Another good point in regards to the radio analogy: if you tweak any of the wires in the radio circuit, the whole thing fails. But if you tweak a brain circuit, there is not catastrophic failure but subtle and “graceful degradation” (this is a key technical feature of neural networks). This is more evidence that the radio analogy is not a good one.
Is the fact that transcranial magnetic stimulation is a sort of transmitter receiver as described by dualism proof that there is no transmitter? If there is a transmitter and we can at very least override the signal, then it should be the same type of signal.
But I don’t think there is any evidence of electromagnetic signals going to the brain.
There’s another way in which the brain could be a receiver. It’s possible that the data being transmitted to the brain is simply very noisy, such that tweaking various components of the brain can produce a very wide variety of behaviors and thoughts.
The problem you run into here is why a “soul” would be a “noisy” thing. This is a question you can’t answer, though, because it’s attempting to interrogate the supernatural. It’s certainly possible that souls are noisy, but we have no reason to think so a priori. The simplest explanation, of course, is that there is no soul transmitting data to the brain.
At it’s core the hypothesis would seem to be unfalsifiable. You could discover some ‘consciousness waves’,I suppose,and eventually prove the hypothesis,but if no proof ever emerges,then proponents will always be able to continue to move the goalposts in response to new discoveries that support the materialist model. In other words,as long as people want to believe this idea,the idea will never die,despite evidence to the contrary.
I noticed that nearly every person I engaged in a conversation about mind and brain is somewhat either ignorant, disagreeing or uncomfortable with the idea that the brain creates the mind. This is why to me the gap between what neuroscience says and what the general public believes is one of the biggest among all scientific subjects that really matter and affect people. Obviously particle physics and the kind – which are not known at all by the general public – do not enter in this category.
People are not aware of all those neuroanatomical correlates, and the extent to which behavior and subjective experience can be impaired/modified through brain damage, drugs etc. Therefore they are shocked once told that their brain is merely a machine. They are OK with the idea that other animal’s brains may be machines, but not theirs.
I posited server and client as a more appropriate metaphor for dualists to consider, since that is a two-way relationship, while radio and TV are passive receivers. At least in the server/client model, you can alter the server/soul’s processes by altering the client/brain’s processes. But, as you’re saying in the post, neuroscience is leaving less and less for the soul to allegedly do. The client’s so thick, one wonders why it bothers to connect to a server.
I brought up the idea of a spiritual Faraday cage a couple times. If there’s a signal going back and forth between the brain and soul, presumably that signal can be blocked to demonstrate a loss of function. If we discovered dualism is true that way, where do we go from there? How do we examine the inner workings of souls? How do souls explain consciousness, inner subjective experience, qualia, or whatever?
I think the dualist position is essentially “a gross misunderstanding of the state of our knowledge about brain function, and the intimate connection that has been documented in countless ways between brain function and mental function” meeting the inertia of belief/motivated reasoning.
@steve12 – you forgot ghosts and automatic writing.
His contention is for most physics that happen at our scale we have figured it out. So for a dualist using the receiver hypothesis you need someway that the soul is interacting with the body via the brain. I am also using soul interchangeably with mind. You can then go two ways:
1. There is an energy or some type of field that is communicating the souls intentions to the brain, and it is some type of energy we have not discovered. This is pretty much in the not bloody likely category.
2. The interactions follow our current understanding of physics, but we have not understood what is happening.
So we have 4 forces to reach for I would think we are hard pressed to figure how the soul is communicating via a nuclear force, weak force, and gravity. And an interaction with these forces seems unlikely at best. So we are left with electromagnetism this would be possible. Electrochemical processes happen in the brain, and electromagnetic fields can effect the brain. I think someone mentioned trans-cranial stimulation.
So now we have to posit an electromagnet force effecting the brain that we have not detected before. This is where the dualists are in trouble. If the force has the possibility to interact with the brain why have we not detected something. While we might not understand the interaction it seems it should at least be detectable.
So unless someone is detecting a signal it seems at this point there is nothing there.
However being a layman am I missing anything. Is it fair to say if that if there was a mind/brain dualism we would have detected by now?
“Deprive the brain of oxygen. That should do the trick.”
That would presume that oxygen is somehow carrying the signal to the brain. This is unlikely. This would rather be like unplugging the radio, as opposed to blocking the signal.
Not very useful in telling us whether the radio is receiving a signal or generating those sounds on its own.
So how would an alien show that a radio was receiving an external signal as opposed to the radio generating sounds on its own?
An alien could detect the external signal (no luck with consciousness), manipulate/interfere with signal itself WITHOUT futzing with the receiver itself (again no luck), show that the same sounds can be played on materials/machines other than radios (still no luck). The alien could move the receiver away from the signal source to show effect of distance, could triangulate location of a source via several receivers, yada yada, you get the idea…
The point is that, like tmac and others have pointed out, this position ultimately retreats to “consciousness is non-physical spiritual ghosty-stuff” via goalpost moving. But if this is non-physical it loses all explanatory power or ability to prove, anyway, and is just useless light fairies.
There are hundreds of cases of patients in coma, under operation and with no vital signs reporting having seen not just the medical team operating on them but their relatives in the waiting room and reported accurately what they did and said. This is not possible if they were fully awake lying in the operation room. I have posted a dozen of videos to such claims here http://alisina.org/blog/2013/08/28/why-i-believe-in-god-and-afterlife-now/
Until that is not explained all this talk is intellectual masturbation.
I’m really not sure why we should stop with this one ad hoc hypothesis in any case. There is no compelling evidence for it,so why limit speculation to just one idea (in reality,I suspect there are many).
Let’s try this one on for size: Because we are outnumbered 10 to 1 by bacteria in our microbiome, I suggest that the collective activity of the bacteria are creating a consciousness a la the Borg hive mind. Much like a TV picture is made up of billions of pixels to form a coherent whole,our minds are mediated by trillions of bacterial transactions to form an emergent activity that we call consciousness.
C’mon guys lets use our imaginations to really rock new ideas! Don’t be limited by reality,just spitball something interesting.Who knows,it might just catch on. It’s not like anyone is actually going to test it out or anything.
However being a layman am I missing anything. Is it fair to say if that if there was a mind/brain dualism we would have detected by now?
That’s my understanding.
One either has to simply affirm dualism, making the whole radio analogy extremely hokey, or run foul of physics. The fact is that we can measure the electromagnetic waves produced by the brain, and that we can influence the mind through electromagnetic waves makes it impossible to claim that this would be the mechanism used by the brain to receive and send information from and to the soul. If this were it, we would detect it, and would be able to manipulate it.
To make the whole thing even less believable, the receiver theory usually dispenses with the sending part, claiming that the soul acquires all the sensorial information autonomously (because it’s supernatural), not realizing this renders the idea that the brain has to receive the return signals like a radio devoid of sense.
I guess the analogy appeals to technically and scientifically naive people, who do not understand that we know enough about reality to make talking about unknown forces and implicit information transfer rather ridiculous. The watchmaker argument for intelligent design is similar, using the most complex piece of technology known at the time and dangling its awesome complexity in front of a gullible audience. Today’s woo-meisters are doing the same with quantum physics.
Could the brain be a transmitter and not a receiver? Maybe everything that our bodies do can be explained by the known laws of physics. But maybe there is some entity in some other dimension or something that receives inputs from the brain. And maybe we are those entities without any ability to control anything that the body does, but under the illusion that we are in charge.
(This sounds wishy-washy, but it is like someone from the middle ages trying to speculate about radiation. If they realized that a rock made of uranium was weird, how would they describe their thoughts?)
This could be similar to virtual reality rides like the Spiderman ride in Universal Studios. We sit in the machine and have no control over what will unfold, but if we sit in it our entire lives, and are made aware of what will happen a fraction of a second before it actually happens, we might start believing that we are actually controlling the machine.
Basically, I find it very hard to accept that I am just a highly advanced robot. There must be something that is experiencing what I am experiencing. However, I am prepared to accept that I have no control over what I will do, and the belief that I am in charge of my body is just an illusion.
(Continuing my earlier comment)
Likewise, I suspect that even if we are able to build robots as complex as us in 100 years, the robots will not be conscious, unless we link the robot’s CPU to an “entity in the other dimension”, just like us.
“There is no more reason to hypothesize a mind separate from brain than there is to hypothesize that there is a computer fairy that performs all the necessary calculations and then feeds the results to specific circuits in your computer.”
Gods, I was thinking that exact same thing as you closed in on the end there. Nicely done.
Lol, where do I start?. I am afraid the light fairy analogy that Steven Novella uses is a terrible analogy to say the least. He is saying the receiver theory is too complicated that a simpler theory such as the mind does what the brain does should be accepted instead. At the end of the article he said if the mind is not produced by the brain we should run into anomalies that the theory cannot explain. Well, I am afraid we have such as terminal lucidity, stigmata etc.
Here is an excellent article by Steven Harp on the brain being a receiver of consciousness.
M. Hector Durville did experiments on finding out if there really is an astral body. The subject of the experiment is constantly rapport with the double. Usually this is cylindrical , but may sometimes appear to be a sort of ribbon. As to the clothes of the phatom, these seem to be composed of a sort of “fluidic gauze”. Various sense-impressions are conveyed to the body by the means of the astral cord. the question of temperature is imporatant; as too much light has a detrimental effect upon the astral body. Experiments with the dynamometer showed that the muscular strength (grip) of the subject was always greater after the projection than before. On the contrary, the temperature of the hand, particularly of the right hand, almost invariably fell as the result of the experiment. The action of the phantom upon the double of another subject both being “projected” at the same time; and upon the physical body of another person.
Some positive results were apparently secured in both cases. Some successes were also reported in obtaining physical movements of objects and raps, and moving the straw of a sthenometer, at a distance from the entrenched subject by the projected astral body, and various vital radiations emitted by it or by the physical body.
He concluded like many scientists have that the projection of the astral body is a certain fact, capable pf being demonstrated by means of direct experiment. Also, since the phantom can exist and function apart from the physical body. It may also exist after death. That is, Immortality is a fact thus proved scientifically.
Harps article is just a ridiculous amount of goal post moving. He accepts we can measure specific physical reactions in the brain that coincide with the processes of the mind. But because we can’t literally measure ‘consciousness’ he’s seeing up a strawman and ignoring anything materialist point to.
As an aside I find it hilarious you guys have built this bogeyman called materialism. I find it ironic you basically have to say ‘stupid materialists always have to have a rational explanation. ..’
Well we can’t measure consciousness that should be obvious. One of the fatal problems with materialism a dead end you can call it is the fact that consciousness is subjective if you are going to say that brain activity is consciousness itself then you have turned it all around by saying consciousness is physical. But consciousness isn’t physical at all its subjective.
We can certainly measure the effect altering the physical brain has on the mind. In fact Dr. Novella points out that is understood more than most people really know. Anti-materialists have not been able to touch the fact that changing the brain changes the mind in highly predictable ways.
“Lol, where do I start?. I am afraid the light fairy analogy that Steven Novella uses is a terrible analogy to say the least. He is saying the receiver theory is too complicated that a simpler theory such as the mind does what the brain does should be accepted instead. At the end of the article he said if the mind is not produced by the brain we should run into anomalies that the theory cannot explain. Well, I am afraid we have such as terminal lucidity, stigmata etc.”
Well we can’t measure consciousness that should be obvious.
You can’t even define consciousness. Don’t get me started on your “something out there somewhere somehow non-physical but sending information to the brain but somehow not needing to receive anything because magically it has access to all experiences and memories even if the brain is damaged so that I remain whole once and alive after I’m dead” drivel.
It’s the same “OMG we cannot be just animals” reaction people had to Darwin.
Grabula, but is electrical activity the same as consciousness no it isn’t. Can the brain affect the mind in highly predictable ways like you said? yes, sure it can no dualist denies that. Steven Novella is putting up a strawman.
Well I can at least give it a substance something tangible where you materialists like us to believe consciousness can magically be produced by electrical brain activity.
When we materialists (I strongly prefer ‘physicalists’) say that dualism is exactly as necessary for the explanation of consciousness as the charmingly invoked light bulb fairy would be for the explanation of electrical heating – and consequent lighting up – of a tungsten filament, what we are adressing is dualism of substance. This is very important, because it would also mean building a straw man to claim that physicalists deny that there is a phenomenological distinction between a subjective experience and its neurological correlate. On the contrary, the relation of the two is one of the most important areas of scientific research, philosophical analysis and human thought in general – what David Chalmers named ‘The Hard Problem’.
All the more reason, I think, to steer well clear of any explanation that requires / depends on (substantial) dualism, i.e. existance of an immaterial soul. To accept such a notion would deny any hope for improving our answers to existing questions or improving our questions to existing answers, so that our understanding of Nature (and that includes ourselves and the organ we use for the process of understanding) might progress.
Looks like you didn’t pay any attention to his post he said and I quote “The hypothesis, however, is dependent upon a gross misunderstanding of the state of our knowledge about brain function, and the intimate connection that has been documented in countless ways between brain function and mental function”. How, is that a strawman? I am simply stating that no dualist denies the very strong connection between the mind and brain. Its nonsense to believe that somehow consciousness can come out of electrical brain activity its like a a magic rabbit jumping out of a hat.
leo – The strawman is yours. I clearly stated that dualists acknowledge there is some correlation – they underestimate its magnitude, and the details that strongly suggest that it is brain function that is the underlying cause of conscious subjective experience.
Your next statement is just a naked assertion – on what basis would you conclude that consciousness cannot be a manifestation of brain activity? There is no magic necessary.
From your previous comments you are also attempting to establish as a factual premise that psi abilities exist – but these have not been proven scientifically. Far from it. These remain fringe claims because the scientific evidence is either crap or negative. There is no psi phenomenon that demonstrates a clear positive result, with good signal to noise, and independently reproducible. It simply doesn’t exist.
AliSina (your link is not working) – those cases are not well documented. They were not controlled, and we have no idea how much cold-reading type evolution of the narrative took place. They are useless as scientific evidence.
The burden is actually on you to document consciousness absent brain function. Such evidence does not exist. There are preliminary controlled studies that are negative, and a larger study about to be published. We’ll see what that shows. In these studies they have information placed in the operating room or ED that can only be seen from the vantage of someone floating near the ceiling. So far no one has reported the content of such information, but again we are awaiting the latest study.
Where exactly would that be? nowhere, in your article can I find that and you call dualists mostly non neuroscientists who have no vast knowledge of the magnitude as you call it of the correlation. Like, dualists don’t know that a simple blow to the head radically effects consciousness or how drinking alcohol affects a person’s thoughts. You got to give me a break we do. Because brain activity is nothing like consciousness, electrical activity is a physical thing consciousness isn’t.
Well I would advise to actually look at the evidence for psi phenomenon with a open mind. Not too open that your brain falls out but open enough to at least realize that the evidence meets at least the scientific standards.
Well I would advise you to actually look at the evidence for psi phenomenon with a open mind. Not too open that your brain falls out but open enough to at least realize that the evidence meets at least the scientific standards. So it looks like the strawman is yours Steven but your trying to pass it on me. I will admit your a very smart man Steven and that is why you can get away with sweeping statements such as mind is what the brain does. No one here hardly would question you on it because of your qualifications in neuroscience.
leo – you completely missed one of my major points. The correlation goes beyond head injury or alcohol diminishing consciousness. You can make specific changes to subjective experience by altering or damaging specific circuits in the brain. I have multiple examples. There are countless more.
Saying that consciousness is not physical is meaningless. Consciousness refers to a process, not a thing. The brain is the thing, consciousness is a function of the brain. Saying that a process is not physical is just meaningless wordplay – and it seems to be your entire premise.
I have looked very deeply into the evidence for psi. I have written about it many times. If you think it is real, then please provide me with references documenting a psi phenomenon that is objective (rigorous methodology), measurable, with reasonable signal to noise ratio, and independently reproducible. I am saying – after years of searching, of challenging proponents, and of publicly writing on this topic – that it doesn’t exist. Every single time someone claims to me that it does, and I push them for references, they reference crappy research, one-off studies, discredited research, or the like. Never what I ask for.
“Because brain activity is nothing like consciousness, electrical activity is a physical thing consciousness isn’t. ”
Leo- You are confusing yourself with language. Do you feel the same way about digestion? Digestion is what the GI tract does, yet digestion is not physical. Does this cause you to be a dualist about digestion, photosynthesis, respiration, etc? These are human concepts about certain processes that take place within the physiology. Making these concepts intectually does not create new entities.
Your arguments and the way you talk about them assume dualism, so you are essentially begging the question and you don’t seem to realize it.
leo has already referenced his “studies” in the After the Afterlife Debate comments. They are either links to books where cool stuff happened or they are “crappy research, one-off studies, discredited research, or the like”.
“open enough to at least realize that the evidence meets at least the scientific standards”
It’s been repeatedly pointed out to you, for a myriad of reasons, why the evidence does NOT meet scientific standards.
leo I hope one day you look back on these comments and cringe because that will mean you have learned something but personally I’m going to stick to my theory that you are just trolling.
Leo100′s comment on 27 May 2014 at 8:48 pm which mentioned the test of an alleged astral body experiment from the occultist Hector Durville as “Immortality is a fact thus proved scientifically” was copied and pasted from:
On a second visit it looks like this may be his own blog, as he recently wrote:
“A little update on this post I was recently discussing how the mind is probably not produced by the brain on Steven Novella’s blog called Neurologica. The whole thing was a waste of time I knew it would it be but I though maybe just maybe one of the skeptics on there was open minded to at least admit that there is strong evidence for an afterlife and psi phenomena and say I don’t know if there is or isn’t an afterlife.”
As for Hector Durville he was a French occultist who practiced “animal magnetism”. This has been discredited. For criticism of those experiments into “astral bodies” in the séance room see Milbourne Christopher’s book “Search for the Soul” (1979). It is the best book on the subject that looks at all the attempts of early parapsychologists to measure or weigh an “astral body” or “soul”.
Christopher discusses the flaws in these experiments, most famously the ones by Dr. Duncan MacDougall who claimed to measure the soul The book also discusses the experiments of physicist R. A. Watters who chopped up loads of insects in a chamber and claimed to have observed their soul on camera. According to Christopher the pictures depict dust. The experiments contained sloppy controls and were never replicated by the scientific community.
I would like to know what a dualist’s response would be to this comment from Victor Stenger:
“Considerable evidence exists for the hypothesis that what we call mind and consciousness result from mechanisms in a purely material brain. If we have disembodied souls that, as most religions teach, are responsible for our thoughts, dreams, personalities, and emotions, then these should not be affected by drugs. But they are. They should not be affected by disease. But they are. They should
not be affected by brain injuries. But they are. Brain scans today can locate the portions of the brain where different types of thoughts arise, including emotions. When that part of the brain has been destroyed by surgery or injury, those types of thoughts disappear. As brain function decreases we lose consciousness, as when under full anesthesia. Why would that happen if consciousness arose from an immaterial soul? There is no objective evidence that brain function stops entirely during a reported NDE.”
Victor J. Stenger “Life after Death: Examining the Evidence. In The End of Christianity edited by John W. Loftus, Prometheus Books, Amherst, NY, 2011.
To me this underscore a real need to educate more people on the principles of Emergence. It’s like the gnomes from South Park:
1. Physical Brain
Understanding that step 2 is an emerging system seems to get lost in the shuffle by simply equating it to “electrical brain activity.” There’s much more going on than that.
A deep and thorough understanding of emergence helps immensely in making sense of step 2. (Aside:Although I still think it needs a lot more research to start to understand how the smaller behavioral rules manifest as organizational patterns to use practically).
I’m unclear why the brain requires this phantom “receivership”, when no similar claim is made about an ant hive. Similar principle. No centralized control, no single ant has the whole view, just a collection of individuals making individual decisions (http://inspiringscience.net/2012/08/28/how-does-an-ant-colony-coordinate-its-behaviour/). Where are the arguments that the hive itself is a “receiver” from some “ant soul” to explain the organizational complexity of the hive itself and how tasks and work is accomplished?
So his criticism is true because he said so?. Yes good old rational wiki a very trustworthy site for sure lol. It has made huge misrepresenting people such as Michael Prescott and Michael E Tymn so why should I take this site seriously?.
I got your point loud and clear Steven Novella no dualist denies that you can make specific changes to subjective consciousness. The dependency is very strong between the mind and brain I don’t doubt that nor does other dualists either. What matters is what type of dependency is it productive or permissive or transmissive function as William James mentioned before in his article on two objection against the doctrine against immortality. Is there anything subjective that we know of besides consciousness that is a process of something else that is physical besides the brain?. As you assume along with other materialists. Plus assuming consciousness is a process is reductionism your ignoring the reality of consciousness by assuming its a process.
“When we materialists (I strongly prefer ‘physicalists’) say that dualism is exactly as necessary for the explanation of consciousness as the charmingly invoked light bulb fairy would be for the explanation of electrical heating – and consequent lighting up – of a tungsten filament, what we are adressing is dualism of substance. This is very important, because it would also mean building a straw man to claim that physicalists deny that there is a phenomenological distinction between a subjective experience and its neurological correlate. ”
But subjective experience is the result of brain processes in the same way that light is the result of heating tungsten. We treat consciousness is if it has special status, but we really have no scientific reason for doing so. It’s implicit dualism.
“On the contrary, the relation of the two is one of the most important areas of scientific research, philosophical analysis and human thought in general – what David Chalmers named ‘The Hard Problem’.”
I disagree. I don’t think science is going to find a satisfactory answer to the hard problem any more than it’s going to give you a satisfactory answer to why you love your kids. We can describe the processes, break them down, identify necessary and sufficient condition – hell, even make it some day. But none of these things will answer this. It’s because it’s an ill-posed scientific Q. It’s a metaphysical Q, not a scientific one.
“All the more reason, I think, to steer well clear of any explanation that requires / depends on (substantial) dualism, i.e. existance of an immaterial soul. To accept such a notion would deny any hope for improving our answers to existing questions or improving our questions to existing answers, so that our understanding of Nature (and that includes ourselves and the organ we use for the process of understanding) might progress.”
You keep asserting that materialism is wrong because consciousness is not physical. That is only true if you define consciousness as not being the product of something physical. In other words, your argument is tautological. To resolve this, may I ask that you define consciousness, not the mechanism of consciousness but consciousness itself.
“I would like to know what a dualist’s response would be to this comment from Victor Stenger:”
I would imagine the response would be that the receiver (brain) is damaged/impaired and so the signal (soul/consciousness) is not coming through clearly. This is addressed by the light fairy analogy in the original post.
We clearly agree on what is essential, or perhaps we agree completely, but for some clumsiness in my use of language.
What I really wished to emphasize was that after we (hopefully some day) gain a full understanding of the physical processes that consciousness is the result of, there will still remain the question of qualia – the Hard Problem. Perhaps we can shrug and say that this requires no further explanation. On the other hand, perhaps it is precisely in some future insight(s) that would allow us to reframe this question (admittedly perhaps not as strictly scientific, but not necessarily as metaphysical either) that the way forward may actually lie.
“There are hundreds of cases of patients in coma, under operation and with no vital signs reporting having seen not just the medical team operating on them but their relatives in the waiting room and reported accurately what they did and said. This is not possible if they were fully awake lying in the operation room. I have posted a dozen of videos to such claims here [Link]
Until that is not explained all this talk is intellectual masturbation.”
I don’t deny that people have near death experiences, but I believe the burden of proof has not been met with the claim that the experiences happen outside of the brain. The evidence you present for the claim that consciousness happens outside of the brain has no controls and is a mixture of hearsay and testimonials. This is weak evidence, and to suggest the evidence is anything but weak is dishonest.
“The skeptics explain that when the brain is deprived of oxygen it hallucinates. This is just their theory.” – Ali Sina ‘Why I Believe in god and the Afterlife Now’
It is a natural explanation that does not fit your conclusion. You fail to rule these explanations out, but you’re more than happy to just ignore them.
I have a feeling you haven’t investigated any of these claim yourself.
“New findings have made some to believe that memory is also stored in the heart. One interesting case is about an 8-year-old girl who had received a heart transplant from a 10-year-old girl that had been murdered, began to have nightmares about the donor’s murderer. After several consultations with a psychiatrist, it was decided that the police should be notified. The 8-year-old recipient was able to identify key clues about the murder, including who the murderer was, when and how it happened, and even the words spoken by the murderer to the victim. Amazingly, the entire testimony turned out to be true and the murderer was convicted for his crime. You can read about more such cases here or by searching “heart memory”.” – Ali Sina ‘Why I Believe in god and the Afterlife Now’
Wow, what a convincing story. This is truly amazing evidence of “heart memory” that was verified by police several times over. There is only one little problem- this story is completely unverifiable and cannot be considered more than hearsay evidence, which is one of the weakest forms of evidence. I found the source of the story, something I doubt you even attempted.
Paul Pearsall, ‘The Heart’s Code: Tapping the Wisdom and Power of Your Heart Energy’
“The Heart that Found its Body’s Killer
I recently spoke to an international group of psychologist, psychiatrist, and social workers meeting in Houston, Texas. I spoke to them about my ideas about the central role of the heart in our psychological and spiritual life, and following my presentation, a psychiatrist came to the microphone during the question and answer session to ask me about one of her patients whose experience seemed to substantiate my ideas about cellular memories and a thinking heart. The case disturbed her so much that she struggled to speak through her tears.
Sobbing to the point that the audience and I had difficulty understanding her, she said, “I have a patient, an eight-year-old little girl who received he heart of a murdered ten-year-old-girl. Her mother brought her to me when she started screaming at night about her dreams of the man who had murdered her donor. She said her daughter knew who it was. After several sessions, I just could not deny the reality of what this child was telling me. Her mother and I finally decided to call the police and, using the descriptions from the little girl, they found the murderer. He was easily convicted with evidence my patient provided. The time, the weapon, the place, the clothes he worse, what the little girl he killed had said to him…everything the little heart transplant recipient reported was completely accurate.”
As the therapist returned to her seat, the audience of scientifically trained and clinically experienced professionals sat in silence. I could hear sobbing and saw tears in the eyes of the doctors in the front row. Instead of commenting on the story, I asked the audience if I could lead them in a prayer. I asked the technician to softly play the Hawaiians call a “pule ‘ohana,” a prayer in honor of our spiritual connection as family. Unlike many of the presentations, this one produced no expressions of doubt or skepticism. The very real possibility of a hear that remembers seemed to touch all of us in our own hearts.”
“A more accurate analogy would be this – can you alter the wiring of a TV in order to change the plot of a TV program? Can you change a sitcom into a drama? Can you change the dialogue of the characters? Can you stimulate one of the wires in the TV in order to make one of the on-screen characters twitch?
Well, that is what would be necessary in order for the analogy to hold”.
No, quite the converse. If altering the wiring did these things the analogy *wouldn’t* hold.
Briefly, the picture quality on the television set that can alter without affecting the dialogue or plot being shown, can be compared to our various psychological states. Contrariwise the dialogue or plot of the programme being shown can be compared to one’s self. So, in a comparable manner to the way that the quality of the picture displayed on a television set can change, but without changing the plot/dialogue of the programme being shown, our psychological states are free to change without in any way altering or changing the self.
“There are two reasons to reject the brain-as-mediator model – it does not explain the intimate relationship between brain and mind, and (even if it could) it is entirely unnecessary”.
It’s unnecessary? Reductive materialism leaves out the existence of consciousness. Non-reductive materialism entails epiphenomenalism. Those who suppose the brain produces consciousness are obliged to subscribe to *strong* emergentism. But that’s kinda magical. So rather than being entirely unnecessary the filter hypothesis is actually the one hypothesis which doesn’t appear to have any glaring problems
ian – you are wrong about the analogy. Changing the brain can change the content of your thoughts, feelings, and personality. Stimulating a part of the brain can make you smell lilac, or hear a particular piece of music.
You just demonstrated one of my main points – those who deny the current neuroscientific model are largely ignorant of the type and amount of evidence for an intimate connection between brain function and mental experience.
And – you are assuming there is a mind/body problem, but no one has demonstrated that there is a problem. Daniel Dennett has it right – there really is no hard problem.
Emergence is not magical. There are countless examples in both living and non-living systems. You might as well say evolution of life itself is magical. It is a wonderful thing, but it isn’t magical in the sense of inexplicable or of unknown origin.
“the filter hypothesis is actually the one hypothesis which doesn’t appear to have any glaring problems”
This is pretty funny. Where is consciousness coming from then? Is it being broadcast to our brains from space? It just exists in the ether? Or is it the Akashic Records? A Galactic Library of Consciousness? I guess if you consider just blind assertions and ignoring all the mind-brain connections already covered to be “no glaring problems” then yes bingo!
There’s no hard problem when why is there so many neuroscientist saying there is a hard problem such as John Searle, Chrisof Koch, Susan Blackmore etc. You are making an argument of authority right there Steven. For someone like you, you should know better than that.
As I’ve said before, appropriate brain damage should actual change the self (in the existential sense rather than alterational sense). But it doesn’t happen. Similarly damaging a TV set doesn’t change the plot of the programme being screened.
This suggests that just as the plot isn’t a product of the TV set, neither is the self a product of the brain.
Beyond the lack of science knowledge, dodgy reasoning, and vague philosophical buzzwords, Ian uses a semantic trick wherein he confuses the biological and psycholgical “self”. The actual physical “self” and the psychological sense of “self” are not the same thing.
As I’ve pointed out before, this is just a rhetorical parlor trick, as is often the case with high-minded philosophy that’s really just BS.
How about an obvious one: life is a strong emergent property of genes, genetic code and nucleic/amino acids.
“As I’ve said before, appropriate brain damage should actual change the self”
You are saying that if I get brain damage, my self will not change? My subjective experience of reality will not be any different? So if I suffer a severe traumatic brain injury, my “existential self” will be unaffected – just like a sitcom plot will continue even if the TV is smashed? Wow – this is fantastic news!! So when I lie comatose in the hospital how can I access this existential self? It would be good to know beforehand!
Thank you. I appreciate your response. It’s interesting to contrast your definition with those provided by a quick Google:
Leo’s: “Consciousness is the inner subjective feeling of being someone. Your consciousness is what makes you who you are”
Other/Formal: “the fact of awareness by the mind of itself and the world.”
In neither case is materialism excluded unless, as you seem to, you simply can’t accept the proposition.
I know you’ve been asked this multiple times, but why is existential change required? I’ve read your blog and you do not, in any of the articles you’ve referenced in recent weeks, define why. You’ve asserted it repeatedly based upon a teleportation thought experiment however you’ve failed to explain why you think that the equivalent of teleportation must be happening all the time. Why is that? Our physical bodies persist. The processes that are carried out by our bodies persist over long periods of time. There is no discontinuity in the conventional materialist view of the body. Why do you presume that there must be?
“Beyond the lack of science knowledge, dodgy reasoning, and vague philosophical buzzwords, Ian uses a semantic trick wherein he confuses the biological and psycholgical “self”. The actual physical “self” and the psychological sense of “self” are not the same thing”.
Steve there is no biological self.
There is a possible self, and there’s a sense of self.
A materialist can only believe in a sense of self, what you refer to as a psychological “self”. A sense of self stands to a real self, as a sense of a table stands to a real table.
Reductionism is the belief that all aspects of complex phenomena can be understood by reducing them to their constituent parts. It is the motions of these parts and how they interact together which explain the phenomenon concerned. For example, consider a clockwork clock. By looking at the components of that clock – namely the cogs, the springs, and the wheels – and how they all interrelate together, we can actually understand how the minute and hour clock hands move.
“Indeed it is clear to me that the existence of fraudulent psychics makes the existence of genuine psychics more likely”.
This was not a parody post, he actually believes what he wrote. He was banned on the JREF forum for such silly comments and has a track record of banning’s elsewhere.
Debate between Ian here and three skeptics on the skeptic forum, Ian has a history of claiming the Victorian medium Leonora Piper was in contact with spirits or utilized psi but when he was shown evidence debunking Piper’s mediumship, he left the forum calling users biased.
Can’t win with this guy. He’s been doing this sort of thing for years online debating with skeptics, nothing wrong with that I guess but he’s been doing this for ten years now and in that time he has not acknowledged any of the evidence that goes against his belief system.
You’re saying that my body doesn’t exist? Can you be more vague? (answer:no).
“There is a possible self, and there’s a sense of self.”
You need to define what you mean here, but probably can’t in any exacting way.
“Reductionism is the belief that all aspects of complex phenomena can be understood by reducing them to their constituent parts. It is the motions of these parts and how they interact together which explain the phenomenon concerned. For example, consider a clockwork clock. By looking at the components of that clock – namely the cogs, the springs, and the wheels – and how they all interrelate together, we can actually understand how the minute and hour clock hands move.”
Yeah, but the complexity and interaction are all studied as well in science. You keep using this critically, e.g.:
“Ekko give me an example of strong emergence. Not weak emergence which is compatible with reductionism.”
What does this mean in terms of your definition?
I think reductionism=meaningless 99% of the time it’s used. It’s a word that people who, (a) don’t understand science and (b) don’t understand what the reductionism means, use to criticize science.
I have raised 4 children, one with Trisomy 21, and have been a teacher, mother, and childcare-giver for 35 years. I have a Master of Arts in Teaching. I have taught or cared for children over periods of many years in many different environments, thus able to observe them develop and grow. The last 7 years I have been an adaptive P.E. teacher for students with special needs, ages 5-21. I have taught roughly 50 students per year, some of them for all 7 years, seeing them once a week during the school year. Because these 50 students all think so uniquely, and because the activities I ask them to do require them to actively manifest how they think because they have to translate my directives into an action, I hit the observational jackpot. At year five I had an explosive insight that I am writing a book about. I believe we have been using the wrong definition of the human personality. I have since learned the field of psychology does not mutually agree on any one definition of personality and they have 8 theories of personality, none of them verified, verifiable, or applicable. Psychology is the science of the human personality without a definition for what it is. I am writing a book about the subject and would love to correspond with you. Your ideas are all in alignment with how I see the human personality in most ways. I would describe our relationship to our emotions slightly differently than you do. I believe the only active role we play in our human existence if that of critical thinking, evaluating, organizing, and managing information in order to make decisions about “what to do next.” We are critically thinking every moment of every day and most of our biological structures and functions are devoted to critical thinking, not reproductive success. Our reproductive capacities take care of themselves just like digestion does. To eat and to reproduce, we have to make good decisions, sometimes only indirectly related to the actual act of eating and reproducing. Our entire biology is geared towards making effective and successful decisions, not towards reproducing. All my observations back this idea up, but thus far it is only a hypothesis. I believe our personalities are the reflection of how we understand and manage information in order to make decisions for what to do next. As such, I have figured out that all of our emotions are connected to our understanding. And, when anything challenges our understanding, in any way, we humans are wired with a life or death kind of ferocity to defend our own mode of understanding. Once I understood our biological imperative as making the best possible decision in any given moment in order to sensorially, physically, and cognitively manage the outcomes of our decisions, I had insight after insight about why we behave as we do. I applied my insights in the classroom and the results were better than I dreamed possible. I was teaching the hardest to teach kids in all the schools in our district. Engaging them effectively became effortlessly easy once I figured out the reasons behind our behaviors. I believe my ideas have merit and would love to discuss them with you. firstname.lastname@example.org
midnightrunner, the quote — “Indeed it is clear to me that the existence of fraudulent psychics makes the existence of genuine psychics more likely” — was at the long end of a discussion where I was patiently explaining to “skeptics” that fraudulent psychics do not constitute any evidence against the existence of genuine psychics. They failed or pretended to fail to understand.
I’ve written a brief piece on my blog explaining this:
This actually reminds me a lot of discussions with climate change denialists and creationists. The practice of trying to focus on or pick holes in scientific theories (note: not the everyday layman’s use of the word “theory”) and the use of outliers, anomalies and/or poor quality evidence as though these somehow prove anything. Unfortunately, this afterlife and spirit self stuff is even more lacking. The climate change denialists could teach leo and Ian a thing or two. I’m still really curious how Ian comes up with these distinctions like “an actual self” and a mere “psychological sense of self” (note: please don’t refer me to any blog posts). Especially considering my “actual self” is impervious to brain damage!
Doesn’t your argument apply to, well, everything that the human imagination has ever dreamt up? Fake bigfoot means bigfoot is real. Fake lake monsters mean lake monsters are real. Fake alien crop circles mean alien crop circles are real. If that construction is valid, then you are effectively saying that we cannot exclude ANYTHING, not matter how ridiculous, so long as SOMEONE, at any point in time tried to fake it.
I mean I guess the conversation would be fairly circular and go something like this:
“What is the difference between your actual self and your psychological sense of self?”
“Your actual self is real – like a table is real – while your sense of self is just fleeting and changes over time.”
“So you believe your actual self is eternal then in some sense – that it is the same now as when you were three?”
“How do you know you aren’t just confusing your psychological sense of self with what you call your “actual self”?”
“Because of how I remember myself when I was three and because of NDEs, ghosts, and other evidence for an afterlife.”
To me this is purely motivated reasoning (that helps ignore all evidence to the contrary and all shoddy qualities to the evidence for) stemming from a fear of death of the ego (and the physical body). It is identical to a religious belief in Heaven.
Niche Geek, the words “more likely” simply means the likelihood has increased. That increase might be very small indeed. It might, for example, have increased from say 0.01 to 0.011 probability. Nevertheless that would still be extremely unlikely.
You might be interested in reading about “Hempel’s Ravens Paradox” (ignore the last paragraph at the end of the Addendum, it’s an irrelevance).
“Does it not apply to all things that humans have ever imagined?”
Yes it does. My shorts are blue. This gives evidence for the hypothesis that all ravens are black. So what? The evidence is so incredibly slight that for practical purposes it might as well be no evidence at all.
“Both skeptical attacks on Homes and Piper have been debunked.”
This is not true Leo100, it seems to me you just cite anything quickly you can find on the internet that will reinforce your belief without really investigating the subject. The first link that you gave was a book review by Stephen E. Braude for Trevor H. Hall’s book “The Enigma of Daniel Home: Medium or Fraud?”.
Stephen E. Braude is a parapsychologist and spiritualist who has claimed controversially that practically all Victorian mediums were genuine (including Eusapia Palladino). He does not acknowledge hardly any of the skeptical material on the subject in his writings, even Braude has admitted this to me in emails, apparently he has a new book coming out at the end of this year which for the first time acknowledge some of the skeptical material. Trevor Hall’s book does not even discuss the Crookes experiments with Daniel Dunglas Home, it is a book which mainly presents the case that D. D. Home was from a fraudulent background i.e. he made up his ancestry to get in with the rich. Your claim that skeptical attacks have been debunked is not true because there are many skeptical works on Home with valid criticisms which have not been addressed i.e. Gordon Stein’s book The Sorcerer of Kings (1993), Guy William Lambert (1976) essay and Frank Podmore’s criticisms (1910). Note that Lambert and Podmore were both believers in telepathy but accepted the evidence Home was a fraud. I cite these because you have a history of dismissing books as “biased” if they are skeptical.
We also see the truth of the matter here which is well referenced:
Home was caught in fraud by a number of different observers (even fellow spiritualists, see the account from Frederick Merrifield). Most of these exposures are not mentioned in Braude’s book review nor in any of Braude’s writings.
As for Leonora Piper your link is to the blog of Michael Prescott, which in turn is mostly a copy and paste job from another spiritualist Greg Taylor. Taylor’s essay misrepresents the primary sources on the subject. For example he quotes two early psychical researchers Henry Sidgwick and Frank Podmore as believers in Piper’s mediumship but this is not entirely true, as both rejected the spiritualist hypothesis and wrote Piper’s trance controls were clearly fictitious creations.
Prescott is a fiction writer and spiritualist, not a reliable source for information on these subjects. It’s well known similar to Braude he is notorious for ignoring the skeptical material on the subject.
As for his alleged criticisms of Martin Gardner, they have been addressed and they do not stand because William James’ maid was friendly with Piper’s maid, there was a strong link between the two households and Richard Hodgson was not a reliable source for information about the Piper case, he was caught fabricating evidence i.e. lying about séance sittings in relation to information about George Pellew.
For the Dualists:
What is the reason for a hypothetical, specific ‘self’ or consciousness’ to target and sustain it’s presence in an individual for their entire life? How are we ‘chosen’?
Why doesn’t the proposed ‘signal’ jump from person to person and minute to minute?
Explain why people have a sense of continuity of self.
For me,all of the above questions make more sense only in the context of my consciousness being part of my biological being that developed and changed alongside my growth and life experience as a complex animal. And I see it’s gradual decline as my body and brain age. This is what one would expect if the mind were part and parcel of the brain.
I got you here bud, don’t sweat it : Ians absolute proof for life after death- a table is a table, a table painted is still a table but now is painted. A table replaced by a table is still a table but also again is the table replacing the table though not the same table as the first table even if both tables are painted, therefore life after death.
I note that Bernardo contributed to the comments in “After the Afterlife Debate” about a week after my last comment. You all seem to have no understanding of his arguments either! Well . .well . .that’s a surprise
“I got you here bud, don’t sweat it : Ians absolute proof for life after death- a table is a table, a table painted is still a table but now is painted. A table replaced by a table is still a table but also again is the table replacing the table though not the same table as the first table even if both tables are painted, therefore life after death”.
Very amusing! Be better if you could grasp my arguments though. Disagree with them by all means, but at least try to understand them. How can you you have any faith in the correctness of materialism if you’re unable to understand the arguments against it?
Several of us spent an entire thread trying to interpret your egotistical drivel with no success. The problem is YOU make the mistake of not realizing what the common denominator is when several intelligent people can’t follow you. Hint, it’s not their lack of ability or intelligence no matter how badly you want that to be true. Most of the commentators here aren’t teenagers in a coffee shop you can confuse with nonsensicsl statements and hyperbole.
Well this is good news for me when you said Stephen Braude says that every victorian medium is genuine because guess what? he doesn’t in fact he admits there is a lot of fraud in physical mediumship such as the old ectoplasm stuff. Which was just cheese cloth. Haha oh my god not the rational wiki again lol Michael Prescott made a nice blog post on this laughable garbage that rational wiki spews out on him. Not rational wiki but irrational wiki.
I guess you haven’t read the actual article I sent you of Stephen Braude’s response I quote
The accusations of fraud cited by Hall (‘considered’ would be too strong a term) are those of Messrs. Morio (the so-called Barthez exposure) and Merrifield. Quite apart from the fact that Hall was apparently unable to dredge up more than two mere allegations concerning nearly a quarter-century’s worth of mediumship, he makes no mention of Zorab’s examinations of both sets of allegations(5). Zorab’s more detailed and penetrating discussion demonstrates that the cases are far more complex than Hall suggests, and that there are good reasons for thinking that Home was guilty of no fraud at all. Furthermore, although Hall cites Perovsky-Petrovo-Solovovo’s paper as his source for the Morio, accusation (p. 48), he conveniently fails to mention the author’s reluctant conclusion that the evidence seems only to have been second- or third-hand. Nevertheless, Hall will undoubtedly mislead many readers simply in virtue of including that citation in the text. It creates the false impression that his examination of the evidence is scholarly and thorough. And although in fact there is no good evidence that Home was ever guilty of fraud, Hall will probably deceive many readers into thinking that damaging testimony was suppressed.
You probably just read the part that are keep your belief that this stuff is all nonsense. Believe what the debunkers would like you to believe but it simply isn’t true. Richard Hodgson was a arch skeptic as Michael Prescott correctly put its and he e permitted no such information leakage of the type that Gardner imagines. He once berated a sitter for bringing an umbrella into the house on a rainy day, because, he said, the umbrella could have concealed a secret message! I quote.
I strongly advise you to actually read both sides of the issue first because jumping to conclusions.
Tmac those are interesting questions that still need to be answered. Skeptics think that if there was an afterlife we would know all these answers but the truth we wouldn’t because if an afterlife does in fact exist a lot of the evidence would be indirect.
Hempels raven paradox is philosophical. It also shows where guys like you go wrong in understanding the scientific method. For example one can safely theorize that most Ravens are black after observing that most Ravens are indeed black. Science doesn’t assume all Ravens are always black, only that most appear to be black most of the time.
You’re issues with trying to prove science wrong through philosophical absolutes was addressed add nauseum in the other thread.
“The problem is YOU make the mistake of not realizing what the common denominator is when several intelligent people can’t follow you. Hint, it’s not their lack of ability or intelligence no matter how badly you want that to be true”.
To quote Bernardo
“People who are active on ‘militant skeptic’ websites are not trying to understand anything, but rather interested in making a point”.
Might sound a bit harsh, but you guys are just insulting and ridiculing anyone who doesn’t share your beliefs. There doesn’t seem to be any genuine desire to actually consider and engage with peoples’ arguments. It’s all just playing to the skeptic crowd.
grabula: “Hempels raven paradox is philosophical….one can safely theorize that most Ravens are black after observing that most Ravens are indeed black. Science doesn’t assume all Ravens are always black, only that most appear to be black most of the time”
Spot on, grabula. But even the logic of this “paradox” doesn’t sound right to me, this is from the Hempel link provided by Ian: “According to the laws of logic, a conditional is equivalent to its contrapositive….This rule of logic is incontrovertible.” With the rule being that the statement If A then B is an equivalent statement to If Not B then Not A.
Wouldn’t a counter-example be: “If I have 1.463 billion dollars then I am rich as $hit.” Contrapositive of this would be “If I am not rich as $hit then I do not have 1.463 billion dollars.” But it seems to me still possible to be rich as $hit without having exactly that amount of money. Sound right?
Ian we are too deeply embedded in our own highly cherished and deeply felt scientific belief systems here, maybe if you had gotten to us sooner, when we were young, you may have had a change at converting and saving us…but I’m afraid it is too late for most all of us here in the Skeptic Brotherhood…peace be with you
““People who are active on ‘militant skeptic’ websites are not trying to understand anything, but rather interested in making a point”.”
I’ll call your bull right here, and again Ian. In the last conversation you were consistently condescending to anyone who didn’t agree with you. You literally only came to spout your rhetoric and generate interest in your blog, then predictably quit when you weren’t being fawned over for your ridiculously incomprehensible way of trying to explain yourself. I say predictably because I spotted and called your pattern and you successfully fulfilled my prediction.
It doesn’t take a sharp eye to spot your patterns Ian, you’re far from the first and you’ll not be the last.
Ironically while guys like you and Leo and Bernardino use writers and phrases like materialists and militant skeptics, you fail to budge on your own shoddy logic no matter how much your evidence is refuted. You out together arguments that aren’t understandable by a rational mind while Leo spins his wheels over and over the same territory. On to of all of this the both of you have the sheer hubris to argue with Dr. Novella on even the simplest of subjects regarding brain functionality when that’s his field of expertise. That simple fact right there, you’re inability to atleast consider that someone might know a little more than you is what damn you to the fringe until you realize you don’t have all the answers.
“I note that Bernardo contributed to the comments in “After the Afterlife Debate” about a week after my last comment. You all seem to have no understanding of his arguments either! Well . .well . .that’s a surprise”
Can you briefly explain what he was saying that we missed? Like an elevator pitch of the what his idea is?
“Might sound a bit harsh, but you guys are just insulting and ridiculing anyone who doesn’t share your beliefs. There doesn’t seem to be any genuine desire to actually consider and engage with peoples’ arguments.”
I disagree. Firstly, most people here do not have “beliefs”. They look for good evidence, based on sound science, logic, etc. and come to probability driven conclusions accordingly. Most people here would love for there to be afterlife and have said as much. It’s just that the evidence for an afterlife, psi powers, a soul, etc. is at a trash level in terms of quality. A lot of good questions get asked of this dualist/after life outlook, and very rarely are there anything but vague answers. As has already been said, there is a lot of armchair philosophizing and Dunning-Krugerizing of neuroscience but good arguments and good evidence are sorely lacking…instead there is a blind commitment, a faith, in cherished “beliefs”. Which is fine as your personal choice, but really you shouldn’t be surprised when others don’t buy it.
First your latest link again isn’t good skepticism, it’s true believers sullying the concept by disguising themselves l themselves as skeptics. You’re sources are tripe.
How about you lurk a while, and see how skeptics engage in conversation. The solar powered road is a good place to start. There are some differences of opinion but we talk through it and then we move on.
“Might sound a bit harsh, but you guys are just insulting and ridiculing anyone who doesn’t share your beliefs. There doesn’t seem to be any genuine desire to actually consider and engage with peoples’ arguments.”
Nah. If anything, you might say that we’re parroting the scientific consensus. But the scientific consensus re: psi and the like are what they are for a reason – the evidence is weak. YOu think the scientific consensus is BS, and we should accept your claims on the evidence you’re presenting – but that’s not how science works.
When people are generally critical of science I simply point to the scoreboard. All the shit you’re embracing has been around for thousands of years, and our understanding of the universe (and therefor ability to manipulate it) crawled at best. In the few hundred years we’ve had science, however, we have lunar landings, smart phones, and blogs where people can criticize science.
IOW, I think we’ll keep the standards right where they are.
Ian got his chance on the last thread he showed up in to pimp his blog. Then he got condescending and and showed he wasn’t here for intellectually honest reasons. He’s that guy in high school who wow’s a bunch of his stoner buddies with double talk and big words strung in unintelligible sentences. Throw in some sweet sounding book references and between bong hits they all nod as his ‘sagacity’. He’s probably deluded himself into believing the stuff he says makes sense and still seeks to be the smartest guy around the hookah but these days is getting harder and harder for him to get the ego stroking he requires outside of his woo circle.
Leo atleast generally sticks to attacking arguments besides the occasional attack on materialists in herbal. Ians’ pompous behavior however I find uninteresting and intolerable. He got shredded on the last discussion and quit and I expect to see the same pattern here.
Similarly, it’s plausible for science to consider that fire could be the product of witchcraft because a “Kalahari Bushman” (or some other convenienly scientifically illiterate racist stereotype) might wrongly conclude that a toaster is.
I’m still trying to grasp why you both feel that materialism requires existential change of self. My previous question was ignored so I’ll try a different approach. Ian has used a table analogy several times. I’d like to try another. Imagine a typical hurricane. It forms off the coast of Africa, travels across the Atlantic, up the eastern seaboard of the US before making landfall in Nova Scotia and dissipating. Is it the same storm at the start and end? Is it a discreet entity? Is it a process? Is it an emergent phenomena?
@Niche Geek: “Ian has used a table analogy several times. I’d like to try another.”
I think the problem here is that the table “analogy” (and indeed the radio” “TV” and “Bushman” analogies) were introduced for a purpose entirely the opposite of the service an analogy is actually supposed to perform. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_analogy
Yes the cases of patients seeing and hearing things that from their bed, even if they were fully awake, could not see or hear are well documented and confirmed by the doctors, the nurses and the relatives of the patients. There are thousands of such cases.
Facts are stubborn and at the end they rule. Science is not the ultimate authority: facts are! Any time facts and science collided, facts won and science had to change in order to accommodate them.
Denial is futile. The evidence that consciousness survive the death is overwhelming. OVERWHELMING! All you have to do is watch the hundreds of videos about Near Death Experience and pay attention only to those that have been confirmed by someone other than the patient themselves.
The tales of the ND experiencers are weird and fantastic, but so is the world of quantum physics. Nothing in quantum physics make sense and yet no one denies it because it is observable. The same applies to the evidence of the survival of consciousness after the death of the body.
It is time for yet another shift in paradigm and this one is the biggest. The most earth shattering.
“Facts are stubborn and at the end they rule. Science is not the ultimate authority: facts are! Any time facts and science collided, facts won and science had to change in order to accommodate them.”
How do you determine what is fact? How have you used these facts to develop hypotheses and how have you tested your hypotheses? How have you controlled for human bias? What is the explanatory power of the theories you’ve developed? Where is the body of knowledge you’re theories have built?
It seems you’re willing to accept the worst forms of evidence to back up the conclusion you’ve formed through wishful thinking and confirmation bias; anecdotes and subjective experience. As has been repeatedly stated here, the scientific method is the best (based on RESULTS; technology, space exploration, medicine, pharaceuticals etc.) method we have for understanding and describing the nature of reality; the nonsense you’re peddling has been spinning it’s wheels for centuries.
Keep your argument to the forum on which you’re making it, even if it means copy pasting from your own blog – you’re transparently attempting to get hits on your own blog.
“Nothing in quantum physics make sense and yet no one denies it because it is observable. The same applies to the evidence of the survival of consciousness after the death of the body.”
In one breath you’re implicitly acknowledging a lack of observable evidence for an afterlife; in the next you say it’s overwhelming. If the evidence isn’t observable, then how is it evidence?
“Denial is futile. The evidence that consciousness survive the death is overwhelming. OVERWHELMING! ”
“It is time for yet another shift in paradigm and this one is the biggest. The most earth shattering.”
I don’t frequent true believer forums or blogs, so my only exposure to them is when they drift over to skeptical sites such as this. It’s nice to see this level of confirmation of my own stereotype – you really are hitting all the tropes aren’t you, AliSina?
I typically don’t bother checking out the blogs of these fisherman but I got bored and checked out alsinas. As you would expect, skeptics are evil, even though he claims to be one. Lots of credulous rationalization based on anecdotes about NEW including done 2 year old kid who ‘remembers’ being a ww2 veteran. Alot, I mean ALOT of bs to get through to the bottom line. .. which is also bs. Serves me right for even looking.
@The Other John Mc You don’t understand the Hempel raven paradox
“I’ll call your bull right here, and again Ian. In the last conversation you were consistently condescending to anyone who didn’t agree with you. You literally only came to spout your rhetoric and generate interest in your blog, then predictably quit when you weren’t being fawned over for your ridiculously incomprehensible way of trying to explain yourself”.
I was asked questions and only linked to entries on my blog where I had already answered the point in question. I do not make any money whatsoever from people clicking on my blog. I do not get paid for it nor are there any advertisments on it. What would you prefer me to do? Simply copy and paste what I’ve already written?
“Ironically while guys like you and Leo and Bernardino use writers and phrases like materialists and militant skeptics, you fail to budge on your own shoddy logic”.
Why would I budge on my position when no-one has provided any reasons to do so? I have yet to see anyone even understand my arguments, certainly they have not rebutted them.
“you have the sheer hubris to argue with Dr. Novella on even the simplest of subjects regarding brain functionality when that’s his field of expertise”.
The mind/body problem is a philosophical issue. Dr Novella gives every impression of having absolutely no understanding of this problem whatsoever. The same goes to those “arguing” against me in the comments.
@steve12 Regarding strong and weak emergence. Read this paper:
“Can you briefly explain what he was saying that we missed?”
It seems to me no-one understood anything he said.
I’m not sure if I agree with everything Bernardo says. I gravite towards idealism, but maybe a different kind to him. I’ll be reading his materialism is balony book sometime in the near future.
“In the few hundred years we’ve had science, however, we have lunar landings, smart phones, and blogs where people can criticize science”.
Obviously you mean *scientists*. One can criticise scientists when they assume or make unsubstantiated metaphysical claims which many prominent scientists are prone to eg Hawkings, Krauss, Dawkins et al
“He’s that guy in high school who wow’s a bunch of his stoner buddies with double talk and big words strung in unintelligible sentences. Throw in some sweet sounding book references and between bong hits they all nod as his ‘sagacity’. He’s probably deluded himself into believing the stuff he says makes sense”.
Do you have the same opinion for everything I say on *any* subject? Or does this criticism only apply where my thoughts are in conflict with materialism?
“I’m still trying to grasp why you both feel that materialism requires existential change of self”.
I explain this on my blog. I’m not sure I should simply paste it in since this post already is rather long. So the link is:
“Imagine a typical hurricane. It forms off the coast of Africa, travels across the Atlantic, up the eastern seaboard of the US before making landfall in Nova Scotia and dissipating. Is it the same storm at the start and end? Is it a discreet entity? Is it a process? Is it an emergent phenomena?”
Weak emergence. I don’t actually believe in material substance, I only believe in mental substance. Whether you want to call it the same entity or not is a matter of convention.
I asked you on another thread where your terms ‘existential change’ and… I can’t remember the other one, come from. I also asked you to demonstrate how this is a necessary condition for materialism. I have checked out your blog but you don’t answer the question there sufficiently either. You’re assuming premises that nobody here agrees with, and reasoning from there. You need to start from the ground up and actually demonstrate that your premises are correct.
This was your argument as far as I remember it from the other thread: For materialism to be true, humans would have to undergo ‘existential change’. Humans don’t undergo ‘existential change’, therefore materialism is false.
P1: Materialism requires existential change
P2: There is no existential change
Conclusion: Materialism is false
1.) You have not demonstrated that materialism requires existential change
2.) You have not demonstrated that humans *cannot* in theory, undergo existential change. While it may be highly unlikely we’ll ever see a brain injury cause the kind of change that would fit your criteria, it is possible in theory, given a fine enough mapping of the brain and its functional parts and ability to manipulate those parts, to create it artificially.
Conclusion: Valid based on the premises but not sound.
“The same goes to those “arguing” against me in the comments.”
Yes Ian we get it. Anyone who disagrees with you obviously doesn’t understand you. It couldn’t possibly be that when they do make sense they’re so childish in thier makeup that they get torn to pieces over and over and over again.
Common denominator. ..
“Or does this criticism only apply where my thoughts are in conflict with materialism?”
Most of them really. You have a hard time putting a cogent argument together. This was expressed by all in the last discussion you participated in, you’re just not getting where the issue lies.
People complain about when I go, but there’s absolutely nothing substantive being said. And people keep asking me questions that I’ve already addressed either in my blog or in that other thread.
What is being achieved here? No ones going to concede anything to me. I’m unlikely to be persuaded by anything you guys say, not least of all because of the fact that no-ones given any indication that they understand what I’m saying.
I probably gravitate towards idealism rather than any form of dualism.
I don’t think I can add anything regarding existential via alterational change to what I’ve already said both on my blog and in the other thread. If you don’t get it, so be it. So getting drunk demonstrates that nothing could survive our deaths? OK fair enough. If there is a “life after death” you won’t be like you are now, so perhaps you don’t consider my concept of survival to be worthwhile anyway.
I don’t think I have used the persisting self argument to argue against materialism. It’s a more convoluted and obscure argument than the main arguments.
Incidentally brain damage and subsequent personality change could only create a difficulty for a “life after death”. It wouldn’t create a difficulty for interactive dualism since interactive dualism doesn’t entail there’s a life after death. Likewise brain damage and subsequent personality change doesn’t support materialism. There are *conceptual* i.e philosophical problems with all flavours of materialist positions. You cannot have scientific evidence for something incoherent. Same goes for the denial of “free will”. In as much as this denial is adopting an epiphenomenalist stance, I’m afraid this is incoherent.
“So getting drunk demonstrates that nothing could survive our deaths?”
It looks like you addressed this to me, but I never said anything of the sort. Neither did anyone here, to my recollection. The effect of alcohol on brain state, and the reliable correlation of that change in brain state with a predictable and temporally later change in mental state is used as one of many ways examples of correlation. Nobody said it was their reason for dismissing the possibility of an afterlife.
Did I misrepresent your argument in my previous post? If so, how?
“There are *conceptual* i.e philosophical problems with all flavours of materialist positions.”
“You cannot have scientific evidence for something incoherent.”
AliSina- If hundreds of videos attested to by others were valid proof of extraordinary claims,then all manner of the paranormal,conspiracy theories,alien abduction,free energy,contrarian cosmology,and outlier miracle cures should also be considered as plausible based on such a weak standard.
Sorry,but that is an obvious fail.
“It looks like you addressed this to me, but I never said anything of the sort. Neither did anyone here, to my recollection. The effect of alcohol on brain state, and the reliable correlation of that change in brain state with a predictable and temporally later change in mental state is used as one of many ways examples of correlation. Nobody said it was their reason for dismissing the possibility of an afterlife”.
But this is the whole argument that people opposed to a “life after death” make. Brain damage changes our personalities, drugs, including alcohol, change our personalities, growing up from childhood to adulthood changes our personalities.
Therefore if we *are* our personalities, and personality is changed when the brain functions differently, there cannot be anything which survives our deaths.
That is the argument! And it includes alcohol. So even having one pint of beer shows there’s no life after death since there’s a very slight effect.
“But — so the materialist will argue — the exact same position pertains in our everyday second by second existence. We have an almost identical physical appearance, almost identical memories and more generally an almost identical psychological state from one second to the next. However there’s absolutely nothing persisting anymore than a table does if we were to continually destroy the table and replace it with almost identical versions every second.”
No materialist here argues this. I have yet to encounter a materialist that argues this. You misunderstand the materialist position. For myself, it is best to think of consciousness as a process and not an object like a table. The materials and energy undergo existential change while the process only undergoes alterational change. Further, I don’t believe consciousness is a monolithic process, it is a process with multiple sub processes which are able to monitor each other.
Given that your linked paper consistently uses the phrase “if it exists” when describing strong emergence, can you provide an example of strong emergence, particularly one that can be differentiated from a “god of the gaps”?
Ian: “You cannot have scientific evidence for something incoherent.”
Quantum mechanics, ever heard of it? It is logically incoherent, yet absolutely and definitely proven true with 100 years worth of impeccable and irrefutable data. The science doesn’t cede to philosophy; it should be the other way around my special friend.
Niche Geek: Ian clearly defines “strong emergence” circularly, as anything that cannot be relegated to reductionism. Then he assumes consciousness is strong emergence, and given the fact that consciousness exists: whammo! He can conclude consciousness cannot be accounted for by reductionism. Circles circles circles.
The Other John Mc
“Quantum mechanics, ever heard of it? It is logically incoherent, yet absolutely and definitely proven true with 100 years worth of impeccable and irrefutable data”
Well it’s certainly not logically incoherent. It’s not even weird. It’s only weird for those who subscribe to a mechanistic conception of reality.
“You misunderstand the materialist position. For myself, it is best to think of consciousness as a process and not an object like a table. The materials and energy undergo existential change while the process only undergoes alterational change”.
I was talking about the self, not consciousness. Of course the materialist considers the self to be a process. That’s the whole point, there is nothing that remains the same from one second to the next. Like one cannot step into the same river twice. We call it the same river by convention. It looks the same, occupies the same area. The materialist says we are the same self by convention. But *in reality* the self is changing (existentially) all the time. This can best be understood with teleportation/replication thought experiments.
“Therefore if we *are* our personalities, and personality is changed when the brain functions differently, there cannot be anything which survives our deaths.
That is the argument! And it includes alcohol. So even having one pint of beer shows there’s no life after death since there’s a very slight effect.”
No, that’s not the argument against dualism, it’s evidence in favour of the hypothesis that brain causes mind. It’s one of the predictions that comes from this hypothesis, that appears to hold up in every way we can test it. Dualism is simply an unnecessary layer on top that adds no explanatory power and makes no new predictions that can be tested.
Or correct me if I’m wrong – what predictions can your hypothesis make and how would we test it? If the answer is, “yeah, but NDE and ESP anecdotes…” then your hypothesis is scientifically useless, so the default position should be to reject it. There are no anomalous phenomena that would even require a non materialistic explanation, never mind any examples of phenomena that can be demonstrated to have such an explanation.
You still haven’t answered my point about your dodgy premises, or even explained why you haven’t answered, save to say I don’t get it. If you have logic and evidence on your side this should be easy. If I got it wrong, then explain why.
Sorry, when I said dualism I should have said the filter hypothesis.
“Brain changes precipitating personality changes is also evidence in favour of the filter hypothesis.”
No. It’s not incompatible with it, but it is not evidence in favour of it. The filter theory is simply unnecessary – see previous post.
You have it backwards anyway – it’s not that there is a huge amount of evidence against life after death, it’s that the evidence for this proposition, or any of its component parts, like disembodied consciousness, is utter garbage.
“it’s not that there is a huge amount of evidence against life after death, it’s that the evidence for this proposition, or any of its component parts, like disembodied consciousness, is utter garbage”.
As Ian stated, he is in fact not a dualist but a kind of monist, because to him the Universe is made of one substance which is consciousness/the soul/whatever. But I have yet to hear how he accounts for every change the mind undergoes through physical/chemical action to the brain, though to him the brain doesn’t really exist…
I guess his disagreement with us is deeper than what we’re discussing here, since he doesn’t even acknowledge the physical world as sometimes existing in itself, but rather a construction of the mind, or something like that. That’s why he says we don’t understand him, and maybe the debate should be about idealism vs materialism and not dualism vs materialism.
>“Can you briefly explain what he was saying that we missed?”
>It seems to me no-one understood anything he said.
>I’m not sure if I agree with everything Bernardo says. I gravite towards idealism, but maybe a different >kind to him. I’ll be reading his materialism is balony book sometime in the near future.
Ian – read carefully. I’m asking YOU for your synopsis of what Bernardo is saying (very briefly), what you agree with or not, and why. YOu just repeat that we don’t get it. I’m asking you: what don’t we get?
Part of the problem with you guys is that you throw a lot of vague phrases around, and I don’t think you know what they mean. There’s a real lack of explanatory depth and shallow semantic level reasoning. Show me that I’m wrong.
I was asking you to specifically explain the distinctions in the examples again, not simply offer a link. I can offer you all sorts of links on all sorts of things. That’s not how conversations work.
>”“In the few hundred years we’ve had science, however, we have lunar landings, smart phones, and blogs >where people can criticize science”.
>Obviously you mean *scientists*. One can criticise scientists when they assume or make unsubstantiated >metaphysical claims which many prominent scientists are prone to eg Hawkings, Krauss, Dawkins et al
Again, you’re not reading what I’m writing carefully. You’re advocating that science accept evidence that we consider weak and that we throw out materialist assumptions, which are central to the technical definition of science (i.e., you’re for re-defining science). That was how things were pre-science, so I’m speaking to the power of the current model. I never said scientists should be beyond criticism.
Isn’t emergence a necessary consequence of reductionism? Two sides of the same coin, right? If you can break a whole into parts that each lack the complex features of the whole, I would think that necessarily implies that those parts can come together to form a whole with features they lack as parts.
Human consciousness is an illusion created by the brain, which has usefully served our species by producing in each of us the unique, and obviously apparent, actor whom we refer to as, and totally believe to be: Me; Myself; I.
To the vast majority, this illusion is so overwhelmingly powerful that it seems well beyond the bounds of reason to even consider the possibility that the self is, perhaps, only an illusion (albeit a damned good one!) rather than being our personal autonomous agent (our manifest self).
To a small minority with certain types of sudden-onset brain damage the self gradually reveals some of its many illusory tricks as time goes by. Some of the revelations are unsettling, but many are educational, and some are awesomely hilarious in retrospect. The concept of dualism is therefore completely nonsensical to this group of people for reasons that I’m sure will be obvious to anyone who thinks about it.
I don’t know what my own view is, but probably some form of idealism yes.
I’d rather argue about materialism. It is so absurd on so many levels. The idea that everything we see is an illusion — no colours, no sounds, no smells actually exist out there. That the solidity of objects is an illusion. That nothing we ever experience is real. The notion that we have no free will, that the self doesn’t even exist from one second to the next, that there is no objective morality, that we are merely biological robots living out our purposeless lives in a purposeless Universe. All this is unwarranted in my opinion.
And of course materialism — which ever variety — cannot accommodate the existence of consciousness.
When you said all of the psi evidence has been debunked. Aren’t you the one that was on Michael Prescott’s blog before as well as Greg Taylor’s Dailygrail. I remember that you admitted that you were defeated. Its hard to have a conversation with someone who thinks there skeptical sources are in fact intacted when in reality they are not. Oh yes I just found you under another name called honestskeptic where you got totally destroyed.
I quote- I apologise for my previous comments, I have been a dishonest troll. Greg Taylor has got it correct and he has debunked the pseudoskeptics. Leonora Piper was in communication with spirits. Greg Taylor is my hero.
“I quote- I apologise for my previous comments, I have been a dishonest troll. Greg Taylor has got it correct and he has debunked the pseudoskeptics. Leonora Piper was in communication with spirits. Greg Taylor is my hero.”
You now owe me two new desks and two new foreheads.
“The idea that everything we see is an illusion — no colours, no sounds, no smells actually exist out there.”
Wavelengths of light objectively exist, color is a constructed perception based roughly on this information from the environment. Loudness, pitch, timbre, etc. of sound again are mentally-constructed perceptions based on wavelength and intensity of physical acoustic vibrations which demonstrably exist in the external environment. Smells and touch, too, are perceptions based on physical analogues in the external environment. What are you not understanding about this?
“The notion that we have no free will.”
But we have the illusion of free will, that’s seemingly as good as the real thing for most practical purposes. So what? You just don’t want to entertain the possibility because it doesn’t *feel* right to you.
“that the self doesn’t even exist from one second to the next.”
Meaningless statement as far as I can tell. My self, The Other John Mc, am roughly the same individual pattern inhabiting roughly the same body as I was 10 years ago, and you can’t prove me wrong on this, ergo my self exists through time, your point refuted (if you had a point).
“that we are merely biological robots living out our purposeless lives in a purposeless Universe.”
We are biological robots instilled (instilled via evolution) with purpose; to do the things that provide us happiness and pleasure, and to avoid the things that do not. Seemingly coincidentally, the things we typically like to do (have sex, eat calories, spend time with family and friends, achieve success, play sports, etc., etc.) contributed to our ancestors ability to survive and reproduce, thus we inherited these tendencies.
“And of course materialism — which ever variety — cannot accommodate the existence of consciousness.”
Dr. N already nailed it: Consciousness is a physical process, a particular and seemingly unique type of information processing, carried out demonstrably by a physical object, the brain. What are you not getting? Materialism accommodates it just fine as long as you aren’t in stubborn denial.
The Other John Mc
“Wavelengths of light objectively exist, color is a constructed perception based roughly on this information from the environment. Loudness, pitch, timbre, etc. of sound again are mentally-constructed perceptions based on wavelength and intensity of physical acoustic vibrations which demonstrably exist in the external environment. Smells and touch, too, are perceptions based on physical analogues in the external environment. What are you not understanding about this?”
None of this contradicts what I said. The world is divest of any colours, smells, sounds, everything that makes reality real. I’m talking about *colours* not the redefinition of colour made by scientists.
“I’d rather argue about materialism. It is so absurd on so many levels. The idea that everything we see is an illusion — no colours, no sounds, no smells actually exist out there.”
You honestly believe things like colour, sounds, smells, etc. exist in some absolute objective sense? That there is no subjective perception component? That every organism, no matter their sensory apparatus and brain, perceives the same thing? With smell for example, that the odorous molecules have some kind of absolute, universal smell property to them that exists independent of our olfactory receptors? This is what is absurd my friend…
Those molecules, those wavelengths of light, those vibrations in air – those are real, those exist, those are not illusions – but our perception of them as colours, sounds, smells is dependent on the structures our of particular sensory apparatus and our brains. They will smell, taste, sound, look different to a dog. It’s an interpretation of something real on our part. Why is this absurd to you?
“You honestly believe things like colour, sounds, smells, etc. exist in some absolute objective sense? That there is no subjective perception component? That every organism, no matter their sensory apparatus and brain, perceives the same thing? With smell for example, that the odorous molecules have some kind of absolute, universal smell property to them that exists independent of our olfactory receptors? This is what is absurd my friend…”
Yes I think colours, sounds, smells as perceived exist out there. They are not objective but subjective though. And percipients will have different experiences — the shade of green I might perceive when looking at some plant might not be exactly the same shade as you perceive.
The world as we perceive it really exists out there, but it is nevertheless conscious-dependent. It’s out there in the sense it is not the creation of my own consciousness but is something imposed on my consciousness.
The brain does not generate the mind — one of its functions is to mediate between the mind and the body. Data enters the system through the sense organs, and is transferred into the brain for processing. The mind interprets the processed sensory data, and responds by sending data to the brain, which may involve activation of voluntary muscles.
(Most of the brain’s functions, by the way, are unrelated to mind or consciousness, and involve all the myriad tasks that must be overseen and regulated to keep the body alive.)
The fact that mental states correlate with brain states does not explain the relationship between mind and brain.
When brain functions are disrupted, the mind’s relationship with the “physical” world is disrupted. All sensations, and perceptions, including emotions, are mediated by the brain.
Stroke patients who don’t recognize family members are missing the systems that interpret sensory data and generate appropriate emotional states.
The brain is FAR more complex that Steve N. implies. He keeps saying it’s complex, but then states that he doesn’t understand it down to the very last detail. Well that implies that he understands most of it. NO, that is a very inaccurate estimation of current knowledge.
Many correlations are being observed, thanks to imaging technology. Materialists are thereby deceived into thinking these correlations provide understanding. They do not.
Steve N. uses an analogy of a light switch. The “materialist” explanation, he says, is the one that follows the obvious causal chain. That is NOT an example of materialism. It is an example of a clearly defined and well understood system.
He says the non-materialist theory of the light switch involves a magic light fairy. That is NOT an example of non-materialism.
Steve N.’s materialist / non-materialist dichotomy is nonsensical.
The light switch analogy can be used to illustrate a different point. Steve N. would say that the light goes on and off by controlling its own switch. I would say that an outside agent is needed to control the switch. The outside agent may be a person, or a machine that was created by a person.
Every intelligent system must have an outer context. This was demonstrated by Godel, for example.
An intelligent system is one that is able to respond to its environment and deal with changing events. Every new thing that happens is at least slightly different from anything that happened before. A mindless mechanism can deal with things that have happened before, but they cannot respond to even the slightest change.
A lot of what goes on in our minds and brains is mindless mechanism (habits). But the systems that form the habits can NOT be mindless mechanisms.
“Yes I think colours, sounds, smells as perceived exist out there. They are not objective but subjective though. And percipients will have different experiences — the shade of green I might perceive when looking at some plant might not be exactly the same shade as you perceive.
The world as we perceive it really exists out there, but it is nevertheless conscious-dependent. It’s out there in the sense it is not the creation of my own consciousness but is something imposed on my consciousness.”
You realize this leads to the conclusion that every organism that perceives an external world is living in a different world from every other organism right? Is that what you believe?
That shade of green that we see differently makes it so when you interpret it as something that “really exists out there” and is “imposed on” us rather than interpreted by our own brain and senses.
Taylor’s friend invited me to his website to have a debate but he and his spiritualist buddies never responded to any of my criticisms and I spent over 5 hours typing it all out – it’s just more evidence to me believers are not interested in these cases. For example there’s evidence Piper started her career as a physical medium doing slate writing (this evidence comes from William James, so not a skeptic), there’s evidence she charged a fortune for her séance sittings even turning those who could not pay away, there’s evidence Richard Hodgson deliberately fabricated evidence. I could be talking about the Piper case all day but very few people want to know the truth of it. As for the debate on Taylor’s blog the next thing I knew was that Taylor banned me from his blog and someone impersonated me with a silly comment. The comment you quote claiming “Greg Taylor is my hero” and admitting to being a “dishonest troll” amongst other silliness was posted by a user called “egomanicaltroll”. You should be able to tell this is a parody post by a troll account, it has nothing to with me and I certainly wouldn’t post such nonsense. Unfortunately this is what the internet has come to, paranormal believers or spiritualists can’t acknowledge serious research against their beliefs so have to resort to ad-homimem or impersonations – I have dealt with this for a long time, it is very sad, this is why I rarely engage in this anymore online.
Anyway as for some of your early comments I won’t mention D. D. Home anymore because I have covered it all here in over 40 posts on the JREF forum http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=258077 I originally was going to self-publish a book on Home but I decided to just put some of my research online. There’s various pieces of evidence to suggest that Home used a secret accomplice.
Back to the Piper thing – The reason of focusing on the Piper case is because it is one of the main cases that paranormalists, spiritualists or proponents of an afterlife use for their beliefs, but as I have shown on countless websites Piper was a fraud. Even most psychical researchers accept Piper’s trance controls were alternative personalities and that she “fished” for information (see William James, Frank Podmore or Henry Sidgwick etc).
As for your comment “Richard Hodgson was a arch skeptic as Michael Prescott correctly put its and he e permitted no such information leakage of the type that Gardner imagines. He once berated a sitter for bringing an umbrella into the house on a rainy day, because, he said, the umbrella could have concealed a secret message!”
The problem is that Hodgson was not “an arch skeptic”. He was a believer in mental mediumship and spirits before he began investigating Piper. There is solid evidence for this. I am not denying that Hodgson was skeptical of physical mediumship i.e. table tilting, “levitations”, ectoplasm or materializations (most psychical researchers have been skeptical of this stuff).
I appreciate Richard Hodgson’s research, I have been reading about his psychical research for over twenty years. He exposed Madame Blavatsky as a fraud, he exposed the tricks of Eusapia Palladino, he exposed the tricks of the slate writer charlatan William Eglinton etc. He even wrote an important paper on the fallacy of memory and malobservation in the séance room which has been well received by skeptics. Richard Wiseman for example in his book “Paranormality” has a chapter discussing Hodgson’s research. The problem is that Hodgsons’ lover (his cousin) Jessie D. died and he sunk into depression. He literally lost his mind. On the day of his Jessie’s death he claimed to have communicated with her spirit. This was in 1879 before he investigated Piper.
You can read about Hodgson’s mediumship in a very rare book “The Life of Richard Hodgson”. The book costs around $125-300 I am not expecting many people to have read it. It is the only biography of Hodgson. We learn in the book that Hodgson was actually a medium i.e. he claimed to communicate with spirits. After Piper died he also claimed to communicate with Piper’s spirit. He spent the rest of his life mostly in isolation in his locked room as he believed that a “magnetic atmosphere” would disturb the spirits away. Hodgson was not an “arch skeptic” leo100. You was also caught in two cases of deception (lying about various details in the Piper case deliberately). He was very eager to believe that Piper was in communication with spirits because he wanted to communicate with Jessie. Belief is a powerful thing and it destroyed him and his critical skills and his sense of reason.
Michael Prescott, Greg Taylor, Michael E. Tymn etc and other spiritualists who I have debated do not acknowledge this evidence. I was the first person to publicly put this information on the internet two years ago. It is up to you if you want to accept it or not. I have studied such cases for over twenty years and debated many spiritualists it makes no difference to me if you come to see the truth that Piper was a fraud or not. I also have rare sources such as private letters and notes from Hodgson and Piper which reveal some interesting things, I may make some of this information public online one day. I will not further discuss the Piper case on this blog as I don’t want this to drift off topic. Regards.
hardnose: “Every intelligent system must have an outer context. This was demonstrated by Godel”
Nope. Try actually reading Godel, his conclusions have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with intelligent information processing systems. Keep trying.
I think I need steve12 to again point out the absurdity of amateur philosophers and wanna-be brain scientists trying to explain to us idiots how the mind REALLY works, because they thought about it real, real deeply so they obviously know.
You seem to be the worst troll ever and your also lying as well. As another commentator pointed out on daily grail and I quote
“Are you not aware that wikipedia is edited by any sundry, uneducated joe-blow who can operate a keyboard? And that several universities have banned the use of wikipedia, because so many of its entries are rife with factual errors? How about the fact that Larry Sanger, co-creator of wikipedia, severed his affiliations with site because he got fed up having to deal with biased editor trolls and trying to make amends to all the misinformation abounding on the wiki?”
Greg Taylor had to put you straight because you were lying and I quote
“The reference is one you posted yourself to RationalWiki a month ago. Please do not lie to readers of this website. I am allowing you to continue posting, as I encourage debate, but your continued deceptions and sock puppetry will not be tolerated any further than this point – clean up your act please, or you will be blocked”.
” The comment you quote claiming “Greg Taylor is my hero” and admitting to being a “dishonest troll” amongst other silliness was posted by a user called “egomanicaltroll”. You should be able to tell this is a parody post by a troll account, it has nothing to with me and I certainly wouldn’t post such nonsense”
“For example there’s evidence Piper started her career as a physical medium doing slate writing (this evidence comes from William James, so not a skeptic), there’s evidence she charged a fortune for her séance sittings even turning those who could not pay away, there’s evidence Richard Hodgson deliberately fabricated evidence”.
There’s evidence for this . .there’s evidence for that . .there’s evidence for the other.
“Skeptics” make all these claims all the time, yet time after time after time, when you start digging it transpires they’re talking bollox.
It really doesn’t matter if any specific psychic turns out to be a fraud anyway. It’s highly unlikely they *all* are.
This one made my giggle and laugh at the same time when you were told off by Greg Taylor by using multiple usernames on numerous other sites and I quote.
What’s more interesting to me is that you post under the username ‘HonestSkeptic’, despite already having a username here that works perfectly fine. Though perhaps we should inform readers this is a habit of yours, you post under multiple different usernames on almost every forum I’ve spotted you on. At least this time (so far) you haven’t created another username in which you pretend to be your opposition, trying to ingratiate yourself with them, which you’ve also done multiple times? Will you be linking (spamming) to RationalWiki soon? You know those hit pieces on the likes of Michael Prescott that you wrote, then denied you wrote to readers here (under your old username here)? I did like the touch though of linking to Wikipedia articles to support your cause, when you’re the one who has been writing/spamming those entries over the course of this year, flooding them with…cherry-picked information that supports just your own conclusion.
Honest skeptic? More like a dishonest troll methinks. And I don’t feed trolls.
My suggestion to you? Create a website and post your rants there, rather than flooding Wikipedia, TDG and various other websites with your proselytising.
“My suggestion to you? Create a website and post your rants there, rather than flooding Wikipedia, TDG and various other websites with your proselytising”.
Leo please consider taking your own advice.
Ian: “It really doesn’t matter if any specific psychic turns out to be a fraud anyway. It’s highly unlikely they *all* are.”
Care to speculate why none of these people have taken or claimed the $1 million James Randi prize for demonstrating such powers? Or why they would have all, every single one of them, resisted the temptation of incredible fame/fortune that would befall anyone who could *actually* demonstrate such powers?
Ok Ian I read your blog post. I’m responding to claims you’re making in your entry. You guys should read the bits of his article I’m quoting because that tells you a lot about Ian’s actual position.
“The world is as it seems.”
What about optical illusions ?
What about a mirror ? It seems I am standing in front of me, but is that so or is there another explanation (namely the mirror reflecting my image) ?
What about people who need glasses to see ? If they don’t use their glasses and experience a blurry Universe, is the Universe blurry ?
“The answer is that Berkeley held that when I see something I am participating in God’s conception of the world. Our various perceptual experiences — vision, sounds, smell, tastes, sense of touch –is a result of God directly conveying to us his conception. Our perceptual experiences of the external world are a direct communication with God.”
Ok you’re saying a bit later that you don’t necessarily follow him to this point with God communicating with sentient beings. But still, you’re using his theories as a basis and then modify them so that’s it suits your views. This is not an actual argument against you, I’m just quoting to present what kind of ideas you are thinking of.
“The existence of unobservable entities such as atoms, although more hypothetical or theoretical, also play a fruitful role in our hypotheses and theories about the world and therefore can be said to exist in a comparable manner to the common objects of our experience.”
“The tree is still there because the computer game environment is governed by rules implemented by a computer programmer. Likewise our external world exhibits uniformity due to physical laws, with physical laws simply being directly caused by God.”
Do you need God for your worldview to hold ? Because if so, you would have to prove God exists first.
You criticize materialism but don’t you also want to present your worldview and let it be subject of scrutiny and criticism ? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to elude your criticism. I think your arguments against materialism are based on fragile and dubious premises, and materialism is not undermined in any degree whatsoever. But I’d like you to show how you reconcile idealism with the actual phenomena observed, even with our naked senses.
You can try, but my conclusion is that your view is absolutely barren and fruitless. You claimed in the other thread one could do science in an idealistic framework, but I’m wondering how. How could you account for Cherenkov radiation if not by assuming particles unseen with the naked eye ? You can bring no mechanism whatsoever if you’re only based on your unaided subjective perception. And by the way, some of the things you’re saying are not true or don’t exist are the consequences of what we see, if not with our naked eyes, with a microscope. Is using a microscope legitimate or are we somehow distorting our qualia so that every conclusion we have using a microscope must be wrong ?
Some things exist while we can’t see them : an electron can be detected. Like it or not, it’s part of your world, and it’s physical.
Science as a whole is based on a different framework than yours. I think that they are mutually incompatible. If you want to say you can do subjective idealism science, you have to build your own model, you can’t borrow it from the actual science. I’m curious how you would proceed.
By the way, if you accept atoms, which it seems is the case, you can’t deny that matter is mostly vacuum and therefore you contradict your statement that “the world is as it seems”.
The only escape you have is to say that it’s both : mostly vacuum if you look carefuly with a scanning electron microscope and not vacuum if you just have an apple in your hand and look at it. Then reality is plural : if you put blue spectacles then here is another world !
And I apologize if the quotes from your blog don’t include enough to make sense (while I’m wondering if they would make sense anyhow). I just took the bits I was interesting in, but I read the whole entry.
“Science as a whole is based on a different framework than yours. I think that they are mutually incompatible.”
Exactly. People usually will stop short of saying science it BS because it’s so damn succesful. But when they don’t like something resulting from the scientific method, they try to change the meaning of science itself.
Doesn’t work that way. It’s been successful method WHEN FOLLOWED. When not followed, it’s literally something else.
Ian Wardell says: “It really doesn’t matter if any specific psychic turns out to be a fraud anyway. It’s highly unlikely they *all* are.”
OK, well then by that logic we can conclude:
It really doesn’t matter if any specific claim of 16th century witchcraft turned out to be false. It’s highly unlikely they *all* were.
It really doesn’t matter if any specific claim of alien visitation turns out to be false. It’s highly unlikely they *all* are.
It really doesn’t matter if any specific claim of Hindu statues drinking milk from a spoon turns out to be false. It’s highly unlikely the *all* are.
It really doesn’t matter if any specific claim of body thetans turns out to be false. It’s highly unlikely they *all* are.
It really doesn’t matter if any specific claim of human levitation turns out to be false. It’s highly unlikely the *all* are.
See how that works?
Ian – If I use my vast fortune to pay people to spread the word that you murdered your neighbor, if I convince my friend Rupert Murdoch to bring his resources to bear to convince the world that you are a murderer, if millions of people around the world are convinced that you are a murderer, how is it possible that *ALL* of them could be wrong?
In the immortal words of Tim Minchin:
““Look , [Ian], I don’t mean to bore ya
But there’s no such thing as an aura!
Reading Auras is like reading minds
Or star-signs or tea-leaves or meridian lines
These people aren’t plying a skill,
They are either lying or mentally ill.
Same goes for those who claim to hear God’s demands
And Spiritual healers who think they have magic hands.”
Tim leaves out one category of paranormalist… the person who truly believes they have a supernatural gift because they’ve never been encouraged to think critically, and have been surrounded by people who support their confirmation bias.
Many psychics (or dowsers or others) who get on stage with skeptics for a public test are genuinely surprised when they fail. And they are often all to quick to later rationalize reasons why they failed the test. These people are neither lying nor mentally ill – they are simply unfamiliar with skeptical thought.
The spectacular failure rate of psychic claims creates a very unfavorable set of prior probabilities for the next psychic claim. This is EXACTLY comparable to patent claims for perpetual motion machines. If you make such a claim, the evidence must be big, dramatic and highly testable. Anything less fails to overcome the sheer weight of prior probabilities created by centuries of failures, frauds, dupes and true believers.
So, Ian, we all know YOU’RE convinced. But you want to believe, so there’s no work involved in convincing you that people possess psychic powers. Alas, your belief isn’t convincing. If you want ton convince people then you’re going to have to provide some dramatic evidence, far from the noise level, replicated by skeptics. Anything less is just a continuation of parapsychology’s sordid history of failure and unfulfilled desires.
@Insomniac Nothing you say constitutes any problem whatsoever. All existents are a hypothesis about how the world is. Tables are, quarks are. Some are more hypothetical than others but there is no strict demarcation. It is a confusion to ask do they really exist. It is merely helpful or unhelpful to think of reality that way. Even the notion of a 3D reality is something we impose upon the world.
Think of it this way. Let’s suppose the world is governed by physical laws. *We do not need a consciousness-independent reality in addition to these physical laws*. The physical laws all by themselves suffice.
“Do you need God for your worldview to hold ? Because if so, you would have to prove God exists first”.
No I don’t. But even if I did I wouldn’t need to prove it. What if I were to say you need to prove that consciousness-independent objects exist? Or that other people are conscious? Or that physical laws will continue to exist from this moment onwards?
We build up a metaphysical picture of reality. The best we can hope for is to make it intelligible. We live in a world of uncertainty and can prove nothing outside formal logic and mathematics.
@RickK Various characteristic anomalous phenomena has been observed throughout history and across all cultures. I’ve only skimmed the surface of all the paranormal literature. But you guys seem to have read none at all. Your comments reveal a complete lack of familiarity with all the evidence.
“Various characteristic anomalous phenomena has been observed throughout history and across all cultures.”
- Witches and witchcraft
- Many different gods
- Extraterrestrial alien visitors
- Astral projections
- Statues that drink, weep and bleed
- Body thetans
- Out of body experiences
- Psychic communion with the dead
- Prophetic predictions
- Mind reading
There is nothing in that list that is inconsistent with human desire, human imagination and human ignorance.
“I’ve only skimmed the surface of all the paranormal literature. ”
… while apparently avoiding historical and skeptical literature.
“Your comments reveal a complete lack of familiarity with all the evidence.”
Ahh, the Courtier’s Reply.
Do you consider a large number of anecdotes to be reliable evidence for the existence of a paranormal power or being? Do you find anecdotes for some of the items in my list above more convincing than anecdotes about others? If so, why?
Here’s a hint, Ian: volume doesn’t equal quality. Ten data points gathered under controlled conditions can teach us something profound while millions of uncontrolled data points can tell us nothing.
But let’s sincerely try to find some common ground. Give me a recent, well-documented example of a person with a paranormal ability that they were able to replicate under controlled conditions in the presence of skeptics, and we can discuss it.
Your use of language is imprecise both here and in your blog. In your perceptual illusions blog entry you say
“Let’s consider the “illusion” above again. If this were a real 3D object and we were to approach it and view it from various angles, then we would see that squares A and B are very different colours. Indeed their intrinsic colours would be precisely as we perceive them in the illusion above.”
If all of physical reality is hypothetical (“All existents are a hypothesis”) and our subjective perception is the only truth, then how can the squares have an intrinsic colour?