Expelling Sheldrake

Biologist P.Z. Myers has become somewhat of an Internet phenomenon on account of his ascerbic blog Pharyngula, on which he often attacks those who dispute the theory of evolution (generally grouped by Myers under the one heading, 'Creationists'). Though his blog was already insanely popular, his star fully rose when he was kicked out of a preview showing of the Intelligent Design movie Expelled (ironically, Richard Dawkins attended with him, but was let in).

In a posting this week on Pharyngula, Myers turned his attention to psi research, with a diatribe aimed at Rupert Sheldrake. In it, he labeled Sheldrake as being "nuts", going on to say "I've read enough of Sheldrake's work to know what a godawful load of substanceless bollocks he can spew at will." Apart from the personal attacks, Myers also said Sheldrake's experiments "are exercises in gullibility, anecdote, and sloppy statistics....You can't just simply carry out a Fortean exercise in collecting odd anecdotes and unexplained phenomena."

I spoke to Rupert Sheldrake about the Pharyngula post yesterday, and here's what he had to say in response:

[W]ith such a farrago of prejudice, ignorance and arrogance, it’s hard to know where to begin. It doesn’t really seem worth replying to people who aren’t interested in the facts but simply in venting their rage.

Myers has not taken the trouble to read any of my experiments on telephone telepathy nor any of my other research on the subject and is obviously as bigoted as Dawkins himself. For example when he refers to my experiments as "exercises in gullibility, anecdote and sloppy statistics" the only thing he refers to is an attack by some sceptics on my staring research based on a fallacious argument which I’ve already refuted in the Skeptical Inquirer.

He has not taken the trouble to look at the telephone telepathy or email telepathy experiments, published in peer-reviewed journals, which are based not on anecdotes but on randomized controlled tests. Then he accuses me of not proposing any theory for telepathy, which in fact I have done. But there’s nothing one can do about ranters of this kind, who are beyond the reach of science and reason.

Some of the comments following his blog are equally sad and remind me of the low level of debate found on the Dawkins website where people vie with each other in their prejudice, sneering and nastiness.

Personally, I have to say I find this attack by Myers to be off-base, and in some ways, confused. Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, he attacks Sheldrake based on an article which is - quite simply - a rather shocking indictment of Richard Dawkins...and Myers doesn't have a word of criticism for Dawkins (or, at the very least, the production company behind the 'Enemies of Reason' series). Additionally, it's unclear whether Myers even read the article, as he claims Sheldrake simply indulges in "Fortean exercises collecting anecdotes", despite Sheldrake pointing out in the article (to Dawkins) that his experiments have been published through peer-review.

Also, Myers fails to mention anything about Sheldrake's detailed and intelligent rebuttals to criticism of his experiments, such as this one - which inspired the editor of The Skeptic to introduce Sheldrake's response by saying "Is it possibly the case that Sheldrake is even more sceptical than the sceptics?"

P.Z. Myers seems to see enemies everywhere, insidious in their attempts to overthrow science - often betrayed by the loaded language of his post (e.g. "Notice the devious twist?"). He fails to distinguish between Sheldrake's scientific research, and his enjoyable speculations (as can be found in the 'Trialogue' series with Terence McKenna and Ralph Abraham). And instead of laying out his problems with the evidence collected by Sheldrake, he relies on an ad hominem attack, with plenty of straw men to boot.

Sheldrake has collected some intriguing evidence of anomalies in science. Whether his results will be confirmed in further tests is still to be seen (though there have been some negative and positive replications thus far). But Sheldrake - probably the most eloquent of spokespersons for research into anomalies - has faced up to attacks for the past couple of decades now, and some his previous words are probably a good response to P.Z. Myers' post on Pharyngula:

To accept [the existence of psi] would not involve the abandonment of science and reason, and the collapse of civilization as we know it; rather it would extend the scope of science and of evolutionary understanding....I am a sceptic, but of a different kind. His scepticism is directed towards anything he regards as "paranormal", taking as normal that which lies within the limits of current scientific understanding. My scepticism is directed towards the assumption that we know enough to proclaim what is possible and what is not.

Certainly would be interesting to see a debate between Sheldrake and Myers.

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pacificwhim's picture
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I've read Myers' screed along with the lengthy comments and it's the typical self-congratulatory, "Look how much smarter we are than those pathetic woo-woos" kind of nonsense, interspersed with a few entirely predictable, "If telepathy were real he would have seen his assailant coming" quips. How original. How droll. How sad.

I think Myers' piece is actually an excellent microcosm of the nature of organized skepticism today. Since they don't do experiments and are faced with an increasing body of solid research that shows psi not only to be real but pervasive, they have only a few proven tactics to fall back on: personal attack, misrepresentation of the data, fabrication, and nastiness. Game over.

Elgon's picture
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It is very, very hard not to start tearing apart furniture with bare hands when facing such arrogance.

As i see it, true followers of this relatively newborn hysterical religion, scientism, base much of their personal identity on their faith, as with many other religions. Thus anything that conflicts with their world view is also seen (or felt, to be more precise) as a personal attack. A victim of scientism more or less unconsciously feels that his/her whole existence is threatened by the possibility of paranormal phenoma really existing. To challenge their views is an attack against their identify and self-image.

So, how to approach them? Maybe we should just ambush them with a hug and say "I love you" whenever we can :)

In the meanwhile i'm waiting for science to discover physical evidence of archetypes existing in the neural network, archetypes existing as "neural grooves" as some have predicted. Such discovery would enable science to encompass many things that now are out of its reach. Of course, discovery of physical manifestation of archetypes in brains would not answer the question: are some paranormal experiences and all archetypal/spiritual experiences merely products of the brain, or are those experiences more like openings into something else, that "opening" enabled by our brains.

---
The flap of a butterfly's wings in the Atlantic may cause it to fly.

anthonynorth's picture
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Can you have a debate with someone such as this? Would one get a word in edgeways?

...

I'm fanatical about moderation

Anthony North

red pill junkie's picture
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With people like this—Myers— there can be no civil dialogue; instead it's like the Vagina Monologues, with the difference that in this case we would deal with another kind of body orifice.

-----
It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie

Johnny's picture
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Question is - are these guys worth it. They have long become irrelevant in my opinion and it's time to see them for what they are - a distraction. Every minute spent studying or refuting them is a minute wasted. Let's move on.

Johnny's picture
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In fact I'd ask Greg - Is it worth reporting on? Is it news worthy? Does it move the discussion, and our understanding, forward in any way?

Greg's picture
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Johnny wrote:

In fact I'd ask Greg - Is it worth reporting on? Is it news worthy? Does it move the discussion, and our understanding, forward in any way?

Depends whether you think psi research is deserving of scientific respect. Myers' blog is the most popular science blog on the 'net, so when he spews nonsense about psi research, he influences the opinion of a *lot* of other scientists out there. Giving some space to a reply, or rebuttal, is - I think - important.

Kind regards,
Greg
-------------------------------------------
You monkeys only think you're running things

Rick MG's picture
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Exactly, Greg. Ignoring Myers and not replying to his rants only plays to his advantage -- most people will take silence to mean Myers is right, we have no answers. But if we respond in the manner of Rupert Sheldrake -- with reason, courtesy and dignity, with evidence and objective counterarguments -- then the public will wake up and see what's really going on.

The sad thing is, if Myers lies and misinforms about Sheldrake's scientific methods, who's to say he isn't lying and misinforming about his own mainstream science? It wouldn't be the first time boorish, egotistical bullies got their way in science. Just look at the Leakey's in Kenya, last year they had two palaeontologists deported simply because they don't agree with their theories.

The more people like Myers and Randi spew their dogmatic vitriol, the more Rupert Sheldrake's balanced, reasonable and dignified manner will endear itself to the public. And that's a good thing. So I say let Myers make a fool of himself! He's digging his own grave.

Myers and Randi want us to be quiet, to not argue, not fight, to give in and give up and go away and not be heard, nor even seen. That's why we have to continue replying and arguing and talking and not letting the bullies misinform and downright lie.

And you can dream
So dream out loud
And don't let the bastards grind you down
-- U2 "Acrobat"

Elgon's picture
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Rick MG wrote:
> Myers and Randi want us to be quiet, to not argue,
> not fight, to give in and give up

Quite so, it's amazing how stagnation works both on personal level and on the level of humanity. And how undiscovered realities are usually found from where there is lots of sincere and enthusiastic debate. And then there are the lonely wolves of traveling forward. Hope to become one.

---
The flap of a butterfly's wings in the Atlantic may cause it to fly.

Mapou's picture
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Myers cannot accept the work or conclusions of Dr. Sheldrake because that would give credibility to the people he despises the most, Christians, especially the young earth creationist types. Of course, Myers puts all religions (except his) into the same category because anybody who believes in God must be an idiot in his view. But for some reason, he hates Christians the most. I wonder if he was molested by a clergyman in his youth as Richard Dawkins was.

Any evidence for paranormal phenomena is taboo in Myers' little world because it can easily be construed as evidence for such things as spirits and souls. And if spirits exist, so can God. The proud atheist in Myers cannot allow that. The self-righteousness and pomposity of the man are now legendary. He's digging his own grave, of course.

Johnny's picture
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All the power to you if you feel it's worthwhile...I think psi research is already getting scientific respect from guys like Sheldrake and Radin. Real scientists.

Thorsten's picture
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Certainly would be interesting to see a debate between Sheldrake and Myers.

No, because Myers has nothing to debate. From his style of conversation it is eminent that he despises any thought of possible "paranormal" phenomena so much that he will never read anything remotely similar; in the best case he will skim over it.

The other reason is his personality: Myers has a big page count for the same reason Alan Berg, the radio moderator, was successful; be abrasive, insulting and spiteful.
- He has no qualms to post private mails and ridicule the
sender
- He tells anyone (even follow skeptics) what bunch of
morons they are if they disagree with him (often
misunderstanding the position of the opponent or even
knowing nothing at all because he "knows" that someone
is a kook).
- He is a bad loser who sabotaged the count for the best
scientific website after it was clear that he will lose.
He asked his viewers to do anything so that his personal
favorite wins; that resulted in a totally fruitless
"competition" of bot votes. Someone got even so far to
hack himself into the system (Fortunately both sites
accepted a draw).

Please look at the style of this fans and commenters and the truth of the old saying: "Tell me who your friends are and I tell you who you are" will be self-evident.

Let's imagine the meeting would happen...

*What* exactly could someone learn from the meeting except for the entertainment part (insults etc.) ? What can Myers communicate which people haven't known before ?

drew hempel's picture
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Yeah I registered just to reply to this post -- but Greg, I'm sure, knows me well enough already -- as does Red Pill, etc.

Suffice it to say PZ Myers BANNED ME from his blog (but then so did Michael Prescott, another story, and Anthony North!).

Here's the details on my PZ Myers' blog posting: 1) I have a masters from the U of MN, the same school Myers teaches at, although he's in the boondocks, while I'm in the main metro for Minnesota. 2) I have studied ecology, biology, etc. as a third of my undergrad credits 3) On Myers' blog I consistently emphasized the discipline of QUANTUM EVOLUTION, as per McFadden's book, along with the discipline of QUANTUM CHAOS. 4) I also posted my personal experiences with nonwestern philosophy as examples of quantum chaos but not, of course, limited to those disciplines (quantum chaos and quantum biology).

So, of course, Myers HAD to ban me -- I represented cutting edge science that he ignores. Quantum chaos is the top math field at Los Alamos Labs, Santa Fe Institute, etc. I've corresponded with quantum chaos math professor Ian Stewart, Steve Strogatz, and many other professors about these fringe science issues -- like Brian Josephson for example. Professor H.M. Collins is another.

My take is nonwestern music as alchemy -- and my blogbook is http://mothershiplanding.blogspot.com

So -- why don't you all post on Myers' blog as well? Go for it -- see how long it takes you to get banned. I had fun but they freaked out too badly and reacted with the slap-down -- instead of engaging with the information at hand.

For example my promotion of Professor Jeffrey Schwartz' critique of molecular DNA sequencing could not be ignored by the biology geeks on Myers' blog. But that was about as fringe as they could get -- to continue ignoring QUANTUM BIOLOGY is only possible by being a professor in the sticks of MN. Most of his readers don't take the time to learn about quantum chaos or quantum biology and most don't want to.

Keep in mind that PZ Myers is literally surrounded by corn fields in the middle of nowhere. The dude is desperate for some intellectual banter, without necessarily needing any substance. How much better off are the rest of us? haha.

anthonynorth's picture
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Drew, I vaguely remember your name, but not the incident. As far as I am aware I have never banned anyone from Beyond the Blog.
I have taken action - I've deleted commenters who link to ads (Wordpress has a strict no advertising policy); those who produce diatribe longer than my posts that has nothing to do with the discussion (usually after a couple of warnings); reams and reams of Biblical quotes (I can be banished to hell only so often); and virulent spammers who post repeated stupid comments (again, after warnings).
In addition, Wordpress has an excellent spam filter that often gobbles up multi-linked comments (it's impossible to save them all), and I've suggested some people take a break to cool off (as I am doing here in light of recent events - assess just what my positoion is here at TDG). NOTE: For those who are confused, I am sick to death of my illness, financial situation and - a 2nd commenter - my lack of formal education, being used against me!
Rant over, I certainly have never, EVER, banned anyone for disagreeing with me, as is the implication. So, Drew, which of the above categories fits you?

red pill junkie's picture
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Glad to see you on MY turf now LOL.

I dunno, posting comments on Myers might be fun, but after being banned—sort of—from a catholic discussion forum a year ago, being the black sheep is too demanding emotionally :-)

We at TDG certainly welcome any kind of contribution, provided they are done in a civil manner, and preferrably if they are concise and clear for all. I think we would love to hear what you have to say about quantum biology, but please keep in mind most of us are laymen, and would deeply appreciate if you explained your thoughts to our level—i.e. like we were 2-year-olds ;-)

-----
It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie

drew hempel's picture
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OK it's highly ironic that the scientist whose life story is captured in Jamie James' new book (his earlier "Music of the Spheres" book is featured in my online masters thesis linked at http://nonduality.com/hempel.htm)

Where was I -- so this scientist is obsessed with finding new DNA "clades" - James informs us that the Kingdom, Phlyum, Order has gone the way of tootsie roll pops --

Anyway where was I -- so anyway this scientist ends up getting bit by the most poisonous snake in the world because a local Burmese has misindentified it as a nonpoisonous snake which mimics the same appearance -- to almost TOTAL identity (except a little bump on the nose).

http://www.snakecharmerbook.com/

My point is....drum roll.... Burma is the most traditional Buddhist country left on Earth (except for that the monastery monks were destroyed about a year ago).

Buddhism teaches that time itself is an illusion -- that the ONLY thing real is "empty awareness" or pure consciousness. The book notes that the scientist was CHARMED by the Buddhist culture -- to the point of being naive.

But maybe not? Maybe the Buddhist culture really did CHARM him. I've worked closely with Burmese and know some secrets -- detailed in my blogbook http://mothershiplanding.blogspot.com

As I stated before this new obsession with DNA molecular time sequencing is highly problematic when compared with morphology -- Professor Jeffrey Schwartz has done a superb critique of the problems.

Not to mention science as a whole is destroying the ecology of the planet with this reductionist drive -- so "ecology" was not a real science UNTIL it established DNA sequencing (just read Jonathon Weiner's books for the skinny on that).

Have a nice day.

Tank Girl's picture
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Great minds have always met with the violent opposition of mediocre minds... or something to that effect....If I could remember who said this first id give them due credit it was'nt by me anyway. I have come across this attitude so many times in life people just don't like it when your different or as clever as them or more so, they see you as a threat and a realization that they'd have to address things with themselves like attitude etc... its easier for people to put you out ~ its not to not deal with you, but with an aspect of themselves.. then they can continue on in their perfect little bubble without some pr*ck to burst it (excuse not a case of humour just a visual picture)...people are so possessive by nature penis envy... pathetic. People have such a "its mine attitude" it has to be a form of mental illness. I've had a life full of weird experiences and you know I think to myself why? For one, and theres a part of me that wants to tell people about what I have experienced, but people always persecute what they haven't experienced. They want to disect it, label the majic off as madness or call gnosis psychosis and find some scientific reason for it all. They deny the gifts people have. I think whats the point, people have forgotten what real majic even is. For me I have tried to understand my life and experiences to the point where even I nearly forgot what majic was. Some gifts are no gifts at all, unless you want to work for the cia or mi5. Guess I chose to join here to find people who are willing to talk about all this stuff. I only know what I know just one persons journey through the madness of life. I heard Lucifer once then I had had no thoughts on him I told someone and they said do you know who Lucifer is? I said no! They said he was the Angel of Light... and I thought wow, I have a guardian after all. For me I took it as a sign to have faith in myself I was going through a dark patch. But what I'm getting at is people ultimately want to label people like myself for example as having neurological glitch... but there are pathways and there are pathways in life. Guess it depends which road you take... I took the hard one! In life I'm a bit of a holy grailer at heart so thats kind of why I joined here. We tar ourselves with the one brush and try to make a culmination of it all and then define it as a norm of some sort. I guess I've never fit into the norm, I'm glad I don't ~ cos then I'd be a norman... just like Hitchcock portrayed. To me whats been studied at the top level appears to be taken as true for everyone. Yes its all amazing I guess I view life on a philosophical & metaphorical level. I haven't a phd I'd like to do parapsychology when I can, though reading all this for me makes me question if I really want to at all? Its too easy to complicate the mind with a flood of facts. Damn I'm ranting rubbish now anyway you may or may not understand what I mean?? sorry this rant is and is'nt relevant here I'm going to stop before it turns completely into verbal dioriah.

Aurum Metallicum all things in moderation...
The matrix of ones blood is far more to conquer then the matrix of ones mind.

Satanists are like majic mushroom's. Once you see one... then you can see them all!

red pill junkie's picture
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This is by no means a criticism to the content of your comments. But you might want to consider breaking them into smaller paragraphs; you know, so it's not so hard on the old peepers to follow yout thoughts :)

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
_______________
@red_pill_junkie

daydreamer's picture
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I've been getting doses of TDG for a while now and though it hasnt really affected my materialism, atheism or scientism very much since these are typically much more complicated and personal things than the media stereotypes i say keep up the disagreement.

I do feel a bit more like i did when i was a kid and magic felt real though, which is nice.

I agree about many of the commentors over on PZ's site and on Richard Dawkin's. They could definitely be better. Sometimes debate is quite lacking. Shame really. I have had some very good debates with people of different perspectives to my own over on The Reason Project though. One in particular managed to shift my entire outlook, which is kind of cool - though it was a philosophical shift rather than anything as specific as the existence of powers or immaterial beings.

Ultimately i think things are best when we debate, though i see on both sides little acceptance of other ideas. Not so much on unproven things like UFO's or paranormal activity (which could be anything from psi to spirits to tricky demons to aliens to quantum information flow through time). Open minds are a tricky thing. A standard that seems prevalent here seems based on an open mind being open to any strange thing, but of course an open mind is also open to the idea that these things do not exist. Perhaps that definition of an open mind is too narrow. Perhaps it would be better to consider open-mindedness to be the ability to change ones mind, but often we only do this within the subset of our original beliefs so i'm not sure that works much either.

Ultimately if someone has decided that something is true without the evidence to 'specifically' prove it that 'specific claim' (and not just a set of possibilities) then they are not being open minded.

Some of the best science limits possibilities down to a very small group, some perhaps just the article and the possibility of future discovery. One problem i have with full blown paranormal beliefs (as opposed to possibilities) is that often you can think of many things it could be, but some people will still claim it supports their single belief. I don't find this to be open minded.

Of course all that is a bit simple and i can think of things that seem to contradict it. It is only the essence of my point.

As far as Sheldrake goes i wish him all the success. I dont believe in his conclusions yet, which seem too biologically centred and as a geologist i dont see the geological evidence for it. Biological systems are obviously evolved over time. Sheldrakes ideas that physical systems have done the same dont match up with enough of the physical evidence.

I should read his book though, but i would be concerned if he glossed over the geological problems (esp given it is our only record apart from astronomy of the past 4.65Ga), just picking the geological systems that do show physical evolution.

This brings me to my last point. I am tired. Physically and mentally. There are so many opinions, every interpretation is different, large amounts of it don't fit together (especially if you allow input from religious texts). Then the effort that comes from trying to tie it in to what you understand about the world; it would certainly be much easier to do if i had not studied the actual physical world (long held by spiritual outlooks to be a distraction because it just doesnt fit in with any single idea anyone has come up with yet).

I have also formally studied philosophy, which i would thoroughly recommend. Many of the religious arguments are unevidenced, annoyingly many are purposely designed by theologians to be outside of evidential critisism. An annoying trick they have learnt over the centuries to avoid people being able to ask any meaningful questions. When debating the religious one thing that is often obvious is that they have fallen for this idea that theology is an individual subject with its own set of standards and methods of inquiry, it is not. Theology is the daughter of philosophy, and as such when it strays away from evidential arguments into itself the normal rules of philosophical inquiry still apply - in fact you could argue that they become more important. This is a point completely missed on most religious people, who perhaps are only educated by their neighborhood preacher. Too often theology is allowed to sit in a type of self congratulatory stance while the parent looks down and tuts.

I give everyone here huge credit for sticking with it, i find it very hard going.

red pill junkie's picture
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Open-mindedness is, in a nutshell, accepting the possibility that you could be wrong. Since it hurts the ego, the mind finds all kinds of avenues to rationalize its POV, even if it's shown to be flawed.

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
_______________
@red_pill_junkie

daydreamer's picture
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Hi RPJ,

Agreed, and especially the ego part. One thing i think is that people get too wrapped up in the idea that it is personality involved (such as the word ego might imply) rather than a common physiological trait. I think belief in the brain operates in a certain way for everyone and is not particularly helpful.

As a funny example of my own naivety i remember a debate i had with a christian friend. Coming from a scientific background i was commenting purely on evidences for certain planetary formation models whereas he wasnt dealing in evidences at all. The night after the friendly debate i suddenly realised what was going on. I hadnt been listening to what he was saying. When he said 'I believe that the world is x/y/z' he wasnt actually talking about the world, the clue was in the 'I believe' (followed by absence of external statements not dependent on the belief); he was talking about himself. Obvious once you have seen it, but it took me a while.

As for open-mindedness i think it is complicated. It is to do with accepting that you could be wrong, but since there are degree's to open-mindedness that implys there are degree's to thinking that you could be wrong, which seems inherently strange as a philosophy to me.

To go back to the age of the earth if I say it is billions of years old and you say it is 5 days and 11 minutes then i am and should be open-minded to the possibility of it, but when we list our evidences and yours is simply something you imagine could be right we must apply confidences to both our assessments. I think to be fair we have to accept that something attains the, admittedly valuable, place of required open-mindedness when the evidences for it begin to exceed a given level that must in some way relate to the current evidential standards for the idea it is competing with.

I would suggest something like the above to differentiate between philosophical possibility and the related open-mindedness and then the sort of open-mindedness we might have between string theory and quantum loop gravity or between the responsibility of lithospheric subduction in varying surface volcanism.

Ultimately i think there are practical differences because some ideas exist within philosophy and hence use its rules and some manage to gather some evidence and exit the purely philosophical realm and so different methods become necessary - even with open-mindedness. This is as true for evidenced paranormal claims though.

Open-mindedness to Rupert Sheldrakes ideas occur in this context. He is good because he creates ideas capable of exiting the philosophical realm (unlike some religions etc), but in doing this the non-philosophical use of open-mindedness comes into play.

Even still we can ask whether philosophical open-mindedness (the simple type) can have a role in science debates. I would say that it can, but next to the more complex open-mindedness that gauges ideas relative to each other i think in its practicality it is a throw away open-mindedness. On this basis morphic fields are a possibility on the philosophical level, but on the scientific one there would be much work to do before they attained a level of full blown respectability. Full credit to him for trying.

red pill junkie's picture
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Always a pleasure to dialogue with you, Daydreamer :)

Yes, I think I can agree with you in the sense that an idea or hypothesis should attain some type of "critical mass" of evidence to back it up, in order to be open-minded about it.

But immediately we confront two problems: first, the willingness of the person to even inspect this evidence. And secondly, that the value of that critical mass is subjective to the individual.

Carl Sagan said that he needed extraordinary evidence in order to believe in extraordinary claims like UFOs. But the inherent problem is that "extraordinary" has not an exact constant value. Different people have different thresholds of amazement. But I can agree with the fact that a scientific education can raise this threshold in a person, but it would be nice if the sense of wonder was never lost at the same time; it's kind of like you find among students of Medicine: they are trained to deal with blood and life/death scenarios, but that often renders them numb to the pain of their patients, you know?

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
_______________
@red_pill_junkie

daydreamer's picture
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Yep, i agree.

I dont know how much of this other world i can take in and merge with my own, but one good thing the Grail has done for me is expand that feeling of other possibilities that i had as a kid and lost a little through my education, though in my case i picked a full blown encompassing physical science - you see the feeling withstand other disciplines a little better (such as engineering or medicine).

I agree with the concept of critical mass, though in your description it seems more centered around the number of people believing in it. If this was the case open-mindedness would correlate well towards more popular religions in some simple to see way and obviously it doesnt. I know what your saying though. I would prefer to see it considered in terms of criticality of evidence, though this still begs the question why there are skeptics like myself when there is plenty of evidence for anything.

Part of it is down to belief i think. I am pretty suspicious though that belief is simply the outcome of the way our brains are wired up, with certain ideas holding importance in the neural network (so to speak). I imagine it a bit like a tree with its trunk and branching ideas. In my picture belief correlates with the ideas that are forming the trunk in the network. Perhaps it is down to where they are stored, there is pretty solid evidence that the limbic system is involved, which goes a long way towards explaining the emotional reaction that occurs in defense of belief and in how it exerts itself relative to non-believed ideas or just ideas that are not that important (consider what it even means, neurologically, when we say we don't care/like/trust an idea). This might also be an easy way to see why childhood 'indoctrination' is placed so highly by so many belief based institutions. Perhaps if you present information to a child it is naturally taken into that trunk system and forms the belief core, explaining why it can be so hard to change belief both personally and in debates if someone has been raised to believe something. I dont know, i just think that the whole subject of belief is under-addressed. It might not be your cup of tea but Sam Harris is doing some good research into belief in the brain (independent of truth claims (not Sam :), but the research)- just looking at the neurology and psychological affects).

I agree about extraordinary evidence, though of course once evidence is accepted it is no longer seen as extraordinary. The evidence for relativity was once extraordinary i guess, though now it is just common day stuff. Having said that the number of people in alternative fields who either say they have their own versions of relativity or think that gravity doesnt even exist (or describe spacetime in terms of love) might suggest that evidence is not always enough.

I guess deep down we are all good test cases. Every one of us is skeptical about something. To try and understand skepticism i try and understand why the normal paranormal evidences don't swing me, yet do other people. Maybe i'm just a pain in the ass. ;)

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[...]though in your description it seems more centered around the number of people believing in it

Validity by majority? I would never defend such a fascist notion! ;)

Nah,I meant evidence per se, according to the claim. If I give credence to the possibility of UFOs is because there's quite a number of highly trained and trust-worthy witnesses (airline pilots, USAF officers, radar operators, etc) that claim to have seen something extraordinary. Obviously, when presented with such "evidence", the hard-line skeptic will begin to lecture on how unreliable that gooey mass of water and proteins —which is our brain— is to discern a moose from a pile of rubble ;)

Maybe i'm just a pain in the ass. ;)

That's why you make the perfect Grailer :-P

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

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Ah, got ya.

Perhaps the whole reason that a few subjects have remained within the bounds of the paranormal is that the evidential systems for them are more complicated.

UFO's are among the most well evidenced. I could well believe in them and i think that the only thing really stopping me stating 'i do believe in them' is that i'm not sure what to do with the understanding afterwards. I also lack the knowledge of how to define the 'unidentified' aspect in my mind. I have no problem accepting that people are seeing things; i'm just not sure where to go after that. Perhaps you could help by explaining where you have personally gone with that trail of thought.

People still try and exert the same principle elsewhere though. A good example of the disconnect between experience and interpretation might be deities face's appearing on toast. There was a good picture of the atheist 'A' formed from hydrothermal activity in a rock formation. These things are abundant, especially now we have global communication; and though individual cases are impossible to prove or disprove the contradictory nature of the overall pattern of claims shows the natural prevalence of this disconnect between experience and interpretation (i think).

Quote:

hard-line skeptic will begin to lecture on how unreliable that gooey mass of water and proteins —which is our brain— is to discern a moose from a pile of rubble

Skeptics, including myself, shouldn't use this as a catch all. I prefer to use it as a reminder to myself not to get too carried away. The reverse is true though (from any model that we can entirely trust our brains or that compounding inputs reduces errors), it shouldn't be dismissed easily either.

The portion of your comment i have copied features two parts. I'm confident you know the difference between
them, but they are worth going over. The first we have dealt with, the second is more interesting.

I think you use the example of a moose and a pile of rubble for its linguistic affect, which is a bit naughty of you as it leads the reader ;) It will serve our purpose though.

I don't know whether you have read any David Hume, if you haven't you should; it is required reading on a philosophy course after all. Hume dealt the blow to the argument from design in the late 1800's and essentially his argument works here too. With a moose and a pile of rubble we already know the difference. This might not seem important, but bare in mind we are asking the question of whether our senses and interpretation are making correct value judgements not about knowns, but about unknowns. This means that we don't have the required information to know whether our judgements are correct.

Hume used this to demolish the idea that tree's and birds were designed by a deity because we can tell a watch is designed from looking at it and we can also tell a tree or bird is by looking at it. He pointed out that we can only know a watch is because we already know it is designed. Whether a tree or a bird is designed is the question we are trying to reveal information about, so the use of what we are trying to find out (design?) as an input is irrational.

The same would go here. There is a big difference between unknowns and moose or rubble.

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Perhaps you could help by explaining where you have personally gone with that trail of thought.

That IS a very good question. Because I've come to believe that this whole thing (the Fortean phenomena like UFOs) work on two levels: the interpersonal and the personal.

The interpersonal side is how the phenomena influence and affect (in a very subtle way) our culture as a whole.

The personal side is how thinking about these phenonema, the implications they may carry, trying to fit your role in the bigger scale of things when admitting their existence, slowly but surely modify your perception of the world.

UFology is me personal Alchemy. It is all this mix of different intellectual disciplines (Physics, Biology, Astronomy, Psychology, Chemistry, Mythology, History, etc) that have shaped my personality, hopefully for the better. It's the tool I'm trying to use to transcend the mundane aspirations that the consumerist world is constantly trying to sell me.

I would like you to read this fine essay written by a personal hero of mine: Greg Bishop; it's called UFOs as Agents of Deconstruction.

It illustrates beautifully many of the things I think about re. the UFO phenomenon; and why I've come to terms with the fact that solving the mystery surrounding it (who they are, where they come from, what they want) may be beside the point.

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

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Hi RPJ,

I've red the article you linked to. I would have quite a bit to say about it. I had a great debate with someone a few months ago. It is still ongoing, thought slowly now as it is in the back pages of a site. It lasted a few months and i think that keeping the same subject going for that long is really the only way of two minds coming together in their own ways; especially if the points are from different angles. I would favour a long approach to a subject like this.

My first thoughts are that it is an interesting take on the phenomena. Slow cultural probing and adaptation is an interesting concept, though backing it up with the notion that it is ok that we might not understand the motive because alien motivations might be so strange, while being possibly/(probably?) true, is nearly an empty argument - it has parallels with creationist irreducible complexity. It might be right, but it will never be a solid argument, so to speak, as it is more a statement of holes in current understanding.

Cultural adaptation is possible, though it is hard to see what they could be trying to do. Most people are either skeptical or disinterested (for the perspective of taking personal research further). With the universe as science describes it it is now so hard to imagine that we are alone that to many people it wouldn't come as a surprise that aliens are out there, just that we have met/found them.

I think it is interesting to ask whether without any possible ET cultural meddling we would still have created the concept of spaceships and ET. If they have been meddling for several thousand years and have given us the concept of UFOlogy then it is difficult to dismantle, but i think our ability to imagine different forms, add, subtract, expand and reduce concepts such as humanoid, coloration, skin texture, appendages, non-material and material abilities is highly suggestive that we could have imagined alien beings without cultural implantation of alien ideas.

The night sky has always played a prominent role in humanity. Many people here at the Grail seem to take that as evidence of it having a physical and manifest reality above that given by standard ideas, such as taking mythological narratives as accurate inputs into geological histories. No doubt the ability to do this is closely linked with our freedom to create personal narratives, but i still think that the night sky has a deep attraction in our psychology. Actually i will rephrase that. Since many people don't really care about what reality is right or wrong, but just like getting on with their lives, the night sky has appealed to those types of people looking for explanations (and hence over time 'defining' the explanations). It might well be as simple as that it could hardly be dismissed in any theory of reality, sitting above us and appearing not to change, but always look down on us, and at the same time occasionally featuring unknowns like shooting stars, eclipses of the moon and sun, comets. Once people started using astronomical features as motivations for behavior real patterns were set up. For these reasons i think the sky has always held significance. I would find it unlikely that just with deities non-human yet often conceptually similar (as with anthropomorphic deities complete with he/her sexual differentiation) entities would be placed in space. I would doubt any hypothesis stating a limit in time to the otherworldly story writing (sort of as if we can write sci-fi, and they could 200 years ago, but not 250, or 2500). Though obviously the narrative would be culturally dependent.
Hume's principle of imaginative restriction is interesting here. Let me set you a challenge. Imagine something completely new. Unless you are the objection to the rule you should find that everything you try is a combination and rescaling of previous sensory input. Even 10,000 years ago or 100,000 they still had the sensory inputs (and imaginative constructs) of ground, sky, humanoid, animal, round, square, triangle, big, small, high, low etc. The reason i am thinking of this is that i see no limitation on ancient imaginative constructs and so no limitation on coming up with the concept of otherworldly beings. Cultural implantation of alien concepts might be necessary to the aliens for some reason, but we are also able to do it ourselves which might of caused some debate among the aliens as to the purpose of their tens of thousands of years investment in cultural adaptation.

My second point of interest is that they must now be highly impressed with the internet and the availability of psychological research papers. In fact the invention of the library must have made things quite a bit easier, though nothing like the internet.

To prod at cultures in subtle ways though the injection of sci-fi narrative into mythology and folklore over countless ages and at the same time buzz radar installations, airplanes, military bases and abduct people (strange if for information gathering as everything is on the net from our beliefs, fetishes, anatomy, politics, cultures, science and tens of thousands of psychological experiments that aliens could not do without raising serious alarms) - and if you assume they can hack firewalls then everything else too.

One possibility i guess is that it is a machine intelligence left gathering data with creators long since dead and it is malfunctioning.

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One possibility i guess is that it is a machine intelligence left gathering data with creators long since dead and it is malfunctioning.

That in fact is one hypothesis our recently deceased friend Mac Tonnies explored on his essay "The Ancients are Watching".

Yes, it is possible that we homo sapiens are perfectly capable of populate the heavens and the depths of the Earth with all sort of countless strange fictional entities. Another possibility is that there is a presence that has shared our planet with us for millennia (maybe they've been here longer than us, making this THEIR planet), and that they've been exposing us to the Extra-terrestrial idea as a way to conceal their origin and intentions. That is the central tennet of the book "The Cryptoterrestrials" that Mac was just finishing up to send to his editor.

My first thoughts are that it is an interesting take on the phenomena. Slow cultural probing and adaptation is an interesting concept, though backing it up with the notion that it is ok that we might not understand the motive because alien motivations might be so strange, while being possibly/(probably?) true, is nearly an empty argument - it has parallels with creationist irreducible complexity. It might be right, but it will never be a solid argument, so to speak, as it is more a statement of holes in current understanding.

Well, i'd like to think that, unlike the Creationists and their hypothesis, there *is* evidence to back up the conclusion that there is a non-human intelligence that has been interacting with us for a long, long time. Where do they come from and what do they want, I have no idea. But the impact in our culture is undeniable —even if a person is skeptic of UFOs, since they live in our same culture, they are exposed nonetheless to the UFO mythos. A skeptic or non-believer knows what an "anal probe" means and the context in which such a term is used in our culture.

So in fact, it's probable that not-believing and not taking the phenomenon seriously is the reason why the UFO phenomenon has affected our culture in such an evident way. By taking it as a modern fairy tale, the phenomenon is given the liberty to permeate many aspects of our culture in a very "safe" way.

Because the fact is, that after reading countless UFO cases, you come to the conclusion that these entities do not behave themselves as the proverbial scientists/explorers come from a distant star system on a reconnaisance; heck! not even as invaders they make sense. You said it yourself: if they wanted to gather DNA of several individuals for whatever purpose, there are many more efficient ways to go about it than abducting people out of their beds at night. If what you wanted as an alien were enough human specimens to make an hybrid species (and the fact that a biological entity that evolved in a completely different ecosystem could mix its DNA with ours is problematic enough!), then why not simply abduct some poor individuals and take them to a solitary uninhabited planet where you could raise them as cattle?

So the aliens are non-sensical and, as far as we can determine, are insane because, well... they're aliens! Are UFOs and their occupants knowable? Maybe, maybe not. We should keep studying them, but we should also be prepared to the possibility that they may be beyond our comprehension —could we comprehend the intentions of an intelligent race that was 1 million years ahead of us?

And, as Greg Bishop proposes, we should also be open to the possibility that there might be a "purpose" to all the nonsense. That, much to Stephen Hawkins' complaint, there might be a very good reason why these beings prefer to make contact with weirdos and nobodies instead of chatting with him and his scientist friends. It might be for our benefit, it might just be for their own twisted amusement, though... :)

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

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Hi RPJ,

I agree that cultural meddling is one explanation that might fit the data, though once again it seems crazy. Given that the other evidences, if full accepted, add up to a crazy set of actions perhaps it is in keeping with the whole notion. My only point about our ability to have imagined the whole phenomena is philosophical. There is much evidence that something is going on, but the interpretation that the purpose is cultural meddling is made more awkward by the fact that storytelling could quite easily have created our cultural narratives without the meddling; so possibly has done. It then becomes harder to tell if psychological as well as unknown atmospheric and astronomic events are not just being interpreted in terms of the culture.

There is definitely more evidence for UFO’s than creationism, but bare in mind that creationists do have evidence as well. There is evidence for everything at one level or another, the hard thing of course is coming to understand the evidence in the proper context instead of the preferred context (true for everybody; creationists, fellow geologists, alternative ideas and conspiracy alike).

I do like your argument, it fits the data and is more complex and mature than simpler versions, but I am still cautious of using ideas existing in culture as evidence of the existence of certain things, it is a suggestive idea, but secondary to better evidences. It has been tried many times before. It is a common religious argument, something along the lines ‘Christianity/Islam/Hinduism/Zeus has had an undeniable affect on culture so how can it be false’. I can use it for Santa Claus too. Doesn’t mean it is not right though.

As for them seeming crazy I agree. It is one thing that puts me off. I don’t know whether the standards of evidence are too low or whether they really are crazy by our standards. If you accept the whole thing then they are mad (to us), if you choose to ignore some stories then they get a little saner; preferentially ignore enough and perhaps they become sane. There is no bounds for honest or dishonest assessment though. Multiple sources are good, like pilots + radar or crowds, but I guess a lot of the analysis has to be based on personal accounts of activity.

I saw a program looking at the psychology of people placed in stressful situations once. They were on an experiment without knowing it; they thought they were on a desert walk. At one point there was a staged ‘crash’. Some tin foil was placed among the tree’s while a man dressed in camouflage stood nearby. The ‘guide’ led them near it, then appeared to panic when they saw it and led them hastily away. They were then left to go home and given a surprise follow up interview about 2 months later. They all remembered it (obviously), but their versions differed enormously. Several remembered the guards (multiple) having guns, which the single dressed man did not. One remembered being chased by guards! And the most dramatic remembered actually being shot at by a guard. Several also remembered seeing a crashed craft even though there was only tin foil in some tree’s. This can be read as meaning nothing at all, but I have enough memories that have turned out to be false to question everyone’s ability to get this stuff right when it counts. I think there is some good evidence that police line ups are not a good way of finding the guilty as well for similar reasons, though don’t quote me on that as I can’t remember where I read it.

In a perfect world every interview would be assigned an error margin, then we would know how these errors are being compounded into this view of insane aliens.

My last comment for now would be about our ability to understanding them. This is anyone’s guess. Sanity is a perspective. The argument that their actions can be judged by us as insane while being normal to them is fine. The notion that the world will end in 2012 by a collision with Planet X is insane to me, and if the person lived as if it was true then their actions might appear insane. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnew...

There are perhaps a few limits we can apply though. Cultural insanity brought about by varying acceptance of different standpoints isn’t really insanity, people can be fully functional in all other ways. So if it isn’t insane to let your child die of simple curable infections while you prefer to pray what can we call insane? I struggle here as my definitions of insane (or even of evil) differ from other peoples (especially if it cannot be based around harm – after all vaccinations carry a risk even if the risk of not vaccinating is higher). It might be best to look at where culture and such affects do not step. Everybody must eat and stay warm. Consumption of resources is unavoidable. Behavior can change according to culture, but it must still be hinged around certain things.

The other thing is that it will depend on biology. Would be nice to have a sample hay! Looking back on creatures 1000 years ago or 100,000 years ago we can understand motives. There doesnt seem to be a problem in paleontology deciphering animal behavior from half a billion years ago. Though admittedly this is because we have evolutionary data and as anyone that knows anything about evolution will tell you it is a function of behavior as well. How technology might change this i have know ideas, but if we assume that the rules that applied to them in their pre-technological phase were biological like us then it is strange they have lost the sensible rule set regarding resource use that they would have needed within the technological phase. No matter what they are expending resources in their actions now. Perhaps unlimited energy and material availability result in crazy species, but you would have thought that building and maintaining it would have meant it was the other way around and they would be very good at using resources.

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Hey daydreamer, I guess we're ready to wrap this one up. I only wanted to make a few final comments on some of the fine points you raise:

There is definitely more evidence for UFO’s than creationism, but bare in mind that creationists do have evidence as well. There is evidence for everything at one level or another, the hard thing of course is coming to understand the evidence in the proper context instead of the preferred context (true for everybody; creationists, fellow geologists, alternative ideas and conspiracy alike).

The very root of the word evidence (evidentĭa) implies that what you present as such must be clear in anyone's eyes. Therefore, there can't be no subjective evidence, because that is merely delusion; and this is where we go back to the conundrum of the different thresholds people apply to believe something. Maybe this is something in which Dawkins is right: when you raise a child to believe something for which there's no evidence at all (religion) then you open that child to a world into any belief system is acceptable. I don't have the solution for this, since I'm not in a position to contemplate this problem in a fully objective way (I was raised a Catholic).

"As for them seeming crazy I agree. It is one thing that puts me off. I don’t know whether the standards of evidence are too low or whether they really are crazy by our standards."

The accounts that look reasonably believable (in terms of the credence of the witness) imply that they really act crazy by our standards —or perhaps we're the crazy ones? asks one patient to another inside the mental ward ;) —I have read accounts of witnesses that seem reliable enough (doctors, police officers of high rank, etc) that describe incredible things: lights that "morph" into trucks, and then into automobiles! If a technology was effective in completely manipulating our perceptions, then we arrive to the uncomfortable conclusion that we can't trust our own memories or senses! Something that Jacques Vallee explores in his book "Messengers of Deception".

Look: the fact of the matter is that, the more you read and absorb about these things, the less you understand. A majority of people would feel revulsion at this notion, and yet there's a fraction of us who keep studying it because, quite simply, we're fascinated by it. Is this fascination derived by a psychological need to find solace in the unexplained, due to a lack of "normal" satisfactions in our everyday life (which was first: the chicken or the egg)? I honestly can't answer that.

I saw a program looking at the psychology of people placed in stressful situations once. They were on an experiment without knowing it; they thought they were on a desert walk. At one point there was a staged ‘crash’. Some tin foil was placed among the tree’s while a man dressed in camouflage stood nearby

That sounds fascinating. And oddly enough, there has been recent talk about a very famous case (The Socorro case) where some people are proposing that the whole event was a staged hoax perpetrated by college pranksters on officer Lonnie Valdez; personally, I still believe that if you come to me and say that you were the one who made the hoax using balloons and students dressed in lab anti-contamination suits, then you either present me with some hard evidence, or you are of no more credence that the people who claim to have seen a landed flying saucer —in other words, the event remains at an impasse.

Perhaps unlimited energy and material availability result in crazy species, but you would have thought that building and maintaining it would have meant it was the other way around and they would be very good at using resources.

Well, until very recently we were under the delusion that we had unlimited resources, and just look at the mess we're in, right? ;)

But then again, we're trying to rationalize them from a human perspective. You are concluding that from "them" to get "here" takes an enormous amount of energy; but where's the evidence for that?

Every possibility opens more questions that reaches answers. But, as Greg Bishop proposes and I suspect, maybe that's the whole point: to challenge us in order to grow :)

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

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Quote:

The very root of the word evidence (evidentĭa) implies that what you present as such must be clear in anyone's eyes. Therefore, there can't be no subjective evidence, because that is merely delusion

I wish! The problem that you quote later on with our senses ties into this. Psychologists and neurologists are very clear about using caution where our memory and senses are concerned. I see an ideological difference between some groups. People that believe in divine creation or what we might call forms of super-consciousness/near-perfect consciousness/perfect consciousness seem to be much closer to the idea that the senses can be trusted. An extension of this (or an example of it) would probably include those notions that through meditation or some injection of the correct cultural values we can attain ‘consciousness’ or ‘awareness’.

One thing I wonder is this: If our senses and memory are imperfect, something for which there is ample evidence, then could the manner of the imperfections of the memory and senses be expressed within the bounds of the belief system and or culture of the individual (i.e how personalised will the experiences of these errors of the senses and memory be to the individual’s idea set – and hence to what degree are these things neurologically related and interacting; bare in mind that these errors are not simply a lack of attention or understanding, but are actual cognitive function inaccuracies out of our control). An easy answer is yes, but here I am asking a more specific neurological question about the relationship between the various physiological interactions occurring between belief, memory, the senses and information processing. I am not sure how much data exists in this field yet.

I wish evidence was never subjective, but the truth is it is subjective in quite a few important ways. One of the biggest has to be that it is based on prior understanding; especially for things we cannot see. For many people the amount of effort required to understand something also seems to be a prohibitive motivation. Many of the sillier ideas should not exist. I guess the fact that we are emotional beings, while being a great strength, adds a level to the subjective nature of evidence – I guess our interpretation is subjective and perhaps the simplicity (in presentation?) of the evidence must be in relation to the quality of evidence, the subjectiveness of the individual and the subjectiveness of the prior belief set; and in relation to open-mindedness.

Quality of evidence is a tricky thing. It can be both something to hide behind and a call for the realization that people might question things a little better. Not just with UFO’s as as I say they are better evidenced than things like religion, even though each religion still relies to a degree on the sensory interpretations of people like police offices or CEO’s, when claiming they have experienced this or that.

As a side note, we seem to all be as susceptible to these cognitive errors as they are a feature of our species (when experimented on under lab conditions) so though I might be tempted to place more credence on a judge than a thief or a scientist than a janitor I don’t really. Though if someone has been found to be insane then I guess that is a circumstance when I would seriously question any claim.

Just out of interest has anyone determined how many alien races are visiting? (based on good quality sightings of craft design and meetings of various kinds)

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One thing I wonder is this: If our senses and memory are imperfect, something for which there is ample evidence, then could the manner of the imperfections of the memory and senses be expressed within the bounds of the belief system and or culture of the individual (i.e how personalised will the experiences of these errors of the senses and memory be to the individual’s idea set – and hence to what degree are these things neurologically related and interacting; bare in mind that these errors are not simply a lack of attention or understanding, but are actual cognitive function inaccuracies out of our control). An easy answer is yes, but here I am asking a more specific neurological question about the relationship between the various physiological interactions occurring between belief, memory, the senses and information processing. I am not sure how much data exists in this field yet.

So, I think what you're saying here is that, in a society ruled by a belief system that relies on the infallibility of our perceptions, there would also be a high probability in the belief of an infallible God; and such infallibility would also be mirrored in their judicial system. One example of this would be the Hebrews, who had pretty harsh laws, with a very binary system: either you're innocent, or you're guilty, with very little room to defend your case.

Maybe this is a factor to consider. But I think at least one thing is certain: that something fundamental has to change in ourselves in order to advance. I mean, we've tried religion and it failed; we've tried philosophy and it failed too —don't misinterpret me, I mean failing in finding incontrovertible rules about Nature— even now science is failing for the same reasons you're mentioning: people don't trust the evidence, and the distrust is rooted in a very fundamental flaw found in all men (we letting our emotions overrun our logic at the moment of prioritizing our belief system). So maybe we should try to change ourselves, otherwise any intellectual tool we try to use in order to find meaning in the world will also be doomed to failure.

...Ahh! I'm getting a headache for all the neuron over-drive! ;)

I wish evidence was never subjective, but the truth is it is subjective in quite a few important ways.

As I said, maybe it's not the evidence where the subjectivity is found; maybe it's in ourselves.

So, either we change something fundamental in our species (I don't know, through transhumanism or gene manipulation or whatever) or we start building a society in which we are aware of the fact that we are ALL fallible, with the same cognitive imperfections as you stated —right now the very concept of "moral relativism" is used as an insult in some circles!— But maybe that's more difficult because we're still living in a hierarchical society, and we tend to idolize our leaders, be that the Pope, the president, etc —I mean they have to be up there for some very good reason, right?

Maybe the turmoil we're experiencing is that we're suddenly waking up from that delusion, and the status quo doesn't like that one bit...

Of one of the many many many MANY different New-Age-y theories proposed as to what exactly might happen on the infamous 2012, one of the coolest was that somehow we would all gain the ability to read each others' thoughts. I mean, think about it: no more lying to your neighbor about how much you like the color of his house; no more getting away with cheating your spouse or the IRS; and of course the good people in Congress would collapse unto themselves like human black holes!! Yeah, I'm definitely rooting for that one :-P

But I digress...

Just out of interest has anyone determined how many alien races are visiting? (based on good quality sightings of craft design and meetings of various kinds)

Oh man! That's another tough cookie to crack. And it's also kind of dangerous, because sure enough there are people and "documents" who seem very certain in their assertions on the various 'alien races' that come to this backwater planet, and from where they come. I try not to put too much credence into those stories, because they sound like bad science fiction.

It's also interesting to note how there were reports of very different alien morphology in the 1950s and 60s. You had your "nordic" humanoid types with their perfect physique and top-model looks, but you also had indifferent giants, robots (cylindrical objects with legs, nothing fancy really), furry hostile midgets with claws that were very light-weight (people shot at them and they heard the bullet as if it had hit metal), oh! and don't forget some of my favorites: the Michelinoids (beings clad in a "space suit" that resembled the mascot of the Michelin company.

But after the 70s it would appear as if the reports became more homogeneous, and now people were only seeing the stereotypical anal-probing Gray, alongside with some other reports of blonde nordics with long hair and white robes, and some occasional reptoid thrown out for variance ;)

So what does that mean? I could interpret that as implying a number of exploring civilizations showing interest on our planet until a few decades ago, when a predominant race or group of races might have taken a firmer control over our world. But obviously this is pure speculation; I could also assume that the non-human intelligence that seems to interact with us settled to a more constant facade to present to us; or maybe that facade is a way for our subconscious to give a "face" to something that has no face, and our psyche relies on our cultural baggage and subliminal expectations to try to give a 'physicality' to this presence —maybe that's why the reports in the 50s and 60s were much more varied and bizarre, and now more constant now that the Gray "meme" has taken a predominant place in the western culture; but this is by no means a way to dismiss the events as mere hallucinations or delusions.

I think we're just experiencing the same problem the hypothetical square living in Flatland had when it met a sphere ;-)

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

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daydreamer's picture
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Interesting,

I don't have time to respond to all that just now, though i will later. Just out of interest do you know whether anyone has done a study of any records that were kept by cultures when they met the 'white man'? I just wondered whether there exists any baseline for the types of variation we might expect when we know what is being met.

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Right now, the only one I can think of is the tale Carl Sagan mentions on the series Cosmos, when Jean-Francois de La Perouse visited the Tlingit tribe. (1:15 of this youtube video). Why I find particularly interesting about that account, is how apparently the native Tinglit mistook the wooden vessel of the Europeans as a giant crow, since that was the only cultural element they had as a point of reference to this alien object.

There's also a book called Visión de los Vencidos (Vision of the Vanquished), written by an anthropologist called Miguel León-Portilla, that is an attempt to gather a compendium of the texts written by indians who were witnesses of the conquest of Mexico.

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
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