Friday, November 12, 2010

I'm a skeptic video




By Dan Drasin

12 comments:

Tom said...

The hair is a give-away.

David Bailey said...

I do wish the scientist could have visited a better virtual dentist!

Jime said...

This year, Drasin has updated and expanded his article "Zen and the Art of Debunking":

http://web.me.com/dandrasin/Dansworld/zen.html

Pikemann Urge said...

How crazy! Someone must have read my mind! This is exactly what I've been thinking for quite some time, now. I was preparing a long, rambling essay about this kind of thing for a forum. This video sums it up pretty well.

OTOH maybe there's no mind-reading involved. :-) This video is a natural conclusion about skepticism that thousands of people must make every year.

Skepticism is and can be very helpful. But in its strong institutional form it becomes to simply establish orthodoxy. I don't like that very much.

BoredInfidel said...

Mmm, that's a tasty straw man!

muzuzuzus said...

haha, BOY have I had my fair share of the dude on the left!! They are everywhere--at the so-called science forums online which are also policed/moderated by this attitude.
The pattern is this--for me anyhow--you join and take abuse abuse abuse, and then try and navigate this whilst trying to get through their idiocy, but then mods get on your case too and they have power to turn you off. Voila they keep their in-house foolishness tickin on and on, because your treatment creates a conformity from others who just might be able to think for themselves, but are fearful to. And therefore carry on being sucked in the cults of scientism.
I have learned that these places are little contained experiences of how the world is operating!

pluckychickenheart said...

Brilliant. Although I agree the class III underbite needs some attention.

matthewx78 said...

that was awesome!

FloatingBones said...

That's an exceedingly well-written dialog, and very educational. It may be the best video I've seen using that particular robo-animation technique.

In my scorecard, the male was practicing what I call "lazy skepticism".

The flip side of lazy skepticism is believing something to be scientific simply because an authority figure claims that it's scientific. That has happened in some recent "science" documentaries. An absence of skepticism is just as bad as lazy skepticism.

Like any admirable human quality, true skepticism takes real work.

Matt Colborn said...

Although I do NOT identify as a 'skeptic,' I think that this parodies their position unfairly. The picture of the 'scientific method,' whilst appealed to by both advocates and counter-advocates, is doubted by a number of people in the field of the philosophy of science. Henry Bauer notes that the so-called 'method' often does not usefully describe what scientists do or why it's successful(see his books for details).

Second, equating skeptisicm with a contemporary rejection of the globular Earth and continental drift seems to me almost as bad as the name-calling that occurs on the 'skeptical side.'

I'm all for the advocacy of parapsychological research, but I do not think that caricaturing the 'other' 'side' helps very much, and re-commits, in mirror fashion, many of the errors that I read in extreme 'skeptical' works.

Pikemann Urge said...

"equating skeptisicm with a contemporary rejection of the globular Earth and continental drift"

Actually you're right, now that I think about it. Surely better examples can be found?

But otherwise, I do find that a solid minority of skeptics are almost walking caricatures. Some things are obviously not true and require debunking (e.g. Bjorn Lomborg's views). Some things are obviously true and nobody has the right to be skeptical about them (e.g. HIV AIDS).

They want to be the reality police - not just in science but in nutrition, medicine and whatever other fields they might march into.

Just like Christian missionaries, skeptics can either positively engage other people as they travel the world, or they can walk in as iconoclasts, dismantle whatever offends them and intimidate people into giving up their 'wrong' beliefs.

For these people, the paranormal claims are something that they must "fight" against. That does nothing to improve the quality of research. Skepticism is in danger of becoming another word for 'presumption'.

Daniel said...

Matt Colborn writes:

[[Although I do NOT identify as a 'skeptic,' I think that this parodies their position unfairly. ]]

If you've ever had the "right wing of science" attempt to destroy your work, you might feel a little more sympathetic toward this parody... which, if anything, is understated. If you want my full, no-holds-barred take on perverted skepticism, I invite you to read my essay, "Zen... and the Art of Debunkery" at http://tinyurl.com/nusci

To clarify: I made this little movie mainly to point out the difference between "being skeptical," which is a necessary part of any systematic inquiry, and wearing the mantle of "skeptic," which is something else entirely.

In modern usage, a self-described "skeptic" tends to be someone who equates doubt with the entirely of the scientific method -- when doing so suits their purposes. Of course, this doesn't fit any of the classical definitions of "skeptic" -- essentially the term has been co-opted to lend a scientistic patina to grossly unscientific behavior.


[[The picture of the 'scientific method,' whilst appealed to by both advocates and counter-advocates, is doubted by a number of people in the field of the philosophy of science.]]

Philosophy of science will always haggle over definitions, and the more the merrier -- but a five-minute animated piece intended for a more-or-less popular audience can't encompass more than a few basic ideas. This one was intended to make only one specific point: "skepticism" and "scientific inquiry" are not one and the same.


[[equating skeptisicm with a contemporary rejection of the globular Earth and continental drift seems to me almost as bad as the name-calling that occurs on the 'skeptical side.' ]]

By their nature, caricatures and parodies are overstated. So I felt justified in pushing things a bit beyond the threshold of absurdity to make a strong point. But I haven't called anyone names -- these cartoon characters are generic, not personal.


[[ I'm all for the advocacy of parapsychological research, but I do not think that caricaturing the 'other' 'side' helps very much, and re-commits, in mirror fashion, many of the errors that I read in extreme 'skeptical' works.]]

Unlike most skeptical attacks, this is not an actual critique of anyone's work. It merely attempts to hold up a mirror to those who would abuse the notion of "critical thinking" by equating it with unremitting negativity and irrational defense of the status quo

-Dan Drasin