Re: psi as a boundary breaking possibility

Date: Sat Jul 15 2000 - 15:56:52 MDT

I was sailing up and down and a huge collection of paranormal sites was in
Rome (Institute for Physics, Rome University)


Sudboy100 says
<When he <Randi> passes judgment on people's philosophies; he moves from
skeptic to cynic. In my opinion cynicism is a philosophy unto itself, and
one that I try to resist mightily.>

Yes. Prof. Remo Ruffini (relativity, gravitation, etc.) wrote something
interesting, about the Amazing, in a list directed by these gentlemen (see
the picture, please)


Ruffini wrote (in replay to somebody)

Orthodox Skeptic Religion Racket -- A Refutation
The Orthodox Religion of Skepticism: The Simplistic "Show Me" Religion
The Religion of Skepticism has this one coming. Here it is Michael, Randi,
et al.

(1) >>>The problem I have with Ruffini's and Fuller's position is they
absolutely rule out the value of skepticism. The show me and prove it
attitude is what makes science truly unique from absolutism and monism.<<<

I do Eh??? Then why have I ceaselessly advocated some of the great articles
and books by some of the todayıs ORTHODOX PREEMINENT SKEPTICS in (i) CISCOP,
(ii) Skeptic, (iii) The Skeptical Inquirer, Victor Stengerıs book (iv) "The
Unconscious Quantum," Susan Blackmoreıs book (v) "Dying to Live: Near-Death
Experiences," Michael Shermerıs book (vi) "Why People Believe Weird
Things," the skeptical classic (vii) "How to Think About Weird Things" by
Theodore Schick and Lewis Vaughan, plus Gross & Levittıs magnum opus (viii)
"Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and its Quarrels with Science."

(2) >>>The problem I have with Ruffini's and Fuller's position is they
absolutely rule out the value of skepticism. The show me and prove it
attitude is what makes science truly unique from absolutism and monism.<<<

Ah yes, the old QUOTIDIAN James (the Amazing) Randi and Michael Shermer
anti-everything-positivist version of Naïve Realism and The Skeptic Religion
[but see the journals (i) The Skeptical Inquirer and (ii) Skeptic ­ a
religion of science and skepticism alone]. What a simplistic creed (Randi?
Shermer? or whomever). Indeed, you guys have made skepticism itself into
Skepticism: A METAPHYSICAL dogma, and when practiced into a religion, just
as adamantine and immutable and inflexible as are the dogmas of the
traditional religions those of the radical postmodernists. You ask me to
see the value of skepticism ­ no? Are you not really asking me to see the
value of The Skeptic Religion instead? In either case, the metaphysical
rejoinder would be that one just has to *assume,* at the very least, the
CORRECTNESS of some kind of substance metaphysics (descriptive metaphysics)
for this CREED OF SKEPTICISM to work at all ­ and, indeed, for science to
make any sense on the common-sense-level you require of it.

With regard to the level of *credulity* in one of your
pragmatist-buddy-heroes, viz., William James, I tell you that Bradley was
one of the greatest Systematic Skeptics of his day. And it was *William
James* who fell for some of the paranormalist and spiritualist Twaddle of
those times and NOT Bradley. James wanted a "pluralistic universe" where
all sorts of *supernatural* things and events and realities could possibly
be. Bradley, OTOH, opted for a more rationalistic, monistic, and (dare I say
it?!) SKEPTICAL view of the religious Inanity of his time

"To the damning evidence of the so-called Spirit-Teachings no answer can be
made. It would be unfair to say that the best of them are twaddle, and they
perhaps may be compared with our own pulpit-utterances. They are often
edifying, and often reasonable, and sometimes silly, and usually DULL.
Still, to mention them in the same breath with the *best human work* would
be wholly absurd. And it is an INFERIOR race [i.e., of alleged
spirit-beings] which can produce nothing better." (Collected Essays, by
F.H. Bradley, page 600)

Bradley concludes, contra William James, that even IF "spiritualist"
phenomena were proved to be authentic, ANY religion based upon them would
"conflict with the best aspirations of the soul in a way in which *modern
materialism* does not [for the reason that this would involve communication
with spirits far inferior to ourselves that could provide us with ZERO
illumination ­ of ANY kind]."

Additionally, the dogma of Utter (i.e., radical, systematic) Skepticism is
both self-refuting and self-stultifying. What Skeptic Religionists should
do, here, is distinguish between (i) The Skeptic Religion, with James(the
Amazing)Randi as one of its Highest Priests, and (ii) Particular Skepticism,
and (iii) Radical Systematic Skepticism (of, say, a Humean kind) on the
other. In short, what Skeptic Religionists should say about this matter,
vis-à-vis science, is precisely what Sokal and Bricmont say in this regard

"The universality of Humean skepticism [and, ipso facto, that of Randi and
Shermer Skepticism] is also its [incredible] weakness. Of course, it is
IRREFUTABLE. But since no one is systematically skeptical (when he or she
is sincere) with respect to ordinary knowledge, one ought to ask WHY
skepticism is rejected in that domain and WHY it would nevertheless be valid
when applied elsewhere, for instance, to scientific knowledge." (Fashionable
Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectualsı Abuse of Science, Alan Sokal and Jean
Bricmont, Picador, 1998, page 55).


important to distinguish carefully between two different types of critiques
of the sciences: those that are opposed to a PARTICULAR theory and are
based on specific arguments, and those that repeat in one form or another
the traditional arguments of radical skepticism. The former critiques can
be interesting but can also be refuted, while the latter are irrefutable
(because of their universality). And it is crucial NOT to mix the two sorts
of arguments: for if one wants to contribute to science, be it natural or
social, one must abandon radical doubts concerning the viability of logic or
the possibility of knowing the world through observation and/or experiment.
Of course, one can always have doubts about a specific theory. But general
skeptical arguments put forward to support those doubts are IRRELEVANT,
precisely because of their generality." (Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern
Intellectualsı Abuse of Science, Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont, Picador,
1998, page 189)

N.B!: Sokalıs and Bricmontıs book could, *mutatis mutandis,* be just as
easily and appropriately entitled "Fashionable Nonsense: The Modern
Skepticsı Religion Movement Abuse of Science, Metaphysics, Epistemology, and

Worse, furthermore, is when Randi and Shermer turn skepticism into
Skepticism. In such a case we often wind up with a banal version of
James(the Amazing)Randi species of Naïve Realism. When one pushes Randi too
far down the road of philosophy and academic metaphysics, he usually starts
claiming how "simple a soul" he is, and that all this is far too extravagant
for, to reiterate, "simple souls" like himself, rather than dealing with the
philosophical and metaphysical arguments. Do, E.G., Shermer and Randi
believe in an external world? Presumably the answer must be "Yes." Do
Randi and Shermer believe that common sense descriptions of mesoscopic
reality are roughly correct? The answer, must again, be "Yes." Do Randi
and Shermer believe that, say, individual things are real and that change
happens to and in them? The answer must, once again, be "Yes." This, then,
necessarily, commits them to what is called *descriptive metaphysics* or the
ontology that undergirds the (metaphysical) claim that the ultimate
furniture of the universe is constituted by a plurality of individual things
as characterized by our common sense intuitions:

"Metaphysics has been often revisionary, and less often descriptive.
Descriptive metaphysics is content to describe the [claimed] actual
structure of our thought about the world, revisionary metaphysics is
concerned to produce a better structure. The productions of revisionary
metaphysics remain permanently interesting, and not only as key episodes in
the history of thought..." (from Individuals: An Essay in Descriptive
Metaphysics, by P.F. Strawson, Methuen, 1971, page 9)

Both Aristotle and Strawson are Descriptive Metaphysicians (in the old
terminology, pluralistic substance ontologists), but the details of their
respective systems do differ in some respects. What they have in common is
that both begin from some very general common sense features of the
relationship that human beings *possibly* have with the universe, conceived
of as a collection of individual things that maintain themselves over
against the environment. My claim, here, is that Randi, Shermer, and should be more forthcoming about their metaphysical
presuppositions and metaphysical systems, rather than *affecting* that they
come from some allegedly absolutely neutral perspective (an epistemological
myth) ­ a "perspectiveless perspective" ­ by which they can, in some way,
legitimate their vague claims about the value of "skepticism" and advocate
their religion of, again, The Skeptic Religion. What form of skepticism are
they advocating here? Systematic? Merely particular? If systematic, then
are not their doctrines just as irrefutable as are the doctrines of the
radical social constructivists and contemporary antirealists? If
particular, then they can take NO part in the metaphysical debate until they
CON-descend (sorry for the pun, Masters of The Quotidian) to delineate their
respective systems of metaphysics.

Perhaps even pluralistic substance ontologies are too sophisticated for
alleged "simple souls" like Randi and Shermer. What, then, is/are their
metaphysical doctrine/doctrines? Better is the question: What are their
respective metaphysical doctrines? It seems to me the answer must be, in
the case of some of them, "A form of positivism." Many Skeptic Religionists
would say this I hypothesize: "Is not positivism a genuine alternative to
the classical systems of metaphysics [ i.e., pluralistic substance
ontologies, process ontologies, mechanistic ontologies, organicist (Absolute
Idealist) ontologies]?" NO, I say, because positivism either is (i) a form
of Utter Skepticism about the nature of the world since, on this version of
it, that nature is such that, by its very nature, it is unknowable by human
beings, or (ii) if systematized into a determinate ontological claim, ends
up by affirming the clandestine (disguised, occult) World Hypothesis (i.e.,
metaphysical hypothesis) to the effect that

"Suppose the whole body of data [of the sciences] should fall together into
a single system on the basis of their own correlated probabilities, or, the
other way round, suppose every area of experience were covered by formulas
established by multiplicative corroboration, and that all these formulas
were consistently gathered together in mathematical formŠ" (from World
Hypotheses, by Stephen C. Pepper, University of California Press, pages 335
­ 336). This system would, our
World-Hypothesis-affirming-Positivist-Skeptic-Religionists affirm, be an
alternative to traditional systems of metaphysics. Pepper goes on to remark

"Šthe nearest approximation to such an achievement is at present is in the
domain of physics [as Victor Stenger fully realizes. THAT is why he is
writing a book bearing the title "Atomic Metaphysics: The Simplest of all
possible Worlds" ­ and here he argues for a species of DISCRTETE MECHANISTIC
METPAHYSICS which models microphysical, mesoscopic, and cosmological reality
on the basis of analogies with machines and via principles derived from
machines], and it is questionable whether this achievement would be possible
even there without the assumption and support of THE MECHSANISTIC CATEGRIES.
  Certainly, in the past, every attempt to extend the achievement of the
physical sciences as a consistent system beyond the subject matter of these
sciences has resulted in some form of root-metaphor hypothesis, usually
MECHSANISM." (World Hypotheses, page 336).

Ergo, "The consistent development of an UNDOGMATIC POSITIVISM into a general
hypothesis adequate to nature would turn out to be simply one of the
root-metaphor hypotheses [i.e., traditional metaphysical systems] that we
have already considered." (World Hypotheses, page 337).

Finally, Randi and Shermer might respond that I have it all wrong and that
they both are actually pragmatists. Well, that too is a World Hypothesis
asserting the ULTIMACY of processes and relations as fundamental
metaphysical categories. (see "Contextualism" in World Hypotheses, pages 232
­ 279 by Steven C. Pepper)

In the end, THE SKEPTIC RELIGION of Shermer and Randi seems to have its
PREFFERED ORTHODOXY, whether this be positivism, naïve realism, pragmatism,
or descriptive metaphysics. Sorry Skeptic Religionists, but you cannot
escape from metaphysics ­ even in Science itself.

Regards for Now.

that was the end of Ruffini's replay

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