Materialist: I'd like to discuss the epistemological support of your survival belief. My thesis is that, even if survival exists, it's irrational to believe in it, because "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence", and the evidence for survival (which is an extraordinary claim) is not extraordinary. Therefore, your belief in survival is not justified.
Note that my claim is not about the existence or non-existence of survival (even though I think it doesn't exist), but about the rational justification of your belief in survival.
Given that the basic premise of your argument is the epistemic principle that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence", I'll have to address this principle, because if that principle is misapplied, your whole argument collapses.
First, I'd like to concede that, in general, such principle is reasonable. You'd expect that a stronger claim be supported by a stronger evidence. But in that case, intellectual honesty demands that, in advance, you specify that would you accept as "extraordinary" evidence; otherwise, it leaves room for arbitrary dismissing of positive evidence for the claim that you want to reject (and pseudo-skeptics, rarely if ever, specify in advance and unambiguously what evidence for survival or psi would they accept)
But that principle is not absolute, that is, it has epistemic limitations for a truth-seeker and we can't be uncritical regarding it:
1)The world and its phenomena are not intrinsically ordinary or extraordinary; they're only ordinary and extraordinary regarding our background knowledge or our worldview, not in themselves. For example:
-The claim "Flu is caused by a virus" is considered ordinary for most people, because most people already accepts it as correct. But in 12th century, such claim would be considered ridiculous and extraordinary. (But note that viruses have always caused flu and thereby the claim "Flu is caused by a virus" has been always true, regardless of whether we consider such claim, and the evidence for it, as ordinary or extraordinary!)
-The claim "Stones falls from the sky" is currently considered ordinary by people who are familiar with meteorites; but such claim was considered ridiculous, false and extraordinary many years ago.
-The claim that ordinary macroscopic objects like chairs, balls and shoes are composed mostly of empty space and are not "compact" or "solid" in the common sense (which is true according our best current scientific theory: quantum physics) would be considered false and extraordinary in the 15th century. But despite this, such claim is true.
Materialist: But you're conflating the existence of a phenomenon with the rationality of the belief in it. What's at stake is the criteria for testing a claim (an epistemological problem), not the actual existence of the phenomenon (an ontological problem).
Survivalist: You missed my point. My whole point is to show that the concepts of extraordinary or ordinary are not an INTRINSIC property of specific claims, but a RELATIVE (=context dependent) property of them.
My above historical and factual examples show that the claims for the existence of a phenomenon is not intrinsically ordinary or extraordinary; and this implies that considerations about a claim being extraordinary or ordinary is not intrinsic to the claim itself or the methods to testing it, but that it's a property dependent on a BACKGROUND assumption (theoretical, metaphysical, etc.).
In other words, the claim "Stones falls from the sky" is not, intrinsically and by itself, ordinary or extraordinary. It's ordinary or extraordinary only regarding some context of knowledge which functions as a background to compare such claim with. This explains why such claim was considered extraordinary many years ago and it's considered ordinary in current times.
The claim is the same, but the jugdement of it as extraordinary or ordinary is not an intrinsic absolute property of such claim, but a relative property of it according to some background or context of knowledge.
Your fallacy consist in (explicitly or, mostly, implicitly) assuming materialism and metaphysical naturalism as the background and, from there, asserting that survival or psi is extrarodinary (and you're right that IF materialism and naturalism are right, THEN survival is "extraordinary" or, perhaps, even impossible; but the truth or falsehood of materialism is precisely part of what's at stake, so you're begging the question against the survivalist when you implicitly assume that materialism is true to argue that a claim of survival is extraordinary!)
2)Another problem and limitation of your "extraordinary..." principle, is that in many cases, everybody (including pseudo-skeptics) accepts an extraordinary claim based on completely ordinary evidence.
For example, the claim "Two planes have struck the Twin Towers in NYC the same day" is an extraordinary claim according to the background knowledge of the accidents and cultural history of NYC. But the evidence for it was pretty ordinary (videos, testimonies, TV news, etc.) .
In fact, almost each person (including the materialistic pseudo-skeptics) accepted the above extraordinary claim after watching videos like these:
No pseudo-skeptic (even the very common irrational ones) would reject the evidential value of such videos and say "I'm rational and skeptic, videos proves nothing. I want scientific, reproducible, doble blind laboratory studies providing evidence for your extraordinary claim about two planes crashing in the twin towers at the same day" or "I don't accept your evidence, because videos can be tricked!")
Actually, they accept this extraordinary claim based on ordinary evidence because such claim doesn't conflict with the pseudo-skeptic's materialist, atheist and metaphysical naturalist ideology, nor it's contrary to the scientific orthodoxy or establisment. So, it's entirely inside of scope of the pseudo-skeptic's ideological belief system.
Another example: Well-known TV presenter and expert in wild animals Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray some years ago.
The claim "Steven Irwin was killed by a stingray" is antecedently improbable and extraordinary according to the following criteria:
-He was a first rate hands on expert dealing with wild animals (including stingrays).
-More importantly, according to the scientific knowledge about stingrays, these animals are not violent or aggressive. According to this website on stingrays: "Stingrays spend the majority of their time inactive, partially buried in sand, camouflated from predatory sharks and larger rays. Stingrays are carnivores. They feed at night and eat crabs, shrimps, worms, small bottom dwelling fish. Many rays have jaw teeth to crush mollusks. Stingrays cannot see their prey. They use the sense of smell and electro-receptors to detect it. When threatened, their primary reaction is to swim away. However, if attacked, stingrays will use their barbed stinger" (emphasis added).
As a matter of fact, it's so monumentally improbable that a stingray will attack (let alone kill) any person, that in aquariums and marine zoos, children are enabled to play with stingrays, as you can watch in this video:
In fact, in certain places, it's common that divers and other people happily swin along stingrays, feed them, play and have fun with them without any rationally justified worry of being "attacked" by them (precisely because an attack by them is monumentally improbable), as you can see in these videos:
Since that Irwin wasn't a normal person dealing with animals but an EXPERT in wild animals and, moreover, he wasn't attacking the stingray, it's even more monumentally improbable that the stingray would attack him. And therefore, the claim that it did it is antecedently improbable and very, very, extraordinary.
But even if we accept (for the argument's sake) that Irwin attacked it (he didn't), it's still improbable that the stingray's attack would kill him, since that 1)Irwin is an expert in animals; and 2)It's extraordinarily rare that a human being, when exceptionally attacked by a stingray, be killed by it.
Regarding 2, according to this article published in the Washinton Post entitled "How deadly are stingrays", the author writes: " The animal's barbed tail delivers venom that causes excruciating pain, but it almost never kills. Several different figures for the number of recorded stingray-related fatalities have surfaced in the media, ranging from "about 30" worldwide, to "fewer than 20," to "only 17."
Note that stingrays' "almost never kills" and the fatalities caused by it are extraordinarily rare. In other words, it's possible that a stingray can kills, but it's IMPROBABLE (according to the scientific information we have about the behaviour of such animals and the number of deaths caused by them: only 17 in the moment of Irwin's death!).
However, the evidence of the extraordinary claim "Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray" was pretty ordinary (a video recording it, testimonies of a friend of Irwin and the autopsy).
No materialistic pseudo-skeptic would argue that he doesn't believe such claim because it's a extraordinary claim and the evidence is ordinary. He won't say "I don't accept such claim because videos proves nothing. Moreover, the witness is a friend of Irwin, and this make him biased. The supposed video was never published and so it cannot be studied; the pathologist who made the autopsy was a friend of Irwin and was biased too, and I need a replication of the autopsy by independent skeptical pathologists, etc." )
Given that "Irwin was killed by a stingray" is a claim that doesn't conflict with the pseudo-skeptic's ideology, the pseudo-skeptic accepts such extraordinary claim based on ordinary evidence. (But you could be sure that if pseudo-skeptics, for ideological reasons, would think that it's impossible that a stingray can kill someone, they would employ all the above excuses and many others)
Logical consistency would demand that pseudo-skeptics employ the "extraordinary claim/evidence" principle in each case, but they only apply it to reject evidence for psi, afterlife or other unconventional claim that is incompatible with atheistic materialism and metaphysical naturalism (and in general, with the pseudo-skeptic's beliefs in whatever topic).
Materialist: Again, I think you're conflating many things here.
Firstly, your example of the 9/11 terrorist attacks is not a extraordinary claim, because planes can crash against building and it's not a supernatural event inconsistent with known natural laws. The same is valid to your example on Irwin and stingrays.
Take for example someone who wins the lottery. Many people think it's improbable and extraordinary, but actually and as a matter of necessity SOMEONE has to win it.
Secondly, you're conflating the concept of "extraordinary" in everyday or common sense with the concept of extraordinary in scientific sense.
Survivalist: You're wrong.
First, you creates a straw man when you assert that my claim about the 9/11 is not extraordinary because "planes can crash against buildings". But it's not the claim I'm making.
My claim is "Two planes have struck the Twin Towers in NYC the same day", and this IS an antecedently improbable claim.
To see that, just imagine that you're in a shopping store and someone besides you, casually, say to you "Look, did you know that this morning a big meteorite just fell to the White House, destroyed it and killed the president of U.S?
Would you believe in such claim based on that casual testimony alone? Probably not, because you'd expect an event like that would cause a worldwide disorder, and you see no sign of it, except the claim of the such person.
"Meteorites falling on Earth" is a ordinary claim according to our current scientific knowledge, but "A big meteorite destroying the White House and killing the U.S. President" is an extraordinary claim and antecedently improbable given the known social effects of meteorites that often fall on Earth.
Your example of winning the lottery is a good one, because it shows your confusion. The unspecific claim "Someone won the lottery" is ordinary and probable according to our knowledge of how lottery functions.
But that a specific person (let's say, Jime Sayaka or any of the readers of my blog) will win the lottery is antecedently improbable and extraordinary. What's the probability that YOU will win the lottery for a prize of one million dollars if you play it tomorrow? Do you think it's probable that specifically YOU, out of the thousand of people participating in the lottery, will win it? Obviously, not, you're fully aware that it's a very improbable that you will win it, EVEN if "someone" surely will win it.
This is why you conflates a general, ordinary and probable claim (like "planes can crash against building" or "someone will win the lottery") with specific, extraordinary and antecedently improbable claims (like "Two planes crashed the same day against the Twin Towers" or "Jime Sayaka will win the lottery")
Regarding your argument that my example about planes in NYC is not extraordinary because it doesn't violates any natural law, it's simply irrelevant, because I'm examining the claim "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence", not the claim "Supernatural claims require extraordinary evidence".
Extraordinary is not equivalent to "supernatural" or events that violate natural laws. A claim could be considered "extraordinary" (according to certain criteria) even if it's consistent with natural laws (see my above examples, all of which are consistent with natural laws.)
Your fallacy consists in conflating extraordinary with supernatural (at most, the latter is a species of the former). I'm discussing the former in general, not the latter in particular.
Finally, your distinction of "extraordinary" in common sense and in science implicitly supports my point that "extraordinary" or "ordinary" are context-dependent (i.e. what's extraordinary in common sense could be ordinary in scientific sense), not an intrinsic absolute property of any given claim.
And this destroys your application of that principle against the belief in survival. You can only argue that the claim "survival exist" is extraordinary if you beg the question against the survivalist, that is, assuming that science proves or support materialism over survivalism; and your most important argument for it is the "dependence of mind on the brain" which (as I've proved in our previous dialogues) is question begging because you're explicitly or implicitly interpreting "dependence" in a materialistic sense alone and exclusively (that is, as "productive dependence", when what's at stake is precisely the kind of mind-brain dependence, if productive or transmissive).
Materialist: Even if you were right (and I don't think so) you have not proved that a claim like "survival exists" is probable or ordinary.
Survivalist: So what? I'm arguing against your objection that such claim is improbable, not making a positive case for its probability (which I think could be done).
Materialist: And you have not posed any better alternative that the principle that I'm defending.
Survivalist: Again, my purpose here is to show that your epistemological objection against my survivalist belief fails, not to make a treatise of epistemology or posing alternative rules to the one defended by you.
In any case, I propose the following rule: Claims (ordinary or extraordinary) require SUFFICIENT evidence (where "sufficient" is not determined by archair thinking or mainstream prejudices but only in a case-by-case empirical basis and according to the specific conditions of the claims in question and the probatory methods at hand. Given a specific claim and certain conditions specified in advance, we can know, also in advance, what would count as sufficient evidence for it. )
But I have no time to defend this epistemogical rule in this moment.
I just want to add that Marcello Truzzi, who originally coined the principle "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence", when discoveried that pseudo-skeptics used such rule to raise the bar and move the goal posts (to reject any positive evidence presented in favor of psi, survival or any other unconventional claim that pseudo-skeptics don't want to accept), tried to refute his own principle.
According to this website: "I might note here that it was Marcello, not Carl Sagan, who coined the often-misattributed maxim "Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence." In recent years Marcello had come to conclude that the phrase was a non sequitur, meaningless and question-begging, and he intended to write a debunking of his own words. Sad to say, he never got around to it." (emphasis in blue added)
Sadly, Truzzi died prematurely, and we'll never know what his refutation of that principle would be like. Possibly, Truzzi had defended a very qualified version of such principle (like I've done in this dialogue) making explicit its limitations and problems, possibly would stress the abuses and misapplications of it by professional pseudo-skeptics.
Materialist: I don't agree with Truzzi.
Survivalist: I do, but we could discuss this in another moment.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Previous parts of this dialogue: