1. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Interesting thread on ATS, from a young woman brought up in an apocalyptic Christian cult, who left it, but then was later sucked back into the world of fear-based reasoning.



    I think the experiences of former believers, truthers, purveyors of bunk, and customers of bunk, can be very enlightening - both to those stuck in the world of bunk, but looking for a way out, and to those who fight bunk.

    It would be great to have a place where people could go read about these experience, maybe I should start a section here, to index existing stories, and to have a place for new ones.
     
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  2. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Here's a selection of threads tagged with "ex-truther" on JREF.

    http://www.internationalskeptics.com/forums/tags.php?tag=ex-truther

    The first thread there, has a lot of interesting posts:
    http://www.internationalskeptics.com/forums/showthread.php?t=130827

    example:

    [EX=http://www.internationalskeptics.com/forums/showthread.php?t=130827]a) How did you once become a truther?

    It stemmed, I believe, from the ferocious resentment I was harbouring towards Bush and Blair for the pack of lies and manipulation they pushed our way to justify the wars in the Middle East. I'll stress here that this was not "anti-American" feeling. As a Brit and a natural Labour voter I cannot adequately express my hatred for Tony Blair. I'll put GWB in exactly the same class.
    Then, watching a couple of "Truth" videos that were being discussed on an unrelated forum. This cracked the damn, so to speak. Yes, thought I, those #######'s are well capable of that. I must admit that finally seeing the collapse of WTC7 was shocking.
    Much investigoogling led (naturally) to finding countless "sources" and I was steaming so much that the ol' brain wasn't in a fit state to realise they were merely recycling the same bilge.

    b) What convinced you back from truther to non-truther?

    I expressed some opinions here and received some slaps in the face (some tactful, some not) with good plain information. But - having a good scientific background - I was able to see that at least some of the tripe I was pushing was just flat wrong. This gave pause for serious thought. Plus, here and elsewhere, I was beginning to find links to the debunking sites. Of course a lot of this could have been avoided simply by putting "9/11" +"debunk" into Google in the first place, but I suppose the desire to believe in something wacky can lead one astray.

    c) What are your thoughts nowadays about your time as a truther?

    Mostly embarrassment, especially as the whole business flared and died in a matter of a couple of months and I should really have had the wit to notice that I was getting much too excited, too quickly, about the whole 9/11 "truth" business. That's never a healthy sign. But it highlights very strongly (again) for me that the power of self-deception is very strong in the human race.[/EX]
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2014
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  3. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Last edited: Nov 20, 2013
  4. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    And I highly, highly recommend reading Karla McLaren's piece: Bridging the Chasm between Two Cultures, for a unique perspective:

    http://www.csicop.org/si/show/bridging_the_chasm_between_two_cultures

     
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  5. Juror No. 8

    Juror No. 8 New Member

    How about the former believers of government and mainstream media B.S.?
     
  6. PCWilliams

    PCWilliams Active Member

    I never believed in the conspiracy stuff, but i am a former believer in the paranormal, ghosts, psychics, nostradamus, UFOs and aliens. A section like that would help people stuck in these worlds find their way out.

    Just reading the excerpt you included here from the lady on ATS, it gives me some insight into what my one family member must be into with all his crazy talk.
     
  7. Leifer

    Leifer Senior Member

    I used to believe in anything that I do not believe now.
    --otherwise known as...
    "I believe in nothing that I used to know"
    generalizations, for sure.
     
  8. George B

    George B Extinct but not forgotten Staff Member

    Interesting read. . . I find myself going in a slightly different direction. . . While I never embraced the New Age . . . Always seeing them as strange . . . I was raised with a Grandmother who was an intuitive and healer. . . I also was trained as a scientist to use the scientific method, etc. . . .as a specialist in clinical pathology I witnessed several apparent healing miracles as well. . . Later in my career I met one or two family practice physicians who were medical intuitives . . . One leaving medicine because he could not continue to practice in the traditional mode because he was unable to explain to his peers how he was diagnosing his patients before he saw them. . . He left medicine completely and is now an automation consultant . . .

    I have no scientific explanations for what I have witnessed and therefore have allowed the mysterious and unexplainable to coexist with the "real" world. . . .
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 16, 2014
  9. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Unexplainable does not indicate the supernatural. There are many things that science does not explain. The climate, for example. We don't know exactly what's going on, and why things change, but we don't need to assume anything other than the "real" world. Science has gaps, but what will fill those gaps will be new science.

    If your friend was genuinely able to diagnose people before he saw them, then he should not have had to explain it to his peers, he could simply have shown them.
     
  10. lee h oswald

    lee h oswald Banned Banned

    I met you last night by arrangement. I arrived at your front door, a teak (ish) large panelled door with a large brass knocker. The door was housed in a small courtyard. I brought a good friend with me, although I don't know who that friend was.
    When you opened the door, I recognised you instantly from your photograph. You offered your hand to shake and looked at me with disbelief, then past me to my unknown friend behind.
    Inside, and my friend wasn't there. The room was warm with wood and rugs. Your wife was there, eating something from a large bowl. When I sang a few words from a song, she said something disparaging about my singing voice.


    When science can explain that, I'll be all ears.
     
  11. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Explain what?
     
  12. lee h oswald

    lee h oswald Banned Banned

    Maybe it's not a question of believing in one or the other. Why commit so strongly to something you can't truly grasp? This site is about being sceptical, almost by its own definition. Scepticism is very healthy - no doubt about that; I consider myself a sceptic. But a sceptic is defined like this: I do not believe you, but I'm open to evidence to the contrary.
     
  13. lee h oswald

    lee h oswald Banned Banned

    ever read any Jung?
     
  14. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Yeah, synchronicity, collective unconsciousness, archetypes. Science does not understand how the mind works and how consciousness works. So we can't always explain how people find some coincidences meaningful, or where deja vu comes from. But I don't then take the leap into assuming that there's likely something supernatural going on.
     
  15. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    I might extend that to: I do not believe that is correct, and here's why (...). but I'm open to evidence to the contrary.
     
  16. lee h oswald

    lee h oswald Banned Banned

    That's just because you can't help yourself! x
     
  17. lee h oswald

    lee h oswald Banned Banned

    I quite like the idea of collective unconciousness.

    I don't think you should be quite so dismissive...maybe that's just me
     
  18. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    I can't help myself. I like things to be accurate, and I try to communicate clearly.

    Saying "I don't believe you" is taken by some people to mean "I think you are lying" or "you are insane". So even if it's technically correct, it's going to block conversation.

    One should also explain WHY you think something is incorrect, if you are going to go to the trouble of pointing it out in the first place.
     
  19. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Oh, I like the idea. It's also got some validity in the sense of social memes. I don't really see any evidence for some kind of supernatural global mind-meld /100th monkey type of thing.
     
  20. lee h oswald

    lee h oswald Banned Banned


    You do communicate clearly, but I think (I think) that maybe you take 'accuracy' as something that can be defined in a mathematical equation type of simplicity. I'm thinking that a dip into 'modern' or 'cutting edge' physics blows all that away. At its edges, physics is transformed into philosophy...which is possibly the path to follow
     
  21. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    I feel there's a bit of an unfortunate misconception regarding areas like quantum physics. Quantum physics is actually incredibly mathematical, and very accurate, and eminently testable.

    Now beyond quantum physics there remains an unknown. How does it work? We know what happens, and we have a good model of what's going on, but we don't know exactly why that model works.

    But that's stuff a ultra-micro level. That uncertainty (and some of the strangeness of quantum mechanics, like entanglement and wave function collapse) gets somehow morphed into "quantum consciousness" to explain macro level things. While there maybe be some interesting quantum level things going on in the brain, the vast majority of the new-age appropriation of physics is clearly (to me, and most physicists), bunk.
     
  22. George B

    George B Extinct but not forgotten Staff Member

    For whatever reason my friend felt like an outsider and felt if he explained his talent he would have been rejected and ridiculed . . . if he kept it quiet he was living a lie . . . he chose to leave instead . . .
     
  23. George B

    George B Extinct but not forgotten Staff Member

    I never said unexplained means supernatural . . . it is unexplained . . .
     
  24. lee h oswald

    lee h oswald Banned Banned

    Can't be long because I'm making beer battered fish (wonder what the quantum level of that is?) - but I'm not necessarily talking about quantum physics - I'm talking about those pushing at the edges of theory in general... history says that they are the ones to watch...


    Back to the fish...
     
  25. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Yes, but there are lots of things that are unexplained. There's an implication by the new-age movement that there's a strick demarkation between science and the (somewhat fuzzy) other side. As if science is some kind of static dogmatic model of the world.

    The unexplained is just the bits of the universe that science has not got to yet.

    With your friend's example, there a strong implication there that he actually could diagnose people before seeing them. That would be something rather radical in science, something everyone would be incredibly interested in - magic made real, revolutionizing science. He could have demonstrate it and changed the world, but instead he retires.

    It just seems vastly more likely that he simply believed he could do it, but actually could not. He tricked himself into thinking he could with all the usual cognitive biases that science is designed to avoid.
     
  26. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Generally though, those that make the breakthroughs are those that push the edges from within. Newton, Einstein, Feynman, Belavkin, etc. Science builds on science, stands upon the shoulders of giants.
     
  27. lee h oswald

    lee h oswald Banned Banned


    Agreed. But that's not the whole story. Newton stood on the shoulders of Galileo, forced by the Inquisition upon pain of death to cease his work. Sometimes power structures and expected norms get in the way of truth.
     
  28. George B

    George B Extinct but not forgotten Staff Member

    I cannot prove my friend did not ". . . tricked himself into thinking he could . . . " but I can say that my friend was an excellent physician and extremely competent technically and scientifically . . .

    I can also say that I have witnessed what I would call spontaneous, unexplainable recovery from certain death and have investigated multiple accidents and events which on retrospect have no logical explanation on how they occurred based upon statistical analysis . . . while I never used the term fate in an official report the term seemed appropriate . . .
     
  29. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Newton was referring to Rene Descarte and Robert Hooke for their work on optics when the made that statement about the shoulders of giants - thought he was undoubtably including the whole history of science to some degree.

    Sometimes power structures get in the way. But to what extent is that true now? Communication is infinitely faster and freer than it has ever been. Rationalism holds sway over religion and superstition. When i comes to pure science - like that on the fringes, I don't see why there would be anything like the obstacles Galileo faced.
     
  30. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    But what do you ascribe these happenings to? Some higher power?

    And why was all this covered up? Is it not statistically significant?
     
  31. George B

    George B Extinct but not forgotten Staff Member

    I don't have an explanation for what happened . . . other than perhaps we do not understand all the events, forces and variables presented in any event . . . our senses which are obviously limited are inadequate as is our instrumentation to measure what our senses cannot . . .

    Not sure what your question is exactly, but I will try to answer . . . my job was not to explain why something happened but to describe it as it happened . . . to detail the event as we understood the facts and propose ways to avoid the accident or misadventure in the future . . . fate was never a factor presented in the equation . . . there was no cover-up, all details were presented in the findings . . .
     
  32. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    My question is if you think there was something "supernatural" going on? Or was it something ordinary, but you just did not have all the data?

    Or simpler - do you suspect the explanation to be novel and interesting, or mundane.
     
  33. George B

    George B Extinct but not forgotten Staff Member

    An example of how instruments and senses can be confusing . . . look at the following . . . these are two pictures from two different planets and have significant similarities . . .

    Poll Image 1&2.
     
  34. George B

    George B Extinct but not forgotten Staff Member

    I suspect if we knew the explanation it would be novel and interesting because it is very rare . . .
     
  35. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    But there's nothing really unknown about those images, and the vagaries of the human visual system are well known. So what point are you making here?
     
  36. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Winning the lottery is rare. But it's also pretty mundane from a scientific point of view.
     
  37. George B

    George B Extinct but not forgotten Staff Member

    People can be easily confused by what they see, hear, and sense . . . even with the best intentions people are mislead by their eyes and what they expect to see . . . eye witnesses are not very reliable . . . so what do we use as the standard for truth . . . ? Instruments . . . which are known to have glitches as well like the JPEG Compression Artifacts in image #2 above . . . I have seen precision equipment with all parameters operating perfectly spit out garbage many times . . . but without known glitches like Compression Errors as an explanation . . . is truth just the most reliable, repeatable, observation by our senses and our instruments or is there a reliable reality we can guarantee?
     
  38. George B

    George B Extinct but not forgotten Staff Member

    I do not equate the spontaneous healing of a terminally ill person as mundane . . . statistically it may be like winning the lottery however . . .
     
  39. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    That's getting a little epistemological. The key thing there is understanding that observer biases exist, and working to safeguard against them. Typically by having multiple observations and preferably repeatable verifications.

    Without that, people get fixated on what they think is right, and instead of working to falsify it (as any good scientist should), they instead only attempt to justify it. Which leads to follies like this:

    http://www.o-enigma-de-marte.info/A...cidade_perdida_em_marte_ENGLISH_01_intro.html

    Where the author expounds on for pages without realizing that that photo he is analyzing is a "texture mapped" 3d projection which has transformed mundane image artifacts into visually more interesting artifacts.

    You also get rather weak appeals to authority like:



    Argument from personal incredulity.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2013
  40. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Winning the lotter is pretty exciting too, even vicariously.

    But a lot of what happens in medicine is idiopathic. Around 50% of doctor visits have no definitive outcome. 30% of dermatological conditions have no known cause. Many drugs do not have a proven mechanism of action. Cancer sometimes goes into spontaneous remission.

    We know that these things happen. In that sense it's mundane. It's also exciting because there's so much still unknown in science.

    For an individual, spontaneous remission of cancer is a wondrous occurrence, but it does not indicate anything more than the last time it happened. And while it's more important, it's no more mysterious than the unknown cause of a rash.