"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" is false.
#1
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Carl Sagan's one of the most avidly quoted quote. Originally said by Laplace a French mathematician.
This statement is utter nonsense as there is nothing extraordinary about evidence, an evidence is evidence. That's it. Nothing else. You either have it or you don't. Any adjective added to it, 'good', 'extraordinary' etc, is subjective and emotional value based judgment that shouldn't be present in any science based discussion.

It pisses me off when people(usually skeptics) use it. What you guys think?
"The method of science is tried and true. It is not perfect, it's just the best we have. And to abandon it with its skeptical protocols is the pathway to a dark age." -Carl Sagan
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#2
Repeating the word "extraordinary" was probably a way of making the quote more "quotable". I think what it means is "strong". The more far-fetched a claim, the stronger the required evidence.

Here's an example, from the world of science-based medicine:

Quote:Let’s take the example of homeopathy. I use homeopathy a lot because it is, quite literally, water and because its proposed mechanism of action goes against huge swaths of science that has been well-characterized for centuries. I’m not just talking one scientific discipline, either. For homeopathy to be true, much of what we currently understand about physics, chemistry, and biology would have to be, as I am wont to say, not just wrong, but spectacularly wrong. That is more than just lacking prior plausibility. It’s about as close to being impossible as one can imagine in science. Now, I suppose there is a possibility that scientists could be spectacularly wrong about so much settled science at once. If they are, however, it would take compelling evidence on the order of the mass of evidence that supports the impossibility of homeopathy to make that possibility worth taking seriously. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. RCTs showing barely statistically significant effects do not constitute extraordinary evidence, given that chance alone will guarantee that some RCTs will be positive even in the absence of an effect and the biases and deficiencies even in RCTs.

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#3
Unsorted puts it across so aptly; I wish I could do that as well Sweatdrop

I think it's alright to say that. What he meant was, that the more improbable (replace with bizarre, crazy etc) the claim, greater is the onus of responsibility of the person making the claim to back it up with evidence. And to prove something like say, Jesus' resurrection, or Hanuman lifting a mountain (or Hanuman's existence itself), you don't need just historical evidence from unbiased third party (if any at all exist, which they don't! smile )you need logic defying biological, physical and chemical evidence. So evidence is evidence, I agree, but it's important to view the fact that you need more, compelling evidence. If you wish this quote by Hitchens is more to the point.

"That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence."

Peace Flowers
"It's alright, I rarely meet anyone who's able to read it properly. Although personally, I never thought that it to be an odd of a name. Once I give people the pronunciation, they tend to remember my name by easily associating me with it. A unique face, a unique moniker."
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#4
(10-Jul-2011, 08:05 AM)unsorted Wrote: The more far-fetched a claim, the stronger the required evidence.

Quote:.....it would take compelling evidence on the order of the mass of evidence that supports the impossibility of homeopathy to make that possibility worth taking seriously. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence....


This is exactly the thing I was talking about. What makes “Homeopathy can cure this” an extraordinary claim? Could it be perchance that you are applying a post hoc rationalization according to a particular belief of yours (based on examination of the evidence of course) that “Homeopathy can't work because science doesn't support it”?

However, when a claim is made, how can you a priori decide if the claim is “extraordinary” or not. Of course you cannot – you have to wait until after the evidence is examined to make that judgement call. That is why a general statement that requires “extraordinary” claims” to be treated somehow differently than “ordinary” claims is a nonsense. One simply cannot do that in science. All claims must be a priori treated equally according to the strict protocols of critical thinking, logic and the scientific method. Until the evidence is in, one simply cannot know what adjective might be applicable.


(10-Jul-2011, 12:42 PM)nick87 Wrote: I think it's alright to say that. What he meant was, that the more improbable (replace with bizarre, crazy etc) the claim, greater is the onus of responsibility of the person making the claim to back it up with evidence. And to prove something like say, Jesus' resurrection, or Hanuman lifting a mountain (or Hanuman's existence itself), you don't need just historical evidence from unbiased third party (if any at all exist, which they don't! smile )you need logic defying biological, physical and chemical evidence. So evidence is evidence, I agree, but it's important to view the fact that you need more, compelling evidence.

More compelling evidence according to your own subjective opinion, but how does more compelling evidence equate to “extraordinary” evidence. “More compelling” does not equal “extraordinary” by any accepted definition.


Quote:If you wish this quote by Hitchens is more to the point.

"That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence."


One of my favorite quotes,
But I don't see any connection whatsoever...
"The method of science is tried and true. It is not perfect, it's just the best we have. And to abandon it with its skeptical protocols is the pathway to a dark age." -Carl Sagan
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#5
(10-Jul-2011, 02:03 PM)praty Wrote: This is exactly the thing I was talking about. What makes “Homeopathy can cure this” an extraordinary claim?

Quote:One simply cannot do that in science. All claims must be a priori treated equally according to the strict protocols of critical thinking, logic and the scientific method. Until the evidence is in, one simply cannot know what adjective might be applicable.

Because homeopathic claims were a priori treated as the same as any other claim, they were investigated and no evidence was found to support them. That's what makes homeopathy an extraordinary claim. Not because of post hoc rationalization.

Frankly all I see in your arguments is semantic hair splitting. The extraordinary evidence is extraordinary in the sense that a claim is extraordinary. And of course it is subjective. I don't see a problem with that. We use plenty of adjectives in science and all of them, in a way, are subjective. For some non-human intelligence Newton's discovery of gravity may elicit just a "meh". So what's your point?
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#6
(10-Jul-2011, 02:24 PM)Lije Wrote: Because homeopathic claims were a priori treated as the same as any other claim, they were investigated and no evidence was found to support them. That's what makes homeopathy an extraordinary claim. Not because of post hoc rationalization.

If we find evidence for it in future, will that be an extraordinary evidence? What makes it different than ordinary evidence?
You're implying here that time decides ordinariness of evidence.

Quote:Frankly all I see in your arguments is semantic hair splitting. The extraordinary evidence is extraordinary in the sense that a claim is extraordinary. And of course it is subjective. I don't see a problem with that. We use plenty of adjectives in science and all of them, in a way, are subjective. For some non-human intelligence Newton's discovery of gravity may elicit just a "meh". So what's your point?

We can't term claims as extraordinary. You exactly prove my point in your post which is - this statement should not be used in scientific discourse.
"The method of science is tried and true. It is not perfect, it's just the best we have. And to abandon it with its skeptical protocols is the pathway to a dark age." -Carl Sagan
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#7
(10-Jul-2011, 03:08 PM)praty Wrote: If we find evidence for it in future, will that be an extraordinary evidence? What makes it different than ordinary evidence?
You're implying here that time decides ordinariness of evidence.

Finding a gene for trait X is ordinary evidence. Because that doesn't require throwing out known biology. Homeopathy if true, to use a quote from the article unsorted linked to, would mean "much of what we currently understand about physics, chemistry, and biology would have to be, as I am wont to say, not just wrong, but spectacularly wrong." That is what makes it extraordinary. Not time. As I said you are arguing semantics. The meaning of extraordinary is quite clear from that article unsorted linked to.

Quote:We can't term claims as extraordinary. You exactly prove my point in your post which is - this statement should not be used in scientific discourse.

You seem to have some utopian vision of how science works. Every step is laden with subjectivity - how governments and universities fund projects, what ideas a scientist choses to work on etc... By your logic for a project to be funded, one should not use subjectivity (bolstered by evidence). A homeopathy project should be equal consideration as an immunology project when it comes to funding.
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#8
I don't understand why we're trying to analyze semantics here... or how it matters in any way. The essence of scientific verification is still the same. It analyzes the hypothesis, makes the necessary investigation, tests the hypothesis, verify and replicate the results independently and declare the hypothesis valid. Nothing has changed in that aspect. So why does semantics matter at all?
"It's alright, I rarely meet anyone who's able to read it properly. Although personally, I never thought that it to be an odd of a name. Once I give people the pronunciation, they tend to remember my name by easily associating me with it. A unique face, a unique moniker."
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#9
Quote:We can't term claims as extraordinary. You exactly prove my point in your post which is - this statement should not be used in scientific discourse.
We cannot know that a claim is extraordinary, but we can make a judgement that it is.
We can judge a claim to be extraordinary when, if true, it would revolutionize our knowledge of the natural world and/or oblige us to modify the laws of physics that have been experimentaly corroborated over and over again for centuries.
see , we can term claims as extra-ordinary , can is about capacity, the word you are looking for is should we,? we strive to be as objective as possible but there are some instances where we better be subjective to save us a lot of effort ,

extra-ordinary(evidence) as mentioned above is supposed to mean highly appealing and extra-ordinary (claim) refers to improbable or tangential to current knowledge

it is subjective but it is a quote ,it is supposed to be catchy and must send out the message succinctly which it does

Quote: this statement should not be used in scientific discourse.
it isn't , it isn't in just black and white scientists don't go about labeling evidences and claims in just two categories , ok this is extra-ordinary, this is ordinary ,
there are various levels of respect

extra-ordinary evidences require extra-ordinary claims is the general thumb rule wherein in general consensus the more revolutionary a claim is the more struggle the proposer will have to go through and more convincing should be his results, or the weight of evidence for a claim must be proportioned to its strangeness or as unsorted said the more far-fetched a claim the stronger the required evidence, when people try to reach a consensus it will be subjective , time will decide it ,past knowledge will decide it, biases will effect the decision of what is extra-ordinary but it does not have to be perfect
when it was proposed that bats actually "see" by hearing it was and extra-ordinary claim(at that time) it wasn't until it was very convincingly demonstrated that they do that it was accepted ,

regarding your point about applying adjectives to evidence of course that can be done as i said there are various levels of respect, when you claim someone to be a murderer that is an extra-ordinary claim, in some cases certain circumstantial evidences, finding of motive, cut the case but it is very difficult to get accused behind bars with just these , certain evidences such as an eye witness , a murder weapon with finger prints hold a much greater weight

it is the same way in science certain evidence hold greater weight than others , there is nothing wrong with using adjectives

Quote:This statement is utter nonsense as there is nothing extraordinary about evidence, an evidence is evidence. That's it. Nothing else. You either have it or you don't. Any adjective added to it, 'good', 'extraordinary' etc, is subjective and emotional value based judgment that shouldn't be present in any science based discussion.
actually there are various factors that constitute a "good" evidence such as
evidence drawn from different sorts of tests and even different fields of study is considered in general "better"
good evidence tends to consist of tests whose results can be consistently duplicated with a tiny variation in the results
then we have to look at percentage of error and be careful that error does not incline towards either side which is why most esp evidences are ignored
result of a double blind experiment in general holds more weight which is why no good evidence of dowsing supports it since if they do not already know where water is their rods act dumb
then there are control groups when finding evidence that a pill works in a way such as homeopathic pills result of an experiment that has two different groups one given placebo and one given homeopathic pills will have more weight
and so forth ...


Quote:This is exactly the thing I was talking about. What makes “Homeopathy can cure this” an extraordinary claim? Could it be perchance that you are applying a post hoc rationalization according to a particular belief of yours (based on examination of the evidence of course) that “Homeopathy can't work because science doesn't support it”?

However, when a claim is made, how can you a priori decide if the claim is “extraordinary” or not. Of course you cannot – you have to wait until after the evidence is examined to make that judgement call. That is why a general statement that requires “extraordinary” claims” to be treated somehow differently than “ordinary” claims is a nonsense. One simply cannot do that in science. All claims must be a priori treated equally according to the strict protocols of critical thinking, logic and the scientific method. Until the evidence is in, one simply cannot know what adjective might be applicable.
we can always make a possibly flawed but a general consensus judgement call

Quote:All claims must be a priori treated equally according to the strict protocols of critical thinking, logic and the scientific method.
yes that would be free of biases but at the same time ridiculous, it would be slow ,cumbersome,and progress retarding and ignoring prior knowledge sure, if we did it like that you would be right, there'd be no such thing as extraordinary claim, but why should we reinvent the wheel every time? If we applied the same approach to math we'd have to start every calculus problem with 1+1=2, because after all, we are skeptics and must have a blank slate and keep an open mind. Perhaps the laws of the universe have changed since the last time we did calculus.
to save time and energy we cannot just take all claims with equal respect,we can decide based on various factors of what should is not worth wasting time on
Experiments that have failed repeatedly in the past
Subjects of frequent urban legends and myths
Things that seem highly desirable
Fields that have been notable for fraud
High in level of crackpot index
This IS ambiguous, and vulnerable to abuse. Science holds a higher standard than any other field, but it is not perfect. Scientists remain human, with finite intellects and finite time.
Quote:"The method of science is tried and true. It is not perfect, it's just the best we have. And to abandon it with its skeptical protocols is the pathway to a dark age." -Carl Sagan
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#10
The reason homeopathic claims are extraordinary is that homeopathy theory violates scientifically accepted and well-established laws of physics. Period.

Science is cumulative in a certain sense. If an experiment demonstrates slight significance of a homeopathic "treatment", the experimental design, methods and analysis must be scrutinized very thoroughly and the experiment must be repeated multiple times with large sample sizes using double-blinded experiments and appropriately reliable statistical methods, and be confirmed by independent researchers on established peer-reviewed scientific journals. Each homeopathic claim is more than just that. It is a claim that extends to and challenges long-held and scientifically accepted ideas. Recognizing this fact is the opposite of aprori judgement.

If a homeopathic claim is validated by experiment of the highest standards, it will initiate a scientific revolution, requiring new physics to explain newly established inconsistencies in known laws. And no, "water has memory" doesn't qualify as such.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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