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UK-Skeptics

Post by Guest on Fri 6 May 2011 - 15:07

A great site and wealth of information.

http://www.ukskeptics.com/
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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Kitkat on Fri 6 May 2011 - 18:35

John wrote:A great site and wealth of information.

http://www.ukskeptics.com/

Exskeptits Except it's closed now. Ooh ... the sight of that site makes me go all tongue-tied. giggle
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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Guest on Fri 6 May 2011 - 19:38

Kit-Kat wrote:Except it's closed now.
No, it's still there.




Added: yes, the forum is closed but the website is still active and doing its intended job.


Last edited by John on Fri 6 May 2011 - 19:44; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Added a clarification)
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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Kitkat on Fri 6 May 2011 - 19:58

John wrote:No, it's still there.

I know that really ... I was just trying to be witty. cleverclogs sidestep
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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Kitkat on Sat 7 May 2011 - 14:22

John wrote:the forum is closed but the website is still active and doing its intended job.


I like this bit in the Newsletter for May 2010, in the write-up re the UK-Skeptics Conference in Muncaster. Very Happy toast

Some might have questioned the wisdom of
mixing ‘skeptics’ and’ believers’ in an enclosed place, but
we had no problems- even the lady visitors from the
Spiritlove web forum found things to like about Skeptics
(and vice versa).
http://www.ukskeptics.com/newsletters/2010-1.pdf

Are there going to be any more Newsletters?
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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Guest on Sat 7 May 2011 - 15:59

Kit-Kat wrote:Are there going to be any more Newsletters?
No, and there's unlikely to be any more new content as I don't think publishing stuff under the banner 'skeptics' is a useful way of communicating effectively.

I do have a few half written or planned articles that I may write up at some point and add them but it's not a priority. I have one on the psychology of psychic readings which I think would be informative and probably well positioned on a skeptics' website so I might do that one.
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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Kitkat on Sat 7 May 2011 - 19:23

John wrote:I have one on the psychology of psychic readings which I think would be informative and probably well positioned on a skeptics' website so I might do that one.

Oh aye. That sounds interesting. albino From where did you garner the material for your article?
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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Guest on Sat 7 May 2011 - 20:47

Well, I tend to read primary academic research as my source of information as well as other scholarly work and I have enough information to write a pretty informative article.

This has been in the pipeline for a long time now. I just can't get motivated to write anything.

In fact, I remember talking to you at the conference about my ideas for structuring how we think about alternative medicine, placebo effects, etc. That stuff has been 'in the pipeline' since about 2006. I haven't been overly motivated by 'skepticism' since then. Sleep
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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Kitkat on Sun 8 May 2011 - 10:15

John wrote:That stuff has been 'in the pipeline' since about 2006. I haven't been overly motivated by 'skepticism' since then. Sleep

Huh? So when was UK-Skeptics (the forum) actually formed then? I joined there in 2007 - when 'motivation' for skepticism was pretty noticeably active there.
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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Guest on Sun 8 May 2011 - 12:33

The forum opened early in 2006.

2006 was the peak year for website activity but the forum peaked in 2009.

The main problem with a site like that one is that it could only ever operate successfully with a very narrow remit. That's because almost everyone, including those who call themselves skeptics, don't actually understand what skepticism is at all.

e.g. if you want to set up a website to oppose paranormal or alt. med. claims then using the label 'skeptics' will probably work OK as it fits in with most people's idea of skepticism (non-belief, opposition, denial) but if your idea of skepticism is true to its original meaning (inquiry, pursuit of knowledge) then you're wasting your time - particularly if you want to communicate a message.

UK-Skeptics could have a future if its remit is narrowed to just dealing with the paranormal and alt. med., but if people have different goals such as being educational or promoting science/critical thinking/etc., then a different approach is needed.

The label 'skeptics' is a huge hindrance to any form of effective communication (other than preaching to other skeptics - which is all they tend to do).
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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Feather on Sun 8 May 2011 - 13:44

You were thinking about starting a new project, John. How's that going, or have you changed your mind about it?


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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Guest on Sun 8 May 2011 - 15:58

I'm actually working on something else at the moment. It's going to be a light-hearted community website but the main thing is that I'm working on a bespoke website design for it. That website code will be reusable so if I ever do go ahead with the CT stuff I'll have a properly designed and optimised website for it (as opposed to crappy blogs etc.)*

I have a really, really good idea for how to promote critical thinking that incorporates the ideas I was postulating (a businesslike approach: defined purpose and goals, targeting an audience, etc.) and the good thing is that no one else is doing it.

My former colleagues rejected the idea. The only problem I had with that is that they didn't actually know what the idea was before they rejected it.

The main drawback with doing this sort of altruistic stuff is that you get no thanks for it, you make nothing from it and it takes a great deal of time and effort to do. That's why it really does need to be effective.

Skepticism, as it's currently practised**, is almost completely ineffective as it's almost exclusively about attracting people in (i.e. those who are already likely to be sceptical) than engaging with others. Even when they do try 'outreach' they're turning to blogs, podcasts etc. The problem being that these new Web2.0 technologies are highly effective in helping people to filter out what they're not interested in. So not only is the type of message they are trying to get over done in the wrong way (mostly) to begin with, the method of delivery is very poor also.

This is why anyone wishing to communicate ideas needs to do something different. A new approach might not work either but I say that trying something new is a better option than continuing with something that's already known to fail to deliver.






* I have research papers that have looked into the communication of science and what 75% people do when they're looking for information on something these days is to log onto the internet and use a search engine. So the best place you can have your content is on a website that is well ranked by the search engines therefore delivering your content to those who are actively searching for it. Search engines don't rate blogs highly at all (as they're largely full of crap) so you're not reaching your target audience with a blog.

Blogs, podcasts, facebook, twitter, and such like are useful for capturing a like-minded audience. They're not the tools of delivering information to a non-captive audience - they're the tools for preaching to the converted.




** Practised as it's something that's being done?
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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Guest on Sun 8 May 2011 - 16:00

Oops, a bit of a rant there...

The answer is that I haven't done anything about the CT project but I haven't rejected it either. I guess it will just have to wait for a time when I have the time and inclination to make the effort to do it as I personally get nothing in return.
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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Kitkat on Sun 8 May 2011 - 16:33

John wrote:** Practised as it's something that's being done?

study ......... :thumb:
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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Feather on Sun 8 May 2011 - 17:43

Sorry, John, I don't know much about blogs, websites etc. I don't even know what much of the jargon about/on computers means but I accept what you are saying. You obviously know a lot. I wouldn't know where to start. I hope it all goes well for you.

As kk indicated, your spelling is perfect. cheers


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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Guest on Mon 9 May 2011 - 17:13

Feather wrote:I hope it all goes well for you.
Thank you very much!

I'm designing and programming a new database-driven website system that I can use. Initially it will be used for the community project I have on the go but it will also be able to be used on more serious projects too.

It's all coming together beautifully and I'm extremely pleased with it.

As for communicating information. Well, while I was studying psychology I also looked into things like the psychology of persuasion, making effective arguments and that sort of thing and what I discovered, by examining the research and evidence, is that the way skeptics (and no doubt many other groups) go about things is often ineffective or even counter-productive.

For groups that aim to be 'educational', the psychology literature is not a very encouraging read. Most approaches don't work; and if anything, only make things worse! It's a waste of time.

If you see arguments about this subject (what to do about irrational thinking) the experienced skeptics and educators tend to say that the only thing that can be done is to increase people's awareness of and use of critical thinking. It's the old adage of teaching people how to think rather than what to think.

Of course you have to be realistic with this. I have an idea for a project that I think would work but I know it isn't going to change the world - it's just something that might make a small contribution in addition to other people's work in the same area. A small group with no funding or income is never going to have much clout, but if its efforts are channelled into the right areas in the right way, then it could still make a difference.
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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Feather on Mon 9 May 2011 - 22:01

How long is it likely to take to complete it?


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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Guest on Wed 11 May 2011 - 11:42

I've been busy working on the site this week and I expect it will be ready for testing in a few days.

I'm writing the code for the integration of the website with the database now and it's a phase where you do a lot of work but nothing much seems to change. Then you put the last bits of code in place and the whole thing springs to life!

I'd like to have it operational by next week.
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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Kitkat on Wed 11 May 2011 - 20:48

It all sounds terribly complicated and technically testing. confused. drunken but exciting though. I'm sure it'll all be worth it. Are we all invited to the site-warming party? :twisted:
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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Guest on Thu 12 May 2011 - 12:04

Web programming is basically just problem solving - that's why I love it!

I might send you the URL for it but it won't be what you're possibly expecting.
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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Feather on Thu 12 May 2011 - 12:26

That's just made it more intriguing. cheers


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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Kitkat on Sun 15 May 2011 - 22:47

John wrote:I might send you the URL for it but it won't be what you're possibly expecting.

How do you know what I might be expecting?

You just might, eh? Rolling Eyes What does that mean exactly? You mean if we're on good behaviour or something?
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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Guest on Mon 16 May 2011 - 1:34

Well I wasn't sure whether you'd be interested, particularly as I'll be implementing a system of forum apartheid against believers in superstitions such as mediumship. Wink

It's not going to be a skeptics' site. It's going to be a light-hearted community place (with a forum) that will largely be fun based (satire etc.) but I guess some of it will be a bit more hard-hitting (at least when I get writing it will be! ).

Now my next project (based on this web application what I wrote) will be the CT one. Then I can get truly anal and immensely analytical and boring. 8)
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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Feather on Mon 16 May 2011 - 9:32

That former one sounds like a revenge attack on believers for The Hideaway on SL but you wouldn't be so petty, would you, John?? Nah. giggle


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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Kitkat on Mon 16 May 2011 - 12:30

John wrote:Well I wasn't sure whether you'd be interested, particularly as I'll be implementing a system of forum apartheid against believers in superstitions such as mediumship. Wink

Don't start me off. judge woohoo
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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Guest on Mon 16 May 2011 - 14:24



I'm really enjoying watching how the SL inmates are trying to preserve their belief system by denying the facts.

Cognitive dissonance in action.
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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Feather on Mon 16 May 2011 - 15:15

I believe you. You would enjoy that. I don't take much part in those discussions any more but sometimes I can't stop myself.


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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Guest on Mon 16 May 2011 - 16:27

I did offer up a very reasonable definition of mental mediumship and I did post a thread outlining the scope of superstition but it seems that everyone missed them (or is ignoring them more like).

However, it's of no importance.

You're right though Feather. I really do enjoy watching people's arguments and reasoning. I'm interested in the psychology of thinking (decision making, problem solving, etc.) in itself but also in superstitious thinking (it being an instance of how thinking goes wrong).

One area I would love to expand on is what's generically known as 'discourse analysis'. This is largely about how language is used (usually by examining text/transcripts) as a dynamic way of creating meaning, establishing personal positions etc.

It's all about examining how words, phrases and repertoires are used. It's more qualitative than quantitative but I think it's an excellent tool (or set of tools) for examining the interactions between people and how they make meaning. And yes, it's an ideal tool for examining psychic readings and such like to see where the actual meaning was created and how.

I did a project/dissertation using discourse analysis last year (got an 'A', naturellement ) and thoroughly enjoyed it (in retrospect!)


Added: I meant to add that studying discourse analysis at a deeper level would be a great way to improve my English.


Last edited by John on Mon 16 May 2011 - 16:29; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Added a sentence)
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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Kitkat on Mon 16 May 2011 - 17:22

John wrote:One area I would love to expand on is what's generically known as 'discourse analysis'. This is largely about how language is used (usually by examining text/transcripts) as a dynamic way of creating meaning, establishing personal positions etc.

It's all about examining how words, phrases and repertoires are used. It's more qualitative than quantitative but I think it's an excellent tool (or set of tools) for examining the interactions between people and how they make meaning. And yes, it's an ideal tool for examining psychic readings and such like to see where the actual meaning was created and how.

That's the sort of thing that I am really interested too. Smile
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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Feather on Mon 16 May 2011 - 22:39

I'd never heard of Discourse Analysis. Would you post an example of it working?


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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Guest on Tue 17 May 2011 - 13:53

Oh, it's a huge topic and very hard to illustrate with small examples. You can do it in several ways: from doing a 'thematic analysis' where you analyse a discussion and look for recurrent themes to analysing individual sentences where each word is analysed.

A textbook example (Edwards, 1999) is the response The Sun newspaper rag made in response to Earl Spencer's laying the blame of Diana's death with the tabloids and the paparazzi they paid. Their editorial included:

"In the depths of his grief, Diana’s brother is entitled to be bitter about her death."

The idea of an analysis on this sentence is to ascertain what The Sun were trying to achieve using the particular words chosen.

Obviously, they are being blamed for contributing to Diana's death but don't want to admit that they were. One way of deflecting such criticism is to put the cause of the opponent's criticism down to emotional factors (an internal attribution) rather than to situational factors (an external attribution).

They achieve this by the use of two words in particular: grief and bitter.

By beginning the sentence with, "In the depths of his grief..." they've set the scene by indicating that it is the grief of Diana's death that motivated Earl Spencer to blame the media; and the ending, "Diana’s brother is entitled to be bitter about her death" also implies an internal, emotional process occurring.

They could just have easily used a word like "angry" to describe his criticism but "angry" implies a situational factor. i.e. He's angry at something for causing Diana's death rather than being bitter about it.

This tactic of deflecting arguments and criticism from opponents is very common. The MO is to suggest that opponents hold the views/criticisms/values/etc. that they do because of some internal psychological conflict. That way, you don't have to acknowledge their position or deal with it.


Coincidentally, or was it synchronicity? , I was reading Paranormalia earlier (because it's an excellent source of fallacious reasoning) and I came across this response to Hawking's recent statements about God etc.: Fairy stories

Look at the comments section below and look out for those 'deflections' where Hawking's arguments are ignored in favour of attributing a malign psychological state to him via 'remote psychoanalysis'.


The examples on Paranormalia are quite obvious but the power of discourse analysis is that much more subtle versions of the same thing can be picked up by analysing the choice of words. It's not that people sit down and deliberately choose one word over another but when they're defending a position (or whatever) then the selection of words will convey what they really mean. "Diana’s brother is entitled to be bitter about her death" and "Diana’s brother is entitled to be angry about her death" have very different meanings (in this context).


I do have some papers on discourse analysis if anyone wants a copy. (Do we have a hidden area on here where I could upload a document or two?)
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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Kitkat on Tue 17 May 2011 - 14:31

Certainly is an interesting subject.

John wrote:I do have some papers on discourse analysis if anyone wants a copy. (Do we have a hidden area on here where I could upload a document or two?)

Not as yet (apart from the Test Forum - but stuff automatically gets deleted from there after 7 days).

We can create a forum that will be visible and accessible only to members who are logged in.
I will get on to it later today (no time just now). I would be interested in seeing those papers on discourse analysis.
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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Kitkat on Tue 17 May 2011 - 17:39

John wrote:(Do we have a hidden area on here where I could upload a document or two?)

Try the Cat Flap - now available. Wink
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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Guest on Tue 17 May 2011 - 21:20

I'll have a butcher's shortly.
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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Kitkat on Fri 28 Oct 2011 - 21:56

Guest wrote:One area I would love to expand on is what's generically known as 'discourse analysis'. This is largely about how language is used (usually by examining text/transcripts) as a dynamic way of creating meaning, establishing personal positions etc.

It's all about examining how words, phrases and repertoires are used. It's more qualitative than quantitative but I think it's an excellent tool (or set of tools) for examining the interactions between people and how they make meaning.

Feather wrote:I'd never heard of Discourse Analysis. Would you post an example of it working?


A perfect example of discourse analysis to be found in this thread on Spiritlove:

http://spiritlove.freeforums.org/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=2467
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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Feather on Fri 28 Oct 2011 - 22:21

Thanks, kitkat. I understand it to mean the study of the language used in debate/discussion in order to win points, so to speak. The use of techniques such as emotive words etc to press home a point of view in subtle ways etc. Is that right or am I way off?


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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Kitkat on Fri 28 Oct 2011 - 22:25

Feather wrote:Thanks, kitkat. I understand it to mean the study of the language used in debate/discussion in order to win points, so to speak. The use of techniques such as emotive words etc to press home a point of view in subtle ways etc. Is that right or am I way off?

Well, in my understanding, that is only part of it ... goes a bit deeper than that.

Can you spot the actual *working* examples (there is more than one) in that linked SL thread?
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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Feather on Fri 28 Oct 2011 - 22:31

I would try but I'm tired now and my bed is calling me. I did read it a minute ago but I need to read UC's definition of it again first. I merely skimmed over it before. I love you


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THE HAUNTING OF UK-SKEPTICS !

Post by Kitkat on Sat 10 Dec 2011 - 14:00

LOL - Evidence of Life after Death!!

There's a ghost haunting the old UK-Skeptics forum ....

The sceptre of John Jackson has been sighted wandering its deserted grounds ....

This scary sceptre is said to haunt the old premises round about Christmas Time ...

Graham Dare (self-proclaimed UK's top medium, lol) has been brought in to investigate the strange goings-on ....

Dowsing and automatic writing abound?

http://www.ukskeptics.com/forum/showthread.php/983-Graham-Dare-psychic-medium-Predicts-Madeleine-McCann-will-be-found?p=94436#post94436


Researchers are reported to be extremely interested and rushing to the scene of this latest phenomenon.

http://skeps.freeforums.org/post992.html#p992

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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Umberto Cocopop on Sat 10 Dec 2011 - 15:14

I see Croydon Bob's still in the preoperational stage of cognitive development!

So, what could be going on on UKS then?

Well, on hearing the news of the UK's #1 medium, I just thought it would be nice to finish the story off.

It's nothing more than that.

It's just that the UKS website and forum still gets several thousand visits per day. i.e. it's a skeptics' website that actually gets read.

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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Aussiepom on Sat 7 Jan 2012 - 16:16

This sounds interesting.......
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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Kitkat on Tue 17 Jan 2012 - 22:51

KitKat wrote:
John wrote:I might send you the URL for it but it won't be what you're possibly expecting.

How do you know what I might be expecting?

You just might, eh? Rolling Eyes What does that mean exactly? You mean if we're on good behaviour or something?

Hee-hee ha-ha ho-ho ... I found it! If Mohammed can't be bothered to come down the mountain .... climb it yourself - and stick a flag on it! I did (but I'm not telling )

Oh and ... it's exactly as I expected. Wink
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Re: UK-Skeptics

Post by Umberto Cocopop on Tue 24 Jan 2012 - 23:49

KitKat wrote:Oh and ... it's exactly as I expected. Wink
Well it's not as was originally intended!

There were several of us going to run it as mainly a daft/fun site but by the time I got it finished, most had drifted away. So it's now basically a test site. But it's still fun.

    Current date/time is Fri 18 Aug 2017 - 2:11