In Defense of Paranormal Debunking – Addendum and Index
This is the index post and addendum to the article series refuting Winston Wu’s online book “Debunking PseudoSkeptical Arguments of Paranormal Debunkers”. The book in question attempts to defend various pseudoscientific and paranormalist beliefs, from prophetic dreams, near-death experiences, aliens and UFOs and so on. The book is written in 30 different sections and this criticism consists of six separate posts, each post dealing with five sections from the book.
In Defense of Paranormal Debunking – Part I: Bayesian Self-Defense: The first installation of this series deals with several basic aspects of scientific skepticism such as confidence should be in proportional to evidence, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, Occam’s Razor, burden of evidence, and the problem with anecdotal evidence.
In Defense of Paranormal Debunking – Part II: Evidentialism: This second part delve deeper into the unreliability of human memory as evidence for paranormal claims, Hume’s argument against miracles, evidentialism as a skeptical stance, and scientific plausibility.
In Defense of Paranormal Debunking – Part III: Nature of Skepticism: The third part explains the difference between currently unexplained with fundamentally inexplicable, the nature of beliefs, scientific skepticism, irrationality, and the broad influence of pseudoscience (such as creationism and alternative medicine) on society.
In Defense of Paranormal Debunking – Part IV: Psychic Powers: This fourth part investigates the manipulative techniques used by alleged psychics, the meaning of replication in science, how to make adequate controls, the nature of placebo effects, and the fallacy of appeal to popularity.
In Defense of Paranormal Debunking – Part V: Cognitive Science: the penultimate part of this series discusses the power of after-the-fact rationalizations, why alleged prophetic dreams is a flawed interpretation of huge probabilistic resources, scientific explanations of near-death experiences, what neuroscience tells us about the brain and the mind as well as what it means to know something in science.
In Defense of Paranormal Debunking – Part VI: Aliens and Creationism in this final installment, topics cover include the supposed innateness of religious belief, creationist misunderstandings of evolution, a return to anecdotal evidence and the burden of evidence and The James Randi Million Dollar Challenge.
The book written by Winston Wu is several years old (latest revision in 2011), so one might argue that it is not of interest to write a refutation. However, it is still being referenced online, is a treasure-trove for selective skeptics, and there is no complete refutation available online. The closest one is a 2004 criticism written by Paul Sandoval to a previous version of Wu’s text. It mostly examines the logical fallacies committed by Wu, but does not discuss the specific scientific details. In the end, this article series serves a valuable addition to the skeptical investigation of questionable claims, particularly those coming from paranormal believers and selective skeptics who for some reason detest scientific skepticism.
Each part links back to this index post.
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