Human performance

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Are psychic phenomena what they appear to be?

Illusion, magic allows people to deceive themselves. Psychics know this and use this to their advantage. Magicians also allow people to deceive themselves.Why people are so drawn by the irrational has always puzzled James Randi.  What are people seeking? James Randi thinks that they are trying to gain control over their lives, and that they are looking for power The brain is constantly searching for relationships, to identify causes and effects. In doing so, it sometimes makes mistakes. When people fail to find an appropriate causal relationship, they are more likely to appeal to a psychic explanation.Ray Hyman, a psychologist, says that the (or one) reason people are unwilling to accept evidence of the trickery involved in the works of psychics is that something is being taken away from them and nothing is given to them in return.James Randi says that he wants to be as aware as he can be, so that he will not lose his rational abilities, his judgement, even in the slightest fashion. (Thus he does not drink alcohol, smoke…) Hyman states that, as a teenager, he did not believe in palmistry, yet because he was so “successful” (according to his clients) at giving palm readings, he ended up believing that palmistry was credible, until (following a friend’s suggestion) he began to give “erroneous” readings deliberately, which his clients found to be stunningly accurate. This is the story he tells Randi in the interview which appears in NOVA: Secrets of the Psychics. Uri Geller

 Does he really have supernatural powers? He claims that he can read other people's minds, bend keys, melt metal (spoons) through the power of his mind. He claims that wanting things to be in some way can make them so: according to Uri Geller, wanting that our broken watches, televisions, radios operate correctly can in fact make them work.

2.        Peter Popoff Ministries

Ø  1987: bankruptcy after a presentation on The Tonight Show, Starring Johnny Carson.

v  He is still active online . In the “Ministry History” section of his web site, there is no mention of his 1987 bankruptcy because of Randi’s investigation. Please DON’T send Peter Popoff money in the hope that his “prayers” for you will bring about a miraculous outcome.

v  See also the following websites (try to ignore the ads…):

3.        Laying on of hands, “miraculous operations” performed without knives in the Philippines

Ø  James Randi performed one such “operation” on The Tonight Show.

v  Jean-François Labrie has been practicing this kind of “medical treatment” in North Hatley (Eastern Townships):

Astrology People like to believe that certain things are true about themselves. Astrology provides them with an easy formula to gain (the illusion of) control over their lives. People think that astrology will provide them with self-knowledge which will give them this power and control over their lives.\

Palm readingØ  If people want to believe what a “psychic” tells them, and are intelligent, they will reinterpret the psychic’s findings and claims to fit their experience.

Russian psychics Films produced during the Cold War presented three famous Russian psychics. At the time this episode of NOVA was made, Russian television presented daily astrological “forecasts” on the show The Stars Speak. One Russian psychic claimed to have the ability to control other people’s pain using his mind. Commercials extolled the miraculous. During the Cold War, Soviets conducted research on psychic warfare giving rise to fears, in the USA, of a “psychic gap”. It was alleged that the Russians had achieved some promising results, yet the evidence was at best sketchy.B.           Institute of the Brain (located in Moscow and founded in 1926): experimented with a psychic who claimed that he could affect the brain waves, the pulse, or the blood pressure of test subjects. (James Randi did a double-blind experiment which did NOT corroborate the Institute’s previous results. The scientists were not aware of the psychic’s selections and could not correctly detect the changes that the psychic had presumably caused in the subject).

Ø  On double-blind studies or experiments, see p. 188-189 of Vaughn (Chapter 9, “Judging Scientific Theories”);

Ø  About research on psychic phenomena and its failure:

▫          Scientists, like everyone else, have an uncanny ability to see/find what they are looking for.

▫                  Tests performed at the Institute had previously not been blinded and therefore lacked objectivity.

▫                    Scientists had “known” what they had been looking for: in other words, they were looking for “evidence” that would confirm what they had expected to discover, without taking necessary precautions to make it possible to detect counterevidence, should any arise. As a result, they were not objective. Instead, they committed a cardinal mistake: they fell into the psychological trap known as the “confirmation bias”.C.        Psychic therapy: psychics claim that they can alter their patients’ body chemistry through their (the psychics’) will; psychics claim to adjust “biofields” or “aura”; water “charged” by a psychic is said to have measurable curative qualities. The “charge” is also said to be detectable using… a dowsing rod (!!!). However, Randi says that testing the “special healing water” showed it had yet another interesting quality: the inability of being tested at all. (Notes: suggestion alone is very powerful [placebo effect],the immune system can fight many ailments on its own.)

d.        Two women, psychics, who claimed to be able to describe in detail a person’s character (personality) as well as list important events from that person’s life simply by looking at a photograph of that person, were unsuccessful as James Randi refused to give them cues about the person at whose picture they were looking.

Possible explanation for the psychics’ success in the (former) USSR (according to Randi):communism was supposed to be scientific. It failed. Now, Russians mistrust science in general. Is Randi’s explanation true? Not necessarily. Non-traditional or alternative healing “treatments” are also very popular in capitalist countries; psychics of all kinds operate thriving businesses. Since medicine and other sciences have made tremendous progress, many people expect that all their problems can be resolved instantly. Such expectations are unrealistic. People who are disappointed by the imperfections of traditional medicine and other sciences sometimes choose to trust psychics, who promise to give their clients complete satisfaction. How glamorous! How exciting!V  Sir Karl Raimund Popper considers that psychoanalysis (a clinical approach in psychology), as well as Karl Marx’ theory of history which predicts the inevitable advent and triumph of communism over capitalism are pseudoscientific.

Extra epistemological point The fact that one can find a simple, natural, rational explanation for psychic phenomena DOES NOT

prove that there is no such thing as a psychic phenomenon. It DOES, however, provide a simpler,

more reasonable (more likely) explanation.

◊                It must be possible to duplicate – at least in principle – experimental results if the claims being made by the experimenter are true.

◊                The results of a single experiment are notnecessarily significant.

Healthy scepticismPsychics offer wonder and endless possibilities in a world that often seems difficult and mundane. They offer health, wealth, and eternal life.          According to James Randi, it is science which delivers things that improve human life, not psychics. To James Randi, science describes a world far more interesting than any psychic fantasy. “It is a good world that we live in, not perfect, but it is ours. So we had better learn to live with it.”


PreambleWhat does one mean by a “form of knowledge”?

Have you ever experienced a situation in which you were absolutely convinced that you knew something, that you were right about something, only to realize later that you had been mistaken?

Ø  If you believe that you have not, you have forgotten the occurrence, you are deceiving yourself, or you have not realized your mistake yet… J

Ø  For millennia, humans have noticed that they were prone to making errors, and have looked for ways to avoid making them. The quest for knowledge, and the study of epistemology, had begun…

Ø  Errare humanum est, perseverare autem diabolicum, et tertia non datur.

o   To err is human, to persist [in committing such errors] is of the devil, and the third possibility is not given.

§  Law or Principle of the Excluded Middle (logic): a statement is either true, or false. There is no other (third) possibility, be it “both true and false at the same time”, or “neither true, nor false”.

o   In other words, do not be a fool: learn from your mistakes…

EXERCISE1.      Find five examples of “things” that you know.2.      What do you mean when you say that you know something?3.      How did you learn/find out these “things” that you believe that you know?4.      How sure (certain) are you that you are “right”?5.      What do you mean when you say that you are “right” w.R.T. Knowledge that you “have”?


knowledge 1. acquaintance with facts, truths, or principles, as from study or investigation; general erudition: knowledge of many things. 2. Familiarity or conversance, as with a particular subject or branch of learning: A knowledge of accounting was necessary for the job. 3. Acquaintance or familiarity gained by sight, experience, or report: a knowledge of human nature. 4. the fact or state of knowing; the perception of fact or truth; clear and certain mental apprehension. 5. Awareness, as of a fact or circumstance: He had knowledge of her good fortune. 6. Something that is or may be known; information: He sought knowledge of her activities. 7. The body of truths or facts accumulated in the course of time. 8. The sum of what is known: Knowledge of the true situation is limited. 9. Archaic. Sexual intercourse.

—Syn. L. See information. 4. Understanding, discernment, comprehension; erudition, scholarship. (RHD, p. 1064)

knowledge/belief Believing and knowing something both involve thinking that it's true. One can correctly be said to know something, however, only if it's true; but one can have a false belief. There is philosophical controversy about what else is different about knowledge: Must one be JUSTIFIED in thinking what one does in order to be said to know it? Must one be connected in some way with the fact one is said to know, for example, when that fact causes one's belief? (R. M. Martin, p. 130)

What is scientific knowledge?

Scientific Knowledge: Sciences (natural, social):

reason and senses (experience, experiments, testability in principle)

descriptive discourses

science (pure science, applied science, social sciences, empirical, nonempirical)

science 1. a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws: the mathematical sciences. 2. Systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation. 3. Any of the branches of natural or physical science. 4. Systematized knowledge in general. 5. Knowledge, as of facts or principles; knowledge gained by systematic study. 6. A particular branch of knowledge. 7. Skill, esp. Reflecting a precise application of facts or principles; proficiency. (RHD, p. 1716)

theory In an ordinary way of speaking, saying that something is “just a theory” is a way of saying that it is just a guess or HYPOTHESIS without proof. Scientists and philosophers use this term differently, however: some theories are extremely well founded. Usually 'theory' refers to a system of interrelated statements designed to explain a variety of phenomena. Sometimes a theory is distinguished from a LAW or set of laws insofar as a theory postulates the existence of THEORETICAL ENTITIES. (The word also has a wide variety of other, more technical, uses.) (R. M. Martin, p. 232)

theoretical explanation: A theory, or hypothesis, that tries to explain why something is the way it is, why something is the case, or why something happened.

Q: Is it possible to have knowledge which is not scientific?

Partial Answer: The Humanities (literature, philosophy…) are NOT sciences, yet one may claim to have knowledge about literature, in areas of philosophy, etc. Such knowledge is NOT scientific. Then, what kind of knowledge is it? One may claim to know oneself, yet one would NOT consider self-knowledge to be scientific knowledge either. What kind of knowledge would that be?

Pseudosciences and superstitions do NOT have a scientific basis

pseudo-, a combining form meaning “false,” “pretended,”  “unreal,” used in the formation of compound words (pseudoclassic; pseudointellectual): in scientific use, denoting close or deceptive resemblance to the following element (pseudobulb; pseudocarp), and used sometimes in chemical names of isomers (pseudoephedrine). Also, esp. Before a vowel, pseud-. (RHD, p. 1558-1559)

pseudoscience any of various methods, theories, or systems, as astrology, psychokinesis, or clairvoyance, considered as having no scientific basis. (RHD, p. 1559)

***** astrology (a pseudoscience) ≠ astronomy (a science)!!!

superstition, (…) 1. A belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge, in or of the ominous significance of a particular thing, circumstance, occurrence, proceeding, or the like. 2. A system or collection of such beliefs. 3. A custom or act based on such a belief. 4. Irrational fear of what is unknown or mysterious, esp. In connection with religion. 5. Any blindly accepted belief or notion. (…) (RHD, p. 1911Credibility of sciences vs. Pseudosciences Warning 1: statements uttered by pseudoscientists are NOT necessarily false. Some of these statements may be true, while others may be false. What leads to the labels “pseudoscience”, “pseudoscientific” to be affixed onto disciplines or statements is the inadequacy of the method used by pseudoscientists in order to check whether their claims (statements) are credible. In many cases, the statements are not testable at all. In others, tests (experiments) have been conducted, have shown convincingly that certain statements are false, yet the pseudoscientists find convoluted ways of “rescuing” what they want us to believe.Warning 2: scientific work is NOT always conducted adequately. Some scientists have better skills than others. Some scientists are more conscientious than others. Some scientists are more honest than others. Scientific work MUST be carefully scrutinized in order to eliminate errors as well as forgeries. The method followed by the practitioners of a discipline is a good indication of whether these practitioners are involved in scientific investigation and research, or a pseudoscientific endeavor – be it due to ignorance (sloppiness, errors, misguidedness …) on the part of these practitioners, or dishonesty.

→    Examples of the Russian scientists in NOVA: Secrets of the Psychics;

→    Examples in “Bad Science” (document posted on LEA);

→    What, once upon a time, was pseudoscientific may some day open up new areas of scientific investigation (e.G. Phrenology, a pseudoscience which was very popular in the 19th century, eventually led to the development of neuropsychology, a science; Lamarckism, and neo-Lamarckism [Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829) are now rejected by scientists, yet…])

So how can we decide who or what to believe? By using critical thinking and keeping our minds open…

What are some of the sources of human knowledge?

Senses (hearing, sight, touch, smell, taste), introspection, memory,reason (thinking), “authorities”, i.E. Anyone or anything whom/which we deem (rightly or wrongly so) to be reliable (e.G. Humans [parents, teachers, friends…], media, …

perception 1. The act or faculty of apprehending by means of the senses or of the mind; cognition; understanding. 2. Immediate or intuitive recognition or appreciation, as of moral, psychological, or aesthetic qualities; insight; intuition; discernment: an artist of rare perception. 3. The result or product of perceiving, as distinguished from the act of perceiving; percept. 4. Psychol. A single unified awareness derived from sensory processes while a stimulus is present. (...) (RHD, p. 1437)

sensation 1. The operation or function of the senses; perception or awareness of stimuli through the senses. 2. A mental condition or physical feeling resulting from stimulation of a sense organ or from internal bodily change, as cold or pain. (...) (RHD, p. 1744)

sense 1. Any of the faculties, as sight, hearing, smell, taste, or touch, by which humans and animals perceive stimuli originating from outside or inside the body. 2. These faculties collectively. 3. Their operation or function; sensation. 4. A feeling or perception produced through the organs of touch, taste, etc., or resulting from a particular condition of some part of the body: to have a sense of cold. (...) (RHD, p. 1744)

Some people claim they have “E.S.P.”, or extrasensory perception:

Extrasensory perception, ESP or Esper, also called sixth sense or second sight, includes claimed reception of information not gained through the recognized physical senses but sensed with the mind. The term was adopted by Duke University psychologist J. B. Rhine to denote psychic abilities such as intuition, telepathy, psychometry, clairaudience, and clairvoyance, and their trans-temporal operation as precognition or retrocognition.[1]

Parapsychology is the study of paranormal psychic phenomena, including ESP. Parapsychology has been criticized for continuing investigation despite being unable to provide convincing evidence for the existence of any psychic phenomena after more than a century of research.[2] The scientific community rejects ESP due to the absence of an evidence base, the lack of a theory which would explain ESP, and the lack of experimental techniques which can provide reliably positive results; and considers ESP to be pseudoscience

How reliable are these sources of knowledge?

Senses are fallible; our thinking can be flawed; others [introspection, memory, authority…] can be mistaken or intentionally deceive us; skills can be lost temporarily or permanentl

Must we revert to scepticism?

No! Critical thinking is our best self-defense

scepticism The view that knowledge in some area is not possible. Philosophical scepticism doesn't come just from a FEELING or personality quirk: it needs to be supported by ARGUMENT. Someone who holds this view is called a sceptic; the Sceptics were a group of (sceptical!) Greek philosophers, including PYRRHO [360?-?270] and his followers. HUME [1711-1776] is known as a champion of modem scepticism. Sceptics often don't actually doubt the truth of the belief about which they are sceptical: their central claim is that we don't have JUSTIFICATION 1 for that belief, and thus can't be said to know it. [may also be spelled 'skepticism' and 'skeptic'; spellings with 'scep-' are preferred by the British] See also DOUBT. (R. M. Martin, p. 209)

skepticism 1. a skeptical attitude or temper; doubt. 2. Doubt or unbelief with regard to a religion, esp. Christianity. 3. (cap.) the doctrines or opinions of philosophical Skeptics; universal doubt. (

Paradoxical assertions: “I know nothing at all!”, “Nothing can be known!”

(Many philosophers, and esp. Logicians, enjoy studying assorted paradoxes.)


Eubulides (Greek: Εὑβουλίδης; fl. 4th century BCE) of Miletus was a philosopher of the Megarian school, and a pupil of Euclid of Megara. He is famous for his paradoxes.


Paradoxes of Eubulides

Eubulides is most famous for inventing the forms of seven famous paradoxes,[1][5] some of which, however, are also ascribed to Diodorus Cronus:[6]

1.     The Liar (pseudomenos) paradox:

A man says: "What I am saying now is a lie." If the statement is true, then he is lying, even though the statement is true. If the statement is a lie, then he is not actually lying, even though the statement is a lie. Thus, if the speaker is lying, he tells the truth, and vice versa.

2.      The Masked Man (enkekalymmenos) paradox:

"Do you know this masked man?" "No." "But he is your father. So – do you not know your own father?"

3.      The Electra (Elektra) paradox:

Electra doesn't know that the man approaching her is her brother, Orestes. Electra knows her brother. Does Electra know the man who is approaching?

4.      The Overlooked Man (dialanthanôn) paradox:

Alpha ignored the man approaching him and treated him as a stranger. The man was his father. Did Alpha ignore his own father and treat him as a stranger?

5.     The Heap (sôritês) paradox:

A single grain of sand is certainly not a heap. Nor is the addition of a single grain of sand enough to transform a non-heap into a heap: when we have a collection of grains of sand that is not a heap, then adding but one single grain will not create a heap. And yet we know that at some point we will have a heap.

6.      The Bald Man (phalakros) paradox:

A man with a full head of hair is obviously not bald. Now the removal of a single hair will not turn a non-bald man into a bald one. And yet it is obvious that a continuation of that process must eventually result in baldness.

7.      The Horns (keratinês) paradox:

What you have not lost, you have. But you have not lost horns. Therefore you have horns.

The first paradox (the Liar) is probably the most famous, and is similar to the famous paradox of Epimenides the Cretan. The second, third and fourth paradoxes are variants of a single paradox and relate to the problem of what it means to "know" something and the identity of objects involved in an affirmation (compare the masked man fallacy). The fifth and sixth paradoxes are also a single paradox and is usually thought to relate to the vagueness of language.[7] The final paradox attacks presumptions involved in a proposition, and is related to the syllogistic fallacy.

These paradoxes were very well known in ancient times, some are alluded to by Eubulides' contemporary Aristotle[8] and even partially by Plato.[9]Aulus Gelliusmentions how the discussion of such paradoxes was considered (for him) after-dinner entertainment at the Saturnalia,[10] but Seneca, on the other hand, considered them a waste of time: "Not to know them does no harm, and mastering them does no good."[11]

Knowledge = “true justified belief” [Plato] (imperfect but acceptable definition – more below).

In other words, if I say “I know that p”, where p stands for a sentence, I mean that

a.   I believe that p (i.E. I believe that what is asserted by p is actually true);

b.  I am justified in believingp (i.E. I have good reasons to believe that p is true);

c.   pis actually true.

Let p stand for “Santa Claus gave me lovely presents at Christmas”:

Then, if I say “I know that Santa Claus gave me lovely presents at Christmas”, I mean that (a) I believe that Santa Claus gave me lovely presents at Christmas; (b) I have good reasons to believe that “Santa Claus gave me lovely presents at Christmas” is true; and (c) “Santa Claus gave me lovely presents at Christmas” isactually true. [Hum… This seems to work very well if “I” am a very young child who believes that Santa Claus… (etc.), except that contrary to what the child believes, condition (c) is NOT met.]

Let p stand for “Today is Tuesday”:

Then, if I say “I know that today is Tuesday”, I mean that …

Let p stand for [insert your own examples]:Then…

¯    Notice the use of quotation marks in the above;

¯    Important distinction between language and metalanguage.

(a)    “The sky is blue” vs. (b) “’Blue’ is a four-letter word.” In (a), the word “blue” is used, whereas in (b), the word “blue” is mentioned.

If knowledge is “true justified belief”, then what is truth? How can one tell whether what one believes to be true is indeed so?

What is truth? (metaphysical question)

Truth: Philosophers are interested in a constellation of issues involving the concept of truth. A preliminary issue, although somewhat subsidiary, is to decide what sorts of things can be true. Is truth a property of sentences (which are linguistic entities in some language or other), or is truth a property of propositions (nonlinguistic, abstract and timeless entities)? The principal issue is: What is truth? It is the problem of being clear about what you are saying when you say some claim or other is true. The most important theories of truth are the Correspondence Theory, the Semantic Theory, the Deflationary Theory, the Coherence Theory, and the Pragmatic Theory. They are explained and compared here. Whichever theory of truth is advanced to settle the principal issue, there are a number of additional issues to be addressed:

i.        Can claims about the future be true now? Ii.      Can there be some algorithm for finding truth – some recipe or procedure for deciding, for any claim in the system of, say, arithmetic, whether the claim is true?Iii.    Can the predicate "is true" be completely defined in other terms so that it can be eliminated, without loss of meaning, from any context in which it occurs?Iv.     To what extent do theories of truth avoid paradox?V.       Is the goal of scientific research to achieve truth?

What kind of justification should (ought to) be accepted?

opinion 1. a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty. 2. Personal view, attitude, or appraisal. 3. The formal expression of a professional judgment: to ask for a second medical opinion. 4. Law. The formal statement by a judge or court of the reasoning and the principles of law used in reaching a decision of a case. 5. A judgment or estimate of a person or thing with respect to character, merit, etc.; to forfeit someone's good opinion. 6. A favorable estimate; esteem: I haven't much of an opinion of him.

N.B. Definitions 3 and 4 of “opinion” have to do with experts and what they believe to be the case [what they believe to be true] based on their expertise. On the other hand, definitions 1 and 2 have nothing to do with anyone’s particular expertise.


believe v.I. 1. To have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something, although without absolute proof that one is right in doing so (...) v.Tr. 2. To have confidence or faith in the truth of (a positive assertion, story, etc.); give credence to.

BEWARE: People often label as “knowledge” what, frequently, is “false belief” or “unjustified belief”.

Question: how do knowledge, false belief, unjustified belief differ from each other?

Argument: A group of statements in which some of them (the premises) are intended to support another of them (the conclusion). ( Critical thinking: the systematic evaluation or formulation of beliefs, or statements, by rational standards.

Fact: 1. Something that actually exists; reality; truth: Your fears have no basis in fact. 2. Something known to exist or to have happened: Space travel is now a fact. 3. A truth known by actual experience or observation; something known to be true: Scientists gather facts about plant growth. (...) (RHD, p. 691)

Inference: The process of reasoning from a premise or premises to a conclusion based on those premises.)

BACK TO “The Santa Claus Example

As above, let p stand for “Santa Claus gave me lovely presents at Christmas.”

Why does a person P [Pietro, Philippa, …] believe c? Let’s ask P: “P, why do you believe that Santa Claus delivers gifts to good children at Christmas?” or, in other words, “P, why do you believe that c?

P answers: “My parents told me that c.” [i.E. My parents told me that Santa Claus delivers gifts to good children at Christmas.]

[P’s response amounts to “I believe that c because my parents told me that c”, where c stands for…]

Oh!Let’s call the previous claim/statement p1. N.B. “Oh!” is NOT a claim.In other words, p1 = My parents told me that Santa Claus delivers gifts to good children at Christmas.Why does P believe c? [Request for an explanation]Why does p1 constitute a “good reason” to believe c? [Request for an argument, i.E. One or more claims in support of claim c: the combination of these claims + c constitutes an argument.] Given the role that these claims play in this particular argument, c will be called the conclusion [of the argument] whereas the claims used to support c will be called the premises [of the argument].]According to P: “My parents are always right: they know everything, they never make mistakes, and they never lie. Since they told me c, cmust be true.

The following sentences together form an argument, namely the argument presented by P in support of c: My parents are always right because they know everything, they never make mistakes, and they never lie. Since they told me that Santa Claus delivers gifts to good children at Christmas, it must be true that Santa Claus delivers gifts to good children at Christmas. Therefore, Santa Claus delivers gifts to good children at Christmas.

My parents are always right. [p2],My parents know everything. [p3],My parents never make mistakes. [p4]My parents never lie. [p5],My parents told me that Santa Claus delivers gifts to good children at Christmas. [p1],Since my parents told me that Santa Claus delivers gifts to good children at Christmas, it must be true that Santa Claus delivers gifts to good children at Christmas. [p6],Santa Claus delivers gifts to good children at Christmas. [c],

PREMISES OF THIS ARGUMENT: p2, p3, p4, p5, p1, and p6

My parents are always right. [p2],My parents know everything. [p3],My parents never make mistakes. [p4],My parents never lie. [p5],My parents told me that Santa Claus delivers gifts to good children at Christmas. [p1],Since my parents told me that Santa Claus delivers gifts to good children at Christmas, it must be true that Santa Claus delivers gifts to good children at Christmas. [p6]


Santa Claus delivers gifts to good children at Christmas. [c]


Even though p1 is one premise (among several others) in the above argument, it is also an explanation of/for c since it tells us why P believes c, which is not the same as telling whywe should also believe that c is true. On its own, p1 is not necessarily meant to support c [i.E. p1 is not necessarily meant to convince us that c is true]; rather, it is intended to tell us the origin of the belief [i.E. how P found out, or learned, that c].

Naturally, P could consider that p1 and c together form an argument: p1 would then be the only premise of the argument and c, the conclusion, but that would not be a very good argument. “The fact that my parents told me that Santa Claus delivers gifts to good children at Christmas proves that ‘Santa Claus delivers gifts to good children at Christmas’ is a true statement.

In other words, “since my parents told me that Santa Claus delivers gifts to good children at Christmas, I have excellent reasons to believe that Santa Claus delivers gifts to good children at Christmas.”

However, if one subjects this “argument” to scrutiny, using rational standards, one quickly realizes how inadequate it is. Poor P has fooled himself or herself…

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