The golden tree of bullshit


Mark Vernon, always eager to plow new ground and alert us to new insights and ways of looking at the world, asks

Is it just me or has the dialogue between science and religion become a bit stale?

Ok I was joking. That question is staler than last year’s bread. The very idea that there is such a thing as “the dialogue between science and religion” is not only stale but also blatant propaganda by pro-religion types who are desperate to convince everyone that religion’s claims to discover truths about the world are every bit as reasonable as those of science. It’s unpardonably naïve to talk about “the dialogue between science and religion” as if it were an obvious, sensible, reasonable thing with no trace of an agenda or vested interest. It’s unpardonably naïve to talk about it without pausing to thank the Templeton Foundation for all the cash.

The bulk of the article is the usual slush about talking stones and spiritual nature and listen to the music and how evil is materialism. There’s one item that sticks out though.

Barfield argued that we need to recover our full imaginative capacities if we are deeply to know that the world is alive. Matter, he believed, would then be seen for what it once was, as an expression of spirit. (“Matter” is linked to “mater”, or mother, remembered in the expression, mother earth.) This might not be so difficult to achieve because, actually, we experience it every day. When you perceive the matter called a human being speaking, you spontaneously know those perceptions as one person communicating with you, another person. You do not have a theory of other minds, as some philosophers have proposed, driven by a flattening scientistic ideology. We know such matter as spirited people – as souls, you might say.

What?

When you perceive the matter called a human being speaking, you spontaneously know those perceptions as one person communicating with you, another person. You do not have a theory of other minds, as some philosophers have proposed, driven by a flattening scientistic ideology.

That’s one of the most willfully mindless, incurious statements I’ve seen in awhile. “You do not have a theory of other minds” – yes you do! Of course you damn well do. It’s a measurable stage of development*, and if you never acquire it, that means you are autistic. Not having it is a crippling disability for a human. It’s important to understand this, and it’s interesting. Sneering at it as a product of “a flattening scientistic ideology” is revoltingly know-nothing and anti-intellectual.

*You know those experiments – the researcher shows the child a crayon (say), then puts it in a cookie box (say), then a new person comes in and the researcher asks the child where the new person will look for the crayon. Until about age 4 (I think) children always say the new person will look in the cookie box. After that age they realize the new person will be fooled by the cookie box. It’s the difference between understanding that other people don’t know what you know, and not understanding that.

 

Comments

  1. Connie says

    I am that naive person and where did you say I could get some cash?

    All my life I’ve lived in both the physical and spiritual world leaving me a bit spacey. I’ve always known I was part of something bigger than my own self but had to call the feeling God or Goddess even though the names didn’t fit. After much research I found Quantum Physics which calls what I feel the Quantum Consciousness. At last a scientific explanation for what I do and who I am.

    Science and religion must walk hand in hand into the future. I believe there is room for both.

  2. James C. says

    “What is the difference between a cathedral and a physics lab?” asks Dillard, “Are they not both saying: Hello?”

    What is the difference between an anti-materialist and a bucket of LSD? Are they not both wells of nonsense?

  3. says

    Connie – quantum physics tells you that? Are you sure? Are you sure it’s not just Deepak Chopra using the words without meaning what physicists mean by them?

    Anyway – I too have always known I was part of something bigger than my own self – lots of things in fact. The human species, the animal kingdom, the layer of life on this planet, the galaxy, the cosmos…History; the loose community of people who like to read and think and talk about stuff; nature…and more.

  4. Lyanna says

    Yes, matter is metaphorically “alive” in the sense that it holds all the possibilities for consciousness and life and other fascinating phenomena that humans possess. That’s not an anti-materialist or dualist viewpoint. So I don’t know what Vernon is driving at.

    And theory of mind is the opposite of “scientistic.” Scientism, when used correctly, means the belief that the methods of natural science are the only authoritative and valid methods and can be universally applied. Theory of mind is the product of the softer sciences, psychology and its off-shoots.

    In other words, Vernon is using “scientistic” to mean “insufficiently religious-sounding.”

  5. Andrew G. says

    (“Matter” is linked to “mater”, or mother, remembered in the expression, mother earth.)

    Why do boneheads like this never realize that it’s a pure accident of history that we use the Anglo-Norman derived word “matter” (which indeed comes from Latin “mater” which means “source” as well as “mother”) rather than, say, a derivative of the Middle English word “andwork” (which is “and-” meaning against, back, away, etc. + “work” meaning work).

    Or, maybe, they might consider than languages other than English exist and the word for “matter” probably doesn’t have any relationship to “mother” in many of them. In fact I don’t recall even the ancient Greeks using words derived from “mother” in their early philosophical speculations.

  6. stonyground says

    Connie, Science is a carefully designed method for finding out about the real world and the body of knowledge that has been built up by doing so. We know that it works, and that its findings are mostly correct, because all of our technology is based on it, technology that works.

    Religion is just collections of superstitions made up thousands of years ago by people who had no way of knowing any better. The fact is, anyone living now, in the developed world, has a way of knowing that is better. I find it sad that many still don’t.

  7. says

    The bulk of the article is the usual slush about talking stones and spiritual nature and listen to the music…

    I’m assuming that by “listen to the music”, the proponent of that argument is claiming that religious music is exceptional and incomparable to secular music.

    But while reading past that, I was struck by one thing: religions often motivate people to ban music. I’ve heard stories of members in certain Christian sects actually taking their pop/rock records to the burn barrel and torching them. And they didn’t do it because the music was particularly bad, but because of “Teh Dehbill!!11!!”. Yeah, “listen to the music” my ass. Listen to the flames lick your favorite records more like.

  8. A. Noyd says

    “When you perceive the matter called a human being speaking, you spontaneously know those perceptions as one person communicating with you, another person.”

    I can see why Barfield would want to rely on spontaneous knowing of perceptions because he sure as fuck can’t communicate worth a damn in a conventional manner.

  9. says

    The “listen to the music” bit was in response to this paragraph of Vernon’s –

    Popular science routinely trades on this sense of nature’s aliveness. If you saw Brian Cox’s TV series Wonders of the Universe you may recall how images of the cosmos were accompanied by the rising swell and celebratory trumpets of orchestral music. In fact, the producers received a number of complaints from viewers about the music being too loud. They could not hear Cox explain the hard science as he wistfully gazed heavenwards. And yet, you could be forgiven for concluding that the music was more important. It spoke more loudly and clearly to the meaning of being made of stardust. The music interpreted the physics for us. It made the stones speak. That is the sound we wanted to hear.

    Yeah it’s just great to drown out the actual substance with emotive music, because the point of science is feeeeeeeelings and that’s because everything is aliiiiiiiiiiiiive.

  10. mnb0 says

    Perhaps religion benefits from such a dialogue, I would not know. Science certainly doesn’t. The progress of science is inversely proportionate to the influence of science on it.

  11. Connie says

    @ Ophelia:

    I’ve never read any of Deepak’s works as I focused instead on Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawking, and most recently, Dr. Amit Goswami.

    I guess using the word Religion is incorrect. Magic perhaps is more accurate for what I am speaking of for I believe magic (not tricks) is Science we don’t know about yet. I wouldn’t be speaking about who and what I am if I was not confident my talents could be proved using the theories found in Quantum Physics.

    No religion, no dogma, just a person doing their best to be a positive force in the world of negativity and hate.

  12. 'Tis Himself says

    Some years ago I was on top of a cliff looking out at the ocean. It was a warm spring day, a few fluffy cumulus clouds in the sky, and a beautiful view. There were other several people there and one woman said: “Look at that marvelous blue sky. What makes it such a gorgeous blue?”

    Unfortunately for her, I decided to answer. “Let me explain Rayleigh Scattering to you.” I then took a minute or two discussing wavelengths of light compared to the size of air and water molecules.

    One man complained: “Knowing that has robbed all the joy of the scene from me.”

    I told him that was ignorant nonsense. Knowing why the sky is blue enhanced the beauty for me. I then said: “But why the day sky is blue is trivial compared to why the night sky is black. However I will not explain Olbers’ Paradox, even though it tells us several important things about the universe.”

  13. says

    Connie, ok, it’s not Chopra. Can you explain further? I’m not following you at all. Are you a physicist? You said “After much research I found Quantum Physics which calls what I feel the Quantum Consciousness.” What does that mean? What is the Quantum Consciousness? Do you have a source for Quantum Physics calling what you feel the Quantum Consciousness?

    And can you respond to what I said about feeling part of something larger than the self? Can you explain why you call that god or goddess? I don’t understand that, myself. As I said, I can think of many many things that are much larger than I am yet that I am part of – but they have nothing to do with “God.” Are you talking about something completely different from the examples I gave? If so, can you say what it is?

  14. amhovgaard says

    Getting answers to such “Why…”-questions from people who actually know what they’re talking about always makes it all seem even more amazing to me…

  15. says

    “Snap” by the way has been rendered useless by Americans who misunderstood it and are using it to mean something else. “Snap” is something you say at moments of duplication. It doesn’t mean anything like “Oh, that was a good one.”

  16. Connie says

    Ophelia, Personally, I hear every voice of every Deity that humans have created. Not exactly something that I wanted to share before the here/now. However, I’m coming out of the God closet. :)

    I knew in my heart from a very young age while the church I grew up in (United Church of Christ) gave me some answers, it did not provide an answer to all my questions. Not satisfied to remain curious I took it upon myself to research all religions. Some did not speak to me, some did. I found a couple themes that emerge from just about every faith – Love is the answer and Positive thought / Prayer / Meditation works. And just because I found my true path doesn’t mean it will work for anyone else. We are all in this on our own, even though we are all in it together.

    Fast forward to the movie release “What the Bleep Do We Know?” and all the paradoxes they talk about. The movie didn’t open my eyes to String Theory as I watched The Elegant Universe with Brian Green first. It did introduce me to the work of Dr Amit Gowswami. He is called the Quantum Activist, has a website and documentary of the same name on the web. I am very tech challenged at this time so I will have to ask you to Google him.

    Perhaps I’m totally off base, but I believe all the voices of the Deities I hear are manifestations we humans created to explain the unexplainable and just because those energies are no longer followed does not mean they simply go away. They honestly are lonely and since I can hear them… Yeah, it’s a public service with payment in brownie points. I’m rich like that. Mental Brownies with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream for everyone! (Best part – no calories)

    About being connected… well, yeah. We all are. When I meditate I start with myself and flow so deeply within I come out on the other side, big as the universe, connected to everything. We are all part of the Quantum Consciousness – the place where all possibilities exist. That is why what is done to one is done to all.

    Humans are in trouble and most do not know it. I pray every day their eyes are opened and they See.

    With respect to your worldview, thank you for the opportunity to speak with you. I’ve enjoyed our discourse a lot.

  17. Sili says

    Until about age 4 (I think) children always say the new person will look in the cookie box.

    That just shows that kids under the age of 4 aren’t human beings.

    I’ll have to remember that the next time someone asks why infanticide is wrong while abortion isn’t.

  18. Connie says

    Just read your latest post. Glad to provide such wonderful fodder for you.

    My path is my own. I’ve walked it this long and been laughed at. Just because it is correct for me does not mean it is correct for you. I know it is truth. I don’t need your approval. If that is blithering, so be it.

    If I believe what I do, how does that harm you?

    Oh, wait. You and those who were scathing to me want everyone to be the same. You want everyone to say God does not exist. Sorry. I don’t live in that world. In my world view, everyone has their own view, their own path, and no one is bullied about it. EVER.

  19. says

    Connie, I didn’t say you were blithering.

    If you believe what you do, how does it harm me – it depends. It always depends. It depends on how your beliefs influence your actions, and what your actions are. But anyway, you wrote your beliefs down here, and I asked you questions about them. I don’t think I was scathing.

    If I was, though – it’s probably because I’m dubious about non-physicists (like me!) appropriating the language of physics to talk about…um…implausible things.

    No, I don’t want everyone to say god doesn’t exist. On the other hand, if people make claims about god, I do want to ask them how they know what they claim, and I do hope they answer.

  20. John Morales says

    [meta]

    Connie:

    In my world view, everyone has their own view, their own path, and no one is bullied about it. EVER.

    Then you weren’t being bullied, were you?

    You want everyone to say God does not exist.

    I fail to see any valid basis for this opinion.

    If I believe what I do, how does that harm you?

    Do you vote?

  21. A. Noyd says

    Connie (#11)

    Magic perhaps is more accurate for what I am speaking of for I believe magic (not tricks) is Science we don’t know about yet.

    Yet, you’re claiming to know about it. On what do you base your knowledge and why can’t science weigh in on it right here and now? (Do try to keep in mind that science is a method of sorting fact from fiction.)

    (#20)

    …Positive thought / Prayer / Meditation works.

    Works to do what? And what keeps science from verifying these things do what you think they do?

    (#22)

    I know it is truth.

    How? How do you know? What do you use to rule out the possibility you’re fooling yourself?

    If I believe what I do, how does that harm you?

    Because beliefs shape actions and if you believe false things you’ll take wrong actions.

  22. says

    Connie, you don’t understand why people are responding to you the way they are.

    Nearly everyone here has a strong allegiance to the truth. We would rather know what’s true than believe something that makes us feel good, though that knowledge more than makes up for the loss of illusions. Read any good scientist on how their sense of wonder and awe is encouraged by knowing more.

    We thank people who correct us, even though it is sometimes painful, and we resolve to do research into the area and come prepared the next time. We don’t want everyone to think the same thing, but we do want people to know how to think, and how to judge what they hear. And the rules of logic and critical thinking are not a matter of opinion. The Greeks started nailing these down 2500 years ago, and they are not likely to change.

    Believe me, in a democratic society, this is critically important. It may well be a matter of life and death.

  23. Connie says

    Ophelia,

    You were not scathing. Others were.

    From his website: *Amit Goswami, Ph. D. is a retired professor from the theoretical physics department of the University of Oregon in Eugene, where he had served since 1968. He is a pioneer of the new paradigm of science called “science within consciousness”.*

    Thank you to Mark Fournier for your kind instructions as to how I might portray my point of view better next time. Right now I just KNOW. Wish I could give more explanations but a butterfly doesn’t know how or why it flies, it just does.

    What did I hope to accomplish here? Honestly I thought with some excitement that I’d found a community where I would fit. I’ve been looking for a very long time. I will continue with my search.

    To John – believing my world view is the only one that counts is the height of hubris. Edith Hamilton speaks about that at length in her stories of the Greek Gods and Goddesses. Perhaps extra reading on the subject will aid you in your life quest?

    To Ophelia – how do I know the Quantum Consciousness exists? In meditation I’ve touched it. In sharing love with my dying husband I lived it. I’ve no idea why me talking to you today was so freaking important, but it was. So, I wrote. I opened myself up. I followed my heart, my gut, my intuition. No logic here, just raw emotive power which like water can change landscapes.

    My cousin wrote a book called Exploring the Gap Between Religion and Science. He asks a question I take with me every day – Do I follow the Deity that created me or the one I created?

    In following the Quantum Consciousness I believe I follow that which created me. To me that means practicing unconditional love (I may not like what you do or who you are nor do I want to hang with your negative self until you get positive but I still love you). It also means doing the correct thing because it’s the correct thing to do. It means being good even though no one is watching. It means I do my best to live in honor and to use the gifts given to me.

    Anecdotal evidence proves me correct. That won’t do for your readers though. I’m not sure using the Scientific method would work to prove I can do what I do as I suffer from test anxiety.

    As for knowing what is true and what is not? I just spent the past eight years fighting cancer with my husband. The last four were helping him to die with dignity and honor. To walk that walk for so long I had to suppress all my goals and dreams so I could focus on another’s journey. It is a bittersweet victory to say I succeeded.

    I’ve walked through the fire and come out of the other side. If I hadn’t felt the Hand of God helping me through the really rough patches we wouldn’t be having this conversation today.

    I get you don’t know me. I do sound flaky as a freshly baked croissant. Again, it is who I am. It is who I’ve always been. Thank you again for the opportunity to grow. Hoping to be a slightly less flaky pastry in the future, I am Connie

  24. Christopher Petroni says

    Right now I just KNOW.

    Then you don’t know. That’s what many have been trying to explain. If you can’t articulate the reasons for the positions you take, then you don’t have knowledge, just an unjustified belief.

    To John – believing my world view is the only one that counts is the height of hubris.

    Does that mean that all worldviews are equivalent? I’m prepared to defend the notion that a view of the world based on what is demonstrably real is superior to one based only on what feels good or what seems profound. Religion and spirituality and goddish mumbo jumbo don’t get you to the moon or cure diseases.

    To Ophelia – how do I know the Quantum Consciousness exists? In meditation I’ve touched it.

    First, I don’t have any idea what you mean by quantum consciousness. What is it?

    Second, if the only reason you know that it exists is that you “touched” it in meditation, then how do you know it’s not a product of your mind? A figment of your imagination? Something that has no existence outside your own thoughts?

    No logic here, just raw emotive power which like water can change landscapes.

    Raw emotive power may change landscapes, but it does not lead to knowledge. For that you need reason and evidence. Otherwise, how do you know that you know?

    Do I follow the Deity that created me or the one I created?

    How does your cousin know that there’s any such thing as a deity that created you?

    In following the Quantum Consciousness I believe I follow that which created me. To me that means practicing unconditional love (I may not like what you do or who you are nor do I want to hang with your negative self until you get positive but I still love you). It also means doing the correct thing because it’s the correct thing to do. It means being good even though no one is watching. It means I do my best to live in honor and to use the gifts given to me.

    Those all seem like admirable life tenets (except perhaps unconditional love, which makes little sense to me.) What on earth does any of it have to do with Quantum Consciousness?

    Anecdotal evidence proves me correct.

    It certainly does not. A favorite skeptic turn of phrase: “The plural of anecdote is not data.” Human minds are too easily fooled by personal experience to rely on anecdotes to arrive at conclusions about how the universe really is. Reliable evidence comes from controlled experiment. Knowledge about reality comes from integrating that evidence into workable theories that yield predictions which future experiments can test. Anecdotes don’t cut it.

    That won’t do for your readers though.

    Indeed not.

    I’m not sure using the Scientific method would work to prove I can do what I do as I suffer from test anxiety.

    That seems to happen a lot when people making unscientific claims about themselves are challenged to prove it. Psychics, for example, often claim that their abilities go away if they’re subjected to rigorous testing. Does that suggest anything to you?

    As for knowing what is true and what is not? I just spent the past eight years fighting cancer with my husband. The last four were helping him to die with dignity and honor. To walk that walk for so long I had to suppress all my goals and dreams so I could focus on another’s journey. It is a bittersweet victory to say I succeeded.

    Losing loved ones is not easy. I thought a lot about what life is and what it means when my mother passed away. None of this has anything to do with what is true and what is not. What is true depends on what is actually out there, what we can observe repeatedly under controlled conditions. It has nothing to do with our own goals and our own feelings in our own individual lives.

    I’ve walked through the fire and come out of the other side. If I hadn’t felt the Hand of God helping me through the really rough patches we wouldn’t be having this conversation today.

    You felt something, to be sure. What makes you call it the Hand of God? What does that mean to you?

    I get you don’t know me. I do sound flaky as a freshly baked croissant.

    I love croissants!

    We are always learning. The day isn’t over until I’ve been shown to be wrong on at least one thing.

  25. says

    @Connie

    how do I know the Quantum Consciousness exists? In meditation I’ve touched it.

    You touched consciousness? It’s some kind of physical object? Pardon me, but I really don’t think you have the slightest clue what you are talking about.

    I’ve no idea why me talking to you today was so freaking important, but it was.

    For you it might have been important. For the rest of us, not so much. People who believe in woo are a dime a dozen. If we had wanted to read more about quantum tomatoes or whatever, all we would have had to do is open up a few pages on the Huffington Post (minus the rare Stenger article there).

    @Ophelia

    Yeah it’s just great to drown out the actual substance with emotive music, because the point of science is feeeeeeeelings and that’s because everything is aliiiiiiiiiiiiive.

    Ah. *head→desk*

  26. hotshoe says

    “Snap” by the way has been rendered useless by Americans who misunderstood it and are using it to mean something else. “Snap” is something you say at moments of duplication. It doesn’t mean anything like “Oh, that was a good one.”

    Tee hee.

    “Snap” for “ooh, gotcha” makes much more sense, as an extension of the non-slang meanings of snap (move swiftly and smartly; snatch at with teeth; take), than “snap” for duplication.

    Among the kids here, the word is “Jinx” if you say the same thing as another person. The first person can call out “Jinx – you owe me a soda”. Some (I think, older) groups play by the rule that the first person just calls “Jinx” and then the second person cannot speak until someone else calls him/her by name.

  27. musubk says

    Connie:

    I wouldn’t be speaking about who and what I am if I was not confident my talents could be proved using the theories found in Quantum Physics.

    Your confidence is badly misplaced. As a physicist, I find a very large disconnect between: 1. What you seem to think quantum theory says (i.e. that it has something to do with ‘consciousness’) and what physicists talk about when they talk about quantum theory, and 2. The confidence with which you’re stating things about very complicated systems (like the mind), and the unconfidence which even those who have taken graduate-level courses in quantum mechanics will talk about quantum in very simple systems (like a single atom). The Schrodinger equation can be solved for the hydrogen atom analytically (though it’s not easy), but even stepping up to the helium atom requires you to neglect terms so that you only get an approximation. When someone starts talking quantum mechanics on scales that are vastly more complicated than that, they can probably be safely ignored. If they do it with confidence, forget about it – you’re reading religious convictions, not science.

    I don’t recall anything Hawking or Sagan wrote specifically on this topic, but being familiar with other writings of both, I find it highly unlikely they would be sympathetic to ‘quantum consciousness’. Hawking, for example, says (correctly) that quantum mechanics has no effect on the day-to-day world beyond what is already predicted by classical mechanics, because our experiential world is far beyond the limit in which quantum mechanics reduces to classical mechanics. See ‘Correspondence principle’.
    The other you mentioned (Goswami), from what I can see, appears to be a quack.

    That movie ‘What the bleep do we know’ was widely considered by physicists as utter nonsense. I tried to watch it myself, but gave up after 15 minutes. Filed under: Too crazy to be entertaining, just infuriating.

  28. geocatherder says

    I’m not in any sort of general disagreement, but I do object to dismissing the stories stones (really rocks) have to tell, when interpreted in situ by a geologist… my field of study is all about interpreting the stories rocks have to tell. Don’t dismiss us — we brought you plate tectonics, didn’t we?

  29. says

    Connie:

    “I knew in my heart from a very young age while the church I grew up in (United Church of Christ) gave me some answers, it did not provide an answer to all my questions. Not satisfied to remain curious I took it upon myself to research all religions. Some did not speak to me, some did. I found a couple themes that emerge from just about every faith – Love is the answer and Positive thought / Prayer / Meditation works. And just because I found my true path doesn’t mean it will work for anyone else. We are all in this on our own, even though we are all in it together.”

    You offer there the results in brief of your own life experience. I think that all the other commenters on this thread, without exception, are offering you the results of their own life experience too.

    To go on a search for the answers to the big questions, for the meaning of life, for the true religion, for the ANSWER, for the ideas and understanding that makes sense of it all is a perfectly natural, normal and common thing to do. I did it myself.

    But for many if not most people, the search begins and ends with the religion or belief system they were born into, because believing is the means to belonging, and belonging is very important.

    HOWEVER, one must always remember that every religion blasphemes every other one, because they all present themselves as ‘the one true way’. Otherwise, they cannot justify, even to their own supporters, their separate sectarian existences.

    One must also remember that science is only an attempt (quite successful to date) to use language and mathematics (itself also a language) to account for what is observed in nature, and to make predictions from that. As musubk has pointed out @ #32, quantum mechanics has so far succeeded in accounting for simple systems like a single hydrogen atom. And we can broadly explain some phenomena in terms of changes in electron energy levels in a variety of atoms. But people who want to believe that (their own) religion somehow underlies everything will start throwing the word ‘quantum’ about largely I think because it sounds so impressive, with it and informed. The wonder given rise to is inevitably a ‘golden tree of bullshit’ to use Ophelia’s memorable phrase. I have yet to find it otherwise.

    Two of my favourite quotations from leading scientists relevant to this discussion (which surprisingly have not been used already):

    1. “Anyone who says that they understand quantum mechanics does not understand quantum mechanics”. That one is from the Nobel Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman, himself no slouch in the field.

    2. “Now, my own suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose…” That is from the geneticist and evolutionary biologist JBS Haldane. It is a profound thought, IMHO. It may just be that we have as much chance of knowing what ‘God’ knows about the whole structure, operation and ultimate origin of the Universe we inhabit as a family of cockroaches do about the kitchen cupboard they live in.

    Haldane went on: “… I have read and heard many attempts at a systematic account of it, from materialism and theosophy to the Christian system or that of Kant, and I have always felt that they were much too simple. I suspect that there are more things in heaven and earth that are dreamed of, or can be dreamed of, in any philosophy. That is the reason why I have no philosophy myself, and must be my excuse for dreaming.” (‘Possible Worlds’.)

  30. says

    Josh – well I did think she might be an advertising mole sent by Prometheus to get us all to order Victor Stenger’s books. But surely I was only joking…

  31. A. Noyd says

    Connie (#27)

    Honestly I thought with some excitement that I’d found a community where I would fit. … I followed my heart, my gut, my intuition. No logic here, just raw emotive power which like water can change landscapes.

    I… uh… words fail me, so I’m just gonna laugh.

  32. kev_s says

    For anyone skeptical about the work of Amit Goswami (mentioned by Connie) I recommend starting here to save yourself wading through a lot of incomprehensible waffle:

    http://www.csicop.org/si/show/quantum_quackery/

    The author of that article is none other than Victor Stenger!! … but that url is a bit of spoiler. :-(

    Amit’s page in Wikipedia was deleted recently which is odd. And searching for articles that mention him in Wikipedia tends to throw up people like Deepak Chopra and Rupert Sheldrake (of ‘Morphic Resonance’ fame … anyone remember him?)

  33. Svlad Cjelli says

    @hotshoe

    “Snap” also means connect, fit.

    And jinx is what keeps you from drawing your sword after making contact with evil fairies.

  34. says

    Rather than Goswami, I suggest that David Bohm is a better example of a celebrated physicist whose worldview was fundamentally subjective – see for example his dialogs with J. Krishnamurti.

    Even the most effective thinkers generally omit to notice that consciousness is primary. There are some investigations for which thinking, though wonderfully useful in most contexts, is not part of the solution. If you’re holding a Phillips screwdriver, it’s frustrating when you encounter something it won’t open.

    Empiricism is demonstrably the best approach to knowing the objective world, but empiricism works equally well for the subjective world (a process which is properly called meditation). Despite what you may have heard, it requires no belief systems whatever, and never entails the acceptance of anything without evidence.

    Unfortunately, however, just as it takes many years to get a real science education, it takes even longer to develop an authentic understanding of your own nature. In each case, only a small minority can be bothered to do the work. Sam Harris is almost alone as a public figure who has travelled both paths.

    It’s great to find out about all the stuff outside, but such knowledge is ultimately unreliable, since it always rests upon who is inside. Doubtless I shall be accused of delusion, by the very people who imagine “Who am I?” to be an unimportant or trivial question. How delightfully ironic.

  35. Stevarious says

    Honestly I thought with some excitement that I’d found a community where I would fit. … I followed my heart, my gut, my intuition. No logic here, just raw emotive power which like water can change landscapes.

    I… uh… words fail me, so I’m just gonna laugh.

    Maybe she saw a mention of us as ‘freefromthoughtblogs.com’. The trolls always think they are SO clever when they pull out that tired canard.

  36. Don Salmon says

    I would generally assume that the skeptics/debunkers/materialists who tirelessly promote their dogmatic definition of science as “objective, reasonable, empirical, unbiased” etc have never participated in research and don’t know any scientists. however, it just shows the extraordinary power of emotional and perceptual biases that there are actually people (usually grad students, but sometimes real scientists) who persist in such nonsense. There’s a Feynmann talk on the subject – he is rational for part of it then descends into emotional nonsense (ooh, someone accusing a scientist of being irrational and emotional; isn’t it just those New Age woo woo types who are like that? Well, no.)

    As far as materialism goes, if anybody can even provide a coherent description of how you might design an experiment to determine if mind-independent matter exists, you can try it – but Nagarjuna over 1000 years ago, and Wittgenstein in the last century, and dozens of cognitive scientists (Francisco Varela, for one) and physicists (Nobel Prize winner Brian Josephson, for example) have tried patiently to explain to various intransigent positivists that such an attempt is incoherent, self contradictory, etc etc.

    But it is impossible to explain it to the James Randi school of debunkers because they have no interest in reason (despite their stated interest in such). Rather, they adhere with all the passion of the most fundamentalist of religious fanatics to an outmoded 19th century dogma which nearly derailed the progress of science at the end of that century, when Lord Kelvin recommended students to avoid going into physics because all the major problems have been solved.

    It’s hard to beleive it’s the 21st century and such dogmatic, absolutist, blind irrational belief systems are still strangling those in science who wish to proceed by common sense.

    Take psi for example – forget the whole world of controlled experiment (even though there are more replications done successfuly in psi research than in any other field – I’ll be willing to wager that nobody on this site is aware that the vast majority of replications in physics fail – that is, they fail when held to the same standard as parapsychological phenomena; in fact, they fail when held to an even slightly higher standard that is common in phsics; that is, the same standard most psychologists (my profession) use. But we don’t care because most findings in physics (people wrongly think) fit within the mateiralist framework (actually, nothing fits in that framework because it is wholly self contradictory, but htat’s another post).

    Why not accept the non replicable, non measurable experiences that thousands of people report every day, that are verifiable, and perfectly understandable in a non materialist framework? Because they don’t fit in with the common religious belief system of fundamaterialism.

    It’s the same reason the priests refused to look through Galileo’s telescope. Isn’t that something? The materialists, the socalled “skeptics” (they aren’t skeptical of their own dogmas, of course) are no more “open minded” or “rational” than the medieval priests!

    Amazing!

    For more, see “Shaving Science With Ockham’s Razor”, or write me at donsalmon7@gmail.com

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