Talk:Argument from personal experience

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A thing perhaps worth mentioning in regards to a Christian claiming to have a vision of Jesus is how do they know it was Jesus? There are no accounts of what Jesus looked like. Did the vision tell them he was Jesus? Did they just 'know' it was Jesus?


Jdog, below are some counter arguments that you may find useful. I am waiting to let others modify or edit these arguments before I post them on the main page. I will allow 15 days for editing before posting. Especially look at the Argument from Precluded Ideas and Concepts.

Argument from Cognitive Bias and Expectation

It is also well known in psychology that the brain will often edit experiences as they occur, and it is also known that the brain can alter memories of experiences retroactively. In other words, the brain edits what one sees, hears, and experiences etc, to fit their biases and beliefs. This is similar to the confirmation bias. This is why personal experience and eyewitness testimony are some of the worst forms of evidence in the United States court system (some other court systems may, unfortunately, still allow it). Many people have been freed from prison after it was found through good evidence (such as DNA) that they did not commit the crime(s) in question. The 'evidence' that lead to such convictions was of the eyewitness and personal experience category.


Argument from Precluded Ideas and Concepts

Many, but not necessarily all, 'personal experiences' include experiences with entities that are already known by the person having the experience. For example many people have experiences of UFO abductions, but UFO's were already known to the person having the experience. In other words, many people having these experiences do not experience something that is alien to them in which they have no concept of. Their experiences involve concepts that are already known. This can be explained further in terms of the Argument from Cognitive Bias and Expectation: a person already has a concept or an idea of UFOs and so when they have an experience that they cannot explain, their brains subconsciously edit the experience to make it more familiar and will shape it as a UFO experience. The person with the experience will often use an argument from ignorance to further defend the claim that he/she experienced a UFO 'you can't explain it any other way and I cannot imagine any other explanation, so it was a UFO'. This could also be explained further with the Outsider Test: many Christians will not experience a holy experience or a spiritual episode as an experience with Zeus, Thor, or a god that they do not know. They often attribute such experiences to god, Jesus, angels, or another concept that is included with their religion. Thus personal experiences could just be instances of the brain fitting an experience of the unknown with ideas or concepts that are already known.


Argument from Survival / Evolutionary Psychology / Mistaken Identity

Evolution offers many answers for psychology. Personal experiences of the supernatural may just be a false positive detection of predators or danger. A strong survival trait of humans, as a result of natural selection, is the ability to detect predators/threats such as venomous snakes, wild animals such as bears, or other predatory humans. This has lead to humans having quite a high rate (compared to false negatives) of false positives when it comes to such detection: we may often detect things as predators or threats that are not even predators or threats. For example a twig on the ground may be mistaken as a snake with deadly venom, a rock as a bear, or a shadow as a malicious human predator. While false positives caused just that (false positives), it was more advantageous than false negatives (the failure to detect danger or predators). So therefore what a person may believe to be a ghost or a spirit in their personal experience could just be a cause of mistaken identity and a false positive detection of danger. For example a person takes a quick glance at their dark hallway in their home and see what appears to them to be a human shadow. They may mistake the shadow for a ghost or an intruder.

--David Gilliam 14:59, 4 February 2013 (CST)

These ones look good to me. I'm not actually a moderator or admin here or anything, you don't need my seal of approval to post stuff. I just remove things that clearly don't meet the standards and explain why. Jdog 17:36, 8 February 2013 (CST)

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