Sunday, August 30, 2009

Skepticism and mentalism.

To me, skepticism is about observing the world and then build your knowledge.

I love the fact that outspoken atheists like Richard Dawkins have started to connect with the likes of Derren Brown. I believe James Randi has a big part of that credit. I think that this was an important pragmatic step for skepticism.

I do, however, find that fellow skeptics are less comfortable with that. For example, to me, the "placebo effect" is something wonderful that we should celebrate and try to isolate and purify.
However, my peers usually find the placebo effect (is there any other human intellectual endeavour where you decide to name an effect after the one thing that you know to be irrellevant?) to be a reason for dismissal. I strongly disagree. I dismiss pretty quick the explanations given (aura, holisticism, spiritualism, deities), but I recognize skills and recipes and I am fascinated by the mere fact that the body can heal itself (or at least: stop behaving symptomatically). If I could invoke the "placebo effect" at will (without mumbo-jumbo) I would prefer that to taking a pill against normal headache.

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