There is no RationalWiki without you. We are a small non-profit with no staff — we are hundreds of volunteers who document pseudoscience and crankery around the world every day. We will never allow ads because we must remain independent. We cannot rely on big donors with corresponding big agendas. We are not the largest website around, but we believe we play an important role in defending truth and objectivity.
If everyone seeing this today donates $5, we will meet our goal for 2018.
| Fighting pseudoscience isn't free.|
We are 100% user-supported! Help and donate $5, $20 or whatever you can today with !
Other ways of knowing
| Style over substance|
"Other ways of knowing" are alleged methods of obtaining information by various "alternative" (or non-scientific/non-rational/non-logical) means. Mainly, these exist as an extension of the "non-overlapping magisteria" concept that separates the scientific and physical from the religious or spiritual and as such, allow practitioners of pseudoscience to get away with practically anything.
Culture as an other way of knowing
The slightly non-specious version of the claim is that literature and art are effective tools in teaching humans to be humans. Even a mostly-clear thinker like Christopher Hitchens was a huge advocate of the value of good fiction for humans to understand how other humans think. Or, as J. G. Ballard put it: "Fiction is a branch of neurology." Stories are a hugely effective way of communicating ideas to humans, to the point that narrative bias is a major cognitive bias.
- Say that by 'knowing,' you mean something like 'learning something socially valuable' or 'experiencing something that changes how you think.'
- Get a scientist to agree that, yes, non-science subjects can give you that stuff. This won't be hard; probably nobody disputes it.
- Switch meanings and claim you've now shown that other subjects yield the same sort of knowledge science yields.
Other other ways of knowing
They include, but are not limited to:
- Studying religious books such as the Torah, the Qur'an, the Tao Te Ching, or the Bible.
- Reading inspirational books such as those by Kahlil Gibran or Deepak Chopra, or anything with a title that starts with "Zen and the Art of…".
- Taking drugs such as LSD, peyote, psilocybin, or cannabis.
- Contemplating one's own inner, or emotional, state
- Investigating the philosophies of indigenous peoples.
- Divination via
- "Gut feeling"
- Shamanic journeying
- Bibliomancy (Randomly opening the Bible and reading something. Spoiler alert: someone dies.)
- Noetic science
- Tarot card reading
- To know … in the biblical sense.
- The "eureka" effect
- To Know Him is to Love Him, The Teddy Bears
When it appears to "work"
This, in turn, does not mean that information garnered by these methods is always incorrect, just that it shouldn't be trusted on its own. Mind reading, for example, can be classed as an "other way" but may be quite correct with the information it generates due to a person's good instinct or a method such as cold reading.
Rationalists are advised not to try these at home without proper supervision.
- Argument nicked from "eric".
- Unless the only knowledge sought is a clarification of one's own emotional state. Even then, professional counselling is often superior to private navel-gazing.