Introducing Meta-Analysis: Skepticism and Cynicism (#1305)
Also see other excerpts from my discussions with the Society for Scientific Exploration.
Here is the promised meta-analysis of the exchange between L and P There wasn't much rational discourse but some interesting tactics were used.
I undertook this analysis in the spirit of SSE's goal "to promote improved understanding of those factors that unnecessarily limit the scope of scientific inquiry" (www.groups.yahoo.com/group/SSE/). To explore the manner in which the discussion on civilisation has recently been hijacked by cynical tactics and people have become defensive and are dwelling only on "facts as ammunition" rather than open skeptical exploration of ideas.
Due to its length (16 pages) the analysis is contained in the 'files' section of this website, under the title "Meta-Analysis.doc - Meta-Analysis: Skepticism and Cynicism" Note: This has been converted into html and included here.
It first discusses the difference between skepticism and cynicism. Then mentions some common cynical tactics that are used to stifle debate and avoid issues whilst seemingly scoring political points. Then the bulk of the analysis consists of quotes taken from the exchange between L and P, these draw out instances of such tactics being used. Then some general closing comments.
I have learnt a lot from this analysis and I sincerely thank both participants in the exchange. I hope that maybe they and others may learn something from this as well.
See here for the meta-analysis.