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deSitter
Still in Old School


Reged: 12/09/04

Extraordinary claims etc.
      #5770728 - 04/01/13 12:34 PM

I really detest this aphorism. Here is a succinct refutation of the thinly veiled mysticism it implies...by Jed Rothwell

"This is not a principle of science. It was coined by Carl Sagan for the
1980 “Cosmos” television series. Conventional scientific standards dictate
that extraordinary claims are best supported with ordinary evidence from
off-the-shelf instruments and standard techniques. All mainstream cold
fusion papers present this kind of evidence.

"Conventional standards also dictate that all claims and arguments must be
held to the same standards of rigor. This includes skeptical assertions
that attempt to disprove cold fusion, which have been notably lacking in
rigor.

"Laplace asserted that “The weight of evidence for an extraordinary claim
must be proportioned to its strangeness.” “Weight of evidence” is a measure
of how much evidence you have, not how extraordinary it is. There is more
evidence for cold fusion than for previously disputed effects."

Well said.

Carl Sagan may have been a beloved figure and his heart may have been in the right place - but his mind was addled by cosmic mysticism, and he really did a lot of damage to the culture of science.

-drl


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shawnhar
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 06/25/10

Loc: Knoxville, TN
Re: Extraordinary claims etc. new [Re: deSitter]
      #5770763 - 04/01/13 12:51 PM

Good point, but...
If plain old reproduceable evidence for cold fusion or life on Mars was available, it would be "labeled" extraordinary by most people, don't you think?
Following the logic above, does extraordinary evidence even exist, if so what is the criteria to label it as such?


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llanitedave
Humble Megalomaniac
*****

Reged: 09/26/05

Loc: Amargosa Valley, NV, USA
Re: Extraordinary claims etc. new [Re: shawnhar]
      #5770790 - 04/01/13 01:07 PM

It's a non-argument. Sagan's argument is essentially the same as Laplace's: "extraordinary" means "clear and convincing", nothing more.

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GlennLeDrew
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 06/18/08

Loc: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Re: Extraordinary claims etc. new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5771021 - 04/01/13 03:10 PM

I take the phrase as being intended to make a clear point for a lay audience. Tying together the nature of the claim and the evidence with the same adjective naturally suggests the requirement for weightier support for the claim. It's a catchy turn of phrase which gets across a point with an economy of words. I'd hardly consider it as having done harm to the cause of science.

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Rick Woods
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 01/27/05

Loc: Inner Solar System
Re: Extraordinary claims etc. new [Re: GlennLeDrew]
      #5771114 - 04/01/13 04:24 PM

And, it's really true in a sense.

If I came home and found my car missing, the claim "Those damn gangbangers down the street stole it!" wouldn't require nearly the degree of evidence to be considered credible or probable that the statement "Bigfoot came down from a UFO and beamed it up!" would require. I think that's what Sagan was getting at.

Having said that, though, I admit that I'm really tired of seeing it repeated ad nauseum, too. But I disagree with the notion that Sagan was mystically inclined. I think it more likely that he had a good imagination, and felt connected to the universe in a personal way; and he was good at expressing these feelings. We're all like that to some degree, I think.


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MikeBOKC
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 05/10/10

Loc: Oklahoma City, OK
Re: Extraordinary claims etc. new [Re: Rick Woods]
      #5771216 - 04/01/13 04:56 PM

When I first heard that phrase I understood the meaning easily, and still do. Claiming abduction and rectal probing by big-headed aliens does require more real evidence than saying gravity operated yesterday when I dropped an anvil on my foot.

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Ira
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 08/22/10

Loc: Mitzpe Ramon, Israel
Re: Extraordinary claims etc. new [Re: MikeBOKC]
      #5773938 - 04/02/13 08:28 PM

The Copernican theory when first proposed by Copernicus was an extraordinary claim with almost no evidence at all supporting it. How do you like that!

As far as claims of alien probing go, those are not scientific statements at all. They are irrelevant as examples for or against the aphorism.

/Ira


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MikeBOKC
Post Laureate
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Reged: 05/10/10

Loc: Oklahoma City, OK
Re: Extraordinary claims etc. new [Re: Ira]
      #5774026 - 04/02/13 08:59 PM

Well if I recall Sagan made the original statement in direct reference to the alien abduction tales.

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deSitter
Still in Old School


Reged: 12/09/04

Re: Extraordinary claims etc. new [Re: MikeBOKC]
      #5774305 - 04/02/13 10:16 PM

Regardless of the context, it is a fundamentally anti-scientific standpoint. All claims require exactly the same sort of evidence, namely, observations that are consistent with the claim. Call it democracy of evidence.

-drl


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Rick Woods
Postmaster
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Reged: 01/27/05

Loc: Inner Solar System
Re: Extraordinary claims etc. new [Re: deSitter]
      #5774533 - 04/03/13 12:30 AM

I guess the question is, "...require extraordinary evidence for what?"

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Ira
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 08/22/10

Loc: Mitzpe Ramon, Israel
Re: Extraordinary claims etc. new [Re: MikeBOKC]
      #5774688 - 04/03/13 03:45 AM

Quote:

Well if I recall Sagan made the original statement in direct reference to the alien abduction tales.




Really? I didn't know that. In that case, he was making a quip about common sense, not an observation about the scientific method.

/Ira


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llanitedave
Humble Megalomaniac
*****

Reged: 09/26/05

Loc: Amargosa Valley, NV, USA
Re: Extraordinary claims etc. new [Re: Ira]
      #5775187 - 04/03/13 10:29 AM

Yeah, I think this is a tempest in a teacup.

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Glassthrower
Vendor - Galactic Stone & Ironworks
*****

Reged: 04/07/05

Loc: Oort Cloud 9
Re: Extraordinary claims etc. new [Re: llanitedave]
      #5775207 - 04/03/13 10:41 AM

I'm late on this thread, but I concur with what was said above. Mr. Sagan's heart was in the right place, but that anecdote is terrible. There is no such thing as "extraordinary" evidence. Either it's evidence, or it's not.

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deSitter
Still in Old School


Reged: 12/09/04

Re: Extraordinary claims etc. new [Re: Glassthrower]
      #5775495 - 04/03/13 12:49 PM

Quote:

I'm late on this thread, but I concur with what was said above. Mr. Sagan's heart was in the right place, but that anecdote is terrible. There is no such thing as "extraordinary" evidence. Either it's evidence, or it's not.




The problem is, it's thrown out whenever anything that is not part of the canon is proposed, as a catch-all rejection based on nothing.

-drl


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llanitedave
Humble Megalomaniac
*****

Reged: 09/26/05

Loc: Amargosa Valley, NV, USA
Re: Extraordinary claims etc. new [Re: deSitter]
      #5776564 - 04/03/13 09:45 PM

Fine, Danny. I'll be perfectly happy to accept ordinary evidence for your pet cold fusion claims. Andrea Rossi doesn't seem to want to supply any.

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Jason H.
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 11/23/07

Loc: Central Florida
Re: Extraordinary claims etc. new [Re: deSitter]
      #5776881 - 04/04/13 12:49 AM

Quote:

Regardless of the context




The context is relevant in this case. Here is a clip showing the statement in context (please consider watching the whole clip after he says it the first time)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRaXvPQ-ayk

All Carl's saying (as a popularizer in lay terms) is that there's claimed (sucky) evidence (which was the norm), and then there is extraordinary (relative to the normal baloney offered) evidence. Pictures and movies of UFO's, hoax material and oral statements are offered by claimants as kind of evidence, however it's not sufficient to support the claims made. It doesn't seem to me WHEN SEEN IN CONTEXT that he was referring to Laplace (although I'd guess that Laplace also wasn't thinking in on-off duality, that there's 2 kinds of evidence, regular and extra-ordinary, when he said "The weight of the evidence should be proportioned to the strangeness of the facts."; on the contrary, I take this to mean that some things are readily self-evident, others more complex.)

As was implied earlier by someone else What are the facts? It affects the kinds of evidence needed to establish true or false, which might be extra-ordinary (i.e. beyond the normally accepted standards of evidence for easily persuaded layperson average-Joe "believers" that is.)

Carl and Laplace were O.K. guys science-wise SFAIK (at least that's the un-extraordinary hearsay evidence I have ) It's my understanding that one could find no better scientist than these examples. And really, Carl Sagan inspired so many into science and the real scientific method, I think he deserves a break from peers to have the freedom to describe things in a greater range of language that a layperson could understand, that the regular so-called evidence (accepted by simpletons) of the time was not sufficient for science.

Jason H.

Edited by Jason H. (04/04/13 01:15 AM)


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Pess
(Title)
*****

Reged: 09/12/07

Loc: Toledo, Ohio
Re: Extraordinary claims etc. new [Re: Jason H.]
      #5777140 - 04/04/13 07:59 AM

WOW

If you claim your house is white and show me a blurry picture of a white house--I'll beieve you have a white house.

If you show me a blurry picture of something floating in Loch Ness and claim Nessie lives there. Well, I'm going to need a bit more.

That's all Dr. Sagoon said.

Pesse (Does it really require a visceral response/) Mist


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ColoHank
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 06/07/07

Loc: western Colorado
Re: Extraordinary claims etc. new [Re: Pess]
      #5777222 - 04/04/13 09:31 AM

And if you show me a sharp image of something floating in Loch Ness, claim it's Nessie, and you own Photoshop...

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Jason H.
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 11/23/07

Loc: Central Florida
Re: Extraordinary claims etc. new [Re: Pess]
      #5777451 - 04/04/13 11:21 AM

"That's all Dr. Sagoon said.
Pesse (Does it really require a visceral response/) Mist"

I wish that I were succinct enough English-wise to provide a twitter-length response to the Carl-bashing; please don't mistake the length of the response as visceral (actually the visceral part was purposefully omitted; I treat with respect most people in this forum, especially the creator of this thread; just trying to present a compelling argument against the premise of the thread.)

Jason H.

Edited by Jason H. (04/04/13 11:52 AM)


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Mister T
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 02/01/08

Loc: Upstate NY
Re: Extraordinary claims etc. new [Re: ColoHank]
      #5777675 - 04/04/13 01:08 PM

Photoshop File Edit Tools
Insert
UFO
Nessie
Sasquatch
Yeti
WMDs



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