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We can see that it is not probable, but is it possible for a person to take intellectual responsibility and root out their own personal superstitions?
Superstition and Myth versus
A starting point is to note that Western science can be seen as a religious attempt to eliminate unproductive and debilitating superstition, or at least move away from it. Although it has fostered its own special type of myth, it is a noble attempt because at its heart the scientific method is to do the necessary reality checks to determine the truth..
First of all, definitions:
Oxford - Superstition:a widely held but unjustified belief in supernatural causation leading to certain consequences of an action or event, or a practice based on such a belief:
"she touched her locket for luck, a superstition she had had since childhood"
Infogalactic - Superstition:Superstition is the belief in supernatural causality—that one event causes another without any natural process linking the two events—such as astrology and certain aspects linked to religion, like omens, witchcraft, and prophecies, that contradict natural science. The word superstition is generally used to refer to the religion not practiced by the majority of a given society.
The Free Dictionary:
2b. A fearful or abject state of mind resulting from such ignorance or irrationality.
1. an irrational belief in or notion of the ominous significance
of a particular thing, circumstance, occurrence, etc.
a: a popular belief or tradition that has grown up around
something or someone; especially one embodying the
ideals and institutions of a society or segment of society
Suggested methodology to challenge personal belief positions
Structured questions around:
1. Facts and Falsifiability: Are there any facts that support this
position, and if so, what are they? Is this position
falsifiable? IOW, is there or can there be any set of facts or any developments
in the real world that can show this position to be false.
Philosophy: Does the belief violate any Metaphysical
or Epistemological principles? If so, it should be discarded.
1. Implications: What are the implications for further
understanding the truth?
The above acronyms are designed to foster a hands-on-mind approach for personal responsibility to make our belief system intellectually defensible.
In talking about the ancient proclivity to anthropomorphize the planets into a pantheon of quasi-human gods, one person said, "I think that the planets are not alive in the sense that they are not "human," but from a more indigenous view, I would consider them to be alive, I think everything is alive and has consciousness. But anthropomorphizing and making them be what we think and want is not what they are. But I do believe they are beings with their own consciousness, not to be interpreted and defined by us."
So, how does the above position—little different from that of the ancient mythmakers except for anthropomorphizing—hold up under our list of questions by applying PIFFLE?
Philosophy. FOA, this position violates the epistemological principle that for anything to have meaningful identity it must have some distinction, some contrast with everything else. In this case life and consciousness must—and do—have opposites. Dead or death versus alive and life, and non-awareness and unconsciousness versus consciousness. If everything is alive and has consciousness, then life and consciousness lose their meaning, along with their counterparts.
Implications. Not many if any general implications except that they would be truly and fully alien to us, and there would be no basis for a relationship or understanding.
Facts. Supporting facts: The planets move and change, they appear and disappear. Evidently most of the ancient people believed that they were alive and that they had godlike powers to influence and control people on earth. They clearly rained down rocks, fire and brimstone upon the earth and its inhabitants, and this was interpreted as a reaction of anger towards people on earth.
Falsifiable. Opposing facts: The planets don't show some of the major aspects that go into being alive and conscious. They have no discernible needs and desires to sustain and enhance their "lives". and no sign of consciousness. They don't communicate, and show no sign of freedom of movement.. They don't have an organic structure that can be damaged to the point of dying. Etc.
Life Benefit.. Without any idea of their intentions, and no communication, the impact on human life would seem to be only negative because we have no idea of what we can count on from them for an ongoing basis.
Extraneous. No further relevance to me personally, and I can only relate to them as non-living, material or physical fixtures.
Here is another acronym approach:
In the realm of knowledge, theories and paranormal claims should be subject to what the acronym FLIPPERS stands for.
Falsifiability - It must be possible to conceive that the theory or claim could prove to be false. If it cannot be conceived as false then it is not significant or meaningful.
Logicality - Any argument offered in support of a theory or claim must be logically sound.
Integrity - The evidence offered in support of a theory or claim must be factual or true, and the evaluation of the evidence must be honest, open and unprejudiced.
Predictability - Any theory or claim must offer some implied predictions, which can then be checked and verified.
Productivity - Any valid theory or claim must have an aspect of productivity in that some implied benefit or usefulness, something meaningful would construe in its adoption.
Extensiveness - The evidence offered in support of any theory or claim must be exhaustive—that is, all of the available evidence must be considered.
Replicability - Empirical data or experiential evidence to support an experimental result must be replicable, or at least historical. Total reliance upon non-replicable historical evidence at least tends to reduce the worth or validity of the theory or claim.
Sufficiency - The evidence offered in support of any theory or claim must be adequate to establish the validity beyond an agreed upon reasonable doubt of that claim or theory, with these stipulations:
(1) The burden of proof for any claim or theory should rest primarily on the claimant(s).
(2) Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence.
(3) Paranormal claim evidence based upon authority and/or testimony is always inadequate by itself.
If the theory or claim being offered cannot meet or satisfy the above criteria, it must be considered to be either invalid, or inadequate, or at least primarily in the realm of dogma, opinion or unsubstantiated possibility instead of being useful or in the realm of knowledge.