Jul 11 2011

Sleep Paralysis

Recently I received the following e-mail:

Thank you so much for your show. The other night your podcast saved me from a night full of stress and fear. I woke up in the middle of the night after a nightmare not being able to move and started hearing voices. My eyes were wide open, I could see that everything was normal but kept hearing a voices asking me to go to bible studies. After five minutes of freaking out I remembered sleep paralysis stories from you show and realized what was happening to me. I rode the strange voices out for an hour just realizing my mind misfiring and not having a spiritual awakening.

I have heard similar stories from other readers/listeners and also my patients. I have also had similar experiences myself (always when sleep-deprived). They can be quite frightening and unpleasant. A typical episode of sleep paralysis, or hypnagogic (when falling asleep) / hypnapompic (when waking up) hallucinations includes the feeling of being paralyzed combined with a sense that there is a malevolent presence in the room. Often there is also the sense of pressure on the chest, as if it is difficult to breathe or even that something is sitting on your chest. There may also be auditory and visual hallucinations to complete the package. The situation is scary enough, but there also appears to be an element of spontaneous terror as well.

Now imagine you are a typical person living in the middle ages or in any similar culture – without the benefit of modern neuroscience to help you make sense of this event. It is a profound experience, outside of our normal everyday experience. It is no surprise that pre-scientific cultures developed myths to explain these occurrences, especially since about 15% of the normal population will at times experience sleep paralysis episodes. (They are also common in sleep disorders, like narcolepsy).

In Scandanavia they have a legend of the “sea hag” who visits people at night to steal their essence. In Europe there are stories of the succubus or incubus- demons that visit people in their sleep to engage in unholy conjugal acts. In more modern times ghosts are more common than demons. I have heard it argued that ghost steal energy from you while you are sleeping so that they can manifest themselves, and that is the reason for the paralysis.

Another modern explanation for these episodes is alien abduction. The little gray aliens paralyze their targets before either bringing them aboard their ship, implanting devices, or probing various orifices.

Again – it is not surprising that such fanciful explanations develop to explain these episodes. We are used to assuming that our brains are accurate recorders of external reality. Our first assumption when we experience something is that it really happened, as we experienced it, not that our brains are malfunctioning.

Now, however, we have knowledge of the brain’s function and many of the ways in which it is flawed and can generate false experiences. Sleep paralysis is just one dramatic and common example. In normal sleeping a center in our brainstems will inhibit the descending motor pathways – they will paralyze you below the neck. This is so you don’t physically act out your dreams. Your eyes can still move, however, so you do exhibit rapid eye movement (REM), which has become an important marker for dreaming.

While in the dream state you are also dreaming – your brain is generating an internal story which can be quite compelling and seems real, at least to our dreaming selves. What I have described above is best understood as a waking dream, a fusion of the dreaming and waking brain states. The body is still paralyzed and the brain is still generating a dream, but it is mixed with reality – so the experience can seem real, as if we are awake. It is a waking dream.

Understanding this is empowering, in that we do not need to be afraid that we were just visited by a demon or hag or that we are being probed by aliens. Some people who experience sleep paralysis think they are going insane. I have had several patients who were very happy and reassured to hear that they were just experiencing a known and benign neurological phenomenon, not something supernatural and not a sign of mental illness.

The waking dream phenomenon is an excellent example of how understanding the world, and in particular ourselves, through the process of science gives us tremendous explanatory power. This reduces the need to invent superstitions or supernatural explanations for seemingly weird occurrences.

Further – waking dreams are yet another example of why we cannot fully trust our brains. Our brains are capable of distorting, filtering, and interpreting sensory input, of altering memories and even generating false memories, and of generating false experiences. While it is good enough for everyday activity, our brains have many flaws. We cannot rely upon our memories of our experiences to understand the world, especially when those experiences are unexpected or unusual. We need external verification, objective measurement, and careful recording of data.

In other words – we need science and skepticism to compensate for the flaws and pitfalls of our neurobiology.

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288 responses so far

288 Responses to “Sleep Paralysis”

  1. Rikki-Tikki-Tavion 11 Jul 2011 at 9:38 am

    “Some people who experience sleep paralysis think they are going insane. I have had several patients who were very happy and reassured to hear that they were just experiencing a known and benign neurological phenomenon, not something supernatural and not a sign of mental illness.”

    You just had another one – when I’m under a lot of stress, I sometimes hear voices when I wake up. And yes, I did think that insanity was knocking on the door, too.

    So that’s a load off my mind. Thank you.

  2. daleron 11 Jul 2011 at 10:07 am

    When I was younger, I had a paper route. Not being a morning person, I chose to deliver the evening paper during the week. But unfortunately, I also had to deliver the Sunday morning paper before 8AM. I would struggle out of bed, exert myself delivering the paper on my bicycle, then craw back into bed and try to sleep even though it was daytime, and not very dark in my room.

    Many of those mornings, I experienced sleep paralysis. I understood what was happening (that it was nothing supernatural) and came to expect it. It was quite repeatable. I don’t remember being particularly scared, but I often tried to “fight” it by trying to build up some sort of internal mental “pressure” and make a sudden movement to wake myself completely up (which sometimes worked).

    It is an interesting phenomena, and I sort of “miss” it in a way. I take naps during the day sometimes, but it has not happened to me in many years. I suspect my adult sleep physiology is a bit different from when I was 13.

    Thanks for the interesting post.

  3. Marshallon 11 Jul 2011 at 10:37 am

    Thanks Steve–this has actually happened to me many times. I don’t have any real sleep deficiencies, save that I’m an especially light sleeper–if I’m sleeping with a group of people in the same room, I’m always the last to fall asleep and the first to wake up. But anyways, I’ve had this happen to me so many times that I sort of figured out what was going on my own–body was still paralyzed from sleep, and although I THOUGHT I was awake–mainly due to the fact that my sensory organs were fully functional, so I could see my room–things were happening that were obviously dream-like. You can fall back asleep, and your brain continues to play the story that had begun in your bedroom. One time there was someone in the room trying to rob me, and I was completely paralyzed–I couldn’t call out for help, I couldn’t get up and try to scare them off, etc. It was very frightening. The dream continued after that in a sort of lucid dream, which ended up with me flying around and saving the world from an impending alien attack (sweet).

    Anyway, I think it’s pretty interesting, and it definitely helps to know what’s going on. I imagine that, if this happens for someone multiple times as it has for me, they’ll sort of catch on that it’s really just a dream.

  4. dissolon 11 Jul 2011 at 10:45 am

    I had a wonderful recent experience with sleep paralysis (combined with legal drug hallucinations!). I was recovering from surgery on my arm – I am a wheelchair user, so was down to only one non-paralized limb anyway. I was semi woken during the early morning nurses’ rounds – bp / pulse / temp etc. I sort of knew what was happening, but could not gain full consciousness. I could feel gentle hands moving limbs, in a very caring, almost sensual manner. Initially I felt a panic as I could not respond to them, and wanted to wake up…but then I realised what was happening, and just “went with the flow”. It was intensely pleasurable, as there was absolutely no pain (as there had been for weeks prior). I checked the charts later, and found that pulse and blood pressure were considerably lower than normal. Similar events happened during the next few days, although decreased as the opiate medication was reduced. It has fascinated me since, as there was no pain at all (I have chronic pain, not unusual for a spinal cord injury / arachnoiditis), and would be interested to know if there was any safe. legal way of repeating the state?

  5. SteveAon 11 Jul 2011 at 10:58 am

    It’s only happened to me once (that I remember). I woke up one night and found myself completely paralysed apart from my eyeballs. I’d read about sleep paralysis, so after a moment of initial heart-stopping shock I realised what must be happening and calmed down. I had a look around for shadowy figures lurking near the bed and saw a few patches of darkness that might have been mistaken for sinister presences if I’d been more upset. I tried to stay awake and see how long it would last, but soon drifted off to sleep again.

    I don’t think I dreamed it. I felt awake and alert and remember making a conscious effort to commit the incident to memory so I wouldn’t forget it when I woke up.

  6. TylerRon 11 Jul 2011 at 11:26 am

    I’ve had two experiences of note, not sleep paralysis, but definitely hallucinations from sleep deprivation. My dog saved me the terror of the first one, because I was completely convinced I had seen a possum skitter across my bedroom floor. I was awakened by my dog “chasing after the possum under my bed” only to then come awake and see it skitter across, as I mentioned before. It took me a minute to realize that my dog was asleep and the sound that woke me was him scratching himself, and he surely wouldn’t be asleep with any sort of animal in the room. My brain had constructed this whole fantasy and if I weren’t lucky enough that it had a couple easy-to-recognize holes then I would have been up all night searching for that possum. I often imagine what I would believe today if my brain created a similar experience, but UFO related.

    The second experience, btw, was waking up one night to see the “Blue Screen of Death” on my ceiling as if being presented by a projector. That was an easy one to immediately figure out 

  7. SARAon 11 Jul 2011 at 11:50 am

    I had a friend who insisted her bed was haunted because she woke up being pinned to the bed by someone invisible and the bed was shaking. She’s been sleeping on the sofa for years.
    I could not convince her that she was dreaming. Articles on the subject didn’t help. I think she would rather believe in the supernatural than in something so mundane as a sleep paralysis.

  8. taustinon 11 Jul 2011 at 2:11 pm

    I read somewhere that the nature of the hallucinations tend to correspond to the person’s view of the world – religious people tend to see demons and such, spriitual but not specifically religious people tend to see ghosts, etc, and more secularly oriented people tend to get aliens. The source mentioned cases where someone had life changing experiences, such as a loss of faith, and the hallucinations switched from demons to aliens.

  9. Kerry Maxwellon 11 Jul 2011 at 2:38 pm

    When my kids were infants I had a number of sleep deprived “dream incidents”. One was a memorable version of the classic sleep paralysis experience, replete with an old hag at the end of my bed. I was trying desperately to scream to wake my wife, but couldn’t talk. I have had coworkers defend their belief in ghosts with anecdotes that are clearly cases of sleep paralysis.

  10. Ubikon 11 Jul 2011 at 3:00 pm

    I practiced Lucid Dreaming in my early 20′s and was able to induce sleep paralysis. I even recorded my self a few times, and I’d like to mention that in my own personal experience even when I thought my eyes were open and I couldn’t move, my eyes were closed the whole time. I was effectively ‘dreaming’ the perception of my room as well as every other sensation.

    I got to a point where I could enter a lucid dream straight from sleep paralysis. While in SP I would imagine rolling out of bed (not actually trying to move but simply imagining it) while repeating, “I’m dreaming, I’m dreaming…” Lo and behold, I would soon feel myself roll out of bed and on to the floor free from paralysis and fully aware that I was now in a dream.

    If anyone is interested in Lucid Dreaming I’d recommend a book called ‘Exploring the Word of Lucid Dreaming’ by Stephen LaBerge

  11. rafalon 11 Jul 2011 at 3:39 pm

    When I was growing up in a village in Poland, my grandparents would tell me a folk story about a creature/demon that phonetically was called something like a “Hurbosh”, who would jump on people during their sleep and immobilize them until an incantation was said, promising some gifts to it like some butter or whatever.

    Also, if I remember correctly this was somewhat censored, since I’m pretty sure there he would attack females and it had a sexual aspect to it too, which makes it sound even more like an incubus story.

    I personally don’t recall having been sleep paralyzed, but it’s cool that there’s a naturalistic explanation for this phenomena and that such folk stories frequently do have a grain of truth somewhere in them.

  12. tiberiouson 11 Jul 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Remember what Harrison Ford looked like in “The Empire Strikes Back” when he was trying to claw his way out of carbonite? Thats what it feels like trying to dig your way out of out of sleep paralysis.

    Something almost as bad is when my allergies cause overwhelming post nasal drip at night and cause a “drowning reflex” and the trachea shunts down. Same sort of panic-claustrophobia – but its over quicker.

  13. OwenCon 11 Jul 2011 at 5:48 pm

    I was just watching a program called “Life of Muhammad” on BBC 2, and when they described Muhammad’s first ‘revelation’ they pretty much described exactly this; from waking up and being paralysed, hearing voices etc.

  14. neverknowon 11 Jul 2011 at 6:43 pm

    “Understanding this is empowering, in that we do not need to be afraid that we were just visited by a demon or hag or that we are being probed by aliens. ”

    First of all, you don’t understand it. Is knowing a little about something the same as understanding it? Understanding implies a complete grasp. But all you know is that we are paralyzed while dreaming. You don’t know anything about how these vivid “stories” could be generated by the brain. You don’t know anything about why sleep paralysis is generally associated with a feeling that someone is present.

    You don’t even see how much wild hand-waving is going on in your so-called explanation.

    And what it really comes down to is wanting to be “empowered,” to feel modern and enlightened and reassured. Wanting to “know” that there really are no ghosts under the bed after all.

    If the universe is made out of information, as many of us now believe, then all kinds of strange things are possible after all.

  15. Woodyon 11 Jul 2011 at 7:28 pm

    I have experienced sleep paralysis many times – I really should try to get more sleep!

    I am curious if others who experience it regularly have perceived a “buzzing” sensation in their head or scalp during the sleep paralysis. I often (maybe invariably) do. I also grind my teeth when I sleep, so I wonder if I may just be perceiving that in a distorted way? Probably not, since my jaw musculature is presumably paralyzed!

    One other interesting sleep phenomenon somewhat related to sleep paralysis is REM sleep behavior disorder. In that condition, the “switch” in the brainstem that normally mediates paralysis during dreaming does not function properly, and individuals who have the disorder literally act out their dreams. So in Marshall’s example where the dream morphed into him flying around the world, he might have lunged out of bed “flying”, with disastrous consequences! Bed partners often take to sleeping in another bed to avoid being punched, kicked, throttled or otherwise harmed by the mobile dreamer.

  16. elmer mccurdyon 11 Jul 2011 at 7:35 pm

    This has happened to me my whole life, and I find that what it signifies is that I fell asleep without emptying my bladder beforehand, and the way to get out of it is to dream-scream, “Wake up!” Unless I’m just imagining the memory of doing that of course. In fact, henceforth I’m going to start with the latter assumption in all my social intercourse: “I was driving home from work yesterday…” “Are you SURE???? HMMMM???? How can you be so certain you didn’t just IMAGINE it???” I expect this to go over well.

  17. elmer mccurdyon 11 Jul 2011 at 7:40 pm

    And this could extend to patients, too! “How did you get those bruises?” “Well, um… my husband beats me.” “Are you SURE? HMMMMM????”

  18. Ubikon 11 Jul 2011 at 8:02 pm

    Woody,

    Yes, I have had abundant experiences with Sleep Paralysis and can confirm that a ‘buzzing’ sensation is common (for me anyway).
    It can be anywhere from a smooth ‘vibration’ to a high-pitched deafening screech, which is uncomfortably intense.

  19. ccbowerson 11 Jul 2011 at 8:04 pm

    “First of all, you don’t understand it. Is knowing a little about something the same as understanding it? Understanding implies a complete grasp.”

    The understanding Steve is referring to is not a “complete grasp,” but is being used in a more narrow sense: an understanding that the ghosts, demons, and aliens we may sense are hallucinations that have a physiological basis.

    Apparently you disagree with this and think there is an actual sea hag from Sweden and Norway that comes at night, if your non sequitur is any indication:
    “If the universe is made out of information, as many of us now believe, then all kinds of strange things are possible after all.”

  20. locutusbrgon 11 Jul 2011 at 11:20 pm

    I am beginning to fell that I am the odd one because I have never experienced any thing like that.

  21. locutusbrgon 11 Jul 2011 at 11:20 pm

    I am beginning to feel that I am the odd one because I have never experienced any thing like that.

  22. Jeremiahon 11 Jul 2011 at 11:46 pm

    @neverknow,
    “If the universe is made out of information, as many of us now believe, then all kinds of strange things are possible after all.”

    You mean the strange things in the universe that were possible before are even more possible when they have a reason for the strangeness?

    Is new information responsible for those strange effects that happen before they can be caused to?

  23. Jeremiahon 12 Jul 2011 at 12:06 am

    And is that some form of information that exists outside of time and contains predetermined meanings for all things waiting in no particular order to be made meaningful?

  24. eiskrystalon 12 Jul 2011 at 3:57 am

    I’ve had it happen multiple times and i am damn glad i knew what it was. Mine was rather random though rather than being sleep deprived.

    Understanding implies a complete grasp.

    No it doesn’t, otherwise we could never actually use the word.

    Since multiple people have been empowered by knowing about this effect, rather than being scared and traumatised by it or making weird elaborate explanations, i think the answer to your statement is “you are an idiot”.

  25. BillyJoe7on 12 Jul 2011 at 6:48 am

    locutusbrg,

    “I am beginning to fell that I am the odd one because I have never experienced any thing like that.”

    Seems you are not alone – locutusbrg hasn’t either! :D
    But, actually you aren’t alone – I haven’t experienced one either.

    The closest experience I’ve had was when, at the age of about 7, I experienced an hallucination (as I was falling off to sleep) which consisted of people walking around my bed. I could almost have believed this was real except for the fact that they disappeared into the wall behind my bed on the right and reappeared on the left. I wasn’t paralysed though, except in fear.

  26. Roger Bigodon 12 Jul 2011 at 1:49 pm

    I have hypnogogic images, usually pretty ones. I’ve never noticed the paralysis, but I just want to watch the images, so I haven’t tried to move. They started when I was about 20 and happen sporadically. The basic emotion is a kind of detached aesthetic appreciation, sometimes foreboding if the images are dark and gloomy. If there are faces (never in closeup), I will empathize with the emotion the way I would with a performer in a play.

    One of the first ones was after I had been looking at art books during the day and was a series of scenes as painted by Dufy. The colors and brushstrokes were his, but the scenes were riffs on his subjects, not copies. On other nights it did some other early 20th Cent artists. Then one night it did Disney super technicolor landscapes, which I thought was kind of tacky. I can’t control what it shows, but I can sort of hint politely to the image maker that it would be nice to see a certain kind of picture and the images will shift in that direction. Sometimes. The projectionist has his own ways.

    It’s a slideshow, a series of static images that fade in and out. It’s hard to say what the frequency is. Perhaps 1-4 Hz. Usually soundless. Sometimes there’s music, but not in detail. I’m just aware of a string orchestra in the background. Occasionally the timbre and cadence of a voice, but no words.

  27. neverknowon 12 Jul 2011 at 7:01 pm

    “Understanding implies a complete grasp.”

    “No it doesn’t, otherwise we could never actually use the word.
    Since multiple people have been empowered by knowing about this effect, rather than being scared and traumatised by it or making weird elaborate explanations, i think the answer to your statement is “you are an idiot”.

    That’s an intelligent way to argue, just call whoever disagrees with you and idiot.

    If I say I understand something it doesn’t mean I have a little vague knowledge about part of it. That is not how we use the word “understand.”

    If this so-called understanding has been consoling to people, and helped them avoid being traumatized, that does not make it scientific.

    Do you consider religious beliefs scientifically valid because they can be consoling?

  28. neverknowon 12 Jul 2011 at 7:03 pm

    [The understanding Steve is referring to is not a “complete grasp,” but is being used in a more narrow sense: an understanding that the ghosts, demons, and aliens we may sense are hallucinations that have a physiological basis.]

    That is not an understanding. It is an ideological point of view. When materialists don’t think something is real, they call it a hallucination. They don’t bother with logic or evidence, just simply throw all the things they don’t like into the hallucination bucket.

  29. Nikolaon 12 Jul 2011 at 7:20 pm

    rofl @ neverknow

    Right, there’s no logic or evidence behind our explanations of such phenomena, except real science… I mean, simply reading Steve’s text is enough to know that. Do you like ad hominems so much that you don’t bother with reading? Anyhoo, you have an excellent “anything is possible” non sequitur. Nice logic and evidence right there.

    In any case, I wanted to say that I remember this happening to me once when I was a small child (probably 4 or 5). I was lying in bed at my grandparents home, and suddenly felt a menacing presence in the room. When I looked, I saw a huge owl perched at the bottom of the bed, perfectly still, looking at me. I tried to scream but not a sound would come out, and I couldn’t move. After a while I must have fully awoken because I screamed the house down at that point :P
    Afterwards I understood it must have been some sort of dream, however at that time I had no clue about waking dreams, which described that experience perfectly adequately. No demonic owls, just a glitch in my sleep. I guess I must have been a bit of a skeptic even at 5 ;)

  30. Jeremiahon 12 Jul 2011 at 7:22 pm

    Speaking of bothering with logic as evidence, neverknow, is it logical that we will find the new information responsible for those strange effects that happen before they can be caused to?

    Is it logical that there’s some form of information that exists outside of time and contains predetermined meanings for all things waiting, but in no particular order, to be made meaningful?

    If so, give us some measure of your understanding of the logic underpinning that evidence.

    Of course if you can’t, you won’t. But if you could, you would have.

  31. ccbowerson 12 Jul 2011 at 7:59 pm

    “That is not an understanding. It is an ideological point of view.”

    Right. Science is an ideological perspective, its only as valid as a method as your magic. Nice

    “They don’t bother with logic or evidence…”

    Actually science has been successful because it systematically examines evidence. When something happens and there is a material explanation that is plausible, you seem to think that is perfectly reasonable to jump to a magical explanation. Magic is an extraordinary claim relative to a nonmagical one, and therefore you are lacking in the extraordinary evidence department.

  32. ccbowerson 12 Jul 2011 at 8:08 pm

    The fact that we can stimulate hallucinations chemically and via direct brain stimuation is enough to demonstrate that there are physiological mechanisms for such experience.

    While that isn’t direct evidence against magic and the supernatural, it shows that it is a hell of a lot more likely (you have yet to put forth any evidence or mechanism). So we don’t waste our time with the very unlikely and there is nothing wrong with that.

  33. Jeremiahon 12 Jul 2011 at 8:21 pm

    “So we don’t waste our time with the very unlikely and there is nothing wrong with that.”

    Actually there is. The unlikely can still be logically possible, and all new found discoveries have been at some point in the most unlikely places.

  34. ccbowerson 12 Jul 2011 at 8:28 pm

    “Actually there is. The unlikely can still be logically possible, and all new found discoveries have been at some point in the most unlikely places.”

    Ok well you worry about the least likely of senarios, and I will focus on the most likely and see how things progress. Do you do this in your private life? Do you lose your wallet and look at all the places you haven’t been that day? Perhaps a ghost carried your keys to Greenland. Better see if there are any flights available

  35. ccbowerson 12 Jul 2011 at 8:30 pm

    I agree that there is nothing wrong with examining a less likely senario, but we do need a threshold to avoid wasting limited time and resources. There will be people to do these things, just not people who think like I do

  36. SimonWon 12 Jul 2011 at 8:52 pm

    The hypnapompic hallucination I remember best (I’ve had a few) involved a huge bird eating spider crawl out from behind the pillow, up the wall, and then disappear when it got to the light in the middle of the ceiling. As soon as the paralysis was gone, I leapt out of bed dragging the bedding behind me. It took a few minutes for the rational part of my brain to convince the rest that we don’t have those sorts of spiders, and that real spiders don’t just vanish.

    The upside is I get a lot of lucid dreams.

    The most irritating dream state are multiple “false awakenings”, don’t get them often, but it is really frustrating to get up and brush your teeth two or three times in the morning, only to discover you are dreaming still and you have to do the whole thing again. Also bad things can happen in these dreams, which can be scary if you think you are awake, then the bad things can “wake you up”, only to have another similar bad dream, and another false awakening. Worst kind of nightmare, those you don’t seem to be able to wake up from.

  37. ccbowerson 12 Jul 2011 at 9:59 pm

    “all new found discoveries have been at some point in the most unlikely places.”

    How many of these “discoveries” have been supernatural?

  38. Jeremiahon 12 Jul 2011 at 10:22 pm

    What’s your point, bowers, that all of them have been? This was about taking your advice on scientific discoveries, not your “private life” discoveries.

  39. PhysiPhileon 12 Jul 2011 at 11:58 pm

    My girlfriend (of 6 years) has terrible sleep paralysis. She says it feels like a demon is bending her hand back and she yells for me but no words come out.

    She and I were both not religious and skeptical – we even went to TAM 8. A few months later, she started getting interested in the bible and would wake me up after a sleep paralysis event to tell me she felt God. She started not sleeping well and I would wake up in the middle of the night finding her writing incoherent things on paper like: sun = time warp = illusion = Jesus = sacrifice. It climaxed with her saying she must die for our sins and she thought the TV was sending messages to her. I took her to the emergency room and all hell broke loose. She believed everyone was there because of her, and she felt like she did something terrible. She kept saying I must leave you now and would yell for me to get out then went into a catatonic state staring at the ceiling, eyes wide open and fighting the slurry of sleep medications. While I was in tears, her family told me it was I to blame for this because I made her an atheist and God is all coming into her at once. I tried to tell them about what I learned from Dr Novella about sleep paralysis and other neurological causes for what was occurring. They told me it wasn’t neurological but good and evil fighting over her. Her family soon left her and I stayed sleeping outside the door of the psychiatric ward for the next several days.

    The precariousness between sanity and insanity is never more evident than when you see an intelligent and rational young woman fall down the rabbit hole. And it all started with these damn sleep paralysis events.

  40. ccbowerson 13 Jul 2011 at 1:02 am

    “What’s your point, bowers, that all of them have been? This was about taking your advice on scientific discoveries, not your “private life” discoveries”

    The point is the same for both. We should look to the most likely of scenarios with a greater priority. The fact that some discoveries came from seemingly unlikely avenues does not mean that prior plausibility is not important. Anyone arguing that is looking at the scenario backwards. Looking at a few seemingly unlikely discoveries doesn’t mean that such an approach is a good one prospectively. Its a bit like thinking that the lottery might be a good way to gather wealth by looking at how many lottery winners there are versus evaluating the lottery as a highly inefficient way to become wealthy as an individual.

  41. Jeremiahon 13 Jul 2011 at 1:13 am

    “The fact that some discoveries came from seemingly unlikely avenues does not mean that prior plausibility is not important. Anyone arguing that is looking at the scenario backwards.”

    No, it means that prior plausibility must be determined at the level of Bayesian conditional probability instead of at the level of some typical Bowersian homespun banality.

  42. ccbowerson 13 Jul 2011 at 1:48 am

    Nice ad hominem!

  43. ccbowerson 13 Jul 2011 at 1:51 am

    Yet we have come to an agreement. I thought you were arguing the point that looking for “discoveries” in “unlikely places” was a good strategy, but apparently you have shifted your position. Yet you still begin your sentence with ‘No,’ and throw in an insult. Nice

  44. Jeremiahon 13 Jul 2011 at 1:58 am

    It’s not a fallacy if it’s based on the facts. It’s typical of your “philosophy” to put the hypothetical cart before the the hypothetical horse.

  45. Jeremiahon 13 Jul 2011 at 2:10 am

    I was pointing out that if you look for a discovery in the most likely place, that will have to involve the likelihood that you’re the first to look there that’s been trained to know it when he finds it. The prior plausibility applies to the discovery, not the place. The rigor of the testing comes after you find and recognize the hypothetical, not before.
    And I found your suggestion that I take a flight to Greenland insulting, so right back at you.

  46. Nikolaon 13 Jul 2011 at 5:58 am

    @ PhysiPhile

    Ouch, I’m very sorry to hear that. Is she alright now?

  47. SteveAon 13 Jul 2011 at 7:10 am

    “No, it means that prior plausibility must be determined at the level of Bayesian conditional probability instead of at the level of some typical Bowersian homespun banality.”

    And yet he claims he’s never the one to start the mud-slinging.

  48. BillyJoe7on 13 Jul 2011 at 7:21 am

    ccbowers,

    Most posters here have stopped responding to that particular poster. I know it’s hard, but I think the best way to avoid the impulse to respond to his inane posts is to actually stop reading them. They never provide any insight into an issue anyway and you just end up the victim of juvenile insults and personal threats.

    regards,
    BillyJoe

  49. hroobarbon 13 Jul 2011 at 10:37 am

    My (quite frequent) sleep paralysis episodes are slightly different from most of the ones posted here in that i am able to move. I usually avoid movement anyway since i am scared and do not want to attract the attention of the malevolent presence. I just pull the covers over my head to protect my face.

    The hallucinations are visual and animated, and very convincing. For some reason they mostly take the form of goats standing by my bed or crane flies and dots flying across the wall. Usually there are some real shadows that help in constructing the figures.

    Luckily the episodes only last for a couple of minutes.

  50. steve12on 13 Jul 2011 at 10:40 am

    # BillyJoe7on 13 Jul 2011 at 7:21 am

    I second BillyJoe here, who was the one who warned me originally! Went down that path, ends in Nowheresville. There’s clearly some psychological pathology there, and I think the best we can do for ourselves and the poster in question is to completely disregard him.

  51. ccbowerson 13 Jul 2011 at 11:13 am

    “And I found your suggestion that I take a flight to Greenland insulting, so right back at you.”

    To be honest, I thought that I was replying to someone else’s post, but I still agree with what I wrote.

    “It’s not a fallacy if it’s based on the facts”

    Fallacies are not necessarily about facts themselves, but the application of logic to facts to make an argument. Your insult does not add to the argument in that you made no other argument in that comment.

  52. ccbowerson 13 Jul 2011 at 11:17 am

    “Most posters here have stopped responding to that particular poster”

    I’m not sure which poster you are talking about… I can think of a couple of possibilities. I don’t always follow all of the comments for all of these posts, but I think I can pick up on the “personalites” that we have here. It might take a post or two, but I’ll figure it out.

    Steve12-

    I have been to Nowheresville many times in the comments section of this blog. I’m surprised that there are so many followers of this blog from there, but I’ve been learning to recognize the route

  53. steve12on 13 Jul 2011 at 11:43 am

    “I’m not sure which poster you are talking about…”

    There are a lot of posters here who think they’re going to overturn the last 100 years of science with some link they found from Metafilter, but most of these people are acting in good faith.

    No, this poster combines cranky conclusions through vague knowledge with supreme confidence and condescending insults in a way that is really is unique.

  54. steve12on 13 Jul 2011 at 11:52 am

    This does really make me think about the psychology of crankiness.

    At some level, most science cranks I’ve talked to are much more knowledgable about science that the average person, and many are quite smart, as can be seen in their rhetorical run-arounds.

    But they seem to have 2 traits that lead them down the wrong path:

    1. The need to be a “rebel” of sorts. I’ve never met one of these people who does not invoke my being a sheep, or bowing to authority or some such. They desperately need to think that they’re in some way special for bucking authority with their daring and brave thoughts. Lots of talk about dangerous ideas, etc.

    2. The inability to question their own conclusions. This is hard for everyone, but impossible for the crank. There’s usually no conceding even the most trivial point, and most of their “research” is confirmation bias of the worst kind.

    Maybe there are other attribute, but I’ve never met a crank that isn’t doing both of these.

  55. Jeremiahon 13 Jul 2011 at 12:59 pm

    I’m just replacing the blind natural selection sieves with logic filters. Works wonders for the things that go bump in the night. Tho’ not so much for those who crank the bump all day in Mooroolsbark.

    Their latest whines and plaints proving again that “the dominant position of those here is that there’s no intelligence in the universe outside of some higher forms of life. For them, there is also no consciousness or awareness outside of those higher forms that have some measure of intelligence.”
    For them, such use of information is NOT common to all reactive and regulatory systems, including the biological.
    “It’s all done by an autonomic chemical reaction system with no intelligence involved.”
    Self regulation and all that bunk and bump, who needs such “unnecessary hypotheses” or such “additional layers of complexity and intangible “stuff” where none need exist.”
    Who needs dangerous ideas when they obviously can’t (and we know this from our crystal balling) refute that materialistic view of blind cause, blind consequence.

  56. batlanaon 13 Jul 2011 at 1:06 pm

    My father suffered from sleep paralysis mainly when he was dying from cancer that he got after years of dealing with hepatitis C. I didn’t know much about it, nor had I experienced anything like it until my father passed away. Since he has passed (less than 2 years ago) I have experienced sleep paralysis several times. The timing was just so bizarre and also scary. The first time I experienced it I was on a “mission” trip in Haiti with a group of Lutherans (they were the only connection I had to go with for relief efforts after the Earthquake) and experienced demon-like presences while alone in my dorm room and it happened several times in a row while I was there. It was horrifying as it was happening, but I was able to shrug it off relatively easy, given that I had somewhat of an understanding that it wasn’t an actual voodoo demon trying to attack me, rather the fact that I was not only in Haiti, but with overtly religious individuals. That, I kid you not, insisted the items that I bought from the market were possessed by the devil and that if they did not anoint and cast out any demons within them before leaving Haiti that they were to be left behind in the garbage!!

  57. ccbowerson 13 Jul 2011 at 1:37 pm

    “psychology of crankiness”

    You can approach this term from 2 angles.

    “But they seem to have 2 traits that lead them down the wrong path”

    Also I would like to add that they usually are cranks about topics outside of their extertise (but perhaps not in this case), and they tend to have an ideology that acts as a filter for their own confirmation bias. Ideological commitment, intellectual hubris, and limited or slanted knowledge of a topic are a recipe for what you are describing. I am speaking generally here, and not to anyone in particular. There are many famous people who have these problems. Ask Bill Maher about medicine, or Penn and Teller about climate change/gun control

  58. Calli Arcaleon 13 Jul 2011 at 1:49 pm

    I’ve experienced sleep paralysis before, and while I knew what sleep paralysis is, I was not usually as lucky as those in this thread who were able to calm down once they realized what was going on; in the dream-state, I did not figure it out until the dream had ended. (Oddly, in normal dreams, I tend to wake up if the dream becomes excessively absurd, as if part of my brain is going, “oh, come *on*” at the rest of it.) I tend to sleep deeply, and sometimes wake up very confused, so rational thought is probably expecting too much of me at that point. ;-)

    On one occasion, I perceived a diaphanous being next to my bed, standing over me. Not quite a gray or a ghost, but sort of both. It didn’t make a lot of movement, but I had an overwhelming sense of hostility. When I finally woke, I was terrified and could not sleep again for some time.

    On another occasion, I turned over in my sleep and pinned my right arm rather awkwardly, causing it to go numb. When I partially woke, I was paralyzed for a while, and horrified at the corpse’s hand I saw next to me in bed. I tried to get away from it, but could not move. Eventually, motion returned, though the right hand was still numb and unresponsive, so the impression of being a corpse’s hand was very strong. I could not lift myself, as I was lying on my right side, so I tried to flick it away with my left hand. It was cold to the touch (I have cold hands normally), and I struggled to scramble away. Eventually, this time I did manage to work out what was going on, forced myself to calm down, and rocked back and forth until I freed my arm from under my body, picked it up with my left hand, and massaged the life back into it. Pins and needles for a while, but the terror was over.

    I’ve also had non-paralyzed waking dreams where clearly dreamlike things were happening. One of the more hilarious was when I was in high school. I was in the marching band, and we always had a solid, one week training session to start things off, called “intensive week”. One of the things we drilled was finding our dot as quickly as possible when the whistle was blown to line up. For training purposes, these were actually dots spray-painted on the school parking lot, and everybody had their own. Of course, with all this training, everybody was dreaming about marching band. I frequently would wake up believing I’d heard the whistle and would be frantically searching for my dot. On one occasion, my mom came into my room to find me frantically digging through my underwear drawer, trying to find my dot. :-D

  59. ccbowerson 13 Jul 2011 at 1:49 pm

    Maybe I was expanding what you meant in the last comment. Those are not cranks of a given field, but people who are otherwise intelligent that come to conlusions not based upon an honest evaluation of the evidence, but from personal bias of which they are unaware or rationalize. Cranks are a more specific group that focus on a given topic, and may or may not be intelligent in a general sense

  60. Jeremiahon 13 Jul 2011 at 2:03 pm

    ideology |ˌīdēˈäləjē; ˌidē-|
    noun
    1 ( pl. -gies) a system of ideas and ideals, esp. one that forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy : the ideology of republicanism.
    • the ideas and manner of thinking characteristic of a group, social class, or individual : a critique of bourgeois ideology.

    So it’s more of that bowersian banality above, since of course I have a system of ideas that form the basis of my theories.
    Not only mine, since all theories are at best derivative, and some at worst mere slavish copies of another’s. As are those materialistic views of blind cause, blind consequence that dominate the non-dangerous variety found here.

  61. steve12on 13 Jul 2011 at 2:09 pm

    “they tend to have an ideology that acts as a filter for their own confirmation bias.”

    This is definitely true,and most of them overestimate how much they can put their biases aside. This can probably be said of everyone to a degree, but the cranks really think they can be objective.

    If I had to pick one commmon trait, though, it would be the ‘rebel’/ dengerous idea mentality. I’ve never seen a crank w/o that.

  62. robmon 13 Jul 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Calli Arcade,

    I too have had experiences of being awake, but not having a thought/reality filter, without paralysis. I have never gotten up and started doing everyday activities though. It’s quite weird since I see and hear all the normal stuff in my room yet somehow I believe I’m in different places and scenarios, and everyday objects are completely different things.

    I wonder if it is neurologically similar to sleep paralysis, or a different animal all together.

  63. robmon 13 Jul 2011 at 3:05 pm

    steve12

    My guess is that their ideas seem in some way self evident to them, and this gives rise to the “rebel” mentality when they run into opposition, or shrugged shoulders.

  64. Jeremiahon 13 Jul 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Unnecessary hypotheses = shrugged shoulder science. I’ll have to write that down. Maybe we can call stuff like adaptive mutation shrugged shoulder science shit, or SSSS for short. Or just SSS (for short stupid stuff). Or SSS&M.

  65. steve12on 13 Jul 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Robm:

    “My guess is that their ideas seem in some way self evident to them, and this gives rise to the “rebel” mentality when they run into opposition, or shrugged shoulders.”

    Probably part of it, yeah. But I think there’s also a streak of self-aggrandizement, and being a rebel is a way to establish some sort of superiority.

    I can’t imagine jumping into a field I don’t really understand, not bothering to learn what others have achieved, and then pontificating about what’s what. It means that you literally think you’re smarter than just about everyone else – and who doesn’t want to think this about themselves? It’s just a matter of how much self-deception you’re willing to live with to get there.

  66. Jeremiahon 13 Jul 2011 at 4:28 pm

    Hoffman, Nadin, Shapiro, Cairns, Rosenberg, Jablonka, Lamb, Druyan-Sagan, Fodor, Mae-Wan Ho, Nowak, Wilson, and a host of other prominent evolutionary philosophers and scientists are self-deceived?

  67. Nikolaon 13 Jul 2011 at 4:54 pm

    # ccbowerson 13 Jul 2011 at 11:13 am

    “To be honest, I thought that I was replying to someone else’s post, but I still agree with what I wrote.”

    Hah, I was sure of that when I first read that post of yours! I r awesome.

  68. robmon 13 Jul 2011 at 5:20 pm

    I remember my pre-skeptic days and how easy it was to assume that I was as qualified as anyone else to hypothesize, pontificate and cast judgement on expert opinion based on superficial implication. It’s based on the assumptions that a superficial description is all there is to it, and that the conclusion is based on a disparate collection of factoids.

    It wasn’t until I understood at a gut level science as building a body of knowledge within a unifying framework that I really began to understand differently. I don’t believe sound critical thinking is a default for most people regardless of intelligence. For me there is a joy in gaining understanding, I suspect thats true for alot of people, whether their correct or not. Mike12′s teleology seems to be an example of that. It provides a way to “make sense” of things, despite the fact its all post hoc ergo proptor hoc and really doesn’t give an explanation for anything.

  69. BillyJoe7on 13 Jul 2011 at 5:46 pm

    The problem with a crank is that you can learn exactly nothing from them apart from how to be a crank.
    We have had an object lesson here but now I think it’s time to move on.

  70. ccbowerson 13 Jul 2011 at 8:06 pm

    “being a rebel is a way to establish some sort of superiority”

    I think that ties in with the intellectual hubris I mentioned above. they are really interrelated or perhaps 2 aspects of the same thing.

  71. ccbowerson 13 Jul 2011 at 8:08 pm

    “The problem with a crank is that you can learn exactly nothing from them apart from how to be a crank.”

    Sometimes there is something useful to learn about being a crank. Sometimes not.

    “…I think it’s time to move on.”

    Agreed, as far as the crank talk is concerned

  72. ccbowerson 13 Jul 2011 at 8:19 pm

    “It wasn’t until I understood at a gut level science as building a body of knowledge within a unifying framework that I really began to understand differently”

    I agree this is very important, and this is often lost on people who are within science itself.

    “I don’t believe sound critical thinking is a default for most people regardless of intelligence”

    I agree that intelligence is only weakly correlated with critical thinking. It definitely comes easier for some people, in a similar way to logic, I think. It definitely has to be learned or taught and actively worked on in order to be well developed. Even for people who find critical thinking relatively natural, they tend to think less/more critically depending on what they find appealing/unappealing on an intellectual or emotional level.

  73. Jeremiahon 13 Jul 2011 at 9:14 pm

    BillyJoe7, you don’t have the capacity to learn anything above the level of how to crank your engine. You’re the least capable of critical thinking on any level as anyone that’s ever posted here,
    including the religious nuts, IDers, CAM quacks, ad infinitum. Not even that pablum babbling ccbowers makes lesser sense.
    Critical thinkers are supposed to make positive contributions to their and others understanding. You contribute nothing but evidence of appalling ignorance where science at any level is concerned.
    Move on? The only thing you can put a move on is your hapless employee in your admittedly wet daydreams.

  74. neverknowon 13 Jul 2011 at 11:10 pm

    “I agree that intelligence is only weakly correlated with critical thinking.”

    We naturally trust and believe authorities and experts. Critical thinking is a willingness to question authorities. It takes a lot of hard work, and it can be disturbing and disillusioning. I think that something starts us on that path and eventually critical thinking becomes a habit. That definitely happened with me.

    Most people would rather trust authorities, which is understandable. It’s much easier and less disturbing. Materialists and scientists are every bit as likely to trust authorities as religious believers. It’s just different authorities.

    I was shocked when I started graduate school and found out I was expected to believe everything my advisor believed.

    It is a misconception that scientists are better at critical thinking. They are just as tribal and trusting of authority as anyone else. Sometimes much more so.

    A real critical thinker spends time reading ideas he/she disagrees with, trying to really understand it. It’s easy to keep soaking up stuff you already believe, hanging with people who think just like you. Then you become increasingly tribal and close-minded.

    It’s ironic when “free-thinkers” all band together and think identical thoughts. But we are a tribal animal and it’s only natural. But at least recognize that you’re doing it.

  75. Jeremiahon 13 Jul 2011 at 11:44 pm

    @nevermore,
    It’s ironic when some “free-thinkers” band together and preach parapsychology as if they knew our futures were placed there by our gods for our present benefit, who at the same time challenged us to predict them without famine, genocide, wars, despotism, slavery, waiting there as punishment for the time when we were, by that same measure, destined to have failed to avert them.

    Wars and such that had already happened in the future exactly in the ways we could have known they would before we made the bad decisions that caused them. And parapsychology will someday come back and show us how effects CAN happen before their causes, but not just yet in your case. You only proselytize.

  76. steve12on 14 Jul 2011 at 12:18 am

    Scientists agreeing on what the basics of science are is not tribal following. We agree because it makes sense.

    In a few of hundred years of employing the scientific method we’ve learned more about the universe than in the preceding 90,000 years with ghosts and goblins and gods. That didn’t come from tribalism, it came from science. Many of us are not eager to go back.

  77. eiskrystalon 14 Jul 2011 at 4:12 am

    Understanding of something is not measured as a percentage, it is more like knowing finer and finer details. But I can “understand” something in general long before i have drilled down to know every cause and permutation.

    That’s an intelligent way to argue, just call whoever disagrees with you and idiot.

    I gave my reasons. I also don’t appreciate being told that my science knowledge and the empowerment it brings isn’t important because of your magical thinking du jour.

    If this so-called understanding has been consoling to people, and helped them avoid being traumatized, that does not make it scientific.

    I once saw a ghost. You know what i did, i damn well got out of bed and went to investigate. I have even tried forcing sleep payalysis a few times knowing full well how frightening it can be.

    The scientific method cannot even be used if you are too busy quivering under the covers.

  78. SteveAon 14 Jul 2011 at 7:33 am

    Neverknow: “I was shocked when I started graduate school and found out I was expected to believe everything my advisor believed.”

    I think you’re confusing ‘belief’ with ‘faith’.

    If the man running my local store says he’s run out of cans of beans; I’ll tend to believe him. If the same man tells me he can fly, and I accept that uncritically without asking for proof; I’d call that a display of faith.

    A scientist never asks for a display of faith, if you doubt a conclusion you ask for the chain of reasoning that was used to reach that conclusion and test each link for yourself.

    “A real critical thinker spends time reading ideas he/she disagrees with, trying to really understand it. It’s easy to keep soaking up stuff you already believe, hanging with people who think just like you. Then you become increasingly tribal and close-minded.”

    The problem here is that you assume your theist ideas haven’t been digested and understood. They have. The arguments for religion are stale and poor.

    Open your mind, read ‘The God Delusion’.

  79. mufion 14 Jul 2011 at 10:21 am

    steve12: A scientist never asks for a display of faith, if you doubt a conclusion you ask for the chain of reasoning that was used to reach that conclusion and test each link for yourself.

    Yeah, but is that always practical? What if the experiment is really expensive? or your training is in a different field (or sub-field)?

    Surely science (as an umbrella term) requires trust, as well – it’s just a more rational trust (say, compared to what one often finds in non-scientific circles).

  80. neverknowon 14 Jul 2011 at 6:51 pm

    “The problem here is that you assume your theist ideas haven’t been digested and understood. They have. The arguments for religion are stale and poor.”

    “Open your mind, read ‘The God Delusion’.”

    I don’t care about the old arguments for religion. I am interested in modern scientific facts. I know what Dawkins thinks, he is not logical or scientific, he is a preacher for the cult of anti-religious materialism. He, and others like him, believes religion is the cause of war and misery and needs to be stamped out. He runs on emotion, not logic. The same is true for many other atheists.

  81. neverknowon 14 Jul 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Neverknow: “I was shocked when I started graduate school and found out I was expected to believe everything my advisor believed.”
    I think you’re confusing ‘belief’ with ‘faith’.

    “If the man running my local store says he’s run out of cans of beans; I’ll tend to believe him. If the same man tells me he can fly, and I accept that uncritically without asking for proof; I’d call that a display of faith.”

    “A scientist never asks for a display of faith, if you doubt a conclusion you ask for the chain of reasoning that was used to reach that conclusion and test each link for yourself.”

    Graduate students are, very often, strongly discouraged from doing that. It is human nature to form cults, where all members believe the same ideas.

    I am idealistic about science and I expected critical thinking would be encouraged. It was not encouraged at all.

  82. neverknowon 14 Jul 2011 at 7:00 pm

    And yet I was able to graduate, even after showing them holes in their logic. They were really pissed off, but I was right.

  83. eiskrystalon 14 Jul 2011 at 7:19 pm

    I am idealistic about science and I expected critical thinking would be encouraged. It was not encouraged at all.

    So what of this place?

    You do realise there is a difference between critical thinking and blindly disagreeing with what ever you were told because you thought that made you more interesting.

  84. neverknowon 14 Jul 2011 at 8:17 pm

    “You do realise there is a difference between critical thinking and blindly disagreeing with what ever you were told because you thought that made you more interesting.”

    I don’t want to be interesting. I want to understand, and I have wanted that all my life. I can’t accept the things that matter to me only on faith. I worked hard at it, for a long time. I wouldn’t go to all that trouble just so someone might think I’m interesting! That would be really dumb. I am serious about everything I say here.

  85. eiskrystalon 15 Jul 2011 at 4:05 am

    I can’t accept the things that matter to me only on faith.

    So, where exactly did you get the idea about universal information from? It certainly can’t have just popped into your head one day and you decided you liked it.

    Also have you had sleep paralysis? What did you do about it?

  86. SteveAon 15 Jul 2011 at 7:40 am

    neverknow: “I know what Dawkins thinks, he is not logical or scientific, he is a preacher for the cult of anti-religious materialism.”

    But have you read the book, or just read what others have said about it?

  87. SteveAon 15 Jul 2011 at 7:44 am

    neverknow: “And yet I was able to graduate, even after showing them holes in their logic. They were really pissed off, but I was right.”

    Any examples of logic holes you could share?

  88. Roger Bigodon 15 Jul 2011 at 6:57 pm

    This was an interesting thread until the wooh-related gibberish.

  89. neverknowon 15 Jul 2011 at 7:57 pm

    neverknow: “I know what Dawkins thinks, he is not logical or scientific, he is a preacher for the cult of anti-religious materialism.”

    “But have you read the book, or just read what others have said about it?”

    I read essays by Dawkins and I read a lot of pro-Dawkins stuff. And I read a lot by atheists in general, not just Dawkins. I am sure there is nothing in Dawkins’ book I would find surprising.

  90. neverknowon 15 Jul 2011 at 8:05 pm

    “So, where exactly did you get the idea about universal information from? It certainly can’t have just popped into your head one day and you decided you liked it.”

    I read a lot, from different fields, and things came together and made sense. Lots of evidence and logic all came together. I can’t say one place where I got the idea from, because I got it from so many different places. It isn’t really an unusual belief, just not dead center of the mainstream. Not in your college text books.

    A lot of interesting and plausible ideas never get into college text books, and most people stop trying to learn once they graduate. So they stick with materialism because it’s what they were taught.

    “Also have you had sleep paralysis? What did you do about it?”

    I used to get it a lot, along with kundalini energy. There was no reason to do anything about it, it’s a pretty cool experience, although scary. I think it probably has something to do with the so-called “astral” plane.

  91. Jeremiahon 15 Jul 2011 at 8:54 pm

    Good one, PTB.

  92. eiskrystalon 16 Jul 2011 at 6:14 am

    A lot of interesting and plausible ideas never get into college text books

    College textbooks probably wouldn’t be considered the place for interesting side theories. They have to be pretty standard to meet requirements.

  93. BillyJoe7on 16 Jul 2011 at 6:53 am

    “I think it probably has something to do with the so-called “astral” plane.”

    :D
    …move along folks, nothing to see here.

  94. neverknowon 16 Jul 2011 at 8:38 am

    I didn’t say it is the astral plane. However, there is nothing in science that denies the possibility of other planes. In fact, physics shows that there probably are more dimensions than what we experience with our senses.

    There is widespread belief in and experience of other planes. So I am open-minded about it. I know that you materialists love to ridicule anyone who is open-minded about ancient beliefs. It makes you feel smart.

  95. ccbowerson 16 Jul 2011 at 9:25 am

    “However, there is nothing in science that denies the possibility of other planes.”

    Thats a pretty low bar for a ‘belief’ in something.

    “In fact, physics shows that there probably are more dimensions than what we experience with our senses.”

    Being that sleep paralysis involves the senses, so this is a non sequitur.

    “There is widespread belief in and experience of other planes. So I am open-minded about it.”

    Argument from popularity. The believe that the sun revolves around the earth is pretty widespread as well (~20% in the US). The only planes I am familiar with involve transportation… I do believe in those.

    “I know that you materialists love to ridicule anyone who is open-minded about ancient beliefs. It makes you feel smart.”

    Non sequitur #2. I agree that ridicule is fun, but I generally save it for the ridiculous. I don’t agree with being cruel, and whenever I see cruelty here (which is uncommon) it is rarely the “materialist.”

  96. weingon 17 Jul 2011 at 3:06 am

    I started having these out of body experiences while in college. I would hear a sound like that of the old time 8 mm film reel as you started playing it. Once I woke up, I would feel unable to even move a finger for a brief period. I thought this was astral projection, then I read descriptions of lucid dreams and they seemed to fit the bill. Sleep paralysis seems to be the same thing. So, as far as I am concerned, these terms are all descriptions of sleep paralysis, no matter what you call them.

  97. eiskrystalon 17 Jul 2011 at 7:03 am

    Astral planes are all very well and good until you realise that it’s just an extension of the theory of ghosts.

    No spiritual mind that can free itself from it’s body and all the problems inherent in that idea = No astral projection.

  98. neverknowon 17 Jul 2011 at 3:35 pm

    We have no scientific reasons for believing that our familiar dimensional level and the substances and forces that we happen to know are all that exists. David Bohm, for example, is a physicist who believes otherwise.

    And we have no scientific reasons for believing that intelligent beings can only occur on this dimensional level and can only be made of the substances we are familiar with.

    It would actually be possible to be a materialist and believe in non-physical beings, as long as you accept that there may be other substances and other levels of existence.

    I think the real reason materialists deny these possibilities is they find their disbelief consoling. Sleep paralysis can be entirely “explained” in terms of neurons, so there can’t be any frightening mystery involved.

  99. Jeremiahon 17 Jul 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Not even Bohm believed that a sequential change at any dimensional level could be effectively reversed to cause itself.

  100. robmon 17 Jul 2011 at 5:12 pm

    Typical neverknow argument.

    Is there evidence for or against things beyond what we interact with, none. Is there a way to demonstrate it, no. Does this put it in the realm of pure speculation, yes. Are hypotheses on what is beyond just as good, kinda, if they’re coherent.

    To put disproof of what is empirically knowable in the unknown or unknowable is an argument from ignorance. There is currently no scientific evidence for other “dimensional levels”, whatever that means. “Levels of existence” is a better description of what you’re talking about, not to be conflated with physicists speculation on other dimensions. Conflating the two concepts is quantum woo.

    Scientific speculation into other dimensions doesn’t necessarily mean other kinds of existence, string theory, for instance, posits more dimensions that have curled up to the size of a planck length, interesting what kind of beings would live in those “dimensions”.

    Once again you trot out the evil materialist straw man. Science and skepticism (more relevant since your dealing with skeptics and scientists) require evidence of such things. Speculation, conjecture, and arguments from authority don’t count. Frankly none of this stuff relates to sleep paralysis unless your implying sea hags and giant owls from another dimension. Waking dreams occurring when some parts of the brain act like they’re asleep, while others act like they’re awake, and no sea hags in the room, is evidence that it’s neurons. Finding sea hags from another dimension would be evidence of that.

    Mystery actually doesn’t frighten me, or I suspect others who comment on this blog, since we don’t have to concoct unprovable stories or fantasy worlds or grand explanations to make sense of the world or our lives.

  101. ccbowerson 17 Jul 2011 at 6:06 pm

    Yes, his primary “rationale” is argument from ignorance. Repeatedly asserting that science cannot prove his/her belief wrong. Of course the beliefs are not even wrong, as they are unfalsifiable due to their incoherence.

    “I think the real reason materialists deny these possibilities is they find their disbelief consoling. Sleep paralysis can be entirely “explained” in terms of neurons, so there can’t be any frightening mystery involved.”

    Why would this be consoling? If anything, the opposite seems more likely to be true and many people don’t want to be told that their perceptions are not “real.” Your assert materialism as if it were some ideology with an equally likely alternative (which is…?).

  102. ccbowerson 17 Jul 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Extra “planes” of existence with immaterial beings impacting our material brains by crossing these “planes,” during the times which happen to coincide with our awaking from sleep so that it conveniently fits with a “materialist” hypothesis is a far fetch claim indeed. The fact that no one wants to entertain this idea in absence of any evidence is not ideology, unless evidence, logic and reason are ideologies

  103. neverknowon 17 Jul 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Experiences of beings on other planes, or of made of other substances — or whatever words might be used to describe them — these experiences are commonplace. You try to explain them all away as hallucinations, but you have no scientific basis for doing that. Given the immensity of the universe and how little we know about it, I think it is very naive to say there can’t be beings on other levels.

    And aside from all the millions of personal experiences — which most of us have had at one time or another — there is a century of scientific research. Of course you automatically discount all psychical research, because it has a decline effect (like any kind of research).

    Research into the paranormal has not always been clear and decisive, but that is the case with a lot of other areas of science. Physics has not figured everything out, and neither has parapsychology. That doesn’t mean we should ignore what evidence has been found.

  104. ccbowerson 17 Jul 2011 at 7:06 pm

    “You try to explain them all away as hallucinations, but you have no scientific basis for doing that.”

    Yes, the scientific basis is that we know a bit about human physiology, that there is a mechanism for hallucinations and dreaming, and that the experiences we are talking about are completely compatible with this knowledge of physiology and function. In fact such experiences would be expected. With a likely physiological explanation with known mechanisms that fit with reality, it makes little sense to jump to an mystical explanation.

  105. neverknowon 17 Jul 2011 at 7:22 pm

    And don’t you ever wonder why our nervous systems would generate such elaborate hallucinations? And why would different people have such similar hallucinations? Why would our brains evolve in such a strange way? We could survive just as well without hallucinations of non-physical beings — so why do you think we have them?

    Materialists label anything they don’t want to believe as a hallucination. It’s just a convenient way of ignoring of things you don’t like.

  106. robmon 17 Jul 2011 at 7:23 pm

    I think you miss the point that there are hallucinations, while no evidence for the beings you posit. Millions of people have also taken hallucinogenic drugs, in certain cultures those were believed to be real.

    There is no “decline effect” there is regression to the mean and failure to replicate an experiment. Parapsychology has enough enough of both to dismiss it, which is what happens to ideas with such abysmal evidence in other areas of research. If parapsychologists do figure it out they’ll be able to produce consistent data, until then its junk science.

  107. ccbowerson 17 Jul 2011 at 11:21 pm

    “And why would different people have such similar hallucinations?”

    Because our brains work in similar way because we are humans, and being humans we have similar human experience and our CNS is “set up” in a similar fashion.

    “Why would our brains evolve in such a strange way? We could survive just as well without hallucinations of non-physical beings — so why do you think we have them?”

    You statements have the assumptions that 1. that there is a strangeness to how we evolved 2. That the strangeness you describe was specifically selected for

    Keep in mind that not all traits are specifically selected for. Perhaps hallucinations are adaptive in some way (not sure how, but I’m not trying to explore this topic), but that is not necessary: a hallucinations are variations on traits that are adaptive: auditory processing, visual processing, pattern recognition, the brains ability to take multiple stimuli and create a cohesive story, etc.

    Hallucinations could very well be (and often are) simply a malfunction of normally functional processes. The fact that people report similar hallucinations likely correlate to their similar experiences. In the past there were likely more demons and goblins, a few decades ago aliens came into favor, and more recently parasites were on the rise. How do trends in hallucinations fit with your mystical view of it all?

  108. ccbowerson 17 Jul 2011 at 11:27 pm

    “Millions of people have also taken hallucinogenic drugs, in certain cultures those were believed to be real.”

    Good point, and in some cultures the drugs were not viewed as the cause of the hallucinations, but they allowed the user to see things that are really there but that we cannot normally see. Perhaps this fits with what neverknow thinks he knows. But again he suggests this with no evidence other than the argument from ignorance

  109. eiskrystalon 18 Jul 2011 at 4:09 am

    It’s slightly hilarious to think of scientists shrinking away from the unexplained in fear. It would be like a tennis player with a fear of balls.

    Actually experiments were done where shutting bits of the brain down and messing with it resulted in hallucinations and weird “experiences”.

    This is before we talk about the simple fact that we do “wake” from these sleep paralysis episodes and know we have been dreaming.

    Also, why would a magical dimensional hag want to come and sit on my chest for a couple of minutes? Doesn’t she have better things to be doing?

  110. SteveAon 18 Jul 2011 at 7:12 am

    “And why would different people have such similar hallucinations?”

    It terms of sleep paralysis, I think it’s wrong to class it as a hallucination. As far as I know the current thinking is that the process is an ‘off’ switch for the body that helps ensure that brain activity (dreaming etc) does not make you move around in sleep and endanger yourself.

    The process is not perfect, so sometimes you wake up you find yourself unable to move (because the switch remains ‘off’) and sometimes people sleepwalk (because the switch fails to go to ‘off’ when they fall asleep).

    Such a switch would have considerable survival value.

  111. robmon 18 Jul 2011 at 10:24 am

    Good point, neverknow uses the word hallucination because it sounds more dismissive, dream is a better description of a waking dream. Who’d have guessed?

  112. Calli Arcaleon 18 Jul 2011 at 11:31 am

    neverknow:

    And don’t you ever wonder why our nervous systems would generate such elaborate hallucinations? And why would different people have such similar hallucinations? Why would our brains evolve in such a strange way? We could survive just as well without hallucinations of non-physical beings — so why do you think we have them?

    If I’m understanding you right, this is your line of reasoning:

    * There are lot of common elements to people’s dreams. (And I don’t just mean common themes — sleep paralysis is probably the most freakish example, because it is experienced by people in every culture and is so vividly real that it underpins a significant body of folklore.)

    * Because these elements are so widespread, it must be something fairly fundamental to humanity. Something biological, or at least, inherent in being human.

    * But why would we all have some trait that doesn’t help us survive? What could it mean?

    First off, just because we all have a trait doesn’t mean it’s helpful. The appendix, for instance, may have some use as a repository of gut bacteria, but this hardly justifies its substantial risk of suddenly killing us without warning.

    Secondly, many traits that don’t seem helpful are actually the flip side of a trait which *is* helpful. Pale skin is a serious problem in the sun, and people with pale skin are far more likely to suffer skin cancer — however, at high latitudes they’re *less* likely to suffer vitamin D deficiency, and get rickets. The latter is a more immediate concern, actually, since it would cause problems with passing on one’s genes successfully; skin cancer, meanwhile, is usually not fatal until you’re old enough to have produced offspring and raised them into independence.

    It’s unclear what benefit dreams have, if any. Sleep paralysis seems mostly useful in preventing us from hurting ourselves while we’re dreaming. (Note: because we have a trait that protects us from the bad side-effects of dreaming doesn’t mean dreaming is adaptive, by itself. It depends on why we dream, and we still don’t know that.) Perhaps sleep paralysis in which we regain consciousness is simply a fault in the system; it’s not “intended behavior”, as it were, but because the system is imperfect, it’ll happen sometimes. If that’s the case, why do we all seem to have the same sorts of experiences? Well, because we’ve got the same brains, and despite large cultural differences, some of our basic experiences are universal. So the way our brains interpret the weird inputs they’re getting will be passed through pretty much the same filter in all of us. There are some distinctions — Americans are more likely to report seeing Grays attempting to abduct them, while in the Mideast, people might report a Djinn attempting to smother them — but though the interpretation of the event differs based on one’s cultural context, the experience seems very similar.

    My hunch is that sleep paralysis and other common dream events (perhaps including dreaming itself) happen not so much because they are themselves beneficial but as a side effect of having the sort of brains we have — complex, self-organizing, etc. Our brains are powerful simulators, which spend all day simulating a vivid experience of the real world from the diversity of inputs it receives, incorporating also an entire lifetime’s experience to inform and enhance that simulation. One price may be that they go a bit weird when consciousness is suspended and we rest. One couldn’t stop dreams without stopping us being us, so we’ve evolved ways to keep the dreams at least somewhat under control.

  113. eiskrystalon 18 Jul 2011 at 2:04 pm

    I always had dreams pegged as the unintended side-effect of the processing, sorting and healing that our brains do while asleep and/or the fact that external stimuli are still being processed albeit in a reduced sense.

    In which case it would be selected for simply because the alternative of “total” shutdown for X hours would be useless.

  114. neverknowon 18 Jul 2011 at 5:25 pm

    “It’s slightly hilarious to think of scientists shrinking away from the unexplained in fear.”

    Steve Novella said, in this post, that it is reassuring to know that sleep paralysis is entirely explained neurologically. I can find the quote for you if you can’t find it.

  115. neverknowon 18 Jul 2011 at 9:51 pm

    “Understanding this is empowering, in that we do not need to be afraid that we were just visited by a demon or hag or that we are being probed by aliens. Some people who experience sleep paralysis think they are going insane. I have had several patients who were very happy and reassured to hear that they were just experiencing a known and benign neurological phenomenon, not something supernatural and not a sign of mental illness.”

    Oh yes, we have it all figured out, nothing mysterious left in this universe, nothing left to fear.

  116. robmon 19 Jul 2011 at 12:05 am

    The universe is vast and full of incredible things that we have discovered. There is so much more undiscovered that it’s stupid to say unicorns from another dimension are beam out pure information to one’s quantum brain that creates a paralyzed waking image of monsters, or some equally convoluted story to make one’s dreams a special and significant adventure.

  117. Mlemaon 19 Jul 2011 at 1:13 am

    eiskrystal:
    Interesting if you came up with the idea about “processing”
    I remember reading some years ago that scientists had decided that dreams were exactly that, in that: all mammals dream. If all the information processing that needed to be done each day could not happen in the same areas that were used for other processes while the animal was awake, the brain would have to be so big that it would be difficult to carry around!

    It’s about assimilating new information and making all the appropriate connections with prior learning. For instance: I meet someone new. That night in my dream I see two children I attended elementary school with, whom I haven’t seen or even thought of in many, many years. As I ponder why those kids would appear in my dream, bingo! I remember their last names, which were both the same as the last name of the new person I just met. Brilliant. (useless in this case, but brilliant none-the-less.) I believe dreams are a by-product of this two-shift working brain.

  118. eiskrystalon 19 Jul 2011 at 4:07 am

    Steve Novella said, in this post, that it is reassuring to know that sleep paralysis is entirely explained neurologically. I can find the quote for you if you can’t find it.

    Indeed, but i’m not sure that has much to do with my point that you don’t get very far in science by running away from strange anomolies. The relief to the average person that they aren’t going mad comes after the science has been done.

  119. neverknowon 19 Jul 2011 at 7:41 am

    “The relief to the average person that they aren’t going mad comes after the science has been done.”

    It has not been done. Of course the motor system is disabled during dreams. That is an obvious fact, an observation. How does it explain all the experiences that can occur during these states?

  120. SteveAon 19 Jul 2011 at 9:43 am

    neverknow: “Of course the motor system is disabled during dreams.”

    Sometimes it’s disabled; sometimes it’s not (sleepwalking etc).

    neverknow: “How does it explain all the experiences that can occur during these states?”

    Calli Arcale already answered this. People’s reaction to episodes of sleep paralysis will be as varied as people themselves. It will vary according to their state of mind, cultural background, health and, most importantly (IMO), whether they recognise the phenomenon for what it is (a mental glitch).

  121. mufion 19 Jul 2011 at 9:57 am

    Has anyone watched the NOVA episode What are Dreams? It’s pertinent to this discussion and I recommend it. (If you can’t watch it from the PBS site, then try YouTube.)

  122. Nikolaon 19 Jul 2011 at 4:24 pm

    @neverknow on 17 Jul 2011 at 6:59 pm

    “Of course you automatically discount all psychical research, because it has a decline effect (like any kind of research).”

    The thing with psychic research is that the decline effect doesn’t abate until it hits ZERO.
    The amount of half-truths you construct your arguments from is getting less cute by the minute.

  123. eiskrystalon 20 Jul 2011 at 3:58 am

    It has not been done. Of course the motor system is disabled during dreams. That is an obvious fact, an observation. How does it explain all the experiences that can occur during these states?

    Well… think about it. If they are paralysed by their own body then the hag (as an example) is an unnecessary addition. In other words she is not relevent to the effect. You have said as much yourself.

    Therefore looking into hags to explain the other aspects of sleep paralysis would not be the most sensible first choice.

    Considering that the person is still technically asleep, the most logical conclusion would be that they are in fact dreaming. Something which happens a lot during sleep and would explain the effects AND cultural contexts. Something the hag does not do!

  124. SteveAon 20 Jul 2011 at 7:13 am

    eiskrystal: “Considering that the person is still technically asleep, the most logical conclusion would be that they are in fact dreaming.”

    My understanding is that the person suffering classic sleep paralysis has actually woken up, but that the motor system remains disabled for a time.

    That was certainly my experience, though I admit it could have been a lucid dream.

  125. neverknowon 20 Jul 2011 at 7:19 pm

    “Has anyone watched the NOVA episode What are Dreams?”

    No one knows what dreams are or what they are for. There is only speculation.

  126. neverknowon 20 Jul 2011 at 7:22 pm

    “My understanding is that the person suffering classic sleep paralysis has actually woken up, but that the motor system remains disabled for a time.”

    In my experiences of sleep paralysis, I was not awake, at least not in a normal waking state. Definitely seemed to be on a different plane. I know you materialists hate the idea of other planes (no not airplanes), but the idea makes sense scientifically, as well as intuitively.

    No it has not been proven scientifically. Most things haven’t.

  127. neverknowon 20 Jul 2011 at 7:29 pm

    “The thing with psychic research is that the decline effect doesn’t abate until it hits ZERO.”

    Where did you get that idea? Was it an off-hand statement by some devout materialist? Can you show me a quote?

  128. mufion 20 Jul 2011 at 8:29 pm

    “Has anyone watched the NOVA episode What are Dreams?”

    No one knows what dreams are or what they are for. There is only speculation.

    Some speculations are more evidence-based than others.

  129. neverknowon 20 Jul 2011 at 8:42 pm

    “Some speculations are more evidence-based than others.”

    Some speculations are more materialist than others.

  130. robmon 20 Jul 2011 at 8:59 pm

    “Some speculations are more materialist than others.”

    And some are more mundane than others, how can people just assume waking up in the middle of the night to a dreamlike scenario is just a dream. It doesn’t add any meaning or significance to my existence so it must be false.

    The only logical(ignoring the definition of the word) possibility is that people are traveling through multidimensional planes, without knowing geometry. By telling people that’s what happens it becomes a liberating experience, ignoring the paralysis.

  131. eiskrystalon 21 Jul 2011 at 4:20 am

    “My understanding is that the person suffering classic sleep paralysis has actually woken up, but that the motor system remains disabled for a time.”

    Not really. Waking seems to involve multiple changes and I doubt “waking” those bits is like flipping a switch either. So multiple permutations are possible.

    Some speculations are more materialist than others.

    Always go with the materialist solution first. Not only is it more likely to be right (given our track record in discoveries), it’s also probably going to be the easiest to test properly.

  132. neverknowon 21 Jul 2011 at 7:05 am

    “Always go with the materialist solution first. Not only is it more likely to be right”

    YOU always go with the materialist solution because you are a materialist! You can’t see that you’re biased?

  133. SteveAon 21 Jul 2011 at 7:26 am

    neverknow: ““Always go with the materialist solution first. Not only is it more likely to be right”

    YOU always go with the materialist solution because you are a materialist! You can’t see that you’re biased?”

    If you lose your keys, look in all the places you might have left them, don’t assume your dog ate them. It might have done, but it’s sensible to explore the more mundane (materialist) solutions first.

  134. ccbowerson 21 Jul 2011 at 9:25 am

    “YOU always go with the materialist solution because you are a materialist! You can’t see that you’re biased?”

    Materialism is biased towards reality.

    “If you lose your keys, look in all the places you might have left them, don’t assume your dog ate them. It might have done, but it’s sensible to explore the more mundane (materialist) solutions first.”

    Your dog eating them is still a ‘materialist’ explanation. Your ghost dog swallowing and pooping them into another plane of existance is a better example.

  135. mufion 21 Jul 2011 at 10:32 am

    ccbowers: Your ghost dog swallowing and pooping them into another plane of existance is a better example.

    You just beat me to that point! Here’s the rest of my comment:

    But then I imagine that, if neverknow dreamed that s/he found the misplaced keys, s/he might count that as evidence in support of a non-materialist explanation – or, alternatively, if the dream helped him/her in any way to recover them (say, some event in the dream helped him/her to remember where s/he left them): psychic/out-of-body experience vindicated!

    Never mind that an explanation based on a materialist assumption* (e.g. they are still in physical form, just hidden from view) is sufficient and more succinct. Anyone who prefers that over a more elaborate assumption is just suffering from a materialist bias (or so the party line goes).

    * I say “assumption” because I take the pragmatic view that materialism works well enough for most everyday purposes [even though modern physics has extended human understanding of matter beyond the traditional sense (which is why some folks prefer "physicalism" to "materialism")]. What’s “true” (in any objective, eternal, or transcendent sense) is another question – one which invites my agnosticism and skepticism.

  136. neverknowon 21 Jul 2011 at 7:04 pm

    The words “materialism,” “physicalism,” and “naturalism” don’t really have any agreed-on meanings. Is gravity “material?” Is electromagnetism? In general, I guess people mean things that can be observed and measured. But that could be true of anything at all, once it has been discovered.

    If there are substances, forces, dimensional levels, etc., that scientists have not yet observed, that doesn’t mean they can’t possibly exist. They just have not been discovered by science yet. What is called “supernatural” now might be natural, but on a level of nature that science has not explored.

    The current materialist assumption says the mind is created by the brain, and it denies the possibility that any other substances could be involved in the creation of mind.

    It is not dualism to say that the mind could include much more than the neurons and chemicals that make up our current knowledge of the brain.

  137. mufion 21 Jul 2011 at 8:04 pm

    neverknow,

    The current materialist assumption says the mind is created by the brain, and it denies the possibility that any other substances could be involved in the creation of mind.

    I would put it this way: The embodied mind hypothesis now has enough evidence to support it that it is “the one to beat”, and if the mind is directly caused by any entity or force outside of the body, then it is currently unknown to science (and, I suspect, always will be).

  138. eiskrystalon 22 Jul 2011 at 3:59 am

    YOU always go with the materialist solution because you are a materialist! You can’t see that you’re biased?

    My apologies that my first thought when i can’t find my keys is that they have been misplaced by myself, rather than that a ghost has run off with them for unspecified reasons. Probably boredom.

    You are quite right, I should be running around the house with ghost trap in hand, rather than LOOKING FOR MY ACTUAL keys.

  139. Nikolaon 22 Jul 2011 at 3:37 pm

    # neverknow on 20 Jul 2011 at 7:29 pm

    ““The thing with psychic research is that the decline effect doesn’t abate until it hits ZERO.”

    Where did you get that idea? Was it an off-hand statement by some devout materialist? Can you show me a quote?”

    Oh right, I suppose you’re in the camp of the ethereal decline effect, which applies sort of like a quantum observer effect.
    And what would difference would a quote make? You like arguments from authority?
    If you’re in the reality camp (doubtful?), you’ll realize that the decline manifests itself particularly through better design of studies as time goes by.
    It’s really not hard to get a glimpse of it, for example on
    http://www.skepdic.com/esp.html

  140. neverknowon 22 Jul 2011 at 11:56 pm

    “And what would difference would a quote make? You like arguments from authority?”

    If you make a statement then you need to back it up with facts and evidence.

    “Psychologists who have thoroughly investigated parapsychological studies, like Jim Alcock (1990, 2003), Ray Hyman (1989), David Marks (2000), and Susan Blackmore (1980, 1995), have concluded that where positive results have been found, the work was fraught with questionable assumptions, lack of randomization, serious problems with controls (no use of control groups or controls of any kind, irrelevant controls), statistical legerdemain, lack of replication, or fraud.”

    skepdic is a propaganda site. The above statement is false to the point of absurdity.

  141. neverknowon 22 Jul 2011 at 11:58 pm

    [I would put it this way: The embodied mind hypothesis now has enough evidence to support it that it is “the one to beat”, and if the mind is directly caused by any entity or force outside of the body, then it is currently unknown to science (and, I suspect, always will be).]

    I don’t think the mind is caused by anything outside the body. But it depends how you define “body.” We really know very little about the body, the brain and the mind. Of course materialists think they know a lot.

  142. eiskrystalon 23 Jul 2011 at 6:13 am

    Of course materialists think they know a lot.

    Considering the amount of literature, experiments and applications for how the brain works, i rather think we do.

  143. Nikolaon 23 Jul 2011 at 6:38 am

    @ neverknow on 22 Jul 2011 at 11:56 pm

    “skepdic is a propaganda site. The above statement is false to the point of absurdity.”

    Luckily your statements don’t have to be hindered by facts and evidence.

  144. ccbowerson 23 Jul 2011 at 9:34 am

    Neverknow is still arguing for Bertand Russel’s teapot.

    Neverknow:
    “The current materialist assumption says the mind is created by the brain, and it denies the possibility that any other substances could be involved in the creation of mind.”

    No one is denying the possibility of anything, but there is a lack of evidence that any other part of the body creates the mind. If you have evidence that the appendix or spleen “creates” the mind, feel free to put forth your evidence before your assertions. So far its all an appeal to ignorance

  145. SteveAon 23 Jul 2011 at 9:36 am

    neverknow: “We really know very little about the body, the brain and the mind. Of course materialists think they know a lot.”

    This supposes you have to know everything to an nth degree about every part of a system before you can understand how it works.

    I don’t think this is true.

    If I lifted the hood of a car and poked around underneath it and perhaps saw it running I would quickly get a good idea of the basic principles of its operation (engine rotates wheels via the transmission). In many cases you can establish sound basic principles with only a modest amount of information. The brain is no different.

    Further; if I couldn’t get inside the car’s engine for any reason I wouldn’t automatically assume it contained an imp or spirit turning a crank handle. Instead I might theorise that a mechanical process that consumed fuel and air and gave off heat and combustion fumes was involved. Of course you might actually have some hot, smelly, gassy, petrol-guzzling imp living inside the engine, but we’d explore the more down-to-earth solutions before looking for anything exotic.

  146. neverknowon 23 Jul 2011 at 6:31 pm

    “No one is denying the possibility of anything, but there is a lack of evidence that any other part of the body creates the mind.”

    I mean parts of the body made out of substances not recognized by materialist science. Chakras, or energy centers, for example, are very commonly experienced and well known, but never researched by materialist forms of science.

  147. neverknowon 23 Jul 2011 at 6:33 pm

    neverknow: “We really know very little about the body, the brain and the mind. Of course materialists think they know a lot.”

    “This supposes you have to know everything to an nth degree about every part of a system before you can understand how it works.”

    I said we know VERY LITTLE. I didn’t say we almost know everything, but not to the nth degree. You are not aware of how little is really understood about the brain. The brain is the most complicated organ in the body, and even the simplest organs are not well understood. The brain is barely understood at all.

    No, we don’t have to know everything to the nth degree. I never said that, and you know it.

  148. Nikolaon 23 Jul 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Chakras, or energy centers, for example, are very commonly experienced and well known, but never researched by materialist forms of science.

    Wow.
    I mean, do you even realize the venue in which you are spouting this nonsense? It must be obvious to you by now that your standards of evidence are “different” from ours. Merely repeating unsubstantiated claims without a will to enter into a discussion on evidence makes you a troll, frankly.

  149. ccbowerson 23 Jul 2011 at 10:59 pm

    “I mean parts of the body made out of substances not recognized by materialist science”

    What is a nonmaterial substance? Sounds like a self contradiction

    “Chakras, or energy centers, for example, are very commonly experienced and well known, but never researched by materialist forms of science.”

    Well one has to define what something is before it can be researched. “Very commonly experienced and well known” is an argument from popularity, but not evidence of their existence.

  150. neverknowon 24 Jul 2011 at 6:18 pm

    [“Very commonly experienced and well known” is an argument from popularity, but not evidence of their existence.]

    Most things have not been subjected to formal research, because it’s expensive and takes a lot of time. There are many things we “know” without having evidence from randomized controlled experiments. And many things that we “know” from formal experiments is uncertain anyway.

    It’s a fact that many people experience yoga, and other things like that, which are not understood by mainstream science. But most things everyone experiences are not understood by mainstream science.

    Just because there is brain imaging technology does not mean there is understanding of the brain.

  151. neverknowon 24 Jul 2011 at 6:19 pm

    “What is a nonmaterial substance? Sounds like a self contradiction”

    I didn’t say “nonmaterial substance.” I said substances not yet known to mainstream science.

  152. Nikolaon 24 Jul 2011 at 6:30 pm

    It’s a fact that many people experience yoga, and other things like that, which are not understood by mainstream science.

    What does “experiencing yoga” entail?
    Oh, mainstream medicine doesn’t recognize benefits of physical activity, stretching and relaxation?
    Thanks for edifying me. /sarcasm

    And btw, I do yoga semi-regularly, sans the mysticism.

  153. mufion 24 Jul 2011 at 6:45 pm

    neverknow said: I don’t think the mind is caused by anything outside the body. But it depends how you define “body.” We really know very little about the body, the brain and the mind. Of course materialists think they know a lot.

    Cognitive scientists do know a lot – a lot more than they used to even a few decades ago, and a lot more than the average joe – particularly with respect to the topic at hand.

    But embodied cognition is a research project, which is far from over. All I’ve done here is to report some provisional conclusions about consciousness, based on my lay person’s understanding.

    Are all cognitive scientists engaged in this project materialists? I doubt it. Cognition need only be regular and predictable enough that scientists can observe patterns, teach them to others, and even manipulate them (to no harm, one hopes). In metaphysical terms, that’s at most a minimalist view – one which would seem to be compatible with a host of theories.

    But the point here is that the scientific evidence thus far tells us that cognition is embodied. In my opinion, that should be a starting point for philosophical interpretation and reflection (e.g. in existential terms, what does this mean to me?), not something that ought to be attacked on the basis that it doesn’t sit well with some a priori position (a.k.a. dogmatism).

  154. mufion 24 Jul 2011 at 6:59 pm

    PS: I practice (hatha) yoga semi-regularly, as well – and, not just for the long-term health benefits (as now recognized by mainstream medicine), but also because I feel good while I’m doing it – even though I may interpret the experience very differently than others.

  155. eiskrystalon 24 Jul 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Neverknow, I think there is a vast difference between what scientists know, and “what YOU think scientists know”.

  156. neverknowon 24 Jul 2011 at 7:10 pm

    “Cognitive scientists do know a lot – a lot more than they used to even a few decades ago, and a lot more than the average joe – particularly with respect to the topic at hand.”

    They have better imaging technology. They “know” what parts of the brain seem more active during certain activities. That provides an illusion of understanding.

  157. Nikolaon 24 Jul 2011 at 7:36 pm

    The imaging technology provides further understanding by allowing for better explanatory and predictive capability.
    Your misunderstanding of this fact is the problem, and it allows you to call it an illusion.

  158. eiskrystalon 24 Jul 2011 at 7:44 pm

    Ndverknow, do you really believe cognitive science happens in some kind of vacuum? We have been studying the brain and it’s odd effects properly for the last 100 years.

    You are about on par with a flat earther. A collection of people who think the universe should be special because “they” are in it.

  159. neverknowon 25 Jul 2011 at 7:04 am

    I studied cognitive science. Some cognitive scientists are awed with themselves and fantastically over-estimate their understanding of the brain. This exaggeration gets passed to the trusting public, such as yourselves.

    But there are also cognitive scientists who have a more realistic view of the current state of understanding.

  160. mufion 25 Jul 2011 at 12:04 pm

    Sorry, neverknow, but you give me no reason to believe that your knowledge of cognitive science is superior to that of the experts whom I’ve read (e.g. Nobel laureate Gerald Edelman, whom I cited to you in a related thread re: consciousness, and George Lakoff, whose books on the embodied mind – as the idea bears on philosophy, mathematics, and politics – I highly recommend).

    Nor, for that matter, do you give me any reason to believe that there are cognitive scientists of a similar caliber* who substantially disagree with my sources – thus far. But if you care to name some, I’ll try to assess their arguments for myself, when I have the time.

    * as opposed to some hack/hired gun for the Discovery Institute, like Michael Egnor

  161. ccbowerson 25 Jul 2011 at 12:47 pm

    “I didn’t say “nonmaterial substance.” I said substances not yet known to mainstream science.”

    Well that was the implication, otherwise why would “materialist scientists” not recognize it? Unless you are doing an appeal to Rumsfeld? Are these “unknown unknowns?” (This is a joke for anyone who doesn’t recognize the reference to the great quote)

    You do alot of ‘we don’t know everything so I can propose any strange theory and it could be true’ – type “arguments.”

    How about we start with some evidence and draw conclusions from there? Instead of starting from various possibilities and proposing they are not not disproven. Its a nice way to brainstorm ideas, but that way leads to fluffy thinking if not careful.

  162. steve12on 25 Jul 2011 at 12:55 pm

    “They have better imaging technology. They “know” what parts of the brain seem more active during certain activities. That provides an illusion of understanding.”

    EEG, ERPs, MEG, TMS, PET, DTI (from MRI) pharm challenge, single unit recording, behavioral methodologies, etc (there are many, many more) do much, much more than simply look at brain localization. When they converge (and convergence is the key) to tell a similar story, it’s pretty good evidence.

    This argument holds water for one technology – fMRI. Othere than that it is simply incorrect.

  163. neverknowon 25 Jul 2011 at 6:21 pm

    “When they converge (and convergence is the key) to tell a similar story, it’s pretty good evidence.”

    There is no converging evidence saying the organ we call the brain creates mind and consciousness. And there is evidence that makes it seem implausible — for example, when a brain area is damage a neighboring area may take over its function. There is a problem of levels — it seems as if these decisions are made on some higher level.

    The of course there is all the parapsychology evidence that cannot all be easily dismissed. And the enormous quantities of anecdotal evidence. Anecdotal evidence of RCTs, but it can’t be simply ignored. It’s convenient to call everything that doesn’t fit into your framework a hallucination, but that is not objective science.

  164. neverknowon 25 Jul 2011 at 6:23 pm

    “How about we start with some evidence and draw conclusions from there? Instead of starting from various possibilities and proposing they are not not disproven. Its a nice way to brainstorm ideas, but that way leads to fluffy thinking if not careful.”

    That is not at all what I do. I look for converging evidence. I am not interested in fantasies and wishful thinking. I don’t care if a theory is empowering and consoling, that doesn’t make it valid. Sometimes the truth is frightening or depressing, but that is not reason to deny it.

  165. neverknowon 25 Jul 2011 at 6:29 pm

    “Sorry, neverknow, but you give me no reason to believe that your knowledge of cognitive science is superior to that of the experts whom I’ve read (e.g. Nobel laureate Gerald Edelman, whom I cited to you in a related thread re: consciousness, and George Lakoff, whose books on the embodied mind – as the idea bears on philosophy, mathematics, and politics – I highly recommend).”

    I am familiar with them, you are not educating me. If you decide what to believe based on what the majority of experts believe, then you will choose the materialist perspective on cognitive science. Cognitive scientists want to believe the brain creates mind, so that’s what they believe. If you prefer to believe them, rather than look at the evidence and be skeptical, that is your preference. But don’t pretend you are being a skeptical critical thinker.

    Aren’t skeptics always promoting critical thinking? And doesn’t critical thinking involve questioning the views of experts and authorities?

    Just because George Lakoff is a professor in a university doesn’t mean he knows the secrets of the universe. He is just a guy who has ideas, some of them sensible and others maybe not.

  166. 2_wordson 25 Jul 2011 at 6:38 pm

    Just because neverknow is a commenter on a blog doesn’t mean he knows the secrets of the universe. He is just a commenter who has ideas, few of them sensible and others not at all.

    Mystics do not want to believe the brain creates mind, so that’s what they don’t believe.

  167. Mlemaon 25 Jul 2011 at 8:12 pm

    This debate is equivalent to the debate on God’s existence. Scientists can proceed with investigation of the brain no matter what we philosophically believe about the mind. But in the truest logic of philosophy, the question is not answerable and either “side” can be right or wrong. What we are better able to discern as right or wrong might be the conclusions we make based on our philosophy. As neverknow has related neverknow’s conclusions, I’d say some work needs to be done to reconcile the view of the nature of the mind with a breakdown of what we know about the brain. None of us here probably knows enough about that to take the battle to that level. The other path is to refine the philosophical view, which is defensible based on logic, but is a bit sloppy in neverknow’s presentation.

  168. rezistnzisfutlon 25 Jul 2011 at 9:04 pm

    “Aren’t skeptics always promoting critical thinking? And doesn’t critical thinking involve questioning the views of experts and authorities?

    Just because George Lakoff is a professor in a university doesn’t mean he knows the secrets of the universe. He is just a guy who has ideas, some of them sensible and others maybe not.”

    Critical thinking is great when there’s some basis for it. Skeptics require evidence for extraordinarity claims before belief, as with woo like astral planes, ghosts, paranormal activities, metaphysics, and parapsychological “research”. None of those listed are science because quite honestly, none of them can stand up to the rigors of the scientific process or peer-review.

    It’s not about materialistic “dogma” that you seem to be suggesting, but simply a requirement of evidence to extraordinary claims.

    There is also a point where being a skeptic doesn’t mean questioning every little thing. If a theory or publication doesn’t resonate as correct or complete because of contradictory evidence, that’s one thing, but questioning without reasonable basis for the questioning when the subject of the scientific inquiry has already passed peer-review is ridiculous. Again, like looking for the car keys in Greenland first before looking under the sofa coushins.

    So far all I’ve seen for your claims are arguments from ignorance, arguments from popularity, and begging the question. If you can’t provide more than anecdotal evidence, then it’s not going to work. Also, science requires evidence FIRST before forming conclusions, not the other way around. This is why supernatural explanations always fall flat.

    You’re free to research these areas if you want, and if you do find actual evidence that can pass repeat experimentation and peer-review, we’ll all be waiting to see the publication and surely the awards and accolades that follow.

  169. steve12on 26 Jul 2011 at 3:20 am

    “There is no converging evidence saying the organ we call the brain creates mind and consciousness.”

    No. As I’ve pointed out to you before, literally all of the scientific evidence says exactly this. Either way, you’re in no position to judge because you’re unfamiliar with that evidence. That’s obvious from the comment I was responding to earlier, et al.

    Why do you look for logical justification of your religious convictions? Aren’t you supposed to simply have faith? If it was clear in evidence there would be no need for faith, right?

  170. neverknowon 26 Jul 2011 at 7:08 am

    And by the way, I was not comparing my own individual opinion against the experts. There are many experts who disagree with mainstream cognitive science on this. There is converging evidence for the dissenting view, while most of the mainstream “evidence” is illusion and wishful thinking. If the brain is a relatively simple machine, it will be possible for humans to understand it and simulate it. And it’s reassuring and empowering. Materialism is a religion based on faith.

  171. neverknowon 26 Jul 2011 at 7:10 am

    “Aren’t you supposed to simply have faith? ”

    “supposed to?” Who says? Those of us who prefer critical thinking over mindless following use science and logic to form our opinions.

  172. neverknowon 26 Jul 2011 at 7:11 am

    “questioning without reasonable basis for the questioning when the subject of the scientific inquiry has already passed peer-review is ridiculous. ”

    Oh yes, if the peers have accepted it, we must mindlessly believe them, always, however nonsensical their claims might be. Because the peers are infallible.

  173. neverknowon 26 Jul 2011 at 7:13 am

    I question things that don’t make sense to me. I try to find out various sides of the controversy and compare the evidence. I don’t make up my own theories out of thin air, and I don’t question every little thing. I accept mainstream theories that seem sensible and not controversial.

    But whenever there is a controversy, there is more than one side. And looking at only one side of controversies is narrow-minded and not skeptical.

  174. mufion 26 Jul 2011 at 9:15 am

    neverknow: There are many experts who disagree with mainstream cognitive science on this. There is converging evidence for the dissenting view…

    Who are they? What’s their’ dissenting view? These assertions are vague to the point of meaninglessness and reek of BS.

    Look, all you’ve actually achieved here is an expression of dislike for the notion of embodied cognition. Your opinion has been acknowledged, but all the ranting in the world will not change the scientific facts, as the rest of us know them to be.

  175. steve12on 26 Jul 2011 at 12:35 pm

    Just briefly:

    1. Converging evidence is a specific term – it means that unrelated methodologies independently support the same idea. There is no evidence for any of the things you’re talking about – nevermind converging evidence.

    2. You can do it until you’re blue in the face, but nothing that anyone is arguing here rests on the say-so of experts. This is your favorite point, but it’s just dead wrong. Experts become known as such by making cogent arguments on the merits, which many people have attempted to present you with. You say many, many things that the are well known to be incorrect, but when this is pointed out to you you simply say we’re sheep following scientists. Impossible, being that we’re giving you THE EVIDENCE not simply citing a person.

    3. YOu are clearly grinding a religious/mystical axe. Maybe there’s some form of woo you find emotionally difficult to let go of? At some point, you have to choose faith or reason, or some mix where you acknowledge that faith cannot me logically justified.

  176. ccbowerson 26 Jul 2011 at 3:08 pm

    “There is converging evidence for the dissenting view”

    The evidence converges around the number zero. Strange for someone to be hyperskeptical of reasonable perspectives, and yet have almost no skepticism for unsubstantiated ones. You are highly skilled in mental gymnastics.

  177. neverknowon 26 Jul 2011 at 6:56 pm

    “The evidence converges around the number zero. Strange for someone to be hyperskeptical of reasonable perspectives, and yet have almost no skepticism for unsubstantiated ones.”

    I am skeptical about materialist theories, and of non-materialist theories. In the current conversation I am arguing against Novella’s materialist assumptions. That does not mean I mindlessly accept all non-materialist assumptions no matter how nonsensical.

    And I could even say I am a materialist because I believe everything is matter. I just don’t agree that matter is mindless.

  178. neverknowon 26 Jul 2011 at 6:59 pm

    “You say many, many things that the are well known to be incorrect”

    Well like what, for example?

  179. neverknowon 26 Jul 2011 at 7:01 pm

    “neverknow: There are many experts who disagree with mainstream cognitive science on this. There is converging evidence for the dissenting view…”

    “Who are they? What’s their’ dissenting view? These assertions are vague to the point of meaninglessness and reek of BS.”

    I already linked to this quantum mind article, for example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_mind, to show that not all the experts are materialists.

  180. mufion 26 Jul 2011 at 7:11 pm

    And I believe that you were already told that quantum mind hypotheses, while highly controversial and evidence-challenged, still basically rely on materialist assumptions.

  181. rezistnzisfutlon 26 Jul 2011 at 7:22 pm

    @neverknow,

    So how many “non-material experts” have peer-reviewed publications that can demonstrate tests that are experimentally repeatable?

    Your disdain for the scientific process is amusing. You accept pseudo-scientific areas like astral projection and metaphysics, which have no evidentiary support, yet accept wild claims made by fringe hacks as if they’re somehow explanatory to observable phenomena. I’d like to see some peer-reviewed journal publications on how astral projection works.

    You also seem to suggest, like many other conspiracy theorists, that mainstream scientists are in collusion which nullifies the peer-review process, as if they’re passing unsubstantiated claims to their buddies who in turn rubber-stamp these claims. Yea, I’m sure that’s how we’re now able to now use computers on a vast worldwide network, fly planes, drive cars and shoot satellites into orbit. Science is what it is because it’s effective in the corporeal world.

    Science isn’t always about “making sense”. Making sense is very subjective as what makes sense to one person may not make any sense to another. I saw this frequently in my engineering classes, where concepts were difficult to understand to many students because they appeared nonsensical at first, but were demonstratable in a lab environment. Perhaps instead of outright refuting everything that comes along that doesn’t make sense to you, read the literature at least, and perhaps have a conversation with one of the authors.

    While most of us here I expect value a healthy skepticism, we trust the scientific process overall because its tendency to reduce errors and unsubstantiated claims. Scientists make careers out of overturning previous theories (or adding to them) and forwarding new, more robust theories in their place, so science as a discipline isn’t about bobble-heads accepting everything that comes along from their peers and giving each other high-fives in self-congratulations.

  182. neverknowon 26 Jul 2011 at 7:30 pm

    “And I believe that you were already told that quantum mind hypotheses, while highly controversial and evidence-challenged, still basically rely on materialist assumptions.”

    Oh I was told that was I? And I dared to not agree? How rebellious of me.

  183. neverknowon 26 Jul 2011 at 7:32 pm

    “science as a discipline isn’t about bobble-heads accepting everything that comes along from their peers and giving each other high-fives in self-congratulations.”

    It shouldn’t be, but that is often what happens. There is very strong pressure to conform. It’s only human nature to conform and be tribal, but it’s bad for scientific progress.

  184. rezistnzisfutlon 26 Jul 2011 at 7:46 pm

    “t shouldn’t be, but that is often what happens. There is very strong pressure to conform. It’s only human nature to conform and be tribal, but it’s bad for scientific progress.”

    So says you. You seem to have your own definition of what science is, arguing from a near ontological perspective. No system is perfect and there are instances of conformity pressures, but the beauty of the scientific process is that those tend to cancel out over time. Overall, scientists need to provide viable applicable results in order to remain scientists.

    What’s bad for scientific progress is chasing hypotheses that have no evidentiary support based on claims that have little reality to them, much like religion; a conclusion is made (astral projection really happens) then the search for evidence begins. Real science first observes physical evidence before coming up with conclusions.

  185. steve12on 26 Jul 2011 at 9:24 pm

    “You say many, many things that the are well known to be incorrect”

    Like:
    “There are many experts who disagree with mainstream cognitive science on this.”

    “They have better imaging technology. They “know” what parts of the brain seem more active during certain activities. That provides an illusion of understanding.”

    You say the decline effect is real – it is not.

    You say that there’s evidence for cognition outside the brain – there is none

    That’s off the top of my head! And don’t ask for each of those points above to be explained again – each has been explained to you many, many times with good evidence, while you could produce no good supporting evidence.

    And as far as this notion that there’s some automatic credibility in swimming against the tide, I think this quote from Ted Goertzel is quite appropriate:

    “…being a dissenter from orthodoxy is not difficult; the hard part is actually having a better theory. “

  186. neverknowon 27 Jul 2011 at 7:15 pm

    “No system is perfect and there are instances of conformity pressures, but the beauty of the scientific process is that those tend to cancel out over time. Overall, scientists need to provide viable applicable results in order to remain scientists.”

    I have never criticized the scientific process! I am criticizing the materialist ideology that I think is unscientific. I think it is as much based on wishful thinking as any religion.

  187. neverknowon 27 Jul 2011 at 7:18 pm

    “You say the decline effect is real – it is not.”

    Everyone says the decline effect is real, including Steve Novella. I agreed with Novella, who said the decline effect occurs in many types of research, not just parapsychology.

  188. neverknowon 27 Jul 2011 at 7:19 pm

    “You say that there’s evidence for cognition outside the brain – there is none”

    If all you ever read on the subject is skepdic.com, that’s what you would think.

  189. rezistnzisfutlon 27 Jul 2011 at 7:57 pm

    “I have never criticized the scientific process! I am criticizing the materialist ideology that I think is unscientific. I think it is as much based on wishful thinking as any religion.”

    What exactly is a materialist ideology? Can you define that for us?

    I would go as far as saying that all science is materialistic; it has to be in order to observe, quantify and measure. Science works by observing physical evidence and then reporting the experimentally repeatable physical evidence found when testing the hypothesis. You can’t exactly observe astral projection, only take someone’s word for it that it occurs (furthermore, the experiments done on astral projection yielded 100% false readings when those claiming they could do so had numbered plaques placed over their beds; not one of them could correctly repeat the number after one of these so-called episodes).

    Science must work with what’s measurable and tangible. Your woo is no different from religious claims that also cannot be measured, verified or corroborated.

  190. neverknowon 27 Jul 2011 at 8:12 pm

    “I would go as far as saying that all science is materialistic; it has to be in order to observe, quantify and measure. Science works by observing physical evidence”

    That is nonsense. Of course you have to be able to observe something in order to study it. But before something has been discovered, you can’t observe it. Before they discovered X-rays, for example, they had no way to observe them.

    There is no definition of “physical.” If you define it as things that can be observed, then it means everything that is already known or has been discovered by science. Everything that is not yet discovered would not be considered physical.

  191. rezistnzisfutlon 27 Jul 2011 at 9:16 pm

    “That is nonsense. Of course you have to be able to observe something in order to study it. But before something has been discovered, you can’t observe it. Before they discovered X-rays, for example, they had no way to observe them.”

    This is completely wrong. They wouldn’t have had any reason to look for xrays if there wasn’t evidence for it in the first place (Crookes tubes, a type of cathode ray tube). Though some discoveries are accidental, they worked off of the physical evidence for the discovery, not speculation on what could be.

    Science starts with the evidence found then forms hypotheses to explain and then test them. You’re coming up with a claim that has no actual evidence, other than peoples’ word, to start with and trying to find evidence for it. That is completely unscientific.

    “Everything that is not yet discovered would not be considered physical.”

    Really. So the moons orbiting planets that haven’t been discovered yet aren’t physical? Or the yet undiscovered sea creatures living at extreme depths, they aren’t physical?

  192. ccbowerson 27 Jul 2011 at 9:40 pm

    “But before something has been discovered, you can’t observe it. Before they discovered X-rays, for example, they had no way to observe them.”

    Ok, well this in no way contradicts that there is a materialist assumption in science. Prior to the discovery of X rays or their effects, there was no science of X rays.

  193. mufion 28 Jul 2011 at 5:07 pm

    There’s some pretty enjoyable sci-fi out there (the Doctor Who serials come to mind) that “naturalize” or “physicalize” some of the beliefs that we typically associate nowadays with non-physical/immaterial beings (e.g. spirits or ghosts) or forces (e.g. those according to which precognition or telepathy supposedly work) – usually by explaining them in terms of aliens or bizarre, previously undiscovered organisms and/or previously unknown or misunderstood forces in the universe.

    Because it’s only sci-fi, of course, there need not be any scientific evidence that these phenomena actually exist. But I would agree that, if there were such evidence, that we would have to redefine our conception of what’s “natural” or “physical” – perhaps radically so.

    And that’s what this debate is really about, isn’t it (or ought to be, any way)? What does the science support? From that standpoint, this accusation of a “materialist” bias in science is about as meaningful as an “empiricist”, or even “scientific”, bias in science. Of course there is!

  194. neverknowon 28 Jul 2011 at 7:05 pm

    “But before something has been discovered, you can’t observe it. Before they discovered X-rays, for example, they had no way to observe them.”

    “Ok, well this in no way contradicts that there is a materialist assumption in science. Prior to the discovery of X rays or their effects, there was no science of X rays.”

    And if you had been around then, you would have been saying X rays can’t possibly exist, since they had not already been observed. And you would be trying to block funding for X ray research.

  195. neverknowon 28 Jul 2011 at 7:28 pm

    [But I would agree that, if there were such evidence, that we would have to redefine our conception of what’s “natural” or “physical” – perhaps radically so.]

    We don’t have any sensible scientific definitions for words like “natural” and “physical.” Usually we use them as contrasting with “supernatural” or “spiritual.” And by “spiritual” we usually mean the existence of intelligent entities that are not on what we consider our physical plane.

    There is evidence of mind operating without a brain, and some of it has been investigated by skeptics. They have not explained it away.

    And there are respectable scientific theories that can help us see how mind might be a general property of the universe, rather than something that is generated by a certain physical organ that has evolved by a long series of unlikely accidents.

    There is something called “digital physics,” for example, which is not considered fringe science. According to that idea, the universe is something like an immensely complicated computer program. It is constructed out of bits of information, rather than tiny particles of matter.

    Digital physics is one of many scientific theories I have heard about that all point to the probable reality of universal intelligence.

    So there are the converging theories (some of the others were mentioned on that wikipedia article I linked), there is parapsychology evidence (and no it has not been found to be all fraud and error. Skepdic.com doesn’t care about facts).

    And there is also the direct personal experience of many or most human beings. Of course, you insist that every experience of non-physical intelligence must be a hallucination. But that is just your simple all-purpose argument to discount things you don’t want to be true.

    It is empowering and reassuring to know that when you are paralyzed and overwhelmed by a sense of some mysterious non-physical presence, it is really just the result of a glitch in your poorly designed brain.

  196. Nikolaon 28 Jul 2011 at 8:14 pm

    # neverknow on 27 Jul 2011 at 7:18 pm

    “You say the decline effect is real – it is not.”

    Everyone says the decline effect is real, including Steve Novella. I agreed with Novella, who said the decline effect occurs in many types of research, not just parapsychology.

    Hmm? Steve thinks that the decline effect is ascribable to methodological and statistical errors, along with publication bias, while you are accused of believing it is a *real* thing, not simply an artifact of faulty procedure.

    There is evidence of mind operating without a brain

    Where?

    Digital physics is a non sequitur.

    there is parapsychology evidence (and no it has not been found to be all fraud and error. Skepdic.com doesn’t care about facts).

    Of course, you insist that every experience of non-physical intelligence must be a hallucination. But that is just your simple all-purpose argument to discount things you don’t want to be true.

    What is this? If I buy a charlatan I get an anecdote for free?
    Do you think science is done by jury – true until proven false?
    Provide some… *ANY* positive evidence, please.

    It is empowering and reassuring to know that when you are paralyzed and overwhelmed by a sense of some mysterious non-physical presence, it is really just the result of a glitch in your poorly designed brain.

    No. What’s empowering and reassuring is the knowledge that it’s possible to overcome the glitches and biases of said brain. Only up to a point, and it’s really hard work, but it can be done.

  197. Nikolaon 28 Jul 2011 at 8:15 pm

    No. What’s empowering and reassuring is the knowledge that it’s possible to overcome the glitches and biases of said brain. Only up to a point, and it’s really hard work, but it can be done.

    Fark. That shouldn’t be in quotes. That’s me. Sorry.

  198. rezistnzisfutlon 28 Jul 2011 at 9:08 pm

    “There is evidence of mind operating without a brain, and some of it has been investigated by skeptics”

    What evidence? What scientific publication can you cite for the evidence of parapsychological events?

    “And there are respectable scientific theories that can help us see how mind might be a general property of the universe, rather than something that is generated by a certain physical organ that has evolved by a long series of unlikely accidents.

    Again, what evidence?

    “there is parapsychology evidence ”

    Evidence please.

    You’re making a lot of claims to evidence that, as far as I know, have no scientific basis and aren’t observable scientifically. You also make assertations about scientific theories that I have yet to see any evidence for; I don’t believe you that these theories exist. In fact, I don’t believe you about most everything you’re claiming about an incorporeal spiritual world, mind without brain, and other woo you keep trotting out.

    If you’re going to make extraordinary claims, especially claims that science in one way or another supports your assertions, you better well be able to back up your claims.

  199. ccbowerson 28 Jul 2011 at 9:40 pm

    “And if you had been around then, you would have been saying X rays can’t possibly exist, since they had not already been observed. And you would be trying to block funding for X ray research.”

    Not at all. That is a strawman. When did I say that everything has been discovered to this point? Never. Xrays were discovered by observing their effects on other substances. Any ‘new’ substance would have to either be observed directly, or indirectly by its effects on other substances/objects. Some prior plausibility for its existence would be nice prior to me promoting its funding (like a theoretical substance that is predicted to exist, but has not yet been observed).

    Sorry ‘chakras’ and ‘energy centers’ and ‘chi’ do not qualify since they are made up terms created in a prescientific time in order to explain things that were not otherwise explanable. Oh yeah, and the zero evidence, and prior plausibility factor in as well.

  200. mufion 28 Jul 2011 at 10:50 pm

    Well, at least neverknow’s framing has improved. S/he’s actually put aside (if only temporarily) the metaphysical language to discuss what the scientific evidence actually supports.

    Unfortunately, those claims of scientific support are entirely bogus.

  201. rezistnzisfutlon 28 Jul 2011 at 10:58 pm

    @ccbowers, I entirely agree with your last post…

  202. neverknowon 29 Jul 2011 at 7:32 am

    “Hmm? Steve thinks that the decline effect is ascribable to methodological and statistical errors, along with publication bias, while you are accused of believing it is a *real* thing, not simply an artifact of faulty procedure.”

    I NEVER said that. I agree with what Novella said, and it applies to parapsychology also.

  203. neverknowon 29 Jul 2011 at 7:38 am

    “If you’re going to make extraordinary claims, especially claims that science in one way or another supports your assertions, you better well be able to back up your claims.”

    The idea of universal intelligence is not extraordinary. It is only extraordinary for confirmed devout materialists. There are massive quantities of successful parapsychology experiments. And, as I keep saying, most of it has NOT been explained away by the materialist “skeptics.” Skepdic.com just says whatever they want to believe, however untrue. There is a decline effect, in parapsychology as in other forms of research, and it has been used by “skeptics” to discount the research.

  204. mufion 29 Jul 2011 at 9:56 am

    The idea of universal intelligence is not extraordinary. It is only extraordinary for confirmed devout materialists.

    Well, that didn’t last long. We’re already back to the metaphysical conspiracy theory.

    There are massive quantities of successful parapsychology experiments.

    At least since the 5th Grade, when I wrote a school paper on parapsychology, I’ve thought the idea was cool – not because I was anti-materialism (if I knew what that meant) – but because I craved such powers for myself and believed that ability was possible.

    I’ve since learned that the skeptics have much stronger arguments against that possibility than the advocates (like yourself) have for it – your assertions notwithstanding.

  205. rezistnzisfutlon 29 Jul 2011 at 11:06 am

    “The idea of universal intelligence is not extraordinary”

    Actually, it is, because it’s a claim that’s beyond reason and everything we know about the universe.

    A reasonable claim would be, say, my coworker got a new cat. Since having cats as pets is commonplace, and from what I can tell my friend seems like an animal lover, I wouldn’t have any compelling reason not to believe the person, though it would be an easy matter to simply go over to their place to see the cat, if for any reason I have doubt of this claim.

    An unreasonable claim would be that Farmer John says a UFO landed in his pasture last night. Since this claim lies outside of everyday experience and is not what we know about the universe, most people would not believe him and would require evidence.

    “There are massive quantities of successful parapsychology experiments”

    Again, so says you. First of all, why don’t you cite some examles? Secondly, what’s your definition of successful? On occasion when flipping through channels, I come across that show Ghost Hunters. They consider a drafty basement’s “cold spot” or a squeeky, settling house good evidence of the supernatural. I have no doubt there are many claims made by woo practitioners, none of which can produce viable evidence that’s repeatable experimentally and peer-reviewed.

    Of course, like most conspiracy theorists, you now claim collusion among “materialist scientists” that you claim dogmatically cling to some notion of materialist belief system out of fear that your so-called “proof” of woo practices may overturn their long-held, but unsubstantiated, religion of materialist science. Most of us have heard the exact claim from a gajillion religionists, crackpot conspiracy theorist, quack alt medicine practitioners, and woo advocates like you.

  206. neverknowon 29 Jul 2011 at 8:47 pm

    “At least since the 5th Grade, when I wrote a school paper on parapsychology, I’ve thought the idea was cool – not because I was anti-materialism (if I knew what that meant) – but because I craved such powers for myself and believed that ability was possible.”

    “I’ve since learned that the skeptics have much stronger arguments against that possibility than the advocates (like yourself) have for it – your assertions notwithstanding.”

    What you believed in 5th grade doesn’t seem relevant, unless you’re implying that these beliefs are childish. My interest in parapsychology has nothing to do with wanting special powers. I started questioning materialism about 35 years ago and I have looked at the evidence on both sides. I don’t think there is any simple way to decide who is right, and we are all aware of different evidence, since no one knows everything.

    For you, I am guessing, people like Susan Blackmore make sense, and for me they don’t.

    To me, it seems obvious that things are more likely made of bits of information than bits of matter. Based on everything I know, it seems obvious that intelligence is universal, not something that happens sometimes, by accident.

    And if intelligence is universal, the parapsychology doesn’t need to be explained away. It makes sense.

  207. rezistnzisfutlon 29 Jul 2011 at 9:29 pm

    “To me, it seems obvious that things are more likely made of bits of information than bits of matter.”

    So why do you say this? Where are you getting this from?

    “Based on everything I know, it seems obvious that intelligence is universal, not something that happens sometimes, by accident. ”

    What do you have to back this assertion up? What is it that you gained your knowledge from that makes you think intelligence is universal and doesn’t happen by accident? What evidence do you have for any of this?

    “And if intelligence is universal, the parapsychology doesn’t need to be explained away. It makes sense.”

    A non sequitur based entirely on argument from ignorance.

  208. ccbowerson 29 Jul 2011 at 9:50 pm

    “To me, it seems obvious that things are more likely made of bits of information than bits of matter”

    Your use of the term information is incoherent, and cannot be meaningfully discussed. Unless you can provide a satisfactory definition (which you have not thus far) its all intentionally vague to conceal your ideologically driven “challenges” to rational argument.

  209. neverknowon 29 Jul 2011 at 9:51 pm

    “So why do you say this? Where are you getting this from?”

    You ignore everything I say and any links that I post. And then you say I haven’t given any evidence or reasons for my opinions.

  210. rezistnzisfutlon 29 Jul 2011 at 10:10 pm

    Yes, I saw the one link you submitted in regards to Quantum Mind, an article that in no way supports your position of a mind without brain and all the other woo you’re proposing. In fact, the concept of Quantum Mind is completely based on physical parameters, as it pertains to computers and the brain (transfer of information via zeros and ones through a physical medium). That’s the only link I’ve seen you post so far. All your following posts had no basis and were a nonstop stream of arguments from ignorance and begging the question fallacies, then like all good conspiracy theorists, you claim collusion of “materialist scientists” to cover up evidence, when you have nothing to back up your assertions.

  211. neverknowon 29 Jul 2011 at 10:35 pm

    “In fact, the concept of Quantum Mind is completely based on physical parameters, as it pertains to computers and the brain (transfer of information via zeros and ones through a physical medium). ”

    You failed to understand it, or to think about it. And I posted a lot more than that link.

  212. mufion 30 Jul 2011 at 9:17 am

    neverknow to me: What you believed in 5th grade doesn’t seem relevant, unless you’re implying that these beliefs are childish.

    It’s relevant to me because it tells me that, if anything, I have a longstanding ideological bias in favor of parapsychology’s being true. What would be childish, however, is if I were to uncritically dismiss the arguments of skeptics – even though I find them persuasive – just so that I could go on believing it’s true.

    neverknow to rezistnzisfutl: You failed to understand it, or to think about it. And I posted a lot more than that link.

    Looks to me like he understands it better than you do.

    The scientific point here is that, thus far, the evidence leads to the conclusion that (to quote your source) “quantum effects rarely or never affect human decisions and that classical physics determines the behaviour of neurons.”

    The philosophical point, however, is that, even if the science led elsewhere, an hypothesis based on quantum mechanics (QM) is no more or less “materialist” than one based on classical mechanics. That you seem to believe otherwise suggests to me that you’re reading in some mystical interpretation of QM, which is by no means shared by all (meaning: by anyone who isn’t in the thrall of Deepak Chopra or other “quantum woo” merchants).

  213. neverknowon 30 Jul 2011 at 9:39 am

    “quantum effects rarely or never affect human decisions and that classical physics determines the behaviour of neurons.”

    A recent Physical Review Letters article (which I’m pretty sure I linked) found that some birds use quantum effects in their navigation systems. Other recent research has found quantum effects involved in plant photosynthesis. This sort of thing is just beginning to be investigated, and we can’t imagine where it will lead. We have absolutely NO reason at this point to deny that quantum effects are somehow involved in consciousness.

    Yes Deepok Chopra talks about quantum physics, and he wears funny glasses and acts weird. But all kinds of people, serious and flaky, are saying it. Mentioning Deepok Chopra and woo is not a logical or scientific argument against it.

    ” What would be childish, however, is if I were to uncritically dismiss the arguments of skeptics – even though I find them persuasive”

    I don’t find them persuasive at all. And I don’t consider materialists to be skeptics. A real skeptic would be as critical of materialist ideas as well as non-materialist ideas.

    What you want to be true or not is irrelevant.

  214. rezistnzisfutlon 30 Jul 2011 at 9:56 am

    “We have absolutely NO reason at this point to deny that quantum effects are somehow involved in consciousness.”

    Just like you have no reason to deny there are invisible unicorns in my back yard. Yet another argument from ignorance, that if something can’t be disproven, than that is evidence for the claim being made.

    “A real skeptic would be as critical of materialist ideas as well as non-materialist ideas.”

    No True Scotsman fallacy. A skeptic’s default position is disbelief in the absence of evidence. What you call “materialistic science” actually has physical evidence to back it up. Your woo-woo has absolutely no evidence for it, is untestable, and therefore there is no good reason for a skeptic to believe it. Wheel out as many anecdotes and arguments from popularity all you want, none of those evidence make.

    Unless you can provide positive evidence to any extraordinary claim you make, whether it’s material or non-material, we’re not going to believe you, especially claims that have been roundly debunked already.

  215. neverknowon 30 Jul 2011 at 2:36 pm

    “Unless you can provide positive evidence to any extraordinary claim you make”

    I think my claims are ordinary and yours are extraordinary. I provided positive evidence against materialism, and you always ignored it. And there is positive evidence for quantum effects being relevant on the biological level. You ignore that also.

    Neuroscience evidence is from brain damaged patients, animal research, and brain imaging technology. That evidence, so far, is compatible with either the materialist or non-materialist position.

    You say the brain generates the mind, and I say the brain is part of the mind. The current neuroscience evidence does nothing to decide between these opposing opinions.

    However, the evidence from parapsychology supports the idea that the brain is only part of the mind. Materialists say that parapsychology evidence MUST be the result of fraud or error, because it CANNOT be true.

    And they say it CANNOT be true because it contradicts the laws of nature. No, it does not. And it’s naive to think that the laws of nature have all been figured out.

    Modern physics shows that nature is much stranger and more complex than you materialists ever imagine.

  216. Nikolaon 30 Jul 2011 at 5:54 pm

    I wonder how many times you can mention “evidence from parapsychology” without providing any.
    As for your quantum claims, they’re all non sequiturs or forms of “bait and switch”.

  217. rezistnzisfutlon 30 Jul 2011 at 7:58 pm

    Haha, ook neverknow, now you’re arguing in circles. Believe what you want to believe, the woo you’re proposing isn’t scientific because it cannot be tested by the scientific process. We’re going to continue not to believe you until we see some credible, physical, verifiable evidence that’s been repeatedly tested and peer-reviewed, simple as that.

    And your claims ARE extraordinary, because they lie outside everything we know about the universe. Our claims, however, are not extraordinary because primarily they are predictable, and we can actually provide evidence that everyone can see. Anything else is empty speculation.

  218. neverknowon 30 Jul 2011 at 8:40 pm

    [I wonder how many times you can mention “evidence from parapsychology” without providing any.]

    There is an extensive parapsychology literature, from over 100 years of research. There is no doubt that overall the evidence is positive for various types of experiments. But Ray Hyman, a skeptic, (referring to a meta-analysis by the parapsychologist Dick Bierman) said: “Bierman fitted a regression line to the data in each area. In all cases, the regression line revealed a consistent trend for the effect sizes to decrease with time and to eventually reach zero.”

    That statement is deceptive. There is a decline effect in parapsychology, as in many other types of research (which Steve Novella recently posted about). If you plot a trend which is declining, you can say it will eventually reach zero. But you could say the same thing about ANY research that has a decline effect!

    Parapsychology, like many other types of research, relies on statistics. So drawing general conclusions about it depends on meta-analyses, which are often controversial. Subjective decisions are made about which studies to include, so different analyses reach different conclusions.

    But overall, the evidence from parapsychology is positive and there is no one who has carefully and objectively studied the evidence and been able to discount it.

    Most materialists don’t bother looking at the actual evidence. They just say it can’t possibly be true because it defies what we know about nature (what they prefer, as materialists, to believe about nature).

    They claim the evidence must be the result of fraud or error. Well anyone can say that about any research they don’t like.

  219. neverknowon 30 Jul 2011 at 8:41 pm

    “And your claims ARE extraordinary, because they lie outside everything we know about the universe.”

    That is false. They lie outside everything you materialists prefer to believe about the universe.

  220. neverknowon 30 Jul 2011 at 8:43 pm

    “Our claims, however, are not extraordinary because primarily they are predictable, and we can actually provide evidence that everyone can see.”

    Ok, where is your evidence that consciousness is created by what we currently understand as the brain? As I said, brain damaged patients, animal research, and imaging studies are all compatible with either materialism or non-materialism.

  221. Nikolaon 30 Jul 2011 at 11:28 pm

    I guess the answer to my previous question is: Always once more.

    As for parapsychology’s decline to zero – it’s not something we merely plotted or extrapolated out of a downward slope. Once you rule out all the errors and biases, it levels at zero.

    But do go on.

  222. rezistnzisfutlon 31 Jul 2011 at 12:13 am

    “But overall, the evidence from parapsychology is positive and there is no one who has carefully and objectively studied the evidence and been able to discount it.”

    Really. Your definition of evidence is seriously flawed. Anecdotes aren’t evidence in a scientific sense, nor is an argument from popularity. Quite simply, there is absolutely no legitimate scientific publication that positively identifies ANY supernatural event, including woo like you purport exists. Evidence would have to be something that’s has a measurable, physical effect that others can corroborate, repeat experimentally and predict; simply telling someone you experienced something is not evidence, it’s an anecdote. There is simply no such evidence out there for your woo.

    “That is false. They lie outside everything you materialists prefer to believe about the universe.”

    What we “believe” is based on the evidentiary support that best explains the universe. Evidence we can see for ourselves any time we wanted to. The evidence HAS to manifest itself materially, or else there’s no way we can sense it independently. So, it’s not really belief we have, it’s acceptance of the data we can empirically observe. Again, you falsely apply a dogma where none exists.

  223. neverknowon 31 Jul 2011 at 8:32 am

    “Once you rule out all the errors and biases, it levels at zero.”

    That isn’t true.

  224. neverknowon 31 Jul 2011 at 8:41 am

    “Quite simply, there is absolutely no legitimate scientific publication that positively identifies ANY supernatural event”

    No of course not, if you define “supernatural” events as events that can’t possibly happen. But there is, for example, a recent legitimate scientific publication on precognition, by Daryl Bem at Cornell. Of course the materialists are yelling that it can’t possibly be true because it defies what they prefer to believe about the direction of time. And of course they are saying it will never be replicated. However, this sort of precognition experiment has been performed with the same results at parapsychology labs. Bem’s is the first to be published in a mainstream journal.

    You said there are absolutely no legitimate publications in parapsychology. Well this is one. Parapsychologists usually publish in parapsychology journals, and materialists don’t believe anything published in a parapsychology journal. But Bem’s precognition research was published in a mainstream psychology journal.

    Materialists will nitpick any parapsychology experiment, desperately looking for fraud and error. Bem has no reason to commit fraud and he is an experienced researcher. No one found any real errors in these experiments. And, as I said, the same kind of thing has been done elsewhere with similar results.

    Oh, and of course you will point out that there were some failed replications. That is how it goes with research. Not everyone does the experiment correctly or with adequate power, so you can’t expect 100% replication.

    Materialists can explain away these precognition results. But there is so much more research besides this that you can’t explain. I am sure you have never read anything about it except propaganda from the devout materialists.

  225. neverknowon 31 Jul 2011 at 8:43 am

    Should have been: Materialists CAN’T explain away these precognition results.

  226. mufion 31 Jul 2011 at 10:24 am

    I see that cherry-picking season has resumed. Too bad science doesn’t work that way.

    That said…

    A recent Physical Review Letters article (which I’m pretty sure I linked) found that some birds use quantum effects in their navigation systems.

    Yes, I remember the last time you picked this one. What robm said here and here.

    But there is, for example, a recent legitimate scientific publication on precognition, by Daryl Bem at Cornell.

    You mean the same flawed cherry that Dr. Novella tossed out earlier this year?

    And, yes, precognition would be an extraordinary discovery – a cool one, mind you (whatever metaphysical doctrine you choose align it with) – but extraordinary, nonetheless. Too bad the evidence for it doesn’t even measure up to ordinary.

  227. rezistnzisfutlon 31 Jul 2011 at 12:01 pm

    “Of course the materialists are yelling that it can’t possibly be true because it defies what they prefer to believe about the direction of time”

    Is that so? So how is it you know this? Where can you cite that this is indeed what they indicated, by them? Daryl Bem’s study was dirty and had serious flaws, including changes in methodology halfway into the testing and using different statistical models during the experiment. Additionally, attempts by later scientists to replicate the study failed to produce any predicted results whatsoever. So your statement is entirely false and a lie; they rejected the study not out of bias, but because the study was flawed and it isn’t repeatable.

    “You said there are absolutely no legitimate publications in parapsychology. Well this is one. Parapsychologists usually publish in parapsychology journals, and materialists don’t believe anything published in a parapsychology journal. But Bem’s precognition research was published in a mainstream psychology journal.”

    That’s correct, there ARE no legitimate scientific publications dealing with parapsychology, for good reason; it’s woo that has no basis in reality. That Bem’s study made publication status in a respected journal caused a lot of backlash within the scientific community about the peer-review process. The only thing it proved is that science reporting and publishing is imperfect and that often strong peer-reviewers are overwhelmed and cannot realistically perform honest testing; it’s a flaw in the scientific process, for sure, and begs the question about other publications.

    “Oh, and of course you will point out that there were some failed replications. That is how it goes with research. Not everyone does the experiment correctly or with adequate power, so you can’t expect 100% replication.”

    For it to be regarded as scientifically valid, results must be repeatable by independent experimental testing. There simply is no way around it. That this experiment failed repeat testing means that it fails to be a legitimate study.

    There is good reason why parapsychology isn’t regarded as a real science; because there is absolutely no evidence for it. There’s no way to measure it or independently test data, and the times that it’s been attempted honestly it’s always failed.

    “But there is so much more research besides this that you can’t explain. I am sure you have never read anything about it except propaganda from the devout materialists.”

    Haha, devout materialists, that’s pretty funny. Just like fundamentalist christians trying to bash science as somehow being dogmatic or faith-based by claiming collusion among the science community to cover up otherwise legitimate evidence. Yea right, keep dreamin’! If your evidence were actually legitimate, we wouldn’t be able to ignore it and it would be HUGE news. HUGE! It would turn everything we know upside down.

    As it stands now, parapsychology is junk science with no basis in reality.

  228. neverknowon 31 Jul 2011 at 12:11 pm

    “A pair of entangled electrons, in a protein, create a visual pattern that ‘senses’ the earths magnetic field? Sounds surprising but plausible, and in no way points to any sort of immaterial mind. In fact sounds downright materialistic.”

    Mufi,

    I linked the article to show that quantum effects can be relevant to biological cognition. Someone can apply the word “materialistic” to anything, without bothering to define it. Materialists have been insisting that quantum effects have no relevance to macro level biological systems. Well it looks like they are wrong. That was my point, obviously.

  229. neverknowon 31 Jul 2011 at 12:15 pm

    “But there is, for example, a recent legitimate scientific publication on precognition, by Daryl Bem at Cornell.”

    “You mean the same flawed cherry that Dr. Novella tossed out earlier this year?”

    Tossed out? He just doesn’t believe it, because he is committed to materialism. He says time can’t go in reverse, but at the quantum level we know it can.

    And mufi, no matter what positive examples I give you will say it’s cherry picking! And if I cite large meta-analyses you will say you don’t trust meta-analysis.

    There is nothing that will make a devout materialist question or modify their materialism.

  230. neverknowon 31 Jul 2011 at 12:23 pm

    “For it to be regarded as scientifically valid, results must be repeatable by independent experimental testing. There simply is no way around it. That this experiment failed repeat testing means that it fails to be a legitimate study.”

    You are very wrong about that. Statistical research varies (which is why we use statistics), and not every experiment will have the same results. You ignore all the positive replications and you only know about the negative ones that materialists broadcast all over the internet.

    And you probably don’t realize that if someone wants a replication to fail, they can simply make sure the power is inadequate. That is a favorite trick of materialists when they supposedly try to replicate.

    So all the replication attempts have to be considered, not just the ones you prefer.

    You must believe that Bem, Bierman, and all parapsychologists in general, are incompetent. You can’t stand it that a mainstream journal found nothing wrong with Bem’s experiments and published them.

    You and Novella think that peer review should be ignored when it contradicts your materialist faith. You only trust it when it confirms your faith.

  231. mufion 31 Jul 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Of course, you cherry-picked, because the scientific community is not with you – thus your conspiracy theory about materialist bias. So, you picked a flawed, unreproducible study, as Novella explained (no need for me to repeat it), and you picked a study re: birds that (even if it were more than just a hypothesis) in no way challenges the brain/body basis of consciousness. That you seem to think otherwise is frankly ridiculous.

  232. rezistnzisfutlon 31 Jul 2011 at 12:52 pm

    “You are very wrong about that. Statistical research varies (which is why we use statistics), and not every experiment will have the same results. You ignore all the positive replications and you only know about the negative ones that materialists broadcast all over the internet.”

    You’re making the classic mistake of confusing statistical probability as probability of the hypothesis itself. Statistical evidence for this study was just over 50%, which one would expect for a randomized study. Statistical analysis is only one aspect of a study, albeit important; however, all possible correlation, and moreso, causal relationships should always be considered in honest studies. In Bem’s study, instead of ruling out possible causes, he was forcefully trying to fit the data into his null hypothesis.

    “You must believe that Bem, Bierman, and all parapsychologists in general, are incompetent. You can’t stand it that a mainstream journal found nothing wrong with Bem’s experiments and published them. ”

    As professionals in their respected fields, I feel many are quite competent. As parapsychologists who desperately try to stuff data into their null hypothesis like a square pegs into a round holes, I do find them highly incompetent and doing disservices to science. Scientists of their reputations and caliber should be approaching their data with skepticism, especially when it comes to extraordinary claims.

    But that’s all semantecs anyway; you’re a conspiracy theorist with baseless accusations of devout materialistic dogma undermining legitimate paranormal research. The reality is, every single paranormal study done has been roundly debunked because they are independently unreproducable and flawed.

    I’m beginning to see that you’re simply a troll who’s thriving off the negative attention. You have nothing serious to offer or positive to contribute, and I really have better things to do with my time. Good luck with your conspiracy theories and maybe one day science will legitimately confirm the existence of psi, who knows. Being a fan of science fiction and fantasy, I would actually rather enjoy that.

  233. neverknowon 31 Jul 2011 at 5:42 pm

    I don’t think there is any conspiracy. I think people are naturally tribal and tribes have cherished beliefs that set them apart and make them feel superior to other tribes. Genuine skeptics try to recognize the tribal tendencies in themselves and in others. Pseudo-skeptics just bash anything that threatens their tribe’s world view. Materialism is a tribe, which sets itself apart from ancient superstition and religious and mystical traditions. Materialists associate all sorts of bad things with their rival tribes, and they feel they will one day triumph over all the others. Materialists find their beliefs empowering, reassuring, and hopeful. Their ideology can build a better future.

    So materialism is not skeptical, and it is not scientific. It is just another tribal ideology.

    This is not a conspiracy. It is just human nature to form tribes and mythologies. It isn’t right or wrong, it just is. But it is wrong to insist you are skeptical and scientific when you are only being tribal.

  234. neverknowon 31 Jul 2011 at 6:03 pm

    ” you picked a study re: birds that (even if it were more than just a hypothesis) in no way challenges the brain/body basis of consciousness.”

    I explained several times why that study is relevant to the current discussion. It shows that quantum effects can be involved in cognition. This is something materialists have been loudly denying. And it is believed that, at quantum levels, physically separate things can be connected (quantum entanglement), and that time can go in reverse. If quantum effects can be involved in cognition, then it is kind of ridiculous for materialists to say that precognition is impossible, for example.

    Investigation of quantum effects in biological systems and in cognition are only beginning. It will get more and more difficult for materialists to stick to their materialism.

    And if you think every scientist mentioned on the wikipedia quantum mind page is a materialist, then you are just plain wrong.

  235. neverknowon 31 Jul 2011 at 6:25 pm

    “You’re making the classic mistake of confusing statistical probability as probability of the hypothesis itself. Statistical evidence for this study was just over 50%, which one would expect for a randomized study. Statistical analysis is only one aspect of a study, albeit important; however, all possible correlation, and moreso, causal relationships should always be considered in honest studies. In Bem’s study, instead of ruling out possible causes, he was forcefully trying to fit the data into his null hypothesis.”

    That is just ignorant meaningless gibberish.

  236. robmon 31 Jul 2011 at 6:36 pm

    Someone can apply the word “materialistic” to anything, without bothering to define it

    Neverknow, since you use that term dismiss quite a bit, it would help if you defined it. Trying to infer what you mean from usage leads to an incoherent definition.

    Materialists have been insisting that quantum effects have no relevance to macro level biological systems.

    It shows that quantum effects can be involved in cognition.

    Depends on what you mean by “macro level” the entangled pair of electrons change places in the cryptochrome and an external magnetic field affects the pair producing a small change in how long it bonds to a receptor. This effects vision, not cognition. QM has very small effects that produce phenomenon in the macro world. This isn’t denied, it’s nuanced to explain the world accurately. i.e. florescence and mosfets, not baseballs

    And it is believed that, at quantum levels, physically separate things can be connected (quantum entanglement), and that time can go in reverse.

    He says time can’t go in reverse, but at the quantum level we know it can.

    The mathematics of quantum mechanics keeps quantum effects at the quantum scale. To imply otherwise requires either theoretical prediction or experimental proof (we’ve already been over the bird eyes), so if you have anything showing time reversal at large scales please feel free to share. CP and CPT symmetry seem like promising areas to start

    So materialism is not skeptical, and it is not scientific. It is just another tribal ideology.

    define please, for all your accusations of quantum denial, which is a colossal strawman, you fail to show how all the “materialistsic” physicists fail to understand quantum mechanics.

    Defining materialist would also show me what tribe im in. Without a definition it sounds like your spewing ignorant meaningless gibberish.

  237. mufion 31 Jul 2011 at 6:42 pm

    OK, so if I understand you correctly:

    classical/neurological = materialist

    quantum = immaterial

    Is that right?

    If so, then that’s an idiosyncratic use of language (which I would expect from an ideologue), but I don’t really care one way or the other. The important question is: Where does the scientific evidence lead?

    Again, you can google for “quantum consciousness” all you want, but the fact is that the classical/neurological basis of cognition is where the overwhelmingly weight of evidence resides today. If I perceive a future shift in that weight towards quantum effects on cognition (and, no, your bird letter doesn’t qualify as a shift), I assure you that I will have no problem saying so.

  238. neverknowon 31 Jul 2011 at 6:55 pm

    “classical/neurological = materialist
    quantum = immaterial
    Is that right?”

    No, I don’t think I said that.

  239. mufion 31 Jul 2011 at 7:23 pm

    Then you’re as incoherent as the others have suggested.

  240. robmon 31 Jul 2011 at 9:04 pm

    When one analyzes these writings, one often finds radical-sounding assertions whose meaning is ambiguous, and which can be given two alternate readings: one as interesting, radical, and grossly false; the other as boring and trivially true.

    - Alan Sokal

    The words “materialism,” “physicalism,” and “naturalism” don’t really have any agreed-on meanings. Is gravity “material?” Is electromagnetism? In general, I guess people mean things that can be observed and measured. But that could be true of anything at all, once it has been discovered.

    If there are substances, forces, dimensional levels, etc., that scientists have not yet observed, that doesn’t mean they can’t possibly exist. They just have not been discovered by science yet. What is called “supernatural” now might be natural, but on a level of nature that science has not explored.

    - neverknow

  241. neverknowon 01 Aug 2011 at 8:05 am

    “classical/neurological = materialist
    quantum = immaterial
    Is that right?”

    “No, I don’t think I said that.”

    “Then you’re as incoherent as the others have suggested.”

    I can’t help it if you over-simplified and distorted what I said. I don’t even know what you mean by “classical/neurological.” Or “quantum=immaterial.”

    If I have to summarize everything I said in 2 lines, I would say I believe that the physical brain as currently understood by science is PART of the mind. And that quantum effects ARE relevant on the macro biological/cognitive level.

    And, going beyond my 2 line limit, I would say that the current scientific understanding of the mind is extremely limited, and most of what there is to know has not yet been discovered.

    For example, when Steve Novella says that precognition is impossible, and therefore the experimental results can be ignored, then he is making the assumption that scientists actually know what is or is not possible. If the quantum level can be relevant to our macro level, then we do not know that precognition is impossible. We know it doesn’t happen all the time in obvious ways. But we absolutely have no reason to say it is impossible, or that the experimental results must be errors.

  242. mufion 01 Aug 2011 at 12:21 pm

    neverknow: Believe what you want to believe.

    But I still think my two-line summary is a valid interpretation of what you wrote in prior comments re: materialist vs. non-materialist theories and their supposed influence on cognitive scientists. If that’s not what you intended, then I think you need to work on your presentation.

  243. Nikolaon 01 Aug 2011 at 2:11 pm

    For example, when Steve Novella says that precognition is impossible, and therefore the experimental results can be ignored, then he is making the assumption that scientists actually know what is or is not possible. If the quantum level can be relevant to our macro level, then we do not know that precognition is impossible. We know it doesn’t happen all the time in obvious ways. But we absolutely have no reason to say it is impossible, or that the experimental results must be errors.

    No, precognition is very, very, very unlikely – as close to impossible one can get, really. The experimental results are not ignored, they are taken into account, along with the quality of studies that produced them.
    You are simply putting up straw men.
    As for positive evidence for precognition or psi – there is none.

  244. rezistnzisfutlon 01 Aug 2011 at 3:34 pm

    @Nikola, very good point to bring up, is that science is never 100% absolute about anything.

    What I think he’s also missing is that even so-called non-material events must have material, or physical, attributes to observe and measure. Every paranormal or supernatural study done in the past century attempted to quantify physical manifestations (ie, whether people could guess cards they couldn’t see, or the same in astral projection experiments, by reporting their answers to the testers). That’s the problem with the concept of paranormal, not that it somehow goes against the supposed entrenched materieal scientific establishment, but because there is nothing that can be measured, verified and repeated experimentally.

    This materialist/non-materialist argument is patently absurd and in keeping with everything we have come to expect from proponents of psi, conspiracy theories, CAM and all other woo.

  245. mufion 01 Aug 2011 at 4:18 pm

    How does one even distinguish a material (or physical) event from a non-material (or non-physical) event? Why not just speak in terms of observed vs. unobserved events?

    Of course, if an event is unobserved, there’s not much point in speaking of it (at least from a scientific-skeptical standpoint), unless we have reason to infer it from observed events.

    But then we’re in Occam’s Razor territory, where the woo so often winds up on the cutting room floor.

  246. rezistnzisfutlon 01 Aug 2011 at 4:37 pm

    That’s what I’m getting at, is that an event has to be observed in order to be corroborated. Otherwise, it’s simply taking someone’s word for it. The report would be a physical act of speech regarding physical test objects within the world.

    In the case of telekinesis, for example, one would expect to see something akin to the Force, where a person can move objects around with their mind; or with clarevoyance, where a person can accurately describe something they couldn’t possibly guess otherwise (or the likelihood of accurate guess would be astronomically low) like accurately reporting a number between 1 and a billion, or accurately guessing something someone drew in another room, etc. Or in the case of astral projection, the subject should be able to accurately report a number or random picture that’s in another room or even the same room behind them.

    BTW, these examples are all past experiments that have all produced negative results, especially when repeated.

  247. mufion 01 Aug 2011 at 6:39 pm

    Yes, it’s also why I think the philosophical part of the debate has less to do with metaphysics and more to do with epistemology; i.e. what we can learn about consciousness, rather than what’s it’s “true nature.” From a scientific-skeptical standpoint, all we can learn about the subject is what we can interpret from our observations, using the most time-proven methodological tools & techniques that we have to date.

    Admittedly, there is still some metaphysics latent in terms like “material” and “physical”, and I suppose that’s why I suggested that it might be better to avoid them altogether and to instead speak only in terms of events that are scientifically well established (e.g. those regarding the neural correlates of conscious states) vs. those which are not (e.g. those which typically fall under the paranormal).

  248. neverknowon 01 Aug 2011 at 7:30 pm

    “But I still think my two-line summary is a valid interpretation of what you wrote in prior comments re: materialist vs. non-materialist theories and their supposed influence on cognitive scientists. If that’s not what you intended, then I think you need to work on your presentation.”

    It’s hard to find terminology for talking about things that are not understood. I agree your summary has some validity, just not sure it’s exactly what I was saying. But there is some communication going on, I think.

  249. neverknowon 01 Aug 2011 at 7:37 pm

    “No, precognition is very, very, very unlikely – as close to impossible one can get, really. The experimental results are not ignored, they are taken into account, along with the quality of studies that produced them.”

    We have reasons to think quantum effects can be involved in some way in at least some cognitive processing. We have reasons to think that time can be bi-directional at the quantum level. Bem’s experiments, done over almost a decade, were well controlled, and similar experiments had the same results in other labs.

    Novella advocates an adjustment of the cut-off for statistical significance, based on the assumed probability of the result. So if Novella thinks precognition is impossible — whatever his reasons for thinking that — he can set the bar as high as he likes.

    And everyone can set the cut-off wherever they like, depending on how they happen to feel about a given experiment. And the result is science is converted into pure politics, where people’s feelings and biases rule, and objectivity is thrown out the window.

    The p value cut-offs are an arbitrary convention, which is set by the scientific community to prevent exactly the sort of nonsense Novella and other materialists are suggesting.

  250. rezistnzisfutlon 01 Aug 2011 at 7:56 pm

    “similar experiments had the same results in other labs”

    This is actually untrue. Similar follow-up experiments in attempts to repeat Bem’s experiments failed completely. The same goes with ALL previous paranormal experiments; every one of them failed to provide repeatable results, and nearly all of them had severely flawed methodologies.

    “And everyone can set the cut-off wherever they like, depending on how they happen to feel about a given experiment”

    This is a completely absurd and paranoid statement that once again suggests that there’s some massive conspiracy within the scientific community to undermine otherwise legitimate research in the fields you want to desperately believe are valid. You’re building another strawman indicating that scientists are just making stuff up to suit their gut feelings or personal agendas.

    “Novella advocates an adjustment of the cut-off for statistical significance, based on the assumed probability of the result”

    Dr. Novella is correct in this assertion, because when considering statistical data, there is an element of chance that matches up with the percentages. For instance, there’s a 50% chance I’ll get heads when flipping a coin. It’s possible that I could land heads for 10 consecutive tosses, though statistically unlikely. However, the more tosses I do, the closer I should get to a 50% result in both heads and tails. So, if I were to do 1,00,000 tosses, I should be fairly close to 50% statistically. What he was saying is that if the data isn’t statistically significant enough to rule out chance, then the data isn’t necessarily meaningful. So if the experiment’s statistical data is very close to chance, it’s more likely that the results they observed were simply a result of chance.

    All I’ve seen from you is a lot of conspiracy nutback rhetoric because you have no legitimate evidence to back up your apparently fervent belief in the paranormal.

  251. neverknowon 01 Aug 2011 at 8:08 pm

    “Dr. Novella is correct in this assertion, because when considering statistical data, there is an element of chance that matches up with the percentages. For instance, there’s a 50% chance I’ll get heads when flipping a coin. It’s possible that I could land heads for 10 consecutive tosses, though statistically unlikely. However, the more tosses I do, the closer I should get to a 50% result in both heads and tails. So, if I were to do 1,00,000 tosses, I should be fairly close to 50% statistically. What he was saying is that if the data isn’t statistically significant enough to rule out chance, then the data isn’t necessarily meaningful. So if the experiment’s statistical data is very close to chance, it’s more likely that the results they observed were simply a result of chance.”

    You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. You are spouting ignorant nonsense. You don’t know the first thing about experimental research and statistics, so why do you presume to have such strong opinions? If the p value of an effect is less than .05, then it is considered significant NO MATTER WHAT the effect size. And if you don’t know that basic fact about research statistics, then having an intelligent conversation with you about this is not possible.

  252. neverknowon 01 Aug 2011 at 8:09 pm

    And it depends on the research area. The p value cut off varies, but it is set by convention. And I am sure you are not capable of understanding why.

  253. neverknowon 01 Aug 2011 at 8:12 pm

    “Similar follow-up experiments in attempts to repeat Bem’s experiments failed completely.”

    And many others, besides those 3 that failed, succeeded.

  254. rezistnzisfutlon 01 Aug 2011 at 8:12 pm

    @Mufi,

    Yea, unfortunately what we’re going around with neverknow about isn’t so much a matter of semantics but more about epistemology; he insists that the paranormal is true and there’s real scientific data to back it up, but that the scientific establishment is actively subverting research because of their so-called dogmatic materialist faith (his words).

    What’s amusingly ironic is that he’s coming to a skeptic’s website to try and pander extraordinary beliefs without providing any legitimate evidence. Legitimate evidence being evidence that can withstand the scientific process of providing predictable measurable data, peer-review and repeatability (unfortunately, due to Journal of Personality and Social Psychology’s erroneous printing of Bem’s study, he has us on the peer-review part, but falls flat on repeatability).

  255. rezistnzisfutlon 01 Aug 2011 at 8:13 pm

    “And many others, besides those 3 that failed, succeeded.”

    Like what? Cite them for me…

  256. rezistnzisfutlon 01 Aug 2011 at 8:16 pm

    “And it depends on the research area. The p value cut off varies, but it is set by convention. And I am sure you are not capable of understanding why.”

    Conventions have to be set in order for there to be consensus. That’s why the scientific process is so effective and how humans are able to make progress at all. If there were no conventions, we’d be all over the place with so many varying methodologies that no one would be able to tell what’s true from what’s fantasy, and may as well be guessing.

  257. neverknowon 01 Aug 2011 at 8:43 pm

    “And it depends on the research area. The p value cut off varies, but it is set by convention. And I am sure you are not capable of understanding why.”

    “Conventions have to be set in order for there to be consensus. That’s why the scientific process is so effective and how humans are able to make progress at all. If there were no conventions, we’d be all over the place with so many varying methodologies that no one would be able to tell what’s true from what’s fantasy, and may as well be guessing.”

    Do you realize that I said the p value cut off is set by convention? So why are you telling me that there have to be conventions? That was my whole point. Novella is advocating ignoring the cut-off conventions and raising the bar for results he considers improbable. Do you have any comprehension at all of anything I say?

  258. neverknowon 01 Aug 2011 at 8:56 pm

    http://www.amazon.com/Frontiers-Time-Retrocausation-Experiment-Proceedings/dp/0735403619

  259. rezistnzisfutlon 01 Aug 2011 at 9:08 pm

    Ah, I see what you wrote about conventions and I misread, my bad. I thought you were suggesting that the establishment was setting conventions that shouldn’t exist at all. However, I still agree with Dr. Novella on that point that, in essence, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Your claims are extraordinary not only because they contradict everything we have observed about the universe, all the experiments done to date on these claims have outright failed.

    A link to a book isn’t evidence. While I take suggested reading material under advisement, what I was asking for were the followup studies to Bem’s experiment that you said have since been done:

    “…and similar experiments had the same results in other labs.”

    What experiments? Surely there is documentation somewhere of other experiments, such as whitepapers or publications? Either there were no other experiments done, the experiments were never published, or the experiments failed (as in the case with the three subsequent Bem repeats).

  260. neverknowon 01 Aug 2011 at 9:19 pm

    http://www.google.com/search?q=%5E+Bierman,+D.+J.%3B+Radin,+D.+I.+(1997).+%22Anomalous+anticipatory+response+on+randomized+future+conditions&hl=en&prmd=ivns&ei=G083ToCDGeLf0QGo24DwAw&start=10&sa=N

  261. neverknowon 01 Aug 2011 at 9:29 pm

    This one isn’t mainstream, but oh well. http://www.scientificexploration.org/journal/jse_18_2_radin.pdf

    There are many many more, some of them mainstream. However, naturally, parapsychologists publish in parapsychology journals. Still, there’s plenty.

  262. neverknowon 01 Aug 2011 at 9:31 pm

    Yes, I know, but this was a proceeding of the American Institute of Physics. And you’re trying to tell me retrocausality is impossible. I really think Steve Novella’s scientific knowledge is about 200 years out of date.

  263. neverknowon 01 Aug 2011 at 9:39 pm

    http://www.emergentmind.org/PDF_files.htm/timereversed.pdf

  264. neverknowon 01 Aug 2011 at 9:42 pm

    Oh and I’m sure you don’t like anything written by Dean Radin, or anything published in an alternative science journal. Sorry, that’s where a lot of the info that you carefully avoid is hidden. And there’s tons of it. But it’s in mainstream journals also. Novella feels like he is fighting a war against superstition, but he’s really fighting a war against scientific understanding and truth.

  265. neverknowon 01 Aug 2011 at 9:43 pm

    “Your claims are extraordinary not only because they contradict everything we have observed about the universe”

    Oh really? Tell that to the American Institute of Physics!

  266. robmon 01 Aug 2011 at 9:47 pm

    @ neverknow

    I really think Steve Novella’s scientific knowledge is about 200 years out of date.

    retrocausality in quantum mechanics is from the 1811?

  267. rezistnzisfutlon 01 Aug 2011 at 11:16 pm

    Well, I asked and you did deliver, I give you that much. Note that all three are articles you listed are from Dean Radin, parapsychologist and noted quack and master Texas Sharpshooter. Oh well, I shouldn’t expect more than that.

    I can now see where you get your ideas, parroting directly from Dean Radin and Boundary Institute. The stuff I read by them is exactly what you’ve been postulating here, pretty much to the T.

    Yea, I’m done with this. Until they come up with some hard evidence for their fringe claims, I’m remaining highly dubious. Even they admit their so-called “evidence” warrants further research; there’s good reason why the bulk of the scientific community is unmoved by these claims, and it ain’t because of some hair-brained idea of materialist conspiracy, it’s because there is no real scientific evidence to support it, and every single experiment done by parapsychological researchers is unrepeatable. Radin writes this off as experiments shouldn’t be repeated because it would then repeat the same experimental flaws.

    This is a highly erroneous and bad reason, and horrible advice, because science depends on repeatability in order to make accurate predictions and function in the real world. If experiments weren’t repeatable, we’d get nowhere fast and still be performing blood-letting to cure disease and prescribing alcohol to pregnant women as a tonic.

  268. steve12on 02 Aug 2011 at 1:24 am

    It’s amazing to me how much time and effort people will invest trying to prove that God exists.

  269. rezistnzisfutlon 02 Aug 2011 at 1:41 am

    “retrocausality in quantum mechanics is from the 1811?”

    These quacks think they’re on the cutting edge of real science and that the bulk of the scientific community is mired in the past and stuck with an outmoded paradigm. After reading their material, tantamount to conspiracy propaganda, I’ve come to realize they are indeed very much like religious people; the start out believing something very strongly and spend the rest of the time desperately trying to find the evidence to fit their belief, and hang on to that belief as tenaciously as any zealot, whilst claiming the rest of us are practically medieval by comparison and that they are the persecuted minority simply trying to bring truth to blind eyes.

    Us poor skeptics, so stuck in our ways of actually requiring evidence before belief!

  270. robmon 02 Aug 2011 at 1:48 am

    yeah, but 200 years, even for this discussion its not even wrong :)

  271. neverknowon 02 Aug 2011 at 3:51 am

    I linked AIP conference proceedings on retrocausality. These experiments are just verifying something that physicists are taking seriously. Of course you hate it because it undermines your devout materialism, which you find so empowering and reassuring.

  272. neverknowon 02 Aug 2011 at 3:53 am

    “every single experiment done by parapsychological researchers is unrepeatable. Radin writes this off as experiments shouldn’t be repeated because it would then repeat the same experimental flaws.”

    Several different labs have repeated similar precognition experiments. I am sure Radin never said experiments shouldn’t be repeated. I am sure you can’t show a reference for that.

  273. mufion 02 Aug 2011 at 10:22 am

    rezistnzisfutl: I’ve come to realize they are indeed very much like religious people…

    Yes, I see what you mean.

    I’m personally more accustomed to clashes with religious people in the more traditional sense (e.g. devout Christians and Jews), being an apostate myself who is steeped in the arguments of both sides there. Arguing with psi adherents is a relatively new experience for me, which stems from a more general interest in the topic of how science intersects with other cultural domains (e.g. philosophy, religion, and politics).

    But it doesn’t feel all that different arguing with psi adherents. Even their accusation of a materialist bias is borrowed, which seems like a dead giveaway that psi adherents are arguing, not from a commitment to going where the evidence leads, but rather from a prior commitment to some metaphysical doctrine (or a family thereof), which they feel is potentially threatened by the empirical methodologies of science (and rightly so). So they adopt a superficial pose of actually being on the cutting edge of science.

    It’s a familiar tactic, and to some degree it surely works (say, in outreach terms).

  274. rezistnzisfutlon 02 Aug 2011 at 2:06 pm

    From Radin’s book “The Conscious Universe” (1997)

    “…replicability cannot simply mean doing the same experiment in the same way and getting the same results. If the first experiment had any kind of error or flaw inherent in it, replicating the results just replicates the error”

    This is a nice little loophole he creates for himself and his fellow parapsychology researchers to avoid repeating their experiments. This kind of statement would never enter into the actual scientific community because repeatability is one of the necessities of the scientific method. That’s why repeatability continues to be the Achilles heel of parapsychology; absolutely none of their experiments have held up to being repeated, they’ve always failed, and not because of flaws or errors in methodology, but because there is no data to be had found.

  275. rezistnzisfutlon 02 Aug 2011 at 2:10 pm

    Mufi,

    Yes, your assessment is correct. It’s just like religion, coming up with a conclusion first then trying to find evidence to fit. They want to believe that paranormal activities exist so they go out looking for evidence for it, rather than finding evidence for it first then basing conclusions on the evidence, like proper science. Then they forge these elaborate defenses and conspiracy theories to try to mask and explain away the weaknesses in their research, methods and data.

    Yea, the format is entirely too familiar that is so indicative of religious conviction.

  276. neverknowon 02 Aug 2011 at 2:15 pm

    I showed you that quantum effects can be relevant to the macro biological level (which Novella denies). I showed you that physicists are taking retrocausality (which Novella says is impossible) seriously. I showed you a recent precognition experiment, and others with similar positive results.

    And your only answer is that you don’t like Dean Radin, who happens to have done some of the experiments.

    And you really think I am the one being irrational?

  277. neverknowon 02 Aug 2011 at 2:17 pm

    “…replicability cannot simply mean doing the same experiment in the same way and getting the same results. If the first experiment had any kind of error or flaw inherent in it, replicating the results just replicates the error”

    But he has NEVER said replication is unnecessary or unimportant.

  278. rezistnzisfutlon 02 Aug 2011 at 3:12 pm

    “And you really think I am the one being irrational?”

    Yes, I do, but not just you but all of you psi proponents who are basing conclusions on faulty experimental data and reasoning. It’s not a personal thing with Radin. I bring him up because ALL of your cited resources were experiments done by him, but you try to make it seem like there’s a glut of research out there when there’s not.

    “But he has NEVER said replication is unnecessary or unimportant.”

    I just gave you the dang quote! He says it right there, giving himself a nice little loophole to avoid repeat experimentation and to try to explain away why previous replication of experiments failed. “…doing the same experiment…” is exactly what repeatability is. If a person cannot get the same results doing the same experiment, then there’s something wrong with the experiment.

    Repeatability is essential to real science; it’s necessary to make any progress at all.

  279. neverknowon 02 Aug 2011 at 7:06 pm

    “…replicability cannot simply mean doing the same experiment in the same way and getting the same results. If the first experiment had any kind of error or flaw inherent in it, replicating the results just replicates the error”

    You have trouble with English I guess. He is talking about what replication means. He is not saying it shouldn’t be done.

    And I did not only cite Radin’s experiments. I cited Bierman, Bem and Radin.

    So this is getting really really stupid. You don’t have anything to say about my main points.

  280. neverknowon 02 Aug 2011 at 7:07 pm

    And rezistnzisfutl, it is obvious you are only pretending to know anything about science.

  281. ccbowerson 02 Aug 2011 at 9:49 pm

    “Of course you hate it because it undermines your devout materialism”

    Devout materialism? Really? You have yet to give good evidence for a nonmaterial substance (if such a thing is even a coherent concept), yet somehow you are accusing people are irrationally attached to materialism? You’ve demonstrated at least a half dozen logical fallacies in the comments section of this one post alone, and your whole argument seems to be ‘we don’t know everything so anything is possible.” This is getting really tired.

    I guess its fine if you need to have magic and mystery in your world, but don’t try to pretend it is rational and everyone who denies it is irrational.

  282. Mlemaon 03 Aug 2011 at 1:01 am

    rezistnzisfutl, mufi, steve12, ccbowers

    I’d be interested in hearing just exactly what your criticisms of the methodology used in “Time-reversed human experience: Experimental evidence and implications” are.

    I read the paper, and, not being a scientist, was unable to make a similarly critical evaluation.

    Thank you.
    M

  283. mufion 04 Aug 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Mlema: I’m not a scientist, either, and I’ve not read that paper in particular. That said, as a consumer of science journalism, retrocausality strikes me as more a topic of theoretical speculation at this point than a solid scientific fact. That psi proponents would be drawn to it as a possible mechanism for ESP is not surprising. But it’s like pairing cold fusion with time travel: fringe meet fringe.

  284. Mlemaon 04 Aug 2011 at 3:44 pm

    mufi, i appreciate your response. Your take on ESP is in keeping with your general disposition: ultimately sensible. Frankly, i’m not that interested in ESP. But I was interested in deciphering that particular paper. It seemed like it was receiving a lot of criticism, and I wondered just exactly what the faults were. It looks like there was some discussion of the kind of problems it might have in a later discussion on this site. i guess i need to learn more science if I decide I really want to sort it out better.
    So, if you ever feel inclined to read it, let me know what you think.
    thanks again,
    M
    PS: everything is “more a topic of theoretical speculation at this point than a solid scientific fact” until it’s not!

  285. mufion 04 Aug 2011 at 4:51 pm

    Mlema: I didn’t notice that that paper in particular was singled out by skeptics for criticism, but I did notice that its author in general has been singled out as such. For example, see here.

  286. Mlemaon 04 Aug 2011 at 5:41 pm

    thanks mufi, but, again, i was really only interested in a critical review of the paper, as a way to help me understand what the actual problems are that “scientists” have with the research. I’m thinking i can probably find those critical reviews if I do a little looking online.
    cheers

  287. emilumon 30 Aug 2011 at 9:56 pm

    My friend Alla started getting sleep paralysis since she was twenty-two. Her sleep paralysis pattern is little bit is different compared to others. Most of the people get it before they totally awake, but her sleep paralysis starts as soon as she is ready to fall asleep. During sleep paralysis she cannot move or talk, and most times she feels the presence in the room. Sometimes during a sleep paralysis she may hallucinate.Please read more at
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  288. Ryan Hurdon 19 Oct 2011 at 11:40 am

    thanks Dr. Novella for your succinct reminder that SP is not a cause of craziness or due to trans-dimensional demon haunting.

    I feel compelled to add, after scanning through the comments, that the split between the neurological explanation and the paranormal one leaves out an important point: that these SP experiences are psychologically valuable and meaningful. REM paralysis does not mean the visions are randomly generated.

    The email line “just realizing my mind misfiring and not having a spiritual awakening” saddened me, because these two concepts are not mutually exclusive.

    Rather, SP visions can be some of the most rewarding psychological experiences a person remembers for a life time. Some people see angels and ancestors, not just aliens and old hags. These psychological touchstones provide depth and meaning, closure and healing, even if you know that it’s “just a dream.”

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