconception of peace is a LIE. There is only passion. There is only movement. Peace is not a lie, only how we interpret peace is. Yoda said it himself: “Always in motion the future is…” We can never be sure of the next moment. Peace that is unmovable is not peace. It is not possible. Peace is a river. It is the flowing of the water molecules. Mixing in rock. Letting rocks sink. Letting fish swim. Some fight against it, but the river keeps flowing.

Do you get my point? Peace is the idea that consistent movement (think Tai Chi) is the strongest of all foundations. We should be rocks in the chaos.

How does a Jedi live in Peace, then?

A Jedi lives with this peace by recognizing the truth of reality. He does not lie to himself, saying: “If only I could just sit here in peace my whole life, nothing would change; nothing on the outside can affect me. I am one with the Universe.” You are lying to yourself. The Universe WILL impact you. You will die. A good way to get over that fear is to just become a part of the Universe and learn to live with your impermanence. The moment that happens, you have become real. You CAN be at peace by accepting chaos and being a rock in the harsh winds.

A Jedi lives in peace by controlling the chaos. He becomes one with the Force movement. Qui-Gon was a master at this. He was one with the chaos around him.

How do I live in peace?

I let myself go. I understand that I must be selfish to survive. I understand that to breathe, I have to want to breathe. Desire is part of me. And, through that, I find peace. I simply know that I should control the chaos around me, rather than foolishly say that it cannot and does not affect me.

House Rules: The only rules are Paradox, Humor, and Change.
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Connor replied the topic: Re: Riddle's Repository of Recollection

Define, in your own words, what knowledge is. Discuss some ways a Jedi can use the Force to gain knowledge. And finally, discuss whether or not you feel all knowledge is necessary, why or why not?
Knowledge is experience and research, combined. It is learning by doing. Learning by living. Learning by reading and applying. Knowledge is not simply being intelligent. I am intelligent, but do I have the KNOWLEDGE for a particular subject? I don't know. Depends on the subject. The Jedi Path is one of specific skill sets defined by by the individual Jedi. Some have martial training, others do not. Some have training in healing, some are doctors. The philosophy, while binding us together, still is a very free concept in the real of General Jedi. So, when we are defining knowledge, we have to understand that we aren't talking about something standardized like knowledge of Physics or of Math. Rather, we are talking about an arbitrary ideal. An interpretative thing. Understandably, this ruffles the feathers of many jedi purists who believe that we should be completely standardized. YES, we should. But, in realms of minimums, not specializations. There will be Jedi philosophically who will never be able to have the physical experience of other Jedi. Some Jedi just aren't smart people, and they should be accepted as well. Why? Because the Jedi aren't about turning away people for not being good enough; that's elitist. They're about experiencing the present and just doing the best we can to fulfill what we feel is our duty to the Universe.

If I am going to be a Jedi, then I have to reason with myself as to WHY I want to gain the knowledge I want. I have to have a good reason too. What is the reason? Simple: Want, desire, creed. Credo in unum Force, if you will. I have the convictions of desire in me to believe in the Force. It's just a part of who I am. I have no need for a reason beyond that. But, Knowledge is KNOWING why we do what we do. I want to believe in the Force, so I do. I find ways to prove it exists. I have been a Jedi for 10 years. I have integrated it into my life. But, the second I forget why I became a Jedi. The second I think I am better than somebody else: I lose. In life, there is only better in specific skills, not philosophies. Some are more well thought out, but that doesn't make them any more valid. What does make them more valid is a willingness to accept the faults of the philosophy as meaningless and arbitrary as the pluses.

A Jedi is simply accepting his truth and applying it. Knowing the Force. Knowing the physical arts. Just knowing this is a part of them, and DOING it.

The Force CAN help one find this Knowledge. The Force, when developed, provides focus. Makes us stronger. And, we develop the Force by sharpening our attention to it. Some people say: "Oh yes, I can hear God because I listen with my heart." The similar thing is true with the Force. We can find knowledge by listening to the Force with our senses. We can feel the Force flowing, and we can learn from it. Qui-Gon said, erroneously, that we can listen to the will of the Force through midichlorians. Eh. They don't exist. But, he does have a point. You cannot hear through feeling. But, you can EXPERIENCE and listen to the experience with your brain. Analyze. Tear apart. Learn. Grow. Be the fullest human you can be, and you will have succeeded.

Is knowledge necessary?

To a Jedi? Yes.

We pledge ourselves to the service of the Universal Perspective. We want the universe to be better, for us and for others. We owe a debt to the Universe that would have us, so we do the best we can to ensure the survival and development of this Universe.

Sounds like it requires knowledge to me! haha.

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Connor replied the topic: Re: Riddle's Repository of Recollection

What is passion? What effect does passion have in our lives? How does a Jedi balance passion with serenity?

I really never liked this line until I read the Code courses interpretation of it. For a while, I had engendered a kind of distaste for the suppression of experience. Fortuitously, I have found an interpretation I can accept (other than my own). Passion does not refer to the actions caused by passion. Passion refers to suffering. In fact, I believe the word passion derives from the greek word for suffering. I believe that the Passion we feel as people is important to acknowledge. Why? Because the suppression of the human experience is dull. We should all make the most of our limited time on the planet. The Buddhists believe, in my opinion foolishly, that the soul should seek to be at the state of “peace” in all eternity, that suffering is the bane of our lives. It makes us more human and keeps us in the rebirth cycle. The Taoists believe that acting outside the ideals of being perfectly in tune with nature make us imperfect and regard human experience as secondary to divine inspiration.

I disagree. I believe that the Force is not something that one has to leave behind human experience and joy to master. Being a Jedi means you will have conflict with your passions. How can we love what we do for a living and not be passionate about it? I guess the solution lies in the questioning. We should test the code! See if it works. Ok, I will subordinate my desires. I will not sing for a week (I am a voice major). What has happened? I want to sing. I don’t like not singing. My passions have diminished and I am not happy. Am I serene? No. So.. what does this mean? That THIS form of passion is NOT what the code is talking about. In order for the code to work, DOING the left side of the code means that the right side will naturally follow. In order to find serenity, what must I do?

I have to understand what Serenity is. Serenity, for me, is calmness; it is a constant speed of water. It is not zero. It is not a still bed… it is a flowing river. It is not a pond… it is a rapids. Constant. True. What does passion, therefore mean to me? It means that it must be the opposite of a constant flow. That must mean that it is chaos. It is truth, desire, gritty. It is experiencing the unexpected. It means that it is following your wants even if they contradict with the peacefulness of the world, sacrificing duty for personal gain.

A Jedi balances Passion with Serenity by understanding how they work in our lives. If we KNOW and understand how serenity works, then we can balance it with passion. Therefore, we must always be in pursuit of understanding. This is a reference to the second line of the code. We must also be rocks in the fields of chaos. If we know chaos, then it should bend around us.

From Project Jedi:

“The Jedi do not want to be governed by self-interest. Passion is the epitome of self-interest. “I want…” “I feel…” etc. These are personal desires. In living the Jedi way, these ideals will misdirect the user into serving only what they want, not what the “greater” purpose is. It’s like when Anikan kills those younglings to “eventually” save Padme… Yeah, maybe you understand this line more. And, you probably also have heard people that commit travesties out of perceived “love”. In terms of chaos and harmony: The Jedi are a rigid group. But, in the Realist world, this is individual. This line is most likely talking about clarity of reality and the Jedi need to “see” everything in order.”

Remember! It is ok to WANT. It is not ok to misunderstand your power. You MUST have knowledge of your passions. You should understand the power of your actions and take responsibility! Be responsible. It’s all about being aware with your emotions. You can have passions for music. That’s ok because it is positive and healing to the world. But, it is not ok to dedicate your existence to making people listen to your music who may not want to… that’s unhealthy for you and others.

Even the simplest thing could be toxic.

I bet if you KNEW your actions were toxic, you might change them. Maybe if you are a Darkie, that’s not true.

House Rules: The only rules are Paradox, Humor, and Change.
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Connor replied the topic: Re: Riddle's Repository of Recollection

Death, eh?

I'm sorry if this seems contrary to the Code, but I believe the line means: you die. You become one with the Force.

That's that. Very simple.

Your heart stops beating. Your soul leaves your body.

I have long ago learned that I cannot understand post-death activity. And, I believe it is foolish to deal with it. Let the mystery be a mystery. A Jedi should not focus on death, he/she should focus on becoming one with the Force now and service and action.

Seems to me, that's what the last line means.

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Connor replied the topic: Re: Riddle's Repository of Recollection

Ally asked me about Death meaning change.

I agree with this.

When we consider "There is no Change; there is the Force", though.. haha. I don't feel like that's true at ALL. Change is everywhere. But, if you get a large enough view, there is just a Universe. You can be certain you will die. You can be certain you will grow. You can be certain you must eat. There are laws, there are rules, there are things in the universe that just are. A Jedi should respect this certainty.

If we consider the balance code (which I love)
Death; yet the Force.

If we say:

Change; yet the Force.

I think this is a fairly strong argument I already made, but adds just a bit:

There ARE things in the Universe you can change. But, every change you make is part of the Force. You are powerless to change physics. You can only discover more about it.

You cannot overcome death, but you can spend your life doing everything you can to live a full life.

House Rules: The only rules are Paradox, Humor, and Change.
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Connor replied the topic: Re: Riddle's Repository of Recollection

The Parable of the Hill.

There was a time when Mark would walk up a hill every day to class. He would trudge through wind and bitter cold and the hottest of days to reach his destination. He could leave late and run the hill. He could leave early and meditate on the hill. Mark knew that hill better than anybody, and there was nothing that would stop him from enjoying the challenge of walking the hill. One day, though, there was a light rain in the area.

He woke.

He went to the hill and started to climb. What didn't he notice? The ground beneath his feet, neatly coated with rain, churning to mush and mud, has forced Mark to lose traction.

He falls.

The conditions above ground never stopped him, but the ground could.

When you focus too much on the elements, do not forget that the ground is the true foundation. No pun intended

House Rules: The only rules are Paradox, Humor, and Change.
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Connor replied the topic: Re: Riddle's Repository of Recollection

Quote:
Protagonist about to be killed by a sneak attack: "Did your master order you to do that too? None of you can make a simply decision on your own. It always has to be bound by an order, or an ideal...

Tell me, is this something you decided on your own?"

Killer: "Shut up, shut up, shut up. We exist to do our master's bidding! To live by ideals bigger than ourselves... That is what it means to be an Angeloid (insert Jedi if you will). WHY ARE YOU LOOKING AT ME AS IF YOU PITY ME? Just shut up and die!"


Mmmm. This is a good case of: "I was just following orders". Jedi around here and in the forums/facebook seem to believe that following codes and ideals are good. That serving to serve is good.

But, I say to you: Do not allow ANYTHING to come before the self. True compassion lies in the heart, beyond dogma or creed.

Memorize codes. Practice the speeches you vomit. Train till you become a killing machine. But, at the end of the day, remember that beyond being a Jedi, you are just a (wo)man. You are not a machine of kindness. To lose your humanity means to give in to your subservient nature. Jedi want masters. Jedi want rules. Jedi want jobs and training. But, they don't want to DO any of it. They just want to say they do. Who has time for that? Giving your life up to some nonexistent ideal is not noble: it's wasteful.

Embrace life for what it is: meaningless and the only thing you've got. Save people because you can. MAKE yourself stronger to help those around you, so when the opportunity presents itself, you do not fail.

House Rules: The only rules are Paradox, Humor, and Change.
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Connor replied the topic: Re: Riddle's Repository of Recollection

"To achieve enlightenment is to die prematurely" - David Edge.

From the standpoint of the end: last things in life and in the universe, Anti-Buddhism is the belief of self-empowerment; this means that whereas Buddhism advocates acceptance of death, anti-Buddhism is the idea that WHILE accepting death is important, accepting the selfishness of the human existence is important as well.

It starts with suffering, as though there is nothing to life but suffering; and it blames desire as responsible for suffering, as though desire is always the cause of suffering and nothing more; from these two premises it builds up a philosophy and a life world view of negativism; so that the ultimate end to be aspired after and worked for is Nirvana, which however not officially defined is known in its etymology as like the candle flame extinguished by a gust of wind.
That is the Buddhism of the elitists, namely, concept persons like monks -- although they are monks for the housing and bread just like in every religious asylum, concept persons who think so as to be divorced from the real world of everyday people, humans who put a lot of importance in the world perceived by the eye, ear, nose, tongue, fingers, and other avenues whereby man knows life and the universe.

Anti-Buddhism, on the other hand, is not this unhealthy. Many people think that Buddhism is about meditating and being "at peace". But, peace is a lie. When we put away our feelings of desire in favor of service and selflessness, we become less healthy. We are not accepting and joining with part of ourselves. We are alienating that which makes us human. Anti-Buddhism, just a term, not a label, is the idea that we should find peace through self-indulgence and self-empowerment. The more you enjoy a full life, the more you will be able to let it go at the end. The issue comes when people leave the Buddhist realm of acceptance and want more than life can give. This is Anti-Buddhism to the extreme, and manifests itself in religions like Christianity with promises of an afterlife. This leaves people lying to themselves, and is as EQUALLY unhealthy as not accepting part of the self.

Buddhists who are concept people like monks and supposedly scholarly Buddhists think life and the universe is best returned to the point before the big bang, therefore a universe and matter and energy never having evolved into what life and the universe today is. What they fail to note is that we ARE here... so, why try and create an ideal that does not exist? Anti-Buddhism is just that: against falling into a premature death, and actually living life.

One does not profess to "be" an Anti-Buddhist. That's just stupid, like this article I've just written.

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Connor replied the topic: Re: Riddle's Repository of Recollection

This post changed the way I view the WORLD. It made a huge difference in my learning.

This post is a REPOST from the 600 Club Forum. Proper citation is at the bottom.

Quote:
There are many reasons for the popularity of paranormal beliefs in the United States today, including: (1) the irresponsibility of the mass media, who exploit the public taste for nonsense, (2) the irrationality of the American world-view, which supports such unsupportable claims as life after death and the efficacy of the polygraph, and (3) the ineffectiveness of public education, which generally fails to teach students the essential skills of critical thinking. As a college professor, I am especially concerned with this third problem. Most of the freshman and sophomore students in my classes simply do not know how to draw reasonable conclusions from the evidence. At most, they've been taught in high school what to think; few of them know how to think.

In an attempt to remedy this problem at my college, I've developed an elective course called “Anthropology and the Paranormal.” The course examines the complete range of paranormal beliefs in contemporary American culture, from precognition and psychokinesis to channeling and cryptozoology and everything between and beyond, including astrology, UFO's and creationism. I teach the students very little about anthropological theories and even less about anthropological terminology. Instead, I try to communicate the essence of the anthropological perspective, by teaching them, indirectly, what the scientific method is all about. I do so by teaching them how to evaluate evidence. I give them six simple rules to follow when considering any claim, and then show them how to apply those six rules to the examination of any paranormal claim.

The six rules of evidential reasoning are my own distillation and simplification of the scientific method. To make it easier for students to remember these half-dozen guidelines, I've coined an acronym for them. Ignoring the vowels, the letters in the word “FiLCHeRS” stand for the rules of Falsifiability, Logic, Comprehensiveness, Honesty, Replicability and Sufficiency. Apply these six rules to the evidence offered for any claim , I tell my students, and no one will ever be able to sneak up on you and steal your belief. You'll be filch-proof.

Falsifiability

It must be possible to conceive of evidence that would prove the claim false.

It may sound paradoxical, but in order for any claim to be true, it must be falsifiable. The rule of falsifiability is a guarantee that if the claim is false, the evidence will prove it false; and if the claim is true, the evidence will not disprove it (in which case the claim can be tentatively accepted as true until such time as evidence is brought forth that does disprove it). The rule of falsifiability, in short, says that the evidence must matter, and as such it is the first and most important and most fundamental rule of evidential reasoning.

The rule of falsifiability is essential for this reason: If nothing conceivable could ever disprove the claim, then the evidence that does exist would not matter; it would be pointless to even examine the evidence, because the conclusion is already known - the claim is invulnerable to any possible evidence. This would not mean, however, that the claim is true; instead it would mean that the claim is meaningless. This is so because it is impossible - logically impossible - for any claim to be true no matter what. For every true claim you can always conceive of evidence that would make the claim untrue - in other words, again, every true claim is falsifiable.

For example, the true claim that the life span of human beings is less than 200 years is falsifiable; it would be falsified if a single human being were to live to be 200 years old. Similarly, the true claim that water freezes at 32 degrees F. is falsifiable; it would be falsified if water were to freeze at, say, 34 degrees F. Each of these claims is firmly established as scientific “fact”, and we do not expect either claim ever to be falsified; however, the point is that either could be. Any claim that could not be falsified would be devoid of any propositional content; that is, it would not be making a factual assertion- it would instead be making an emotive statement, a declaration of the way the claimant feels about the world. Nonfalsifiable claims do communicate information, but what they describe is the claimant's value orientation. They communicate nothing whatsoever of a factual nature, and hence are neither true nor false. Nonfalsifiable statements are proportionally vacuous.

There are two principal ways in which the rule of falsifiability can be violated - two ways, in other words, of making nonfalsifiable claims. The first variety of nonfalsifiable statements is the undeclared claim: a statement that is so broad or vague that it lacks any propositional content. The undeclared claim is basically unintelligible and consequently meaningless. Consider, for example, the claim that crystal therapists can use pieces of quartz to restore balance and harmony to a person's spiritual energy? What does it mean to have unbalanced spiritual energy? How is the condition recognized and diagnosed? What evidence would prove that someone's unbalanced spiritual energy had been - or had not been - balanced by the application of crystal therapy? Most New Age wonders, in fact, consist of similarly undeclared claims that dissolve completely when exposed to the solvent of rationality.

The undeclared claim has the advantage that virtually any evidence that could be adduced could be interpreted as congruent with the claim, and for that reason it is especially popular among paranormalists who claim precognitive powers. Jeanne Dixon, for example, predicted that 1987 would be a year “filled with changes” for Caroline Kennedy. Dixon also predicted that Jack Kemp would “face major disagreements with the rest of his party” in 1987 and that “world-wide drug terror” would be “unleashed by narcotics czars” in the same year. She further revealed that Dan Rather “may (or may not) be hospitalized” in 1988, and that Whitney Houston's “greatest problem” in 1986 would be balancing her personal life against her career.” The undeclared claim boils down to a statement that can be translated as “Whatever will be, will be.”

The second variety of nonfalsifiable statements, which is even more popular among paranormalists, involves the use of the multiple out, that is, an inexhaustible series of excuses intended to explain away the evidence that would seem to falsify the claim. Creationists, for example, claim that the universe is no more than 10,000 years old. They do so despite the fact that we can observe stars that are billions of light-years from the earth, which means that the light must have left those stars billions of years ago, and which proves that the universe must be billions of years old. How then do the creationists respond to this falsification of their claim? By suggesting that God must have created the light already on the way from those distant stars at the moment of creation 10,000 years ago. No conceivable piece of evidence, of course, could disprove that claim.

Additional examples of multiple outs abound in the realm of the paranormal. UFO proponents, faced with a lack of reliable physical or photographic evidence to buttress their claims, point to a secret “government conspiracy” that is allegedly preventing the release of evidence that would support their case. Psychic healers say they can heal you if you have enough faith in their powers. Psychokinetics say they can bend spoons with their minds if they are not exposed to negative vibrations from skeptical observers. Tarot readers can predict your fate if you're sincere in your desire for knowledge. The multiple out means, in effect, “Heads I win, tails you lose.”

Logic

Any argument offered as evidence in support of any claim must be sound.

An argument is said to be “valid” if its conclusion follows unavoidably from its premises; it is “sound” if it is valid and if all the premises are true. The rule of logic thus governs the validity of inference. Although philosophers have codified and named the various forms of valid arguments, it is not necessary to master a course in formal logic in order to apply the rules of inference consistently and correctly. An invalid argument can be recognized by the simple method of counterexample: If you can conceive of a single imaginable instance whereby the conclusion would not necessarily follow from the premises even if the premises are true, then the argument is invalid. Consider the following syllogism, for example: All dogs have fleas; Xavier has fleas; therefore Xavier is a dog. That argument is invalid; because a single flea-ridden feline named Xavier would provide an effective counterexample. If an argument is invalid, then it is, by definition, unsound. Not all valid arguments are sound, however. Consider this example: All dogs have fleas; Xavier is a dog; therefore Xavier has fleas. That argument is unsound, even though it is valid, because the first premise is false: All dogs do not have fleas.

To determine whether a valid argument is sound is frequently problematic; knowing whether a given premise is true or false often demands additional knowledge about the claim that may require empirical investigation. If the argument passes these two tests, however - if it is both valid and sound - then the conclusion can be embraced with certainty.

The rule of logic is frequently violated by pseudoscientists. Erich von Daniken, who singlehandedly popularized the ancient-astronaut mythology in the 1970's, wrote many books in which he offered invalid and unsound arguments with benumbing regularity ( see Omohundro 1976). In Chariots of the Gods? he was not above making arguments that were both logically invalid and factually inaccurate - in other words, arguments that were doubly unsound. For example, von Daniken argues that the map of the world made by the sixteenth century Turkish admiral Piri Re'is is so “astoundingly accurate” that it could only have been made from satellite photographs. Not only is the argument invalid (any number of imaginable techniques other than satellite photography could result in an “astoundingly accurate” map, but the premise is simply wrong - the Piri Re'is map, in fact, contains many gross inaccuracies (see Story 1981)

Comprehensiveness

The evidence offered in support of any claim must be exhaustive - that is, all of the available evidence must be considered.

For obvious reasons, it is never reasonable to consider only the evidence that supports a theory and to discard the evidence that contradicts it. This rule is straightforward and self-apparent, and it requires little explication or justification. Nevertheless, it is a rule that is frequently broken by proponents of paranormal claims and by those who adhere to paranormal beliefs.

For example, the proponents of biorhythm theory are fond of pointing to airplane crashes that occurred on days when the pilot, copilot, and/or navigator were experiencing critically low points in their intellectual, emotional, and/or physical cycles. The evidence considered by the biorhythm apologists, however, does not include the even larger number of airplane crashes that occurred when the crews were experiencing high or neutral points in their biorhythm cycles (Hines 1988:160). Similarly, when people believe that Jeanne Dixon has precognitive ability because she predicted the 1988 election of George Bush (which she did, two months before the election, when every social scientist, media maven and private citizen in the country was making the same prognostication), they typically ignore the thousands of forecasts that Dixon has made that have failed to come true (such as her predictions that John F. Kennedy would not win the presidency in 1960, that World War III would begin in 1958, and that Fidel Castro would die in 1969). If you are willing to be selective in the evidence you consider, you could reasonably conclude that the earth is flat.

Honesty

The evidence offered in support of any claim must be evaluated without self-deception.

The rule of honesty is a corollary to the rule of comprehensiveness. When you have examined all of the evidence, it is essential that you be honest with yourself about the results of that examination. If the weight of the evidence contradicts the claim, then you are required to abandon belief in that claim. The obverse, of course, would hold as well.

The rule of honesty, like the rule of comprehensiveness, is frequently violated by both proponents and adherents of paranormal beliefs. Parapsychologists violate this rule when they conclude, after numerous subsequent experiments have failed to replicate initially positive psi results, that psi must be an elusive phenomenon. (Applying Occam's Razor, the more honest conclusion would be that the original positive result must have been a coincidence.) Believers in the paranormal violate this rule when they conclude, after observing a “psychic” surreptitiously bend a spoon with his hands, that he only cheats sometimes.

In practice, the rule of honesty usually boils down to an injunction against breaking the rule of falsifiability by taking a multiple out. There is more to it than that, however: The rule of honesty means that you must accept the obligation to come to a rational conclusion once you have examined all the evidence. If the overwhelming weight of all the evidence falsifies your belief, then you must conclude that the belief is false, and you must face the implications of that conclusion forthrightly. In the face of overwhelmingly negative evidence, neutrality and agnosticism are no better than credulity and faith. Denial, avoidance, rationalization, and all the other familiar mechanisms of self-deception would constitute violations of the rule of honesty.

In my view, this rule alone would all but invalidate the entire discipline of parapsychology. After more than a century of systematic, scholarly research, the psi hypothesis remains wholly unsubstantiated and unsupportable; parapsychologists have failed, as Ray Hyman (1959:7) observes, to produce “any consistent evidence for paranormality that can withstand scrutiny.” From all indications, the number of parapsychologists who observe the rule of honesty pales in comparison with the number who delude themselves. Veteran psychic investigator Eric Dingwall (1958:162) summed up his extensive experience in parapsychological research with this observation: “After sixty years' experience with most of the leading parapsychologists of that period I do not think I could name a half dozen whom I could call objective students who honestly wished to discover the truth.”

Replicability

If the evidence for any claim is based upon an experimental result, or if the evidence offered in support of any claim could logically be explained as coincidental, then it is necessary for the evidence to be repeated in subsequent experiments or trials.

The rule of replicability provides a safeguard against the possibility of error, fraud, or coincidence. A single experiment concerns the production of nuclear fusion or the existence of telepathic ability. Any experiment, no matter how carefully designed and executed, is always subject to the possibility of implicit bias or undetected error. The rule of replicability, which requires independent observers to follow the same procedures and to achieve the same results, is an effective way of correcting bias or error, even if the bias or error remains permanently unrecognized. If the experimental results are the product of deliberate fraud, the rule of replicability will ensure that the experiment will eventually be performed by honest researchers.

If the phenomenon in question could conceivably be the product of coincidence, then the phenomenon must be replicated before the hypothesis of coincidence can be rejected. If the coincidence is in fact the explanation for the phenomenon, then the phenomenon will not be duplicated in subsequent trials, and the hypothesis of coincidence will be confirmed; but if coincidence is not the explanation, then the phenomenon may be duplicated, and an explanation other than coincidence will have to be sought. If I correctly predict the next role of the dice, you should demand that I duplicate the feat before granting that my prediction was anything but a coincidence.

The rule of replicability is regularly violated by parapsychologists, who are especially fond of misinterpreting coincidences. The famous “psychic sleuth” Gerard Croiset, for example, allegedly solved numerous baffling crimes and located hundreds of missing persons in a career that spanned five decades, from the 1940's until his death in 1980. The truth is that the overwhelming majority of Croiset's predictions were either vague and nonfalsifiable or simply wrong. Given the fact that Croiset made thousands of predictions during his lifetime, it is hardly surprising that he enjoyed one or two chance “hits”. The late Dutch parapsychologist Wilhelm Tenhaeff, however, seized upon those “very few prize cases” to argue that Croiset possessed demonstrated psi powers (Hoebens 1986a:130). That was a clear violation of the rule of replicability, and could not have been taken as evidence of Croiset's psi abilities even if the “few prize cases” had been true. (In fact, however, much of Tenhaeff's data was fraudulent - See Hoebens 1986b)

Sufficiency

The evidence offered in support of any claim must be adequate to establish the truth of that claim, with these stipulations: (1) the burden of proof for any claim rests on the claimant, (2) extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence, and (3) evidence based upon authority and/or testimony is always inadequate for any paranormal claim.

The burden of proof always rests with the claimant for the simple reason that the absence of disconfirming evidence is not the same as the presence of confirming evidence. This rule is frequently violated by proponents of paranormal claims, who argue that, because their claims have not been disproved, they have therefore been proved. (UFO buffs, for example, argue that because skeptics have not explained every UFO sighting, some UFO sightings must be extraterrestrial spacecraft.) Consider the implications of that kind of reasoning: If I claim that Adolf Hitler is alive and well and living in Argentina, how could you disprove my claim? Since the claim is logically possible, the best you could do (in the absence of unambiguous forensic evidence) is to show that the claim is highly improbable - but that would not disprove it. The fact that you cannot prove that Hitler is not living in Argentina, however, does not mean that I have proved that he is. It only means that I have proved that he could be - but that would mean very little; logical possibility is not the same as established reality. If the absence of disconfirming evidence were sufficient proof of a claim, then we could “prove” anything that we could imagine. Belief must be based not simply on the absence of disconfirming evidence but on the presence of confirming evidence. It is the claimant's obligation to furnish that confirming evidence.

Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence for the obvious reason of balance. If I claim that it rained for ten minutes on my way to work last Tuesday, you would be justified in accepting that claim as true on the basis of my report. But if I claim that I was abducted by extraterrestrial aliens who whisked me to the far side of the moon and performed bizarre medical experiments on me, you would be justified in demanding more substantial evidence. The ordinary evidence of my testimony, while sufficient for ordinary claims, is not sufficient for extraordinary ones.

In fact, testimony is always inadequate for any paranormal claim, whether it is offered by an authority or a layperson, for the simple reason that a human being can lie or make a mistake. No amount of expertise in any field is a guarantee against human fallibility, and expertise does not preclude the motivation to lie; therefore a person's credentials, knowledge, and experience cannot, in themselves, be taken as sufficient evidence to establish the truth of a claim. Moreover, a person's sincerity lends nothing to the credibility of his or her testimony. Even if people are telling what they sincerely believe to be the truth, it is always possible that they could be mistaken. Perception is a selective act, dependent upon belief, context, expectation, emotional and biochemical states, and a host of other variables. Memory is notoriously problematic, prone to a range of distortions, deletions, substitutions, and amplifications. Therefore the testimony that people offer of what they remember seeing or hearing should always be regarded as only provisionally and approximately accurate; when people are speaking about the paranormal, their testimony should never be regarded as reliable evidence in and of itself. The possibility and even the likelihood of error are far too extensive (see Connor 1986)

Conclusion

The first three rules of FiLCHeRS - falsifiability, logic, and comprehensiveness - are all logically necessary rules of evidential reasoning. If we are to have confidence in the veracity of any claim, whether normal or paranormal, the claim must be propositionally meaningful, and the evidence offered in support of the claim must be rational and exhaustive.

The last three rules of FiLCHeRS - honesty, replicability, and sufficiency - are all pragmatically necessary rules of evidential reasoning. Because human beings are often motivated to rationalize and lie to themselves, because they are sometimes motivated to lie to others, because they can make mistakes, and because perception and memory are problematic, we must demand that the evidence for any actual claim be evaluated without self-deception, that it be carefully screened for error, fraud, and appropriateness, and that it be substantial and unequivocal.

What I tell my students, then, is that you can and should use FiLCHeRS to evaluate the evidence offered for any claim. If the claim fails any one of these six tests, then it should be rejected; but if it passes all six tests, then you are justified in placing considerable confidence in it.

Passing all six tests, of course, does not guarantee that the claim is true (just because you have examined all the evidence available today is no guarantee that there will not be new and disconfirming evidence available tomorrow), but it does guarantee that you have good reasons for believing the claim. It guarantees that you have sold your belief for a fair price, and that it has not been filched from you.

Being a responsible adult means accepting the fact that almost all knowledge is tentative, and accepting it cheerfully. You may be required to change your belief tomorrow, if the evidence warrants, and you should be willing and able to do so. That, in essence, is what skepticism means: to believe if and only if the evidence warrants.

References

Connor, John W. 1984.. Misperception, folk belief, and the occult: A cognitive guide to understanding. SKEPTICAL INQUIRER, 8:344-354, Summer.

Dingwall, E.J. 1985. The need for responsibility in parapsychology: My sixty years in parapsychological research. In A Skeptic's Handbook of Parapsychology. 161-174. Ed. by Paul Kurtz. Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books.

Hines, Terence. 1988. Pseudoscience and the Paranormal. Buffalo N.Y.: Prometheus Books.

Hoebens, Piet Hein, 1981. Gerard Croiset: Investigation of the Mozart of “psychic sleuths” SKEPTICAL INQUIRER, 6(1):17-28, Fall

1981-82. Croiset and Professor Tenhaeff: Discrepancies in claims of clairvoyance. SKEPTICAL INQUIRER, (2):21-40, Winter

Hyman, Ray. 1985. A critical historical overview of parapsychology. In A Skeptic's Handbook of Parapsychology, 3-96, Ed. by Paul Kurtz, Buffalo N.Y., Prometheus Books

Omohundro, John T. 1976. Von Daniken's chariots: primer in the art of cooked science. SKEPTICAL INQUIRER, 1(1):58-68 Fall

Story, Ronald D. 1977. Von Daniken's golden gods, SKEPTICAL INQUIRER, 2(1):22-35, Fall/Winter.

James Lett is an associate professor of anthropology, Department of Social Sciences, Indian River Community College, 3209 Virginia Ave., Ft.Pierce, Florida 34981, U.S.A.. He is author of The Human Enterprise: A Critical Introduction to Anthropological Theory.
T aken from Skeptical Inquirer.


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House Rules: The only rules are Paradox, Humor, and Change.
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Connor replied the topic: Re: Riddle's Repository of Recollection

Light isn't the pretty face you put on in the morning.
It isn't the extra two dollars you put in the collection plate at church.
It isn't saving a country from ruin.

You've killed evil.
What difference have you made?

Some day, the only animal that will screw you is the patient dirt.

It always wins, anyway.

Light isn't the good hurt you get from the taste of soda running down your throat.
It isn't the feeling of sitting with your family watching television.
It isn't giving your kidney to your dying father.

Am I pessimistic?

No.

I'm God.
And, suddenly, I realize where the Light comes from.

It comes from that moment... the moment before you do any of those things. And,
you realize that even though it doesn't mean a thing...

you make a choice.

Every moment is a million dollar question answered.
Every moment is nothing.

I'm not saying we'll be alright.
But, we'll certainly be.

House Rules: The only rules are Paradox, Humor, and Change.
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