Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Adventures at CARM - Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence

ha ha jesus
I've been digging through for curiosity's sake. So far, these are the episodes of my adventures:

  • You can find an index of my previous adventures here.
Where does he start? The tired old trope that's similar to "what evidence do you have that evidence is a reliable way to investigate reality - see? Conundrum! Hah!"

The claim itself requires extraordinary validation
To say that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence is to make an extraordinary assertion.  How does the person know that the statement is true?  Think about it.  It is a universal statement!  Isn't that extraordinary?  Is it a universal principle?  If so, that is amazingly important.  So, please show us the extraordinary evidence that the statement is true.
He doesn't know what "extraordinary" means, in context of epistemology. This semantic issue is actually important, because he's not addressing what Sagan is saying (who came up with the popular phrase).

"Extraordinary" means literally "beyond the ordinary", not "amazing"

He has, without any explanation, dismissed common experiential reality, darting right on by, and declared that what we're talking about is some kind of universal truth statement.

No, we're talking about a particular human epistemological framework - the only one that seems to work fairly well on a regular basis - science. That's not a universal statement. This "toolkit" for investigating reality requires an appropriately proportional amount of evidence depending on how ordinary versus extraordinary the claim is.

The claim that Bob owns a dog is not an extraordinary claim, because it's very very common. The claim that Bob owns a dragon is an extraordinary claim, because dragons are not demonstrably common.

Guess what? Gods are also not demonstrably common... or that its existence is commonly demonstrable.

The reason why we hold his "proportionality principle" as a rule is because it's commonly demonstrable that extraordinary claims are more frequently false than mundane claims... and we've been fooled/tricked/mistaken too often on the extraordinary claims, and would like to have a system that handles them appropriately. Like most of the scientific method, this particular rule wasn't something we just plucked out of thin air... it was a practical realization to a practical problem that resulted in a practical solution, as evidenced in real-life trials.

Hence, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

It's absurd to claim that - extraordinary claims are more difficult to demonstrate-  is an extraordinary claim. It's incredibly common.

It's like Slick went to a car dealership, and is trying to buy a $50,000 car with a $1 bill, by trying to argue some rhetorical loophole that the money is valued by fiat anyway, and he says his $1 is really enough to buy the car, and that the car salesman is in a logical bind because his claim that the $50,000 car cannot be bought with a $1 bill is a subjective presupposition that needs extraordinary evidence.

I would expect the car salesman to call security.

What's strange is that he starts his response fully understanding why it is the way it is... so we know he gets it... but he's going to disagree anyway for ridiculous reasons.

And next, we start into some kind of equivocation:
Requiring extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims sounds good on the surface.  But, it is subjective.  The fact is that a person's presuppositions strongly affect how and to what degree the statement is applied.  In Jesus' resurrection, for example, Christians presuppose that God exists and that He could easily have raised Jesus from the dead.  The evidence of fulfilled prophecy, eyewitness records, and changed lives of the disciples is enough to convince many people who believe in God that Jesus rose from the dead.  This is a logical conclusion based on the presupposition and the evidence. 
It's only subjective in that the rule is a concept, but that does not make it arbitrary, and it certainly does not make it a presupposition (note how presuppositions are bad when atheists supposedly make them).

It's also a rule that operating rooms, where surgery is performed, are clean and sterile, but we arrived at that rule from observing an improvement in mortality/infection rates. That's why the rule exists.

He's equivocating between this demonstrably effective epistemological rule, that is grounded in objective fact, to Christians holding a presupposition in an undemonstrated bronze-age myth.

They are not equivalent. Grounded in reality != undemonstrable laws-of-physics-violating, logical-absolutes-violating, laws-of-physics-creating, logical-absolutes-creating entities.

Looking at a particular statement above:
The evidence of fulfilled prophecy, eyewitness records, and changed lives of the disciples is enough to convince many people who believe in God that Jesus rose from the dead.
I detailed a model in which prayer can appear to be answered without it actually being answered. I should probably do one for supposed fulfilled prophecy, because I find a lot of parallels. The formation of Israel, for instance, is often cited, even if it's the lamest type of fulfilled prophecy - "the restaurant prophecy".

I've never heard a compelling case ever made that aren't riddled with problems like that. I've even addressed the core problems with the arguments' logical conclusions, which mainly are that arguments from fulfilled prophecy are essentially association fallacies.

Eye-witness testimony is the bottom of the barrel, in terms of quality of evidence. One can interview many people who have claimed to be abducted by aliens. Are you merely going to accept their testimony as true?

... and that's living people now who can be interviewed. He's talking about characters in a book from 2000 years ago, who may not have even existed - we don't know. We certainly don't know that the events in the new testament actually happened as described.

No, your presupposing that events in the Bible are true is not equivalent to those of us who ground our beliefs on factual reality.

This is a logical conclusion based on the presupposition and the evidence.
It's debatable whether it's logically sound, but it's definitely not factually established enough to be logically valid.

Atheists, on the other hand, would negate the resurrection by default since their presupposition that there is no God would require that God involvement cannot occur.
What? No. I guess I'm not surprised he'd make this claim, since I've noted that he constantly misrepresents the normal atheist position.

Let me fix that for you.

The average atheist position here would be that the resurrection is not substantiated by sufficient evidence, so we don't accept that it happens. Since supernatural things are not sufficiently established as true, it's further unlikely that this undemonstrated person named "Jesus" was resurrected after 3 days (another unsupported extraordinary claim) by a universe-creating wizard (another unsupported extraordinary claim).

The bottom line is that we don't believe it due to insufficient evidence - a position which is staggeringly different than how he'd portray it.

He's a liar. He's undoubtedly been repeatedly corrected on this. Apparently, the 2nd commandment isn't enforced anymore.

Therefore, for an atheist the extraordinary evidence would have to be "exceptionally" extraordinary in order to overcome his atheistic presuppositions.   In other words, evidence would need to be presented that was rock solid and irrefutable.
This is a fairly good example of spin, based primarily on cascading misconceptions and misrepresentations, as detailed above.

According to his position, he'd need exceptionally extraordinary evidence before he was legitimate in not believing in each of the other million gods humans have conjured over their history.

That's how feeble his argument is.

This is why the skeptic must require "extraordinary evidence."  It enables him to retain his presupposition should the extraordinary level of the evidence not be met.  Therefore, requiring extraordinary evidence effectively stacks the deck against the claim.
He continues like this... you can read the rest of the article if you like, but it's all based on this erroneous idea that requiring more evidence for the claim that one has a sentient squid in a parallel universe, over the claim that one owns a standard dog, is a presupposition.

Seriously? This is what he's arguing? That the evidence for the squid claim isn't more than the dog claim, based on demonstrably effective epistemology?

We're done. This article puts "absurd" to shame.

Everyday peoples' bullshit meters would have exploded, obliterating everything within a 5-mile radius, by this point.

His whole argument revolves around a very blatant straw man of atheists and misrepresentation of epistemology. This is not a man who is arguing in "good faith".

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