Jul 05 2016

A Psychiatrist Falls for Exorcism

demon_1John Mack was a Harvard psychiatrist who famously fell for his patient’s own delusions. He came to believe that some of his patients were actually abducted by aliens. He was never able to provide any compelling evidence of this, just their testimony. Despite being a professional in mental health, he lacked the skeptical skill set necessary to see his errors.

We now have another very similar case – a Yale trained psychiatrist, Richard Gallagher, who has fallen for his patients delusions that they are possessed by demons. His editorial in the Washington Post is stunning for its utter lack of skeptical awareness.

I am sometimes questioned by well-meaning but confused scientists who do not understand the role that scientific skepticism plays in society. Isn’t science itself enough? Aren’t all scientists skeptical, or at least they should be?

What they miss is that skepticism is a real and deep intellectual skill set that works with science. It includes specialized knowledge that is not necessarily acquired during scientific training. There are frequent examples of this, and Gallagher’s article is now a prime example as well. He hits almost every true-believer trope there is. Ironically he has created a classic case study in the need for scientific skepticism.

He writes:

So I was inclined to skepticism. But my subject’s behavior exceeded what I could explain with my training. She could tell some people their secret weaknesses, such as undue pride. She knew how individuals she’d never known had died, including my mother and her fatal case of ovarian cancer. Six people later vouched to me that, during her exorcisms, they heard her speaking multiple languages, including Latin, completely unfamiliar to her outside of her trances. This was not psychosis; it was what I can only describe as paranormal ability. I concluded that she was possessed.

He may have been inclined toward cynicism, or what he thinks of as skepticism, but clearly he does not understand skeptical principles.

Here he is making the case that, in rare cases he has investigated, the allegedly possessed displayed knowledge that is unexplainable without invoking demonic possession. Let’s count the logical fallacies.

First, he makes an argument from personal incredulity. Because he cannot explain a phenomenon, he thinks it is unexplained.

He goes from that fallacy to confusing unexplained with unexplainable. He then makes the argument from ignorance to fill in the alleged gap with his preferred belief, demonic possession. This is a very common true-believer trifecta, which is often wrapped in faux skepticism.

Gallagher could benefit immensely from even a basic understanding of cold reading and mentalism (not part of psychiatry training). Cold reading is the technique of seeming like you have specific knowledge when you don’t. It might include making a statement that is likely to be true of most people, or seems specific when actually it is quite general.

Saying something like, “you have a secret sin,” is a perfect example. Who doesn’t? This is like saying, you have money concerns, or sometimes you feel insecure.

He further says:

For the past two-and-a-half decades and over several hundred consultations, I’ve helped clergy from multiple denominations and faiths to filter episodes of mental illness — which represent the overwhelming majority of cases — from, literally, the devil’s work.

This is another common fallacy I call the residue effect – sure, most UFO sightings (or bigfoot sightings, or spontaneous healing, or whatever) are fake or misinterpreted, but there are a few cases that cannot be explained. Those cases are real.

That logic is invalid, however. When you look at hundreds or thousands of cases, you are going to see common things commonly, and then more rare things more rarely. If you have seen a hundred cases, you have likely seen one which is a one-in-a-hundred case.

Rare, however, does not mean paranormal. Rare could mean, a cold reading that was incredibly lucky. Or perhaps the patient (let’s not forget, these are mentally ill patients), happened to hear people talking about something when they thought the patient was not paying attention, because they looked unconscious or in a trance, and then later the patient feeds back that information as if Satan himself fed it to them.

This is not even unlikely. Mentalists do this on a regular basis – on demand, even. If you think guessing how someone’s mother died (actually just giving the illusion that you did) or that someone is guilty of the sin of pride, then you really need to see a good mentalist in action.

He provides more “evidence”:

A possessed individual may suddenly, in a type of trance, voice statements of astonishing venom and contempt for religion, while understanding and speaking various foreign languages previously unknown to them. The subject might also exhibit enormous strength or even the extraordinarily rare phenomenon of levitation. (I have not witnessed a levitation myself, but half a dozen people I work with vow that they’ve seen it in the course of their exorcisms.)

I have also heard patients voice statements of astonishing venom. I am sure Gallagher knows that mentally ill does not mean ignorant or unintelligent. I have met patients who had an uncanny social sense for other people’s vulnerabilities. If you spend a lot of your mental time thinking you are possessed, some will probably get good at it.

Speaking languages they did not previously know – that is an extraordinary claim. All Gallagher has to offer as evidence is stories. Perception and memory are incredible flawed, especially so in a highly emotionally charged situation. How long had those attending the allegedly possessed kept their vigil before the interesting stuff started to happen? How sleep deprived were they? How willing to believe?

It’s also possible that a patient might memorize Latin phrases to throw out during one of their possessions. Were they having a conversation in Latin? Did they understand Latin spoken to them? Or did they just speak Latin?

I have heard the claims of enormous strength before, but all (and I mean all) of the video evidence I have seen did not demonstrate this. During one exorcism taped for a TV documentary, the voiceover said that the subject displayed supernatural strength; meanwhile they were being held down by two old ladies who did not seem to be struggling.

I have literally watched dozens of hours of exorcisms on video. They are all incredibly boring. Nothing interesting happens. No levitations.

Here Gallagher makes his most embarrassing statement, a “friend-of-a-friend” claim for levitation. He has never seen it, but other people have? What did they see, exactly? Was the person just arching their back and bouncing off the bed?

As with ghost claims, bigfoot claims, and the like, we always hear fantastic stories, but the interesting stuff never ever seems to happen when the cameras are rolling. Gallagher has an answer for this also:

One cannot force these creatures to undergo lab studies or submit to scientific manipulation; they will also hardly allow themselves to be easily recorded by video equipment, as skeptics sometimes demand. (The official Catholic Catechism holds that demons are sentient and possess their own wills; as they are fallen angels, they are also craftier than humans. That’s how they sow confusion and seed doubt, after all.) Nor does the church wish to compromise a sufferer’s privacy, any more than doctors want to compromise a patient’s confidentiality.

These are all classic excuses for lack of evidence, and nothing more. How do they not allow themselves to be recorded? Especially now with cell phone cameras – how could they stop the recording?

Confidentiality sounds like a legitimate concern. However, if a patient were not mentally ill but in fact were possessed, and they levitated feet above their bed in proof, they would probably agree to releasing the video at that point as evidence. Plus, doctors videotape their patients to show to other doctors all the time. Recording for scientific or educational purposes, with proper consent, is perfectly legitimate. 

But demons are crafty. Right, and aliens are super intelligent, and bigfoot can teleport, and psychic powers don’t work in front of skeptics. We have heard it all. These are all just lame excuses (post hoc rationalization) for lack of evidence.

This always reminds me of the documentary about a satanic witch hunt in Texas where the “investigator” proclaims: “These people are master satanists. The fact that there is no evidence just proves that they did it.”

Gallagher also throws in calling skeptics closed minded, “unpersuadable,” and “materialists.”

Conclusion

Richard Gallagher is now a classic example of how even a highly trained professional can fall prey to bad logic and the desire to believe. He nicely demonstrates why basic skeptical knowledge is necessary, even for scientists and professionals.

He finishes with an appeal to gullibility for the sake of the victims:

Those who dismiss these cases unwittingly prevent patients from receiving the help they desperately require, either by failing to recommend them for psychiatric treatment (which most clearly need) or by not informing their spiritual ministers that something beyond a mental or other illness seems to be the issue. For any person of science or faith, it should be impossible to turn one’s back on a tormented soul.

This is like every snake oil salesman who says they are too busy treating patients to do proper research. This is not an excuse for lack of skepticism, but all the more reason for it.

I can easily turn the tables on his logic – what if these are all just mentally ill patients with firm delusions, who happen to be smart and clever enough to do a decent cold reading? By accepting their delusion, you are reinforcing it, making it even harder to treat. You are victimizing the people you are supposed to be helping, by failing in your primary duty as a professional to be detached and evidence-based.

470 responses so far

470 Responses to “A Psychiatrist Falls for Exorcism”

  1. Ivan Groznyon 05 Jul 2016 at 9:37 am

    The most funny thing is that they would gladly proclaim any scientific evidence of possession as confirming the religious dogma, but if no evidence is forthcoming then they fall back to the theological explanations of its absence: demons are trying to convince us they don’t exist. Head I win, tails you lose.

  2. Willyon 05 Jul 2016 at 11:09 am

    But, but, but, how else to explain Trump except demonic possession?

  3. Karl Withakayon 05 Jul 2016 at 1:12 pm

    /Pet Peeve Rant On

    What’s so special about Latin? Just because it was the common vernacular of the Roman Catholic Church at one point, that somehow makes it a magical language of supernatural enchantment? WTF language did the devil and demons speak before the Roman Catholic church was established?

    /Pet Peeve Rant Off

  4. Steven Novellaon 05 Jul 2016 at 1:32 pm

    Karl – Latin sound really cool.

  5. leoneton 05 Jul 2016 at 2:09 pm

    I find it puzzling that a trained therapist would claim that “statements of astonishing venom and contempt for religion” were a piece of evidence for possession. If I’m not mistaken, that sort of momentary loss of composure is a well-characterized symptom of several psychiatric disorders. It’s not surprising that religious patients might frame their outbursts of fear and frustration in religious terms.

  6. hardnoseon 05 Jul 2016 at 2:18 pm

    No one wants to believe in evil spirits or possession, yet most cultures in all times and places have believed in spirits, good and evil. Don’t you wonder why so many people have observed similar things? Don’t you wonder why people would choose to believe things that are as likely to be terrifying as consoling?

    Only materialists/atheists deny that spirits can possibly exist. You explain away the countless observations, in all times and places, as hallucinations and delusions, or wishful thinking.

    You believe you have special information, and special ways of thinking that provide you with Truth that is only available to those who think like you. All others are delusional, gullible, ignorant, irrational.

    You actually resemble the fundamentalist Christians I know — their information is infallible, their ways of knowing are infallible, and everyone who sees things differently is a victim of delusion or wishful thinking.

  7. Steven Novellaon 05 Jul 2016 at 2:38 pm

    HN – you really need to get passed that silly cartoon you have been nursing in your mind. Never have I written anything that a reasonable person can interpret as claiming infallibility, or access to Truth.

    I did not even claim that spirits do not exist or cannot exist. I simply exposed Gallagher’s terrible logic.

    I will expose your terrible logic also, then you can rant some more against materialists. It is no surprise that many cultures invented some form of evil spirits. Unexplained bad things happen all the time. People have seizures, schizophrenia, suddenly die, have night terrors and hypnagogic hallucinations. Pre-scientific cultures would have no way of understanding these phenomena.

    I’m sure it’s more complicated than this, but my point is – belief in spirits is not compelling evidence for spirits. Belief is much more parsimoniously explained with just the human condition.

    I also do not dismiss testimony out of hand (although I do recognize its limitations). I have actually invested quite a bit of time investigating specific claims, talking to people, reviewing evidence, etc. The result of my investigations is that, whenever objective information is available, the extraordinary claims evaporate. Every time.

    Rant away.

  8. NotAMarsupialon 05 Jul 2016 at 2:42 pm

    leonet, I agree. In addition, many disorders including schizophrenia, bipolar, schizoaffective disorder, etc. can have hyper-religiosity as a symptom. So now you have someone put under great stress, is mentally ill, and is constantly preoccupied with religion. It doesn’t seem to me that it would be a surprise that their outbursts would be directed to religion in general.

  9. Fair Persuasionon 05 Jul 2016 at 2:47 pm

    The psychiatrist, Gallagher, has revealed his weak link. His mother’s fatal illness. He is most likely looking for an answer as to why bad things happen to good people. It would be useful for Gallagher to get professional counseling rather than over-relying on spiritual ministers to explain his patients. He is obviously reacting to the discord which patients spew. Not a wise thing to do.

  10. Karl Withakayon 05 Jul 2016 at 4:02 pm

    No one wants to believe in the lights that move in the sky being gods, yet most cultures in all times and places have believed in the lights that move in the sky being gods. Don’t you wonder why so many people have observed similar things? Don’t you wonder why people would choose to believe things that are as likely to be terrifying as consoling?

    Only materialists/atheists deny that the lights that move in the sky being gods can possibly be true. You explain away the countless observations, in all times and places, as hallucinations and delusions, or wishful thinking.

    You believe you have special information, and special ways of thinking that provide you with Truth that is only available to those who think like you. All others are delusional, gullible, ignorant, irrational.

    You actually resemble the fundamentalist Christians I know — their information is infallible, their ways of knowing are infallible, and everyone who sees things differently is a victim of delusion or wishful thinking.

  11. Karl Withakayon 05 Jul 2016 at 4:03 pm

    No one wants to believe in astrology, yet most cultures in all times and places have believed in some form of astrology. Don’t you wonder why so many people have observed similar things? Don’t you wonder why people would choose to believe things that are as likely to be terrifying as consoling?

    Only materialists/atheists deny that astrology can possibly be true. You explain away the countless observations, in all times and places, as hallucinations and delusions, or wishful thinking.

    You believe you have special information, and special ways of thinking that provide you with Truth that is only available to those who think like you. All others are delusional, gullible, ignorant, irrational.

    You actually resemble the fundamentalist Christians I know — their information is infallible, their ways of knowing are infallible, and everyone who sees things differently is a victim of delusion or wishful thinking.

  12. Karl Withakayon 05 Jul 2016 at 4:05 pm

    et cetera

  13. hardnoseon 05 Jul 2016 at 4:20 pm

    Ok, fair enough Steve N. I have noticed that, very often, people who have spiritual beliefs take their beliefs for granted, and often they don’t even try to be scientific.

    It is so perfectly obvious to them that spiritual realities exist, they cannot fathom why anyone would doubt it. They do not read this blog, or anything like it, and they do not wonder why some people are atheists/materialists.

    So yes, they might be credulous, at least some of the time.

    Gallagher has spent 25 years investigating possession, and I assume he has seen a lot of evidence. He is convinced, and he does not realize how skeptical some people are. He doesn’t even try, in this article, to provide good scientific evidence for what is so obvious to him.

  14. Karl Withakayon 05 Jul 2016 at 4:48 pm

    There are plenty of people who have spent 25 or more years investigating astrology, and I assume they have seen a lot of evidence…

    There are plenty of people who have spent 25 or more years investigating homeopathy, and I assume they have seen a lot of evidence…

    et cetera…

  15. hardnoseon 05 Jul 2016 at 5:42 pm

    I know that astrology and homeopathy are favorite examples for materialists. But we really have no idea if there might be some truth in either or both.

    Some correlations have been found between certain traits and the time of year when a person was born. That doesn’t validate astrology in general, but it shows that some of the ancient observations may have had a basis in reality.

    And the possibility that water can store information has not been studied much until recently. We really cannot say that homeopathy is impossible, until there is more conclusive research.

    When extremely large numbers of people observe something, there is usually at least a fragment of truth behind it. Or at least some logical reason for their beliefs. When everyone thought the earth was flat, for example, there was a good reason for their incorrect belief — the earth looks flat from our perspective. The same for the sun going around the earth — it does look that way.

    People have been communicating with beings from other worlds, or dimensions, or whatever, everywhere and always.

    Whether or not spirits are real, I think there is at least some fragment of truth behind these observations.

    The hardest thing for people to say is the thing we should actually be saying most of the time — “I really do not know.”

  16. Niche Geekon 05 Jul 2016 at 6:23 pm

    “I know that astrology and homeopathy are favorite examples for materialists. But we really have no idea if there might be some truth in either or both.”
    I know you hear this a lot on here, but “we really have no idea…” is a rather poor phrase. We have a pretty good idea that they don’t do anything. Every well controlled trial of homeopathy shows no effect. At what point does that count as having an idea?

    “Some correlations have been found between certain traits and the time of year when a person was born. That doesn’t validate astrology in general, but it shows that some of the ancient observations may have had a basis in reality.”
    What are those correlations? Would you care to cite your source? Studies show that emergency personnel believe that they are busier with the full moon. Their records show that they aren’t. Human perception is deeply flawed.

    Perhaps you’re thinking of the studies that correlate success in business and sports with birth month. Is it not much simpler to recognize that kids that are the oldest in a class are most likely the most mature (given leadership opportunities) or biggest (given a spot on the team) which is explained perfectly rationally by relative size in the school year cohort

    With your final four paragraphs you hit on a point upon which we both agree… however you seem to reject the “fragment of truth” offered by Dr. N as explaining “…away the countless observations, in all times and places, as hallucinations and delusions, or wishful thinking.” I think you do him a disservice. In this case he is not saying that the behaviour that the psychiatrist observed was hallucinated or that the psychiatrist was delusional. He’s saying that the psychiatrist misinterpreted mental illness as possession.

  17. leoneton 05 Jul 2016 at 6:28 pm

    This is not even an issue of whether spirits are real because Dr. Gallagher has barely reached the level of evidence at which we could say that there’s a phenomenon demanding explanation (other than the hearsay levitation claims). What the Doctor seems to be presenting as his best data are, at best, extreme or unusual combinations of psychiatric symptoms: rage, anxiety, involuntary outbursts and some cold-reading like insights.

    I think the simplest explanation for the doctor’s data is that he is very invested in his beliefs being validated and therefore he has taken patients that he cannot neatly fit into clinical diagnostic criteria and labeled them as demonic.

  18. reedonlyon 05 Jul 2016 at 9:05 pm

    “Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.”

  19. BillyJoe7on 06 Jul 2016 at 12:35 am

    reedonly,

    I agree. 🙂
    Lot’s of un-translatable latin sounding words thrown together randomly.

    Is there even a single example of a allegedly possessed person with no knowledge of Latin saying something allegedly in Latin that is actually translatable into English?
    No?
    Then please spare us the bv||$h!t

    At least the Jabberwocky makes some sort of sense.

  20. BillyJoe7on 06 Jul 2016 at 7:45 am

    Here is an actual case study of alleged possession written by Richard Gallagher in 2008.

    https://www.sott.net/article/151935-Among-the-Many-Counterfeits-a-Case-of-Demonic-Possession

    It seems to me he commits a sort of “god of the gaps” fallacy.
    Nearly all the cases with which he’s been involved are diagnosed with a psychiatric condition.
    The extremely rare few who he cannot label with a psychiatric diagnosis he labels as being victims of demonic possession.

  21. michaelegnoron 06 Jul 2016 at 10:44 am

    Pretty funny, Steven. You mock a physician who has had personal experience with demonic possession, accusing him of being a dupe and not a proper skeptic like you, just a few months after you post about whether we should hide from space aliens.

    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/should-we-hide-from-aliens/

    In what way are inferences about ET more rational than inferences about demons?

  22. Bill Openthalton 06 Jul 2016 at 10:49 am

    BillyJoe7 —

    It’s obvious he’s a catholic, and not just a lukewarm one. Once you truly believe in the christian god, and the teachings of the catholic church, daemons and possession are facts, and can be used to explain observed behaviour.

    It’s not so much that he uses the supernatural to explain what he feels he cannot explain with his “scientific” knowledge. He actively manufactures observations, or more accurately, interprets and augments observations in a supernatural way — the patient saying “Leave” in a low or high voice becomes an indication of daemonic involvement. As far as I know, there is no evidence that people with mental disorders only use their “normal” speaking voice, so Gallagher’s interpretation is a bit of a stretch. And obviously, once one is open to such interpretations, line noise or a crossed circuit can easily be taken for the daemonic voice.

    It’s more a case of confirmation bias.

  23. Willyon 06 Jul 2016 at 10:51 am

    Pretty sad, Dr. Egnor. Didja even read Steve’s post on aliens?

  24. Bill Openthalton 06 Jul 2016 at 10:53 am

    michaelegnor —

    ET’s existence is more plausible than Stan’s (we have proof of the existence of planets outside the solar system, but not a shed of evidence for the existence of hell 🙂 ).

  25. michaelegnoron 06 Jul 2016 at 10:54 am

    Willy:

    I read it. I ask again:

    In what way are inferences about ET more rational than inferences about demons?

  26. Bill Openthalton 06 Jul 2016 at 10:57 am

    shred. Spell checkers are useless 🙂

  27. michaelegnoron 06 Jul 2016 at 11:02 am

    Bill:

    Planets aren’t aliens. You have no evidence for aliens. Not a shred, other than UFO stories.

    Aliens are atheists’ demons. That’s why we have so many UFO stories in modern times, when atheism is ascendant. There are good and bad (angels/benevolent aliens, demons/malevolent aliens), they have powers that exceed human ability and understanding, they frighten and awe us, we think of ways to hide from them and placate them, etc.

    What’s really funny is how you insist that your demonology is “scientific”. Each religion has its dogma and its beliefs. You have yours, we have ours.

  28. mumadaddon 06 Jul 2016 at 11:08 am

    “In what way are inferences about ET more rational than inferences about demons?”

    Seriously? We have an example of a space faring technological civilization (us), and we can speculate about the implications of there being another on that detects our existence.

    We have no examples of demons, but some people speculate about them being an explanation for poorly recorded effects in poorly controlled conditions.

    And these are apparently equivalently rational?

  29. Karl Withakayon 06 Jul 2016 at 11:09 am

    michaelegnor:

    We have incontrovertible, verified, scientific evidence of (somewhat) intelligent life on at lest one planet in the universe, and there are estimated to be over 10,000 billion, billion planets in the visible universe give or take an order of magnitude.

    On the other hand, here is all the scientific evidence for the existence of demons:

  30. Karl Withakayon 06 Jul 2016 at 11:11 am

    Of course, here is all the scientific evidence that any aliens have visited the Earth:

  31. mumadaddon 06 Jul 2016 at 11:12 am

    WTF, Michael? Who here has tried to pass off ufo sightings as evidence of alien visitation?

    You are trying now to equate speculation about being detected by an alien civilization with belief in alien visitation?

  32. michaelegnoron 06 Jul 2016 at 11:18 am

    Karl:

    The Drake equation is a product of seven variables. One variable is the fraction of planets other than earth that develop life. What is that fraction?

    If you have no idea of the value of one of a series of variables in a product, you have no idea about the value of the product.

    You have no scientific estimate for the likelihood of alien life. Could be 100%, could be zero.

    You just have faith, and a very active imagination. You have your religion, which is atheism.

  33. michaelegnoron 06 Jul 2016 at 11:19 am

    muma:

    [WTF, Michael? Who here has tried to pass off ufo sightings as evidence of alien visitation?]

    The problem, muma, is that UFO sightings is the best evidence for aliens, given that you have no other evidence.

    You believe in aliens based on faith.

  34. mumadaddon 06 Jul 2016 at 11:26 am

    I neither believe nor disbelieve in “aliens”. I certainly don’t believe that we have or are being visited by intelligent aliens, because the evidence doesn’t stack up.

    Michael, if one doesn’t believe in a supernatural cause for humanity, or a cosmic importance for it, then some form of life outside this planet seems pretty likely, just given the size of the universe. But, only know what some of the necessary conditions for “our” kind of life are, and don’t really have any basis to speculate about other, completely exotic, forms.

    Does this sound at all like the cartoon you described of us atheists attributing (superficially) unexplained events to little green men?

    For shame, Michael, for shamexample…

  35. mumadaddon 06 Jul 2016 at 11:26 am

    Urgh, bloody auto-correct.

  36. michaelegnoron 06 Jul 2016 at 11:35 am

    muma:

    If you discount UFO’s, the scientific evidence for aliens is zero.

    It’s interesting to speculate. Speculation is not evidence.

    Speculation about things without evidence is faith.

  37. mumadaddon 06 Jul 2016 at 11:37 am

    So you admit that your belief in Jebus is “speculation without evidence”?

    Jolly good then.

  38. mumadaddon 06 Jul 2016 at 11:41 am

    We have no evidence that a civilization threatening asteroid is on a collision course with earth. Is it “faith” to speculate about this and attempt to build a strategy to deal with this situation should it arise?

    I have no evidence that somebody will burgle my house and steel my shit. Is it “faith” to speculate that this could happen and put in place measures to stop it?

    There are degrees of speculation, Michael. Asteroids and burglary are not equivalent, and neither are aliens and demons.

  39. michaelegnoron 06 Jul 2016 at 11:46 am

    muma:

    My faith in Christ is speculation without physical evidence, of course.

    I haven’t seen the Resurrection, Virgin Birth, etc. Hebrews 12: “Faith is… the evidence of things not seen.”

    You have faith as well. It’s hilarious how atheists prattle on about ET, without a shred of evidence, and then extol their own “skepticism”.

  40. michaelegnoron 06 Jul 2016 at 11:50 am

    muma:

    [There are degrees of speculation, Michael.]

    Belief in aliens, for which there is zero physical evidence, is pure speculation.

    You can conger an inferential chain to justify it, of course. It is an inferential chain with a very weak link (we have no idea how likely life is to arise on extraterrestrial planets, which renders the Drake equation without any credible value).

    That’s faith. Belief in aliens is just angelology/demonology in our secular/atheist culture.

  41. irenedelseon 06 Jul 2016 at 11:56 am

    Funny how the powers of Satan have decreased over centuries! Once upon a time, the devil could cause plagues, crop failure, earthquakes, or drive a whole convent of nuns to frenzy. But nowadays, he will just make mentally ill (but Christian) people say nasty things about religion, or make them levitate a little bit – not in front of cameras or skeptical observers, though. Even the Prince of Darkness has its limitations.

  42. RCon 06 Jul 2016 at 11:56 am

    ME:”Aliens are atheists’ demons. That’s why we have so many UFO stories in modern times, when atheism is ascendant. ”

    Atleast in the US, the vast majority of ‘alien sightings’ are made in areas heavily populated by poor, mostly Protestant people. The sort of places where being an Atheist gets you run out of town.

  43. mumadaddon 06 Jul 2016 at 11:56 am

    Who is prattling on about ET? You know nothing about my belief or otherwise in aliens beyond the comment above. Is this “prattling on about ET”?

    Who are you arguing with?

  44. mumadaddon 06 Jul 2016 at 12:02 pm

    Michael,

    I can accept that aliens may occupy a cultural role previously fulfilled by angels and demons. Fine. But so what? Nobody here has suggested that we’re being interfered with by aliens, so why are you trying to use it as fodder for an argument here?

  45. irenedelseon 06 Jul 2016 at 12:08 pm

    ‘Hebrews 12: “Faith is… the evidence of things not seen.”’

    Beware the faulty logic, M.E. You define faith as that wich doesn’t need proof, and then claim that any area of intellectual speculation for which there isn’t yet proof is faith. Socrates is mortal, all men are mortal, therefore all men are Socrates. And the

  46. michaelegnoron 06 Jul 2016 at 12:15 pm

    muma:

    Much of modern secular culture in the West is a religion–basically a Christian heresy.

    You have original sin (global warming, homophobia, Islamophobia, overpopulation, etc), sacraments (abortion, gay marriage, recycling), redemption (multiculturalism, reducing carbon footprints), angels and demons (aliens).

    It’s a fascinating cultural phenomenon.

    Regrettably, atheists generally lack the introspection to see it.

  47. steve12on 06 Jul 2016 at 12:16 pm

    This is a great example of why Egnor gets so little respect in the scientific community.

    1. The Dumb:

    The equating of propositions that (1) life may have arisen somewhere else in the universe with (2) the existence of goblins (or demons or whatever) is absurd. One has plausible mechanism and at least one actual occurrence. The other … speaks for itself.

    2. The Dishonest:

    Michael spins Steve’s original article to say something that it never said, and he knows it. Big Christian moralist lying (again).

    3. The Racist (and sexist, homophobe, etc., etc.):

    This isn’t really germane to my point, I just like to inform readers that Michael lives somewhere in the colonic region of a White Nationalist:

    http://egnorance.blogspot.com/2015/09/a-plug-for-great-book-sjws-always-lie.html
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Theodore_Beale

    And when pressed by me, completely embraced Beale and all of his lovely teachings:

    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/the-myths-of-vandana-shiva/

    Just want that out there so no one buys this whole ecclesiastical / morality routine.

  48. michaelegnoron 06 Jul 2016 at 12:17 pm

    irene:

    Is belief in aliens an act of faith?

  49. Karl Withakayon 06 Jul 2016 at 12:19 pm

    michaelegnor

    I didn’t bring up the Drake equation, so there’s no need to debunk it.

    I do not have faith that there is life elsewhere in the universe, and never stated that I did. I don’t believe there is life elsewhere in the universe; I believe that it is extraordinarily likely that there is life elsewhere in the universe. There’s a big difference in those two beliefs. I’m also willing to revise my position pending better and fuller information.

    I consider it more likely than not that there is life elsewhere in the universe. My scientific -estimate- for the likelihood for life elsewhere in the universe is a number greater than zero. We know that the number of planets currently harboring life in the universe is a number greater than or equal to one.

    We have evidence that life exists on at least one planet in the known universe, therefore the conditions of the universe allow for life to exist, therefore it’s at least reasonable to speculate that it may exist elsewhere, especially given the the vast size of the known universe and massive number of planets that likely exist: 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (10^21) give or take. Life would have to be extraordinarily improbable or the Earth extraordinary unique for life to not occur elsewhere in the universe. But it’s not impossible for life to exist only on Earth; it’s just likely very improbable that is the case.

    We have no credible, scientific evidence for the existence of demons or other supernatural entities, and plenty of more parsimonious explanations for phenomena attributed to such.

  50. michaelegnoron 06 Jul 2016 at 12:23 pm

    Karl,

    The likelihood of alien life depends on the likelihood of life arising on other planets.

    What is that likelihood, expressed as a fraction per planet, and what is your evidence to support that number?

  51. Noir D'Sableon 06 Jul 2016 at 12:28 pm

    Michael,

    I’ll say it again: have you even read the article by Steven, and contrasted it with what Gallagher says about Demons? The entire Novella article is framed as part of the thought experiment by Kipping and Teachy. Speculation. Nowhere does Novella say “Well, because of x from incident y we can say that…” He speaks in probabilities. The language between the two differs in that way.

    Compare (emphasis mine):

    Novella: I don’t know how to estimate the probability of and advanced alien race being benign vs hostile. We simply have no data, and any speculation is hopelessly biased by our own idiosyncratic experience.

    Gallagher: Is it possible to be a sophisticated psychiatrist and believe that evil spirits are, however seldom, assailing humans? …careful observation of the evidence presented to me in my career has led me to believe that certain extremely uncommon cases can be explained no other way… I believe I’ve seen the real thing.

    You have faith as well. It’s hilarious how atheists prattle on about ET, without a shred of evidence, and then extol their own “skepticism”.

    Ok, Atheist ≠ Skeptic. Or at least, it doesn’t necessarily equal “Skeptic”. There are plenty of atheists that believe in conspiracy theories, colon cleansing, and crop circles, like Jesse Ventura.

    I understand you’re trying to point out the supposed plank in Novella’s eye when he nags you about the speck in yours, but the two situations are simply not comparable.

  52. Noir D'Sableon 06 Jul 2016 at 12:29 pm

    Ok, never mind about the “emphasis” part — apparently underline tags don’t work here.

  53. mumadaddon 06 Jul 2016 at 12:31 pm

    Angle brackets — u /u I think.

  54. Noir D'Sableon 06 Jul 2016 at 12:34 pm

    I tried angle brackets. Bold works. So do italics. Not underline.

  55. mumadaddon 06 Jul 2016 at 12:38 pm

    “You have original sin (global warming, homophobia, Islamophobia, overpopulation, etc), sacraments (abortion, gay marriage, recycling), redemption (multiculturalism, reducing carbon footprints), angels and demons (aliens).”

    WTF is this? You have managed to overlay themes from your magic book onto society — fantastic!

    Well, what can I say about that? Maybe the bible is a well written book, with a good understanding of timeless, socially relevant themes. Or maybe you’re just seeing patterns based on what you’re familiar with. This isn’t a literary forum, Michael; I don’t know why you thought this was a worthwhile thig to say.

  56. michaelegnoron 06 Jul 2016 at 12:39 pm

    Noir:

    My point is obvious. Steven extols his own skeptical chops and mocks Gallagher for his speculation about demons, but Steven takes quite seriously speculation about space aliens.

    If you’re a psychiatrist and you speculate about demons, they call you nuts.

    If you’re an astronomer and you speculate about space aliens, they call you professor.

    Belief in demons and in space aliens entail similar chains of inference. There is no reproducible scientific (physical) evidence for either.

  57. michaelegnoron 06 Jul 2016 at 12:41 pm

    muma:

    [This isn’t a literary forum]

    You’re right. Nor will it ever be confused for one.

  58. Steven Novellaon 06 Jul 2016 at 12:47 pm

    Michael has his narrative – don’t confuse him with facts.

    I never professed a belief in aliens. I have written many articles and I am on record as being skeptical that aliens have ever visited the Earth. Some alien believers have, in fact, created a “UFO religion”.

    I never said that I believe or have faith in the notion that aliens exist somewhere in the universe. I agree that at present there is no evidence for life outside of earth.

    However – evidence for the existence of a phenomenon is different than the a priori plausibility of a phenomenon. The universe is a big place, and there is no reason to think that conditions on Earth are unique. There are likely billions of earth-like planets in our galaxy alone. So, we do not know how common life is, we do not know how common alien civilizations are. It could be zero. We don’t know.What we can say is that alien life would not break our current understanding of the laws of physics, would not require that we alter our understanding of the universe, and would not require invoking any new phenomona.

    Speculation is not faith. Belief without evidence is faith. This is an important distinction.

    Belief in alien visitation is almost non-existent among skeptics.
    Belief in the possibility of life outside of earth, in one survey, broke down by religion belief:

    55 percent of Atheists
    44 percent of Muslims
    37 percent of Jews
    36 percent of Hindus
    32 percent of Christians

    This depends on how you ask the question, of course. There is no reason to think that life outside of earth in not possible. But we also have no current evidence that it actually exists. Most surveys don’t capture that distinction.

    In any case, Michael’s narrative is utter nonsense, and he had to willfully misrepresent my position and the facts to make it.

  59. Steven Novellaon 06 Jul 2016 at 12:49 pm

    Further – Gallagher does not just speculate about the possibility of demons. He is convinced that specific patient’s are possessed by demons, and the logic he used to come to this conclusion (not just speculation) is extremely flawed, as I painstakingly pointed out. Michael addresses none of those points, because he can’t. He is shoehorning in the facts to his simplistic narrative.

  60. mumadaddon 06 Jul 2016 at 12:51 pm

    “If you’re a psychiatrist and you speculate about demons, they call you nuts.

    If you’re an astronomer and you speculate about space aliens, they call you professor.”

    OMG. These are only equivalent if you ARE a demon, who has found billions of other hells, and are speculating about whether there might be demons in any of these other hells.

  61. michaelegnoron 06 Jul 2016 at 1:02 pm

    Steven:

    In your post on aliens you made it clear that you accept the hyopthesis of alien life without batting an eye:

    “…should we fear aliens, and is such a method likely to be effective against aliens that we should fear?… I think that any alien race that would threaten the Earth would have significantly advanced technology. Interstellar travel is no easy task. It may take technology thousands of years advanced beyond where we are now. Such a race probably won’t be fooled by our wee laser. They would likely have detection methods we haven’t even considered yet, or would have ridiculously powerful telescopes.”

    If “aliens” were replaced with “demons”, would you discuss it with such equanimity?

    Why don’t you chastise astronomers who believe in aliens as you chastise psychiatrists who believe in demons?

    Some “skeptic”.

  62. mumadaddon 06 Jul 2016 at 1:15 pm

    LOL. I love this false equivalence gambit. And also the fact that you’re still swinging after waking up on the ground, when the guy who knocked you out is now home eating dinner.

    Your points have already been addressed multiple times. Time to waken up now.

  63. Steven Novellaon 06 Jul 2016 at 1:44 pm

    Michael – Look up the word “hypothetical.”

    Seriously, your sloppy thinking is just embarrassing now.

  64. michaelegnoron 06 Jul 2016 at 1:55 pm

    Steven:

    Your double standard about belief in aliens and belief in demons is pretty obvious.

    What’s equally obvious is the reason for it: belief in aliens fits your metaphysical perspective, and belief in demons doesn’t.

    The scientific evidence for aliens is the same as the scientific evidence for demons. None.

    Seems like you have a case of motivated reasoning.

    Ironic.

    😉

  65. FiveStringon 06 Jul 2016 at 1:55 pm

    I’m thrilled to see this article addressed here. I’m a subscriber to the Washington Post (home delivery of an actual newspaper – how quaint!) and when I saw this credulous nonsense as the lead story in the Outlook section I was appalled. Outlook is meant for opinion pieces, yes. But prominently featuring this tripe strikes me as quite different than an article which expresses a considered opinion about politics or current events. Thanks Dr. Novella!

  66. steve12on 06 Jul 2016 at 2:04 pm

    “Your double standard about belief in aliens and belief in demons is pretty obvious.”

    I love this “strategy”. Repeat the same nonsense over and over and simply ignore all replies.

  67. mumadaddon 06 Jul 2016 at 2:07 pm

    “What’s equally obvious is the reason for it: belief in aliens fits your metaphysical perspective, and belief in demons doesn’t”

    Yay! False equivalence from a different angle! Of course, your metaphysics allows for aliens and mine allows for demons, therefore they’re equally plausible.

  68. michaelegnoron 06 Jul 2016 at 2:40 pm

    muma:

    Neither belief in aliens nor belief in demons is supported by any credible science, in the sense of physical evidence that we ordinarily take to be necessary to hold a belief based on science.

    That doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. There has been, to my knowledge, no scientific research specifically addressing the reality of demonic possession, and no scientifc research has shown the existence of aliens.

    Yet both, or one or the other, could exist. Belief in the existence of either is a matter of metaphysical predicates and personal experience. I have no personal experience of demons or aliens, but I do believe that demons exist based on my Catholic belief and on philosophical considerations. I am agnostic about aliens. I have no idea whether they exist or not.

  69. steve12on 06 Jul 2016 at 2:45 pm

    Egnor:

    “Neither belief in aliens nor belief in demons is supported by any credible science, in the sense of physical evidence that we ordinarily take to be necessary to hold a belief based on science.”

    About 30 replies have been made to refute this point. So you’re going to just ignore them? Are you for real?

  70. mumadaddon 06 Jul 2016 at 3:04 pm

    Michael,

    It’s plausible, based on our current scientific understanding, that alien life exists somewhere in the universe.

    It is NOT plausible, based on our current scientific understanding, that demons exist.

    Science is the best epistemological system to determine the plausibility of aliens. Science is the best epistemological system to determine the plausibility of demons.

    Should we encounter apparent alien life, it will be science that we use to confirm that it is indeed alien. Should we encounter apparent demonic possession, science would be the appropriate tool to determine whether it is indeed demonic possession.

    What are you going to do with catholicism in either scenario?

  71. michaelegnoron 06 Jul 2016 at 3:15 pm

    muma:

    [It’s plausible, based on our current scientific understanding, that alien life exists somewhere in the universe.
    It is NOT plausible, based on our current scientific understanding, that demons exist.]

    It is certainly plausible that aliens exist, and it is certainly plausible that demons exist.

    Demons are disembodied intelligences. With no physical existence, the only way science could detect them is by their effect on the physical world. To my knowledge no scientific research has been carried out on that question.

    The implausibility of demons is metaphysical, if you are a materialist and deny the existence of immaterial things. That is not a scientific viewpoint, but a metaphysical viewpoint.

    You’re entitled to it. I don’t share your materialist metaphysics. But science has not addressed the existence or non-existence of demons. If you think it has, a literature reference would be appropriate.

    Science has addressed the existence of aliens. So far, there is no evidence that they exist. I think it is a worthwhile and fascinating project, but it is based on pure speculation, not on evidence of any physical sort.

  72. mumadaddon 06 Jul 2016 at 3:30 pm

    “It is certainly plausible that aliens exist, and it is certainly plausible that demons exist.”

    Only if you discard science or say that the world exists as described by science but with a bit of magic on top. Why believe in that magic?

    “Demons are disembodied intelligences.”

    Ate they now? Well, you’ve said there is no evidence, and you are speculating, so I guess this is “faith” in action.

    ” With no physical existence, the only way science could detect them is by their effect on the physical world.”

    I see. Well, when you find some effects that can’t be accounted for without appealing to Magic, call in the scientists. They can confirm the effect I guess, and look for an explanation.

    “The implausibility of demons is metaphysical, if you are a materialist and deny the existence of immaterial things.”

    What about the relationship between evidence and metaphysics? My metaphysical position is based on what can be evidenced, rather than backed into to defend my belief in a load of iron age fables.

  73. leoneton 06 Jul 2016 at 3:37 pm

    michaelegnor, we can see that you’re attempting to hijack the conversation by goading people into defending highly speculative aspects of science like aliens in order to obfuscate the fact that you have no probative evidence for the existence of immaterial things.

    If you believe that immaterial beings exist, and want to be intellectually honest about it, you should be prepared to explain why you are willing to believe some things things in the absence of evidence (demons who grapple with Catholic priests) but not everything else with similarly low evidentiary support (the Hindu pantheon, for instance).

  74. mumadaddon 06 Jul 2016 at 3:38 pm

    Leone the — aristotelian philosophy and metap

  75. mumadaddon 06 Jul 2016 at 3:39 pm

    Fecking phone! Sorry, leonet.

  76. michaelegnoron 06 Jul 2016 at 3:40 pm

    muma:

    magic (noun) (ma’jik):

    1) the belief that life arose spontaneously from inorganic matter
    2) the belief that species arose by survival of survivors
    3) the belief that the mind arises from meat
    4) the belief that the universe caused itself
    5) the belief that mathematical regularity in nature has no explanation beyond nature

    Tell me about magic, muma.

  77. mumadaddon 06 Jul 2016 at 3:47 pm

    Keep playing the false equivalence game. Ignore process and evidence, come up with some way to distract from that. Your personal incredulity about the findings of science is definitely compelling evidence to discard it all in favour of superstition.

  78. michaelegnoron 06 Jul 2016 at 3:54 pm

    leonet:

    [hijack the conversation by goading people into defending highly speculative aspects of science like aliens]

    No hijack here. Just asking the obvious question: why are aliens plausible, and demons not?

    [no probative evidence for the existence of immaterial things.]

    The laws of nature are immaterial things, as are thoughts, mathematics, logic, etc. No one without a diagnosis of autism denies the existence of immaterial things. Demons are immaterial intelligences, a kind of immaterial thing. You may not believe in demons, but the existence of immaterial things generically is obvious.

    [why you are willing to believe some things things in the absence of evidence (demons who grapple with Catholic priests)]

    There’s plenty of evidence–the experience of the priests themselves. Millions of people have had experience with demons, as they understand it. That’s massive evidence. It is anecdotal, and not obtained via the scientific method, but it’s still evidence. Most of what we know to be true is not obtained via the scientific method. That doesn’t mean it’s not evidence, and that doesn’t mean it’s not true.

    [similarly low evidentiary support (the Hindu pantheon, for instance).]

    I believe that there is a genuine level of reality to the Hindu pantheon. I believe that they are angels and demons and partly mistaken experiences of God.

  79. mumadaddon 06 Jul 2016 at 3:58 pm

    Are all the accounts of alien abductions ‘partially mistaken experiences of god’ too? What about all the people who are ‘cured’ by homeopathy?

  80. steve12on 06 Jul 2016 at 4:00 pm

    “No hijack here. Just asking the obvious question: why are aliens plausible, and demons not?”

    But then absolutely refusing to reply to the answers anyone offers to that very question.

    You’re a liar.

  81. Steven Novellaon 06 Jul 2016 at 4:03 pm

    Michael – You are not engaging. You are ignoring posts that address your claims and your logic.

    I stated outright that I make no claim that aliens exist. I do not believe in aliens. Then you use as a premise that I do believe in aliens. What should a reasonable person conclude from that?

    You use as evidence that I believe in aliens when I state outright that I don’t a hypothetical discussion about whether or not we could use lasers to disguise the detection of earth using the transit method from a perspective outside our solar system. Hypothetical discussions do not require belief in the premise.

    You confuse speculation with belief.

    You confuse empirical arguments with plausibility arguments.

    You confuse arguments based on the validity of logic with epistemological premises.

    You routinely mischaracterize the position of others, and fail to address legitimate criticisms of your arguments.

    In my experience this is all a fair representation of the creationist style of argument. You represent them well (by which I mean accurately).

  82. Steven Novellaon 06 Jul 2016 at 4:06 pm

    Now I have to add:

    You use semantic games to confuse (such as a vague and inconsistent use of the term “immaterial”).

  83. michaelegnoron 06 Jul 2016 at 4:10 pm

    Steven,

    Your posts about aliens speak for themselves. You take their existence quite seriously. I can understand why you’re backpedaling now–it’s embarrassing to be caught in such inconsistency.

    If you still maintain that you don’t believe in aliens, link to the post(s) in which you said that, and to the posts in which you criticized astronomers who believe in aliens as harshly as you criticize a psychiatrist who believes in demons.

  84. steve12on 06 Jul 2016 at 4:14 pm

    If Egnor can’t play nice, why should I?

    More on Michael’s racist pals and his love for them.

    Here’s a horrible comment from Michael Egnor’s buddy Theodore Beale re: the shooting of Malala Yousafzai by the Taliban:

    “Ironically, in light of the strong correlation between female education and demographic decline, a purely empirical perspective on Malala Yousafzai, the poster girl for global female education, may indicate that the Taliban’s attempt to silence her was perfectly rational and scientifically justifiable.”

    Now, here’s Michael Egnor not only defending Beale, but actually defending the comment:

    “I do point out that he said ‘a purely empirical perspective’, meaning he was leaving out for the moment the moral horror of the act.”

    Yeah, that happened. What a guy, read more here:
    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/the-myths-of-vandana-shiva/

  85. mumadaddon 06 Jul 2016 at 4:14 pm

    Haha, I can’t believe it!

  86. leoneton 06 Jul 2016 at 4:16 pm

    Ah, OK, so Aristotelian philosophy all around. (Thanks mumadadd; I wasn’t quite sure what you meant in your response)

    michaelegnor, I presume you can explain how you determined that your particular understanding of immaterial things is correct and others’ understanding is ‘partially mistaken’. After all, Hindu mysticism is believed by a billion people, many of whom fervently believe they encountered beings that are precisely as described by their holy scriptures.

  87. mumadaddon 06 Jul 2016 at 4:16 pm

    For clarity, my ‘I can’t believe it!’ Was a response to Michael’s last comment. What Steve12 said, I can believe — I’ve seen it before.

  88. michaelegnoron 06 Jul 2016 at 4:17 pm

    muma:

    [Are all the accounts of alien abductions ‘partially mistaken experiences of god’ too?]

    Many very credible people have seen UFO’s. I don’t think they have seen spaceships or aliens, but in many cases I think they have seen real things for which we lack an explanation.

    We have a close family friend who is a very sane rational woman (she’s a computer science teacher and an atheist, by the way). She saw a UFO while she was driving on a country road in Pennsylvania– up close, hovering over the trees, a couple hundred feet in diameter. She has no explanation, she wasn’t on drugs, she’s as down to earth and mundane a person as there is, and she says that if someone told her this she wouldn’t believe them. But she saw it, and she doesn’t know what to make of it.

    People have these experiences. I don’t think they’re experiences of aliens, but they’re experiences of something. There are more things in the world than materialism admits.

  89. mumadaddon 06 Jul 2016 at 4:23 pm

    There you go again — I ask about alien abductions and you respond as though I asked about ufo sightings… It was a fairly straight forward question, and surely you can see why, in the context of leonets question and your response, I asked about alien abductions and NOT ufo sightings.

    I’m beginning to think you’re being disingenuous. 😉

  90. NotAMarsupialon 06 Jul 2016 at 4:30 pm

    Michael, if anyone here should be embarrassed by your comments it would not be Steven.

    “If you still maintain that you don’t believe in aliens, link to the post(s) in which you said that…”

    And while you’re at it Steven, make sure you link to the posts detailing how you don’t believe in the Easter bunny, tooth fairy, and elves that make cookies in a hollowed out tree.

    “and to the posts in which you criticized astronomers who believe in aliens as harshly as you criticize a psychiatrist who believes in demons.”

    Why do they have to be equivalent? People who wander the woods looking for bigfoot are doing minimal harm. The medical hubris spouted by many true believers causes me to judge them harshly given the demonstrable harm they can inflict on some desperate and vulnerable victims.

  91. steve12on 06 Jul 2016 at 4:32 pm

    “I’m beginning to think you’re being disingenuous.”

    I guess this is what I find so annoying. I wouldn’t be a dick to Egnor or The Troll if they were just fair traders of their ideas. I have friends who think all kinds of crazy shit – but at least I know they’re being honest, or are willing to have an honest conversation with me.

  92. Steven Novellaon 06 Jul 2016 at 4:44 pm

    I do take the existence of aliens seriously, because their existence is highly plausible. It seems incredibly implausible that in the quadrillions of earth-like planets there must be in the universe that life arose only once.

    That is a plausibility argument. Aliens are plausible enough to warrant serious consideration. I even openly support SETI. That is just hypothesis testing by looking for evidence.

    This is not the same as “belief.” I don’t believe in aliens, as I don’t believe in anything that is unproven. I am agnostic toward the unknown.

    What you are persistently missing here, Michael, is that what this article is about, and what many of the comments are about, is using a valid process to investigate the world. It is not about belief, it is about process. But your world view is built on belief, and so that is the lens through which you view everything, including the positions of other people.

    You are demonstrating here such a complete inability to look beyond your own belief-based world view that many people can correct you directly, I can spell it out for you clearly and specifically, and you still cannot wrap your mind around it.

    I am not criticizing Gallagher for his belief. I am also on record as not criticizing faith or belief itself. People can believe whatever they want. I am criticizing Gallagher’s logic, which is massively flawed.

    The difference between astronomers who speculate about the possibility of aliens, and a psychiatrist who diagnoses his delusional patients with demonic possession based upon naive premises and invalid logic, is one of process. Not belief.

    I am not backpedaling. I am patiently explaining to a stubborn ideologue the difference between belief and process. But please, keep showing the world how intellectually bankrupt your position is.

  93. mumadaddon 06 Jul 2016 at 4:45 pm

    Agreed, s12.

  94. Karl Withakayon 06 Jul 2016 at 4:45 pm

    “She saw a UFO while she was driving on a country road in Pennsylvania– up close, hovering over the trees, a couple hundred feet in diameter. ” “But she saw it, and she doesn’t know what to make of it. ”

    No, that’s what she thinks she saw, and what she remembers seeing. Your accepting her story, assessment, and recollection of her experience at face value tells me you probably don’t appreciate the limitations of human perception and memory.

    “People have these experiences. I don’t think they’re experiences of aliens, but they’re experiences of something.”

    Things that more parsimoniously include optical illusions, faulty perception, and imperfect memory.

  95. Karl Withakayon 06 Jul 2016 at 4:50 pm

    We have good, plausible, scientific explanations for all verifiable phenomena attributed to demons.

    Demons are unneeded and unsupported, implausible hypothesis.

    When you see hoof prints, think horses probably, or at least things we know exist that produce hoof prints, not magical, winged, three headed unicorns that fart rainbows and have laser vision.

  96. hardnoseon 06 Jul 2016 at 6:35 pm

    “Demons are disembodied intelligences. With no physical existence, the only way science could detect them is by their effect on the physical world. To my knowledge no scientific research has been carried out on that question.”

    I don’t know if they are really disembodied, they just don’t have bodies made out of the kind of substances we are familiar with here in this world.

    Gary Schwarz has done research on spirits, which I guess are the same kind of thing as demons. He found plenty of evidence for them.

  97. Bill Openthalton 06 Jul 2016 at 6:39 pm

    michaelegnor —
    You asked why speculating about ET is more rational than speculating about satan. It is more rational because we can observe planets (where ETs could live) orbiting numerous stars, whereas we have no evidence at all for hell, where satan is purported to dwell. Some evidence vs. No evidence = more rational. Simple, really.

  98. michaelegnoron 06 Jul 2016 at 7:06 pm

    [That is a plausibility argument. Aliens are plausible enough to warrant serious consideration. I even openly support SETI. That is just hypothesis testing by looking for evidence.]

    Of course aliens are plausible. As are demons. We don’t know if either exist, but there is no logical contradiction in either. Living things may exist on other planets, and immaterial intelligences may exist. I openly support SETI as well. It is fascinating, and even if no aliens are found, there is spin-off science that may be of value.

    What I don’t support is the assertion that we can quantify the likelihood that aliens exist. We don’t know the variables–the fraction of extraterrestrial planets on which life arose, the likelihood that the life will evolve intelligence, etc. We don’t know how life arose on earth, so there is no way we can calculate chances elsewhere. If there are a quadrillion earth-like planets, but the likelihood of life arising elsewhere is one in a quadrillion quadrillion, then alien life is very unlikely. We don’t know the numbers. Humility is a good thing in science.

    So the statement “life elsewhere is possible” is true and can serve as a basis for science. The statement “it seems incredibly implausible that in the quadrillions of earth-like planets there must be in the universe that life arose only once.” is a belief without any basis in science. It may be true, or false, and of course you are entitled to your belief. It differs not at all from the statement “I believe that demons regularly possess souls”. Both are metaphysical viewpoints. Actually the belief about demons is more credible, because many people have actually had experiences with demons, whereas no one has had an experience of extraterrestrial life (discounting UFOs).

    Regarding Gallagher, I don’t know if he’s right or wrong. Neither do you. I defer to his experiences, and his professional knowledge. After all, he’s the psychiatrist treating the patients, not you. Your insistence that he’s wrong, in the absence of any personal knowledge of the patients on your part, is merely your insistence on applying your personal metaphysical viewpoint that demons don’t exist to another physicians work, and disguising it as science.

    Your denial of Gallagher’s actual clinical observations, particularly in light of your credulous science-free assertion that the likelihood of aliens is high, is amusing.

  99. michaelegnoron 06 Jul 2016 at 7:11 pm

    My comment above is addressed to Steven.

  100. michaelegnoron 06 Jul 2016 at 7:36 pm

    Steven,

    On the issue of process, you have a point. SETI is respectable process, even if astronomers say grossly unprofessional and unscientific things about the likelihood of the existence of aliens.

    There is no credible scientific research that I am aware of on demonic possession. What there is, is anecdotal, like Gallagher’s work. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong, but it could certainly be done better.

    Perhaps if materialists (you know who I’m talking about) stopped shaming and slamming fellow physicians and scientists who don’t swallow the materialistic myth, some research funding and academic respectability would be available to researchers who wanted to address questions about whether, for example, there were aspects to severe mental illness that transcended organic causation.

    You are hardly in a position to complain about hampered research when you systematically try to destroy the reputation of people who don’t share your materialist bias.

  101. Ivan Groznyon 06 Jul 2016 at 8:34 pm

    There is one additional element here that Steve Novella did not mention: let’s assume the patients are not mentally ill in the conventional sense, and can speak Latin in a trans, and know the details about other people’s lives and levitate and all the rest. What would that exactly prove? Only that there are some interesting new phenomena that current science is not yet able to explain. Not that they are “possessed by demons”.

    “Demonic possession” seems to be a very common concept in many societies, both civilised and primitive, used to “explain” strange behaviours that resemble the modern definitions of madness or “mental illness”. In many primitive societies, the exorcism are performed by shamans in monotheistic religious societies by priests. In Islam they have even written pieces of paper issued by religious authorities “Hodjas” believed to protect against demonic possessions. All of these various sorts people have different and sometimes irreconcilable interpretations of demons and demonic possessions. Yet, somehow, “demons” seem to mysteriously obey the commands of all these figures of authority in given societies, irrespective of their disparate theories about them. Aren’t we to expect that say, all non-Catholic exorcists would be completely unsuccessful, since their doctrines about demons are wrong? Isn’t it weird that demons equally fear “attacks” by an Eastern orthodox priest in the Old Church Slavonic, a Catholic one in Latin as well as, horror of horrors, of an Islamic “heathen” delivered in Arabic? And equally are helpless before the Comanche or Sioux shamans who don’t believe in any God to begin with, even less in demons as “fallen angels”, but rather in “happy hunting ground” and spirits of plants and animals? Or how about demons in India who were created out of Brahma’s breath when he was asleep? Are all these demons the same? If not, how come they “behave” in the same way?

    Galagher’s theory, to borrow a famous phrase, is “not even wrong”. it’s not a theory at all, but a a prejudice masquerading as a theory. And all this does not mean that “demons” do not exist, or that people described as “possessed by demons” are just mental patients. It means however, that if Galagher believes that they are NOT standard mental patients he needs a more intelligent and falsifiable theory about what they are! Not parroting Catholic catechism! Just as in many other areas, intellectually lazy people are providing their preferred, petty, knee-jerk, self-interested, ideological-religious- “answers” before defining rigorously – what is the question?

  102. michaelegnoron 06 Jul 2016 at 9:12 pm

    Ivan:

    I agree. Those are the kind of questions that should be asked if the question of demonic possession is to be addressed in scientific study. It would seem reasonable to first ask if some patients are capable of acts that exceed ordinary human capability–speaking languages not known to the individual, knowledge not obtainable by ordinary means, levitation, etc. Either such things happen, or they don’t, and well designed studies would help answer the questions.

    It seems to me that Gallagher is not engaging in a well-designed scientific study, but is rather reporting his clinical experiences, a series of cases, which is a well established, if scientifically less rigorous, method in medical research. He is, after all, retained by the Catholic Church to evaluate psychiatric patients and exclude those who do not have an organic psychiatric diagnosis, and it’s no surprise that he hews to a Catholic interpretation of the disorders of those patients the Church deems possessed.

    But you’re right about the science and the need for genuine scientific study. Such study is beginning in the Near Death Experience field (the AWARE study and the Atlanta study), hopefully it will be done in cases of apparent possession as well.

    Whether such studies confirm or disconfirm ‘possession’, they would be of great value and interest, if they are designed properly.

  103. leoneton 06 Jul 2016 at 10:45 pm

    egnor:
    “It seems to me that Gallagher is not engaging in a well-designed scientific study, but is rather reporting his clinical experiences, a series of cases, which is a well established, if scientifically less rigorous, method in medical research.”

    Actually, he is not even doing that correctly. If you examine the article that # BillyJoe7 posted earlier in this thread, you’ll see that many of the extraordinary phenomena like levitation and clairvoyance were reported to him by other members of the “exorcism team” which is composed primarily of priests and nuns. Also, the phenomena allegedly occur during hours-long rituals that would be expected to increase the suggestibility of both the patients and the observers. I doubt a reputable medical journal would accept a case series that is 60% hearsay.

    Nonetheless, you still seem unable to address the question of how you determined that one (Catholic) interpretation of this immaterial world is more correct than the myriad of others. How could you even refute the Scientologists’ claims that mental problems are due to repressed memories of aliens from an ancient galactic empire?

  104. ccbowerson 07 Jul 2016 at 12:52 am

    “Demons are disembodied intelligences. With no physical existence, the only way science could detect them is by their effect on the physical world. To my knowledge no scientific research has been carried out on that question.”

    How can something with no physical existence (whatever that means) have an effect on the physical world. What would be a mechanism for this? It is an incoherent concept. If something can affect the material world, how can it not have material existence?

  105. ccbowerson 07 Jul 2016 at 1:02 am

    “People have these experiences. I don’t think they’re experiences of aliens, but they’re experiences of something. There are more things in the world than materialism admits.”

    Somehow you think that your anecdote about your friend seeing a UFO and having no good explanation for what she saw shows a limitation of materialism? How so?

    Are you concluding this was a ghost UFO with ghost aliens? What I learned from this anecdote is that you are so motivated to believe in the supernatural that anything that is unexplained, to you, is evidence of the existence of the supernatural.

    Also, you love to make false equivalences, so you can feel justified in maintaining unjustified belief. The people here do not necessarily “believe” in alien life anymore than they “believe” that there are billions and billions of planets outside of our solar system.

    No, we haven’t seen them, but we have good reasons to think they exist and the more we look, then more we see. It was not faith, prior to 1988 when the first exoplanet was discovered, to believe that exoplanets very likely existed. Now, decades later, we have discovered a few thousand. These are rational inferences with limited data. You are spouting irrational inferences with zero data.

  106. michaelegnoron 07 Jul 2016 at 6:16 am

    ccbowers:

    [How can something with no physical existence (whatever that means) have an effect on the physical world.]

    Laws of nature.

  107. BillyJoe7on 07 Jul 2016 at 6:41 am

    The “Laws of Nature” have…wait for it…no physical existence!

    In other words, they are, apparently, not part of the natural/physical/material world.
    (Presumably, they must be part of the alleged supernatural/nonphysical/immaterial world!)

    Funny thing is…I clearly remember reading about them in the natural/physical/material world in which I live. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, I have even heard ME, who is well and truly ensconced in this natural/physical/material world, refer to them also. So clearly they ARE part of our natural/physical/material world.

    If you were to label two boxes “natural/physical/material” and “supernatural/nonphysical/immaterial”, in which box would you put the “Laws of Physics”?

  108. Bill Openthalton 07 Jul 2016 at 7:43 am

    michaelegnor —

    Those are the kind of questions that should be asked if the question of demonic possession is to be addressed in scientific study.

    You cannot address the “question of demonic possession” before addressing the question of the existence of demons — and it would seem that by your definition, their existence cannot be proved scientifically (they are a matter of faith, remember). Reports of the existence of demons are just as credible as reports on the existence of bigfoot. We know people claim to have seen them, and even if one doesn’t question their honesty, this is not scientific proof of the existence of what they think to have seen (which is influenced by their beliefs). Honesty doesn’t preclude misinterpreting natural phenomena, or hallucinations.

    How is scientific proof of the existence of (christian) demons/devils more feasible than scientific proof of the existence of the christian god? Is it made easier by their lack of omnipotence? If the existence of devils can be proved (is not a matter of faith), would that mean believing in god is no longer a matter of faith?

    It would seem reasonable to first ask if some patients are capable of acts that exceed ordinary human capability–speaking languages not known to the individual, knowledge not obtainable by ordinary means, levitation, etc. Either such things happen, or they don’t, and well designed studies would help answer the questions.

    How would you create an experiment that can be replicated? The best one can do is assess claims of, for example, xenoglossia and evaluate if the subject was really proficient in a language they had no prior exposure to. This rules out English, because nowadays almost everyone knows a smattering of English thanks to movies and songs. It also rules out evaluations by observers who are not fluent in the target language. It also requires a serious investigation into the background of the person — it’s not because an acquaintance believes there was no prior contact with the language that this is indeed the case. It turns out that there are no verified cases of xenoglossia.

    If you think possession by demons can be the subject of a “well-designed study”, how do you justify your reliance on faith for your belief in your god?

  109. BillyJoe7on 07 Jul 2016 at 7:48 am

    BO: “It turns out that there are no verified cases of xenoglossia”

    That’s my understanding as well.
    Maybe hn or me could provide a link to counter that claim.
    And, while you’re at it, one for levitation also please.

  110. ccbowerson 07 Jul 2016 at 7:54 am

    So the laws of nature explain how the supernatural interact with the material world? Yet if they were really laws of ‘nature,’ then what you are calling supernatural would be ‘natural.” Your argument is incoherent. How do the law of nature explain what happens outside of nature? It is a direct contradiction.

  111. Steven Novellaon 07 Jul 2016 at 8:13 am

    Michael – You continue to mischaracterize my position.

    I never said that the likelihood of aliens is high. I have said that this is unknown. You brought up the Drake equation, no one here did. I have written about the Drake equation, it is a thought experiment. There are no credible figures to plug into the equation, only educated guesses.

    My only position is that it is unlikely life is unique to earth in all the universe. You would have to think that life is incredibly improbable for that to be the case. As evidence against that notion is the fact that life arose on earth very soon after conditions made it possible. Sure, this is still an N of 1, but if we are talking probabilities this is a reasonable inference.

    You continue to make a false equivalence between aliens and demons. There is a massive difference you ignore, despite the fact that it has been pointed out to you numerous times. Alien life does not require any new phenomena. We know life exists, and we know conditions conducive to life exist elsewhere in the universe, as to the raw material for life. It would be curious if there were no other life. We would have to explain why earth is unique.

    Demons, on the other hand, are an entirely new phenomenon not explained by known laws. You insist this is pure materialist metaphysics, but that is nonsense. It has not been established that intelligence can exist without physical substance, or that non material entities can even exist let alone affect the physical world. Nor has it been established that demons exist as a particular example of such non material entities.

    Finally, I have never tried to ruin anyone’s reputation. If some publishes an opinion piece in a major news outlet they are fair game for public scrutiny of their claims. I have not attacked Gallagher personally. I examined his poor logic. That is it. It is very telling, however, that you cannot tell the difference.

  112. hardnoseon 07 Jul 2016 at 10:24 am

    “It has not been established that intelligence can exist without physical substance, or that non material entities can even exist let alone affect the physical world.”

    If information is the basic substance that the universe is made of — and I, and many others, believe it is — then there is no reason to deny the possibility of intelligence existing apart from what we think of as “physical substance.”

    You materialists never say what you mean by “physical substance” anyway. Is light a substance? Is gravity?

    Before modern physics, everyone assumed that the “physical” world is what we perceive with our physical senses. Now we know that assumption is is wrong. But materialist philosophy has not evolved along with scientific knowledge.

    Intelligent beings that are not made of the “physical substance” that we perceive with our physical substances have been encountered in all times and places. They have been perceived by sane, rational, intelligent people, not just by the gullible or the psychotic.

  113. Karl Withakayon 07 Jul 2016 at 10:35 am

    “Actually the belief about demons is more credible, because many people have actually had experiences with demons, whereas no one has had an experience of extraterrestrial life (discounting UFOs)”

    So your position is that no one has had any experiences with aliens except those who claim to have had experiences with aliens (who don’t count for some reason), but people have had experiences with demons because people claim to have had experiences with demons (and they do count for some reason), is that about right?

    That’s a pretty casual dismissal of UFOs while accepting demons. On what basis do you accept the reported experiences that people claim they have actually had with demons and not those that people claim they have actually had with UFOs?

    The quality of evidence for both is pretty much the same, and aliens have better prior plausibility within our understanding of the physics of the universe.

    How are we supposed to know if demons are really aliens we are mistaking for demons or if aliens are really demons we are mistaking for aliens or if people are really engaging in tooth fairy science mistaking more mundane phenomena for aliens and demons?

  114. Karl Withakayon 07 Jul 2016 at 10:37 am

    “It seems to me that Gallagher is not engaging in a well-designed scientific study, but is rather reporting his clinical experiences, a series of cases, which is a well established, if scientifically less rigorous, method in medical research”

    Gallagher is engaging in Tooth Fairy Science.

  115. michaelegnoron 07 Jul 2016 at 10:47 am

    I agree with hardnose.

    Steven,

    [It has not been established that intelligence can exist without physical substance]

    Intelligence, understood in Aristotelian terms as contemplation of universals, cannot arise from a physical substance. It must be immaterial.

    [or that non material entities can even exist]

    Mathematics is the study of non-material entities (numbers). Universals (justice, love, mercy, …) are non-material entities.

    Of course non-material entities exist. The form in which they exist (Platonic, Aristotelian, or Nominalist) is open to debate. Their existence is not open to debate.

    Materialism blinds you.

  116. mumadaddon 07 Jul 2016 at 10:54 am

    I’m off to get some popcorn — this is hilarious!

  117. mumadaddon 07 Jul 2016 at 11:08 am

    “Intelligence, understood in Aristotelian terms as contemplation of universals, cannot arise from a physical substance.”

    Michael,

    Ever heard the expression, “You brought a knife to a gun fight”?

    You brought a rusty old cannon to a nuclear war, sir. Give me a reason to care, in 2016, what Aristotle thought about consciousness.

  118. Bill Openthalton 07 Jul 2016 at 11:12 am

    hardnose —

    If information is the basic substance that the universe is made of — and I, and many others, believe it is — then there is no reason to deny the possibility of intelligence existing apart from what we think of as “physical substance.”

    You materialists never say what you mean by “physical substance” anyway. Is light a substance? Is gravity?

    Have you defined what “basic substance” (see above) means for dualists like you?

    Information does not exist by itself, it needs a medium to exist. Take away the medium, and the information it contained — as an arrangement and/or state of particles (at all levels of the hierarchy of particles; even an arrangement of humans can be used to represent information) — also disappears. As far as I know, there is no such thing as “naked information”, i.e. information without a medium.

    Actually, us materialists are quite specific about “physical substance”; that’s what physics and chemistry are about. FYI, light is composed of photons and is a substance (even though it is massless). But light is also a wave, like gravity (which could be mediated by gravitons, for which we have only indirect proof in gravitational waves).

  119. hardnoseon 07 Jul 2016 at 12:23 pm

    I am not a dualist.

    “light is composed of photons and is a substance (even though it is massless). But light is also a wave, like gravity (which could be mediated by gravitons, for which we have only indirect proof in gravitational waves).”

    Attaching words to something does not cause it to be a substance. Light is a substance just because the word “photon” has been attached to it? Light is a substance because it’s a wave? A wave needs a substance it can be a wave in? What is the substance that light waves in?

    Yes, sure, information needs a substance. But the substance doesn’t have to be one of the substances physics happens to have observed.

    Physics has, naturally enough, focused on those things we observe in the world of our “physical” senses. And then of course it went beyond that as instruments have been developed for observing things that our senses cannot perceive.

  120. mumadaddon 07 Jul 2016 at 12:30 pm

    When is Ian Wardell arriving? That harpsichord ain’t gonna play itself!

  121. steve12on 07 Jul 2016 at 1:20 pm

    “When is Ian Wardell arriving? That harpsichord ain’t gonna play itself!”

    HA! Yes, that’s the appropriate instrument. Rock Harspsichord…love it!

  122. Willyon 07 Jul 2016 at 1:30 pm

    Good grief!! This is better than the Marx Brothers. It surely gives insight into the existence of organizations like the Discovery Institute. I’d mention names, but one person herein once hinted at a lawsuit.

    Pass the popcorn and Raisinettes.

  123. mumadaddon 07 Jul 2016 at 1:31 pm

    It’s like piano, but appropriately pompous. 🙂

  124. BillyJoe7on 07 Jul 2016 at 3:23 pm

    Apparently mathematics and love are….wait for it….supernatural! 😀

  125. Steven Novellaon 07 Jul 2016 at 3:32 pm

    Love the semantic contortions – just call concepts “entities”, and then make vague use of the term “exist.”

    I guess anything I can imagine “exists” – as a concept in my brain.

    Utter drivel.

  126. mumadaddon 07 Jul 2016 at 3:58 pm

    (:

  127. mumadaddon 07 Jul 2016 at 3:59 pm

    BJ7,

    Your smilie looks happier than mine — how’d you do that?

  128. mumadaddon 07 Jul 2016 at 4:00 pm

    :))

  129. ccbowerson 07 Jul 2016 at 4:08 pm

    “I agree with hardnose.”

    I don’t think anything needs to be added here.

    “Mathematics is the study of non-material entities (numbers). Universals (justice, love, mercy, …) are non-material entities. Of course non-material entities exist. The form in which they exist (Platonic, Aristotelian, or Nominalist) is open to debate. Their existence is not open to debate.”

    Saying that something is ‘not open to debate’ is an indicator of ideology and suggests unwarranted intellectual hubris. You are confusing yourself with a semantic game of calling concepts entities and concluding that they exist in a metaphysical sense.

    By this faulty reasoning, the very existence of language is evidence of non-material as we can talk about all sorts of concepts and they poof into existence. ‘Justice,’ ‘Love,’ and ‘mercy’ exist in the same way that any word imparts meaning to humans. They are human language constructs that help us make sense of things due to how our brains work.

    You think that means that they are parts of our universe, yet do you feel the same way about ‘digestion’ or ‘stupidity.’ Actually, I’m becoming increasingly convinced that the latter does actually exist. I joke.

  130. Bill Openthalton 07 Jul 2016 at 4:42 pm

    ccbowers —

    That old Einstein quip: I know two things that are infinite, the universe and human stupidity. But I have my doubts about the universe.

    hardnose —

    You’re trolling in the most obvious and unsubtle fashion. Nonetheless, even you should know that our knowledge of photons, other elementary particles and their behaviour is the basis for the technology you use to read these messages. It’s not merely “attaching words to something” — that’s the prerogative of philosophy.

  131. ccbowerson 07 Jul 2016 at 4:46 pm

    If I had to pinpoint a commonality between HN and ME besides a desire to believe in the immaterial, it is that they seem to find certain experiences compelling simply because they are common among humans. As a group, we experience “love,” perceive “justice,” think in dualist terms, think in essentialist ways, so they are convinced that this is evidence for how the universe actually is.

    Yet we all literally have visual blindspots and tend to think our perceptions are accurate when they are constructs of our brain. And we piece all of this together with the limited data from our senses (which can access only a tiny fraction of our surroundings). They are too easily compelled by these perceptions.

    In other words, our conclusions about the existence of “love,” “justice,” etc. are mere evidence of how humans perceive the world, not necessarily how the world actually is. The concept of justice” is not a feature of the universe any more than the concept of “digestion” or the “blind spot.” Only when we systematically formalize a process of evaluating the universe and systematically test our models do we begin to understand the nature of the universe.

    Demons are not a serious area of study in physics or biology, because they are products of the human mind, so literature and perhaps psychology are more apt to address them.

  132. hardnoseon 07 Jul 2016 at 4:52 pm

    “even you should know that our knowledge of photons, other elementary particles and their behaviour is the basis for the technology you use to read these messages.”

    Your logic circuits are malfunctioning. I never said that light is not real, or that photons are not real. I said that if you are going to call these things “material substances,” then you really have no sensible definition of “matter” or “substance.” You said information needs a substance, and I asked what is the substance that light waves vibrate in, and of course you have no answer.

  133. hardnoseon 07 Jul 2016 at 4:56 pm

    Gary Schwartz actually has a device that enables spiritual entities to communicate with humans. No he is not a nut, he is a highly qualified researcher.

    The wikipedia article on him tried to dredge up any negative thing it could find about him, but there really is not much. He is a real scientist who studies spirits. Probably not demons, but I guess they similar kinds of things.

  134. BillyJoe7on 07 Jul 2016 at 4:56 pm

    mumadadd, : followed by D 😀

  135. BillyJoe7on 07 Jul 2016 at 5:16 pm

    “Light is a substance just because the word “photon” has been attached to it?”

    Apparently, a photon registering its presence on a photographic plate is an example of the supernatural communicating with the natural. 😀

    These guys are so funny.

  136. Bill Openthalton 07 Jul 2016 at 5:25 pm

    hardnose —

    Your logic circuits are malfunctioning.

    The irony, it burns.

    I never said that light is not real, or that photons are not real. I said that if you are going to call these things “material substances,” then you really have no sensible definition of “matter” or “substance.” I asked what is the substance that light waves vibrate in, and of course you have no answer.

    You did nothing of the sort. You said, and I quote:

    You materialists never say what you mean by “physical substance” anyway. Is light a substance? Is gravity?

    I told you materialists tell you exactly what they mean when they talk about physical substances. And I told you that light and gravity are indeed part of the physical world, even if they are difficult to understand — like light not needing a “substance to vibrate in” (FYI, waves are not physical — they are a mathematical description of the coordinated behaviour of particles).

    Why would elementary particles that combine to form larger particles, that combine to form even larger structures, that again combine to form compounds, that combine to form cells, that combine to form organisms, that combine to form societies not be a sensible definition of matter?

    If information is the basic substance that the universe is made of — and I, and many others, believe it is — then there is no reason to deny the possibility of intelligence existing apart from what we think of as “physical substance.”

    What is not sensible is claiming that “information is the basic substance the universe is made of” when at the same time suggesting information is not material. If muons and gluons and bosons are made of “information”, then information is just as much part of the combinatorial chain that builds your body, and hence just as physical. Information is remarkable because it’s independent of the medium that holds it — hence Microsoft’s foray into using DNA to store the mostly useless information generated by billions of people (you’re not alone!) spouting nonsense on the Internetz.

  137. hardnoseon 07 Jul 2016 at 5:37 pm

    I never said information is not material. If we define the word material to mean anything whatsoever that exists, then fine information is material.

    Information is real, and I believe it is the foundation of all that exists.

    You materialists believe that information, intelligence, is the result of long series of accidents that caused animals with brains to evolve, and intelligence is somehow churned out by those brains.

    I of course disagree with that, and I believe that information, intelligence, is the cause of life and evolution.

    Those vibrations we call light that vibrate in nothingness — are you sure you want to call that “matter?”

    Those elementary particles that consist mostly of empty space and some kind of organized relationships that no one understands — are you sure they are just little pieces of “matter?”

  138. Bill Openthalton 07 Jul 2016 at 5:50 pm

    Gary Schwartz actually has a device that enables spiritual entities to communicate with humans. No he is not a nut, he is a highly qualified researcher.
    The wikipedia article on him tried to dredge up any negative thing it could find about him, but there really is not much. He is a real scientist who studies spirits. Probably not demons, but I guess they similar kinds of things.

    Gary is a serious, fully burnished nutcase. Just read his 2007 article “Anomalous Information Reception by Research Mediums Demonstrated Using a Novel Triple-Blind Protocol”
    http://www.deanradin.com/evidence/Beischel2007.pdf (It was originally published in “Explore”; Elsevier want $12 for the privilege of reading the full article for 24 hours even though its co-editor Dean Radin(*) has a free PDF) to see how truly nuts he is.

    The Wikipedia article on Gary is quite mild.

    (*)He of the “sense of being stared at”.

  139. Bill Openthalton 07 Jul 2016 at 5:57 pm

    hardnose —

    You materialists believe that information, intelligence, is the result of long series of accidents that caused animals with brains to evolve, and intelligence is somehow churned out by those brains.
    I of course disagree with that, and I believe that information, intelligence, is the cause of life and evolution.

    Aha! You are a closet creationist.

    I wish you happy delusions.

  140. Karl Withakayon 07 Jul 2016 at 6:03 pm

    “Those elementary particles that consist mostly of empty space and some kind of organized relationships that no one understands […]”

    Where is it established that -elementary- particles (quarks, leptons, gauge bosons + Higgs) consist of mostly empty space? Atoms for sure consist of mostly empty space.

    I don’t believe we have any knowledge of the substructure of elementary particles to be able to say they consist of mostly empty space.

  141. Willyon 07 Jul 2016 at 8:02 pm

    :«)

  142. Willyon 07 Jul 2016 at 8:48 pm

    It is with a mixture of humor, horror, and disbelief that I read Dr. Egnor’s “interpretation” of Dr. Novella’s position on alien life. I’ll be charitable and assume he is sincere, but…WTF!!!!!!!!!! How can someone with the ability to go far enough to become a neurosurgeon be so … I’ll leave it unsaid. I do understand that a surgeon is not a scientist, indeed, is roughly equivalent to a “super-mechanic”, but, good grief, the years of study, the effort, the dedication, the ability to think clearly under pressure… And yet it all yields to “us vs them”. Apparently, Dr. Novella isn’t a believer, so he must be wrong on most counts.

    I repeat, how can Dr. Novella’s position on alien life be twisted into the assertions, er, fantastical interpretations, of Dr. Egnor. Between humor, horror, and disbelief, I’ll choose to laugh.

    Hey! What was that?? Did a demon just pass behind me? Hey, my dog is acting oddly. Her eyes are glowing. Oh no, they’re GREEN!!!!! Aaarrrrgggggg.

  143. hardnoseon 07 Jul 2016 at 11:04 pm

    “The Wikipedia article on Gary is quite mild.”

    Yes it is, because they could not find much to criticize him for. He is a real scientist who just happens to study spirits.

  144. hardnoseon 07 Jul 2016 at 11:05 pm

    “I don’t believe we have any knowledge of the substructure of elementary particles to be able to say they consist of mostly empty space.”

    Ok, whatever, the point is we don’t know what they “consist” of and the philosophy of materialism makes no sense.

  145. hardnoseon 07 Jul 2016 at 11:08 pm

    “Aha! You are a closet creationist.”

    I am not hiding anything. I have said here many times that I believe the universe is alive and intelligent, and that life did not fall together by a long series of haphazard accidents.

    If you want to call that creationism, fine, but it has nothing to do with the creation myth of the Judeo-Christian bible.

  146. BillyJoe7on 08 Jul 2016 at 12:21 am

    “I believe that information, intelligence, is the cause of life and evolution”

    How do we explain the existence of intelligence?
    No need…
    Intelligence is, was, and always will be!

    The new god of the gaps 😀

  147. Bill Openthalton 08 Jul 2016 at 12:25 am

    hardnose —
    You want to be something special. If not made in god’s image, than with your intelligence so special it’s the core of the universe. With special magical powers to rule it, and living forever (even if it has to be, to quote your pal Gary, as a discarnate). Scientology would be a good haven. Give it a try, they like credulous folk.

  148. mumadaddon 08 Jul 2016 at 2:06 am

    Hahahahahaha! I ate all my popcorn and fell asleep before it even started but oh well, it was still hilarious!

  149. ccbowerson 08 Jul 2016 at 3:02 am

    One is motivated to argue in a god of the gaps, and the other, apparently, intelligence of the gaps.

    Whatever it takes to maintain unsupported beliefs, I guess. The irony is that both ME and HN are among the first to attribute ideological motivation to others. Classic use of projection as a defense mechanism. Freud wasn’t too far off with that idea.

  150. BillyJoe7on 08 Jul 2016 at 7:24 am

    “I believe the universe is alive and intelligent”

    Oh yeah…
    I believe the universe is alive and in telligent
    I be lieve the uni verse is a live and in telly gent
    Eye be leave da yuni verse is a life end in telly gent

    “and that life did not fall together by a long series of haphazard accidents”

    Oh dear…
    .life. did. not. fall. to. get. her. by. a. long. ser. ies. of. hap. haz. ard. ac. ci. dents.
    life did not falltogether by a longseriesofhaphazardaccidents
    lifedidnotfalltogetherbyalongseriesofhaphazardaccidents

  151. BillyJoe7on 08 Jul 2016 at 7:31 am

    Monkberry moon delight

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrthE_waCV8

    So I sat in the attic, a piano up my nose
    And the wind played a dreadful cantata
    Sore was I from a crack of an enemy’s hose
    And the horrible sound of tomato

    Catch up super fury
    Don’t get left behind
    Catch up super fury
    Don’t get left behind

    When a rattle of rats had awoken
    The sinews, the nerves and the veins
    My piano was boldly outspoken
    In attempts to repeat this refrain

    So I stood with a knot in my stomach
    And I gazed at that terrible sight
    Of two youngsters concealed in a barrel
    Smoking monkberry moon delight
    Monkberry moon delight

    Well, I know my banana is older than the rest
    And my hair is a tangled beretta
    But I leave my pajamas to billy budapest
    And I don’t get the gist of your letter

    Catch up, cats and kittens
    Don’t get left behind
    Catch up, cats and kittens
    Don’t get left behind

    Oh, monkberry moon delight, yeah, (om pah om pah pah)
    Monkberry moon delight (om pah om pah pah)
    Monkberry moon delight (om pah om pah pah)
    Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh (om pah om pah pah)
    Monkberry moon delight, yeah, yeah, yeah, (om pah om pah pah)
    Monkberry moon delight, (om pah om pah pah)
    Oh, monkberry moon delight (om pah om pah pah)
    Oh, monkberry moon delight (om pah om pah pah)
    Monkberry moon delight oh-oh, (om pah om pah pah)
    Monkberry moon delight (om pah om pah pah)
    Suckin’ monkberry moon delight (om pah om pah pah)
    (Om pah om pah pah)
    (Om pah om pah pah)
    Monkberry moon delight (om pah om pah pah)
    (Om pah om pah pah)
    Monkberry moon delight, (om pah om pah pah)
    (om pah om pah pah)
    Monkberry moon delight (om pah om pah pah)
    Monkberry moon delight oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
    (om pah om pah pah)
    Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
    (om pah om pah pah)

    Try some of this, honey (om pah om pah pah)
    What is it? (om pah om pah pah)

    Monkberry moon delight, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah
    (Om pah om pah pah)
    Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah
    (Om pah om pah pah)
    Monkberry moon delight (om pah om pah pah)
    Uh, monkberry moon delight (om pah om pah pah)
    Monkberry moon delight (om pah om pah pah)
    Monkberry moon delight na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na

  152. BillyJoe7on 08 Jul 2016 at 7:33 am

    ^credit to tmac 😀

  153. Karl Withakayon 08 Jul 2016 at 10:26 am

    “Ok, whatever, the point is we don’t know what they “consist” of and the philosophy of materialism makes no sense.”

    In other words, don’t let the fact that you didn’t know what you were talking about in that comment detract from the supposed validity of the comment.

  154. hardnoseon 08 Jul 2016 at 10:41 am

    The point of the comment was that “matter” is not made out of “matter” and the materialist philosophy makes no sense. And no one here has ever replied to that in any kind of logical way.

  155. mumadaddon 08 Jul 2016 at 10:51 am

    Maybe you should write to the king of materialism and ask him to change the definition of ‘matter’ so that it better aligns with your intuitions.

  156. hardnoseon 08 Jul 2016 at 12:54 pm

    mumadadd,

    I have not seen you contribute anything here beyond silliness. No evidence, no logical arguments in favor of you ideology. You’re just a dittohead for the materialist tribe.

  157. mumadaddon 08 Jul 2016 at 1:23 pm

    Guru hn,

    Please don’t be so hasty in dismissing me! Now that you have pointed out that ‘matter’ doesn’t mean what you think it should mean, I want to join your tribe! I looked it up and it turns out you’ve been right all along — reality is NOT made of tiny little ball-bearings, so therefore spirits and stuff.

    Please let me join you, and together we can discover that new physics which will explain everything!

  158. mumadaddon 08 Jul 2016 at 1:45 pm

    The Chuckle Brothers of rational inquiry:

    ME: Demons are disembodied intelligences

    HN: I don’t know if they are really disembodied, they just don’t have bodies made out of the kind of substances we are familiar with here in this world.

    Gary Schwarz has done research on spirits, which I guess are the same kind of thing as demons. He found plenty of evidence for them.

    ME: Both are metaphysical viewpoints. Actually the belief about demons is more credible, because many people have actually had experiences with demons, whereas no one has had an experience of extraterrestrial life (discounting UFOs).

    HN:Intelligent beings that are not made of the “physical substance” that we perceive with our physical substances have been encountered in all times and places.

    ME: I agree with hardnose.

    …Of course non-material entities exist. The form in which they exist (Platonic, Aristotelian, or Nominalist) is open to debate. Their existence is not open to debate.

    Materialism blinds you.

    HN: Gary Schwartz actually has a device that enables spiritual entities to communicate with humans. No he is not a nut, he is a highly qualified researcher.

    He is a real scientist who just happens to study spirits.

  159. mumadaddon 08 Jul 2016 at 1:46 pm

    I’m loling so hard I cried a bit. 😀

  160. mumadaddon 08 Jul 2016 at 1:53 pm

    Bill Openthalt: ” Scientology would be a good haven. Give it a try, they like credulous folk.”

    hn’s Scientology superpower: he’s immune to placebo effects.

  161. hardnoseon 08 Jul 2016 at 3:12 pm

    If you are so smart and in touch with reality mumadadd, where is your evidence that life resulted from a series of accidents, or that intelligence is uniquely generated by physical brains?

    Where is your evidence that all the millions or billions of spiritual experiences people have had in all times and places are merely hallucinations?

    You are very amused by spirituality, but maybe it’s just that you are a little nervous. What if all those crazy idiotic delusional people outside your tiny little materialist tribe know something that you don’t?

  162. mumadaddon 08 Jul 2016 at 3:36 pm

    “If you are so smart and in touch with reality mumadadd, where is your evidence that life resulted from a series of accidents, or that intelligence is uniquely generated by physical brains?”

    You are asking for evidence of (1) cosmology and evolution, and for evidence that (2) intelligence CANNOT be generated without a ‘physical’ brain?

    1. Do your own research.
    2. I’ll give you 7bn examples of intelligence produced by a ‘physical’ brain. Now give me ONE example of intelligence produced by either a non ‘physical’ brain, or a non brain.

    “Where is your evidence that all the millions or billions of spiritual experiences people have had in all times and places are merely hallucinations?”

    Your representation of the scientific explanation for ‘spiritual experiences’ is as dimestore as your understanding of the definition of ‘matter’.

    “You are very amused by spirituality, but maybe it’s just that you are a little nervous. What if all those crazy idiotic delusional people outside your tiny little materialist tribe know something that you don’t?”

    Yes, that’s it — I’m nervous. Pascal’s wager and all that..?

  163. mumadaddon 08 Jul 2016 at 4:02 pm

    Excuse me, I misspoke — cosmology is a field of study, not a process for which evidence can be provided.

  164. Karl Withakayon 08 Jul 2016 at 4:52 pm

    “What if all those crazy idiotic delusional people outside your tiny little […] tribe know something that you don’t?”

    That’s one of the numerous problems with Pascal’s wager; that question applies to everyone.

    Which particular crazy set of beliefs should you lay claim to just to be safe?

    Should you should pick the broadest & most inclusive ones, the ones held by the largest number of people, or maybe the ones that best withstand rational, skeptical, inquiry & falsification and require the fewest assumptions?

  165. Karl Withakayon 08 Jul 2016 at 4:54 pm

    …maybe you should pick the one that promise the most dire consequences if they are right and you don’t adhere to them? Who has the worst hell?

  166. BillyJoe7on 08 Jul 2016 at 5:03 pm

    ““matter” is not made out of “matter””

    “life resulted from a series of accidents”

    This guy is so ignorant he doesn’t even realise how embarrassed he should be.
    It’s been a long time since I left this sort of nonsense behind.

    Nonsense based on ignorance like “Ok, whatever, the point is…” when the point is that he can only make that pointless point because of his ignorance of the “whatever” that so blithely waves away.
    Mr. Dunning Kruger with a brain made of cement.

  167. hardnoseon 08 Jul 2016 at 5:47 pm

    Calling me ignorant might make you feel clever, but it really only shows that you have nothing scientific or logical to say.

    We know that life evolved, but we don’t know how or why. We know that a brain allows us to interact with the “physical” world, but we don’t know what “intelligence” is or how it might be related to the brain.

    A materialist mythology has grown out of observations that are mistaken for explanations. This mythology has hardened like cement in some people’s minds. Even if you wanted to see past it, you can’t. But you don’t want to see the logical defects in your mythology, because it makes you feel like you are smarter than the vast majority of humans who have ever lived.

    You find it hilarious that an educated person like me has some respect for certain beliefs that have been around forever. “Smart” people are expected to look down at and despise everything that came before the modern “materialist” era, in your narrow-minded little opinion.

  168. Bill Openthalton 08 Jul 2016 at 6:27 pm

    hardnose —
    We do know what intelligence is. It is a word. 😉
    Seriously, it is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. That’s what AI does. You might nit know what it is, and you probably don’t agree with the definition. In all likelihood, you’ll say we don’t understand how it works, or how the brain does it, but you can’t assert we don’t know what it is. Better stick with consciousness, it is more amenable to your kind of metaphysical massacring.

  169. Damloweton 08 Jul 2016 at 8:44 pm

    Well, this is fascinating, really.

    There are a couple of guys here whom have proclaimed themselves as ‘Skeptics’ in previous other posts. They have said things along the lines of “if only you skeptics would be more skeptical of your own ideological belife and see the truth” ect ect. What surprises me more than anything, and is far more telling than any deconstruction of replies of HN, ME, IW, MM. If that same set of requirement were to be practiced by the mentioned, how could they possibly escape the fact that nearly every one of their own posts are opposing anything which is written by Steve? At some point ‘one’ must realize that if you have a contrary view on every topic ‘spoken’ about, that flaw must lye in your own conclusions, not the points being made. You are not ‘Skeptics”, you are contrarians!

    Why does the crux of any topic in question ALWAYS venture to the limit of what we currently know about the topic? Its like this is the go-to safe place where the information is incomplete and (in my opinion) fruit loops can venture too, to (in their own understanding) avoid being proven wrong. Unbeknown to ‘them’, that the limit of their own understanding is not the actual limit of what is understood!

    “At some point matter is not made out of matter!” WTF? Since when in the last 100 years since Einstein has that been an issue?

    All matter is made of energy, you know, E=mc2.

    But then ‘you’ will jump to “well, what is energy made of then?” Contrarian, not Skeptic, big difference.

    HN said (A materialist mythology has grown out of observations that are mistaken for explanations. This mythology has hardened like cement in some people’s minds. Even if you wanted to see past it, you can’t. But you don’t want to see the logical defects in your mythology, because it makes you feel like you are smarter than the vast majority of humans who have ever lived.)

    BTW, I would suggest that even the most basic of education today (to a 16 year old level) would give any student the ability to be smarter than 95% of anyone who had ever live before 1800.

    Even if ‘you’ have a basic knowledge of SR, GR QM, (which I’m not sure if ‘you’ do) you have a deeper understanding of the universe and it operation than ANYONE who had ever lived prior to the mid 1850’s. This is what science does. It is the accumulation of scientifically derived (and scrutinized) knowledge passed on to the future generations to be advanced upon and utilized to improve understanding and remove superstition. You can choose to ignore what the ‘science’ says, but that just makes a fool of you where others can see you failing which you don’t feel comfortable addressing, and hide behind the ‘God of the gaps’.

    Best of luck in your delusion. Thx BO. 🙂

    Damien

  170. michaelegnoron 09 Jul 2016 at 7:32 am

    Dam:

    [Even if ‘you’ have a basic knowledge of SR, GR QM, (which I’m not sure if ‘you’ do) you have a deeper understanding of the universe and it operation than ANYONE who had ever lived prior to the mid 1850’s. This is what science does.]

    No. Natural philosophy (what you ignorantly call science) has certainly accumulated data about nature, and some real insights have emerged (GR, QM, genetics, etc). Yet the metaphysical stupidity you and other materialists have dragged along with the natural philosophy is a decline in human understanding unparalleled in history. Heisenberg observed that QM was a stunning confirmation of Aristotelian metaphysics. Morons like you don’t today even know what Aristotelian metaphysics is, let along how QM confirms it.

    You are a metaphysical idiot. The ancients working in the Platonic/Aristotelian/Thomist tradition understood demonstrations of God’s existence, the nature of change, the nature of substances, the mind, ethics, and a host of metaphysical insight of which you are manifestly ignorant.

    Scientism is a mental disease. It destroys knowledge, replacing genuine insight with idiotic metaphysical errors that leave you unable to understand even the rudiments of life or nature or yourself.

  171. mumadaddon 09 Jul 2016 at 8:24 am

    Michael,

    “Morons like you don’t today even know what Aristotelian metaphysics is”

    I did ask before, but perhaps it got lost in the fray — why should we care about Aristotelian metaphysics in 2016? I look at this the same way I look at classic films: when I watch them now, I see nothing new, because what was original and successful then has been lifted and developed since. So, whatever Aristotle contributed, the good ideas are still present, with 2000+ years’ worth of development and refinement, with the bad ideas discarded.

    I’ve always had the sense that you drag the conversation into terms that you know your audience won’t understand, in order to deflect from the fact that you are unable to provide evidence for your position.

  172. mumadaddon 09 Jul 2016 at 8:31 am

    Also, another question: let’s say for the sake of argument that we are all indeed ‘metaphysical ideots’ blinded by our ideological zeal to the truth of your preferred metaphysical slant. Is there something inherent in your metaphysical world that means we should hold phenomena to a lower standard of evidence?

  173. hardnoseon 09 Jul 2016 at 9:31 am

    “Yes, that’s it — I’m nervous. Pascal’s wager and all that..?”

    Where in anything I said did you see “Pascal’s wager?” You are obviously hallucinating.

    I am not a Christian. I don’t believe we have to suffer in this life in order to get to heaven.

    Atheism is consoling to some people — no worries about going to hell, no god you have to be subservient to, feeling smarter than those ignorant bible believers.

    Religion/spirituality is consoling to others — hope of seeing loved ones again in heaven, always have gods/spirits on hand to help solve problems, etc.

    Whether or not a belief system is consoling is irrelevant to me. I believe what seems most logical and scientific.

  174. hardnoseon 09 Jul 2016 at 9:55 am

    “Is there something inherent in your metaphysical world that means we should hold phenomena to a lower standard of evidence?”

    Whoever said that?

    There is no evidence for materialism, and evidence for non-materialism is mostly personal experiences and observations (huge numbers of them). So we have to fall back on using our intelligence to sort things out and see what is more likely.

    The idea that science and spirituality are in conflict is a mistake, and old out-dated idea. However old out-dated ideas can take a very long time to die.

  175. hardnoseon 09 Jul 2016 at 10:00 am

    “We do know what intelligence is. It is a word.
    Seriously, it is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. That’s what AI does.”

    You are wrong. Any intelligence AI has comes from its programmers. AI is automated logic, which is very different from intelligence. AI never has a goal or purpose, its goals and purpose comes from its programmers. AI never has an insight or creative idea.

    Our brains probably contain a lot of automated logic, so we do have something in common with AI. But intelligence is something very different.

  176. mumadaddon 09 Jul 2016 at 10:28 am

    “The idea that science and spirituality are in conflict is a mistake, and old out-dated idea.”

    Pls define spirituality.

  177. mumadaddon 09 Jul 2016 at 10:46 am

    I am going to bet that you won’t…

  178. Damloweton 09 Jul 2016 at 11:00 am

    @ME, please educate a ‘moron like’ me about QM and how Heisenberg found it a “stunning confirmation of Aristotelian metaphysics”.

    I have read the quick wikki about “Aristotelian metaphysics” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaphysics_(Aristotle)) and can’t for the life of me find a connection.

    “You are a metaphysical idiot. The ancients working in the Platonic/Aristotelian/Thomist tradition understood demonstrations of God’s existence, the nature of change, the nature of substances, the mind, ethics, and a host of metaphysical insight of which you are manifestly ignorant.)

    Fantastic claim there, care to back it up with any evidence? No? The problem is with ancient ‘natural philosophy’, there were no ‘modern scientific’ tests to be done, as how can you ‘scientifically’ test for any of those claims, how can the thinking be scrutinized by an unbiased third party? At what point do ‘you’ claim to have the correct answer? Address any of those questions with modern science, and the magic dis-appears, what the ‘ancients’ thought, was educated (at the time) guessing at best.

    It is not surprising that you find that ‘old’ stuff compelling anyway. People who seem to use old Philosophy as current argument are still able to reject proper double blinded, placebo controlled, un-biased studies/conformation as flawed for no other reason that it dis-agrees with your world view.

    BTW, I am having a hard time trying to figure out what you are actually trying to mean when you use the terms “metaphysics”, “natural philosophy” and “science”?
    The terminology I have used seems to reflect the common understanding of the words, but your placement of them doesn’t fit.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaphysics
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_philosophy
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science

    I think in the future, when I use the word ‘science’, I mean it as study done using ‘scientific method’.

    Damien

  179. michaelegnoron 09 Jul 2016 at 11:36 am

    mums:

    [I did ask before, but perhaps it got lost in the fray — why should we care about Aristotelian metaphysics in 2016?]

    That’s not a sufficiently intelligent question to warrant an answer.

    Ideas don’t have expiration dates.

  180. mumadaddon 09 Jul 2016 at 11:57 am

    Michael,

    “That’s not a sufficiently intelligent question to warrant an answer.”

    I see. Let me rephrase: why should anyone care about Aristoltelian metaphysics in 2016?

    For example, what are the following fields of science missing, that could be added by an appreciation of Aristoltelian metaphysics:

    Acoustics
    Aeronautics
    Agronomy
    Anatomy
    Anthropology
    Archaeology
    Astronomy
    Astrophysics
    Bacteriology
    Biochemistry
    Biology
    Botany
    Cardiology
    Cartography
    Chemistry
    Cosmology
    Crystallography
    Ecology
    Embryology
    Endocrinology
    Entomology
    Enzymology
    Forestry
    Gelotology
    Genetics
    Geochemistry
    Geodesy
    Geography
    Geology
    Geophysics
    Hematology
    Histology
    Horology
    Hydrology
    Ichthyology
    Immunology
    Linguistics
    Mechanics
    Medicine
    Meteorology
    Metrology
    Microbiology
    Mineralogy
    Mycology
    Neurology
    Nucleonics
    Nutrition
    Oceanography
    Oncology
    Optics
    Paleontology
    Pathology
    Petrology
    Pharmacology
    Physics
    Physiology
    Psychology
    Radiology
    Robotics
    Seismology
    Spectroscopy
    Systematics
    Thermodynamics
    Toxicology
    Virology
    Volcanology
    Zoology

  181. mumadaddon 09 Jul 2016 at 11:59 am

    Michael,

    “Ideas don’t have expiration dates.”

    I see you chose to ignore the rest of what I said, which negates this:

    I look at this the same way I look at classic films: when I watch them now, I see nothing new, because what was original and successful then has been lifted and developed since. So, whatever Aristotle contributed, the good ideas are still present, with 2000+ years’ worth of development and refinement, with the bad ideas discarded.

  182. mumadaddon 09 Jul 2016 at 12:07 pm

    Correction:

    I look at this the same way I look at classic films: when I watch them now, I see nothing new, because what was original and successful then has been lifted and developed since. So, whatever Aristotle contributed, the good ideas are still present, with 2000+ years’ worth of development and refinement, with the bad ideas discarded.

    The bad ideas are still alive and kicking.

    Case in point — Catholicism.
    Exemplar — Michael Egnor.

  183. DrNickon 09 Jul 2016 at 12:51 pm

    I often wonder if these back and forth exchanges with the likes of hardnose, Egnor, Wardell, etc serve any purpose other than reminding us how utterly intellectually bankrupt, incoherent, and dishonest the arguments on the other side of the debate are. It’s nice to get the reinforcement that your position is the correct one, but it can come across as a little circle-jerky at times.

    But then I think about the casual readers and lurkers who may be finding out about the concept of scientific skepticism for the first time. I think these exchanges are extremely worthwhile as a real time record of how reasonable and evidence-based Dr Novella’s posts are, and how dogmatic and evidence-free the counterarguments are.

    I want to thank the regular commenters who take the time to rebut the nonsense spewed by our regular and semi-regular trolls. It’s a thankless task, but as a former lurker here myself I know that it needs to be done to ensure that the pseudoscientific nonsense doesn’t go uncountered.

  184. hardnoseon 09 Jul 2016 at 1:06 pm

    How to know if you are a dogmatic ideologue:

    1. There is nothing whatsoever of value in your opponents’ opinions.

    2. Everyone who disagrees with you is an idiot, a liar, or crazy.

    3. Your ideology provides clear and rational answers to all the important questions.

    Looks like you’re in DrNick, congratulations!

  185. hardnoseon 09 Jul 2016 at 1:07 pm

    Yes mumadadd, now we can make long lists of university departments. Surely there is wisdom lurking in those departments, somewhere.

  186. hardnoseon 09 Jul 2016 at 1:09 pm

    “Pls define spirituality.”

    Belief in higher-order dimensions, parallel universes, etc. Skepticism about the materialists’ insistence that only the dimensions, substances, and universes we happen to be familiar with can possibly exist.

  187. mumadaddon 09 Jul 2016 at 1:44 pm

    “(1.) Belief in higher-order dimensions, (2.) parallel universes, (3.) etc. Skepticism about the materialists’ insistence that only the dimensions, substances, and universes we happen to be familiar with can possibly exist (4.).”

    So, let’s break this down. Tell me if I make a mistake.

    1. – “higher-order dimensions”:

    According to superstring theory, there are at least ten dimensions in the universe (M-theory actually suggests that there are 11 dimensions to spacetime; bosonic string theories suggest 26 dimensions).

    2. – “parallel universes”:

    The theory is also referred to as MWI, the relative state formulation, the Everett interpretation, the theory of the universal wavefunction, many-universes interpretation, or just many-worlds. The original relative state formulation is due to Hugh Everett in 1957.

    3. – …

    4. – “Skepticism about the materialists’ insistence that only the dimensions, substances, and universes we happen to be familiar with can possibly exist” Not definable, but I’m skeptical too.

    So, with the qualifier that confidence of relevant scientific fields is variable, and my understanding is limited — I’m a spiritualist! As is everyone hn is railing against!

    How about that?!

  188. DrNickon 09 Jul 2016 at 1:48 pm

    @HN

    Something something materialism, something information, something something complete.

    Ignoring the multiple straw men in your reply to me, the fact that you seem to think I belong in the company of Dr Novella, mumadadd, and others is perhaps the biggest complement you could have paid me. You provide a valuable service here as the Dunning-Kruger effect personified – keep it up!

  189. mumadaddon 09 Jul 2016 at 2:45 pm

    😀

  190. hardnoseon 09 Jul 2016 at 3:07 pm

    “the fact that you seem to think I belong in the company of Dr Novella, mumadadd, and others is perhaps the biggest complement you could have paid me”

    No, I did not mean to imply you are as intelligent as they are. Just that you are a devoted follower.

  191. hardnoseon 09 Jul 2016 at 3:10 pm

    “I’m a spiritualist! As is everyone hn is railing against!”

    I am not railing against anyone mumadadd, unless you consider disagreeing to be railing.

    But you might be the only one here besides me who is skeptical about the materialist ideology.

    And if you are open-minded about the idea of higher-order dimensions, how come you think it is impossible for anyone (i.e. “spirits”) to live there?

  192. mumadaddon 09 Jul 2016 at 3:36 pm

    hn,

    4 was the logical conclusion of 1 & 2.

    You can’t even follow your own logic?

    As to your question: “And if you are open-minded about the idea of higher-order dimensions, how come you think it is impossible for anyone (i.e. “spirits”) to live there?”

    To quote Michael Egnor: “That’s not a sufficiently intelligent question to warrant an answer.”

    For real this time.

  193. mumadaddon 09 Jul 2016 at 4:14 pm

    hn,

    You seem to conveniently disregard or intentionally forget the history of responses to your oeuvre here. I will only speak for my own interactions with you, but I remember much more: you’re a mixed up kid with no ‘metaphysical’ home to speak of, who’s enthralled with low grade evidence and his own sense of superiority. So far as I can see, you’re a monist who doesn’t care to understand what ‘matter’ is, and will happily substitute the word ‘information’ (without definition), to encompass the whole of reality precisely because it’s ill-defined enough to accommodate the utter shit you believe as a result of your incomprehension of valid process and standards of evidence.

  194. hardnoseon 09 Jul 2016 at 4:47 pm

    You are confused as always mumadadd. I am not a mixed up kid who feels superior (that might be you, definitely not me).

    My ideas are pretty much in accord with alternative science / holistic philosophy. It is not taught in our mainstream education, but I never had trouble finding books, even in the days before Amazon.

    It has run alongside mainstream science, it has always been there. Why would I feel superior about agreeing with a well-known philosophical/scientific framework?

    What grates on your nerves, and others here, is the fact that you are totally unfamiliar with alternative science. You think I am just a lone crazy person who made it all up.

    To me, so many of the assertions made here are dogmatic and irrational. So I try to be a correcting influence. The fact that it drives you so nuts means that you don’t like having your dogmatic beliefs questioned.

    Some people crave certainty. Modern materialism is your god and your infallible source of infinite wisdom.

  195. hardnoseon 09 Jul 2016 at 4:48 pm

    “You can’t even follow your own logic?”

    I can follow my own logic, maybe not your confused attempts to paraphrase it.

  196. mumadaddon 09 Jul 2016 at 4:55 pm

    “My ideas are pretty much in accord with alternative science / holistic philosophy. It is not taught in our mainstream education, but I never had trouble finding books, even in the days before Amazon.

    It has run alongside mainstream science, it has always been there. Why would I feel superior about agreeing with a well-known philosophical/scientific framework?”

    Link?

    What can your ‘alternative’ science do? Pls provide examples.

  197. mumadaddon 09 Jul 2016 at 4:57 pm

    I swear nh is Bob Novella providing illustrative examples for Steve’s blog.

  198. mumadaddon 09 Jul 2016 at 4:59 pm

    “I can follow my own logic, maybe not your confused attempts to paraphrase it.”

    Nobody’s this dumb, right?

  199. mumadaddon 09 Jul 2016 at 5:16 pm

    Alternative science:

    “Gary Schwarz has done research on spirits, which I guess are the same kind of thing as demons. He found plenty of evidence for them.”

    “Gary Schwartz actually has a device that enables spiritual entities to communicate with humans. No he is not a nut, he is a highly qualified researcher.”

  200. mumadaddon 09 Jul 2016 at 5:27 pm

    ‘Alternative engineering’: http://www.theness.com/index.php/alternative-engineering/

  201. hardnoseon 09 Jul 2016 at 5:43 pm

    If you know nothing whatsoever about alternative science, mumadadd, that shows that you have mindlessly accepted whatever they taught you, with no need to question or look into things on your own.

  202. chikoppion 09 Jul 2016 at 5:45 pm

    Uh, wow. I thought we had debates involving people with painfully entrenched and irrational positions over at the Atheist Experience blogs. I guess I’m glad to see we’re not suffering in solitude?

    1) how unlikely (atypical or antithetical to experience and established knowledge) is the claim?
    2) how extensive and objective is the evidence?
    3) is the evidence sufficient to accept the claim, even provisionally?

    If the standard of evidence is “you can’t absolutely disprove it,” then you’re going to have to navigate a mountain of contradictory beliefs. Credulity is not a virtue.

  203. BillyJoe7on 09 Jul 2016 at 6:38 pm

    Hn reveals where his problem lies.

    hn: “My ideas are pretty much in accord with alternative science / holistic philosophy. It is not taught in our mainstream education, but I never had trouble finding books, even in the days before Amazon”

    In a nutshell, here is the problem with hn:
    He is ignorant of the “mainstream” view, but well-versed in the “alternative” view.

    As examples of his ignorance of the “mainstream” view, just read anything he has ever written about quantum theory and evolution. Even in this very thread:
    “Matter does not consist of matter”
    “Evolution is a long series of accidents”
    Clearly, he is almost completely ignorant in these subjects.
    As a result, he is unable to argue against it so what does he do?
    He simply dismisses it out of hand, lock, stock, and barrel.

    There are numerous examples.
    The most recent is his dismissal of my references to the mainstream view of QM.
    He simply dismissed them out of hand and offered absolutely no refutation or arguments in response.
    The truth, I am certain, is that he did not even bother to read them.
    And that, if he had attempted to, he would not have understood them.
    Or didn’t want to understand them.
    And the reason is that it does not accord with his ideology.

    On the other hand, he accepts without question everything he ever reads on “alternative” science.
    And the reason is that it accords with his ideology.

    I would hate to be as ignorant as hn and so blithely unaware of that fact.
    There is a cure though:
    Stop reading bv||$h!t and start EDUCATING yourself.

  204. ccbowerson 09 Jul 2016 at 7:00 pm

    “I would hate to be as ignorant as hn and so blithely unaware of that fact.
    There is a cure though:
    Stop reading bv||$h!t and start EDUCATING yourself.”

    I’m not sure that there is any hope for ME and HN in this regard. There are people who have been isolated in some ways from real challenges to their beliefs, or perhaps due to circumstances were not able to consider other ways of thinking, but this does not seem to apply to ME nor HN. Perhaps they can be nudged to concede aspects of their ideology that are superficial, but it is hard to imagine how they could really fundamentally change. They have both engaged people often enough for many years in ways that should be intellectually convincing, yet the just hold on tighter to their beliefs.

    Despite this, they are good examples of how not to argue or form perceptions about the world. They are textbook examples of motivated reasoning, and they regularly demonstrate how people protect their beliefs from scrutiny (false equivalence, projection, strawmanning, arguments from ignorance, etc). To me, this is the only purpose of engaging them. I assume that for every commenter here, there are dozens of readers who could benefit from their bad arguments being engaged

  205. BurnOuton 09 Jul 2016 at 8:19 pm

    HN, I’m not sure what you mean by “alternative science.” Can you give me an idea of its best achievements?

  206. edamameon 10 Jul 2016 at 3:36 am

    I don’t bother with HN I spent about 20 minutes writing a reply once that he ignored, repeated himself as if nothing had happened, as if he had literally seen and absorbed nothing. He is either a laudable troll or an intransigent fool. Either way, no more pixels to be wasted directly engaging with him.

  207. BillyJoe7on 10 Jul 2016 at 5:41 am

    edamame,

    “I spent about 20 minutes writing a reply once that he ignored, repeated himself as if nothing had happened, as if he had literally seen and absorbed nothing”

    If it’s any consolation, you’re not the only one who has had this experience…on all three counts:
    – ignores your reply
    – repeats what he said
    – absorbs nothing
    He’s been doing this for years on this blog.

    “He is either a laudable troll or an intransigent fool

    😉

  208. BillyJoe7on 10 Jul 2016 at 5:53 am

    BurnOut,

    “HN, I’m not sure what you mean by “alternative science.””

    He means anything and everything…
    …as long as it’s contrary to the consensus view of the world’s experts.

    For some reason he wants there to be a “Conscious Intelligent Universe”. And, for some reason, he is oblivious to the fact, even though it’s been pointed out to him many times, that this is a not an explanation for “consciousness” or “intelligence”. It’s like god – is, was, and always will be! That’s no explanation. It’s the avoidance of an explanation. A self-satisfied retreat to ignorance.

    Can you give me an idea of its best achievements?

    A soothing salve for its adherents.

  209. ccbowerson 10 Jul 2016 at 8:38 am

    “He’s been doing this for years on this blog.”

    I wonder how many years it actually has been. I’m not even sure when I started following this blog myself, I think it is around 2009. It would be quite impressive for someone to follow this blog and engage in the comments section for years and not learn anything. I suspect we all have, including hardnose. For him, it is just really hard to tell and he fights it every step of the way.

  210. hardnoseon 10 Jul 2016 at 9:07 am

    I studied alternative science on my own, my formal education was in mainstream science. I have read at least as much by atheists/materialists as by alternative scientists. I don’t need to reinforce what I already believe. I try to understand other perspectives, and constantly question and test my own perspective.

  211. hardnoseon 10 Jul 2016 at 9:10 am

    “For some reason he wants there to be a “Conscious Intelligent Universe”.”

    I don’t WANT there to be a conscious intelligent universe, and what I want doesn’t matter at all. The universe will be conscious or not regardless of my preferences.

    The logic and evidence shows very clearly, to anyone willing to look, that the universe is conscious.

    If you are willing to subject yourself to a different perspective — and I know you aren’t — you could read The Conscious Universe by Dean Radin. Of course, since he is an alternative scientists you won’t believe anything he says, not matter how logical, scientific, and mathematically correct.

  212. hardnoseon 10 Jul 2016 at 12:18 pm

    And if you read the wikipedia article on Dean Radin, you can’t help noticing that wikipedia is extremely biased against parapsychology. Well, you won’t notice if you are extremely biased yourself, which most of you are. Wikipedia refers to Skeptics like Novella, and Skeptic publications like Nature. With of course no mention of anyone who is not critical of Radin’s research. It is hard to imagine that someone with Radin’s education and experience would be a stupid idiot, but that is what the Skeptics, as always, imply about every scientist who is not brainwashed into materialism.

  213. chikoppion 10 Jul 2016 at 12:50 pm

    “Materialism.” I’m not sure this isn’t a misattributed notion.

    Evidence should be objective. That is, it should be controlled, measurable, and repeatable.

    Expanding in the colloquial. “Controlled” means that possible external factors that might bias the observation can be accounted for or excluded. “Measurable” means that the observation can be quantified in frequency and/or scale. “Repeatable” means that similar controlled conditions produce consistent observable outcomes.

    The degree to which the evidence produced is derived from a process that is controlled, measurable, and repeatable establishes its objectivity. Absent this process it is merely anecdote.

    Is there some other process? Is this approach not wholly applicable to claims of supernatural causes that intersect with the natural world? This process is not inherently “materialistic,” it is “epistemological.”

  214. ccbowerson 10 Jul 2016 at 4:49 pm

    “And if you read the wikipedia article on Dean Radin, you can’t help noticing that wikipedia is extremely biased against parapsychology.”

    When reality is biased against a perspective, you have to go with reality.

    “Wikipedia refers to Skeptics like Novella, and Skeptic publications like Nature. With of course no mention of anyone who is not critical of Radin’s research”

    So you are an advocate of false balance? Wikipedia’s treatment of Radin is appropriate. It does not go out of its way to be critical of him, and focuses on his broad claims and the weaknesses of the positions he advocates for. Since what he advocates for lacks support from evidence, prior plausibility, or any known mechanism- such an article should be critical.

  215. hardnoseon 10 Jul 2016 at 9:36 pm

    “Wikipedia’s treatment of Radin is appropriate.”

    Of course it seems appropriate if you are coming from the same biased perspective.

  216. hardnoseon 10 Jul 2016 at 9:39 pm

    [The degree to which the evidence produced is derived from a process that is controlled, measurable, and repeatable establishes its objectivity. Absent this process it is merely anecdote.
    Is there some other process? Is this approach not wholly applicable to claims of supernatural causes that intersect with the natural world? This process is not inherently “materialistic,” it is “epistemological.”]

    Of course science is not inherently materialistic. The so-called Skeptics at this blog constantly make the mistake of thinking that it is. Parapsychologists use the same experimental methods as other experimental scientists.

  217. chikoppion 10 Jul 2016 at 10:16 pm

    “Of course science is not inherently materialistic. The so-called Skeptics at this blog constantly make the mistake of thinking that it is. Parapsychologists use the same experimental methods as other experimental scientists.”

    Ok. So the time to allow supernatural or paranormal explanations as a potential premise is only after para-etc. fields of research produce sufficient objective evidence to justify the hypothesis. The hypothesis is rather extraordinary, so the standard of evidence is severe. That assessment is no different than it would be in any other field.

    When people point out that the supernatural hasn’t been demonstrated to exist, they are not incorrect. Neither are they applying a different standard. The evidence is not sufficient to adopt the hypothesis as a valid premise.

  218. bachfiendon 10 Jul 2016 at 11:14 pm

    Hardnose,

    How can the Universe be conscious? Unless you mean it figuratively in that psychic powers exist. If psychic powers exist, such as telepathy, then they must be mediated by a force. A thought in one person’s brain must be transmitted by a force to produce a thought in another person’s brain at a distance.

    So what’s the force? Radin has excluded electromagnetic force. Gravity is too weak. The strong and weak nuclear forces are too short range (being confined to the nucleus). No other forces have been demonstrated at the much higher energies in particle accelerators such as the Large Hadron Collider than can be generated by the chemical energy within brains. Quantum entanglement won’t do it because separate brains were never linked in the first placee to become entangled later.

    Radin is just taking small studies with positive results and ignoring negative ones – with the hand waving excuse that the negative trials were due to the test subjects inhibiting their innate abilities. If I toss ten coins 1,000 times and get 10 heads on one occasion I’m not allowed to ignore the other 999 occasions.

  219. Charonon 11 Jul 2016 at 12:15 am

    hn: “It has run alongside mainstream science, it has always been there.”

    I was enjoying the entertainment of this thread until this point. Now I’m actually sad.

    There are people capable of engaging with our modern understanding of the universe at its highest level, and if they choose to do so in some area, we call them scientists.

    There are people who are capable of understanding the framework of science and many of its results, but who, for lack of talent, training, time, or interest don’t pursue new frontiers themselves. But they do study with interest what others have discovered. These people are the educated, engaged public. (And this is what scientists do, outside their narrow area of expertise.)

    There are people who simply don’t care about all this. They have other concerns.

    Then there is the saddest group. They want to be scientists, or at the very least, they want to be the educated, engaged public. But for some reason they lack the ability. Perhaps they are not intelligent enough, or perhaps they are intelligent, but too blinded by some ideology (our culture often instills religion from birth, and gets around to real science – if you’re lucky – in high school, or maybe undergrad).

    This last group has to invent a parallel structure, a cargo-cult science that has buzzwords and books, a sense of progress and a sense of understanding. What it lacks is rigor, coherence, empirical basis, and consilience. I understand the motivation behind these people. It’s the same thing that motivates scientists, so I find it very familiar. And it’s haunting to see it so wasted.

  220. Charonon 11 Jul 2016 at 12:45 am

    Perhaps the most useful definition of materialism (or physicalism) from a scientist’s perspective is this: if you postulate a thing that has no potentially empirical consequences, or that has empirical consequences for which we search thoroughly and do not find, we assume that thing does not exist. That’s it. You don’t have to define “matter” somehow.

    Science doesn’t a priori say gods, demons, souls etc. don’t exist. What it does say is that your hypotheses of gods/demons/souls that affect humans/protons/electrons/anything we can observe are wrong, because we looked for them, and they weren’t there. And your hypothesis of a demon that can’t be disproved because it has no observable consequences is silly, and is discarded by Occam’s razor.

  221. Charonon 11 Jul 2016 at 12:50 am

    Or as Patricia Churchland put it,

    The nonexistence of something is established as highly probable, not through a single experiment demonstrating its nonexistence, but through acceptance of an explanatorily powerful framework that has no place for it.

    But this entire thread is one great exercise in people talking past each other, because on one side the participants think the existence of the sneaky supernatural* is self evident and needs no justification.

    *The sneaky supernatural does have an effect on humans, just never under controlled circumstances, and somehow interacts with our protons and electrons but never the protons and electrons of lab equipment.

  222. ccbowerson 11 Jul 2016 at 2:16 am

    “Of course it seems appropriate if you are coming from the same biased perspective.”

    How is it the same perspective? I have no affiliation with Wikipedia, and no affiliation with anyone here other than interactions on this blog. T

    he obvious answer is that this is not the same perspective, but different perspectives that see the same thing.

    You never provide evidence for the things you advocate for, and then pretend like everyone else is closing their eyes to it. No, our eyes are open and what you wish to be just isn’t there.

  223. Damloweton 11 Jul 2016 at 9:09 am

    @ME, if you are still interested, my rebuttal of your response has just been made available.

    Scroll up to 09 Jul, 11:00am.

    Cheers.

    Damien

  224. michaelegnoron 11 Jul 2016 at 9:21 am

    @Dam:

    [@ME, please educate a ‘moron like’ me about QM and how Heisenberg found it a “stunning confirmation of Aristotelian metaphysics”.
    I have read the quick wikki about “Aristotelian metaphysics” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaphysics_(Aristotle)) and can’t for the life of me find a connection.]

    Google works wonderfully for things like that. Try googling “Heisenberg Aristotle”.

    Moron.

  225. Willyon 11 Jul 2016 at 10:34 am

    I think there is no place where our good Doctor can show us that Heisenberg said anything like “QM is a stunning confirmation of Aristotelian metaphysics”.

  226. Bill Openthalton 11 Jul 2016 at 12:01 pm

    Willy —

    Heisenberg wrote “Physics and Philosophy”, where he ponders a parallel between the Aristotelian/Thomistic distinction of act and potency and the uncertainty inherent in QM.

    The original metaphysical question is the distinction between being and changing. Heraclitus posited that when something changes, it no longer exists and he considered “existence” to be an illusion (you are not the same “thing” as you were a year ago). Parmenides argued existence was pre-eminent, and change an illusion; in his view, there is only a single Being, and the changes are only apparent (you do not exist.) To get out of this conundrum Aristoteles introduced the idea of being (act) and potential to become or potency. An arrow in the quiver can be shot, move across the air, and hit the target. When it is shot, it loses it actuality of being in the quiver, and gains first the actuality of being in flight, then the actuality of being stuck in the target. Once there, it has the potency of being in flight, and in the quiver, while remaining an arrow.

    Similarly, an electron could be seen to have the potency to be in a number of orbits, and the actuality of the orbit it is in. You get the idea.

  227. Willyon 11 Jul 2016 at 12:52 pm

    Bill O–I am absolutely no expert in philosophy. In fact, I am woefully ignorant of it, but I did a fair amount of digging around on the Net and found numerous articles discussing Heisenberg and Aristotle. It certainly seems Heisenberg acknowledged aspects of Aristotelian thought. It also seems Heisenberg did not say anything close to what Dr. Egnor claimed was Heisenberg’s opinion–“a stunning confirmation of Aristotle’s metaphysics”.

    I am struck by the difference in attitude and style between the two doctors on this page. One seems to go out of his way to be helpful and he recognizes that most of us here are not experts in many fields. The other doctor is pompous and likes to obfuscate. One is trying to educate; the other is not.

  228. leoneton 11 Jul 2016 at 1:47 pm

    Indeed, I think Dr. Egnor is demonstrates the same superficial understanding of physics that he rudely accuses his opponents of having in philosophy. Say we were to grant, for the sake of argument, that QM and specifically wave-function collapse, was most certainly the way that Aristotle’s notions of hylemorphic forms, potentialities and matter are connected. That would be a wonderfully interesting idea. It would also not logically take us to world in which immaterial consciousness is possible. Instead, QM imposes rather tough limitations on how energy, matter and information interact. For an example of this, one can look at the disappointment surrounding the experiments that showed that quantum teleportation cannot, in fact, move information faster than light.

    QM is not a magic wand that allows us to hand wave away any law of physics; it usually just gives us a deeper understanding of why the law is so damn hard to get around in the first place.

  229. hardnoseon 11 Jul 2016 at 1:52 pm

    “So what’s the force? Radin has excluded electromagnetic force. Gravity is too weak. The strong and weak nuclear forces are too short range (being confined to the nucleus). No other forces have been demonstrated at the much higher energies in particle accelerators such as the Large Hadron Collider than can be generated by the chemical energy within brains. Quantum entanglement won’t do it because separate brains were never linked in the first placee to become entangled later.”

    You are making the usual invalid assumption that everything that exists is already known to modern physics.

  230. DrNickon 11 Jul 2016 at 2:05 pm

    Following up on my point above: to any lurkers or casual readers who are still following this thread, HN’s most recent comment is a perfect example of the lopsidedness of this debate.

    A well reasoned and lengthy comment by bachfiend is dismissed by HN with a single sentence of evidence free hand waving. No attempt to engage or counter in good faith the numerous rebuttals to everything he has posted. The same few talking points are repeated ad nauseum, and are never properly explained or defined.

    This is pseudoscience in action.

  231. leoneton 11 Jul 2016 at 2:07 pm

    No, we are not making the “assumption that everything that exists is already known to modern physics” In fact, most physicists would be surprised and disappointed if there weren’t other forces (really quantum fields) waiting to be discovered at different energies. Rather, we are simply placing the burden of proof where it belongs: on the people making the claims.

  232. BillyJoe7on 11 Jul 2016 at 5:04 pm

    Dr. Nick,

    “A well reasoned and lengthy comment by bachfiend is dismissed by HN with a single sentence of evidence free hand waving. No attempt to engage or counter in good faith the numerous rebuttals to everything he has posted. The same few talking points are repeated ad nauseum, and are never properly explained or defined”

    Perfect summary of hn’s modus operandi.

    But I will say it again, the reason he operates in this way is that is almost totally ignorant of the subjects on which he presumes to speak. Therefore he has no choice but to dismiss and handwave any counter-argument and endlessly repeat without ever explaining or defining anything.

  233. steve12on 11 Jul 2016 at 5:19 pm

    Ha ha! Reading back on this thread is delightful.

    When no one buys Egnor’s dialectic parlor-trick philosophical interpretations designed to downgrade science and save his untenable religious nonsense, he gets a little hot under the collar. Very amusing stuff.

  234. Bill Openthalton 11 Jul 2016 at 5:20 pm

    Willy —

    Long time ago, I did (try to 🙂 ) read Heisenberg’s “Physics and Philosophy”, and I don’t remember a sentence like Egnor’s. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t there — though even if Heisenberg literally said it, it means nothing. The validity of neither philosophy nor science is derived from the endorsement of luminaries, but from the relevance of the question, the quality of the facts, the rigour of the reasoning and the validity of the assumptions.

    Philosophy is not the imagination’s free pass into reality.

  235. BillyJoe7on 11 Jul 2016 at 5:35 pm

    Case in point.

    hn: “You are making the usual invalid assumption that everything that exists is already known to modern physics”

    Firstly, no one has made that invalid assumption.
    Secondly, he continues to misunderstand, or pretends to misunderstand, what is actually being said.

    [What is actually being said is as follows:
    Quantum physicists have never said that they know everything.
    For example, they do not know what happens at the Big Bang and in Black Holes. They don’t know what Dark Matter and Dark Energy are. They have no problem at all in saying that they don’t know these things.
    But what they do say is that, as far as what can affect us in our everyday lives here on Earth, they know what they know, and they know what they don’t know. But there are no unknown unknowns. There are no more particles or forces left to be discovered that could effect our everyday lives here on Earth.
    The proviso is that Quantum Field Theory is correct – and it is the most successful theory of QM, being consistent with every observation and experiment ever conducted in QM with not a single result to throw it into doubt.]

    Thirdly, when the counter-argument is put to him, he simply dismisses it out of hand, and either refuses to read the references supplied or fails to understand their contents, and offers not even a hint of a reasoned rebuttal.

    And now he his back here once again repeating the same old nonsense.

    And the wheel keeps turning.

  236. hardnoseon 11 Jul 2016 at 5:49 pm

    “there are no unknown unknowns”

    Famous last words.

  237. steve12on 11 Jul 2016 at 5:57 pm

    Are you a P-Zombie if you walk the Earth with ONE thought in your head that you say over and over?:

    “We don’t know everything so we don’t know anything”

    “We don’t know everything so we don’t know anything”

    “We don’t know everything so we don’t know anything”

    “We don’t know everything so we don’t know anything”

    “We don’t know everything so we don’t know anything”

  238. Bill Openthalton 11 Jul 2016 at 6:23 pm

    The wheel keeps turning, but the hamster is braindead.

  239. chikoppion 11 Jul 2016 at 6:31 pm

    “there are no unknown unknowns”

    I’m no physicist, so I can’t speak of that field in particular. The phrase itself seems overly emphatic.

    However, the time to consider a hypothesis is not when it is determined to be “not impossible,” but rather when there is sufficient evidence that it can be deemed plausible.

  240. hardnoseon 11 Jul 2016 at 7:25 pm

    “We don’t know everything so we don’t know anything”

    If someone here said that, it wasn’t me.

    The statement is often made here that everything is known, for all practical purposes, and therefore materialism is correct. The statement is obviously wrong, and I point that out.

    I never said we don’t know anything, why would I say that?

  241. Steve Crosson 11 Jul 2016 at 8:40 pm

    HN,

    I know it’s painful, but since the rest of us have to read your nonsense, it is only fair that you read it too.

    For years, your entire philosophy has been consistent, i.e. “Scientists don’t know everything, therefore my own preferred belief system is correct.”

    While it is probably technically true that you have never specifically said that “we don’t know anything”, when you ignore, discount and simply fail to understand what scientists actually do know, the end result is the same.

  242. Willyon 11 Jul 2016 at 9:25 pm

    Bill O–IF the sentence, or something similar, is there, Dr. Egnor will shove it in my face. I generally don’t make statements without knowing “fer shure”, but, in this case, I let my gut feelings through. Something just doesn’t ring true about a statement like Dr. Egnor made vs a what a scientist if Heisenberg’s status would make. My Google search turned up zip with respect to Dr. Egnor’s claim. If I am wrong–so be it. It won’t be the first time. LOL

  243. steve12on 12 Jul 2016 at 12:05 am

    Willy:

    “Bill O–IF the sentence, or something similar, is there, Dr. Egnor will shove it in my face.”

    I’m sure. But his move here makes The Troll look like a good faith dealer. Instead of laying out what he thinks re: Aristotle and QM, or at providing references, he coyly makes oblique references so he can later slam people down as “stupid” and “morons” when they don’t get what he’s saying.

    How is that honest engagement?

    Same as the BS of purposefully misconstruing Steve’s position re: aliens.

    Michael Egnor is a dirty little liar who portrays himself as a religious man. It’s really that simple. And I’m not basing that on that on this single instance.

  244. steve12on 12 Jul 2016 at 12:09 am

    And as far as this Aristotelian interpretation of QM, I’ve heard this before. One of my religious friends sent me a bunch of links. Honestly, I don’t remember much beyond seeing that all of these interpretations rely on teleology in nature as an assumption.

    I stopped reading at that point. If I’m allowed to be circular, I can win an argument too…

  245. BillyJoe7on 12 Jul 2016 at 12:26 am

    chikoppi

    “I’m no physicist, so I can’t speak of that field in particular. The phrase “there are no unknown unknowns” itself seems overly emphatic”

    That’s probably because, by itself, it IS overly emphatic.

    Note the qualifiers though:
    “as far as what can affect us in our everyday lives here on Earth”
    “The proviso is that Quantum Field Theory is correct”

    😉

  246. BillyJoe7on 12 Jul 2016 at 7:45 am

    Oh yeah, I forgot, when all else fails, hn simply resorts to lying:

    “Famous last words (“there are no unknown unknowns”)”

    This is what I actually said:

    “But what they do say is that, as far as what can affect us in our everyday lives here on Earth, they know what they know, and they know what they don’t know. But there are no unknown unknowns. There are no more particles or forces left to be discovered that could effect our everyday lives here on Earth.
    The proviso is that Quantum Field Theory is correct – and it is the most successful theory of QM, being consistent with every observation and experiment ever conducted in QM with not a single result to throw it into doubt.”

  247. Steven Novellaon 12 Jul 2016 at 9:34 am

    “The statement is often made here that everything is known, for all practical purposes, and therefore materialism is correct. The statement is obviously wrong, and I point that out.”

    HN – you continue to labor under an invalid epistemology. First, your summary of our position is a straw man. No one claims that everything is known. That is also not the basis of concluding that methodological naturalism (what you inaccurately refer to as materialism) is a valid approach.

    Methodological naturalism is a necessary premise to science, because science cannot deal with magic.

    Further, science is agnostic toward belief in magic or the supernatural or anything non-material. It does not require rejection of these things (that is philosophical naturalism). It’s methods function within the arena of naturalism.

    This is because science is not about what is correct or true, but what we can know. That’s it. We create models that account for the world we observe and make predictions about what we will observe, and those models are judged and are tweaked based upon how well they account for and predict empirical observation.

    We don’t reject your ideas because we can prove they are wrong – they are “not even wrong.”

  248. hardnoseon 12 Jul 2016 at 9:45 am

    “science is agnostic toward belief in magic or the supernatural or anything non-material.”

    That statement is impossible to interpret. You have not defined “magic” or “supernatural” or “material” or “non-material.”

    Your philosophy is based on impressions and emotions, and the terminology is not defined.

  249. hardnoseon 12 Jul 2016 at 9:46 am

    “There are no more particles or forces left to be discovered that could effect our everyday lives here on Earth.”

    How could anyone possibly know that?

  250. hardnoseon 12 Jul 2016 at 9:47 am

    [For years, your entire philosophy has been consistent, i.e. “Scientists don’t know everything, therefore my own preferred belief system is correct.”]

    That statement is stupid and I have NEVER said or implied anything like that.

  251. mumadaddon 12 Jul 2016 at 9:54 am

    Hn,

    Let’s clarify something. Is this statement true or false:

    Nothing can exist within this universe that cannot, at least in principle, be detected.

  252. Steven Novellaon 12 Jul 2016 at 10:19 am

    HN – nice dodge. I actually have defined “supernatural” I wrote an entire post about it. http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/science-and-supernaturalism/

    In which I state: “But for the sake of this hypothetical question let’s define supernatural as any phenomena that defies or suspends what are otherwise constant and immutable laws of nature.”

    In practice, “supernatural” or “magical” explanations are ones that are not falsifiable, because they don’t follow naturalistic rules. We could also say that they defy causality.

    “Material” is simply anything that constitutes the universe.

    Your position is invalid because you consistently interpret following methodological naturalism, which is absolutely necessary for science, and is a process not a conclusion, with a particular conclusion that you do not like for purely ideological reasons.

  253. Willyon 12 Jul 2016 at 10:23 am

    steve12: Yeah. Like I noted a bit further above, the contrast in “styles” between our two doctors couldn’t be more extreme.

  254. Karl Withakayon 12 Jul 2016 at 10:47 am

    “How could anyone possibly know that?”

    Because if it can affect our everyday lives, it can be detected.

    Sean Carroll:

    “Of course revolutions can always happen, but there’s every reason to believe that our current understanding is complete within the everyday realm. Using the framework of quantum field theory — which we have no reason to doubt in this regime — we can classify the kinds of new particles and forces that could conceivably exist, and go look for them. It’s absolutely possible that such particles and forces do exist, but they must be hidden from us somehow: either the particles are too massive to be produced, or decay too quickly to be detected, or interact too weakly to influence ordinary matter; and the forces are either too weak or too short-range to be noticed. In any of those cases, if they can’t be found by our current techniques, they are also unable to influence what we see in our everyday lives. We have very little idea how big the region of our understanding is, compared to all that there is to be understood; but we know that it’s bigger than what we need to understand to make sense of the world we see with our unaided senses.”

    http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2010/09/23/the-laws-underlying-the-physics-of-everyday-life-are-completely-understood/

    http://preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2010/09/29/seriously-the-laws-underlying-the-physics-of-everyday-life-really-are-completely-understood/

    http://preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2010/10/01/one-last-stab/

  255. Steven Novellaon 12 Jul 2016 at 10:57 am

    This is another aspect of science and knowledge often missed by the likes of HN and ME. Scientific knowledge, once a discipline is reasonably mature, advances mostly by deepening our understanding, not by overturning our basic knowledge.

    DNA is the molecule of inheritance. This is established beyond reasonable doubt. It will always be true. We can essentially dismiss any notion that this is not true. This does not require us to know everything, or to know every aspect of how DNA and inheritance work. As science progresses we have deeper and deeper knowledge about how DNA works, is regulated, interacts with other biological systems, and evolves. We learn more about the structure and functional details of DNA – but none of it has the capacity to overturn the basic fact that DNA largely contains the information of inheritance.

    That is what Sean Carroll is talking about with physics. The standard model of particle physics is true, and will always be true. It is incomplete, absolutely, and there are deeper questions about what underlies the standard model, but they will never invalidate the model itself. For the everyday macroscopic world, the environment in which we live, the probability is extremely high that there are no unknown forces at work – so much that we can treat it as a certainty. We may deepen our understanding of the forces, but not fundamentally change them. Invoking an unknown force to explain macroscopic phenomena at the human scale is simply not viable.

  256. Karl Withakayon 12 Jul 2016 at 10:58 am

    … go ahead, make yourself look foolish and dismiss Sean Carroll’s well laid out position with a hand wave and a verbal “pfft”.

  257. michaelegnoron 12 Jul 2016 at 11:59 am

    Steven:

    [“But for the sake of this hypothetical question let’s define supernatural as any phenomena that defies or suspends what are otherwise constant and immutable laws of nature.”]

    Which would label the Big Bang and black holes as supernatural–both entail singularities in which “constant and immutable laws of nature” are undefined.

    I do believe that Big Bang was supernatural. We agree on something.

  258. Steven Novellaon 12 Jul 2016 at 12:05 pm

    Michael – incorrect, because the laws of physics that we currently understand do not apply to the big bang. We need a theory of quantum gravity in order to explain how physics behaves in the singularity, and we don’t have that.

    Unknown is not supernatural.

  259. michaelegnoron 12 Jul 2016 at 12:06 pm

    Steven:

    [For the everyday macroscopic world, the environment in which we live, the probability is extremely high that there are no unknown forces at work – so much that we can treat it as a certainty. We may deepen our understanding of the forces, but not fundamentally change them. Invoking an unknown force to explain macroscopic phenomena at the human scale is simply not viable.]

    Such a thing has been said throughout history. Most people believe that their moment in history is the culmination of knowledge, and nothing more substantial can be expected. They believed that just before Aristotle, just before Copernicus, just before Galileo, just before Newton, just before Pasteur, just before Einstein, just before Schrodinger.

    At no point in history was the statement “there are no unknown forces at work” true. Neither is it true now.

  260. hardnoseon 12 Jul 2016 at 12:09 pm

    “let’s define supernatural as any phenomena that defies or suspends what are otherwise constant and immutable laws of nature.”

    That is not a good definition.

    For one thing, you are assuming that all the laws of nature are already known to science.

    And you are assuming the things you do not believe in, such as oriental healing methods, defy known laws of nature. That is not true.

  261. hardnoseon 12 Jul 2016 at 12:11 pm

    “Nothing can exist within this universe that cannot, at least in principle, be detected.”

    Everything can be detected as long as there is an organ or instrument capable of detecting it. So that’s a meaningless statement.

  262. michaelegnoron 12 Jul 2016 at 12:11 pm

    Steven:

    A singularity is a state of nature in which the laws of physics are undefined, quantum gravity notwithstanding, and this fits your definition of supernatural quite well.

  263. hardnoseon 12 Jul 2016 at 12:11 pm

    “This is another aspect of science and knowledge often missed by the likes of HN and ME.”

    There is no reason to throw me in with ME. I disagree with him in many ways.

  264. hardnoseon 12 Jul 2016 at 12:13 pm

    “Scientific knowledge, once a discipline is reasonably mature, advances mostly by deepening our understanding, not by overturning our basic knowledge.”

    That’s what some physicists said, not long before Einstein’s theory of relativity.

  265. michaelegnoron 12 Jul 2016 at 12:14 pm

    Muma:

    “Nothing can exist within this universe that cannot, at least in principle, be detected.”

    Are numbers natural or supernatural? Are they in the universe? If yes, how can they be detected?

  266. michaelegnoron 12 Jul 2016 at 12:15 pm

    [There is no reason to throw me in with ME. I disagree with him in many ways.]

    And that would be…

  267. hardnoseon 12 Jul 2016 at 12:17 pm

    “For the everyday macroscopic world, the environment in which we live, the probability is extremely high that there are no unknown forces at work – so much that we can treat it as a certainty.”

    Quantum effects have been found to be involved in photosynthesis and bird navigation. And who knows what else. And are these quantum effects completely understood? And what other unknown factors might be involved in what other biological processes.

    Sean Carroll WANTS to believe current scientific understanding is, for practical purposes, complete.

  268. hardnoseon 12 Jul 2016 at 12:19 pm

    “Are numbers natural or supernatural? Are they in the universe? If yes, how can they be detected?”

    Not a good argument, ME. I can think about green unicorns as easily as I can think about numbers, but no green unicorns are likely to ever be detected.

  269. mumadaddon 12 Jul 2016 at 12:21 pm

    Michael,

    “Are numbers natural or supernatural? Are they in the universe? If yes, how can they be detected?”

    Okay, sloppy phrasing on my part so I’ll rephrase:

    NothingNo phenomenon can exist within this universe that cannot, at least in principle, be detected.

    Are numbers a phenomenon? 😉

  270. hardnoseon 12 Jul 2016 at 12:21 pm

    “Unknown is not supernatural.”

    But some of what we call “supernatural” might be things that are currently unknown, but will be known eventually.

  271. Steven Novellaon 12 Jul 2016 at 12:26 pm

    No, not complete. You missed the point again, as did Egnor. You are both simply incapable of understanding this point.

    I am not arguing that science is done, or that our understand is complete. And you absolutely cannot compare pre-scientific points in history to a mature science, which is what I was specifically referring to.

    You both ignored by primary example, DNA as the molecule of inheritance. Really try to wrap your head around this. What do you two think the chances are that we will one day discover that DNA is NOT the molecule of inheritance, or that some other mechanism will be dominant?

    The point you both consistently miss is that we do not need a complete understanding of how genetics and epigenetics work in order to be highly confident that DNA is the mechanism of inheritance.

    And Michael, you are simply wrong about the big bang. “Defines or suspends” the laws of physics is not the same thing as not being described by the current laws of physics. This is a known unknown – we don’t have a description of quantum gravity.

  272. michaelegnoron 12 Jul 2016 at 12:26 pm

    HN:

    And your thought about green unicorns exists, although green unicorns themselves don’t.

    Objects of thought, whether conceptual or perceptual, must exist in some sense, or we couldn’t think them or talk about them.

    How they exist is at the heart of the question of what the mind is.

    Materialism flounders on such questions.

  273. Steven Novellaon 12 Jul 2016 at 12:26 pm

    HN – please just read the article I linked to

  274. hardnoseon 12 Jul 2016 at 12:27 pm

    “The standard model of particle physics is true, and will always be true. It is incomplete, absolutely, and there are deeper questions about what underlies the standard model, but they will never invalidate the model itself.”

    So there is a superficial understanding about particles, no real understanding about what underlies them. What kind of “truth” is that?

  275. hardnoseon 12 Jul 2016 at 12:27 pm

    “Materialism flounders on such questions.”

    No it doesn’t. You are misusing the word “exists.”

  276. hardnoseon 12 Jul 2016 at 12:29 pm

    “What do you two think the chances are that we will one day discover that DNA is NOT the molecule of inheritance, or that some other mechanism will be dominant?”

    Inheritance is one small part of what DNA does, and the rest is mostly not understood. Furthermore, other parts of the cell besides DNA are thought to be involved in inheritance.

  277. michaelegnoron 12 Jul 2016 at 12:31 pm

    muma:

    [No phenomenon can exist within this universe that cannot, at least in principle, be detected.]

    “Phenomenon” is an object of direct experience. So you are merely restating the defintion of phenomenon by stating that it can be detected. ‘Phenomenon’ is defined as ‘that which is detected’.

    Keep trying.

  278. michaelegnoron 12 Jul 2016 at 12:34 pm

    HN:

    [No it doesn’t. You are misusing the word “exists.”]

    No. ‘Exist’ is not a genus, so it can’t be misused. It can only be contrasted to non-existence, which is nothing. You need to bone up on Aquinas.

    Thoughts exist. How they exist is the question.

  279. Karl Withakayon 12 Jul 2016 at 12:42 pm

    “Quantum effects have been found to be involved in photosynthesis and bird navigation. And who knows what else. And are these quantum effects completely understood? And what other unknown factors might be involved in what other biological processes.

    Sean Carroll WANTS to believe current scientific understanding is, for practical purposes, complete.”

    If you had actually read and understood the three linked articles by Carroll, you’d appreciate that we don’t need to -completely- understand those quantum affects for his position to be valid. We understand them well enough to explain everyday life. Further understanding may provide deeper insight into the underlying nature of things, but it very likely will not change what we already know.

    Special relativity replaced Newtonian mechanics for reference frames a significant percentage of the speed of light, but it didn’t invalidate Newtonian mechanics in general. Likewise, any new discoveries are not likely to overthrow what we already know governing every day life. We’re not likely going to discover a psychic force that transmits information to/from human brains. We’re not going to discover the ability to levitate through the power of the mind.

  280. Karl Withakayon 12 Jul 2016 at 12:44 pm

    “So there is a superficial understanding about particles, no real understanding about what underlies them. What kind of “truth” is that?”

    Enough to explain everyday life without invoking additional complications, especially unsupported ones.

  281. steve12on 12 Jul 2016 at 12:45 pm

    “No. ‘Exist’ is not a genus, so it can’t be misused. It can only be contrasted to non-existence, which is nothing. You need to bone up on Aquinas.”

    Philosophical nonsense used to back a straw man argument. The Catholicism just adds flair!

    Your BS game in strong, Egnor.

  282. Karl Withakayon 12 Jul 2016 at 12:45 pm

    note- editing typo:

    “completely- understand those quantum affects for his position to be valid. ”

    should read

    “completely- understand those quantum effects for his position to be valid. ”

    in my comment on 12 Jul 2016 at 12:42 pm

  283. steve12on 12 Jul 2016 at 12:58 pm

    In a larger context, I like that Egnor, The Troll, et al. use metaphysics as their escape hatch.

    Ya know what metaphysics is? Horseshit that allows people to posit all the unfalsifiable garbage about reality that they want w/o account.

    Does it HAVE to be BS? No. But when is it NOT used as an escape hatch from science based arguments?

    My favorite is Egnor’s contention that, because science would be subsumed under metaphysics as a subject matter in philosophy class, science has to pass HIS religious metaphysical tests (which all have magic as an axiom, btw). That really is the central absurdity that all of his philosophizin’ boils down to. Count me not fooled.

    BOTTOM LINE:

    Science has built the modern world in a few HUNDRED years.

    Metaphysics has been having the same tired conversations for a few THOUSAND years with no change.

    SCOREBOARD.

  284. Steven Novellaon 12 Jul 2016 at 1:19 pm

    HN – “superficial” is relative, and this gets to the heart of your BS that no one here is buying. You may not literally say science knows nothing, but you treat all current scientific knowledge has hopelessly superficial, or at least just superficial enough that you feel justified in inserting whatever belief you desire.

    That is the BS. Our understanding of DNA is not superficial. Our understanding of particle physics is not superficial. It is profound. But at the same time we know there are deeper levels still.

    In practice you argue as if, until we get to the bottom layer of knowledge, we effectively know nothing, or at least not enough to argue against your belief system.

    This is ad hoc special pleading.

  285. ccbowerson 12 Jul 2016 at 1:31 pm

    “We don’t know everything so we don’t know anything”

    This has been described as HN’s persepctive, and I probably said that myself at some point as well, but I think it is more accurate to describe it as

    “We don’t know everything, therefore anything is possible, therefore immaterialism. But for sure the universe is conscious”

  286. mumadaddon 12 Jul 2016 at 1:43 pm

    Michael,

    ““Phenomenon” is an object of direct experience. So you are merely restating the defintion of phenomenon by stating that it can be detected. ‘Phenomenon’ is defined as ‘that which is detected’.”

    So phenomon = ‘object of direct experience’? Well okay, you can keep using that definition if you like. I’m not sure what your point is — this was a question aimed at hn to get him to agree that things which exist in reality are all in priciple detectable. Like spirits and demons, for example. You pointing out its circularity is not exactly incisive…

    Anyway, I now need to go and make some salsa. Wait, does the salsa exist yet or not?

  287. michaelegnoron 12 Jul 2016 at 2:18 pm

    mum:

    The point was that your claim that all things that exist in reality can be detected using the methods of science is disproved by numbers (and many other things).

    Numbers certainly exist–we use them, talk about them, all the time. But they don’t exist in such a way that they can be ‘detected’ by the methods of physical science. You can’t find 4 or the square root of negative 1 by looking in a microscope.

    Some things exist materially, and are the proper object of scientific study. Some things exist mentally, and are the proper object of mathematics, logic, literature, etc.

    Bottom line: materialism, in its various iterations, is a lousy metaphysical system.

  288. RickKon 12 Jul 2016 at 2:32 pm

    HN: “What kind of “truth” is that?”

    The kind that can make the most accurate predictions humanity has ever known. If I could predict every action you take for the rest of your life, with complete accuracy, would you call my understanding of you “superficial”?

    SN: “We may deepen our understanding of the forces, but not fundamentally change them. Invoking an unknown force to explain macroscopic phenomena at the human scale is simply not viable.”

    ME responded: “Most people believe that their moment in history is the culmination of knowledge, and nothing more substantial can be expected.”

    Of course, that’s not what Steven said. Do you honestly believe Newtonian mechanics will be found to not work? That the predictive value of the Standard Model will fail? Aristotle’s physics and cosmology made measurably bad predictions.

    SN: “Unknown is not supernatural.”

    Of COURSE the unknown is supernatural if you have an unshakable belief in an interventionist, relevant deity. Such a God has been pushed out of the known forces and laws of nature. There’s no room for such a God anywhere except in the unknown, so that MUST be where He lives and acts.

    Geez Steve… can’t you understand that??? You must not be reading your Aquinas!

  289. steve12on 12 Jul 2016 at 2:35 pm

    “Bottom line: materialism, in its various iterations, is a lousy metaphysical system.”

    But see my comment above for why this is nonsense:

    # steve12on 12 Jul 2016 at 12:58 pm

  290. steve12on 12 Jul 2016 at 2:36 pm

    And the idea that though disprove materialism…hopefully stupid.

    Yet metaphysically sound. Imagine that.

  291. leoneton 12 Jul 2016 at 2:45 pm

    michaelegnor, it’s only you who keeps insisting that ‘materialism’ is a complete metaphysical system (good or bad) so you can criticize people for positions that they don’t actually hold. In fact, thoughts and concepts fit quite neatly into the scientific understanding of the universe derived from methodological naturalism, because they correlate with states of our brains. However, because good scientists generally avoid making extravagant claims, we don’t claim that this understanding is the complete, ultimate truth; only that it explains all current observations.

    This conversation can’t really be productive until you decide to bring something more than dishonest strawman arguments to the table.

  292. mumadaddon 12 Jul 2016 at 3:04 pm

    Michael,

    “The point was that your claim that all things that exist in reality can be detected using the methods of science is disproved by numbers (and many other things).”

    Here’s what I’m bothered about — what do we know, how do we know it, what is the most realiable process to attain knowledge. Pretty straight forward, right? We’re talking about science and evidence, and you’re countering with ancient metaphysics — this is conspicuous to say the least; in fact, it sticks out like a gaint red baboon’s arse.

    You are seriously trying to undermine science as epistemology because things can ‘exist’ conceptually but have no physical referent to which we can point? You are playing semantic games to distract from the outright silliness of your beliefs.

  293. hardnoseon 12 Jul 2016 at 3:07 pm

    “No. ‘Exist’ is not a genus, so it can’t be misused. It can only be contrasted to non-existence, which is nothing. You need to bone up on Aquinas.”

    You are using the word in a very confusing way, no matter what Aquinas might have said. If someone asks “Does the tooth fairy really exist?” and you say “Yes, of course, I can imagine a tooth fairy, so it must exist” then the conversation sounds like something out of Alice in Wonderland. Not helpful, not the least bit scientific. If you want the Skeptics here to listen to you, it’s better to use words how we actually use them, and to define them in some kind of a scientific way.

  294. mumadaddon 12 Jul 2016 at 3:10 pm

    Michael,

    And, I might add, I have asked you twice now (well, this is thrice): if we assume your chosen metaphysics for the sake of argument, is there some reason we should also accept a different standard of evidence?

    I’m just trying to work out why you wouldn’t expect reliable, repeatable, evidence for things such as disembodied minds or demons, and why you would expect us to accept these claims without such evidence.

  295. hardnoseon 12 Jul 2016 at 3:11 pm

    “you treat all current scientific knowledge has hopelessly superficial, or at least just superficial enough that you feel justified in inserting whatever belief you desire.”

    I do NOT believe things because of desire, or ideology. I believe what seems to make the most sense and to be the most scientific, given the current evidence.

    “That is the BS. Our understanding of DNA is not superficial. Our understanding of particle physics is not superficial. It is profound. But at the same time we know there are deeper levels still.”

    There are deeper levels, and I think we can’t even begin to imagine how deep the levels go. Our understanding is superficial, relative to the unknown unknowns.

  296. hardnoseon 12 Jul 2016 at 3:13 pm

    [If I could predict every action you take for the rest of your life, with complete accuracy, would you call my understanding of you “superficial”?]

    You can’t, so why ask the question?

  297. mumadaddon 12 Jul 2016 at 3:14 pm

    “There are deeper levels, and I think we can’t even begin to imagine how deep the levels go. Our understanding is superficial, relative to the unknown unknowns.”

    So apparently hn knows something about the unknown unknowns. How is this possible, I wonder.

  298. hardnoseon 12 Jul 2016 at 3:16 pm

    “Of COURSE the unknown is supernatural if you have an unshakable belief in an interventionist, relevant deity.”

    Maybe someone else said they had that belief, but I never did.

  299. Steven Novellaon 12 Jul 2016 at 3:26 pm

    But again, it doesn’t matter how deep they go. Deeper levels do no invalidate the more superficial levels. They generally just relegate the superficial levels to a subset or special case of the deeper levels.

    Newtonian mechanics and relativity are an excellent example.

    Asimov used the shape of the world. It is a sphere. That is true enough. But wait, it is an oblate spheroid. But wait, it is actually an asymmetrical oblate spheroid. We can go deeper still if we want to explain why large planets are basically spherical. We can get into gravity and the mathematics involved. But then don’t we have to then have a deep understanding of gravity, and of spacetime, and matter?

    None of these deeper levels invalidate the fact that the world is much closer to a sphere than a cube or an icosahedron. We will never discover that the Earth is actually flat, or a cube. So, if I am making an argument about how best to get from point a to point b on the globe, and I assume for my argument that the Earth is a sphere, you are essentially telling me that there are deeper levels of understanding of the precise shape of the Earth and why it is shaped that way, and that I don’t have a complete understanding of matter and spacetime, which means I cannot assume the Earth is a sphere, and it is arrogant to assume it isn’t a cube.

    That is exactly what you are doing.

  300. NotAMarsupialon 12 Jul 2016 at 4:02 pm

    I’m running out of popcorn.

  301. ccbowerson 12 Jul 2016 at 4:03 pm

    “You are seriously trying to undermine science as epistemology because things can ‘exist’ conceptually but have no physical referent to which we can point? You are playing semantic games to distract from the outright silliness of your beliefs.”

    ME, can you appreciate how much irony there is in that last sentence? You are playing with and conflating the term “exist” in the metaphysical and metaphorical sense.

    The argument that materialism is false because you can think about something that is incompatible materialism is one of the least convincing arguments I have heard. Abstract concepts do not exist the same sense that material objects do. That is not a knock on materialism, but mere confusion and/or obfuscation on your part.

    Even Hardnose can’t make that work.

  302. michaelegnoron 12 Jul 2016 at 4:05 pm

    leo:

    [it’s only you who keeps insisting that ‘materialism’ is a complete metaphysical system (good or bad) so you can criticize people for positions that they don’t actually hold.]

    You deny materialism. So you admit the existence of immaterial things?

    [In fact, thoughts and concepts fit quite neatly into the scientific understanding of the universe derived from methodological naturalism, because they correlate with states of our brains.]

    The correlation is quite poor. And methodological naturalism doesn’t establish the ontological status of things like thoughts. You can’t escape metaphysics.

    [However, because good scientists generally avoid making extravagant claims]

    So you admit that climate scientists and evolutionary biologists aren’t good scientists. I agree.

    [we don’t claim that this understanding is the complete, ultimate truth; only that it explains all current observations.]

    ALL current observations? Are you kidding? What drug are you on?

    [This conversation can’t really be productive until you decide to bring something more than dishonest strawman arguments to the table.]

    So tell me about your metaphysical perspective, so I won’t have to make assumptions.

  303. mumadaddon 12 Jul 2016 at 4:10 pm

    Michael,

    “The correlation is quite poor. And methodological naturalism doesn’t establish the ontological status of things like thoughts. You can’t escape metaphysics.”

    But you can, apparently without justification, escape the evidence.

  304. michaelegnoron 12 Jul 2016 at 4:11 pm

    muma:

    [You are seriously trying to undermine science as epistemology because things can ‘exist’ conceptually but have no physical referent to which we can point?]

    Of course I’m undermining science as epistemology. Science (meaning methodological naturalism) is a pathetic epistemology. It provides no insight into mathematics, logic, history, metaphysics, ethics, politics, sociology, music, art, and a billion other things. Science is a limited way of exploring a limited aspect of knowledge. What it does, it does reasonably well in some respects, but it does very little when the complete range of knowledge is taken into account.

    Scientism is an seriously disordered ideology, not infrequently a manifestation of Asperger’s syndome, in my view.

  305. chikoppion 12 Jul 2016 at 4:17 pm

    “Numbers certainly exist–we use them, talk about them, all the time. But they don’t exist in such a way that they can be ‘detected’ by the methods of physical science. You can’t find 4 or the square root of negative 1 by looking in a microscope.”

    The ontological fallacy is a pet peeve of mine.

    Things like numbers, geometry, and abstract qualities (e.g. hot, big, far, etc.) are concepts, or “universals.” They are cognitive mechanisms brains use to order, compare, relate, and classify perceptions.

    Universals don’t exist except as a neurological feature of particular brains. The fact that multiple brains can utilize these neurological features doesn’t mean they exist as separate entities. It means that multiple brains have similar faculties.

    Plato thought the universe came prepackaged with a metaphysical “ideal chair,” of which all other chairs were merely an imperfect reflection. To claim universal concepts actually exist apart from the function of brains is to claim that every possible concept has a metaphysical ghost that exists separate from the things that concept is used to describe.

  306. michaelegnoron 12 Jul 2016 at 4:20 pm

    HN:

    [You are using the word in a very confusing way, no matter what Aquinas might have said. If someone asks “Does the tooth fairy really exist?” and you say “Yes, of course, I can imagine a tooth fairy, so it must exist” then the conversation sounds like something out of Alice in Wonderland.]

    These guys live in Wonderland. I have no interest in diluting or bending the truth in order to gain the approval of these dolts. I tell the truth.

    I state it clearly: thoughts about imaginary things really exist, although the things don’t exist. Any genuine understanding of nature needs to explain what these thoughts are. Materialism fails, obviously, and other metaphysical systems, such as Cartesianism and its progeny, fail as well. Aristotelian hylemorphism succeeds rather well, which is why I study it and endorse it.

    [Not helpful, not the least bit scientific. If you want the Skeptics here to listen to you, it’s better to use words how we actually use them, and to define them in some kind of a scientific way.]

    I am not here to convince them. I’m here to tell the truth, without pulling punches. These misfits already get too much deference. Most of them are rank idiots, and they are doing incalculable damage to the scientific profession and to the state of human knowledge.

    I learned a long time ago that the only way to approach materialists and atheists is: “we win, you lose.”

    I come here because I like the fight.

  307. mumadaddon 12 Jul 2016 at 4:25 pm

    Michael,

    Four times and counting; one question, simple yes or no response required:

    “And, I might add, I have asked you twice now (well, this is thrice): if we assume your chosen metaphysics for the sake of argument, is there some reason we should also accept a different standard of evidence?”

  308. mumadaddon 12 Jul 2016 at 4:29 pm

    Re your screed above: I thought God arranged people and situations that you encounter, like pieces on a cosmic chess board, so that you canearn valuable lessons? So surely, in your own terms, we’re here to teach you.

  309. mumadaddon 12 Jul 2016 at 4:30 pm

    *can learn* phone again…

  310. michaelegnoron 12 Jul 2016 at 4:30 pm

    Chi:

    [The ontological fallacy is a pet peeve of mine.]

    Gibberish is a pet peeve of mine.

    [Universals don’t exist except as a neurological feature of particular brains.]

    Universals don’t exist in brains, because universals are not particulars and cannot (by what they are) have instantiation in particular material things (like the brain).

    Universals certainly exist, as demonstrated by the fact that we talk about them. Whether they exist in a Platonic realm, in Aristotelian semi-realism, or in the nominalist sense of Ockham, is an open question.

    I’m an Aristotelian semi-realist: universals are forms (intelligible principles) that exist potentially in particulars and actually in the intellect when they are contemplated.

    You seem to be a nominalist, which I think is a serious error, but at least it is a marginally coherent viewpoint, unlike the word salad of the crowd here.

  311. steve12on 12 Jul 2016 at 4:32 pm

    “I’m here to tell the truth, without pulling punches.”

    Then says:

    “You deny materialism. So you admit the existence of immaterial things?”

    This is the sort of superficial BS in which Egnor trades. No real discussion, No real engagement.

    And as with all good Christian apologists, the goal is only dialectics-deep. Given this shallow aim and malleable assumptions, of course you can subordinate scientific truth to metaphysical nonsense!

    The problem, as I have pointed out, is the SCOREBOARD.

  312. chikoppion 12 Jul 2016 at 4:32 pm

    “I state it clearly: thoughts about imaginary things really exist, although the things don’t exist. Any genuine understanding of nature needs to explain what these thoughts are. Materialism fails, obviously, and other metaphysical systems, such as Cartesianism and its progeny, fail as well. Aristotelian hylemorphism succeeds rather well, which is why I study it and endorse it.”

    Materialism fails to explain “thoughts?” You know about brains, right?

  313. michaelegnoron 12 Jul 2016 at 4:33 pm

    mum:

    [“And, I might add, I have asked you twice now (well, this is thrice): if we assume your chosen metaphysics for the sake of argument, is there some reason we should also accept a different standard of evidence?”]

    You should accept logic, which for you is a different standard of evidence.

  314. michaelegnoron 12 Jul 2016 at 4:35 pm

    muma:

    [Re your screed above: I thought God arranged people and situations that you encounter, like pieces on a cosmic chess board, so that you canearn valuable lessons? So surely, in your own terms, we’re here to teach you.]

    Yes. My dealing with you guys is like out-of-season Lent.

  315. mumadaddon 12 Jul 2016 at 4:38 pm

    If logic tells me that something exists, and that this thing should have certain attributes or do certain things, but then testing for these things draw a blank, I know that either my logic is faulty or the premises from which I reasoned are.

    Nice dodge, by the way. Why should disembodied minds evade well constructed and controlled testing?

  316. chikoppion 12 Jul 2016 at 4:41 pm

    “I’m an Aristotelian semi-realist: universals are forms (intelligible principles) that exist potentially in particulars and actually in the intellect when they are contemplated.”

    We’ll have to part ways here then. Delete all brains from the universe and I don’t think the concepts “rhomboid,” or “fuzzy,” or “chair” continue persisting in some metaphisical sense.

  317. steve12on 12 Jul 2016 at 4:42 pm

    “Universals don’t exist in brains, because universals are not particulars and cannot (by what they are) have instantiation in particular material things (like the brain).”

    Ha! As if nature has to slave itself to this very dialectic construction!

    It’s like Biederman’s geons, but with a less empirical basis….

  318. Steven Novellaon 12 Jul 2016 at 4:43 pm

    Hylomorphism is incoherent nonsense. It assumes that living things need a soul to be alive. It is not even internally consistent. It amounts to little more than semantic games. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle-psychology/suppl1.html

    The idea that materialism does not account for concepts is likewise semantic incoherent nonsense. At all times any concept that can be said to exist has a representation in a physical medium.

    Before ME even goes there – we don’t have to understand exactly how the physical medium works in arbitrary detail to know that it is the medium.

  319. steve12on 12 Jul 2016 at 4:58 pm

    “Hylomorphism ”

    That’s what I was trying to remember last night when I was talking about a religious friend sending me his metaphysical science objections that had teleological assumptions….

  320. michaelegnoron 12 Jul 2016 at 5:03 pm

    chi:

    [We’ll have to part ways here then. Delete all brains from the universe and I don’t think the concepts “rhomboid,” or “fuzzy,” or “chair” continue persisting in some metaphisical sense.]

    We do part ways. At least you take a coherent view.

    Regarding the existence of rhomboids without brains, it’s an interesting question. It’s the question as to whether mathematics is discovered or created.

    I think it’s discovered. I think mathematics, and all creation, exist as ideas in God’s mind, and we participate in those ideas.

    Aside from the religious perspective, I think a purely logical case can be make for mathematical realism. The laws of nature obviously antedated man, and the laws of nature hew closely to mathematical constructs. It’s most reasonable to infer that mathematical constructs (for example, the mathematics of general relativity) have existed for as long as the universe has existed.

  321. michaelegnoron 12 Jul 2016 at 5:16 pm

    Steven:

    [Hylomorphism is incoherent nonsense. It assumes that living things need a soul to be alive. It is not even internally consistent. It amounts to little more than semantic games.]

    Hylomorphism may be nonsense, but it’s certainly not incoherent. It’s the metaphysical predicate of Thomism, which is the most coherent metaphysical/theological system ever created by man. It covers every aspect of existence from God to nature to man to psychology to ethics. You may believe it’s nonsense, but it is a remarkably coherent view of existence.

    [The idea that materialism does not account for concepts is likewise semantic incoherent nonsense. At all times any concept that can be said to exist has a representation in a physical medium.]

    There is a difference between representation and instantiation. I can give you a representation (a picture) of a million dollars, or I can give you a million dollars. Representation is not instantiation.

    We all agree that concepts (universals) can be represented in a physical medium. That’s what we’re doing here–arguing about ideas in comboxes. But the concept (universal) itself can’t have instantiation in a physical medium, because if it can be instantiated physically, it’s not a universal.

    The square root of negative one can be represented on paper or a computer screen, but it cannot be instantiated physically.

    Since concepts (universals) cannot be instantiated physically, they cannot be in the brain, which is a physical thing. If they cannot be in the brain, they cannot be made by the brain.

  322. michaelegnoron 12 Jul 2016 at 5:21 pm

    Steven:

    And if you make the argument that the representation of the universal in the brain is the thought itself, you’d be wrong. A representation presupposes that which it represents, so the representation presupposes the universal, and therefore can’t be the universal.

    If a concept (universal) is represented in the brain, the concept still requires explanation, and that explanation can’t be the representation, which presupposes the concept.

    Concepts are immaterial by their nature.

  323. hardnoseon 12 Jul 2016 at 5:37 pm

    “you are essentially telling me that there are deeper levels of understanding of the precise shape of the Earth and why it is shaped that way, and that I don’t have a complete understanding of matter and spacetime, which means I cannot assume the Earth is a sphere, and it is arrogant to assume it isn’t a cube.”

    No, you completely misunderstand my perspective. If vital energy does exist, for example, that in no way contradicts all the other things that are known about life.

  324. hardnoseon 12 Jul 2016 at 5:45 pm

    @ME: [I am not here to convince them. I’m here to tell the truth, without pulling punches. These misfits already get too much deference. Most of them are rank idiots, and they are doing incalculable damage to the scientific profession and to the state of human knowledge.

    I learned a long time ago that the only way to approach materialists and atheists is: “we win, you lose.”

    I come here because I like the fight.]

    Then I think you will not accomplish anything here.

    This blog’s author is obviously not a “rank idiot.” He sincerely believes in materialism. I think he is confused, but I do not think he is stupid or crazy or evil. You are being tribal when you see your opponent as inferior to yourself.

    The things we argue about here are inherently confusing. It is very hard for people from different perspectives, or “tribes” to understand each other.

    Yes, I would like to see materialism die. For that we need parapsychology experiments that can be repeated by anyone. But the parapsychologists seem to be huddled together in their little tribe, not worried about convincing the materialists.

  325. hardnoseon 12 Jul 2016 at 5:52 pm

    “thoughts about imaginary things really exist, although the things don’t exist.”

    Well so what? We have to notice if the the things we imagine correspond to reality or not. That is what science is all about. When you make these statements it looks like you don’t care at all about science. And that just reinforces the incorrect idea that religious people can’t be scientific.

  326. michaelegnoron 12 Jul 2016 at 5:54 pm

    HN:

    I respect your perspective, but my experience in this war (and this an intellectual war) has been that there is little convincing to be had.

    The best I can do is to tell the truth as I understand it. I find that efforts to accommodate and find common ground end badly for the truth.

    I do this because I like the fight (sometimes), and it helps me understand these issues better because I have to hone my ideas in debate. If I convince someone along the way, fine.

    But I think you underestimate the malice of this crowd. I have found that the more you try to bring them to the truth, the more they hate you.

  327. ccbowerson 12 Jul 2016 at 5:55 pm

    At first we were just equivocating, now we are begging the question and engaging in circular reasoning.

    “If a concept (universal) is represented in the brain, the concept still requires explanation, and that explanation can’t be the representation, which presupposes the concept.”

    So if you can think of something, it must exist in some way? No, the concept does not require explanation. That does not follow. You are steeped in language that obfuscates.

    Concepts are just how our brains work, and thinking in the abstract can allow for enhanced problem solving and creativity, among other things.

    It does not mean we are directly tapping into reality.

  328. michaelegnoron 12 Jul 2016 at 6:07 pm

    ccbow:

    Try to keep your cat from walking on your keyboard. It makes incomprehensible strings of letters.

  329. hardnoseon 12 Jul 2016 at 6:53 pm

    “But I think you underestimate the malice of this crowd. I have found that the more you try to bring them to the truth, the more they hate you.”

    ME:

    I like debating here (sometimes) because it helps me understand both sides better. I don’t feel like I am bringing them “truth,” just trying to show that there are other ways of thinking. No one has the answers to the big questions.

    I know that materialism is wrong, that is obvious to me. But not so easy to explain, especially to people who don’t want to hear it.

    I do not underestimate the malice. People become vicious when their certainty, or their feeling of superiority, is threatened.

    But I get the same kind of reaction from Christians if I question any of their beliefs. They look at you with stony eyes and just say “Well the Bible says …”

    I would rather debate with materialists than rigid dogmatic Christians. Materialists make at least a minimal effort to be scientific.

    But both extremes are stubborn and close-minded. Any truth that can be found will never be found in dogmatic extremism.

  330. michaelegnoron 12 Jul 2016 at 7:28 pm

    HN:

    [But I get the same kind of reaction from Christians if I question any of their beliefs. They look at you with stony eyes and just say “Well the Bible says …”
    I would rather debate with materialists than rigid dogmatic Christians. Materialists make at least a minimal effort to be scientific.
    But both extremes are stubborn and close-minded. Any truth that can be found will never be found in dogmatic extremism.]

    My experience has been different. I started out as an atheist/agnostic, and converted about 15 years ago. I always found Christians to be open-minded and I always liked talking with them, even when we had strong differences. Even when I was an atheist, I didn’t always like other atheists. I was an Ayn Rand fan for a while, and some of the Randians were real assholes, like Rand herself.

    I’ve never had a bad time with a Christian, even when I wasn’t a Christian. Atheists have never particularly appealed to me even when I was one.

    And I won’t even begin to talk about the mainstream political form atheism has taken in my lifetime, which is communism…

  331. Willyon 12 Jul 2016 at 7:50 pm

    My, my, my. Dr. Egnor is in fine form, belittling those who disagree with him while at the same time not even trying to be helpful or constructive. Typical.

    If you, as I do in spades, lack an education in, and an understanding of, philosophy, don’t take his scorn to heart. He seems to feel that HIS knowledge in the fields HE has chosen, is all that is necessary. Woe be unto those who can’t converse at HIS level. But, not to worry. He shows gross ignorance, too. Consider this statement from him:

    “I call upon my “20 years [of performing] over 4000 brain operations” to attest that I have never once used evolutionary biology in my work. How could I since evolution is random and doctors look for patterns, patterns that lie far afield from the randomness that is evolution?”

    (Source: https://skeptic78240.wordpress.com/tag/michael-egnor/)

    How can a very vocal critic of evolution be so ignorant of what evolution is? Meantime, he can pick his favorite philosophers and you can pick yours, and, for many, many centuries, there is no agreement. Why, because there are no FACTS!! Just opinions.

    From his post immediately above: “Which is communism”. ROFLMFAO!!!

  332. chikoppion 12 Jul 2016 at 7:50 pm

    “And if you make the argument that the representation of the universal in the brain is the thought itself, you’d be wrong. A representation presupposes that which it represents, so the representation presupposes the universal, and therefore can’t be the universal.

    If a concept (universal) is represented in the brain, the concept still requires explanation, and that explanation can’t be the representation, which presupposes the concept.”

    I don’t agree with this. The brain receives discreet packets of stimuli, it perceives only particulars. Those independent stimuli are distributed and processed by multiple networked systems. Where similarities in the processing of stimuli correlates across multiple instances of perception, awareness of those similarities serves as a feedback mechanism.

    This feedback mechanism allows particulars to be classified into groups based on similar processing of associated stimuli. These classifications are what become described as “universals” (e.g., round, hard, loud, etc.). Ergo, “universals” describe the processing of stimuli within the brain.

    When I refer to “loud” I am referring to a particular set of stimuli. A thing is “loud” because those stimuli light up a particular set of neural pathways. If those pathways were damaged or destroyed, I would not be able to identify things that were “loud” nor would I classify them in a group. That universal would cease to exist for me because it is no longer is a function my brain is capable of.

    (This post was a hurried stream of consciousness, but I hope it makes sense.)

  333. ccbowerson 12 Jul 2016 at 9:51 pm

    “Try to keep your cat from walking on your keyboard. It makes incomprehensible strings of letters.”

    Well, I am responding to your ridiculous arguments. Smugness doesn’t fit well on anyone, yet alone a person with such poor arguments. It makes for a lot of trolls on this blog. And apparently a Michael Egnor.

    As far as I can tell, one of your central arguments is that the fact that we can think of concepts, and that concepts are not material, means materialism is false. As indicated in:

    ” the concept (universal) itself can’t have instantiation in a physical medium, because if it can be instantiated physically, it’s not a universal.”

    This is one of least convincing arguments I have heard. Abstract thought is what our brains do, and that does not make those concepts exist any more than language itself doesn’t generate things into existence.

    Hardnose has been on this blog fighting a similar cause, but does so by dodging the central argument and arguing around the periphery. You try a more direct in substance, but confused logical, argument, and it shows how weak the position actually is.

  334. ccbowerson 12 Jul 2016 at 9:59 pm

    “How could I since evolution is random and doctors look for patterns, patterns that lie far afield from the randomness that is evolution?”

    Yeah, there are no patterns in evolutionary biology. Why don’t you pull out some of that smugness again? The cat that ran across your keyboard that time must have recently been listening to misinformed fundamentalist creationist arguments.

  335. Steve Crosson 12 Jul 2016 at 10:51 pm

    ME,

    We get it. You believe in magic — just because. The problem is, you can’t really DO anything with it, except complain that we’re doing it wrong. Not only that, no one can seem to agree on which particular form of magic is preeminent.

    People have been speculating apparently forever about how there must be some extra special sauce that makes the world go round, but literally no one has ever been able to produce any tangible benefit from that speculation. After thousands of years of trying, no one has ever figured out how to make prayer reliable or predictable; no one has ever demonstrated any reliable or reproducible psychic power or supernatural event (or godly intervention); and no one has ever been able to prove the existence of any version of heaven or hell.

    The essence of science is predictability. We can’t really claim to understand something unless we can reliably predict the chain of events for a given starting condition. Indeed, mathematics (of which you clearly approve) wouldn’t be understandable or useful unless it was reliable and predictable.

    It is only by truly understanding cause and effect that we can have any hope of navigating the world. The scientific method has been the only successful tool for correctly identifying cause/effect relationships. If, as you hypothesize, there really is some magic sauce out there that is required to make the world work, then why can’t we measure it? Either the supernatural/immaterial world affects the physical world or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, then it is irrelevant.

    But if it does, then the results should be plainly observable. But we have never observed a cause/effect relationship that wasn’t explainable by purely physical means. Many, many, many things that once were equated with magic have been shown to be completely explainable by science. Certainly, there are some things that still require further explanation, but considering the track record (science: everything so far, magic: zero), it is ridiculously optimistic to make statements like “we don’t understand everything yet, therefore magic must be real”.

    But that is, in essence, exactly what you are doing when all you have to offer is objections i.e. speculation, word games and a few thousand years of wildly varying and often incompatible philosophical opinions, with no way to decide which (if any) is true or applicable to the real world. Simply basing your beliefs on whether something does or does not make sense to you personally is the absolute worst way to reach the truth and the best way to delude yourself. Unless you have testable hypotheses and reproducible results, you don’t know anything.

    P.S. I think you are projecting your own insecurities when you accuse us of malice. We wouldn’t feel malice towards a child simply for believing in Santa Clause. Likewise, while most of us are surprised that an ostensibly well-educated person could have so little understanding of logic and evidence, a more accurate term would be pity instead of anger or malice.

    On the other hand, it is easy to understand how you could become angry when your beliefs are challenged. Somewhere inside, deeply repressed, you’ve got a tiny voice that is screaming against the cognitive dissonance because it knows that you don’t have a logical leg to stand on.

  336. Willyon 12 Jul 2016 at 11:48 pm

    Steve Cross: But, but, but, Aristotle said so! So did Thomas Aquinas! You know, Thomists! HOW can you possibly deny the truth of the thoughts of people who existed many centuries ago? You must believe in “scientism”. LOL As for me, I will choose to isolate my wife for twice as long if she gives birth to a girl as to a boy. I LOVE the smell of burnt doves in the morning. Burnt rams are even more pleasing.

  337. BillyJoe7on 13 Jul 2016 at 12:31 am

    Egnor,

    “I think mathematics, and all creation, exist as ideas in God’s mind, and we participate in those ideas”

    That’s sort of cute, a bit sad, and a little embarrassing, all at the same time.

    “God” is a cop out, a dead end, and, ultimately, an irrelevance.
    Like “The Conscious Universe” is as an explanation for consciousness.
    Complete non-explanations.

    hn,

    “Materialists make at least a minimal effort to be scientific”

    Oh dear, and this from someone who is almost completely ignorant of science.

  338. hammyrexon 13 Jul 2016 at 12:41 am

    I am commenting for no other reason than to state my amusement that “the usual suspects” are literally endorsing demonology as real.

  339. DrNickon 13 Jul 2016 at 2:10 am

    In contrast to HN, Egnor’s comments are pure, unadulterated sophistry from start to finish. One incoherent word salad after another. It really is extraordinary the rhetorical lengths he goes to to obfuscate and cloak his remarks in meaningless jargon piled upon meaningless jargon.

    The fact that he believes that his nonsensical musings are profound is perhaps the saddest part. If he wasn’t such as asshole, I’d maybe feel sorry for him.

  340. RickKon 13 Jul 2016 at 5:50 am

    hardnose and Egnor are just two flavors of the same stale dish.

    Since there are still unanswered questions in nature, there is still room for God (Egnor) or unknown mystical forces (hardnose). It doesn’t matter that HN and Egnor a philosophical position that has no wins and uncountable losses, against the science that has provided the answer to every mystery of nature that has ever been solved.

    Because they don’t like the answer, they will always dismiss science, discredit scientists, claim they are the more open-minded, and cling with their last fragments of fingernails to any gap into which to shove their belief systems.

    In other words, they live for what we don’t know. They are the true disciples of ignorance. They glorify ignorance, they promote it, they exaggerate it, expand it, and wrap it in flowery philosophical mantles. Unlike scientists, who see ignorance as a frontier to conquer, HN and Egnor have no desire to shine a light of understanding into ignorance or to eliminate it. A growth in our understanding of nature only makes their chosen worlds smaller. A reduction in human ignorance only leaves less room for the beliefs they hold so dear: gods, demons, saints, angels, ESP and magic of many kinds.

    In holding fast to the beliefs from humanity’s infancy, in rejecting any answers that conflict with those infantile beliefs, they provide fine examples of what truly closed minds look like, and how motivated reasoning can be used to defend the locked gates of their intellect.

  341. hardnoseon 13 Jul 2016 at 6:50 am

    ME:

    I was an atheist for a while also, while in college, after being taught that science had disproved religion. I spent many years studying, trying to find out of that was true (no, it isn’t).

    I was not talking about all Christians, just the most dogmatic ones. Extremists on either side tend to be irrational.

  342. hardnoseon 13 Jul 2016 at 6:52 am

    “the science that has provided the answer to every mystery of nature that has ever been solved.”

    The questions that have been answered have been answered. Interesting.

  343. BillyJoe7on 13 Jul 2016 at 7:00 am

    me: “when I was an atheist”
    hn: “I was an atheist for a while”

    Oh dear…perhaps the light was a little too bright for these little guys. 😀

  344. BillyJoe7on 13 Jul 2016 at 7:04 am

    RK: “the science that has provided the answer to every mystery of nature that has ever been solved.”
    hn: “The questions that have been answered have been answered. Interesting.”

    Oh dear. Nope…please pay attention….
    The questions that have been answered have been answered by science

  345. BillyJoe7on 13 Jul 2016 at 7:28 am

    hn,

    “Our understanding is superficial, relative to the unknown unknowns”

    How could you possibly know? 😀

    Since the unknown unknowns are unknown, there may be no unknown unknowns at all for all we know.
    But you’re still avoiding responding to what was actually said:

    Quantum physicists have never said that they know everything.
    For example, they do not know what happens at the Big Bang and in Black Holes. They don’t know what Dark Matter and Dark Energy are. They have no problem at all in saying that they don’t know these things.
    But what they do say is that, as far as what can affect us in our everyday lives, there are known knowns, known unknows. But there are no unknown unknowns. There are no more particles or forces left to be discovered that could effect our everyday lives here on Earth.
    The proviso is that Quantum Field Theory is correct – and it is the most successful theory of QM, being consistent with every observation and experiment ever conducted in QM with not a single result to throw it into doubt”

    Big chance to showcase your knowledge of QM
    Instead of a big dismissive handwave, tell us exactly where the reasoning goes wrong in the following:

    He lays it out here:
    http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2010/09/23/the-laws-underlying-the-physics-of-everyday-life-are-completely-understood/

    Here he corrects misinterpretations of what he said – be sure to read this one!
    http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2010/09/29/seriously-the-laws-underlying-the-physics-of-everyday-life-really-are-completely-understood/

    Here he projects into the future (just in case you still don’t get it!)
    http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2010/10/01/one-last-stab/

    [Two more in the next post to avoid getting lost in moderation]

  346. BillyJoe7on 13 Jul 2016 at 7:32 am

    There is even an equation to make sure nothing is missed:
    http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2013/01/04/the-world-of-everyday-experience-in-one-equation/

    What this means for the paranormal…
    …as far as what can affect us in our everyday lives, there are no Unknown Unknowns:
    http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2008/02/18/telekinesis-and-quantum-field-theory/

  347. BillyJoe7on 13 Jul 2016 at 7:42 am

    A quote from the last link:

    “If parapsychologists followed the methodology of scientific inquiry, they would look what we know about the laws of physics, realize that their purported subject of study had already been ruled out, and within thirty seconds would declare themselves finished”

    And here is a demolition job on Dean Radin’s “the conscious universe”

    http://skepdic.com/refuge/radin1.html

    [This is a 13 page chapter by chapter book review – but it will save you the trouble of wasting your time reading 400 pages the actual book]

  348. Damloweton 13 Jul 2016 at 9:04 am

    *************Lets all play, “Name that logical fallacy” Aristotle edition.************

    Because our two Philosophical masters are at logger-heads over semantics, and who was the better atheist in their time. I figured they could slug it out by pointing out the others quantity of fallacies according to their king, Aristotle himself.

    I stumbled across this (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sophistical_Refutations) which apparently Aristotle himself put together. My o my, both ME and HN feature heavily.

    Damien

  349. steve12on 13 Jul 2016 at 9:54 am

    Egnor:

    “But I think you underestimate the malice of this crowd. I have found that the more you try to bring them to the truth, the more they hate you.”

    Oh Christ, here comes the Christian martyr / persecution complex…

    The person who comes here DRIPPING with contempt, the guy who’s an unrepentant racist and misogynist, is going to lecture us on “malice”. Nice.

    How about this, Michael: argue in good faith without lying. Don’t selectively reply to peoples’ posts when you have some cutesy dialectic trap and ignore the rest. Don’t call people “morons” and “stupid” for merely disagreeing with you.

    Then people will respect you despite disagreement.

  350. steve12on 13 Jul 2016 at 9:55 am

    RickK – well put.

  351. Willyon 13 Jul 2016 at 10:08 am

    Sez Dr. Egnor: “I am not here to convince them. I’m here to tell the truth, without pulling punches. These misfits already get too much deference. Most of them are rank idiots, and they are doing incalculable damage to the scientific profession and to the state of human knowledge.
    I learned a long time ago that the only way to approach materialists and atheists is: “we win, you lose.”
    I come here because I like the fight.”

    Oh (swoon) my dear knight in shining armor has come at last.

  352. Willyon 13 Jul 2016 at 10:14 am

    Dr. Egnor said “I learned a long time ago that the only way to approach materialists and atheists is: “we win, you lose.””

    I think what he meant to say is: I, Dr. Egnor, was convinced by a certain set of arguments. I KNOW they are TRUE. “Atheists and materialists” don’t accept these arguments, therefore they are either stupid or evil–maybe both. That being the case, I can treat them with the scorn, contempt and MALICE they so richly deserve.

  353. Steven Novellaon 13 Jul 2016 at 10:35 am

    I do love how people so clearly demonstrate the intellectual bankruptcy of their position, and the ideological blinders they wear. Michael has created for us a nice demonstration of what happens when you are overcome with self-righteous certainty that you speak the Truth and that those who honestly disagree with you are evil. It’s quite the spectacle.

  354. michaelegnoron 13 Jul 2016 at 11:05 am

    HN:

    If you want a good example of the malice of our interlocutors here, note that one of them has publicly called me a racist on this thread and elsewhere. Note that I’m not anonymous, like them, but am a practicing physician and that this accusation is publicly available to my patients.

    Never underestimate the malice of these people.

  355. steve12on 13 Jul 2016 at 11:28 am

    Egnor:

    “If you want a good example of the malice of our interlocutors here, note that one of them has publicly called me a racist on this thread and elsewhere”

    HA HA HA! Shoes fit and you’re wearing ’em dude.

    You’re the one who supports (and refuses to rebuke when pushed by ME) an avid White Nationalist (all links above). A man who has coined a special term for black people on his blog (Vibrants) to use instead of the “N” word! A man who calls black people savages and animals, a man who openly questions the native intellect of black people.

    What am I supposed to call you? If I came out and supported David Duke, I’d be called a racist and rightly so.

    Sack up and deal with the consequences of your own actions. Racist.

  356. steve12on 13 Jul 2016 at 11:30 am

    Here’s a link form Egnor’s blog plugging the White Nationalist’s book!

    http://egnorance.blogspot.com/2015/09/a-plug-for-great-book-sjws-always-lie.html

    But I’m being unfair to you somehow?

  357. hardnoseon 13 Jul 2016 at 11:53 am

    “If parapsychologists followed the methodology of scientific inquiry, they would look what we know about the laws of physics, realize that their purported subject of study had already been ruled out, and within thirty seconds would declare themselves finished”

    Absolute nonsense.

  358. michaelegnoron 13 Jul 2016 at 11:54 am

    HN:

    Note that neither the owner of this blog nor any of the commentors take exception to this libel.

    As I said, have no illusions about the kind of people we are dealing with.

  359. steve12on 13 Jul 2016 at 12:00 pm

    Ha!!!! How is it libel?

    Are you saying that you can support the political views of an avowed racist w/o being one, so callin you a racist is libel?

    Michael: YOU can’t deal with the repercussions of YOUR OWN actions.

    Grow up and take responsibility for yourself.

  360. NotAMarsupialon 13 Jul 2016 at 12:03 pm

    “…note that one of them has publicly called me a racist on this thread and elsewhere. Note that I’m not anonymous, like them, but am a practicing physician and that this accusation is publicly available to my patients. ”

    This puzzles me. Since learning of your medical career and affiliation with the Discovery Institute I was surprised at how infantile and mean-spirited you can be in your comments. I guess I had expected that someone whose profession demands an incredible amount of trust with those that he works with wouldn’t want his patients to read his comments calling someone a moron repeatedly on a message board for having the audacity to disagree with him. That is only in this thread. You’ve been pompous and dismissive of those that disagree with you in most every article you choose to post in.

  361. mumadaddon 13 Jul 2016 at 12:09 pm

    Popcorn was on a multibuy offer so I bought loads – it was a good investment.

  362. michaelegnoron 13 Jul 2016 at 12:11 pm

    Marsup:

    Your comment makes my point. You imply that it’s ok to libel me by calling me a racist, because I disagree with you vigorously about philosophy.

    “Moron” is not libel, and it’s directed to anonymous commentors anyway.

    If I make you look bad in more arguments, will you call me an anti-semite as well?

  363. steve12on 13 Jul 2016 at 12:19 pm

    “You imply that it’s ok to libel me by calling me a racist, because I disagree with you vigorously about philosophy.”

    OR, maybe he thinks that because of all of the evidence I’ve provided that you ARE a racist?

    Just sayin’.

    You could repudiate Theodore Beale, a guy who calls black people savages and says that it would be better to shoot young girls than to allow them into the workforce. There are plenty of others who are extremely conservative and don’t espouse such insanity.

    But YOU endorse Beale instead.

    But now YOU are the victim. Maybe I can get you some milk and cookies…

  364. mumadaddon 13 Jul 2016 at 12:30 pm

    Actually, I do have to point out that ME called me a racist long before anyone called him one. I said something along the lines of — the Catholic Church feels it is better for people in Africa to suppress their nature and abstain from sex than to use condoms. ME immediately pounced on this as a statement that Africans’ nature is inferior to ours…

  365. mumadaddon 13 Jul 2016 at 12:31 pm

    “Dem jus gotta rut!” I recall was his summation of my position.

  366. steve12on 13 Jul 2016 at 12:34 pm

    Yes Mumadadd. Here it is:

    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/the-myths-of-vandana-shiva/

    # michaelegnor on 21 Aug 2015 at 3:17 pm

    @mumadadd:

    [Translation: we don’t want you to use practical measures to prevent getting infected–instead we want you to accept our doctrines and suppress your nature–but when you do get infected we’ll come and hold your hand while you die.]
    What an enlightened view. Africans have a “nature” that just can’t be suppressed. Dey jus’ gotta rut. Closer to apes, sorta. Giv’em lots o’ condoms, because they sure can’t be expected to behave like morally responsible human beings.
    You fit nicely in the scientific racism of the 19th and early 20th century.
    The Catholic view is that human beings–all human beings regardless of race–have equal inherent dignity and are capable of self-control and moral conduct.

  367. steve12on 13 Jul 2016 at 12:35 pm

    But don’t call Michael a racist! Only someone with Malice does that!

  368. mumadaddon 13 Jul 2016 at 12:44 pm

    Yep, there it is.

  369. mumadaddon 13 Jul 2016 at 12:47 pm

    Will he be back, I wonder.

  370. NotAMarsupialon 13 Jul 2016 at 12:51 pm

    Egnor,
    “Your comment makes my point. You imply that it’s ok to libel me by calling me a racist, because I disagree with you vigorously about philosophy.

    “Moron” is not libel, and it’s directed to anonymous commentors anyway.”

    I imply nothing of the sort. I state that, if I were a physician, I wouldn’t be concerned about my patients seeing some random person calling me a racist because I know a vast majority of people understand that people are called all sorts of things on the internet whether the label is valid or not. However, I would be concerned if my patients saw that I was making a fool of myself.

    “If I make you look bad in more arguments, will you call me an anti-semite as well?”

    I’ve not called you any names. We’ve interacted one time prior to today. We didn’t have an argument and I called you Michael Egnor.

  371. steve12on 13 Jul 2016 at 1:00 pm

    Let me be clear:

    I’m not using these terms as epithets or insults. I’m using them as descriptors of behavior that I HAVE DOCUMENTED.

    If I’m wrong on any of the FACTS, please show me where.

  372. michaelegnoron 13 Jul 2016 at 1:07 pm

    HN

    As I said, have no illusions about the kind of people you’re dealing with.

    People like this–people who accuse dissenters from materialism and atheism of racism and other odious personal allegations when their own arguments aren’t succeeding– infest the “science” blogsphere. They are a catastrophe for the scientific profession and for intelligent discourse.

    Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can reason with these folks. If you choose to engage them under your own name, count the cost.

  373. steve12on 13 Jul 2016 at 1:09 pm

    Michael:

    “People like this–people who accuse dissenters from materialism and atheism of racism and other odious personal allegations when their own arguments aren’t succeeding”

    NOOOOO. How many times can I say why you’re a racist:
    Theodore Beale
    Theodore Beale
    Theodore Beale
    Theodore Beale
    Theodore Beale
    Theodore Beale
    Theodore Beale
    Theodore Beale
    Theodore Beale
    Theodore Beale

    Care to reply??????? Care to stop lying??????

    Come on!

  374. steve12on 13 Jul 2016 at 1:13 pm

    Let me clarify again:

    Michael Egnor is NOT a racist because of his views on science, medicine, philosophy, etc.

    Michael Egnor is a racist because he endorses an OPEN RACIST in Theodore Beale, and after MUCH discussion refused to repudiate him.

  375. michaelegnoron 13 Jul 2016 at 1:21 pm

    HN:

    Note that materialists/atheists will inject their libel into discussions that have nothing to do with the topic on which the libel is based.

    Do you really think you can reason with this?

  376. michaelegnoron 13 Jul 2016 at 1:23 pm

    How do you know that a materialist is losing an argument?

    You get called a racist.

  377. michaelegnoron 13 Jul 2016 at 1:32 pm

    “Intellect and will are immaterial powers of the mind”

    Materialist reply: “Racist!”

    “Aristotilian hylemorphism is the most satisfactory paradigm for understanding the mind-body relationship”

    Materialist reply: “Racist! Racist!”

    “Universals can be represented, but not instantiated, in matter.”

    Materialist reply: “Racist! Racist! Racist!”

    Sums up materialist philosophy rather well.

    😉

  378. steve12on 13 Jul 2016 at 1:32 pm

    Michael:

    “How do you know that a materialist is losing an argument?
    You get called a racist.”

    Dude…. no one’s buying it.

    I’ve provided all of the reasons that I am calling Michael a racist here (and elsewhere) and they have nothing to do with metaphysics:

    # steve12on 06 Jul 2016 at 12:16 pm

    Michael can at any time repudiate the White Nationalist Theodore Beale (aka Vox Day) that he openly supports despite the hate speech that Michael has admitted being aware of.

    Not much more to say…

  379. Willyon 13 Jul 2016 at 1:32 pm

    I note that it was Dr. Egnor who first brought up the term “racist”…

  380. Steve Crosson 13 Jul 2016 at 1:33 pm

    I’m curious. Any lawyers reading this?

    ME is upset because he’s been identified as racist, although curiously, he hasn’t actually denied it. That fact, coupled with the apparently irrefutable evidence supplied by steve12, leads one to the conclusion that the accusation is true.

    As I understand it, truth is an ironclad defense against libel accusations. So, since we have NOT committed libel, can we now sue Dr. Egnor for libeling all of us?

  381. Steve Crosson 13 Jul 2016 at 1:41 pm

    Off topic, but speaking of TB/Vox Day, final voting for the Hugos is the end of this month. Once again, TB has tried to hijack the voting because (in his opinion) there aren’t enough racists and misogynists winning Hugo awards.

    He failed embarrassingly last year, but, eternal vigilance and all that. Vote if you can.

  382. michaelegnoron 13 Jul 2016 at 2:32 pm

    I note with amusement the “apology” tactic so often used by SJW’s. The goal is to get the person being slandered to apologize for or renounce the imputed “crime”. It’s a tactic often used by totalitarians, with whom SJW’s share surprisingly many tactics. It is used constantly in popular culture today in the U.S. and was used extensively in Maoist China during the Cultural Revolution, in the Soviet Union during the Show Trials, etc.

    The apology/repudiation tactic implicitly establishes the slanderer as the arbitrator, to whom deference must be paid.

    I don’t pay deference.

  383. mumadaddon 13 Jul 2016 at 2:40 pm

    Am I an sjw, Michael?

  384. michaelegnoron 13 Jul 2016 at 2:43 pm

    I don’t know who you are, except that you are annonymous, apparently for good reason.

  385. mumadaddon 13 Jul 2016 at 2:45 pm

    Okay, so who are you referring to? Is it just steve12?

  386. steve12on 13 Jul 2016 at 2:52 pm

    “I don’t pay deference.”

    60 going on 15… what a child. Grow up.

  387. michaelegnoron 13 Jul 2016 at 2:55 pm

    [Okay, so who are you referring to? Is it just steve12?]

    I’m referring to all annonymous cowards who call people racists when they are losing debates about philosophy.

  388. michaelegnoron 13 Jul 2016 at 3:09 pm

    Ironically, Vox Day has a recent post that sums up our situation here with annonymice who cry “Racism!” quite well:

    “One significant characteristic of the Gamma male is that he cannot deal with being publicly shown to be wrong. Such an event punctures the delusion bubble in which he, the Secret King, always triumphs, so it creates a wound that never heals, and festers much longer than any higher-rank man can imagine. Even if he manages to control himself and not let it show immediately, it eats away at him and preys on his mind.

    The way the Gamma usually deals with a festering wound is to attempt to negate it by subsequently demonstrating his superiority to the party who dealt it to him. This means that he will lie in wait, for years if need be, for what he sees as an opportunity to prove the offending party wrong. This, he believes, will disqualify and discredit the party, which somehow means that the Gamma was not wrong the first time, even though he was. But no matter, the Secret King triumphs in the end!

    This behavior is so predictable that I not infrequently find myself able to correctly anticipate when a previously wounded Gamma is going to think he sees an opening and launch what I am coming to think of as a restorative rebuttal.’

    Heh.

    https://voxday.blogspot.com/2016/07/wounded-gamma-loses-again.html

  389. NotAMarsupialon 13 Jul 2016 at 3:10 pm

    ME – “The goal is to get the person being slandered to apologize for or renounce the imputed “crime”. It’s a tactic often used by totalitarians…”

    Like when the Catholic church, for centuries, demanded that people repent for loving someone with the wrong genitals?

  390. steve12on 13 Jul 2016 at 3:11 pm

    “I’m referring to all annonymous cowards who call people racists when they are losing debates about philosophy.”

    Let’s not lose sight of the fact that ME also lost the debate!

    That message can get lost in my clarifying that I’m not calling him a racist because of the debate, but because of his steadfast devotion to White Nationalist Theodore Beale (aka Vox Day).

    Lest anyone get confused….

  391. NotAMarsupialon 13 Jul 2016 at 3:23 pm

    ME – I guess, to further clarify, not just the Catholic church telling gays to repent the “imputed crime” of loving the wrong person. They ask every person to repent the crime of being born after Adam and Eve munched on a pomegranate.

    And that quote by Vox was enlightening. I see why he would appeal to you. That’s not intended to be complimentary.

  392. Steve Crosson 13 Jul 2016 at 3:23 pm

    ME,

    You still haven’t actually denied being a racist.

    And, for the record, no one here has asked you to apologize for being a racist. Quite the opposite. Steve12 was merely observing that your endorsement of and failure to repudiate a known racist merely confirms the fact that you are indeed racist.

    And really, Teddy Beale’s odious philosophy and abysmal critical thinking skills should cause any decent human being (certainly a self-avowed Christian) to run the other way.

  393. michaelegnoron 13 Jul 2016 at 3:24 pm

    I’m curious:

    What does Beale have to do with this thread, when Steve 12 introduced him into it?

    Get kicked in a debate. Lay in wait. Call the guy a racist. Sounds like a Gamma male tactic.

  394. steve12on 13 Jul 2016 at 3:25 pm

    And if you can stomach it, the Vox Day link that Egnor just linked to is about immigration related decline in “innate intelligence”.

    Disgusting. My guilt has subsided.

  395. steve12on 13 Jul 2016 at 3:25 pm

    “Get kicked in a debate. Lay in wait. Call the guy a racist. Sounds like a Gamma male tactic.”

    What’s a Gamma male? Why don’t you enlighten us?

  396. NotAMarsupialon 13 Jul 2016 at 3:30 pm

    Steve12 – I believe the most well-known of gamma males was Bruce Banner after that unfortunate accident.

  397. steve12on 13 Jul 2016 at 3:31 pm

    NotAMarsupial:

    Ha! Love it!

  398. Steve Crosson 13 Jul 2016 at 3:43 pm

    Wow … I can’t stop laughing.

    That quote from Teddy B is some serious, weapons grade projection. Something the good Dr. E also seems to practice.

    Teddy’s “hypothetical” gamma male scenario, has been happening for years in real life (starring TB as the gamma) as TB attempts (and fails) to best noted Science Fiction author John Scalzi. Scalzi’s fiction and very popular blog are orders of magnitude more successful than TB has ever been, yet Teddy persists in denying that fact. It’s pathetic really. If TB wasn’t such a disgusting creature, I’d feel sorry for him.

  399. Steve Crosson 13 Jul 2016 at 3:50 pm

    “What does Beale have to do with this thread, when Steve 12 introduced him into it?”

    Well, it should be obvious, but if the “philosophy” that you are so proud of causes you to reach the same conclusions as Teddy Beale, then you lose all credibility as a decent human being or a competent critical thinker.

  400. mumadaddon 13 Jul 2016 at 3:53 pm

    So, Michael egnor is a gamma male:

    http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/the-myths-of-vandana-shiva/

    # michaelegnor on 21 Aug 2015 at 3:17 pm

    @mumadadd:

    [Translation: we don’t want you to use practical measures to prevent getting infected–instead we want you to accept our doctrines and suppress your nature–but when you do get infected we’ll come and hold your hand while you die.]
    What an enlightened view. Africans have a “nature” that just can’t be suppressed. Dey jus’ gotta rut. Closer to apes, sorta. Giv’em lots o’ condoms, because they sure can’t be expected to behave like morally responsible human beings.
    You fit nicely in the scientific racism of the 19th and early 20th century.
    The Catholic view is that human beings–all human beings regardless of race–have equal inherent dignity and are capable of self-control and moral conduct.

  401. michaelegnoron 13 Jul 2016 at 4:01 pm

    Funny how

    “all human beings regardless of race–have equal inherent dignity and are capable of self-control and moral conduct.”

    Becomes “He’s a Raaacist!”

    Only explanation I can see for it is that a Gamma male was losing an argument.

  402. mumadaddon 13 Jul 2016 at 4:07 pm

    No no, Michael, I have not called you a racist. But I am calling you a hypocrite.

  403. michaelegnoron 13 Jul 2016 at 4:10 pm

    [I have not called you a racist. But I am calling you a hypocrite]

    That’s better than a racist.

  404. Steve Crosson 13 Jul 2016 at 4:11 pm

    The Catholic view is that human beings–all human beings regardless of race–have equal inherent dignity and are capable of self-control and moral conduct.”

    FTFY — clearly, you were just using that quote to try to make a point. Obviously, you can’t agree with the Catholic view if you endorse Teddy Beale’s beliefs.

  405. mumadaddon 13 Jul 2016 at 4:11 pm

    And yet you called me a racist.

  406. steve12on 13 Jul 2016 at 4:13 pm

    ‘Funny how
    “all human beings regardless of race–have equal inherent dignity and are capable of self-control and moral conduct.”
    Becomes “He’s a Raaacist!” ‘

    So saying something not racist buy you a racism indulgence?

    That’s not how it works Michael. You poor, poor sap.

  407. steve12on 13 Jul 2016 at 4:18 pm

    Steve Cross:

    Nice catch. Funny how he missed that when quoting himslef

  408. NotAMarsupialon 13 Jul 2016 at 4:53 pm

    Steve Cross – He most certainly doesn’t agree with the Catholic church. Remember he doesn’t “pay deference” to those that require repentance for supposed crimes and the church has a habit of requiring people to apologize for the crime of being born, thought crimes, same-love, etc.

  409. michaelegnoron 13 Jul 2016 at 4:55 pm

    I’m madly searching through the books I like, to see if the authors ever said anything racist at anytime in their life…

    Oh, here:

    “Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life”. In the trash.

    And all of the Dawkins books go in the trash–he endorsed eugenics
    [http://eugenics.us/richard-dawkins-eugenics-may-not-be-bad/447.htm]

    And I have to toss my old “Molecular Biology of the Gene” textbook, written by racist Jim Watson.

    I never knew that I’m SUCH a racist!

    Thanks to SJW’s for giving me the opportunity to comply. Whatever would have become of me if I hadn’t wandered into Gammaland to get reeducated!

  410. mumadaddon 13 Jul 2016 at 5:01 pm

    Michael,

    I think you’re having what’s commonly known as a ‘melt down ‘. You should have a beer or something, and try to calm down.

  411. Steve Crosson 13 Jul 2016 at 5:08 pm

    Steve12, thanks, but it is not like he is making it difficult. Egnor’s behavior is really surprising. He is reasonably well known, yet he persists in debating like a 6 year old (Mom, the big kids are calling me names) in front of the entire Internet — where it will be available (and embarrassing) forever.

    Even hardnose seems to be willing to work a little harder than this at his sophistry. And since HN is clearly using a nym, it is not like he has to worry about upholding his reputation.

  412. michaelegnoron 13 Jul 2016 at 5:09 pm

    I would presume that you don’t have any Dawkins books, you racist.

    Molecular genetics should be censored, because its seminal discovery was by a racist named Watson.

    Once the SJW thoughtpolice get going, it’s Fahrenheit 451 everywhere!

  413. Karl Withakayon 13 Jul 2016 at 5:10 pm

    “How do you know that a materialist is losing an argument?

    You get called a racist.”

    Let me rephrase that in more formal logic:

    “If you get called a racist, then you know that a materialist is losing an argument.”

    …and since there are many other possible reasons that one might get called a racist, we can conclude that this statement is invalid and it can be discarded and ignored.

  414. michaelegnoron 13 Jul 2016 at 5:15 pm

    Racist.

  415. mumadaddon 13 Jul 2016 at 5:19 pm

    How do you know when Michael Egnor has lost an argument?

    He completely loses his mind on an Internet forum.

  416. Steve Crosson 13 Jul 2016 at 5:26 pm

    Relax Michael,

    If it bothers you so much to be accused of racism, then why not simply deny it — which I will note, yet again, that you still have not bothered to do.

    If you honestly believe that you are not racist, then why not simply use the standard politician’s dodge, i.e. “I don’t agree with everything that Theodore Beale / Vox Day has said, but I believe he has make some important points” blah, blah, etc. etc. Admittedly, I’ve never heard Teddy say anything that wasn’t bat shit crazy and/or disgusting, but hey, politicians get away with the above type of statement all the time.

    Or, are you really, truly an example of the Gamma male as described by TB himself:

    “One significant characteristic of the Gamma male is that he cannot deal with being publicly shown to be wrong. Such an event punctures the delusion bubble in which he, the Secret King, always triumphs, so it creates a wound that never heals, and festers much longer than any higher-rank man can imagine. Even if he manages to control himself and not let it show immediately, it eats away at him and preys on his mind.”

    It is really starting to feel like that is an accurate description of you. Prove me wrong.

  417. mumadaddon 13 Jul 2016 at 5:31 pm

    Which is what I was referring to when I said you were a gamma male. As supported by your unfounded accusation of racism levelled at me.

    You’ve had every opportunity to retract it. Until you do, I shall assume that you are a gamma male.

  418. Karl Withakayon 13 Jul 2016 at 5:38 pm

    “How do you know when Michael Egnor has lost an argument?”

    Well he certainly doesn’t seem to know that answer to that question. 🙂

  419. steve12on 13 Jul 2016 at 5:39 pm

    This is ridiculous.

    I initially found this and figured he wasn’t aware of the crazy shit the guy said. But Egnor was calling us all immoral and Mumaddad racist, etc. so I threw it down. I couldn’t believe that he would go this far to defend this weirdo.

    Now he’s just flipped his lid. But it means something. Most decent people RUN from a guy who says Malaya should have been shot. It’s not about politics or SJWs or backing down or any of that; it’s about simple fucking decency.

    Most people – people of faith, atheists, liberals, conservatives – find this repugnant for a reason.

    This guy though – he’s crazier than Beale. He doesn’t get that the average person is repulsed.

    So what am I to think about someone who thinks Beale’s a great guy? You gotta be just an old fashioned creep.

  420. BillyJoe7on 13 Jul 2016 at 5:42 pm

    hn demonstrates his ignorance.

    I offered hn a chance to show that he actually knows something:

    BJ: “Big chance to showcase your knowledge of QM:
    Instead of a big dismissive handwave, tell us exactly where the reasoning goes wrong in the following
    (followed by five references showing how QM undermines his position regarding parapsychology, and a reference demolishing his bible “the conscious universe”)

    But, when given an opportunity to show that he actually knows something, he predictably used the Big Handwave as he always does in these situations:

    hn: “Absolute nonsense”

    That was his only reply.

    No indcation that he actually read the references that he says are “absolute nonsense’. No indication that, if he did read them, he understood what was said. No indication that if he did read and understand them, that he can refute them with reasoned argument and knowledge of the subject.

  421. steve12on 13 Jul 2016 at 5:43 pm

    cleaner version to escape moderation….

    This is ridiculous.

    I initially found this and figured he wasn’t aware of the crazy sh!t the guy said. But Egnor was calling us all immoral and Mumaddad racist, etc. so I threw it down. I couldn’t believe that he would go this far to defend this weirdo.

    Now he’s just flipped his lid. But it means something. Most decent people RUN from a guy who says
    Malaya should have been shot. It’s not about politics or SJWs or backing down or any of that; it’s about simple f*cking decency.

    Most people – people of faith, atheists, liberals, conservatives – find this repugnant for a reason.

    This guy though – he’s crazier than Beale. He doesn’t get that the average person is repulsed.
    So what am I to think about someone who thinks Beale’s a great guy? You gotta be just an old fashioned creep.

  422. michaelegnoron 13 Jul 2016 at 5:49 pm

    Cross,

    You’re quoting Beale. That means you’re a racist.

  423. mumadaddon 13 Jul 2016 at 5:49 pm

    Steve12,

    I think it’s quite possible to be so enthralled with somebody who articulates your viewpoints on one topic that you can completely ignore the awful shit they say about something else, and just rationalise it away with little cognitive effort.

    That said, he has really double down here, and I read the exchange on ME’s blog, so I do know you tried in good faith to get him to distance himself from the racist parts.

  424. mumadaddon 13 Jul 2016 at 5:51 pm

    Actually, correction: you tried to get himy to distance himself from TB BECAUSE OF the racist stuff.

    Not distance himself from the racism in isolation.

  425. michaelegnoron 13 Jul 2016 at 5:53 pm

    Malala is not spelled “Malaya”

    Anyone who misspells her name is an Islamophobe.

  426. mumadaddon 13 Jul 2016 at 5:55 pm

    …and to make this into:

    All materialists = SJWs
    All materialists cry racism when defeated in an argument
    We are all SJWS crying racism because we’re butt hurt about losing an argument

    While there is a linked quote of him calling someone else a racist in plain sight…

    Wowzers.

  427. michaelegnoron 13 Jul 2016 at 5:57 pm

    I’m soooo tempted to acknowledge you gammas as my arbitrators of moral speech, to whom deference must be paid.

    Sooooo… tempting.

    Maybe… maybe… maybe….

    Nah.

    https://currentopinionsofnews.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/middle-finger.png

  428. mumadaddon 13 Jul 2016 at 6:00 pm

    😀 x 100.

  429. mumadaddon 13 Jul 2016 at 6:02 pm

    That’s it folks. Nothing to see here. Don’t forget to tip your waiter.

  430. steve12on 13 Jul 2016 at 6:08 pm

    “I’m soooo tempted to acknowledge you gammas as my arbitrators of moral speech, to whom deference must be paid”

    It’s not about deference to us…

    You have problems that are deeper than some magical beliefs.

  431. Steve Crosson 13 Jul 2016 at 6:23 pm

    I know it is considered very bad form to try to clinically diagnose someone over the internet, but he is getting scary. If he is not off his meds now, then he should really consult a professional and get on some.

  432. bachfiendon 13 Jul 2016 at 7:34 pm

    “‘Malala’ is not spelt ‘Malaya'”. It may be. The name is being transcribed from a non-English language with different sounds and written characters. Beijing used to be transcribed as Peking. A German Internet station I listen to doesn’t use transcription for Russian composers. I have to sound out the Cyrillic letters to work out which Russian composer is being played.

    Michael Egnor has completely lost it. I wish he’d return to his blog ‘Egnorance’ where he can rant to his heart’s content leaving us in peace. He’s suffering from old white male irrelevance syndrome.

  433. Robneyon 13 Jul 2016 at 7:48 pm

    To be fair to Egnor, it is possible to recommend a book even if one deeply disagrees with particularly aspects of it. It’s possible to be critical of a book and still recommend it.

    How many of us here admire historical philosophers or scientists who by today’s standards hold deeply troubling views on race? We can still appreciate the clarity of their thoughts on other matters and still recommend their works.

    I think its good practice to be charitable and require a very high level of evidence before accusing someone of racism. Until Engor expresses outright racist views himself I think it is unwise to infer racism on his part based only on his book recommendation. For all we know, he might be highly critical of the racist aspects in the book.

  434. Steve Crosson 13 Jul 2016 at 7:53 pm

    “For all we know, he might be highly critical of the racist aspects in the book.”

    He had multiple opportunities (actually, outright challenges) to say exactly that, but he never did.

  435. mumadaddon 13 Jul 2016 at 8:09 pm

    That might well be pride, f*cking with him. (To quote Marcelus Wallace).

  436. mumadaddon 13 Jul 2016 at 8:12 pm

    Pride is a sin, so maybe we’re all here, doing what we’re doing, because god arranged us as such in order to teach ME a valuable lesson.

  437. Willyon 13 Jul 2016 at 9:57 pm

    I am saddened that this thread has devolved into a discussion of Egnor’s supposed racism. Dr. Egnor has given plenty of ammunition to be used against him without this charge. I am totally appalled at his behavior and cannot square his profession with his rants. Someone above described his posts as a “meltdown” and I concur 100%. It is LUDICROUS for him to claim that anyone here was intimidated by his arguments. I doubt that one single poster here felt compelled to attack him personally because they found his arguments compelling in any way. (Of course, that just might be because he is correct that we are all “morons”. LOL)

    I remain appalled that a man of his supposed “stature” can make the assertions that he makes. Dr. Novella said it quite well when he commented that this is a “spectacle”. If I were looking for a neurosurgeon and stumbled across Dr. Egnor’s comments here AND on his blog, I would immediately reject him.

    Let’s stop the personal attacks–correct or not–and focus on his obviously foolish posts herein.

  438. michaelegnoron 13 Jul 2016 at 10:45 pm

    Willy:

    No mystery as to why this devolved into accusations of racism.

    The Gammas weren’t getting any traction on philosophy, so they tried ugly ad-hominem spittle. It’s not a new tactic.

    It’s quite entertaining. Like primate research, when they start throwing stuff.

  439. Willyon 13 Jul 2016 at 10:54 pm

    YOUR post is the one that renewed the racism charge. I have ZERO respect for you. You appall me. I find your claim that your opponents resorted to a “racism” charge when they had no defense from your charges to be beyond comical. I remain amazed that you continue to post here and do not feel embarrassed. To me, you are the antitheses of a Christian. You have given us quite a “spectacle”. I am ashamed for you.

    “Gammas” “Femi-Nazis” “Communists”… I’m sure the list is much longer. Go have a stiff drink.

  440. steve12on 13 Jul 2016 at 11:05 pm

    # Robney on 13 Jul 2016 at 7:48 pm

    I’m sorry, but no. This is not like any of that. You should read the threads that lead up to this if you’re curious.

    I stand by my assertion. Theodore Beale = David Duke, not James Watson. You cannot say you like some things so you’re OK with the rest with someone this odious.

    That said, I could have simply ignored him once I said my piece as I advocate should be done with The Troll. In this I suppose I’m being hypocritical.

    I have no interest in going further with this, but I will defend what I’ve said. Bigotry should be opposed in all it’s forms and with no punched pulled.

  441. steve12on 13 Jul 2016 at 11:06 pm

    punched pulled….

  442. steve12on 13 Jul 2016 at 11:06 pm

    …punches pulled

  443. Steve Crosson 13 Jul 2016 at 11:22 pm

    Steve12,

    It appears that autocorrect is really pissed at you.

  444. steve12on 13 Jul 2016 at 11:26 pm

    Steve C:

    No! I’m on my macbook – no autocorrect.

    I’m an oaf enough to commit the same type-O over and over!

  445. Robneyon 14 Jul 2016 at 12:25 am

    @ I’m a regular reader so I do vaguely remember those previous conversations. Perhaps I should have gone back to look at the exact conversations you were referring to before commenting.

    But I disagree with your overall point, it’s possible to agree with the overall thesis in a book but disagree strongly with certain details and find the authors views on some matters to be repellent.

    Also, I think its a strategic error to sling insults even if you think they are accurate descriptions of the person with whom you disagree. I’m sure there will some people reading this who are on the fence or least relatively impartial observers in this debate. They will have idea whether Egnor is racist but they will see the conversation descend into personal insults which isn’t a good look. It also give ammunition to Egnor to claim ad hominem attacks against himself – exactly like he is doing and not entirely without reason. He may harbour racist beliefs for all I know but that has no bearing whether or not his metaphysical philosophical claims are wrong.

    His condescending and sneering attitude is clear to see – let’s stay above that low level of discourse and deal with arguments rather than his personal character.

  446. steve12on 14 Jul 2016 at 1:23 am

    “@ I’m a regular reader so I do vaguely remember those previous conversations. Perhaps I should have gone back to look at the exact conversations you were referring to before commenting.”

    No worries – you can’t be expected to read all of that….

    “But I disagree with your overall point, it’s possible to agree with the overall thesis in a book but disagree strongly with certain details and find the authors views on some matters to be repellent.”

    Hypothetically I agree. But it is not the case here due to the extremity of the author.

    “Also, I think its a strategic error to sling insults even if you think they are accurate descriptions of the person with whom you disagree. I’m sure there will some people reading this who are on the fence or least relatively impartial observers in this debate. They will have idea whether Egnor is racist but they will see the conversation descend into personal insults which isn’t a good look.”

    I was acting not out of strategy but out of moral revulsion. I do not think my accusations were insults as much as descriptions. He decided to say that he was falsely maligned by my accurate descriptions, and I defended those assertions. Though I did bring it up first above, true enough.

    But to be fair it may not be the best strategy to convince those on the fence, who may see me as being mean or insulting. I agree.

    “It also give ammunition to Egnor to claim ad hominem attacks against himself – exactly like he is doing and not entirely without reason. ”

    This is untrue. And ad hom would mean that I was saying he was wrong about his philosophical positions due to his being a racist. I never said anything of the kind – his claims are literally entirely w/o reason.

    “His condescending and sneering attitude is clear to see – let’s stay above that low level of discourse and deal with arguments rather than his personal character.”

    I think the bigotry is germane here in that many of his claims revolve around universal morality. That this is extreme hypocrisy is instructive. The manner in which it was done was, at times, crude I suppose.

    I think I could have handled it better, sure. But calling out bigotry is an important end unto itself, IMHO.

    And when a guy like this calls the positions that I hold racist and immoral (see previous threads), it’s perfectly fair to point out the muck he rolls around in.

  447. steve12on 14 Jul 2016 at 1:24 am

    Robney – last post was a response to yours. I forgot to put that at the top…

  448. Damloweton 14 Jul 2016 at 2:43 am

    @ Robney

    I mostly agree with what your take is, except, after my original post outlining some of the comments here and the way the commenters utterly fail to advance their understanding in the face of compelling evidence, ME resorted to personal attacks.

    In his first reply, he called me ‘ignorant’, ‘a moron’, he claimed that I and others were ‘metaphysically stupid’, ‘a metaphysical idiot’, ‘manifestly ignorant’, then this pearl of wisdom ‘Scientism is a mental disease. It destroys knowledge, replacing genuine insight with idiotic metaphysical errors that leave you unable to understand even the rudiments of life or nature or yourself.”

    Damien

  449. michaelegnoron 14 Jul 2016 at 7:19 am

    Damlowet:

    You take offense at my characterization of your philosophical views.

    So just call me a racist, like the other Gammas do when they lose arguments.

  450. Damloweton 14 Jul 2016 at 7:36 am

    No Michael, I think your personal attacks are low-brow and are a ad hominem. They have nothing to do with who I am, or the questions I asked of you. I am not going to lower myself to your level and characterize you personally without evidence and commit a fallacy for you to refute in the process.

    BTW, by your characterization of my ineptitude of using google, you may have to put yourself into another classification. The only reason you think anyone here is anonymous is because you haven’t bothered to look.

    Damien

  451. michaelegnoron 14 Jul 2016 at 7:43 am

    This is a fascinating thread. It’s a microcosm of what goes on on college campuses today, when SJW’s swarm a contrarian who dares to challenge their orthodoxy. Safe spaces, triggering, faux outrage, unhinged accusations of racism, misogyny (Steve 12 accused me of that as well), guilt by association, demands for abject apologies for an imagined transgression, ejection of the unrepentant sinner from the company of the righteous, yada, yada.

    Here the orthodoxy is materialism and atheism. A commentor who doesn’t buy the product is intolerable. He must be kept out of the safe space, and if he won’t go with docility, he must be driven out, and no ad hominem onslaught is too much. If “creationist!” doesn’t work, then “racist!” is loaded in the slingshot with “misogynist!” and “heteronormative islamophobe!” in the breech.

    This is how Gammas do public discourse. When they run colleges, it’s political correctness run amok. When they run nations, it’s totalitarianism.

    It’s hilarious, and disgusting, if you value genuine intellectual engagement.

  452. michaelegnoron 14 Jul 2016 at 7:45 am

    Dame:

    *Sniff*.

  453. mumadaddon 14 Jul 2016 at 7:47 am

    Michael,

    So take us back on point. I keep asking you, if we take your metaphysics as granted for the sake of argument, is there something intrinsic to it that means we should also accept a lower standard of evidence?

    You are making claims about the nature of reality and things within it. Surely we should be able to to test the predictions made by your model of reality.

  454. michaelegnoron 14 Jul 2016 at 7:58 am

    muma:

    “lower standard of evidence”… “test predictions”…

    Metaphysics isn’t natural philosophy. You don’t verify metaphysical perspectives by testing empirical predictions in the lab. You’re stuck in scientism.

    You do as much metaphysics as I do. You’re basically a materialist/positivist. You just don’t do it knowingly.

    Metaphysical perspectives are verified by coherence, consistency, explanatory power, and logic. That’s what I’ve been arguing here–that hylomorphism is a far better way to understand nature. You haven’t addressed the metaphysical question in any intelligent way.

    Is that too racist, and would you like me to apologize?

  455. bachfiendon 14 Jul 2016 at 8:15 am

    Michael,

    The Harry Potter novels also have coherence, consistency, explanatory power and logic. Does that make them a better way of understanding nature? Fiction remains fiction, regardless of whether it’s Harry Potter or hylomorphism. And I prefer Harry Potter, because it’s more entertaining.

  456. michaelegnoron 14 Jul 2016 at 8:27 am

    [And I prefer Harry Potter, because it’s more entertaining.]

    Your preference shows, bach.

  457. bachfiendon 14 Jul 2016 at 8:45 am

    Michael,

    You answered Steven Novella when he called hylomorphism incoherent nonsense, that hylomorphism may be nonsense but that it is coherent.

    I agree with you – it is nonsense. No matter how coherent, consistent, explanatory or logical something is, nonsense remains nonsense.

    Hylomorphism is little better than a conspiracy theory. No basis in reality.

  458. mumadaddon 14 Jul 2016 at 9:13 am

    Michael,

    Is there anything that could convince you to value evidence?

  459. mumadaddon 14 Jul 2016 at 9:13 am

    And I did not call you a racist.

  460. mumadaddon 14 Jul 2016 at 9:14 am

    But I thought we had moved past that anyway.

  461. steve12on 14 Jul 2016 at 9:37 am

    Anyone who thinks they’re going to have an actual exchange with Egnor about metaphysics and science – go for it.

    Have fun because he doesn’t lower himself to actual discourse with anyone, having God on his side and all. He’s as disingenuous as The Troll but in a shorter time frame (The Troll is truly running The Long Troll).

    Have him lie, fail to respond back to you, and then declare victory in endless circles – all for the point of trolling you.

    And when he says you’re immoral and racist, don’t mention the skeletons in his closet because he’ll threaten to call your responses ad hom attacks. And even though that’s laughable, keep “debating” him on his terms (and vamp).

    I’m sure a fruitful and enlightening conversation will ensue.

  462. steve12on 14 Jul 2016 at 9:38 am

    I forgot to add – now, thanks to me – he’s going to cry and cry and cry about being called what he his – a bigot.

    Have fun!

  463. Noir D'Sableon 14 Jul 2016 at 1:24 pm

    Is this still going on? Good gravy, it’s been nearly 10 days.

  464. RickKon 14 Jul 2016 at 2:46 pm

    “Metaphysical perspectives are verified by coherence, consistency, explanatory power, and logic. ”

    And when you can’t answer a specific question, insert an all-powerful being to fill the gap. Yeah, great explanatory power.

    As I said before, whether you’re Thomas Aquinas or Michael Egnor, any question can be answered by inserting “God”. All you have to do is define God as synonymous with human ignorance. The more you focus on what questions have not been answered, the more you focus on ignorance, the bigger “God” appears.

    Aquinas and Aristotle didn’t know of an alternate way of answering questions besides sitting around noodling them, and plugging any nasty holes with the god(s) of the day. Egnor doesn’t have that excuse – he’s seen centuries of successful answers – testable, re-usable, coherent answers. But his religious convictions won’t let him work from any other starting assumption other than “there is a God”, so he uses Aquinas like one big Courtier’s Reply and will never entertain the possibility that the Emperor is actually naked.

    When all else fails, he calls us idiots because we don’t understand all the history and nuance of his oh-so-important metaphysics, all of which is based on a flawed starting assumption. In true Courtier’s Reply fashion, he falls back on jargon and plays games like “do numbers exist”. He’s so threatened by the increase in human knowledge, so threatened by how materialist science and empiricism have reduced the scale of human ignorance (and therefore reduced the space his God inhabits) that he gives considerable personal energy and advocacy to an organization whose stated purpose is to erode the empirical standards of science.

    He is not just a disciple of ignorance, he’s a crusader in its name.

  465. chikoppion 14 Jul 2016 at 3:14 pm

    @ME

    “Metaphysics isn’t natural philosophy. You don’t verify metaphysical perspectives by testing empirical predictions in the lab. You’re stuck in scientism.”

    Can you cite an objective, verifiable advancement in metaphysics?

  466. Bill Openthalton 14 Jul 2016 at 6:20 pm

    Michael Egnor —

    Metaphysical perspectives are verified by coherence, consistency, explanatory power, and logic. That’s what I’ve been arguing here–that hylomorphism is a far better way to understand nature. You haven’t addressed the metaphysical question in any intelligent way.

    How do you determine the “explanatory power” of a metaphysical perspective?

    Let’s take a gander at De Anima III 5, where Aristotle discusses the active mind (νοῦς ποιητκός). His nous poiêtikos (also translated as poetic intellect, just to make interpretation easier) appears very different from the nous of the previous chapter of De Anima, being “separate and unaffected and unmingled, by essence being in act” (chôristos kai apathês kai amigês, tê ousia ôn energeia) as well as “free of death and everlasting” (athanaton kai aidion), whereas the unqualified nous was presented as merely one of the faculties of the soul (psuchê), which itself cannot be separated from the body. It is fait to say that Aristotle doesn’t make it clear what the nous poiêtikos actually is, and how it relates to the nous.

    As you well know, depending on their philosophical and religious bend, commentators are taking this chapter as either a description of the human mind, or a description of the divine mind of Metaphysics XII. Christian commentators see it as a justification for the compatibility of body/soul hylomorphism and immortality, but of course, other commentators consider immortality and hylomorphism to be incompatible.

    The chapter runs to about half a page and uses condensed, ambiguous language, which makes it impossible to settle the controversies. The final, enigmatic sentence “aneu touto outhen noei” (often translated as “without this nothing thinks”) has at least four credible interpretations.

    This is all very interesting, and has kept lots of people out of mischief, but meseems it is woefully short on your four ingredients.

  467. bachfiendon 14 Jul 2016 at 10:43 pm

    Bill,

    That’s far too erudite for Michael Egnor. He’ll probably refer you to Ed Feser’s book on Aristotle. Probably praise Ed Feser as being the most knowledgeable philosopher ever, and run down any other philosopher who has taken any position critical of hylomorphism – whatever that is – as being mediocrities.

    Fairly typical of the man.

  468. Bill Openthalton 15 Jul 2016 at 6:38 pm

    bachfiend —

    Seems to have gone awfully quiet since I dusted off my old course notes 🙂 .

  469. bachfiendon 15 Jul 2016 at 7:23 pm

    Bill,

    I think he’s busy learning what ‘ethology’ means in his contributions to the Dishonesty Institute’s EvolutionNews. He probably thought ethology dealt with ethics.

  470. michaelegnor2.0on 26 Oct 2016 at 9:25 pm

    Steven:

    You’re right.

    P.S. I came around when I hypothesized that I have no ears. So I MOTIVATED myself to REASON… that it’s also plausible to steal them back from the lactose intolerant Umpa Lumpas believed to be skiing event horizons on another plane of existence,..then I heard myself…

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