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Sometime back a rationalist was killed in Maharashtra (Indian State) for educating people about the truth of witchcraft. We had a discussion on the subject on an online news website. There while supporting the rational way of doing things, I condemned the killing of the rationalist. Then a leader of a fundamental party which sadly supported the killing read it, came to know who I was ( and the people monitoring the discussion on the website later changed my identity to protect me!) attacked me and said: 'You scientists believe in aliens. Likewise we believe in ghosts and witch craft. There is no difference between us!'

I was surprised. People don't know the difference between baseless beliefs and informed imagination!

If I don't make things clear here and now people might again say the two are one and the same!

Okay, we know (or at least we think we know) how living beings originated on Earth. We know the factors that are responsible for the origin of life and sustaining it. We know how evolution helped  intelligent beings come into existence. Based on this information, we can guess how life might originate and evolve on other planets in 'other solar systems' of the universe. We can also imagine how these life forms could evolve into intelligent beings that could travel across the universe or at least search and try to communicate with other intelligent life existing in the other parts of the universe, because we are doing the same!.
This theory of alien existence is just an imagination or a guess work based on our knowledge about life. Not a 'belief'.

Now coming to ghosts. Read  here and here how these stories on ghosts take root and spread. There simply is no solid evidence to say ghosts exist like we have evidence to say intelligent beings exist in certain conditions ( we are the very proof of such beings!). That is why we call them baseless beliefs. They are imaginations alright but not based on reality unlike imagination on aliens. There is a heck of a difference between the two and one cannot compare one with the other! Comparing scientists informed imagination and educated guess work based on indirect evidence and reality with a layman's blind beliefs is highly irrelevant way of doing things just to support your crimes against humanity!

And some people argue that a 'scientific theory' ( for example - evolution) is a 'superstition scientists believe in'!

Scientists first form a theory based on their preliminary observations. It is the best explanation based on the current evidence. Then they go out to prove it. It is not a superstition or baseless belief. It is ‘informed imagination’ or ‘educated guess work’.

Moreover, a theory is usually backed by maths, data, serious observations, and creative connections of a scientific mind. And scientists very well know they could be wrong and would be very well prepared to accept the 'falsification challenge' unlike  a superstitious mind. 

 A theory can grow with every new piece of evidence it explains. In other words, a theory can explain far more than the phenomenon it originally was proposed to explain.  Theories are accepted with higher and higher confidence ... but never called "proven." Science *starts* with the assumption that we can never, ever "prove" anything absolutely true. All we can do it find the best explanation based on the current evidence.

This is really, really important point because dishonest people try to mislead non-scientists into thinking that all theories are either "proven" or "not proven" (there is no in-between) ... and therefore to lump "not proven" theories in with "false" theories. This completely misunderstands science!

Anybody who ever uses the phrase "just a theory" in science is under the spell of that misunderstanding about what "theory" means in science.

Be careful with just copy-pasting something from a dictionary. In both of those definitions, it is only part  that applies to the use of the words 'hypothesis' and 'theory' *IN SCIENCE*. The other definitions will just get you confused if you apply them to what scientists call 'hypothesis' or 'theory' ... and there are too many dishonest anti-science people in the world willing to exploit that misconception to confuse you.

To emphasize it once again...

A hypothesis is an attempt to explain phenomena.  It is a proposal, an educated guess used to explain something.  A theory is the result of testing a hypothesis and developing an explanation that is taken to be true about a phenomena.  A theory replaces the hypothesis.

So, a person might make an observation and immediately form a hypothesis about why something happens the way it does.  He or she then tests the hypothesis and eventually develops a theory.  A hypothesis can be right or wrong, but a theory is supposed to be true based upon the scientific method.  So, when a hypothesis has been verified to be true, it becomes a theory.

Then with added evidence, a theory either becomes a 'fact of science' or a falsified theory. 

You will never have all this with an irrational superstition.

Recently one person argued after reading my answer on black magic that ....

 Dark Energy, Dark Matter, Space time, Alien Races, Life on other Planets, the beginning and End of the Universe, the core principles of life or how life formed and kick-started and where it is heading.

We still cannot explain the Big Bang. How can we then say that Black Magic does not exist? Does it exist in any of these domains?

I believe that Black Magic thrives in companionships with one or many of these unknowns .

Krishna's reply: Uff. Again things like dark matter and dark energy are based on informed imagination. When certain things behaved strangely instead of normal way, scientists try to answer the anomaly like this: Dark matter and energy presence is implied in a variety of astrophysical observations including gravitational effects that cannot be explained by accepted theories of gravity unless 'more matter is present than can be seen'. For this reason, most experts think that dark matter is abundant in the universe and that it has had a strong influence on its structure and evolution. Dark matter is called dark because it does not appear to interact with observable electromagnetic radiation, such as light, and so it is undetectable by existing astronomical instruments. But scientists are trying to prove it. Like this: https://earthsky.org/space/waterloo-image-dark-matter-cosmic-web-2017

and this: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/new-generation-dark-m...

This is what we call 'informed imagination' based on certain already observed and established facts of science. It has a rational base. These things you mentioned didn't come from nowhere like superstitions. 

Now has anybody observed black magic in reality? What is it based on? Just irrational imagination and wrongly connecting things because people can't think properly. How can you believe  somebody caused you HIV through black magic when it has already been proved it is caused by a virus? 

It is highly deplorable to even compare informed imagination with  irrational beliefs because people are killing others just thinking that they did black magic on them and therefore are responsible for all the ill-health, financial and other problems they are facing. Like this:

https://www.quora.com/How-can-I-get-rid-of-this-lady-who-is-always-...

and Black magic

We are fighting these ills like hell here. Now these arguments which connect silly things to make a non-existent thing come alive are making our efforts extremely difficult. Please think well before you say something. Thanks.

Q: Is it irrational to believe in the existence of aliens?

Krishna: Imagining that aliens exist based on educated guesswork is not irrational. But the word ‘belief’ somewhat denotes irrationality as it indicates blindness in thinking and has no place in science.

Let me explain …

We know (or at least we think we know) how living beings originated on Earth. We know the factors that are responsible for the origin of life and sustaining it. We know how evolution helped intelligent beings come into existence. Based on this information, we can guess how life might originate and evolve on other planets in 'other solar systems' of the universe. We can also imagine how these life forms could evolve into intelligent beings that could travel across the universe or at least communicate with other intelligent life existing in the other parts of the universe. This theory of alien existence is just an imagination or a guess work based on our knowledge about life. Not a 'belief'.

Baseless beliefs Vs informed imagination (or educated guessing)

Informed imagination and educated guess work are based on indirect evidence and reality. You think rationally while dealing with these things.

Belief is a blind acceptance that something exists or is true, without any facts and data guiding you.

You can have an educated guesswork regarding aliens which is not a blind belief.

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https://theconversation.com/we-asked-astronomers-are-we-alone-in-th...

We asked astronomers: are we alone in the Universe? The answer was surprisingly consistent

"We might find life elsewhere very soon".

--

Krishna: People don't know the difference between baseless beliefs and informed imagination! That despite explaining it several times, they keep asking these Qs.

If I don't make things clear here and now people might again say the two are one and the same! (1)

Okay, we know (or at least we think we know) how living beings originated on Earth. We know the factors that are responsible for the origin of life and sustaining it. We know how evolution helped in intelligent beings coming into existence. Based on this information, we can guess how life might originate and evolve on other planets in 'other solar systems' of the universe. We can also imagine how these life forms could evolve into intelligent beings that could travel across the universe or at least communicate with other intelligent life existing in the other parts of the universe. This theory of alien existence is just an imagination or a guess work based on our knowledge about life. Not a 'belief'.

Now coming to ghosts. Read here and here how these stories on ghosts take root and spread. There simply is no solid evidence to say ghosts exist like we have evidence to say intelligent beings exist in certain conditions ( we are the very proof of such beings!). That is why we call them baseless beliefs. They are imaginations alright but not based on reality unlike imagination on aliens. There is a heck of a difference between the two and one cannot compare one with the other! Comparing scientists informed imagination and educated guess work based on evidence and reality with a layman's blind beliefs is highly irrelevant way of doing things just to support your crimes against humanity!

And some people argue that a 'scientific theory' ( for example - evolution) is a 'superstition scientists believe in'!

Scientists first form a theory based on their preliminary observations. It is the best explanation based on the current evidence. Then they go out to prove it. It is not a superstition or baseless belief. It is ‘informed imagination’ or ‘educated guess work’.

Moreover, a theory is usually backed by maths, data, serious observations, and creative connections of a scientific mind. And scientists very well know they could be wrong and would be very well prepared to accept the 'falsification challenge' unlike a superstitious mind.

Can you accept a challenge about the existence of God like the people who accept falsification challenge in science?

Now do you have anything backing a belief in God? Except, imaginations, stories that don’t have any base, and anecdotal narratives?

Footnotes:

1.

Baseless beliefs Vs informed imagination (or educated guessing)
Sometime back a rationalist was killed in Maharashtra (Indian State) for educating people about the truth of witchcraft. We had a discussion on the subject on…

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