A Question of Science

Discussion in 'Every Day Debating' started by S.J. Faerlind, Jan 28, 2016.

  1. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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  2. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

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    I only know of the man for his rather unscientific assertions; "morphic resonance", quasi-metaphysical interconnectivity between organisms, shared memory within species, group consciousness, cosmic consciousness, etc... his talk at the TED gathering years ago wasn't banned, just moved to another place. Probably at the behest of longtime members who had their collective heads buried in their hands while he spoke of thinks most unsciency. The thing is, if you're going to stray mightily from the Scientific Method... you still need some rational scientific research to backup a theory or proposition. You have to be able to quantify a belief or a system of beliefs.
    My problem with Rupert, is the same I have with religious folks who are essentially doing the same thing; extrapolating the gaps in Science to prove that there's a need for higher power.
    I'm staying with the Materialistic Universe, the one that exists with, or without us.

    Here's a response by Sue Blackmore... Sue Blackmore: Rupert Sheldrake's continuing popularity is rooted in our need to believe
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2016
  3. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    America is going through a troubling phase and there are loads of people, who are often not that stupid and often more intelligent than others realise, who capitalize on this "war" between religion and science.

    The thing is its easy to poke holds in science, theories are theories and often are not perfect; yet these groups focus on that aspect as the cornerstone to somehow try and invalidate all science.

    And at the core is this concept of belief and of the concious mind. Because it is pushed on people (most strongly by those groups who assume the stance that they are opposed to it and science) that "science" is this evil entity that is trying to make people inhuman. Making them machines that obey rules and regulations and that everything is pre-programmed and that there is no freedom, no free will, etc... It's a brilliant stance because it allows them to tap into an area where science is honestly not that sure itself so the theories are more hazy and easier to poke holes in. It also plays right into the view of religion as the answer.


    The problem is that nearly all of them aim to make out that its a case of either of. You are either a scientific person and thus a dead robot with no soul, life, love etc.... Or you believe in religion and therefore it answers all your lifes questions and you're a living, thinking, free willed (within the boundaries of religion) individual. Unique and important and special; whilst science is aiming to take all that away from you.


    I think we see the most of it in America because whilst it is a western nation its also got huge areas where eduction is very poor; thus leaving a lot of people open to this almost abusive approach. As is science is wrong and the computers through which they debate the topic function purely randomly - that there is no science there.



    In the end this is another one of those people aiming to use this gap to further their own interest. There are many and in general they play a very similar song that appeals to a lot of people at a very basic and easy to understand level; much more so than science is often presented.
     
  4. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

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    I've seen about half of this. It's not that convincing to me.

    So, this guy seeks to forward science by introducing a new theory. And, then, list a few critiques that don't stand up to scientific rigour. The one that had me quit the video regarded the speed of light - it had dropped a fraction because text books changed its value over the course of about 20 years or so. By 0,01% or so. I mean, it can't be that we have developed better ways to determine the speed of light in those years, could we? Did Rupert take the time to find out? Or was the answer he found convenient for his cause? Hmm....

    And then, his ten dogmas. I, for one, don't recognize science in these canonic ten dogmas. I don't know where this guy got that list - but it seems to reason towards a point that suits him best in a stack going from fundamental physics to psychology. Again, I haven't finished the video, but it appears to me that this guy seems to want to prove something by doubting what is generally held to be the best theories available.

    By the way, particle physics doesn't believe that mass and energy are constant (read into vacuum energy, if that sort of thing interests you). It's just that, on a cosmic scale, the model totally works for that assumption.

    In the end, science is not a goal. Science is not a religion. Science is a method, a tool to study all that nature has to offer. Science also needs people who are willing to challenge the current dogmas, and there are - many of its greatest heroes have started out that way. There is, however, one thing you need to do to challenge scientific dogmas (paradigms, in the patois) - and that is to adhere to the rigours of science.

    On the whole, though, I believe that TED is right in removing this video. TED has become a huge brand, which is known for its quality of talks. And, of course, not all talks are of the very high standards which are set, especially not where TEDx is concerned. However, this talk really falls short of the mark - and that sort of thing can severely damage the brand as it stands.
     
  5. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    I think the problem is that some beliefs or systems of belief cannot be quantified, yet they can still be observed. Good scientists take into account ALL the observations, not just the ones that can be quantified and that fit with their theories. I can agree with Rupert's point on that. Poor scientists are just as susceptible to ignoring observations that don't fit their theories, just like people who hold any other belief system.

    To my way of thinking, that's the beauty of it. You can accept the Materialistic Universe as your vision of reality, presumably (and correct me if I'm wrong here), because the aspects of the universe that you have observed fit best with that model. Somebody else may not agree with you because their observations are different, but they are free to choose their own model that fits with what they've seen. I personally don't think there's a need to (or that anyone will ever be able to) prove whether there's a higher power or not. The question is only relevant to individuals, not to everyone as a whole. I think every last one of us holds our own belief system and/or version of reality (if you want to call it that) and that our realities can intersect at common points with each other. In other areas, I think they don't intersect at all.


    It is this "war" between belief systems that irritates me. I can't see why we need to invalidate anyone's belief system. There are more than 7 billion people on the planet and no two people hold exactly the same beliefs. When I think about it, that fact is a very powerful observation. To my way of thinking it means there can't possibly be just one belief system that is "right" or "absolutely true". Even with the immense precision of physics, they can't ever get a result that reads at 100% certainty. All good scientific experimental results come with a statistic to validate them (the p-value) because of that. The result and the accompanying p-value are a means of convincing others that the results are "real" or "valid"; that the results of the experiment should be believed. I agree with Rupert that science could be seen as a belief system. Otherwise, why would we need the p-value in the first place? If the evidence was incontrovertible (100%) , we wouldn't need it at all.

    I don't know about how verifiable his data was, and to be honest, it seemed fishy to me. Still, if you watch the whole thing he says he found some kind of original logs of the speed of light measurements in an archive somewhere and that the measured speed was decreased for 20-something years and then went back to its previous measurement afterward. Presumably, if the technology to measure the speed of light improved in that time, then the measurement would have changed once with the advent of the tech and wouldn't have returned to the previous, less accurate, value. Unless they make those logs a matter of public record so those observations were available to anyone, I wouldn't take his word for it myself though. He has a vested interest in believing the data from those logs.
    If the speed of light really did change for 20 years, how come we haven't heard anything about it before now? You'd think the good/curious physicists would be all over that one trying to figure out why such a thing had happened. Inquiring minds want to know after all. :D

    I think Rupert's point was that science should be used as a tool, but some "scientists" don't use in this way, and in those hands it is more akin to a religion. Whether Rupert has fallen victim to the very folly he points out is another question entirely. lol

    There can be a few problems with adhering to the rigors of science for studying some things though. The scientific method is designed to determine cause and effect with precision and accuracy. Generally, an effect is observed and the cause is guessed. The guess (theory) is put to the test and if it elicits the effect we can say the theory is supported (at least until the next observation comes along anyway). In order to properly demonstrate cause and effect, a scientist has to control for variables in an experiment in order to get that all-important p-value. For example, if you roll a ball down a ramp beside an open window, it might stray off the side of the ramp should a gust of wind suddenly come in through the window when it is rolling. A good scientist would shut the window to make sure the wind could not affect the path the ball might take. That is the essence of controlling for variables. The problem with real life is that many effects have multifactorial causes. Take studying cancer as a disease for instance. Diet, occupational hazards, exercise, genetics, sun exposure, lifestyle, risky behaviour (such as smoking) and a host of other factors might all predispose a person to developing cancer for all we know. Controlling for all those variables in an experiment to determine the reason one person gets cancer and another doesn't is virtually impossible. Even if that was possible and we became able to predict cancer before it happened, all we could say for certain is that Joe, a white male of British descent, who ate red meat 4 times a week and smoked since the age of 15 years, 2 months and 3 days, who worked as a welder and who was exposed to asbestos at the age of 39 years, 8 months and 4 days and who is homozygous for the gene for... etc etc will get colon cancer at the age of 66 years, 3 months and 6 days....
    Science seeks to predict things with as much accuracy as possible, but when multifactorial causes are needed to produce an effect, the whole picture can become unbelievably complex (as the example of Joe attempts to illustrate). Science can study one factor in infinite detail and with incredible precision, but if that factor only contributes a very small percentage to the total effect, the results don't always translate into much practical, real-world predictive value (unless we happen to be Joe of course!).

    This is where I personally run into problems believing that science can be used as a tool to eventually discover and predict absolutely everything. I observe that the universe is an unbelievably complex place. I think science does a great job at observing and predicting the quantifiable and physical aspects of it but I observe far more in it than only those things. I can't understand why so many scientists ignore those non-quantifiable observations and/or dismiss them as "not real". Sure, they are horribly inconvenient to study since it seems that not everybody can observe them directly, but it just isn't good science to simply ignore them. It should be OK to acknowledge them and say, "Well, there they are, let's see if we can figure out where these observations might fit in a bigger picture." Those few who do venture into this territory are often labeled as quacks (or worse!) and face ridicule, regardless of how good their observations are. Kinda reminiscent of Galileo....
     
  6. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

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    This is not how cancer works. I think that getting cancer - or better yet, dying from cancer is one of those fundamentally random things. I would much rather equate that to nuclear decay rather than being a function of life style and risk factors. Whilst we may say that a sample of radioactive material will decay with a certain half life, there's absolutely nothing that we are aware of that could determine whether a single atom is about to decay. Same with cancer - there is a chance (I believe it's about 1% per year in our age group) you will develop cancer. But that has no predictive value for a single individual.

    Well, to be honest, over the years, a lot of research has been done in the direction of alternative science. And the problem is that the observations you seem to describe hardly ever stand up to scientific scrutiny. It's hard to pinpoint what exactly you are referring to, but one of the problem with this particular branch of science is an absolute lack of results.

    You appear to use the term "quack", though, and that's a term reserved for someone dabbing in the complementary medicine. The thing with complementary medicine is, though, that we have excellent ways of researching any medical procedure. And, once tested, any procedure that has a quantifiable effect and a positive risk-benefit ratio will probably be added to the medical toolbox. The problem with most quacks is that they make wild claims regarding their procedures, without having the first interest in testing them - properly anyway. When that is how people operate, it is very hard indeed to distinguish them from hard fraud. At the very best, they believe their own methods - but often, very often, it has turned out to be a get rich quick scheme. Which, again, doesn't help when you are trying to elevate the status of those people who seek to observe the non-quantifiable...
     
  7. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    Most of the problems with prediction in science can be:
    1) Because we don't understand what is going on as perfectly as we need to

    2) Because of the sheer volume of data - it exceeds computers on a vast scale. We thus have to use models which simplify the data a lot in order to make it something that computers can work with. Of course this limit keeps changing as computers increase in their performance.

    However some of these extreme groups would have it said that because of points 1 and 2 we should ignore science; however I bet these people check the weather reports before heading out. Science that is relative to them in a direct way in modern life is something they tend to accept and live with and even ignore in their presentations. Instead they focus on science that is far beyond most peoples general circle of daily life - evolution; dinosaurs; ancient climatic changes; quantum physics.

    These are areas easy to exploit because:
    1) Most people have a very poor understanding of them if none at all

    2) Most people get most of their info on these subjects through the news, which often reports way behind the actual science and in a very dumbed down way.

    3) Because there is a LOT of things unknown in these fields and thus there are gaps in the theories which one can poke holes in.


    I think its because through school people are taught that science is correct all the time. You go through school and leave and most students get the impression that science knows it all. It's got all the answers. Schools do this because its simpler and easier to teach in absolute values and a lot of younger people need those absolute values to give boundaries and boarders to their understanding so that they can find their place within a subject.

    The problem comes that many are getting those boarders of science mixed up with boarders of belief (eg those who think the Bible is 100% factual*). Furthermore because those boarders persist through the formative years the idea that those boarders are wrong; that they are lies or that they are manipulations of the true science confuses and annoys people.
    We've all got to that stage in school where we finally realise or start to understand that "Hey all this GCSE and A-level science is all lies!" And honestly its rather a blow for most of us.
    How can we trust science if the boundaries are all lies! Maybe the rest is too!

    Of course its not lies; but its the fact that the idea of theories and developing sciences and scientific advance doesn't come till Degree level; something many don't achieve and even if they do you have to achieve it within a science based subject to learn it.



    *It always confuses me that people can say the Bible is 100% factual whilst at the same time also saying that many stories within it are purely metaphoric at the same time. It's a very pick and choose style of thinking.
     
  8. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    You and I must have a very different understanding of cancer and medical research, but that's totally OK. That's why we're bothering to have an open discussion: so we can hear all viewpoints. :)

    This is my understanding: If medical science knew exactly how cancer worked, we'd know how to prevent it. We can't prevent it, so cancer research aims to identify "risk factors" to predict which individuals are more likely to develop cancer. An example paper of such research: Diet and other risk factors for cancer of the pancreas - Gold - 2006 - Cancer - Wiley Online Library
    Medical science can't predict its development accurately though because SO many risk vs protective factors could be a factor for any given individual. This is exactly the point I'm trying to make with the cancer example. When you increase the complexity of a given cause and effect system, science starts to have a whole pile of trouble in predicting things accurately because it can't possibly control for all of the variables.

    Let's assume for a moment that the materialistic universe is "absolutely true". If that's the case, then in theory, it should be possible to identify the laws of the universe that would lead to a cancerous state in an individual. If one were to perfectly crunch the numbers for the vast number of variables acting on an individual over time, we might manage to predict a multifactorial effect like cancer with 100% accuracy. Unfortunately, our consciousness just doesn't have the capacity to do that if it is trapped in a body/brain. Our computational capacity has to be limited by our biology (our hardware, if you will). Neurons will only store so much and will only run so fast. We can currently extend our computational capacity by getting computers to do the math for us but even cutting edge quantum computers have limitations as to how fast their hardware can run. They are constrained by the laws of physics because they have hardware. Now I'm not up on how much data a quantum computer can handle but I'd be shocked if one can crunch enough numbers to predict every event in the universe with 100% accuracy over time.

    I'm not talking about alternative medicine. I'm talking about experiences that one person can observe but another can't. I'll try and give an example that most people can probably relate to: Tur, can you please prove to me that you have experienced a childhood memory?
    Good luck with that, because I can't experience your memory the way you do. I can't see it, hear it, taste it, smell it or touch it. I can only observe the secondary effects of it: the way it makes you behave, the way you describe it, OR I could look at the way your brain lights up on a functional MRI when you recall it. I can measure and record those effects but your experience of your memory is entirely personal to you. Since I have childhood memories of my own I would probably believe you when you said you have them too. A person suffering from amnesia might think we were both delusional however because experiencing a childhood memory is outside of their personal experience.
    I hate to use this as an example, but it fits so I'm going to. Lisa Miller is a clinical psychologist who studies the effects of spirituality on mental health. She writes in the introduction of her book how when she first started giving presentations on her work at medical schools how doors were literally slammed in her face because of the topic. She tells of enormous skepticism that her research belonged in clinical psychology or practice at all. According to her there was a strong bias against conducting such studies and she had to battle against that to get her research acknowledged. To my way of thinking, this is ludicrous. The experiences of her patients were producing measurable effects and she was being actively discouraged from pursuing research into those effects because of a bias against the topic. This woman is the director of clinical psychology at Columbia University. She is not a quack and shouldn't be labeled as such just because she isn't willing to ignore the observations she sees.


    I agree. Science has to be simplified because the complexity of the cutting edge stuff is beyond the level of understanding that most of us have from our training or life experience. I recently finished reading Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" and "The Universe in a Nutshell". He has clearly had to simplify the concepts he understands so the book would even be readable for the average person. There is no way for the average person to pursue the training and research necessary to come to the same conclusions from personal experience and thus verify Hawking's assertions (not only that but the math looks like a killer!). Because of that, there is a certain element of trust or faith the reader must have in the author that he isn't just making this all up for fun or to sell books. Hawking's reputation as an internationally recognized physicist is enough for most people to grant him that trust and, in a way, that's kind of ironic. Taking someone else's word for it on faith is very unscientific. lol
     
  9. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    It's not so much that science has to be simplified, its the presentation of science as hard fact without unknowns at a school level that is the issue. The concept of research and of evolving science is presented too late to students. They establish firm boundaries and by the time the idea that those boundaries might not be perfect is presented most are out of the school system and into the working world. Thus its very easy for people to prey on this mistake in eduction.




    Quite randomly I actually wound up watching some videos over the past week or two on this kind of topic. Every time I also saw one of two similar things;

    1) People clearly lacking in education defending a stance which goes against science not because of fact but purely because of belief, I don't say religious belief even though that was often the case; but a belief that they are correct and a mindset that they will not accept any other viewpoint

    2) People who clearly are well read, but who are also capable of manipulation.


    And that last point is a big thing. It's very easy to turn propaganda into money. It's rare to see those in the lime-light of promoting false science or abandonment of science who are also not financially benefiting from their cause. Those at the top have found a way to make money, what some might even say is easy money, through their campaigns and books. I would be willing to bet many would be more quick to abandon their belief were the money to dry up. Of course the danger is that the longer such thinking continues the more people are established within its framework and will spread and continue to spread the message even without the financial incentive.





    By all means we should investigate as much as we can in life; however I think that we must also be practical. Science is just practicality. It's purely the observation of effects repeated over and over and then using that data to establish theories that explain what we observe. To cast that way so willingly is a great danger.
     
  10. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    I absolutely agree. All experiences produce important observations. It's the war of different belief systems against each other that is the problem. Nobody has all the answers and it's past time for everyone to accept that in my opinion. Can you imagine how much we could discover if everybody set aside their biases and just followed up on the observations? I'm guessing it could be quite amazing.
     
  11. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

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    No, we actually do know how cancer works. At the fundament, it's a genetic mutation to that part of a single cell's DNA, which controls cell division. In the case of cancer, the cell is not properly instructed to stop dividing. There are a few steps between that and cancer, of course - but for most cancers, we know that as well. This sort of mutation actually happens fairly regularly - maybe once a day. However, most get cleaned up by the immune system. And, as we all know, sometimes, the cells manage to evade that. That's what we call cancer.

    Now, the risk factors you speak of happen one level higher. They modify the number of times such mutations happen (even without risk factors, they do occur naturally); or modify the immune system in its ability to clean up cancerous cells.

    But even then, there can't not be cancer. It is one of the risks of life - inherent to the basic mechanics of DNA-based life forms. I suppose we minimize solve cancer by tweaking the way the body works out cancerous mutations - but that would mean the repair mechanisms would be scewered towards degenerative diseases, like Alzheimer's. I'll try to find a few sources later, but it has to do with Insulin-like Growth Factors.

    Nope, I can't - and I find this fascinating. But it's not like there aren't time or resources spent in that area of science. Both in memory neuropsychology - and philosophy. And, as it turns out, elemental physics and astronomy - in the way of theories surrounding Simulated Reality. There are some theories, and I guess you're right that science can't study this other than in thought experiments. Beyond that, I am given to understand that memory isn't set in stone. Apparently, they are easily modified, so I don't really trust my memory on that sort of level.

    Is that a problem for me? Well, no.
     
  12. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    Exactly. I'm talking about ultimate predictive value of the disease development here, not only the cellular mechanics of the process. The two are related in the way the environment affects which genes are active, mutated or turned off in any given individual. It also affects the way the individual's immune system responds to a cell whose regulation of cell division is way out of control. Why does the immune system work to kill those cells in some and fail in others? Why does a mutation happen in one person and not in another? Why does a gene regulating cell division turn off in one person and keep working in another? Presumably there is a cascade of events (or environmental interaction) that happened over time in an individual's life to have produced the current physical state (ie: determined these things). The point of my using cancer as an example was not really to debate what we know about cancer but to illustrate how extremely difficult it is to predict outcomes when complex systems are involved. To get back on topic I'm going to say that in theory, science says it should eventually be able to use the laws of physics to predict everything. I don't think that's going to be possible for us. (Caveat: I think there is one way this could/did happen.) I say this because our brains and man-made machines (our "hardware") just don't have the computational capacity to handle the kind of math it would take to predict everything. This automatically puts a limit on the depth of our understanding and limits the practical application of it. Does this mean I think science is useless or that we shouldn't bother with it? Not at all!!! I think that amazing advances have come out of scientific inquiry. Science is a great tool for investigation and inquiry, as long as it is used as a tool and is applied to all observations. I do agree with Rupert however that some people use it as a belief system rather than a tool and then use it to go to war with other belief systems. A good example of this: What We Do





    Me too!!!!!! :)

    We know a lot about the physical world and I must say, the laws of physics and the way the physical universe runs reminds me a lot of the subconscious mind. The subconscious seems to have way more processing power than the conscious mind, but it runs on autopilot (ie: without conscious attention). I don't think about which muscles I have to contract as I walk across the room. My subconscious handles all of that for me while my conscious mind is concentrating on other things. Consciousness seems to me to be a different ballgame than the subconscious however. There is good research going on in the area of consciousness and I think it's very exciting to see the results of it!! Still, it annoys me that certain topics are not studied simply because mainstream science refuses to acknowledge the existence of them. Lisa Miller's research is a good example of that. The idea that some observations have to be excluded turns science from being a tool to into being just another belief system in my opinion.

    I'll give you an extreme example: I have a friend who tells me that she remembers her past lives (actually, I know 6 people who either remember their past lives or believe in the existence of past lives). Most people I know would dismiss these folk as "crazy" or "delusional" if they ever discussed their memories in public. Now I personally have no recollection that I have ever lived a past life. If I ever did, I sure don't remember anything about it. In fact, most people I know don't believe in or recall any past lives they might have lived. So, do I think these people who do are crazy or not? I can't prove they do or don't remember their past lives any more than I could prove to you that I have childhood memories. I suppose I could look at the percentage of people in the world who believe in past lives as a barometer of what is "real" and what isn't. Most people seem to do this in my experience. The court of popular opinion supposedly counts, right? Did you know that 6% of the world's population are supposedly Buddhist and apparently believe in some form of spiritual or literal reincarnation? That's 350 million or so apparently "crazy" people right there, not counting the non-Buddhist believers in past lives. So where do I draw the line on which observations are "delusional" (ie: not worthy of including in my view of the universe because they aren't "real" or measurable)? When human belief falls to 30% or less? 10% or less 1% or less? OR, I could assume that only people who agree exactly with my experiences are the only ones who aren't crazy. Unfortunately, that means I am the only "sane" person on the planet and the rest of you are all nuts. :D

    To my way of thinking, the problem is that if even one person believes, that is an observation of consciousness. Why does one consciousness believe and another doesn't? I find this a fascinating topic because it seems to be independent of the reality of the physical universe. How are the two interrelated and why are we allowing the war between belief systems to stifle scientific inquiry into these questions?
     
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  13. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

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    Yes, I think we agree. I mean, I will be honest, my education has made me an atheist. The progress of science leads me to believe that religions I am familiar with are increasingly unlikely to hold much truth. But I am also a religious (though, not dogmatic) atheist in the sense that I believe there is no God. I mean, I could easily be wrong. We all might. But, currently, it's the best I've got.

    You mention Richard, and I have never agreed with him. To quote the first line of the text you linked: The mission of the Richard Dawkins Foundation is to promote scientific literacy and a secular worldview. Missionaries have missions. Religions have missions. In his crusade against religions, his sciency atheism has started to look a lot like a religion itself, and he himself will defend it as such whenever possible.

    And, yes, in that sense, I agree that science is the gospel to atheism. Or, those atheists anyway. I've visited places on the web where illogical thinking of any kind - but particularly religion - is treated as heresy. The forum James Randy runs is a good example of that.

    I don't know the work of Lisa Miller. Reading her wikipedia page makes me believe she has quite a few admirers - most scientists don't get this sort of attention. I believe that science needs people working based on premises mostly held to be false, if only just to test them. I'll be clear, though - I am not sold just yet by her work.

    Well, it's an interesting example. On the broader matter of reincarnation, the idea of rebirth on the earthly plane after death has always appeared to be instinctive to me from ever since I can remember. Even having been brought up a Christian, and even before I remember learning people actually believe in this. Or so I remember it.

    And that's the problem. I don't hold memories to be accurate enough throughout life, let alone death. There are certainly things of my early childhood (we are talking age 3 at the most) of which I remember that I have remembered them. And that I can't distinguish between whether I still have the original memory - or the one where I later remembered that I remembered something. I mean, I do recollect that I did, and shared certain memories with my parents (who were quite impressed by certain details). It's a complicated, and entangled mess.

    Since then, I have learned that false memories are apparently quite common, and that memory doesn't work like a big hard drive whereupon video files can be stored and played at will. They can warp, and distort, and grow, and lose detail somewhere, to gain it somewhere else. With this inaccuracy in mind, I'm not surprised people genuinely believe they remember past lives, especially when they open themselves to that possibility. And they would be right in claiming so - after all, they do have the memories, no? I don't think delusional is the word here ;)

    Not excluding, by the way, that they actually do remember past lives. I mean, this particular story comes up sometimes, and I find it easy to place it in my personal frame of reference as explained above. What do I know? I might be wrong...

    But, in that sense, I personally don't find truth all that important. There is a truth, no doubt there is - but the first thing we do with truth is observe it. And even the veil of sensory observation - let alone the post-observation analysis and reconstruction that happens in our brains - is enough never ever to be able to agree on truth again. Which neatly comes back to your closing remark, I think :p
     
  14. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    That's all any of us have, isn't it? We all have to make sense of the world based on what we observe and what theories fit best with our observations.

    I think all of us are afflicted with belief systems (even atheists!), whether we know it or not.


    How could you be if you haven't read it? Wikipedia is hardly the most reliable information source. lol

    I also listened to the audiobook for "The Biology of Belief" by Bruce Lipton. Wow! His conclusions from his research into cell biology were pretty "out there" compared to what mainstream science generally regards as truth...fascinating ideas though!
    This one also looks good though I haven't read it yet: The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force: Jeffrey M. Schwartz MD, Sharon Begley: 9780060988470: Amazon.com: Books

    That is interesting. What exactly do you mean by "the idea of rebirth has always been 'instinctive' to you"? I have a hunch that finding the words to explain that will be difficult, but if you're willing to try, I'd love to know.
     
  15. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

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    Now, do I look like a guy who's lost for words on a regular basis? :p

    No, to be honest, it has always appeared to me that, given the though, that one big question of life has only one of a few possible answers, and I quickly figured life was going to be either linear or cyclical. Linear would include life with no after life, or heaven. Just one singular, linear progression. For some reason, though, the cyclical option seemed much more appealing to me - probably mostly because I didn't find the linearity that appealing. I mean, what had I been doing before consciousness arose? I found the whole nothing --> life --> afterlife proposition rather lacking, if only for the first part. I suppose not existing or, better, having at one point in time not existed felt rather hard to imagine.

    In my personal frame of reference, I felt the solution most comfortable to me felt a cyclical, in which I have altered between two thoughts - a constant reliving of my own life over and over again, with death being a hard reset back to birth - memories and all. Or, and that felt like another feasible option, have a reincarnation at or around the moment of death - though I never felt I had reincarnated. I it made sense to me that, over the course of an average human life, population would double or, better put, people would die at half the rate babies were born. That made sense, no? Half of the souls would reincarnate, and new souls would be created to match the shortage that would otherwise arise. But, certainly, in that concept, all souls had a linear progression through time, albeit in different lives. Still, birth would provide a reset of memories, so I didn't think there was a way to figure out I actually had earlier lives.

    Yes, I had thoughts like that as a kid. I was a bit of a weird one. But yeah. I was a kid. And this made the most sense to me. And, yes, instinctive, since I don't feel I relied on much outside sources to come to this conclusion.

    So... there you go. Not sure is interesting, though ;)
     
  16. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    Thankfully, no... or we wouldn't have nearly so much fun with these debates. :D


    I disagree. I find that very interesting! You mentioned you were raised in a Christian household and I wonder if that had something to do with it? Possibly your parents talked about their beliefs to you, or you heard something at church that gave you the idea to consider? Or maybe you were just a smart kid who had started to notice patterns and put observations together into something that made sense to you? I'm very impressed that your childhood self considered such big questions at all. I was raised in (basically) an atheist household and I don't recall ever wondering about the big questions until I hit my adolescent years and later.

    Regardless, it was your use of the word "instinctive" that grabbed my interest. To me, "instinctive" implies knowledge that you have without conscious consideration. It is just there within your mind and required no conscious thought to come up with it. You might consider it logically once you become aware of it's presence but logic was not how you came to possess it. If your logical ideas about reincarnation were consistent with any "instinctive" knowledge you may have had, you might have felt that agreement. Whether or not you had that "feeling of agreement" was what I was wondering about.
     
  17. anonymous

    anonymous the king

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    Going to read this later. But overread but the thing is you actually CANT poke holes in theories easily. Main factor people use, is that they know more in certain field than uneducated person and mispresent results
     
  18. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

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    Well, to be honest, this all happened about 25 years ago. And I suppose I can be rather logical in retrospect. As mentioned before, I can't quite say whether reasoning came before intuition, or the other way around. Or something else entirely. In that sense, I can't rely on my memories enough.

    But, whatever it was, the answers I found myself with felt right to me. I suppose there's also a layer of intuition there, if only by induction - what you would call "feeling of agreement", yes.

    Just to be in the clear, though - this is something I don't believe anymore. I currently believe I live my singular, linear life and have come to accept that nothing --> life --> nothing is a hard to grasp concept but, nevertheless, also by far the most likely deconstruction of life and death.
     
  19. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    Oh awesome...we need the physics student in this thread for sure!!!

    Your response is even more interesting. :)

    Another question (if you're willing to answer it): Do you still get any "feelings of agreement" as an adult (not necessarily about the idea of reincarnation - they could be about anything at all) or did they stop after childhood?
     
  20. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

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    Hmm. I kinda missed this.

    To be honest, it's not up to me to poke holes in generally accepted theories. You're right, I am not educated enough in most fields to do so. I mean, I have been to one or two dissertation events where I was able to poke some holes in the body of work presented - but that was because I was educated in the field.

    On the whole, though, I think it's wrong to take any scientific theory as gospel. For about a century, the best theory we had on how fire worked involved phlogiston. For it to stand for so long, it had to be a pretty solid theory but it turned out to be properly and utterly wrong. There's something the called the half life of facts, and it's good to remember a fact, usually, is just a pretty solid opinion.

    To get back to phlogiston - I like phlogiston - I gave things like fire and the law of conservation of mass a good thought when I was young. Just like I did death. And my naive conclusion was, indeed, that some substances would contain a certain basic element that, when ignited, would free itself from the burning material and present itself as flame - the basic premise of phlogiston. I was, of course, pretty wrong about that one - but it felt right to me.

    But to answer your question - I mean, yes, there are times where I recognize patterns in normal life which my subconscious doesn't prescribe to the random nature of life. Like, how, for instance, life changing opportunities are few and far between but, nevertheless, always seem to come in twos and threes for me. Usually, when I least expect them and when I need them most. It's a bit of a theme in my life.

    But I don't subscribe to such feelings, on the basic premise that I might be wrong. In all, it's actually exceedingly likely that I am, so I try not to set any particular value to my personal experience.

    How about you, SJ? This debate appears to get to a point where it becomes an interview. Any childhood feelings that gelled with you? Do you have any of them carry over to adulthood? And how is your experience as a mother going? I feel there's something there as well ;)