Arguing with Theists
#1
Recently saw the NDTV debate Science, magic or miracles

The debate didn't have any new or good arguments from theists. So there is not much to discuss on that front. But I would like to discuss about how to respond and some takeaways from this discussion.
  • Narendra Nayak did a fabulous job of retaining composure amidst adhominem attacks and maintained civility from his side while presenting rational arguments. I think that is a very important thing because the biased theists are looking for slightest opportunity to stop listening.
  • Noticed how Raghu Rai repeatedly brings the point of not equating tricksters with the gurus while surreptitiously presenting personal anecdotes as evidence. This is a cheap trick in debates to win brownie points with the people who are already believers without really making a point. I think this should be called out.
  • Ashwini brings in the "I have already done this" card to the table. How do we call out such lies? [Narendra Nayak reported that the site has taken down the so called certificate after his complaints]
  • One person made a good point that medical personnel are not qualified enough to catch tricks like mind/face/photo reading etc. We should probably make a list of who all be needed to evaluate such claims of miracle.
  • Another person air quoted Science while making some bullshit point about how Dawkins disproved God in God Delusion. There are two important points to be tackled here
    • The air quoting of Science should be immediately pointed and it should be stressed that people need to understand what is Science and what is not. Using terms like energy, time etc doesn't make everything Science.
    • The critical distinctions between proofs/disproofs and justification should be pointed out. God Delusion doesn't prove non-existence of god. It gives us arguments that deprive of any justification to believe in God.
  • A lot of exchanges had words like "beyond logic". The pseudo profundity [deepityness] should be again brought to everybody's attention. What are effective ways of doing this?
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#2
(22-Jul-2013, 06:36 PM)Kanad Kanhere Wrote: Recently saw the NDTV debate Science, magic or miracles

Just watched the first 30 minutes.

* Raghu Rai's use of words like "Energy" is totally meaningless. No one called him out on it. Wish there was a high school physics teacher in the panel to point out that energy is the capacity to do work. Spiritual energy means nothing.

* I was disappointed with Sorcar. He could be a James Randi but chooses not to. He calls himself a Hindu. He stops short of calling Saibaba a charlatan. He also wants people to hold on to their faith if they want to. His daughter is also of a similar opinion. She mentions that by engaging in this rationalist discussion we might be offending people's deeply held beliefs and that she does not want to do it. IMO this attitude of Sorcar and his daughter is very condescending.

* Ashwini guy says "I do not exist". Wish some one from the panel got up and smacked him on his head.

* The mind reader (as a performer) Nakul Shenoy is not allowed to talk. He says that he uses the power of persuasion and behavioral psychology (sort of like Derren Brown I guess) to perform his tricks. He says the 'holymen' might be using similar skills to fool people. But there is a lot of cross-talk and he is cut off by Raghu Rai and Ashwini.

* The sociologist on the panel was a total waste. He says that lot of scientific cosmology came from religion so we can not separate religion from science. He seems to ignore the fact that it was so fucking difficult to pry cosmology out of the hands of religious nuts. He should read about Galileo. He also cuts off Narendra Nayak right after the camphor trick. The point Narendra Nayak tries to make is that such tricks are used by people to show that they are possessed by God. The sociologist goes off on a tangent by saying that possession can not be reduced to Chemistry and that it is much more than that. He however does not explain how the possessed perform the camphor trick that Narendra demonstrated.

I was extremely disappointed with the composition of the panel. Too many sympathizer of pseudoscience and faith. Only the UFOlogist and the flat-earther were missing. Very few representation (Narendra Nayak and Nakul Shenoy) from the rationalist side.
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