Open thread for episode #924: Matt and John


Matt and John talk about the Supreme Court marriage equality ruling, talk a little bit about copyrights, and take viewer calls.

Comments

  1. favog says

    The guy who started off with that statement about wanting his call to stay strictly on topic … what topic was that, exactly?

  2. jaydon says

    That first guy was insufferable. To go on like he did – pre-ambling to establish his personal superiority while dismissing others – and then talk about how others are pretentious? Wow.

    I’d be willing to place money that when he says he’s a freethinker he’s making up his own definition that doesn’t map to pretty much all freethinkers. He’s a “free thinker” in that he thinks his thoughts are better than others thoughts are.

  3. Monocle Smile says

    When was the last time the show got a Catholic caller who wasn’t a self-important douchebag? I mean, seriously…there’s something about Catholics that makes them think they’re special in the stupidest possible ways. They think “catholic” means something other than what it does and are more convinced that they are correct than anyone except fundamentalists and presuppositionalists.

  4. Monocle Smile says

    Also, the string of druggie callers never ends. It’s getting extremely tiresome and I zone out pretty much immediately when they start being honest about their drug use.

  5. TxSkeptic says

    Regarding praying for it to get warmer-
    When the weather gets real cold, what usually happens next? It gets warmer. Happens every time, eventually. If you pray every night when it gets dark for the light to come back, what happens? Wow, the power of prayer, it gets light again! :-/

  6. Narf says

    @3 – John Iacoletti

    He wanted to school us on evolution.

    Reminds me of several Christian apologists, who tell anecdotes in their books about discussions they had with atheist philosophy professors, usually on a plane, in which the fundamentalist-Christian apologist educated the atheist about evolution … while at the same time demonstrating not even a high-school level understanding of the subject in his book.  It’s kind of sad that they have to make up such obvious, pathetic lies to reassure their flock.

  7. says

    I think the former Pagan was looking for the word “pantheist” (or more unlikely “panentheist”) rather than “deist”. As a former Pagan myself I totally get the appeal of making believe that altered brain states (whether induced by drugs or not) which produce euphoria, enthusiasm, or transcendental awareness are reflecting objective “truer” reality. Unless you’re deliberately, knowingly doing it to play pretend, it’s just not honest though. It’s throwing away your intellectual integrity.

  8. noexitlovenow says

    I just want to second what Jaydon said regarding Chris in east bay .

    He was insufferable. For the sake of brevity he sure wasted a lot of time talking about himself and what he didn’t want to talk about. What point was he trying to make regarding the Atheist Experience moniker? Why did he go on how he wanted to stick to one topic then go off on another?

    Just get to the fucking point. Briefly make your point or ask your question. There isn’t any purpose to the long preamble trying to establish that you are a intelligent freethinker superior to other callers. We will be the judge of that. You don’t need to tell us you want to stick to one topic – just do it.

    I was happy Matt hung up on him.

  9. Ruan says

    I really wanted to hear more from Dustin. On both sides there are callers who are concerned with sounding intelligent, and it is always so obvious. This kid was not only bright, but he was very interesting. I wanted to ask him questions and was bummed when I saw the time was really running out. I would really like to hear his story.

  10. says

    If you are reading this Matt…I have an answer to your “version of faith in confidence with reasonable expectation”.
    I’ve had the “Faith the chair would hold me up” argument many times. I posit that when you have a reasonable expectation(because you have information that gives you good reason to believe), you are not exercising faith…you are exercising doubt. I DOUBT the chair will collapse because it has held my weight before. Faith & doubt are twins in the tool of belief…which is uncertainty management. As you gain more facts…your faith in the contrary unlikelihood diminish.

  11. Narf says

    Heh, why the heck did you use an & code, Michael?  You had to use an ampersand in the creation of that code.  😀

  12. Narf says

    Huh.  Weird.  It might just be something odd in the way that FTB formats the new-comment e-mail notifications.

    Can you see the   codes in this message, in the notification e-mails?  I’d check it myself, but I don’t get notifications of my own comments.

  13. frankgturner says

    @ Narf
    I don’t know this for sure but as a believer I was raised Catholic and you do get some Catholics who understand more than a high school label’s worth of evolution. After all I was taught evolutionary biology by Jesuit priests in my undergrad years.
    .
    I suspect that this guy had a straw man idea of what atheism is though. Particularly given that he seems blissfully unaware of how many proclaim Xtians there are that actually do have strong confidence in the factual backing behind evolution.
    .
    That comes from liberal minded Xtians though and I suspect that he comes from one of those conservative Catholic backgrounds though and would be dumbfounded to hear a priest tell him something like how the Book of Job starts with a disclaimer.
    .
    @ Michael #12
    I might expand that further to say that you doubt that a number of other possible other results will occur. Many principles are not dichotomies in nature so alternate proposals are not always directly contradictory.
    .
    I like how you call it “uncertainty management.” That sounds like a good name for corwynn’s description of deci band of confidence mentioned on other strings.

  14. frankgturner says

    @ noexitlovenow # 10

    What point was he trying to make regarding the Atheist Experience moniker?

    I suspect that he does not have a whole lot of experience listening to atheist programs or that he does not realize that there are a number out there. As such I suspect that he thought that “The” was (pardon if I get this term wrong) being used in the determinant sense, that is to indicate that as THE “Atheist Experience” that the shows authors are trying to indicate that they are not just ANY atheist experience, but somehow representative of a large number of people’s experiences by being characteristic of a majority and hence well known.
    .
    E.G.: if you are talking about the President of a company or a Class President, you do not call them “The” President, you call them “A” President. The determinant of “The” here is retained for the best known President, the head of the executive branch of the Federal Government, Obama.
    .
    Obviously there are a number of other Atheist Programs like “The Thinking Atheist,” “Thank God I’m an Atheist,” “Ask an Atheist,” etc. I suspect that the caller lacks familiarity with said programs and probably is not familiar with the breadth of atheist programs. So he somehow thought that “The” Atheist Experience meant to indicate that the shows hosts are highly representative of a number of different atheist views on a variety of topics. If he watched a few other programs and did some reading he might find out that this is not the case.
    .
    Albeit I am just speculating here based on limited evidence and my own experiences.

  15. Narf says

    @16 – fgt

    I don’t know this for sure but as a believer I was raised Catholic and you do get some Catholics who understand more than a high school label’s worth of evolution. After all I was taught evolutionary biology by Jesuit priests in my undergrad years.

    Sure.  The Catholic church hasn’t really had a problem with evolution for decades, even if they twist it into some sort of weird guided, theistic version, with no justification other than, “We have the direct line to God, and he told us how he did it.”

    I suspect that this guy had a straw man idea of what atheism is though.

    I would assume nothing else, until I had received a coherent explanation of what someone thinks the atheist position is.  The Christians sure as hell aren’t receiving an honest explanation from their preachers or from any of the Christian apologists that anyone knows.

  16. says

    @Narf, no..I can’t see that at all. But on some other pages I have seen that appear.

    @frankgturner

    True, but I think including possibilities that the chair will turn into a vortex and suck me in muddies the waters. The chair will hold me up/the chair will not hold me is a fair dichotomy for the discussion.
    Anything more, I lose the theists I’m debating with. Ha ha.

  17. Narf says

    Appear on the actual site, after you clicked the comment link?  Or appeared in the notification e-mail?  I used one between every sentence, in comment 18, as I’m doing with this comment.  It’s the easiest way to get a double-space between sentences, if you want it.  I’m fairly inconsistent with using them, from comment to comment, but I’m increasing in my frequency.

    I wonder why it converted your ampersand into the HTML code, for the notification e-mail …
    Hmm.

  18. Mas says

    @Narf

    Ah, notification emails. Never paid attention to those little boxes below the “post comment” button.

    I always assumed you were obsessively hitting F5.

  19. Narf says

    Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh heh.

    Yeah, those things make a huge difference.  My phone goes clink, and I check my e-mail to see who said what.  If there’s anything for me to respond to, I go to the site and type up a response.  Better living through technology.  😀

  20. frankgturner says

    @ Narf #18
    No I actually got a very good version of evolution out of these guys comparable to what you would hear from PhDs (some of these guys were) at other credited universities (actually ours was credited despite being owned by the Catholic Church). As long as you did not ask too much about “why” it occurred that way (at which point you would get conservatively motivated answers). These guys were honest about “how” and “what” occurred in terms of factual evidence and that there was natural evidence for our existence e.g. abiogenesis. They would all agree that Adam and Eve never actually existed and were just a metaphor. (Though they would argue that an intercessory God must have given us a “soul” despite lack of proof). Think Kenneth Miller (who was invited there after I graduated).
    .
    There ideas were twisted but they were probably a lot more open minded and liberal than you realize. (I suspect that many are still throwing a hissy fit over gay marriage).

  21. Hippycow says

    Narf, I’ve noticed there are two flavors of notification email (maybe depending on whether you check the “Notify me of follow-up comments by email” or the “Notify me of new posts by email”) and one of them has nicer formatting then the other. It might be (I haven’t bothered to check) that one has a content type of html while the other is text, or something silly like that. If the header doesn’t say it is html, yet it does contain html (like ” “) then that html will look like junky gibberish. Of course, I’m pretty sure nobody (except me, in this case) is typing in the   — that is being done by the code that creates the post from the text we type into the input control.

  22. says

    @noexitlovenow
    “You don’t need to tell us you want to stick to one topic – just do it.”

    You nailed it. I hate it when people say: “I know you’ve got other callers waiting to get through, so the last thing you need is me wasting time here rambling on about something irrelevant, so I’m going to get right to the important topic at hand without etc etc”.
    Shut up, Shut up, Shut up!

  23. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @frankgturner
    Mmm.

    Have I mentioned I am thoroughly annoyed at Ken Miller? Fantastic speaker. Apparently knows his stuff on biology. But he has the Berlin Wall erected in his mind to separate his religious mind from his critical-thinking rational mind. It’s impressive stuff. The cognitive dissonance should be overwhelming. Meh.

  24. RJ says

    TxSkeptic says, “When the weather gets real cold, what usually happens next? It gets warmer.” Excellent point, TxSkeptic. What you are pointing out is known as “regression to the mean.” It is often a factor in why people think prayer works. Basically, people pray for bad situations to end when the situation is at its worst. No one prays that their uncle doesn’t get into a motorcycle accident at some specific place and time. But when they show up at the hospital and their uncle is in surgery and unconscious, they pray. Then the next day when he wakes up, they have their confirmation that “prayer works.” Of course, prayer is going to “make it warmer,” if you pray when it is as cold as it gets. Combine regression to the mean with confirmation bias (remembering the hits and forgetting the misses) and you have a foolproof formula for believing whatever you want to believe for whatever reason you want to believe it.

  25. Narf says

    @23 – fgt
    I didn’t mean to say that they don’t do a proper job of it, in actual biology class.  Catholic schools are usually pretty good about doing secular education in almost all areas.  Hell, I’ve known Jews who went to Catholic private schools.

    It’s just that when you get up into the actual church part of the church … the real religious stuff … they clearly toss out the natural selection part of evolution and insert the intentional, guiding hand of their god.  Or at the very least, they toss in a mechanism like Michael Behe’s Irreducible Complexity.  I don’t know that they say that anything couldn’t have evolved the way it did, without guidance, but Yahweh had a certain end goal in mind, and he fiddled with stuff, from time to time, to make sure it came out the way he wanted.  You know, that whole “made in His image” thing.

    The pope said something about evolution, in the last year, I think.  He essentially said that evolution was a divine, authoritative fact, but it required his god for it to work.  The pope clearly understands fuck-all about natural selection.

  26. Narf says

    @24 – Hippycow
    There are three check-boxes, actually.  The first two are different ways of subscribing to comments for this post.  The first one is handled by FTB, and the second one is handled by WordPress.  If you check both, you’ll get double notifications.  The third link signs you up to get notifications of new posts to the TAE blog itself.

    I generally use the first selection.  There’s a link to subscribe to comments from the post, without actually posting a comment, yourself.  I always do that, first thing, after a new post is made to the blog.

  27. Narf says

    @26 – EL
    Ditto.  In his book, you can almost see the one personality take over from the other, when he finishes talking about the biology and starts trying to wedge his theology into evolution.

  28. Narf says

    @25 – Andrew
    Heh heh heh heh heh.

    Yeah, when you’re getting off the line, closing out with something like that is just a nod to our social conventions, which were not constructed for call-in shows.  But if you spend two minutes explaining how you’re going to get right to your topic to save time … you fail.

  29. frankgturner says

    @ Narf #27
    Yeah it is clearly a “trying to have your cake and eat it too” situation. I am just pointing out that some of them actually do bother to get their research peer reviewed and published and will leave put their religious objections aside in favor of doing the actual scientific research. It does require compartmentalizing your beliefs as Ken Miller types are prone to do, but at least I can learn from the scientist personality.
    .
    I tend to think that it is more of the Catholic Church “playing politics.” They don’t want to drive away conservatives among them who want to insist on a literal interpretation of scripture but don’t want to be at odds with fact based reality either. It is why I was surprised to hear a priest who was a PhD in Greek and Hebrew culture explain to a parishoner that the Book of Job begins with a disclaimer. I guess it makes sense though that when the parishoner said that made her uncomfortable to know that a Priest considered ANY part of the Bible to not be literal that he said she was welcome to listen to another priest.

  30. corwyn says

    @frank 16:

    I like how you call it “uncertainty management.” That sounds like a good name for corwynn’s description of deci band of confidence mentioned on other strings.

    Sure (though it is deciBans, that is 1/10 of a Ban, a unit invented by Alan Turing).

    I can even put a rough number to it. I have sat in a chair perhaps a third of a million times in my life, and I recall 3 times when the chair did not hold my weight. So, about 1:100,000, thus 50 decibans of evidence that a chair will hold my weight.

    Note to any who triumphantly crow, so you aren’t completely SURE: Why would I want to be completely sure, when the event itself is not completely sure? I want my confidence to match the ACTUAL chances. That level of confidence will let me risk a bruised butt, but not my life.

  31. frankgturner says

    @ corwynn
    The spell checker was being annoying and would not let me spell it correctly. I had actually known about the unit for some time but had not thought of applying it the way that you suggested. Watch, deciBels , deciBels, deci band , decibel , deciBans. See ?

  32. Narf says

    @27 – RJ
    Yeah, I was thinking of exactly that, in those words, when I read TxSkeptic’s comment.  I was already responding to 4 other comments, at the time, though, so it seemed a bit much from me all at once, when I was only adding in that one little detail.  Really, really bad things only happen every once in a while and for limited duration, usually.  A million charlatans must have gotten their start as miracle workers by taking advantage of one good regression curve/period.

  33. Narf says

    @33 – corwyn

    That level of confidence will let me risk a bruised butt, but not my life.

    If one of the back rails or some similar part of the structure sheered off exactly right, and you landed on the edge of it, it could potentially kill you.

  34. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Narf
    I know you’re joking, but so could a lightning strike, or a meteor.

  35. Narf says

    That’s what the meteor shields around my house are for. They protect against lightning strikes, too, since they’re made out of tinfoil, just like all of my hats.

  36. frankgturner says

    @ Narf #36
    Oh I just can’t resist, that is exactly right. So you should refrain from ever sitting down in the future. Make sure that you have damn strong legs!
    .
    #35
    I have read stories about individuals who would threaten tribes with their ability to “take away the sun” and collect tributes and promise to bring the sun back after a certain amount of time. One can figure out that the “miracle worker” simply knew how to predict things like….a solar eclipse.

  37. Narf says

    @32 – fgt

    I am just pointing out that some of them actually do bother to get their research peer reviewed and published and will leave put their religious objections aside in favor of doing the actual scientific research.

    And then stir their religious bullshit right back in, after it’s clear of the peer-review process, as Ken Miller demonstrates.  Meh.

    I tend to think that it is more of the Catholic Church “playing politics.” They don’t want to drive away conservatives among them who want to insist on a literal interpretation of scripture but don’t want to be at odds with fact based reality either.

    Speaking of politics, this makes me wonder about Santorum.  He’s a Catholic, but running for high office, in today’s Republican Party, accepting evolution is an unsafe position.  I should write his campaign and ask.

    It is why I was surprised to hear a priest who was a PhD in Greek and Hebrew culture explain to a parishoner that the Book of Job begins with a disclaimer. I guess it makes sense though that when the parishoner said that made her uncomfortable to know that a Priest considered ANY part of the Bible to not be literal that he said she was welcome to listen to another priest.

    This always blows my mind about Biblical literalists.  Freaking Jesus, spoke in parables … or at least the people who wrote the stories about him wrote him as doing so.  Why don’t believers grant the same ability to the writers of the Old Testament?

  38. Narf says

    @39 – fgt

    Oh I just can’t resist, that is exactly right. So you should refrain from ever sitting down in the future. Make sure that you have damn strong legs!

    Or make your chairs out of rocks.  If you managed to break a rock-chair by sitting on it, I’d be impressed.

    I have read stories about individuals who would threaten tribes with their ability to “take away the sun” and collect tributes and promise to bring the sun back after a certain amount of time. One can figure out that the “miracle worker” simply knew how to predict things like….a solar eclipse.

    The rain god in So Long and Thanks for All the Fish comes to mind, as well.

    @40 – corwyn

    Do you need me to calculate the likelihood of that?

    Nah, I think we can wing this one.

  39. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Do you need me to calculate the likelihood of that?

    Nah, I think we can wing this one.

    Am I in a Michael Bay film? The chair might explode if it breaks.

  40. frankgturner says

    @Narf #42
    I have Jack hammer legs maybe? Why not? The girl in Kingsman had katana legs.
    .
    @ 41
    I think it has to do with a lack of imagination and a strong misunderstanding of language and communication when it comes to those who can’t comprehend parables being applied to scripture.
    .
    There was another thread where someone mentioned how theater was once considered a sinful act by conservatives because it was “lying.” My first thought is, “how is it lying if it has been actively disclaimed?”
    .
    When we communicate we use things like context to add meaning to the words, to give indications of when we are being or sarcastic, engaging in hyperbole, etc. The difficulty is that we have no way of being certain regarding the meaning within the meaning. At best what we are doing is educated guesswork. This is reflected in word definitions, some words in the dictionary have entries so numerous based on the variety of meanings that words can take that it gets ridiculous.
    .
    This is why I get particularly suspicscious of an individual who is “too sure” of themselves regarding the meaning of what someone else said, what was implied. Lying, to me, is more than just stating something that is factually incorrect. I can tell you that I have 8 fingers on my left hand. I don’t call that a lie per say as I don’t expect you to believe me despite my not disclaiming it. It is false, but unless I tried to get you to actually believe it I would not call it a lie. And there are LOTS of words that people give different meaning to based on their own bias, their own experiences and observations and what importance they have those observations.
    .
    For some people any statement that is not a statement of factually correct observation is a lie, regardless of the intent of the speaker. For those who define a lie that way I think that shows a lack of imagination and consideration for alternate understanding.

  41. Narf says

    @EL

    Am I in a Michael Bay film? The chair might explode if it breaks.

    Depends what part of the country you got the granite from. Some granite formations have a fairly high Uranium content.  Could go critical at any time.

    @fgt

    “how is it lying if it has been actively disclaimed?”

    Phone psychics come to mind.  They slap a disclaimer on the end, that it’s for entertainment purposes only.

    I can think of many things that are a lot more fun, at a lot less than $4/minute.  Dude, you could hire an actual prostitute to have actual sex with you for a lot less than you spent on that phone sex call.  If you’re worried about STD’s, just pay her to strip and dance for you, while you’re talking to her, and it will still cost a hell of a lot less.

  42. JD and Co. says

    @9 Ibis3

    Unless you’re deliberately, knowingly doing it to play pretend, it’s just not honest though. It’s throwing away your intellectual integrity,

    I was surprised Matt didn’t respond with “So basically you don’t care if your belief is true.” I guess Matt was trying to be nice but the guy seemed unusually open to thinking things over.

  43. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Depends what part of the country you got the granite from. Some granite formations have a fairly high Uranium content. Could go critical at any time.

    🙂

  44. frankgturner says

    @Narf #45
    I get what to are saying about phone physics, though practical things do come out of stuff used for entertainment. What I am getting at has to do with uncertainty management.
    .
    For a lot of people doubt creates a kind of fear. So they want certainty. Religion presents a solution, delude yourself into believing in certainty of outcome even though you don’t even have enough physical evidence to be moderately confident.
    .
    The thing is, people can (and do) delude themselves into having illusionary certainty about ANYTHING. I have just happened to focus on having illusionary certainty about implicit content of communication as it is also something that, in my experience, many people often delude themselves into believing they have read the implicit context of a situation correctly. In many respects that is what scriptural literalist and apologists are doing. I often said to my more conservative family that if the authors of the Bible wanted me to read it that way they would have provided an affirmation. (All characters and events in this document are real, actual names, blah blah blah…).
    .
    And I know that they knew how to do it given that Job begins with a disclaimer. You can’t tell me that the antonym could not have been figured out. Albeit given how ridiculous the stories can be, even if an affirmation were provided I might have read it as hyperbole.

  45. xscd says

    Like caller Joe, I’m an agnostic deist. Matt seems to have a problem with deism that seems to be the result of his particular conception of a deistic god. My own conception of a deistic god is one that is continually aware of the content of its consciousness, and I believe that everything is composed of consciousness, including the physical reality in which we focus, the Moon, dark matter, everything. I believe that our physical perception is limited despite our many technological extensions to it, and that it is dependent upon our consciousness to work and gather evidence, and that our consciousness exceeds our physical perception. I know that many atheists consider consciousness to be a physical phenomenon, although I believe otherwise for reasons I don’t feel the need to discuss with or convince anyone else of. In other words, I’m not evangelical about it.

    I believe that all religions and overly particular conceptions of a god are highly flawed human creations, and am much happier with atheists than with religious people, and much happier with humanism than religious authotitarianism. Still, atheism does not convince me to limit my conception of the universe to only what can be physically perceived of extrapolated from those physical perceptions. In fact, what we now can perceive is taking us far further into new territory that makes previous conceptions of the physical universe seem archaic, making us theorize or believe that things are actually a lot more different and unusual than they seem. I personally believe that the physical universe with its dark matter and all its parts and pieces, is a subset of reality.

    Just expressing my view as another “agnostic deist” like caller Joe.

  46. Narf says

    I believe that everything is composed of consciousness, including the physical reality in which we focus, the Moon, dark matter, everything.

    You’re describing pantheism or panentheism, not deism.  You’re also describing something fairly silly until you find a way to objectively demonstrate it.

    … although I believe otherwise for reasons I don’t feel the need to discuss with or convince anyone else of.

    You say that as if you’re trying to keep us from commenting on it.  Since when do we need any prompting to express our opinion of something?

    Still, atheism does not convince me to limit my conception of the universe to only what can be physically perceived of extrapolated from those physical perceptions.

    That’s where you’re very, very wrong.  We aren’t limiting anything, except in that we refuse to actively believe anything that can’t be demonstrated to our satisfaction.  That’s the essence of skepticism.  If this stuff is real and has any impact upon us and the rest of the physical world, it should be demonstrable.

    In fact, what we now can perceive is taking us far further into new territory that makes previous conceptions of the physical universe seem archaic, making us theorize or believe that things are actually a lot more different and unusual than they seem. I personally believe that the physical universe with its dark matter and all its parts and pieces, is a subset of reality.

    Who is this ‘we’?  When you speak about things taking us further into new territory, are you talking about scientific advances into new realms of physics, or are you talking about nonsense like ‘spirit science’, which is turning up nothing but useless, scientifically refuted crap?

    You’re being very vague, and I can’t do anything but take wild guesses at what you’re even referring to.  If you want us to get anything positive from what you’re saying, you’re going to have to be a hell of a lot more specific.

  47. frankgturner says

    @ xscd
    Atheism is not meant to get you to limit your perception of the universe. That sounds a bit more like anti-theism. The addition of the prefix “a-” to “theist” indicates being “without” a belief in a God. This is essentially pointing out a default position, the null hypothesis that you conclude in the absence of evidence. By claiming to be an agnostic deist one would guess that you acknowledge being without knowledge of a God but in the absence of evidence believe in one, effectively in “faith,” in a way that you describe as “deistic” but as Narf points out here (and I agree based on my understanding of the word) seems to fit a more “pantheistic” view.
    .
    And what you seem to be identifying as “theorizing” sounds more like “hypothesizing.” Despite being skeptic I am opened to the possibility of a deistic or potentially even pantheistic deity that we simply lack evidence for at the moment. Until I see evidence (as many of us here do based on my experience) the default position we take is that they don’t exist and even if they do, without some sort of more solid evidence we don’t live as if they do exist.
    .
    If you are not going to adjust your life by said beliefs then for all intents and purposes you are living as an atheist. I personally don’t have much of but others on here do and I can understand with and sympathize with said reasoning. I can understand not using the label “atheist” (I call myself “agnostic” publicly).
    .
    The difficulty with the deist view as I have come to understand it is that we have no proof for or against. Proof for or against may come some day and I am opened to it, but why live my life that way?
    .
    As for the pantheistic view I know of no evidence for or against either, particularly in the context that you are describing. I am opened to it but until then it gets treated like deist.
    .
    Maybe the universe is a subset of reality, but until I have practical proof of that I am not going to live my life as though it is so. I can use my imagination to entertain myself and others reguarding it, but that will be disclaimed not because I am sure that it is not so, but because I have no practical reason to believe that it is so. I don’t even have enough evidence about that to determine if it is a dichotomy, much less if it is practical.

  48. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @xscd #49:

    I personally believe that…

    Do you see a difference between the phrase above versus the following?
     
    “I personally enjoy fantasizing that…”
     
    “I personally enjoy the connotation I associate with saying that…”
     
     

    our consciousness exceeds our physical perception

    This string of words is evocative poetry, at best.
     
    Until the 17th century, when van Leeuwenhoek’s technology revealed microbes, a significant portion of the biosphere exceeded our physical perception.
     

    what we now can perceive is taking us far further into new territory that makes previous conceptions […] seem archaic

    Why are you so attached to your current conception?
     
    You’re not just saying “There are aspects of reality that are not yet known,” which is a trivial statement.
     
     

    our physical perception is limited despite our many technological extensions to it, and that it is dependent upon our consciousness to work and gather evidence

    Please elaborate on how a consciousness would gather evidence – about the universe beyond one’s own cranium – without perception. Define “non-physical perception” if that’s what you’re getting at.
     
    If you don’t know how it works, describe a methodology to make use of it so we can learn something too.

  49. Narf says

    @51 – fgt

    And what you seem to be identifying as “theorizing” sounds more like “hypothesizing.”

    He’s nowhere near hypothesizing, for that matter.  An hypothesis is a well-structured, testable model that hasn’t yet been supported by a preponderance of evidence.  I think he’s still at “wild conjecture that he refuses to support, discuss, or attempt to falsify.”

    The difficulty with the deist view as I have come to understand it is that we have no proof for or against. Proof for or against may come some day and I am opened to it, but why live my life that way?

    Fantastically unlikely.  Deism is unfalsifiable, pretty much by design.

    @52 – SC
    More or less, yeah.  Everything after his first two sentences seems like the sort of word-salad that we get out of spirit-science woo-peddlers.
    “… including the physical reality in which we focus, the Moon, dark matter, everything …”

    Why the heck does he focus on the moon … and capitalize it, for that matter?  That almost makes him sound like a pagan.  And the way he strings the words together makes it sound like he doesn’t think dark matter is part of physical reality.

    Almost everything he said was vague and meaningless.  Xscd, man (assuming you’re male), if you want to feel at home with us, you need to learn to use precise, meaningful language, not this soft, mystical language that you used in this last comment.  Deepak-Chopra-level deepities are not what we use to communicate with each other.

  50. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I believe that everything is composed of consciousness, including the physical reality in which we focus, the Moon, dark matter, everything.

    Why? What does that even mean? How could you tell if you are wrong?

    the moon … and capitalize it, for that matter

    I think that’s technically correct. The Moon of Earth is capitalized, just like Earth, Jupiter, etc. The Moon is a moon of Earth. The Moon is a proper name. “Moon” in the phrase “it is a moon of Earth” is not a proper name. One capitalizes proper names.

  51. xscd says

    I see that my comments have generated quite a few other comments, all of which I respect. I don’t believe that consciousness is a product or byproduct of what we consider to be living physical oranisms or organic life. I believe that consciousness not only pervades everything, but at some level composes it. I believe that reality is consciousness organized in various ways. I know that sounds ridiculous, yet does not seem that way to me for my own reasons related to my own experience, which I am fully aware can be immediately discounted and summarily dimissed without discussion (which I have discovered from past exchanges is futile). Yet, I continue to hold my views despite understanding and seeing the apparent worth of arguments against them, and realize that this seems like a stubborn insistence upon fantasy.

    However, many of the phenomena observable to some degree, or extrapolated or theorized by cosmologists, leads into territory that would have seemed ridiculous to even suggest just decades ago, although like many people I find it fascinating.

    At any rate, I understand all the logical objections to my ideas, and understand why atheists would consider me as self deluded as i consider religious people, substituting one form of presumptively or logically imaginary reality for another. I can see how it would be difficult to understand why I would hold to such a conception of the universe and reality despite those admissions.

    In most respects my personal views are fully in line with atheists, science and against religion, which I regard as highly flawed, unnecessary and basically useless or destructive, and especially against authoritarian religion as a social or political force.

    I don’t think that science gives us, or can give us, all the answers, but does provide us with most of the answers that are relevant to us as physical beings. Our conscious perception aside from physical perception can give us some of the rest, although I’m aware that what I call conscious perception could be understandably and persuasively characterized as thought, within consciousness that is itself generated by and dependent upon our living bodies and brains.

  52. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @xscd #55:

    many of the phenomena observable to some degree, or extrapolated or theorized by cosmologists, leads into territory that would have seemed ridiculous to even suggest just decades ago

    That does not lend general credibility to suggestions that seem ridiculous.
     
     

    I continue to hold my views despite understanding and seeing the apparent worth of arguments against them, and realize that this seems like a stubborn insistence upon fantasy.

    Seems. Uh huh.
     
     

    I understand all the logical objections to my ideas, and understand why atheists would consider me as self deluded as i consider religious people

    Uh huh.
     
     

    Our conscious perception aside from physical perception can give us some of the rest, although I’m aware that what I call conscious perception could be understandably and persuasively characterized as thought

    How would you characterize “conscious perception”?
     
     

    I believe that reality is consciousness organized in various ways.

    Monads?
     
    Podcast: PartiallyExaminedLife – 6 Leibniz’s Monadology (1:39:03)

  53. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @xscd #55:

    my own reasons related to my own experience

    Describe the experience. And how you arrived at a conclusion about its interpretation, a conclusion so thoroughly convincing that you’ve disregarded all arguments against it.
     
    We here are clearly interested in discussion, hence the replies, which you have largely ignored.
     
     
    @xscd #49:

    reasons I don’t feel the need to discuss with or convince anyone else of. In other words, I’m not evangelical about it.

    Not just “not evangelical”. You’re being evasive.

  54. xscd says

    I hasten to add that when I say I believe certain views, I am using a device or caveat for the sake of discussion, because from my point of view I regard myself as knowing some of them. But I realize that to assert knowledge usually generates challenges, and rightly so, so using the word believe is intended to give myself a buffer and some perhaps inadequate cover, because–

    While I enjoy occasionally expressing my views for consideration (or alternately, summary dismissal), I don’t usually enjoy discussing or arguing them, because–

    A. I’m not trying to convince myself or argue myself into that position, and–
    B. I know that my views are hard to defend or argue logically or in any other way (no physically perceptible evidence can be provided), and–
    C. I don’t feel there is any need, nor reason, to convince anyone else of my views; unlike evangelical Christians, I don’t feel any harm will come to anyone if they are unaware of or reject my views.

    I simply enjoy occasionally expressing them for some reason, while in this venue it might be best to suggest the forementioned summary dismissal, since I am unlikely to argue these views for the reasons expressed above. Just forget I said anything, and sorry for wasting the bandwith.

    I still enjoy the views and work of atheists and humanists and am grateful for their growing effect in society to counter irrational and authoritarian relgion.

  55. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    For reference to all, here’s an earlier discussion of xscd’s near-death experience.
     
    Thread: Axp #855 on 2014-03-02

  56. corwyn says

    @58:

    I still enjoy the views and work of atheists and humanists and am grateful for their growing effect in society to counter irrational and authoritarian relgion.

    “…except my own.”

    Hardly a new sentiment. “All those other wackos need help, but my delusions are benign.”

    Our brains are delicate instruments and we compromise their effectiveness whenever we are lax about our standards of evidence and accept things, with less than the required levels of evidence. Our already accepted beliefs CAUSE us to accept new beliefs more readily if they agree, and less readily if they disagree, with those accepted beliefs, DESPITE THE EVIDENCE. Don’t do it. Apportion your beliefs SOLELY on the available evidence, and update those confidence values with EVERY new piece of evidence. Otherwise you end up with a head full of mush.

  57. corwyn says

    When we talk about ‘consciousness’ we are putting a label on something we don’t understand very well. It is a process of our minds which produces certain states, it is possible that we can recognize this state for other humans, but we don’t know how it works. For example, we aren’t able to discern whether it is present in other life forms (though many people claim to). What would it even mean to claim that something non-living, or lacking a mind, has it?

    We would need, if nothing else, a better definition of consciousness to even have an intelligent conversation about whether something non-living had consciousness (what “everything is composed of consciousness” MEANS is anyone’s guess). Does this consciousness have memory? Where does it keep it? Does it signal different portions of itself? What form does that take? How fast do those signals propagate? Does it perceive it surroundings? With what? How much of the universe’s information is being routed to this consciousness, and thus unavailable to us?

    Should I feel guilty about burying a rock, and thus depriving some consciousness of its connection with light, or feel guilty about unearthing one, and depriving it of its connection with the earth?

  58. tubewatcher92 . says

    I’ve always wanted to see a Bayesian analysis of the probability of a conscious mind being able to exist without a physical brain. We clearly have over 7.2 billion examples of minds that exist in association with physical brains, but no examples that we can examine of a mind existing without a brain. It is not clear to me whether those facts would go into the priors, or be considered part of the evidence.

  59. xscd says

    Thank you everyone for your comments diected at me or about me.

    @corwyn, I could answer some of the questions you posed, but I’m not sure my answers would be helpful or believable.

    @narf, I’m not a big fan of Deepak Chopra nor of so called “New Age” mysticism, of which I tend to be highly skeptical. I’m a big fan of science and cosmology.

    @sky captain, yes, I had a so called near death experience, most of the details of which I don’t discuss, although I did mention some things about it in the summary you referred to. It did have a profound effect upon my thoughts and views, and my life has included some other rather unusual experiences that have contributed to my views as well.

    I was raised by Christian missionaries in a devout and insular religious community in the Amazon rainforest of northeastern Peru. I began to question the Christian faith at an early age and was considered a precocious but troubled and troubling child. I remained deeply spiritual in my own way, but cast off the last remnants of Christianity and any religion in my teens.

    Except for the views I have expressed in this thread, my views and nature are much more closely related to those of atheists than those of religious people, and as I mentioned, I’m grateful for the rise of atheism, secularism and humanism, with its natural morality, and the slow decline and fall of religion, which I hope will continue and accelerate.

    So while my views, some of which are fairly stubborn even subjected to my own rather strong scrutiny (the only person whose scrutiny of those views matters to me), may not be a perfect fit here, I nevertheless enjoy, respect and admire most of the regulars and other posters here, as well as the hosts of The Atheist Experience; Matt Dillahunty, Aron Ra and Seth Andrews, whom I was very happy to see and listen to at their first Unholy Trinity lecture in Amarillo, Texas, and of course Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, Christopher Hitchens, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Brian Greene and other notables within the atheist and scientific communities.

  60. frankgturner says

    @ Narf # 53

    He’s nowhere near hypothesizing, for that matter.

    I did not say it was a “good” hypothesis. If I might explain the context for why I used the word.
    .
    # 1: He appeared to be using the word “theory” in the more common vernacular, which is basically a “guess” and is not the way it is used in formal scientific and academic circles as we have discussed on other threads. Many have said that this is closer to the word “hypothesis” which is what I was getting at despite the faults of comparison.
    .
    #2: I read somewhere that the origin of the word “hypothesis” from ancient Greek basically coincides with “opinion” in modern day. Obviously good hypothesizing has come to take on a different meaning. One can have opinions about untestable things, but I would not call that “good” hypothesizing.
    .
    In the way that the word “hypothesis” is used in formal academic circles I would agree with you and in that instance I would have called what he is doing “conjecture.”
    .

    Fantastically unlikely. Deism is unfalsifiable, pretty much by design.

    .
    I don’t expect proof will ever come for it even beyond my lifetime, I am just opened to it. There is this weird assumption that seems to be made about the possible thus probable fallacy. Just because I think something is possible does not mean I think it is probable. If the probability is so low that for all intents and purposes I can consider it impossible, I basically do consider it impossible. That’s why I say that “I don’t live my life by it.”
    .
    I have noticed a human tendency to function in Boolean terms, that something must be either true or false and nothing in between. In my experience when one thinks this way one may start to listen more readily to evidence that agrees with one viewpoint and ignore evidence that demonstrates the likelihood of the opposing viewpoint. I want to be opened to ALL evidence regardless of which viewpoint it supports and proportion my belief to it, even AFTER I may have come to a conclusion and started to act based upon it. (Which goes with my replies to corwynn that i mention below).
    .
    It is kind of analogous to law. Even after a verdict has been declared and a sentence made, the conclusion is still hypothetical and new evidence can still be presented and appealed at a later time, like DNA. That is why things like the innocence project have been successful. I doubt we will ever find anything as conspicuous as DNA to provide confidence that deism is true or false, but it could happen. I just don’t think it will as it is, largely by design, un-falsifiable.
    .
    @ corwynn # 60

    “…except my own.”
    Hardly a new sentiment. “All those other wackos need help, but my delusions are benign.”

    .
    I can understand why you might read that into what he is saying and I have considered the possibility that he is implying that. If he were like one of the other creationists we have dealt with or DukeDog from the Dispatches, I would be a lot more confident that he did mean to imply that. I am not against that as a strong possibility.
    .
    However, I would not consider xscd as being guilty of having implied that beyond a shadow of a reasonable doubt. That would be something to ask him if he were meaning to imply. Perhaps we should provide him with the benefit of the doubt and ask, @ xscd, did you mean to imply that?
    .

    Our already accepted beliefs CAUSE us to accept new beliefs more readily if they agree, and less readily if they disagree, with those accepted beliefs, DESPITE THE EVIDENCE. Don’t do it. Apportion your beliefs SOLELY on the available evidence, and update those confidence values with EVERY new piece of evidence.

    .
    Try as hard as we might, we can’t be solely objective. I would like it if we could, but we are going to have our own biases that we bring to the table. I would point out that one of the reasons that our readily accepted beliefs cause us to accept new beliefs, and I might add, new evidence, more readily if they agree and reject evidence (or not see AS evidence) of new beliefs if they disagree is due to our natural tendencies as humans. We cannot in a purely objective manner apportion our beliefs solely upon available evidence, but we can try to do so. (And some make such a tremendous effort that I applaud them even if they fail).
    .
    There is this exercise that is done at the beginning of many law school programs that I have talked about before. A theatrical production of a murder scene with a man playing a piano in medical scrubs who is approached by another man in grey sweater and blue jeans and stabbed (or shot, the details vary from program to program) is observed by new law students. It is secretly being filmed from various angles and all of the students are asked to write down what they observed.
    .
    All sorts of different things get written down including the weapon used (depending on the scene), what they were wearing, expressions on the faces, the song being played, etc. When the recordings are shown to the students it is amazing how many details they get wrong on something that they just observed. Some will remember intricate details about the clothing or weapon used (despite that being likely as they are not close enough to see that or viewing from the wrong angle). There are versions where the stabbing must have been play acting as the attacker was wielding a banana. The students in the exercise WANT the videos to agree with what they remember and WANT the evidence from the video to agree with a viewpoint of what they have concluded. Yet they observe right before their eyes a video that demonstrates many of the details they wrote down being incorrect.
    .
    All we are doing in life is making educated guesses and our memories are not perfect. Even our ability to comprehend what others are saying is subject to bias and we are basically making educated guesses about that. It is why I get suspicious of a person who is “too certain” of themselves. Emotional attachment to our capacities as humans and our trust in our own observations can alter the way we perceive evidence in all sorts of ways, whether we notice ALL evidence, how we prioritize it, if we even classify it AS evidence, as so on. I would love to reach into our brains and turn off all emotions that bias our views and make us purely objective, with memories like Robocop, but it isn’t going to happen.
    .
    (I vaguely remember Compulsory Account, or someone on one of these threads linking a video about a woman and a guy who discussing their memories of meeting Jackie Onassis in New York, even though the guy was never actually there).
    .
    @ xscd
    I can sympathize with what you are saying as I went through something similar myself many years ago. My heart stopped for several minutes while under surgery and I had to be revived. The thing is, I don’t think what I experienced, no matter how strong my emotional attachment to it, has a real capacity to be considered duplicatable. If it was real, I am not evangelical about it either. However, I have largely come to the conclusion that what happened was likely created by my mind. Uncertainty management is a big part of that and maybe I just learned better how to manage my uncertainty.

  61. corwyn says

    @62:
    It doesn’t matter. A prior probability is essentially just a Bayesian analysis that you did previously. If you were to start from total ignorance, and a probability of 0 decibans, and then add the evidence of those 7.2 Billion people it would work out exactly the same as if you considered those 7.2 Billion as a prior probability.

    Which is precisely what we want, of course. All legitimate paths of inquiry, with the same evidence, should reach the same answer.

  62. frankgturner says

    Oh a side note
    @ Narf # 41

    Speaking of politics, this makes me wonder about Santorum. He’s a Catholic, but running for high office, in today’s Republican Party, accepting evolution is an unsafe position. I should write his campaign and ask.

    .
    As a Catholic growing up I was VERY confused about churches as I went to a very liberal church but had attended other Catholic Churches that were a LOT more conservative and bought into the whole 6000 year old earth (despite Popes and Bishops denying that). It often did sound like what they call, “talking out of both sides of your mouth” like politicians too. While one may have their own views, they may not take a stand in favor of something being definitively one way or another so as to attract people from both sides of the issue and let them “fill in the blanks” about which view you support. I think it is dishonest, but many will argue that it is not a lie, just not complete disclosure. I still consider it dishonest and like George Carlin I would have re-written “Thou shalt not bear false witness,” into “Thou shalt not be dishonest” (at least to the best of one’s ability, we are all going to be hypocrites at one point or another).
    .
    Santorum is a lot more willing to play the dishonest game but frankly I think his lack of knowledge about the world, science particularly, says enough about him. I have said it on Dispatches several times, comparing Santorum to fecal matter is an insult to fecal matter.

  63. corwyn says

    @63:

    @corwyn, I could answer some of the questions you posed, but I’m not sure my answers would be helpful or believable.

    I don’t require that they be believable. I am sure they will be helpful, in that by putting them on electrons, you will be forced to make them concrete. We can then show you how to evaluate them for yourself. [Note: if you use words which are similarly as vague as ‘consciousness’, we will need to ask for clarification or rewording.]

    If one is not willing to examine one’s beliefs, one can be reasonably sure that they are false. This is just a consequence of the fact that there are billions of ways to be wrong about something, but only one way to be correct.

  64. frankgturner says

    @corwynn # 65
    Which is basically saying, we have seen 7.2 Billion examples of conscious minds coming as a result of a physical body (more if you count evidence of consciousness in other beings like other primates and even other mammals whose brainwaves suggest a certain degree of consciousness), and 0 cases of a consciousness coming without a physical body. Even if there were one that would be 6,999,999,999 decibans against (approximately) a consciousness existing without a physical body? (The math is probably wrong but hopefully we make the same point).

  65. corwyn says

    @63:

    I’m not a big fan of Deepak Chopra nor of so called “New Age” mysticism, of which I tend to be highly skeptical.

    Then you shouldn’t say things like:

    …everything is composed of consciousness…

    We know that ‘everything’ is composed of elementary particles (that is, quanta of fields). Is this consciousness made of these particles, or are the particles made of this consciousness? Where does the additional information reside, and how does it manifest?

  66. corwyn says

    @68 Frank:

    Correct, except for the math. Decibans are log-odds. That is a Ban is log[10] (P). A deciban is 1/10 of a Ban. So 1:7,200,000,000 would be 10 * log[10](1/7,200,000,000) = -98.6 decibans. Since we know of NO consciousnesses without a brain, this is the UPPER limit of the probability.

    The advantage of working in log-odds, is that any further evidence can be expressed in log-odds, and just ADDED to the existing prior.

  67. xscd says

    @corwyn #60

    Apportion your beliefs SOLELY on the available evidence, and update those confidence values with EVERY new piece of evidence.

    This would depend upon what one might accept or reject as evidence, and based upon what methods one might trust to gather evidence. I might include what I consider to be “direct conscious perception” (as in thought or meditation) to physical perception in one or more of its many natural or technologically enhanced forms, as well as information from other persons or other indirect sources I have come to trust.

    @frankgturner #64

    xscd, did you mean to imply that?

    I may as well have said that I regard most religious people as primarily irrational and self deluded, although I realize that some of my views could also be considered irrational and myself self deluded. I’m quite aware of many arguments against my “everything is composed of consciousness” views and they are generally very cogent, logical and persuasive, at least in a certain context (“like reality,” some would say), although they have failed to dissuade or convince me.

  68. xscd says

    @corwyn #67

    there are billions of ways to be wrong about something, but only one way to be correct.

    There are many ways to be correct, if one is willing to concede that they may have only part of or a particular and limited point of view or understanding of any particular phenomenon or information. Many parts or pieces, even from disparate sources, can be put together to form a more complete and accurate picture, as a skeleton can often be extrapolated from a partial collection of fossilized bones or fossils of a similar creature from different locations.

  69. frankgturner says

    @ xscd #71
    I meant, specifically, do you consider your views to be benign and others delusional?
    .
    I would go further to ask do you consider it delusional to be atheist and/or agnostic?

  70. Monocle Smile says

    @xscd
    I’m with Matt. I don’t understand deism. Although you’re not really a deist. Also, saying you hold beliefs for reasons you are unwilling to discuss makes you disingenuous in the context of this forum.

  71. xscd says

    @frankgturner #73

    I meant, specifically, do you consider your views to be benign and others delusional?
    I would go further to ask do you consider it delusional to be atheist and/or agnostic?

    I do believe my views to be benign, both to myself and to others, even if they were (or are) delusional, because they do not impinge directly upon practical reality and my physical perception of the world or physical experience. Conscious but inanimate objects such as burning bushes don’t talk to me and tell me to kill, harm or hate certain people, for example.

    I do not consider it delusional to be atheist or agnostic. I do believe that people, myself included, generally know or are familiar with an incomplete portion of reality, and that our knowledge is limited by our perception, experience (and context of that experience, such as what country we live in), and as others have pointed out, by our beliefs, which in my view act as a filter largely determining which of the innumerable data we are exposed to we focus upon or find significant, as well as in large part how we interpret that data and what meaning we ascribe to it. So our beliefs can certainly lead us astray, and it is probably a good idea to examine and question them from time to time.

  72. Monocle Smile says

    @xscd
    Wait, you think burning bushes are conscious? So if a burning bush DID happen to tell you those things, you wouldn’t find it surprising or question it because you already think burning bushes are conscious (which is a huge wtf itself). Can you not see the harm in this?

  73. xscd says

    @monocle smile #74

    saying you hold beliefs for reasons you are unwilling to discuss makes you disingenuous in the context of this forum.

    No, because there are many subjects, ideas and concepts I am interested in discussing. Many of posters’ comments spark my interest or thought. I think that most of us have certain private experience we prefer not to discuss in detail, although we may mention it in summary or in some form. Common courtesy would suggest that no one is obligated on demand to eviscerate the contents of his psyche for others’ inspection and scrutiny.

    Often it is a matter of picking and choosing the subjects we wish to discuss and to learn more about from others, while ignoring those subjects or ideas that we are not interested in pursuing or consider private or settled within ourselves for the moment.

  74. xscd says

    @monocle smile #74

    saying you hold beliefs for reasons you are unwilling to discuss makes you disingenuous in the context of this forum.

    As an addendum to my previous response, I am usually willing to discuss my views in at least small ways as I feel comfortable doing so, although I don’t feel quite at ease as a Republican ideologue at Fox News in discussing some of my views that might be considered “spiritual” in an atheist forum.

    I’m sensitive, don’t you know, and may feel I should tread lightly, even though I may enjoy the reflected heat of the kitchen others might suggest I get out of.

  75. xscd says

    @monocle smile #76

    Wait, you think burning bushes are conscious?

    I meant a burning bush (such as the one that spoke to Moses) which despite being composed of consciousness is not (in my view) self aware.

    I believe that everything at its most basic, below but including the quantum level and the strings of string theory, is composed of consciosness.

    But this belief makes no practical difference in how life and reality appear to me or how I interact with it in physical life, which would be the same as you or any other presumably sane person might experience reality and react to it, that’s all.

  76. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @frankgturner #64:

    I vaguely remember Compulsory Account, or someone on one of these threads linking a video about a woman and a guy who discussing their memories of meeting Jackie Onassis in New York, even though the guy was never actually there

    That wasn’t me.  : P
     
    Video: ThisAmericanLife – 226 Reruns, Act 2 Excerpt
     
     
    @xscd #77:

    no one is obligated on demand to eviscerate the contents of his psyche

    Now there’s some evocative poetry.  : )

  77. Monocle Smile says

    @xscd

    I think that most of us have certain private experience we prefer not to discuss in detail, although we may mention it in summary or in some form

    I don’t think you understand the point of this forum.

    I’m sensitive, don’t you know

    I don’t, and this might be the wrong forum for you.

    I meant a burning bush (such as the one that spoke to Moses) which despite being composed of consciousness is not (in my view) self aware

    This is perhaps the most nonsensical thing I’ve read in months. I can’t even respond to this.

    I believe that everything at its most basic, below but including the quantum level and the strings of string theory, is composed of consciosness.
    But this belief makes no practical difference in how life and reality appear to me or how I interact with it in physical life, which would be the same as you or any other presumably sane person might experience reality and react to it, that’s all.

    These are conflicting statements, and I’m a bit bemused that this has to be explained to you.

  78. Narf says

    I think that most of us have certain private experience we prefer not to discuss in detail, although we may mention it in summary or in some form

    I don’t think you understand the point of this forum.

    Ditto.  I hold back on sharing private details, usually, since I don’t think most people want to know that much about me, in loving, slobbering detail.  If someone wants to play 20 questions about the most explicit details of my weirdest perversions, though, I’m game.

  79. Narf says

    @66 – fgt

    As a Catholic growing up I was VERY confused about churches as I went to a very liberal church but had attended other Catholic Churches that were a LOT more conservative and bought into the whole 6000 year old earth (despite Popes and Bishops denying that).

    I never had that exposure, during the period in which I was forced to go through the motions with the Catholic stuff.  I was in the Chicago area, until the age of 11, and then I moved to the second-most liberal pocket of North Carolina … Raleigh in my teens, currently Durham/Chapel Hill (as in UNC Chapel Hill, where Bart Ehrman is in charge of the Religious Studies department).  I never knowingly spoke to a fundamentalist Catholic, including the several priests that I had long conversations with.

  80. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I do believe my views to be benign, both to myself and to others, even if they were (or are) delusional, because they do not impinge directly upon practical reality and my physical perception of the world or physical experience.

    Your views are harmful, because you are allowing yourself to think wrongly, and now because you are advocating that thinking wrongly is justifiable in some circumstances. Your reasoning does not exist in a vacuum.

    I’m still waiting for an explanation of what you even mean, and how one might determine if you are right or wrong.

  81. frankgturner says

    @ Compulsory Account # 80

    That wasn’t me. : P
    Video: ThisAmericanLife – 226 Reruns, Act 2 Excerpt

    Either way thanks for the link. I could not find it myself.
    .
    @ MS # 81

    I believe that everything at its most basic, below but including the quantum level and the strings of string theory, is composed of consciosness.
    But this belief makes no practical difference in how life and reality appear to me or how I interact with it in physical life, which would be the same as you or any other presumably sane person might experience reality and react to it, that’s all.
    These are conflicting statements, and I’m a bit bemused that this has to be explained to you.

    I can see this more than one way. one of which agrees with you MS in that it indicates the statements are conflicting, and one in which it does not entirely. It depends on what background assumptions are being made. i would like to hear your (MS’s) explanation for why they are conflicting and see if it agrees with my assessment. I would also like to hear xscd’s explanation as to why he thinks they are not conflicting (if that can even be done in a comprehensible way).
    .
    With regard to “I don’t think you understand the point of this forum,” actually if this forum might be a place for him to explore why he feels the way he does and if that the evidence, of any, supports this view. If he refuses to share the details out of fear that the views might be rejected or that it might change his mind on the issue, then I would agree with you that he misses the point of the forum.
    .
    @ Narf #83
    Yeah I got exposed to fundamentalist Priests / Catholics. It weirded me out as on the one hand I heard Priests / Catholics claiming that no True Catholic seriously bought that the Old Testament was anything more than metaphor then met Catholics who tried to claim it was meant to be taken literally and that other Catholics felt that way. It happened in college too.
    .
    @ xscd
    Unlike many of the others on here, I am a lot more tolerant of liberal minded Xtians who are at least pro evolution and science even if they have to wind their own weird religious dogma into it. don’t agree with them and I tend to think they have the potential to be dangerous, but I have seen that potential not develop into reality in many cases. It is why Ken Miller does not bother me too much, one can at least learn from the factually correct aspects of his work.
    .
    However, that does not mean that I think we should not explore our thoughts on topics and just ignore evidence or lack thereof. I get that the experience you had may have been very emotional and deeply meaningful to you, but how does that equate to a knowledge that this must map to reality? Do you really think that you have hard evidence that lends credibility to your deistic, or in this case pantheistic view of god? What evidence would cause you to doubt this view?
    .
    I have been thinking a bit about WLC here and the whole “Divine revelation of the holy spirit” bullshit which is his basic reason for why he would ignore evidence to the contrary of his views. like if we found the skeletal remains of Jesus. How does what happened to you not equate to a situation like that?

  82. Narf says

    It weirded me out as on the one hand I heard Priests / Catholics claiming that no True Catholic seriously bought that the Old Testament was anything more than metaphor then met Catholics who tried to claim it was meant to be taken literally and that other Catholics felt that way.

    Yeah, I’m also sure that no True Catholic™ would vote pro-choice, use birth-control, or fail to give to the poor.

    Of course, I wasn’t a true Catholic, from the age of … oh, I don’t know … 8 or 9 on?  So, what would I know?

  83. frankgturner says

    @ Narf 86
    I probably never was a “true Catholic” (whatever that means) despite being confirmed, but so what? I think the exposure to fundamentalist Catholics may have, on some level, taught me how polarizing views can be in the long run. You would be amazed how many of those fundamentalist Catholics wrongly presume that other Catholics agree with their views. Many are shocked to hear that other Catholics do not share their views and will even go on believing as they do despite having been shown evidence that this is not the case.
    .
    Perhaps that is why, on some level, I find Ken Miller to be more tolerable than you do. Note: he still annoys me, but I put up with it, having read about students of his that went on to be archaeologists and atheist and agnostic. If you can at least get people to Miller’s level then they can take steps to go beyond that. I would rather that people be depolarized than that they necessarily be atheist or agnostic. (One can be an atheist and still have a highly polarized world model).

  84. corwyn says

    @frank 87:

    The problem I have with Kenneth Miller is that I KNOW he has a bias, and I know HE knows he has a bias. That taints everything he says in his field of expertise. I don’t have the training in that field to be able to recognize any instances where his bias might have compromised his work, so my only choice is to consider all of it compromised.

  85. corwyn says

    @84 EL:

    I’m still waiting for an explanation of what you even mean, and how one might determine if you are right or wrong.

    You won’t get it. xscd doesn’t *know* what he means. He has some cool sounding words that he likes to claim to believe. But he doesn’t have an actual model of what it means in the real world.

    How does being made of consciousness affect the deterministic nature of particles? He doesn’t know.
    How does ‘being made of consciousness’ differ from ‘having consciousness’? He doesn’t know.
    How can consciousness acquire information, while also satisfying quantum field theory which is completely reversible (i.e. not dependent on the arrow of time) in violation of the 2nd law of thermodynamics? He doesn’t know.

    He just loves his (self-admittedly) not logical, not based on reality, notion. The word for this is, I believe, ‘schizophrenic’. And he is here trying to corrupt *our* minds with his meme, while claiming it is benign.

  86. xscd says

    @monocle smile #81

    I don’t think you understand the point of this forum.

    What is the point of this forum, who is not welcome, and why or under what circumstances?

    Although my view of reality may not match that of yours and other atheists exactly, I agree with, can see the logic in, sympathize with or find myself considering, almost all the comments I read from atheists at this forum. I’m not harrassing anyone, and am trying to gain from others’ perspectives.

    @Enlightenment liberal #84

    Your views are harmful, because you are allowing yourself to think wrongly, and now because you are advocating that thinking wrongly is justifiable in some circumstances.

    Could you please explain what you mean by “thinking wrongly,” and why it applies to me, and why and to whom it may be harmful? I’m certainly not “advocating” that anyone think or believe as I do. Thank you.

    As I mentioned, I live my life functionally equivalent to the way in which any average healthy atheist would. My views are almost exactly the same regarding religion, science and just about every other subject. I’m sure that there is less difference, in any important, practical way, between myself and any typical atheist, than there may exist between two atheists who happen to disagree about some point they both consider important.

  87. corwyn says

    @72 xscd:

    There are many ways to be correct, if one is willing to concede that they may have only part of or a particular and limited point of view or understanding of any particular phenomenon or information.

    I’m sorry, by ‘correct’ I meant ‘in accordance with *reality*’, not as you seem to mean ‘wrong’.

    A value for the cosmological constant is either correct, that is matches what is actually happening in the Universe, or it is wrong. There is only one value (or perhaps group of values if it is changing) which maps to what is actually happening, there are infinite values which don’t match. This is why such care is needed in establishing what *we think* that value (or values) is.

    None of this is changed in the slightest by our limited perceptions and understandings. Those just set the error bars on what we might think the value is. Not what it *actually is*.

  88. corwyn says

    @90:

    You are here spreading lies. That is memes which don’t match reality. You won’t define them sufficiently for them to be rebutted. This allows other misguided fools to possibly believe them (because they sound deep). People believing false things cause harm in the world, both by acting directly on those beliefs, and by training their brains to believe false things, and thus acquiring more false beliefs. You are thus behaving evilly in two different ways.

    Sorry that this is so blunt, but you don’t seem to grasp more gently worded comments, and don’t respond to questions.

  89. xscd says

    @corwyn #89

    You won’t get it. xscd doesn’t *know* what he means. He has some cool sounding words that he likes to claim to believe. But he doesn’t have an actual model of what it means in the real world.

    He just loves his (self-admittedly) not logical, not based on reality, notion. The word for this is, I believe, ‘schizophrenic’. And he is here trying to corrupt *our* minds with his meme, while claiming it is benign.

    Hmm. OK, I apologize.

  90. corwyn says

    @79 xscd:

    I meant a burning bush (such as the one that spoke to Moses)

    So you DO believe christian nonsense. So much for agreeing with atheists about the irrationality and harm of religions.

  91. frankgturner says

    @ corwynn #88
    I get where you are coming from and as far as evolutionary biologists go I would recommend others, Richard Dawkins being a key one but I often recommend Donald Prothero (I met and talked extensively with a student of his). The thing is, EVERYONE has a bias, even those who attempt to be the most objective of thinkers will have their own personal experiences factor into what they do. It is not like we can upload information directly into people’s brains and even if we could, their brains would prioritize it in a biased fashion.
    .
    If you go to Richard Carrier’s blog you will find some talks about Dawkins having a bias of sexism. Well I had seen evidence of that for a long time so Carrier stating it was no surprise (though I do think Carrier is exceptionally eloquent in his description). That doesn’t make Dawkin’s explanations of evolution any less correct.
    .
    Personally I can tell you that I was trained by Jesuits to understand Biology and despite their fundamentalist Catholic brethren, they do respect the secular teaching of the science very strongly. If you are to compare the factually supported information that many of them state with that of atheist and agnostic scientists you will find a good portion of it largely in agreement. Miller knows his stuff when it comes to Biology but if you can’t divide it up that’s understandable and there are others from whom you can get the information.
    .
    Here’s the rub. I read about something, there is plenty on Wikipedia about it, called “in group favoritism.” It is basically a type of argument from authority fallacy, evidence presented by individuals who are “of your own kind” gets favored over that which isn’t. I have interacted with believers who give no credit to something said by Dawkins or Prothero and so on but if the same information is presented by someone they view as a “believer” like Miller, they are much more opened to it.
    .
    I did this in the past few months, got a creationist (albeit a doubtful one) to start comprehending evolution and he outright refused to read Dawkins, at least at first. By getting him to hear Miller talk about it (after having heard about Miller’s beliefs) he became a LOT more opened to the factual correctness of evolution and he is now listening and reading Dawkins as well.
    .
    It would be nice if factually correct evidence was all we needed to present but unfortunately we as human beings have psychological biases and those may need to be appealed to on some level.

  92. frankgturner says

    @ corwynn #89
    I don’t necessarily think that he is trying to corrupt our minds with his meme. Expressing one’s own feelings does not automatically mean that others must agree. However, he does appear to be “not expressing those feelings in enough detail to be rebutted” as you claim in #92. That is effectively what I was getting at by suggesting equating what he is doing with WLC’s “Divine Revelation” bullshit. It does not equate perfectly but no analogy does.
    .
    If our views about atheism and logic are so weak that the mere expression of a viewpoint that we disagree with (like plants having conciousness or consciousness not equating with self awareness) which has no factual evidence to back it up, maybe we really need to re-evaluate our own Atheism. Frankly I dismissed this meme pretty quickly. As Matt often says, “that which can be claimed without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”
    .
    If however we need to be blunt with xscd’s to get him to see that, I can understand.
    .
    @ xscd
    That is part of the problem with not allowing your inner pschye to be subject to scrutiny. What you refuse to let be subject to scrutiny has the potential to do harm. If you can keep it compartmentalized well enough that it doesn’t, I am personally ok with that, up to a point. Sooner or later it will start to influence other thoughts, if it does not already. So sooner or later you do need to learn to deal with it.

  93. xscd says

    @corwyn #94

    So you DO believe christian nonsense.

    The burning bush reference was a joke. I thought that would be obvious to everyone.

  94. corwyn says

    @97 xscd:

    Why would you think that? It is less insane than the idea that you think dark matter is made of consciousness. Physicists don’t even know what dark matter *is*, it is basically a label put on an unexplained phenomenon (that is a process, not a thing). You are claiming to know a characteristic of that thing which is only a label. Which in other circumstances I would consider a hilarious joke.

  95. corwyn says

    @96 frank:

    I don’t necessarily think that he is trying to corrupt our minds with his meme. Expressing one’s own feelings does not automatically mean that others must agree.

    That is how memes work. They spread in a way analogous to a disease, by the infected passing it to the uninfected, using vectors such as speech and writing. If a person with tuberculosis (knowingly) comes into a room I am in, and starts coughing, what should I assume, and how should I respond?*

    In its essence, any communication has the intent of changing the state of mind of the recipient.
    There is no other reason to communicate.

    * – It is possible that said TB laden person is coming into my examining room, so that as a doctor (I am not), I might cure the disease. This might be acceptable (as any doctor would take appropriate precautions), but if they refuse to be examined, what then?

  96. xscd says

    @frankgturner
    Thank you for your geniality and thought-provoking comments.

    I do believe that consciousness can and does exist independently of physical form, and independently of time and space. But rather than rigorously attempt to defend that position against all challenges including those from individuals whose knowledge or conceptions of certain scientific fields seems to exceed or be more detailed than my own, especially since I believe that science is constrained by physical perception (including technological enhancements to physical perception) and that physical perception is a subset of conscious perception, as physical reality is a subset of or couched within a larger reality, I am content to allow my views to be summarily dismissed by those who find no reason to agree with or consider that notion, or who find what they consider to be good reasons to disagree with it.

    I have enjoyed some of the comments in the discussion, including yours. Thank you.

  97. frankgturner says

    @ xscd #97
    I can buy that it was a joke but it was poorly timed. There are those who would think you were claiming to know that plants were self aware.
    .
    @ corwynn #98
    Yeah the old we don’t know enough about it to claim knowledge of its existence yet somehow I know.
    .
    FYI xscd, that’s a big part of the point here. If you can’t know enough about the universe to even know what a pantheistic or deistic deity is given that you don’t know it’s characteristics, why do you default to belibeing that it does exist?
    .
    If you claim that you know through some method like a neat death experience which cannot be reproduced under testable conditions, that is just special pleading.

  98. frankgturner says

    @ xscd #100
    Ok but it is not just a matter of letting those beliefs be dismissed by others because there is no evidence to support them. Sooner or later YOU need to deal with why YOU believe it given that you acknowledge not having evidence for them. It would make sense to continue evaluating that given that it can lead to harmful thoughts.
    .
    Letting go of things like that takes time and I get that. You may actually find in the long run that you are better off without such beliefs.
    .
    You may want to try answering some of those questions that I gave you one at a time.

  99. corwyn says

    @100 xscd:

    I do believe that consciousness can and does exist independently of physical form, and independently of time and space.

    So I see that that apology did not include a clause about endeavoring not to repeat the mistake in the future. A truly repentant person would resolve never to repeat these ideas to anyone, until they had evidence, or wished to be dissuaded from them.

    This is a belief that you don’t have ANY evidence for, and for which there is a substantial amount of evidence AGAINST. But more than that you don’t even know what it means. You can think of NO consequences of this basically universe changing conjecture. This belief can not possibly have any positive effect on your life. It can never make your life better (since you claim it can never be differentiated from a universe where it was false). At the same time this belief COSTS you greatly. It loses you respect. It trains your brain to believe other false things (especially when you are required by it to defend it which since their is no evidence you can give, must consist of further lies, which you will need to concoct, and subsequently defend as well). Even as you read this, you will feel your brain inventing new rationalizations.

  100. corwyn says

    @101 Frank:

    Yeah the old we don’t know enough about it to claim knowledge of its existence yet somehow I know.

    Worse than that. We don’t know if there is even a thing, but claim to know something specific about that thing. That is like claiming that you know that all unicorns are purple.
    It is possible (though not the current favored hypothesis) that ‘dark matter’ is nothing more than a mistake in our understanding of the laws of gravity. This is a hypothesis with some actual empirical evidence behind it. But what would it mean to say that a flaw in our understanding of the laws of gravity is ‘composed of consciousness’. That is not even wrong; it is a monumental class error. That is like claiming that all unicorns are made of freedom.

  101. xscd says

    @frankgturner #102

    given that you acknowledge not having evidence for them.

    Not exactly. I believe that I do have evidence for my views, sufficient at least to convince myself and of a type I accept, although I realize not sufficient nor acceptable to many others. However, as I have repeated several times, I don’t feel that there is any need to persuade others of my views beyond merely expressing them. In fact, I hope to encounter thoughts or comments that cause me to reconsider my positions.

    However, questions like “how can consciousness exist independently of physical form?” merely cause me to ask myself, internally, “why can’t consciousness exist independently of physical form?” In light of my views as a whole, that seems to be a reasonable question. I would be happy to question or reconsider other aspects of my views as well, but so far they don’t seem to me to have been challenged by my own experience and thought or by other persons sufficient to cause me to change them, that’s all.

  102. corwyn says

    @105 xscd:

    I believe that I do have evidence for my views

    Nonsense. You claim to have belief that ‘dark matter’ is composed of consciousness. What possible evidence could you possibly have for that belief? I am not even asking what evidence you *do* have. What form would that evidence come in? It can’t be anything observable in the universe, including your own brain. No brain state you can achieve, could possibly be evidence for this belief since it includes that idea that that consciousness can not affect anything in the universe.

    “how can consciousness exist independently of physical form?”

    How odd that no one asked you that question. The questions we have asked have been uniformly ignored. Almost as if you knew that they could not be answered without removing your delusional beliefs.

  103. Monocle Smile says

    @xscd

    However, questions like “how can consciousness exist independently of physical form?” merely cause me to ask myself, internally, “why can’t consciousness exist independently of physical form?” In light of my views as a whole, that seems to be a reasonable question

    Remember what EL said about “thinking wrongly?” Textbook example.

    @frank
    The statements I addressed earlier are in conflict because at a base level, beliefs are what inform our actions and other beliefs, and this is pretty much by definition. I don’t believe there’s any such thing as a truly benign belief. Now, whether a belief is harmful enough to propagate into macro-scale negative actions is a different question, but I don’t find it that relevant, especially since xscd has demonstrated that this belief does indeed have a negative effect.

  104. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @corwyn #104:

    That is not even wrong; it is a monumental class error. That is like claiming that all unicorns are made of freedom.

    @xscd #105:

    questions like “how can consciousness exist independently of physical form?” merely cause me to ask myself, internally, “why can’t consciousness exist independently of physical form?”

    We should all take a moment to ask ourselves,
    “Why can’t unicorns be made of freedom?”

  105. corwyn says

    I hasten to add that when I say I believe certain views, I am using a device or caveat for the sake of discussion, because from my point of view I regard myself as knowing some of them.

    Let’s examine this rationally. If we presume that what xscd means by this is that his knowledge is something more than belief at *any* achievable confidence level, he is thus claiming to be 100% certain of something. Bayes theorem tells us what is required in the way of evidence to achieve 100% confidence. That is, infinite amounts of evidence, a quick perusal of the equation will show this. This also one instance where the log-odds formulation makes it almost self-evident. 0-100% as a representation of probability allows people to round of 99.9999% to one hundred percent. In the log-odds view that is merely 60 decibans of evidence. To get to 70 decibans of evidence we need 10 times more evidence that all of the previously collect evidence. It is therefore understandable why he needs everything in the universe to be conscious, he needs it hold that evidence that is required to ‘know’ that single thing. Except that even that isn’t enough, that is perhaps 1000 decibans of evidence.

  106. corwyn says

    no physically perceptible evidence can be provided

    Here is another illustrative passage. This is the ‘lack of falsifiability’ defense. Memes use this as a means to avoid the immune system in the brain of their host. The meme claims to be unfalsifiable. No evidence will (or can) ever be provided. Minds lacking the proper defenses will be taken in by this, and the meme will thrive to the detriment of the host. Like HIV, the immune system of the host is compromised by the infection, not only making it easier for the infection to thrive, but also for other infections to propagate as well.

    This is how even simple principles of rationality inoculate their host brains from this sort of infection. The principle is ‘any hypothesis must be (even if only in theory) falsifiable.’ If you are rigorous in applying this you will never succumb to these insidious infections.

  107. Narf says

    @87 – fgt

    I probably never was a “true Catholic” (whatever that means) despite being confirmed, but so what? I think the exposure to fundamentalist Catholics may have, on some level, taught me how polarizing views can be in the long run.

    If that helped break you out of all of the bullshit in the long run, I’ll take it.  Glad to have you on our side.

  108. Narf says

    @108 – SC

    We should all take a moment to ask ourselves,
    “Why can’t unicorns be made of freedom?”

    And then we should ask ourselves the followup question: “What reasons do we have to think that unicorns are made of freedom, and what would that mean for the rest of the universe?”

    “How would we demonstrate that unicorns are made of freedom?  How would we demonstrate that unicorns aren’t made of freedom?”

    Then we test and see which of those positive and negative conditions actually show up in our experimental data. Falsification, in a nutshell.

    How would you test your near-death experience and demonstrate that it was false and just a hallucination of your failing mind, XSCD?  If you can’t falsify it, why should we take it seriously?  If you can’t falsify it, why do you take it seriously?  If you were any kind of skeptic, you wouldn’t.

    Our minds are prone to make up things that we find appealing … or horrifying, for some reason.  We don’t seem to hallucinate stuff in neutral territory very often, for some reason.

    Okay, so you had this experience that felt very good and very true, and very spiritually (whatever the fuck that means) fulfilling.  That’s exactly the sort of thing you should expect to hallucinate in a near-death experience.  It’s the same sort of thing that Christians hallucinate when they have near-death experiences, only it’s about their god; it’s the same sort of thing that Muslims hallucinate about Allah or Muhammad; and it’s the same thing that Hindus hallucinate about their gods.

    Until you have empirical evidence for what you experienced, when you experience something that bizarre, you should doubt your own experience.  Either that, or you better come back with a damned-good, damned-convincing reason from the the beings who run that spiritual realm, explaining why they’re fucking around with so many people, giving them glimpses of the afterlife that match up with their mutually-contradictory, preexisting religious beliefs.

  109. Narf says

    @110 – corwyn
    Oh, hey, Corwyn was just hitting on falsifiablity, too. I hadn’t read this comment yet, when I wrote comment 112.

  110. frankgturner says

    @ corwynn # 99

    That is how memes work. They spread in a way analogous to a disease, by the infected passing it to the uninfected, using vectors such as speech and writing. If a person with tuberculosis (knowingly) comes into a room I am in, and starts coughing, what should I assume, and how should I respond?*
    In its essence, any communication has the intent of changing the state of mind of the recipient.
    There is no other reason to communicate.

    I remember reading something in Dawkins about that so that makes sense. I am not sure if I entirely agree with it but then again my mind works a lot differently than others. I see plenty of reasons to communicate other than just changing the other person’s mind. Sometimes reaching a level of understanding does not mean reaching a state of agreement. Perhaps because of the way my mind works I am a lot more immune to alterations of thought based on emotional pleading but i recognize that others are not, which is a big part of the problem I think that I see going on here with xscd.
    .
    @ corwynn # 104
    We were along the same lines of thinking even though you expanded upon what I was saying. I was with you on the “monumental class error” part as I was considering mentioning that it was “not even wrong,” as it was a statement of something that is untestable. How can one claim that dark matter has consciousness? Well how the hell do we test if it DOES have consciousness in the first place?
    .
    @xscd # 105

    Not exactly. I believe that I do have evidence for my views, sufficient at least to convince myself and of a type I accept, although I realize not sufficient nor acceptable to many others.

    If that evidence isn’t acceptable to anyone but you, why is it acceptable to you? That is sort of like saying to myself that I have 7 fingers on my right hand, but only I can see it so why bother trying to convince anyone else. Well why am I bothering to convince myself? I could understand if it had some practical usage (like for some weird psychological reason I could not be polite to people unless I convinced myself of that, however weird that might be), but wouldn’t it be easier if I could do without that? For practical purposes it would make more sense to NOT try to convince myself that I had seven fingers on my right hand until I actually had physical evidence (or SOME sort of empirical evidence, even if it is currently outside of our perception) until I did. You allude to a similar idea it when you say:

    However, questions like “how can consciousness exist independently of physical form?” merely cause me to ask myself, internally, “why can’t consciousness exist independently of physical form?” In light of my views as a whole, that seems to be a reasonable question.

    That IS a reasonable question. However, it makes more sense to start with a null hypothesis that this is NOT the case until you have some sort of evidence that it DOES. Sure that evidence might currently exist outside your perception or even the perception of science, but that does not mean that it always WILL. If you take up a null position that it DOES and are forced to change it by way of evidence providing it wrong, you are in a worse position than taking up a null hypothesis that it does NOT and evidence proving that it does. Sure I have imagined and even “hypothesized” (using the old greek definition, which at this point is just “imagining”) that this is the case, but that is not “good” hypothesizing. “Good” hypothesizing is more than just conjecture.
    .
    The evidence that you have convinced yourself with appears to be conjecture. I think the reason that you are so attached to it is because it has a great emotional meaning to you, it FEELS so right doesn’t it? Isn’t that what evangelists use to convince people in the existence of THEIR god though, it FEELING so right and so good?
    .
    @MS # 107
    I don’t know if there is such a thing as a truly benign belief. I can see xscd’s beliefs as being minimally harmful enough that if he creates great gain out of said beliefs that the net result is positive, which is why I thought that the statements don’t conflict entirely. I still think that he would be better off WITHOUT the beliefs and could find a way to get the gain without the harm, however minimal the harm may be. We had the same basic idea though of beliefs informing ideas though.
    .
    That is actually a big part of the difficulty here. Beliefs appear to inform ideas and actions on an subconscious level in my experience. So it seems that beliefs need to be changed on that same level to inform ideas and actions appropriately (I am going to post a story about this in a bit). I keep thinking that we need to appeal to xscd on a below conscious level.
    .
    @ Narf # 111
    It did help me break out of the bullshit but it also taught me something. A LOT of things in the world do NOT function in a Boolean sense, that they either ARE or ARE NOT so, particularly when it comes to human emotion and feelings. ACTIONS might be Boolean, in that they either did or did not happen, but intent is not so clear. A lot of comprehension seems to have to do with appeal to emotions, which are not completely rational and subject to support by empirical evidence.
    .
    One thing that I realized many of the fundamentalist Catholics (and other fundamentalists) were trying to do was present their views as though they were both empirical (which they are not) and unchanging while claiming that things like evolution was just purely emotional reasoning (which it isn’t). As if the reality of the world was either right or wrong and unchanging. Maybe in mathematical equations, but not so in the reality of scientific research (FYI, I am a Chemist professionally but have a lot of biology training including an extra Bachelor of Science Degree).
    .
    The thing I learned was that Boolean thinking and application of Boolean reasoning to everything in the world does not work. It works for some things for which there are true dichotomies and trichotmies.
    .
    However, there is a LOT of grey territory in the world on a variety of issues as the world is “constantly changing” as corwynn mentions in # 91, particularly when it comes to communication and human emotional states. I would LIKE for communication to be constant and unchanging, but the reality is that it isn’t. I see that type of Boolean thinking about everything in the world to be dangerous, regardless of who in engaging in it. So when I saw an atheist who thought that way I see that as being dangerous.

  111. corwyn says

    @114 Frank:

    I see plenty of reasons to communicate other than just changing the other person’s mind.

    Name two. (but use my actual words, not your misunderstood ones).

    Sometimes reaching a level of understanding does not mean reaching a state of agreement.

    How is reaching a level of understanding possible without changing the state of mind of someone?

    You seem to have confused ‘changing the state of mind’ with ‘changing their mind (i.e. convincing them). Or perhaps I wasn’t clear enough.

    Google’s definition of ‘communication’ agrees: “the imparting or exchanging of information”. If you brain contains information that it did not prior to the conversation, the information has been exchanged, and your brain state is different than it was.

    xscd wrote here in order to alter people’s brain states. The meme within him, caused him to, in order that it might perpetuate itself. Because he was not inoculated against this meme, he is infected, and spreading that infection. Resulting in lower health of the whole.

  112. frankgturner says

    @ Narf and xscd
    Let me tell you a little story (this relates to something that we were talking about in another string Narf).
    I grew up with an italian mother who has a big personal issue when it comes to food. Food is representative of her ability as a hostess it seems and she needs to be seen as a good hostess. She is VERY good at preparing food and despite her being an accountant professionally, I can see how this influenced my career choice as a chemist as food preparation IS chemistry.
    .
    The difficulty is, she saw food as a deeply personal (one might even say spiritual) thing that spoke about her on a deep level it seemed. She would ask if she could feed you and if you said “no thank you,” you would get a barrage of “are you sure?,” “are you REALLY sure?,” “please?,” “can’t you just have a little?” and so on. It was as though you were not just saying “No thank you I am not hungry,” in HER mind it appeared to be a rejection of her personally. To HER, despite all of the evidence in the world to the contrary, it was as though you were rejecting her personally.
    .
    I had a particularly hard time with that as I saw what she was doing as demanding that you say “Yes” even if you were not hungry. It was as though, to me, she were saying, “you are not ALLOWED to say no.” I got after a while that this was not the case, but it FEELS that way no matter how hard I try to believe that. People would say, “Why can’t you just have a little bit?,” or “maybe it is about being social, why can’t you sit and just be social?”. (Meals often are about being social in Italian culture). Well the difficulty was 2 things, # 1 that was not giving me the FREEDOM to reject even though I appreciated the sentiment, and # 2, it did not seem to coincide with these ridiculous rules in her head that said,
    a. everyone is not happy unless they are eating
    b. people are not allowed to eat alone even if they are the only person who is hungry at the time
    c. eating is not about being hungry
    d. people don’t REALLY appreciate the sentiment unless they choose to eat even if they lavish you with praise and appreciation and explain at length that they are not hungry.
    .
    She could not seem to get those rules out of her head, like they were buried so deep and linked so thoroughly to emotional sentiment that without the Clockwork Orange therapy they could not be broken.
    .
    I even tried it a few times, I was there and she said, “would you like to sit down with us and eat.” I said, “Well I have eaten and I am not hungry plus I have had this dish before and it smells wonderful and I have appreciated it in the past. I will be more than happy to sit down and be social with all of you and have some water or soda and I do greatly appreciate the sentiment,” and preceded to sit down. She came back with, “but you have to eat!” To which my response was, “Mom, I love you and I have showed great appreciation for the sentiment, I am more than happy to be social with everyone but I don’t need to eat right now. Other people are eating, I have had this dish before and zi am sure that it is fine. I may even ask for some to take home later, I love you and I just don’t want it right now.”
    .
    She looked like her head was about to explode and she threw one of the worst temper tantrums I had ever seen. I had shown appreciation and followed all of her rules expect that I was not eating, and she just refused to accept that food and eating at the moment does not have to be part of the equation. All of the evidence was right in front of her and she just could not accept that her rules were wrong, food and eating does not need to be part of the equation. People can be perfectly happy and gain all of the benefits of sitting together and being social and NOT eat.
    .
    This happened several times, she still refuses to accept that as a possibility. I have often stated that if a large hand came out of the sky and pointed at her and a face that looked like Charlton Heston and Morgan Freeman morphed together emerged form the clouds with a voice that sounds like a combination of James Earl Jones and John Cleese and told her flat out that her rules were “wrong,” she still would not accept it due to some deep emotional need to feel that food was such a personal thing.
    .
    She has seen me have a good time and others too. She eventually went to presenting food in a buffet style at family events so that “people were free to get up and get their own food.” On some level I think that she really just did not like feeling the sense of rejection from me personally even though I made it perfectly clear that it was not personal, I just may not be hungry at the time. On some level she can’t seem to accept that despite having all of the evidence in the world presented to her. The rule about eating is locked so tightly into her head that I think it would require hurting her ego and ripping a part of it away, perhaps making her loose ALL sense of self confidence together just to break her of that rule.
    .
    Now, do I think that it is worth it to destroy her sense of self confidence completely in order to break her of this one belief? No, not really, the only one it seemed to harm was me because I needed to say “No” and have that be respected as a personal choice. She can’t seem to see that as anything but a personal rejection of her, but I can’t help her with that. She has to want to see that as something different and on an subconscious level she does not seem to want to do that. Somehow, when it comes to food, she does not want that view subject to scrutiny.
    .
    So my question to you xscd is this, on a subconscious level do you REALLY want your views to be challenged and subject to scrutiny?

  113. frankgturner says

    @ corwynn # 115

    How is reaching a level of understanding possible without changing the state of mind of someone?
    You seem to have confused ‘changing the state of mind’ with ‘changing their mind (i.e. convincing them). Or perhaps I wasn’t clear enough.

    .
    You are right I am thinking of “changing their mind” vs “changing their state of mind” and those are not the same. I have some experience teaching and when I teach I don’t think of myself as “changing the mind” of the students unless I present evidence of something that they disagree with (which is the example that I was going to give). Also some years ago I worked with a mormon individual in explaining biology to him as he read, “On the Origin of Species” (I have told that story on here before). I did not convince him of evolution as being “right” in a factually correct sense but it did teach him the value of what it was saying and the importance of learning it. I did not see what I was doing as “changing his mind,” but it did most certainly “change his state of mind.”
    .
    I can see the meme of what xscd as dangerous if a person does not naturally recognize a human’s capacity to engage in conjecture without evidence and is prone to belief without evidence. I gave it no credibility due to the lack of evidence but I can’t speak for others.

  114. xscd says

    @Monocle smile #107

    wrong thinking – textbook example

    I don’t think so, anymore than- “How can a metal object fly?” “Why can’t a metal object fly?”

    @corwyn #104

    monumental class error – claiming unicorns are made of freedom

    I don’t think so, anymore than- Everything is made of strings (of string theory)

  115. frankgturner says

    @ xscd #118
    Some still argue that metal objects don’t fly. It depends on your definition of flight (this having to do with self propulsion and lift). The difference is, these used aspects of physics to obtain a goal and the belief was based on demonstration, not conjecture.
    .
    I am opened to consciousness being able to exist independent of physical form. Demonstrate it instead of just making conjecture. Go into physics and psychology and see what you can come up with.
    .
    You might need the study of physics as I don’t think you have a really clear understanding of string theory of you are just claiming that everything is made of strings.
    .
    I have a question, do you really want to be convinced to let go of your unfalsifiable beliefs or are you just going to retreat into unfalsifiable principles when unfalsifiable beliefs are challenged?

  116. xscd says

    @frankgturner #116
    Interesting story. Thank you.
    I think that the problem many atheists see with my views stems from the fact that I believe physical perception depends upon conscious perception, conscious perception is independent of physical perception, and that conscious perception aside from physical perception both includes experience and can gather evidence.

    I can certainly understand the questions and objections to those views.

  117. frankgturner says

    @ xscd #120
    Ok, but what evidence do you have that concious perception can exist independent of physical perception? Or has that been buried so deeply within your psyche that you are unwilling to challenge it?

  118. xscd says

    “That which is claimed with no evidence can be dimissed with no evidence.”

    This interesting, glib statement is often used by atheists, and it sounds perfectly acceptable and appropriate.

    However, most of us can provide no evidence to anyone else of what we say we experienced yesterday or in the past. The only evidence we have of much of what we experience consists only of our memory of it, which seems to persist even after we surrender our consciousness to sleep once or twice per day. Some people say that our memories consist of chemical and electrical components of the brain that somehow are translated into specfic thoughts that compose our memories, although I don’t think that any direct correspondence other than correlation can be demonstrated or established.

    We live our lives trusting memory for which we have no current evidence, much less any evidence we could present to anyone else. Yet we don’t convince ourselves to disregard our own experience because we have no physically tangible evidence of most of it. We generally do not apply “what can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence” to our own experience, and if we apply it to others’ experience, we may be wrong.

  119. corwyn says

    @122 xscd:

    most of us can provide no evidence to anyone else of what we say we experienced yesterday or in the past.

    And now we see the lengths of lunacy to which you are willing to go to defend your delusion. Of course I have evidence that my memories are reliable. I remember how my house looked yesterday, and it matches (almost) exactly the way it looks today. I can in fact navigate my house in the dark using nothing but my memory. I can do the same for anyone else, describing my memory of my house, which they can check for themselves.

  120. corwyn says

    @118 xscd:

    I don’t think so, anymore than- Everything is made of strings (of string theory)

    I note no argument other than a blunt assertion.

    So you REALLY think that “A flaw in our understanding of the laws of gravity is ‘composed of consciousness’.” is the same as everything is made of (metaphorical) strings? Your delusions run deep. How can a flaw in a theory be made of anything? Where do ‘flaws in theories’ exist? What happens to them when the theory is fixed? Does that consciousness go away? Does the information it contained disappear?

    I note that you STILL haven’t answered a single question.

  121. corwyn says

    @120 xscd:

    I can certainly understand the questions and objections to those views.

    No you don’t. If you did, you wouldn’t continue to hold them.

  122. corwyn says

    “That which is claimed with no evidence can be dismissed with no evidence.”
    This interesting, glib statement is often used by atheists, and it sounds perfectly acceptable and appropriate.

    So here we can review epistemology. How exactly do we differentiate between true things, and false things? Rational people use evidence. I am at a loss to imagine how people like xscd think they could possibly stumble upon truth without any guidance from evidence. If I was mean, I could introduce xscd to millions of conflicting ideas all of them with zero evidence. Since xscd has no method for denying ideas with no evidence supporting them, he would accept all of them, and would then have a head full of conflicting ideas all of which would need to be defended just as the idea of ‘flaws in theories being made of consciousness’ has been.

  123. Monocle Smile says

    @xscd

    I don’t think so, anymore than- “How can a metal object fly?” “Why can’t a metal object fly?”

    /facedesk
    You’re just intellectually lost. You’re floating around in Not Even Wrong territory. Consciousness isn’t a thing. It’s a process. Furthermore, we can actually empirically investigate the questions about metal.

    We live our lives trusting memory for which we have no current evidence, much less any evidence we could present to anyone else. Yet we don’t convince ourselves to disregard our own experience because we have no physically tangible evidence of most of it. We generally do not apply “what can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence” to our own experience, and if we apply it to others’ experience, we may be wrong

    Corwyn’s right. This is incredibly deluded…and a serious case of projection. Stop presuming that everyone suffers from your shortcomings.

  124. Narf says

    @122 – XSCD

    This interesting, glib statement is often used by atheists, and it sounds perfectly acceptable and appropriate.

    It is perfectly acceptable and appropriate, within the context in which it’s used.  It’s a companion to the one about extraordinary claims and extraordinary evidence.

    However, most of us can provide no evidence to anyone else of what we say we experienced yesterday or in the past. The only evidence we have of much of what we experience consists only of our memory of it, which seems to persist even after we surrender our consciousness to sleep once or twice per day.

    And you don’t need any evidence for us to accept that you had a bagel with some low-fat cream-cheese for breakfast, yesterday.  But that isn’t the claim under consideration here.  What’s under consideration is a preposterous claim about the universe being made up of consciousness, somehow, for which you haven’t even provided a coherent model and told us what we should expect of the universe, based upon that assertion.

    Speaking of the bagel, once you’ve established a pattern of trying to lose weight, making claims about eating a low calorie diet yet not being able to lose weight … and you’ve been caught, repeatedly, binging on things at every other meal, then lying about it afterwards … we’re going to need a little more evidence that you stuck to the cream cheese and bagel.

    Some people say that our memories consist of chemical and electrical components of the brain that somehow are translated into specfic thoughts that compose our memories, although I don’t think that any direct correspondence other than correlation can be demonstrated or established.

    Really?  “Some people say“ … ?  I think what you mean is “neuroscientists say”.

    You’re saying it as if some random people off the street came up with this wacky idea.  That’s nothing like the situation.  You’re pulling a bit of a sleight-of-hand here.

    We live our lives trusting memory for which we have no current evidence, much less any evidence we could present to anyone else. Yet we don’t convince ourselves to disregard our own experience because we have no physically tangible evidence of most of it. We generally do not apply “what can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence” to our own experience, and if we apply it to others’ experience, we may be wrong.

    Again, you’re glossing over so freaking much, here.

    Our memories are usually perfectly reliable, for short periods of time, about the very broad strokes.  All of those fine details about things, which you remember from 5 years ago?  Actually, those aren’t likely to be accurate at all.  Our memory is constantly reconstructing the details of the past, changing a few little things, here and there.

    And sometimes, our memory is just flat-out false, about even the big strokes.  That’s why we demand evidence for anything of consequence.  We usually don’t actively distrust our memory, because it doesn’t matter.  If you expect someone’s memory of something that happened a decade ago to count as evidence, though … sorry, no.  The person could be mistaken, even if he’s being honest, and people often lie, either to themselves or to those they want to convince.

    I don’t think so, anymore than- “How can a metal object fly?” “Why can’t a metal object fly?”

    monumental class error – claiming unicorns are made of freedom
    I don’t think so, anymore than- Everything is made of strings (of string theory)

    You’re engaging in massive, catastrophic equivocation here.  The strings of string theory are not what we mean when we talk about strings, in any other context.  It’s a metaphor.

    Same thing with the flying-metal comment.  Metal, by itself, does not fly, unless you want to count metal in a tornado.  Metal, with some finely-crafted jet engines, powered by jet fuel, can be made to fly.

    Plus, you can take someone down to an airport and show them a flying tin-can.  Let us know when you can arrange for a similar demonstration of what you’re talking about, and we’ll talk.

  125. Narf says

    @127 – MS

    Corwyn’s right. This is incredibly deluded…and a serious case of projection. Stop presuming that everyone suffers from your shortcomings.

    XSCD is also confusing “It doesn’t matter, so we’re going to let it go and assume your memory is correct, for social nicety,” with “Your memory is actually correct in every detail.”

  126. xscd says

    @narf
    I meant strings specifically as theorized in current cosmological string theory, not string as we might find in a desk drawer.

    Such discussion about cosmological “strings” would have seemed very weird and suspect just a few decades ago, as would the ideas that the universe might be a giant hologram, there may exist multiple concurrent universes, etc., and just as ideas of the relativity and flexibility of both time and space used to seem.

  127. Narf says

    However, the way to phrased it evokes the strings we find in tool drawers.  Particularly after your comment about metal flying, your wording draws us to the comparison with mundane strings.  That’s why it’s an equivocation fallacy.

    Cosmological strings are still weird and suspect, and the model might not even be correct.  String theory is one working mathematical-model for subatomic physics.  I don’t even know that I believe it, myself.  And it doesn’t matter, as long as it continues to have no effect upon the macro world and the mundane.

    When we have some breakthroughs in technology, based upon the workings of string theory, then we’ll talk.  Until such a time, it’s cool, but it doesn’t matter.

    What you’re doing is believing something … actively holding a belief … based upon absolutely nothing.  You don’t even have something similar to the mathematical models upon which string theory is based.

    What you’re doing is no different than what Deepak Chopra does with quantum mechanics.  Do you really want to be like Deepak Chopra?  Because it’s a perfectly valid comparison.

  128. xscd says

    Regarding neuroscience, the brain and memory, I think that scientists have certainly produced evidence for correlation, but not equation.

    The fact that our memory can be faulty, or can become faulty, would seem to indicate that the brain is certainly not an entirely accurate recording device.

    We have learned to trust our memories for the most part, even when there is no concrete physical evidence for most of our remembered experience. We also remember some of our dreams, some of which we might find a significant form of experience that may have a subsequent effect upon our thought or actions, but for the details of which which no concrete physical evidence is possible.

  129. frankgturner says

    @ xscd #133
    Then why do you put so much meaning and trust into experiences that you have when your brain was in a state of distress and potentially working in an even more faulty way?

  130. Narf says

    @XSCD

    We also remember some of our dreams, some of which we might find a significant form of experience that may have a subsequent effect upon our thought or actions, but for the details of which which no concrete physical evidence is possible.

    You have … dreams … which you consider to be a significant form of experience … and you speak about a lack of concrete physical evidence for dreams, as if the dreams were the same sort of experience as us walking around experiencing things in reality.

    Do you really expect us to treat you as a rational adult, after you say something that insane?  I think you’ve pretty much abandoned all pretense of rationality, at this point.

  131. xscd says

    @narf
    I didn’t state nor imply that dreams are the same type of experience as our waking experience, but maintain that dreams, regardless of their exact nature, are a type of experience, and do have an effect upon our psyche and possibly, or sometimes, upon our waking life.

    @frankgturner
    Why do I trust a faulty brain? I don’t. I regard consciousness as independent of the brain, however well and intimately it may interface with the brain. I do have a great deal of respect for and awe of bodies of various species and their functions, as products of evolution, which I find fascinating (recent viewing: Your Inner Fish, book and video series by Neil Shubin, highly recommended to anyone, hated by young-Earth creationists).

  132. Narf says

    Sure and drugs have an effect upon our psyche and our waking life, too.  Should we count the experiences that we have while under the effect of hallucinogenics, too?

    It would help if you could string together your thoughts into something approaching a coherent progression.  “We’ve learned to trust our memories (which I say again, we shouldn’t and you’re a fool if you completely trust yours) … oh, and dreams.”

    If you didn’t intend for the comment about dreams to relate to your messed-up opinion about our waking memories, then why did you string the two together?  The flow of your arguments is approaching a logical version of word-salad, about half of the time.  You have this disjointed mess of ideas, and even you don’t seem to be able to make any sense of them.

  133. frankgturner says

    @ xscd #136
    Yet you do trust a faulty brain. You trust experiences that you had while your brain was deprived of oxygen with awe and respect, as though they were some sort of Divine Revelation. You give the excuse of your consciousness being separate from the brain, even though there is no proof of this.
    .
    Do you not see the similarity between this and what religious zeolots do? Be it WLC and his “Divine Revelation” or StB claiming to know in such a way as you cannot know, or a priest having a “direct line to God.” all expect others to believe in something for which they have no proof.
    .
    Now you claim that you are different because you do not expect others to believe. Why do you believe if you don’t expect others to do so?
    .
    You claim to have evidence but it is only evidence that works for you (sounds a bit like StB). Why should it work for you if it does not work for anyone else?
    .
    You claim that you only do this because no one has convinced you otherwise. Why should anyone convince you but yourself? Why HAVE you convinced yourself?

  134. frankgturner says

    @ Narf
    I think what he has is a “strong feeling” that makes him feel good. I think that some part of him knows that it has no evidence to support it, but does not want tI let go of the good feeling. What he does not realize is that he can have the good feeling and still let go. There are others who have had similar near death experiences who learn to have good feelings like that without clinging to unfounded beliefs. Some find even better feelings without clinging to said beliefs.

  135. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @xscd

    But rather than rigorously attempt to defend that position against all challenges including those from individuals whose knowledge or conceptions of certain scientific fields seems to exceed or be more detailed than my own,

    I don’t need a full “proof”. I just want to know why you think that. What series of experiences and reasoning led you to that conclusion?

    Do you think that this claim has any observable consequences? Can you give me an example? E.G. Can you explain how you might falsify your position?

    Thanks to corwyn for picking out this gem from xscd:

    no physically perceptible evidence can be provided

    To xscd: Really? None at all? Then what convinced you? A dream? Platonic armchair reasoning?

    We live our lives trusting memory for which we have no current evidence, much less any evidence we could present to anyone else.

    While IMHO correct, I fail to see what this has to do with the discussion at hand. IMHO, there’s a minimal amount of things you have to assume to avoid solipsism, Last Thursdayism, brains in a vat syndrome, etc. What does this have to do with your claim that everything is made of consciousness – or whatever it is that you’re claiming?

    @Narf

    Oh, hey, Corwyn was just hitting on falsifiablity, too. I hadn’t read this comment yet, when I wrote comment 112.

    Psst: I was on the falsifiability train too! (lol)

  136. corwyn says

    @140:

    “no physically perceptible evidence can be provided”

    To xscd: Really? None at all? Then what convinced you? A dream? Platonic armchair reasoning?

    Moreover, how could he possibly determine that no physically perceptible evidence can be provided? Where did he look? For how long? With which tools of science?
    Answer is, of course, he didn’t. The meme infecting his brain contained this bit of brain immune system malware (to mix a metaphor).

  137. corwyn says

    @136:

    I regard consciousness as independent of the brain

    Which particles or fields does your ‘consciousness’ use to communicate (two-way) with your brain?

    [Another question which xscd’s brain virus won’t let him consider, much less answer]

  138. corwyn says

    @133 xscd:

    but for the details of which which no concrete physical evidence is possible.

    You *do* realize that science is able to extract visual images from brains, and can thus see what you are dreaming (badly, so far), yes? Therefore this bald assertion, meant to protect your delusions, is false. Not only is it possible, it is currently being done.

  139. xscd says

    @corwyn
    Science is currenty able to record or detect actual images of a dream from a dreaming person? Is that true? Can you refer to a source for more information about that. Very interesting.

  140. corwyn says

    @144:

    No offense, but I find that just providing links to incredible things makes people think I have fabricated them or cherry picked evidence. If you find it yourself, you will gain more from it.

  141. frankgturner says

    @ xscd #144
    corwynn has a point, you will get more out of it if you look it up yourself.
    .
    However, at some point I may cover it on my web blog. You can see it now if you like,
    http://www.lsned.info

  142. Narf says

    A simple, obviously-worded Google search turned it up on my first try, XSCD. Try a few, and you should find what I did, man. After you find something, we can compare notes and see if we all found the same thing.

    Red parrot flying to the right, about 17 seconds into the video, corwyn?

  143. Narf says

    It looks like they cheated a little, to help the computer out, but these are just the early stages.  Give it another 5 or 10 years, and we might have much better algorithms.

  144. xscd says

    @Corwyn
    The words “image dream science” helped me locate a few links. I thought the technique might have a particular technical name that you might provide.

    It is indeed an interesting development. Thank you for mentioning it.

  145. xscd says

    @frankgturner
    Very interesting informative website you have created. Thank you.

  146. frankgturner says

    @ xscd
    Thanks, keep visiting as I will be updating and expanding it. Do think about why you really believe though. You seem like a smart guy with a good mind who just needs to think about why you consider something evidence that really isn’t evidence, not the kind that would stand up in court or that could be used to defend a scientific dissertation.
    .
    I know that others can’t be as patient with you but in time I think that you will learn to let go.

  147. corwyn says

    @151 frank:

    not the kind that would stand up in court or that could be used to defend a scientific dissertation.

    Sadly, it is worse than that. He doesn’t have any evidence at all. I accept evidence all the time that doesn’t meet the standards of the courts or dissertations.[1] xscd doesn’t have any evidence, and claims there can be NONE[2]. He believes something incredible (huge improbability) on exactly zero evidence.

    [1] – In some ways courts rules for evidence are worse than a purely rational entity would use.

    [2] – He may have changed his mind now that he knows his brain state can be externally viewed.

  148. xscd says

    @frankgturner
    Thank you.

    @corwyn
    The evidence I have for my views is contained within my own private, personal experience of (to me) a profound, seemingly indelible, life-changing nature. However, I cannot cause anyone else to experience exactly what I have experienced, so there is no way to provide evidence of it to anyone else.

    Fortunately, I do not believe that it is urgent or important that others share my views, and I think that atheists have a generally better, more rational, and healthier viewpoint of life than most religious people. I don’t consider myself religious, in that I don’t subscribe to any particular named religious dogma, all of which I consider man-made creations, nor is my conception of a deity very well defined, because my own point of view as a conscious being is very limited, like yours.

    I try hard not to overstep the boundaries of my own perception and “fill in the blanks” of my knowledge with mere imagination or conjecture, although it seems I do so to you and others in this community.

    I wish you and all atheists well, and I support wholeheartedly the idea of religion not tainting and being separate from civil government.

  149. corwyn says

    @153 xscd:

    The evidence I have for my views is contained within my own private, personal experience of (to me) a profound, seemingly indelible, life-changing nature.

    So you believe that ‘dark matter’ is made of consciousness, despite not knowing what consciousness is, and not knowing what ‘dark matter’ is, or even if it is a thing at all, because of a personal mind state, which was not created by any external influences at all, including interactions with either consciousness or dark matter.

    Further, that experience did not (and indeed CAN NOT) occur in your brain, nor is the memory of it stored in your brain (as then it could in theory be read by machines).

    Additionally, you have no idea whether that life-changing experience (which didn’t affect your brain in any way) is true.

    And you call that evidence. An idea with no source, no truth value, which was never processed, never stored, life-altering without being brain-altering, about things which even after the idea, you don’t comprehend.

  150. xscd says

    @corwyn
    It’s apparently difficult for me to state my views in a way that is clear and avoids misinterpretation or confusion.

    I believe that consciousness underlies, infuses and composes all reality, but I don’t believe that it changes the characteristics or nature of reality. For example, I do not believe that so called dark matter is instead consciousness, but rather, that beneath and at a more fundamental level than the quantum level, there exists consciousness, which I believe is the basic substance (if one could call it that) of all realities. I believe that physical reality is a subset of a reality that includes other realities, many of which are nonphysical, all having their own native composition and laws.

    None of this can be argued of course. I only mention it to clarify what appears to be a misconception on your part of my views. I hope this will suffice.

  151. says

    “I believe that consciousness underlies, infuses and composes all reality…”

    Please don’t take offense at this question; I mean it sincerely. Does it matter to you if the things you believe to be true are indeed true?

  152. frankgturner says

    @ ethanmyerson #156
    Though I respect xscd (as the question seems to be directed at him) it appears that he retreats behind unfalsifiable claims when he is pressured on his beliefs. I find that to be common among the more intelectual of believers that want to hang on. That want measurable, empirical proof that they are wrong in their beliefs, so they can have confidence that “I don’t know” is the “right” choice. The difficulty is that you can’t have empirical proof of the falsehood of a position when you take up an unfalsifiable position. So what you get is an intellectual version of Pascal’s wager, the same basic concept wrapped up in prettier words.
    .
    So I don’t think it matters to him if his ideas are factually correct, it may matter to him if the reasons why he believes are based in any sort of fact. He has to figure that out for himself though, why he believes what he believes and if that is important enough to him to see if he can have the same sense of happiness that he enjoys now without continuing to take up an unfalsifiable position.
    .
    At least that is my opinion based on my experiences with people. I try to be more patient with him as he seems to want to change, but fears it at the same time. (Hence why I think he is sending mixed messages on here).

  153. xscd says

    @ethanmyerson
    I’m not offended. Yes, it does matter to me whether the things I regard to be true are actually true, although there are several factors that mitigate that–
    * I feel no sense of urgency to “know everything” or have all the answers, as some religious people (and some nonreligious people) seem to want to do.
    * With respect to physical reality, my current views correspond to those of the scientific community insofar as I can tell, and my additional views or beliefs do not conflict with what is known, but merely are in addition to them and do not affect my practical reality or interaction with it.
    * If I’m wrong, I’m wrong, and I have faith that I will eventually learn that, while feeling no urgency to do so. The views I currently maintain, derived from my own personal experience (one of the few sources I trust) have survived my own scrutiny so far, but they may not do so forever.
    * If my life had been different and I had not had several unusual experiences that caused me to learn or adopt my current views, I wouldn’t have them and wouldn’t arbitrarily adopt such views. It would seem nonsensical to me to do so.
    * I am by nature skeptical, which is why I have cast off religion as artificial answers to humankinds real questions, especially important in our early history when we were confronted with a universe that seemed vast, mysterious and sometimes scary, before the rational mind and science began to provide much better answers.

  154. frankgturner says

    @ xscd #158
    If you believe anything that has no demonstrable evidence behind it, such as consciousness existing outside of the mind, then no you are not believing something that is in accordance with the scientific community as a whole. Individuals within the scientific community might believe that, without demonstrable evidence, but that is not what is being discussed. Many do compartmentalize their beliefs, believing one thing as a scientist/ professional and another as an individual.
    .
    And it does not work if it is evidence to just you. It has to operate by the same principles to another individual (Matt talked about that in the show).
    .
    Basically you have faith that consciousness exists outside of the mind. If it was true in an empirical sense and could be measured you would not need faith. The best you could get to be in line with what the scientific community engages in as an institution is to say that you “don’t know” if consciousness exists outside of the mind. And the default rule is that until that is measurable and demonstrable to at least one other person besides yourself (preferably several) that you default to the negative position.
    .
    No matter how strongly you feel what happened to you happened or how meaningful it was, it is faith. Scientific thinking means facts before faith.

  155. xscd says

    @frankgturner
    I am willing to consider the fact that I may be wrong. I am not frightened by that possibility. I simply believe that reality extends beyond the realm of strictly physical reality, while respecting the great amount of information and speculation by very capable scientific minds about physical reality.

    The reason my nonphysical or extraphysical views are not falsifiable in any scientific sense is because they fall outside of strictly physical perception in all of its many natural and technologically enhanced forms. I’m fully aware of that, but I don’t “take refuge” in those non-falsifiable (not scientifically testable) ideas, nor do I hold them for no reason. One might say I hold them for no good reason, but I am willing to change my views only for my own reasons and as the result of my own scrutiny and continued experience and learning, not as a result of what anyone else attempts to persuade me to believe, although I do enjoy listening to others’ opinions and ideas and to consider them.

  156. frankgturner says

    @ xscd
    Hey man I am all for you learning for yourself and your own reasons. That’s why I am a lot more patient with you than others. It is just a matter of comprehending how defaults work. The default position is a negative one until empirical evidence is provided.
    .
    I don’t think that the realm of reality extends beyond the physical one because there is no evidence to support that position at this time. Am I confident that the realm of reality does not extends beyond the physical realm? No, I simply have No confidence that the complimentary view is true. Is it possible that the realm of reality extends beyond the physical? Well yes, and if I really wanted to find evidence for that I would do so, but until I did I would not take it up as a default position.
    .
    You mention metal objects flying. I am certain that people imagined and ape ulated about metal objects flying and thought about how it may be possible. However, until someone actually showed evidence that it DID the default position was that it could not.
    .
    I think that it is possible for objects to move faster than light speed, just with such little probability as one might say that it is impossible for all intents and purposes. If I really wanted to try to make this a reality I would study physics and engineering. If you really want to make consciousness being beyond the physical reality a demonstrable fact then study the correct fields, but learn that as professionals (and most as people) will take up the default position of this not being so. Life is NOT a JM Barrie novel (as I often say).
    .
    Many a creationist believes scripture to be literal and sets out to study science to find proof of this. Some great paleontologists, and geologists, and cartographers, etc (that covers a lot of fields) gave up that but found something wonderful to study in science in the process (and in the case of many a biologist got a real understanding for evolution that they did not comprehend previously). Yes you get a few Michael Behe’s.
    .
    The ones that discovered science and how to do tribute to it based their beliefs on FACTS, you are basing you belief in conjecture. If you want to impress anyone on here, finds some facts that support what you are saying, empirical evidence that is demonstrable to others.

  157. xscd says

    @frankgturner
    I am certainly not trying to impress anyone, or I might have chosen a friendlier venue to do so.

    I believe in experiential evidence as well as scientific evidence, and as I have repeated quite a few times, my views were not adopted in a situation of a lack of evidence, but in a situation in which the evidence was and is personal and perhaps can only be of a personal nature, regardless of whomever might happen to discover it in his or her own personal experience.

    The reason I am so stubbornly intent upon learning things in my own way and at my own pace probably has to do with my continuing resentment about my heavy indoctrination during childhood at the hands of Christian missionaries. I’m unlikely to allow anyone to influence me to such a degree again without a great deal of sudpicion and scrutiny on my part.

  158. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    * With respect to physical reality, my current views correspond to those of the scientific community insofar as I can tell, and my additional views or beliefs do not conflict with what is known, but merely are in addition to them and do not affect my practical reality or interaction with it.

    If you had a proper understanding of our reality, and specifically neuroscience and philosophy of mind, then you should have already known that dreaming is done in the brain, and that it’s in principle possible to measure the brain and determine what the person is dreaming. Whereas, it seems that you thought that dreaming happened somewhere other than the brain. That is IMHO prima facie evidence that your curious beliefs i.e. “everything is made of conscious stuff” actually does lead to you have demonstrably false notions about observable reality.

    I am by nature skeptical,

    I simply believe that reality extends beyond the realm of strictly physical reality, while respecting the great amount of information and speculation by very capable scientific minds about physical reality.

    You have these beliefs, and you have no good reason for these beliefs. You are not skeptical enough.

    I believe in experiential evidence as well as scientific evidence,

    Protip: They are the same thing. There is no difference. There’s only one kind of evidence – experiential evidence. Not all experiential evidence is created equal – some is more compelling than other – but all evidence is experiential. When a cliche scientist in a lab sees the “red” button light up, he has the experience of seeing the red button light up. The only access we have to reality is our own perception and experience.

    You really need to read the opening blog post by Tracie here:
    >The Argument from “It Just Makes Sense to Me”
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/axp/2013/01/21/the-argument-from-it-just-makes-sense-to-me/

    That’s what you’re doing. Tracie explains in great detail why it’s fallacious, and what you would be doing if you were actually being properly skeptical.

  159. xscd says

    @enlightenment liberal
    Some evidence that might be in the experience of some person (like seeing what they regard as a UFO) may leave no trace of evidence they could present to anyone else. That’s what I meant by “experiential evidence,” meaning evidence from one’s own experience that may not be corroborated by others’ experience or any tangible physical evidence. The strength of that evidence might depend upon the person having the experience.

  160. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @xscd
    Tracie covers what I’m about to say in the above link (among other things), and probably covers it better.

    The only kind of evidence that I have access to is via my perception, aka my experience. I might see a UFO. That’s direct observational evidence. It might leave no other evidence that I can show to other people. I can tell them about my direct observational evidence. To them, that becomes eye witness testimony, which is still a kind of evidence, but a different kind of evidence than direct observational evidence.

    Tangent: An important point that Tracie makes in the above post is this: It is often said that my own personal direct observational evidence is good enough for me, but because you just have my word about it, my eye witness testimony, I understand that it’s not good enough for you. However, that’s often used wrongly. Often when someone says that, the purported direct observational evidence shouldn’t even be good enough for the person who saw it. For example, if I saw a cliche flying saucer UFO with cliche little green aliens for a few seconds, that would not be good enough to convince me. There are plenty of other explanations which are far more plausible, such as my friends slipped me some hallucinogenic drugs, or my memory is faulty in this case, etc. I really like Tracie’s example of the guy who demonstrated the existence of lucid dreaming in the scientific literature (again please read the opening blog post at the above link).

    I would like to know on what basis you have these beliefs. I would also like to know if you have thought about the questions “What if I’m wrong? How would I know if I’m wrong? How can I figure out if I’m wrong? Have I done due diligence to determine if I’m wrong?”. Asking those questions is what it means to practice critical thinking. Critical thinking is properly named – it means to be critical of ideas while thinking. It means to be critical about your own thinking. It means to be constantly asking “Am I wrong?”. That’s what it means to be a skeptic. From your own statements, I think you are not a skeptic.

    If you haven’t done this process of critical thinking, then the proper skeptical think to do and say is “I don’t know”, not “I’ll hold on to the belief until someone shows that I am wrong”.

    Saying “but my belief has no harmful consequences” is completely besides the point. It has nothing to do with whether the claim is true nor whether your belief is justified. It’s the same kind of argument that we often hear from religious believers. It’s fallacious in exactly the same way. In a kind of fallacious appeal to consequences. Finally, you don’t do your reasoning in a vacuum. Perhaps it hasn’t caused you to make any wrong decisions yet, but the whole point of the rationalism and skepticism enterprise is to not take that risk. You cannot be sure that it won’t lead you astray tomorrow. Why take the needless chance?

    Further, you’re also promoting or at least tacitly defending the notion that this kind of wrongful thinking is acceptable, and even if you are perfect in determining that your belief has no practical consequences, other people may adopt your bad standards of belief and adopt demonstrably false beliefs that actually are harmful. You are promoting wrong-headed thinking.

  161. xscd says

    @enlightenment liberal #165

    Thank you not only for your thoughtful comments but in the helpful and not too adversarial way you wrote them. I will certainly consider them and feel inclined to read the blog by Tracie, one of my favorite hosts of The Atheist Experience.

    Best wishes.

  162. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    in the helpful and not too adversarial way you wrote them

    Thanks!

    It took me a minute to process that. I just got done with another conversation where someone unironically called me the most arrogant and most rude person (or something) that they’ve ever met. It’s a rather extreme case of mood whiplash. (I assume you meant that genuinely.)

    I don’t mean to be particularly confrontational at this point. I’m still mostly curious why you think that, and what you even mean when you say that you think that. You still haven’t even attempted to explain your own personal experiences that you convinced you of your particular beliefs.

  163. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I realized that this is overly vague. Allow me to clarify.

    I don’t mean to be particularly confrontational at this point. I’m still mostly curious why you think that, and what you even mean when you say that you think that. You still haven’t even attempted to explain your own personal experiences that you convinced you of your particular beliefs.

    Specifically: I’m curious why you believe that everything is made of consciousness, and what you mean when you say that. For example, I can invent a label “frabble” and assert that everything is made of frabble because I just defined the label in such a way as to ensure the correctness of that claim. However, you are using an existing word, “consciousness”, and making a claim with that word, and that presumably means that you mean to carry and use at least some of the common usage of the word “consciousness”. That’s part of my question “what do you even mean?”. In other words, what parts of consciousness do you ascribe to everything when you say that everything is made of consciousness? The ability to dream? To make decisions? Having perception? Having mere first person experience and a train of thought?

  164. xscd says

    @enlightenment liberal
    Thank you very much for the link to Tracie’s excellently written, organized and presented blog that included material about Steven LaBerge and his interest in lucid dreaming.

    The blog is very pertinent to exactly the position in which I find myself, so I’m grateful you pointed it out. I will certainly think about the issue and subject.

    Thanks.

  165. xscd says

    I’m always amazed at how intelligent Tracie is and how well she communicates, as well as some of the nuances she picks up from callers and almost hidden topics she exposes and explores.

    Thanks again, Enlightenment Liberal.

  166. corwyn says

    @155 xscd:

    I don’t believe that it changes the characteristics or nature of reality.

    and

    The evidence I have for my views is contained within my own private, personal experience

    are mutually exclusive.
    There can be NO experience which you encountered in reality, which is the result of a process which doesn’t change reality. If you have a memory of it, that memory resides in your brain, and is the result of chemical changes in that brain (which, again, could be discovered by others). That is the ‘real’ part. Whatever caused that memory changed reality. Therefore it CAN NOT have been caused by something which does not change reality.

  167. corwyn says

    @xscd:

    A simple question, if you had to give odds, what would you say was the likelihood that your profound experience was a hallucination?

  168. corwyn says

    I am by nature skeptical,

    First, no one is *by nature* skeptical. It is a skill that must be taught and practiced, and none of us humans are very good at it.

    Second, on The Atheist Experience (and probably in all life), anyone who claims to be skeptical is immediately assumed not to be. Only people who believe manifestly insane things try to bolster their arguments by claiming to be skeptical. No one who really is skeptical bothers to say it. They know that their arguments are sound and stand by themselves without validation from the skepticism of the claimant. A true skeptic in your situation might be say something more like:
    “I am normally very skeptical, but I find myself in the position of believing something which disagrees with what everyone else believes, and which is justifying itself to me by claiming to be unfalsifiable, has no evidence in reality, and claims CAN NOT produce any evidence in reality. And yet I can’t shake this belief. Won’t you all please try to fix my delusion.”

  169. frankgturner says

    @ corwynn #175
    And yet many people seem to take issue with me “couching” terms by saying things like “many” instead of “all” and “maybe” and “perhaps” and “seems to be.”
    .
    In my experience these “should be” things a skeptic learns so as to indicate a skepticism of oneself and even a skepticism of one’s skepticism.

  170. corwyn says

    Brain Care: A User’s Manual gives us so many things relevant to this thread.

    * This claim you are about to make, have you done a probability update recently? If not, put it in the ‘to be reviewed as suspect’ pile, and don’t make a claim about it until that update is complete.

    * Does the claim you are about to make include caveats about not being verifiable? Flush it out completely. It only gets back in if it brings its pretty sister, Evidence.

    * Does the claim you are about to believe include a claim of non-falsifiability? Bar it entry, no *useful* belief can be unfalsifiable. There is no point in believing them even if they are true.

    * Does the claim you hold, give you any means to predict the future? If not, it is useless; flush it.

    * Can you describe what your claim means about the real world to a non-believer? If not, put it in the ‘research this as suspect’ pile.

  171. frankgturner says

    @ xscd # 162
    Been looking to respond to this for a while.

    The reason I am so stubbornly intent upon learning things in my own way and at my own pace probably has to do with my continuing resentment about my heavy indoctrination during childhood at the hands of Christian missionaries. I’m unlikely to allow anyone to influence me to such a degree again without a great deal of sudpicion and scrutiny on my part.

    I get where you are coming from int hat Xtian missionaries don’t exactly use factual correctness and presentation of hard fact in order to influence your beliefs. To be suspicious that we might try to indoctrinate you as well is a good thing. We really are not but you have to figure out why on your own and I am down with that. That will take time and a bit part of figuring that out is to understand why you believe the way that you do.
    .

    That’s what I meant by “experiential evidence,” meaning evidence from one’s own experience that may not be corroborated by others’ experience or any tangible physical evidence.

    Ok I try to be flexible in my communication, particularly when it comes to the definition of words. Words have definition by consensus and even when there is a majority opinion upon the use of a word that does not mean that groups may not break off and use words their own way. Much like there is debate over the common vs. professional usage of the word evidence in here (I actually get where Conversion Tube is coming from as I have heard the word “evidence” used the way he is talking about, I just don’t think it fits well into this venue), I think you have a way of using the word evidence that may not exactly fit here.
    .
    Basically here is the thing, an experience that can’t be corroborated with that of another or anything tangible is something that I would hardly call evidence. If only you experience something then you have no way of knowing if it was an illusion UNLESS it was corroborated by some means. We have no way of knowing if you are lying or delusional (nothing personal) unless you can corroborate what you are experiencing. And one can lie to oneself, sometimes without knowing it.
    .
    I am not saying that what happened is not important to you, it probably is very important and felt very powerful. I should know, I went through something similar.
    .
    I think that your experience seems like evidence to you . It seemed very real, just as my experience seemed very real to me. In the long run though I realized that I would be nuts to try to get anyone to believe me that it happened. So I said to myself, “ok I will just believe it for me.” It occurred to me after a while, “why would I do that?” It was a rhetorical question. If I did not want to impress that it was real on anyone else, including close friends, why did I need to believe it? I have a friend who felt impressed when I told the story and she believes it even though I gave it up. It occurred to me, it isn’t good enough for other people to believe it, I can’t demonstrate it. So why should I go on believing something that I don’t think others have reason to believe? For the most part, my own experiential evidence is not good enough for me, it NEEDS to be corroborated with someone else. Believing something for the sake of believing it just sounds, well I don’t know how it sounds.
    .
    If you are not trying to impress that information upon others to support a point, how is it evidence? I can understand that because feelings and emotions are very powerful. I wanted them to be evidence, I wanted my word to be enough to go on. In some instances it is, in many it is not. It is kewl though that it may take you time to get it and I am kewl with you figuring that out on here, even if others are not.

  172. says

    @xscd

    I found David Voelker’s essay on Ontological Dualism quite helpful in talking about the relationship between subjective reality and objective reality. The bottom line is that no idea that pops into your head is worth a damn until it is tested against objective reality (everything outside of your head). This seems obvious to me, but the full ramifications of it seem to be lost on some people.

    http://tworealities.org/theory/foundations-of-subjective-reality/

  173. corwyn says

    @179 frank:

    an experience that can’t be corroborated with that of another or anything tangible is something that I would hardly call evidence.

    Since I use the technical Bayesian definition of ‘evidence’, I am happy to call personal experience, evidence[3]. Sadly for xscd, his experience *isn’t* evidence for his claim. The experience makes his hypothesis LESS likely rather than more likely, so it is not evidence *for* but rather evidence *against* his hypothesis. If his hypothesis that everything is composed of consciousness, but that had no effect on reality, was correct, there is *no way* he could have had his experience caused by that hypothesis in action. His experience is an effect in reality, which should be impossible under his hypothesis.

    [3] – Note that personal experience is one type of evidence, transmission of that personal experience to others, makes it a different kind of evidence, subject to different rules (e.g. the hypothesis of lying comes into play).

  174. frankgturner says

    @ corwynn #180
    I am down with evidence in the Bayesian sense, I tend to think of it in an empirical sense like in a science laboratory where the experiment is repeated and shown to others. That has to do with empirical data and standards of measurement and all. Lots of experiments do use Bayesian reasoning and calculations, but a standard for analyzing them needs to be established rather than the assignment of numbers which could be arbitrary.
    .
    What I have been trying to get at with him has to do with how feelings and emotion lead to potentially irrational experience and potentially arbitrary information. So a situation in which strong feelings lead to evidence that is debatable or does the opposite of what is perceived makes sense.
    .
    I think in the long run one should learn to challenge one’s personal experiences when one is in a highly debatable mental state due to temporary lack of significant brain capacity.

  175. corwyn says

    @182 Frank:

    but a standard for analyzing them needs to be established rather than the assignment of numbers which could be arbitrary.

    I am not sure where you got the impression that there was no standard for analyzing scientific data using Bayes. Of course, in any analysis Bayesian or otherwise, you must use numbers which are both as accurate and precise as possible and keep track of all possible error terms. Who thinks otherwise?

  176. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    but a standard for analyzing them needs to be established rather than the assignment of numbers which could be arbitrary.

    What you ask for is impossible. You may be able to hide it in a corner, but it will always be there. Any standards you make will still have that foundation of arbitrariness. Of course, the scientific enterprise has been very successful at lessening the degree of subjectiveness, and I applaud that.

  177. frankgturner says

    @ corwynn #183
    I didn’t get the impression that there are no standards for analyzing scientific data using Bayes. I was implying that xscd is not using a standard. While EL has a point in that everything will ultimately have some degree of arbitrariness and that the effort is to make the degree less subjective, one of the key issues behind making things less subjective is to have an agreed upon standard for measurement. If only one person agreed upon the measurements then the conclusion is only relevant with respect to that one person. To make to conclusions relevant with respect to others you maintain an agreed upon standard.
    .
    That agreed upon standard may be arbitrary in foundation but it at least makes conclusions relevant with respect to a larger number of people who agree to the standards. And agreeing upon a standard means corroborating your experiences with those other people.
    .
    Ultimately everything is subjective to one’s own experience, particularly when it comes to communication and word definitions.

  178. Monocle Smile says

    @EL

    Any standards you make will still have that foundation of arbitrariness. Of course, the scientific enterprise has been very successful at lessening the degree of subjectiveness, and I applaud that

    Fucking right. One of my pet peeves with apologists (and others) is what I call the “99=0” fallacy where everything is a 2-element dichotomy. It’s important to recognize the near lack of absolutes in our world and understand that degrees matter.

  179. frankgturner says

    @ MS #186
    I was having a conversation in one of the other blogs (Dispatches from the Culture Wars) about that same topic with regard to required texts in schools. Some politician made the claim that the Koran is required and that the Bible is forbidden (which is bullshit, of course). Someone made a comment about evangelistic thinking and that they had 2 degrees of understanding, either a text is required or forbidden and nothing in between. If it is not forbidden it is required to them and if it is not required it is forbidden and so on.
    .
    I commented that I was ok as long as there was a text that exclaimed how evangelists and apologists are NOT forbidden from burying their heads in buckets of cow shit in school….

  180. canonicalkoi says

    @Narf #30

    “… although I believe otherwise for reasons I don’t feel the need to discuss with or convince anyone else of.”
    You say that as if you’re trying to keep us from commenting on it. Since when do we need any prompting to express our opinion of something?

    Sorry to be so late–trying to catch up on my TAE reading. Whenever I hear someone say, “X blahblahblah, but I don’t want to talk about it,” it means, “I want to declaim my opinion by fiat, but not be required to offer any evidence, back it up in any way nor have to defend my point of view.” Much like someone at a party saying, “My significant other is a horrible person, an abuser of substances and a jackass of the first water, but I don’t want to talk about it.” equates to, “Here’s my opinion, deal, but don’t talk back about it.” Intellectually lazy, if not verging on intellectually dishonest, IMO.

  181. Narf says

    More or less, yeah.  That’s my reading of the situation, most of the time, when people do this sort of thing.  Xscd knows his position on this stuff is completely irrational, so he knows he’s in trouble, when he’s hanging around a bunch of rational people who like to expose irrationality.  So, he dodges like crazy.

  182. corwyn says

    @188:

    I agree, the meme wants to be propagated, but doesn’t want to be cured in its current host. This is exactly the sort of behavior we should expect. Viruses want us to sneeze. But we want to avoid infecting others, so we cover our mouths when we sneeze. Xscd is going around sneezing without mouth covering, and getting indignant when people point out that this is being anti-social.