Don't argue with your elders!
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15-07-2014, 02:05 AM
RE: Don't argue with your elders!
I really like the title to your thread and how you used the words " your elders" to illustrate a tender familial bond as opposed to arguing with an elderly friend, stranger, or acquaintance.

I believe some time in the future you will come to cherish their belief in the dowsing rod.

One of my fondest memories of my Grandmother, I'm 58, is her using the piano to play and sing her way to forgiveness from God after she had sinned, so she believed. Boy could she play those gospel songs.

"If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story." Orson Welles
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15-07-2014, 04:33 AM
RE: Don't argue with your elders!
(15-07-2014 01:30 AM)Mathilda Wrote:  The brain is really good at learning patterns in the environment which you may not consciously realise.

[SNIP]

I make tablet myself. It's a Scottish confectionery made from very simple ingredients but cooking it is a real art.

[SNIP]

I think that's why the dowsers in Randi's test failed. They had to operate in an essentially uniform environment in that the containers (usually pipes, I believe) that contain water and those that don't are located fairly close together (e.g. in a particular field) and environmental differences are minimal or non-existent. So, it's not water they are picking up, it's environmental clues.

And you make tablet??????!!!! My mother used to make tablet many years ago and we used to love it. I was born in Glasgow and tablet and toffee were staples way back when. But you're right cooking tablet is not easy. It's an art I never mastered.
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15-07-2014, 04:35 AM (This post was last modified: 15-07-2014 04:56 AM by Luminon.)
RE: Don't argue with your elders!
(14-07-2014 12:17 PM)elconquistador Wrote:  I just wanted to start of with saying that my theist grandparents are two of the most loving and caring individuals in my entire life. They're smart too, but they've found a way to convince themselves that they aren't.
Well, what if you tried to appeal to their humility? They don't know very well how smart other people are. Maybe others are really less smart. Stupid people are generally more confident, because they don't know all the things where they might be wrong. (Dunning-Kruger effect)

(14-07-2014 12:17 PM)elconquistador Wrote:  But here is my issue, I don't stand up for myself or the truth but I'm not sure if it is all that important.

My grandmother, specifically, is very outspoken. She's kind of on and off with whether or not she agrees with my scientific arguments. Like one day she's cool with evolution, the next day she says "I don't come from a monkey." One day she is cool with the Big Bang Theory and the next day she argues the 6,000 year theory.
Well, you might say it's true, we don't come from monkeys, monkeys and us come from a very, very distant common ancestor. But it's equally true that under different taxonomic classification we are monkeys, we still fall into the group. Maybe your grandparents would like this video, it explains this stuff quite clearly. And there is a nice depiction of evolution of a turtle. Surely they have no problem that turtles evolved from some kind of scaly lizard.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rW6R9RHvVew

(14-07-2014 12:17 PM)elconquistador Wrote:  Normally, I don't argue to much on these points because I don't find it useful to do so, the point is mute. But yesterday they were arguing that that funny little method of using two sticks that point to water is efficient enough to find a well. I believe it is called "dowsing."

From what I understand, dowsing is pretty much debunked. It's a bunch of rubbish but when I tried to convey this to my grandparents...wow! They sure got defensive!

I really should have showed him the Richard Dawkins segment where a psychologist debunks the practice with a controlled experiment.

The following is just an opinion, I have no personal experience with that. But I'd like to show you, that you do not have to absolutely oppose your grandparents' opinion. There is more wiggle room for discussion than it seems.
It seems to me you are not interested in dowsing itself, only debunking it, so you can get it over with. That is not responsible to your relationship with grandparents, or dowsing for that matter. Without interest in the topic (or defense of reason, liberty or personal integrity), skepticism is just armchair denial. I don't like this attitude, that scientists in white coats with government funding are the vanguard of humanity and everyone else is condemned to passively process what they discovered, like the vicarious sacrament of the church mass in the pre-Hussite era. I really don't think reality works that way. Maybe we ordinary people can't replicate our results, but we can always see an interesting thing or two in our lives, if we're active and attentive. No scientific theory explains everything, there are always anomalous phenomena that fall through the grid.

I weakly believe in dowsing. I had an old professor, very skeptical man, who taught philosophy of science. However, he learned the skill of dowsing and even taught it to his granddaughter. And he had no explanation as to the mechanism. The way he described it, it was as if the dowsing stick was in direct contact with the water. The most I got him to admit, was, that there is some transmission of force at a distance.

Was that the experiment with closed containers of water and dowsers walked around with the sticks to see if there's water in them? I am afraid that both Dawkins and the dowsers were ignorant about what are they really looking for. Dawkins is a scientist and a skeptic, he asks the questions, he has no experience with the phenomenon. But when the dowsers are ignorant themselves, they will necessarily agree to an an experiment that makes no sense at all.

Dowsers made an assumption that the dowsing stick reacts to water. So they saw nothing wrong with water in a box - and Dawkins had let them at that. I really think he shouldn't, he should have shown more curiosity and better design. There was another, better experiment, where dowsers detected a streaming water in hoses underground. The water went on and off, changing with each experiment, getting the dowsers pretty confused.

That is an assumption that the stick reacts to water. And if there is some mysterious field, it is like an electromagnet, you stream the water in like a current into the coil, and the field spreads around immediately, loud and clear, and can be picked up by the dowsing stick. Again, that is an assumption that water behaves like electricity in a coil.

From what I heard, yes, there is some reaction to streaming water. But whatever that streaming water does, some kind of field, it takes several hours of continuous streaming to accumulate. And it's not the water itself, it accumulates in the surrounding soil and rocks, which means at both sides of the actual water vein, not right above the vein itself. So it's more of a natural phenomenon that is not easy to simulate, unless you know exactly, what you are doing. The dowsing reaction seems to behave rather like an accumulating electro-static field, than like the immediate electro-magnetic repulsion. And yes, it does not exclude some subconscious reaction with human body and nerve system. But I wouldn't go as far as to think that dowsers are faking it and turning the rod when they consciously think it should turn.
You can read more here.

(14-07-2014 12:17 PM)elconquistador Wrote:  But then again...I let this one go, to sympathetically argue was not enough, so I dropped out before anything was instigated but now I feel bad.

I had totally forgotten how easily superstitious and illogical I was as a theist (mormon) until last night with my grandparents.

I understand their belief in God, but dowsing? Really?

I hope not all theists are as superstitious and non-critical of such crazy ideas.
Your chances aren't good, if your grandparents can't think consistently. If they have an opinion, they should say it clearly and not change it from day to day, unless given evidence.
If that's not senility or craziness, it may be shame and fear of thinking. It can be some kind of trauma that they are reminded of. Believe it or not, people are not stupid, they are geniuses when it comes to avoiding some kind of old, internal pain.
I wouldn't judge them by the ideas they hold - only by their consistency (and maybe method, but that's asking too much). Intelligent people can spot inconsistencies, that much at least should be universal. Everything else is a technical detail of scientific gathering facts that may be counter-intuitive. Intelligence does not mean that people will hold conventional ideas, sometimes quite opposite.

In your place I'd show your grandparents that I am not a creature of routine and journal, that I can hold some unconventional but consistent ideas. Then I would use that as an argument to demand consistency from their ideas. I'd show them that science is not my religion, but the consistency and reason is absolute. Inconsistency, uncertainty and ignorance isn't bad, as long as we name it clearly for what it is. Religion often gets the credit for having the most complete "answers" about everything, but as Hitchens used to say, arguments that explain everything, explain nothing.
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15-07-2014, 05:37 AM
RE: Don't argue with your elders!
(15-07-2014 04:33 AM)jockmcdock Wrote:  And you make tablet??????!!!! My mother used to make tablet many years ago and we used to love it. I was born in Glasgow and tablet and toffee were staples way back when. But you're right cooking tablet is not easy. It's an art I never mastered.

My Scottish husband managed to convince his mum to give me the old family recipe so I could cook tablet for him. She didn't tell me how to cook it though except to tell me to continue stirring it. I had to learn through trial and error and applying a methodical process. She used to say that even though her tablet wasn't a smooth slab and was all rocky it was nicer because of it. The day I got it right and she tried some of my smooth tablet that had the same texture as hers was beautiful. She wasn't a happy bunny!

I'm convinced that Scottish grandmothers are like drug dealers when they make tablet. People become hooked on it but if you start making it yourself you find you stop craving it so much. The joy is in the power it gives you over others!

Apparently my Aberdonian Great Grandmother user to make tablet but the recipe died with her.
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15-07-2014, 06:37 AM
RE: Don't argue with your elders!
Re. dowsing: Any test that has the water contained in vessels is pointless. There is no water saturation in the ground. The water saturation would allow scent and feel to play a part. Bad tests. All they show is that a stick does not react to a vessel containing water. Duh, we all knew that.

It says nothing about the lady's ability to locate well locations.

[Image: dobie.png]Science is the process we've designed to be responsible for generating our best guess as to what the fuck is going on. Girly Man
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