The Skeptical Mind - James Randi

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Carl G
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Re: The Skeptical Mind - James Randi

Post by Carl G » Sun Aug 26, 2007 1:57 am

Then why have such a two-bit exposer of charlatans as guest on a show about "the very heart of matters"? Is it not like inviting a writer of pulp romance and newsstand tabloid to lecture on literature?
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Dan Rowden
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Re: The Skeptical Mind - James Randi

Post by Dan Rowden » Sun Aug 26, 2007 10:48 am

Because he's also a good representative of the nature of the Skeptical mind which is a very important thing for a thinking person. Beyond that, he's also a good representative of the way people ultimately limit themselves in terms of what they analyse and are skeptical about. A person like Randi has duel utility in this sense.

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Carl G
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Re: The Skeptical Mind - James Randi

Post by Carl G » Mon Aug 27, 2007 4:19 am

Yeh, his skepticism seems rather narrow. I wonder what he would have said if you'd asked him if he questions the official 9/11 story.
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Dan Rowden
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Re: The Skeptical Mind - James Randi

Post by Dan Rowden » Mon Aug 27, 2007 10:25 am

My suspicion is he's never questioned it. I don't recall seeing anything from him at his web site, though there is a place for this sort of discussion on his discussion board (if I remember rightly).

[edit: his forum deals with the issue here but I can't find any contributions from Randi himself.]

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Re: The Skeptical Mind - James Randi

Post by Ataraxia » Mon Aug 27, 2007 11:52 am

Dan Rowden wrote:Because he's also a good representative of the nature of the Skeptical mind which is a very important thing for a thinking person. Beyond that, he's also a good representative of the way people ultimately limit themselves in terms of what they analyse and are skeptical about. A person like Randi has duel utility in this sense.


I agree with you on this Dan.Personally i try to approach every idea including QSR's philosophy from a point of skeptism first.Then if it holds up logically I'm willing to subscribe.

This brings me to something i want to bring up with you, and genius forum as whole.It's probably not the correct thread for it but seeing as it's been broached here i may as well use it.It relates somewhat to the postion you hold, and that was expressed in the 'great philosophers' thread on the main board.Where you said something like "A man can become wise even if he was locked in a cell without reading material"

Recently I've been having an ongoing debate on another forum with a gnostic fellow on God.His position is that skeptisism and faith are dualistic polar opposites and that neither are 'right thinking'.By means of example he posted these aphroisms from Samael Aun Weor.



Accepting or rejecting any doctrine or concept reveals a lack of mental maturity.

When we reject or accept something, it is because we have not understood it.

Whenever understanding exists, accepting or rejecting is unnecessary.

The mind that believes, the mind that does not believe and the mind that doubts is an ignorant mind.

The path of wisdom does not lie in believing, not believing or doubting.

The path of wisdom consists in inquiring, analyzing, meditating, experimenting.

Truth is the unknown from moment to moment. Truth has nothing to do with what one believes or stops believing, neither does it have anything to do with skepticism.

Truth is not a matter of accepting or rejecting, it is something to experience, live and understand.
-Samael Aun Weor


I don't want to misrepresent or misunderstand the QSR position so i ask you is this a good example of type of thinking QSR subscribe to?If not,which particular lines in the above quote do you disagree with?

And if you agree with all of it,how does one 'analyse and inquire' without skepticism?

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Dan Rowden
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Re: The Skeptical Mind - James Randi

Post by Dan Rowden » Wed Aug 29, 2007 12:01 pm

Ataraxia,

I find myself sort of agreeing an disagreeing the those quotes at the same time. What I'll say is this: I agree that it's not about accepting or rejecting. One doesn't accept an idea, one establishes its truth value. Accepting or rejecting is sort of redundant in such a dynamic. As for doubt and skepticism, to me they simply indicate the degree of truth valuing in a person. The sort of doubting and skepticism that one might say is an intellectual virtue is simply that which leads a person to not be swayed by anything but genuine evidence. Doubt and skepticism should not be a "position" or an "ism" one adopts. It's more neutral than that. Being skeptical is just saying, "I will not lapse into believing or any form of passivity of mind."

I would argue that impartial and objective analysis can only proceed meaningfully from a basis of that kind. Mind you, skepticism might also be reasonably felt about certain ideas on an intuitive level. There's a certain danger in that because it can involve the development of irrational bias, but so long as the person values truth highly this kind of intuitive skepticism isn't so bad.

Not sure if that fully addresses your questions. Let me know if it doesn't.

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Re: The Skeptical Mind - James Randi

Post by Ataraxia » Thu Aug 30, 2007 10:09 am

Dan Rowden wrote: One doesn't accept an idea, one establishes its truth value.

This appears to me to amount to the same thing.

An idea is presented(to me from an external source),I attempt to establish it's truth or otherwise in a logical(hopefully) fashion.If it holds true i accept,if not i reject.

Am i getting caught up in semantics here, or is there a meaningful difference that i'm just not grasping?

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Dan Rowden
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Re: The Skeptical Mind - James Randi

Post by Dan Rowden » Thu Aug 30, 2007 10:30 am

A bit of both, I'd say. It is pretty much a matter of semantics, but I also get where the writer is coming from. One might say "accepting" is a passive activity, one that connotes a mental state not dissimilar to believing. I'm not sure it's an important issue though. Saying you "accept" something is pretty much just a figure of speech and doesn't mean you haven't rationally analysed and determined the veracity of an idea. It just means you understand, doesn't it?

Where Reality is concerned, that is of course done experientially as a consequence of the processes of reason.

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Matt Gregory
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Re: The Skeptical Mind - James Randi

Post by Matt Gregory » Thu Aug 30, 2007 1:55 pm

This passage from Anna Karenina made me laugh today. It reminds me of this conversation (and vice versa):

Stepan Arkadyevitch took in and read a liberal paper, not an extreme one, but one advocating the views held by the majority. And in spite of the fact that science, art, and politics had no special interest for him, he firmly held those views on all these subjects which were held by the majority and by his paper, and he only changed them when the majority changed them--or, more strictly speaking, he did not change them, but they imperceptibly changed of themselves within him.

Stepan Arkadyevitch had not chosen his political opinions or his views; these political opinions and views had come to him of themselves, just as he did not choose the shapes of his hat and coat, but simply took those that were being worn. And for him, living in a certain society--owing to the need, ordinarily developed at years of discretion, for some degree of mental activity--to have views was just as indispensable as to have a hat. If there was a reason for his preferring liberal to conservative views, which were held also by many of his circle, it arose not from his considering liberalism more rational, but from its being in closer accordance with his manner of life. The liberal party said that in Russia everything is wrong, and certainly Stepan Arkadyevitch had many debts and was decidedly short of money. The liberal party said that marriage is an institution quite out of date, and that it needs reconstruction; and family life certainly afforded Stepan Arkadyevitch little gratification, and forced him into lying and hypocrisy, which was so repulsive to his nature. The liberal party said, or rather allowed it to be understood that religion is only a curb to keep in check the barbarous classes of the people; and Stepan Arkadyevitch could not get through even a short service without his legs aching from standing up, and could never make out what was the object of all the terrible and high-flown language about another world when life might be so very amusing in this world. And with all this, Stepan Arkadyevitch, who liked a joke, was fond of puzzling a plain man by saying that if he prided himself on his origin, he ought not to stop at Rurik and disown the first founder of his family--the monkey.

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Re: The Skeptical Mind - James Randi

Post by Ataraxia » Thu Aug 30, 2007 2:11 pm

If there was a reason for his preferring liberal to conservative views, which were held also by many of his circle, it arose not from his considering liberalism more rational, but from its being in closer accordance with his manner of life.

Thats an interesting sentence isn't it.

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Dan Rowden
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Re: The Skeptical Mind - James Randi

Post by Dan Rowden » Thu Aug 30, 2007 7:51 pm

Yes it is, and constitutes much of the theme of Nietzsche's philosophy.

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Elizabeth Isabelle
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Re: The Skeptical Mind - James Randi

Post by Elizabeth Isabelle » Tue May 06, 2008 2:40 pm

If Worldly Matters was still open, I would have posted this link there. Since Worldly Matters is closed, I wouldn't have posted it at all except that James Randi commented on the story here, post #38, third from the bottom at page 2 (where I linked).

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Re: The Skeptical Mind - James Randi

Post by Foreigner » Tue Apr 14, 2009 8:32 pm

Why didnt someone ask sir Randi to explain the connection he sees between emotional states and personal survival?

Otherwise Id say he was managed quite wisely with plenty of wholesome food for thought.

Has he by chance been subsequently in contact and if so, is there any evidence that the session expanded his mind?

You should never forget that because he's from a different culture different world, You will never understand him as precisely as if he were not.
Therefore try to believe and accept that you do not know him as well as you might think you do.


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