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Mar 06 2013

For shame, TEDx

I thought they were going to clean up their act and stop highlighting crackpots and kooks. But oh look: there’s Rupert Sheldrake, listing all the things he finds wrong about science. How could we possibly accept the dogma that matter is unconscious? Or that genetics is measurable and material?

What I found particularly galling in the video besides the smug arrogance of Sheldrake postulating idiocy is that the audience joins in and laughs smugly at his smug assertions.

“Genes are grossly overrated.” “Species have a collective memory, even crystals do.” “Everything depends on evolving habits, not fixed laws.” Gaaah.

Oh my god: his evidence that the constants of the universe are not constant is that the reported speed of light in 1920 was 20 meters/sec greater than it is now.

121 comments

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  1. 1
    Sastra

    Rupert Sheldrake provides good evidence for the gnu atheist’s argument that science can be used to argue that there is no ‘supernatural’ component to reality and thus everything mental is ultimately derived from the non-mental. If naturalism wasn’t true, then the universe might look much like Sheldrake claims it does. The fact that Sheldrake is wrong is not just good evidence against Sheldrake; it’s evidence against the hypothesis.

  2. 2
    chrislawson

    Next on TEDx: Andrew Wakefield.

  3. 3
    chrislawson

    From TEDx’s rules on speakers:

    “Speakers must be able to confirm the claims presented in every talk — TED and TEDx are exceptional stages for showcasing advances in science, and we can only stay that way if the claims presented in our talks can stand up to scrutiny from the scientific community.”

    Yeah, right.

  4. 4
    Alex

    his evidence that the constants of the universe are not constant is that the reported speed of light in 1920 was 20 meters/sec greater than it is now.

    Ha.ha. hahahahahahaha

    And when you measure time and that itself also changes over time.. OMG everything is relative1!!!!!111!! Einstien was wrong! also: My Dog is telepathic!!!1!!

  5. 5
    Moggie

    That’s why those old silent movies look sped up!

  6. 6
    borax

    I’ve been yelling at a lump of pink quartz crystal for ten minutes. It won’t give up its collective memories. Fucking rock.

  7. 7
    Alex

    That’s why those old silent movies look sped up!

    That explains it! And they’re greyshifted like hell.

  8. 8
    Nathair

    I thought they were going to clean up their act and stop highlighting crackpots and kooks.

    No you didn’t. None of us did.

  9. 9
    borax

    TED talks are a lot like Dr Oz. At one moment they provide science based information, and the next they are selling bullshit.

  10. 10
    Rob Grigjanis

    his evidence that the constants of the universe are not constant is that the reported speed of light in 1920 was 20 meters/sec greater than it is now.

    Michelson’s 1926 experiment had an uncertainty of ±4 km/s. Sheldrake is a scientist? Astounding.

  11. 11
    Akira MacKenzie

    TED’s slogan is “Ideas worth spreading.” The only thing Sheldrake is spreading is the intellectual equivalent of the clap.

    Kooks sell, especially when the kook seems articulate and charismatic enough to lend credibility to the public’s delusions.

  12. 12
    David Marjanović

    “Speakers must be able to confirm the claims presented in every talk — TED and TEDx are exceptional stages for showcasing advances in science, and we can only stay that way if the claims presented in our talks can stand up to scrutiny from the scientific community.”

    Except when the speaker is famous.

    That explains it! And they’re greyshifted like hell.

    Day saved!

  13. 13
    peterh

    “…the reported speed of light …” Fixed it a little.

    Where is it written reports must be accurate and not open to possible refinement? We perhaps wish they all were right out of the chute, but reality being what it is and our sometimes-fallible perceptions being what they are . . . . . Like all other woomeitsers, Sheldrake ‘s an idiot.

  14. 14
    peterh

    That’s “woomeisters.” Keyboard’s gone dyslexic on me.

  15. 15
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    @ Sastra

    Rupert Sheldrake provides good evidence for the gnu atheist’s argument that science can be used to argue that there is no ‘supernatural’ component to reality …

    Actually it is quite a thing that he has achieved in single-handedly creating a metaphysical view of the universe that, like science, has no need for the god-hypothesis. As much as I think Sheldrake’s ideas are wrong (or “not even wrong” as they are unfalsifiable) I do think that he is thoroughly entertaining – the kind of person you would invite out for an ale in that little pub in Hobbiton.

  16. 16
    ashleybell

    TED…Jumping head first into irrevelency. Too bad. Such potential earlier on. Maybe some other organization will emerge to do the right thing.

  17. 17
    twas brillig (stevem)

    re 7:

    That explains it! And they’re greyshifted like hell.

    But according to Calvin’s dad, color is a new phenomenon. All the old B/W pictures were taken in “full color”, but there were none then, so that’s what the film recorded. You can’t beat SCIENCE!

  18. 18
    robro

    Who put on this TEDx? A TEDx is just TED licensing the brand to some third party. The license is free, and TED specifies that the programs should be non-profit and meet some other conditions. However, there are so many TEDx conferences now that the TED organization may be unable to monitor all that’s going on in its name. The down side of success and rapid growth.

  19. 19
    Sastra

    theophontes #15 wrote:

    Actually it is quite a thing that he has achieved in single-handedly creating a metaphysical view of the universe that, like science, has no need for the god-hypothesis.

    But Sheldrake’s metaphysical view of the universe — with its vitalistic morphic resonance fields and primary place granted to an irreducible conscious intention — is to all intents and purposes just another version of god. His views and descriptions deliberately resemble eastern deities (he developed his theories when on a spiritual quest in India.) But if this particular divine form is insufficiently anthropomorphic for your taste , it now allows a more highly developed form of vitalistic consciousness (God) to slip in harmoniously. God would fit. Naturalism is wrong.

    PZ has regularly claimed that he can’t think of what sort of evidence would be capable of persuading him that God exists. And I have regularly responded with the argument that a complicated hypothesis like the existence of God would probably first have to be both clarified and established through a series of steps. IF Rupert Sheldrake is correct then the universe is a very different sort of place than the model which scientists currently work with. You’ve either got a cosmic god itself now … or the necessary preconditions FOR a god.

  20. 20
    Nick Gotts

    Sheldrake is a scientist?

    Ex-scientist.

  21. 21
    theophontes (恶六六六缓步动物)

    @ Sastra

    His views and descriptions deliberately resemble eastern deities (he developed his theories when on a spiritual quest in India.

    This I did not know.

    IF Rupert Sheldrake is correct then the universe is a very different sort of place than the model which scientists currently work with.

    Indeed.

    You’ve either got a cosmic god itself now … or the necessary preconditions FOR a god.

    OK, here I don’t understand (perhaps I am missing something). If the universe were different than the model which scientists currently work with, why would this in any way imply a god (or its preconditions)? Is there no potential alternative hypothesis, that also has the characteristic that it does not admit god/s?

    (I actually thought this was the case with Sheldrake. I must confess that I was unaware of the whole India/spiritual-journey aspect, and that it has been quite a while since I read one of his books (“A new science of life”?I forget.))

  22. 22
    Draken

    If you had paid what this audience has paid, you’d laugh too, even if he dropped his pants.

  23. 23
    Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc

    @Sastra

    I wonder if TEDx would sign me up if I go on a spiritual quest to the pub and drink my own weight in tequila. I bet that I can come up with some great* content.

    *Flexibly defined.

  24. 24
    robro

    Draken — Do you have info on how much this TEDx cost? Per the usual unreliable resource, they can only charge a $100 fee to cover costs, but perhaps that’s not accurate…plus who knows how much the promoter pitches donations to their favorite cause. And, perhaps it doesn’t really matter: $100 is still a lot to pay for the wacko show.

  25. 25
    Nick Gotts

    Sastra@19,

    It’s worth noting that according to his wikipedia entry, Sheldrake is an Anglican. Not that that says much about what his religious beliefs!

  26. 26
    Sastra

    theophontes #21 wrote:

    If the universe were different than the model which scientists currently work with, why would this in any way imply a god (or its preconditions)? Is there no potential alternative hypothesis, that also has the characteristic that it does not admit god/s?

    It’s not just that our model of the universe would be different. Given a successful Sheldrake, it’s the way it would have to be different. Instead of mind/products of mind coming out of matter (the current view), we would be dealing with mind/products of mind as primary force(s) or essence. Naturalism has been described as “the view that no causes of events in the natural world are irreducibly mental.” Sheldrake is thus advocating supernaturalism.

    God is supernatural. It’s just one of many examples of “irreducibly mental” supernatural phenomenon.

    Alternative hypotheses which contradict current models of the universe which are not supernatural (or lack supernatural components) might change our views, sure — but not in a godly direction.

  27. 27
    Rob Grigjanis

    I looked into it, and Sheldrake isn’t completely full of shit about speed of light measurements. His claim is that between 1928 and 1945, measurements were consistently less than before or since, by 20 km/s (not m/s). Some measurements (uncertainty in m/s in last column);

    1926 Michelson Rotating mirror 299,796,000 4000
    1928 Karolus and Mittelstaedt Kerr Cell 299,778,000 10,000
    1932 Michelson and others Rotating mirror 299,774,000 11,000
    1941 Anderson Kerr Cell 299,776,000 14,000
    1950 Bergstrand Geodimeter 299,792,700 250

    I suspect this says more about methods in experimental physics than about c, but I’ve always hated doing experiments. And it certainly doesn’t excuse the rest of Sheldrake’s bullshit.

  28. 28
    Rob Grigjanis

    Apparently formatting doesn’t survive comment submission.

  29. 29
    Draken

    @robro, I overlooked that this is TEDx, not TED. The latter sets you down 4000+ dollars for the entire conference, says wikipedia. TEDx should be between 0 and 100.

  30. 30
    addj

  31. 31
    sundiver

    I thought that “c” was a quantity derived from Maxwell’s equations and that any change would require a change in other electromagnetic phenomena. I’ve seen the “c-decay” bullshit used by some twit named Satterfield to explain why universe with galaxies 4 billion parsecs from Earth could be 6,000 years old.

  32. 32
    Eamon Knight

    Sam Harris owes the skeptical community a retraction and abject apology for citing Sheldrake in The End of Faith. Yes, I’m still pissed off about that.

  33. 33
    F [is for failure to emerge]

    I reject your empirically derived facts and your scientific models which I will call dogma, and replace them with my own dogma which I have just pulled out of my ass.

  34. 34
    firefly

    @ Eamon Knight – Me too.
    .
    I’m going to TEDx Nashville next month because one of my former anthropology professors is speaking. So far, I don’t see anyone with a questionable idea to present on the list. Hope it stays that way…

  35. 35
    Moggie

    Draken:

    If you had paid what this audience has paid, you’d laugh too, even if he dropped his pants.

    “I got yer morphic unit right here!”

  36. 36
    robro

    Rob Grigjanis — I don’t understand your point. The difference between the oldest and the most recent measurements in your list is only 3,300 km/s…right? That’s nothing. Obviously there’s considerable variation in the results, with the lowest from the 1930s. You could probably explain the entire variation on the basis of different, and possibly improved, technologies and instruments used to make the measurements. But so what if the speed of light does change? The deepest implication of that is we have to rethink our theories.

    sundriver — Wouldn’t we expect some differences between a derived “c” and a measured “c”? The question then is whether any such measured differences are significant enough to require some rethinking of the equations. In any case, I still don’t think that means my dog is telepathic.

  37. 37
    sundiver

    What I was thinking is that a change in “c” would have other consequences. I’d expect changes in measurements; a real change in “c” would require some other quantities in Maxwell’s equations to change and that those changes would noted as well.

  38. 38
    Rob Grigjanis

    robro @36: I was quoting experimental results, with uncertainties. If you take the uncertainties seriously, the results from 1928, 1932 and 1941 are inconsistent with measurements before and since, and in agreement with each other. Should they be taken seriously? I have no idea.

    If you’re interested, there is a brief (and unresolved) discussion of the discrepancy between Michelson’s 1926 experiment and the 1932 experiment here (under Observations).

  39. 39
    What a Maroon, el papa ateo

    I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to claim that “c” isn’t constant. After all, we know that the value of π has changed since biblical times….

  40. 40
    David Marjanović

    he developed his theories when on a spiritual quest in India

    *chuckle* What, seriously? Really? :-D

    I thought that “c” was a quantity derived from Maxwell’s equations and that any change would require a change in other electromagnetic phenomena.

    I see your Maxwell and raise you an Einstein. How about e = mc²?

    We’re talking major brightness changes of the sun here, as far as I can guesstimate.

    Sam Harris owes the skeptical community a retraction and abject apology for citing Sheldrake in The End of Faith.

    Sam Harris cited what?

  41. 41
    moarscienceplz

    Wow, just wow.

    My favorite part was how new crystals have to be taught how to grow. I think I’ll make a new compound, teach it how to grow into the shape of the Flying Fickle Finger of Fate, grow a few thousand more of them, and then ship them to Sheldrake in appreciation of the new knowledge he has given me.

  42. 42
    Eamon Knight

    @40: Sam Harris cited what?

    It’s been several years since I read it, so please be charitable to my fuzzy recollection: early-ish in the book, he says something about reincarnation having not been disproved, and drags in Sheldrake’s name favorably. If you want more, it’ll have to wait until I can locate my copy and come up with the specifics.

    Between that, his assertion that fundamentalisms are the “real” representatives of their respective religions, the boring chapter on Buddhist metaphysics, and a bunch of other stupid stuff he’s said since, Harris is not one of my favorite atheists.

  43. 43
    alanbagain

    Sheldrake … Sheldrake
    I thought you were talking about this guy:
    http://c0014099.r32.cf1.rackcdn.com/x2_9fdde21
    Ah well. Both of them are comedy characters.

    Incidentally, he appears to come from England – don’t bother to send him back!

  44. 44
    twas brillig (stevem)

    re Marjanovic @40:

    I see your Maxwell and raise you an Einstein. How about e = mc²?

    Maxwell is the KING! Far above Einstein, as it were. Einstein’s whole Theory of Relativity was developed to explain why Maxwell’s Eqn’s didn’t seem to obey Newton’s Laws. That EM field effects are unaffected by whichever point is moving and which is still. Can’t relate the details, but moving right along…
    from Maxwell, c = e0*u0; so if c changes, then one or both of those values are changing. They can have profound effects on many of our electronic goodies.E.G.: If u0 changes, your hard-drive would be at risk of loosing your precious data!

    Additionally, just read Brian Cox explaining why c is constant. Had little to do with it being lightspeed, but the physics of reality. Photons can move c because they have no mass; they don’t set the value of c.

  45. 45
    Sastra

    @David Marjanovic #40:

    I think I’ve read about Sheldrake’s eastern spirituality journeys in several sources, but I was working off an article in Salon

    After Sheldrake took several extended trips to India, he developed his theory of “morphic resonance.” He put forth the notion that morphic fields influence everything from plant growth to migration patterns to what C.G. Jung called the “collective unconscious.” He wrote, “As time goes on, each type of organism forms a special kind of cumulative collective memory. The regularities of nature are therefore habitual. Things are as they are because they were as they were.”

    From what I can tell he’s basically treating nature as if it were or contained a mind-like essence, a subconscious disposition — turning laws of nature into tendencies and habits which can change and adapt.

  46. 46
    patrickna

    Maybe light wasn’t faster in the 20′s, but space was smaller?! The universe is expanding after all, so it makes sense!

  47. 47
    Rich Woods

    @patrickna #46:

    Maybe light wasn’t faster in the 20′s, but space was smaller?! The universe is expanding after all, so it makes sense!

    Or not.

    PS. Apologies if you forgot the snark tags.

  48. 48
    intergalacticmedium

    @Rob Grigjanis what sigma value were those light measurements taken to? If it is just 1 sigma then some conflict is expected and the values all agreeing would actually be unlikely.

  49. 49
    Ichthyic

    I suspect this says more about methods in experimental physics than about c

    Yes, that was the point.

    :)

  50. 50
    Rob Grigjanis

    intergalacticmedium @48: No idea. The tables I’ve seen only give plus-minus uncertainty.

  51. 51
    alwayscurious

    I have a scientifically-illiterate friend (big fan of “science” however) who keeps trying to get me to listen to TED talks because they have so many good ideas. I haven’t yet, and this post isn’t terribly encouraging.

  52. 52
    LykeX

    The speed of light thing seems indicative of Sheldrake’s approach; get a funny idea, do a little bit of research, then arbitrarily stop researching and declare that your idea is true, based on highly preliminary results; get a little bit of evidence that, if you squint just right, looks like it’s agreeing with you and then refuse to do any further examination.

    That’s just not how you do good science.

  53. 53
    Vijen

    Sheldrake is invaluable as a (not entirely flaky) iconoclast, but he remains trapped by the prevailing orthodoxies. Thus, his suggestion that the awareness of being watched evolved in a predator-prey context, by ignoring the need for a mechanism, implicitly endorses the notion – essentially a religious one – that consciousness somehow derives from the material world. In fact it is far simpler to assume that consciousness is primary and non-dual, and can therefore withhold from or reveal information to itself ad lib. Moreover, this assumption is readily testable by anyone willing to mount a sustained empirical enquiry into their own subjectivity, i.e. to live a life of meditation. Although this term is frequently applied more narrowly, to specific techniques, its fullest meaning refers to the process of striving to become more conscious. Sheldrake seems interested only in establishing a new set of ideas, and reality does not happen to be made of ideas, it is made of consciousness.

  54. 54
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Mr. Incoherent is back doing what he does best. Say nothing without a shred of evidence.

  55. 55
    anteprepro

    Just read Vijens comment without reading the posters name. I thought to myself that either somebody forgot the sarcasm tag or that it was suddenly opposite day. That it was simply Vijen being Vijen was a disappointing revelation.

  56. 56
    mildlymagnificent

    alwayscurious

    … who keeps trying to get me to listen to TED talks because they have so many good ideas. I haven’t yet, and this post isn’t terribly encouraging.

    Have a look at a couple of TED talks (never, ever TEDx, I’ve yet to see one that does anything for me. Life’s too short) and see how you get on. If you like to see statistics come alive watch Hans Rosling’s http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_and_the_magic_washing_machine.html – and just about anything and everything he’s ever done at TED.

  57. 57
    latsot

    One of these days I’m bound to get Rupert Sheldrake in a headlock.

    This isn’t a threat, it just seems inevitable.

  58. 58
    Rob Grigjanis

    LykeX @52: “declare that your idea is true, based on highly preliminary results”

    It doesn’t help that getting detailed online info on old experiments isn’t easy.

    On the other hand, I learned how to measure the speed of light using chocolate, so all was not lost.

  59. 59
    tomfrog

    We can now tell TED what we think about the talk here:
    http://www.ted.com/conversations/16894/rupert_sheldrake_s_tedx_talk.html

  60. 60
    David Marjanović

    Photons can move c because they have no mass; they don’t set the value of c.

    True.

    Sheldrake is invaluable as a (not entirely flaky) iconoclast

    Nope. Trying to question things doesn’t automatically make him valuable. Substituting things by his own dogma definitely doesn’t make him valuable, and does make him flaky.

    the awareness of being watched

    First test if it exists!

    and can therefore withhold from or reveal information to itself ad lib

    …That doesn’t make any sense at all.

    Moreover, this assumption is readily testable by anyone willing to mount a sustained empirical enquiry into their own subjectivity, i.e. to live a life of meditation.

    By just thinking about stuff, you can test whether an idea is logically coherent.

    You cannot test this way whether a logically coherent idea agrees with reality!

    To do that, you need an empirical approach. I can’t see any alternative.

    reality does not happen to be made of ideas, it is made of consciousness

    Reality consists of facts.

    how to measure the speed of light using chocolate

    *lightbulb moment while picking jaw up from floor*

  61. 61
    Ichthyic

    reality does not happen to be made of ideas, it is made of consciousness.

    tell me, were you carefully contemplating your hands were when you said that?

  62. 62
    Vijen

    @David Marjanović #60

    Thinking ≠ Meditation
    Mind ≠ Consciousness

  63. 63
    Ichthyic

    dude: more water, less acid.

  64. 64
    John Morales

    [meta]

    Vijen, your weak-ass panentheism is boring.

  65. 65
    Vijen

    Again with the same misunderstanding: panentheism is an idea, and some ideas are judged to “agree with reality” (in David’s words). You continue to focus on the character of the ideas, but the prior problem concerns the one who decides whether agreement exists. You’re welcome to pretend that this “agreement” is objective, but it self-evidently isn’t. I merely indicate that effective methodologies exist which can help to clarify your confusion.

  66. 66
    Ichthyic

    panentheism is an idea

    this flying purple unicorn sitting in the chair next to me?

    yup, it’s an… idea.

    effective methodologies exist which can help to clarify your confusion

    yeah, it’s called a “bullshit detector”

  67. 67
    Vijen

    This planet has, or had, a problem, which was this. Most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small, green pieces of paper, which is odd, because on the whole, it wasn’t the small, green pieces of paper which were unhappy. (Douglas Adams)
    :-)

    There is a rather similar confusion about ideas, which can’t, on the whole, understand anything.

  68. 68
    Snoof

    Oh, I see.

    Vijen appears to be employing a particularly irritating form of smug literalism. It’s roughly equivalent to this exchange:

    “What does the writing say?”
    “It doesn’t say anything. It’s writing, it can’t speak.”

    Yes, Vijen. We’re aware that ideas are not people. We are (at least in my understanding) using definition 4 on thefreedictionary.com: “To be compatible or consistent; correspond”, rather than 1, 2 or 3, which are behaviours for agents, rather than descriptions of properties.

  69. 69
    Nick Gotts

    If you find yourself incredulously aghast at just how stupid Vijen appears to be, always remember that he is sufficiently stupid to have been fooled by Osho (Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh).

  70. 70
    Vijen

    @Snoof #68

    We’re aware that ideas are not people

    Very good! Now the next step is to notice the converse: that people are not ideas.
    Stop faffing about and address the prior problem!

  71. 71
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Stop faffing about and address the prior problem!

    Start addressing your problem. You have nothing cogent to say, and nobody wants to hear you say nothing.

  72. 72
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Vijen, either evidence your claims with third party evidence, say from the peer reviewed scientific literature, or admit you have nothing. And we all know you have nothing. Your opinion is nothing.

  73. 73
    Owlmirror

    In fact it is far simpler to assume that consciousness is primary and non-dual, and can therefore withhold from or reveal information to itself ad lib.

    The consciousness that is you is not revealing information to the consciousness that is everyone else. The consciousness that is you is pretending that that the phrase “consciousness is primary and non-dual” means something.

    Moreover, this assumption is readily testable by anyone willing to mount a sustained empirical enquiry into their own subjectivity, i.e. to live a life of meditation. Although this term is frequently applied more narrowly, to specific techniques, its fullest meaning refers to the process of striving to become more conscious.

    If consciousness is in fact primary, then that’s as dumb as saying that water can strive to become more wet. Your consciousness is striving to become less conscious.

  74. 74
    Rob Grigjanis

    Your consciousness is striving to become less conscious.

    I’ll drink to that.

  75. 75
    anteprepro

    You continue to focus on the character of the ideas, but the prior problem concerns the one who decides whether agreement exists. You’re welcome to pretend that this “agreement” is objective, but it self-evidently isn’t.

    “It’s not perfectly objective, ergo ANYTHING GOES!”
    The ideal resting place for the purveyor of pseudoscience.
    Sorry, but intersubjective agreement on how concepts correspond to commonly accepted facts and data trumps purely subjective “empirical” assessment of one’s own mental state. Seriously, you are using introspection as the gold standard for evidence and calling it “empiricism”? Were you imported directly from 1920?

  76. 76
    anteprepro

    Oh, but of course Vijen’s other line of EMPIRICAL inquiry is the esteemed scientific technique of arbitrarily changing definitions and playing word games. I guess meditation is respectable by comparison.

  77. 77
    Vijen

    @Nerd et al.
    See #65: address the prior problem, or at least stop bragging about your ignorance.
    As to evidence, it’s readily available, but you’re all too lazy and too unscientific to look for it. Subjective science, i.e. meditation, is a completely empirical process that leads to absolutely reproducible results, which are not, however, transferable – the only way you can become as “smug”, “irritating”, “dumb” and “stupid” as me is by doing all the work yourself. Enjoy!

  78. 78
    anteprepro

    As to evidence, it’s readily available, but you’re all too lazy and too unscientific to look for it. Subjective science, i.e. meditation, is a completely empirical process that leads to absolutely reproducible results, which are not, however, transferable

    That’s great. Repeat yourself and double down on your bald assertions in lieu of actually bothering to prove your point. That’ll show us!

  79. 79
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    address the prior problem,

    Oh, your spouting ignorant drivel? That is a problem. But then you won’t shut the fuck up.

    it’s readily available,Then why haven’t you cited it, preferably from the peer reviewed scientific literture. There is no “subjective science”. That is a term invented by losers who don’t have nor can prove their points. When will you learn the truth. You have been fed and accept a pack of lies.

  80. 80
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Dang. blockquote bork in last sentence #79 “it’s readily available” is our pretend guru’s claim. The rest is my response to that non- supported claim.

  81. 81
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    As to evidence, it’s readily available, but you’re all too lazy and too unscientific to look for it. Subjective science, i.e. meditation, is a completely empirical process that leads to absolutely reproducible results, which are not, however, transferable – the only way you can become as “smug”, “irritating”, “dumb” and “stupid” as me is by doing all the work yourself. Enjoy!

    Since this is hard evidence, please describe the results.

  82. 82
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    The problem with “subjective science”. Self deception.

  83. 83
    anteprepro

    Since this is hard evidence, please describe the results.

    I’m sure you will be able to read the relevant journal articles if you stare at this thread and meditate hard enough.

  84. 84
    Owlmirror

    As to evidence, it’s readily available, but you’re all too lazy and too unscientific to look for it. Subjective science, i.e. meditation, is a completely empirical process that leads to absolutely reproducible results, which are not, however, transferable – the only way you can become as “smug”, “irritating”, “dumb” and “stupid” as me is by doing all the work yourself. Enjoy!

    So, if we try to magically become more of what you claim the universe already is, we will magically come to the magical conclusion that the universe is magically what you claim the universe is? By magic?

  85. 85
    John Morales

    Powerful, meditation is: “Yogic Flying”.

    (Levitation!)

  86. 86
    Vijen

    Since this is hard evidence, please describe the results

    Mine are preliminary, though consonant with many previous accounts which you have doubtless already come across. Nothing is ultimately objective: and intersubjectivity is a useful but unsatisfying stopgap – intrasubjectivity is the only way to go.

  87. 87
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Nothing is ultimately objective: and intersubjectivity is a useful but unsatisfying stopgap – intrasubjectivity is the only way to go.

    And this piece of bullshit and unscientific irrationality is published WHERE? Not published, nothing but OPINION, which will be *floosh* dismissed as the sheiss it is.

  88. 88
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    You don’t understand Science Vijen. It must be documented in notebooks, written up in papers, and accepted by editors or it doesn’t exist. Your OPINION doesn’t exist as science….

  89. 89
    anteprepro

    Mine are preliminary, though consonant with many previous accounts which you have doubtless already come across. Nothing is ultimately objective: and intersubjectivity is a useful but unsatisfying stopgap – intrasubjectivity is the only way to go.

    Bafflegab and bald assertion does not a good argument make.

    “Intrasubjectivity” is unreliable. It is not a satisfying solution. It is not the only way to go. It is not even a way to go at all. It is something that we need to work around, because it is such a fucking hassle to find out anything about reality based on what someone else says they have experienced or felt or “know”. It is not even a reliable way to learn about anything other than our own thoughts and emotions, really. And the sad part is that, ultimately, this isn’t something that people ultimately disagree with. It is why empiricism and science is considered such a good thing that people like yourself either need to go out of their way to co-opt it, or people like creationists need to go out of their way to dismiss it. The emphasis on empiricism and science, even by people who try to quietly strangle them to death for hopes that bullshit can reign once again, is what makes it clear that evidence is king. And evidence is something that several people can point to and observe, and isn’t just the unverifiable internal experiences of one person presented with authority as something other people need to take seriously. Because we know from experience that subjective self-reports can’t really be trusted. Human psychology is complicated and full of potential pitfalls, and the scientific method helps to overcome those problems by trying to remove “this is how I feel things are” from the equation as much as possible, and ensuring through repeatability that the relevant data wasn’t due to mistakes, luck, lies, a fever dream, or hallucinations.

    Those people without scientific data to back them up, who are faced with an alternative hypothesis that is MUCH more well supported by evidence, who still insist that “this is how I feel things are”…those people are bullshitters. They are not scientists, they are denialists. They are closer to pundits and politicians than serious investigators of reality. And that’s you Vijen. For all your spitting out pretenses of caring about science and empiricism, you really don’t give a fuck. You are all about internal experiences trumping external, verifiable data. You are all about denying actual observations in favor of simply accepting whatever small scraps in the scientific literature that support your pet theory. You are as far from science as anyone can be, and your lip service fools no one except yourself. You are to psychology and neuroscience as creationists are to geology and biology. Just as full of unwarranted bluster, just as willfully ignorant of relevant information, just as insistent that the Real Science supports you in e-mail, just as focused on how feelings trump facts, just as prone to bad logic, and just as unwilling to actually support your claims.

  90. 90
    Owlmirror

    [My results] are preliminary, though consonant with many previous accounts which you have doubtless already come across.

    Oh, do tell. Do, do tell!

    Nothing is ultimately objective

    So what are all those scientists who think they’re studying objective reality doing? They’re actually making it all up? Cosmology, physics, chemistry, biology — it’s all fake?

    Consciousness enjoys lying to itself?

    How do we know that it’s not your consciousness that is lying?

    and intersubjectivity is a useful but unsatisfying stopgap

    I don’t think you’re using this word as it is usually meant. What do you think it means?

    intrasubjectivity is the only way to go

    Go where?

  91. 91
    Vijen

    @anteprepro
    It’s very encouraging that you feel the need so vehemently to misconstrue my remarks!

  92. 92
    Owlmirror

    It’s very encouraging that you feel the need so vehemently to misconstrue my remarks!

    If you don’t want to be accused of being a bullshitter, don’t spew bullshit.

  93. 93
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    It’s very encouraging that you feel the need so vehemently to misconstrue my remarks!

    Gee, his remarks were accurate, unlike all the bullshit you keep claiming without evidence…

    You can’t put up, you can’t shut up Vijen. That leaves you as nothing but a proven (by your own actions) liar and bullshitter.

  94. 94
    anteprepro

    It’s very encouraging that you feel the need so vehemently to misconstrue my remarks!

    What a bold defense! I am always impressed at how frequently Black Knights like Vijen crawl off into the woods chuckling about how we foolish fools were merely fencing with strawmen the whole time. It is just remarkable how lifelike they make these men of straw nowadays. Strawmen, strawmen everywhere, yet not a straw in sight. Go figure.

  95. 95
    chigau (違う)

    I think Vijen is a liar.

  96. 96
    jjnagler

    Sheldrake’s talk seems very sensible. What is wrong with challenging currently accepted knowledge by asking questions? That’s what he does, even radical as they appear.

    His quest for a broader application of the scientific method is honorable. Have you challenged your own paradigm or are your so full of yourself and the “real science” label?

    Maybe try an in-depth debate with Sheldrake or an entheogen such as Ayahuasca, not to mention a near death experience. Might change your paradigm, it has with me. I speak with firsthand experience, not lab or text book knowledge.

  97. 97
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    What is wrong with challenging currently accepted knowledge by asking questions?

    Questions aren’t science, nor do they explain science. That requires real evidence.

    Maybe try an in-depth debate

    Ah, category error. Science is not subject to oral debates. The debates occur in the peer reviewed scientific literature where evidence, not rhetoric, wins the debate. Funny how cranks/creationists are so up to oral debates which prove nothing….

  98. 98
    Ichthyic

    What is wrong with challenging currently accepted knowledge by asking questions?

    questions don’t challenge knowledge.

    knowledge challenges knowledge.

    when you have some, come back and tell us about it.

  99. 99
    Ichthyic

    Have you challenged your own paradigm

    gibberish.

  100. 100
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    I speak with firsthand experience, not lab or text book knowledge.

    Anecdotes and all that….

    The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.

    Richard P. Feynman

  101. 101
    ChasCPeterson

    lol
    Is there any single term more intrinsically question-begging than “entheogen”?

  102. 102
    Inaji

    Might change your paradigm, it has with me.

    When you find yourself changing your language to make it sound all mystical and special and neato, you need a re-introduction to reality.

  103. 103
    Chris Clarke

    Is there any single term more intrinsically question-begging than “entheogen”?

    I found entheogens boring after a short while. There are so many other Huxtables I’d rather commune with.

  104. 104
    Lofty

    Small children ask endless questions. Scientists gather repeatable evidence to support their claims. Subtly different.

  105. 105
    David Marjanović

    You’re welcome to pretend that this “agreement” is objective, but it self-evidently isn’t.

    …Nope, that’s not self-evident at all.

    If you drop something, it accelerates while it falls, and it accelerates by (on Earth, on average) 9.81 meters per second per second – if it falls for twice as long, it hits four times the speed. This claim objectively agrees with reality.

    The consciousness that is you is pretending that that the phrase “consciousness is primary and non-dual” means something.

    While it still doesn’t mean anything, it’s a restatement of this (and pretends to be an explanation of it).

    Subjective science, i.e. meditation, is a completely empirical process that leads to absolutely reproducible results, which are not, however, transferable

    – and that makes them completely and utterly worthless. See comment 78.

    and intersubjectivity is a useful but unsatisfying stopgap – intrasubjectivity is the only way to go.

    :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D

    PZ, I want Comic Sans back!!!

    Go where?

    Up his ass! Where else?

    I think Vijen is a liar.

    Vijen has a religion to peddle and hardly seems to even notice. That would at least explain why he’s peddling his religion on an atheist blog.

    Sheldrake’s talk seems very sensible. What is wrong with challenging currently accepted knowledge by asking questions?

    What is wrong with repeating questions that were answered decades ago, and not even knowing that they’ve been answered? Tell me.

    Is there any single term more intrinsically question-begging than “entheogen”?

    Well, taken literally, it produces a god in you, a god that wasn’t there previously, and that only exists inside your skull…

  106. 106
    David Marjanović

    Well, taken literally, it produces a god in you, a god that wasn’t there previously, and that only exists inside your skull…

    Puny god.
    – The Incredible Hulk

  107. 107
    John Morales

    [meta]

    ObLink to David’s #106

  108. 108
    homoergaster

    I think this quote says a lot about Sheldrake.
    “They said different species just follow the instruction in their genes. But a few moments’ reflection show that this reply is inadequate. All the cells of the body contain the same genes. In your body, the same genetic program is present in your eye cells, liver cells and the cells in your arms. The ones in your legs. But if they are all programmed identically, how do they develop so differently?”

  109. 109
    LykeX

    To me it says that Sheldrake doesn’t have a clue. Seriously, that’s creationist level idiocy; on par with “if humans came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?”

    Actually, on second thought, that’s even more stupid than what I would expect from Sheldrake. Where’s that quote from? Was it an off-the-cuff remark or is it from a book or prepared talk? I’m hoping this is a case of the mouth moving before the brain could stop it.

  110. 110
    David Marjanović

    Actually, on second thought, that’s even more stupid than what I would expect from Sheldrake.

    No, why? He’s been saying this kind of thing since before the science of development genetics was, uh, developed, and he’s never noticed that it has been developed.

    And there was desking of heads and palming of faces, and no rejoicing at all.

  111. 111
    LykeX

    I guess I just didn’t expect him to be that stupid. I mean, this is just plain silly. I figured he was a sloppy thinker and prone to conclusion-jumping, but I didn’t think he was a Kent Hovind.

  112. 112
    homoergaster

    The quote is widely attributed to Sheldrake on his ‘fan sites’. I can’t find the original source. I think it’s genuine but quite old. He was a biologist and it does seem to reflect the thinking that lies behind his ‘morphogenic fileds’ idea.

  113. 113
    homoergaster

    Sheldrake’s ideas seem to have been pre-dated by an embryologist called Blechschmidt. He was a creationist who developed a ‘theory’ about external ‘biodynamic’ forces controlling the development of the embryo. Blechschmidt is the inspiration for an alternative ‘therapy’ called Cranial Manipulation. There are reports of some devastating outcomes when this practice has been used on infants.

  114. 114
    Henri Laupmaa

    Have you read or listened the interview by Skeptiko?
    http://www.skeptiko.com/rupert-sheldrake-censored/

  115. 115
    myeck waters

    So, one crank appears on another crank’s podcast, and they both accuse the mainstream of being poopooheads because they point out that the first crank’s “theories” are bullshit.
     
    Did I miss anything, Henri?

  116. 116
    Henri Laupmaa

    Listening to the original speech he was mostly talking about the limits of current science and dogmas that it holds not proposing much new theory. You could say it is more about philosophical founding stones of modern science – which I see no problem with having a discussion about. I understood that the point of science is that it should be evolving …

    Listen to his original speech here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKHUaNAxsTg&list=PL0ACA47EE0581BF62

    He has studied plant science in Cambridge and has done lot’s of merited scientific research which I don’t see that many of his critics doing:
    “As a biochemist, Sheldrake researched the role of auxin, a plant hormone, in the cellular differentiation of a plant’s vascular system. With his colleague Philip Rubery, he worked out the cellular mechanism of Polar auxin transport, on which much subsequent research on plant polarity has been based. He also studied the nature of ageing, and published a wide-ranging paper in Nature on the ageing, growth and death of cells.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rupert_Sheldrake

    Sure he can have theories considered by some to be outside bounds allowed by regular science. I don’t know how strong or weak their foundations are but you can’t say that you can’t discuss the philosophy of science.

  117. 117
    myeck waters

    You are writing like a True Believer™.
    Your last two sentences sound like Arnold J. Rimmer, BSC, SSC:
     
    Rimmer: Lister, if you must know, I submitted a discourse on porous circuitry that was too... radical, too unconventional, too mould-breaking for the examiners to accept.
    Lister: Yeah. You said you were a fish!

  118. 118
    Henri Laupmaa

    Myeck you are hiding behind a pseudonym so I don’t know who you are …

    Beside name calling what are your qualifications? What science research have you been doing so you can talk so freely about others?

  119. 119
    anteprepro

    Beside name calling what are your qualifications? What science research have you been doing so you can talk so freely about others?

    Argument from authority from somebody slobbering about the merits of a crank’s “philosophy of science” arguments? Does not bode well.

  120. 120
    Henri Laupmaa

    The name calling is your choise – I just mentioned that prior to questions about some basic assumptions in science he did lot’s of research on biochemistry which was published in peer reviewed journals. Probably lot’s of new research has been labeled “crackpot science” at the time of its publishing.

    What I recommend is to ask questions about your our inner assumptions and what belief systems underly your own thoughts and what is “true” science to you.

  121. 121
    John Morales

    Henri Laupmaa, yeah, prior to the pot cracking, it was a fine pot.

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