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Do You See Dead People? Want a Million Bucks?

By interrobanger in Culture
Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 06:32:33 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

Do you see dead people? Do you believe in ghosts? Extrasensory perception? UFOs and alien abductions? Can faith alone heal what modern medicine cannot? Do you fear demon possession or live in fear of crossing paths with Bigfoot on some dark and lonely road? Do you believe in lucky numbers or that the wandering stars and planets hold dominion over your destiny? Do magnets exhibit mysterious healing qualities?

If your answer to one or more of those questions is yes, then take heart: you're far from alone.


There are those among us who seem willing to believe almost anything. Take any major social or political event, combine it with the word "conspiracy", and feed it to Google. The fruits of your search will almost certainly prove bountiful. Consider this list of the "Top 10 Conspiracy Theories of 2002" or the plethora of sites dedicated to proving the Apollo moon landings never took place. The latter notion gained such traction a while back (including, not surprisingly, an "investigative special" on the Fox Network) that NASA felt the need to publicly debunk the hoax theories once and for all. There are even support groups for alien abductees; those who warn darkly of the dangers of demon possession; and countless groups keeping a watchful eye on the antics of Bigfoot.

Your first instinct is probably to scoff and dismiss such obvious kooks out of hand, but caution is advised: they may be much closer (and harder to spot) than you think.

According to a 2001 National Science Foundation survey, 60% of the American public believe that "some people possess psychic powers or ESP." 30% of respondents to the NSF survey believed that at least some reports of unidentified flying objects involved space vehicles of extraterrestrial origin, and a separate poll found that one-third of the public believes that aliens have visited Earth at some point in the past. Further, one-quarter to one-half of the public believes in haunted houses and ghosts, faith healing, communication with the dead, and lucky numbers (numerology). Perhaps surprisingly, the poll numbers showed a net increase in such beliefs during the previous decade, a phenomenon the NSF ascribes, in part, to the media and the popularity of movies such as The Blair Witch Project and The Sixth Sense. In speculating whether such beliefs are generally harmful to the public, the NSF quotes physicist Robert L. Park:

[P]eople drawn to [pseudoscience long] for a world that is some other way than the way it is. They pose no great threat to science. [Pseudoscience] is a sort of background noise, annoying, but rarely rising to a level that seriously interferes with genuine scientific discourse. The more serious threat is to the public, which is not often in a position to judge which claims are real and which are [not]. Those who are fortunate enough to have chosen science as a career have an obligation to help the public make that distinction.

The NSF also found that over 25% of the public believes in the ability of the stars and planets to affect people's lives. Only 52% disclaimed belief, and another 18% were unsure. According to the 2001 NSF survey, 9% of respondents claimed astrology is "very scientific" and 32% described it as "sort of scientific". 56% felt that it was not at all scientific. So widespread are such beliefs that, during the 1980s, astrology even found its way into the Reagan White House (see thisTime magazine cover).

So strong was Nancy Reagan's belief that she had phone lines installed in the White House and the presidential retreat at Camp David especially for contacting her astrologer, Joan Quigley (Flash required). The former First Lady explained her faith in astrology in her memoirs:

After [the failed assassination attempt of] March 30, 1981, I wasn't about to take any chances. Very few people can understand what it's like to have your husband shot at and almost die, and then have him exposed all the time to enormous crowds, tens of thousands of people, any one of whom might be a lunatic with a gun. I have been criticized and ridiculed for turning to astrology, but after a while I reached the point where I didn't care. I was doing everything I could think of to protect my husband and keep him alive.

To her critics she later replied: "It didn't seem to matter that nothing other than Ronnie's schedule was affected by astrology. Or that tens of millions of Americans really believed in astrology. Or that almost every newspaper that ridiculed me for taking astrology seriously also featured a daily horoscope column."

She certainly had them on that last point: How many of us haven't glanced at our horoscopes at some point and thought, if only fleetingly, That's uncanny! Still, there are many who find obscene the notion of international politics waltzing to the mysterious music of the planets and stars; but there are perhaps just as many who find President Bush's outspoken, evangelical Christianity equally obnoxious. Who are we to judge? Are we really as free of superstition or pseudoscientific notions as we like to think?

Before you answer that question, head over to Snopes.com and read for a few hours. If you don't find yourself chuckling at your own gullibility at least once, give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back -- but only one. Even if your beliefs survive Snopes unscathed, you still aren't out of the woods (or even in shouting distance of the treeline).

Michael Shermer has long been perplexed by, in his own words, why "smart people believe weird things." He is the author of a book on the subject called, surprisingly enough, Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time. Shermer described what he calls our "confirmation bias" in the September 2002 issue of Scientific American:

Rarely do any of us sit down before a table of facts, weigh them pro and con, and choose the most logical and rational explanation, regardless of what we previously believed. Most of us, most of the time, come to our beliefs for a variety of reasons having little to do with empirical evidence and logical reasoning. Rather, such variables as genetic predisposition, parental predilection, sibling influence, peer pressure, educational experience and life impressions all shape the personality preferences that, in conjunction with numerous social and cultural influences, lead us to our beliefs. We then sort through the body of data and select those that most confirm what we already believe, and ignore or rationalize away those that do not.

Shermer's website contains an excerpt of his book detailing what he calls "The Skeptic's Manifesto", which explores the history and meaning of skepticism and, in a more general sense, healthy, rational thinking and the line of demarcation dividing fact and faith. Shermer concludes his article in Scientific American with the claim that "[s]tudents are taught what to think, but not how to think" and that "[f]or those lacking a fundamental comprehension of how science works, the siren song of pseudoscience becomes too alluring to resist, no matter how smart you are."

Shermer isn't alone in his beliefs. There are a great many people working to undo the damage caused by our "confirmation bias". One such scientist is astronomer Phil Plait, the creator of the Bad Astronomy website. Plait seeks to dispel the myths and misrepresentations wrought upon an unsuspecting populace by sloppy reporting, the popular media (including movies and television), and just plain silliness. If you've spent some time perusing Snopes and put yourself in the proper frame of mind after reading "The Skeptic's Manifesto", Bad Astronomy is a great place to go next. The cold, hard science should prove bracing, which is good, because on our next stop things get a good bit weirder.

James "The Amazing" Randi is perhaps one of the most famous escape artists and magicians of all time. He is also, paradoxically, among the world's foremost debunkers of the paranormal and the pseudoscientific. He was once asked if he'd ever encountered a paranormal phenomenon he could not explain. "Never," he answered, "if I am allowed to get close enough or to take samples."

Randi has thoroughly debunked an astounding number of paranormal and pseudoscientific claims over the years, ranging from astral projection to religious miracles to Uri Gellar's mental spoon-bending. Not all of Randi's work is so whimsical, however. Consider the winner of the 2003 "Pigasus Award" and the potential for widespread harm embodied in the recipient's beliefs:

Category #1, for the government official who said or did the silliest thing related to pseudoscience or the occult in the year 2003, goes to South African Minister of Health Dr. Manto Tshabala-Msimang, who claimed, and continues to claim, that treatment with "garlic, herbs, and liver" is not only most efficacious in the treatment of HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis, and other deadly diseases, but is far superior to Western medicine. She also believes, in agreement with Thabo Mbeki, President of the African National Congress and President of South Africa, that AIDS is not caused by the HIV virus. The death rate in South Africa has soared, with an estimated 5.3 million of its 45 million people (12%) now HIV-infected.

An exploration of Randi's ongoing work is an education in itself, and you might be shocked to discover the true "secrets" of the paranormal. So confident is Randi in what he does that he has created (through the James Randi Educational Foundation) the "$1 Million Paranormal Challenge", which is exactly what it sounds like: Provide proof of a paranormal event or ability and Mr. Randi will hand you one million U.S. dollars.

If you have such proof and could use a million bucks, what are you waiting for? Don't let the fact that no one has even passed the preliminary tests at this point stand in your way. As a skeptic, nothing would make me happier than being proven (with an emphasis on the proof) repeatedly wrong in the most extravagant manner possible.

After doing a bit of reading and a bit of thinking, you should have a clearer view of where you stand on the paranormal and whether you harbor any pseudoscientific notions. If you're like me, you don't think you subscribe to such nonsense, but occasionally find yourself glancing at a horoscope or wondering about the "hidden psychic mysteries" of the brain despite yourself.

If you're harboring some secret, deep-seated, cherished (but ultimately flawed) belief, why not take this opportunity to unburden yourself on your fellow K5'ers? With all the crap going on in the world, we could all use a few laughs and a break from taking ourselves so seriously. After all, the aliens could decide to wipe us out and deliver Earth into the care of Bigfoot any day now ...

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Poll
Will Randi ever have to pay out that million bucks?
o Yes 7%
o No 68%
o The Truth Is Out There 24%

Votes: 83
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Google
o those among us
o anything
o major
o event
o this list
o plethora
o NASA
o debunk
o support groups
o demon possession
o countless groups
o National Science Foundation
o believe
o Robert L. Park
o this
o strong
o Joan Quigley
o many
o many [2]
o Snopes.com
o Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time
o described
o website
o excerpt
o Phil Plait
o Bad Astronomy
o sloppy reporting
o movies
o television
o plain silliness
o James "The Amazing" Randi
o thoroughly debunked
o "Pigasus Award"
o "$1 Million Paranormal Challenge"
o waiting for
o Also by interrobanger


Display: Sort:
Do You See Dead People? Want a Million Bucks? | 633 comments (619 topical, 14 editorial, 5 hidden)
Link (1.66 / 6) (#2)
by Herring on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 06:41:32 AM EST

Enough said.

Say lol what again motherfucker, say lol what again, I dare you, no I double dare you
Hell. (none / 0) (#5)
by interrobanger on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 07:08:32 AM EST

They want everything but a semen sample and the soul of your first-born child before they'll even let you read anything. I'd give everyone the username/password I just created but I worked too damn hard for it.

Anyway, that isn't proof, it's just chance. It just so happened that the "psychic" was wrong in a good way -- instead of making the plane late over nothing and pissing a lot of people off unnecessarily. Of course, if Final Destination is to be believed the passengers don't exactly have a whole lot to look forward to, anyway ...


===============
God Hates Figs!
[ Parent ]
Speaking of the scientific method (2.40 / 5) (#7)
by killmepleez on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 09:34:21 AM EST

Did you look at the URL of that link before you just clicked blindly, taking it on faith that it was The One True Link and the Only Way To Get To The Article?

All they did was add a little string at the end to trigger their registration page. Using my advanced psychic powers of critical thinking, clinical experimentation, and elementary web development, I've received word from your departed loved ones on the Other Side that you can read the story for free by seeking the wisdom of my guru.

__
"I instantly realized that everything in my life that I thought was unfixable was totally fixable - except for having just jumped."
--from "J
[ Parent ]
Dammit (none / 3) (#9)
by killmepleez on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 09:44:40 AM EST

That's the wrong fuggin' link.

See, computers are scientific, and science simply cannot be trusted to tell us the Whole Picture. Obviously, the computer was acting as an agent of dead-soul skeptics and tried to censor the message my guru has for you.

__
"I instantly realized that everything in my life that I thought was unfixable was totally fixable - except for having just jumped."
--from "J
[ Parent ]
How about a non-reg link (1.25 / 4) (#104)
by wurp on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 10:13:45 PM EST

Like this
---
Buy my stuff
[ Parent ]
good article (2.44 / 9) (#6)
by phred on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 08:49:28 AM EST

many pundits agree that the success of Ronald Reagans administration owed much to Nancy's worship of Satan. Clearly you can't make as many bad moves as Reagan did and still be president without the hidden hand of the Devil.

let's be clear about one thing (1.86 / 15) (#10)
by speek on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 09:44:54 AM EST

The aliens ARE already here. The answer to Fermi's paradox is "everywhere". We just can detect them. If one accepts the assertion that intelligent life must have arisen in multiple places in the galaxy, then it stands to reason that eventually someone travelled to earth. Their technology would be such that invisibility to our methods of detection would be a simple thing. Therefore, they're here already. Whether or not they're "abducting" anyone is an entirely different question.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees

Um, no. -nt (1.80 / 5) (#11)
by kobayashi on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 10:10:26 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Huh? (2.72 / 11) (#13)
by mcc on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 11:33:14 AM EST

If one accepts the assertion that intelligent life must have arisen in multiple places in the galaxy,

This assertion is not reasonable to take as an assumption.

then it stands to reason that eventually someone travelled to earth

There is no basis for taking such a logical step.

[ Parent ]

huh yourself (1.57 / 7) (#17)
by speek on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 01:01:13 PM EST

This assertion is not reasonable to take as an assumption.

It is more reasonable than the opposite assumption, which is that intelligent life earth is unique in the galaxy.

There is no basis for taking such a logical step.

Sure there is - explanations for why earth hasn't been visited are far more complicated that explanations for why it has been visited. It is the essence of Fermi's paradox. Everyone looks for the highly conjectural explanation for why the aliens aren't here yet, but a very plausible answer is simply that they are here, and we have no way of knowing it.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Absolute nonsense (2.83 / 6) (#19)
by kjb on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 01:12:59 PM EST

explanations for why earth hasn't been visited are far more complicated that explanations for why it has been visited.

The distance between stars, the lack of evidence that there are any other inhabited, extra-solar, planets, and the impossibility of travelling faster than the speed of light make it very, very unlikely that Earth has ever been visited by aliens.

--
Now watch this drive.
[ Parent ]

I'm not convinced (2.20 / 5) (#21)
by speek on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 01:24:55 PM EST

the lack of evidence that there are any other inhabited, extra-solar, planets

Sure, we can't see that far so... This is not evidence of lack. If we were able to examine lots of solar systems and had found nothing, that would be evidence of lack. For your case, you still are in the position of arguing that earth is unique for some reason, and that strikes me as far less likely than the alternative given our present state of knowledge

the impossibility of travelling faster than the speed of light make it very, very unlikely that Earth has ever been visited

I don't agree. We've already sent probes beyond our solar system. We are likely to send unmanned missions to nearby stars eventually, and probably use some sort of von neuman strategy for exploration. And I wouldn't at all discount people's willingness to hibernate during a 40 year journey to Centaurus or something. There's no need for faster-than-light travel.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

You cannot hide behind (2.88 / 9) (#29)
by mcc on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 01:47:06 PM EST

Sure, we can't see that far so... This is not evidence of lack.

You cannot hide behind the "absense of evidence vs evidence" thing because in this particular discussion, you are the one actively making assertive statements.

If you are going to state hypothetical scenarios and then say "this is more likely than not", the burden of proof is sort of on you.

[ Parent ]

well (2.00 / 5) (#32)
by speek on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 02:01:03 PM EST

Although I opened the thread with an hypothesis, that does not mean you have made none yourself. You have made your own assumptions and thoughts on probabilities to counter my own.

That said, no one is suggesting we all "convert" to the belief the aliens are already here. It is an interesting exercise in reason and little more. I find it likely earth has been visited at some point by aliens, and I'm stating my assumptions and reasoning. This doesn't make me a "believer" though.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Probability (3.00 / 10) (#23)
by mcc on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 01:31:37 PM EST

It is more reasonable than the opposite assumption, which is that intelligent life earth is unique in the galaxy.

I see neither why either extreme is more reasonable than the other, nor why one specific extreme has to be taken as an assumption.

explanations for why earth hasn't been visited are far more complicated that explanations for why it has been visited

Well, here is one possible explanation for why earth hasn't been visited:

  1. As far as scientists can tell: there is no way to transport objects or information faster than the speed of light.
  2. As far as scientists can tell: there are about 200 billion stars in the galaxy.
  3. Even if we are to accept the proposition that somewhere in this galaxy life arose and produced intelligent life which reached the point of being capable of space travel and that this race for some reason decided to just launch itself into travelling the absurd distances of interstellar space at sub-light speeds, the chances they would ever decide to investigate the solar system totally by chance are very, very, very low.
  4. The solar system is one out of about 200 billion and there is nothing externally recognizable as special about it. So for other intelligent life to have bothered coming here, it would almost certainly have to somehow know we are here. The lifeforms of earth have been emitting signs of their existence that lifeforms in other star systems could realistically detect since no earlier than about 1900, when the radio was invented. So signs of our existence have currently been transmitted to an area no larger than about two hundred light years across. And the galaxy itself is about a hundred thousand light years across.
  5. So basically, barring either mind-boggling coincidence or the present existence in the galaxy of technology we can't even concieve of as possible yet (and it isn't to say such technology can't exist, just that we can't assume its current existence), in order for intelligent life to have come to earth, we would have to have: an intelligent form of life capable of and willing to engage in interstellar travel, who either developed within or travelled all the way to and camped out within the relatively sparse space within 50 light years of Earth, and has been actively scanning the sky for possible signals from other life forms.
  6. This is not anything you can call likely.
I have perhaps stated this explanation in a somewhat wordy way, but nonetheless, I would consider it very simple.

---
Aside from that, the absurd meta-wankery of k5er-quoting sigs probably takes the cake. Especially when the quote itself is about k5. -- tsubame
[ Parent ]
thanks (2.40 / 5) (#30)
by speek on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 01:55:01 PM EST

I see neither why either extreme is more reasonable than the other,

They are not really extremes, they are exclusive propositions. There is no middle ground. Either life on earth is unique, or not. Assuming uniqueness brings up questions about why it's unique. Those would be hard questions to answer, particularly given our current knowledge. There has been no lack of interesting conjecture about this, but I haven't so far found it convincing. Assuming non-uniqueness is a simpler assumption, since all that really needs to be assumed is that the processes by which earth and life on it formed are processes that will work anywhere in the galaxy, and that the materials here are similar to materials elsewhere. So far, these assumptions seem to be true.

Faster than light-speed travel is unnecessary.
200 billion stars, yes exactly.
Unlikely to investigate our solar system: you don't think we'll ever go to alpha centauri? And from there, we'd never go to the next one? Etc? It doesn't take but 10 million years to easily explore all the stars in a galaxy at a very leisurely rate.
The solar system is one out of about 200 billion and there is nothing externally recognizable as special about it There's habitable planets here. There's tons to be interested in. If we saw a solar system out there that looked like this, we'd be drooling to visit. Or maybe they really like big blue methane ice planets - who knows? It only takes one.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Sir, you are mis-informed (none / 2) (#96)
by esrever on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 09:27:51 PM EST

You need to read this

Many regards,


Audit NTFS permissions on Windows
[ Parent ]

good, but incomplete (none / 1) (#158)
by speek on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 09:03:38 AM EST

This is not new to me, but it seems farfetched to argue that we will never find methods that can move something faster than 10% light-speed. And solutions could come from anywhere - nanotech might enable the recreation of a human society starting with only a few grams of material, engineering might enable the creation of large solar sails that can be propelled from behind to great speeds, lasers could be developed as pushers, propellent might be gathered en route, consciousness might someday be "embodied" by pure energy/light,etc.

And, if all that fails, 1000 years might be deemed but a blink of the eye to a bunch of hibernators who want a new start. What difference would it make how long it takes?

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

My 2 cents (none / 1) (#175)
by Cro Magnon on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 10:38:55 AM EST

Given the vast size of the universe, I believe there IS intellegent life out there. However, given the vast size of the universe, that doesn't mean they ever have or will come here. At the speed of light, it would take 4 years to reach the NEAREST star. There's not that many stars reachable in a human's lifetime. Even if some alien species manages to exceed light speed like in SF, there will always be a limit, and even Star Trek never got outside our galaxy.

I see two possibilities. Either life out there is rare, which means the odds of it finding us, or vice-versa is astronomically slim, or life is fairly common (like in Star Trek), which means they'd have little interest in a bunch of barbarians who can barely reach their own moon.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]

a good 2 cents (none / 1) (#178)
by speek on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 11:17:32 AM EST

I see two reasons for sending stuff to other stars. One is for curiosity - to send probes and unmanned missions to other stars for research purposes. It's a long time till payback, but I suspect there will come a time when long-term research will be more worthwhile to us. Second, a group of people will want to go for a new start. This option requires technological breakthroughs for things like hibernation, life extension, self-contained habitat, and deep-space engineering. Methods of travel can shorten the travel time, but if you solve the first problems, travel time becomes less of an issue. In my own way of thinking, a species that takes to space in traveling habitats would never see the need to "colonize" planets and get stuck in the gravity well. They might find free fall space more convenient, strange as that may seem to us.

If travel times from star to star are on the order of 1000 years or less, the galaxy has been around more than long enough for one species to visit every star. If travel times are 100,000 years from star to star, then that is a good reason for why no one's made it here yet, if we assume intelligent life exists but is relatively scarce.

And if intelligent life is so scarce, I could hardly imagine our solar system being considered uninteresting.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

tell me something (none / 0) (#55)
by speek on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 06:18:25 PM EST

Do you really think earth is the only location of sentient life?

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

+3 A monument to wrongness (2.40 / 5) (#16)
by llimllib on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 12:56:28 PM EST

A paragon, an idol, a legend, an archetype, an epitome, an examplar, perhaps an ideal wrongness.

Peace.
[ Parent ]
and yet (none / 2) (#18)
by speek on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 01:05:47 PM EST

So far the counter arguments amount to "nuh-uh".

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

So,,,, (2.60 / 5) (#20)
by kraant on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 01:14:08 PM EST

How many angels can you count dancing on the head of a pin?
--
"kraant, open source guru" -- tumeric
Never In Our Names...
[ Parent ]
you're too clever for me (none / 1) (#25)
by speek on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 01:39:57 PM EST

Please explain the relevance of your question.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

really, I just wanted to use a thesaurus (none / 2) (#24)
by llimllib on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 01:33:08 PM EST

and your logical flaws were already accurately portrayed in this comment.

Peace.
[ Parent ]
yeah (none / 1) (#26)
by speek on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 01:42:02 PM EST

That's what I was referring to as the "nuh-uh" argument.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Hmm, how about (2.00 / 4) (#75)
by awgsilyari on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 07:49:23 PM EST

A paragon, an idol, a legend, an archetype, an epitome, an examplar, perhaps an ideal wrongness...

all walk into a bar, and the paragon says...

--------
Please direct SPAM to john@neuralnw.com
[ Parent ]

Bzzt. (2.00 / 4) (#35)
by CanSpice on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 02:38:46 PM EST

Your comment isn't just wrong, it's fractally wrong.

[ Parent ]
ah yes (none / 2) (#36)
by speek on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 03:22:28 PM EST

The "double nuh-uh!" argument. I admit, I hadn't thought of that.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Okay (2.75 / 4) (#73)
by CanSpice on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 07:47:12 PM EST

If one accepts the assertion that intelligent life must have arisen in multiple places in the galaxy, then it stands to reason that eventually someone travelled to earth.

The second does not logically follow from the first. Intelligent life does not necessarily imply that that intelligent life is going to travel, nor does it imply that that intelligent life is going to have time to travel before becoming extinct. Just because you have intelligent life, that does not mean that that intelligent life travelled to Earth.

Plus, not everybody accepts the assertion that intelligent life must have arisen in multiple places in the galaxy. Lack of evidence is not proof of non-existance, but the odds right now are stacked against other intelligent life existing in our galaxy.

[ Parent ]

Now I'm interested (none / 0) (#89)
by speek on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 08:50:48 PM EST

...the odds right now are stacked against other intelligent life existing in our galaxy.

Please elaborate on this. Why are the odds stacked against it?

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

The proof there is none... (none / 2) (#180)
by DavidTC on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 11:19:00 AM EST

..paradoxically, is the fact it's not here.

What the starting post assumed, and apparently everyone here is completely unaware of, is basic knowledge of Fermi's Paradox.

It basically starts by assuming the odds of life developing are not negligable. If so, not only would we have contemporaries, we'd have precurser intelligent life around for billions of years. Which is more than enough time to explore the entire galaxy at our level of technology, forget faster-than-light or even slightly-slower-than-light drives.

So where the hell are they?

There is the standard solution in that odds of life developing are negligable, so maybe there has never been any other life in this galaxy. Or maybe we're unique in wanting to travel. Or maybe all civilizations destroy themselves. (Not only through war...there's a 'supernova' theory, that around our level of technology, someone invariably invents zero-point energy or tries to contain black holes or something and gets it wrong the first try, and there's no solar system left for a second.)

Or any combination thereof...life could have slim chances, most people blow themselves up, and the few left in this galaxy don't travel.

His suggestion is another suggestion, along the lines of 'they all assend to a higher plane of existence', except he postulates they're just invisible. Regardless of his wacky theory to explain it, though, Fermi's paradox exists.

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

good good good (none / 0) (#182)
by speek on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 11:29:58 AM EST

Ah, thanks, it had been getting stuffy around here. A lot of people use Fermi's paradox to demonstrate that life can't be ubiquitous. However, that's a little circular, because it's entirely possible the answer is we can't detect them. It wouldn't be hard to run an orbiting habitat and hide it from our eyes. There are a lot of places one could hide in our solar system without extravagant technology to make them "invisible". And when you start thinking about possible extravagant technology, one can only wonder :-)

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

The problem is... (none / 1) (#411)
by DavidTC on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 03:10:50 PM EST

...it takes exactly one alien who doesn't agree to blow their cover by landing a spaceship in the middle of Times Square.

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]
that (none / 0) (#496)
by speek on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 11:08:22 AM EST

Is a fantastic counter argument. The only thing I can think of in response is that maybe that one prometheus got shot down on his way to Times Square and ended up at Roswell. Heh, but now I AM being silly.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Probability is your friend; don't abuse it. (2.83 / 12) (#48)
by cburke on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 05:26:02 PM EST

The reason you're getting 'nuh-uh' arguments is nobody can believe you really think this and are demanding a complete, rational rebuttle as opposed to just being difficult for trolling purposes.  But I'll assume you're serious, so this thread can end.

You are wrong with your first assertion -- that intelligent life "must" have arisen in multiple places.  It's a matter of probability, which granted many people don't understand at all, explaining why I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt.  Here's a one sentence primer:  "Probability" is merely a tendency over a very large number of trials for something to occur, and says nothing about the actual number of times the event occurs in any given series of trials.

Anyway, there is some non-zero and non-unity probability of life arising on a randomly chosen planet.  As far as we know there is a finite amount of mass in the universe, and thus a finite number of planets.  Therefore there is some non-zero, non-unity probability of life having arisen on another planet.  Until you can quantify what the probability of life arising is, you cannot even begin to say how likely it is that intelligent life must exist elsewhere.  The only thing we can say is that we know it has happened once1, and therefore is possible.

The rest of your post is just further chains of the same fallacy -- given life on other planets, some "must" have developed intelligence, and of those some "must" have devolped space-faring abilities, and of those some "must" have decided to visit our planet, and (to cap it all off) those "must" have developed invisibility technology so as to evade our detection.  Even if you could quantify the probabilities involved in each of those steps, there would be no guarantee that, in fact, any of them had occured at all.

I'm not sure I've adequately explained your fallacy.  To test myself, I have a quiz for you:  Assume I have a perfectly fair coin (the probability of it landing on heads is exactly 50%, as is the odds of tails) and I flip it one billion times.  How many times does heads show up?

1 This may be an assumption as well.

[ Parent ]

to answer your question (2.00 / 4) (#53)
by speek on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 06:07:45 PM EST

How many times does heads show up?

More than 10 times, less than 999,999,990 times. Am I right?

Your post implies that you're pointing out a fallacy, when actually, you're pointing out your disagreement about my estimate of the probabilities involved. Either that or you're fixated on the word "must", in which case, never mind.

In any case, if you choose to play the game and make an assumption, follow where it leads, I think you'll find they all lead someplace pretty interesting. Either that, or you can pick out another word and post it's meaning too.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

are you right? (none / 1) (#57)
by llimllib on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 06:22:47 PM EST

probably, but not definitely. Hence "probability".

Peace.
[ Parent ]
Damn, I fail the test. (2.85 / 7) (#62)
by cburke on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 06:52:20 PM EST

More than 10 times, less than 999,999,990 times. Am I right?

Sorry, but no.  The shortest correct answer is:  "I don't know."  A longer answer might involve calculating the probability that the answer lies within whatever range you give, thereby quantifying your uncertainty.  Or you could say "I don't know until you perform the trial and show me the results".  But your answer is wrong.

Clearly I've failed to properly explain.  You see, probabilities merely describe tendencies.  50% probability does not mean that if I flip the coin twice, it will come up heads once and tails once.  It does not mean that if I flip the coin a hundred times, it will come up heads fifty times and tails fifty times.  In fact it does not mean that heads will show up at all, for any finite number of trials.  You may not expect that to happen, and that expectation is valid (and quantifiable), but that is all it is -- an expectation.  You should be surprised, but not disbelieving, just like when someone draws a royal flush in five card stud.  All the probability means is that over a very large number of trials, you should expect the number of heads to be about equal to the number of tails.

Your post implies that you're pointing out a fallacy, when actually, you're pointing out your disagreement about my estimate of the probabilities involved. Either that or you're fixated on the word "must", in which case, never mind.

I don't imply, I state.  You never give any probabilities, so how ccould I reasonably disagree with you on what they are?  You didn't use any word to describe the probability of any of those events but "must".  Regardless of what you believe the probabilities are, the statement that "They are here" is not logically supported.  Since I doubt you can seriously begin to quantify any of those probabilities, and make no attempt to do so, what was I supposed to decide?  What arbitrary probability was I supposed to presume "must" means?

What I'm really taking issue with is that you have -- or can -- quantify those probabilities in any meaningful way, and that you have thought of the consequences of that fact to their logical conclusion.  

Here is another question, which I realized after I posted that I should have made question #2 in the last post.  Hopefully this one is easier now.  Assume I have a coin that is biased (it is either more likely to land heads, or more likely to land tails) and I flip it a billion times.  How many times does heads come up?

[ Parent ]

ooh, I got it now (1.20 / 5) (#69)
by speek on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 07:16:59 PM EST

You never give any probabilities, so how ccould I reasonably disagree with you on what they are?

But you did. You flat out stated I was wrong. My use of the word "must" must have triggered some tendency toward pedantry you have. It'd be nice to have conversations with people more eager to get to the heart of the issue. Suppose I said "very likely" instead? Or suppose you post started out your initial post with something like, "Although 'must' is clearly an overstatement, it's interesting..."

Assume I have a coin that is biased (it is either more likely to land heads, or more likely to land tails) and I flip it a billion times. How many times does heads come up?

Hmmm, tough one. At least twice, right? Am I right?

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

No. (3.00 / 5) (#78)
by CanSpice on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 07:56:23 PM EST

Hmmm, tough one. At least twice, right? Am I right?

Nope. You should have said "I don't know". There is a non-zero probability that after flipping a coin a billion times that you get a billion tails, even if the coin is biased. Unless the coin has two heads you cannot guarantee that the coin will flip a head.

[ Parent ]

No, I don't think you do. (2.83 / 6) (#80)
by cburke on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 07:57:49 PM EST

But you did. You flat out stated I was wrong.My use of the word "must" must have triggered some tendency toward pedantry you have.

I said you were wrong, but not that your probabilities are wrong, because you didn't give any, did you?  And you still won't, because you don't have any to give.  You don't know what they are, but you still say "The aliens ARE already here." Usually people don't put words like "ARE" in caps if they mean "might be, maybe, I wouldn't know".  Or should I start calling you Bill?

You can call me pedantic to avoid my conclusions, but really even under a reasonable assumption for what "must" would mean in a probabilistic sense (> 95%?  > 99.99999%?) you statement is wrong and without basis, and I made my post knowing that.  Sorry.

 It'd be nice to have conversations with people more eager to get to the heart of the issue. Suppose I said "very likely" instead? Or suppose you post started out your initial post with something like, "Although 'must' is clearly an overstatement, it's interesting..."

If you had said "very likely" then my reply would have been largely the same, but focused more on your lack of any basis for that probability, rather than your lack of understanding of probability.  But even if every "must" was a "likely", I still would have had to address the issue, as "likely" to the power of "number of things you had to assume was 'likely'" is not very likely anymore.  Making that change also would not have made your post interesting, only less egregious of an insult to logic.

Hmmm, tough one. At least twice, right? Am I right?

No.  Sorry.  And you get the F this time.


[ Parent ]

so (none / 1) (#88)
by speek on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 08:47:29 PM EST

Am I to understand you think we're unique here on earth? Or are you going to keep to your no-one-can-say-I'm-wrong answer of "I don't know"? What would you bet on? One wonders why you even joined the discussion if your whole contribution is to point out that no one knows the answer. Not the type of insight that warrants all you have written.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

When someone is claiming to know the answer (none / 3) (#95)
by cburke on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 09:26:59 PM EST

thoroughly proving that they are full of crap is a worthwhile addition to the discussion.

Okay, most people realized you didn't know what you were talking about, but were unable to articulate it in a way that forced your concession.  That's my contribution to the thread.  

Am I to understand you think we're unique here on earth? Or are you going to keep to your no-one-can-say-I'm-wrong answer of "I don't know"?

You can't say I'm wrong because I'm right.  You don't know.  You don't even know what the odds are.  You don't even have an educated guess.  You cannot justify your words "must" for even the weakest definition you would propose.  Or "very likely".  Or anything, for that matter.

What would you bet on?

I'm not stupid.  I don't bet on anything where the odds are completely unknown.  Unlike you, and quiz question #2.  If for some odd reason I was forced to gamble, I'd try to do some research first to see if I could form an educated opinion.  I doubt we have a good enough grasp on how life formed to make such an opinion, but that's pure speculation on my part.

Not the type of insight that warrants all you have written.

Well, it was like pulling teeth getting you to admit you don't know what you're talking about.  I agree, though, that it wasn't worth my time.  Vivo y aprendo.

[ Parent ]

Re: so (none / 1) (#100)
by drsmithy on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 09:42:17 PM EST

Am I to understand you think we're unique here on earth?

This is not even a remotely reasonable conclusion to draw from his statements. There are many possible - even plausible - scenarios between the extremes of "life on earth is unique" and "there are undetectable aliens amongst us right now". Assuming that anyone who doesn't believe your extreme automatically only believes the other extreme is not that path to a reasonable debate.

One wonders why you even joined the discussion if your whole contribution is to point out that no one knows the answer.

He joined the discussion to point out your clear misunderstanding of probability and, hence, how any conclusions you draw (and present to others) are flawed because of it.

No-one "knows the answer", but there are a hell of a lot more than two possible answers, which is what you seem to believe.

To go back to your original post:

If one accepts the assertion that intelligent life must have arisen in multiple places in the galaxy, then it stands to reason that eventually someone travelled to earth. Their technology would be such that invisibility to our methods of detection would be a simple thing. Therefore, they're here already. Whether or not they're "abducting" anyone is an entirely different question.

Your conclusions do not follow from your assumption (which is flawed by your misunderstanding of probability, in any event).

If one assumes that there is a high probability of life having developed on other planets - indeed, even if one assumes life *has* developed on other planets - then your conclusions:

  • (Assumed but not mentioned) that said life was "advanced" (ie: multicellular)
  • That said life is more intelligent/more developed than us
  • That said life has visited Earth
  • That said life remained on Earth
  • That said life can remain undetected by us on Earth

    Do not follow.

    [ Parent ]

  • just pick a starting point (none / 1) (#155)
    by speek on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 08:51:05 AM EST

    This is not even a remotely reasonable conclusion to draw from his statements.

    But, I'm just trying to start a conversation and he's refusing, sticking to the "you don't know" point. My question, which you call a conclusion, was intended to get a more interesting discussion started. Frankly, the whole probability argument is irrelevant.

    --
    al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
    [ Parent ]

    Must, must, must... (2.83 / 6) (#51)
    by jobi on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 05:58:56 PM EST

    If one accepts the assertion that intelligent life must have arisen in multiple places in the galaxy

    Life on earth may not be unique, but that doesn't imply that life must have arisen anywhere else. It may well have, but the again it may not.

    Say, for the sake of argument, that intelligent life will arise exactly forty-two times in the history of the universe. When? And where?

    Maybe life on earth really is unique, right now. The next form of intelligent life in the universe will not arise for another 5 million years, and then in a different galaxy. They will not come here with their Intergalactic Expressways, so Don't Panic.

    As for the "we simply cannot see them" argument, I gently recommend a tin-foil hat and a close shave with Occam's razor.

    ---
    "[Y]ou can lecture me on bad language when you learn to use a fucking apostrophe."
    [ Parent ]
    confused by casual usage of must? (none / 2) (#54)
    by speek on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 06:15:51 PM EST

    Take "must" to mean, "I'd be truly shocked if it weren't so". I'll be interested to know what the nitpicking-dictionary-lookup machines that pass for k5 posters have to say about that.

    Maybe life on earth really is unique, right now.

    Maybe. Seems unlikely.

    As for the "we simply cannot see them" argument, I gently recommend a tin-foil hat...

    Truly? Honestly, that seems the most straight-forward aspect of the argument. We have a hard enough time detecting 6-mile-across asteroids that may or may not hit earth. I don't see how it would be so difficult for aliens that succeeding in crossing instellar space to hide from us.

    --
    al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
    [ Parent ]

    I don't think I'm the one who's confused... (none / 1) (#195)
    by jobi on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 01:52:45 PM EST

    Take "must" to mean, "I'd be truly shocked if it weren't so".

    So it's "If one accepts the assertion that I'd be truly shocked if intelligent life had not arisen in multiple places in the galaxy, then it stands to reason that eventually someone travelled to earth", and that's just a plain silly argument. How does your being shocked have any bearing on whether aliens have traveled to earth or not?

    Well, it seems I misunderstood, you were just engaging in some wishful thinking while I thought you were making a statement about reason. Sorry 'bout that.

    In any case I still suspect your beliefs about undetectable aliens on earth could do with some borrowing of that old razor our friend Occam used to use. I'm quite sure you could find an explanation that doesn't presuppose quite as much as your current one does.

    ---
    "[Y]ou can lecture me on bad language when you learn to use a fucking apostrophe."
    [ Parent ]
    Occam's razor is fairly useless (none / 1) (#226)
    by speek on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 05:16:32 PM EST

    What appears simplest to us and weighted with the least complexity is far too dependent on underlying cultural assumptions and historical accident. One might think that the simplest solution to Fermi's paradox is that we're unique. To someone else, a simpler solution might be, there is no paradox - aliens are here and do not let us detect them.

    --
    al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
    [ Parent ]

    Living on the razor's edge (none / 1) (#243)
    by jobi on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 06:36:30 PM EST

    Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate.

    Which translates to "Plurality should not be posited without necessity", or more conversationally "Of two competing theories or explanations, all other things being equal, the simpler one is to be preferred", or in the words of Newton: "We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances"

    This is useless? Hardly so. It is a very sound and rational guideline in any scientific endeavour, and might even -- in a more prosaic version: Keep It Simple, Stupid -- be a nice rule of thumb in many everyday activities.

    I don't know if you fail to realize the basic tenets of scientific method, or if you just choose to ignore them, but still it is rather awkward to try to converse with someone who don't see a problem with stating as a fact a theory that rests on as many unprovable assumptions as yours does.

    The universe is a big place, and as some other poster pointed out, we're but a tiny temporal speck in that vastness. I get the feeling that you don't like the idea that we might be unique. Rather, you seem very fond of the idea that we're anything but unique, to the point of there being aliens all around us but, alas, undetectable. That of course is a nice safe theory since it cannot be disproven. It is also therefore quite useless.

    Allow me to sign off with a quote I picked up somewhere on the net: "Space is big, space is dark, it's hard to find, somewhere to park." Maybe that's why they are here?

    ---
    "[Y]ou can lecture me on bad language when you learn to use a fucking apostrophe."
    [ Parent ]
    winding down (none / 1) (#250)
    by speek on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 07:05:57 PM EST

    it is rather awkward to try to converse with someone who don't see a problem with stating as a fact a theory that rests on as many unprovable assumptions as yours does.

    It is equally awkward trying to converse with people who can't get over a little hyperbole and playfulness. There is nothing serious about this subject. The way I see it, people could approach my statement a couple of ways - 1) prove me wrong (or better yet, stupid), or 2)play along and engage in some fun speculation and debate about it. That virtually everyone chose #1 is depressing. Had this conversation occurred in person, I think we might have had more fun with it, so maybe it's just the medium.

    I don't know if you fail to realize the basic tenets of scientific method, or if you just choose to ignore them...

    I didn't think we were doing science.

    Keep It Simple, Stupid -- be a nice rule of thumb in many everyday activities.

    It's a fine strategy, I agree. But, I don't pretend "simple" maps to some objective measure of reality. "Simple" maps to what I find simple and easy to understand, which is a function of how my mind works and my educational background.

    When I was a kid, I was fond of littering my tyco race-car track with obstacles, just for the joy of watching what would happen when the cars smashed into them. I was told that what I was doing was all wrong and not the "right" way to play with the race set, but I did it anyway.

    I haven't changed much.

    --
    al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
    [ Parent ]

    Burma Shave! (none / 0) (#622)
    by Gully Foyle on Thu Apr 15, 2004 at 09:25:21 AM EST


    If you weren't picked on in school you were doing something wrong - kableh
    [ Parent ]

    A better solution (none / 0) (#84)
    by conthefol on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 08:20:36 PM EST

    The answer to Fermi's "paradox" is that there are in fact no aliens anywhere near us. This is backed up by the biological and astronomical calculations done in the last 20 years. Life-supporting parameters are now known to be very restrictive and rare.

    Perhaps your most recent probability estimate was a back-of-the-envelope Drake calculation from the 70s.

    [=- We Can Do Better. -=]
    [ Parent ]

    ok, show me (none / 0) (#86)
    by speek on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 08:40:43 PM EST

    Life-supporting parameters are now known to be very restrictive and rare.

    News to me. I'd read any link you cared to provide. Or book you wanted to recommend.

    --
    al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
    [ Parent ]

    okay (none / 2) (#91)
    by conthefol on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 09:09:12 PM EST

    Here is the book that many would recommend.

    I don't have the book, but here is a sample: The star system must have a Jupiter-like planet, to sweep up the majority of planet-killing asteroids. The Jupiter must have a basically circular orbit so it doesn't toss all the small planets out of the system. Given the position of Jupiter, there aren't many remaining stable orbits for the planet. The star must not be a violently flaring star. The system should form from supernova ashes which contain appreciable amounts of heavy elements.

    There are many more parameters. I think it would be easy to get 10 factors each with an independent 10% chance of being correct. 10^-10. Oops, we only have 10^11 stars in the galaxy. Never mind that we still need the life to arise. Never mind that we want something more complex than bacteria.

    [=- We Can Do Better. -=]
    [ Parent ]

    good (none / 1) (#93)
    by speek on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 09:19:01 PM EST

    I will read it. However, I wonder why this line of conjecture and chain of conditions, based solely on a single solar system, is considered reasonable, while a different line of conjecture based on the same solar system is not. Saying "it would be easy to get 10 factors each with an independent 10% chance of being correct" is no more based in empirical evidence than my argument, but it is the more accepted argument for some reason. My guess is those reasons are more cultural than anything else.

    --
    al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
    [ Parent ]

    nah (none / 1) (#101)
    by conthefol on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 09:45:19 PM EST

    It's not much more accepted, really. Lots of scientists want there to be aliens out there. The book I mentioned caused a bit of controversy, so feel free to ignore it. :)

    [=- We Can Do Better. -=]
    [ Parent ]

    Another book (none / 0) (#135)
    by msoya on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 05:18:17 AM EST

    Evolving the Alien, by the guys who wrote the Science of Discworld books. Very good, and specifically tries to argue against that theory... Funny, too.

    [ Parent ]
    +3 Every village has an idiot, and I like ours NT (2.00 / 4) (#90)
    by sllort on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 09:04:17 PM EST


    --
    Warning: On Lawn is a documented liar.
    [ Parent ]
    If we can't see them, then they don't exist \nt (2.25 / 4) (#137)
    by bob6 on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 05:42:01 AM EST



    Cheers.
    [ Parent ]
    quite possible they are here now (none / 1) (#268)
    by banffbug on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 09:07:16 PM EST

    but right now versus 1000 years ago, or 2000 years in the future is also extremely likely. Given our understanding of evolutionary theory, plus or minus a million years is not hard to fathom, and man would it suck hanging around a planet an eon to watch 3rd rate life forms grow.

    It's fairly snobish of us to think we are the only intelegent life that ever lived on this planet, never mind on the universe. It is not beyond possibility that alien life has sent golfball sized probes to their nearby suns, and one such probe is taking x-ray photos of us right now. To discredit such a possibility is to lack an imagination.

    [ Parent ]

    Hmmm (2.28 / 7) (#12)
    by Danzig on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 11:21:03 AM EST

    The NSF also found that over 25% of the public believes in the ability of the stars and planets to affect people's lives.

    The other 75% were not using their thinking caps.

    You are not a fucking Fight Club quotation.
    rmg for editor!
    If you disagree, moderate, don't post.
    Kill whitey.
    Heh (3.00 / 5) (#28)
    by JahToasted on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 01:46:15 PM EST

    Reminds me of how someone was talking about how you can know if the tide is going to in or out by the phase of the moon. Then someone else said "oh, I don't believe in silly superstitions like that".
    ______
    "I wanna have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames" -- Jim Morrison
    [ Parent ]
    That's sad, but I have a better one. (2.83 / 6) (#39)
    by interrobanger on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 04:05:26 PM EST

    Years ago, I happened to be outside with an older member of my family (not immediate family, thankfully) and for some reason one of us mentioned the moon. At the time, it was about 1/4 full and the sky was just hazy enough to cast a decent halo around it. Out of the blue this lady stops, stares at the thing intently, and asks, "Where do you think the rest of it goes?"

    I considered for a little while and finally decided on, "I have no idea."


    ===============
    God Hates Figs!
    [ Parent ]
    meh (none / 1) (#81)
    by conthefol on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 08:06:54 PM EST

    Tides are dominated by the moon's position in the sky - that's why they go on a 12 hour cycle and not a 14 day one.

    There is also some tidal effect from the sun which of course correlates with the moon's phase, but this is a lesser effect.

    [=- We Can Do Better. -=]
    [ Parent ]

    That was a poor choice of words. (none / 1) (#40)
    by interrobanger on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 04:12:38 PM EST

    I was thinking so much about the metaphysical side of it that the obvious literal interpretation didn't occur to me when I phrased it that way.

    Oh well. Hopefully it'll be clear from context that I meant "affect" in a nonliteral way, despite my poor choice of words. Interesting observation, though.


    ===============
    God Hates Figs!
    [ Parent ]
    How Planets Effect My Life (2.40 / 5) (#70)
    by OldCoder on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 07:21:27 PM EST

    Lately Jupiter and Venus have been giving me stiff necks between sunset and midnight. But only when I'm outdoors.

    --
    By reading this signature, you have agreed.
    Copyright © 2003 OldCoder
    [ Parent ]
    That's nothing (none / 1) (#201)
    by Cro Magnon on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 02:09:20 PM EST

    I'm not even going to mention what Uranus does!
    Information wants to be beer.
    [ Parent ]
    i have wondered about this (none / 1) (#117)
    by metagone on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 12:45:29 AM EST

    what is the ability of the stars and planets to affect peoples' lives. how does this ability work? i have wondered this for a long time. i have also wondered what is the ability of ideas to affect peoples' lives. how does this ability work? do ideas exist outside the human mind? do ideas have lives of their own? why do people people idea for an idea? why do people believe in God? what is more real, the idea or physical reality? or are they equally real?

    i remember once looking up into the sky and at the moon and asking myself, what would it be like to look back at the earth from the moon.

    i wonder how many people have had a similar train of thought. i wonder how many of those people are now involved in some sort of space program. i wonder how many of our dreams have materialized out of 'clay' that we call earth. i mean: where do cars come from? they obviously do not grow from trees.

    would it be so unreal to propose that Nature or God dreamt use into existence? a fleeting idea, and then the drive to realize it?

    a couple months ago i read somewhere that language is the medium the mind uses to actualize or physically realize itself. how much of that is true?
    .
    [ Parent ]

    Good! (none / 1) (#400)
    by Steeltoe on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 12:28:21 PM EST

    Many people don't wonder at all, or they just have a little fleeting thought of wonder and then give it up for the next wordly stimuli.

    Wonder about life brings creativity and new discoveries. I have found what works for me, yoga, meditation, singing in groups, trips in the forest. Suddenly it all makes sense and I forget my small mind in song, drumming and celebration.

    This is not the forum of such talk, but you can follow the link in my signature. Highly recommendable course in the art of living (don't just leave it at reading..)

    Explore the Art of Living

    [ Parent ]
    I looked at that twice, too. (none / 1) (#186)
    by DavidTC on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 11:40:47 AM EST

    You know, the sun is a star. And the sun seriously affects people's daily cycle. And I don't just mean in a literal 'it's day, so I can see' way, but our moods and how awake we are whatnot are directly affected by the amount of light we're getting.

    Which is one of the causes of jet lag, BTW. Even if you tried to cheat jet lag by traveling halfway around the world, but operating only at night, i.e., the same hours you were before (Or operating at night before going there, and the day after.), you'd still get jet lag because your body would be on the nightly cycle and be receiving 'signals' from the sun that it's day, or the other way around.

    It's also why living under non-natural lighting all day isn't a good idea...your body will not know it's day. It's also why many people simply cannot work night shifts, and it takes others very long times to adjust. Clever people on night shift will limit their exposure to the sun, so it their body won't constantly try to 'fix' their clock.

    Of course, none of this is the magical way that the other stars and planets, or even the moon, are asserted to control your life. It's just bright, full spectrum light is part of what the body uses to set its clock.

    -David T. C.
    Yes, my email address is real.
    [ Parent ]

    On "UFO"s and conversations with idiots. (2.91 / 23) (#14)
    by Mr.Surly on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 12:11:46 PM EST

    I've had this conversation more than once.  They weren't trolling, they really did believe UFO is a synonym with "Little green men in flying saucers from Mars."

    Them: Do you believe in UFOs?

    Me: Of course.

    Them: You believe there are aliens?  Really?

    Me: Uh ... no.

    Them: But you just said you believe in UFOs.

    Me: That's right, I do believe that there are indeed objects that fly that could not be identified.

    Them: You mean aliens.

    Me: (sigh) No, I mean things that fly that people saw and were unable to identify what they were.  Weather balloons, whatever.  Some people believe that this proves that it must be aliens piloting spacecraft.

    Them: So you do believe in aliens.

    Me: (must ... control ... fist ... of ... death)

    ...


    I used to know this guy ... (3.00 / 10) (#42)
    by interrobanger on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 04:21:01 PM EST

    Who sounded just about like that. One day I'd finally had enough of it and started explaining what "lightyears" and "multiple star systems" and "habitable zones" are. I mentioned the (alleged) age and size of the universe and asked him to picture how different Earth was two hundred years ago. "Aliens could have been beaming the mother of all signals at us and we couldn't have heard it," I said. "What are the odds that if there was a bunch of aliens near here that they'd be at the same or greater level of development that we are? A hundred thousand years or even a million years one way or the other is nothing to a planet, but it's probably everything to a civilization." The argument went on like that for some time with me trying to give him some idea of how very tiny and insignificant Earth really is.

    In the end I thought I'd won. But then his eyes lit up and he said, "Maybe the aliens are transdimensional, from another Earth ... or maybe even from the future!"

    Sometimes you just can't win.


    ===============
    God Hates Figs!
    [ Parent ]
    As Asimov used to say... (3.00 / 11) (#94)
    by gidds on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 09:23:10 PM EST

    IIRC, Asimov would take a very similar tack when asked if he believed in UFOs. He'd end up pointing out that a flying saucer or other alien craft was an Identified Flying Object, and that's not what he'd been asked!

    Andy/
    [ Parent ]
    I've SEEN a UFO (none / 2) (#171)
    by Cro Magnon on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 10:13:46 AM EST

    Once, years ago while my mom and I were walking, we saw something in the sky. It didn't look like a plane or helicopter and we didn't hear any sound. It went behind a cloud before we could figure out what it was. Was it full of green guy from Mars? Probably not, but it was certainly a UFO, and I was making "green Martian" quips to my mom for awhile afterwards.
    Information wants to be beer.
    [ Parent ]
    The only horospoce I read is the Onion's. (2.50 / 12) (#34)
    by cburke on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 02:18:02 PM EST

    For accuracy and astrological insight, nothing is better.

    Seriously, I've looked at horoscopes before, but never have I said "that's uncanny!"  I have said "That's vague bullshit that only a sucker would think was talking specifically about them!"  But that's me.

    I kinda like the Chinese horoscope (2.40 / 5) (#38)
    by Pop Top on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 04:00:51 PM EST

    you know, where all the people born into a given year share common traits.

    Like thats real accurate.

    [ Parent ]

    Dude, you're such a rabbit (2.75 / 8) (#43)
    by llimllib on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 04:24:56 PM EST

    __

    Peace.
    [ Parent ]
    talkin bout my generation (none / 2) (#60)
    by adimovk5 on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 06:35:34 PM EST

    Yeah, it's kind of like claiming all the people born in a decade share common traits.

    [ Parent ]
    Riddle me this. (none / 1) (#260)
    by narrowhouse on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 07:48:41 PM EST

    <DISCLAIMER: I am NOT defending astrology!!!> If some one walked up to you with a clipboard and asked if you believe the motions and positions of celestial bodies can effect your life, a)yes b) no c)I don't know. What would your answer be? If it isn't A or C you are wrong, not probably wrong, wrong. Anything that can cause the tides, heat your world, or guide the ancient explorers can definitely be said to effect your life. That is the danger of automatic scepticism, astrology might be bunk, but the effect of the planets and stars might not be.

    [ Parent ]
    The reality of stars and planets (none / 1) (#345)
    by cburke on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 04:57:56 PM EST

    Anything that can cause the tides, heat your world, or guide the ancient explorers can definitely be said to effect your life. That is the danger of automatic scepticism, astrology might be bunk, but the effect of the planets and stars might not be.

    Of course the effects of stars and planets are real!  But the effects are what you already said: causing tides, heating my world, or guiding explorers.  If astrology actually described the real effects of the stars and planets on our lives I'd believe in it, but first there'd be nothing about what month you were born in and second it'd mostly be about what nights are good ones to go star gazing/make out in your convertible.  

    [ Parent ]

    It's the question, stupid (none / 0) (#603)
    by pod on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 02:50:30 AM EST

    The question is not precise enough. It's what polls are made of! :)

    Ask someone whether celestial bodies affect their life, and they're probably thinking astrology. Ask then whether the sun affects their life, they'll probably say yes. But do you mean affect their life in the 'normal' way (daily schedule, morning: wake up, go to work, evening: relax, go to sleep), or does it affect their life in the 'paranormal' way?

    So yes, even Sirius affects my life, technically, since it's only visible to me during the night, and lo and behold, that's when I'm asleep! Coincidence? I think not!

    [ Parent ]

    Debunking Horoscopes (none / 2) (#291)
    by MyrddinE on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 03:13:59 AM EST

    Take several of your horoscope believing friends. Take their horoscopes, cut them out of the newspaper, and array them out to be read. Have each person point to the one they think matches them the most, or better, matches what happened to them yesterday the most (assuming it is a horoscope they have not read from yesterday). Then see how many chose THEIR month.

    Whenever people try to tell me that 'I fit my horoscope', I ask them to describe the other months, and in general about half of them 'fit' just as well or better.

    sigh

    They still believe in astrology.

    [ Parent ]

    An alternate view (2.58 / 17) (#37)
    by Blarney on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 03:28:18 PM EST

    You might be interested in reading the following essay by Robert Anton Wilson, where he argues against the work of Mr. Randi and other professional skeptics. Wilson argues that the definition of "paranormal" implicitely assumes the existence of a "normal", a concept which is in fact a Platonic form wih no real existence in spacetime, that Mr. Randi is assuming the existence of spooky unreal entities just as much as the most deluded astrologer or paranormalist.

    A good essay, where the reader is challenged to find something "normal". Is "normality" an actual property of an individual object, or is it only a statistical concept that fails in the absence of large samples? And what does this mean for "paranormality"?

    Something to think about.

    Normal is what your post isn't NT (none / 1) (#44)
    by sllort on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 04:29:47 PM EST


    --
    Warning: On Lawn is a documented liar.
    [ Parent ]
    Meh (none / 2) (#58)
    by jmzero on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 06:29:05 PM EST

    Normal is a hard word to define in this context, and also very clear.  Randi may not have chosen the right terms to describe what he is looking for, and yet it's very clear what he's looking for.  

    I see what is being said here - but I don't think it's a showstopper.  

    .
    "Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
    [ Parent ]

    Empty Semantics (3.00 / 11) (#59)
    by teece on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 06:30:33 PM EST

    This argument is empty semantics. If the 'paranormal' were indeed to exist, it would have to be 'normal.'

    To pretend otherwise is to give in to empty superstition. The problem is not with the term 'normal' it is with the extra stupid term 'paranormal.' But that has absolutely nothing to do with the reality or lack thereof of 'paranormal' events.

    If you have ESP, prove it in a laboratory, to anyone who wishes to test you, with absolutely no constraints upon the experiment. Ditto for having seen a ghost, an alien, etc. If an event could pass any of these tests, it would be have to be moved from the 'paranormal' category to the 'normal' one. But the fact is, the paranormal does not ever meet this requirement. Thus the term 'paranormal' really has nothing to do with normality or extra-normality, it is a category for deceit, confusion, fantasy, and non-reality.

    -- Hello_World.c, 17 Errors, 31 Warnings...
    [ Parent ]

    I would like the chance. (2.33 / 6) (#120)
    by trane on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 01:31:36 AM EST

    I used to scoff at esp, etc. Then during the last 2 years or so I've had some experiences that I can't really explain except by resorting to esp, psychic communication, telepathy, whatever. There have been very clear instances where I have heard things and people riding with me in the car have heard them too and stated them to me before I have said anything to them. I wish I could replicate this in a laboratory, because I want to find out more about it and I think it is measurable.

    The problem is, the people I have experienced this esp or telepathy or whatever with all deny it or don't want to talk about it when I try to discuss it with them openly. I think this is because they feel they will lose something if science gets hold of it. They like being able to transmit thoughts to people, and have those people be considered schizophrenic or insane if they talk about "the voices". It gives them power, it's a secret, they can take advantage of it.

    Is it so hard to imagine how esp could occur? There was an article on slashdot recently about NASA doing research on intercepting signals sent to the larynx before thoughts are voiced, or even when thoughts aren't voiced. Is it so hard to imagine that some people have a heightened ability to perceive those signals? Especially under the influence of certain perception-enhancing drugs...

    If you're interested, please check out my /. journal: slashdot.org/~blue trane/journal. I tried to write down a lot of my experiences as they happened, maintaining a strict scientific outlook towards them.

    [ Parent ]

    That's the whole point. (none / 0) (#461)
    by handslikesnakes on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 03:56:16 AM EST

    If people have a heightened ability to perceive those signals then they can go up to Mr. Randi and say "I know what people are going to say before they say it".



    [ Parent ]
    yes... (none / 0) (#582)
    by trane on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 04:19:10 PM EST

    you'ld think that someone would do this. What I experienced was, people don't want to expose it. Also they might not be very much in control of it; or those who are in control of it enough to exhibit it robustly under scientifically-approved conditions do not want to do it because they fear losing the advantage they have from people thinking it's all bunk. Also, people lie; if I went to Randi and said I can read thoughts, how can you tell if I'm lying, or the person whose thoughts I'm supposed to be reading...

    [ Parent ]
    Yeah. (none / 0) (#604)
    by handslikesnakes on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 03:07:49 AM EST

    Or it could just be that the psychics are liars and/or delusional.

    If people don't want their abilities to be scrutinized then they shouldn't expect people to believe they exist.

    Example tests:
    Have somebody talk at random about some subject, and have it set up in such a way that the psychic can't hear what is being said (or read lips, etc.)

    Have somebody (silently) read a book. (what book it is is unknown to the psychic, of course)



    [ Parent ]
    As I say I would love to try this (none / 0) (#613)
    by trane on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 07:07:30 PM EST

    The people I've experienced esp or whatever with (I like to call it, the "psychic friends network") are not the ones out in the open claiming psychic phenomena exist. If fact if I try to talk about it with them, they don't want to talk about it. Like I say, I think they feel they are in a position of advantage, having these powers, yet denying them, so that anyone trying to claim they have them is considered looney, schizo, etc. That way they can control, manipulate, trick, hustle, etc. without getting caught...

    You see, it's sort of a catch-22 for anyone (like me) trying to prove our experiences are real...

    I just know that I've had certain experiences that I don't believe can be explained away totally by coincidence, hallucination, etc. Like (as I say) being in the car with someone, hearing voices, and having the other person hear the same thing I'm hearing, confirmed by out-loud communication (him telling me what I just heard before I tell him what I heard...) It's weird, spooky, and the fact that none of them want to talk about it for more than a second explicitly out loud is very frustrating. I personally am convinced there's something there; I also think it is scientifically measurable, and would love to do some research on it. The problem is I have to find some honest people who can do this shit.

    [ Parent ]

    I'm not disputing proof.... (2.75 / 4) (#126)
    by Blarney on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 02:33:49 AM EST

    I accept the validity of scientific proof, and for the most part Wilson does as well. It's something that I'm rather familiar with, in fact, due to my career choice.

    However, proving a negative is very hard. I remember many marijuana-fueled discussions about whether there were any fish in a certain college campus river. Nobody knew anybody who had ever successfully caught a fish there, and all attempts ended up in failure. So how would one go about determining whether the river contained any fish?

    I finally concluded that it wouldn't be hard to prove that there were fish in the river, assuming that there actually were any. All it would take would be one fish found, by many hundreds of man-hours of net-dragging if necessary, and the hypothesis would be proved. As it turns out, research by more recent classes (who probably spent less time drinking and smoking and bullshitting and more time studying than our year did) has found small fish. Plural fish - more than one. So they did manage to prove this hypothesis, which did turn out to be true.

    But proving that there are no fish, even had that been true (it wasn't, but it COULD have been) - that would pretty much require damming the river upstream and going over the dry bed inch-by-inch to verify fishlessness. A pretty hard task - even if this hypothesis was true, proving it would be a pain in the ass. Wilson rather hints that people like Randi have set themselves up for this fruitless task.

    Furthermore, if you go ahead and say that once scientifically verified a thing is no longer "paranormal", then by definition you'll never find any paranormal phenomena - but this is a sneaky rhetorical trick, although it might well be used to advantage both by a skeptic and by a cheesy fortuneteller - "The monster was really a hologram" vs "The inner eye does not see on command!"

    I don't think Randi is that bad - honestly, he'd probably be thrilled to find a real fortuneteller, or a real alien spacecraft, or a real free energy device. Hey, I'd think it was awesome too, and despite the prevailing mythology of various charlatans I think the "scientific establishment" would go out and have a big party to celebrate it. The only problem is with his definitions, that "paranormal" is fundamentally a term that cannot be defined without invoking a whole Platonic family of spooky abstractions with even less reality than the pseudoscience and superstition that Randi disputes with.

    [ Parent ]

    Good Point (none / 2) (#131)
    by teece on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 04:03:45 AM EST

    I see your point. Note, I don't say that ESP is impossible, or that aliens have never or will never come and abduct someone for all of their anal probing needs.

    It's just that the overwhelming majority of such claims are either unverifiable (best case) or flat out false (middle case), our an elaborate attempt at deception (worst case).

    That, I think, is the point of debunking. It is not to prove that the paranormal does not exist. Rather, it is to illustrate that in the great majority of the cases it does not meet even the most rudimentary form of empirical evidence. And in some(many?) cases, outright fraud is involved. Someone like John Edwards needs to be debunked, as the man is a huckster that preys on people's pain to steal money from them.

    As for as moving a verified paranormal event to the normal, that would be a crafty rhetorical trick. But that is not how I meant it. Rather, if one were to ever find a truly verifiable, repeatable case of the 'paranormal,' we would invariably be able to find a normal system explaining it and understanding it.

    -- Hello_World.c, 17 Errors, 31 Warnings...
    [ Parent ]

    Bad point (none / 0) (#144)
    by stalker on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 07:17:55 AM EST

    Mr. Randi (Charlatan Extraordinaire) is not trying to prove the non existence of so-called "paranormal", neither he is saying that "paranormal" doesn't exists. What he's been doing and still does is to disprove various claims made by others about the existence of "paranormal". He also states that he never saw proof of a "paranormal" event and, understandably, given his vast experience in the field, he's willing to bet his money on the fact that "paranormal" is a delusion or a scam played by less-than-honourable people. Go read www.skeptic.com for an entertaining and stimulating experience. Note how often the phrase "A negative cannot be proven" occurs.

    [ Parent ]
    That's an easy one (2.71 / 7) (#97)
    by gidds on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 09:30:05 PM EST

    Sophistry. 'Normal' in this context obviously means something that obeys the laws of physics as they are currently known.

    A report of something paranormal, then, is a report of something that contravenes the laws of physics as they are currently known. That either means that the report is wrong, or that what we know of the laws of physics is wrong. Either is possible; however, given the massive amount of testing that the latter has had over the past few decades, my money would definitely be on the former...

    Andy/
    [ Parent ]

    I can think of lots of "weird" things (none / 2) (#122)
    by Blarney on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 02:10:33 AM EST

    There are many, many strange things that would be considered "paranormal" by Randi and such, but that do not contradict the laws of physics in any way.

    Here's a trivial example - an extraterrestrial scout craft, flying through the atmosphere, powered by a perfectly plausable chemical rocket and possibly floated with a lighter-then-air saucer-shaped balloon.

    Here's another trivial example - an electric tomography device capable of reading someone's thoughts from their neural impulses by virtue of sensitive electronics and an absolutely enormous amount of digital signal processing power, as well as so-far-unknown algorithms. It would not violate the laws of physics in any way - but mind-reading is one of the classical "paranormal" scams that Randi devotes his life to fighting.

    One can get pretty "paranormal" without violating the laws of physics as generally acknowledged. I refer you to the speculative columns of Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine for many examples of possible, yet weird technologies thought of by writers far more creative than I.

    [ Parent ]

    Still paranormal (none / 1) (#166)
    by bugmaster on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 09:36:50 AM EST

    Actually, these examples still contradict physical laws as they're physically known:

    Spacecraft: Speed of light being what it is (damn you, Einstein !), our chances of meeting another intelligent race are vanishingly small. Furthermore, we do not know of a technology which will sustain itself through the billions of years that it would take to traverse interstellar space.

    Mind Scan: Currently, it's not possible to read someone's thoughts from their neural impulses; it's not even possible to discern the individual neural impulses (weak signals, same frequency, interference, bah), regardless of how much DSP you have. Well, not to mention these algorithms that you yourself defined as being currently unknown.

    Yes, meeting aliens and reading minds is still possible, but, currently, these feats are so extremely unlikely that they count as paranormal.
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]

    billions? (2.50 / 4) (#167)
    by Blarney on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 09:44:58 AM EST

    It doesn't take billions of years to get between star systems. Even with the primitive chemical rockets that we have, with perhaps some augmentation from pulse fusion once the ship's well away from a planet (tossing H-bombs out the back, totally physically reasonable, the radiation could be shielded against although the ride might be annoyingly bumpy) given enough trouble and expense a ship could be built that would get to another star system in a few centuries. Perhaps these are especially long-lived aliens - or maybe they're just the great-great-great-great grandchildren of the original crew, that's still physically possible. Maybe the whole planet held a gigantic bake sale to raise about a trillion dollars for this ship.

    Ridiculous, but not physically impossible.

    [ Parent ]

    Um (none / 0) (#168)
    by bugmaster on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 09:59:26 AM EST

    Uh... tossing H-bombs out the back... that would be an awfully bumpy (think "pulverizing") ride, and how many H-bombs exactly are you going to bring with you ? And of course, Alpha Centauri is pretty close -- 4 light years away -- but your ship can't travel at lightspeed, or accelerate to lightspeed from zero, so it will still take on the order of a century. Sadly, chances of intelligent life being what they are, you'd actually have to travel much further than that.

    I think we agree, actually: "Ridiculous, but not physically impossible" would be my estimate, as well. It's only slightly more ridiculous than the Sun exploding tomorrow -- but still, not impossible.
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]

    Who said... (none / 0) (#176)
    by DavidTC on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 11:05:19 AM EST

    ...aliens had to be from another solar system?

    -David T. C.
    Yes, my email address is real.
    [ Parent ]
    Derr (none / 1) (#185)
    by bugmaster on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 11:38:19 AM EST

    Well, we've explored our own solar system with probes and telescopes, and we haven't found any massive technological civilizations that can visit Earth (note that our own civilization can't even go to the Moon anymore). Well, it's possible that these alien neighbours are really good at hiding, or invisible, or something -- but I think that's even less likely than interstellar travel.
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]
    Actually ... (none / 0) (#190)
    by interrobanger on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 01:04:24 PM EST

    Tossing nuclear bombs out the back door is a great way to travel. Freeman Dyson thought so anyway when he proposed Project Orion.


    ===============
    God Hates Figs!
    [ Parent ]
    Project Orion (2.75 / 4) (#207)
    by jobi on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 02:39:37 PM EST

    Between 1957 and 1965 Project Orion aimed to produce just such an atomic bomb-driven spacecraft, and according to the calculations they made, the ride would be neither bumpy or especially forceful (I think I remember a figure between 1 and 2 Gs of acceleration, with a maximum of 6)

    The project even got to the stage of flying a model by exploding conventional explosives under it, but was ultimately cancelled on political grounds -- NASA and the Air Force couldn't decide who should fund it, so noone did -- as well as lots of negative connotations to the words "atomic" and "radiation" started creeping up into the public mind.

    George Dyson (Freeman's son) has published a book entitled "Project Orion: The Atomic Spaceship 1957-1965", well worth a read if not else for the fantastic idea itself ("Exploding a-bombs 30 meters from the ship, riding the shockwave to the stars? With a payload of up to 4000 tons? Get outta here!")

    ---
    "[Y]ou can lecture me on bad language when you learn to use a fucking apostrophe."
    [ Parent ]
    Irrelevant (none / 1) (#269)
    by Scratch o matic on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 09:08:35 PM EST

    Whether one's definition of paranormal and Randi's definition of paranormal coincide is irrelevant. If HE thinks it's paranormal, he will be willing to test your claim in a controlled experiment. He doesn't care if YOU think it's paranormal or not.

    [ Parent ]
    A one-line comback: (none / 2) (#352)
    by slippytoad on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 07:01:39 PM EST

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

    You can discover the author of that quote with Google.
    If I were the al Qaeda people right now I would be planning a lot of attacks in the next few days and weeks -- John "Bring 'em On" McCain
    [ Parent ]

    +1 FP (1.25 / 4) (#41)
    by Empedocles on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 04:12:49 PM EST

    If only every article submitted to the queue was this good...

    ---
    And I think it's gonna be a long long time
    'Till touch down brings me 'round again to find
    I'm not the man they think I am at home

    Freeman Dyson (2.50 / 12) (#45)
    by caek on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 04:36:21 PM EST

    Worth reading is this Freeman Dyson review of this book from the New York Review. Freeman Dyson is a credible theoretical physicist who appears to ascribe a little more credence to faith-fealing than the average quantum field theorist:
    I am suggesting that paranormal mental abilities and scientific method may be complementary. The word "complementary" is a technical term introduced into physics by Niels Bohr. It means that two descriptions of nature may both be valid but cannot be observed simultaneously.
    (Coming from anyone else I'd discount this as the half-baked invocation of quantum theory so many alt.sci cranks insist on making.) Also interesting:
    I should here declare my personal interest in the matter. One of my grandmothers was a notorious and successful faith healer. One of my cousins was for many years the editor of the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research. Both these ladies were well educated, highly intelligent, and fervent believers in paranormal phenomena. They may have been deluded, but neither of them was a fool. Their beliefs were based on personal experience and careful scrutiny of evidence. Nothing that they believed was incompatible with science.


    Oh, dear... (2.25 / 4) (#130)
    by warrax on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 03:57:05 AM EST

    An appeal to authority (who himself appeals to authority (sort of)). That has really maked a believer out of me!

    -- "Guns don't kill people. I kill people."
    [ Parent ]
    "maked"? made. [nt] (none / 0) (#134)
    by warrax on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 05:03:07 AM EST



    -- "Guns don't kill people. I kill people."
    [ Parent ]
    I'm not sure I follow (none / 0) (#142)
    by caek on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 06:44:18 AM EST

    But if you're saying I support Dyson's tentative non-scepticism of some paranormal phenomena, you've read something that isn't the case between the lines of a vague comment. I said the article was interesting, not that it was right.

    The parenthetic comment about cranks was meant to note the similarity between that statement and an awful lot of the trash about quantum theory you see on the net.

    [ Parent ]

    Sorry, (none / 0) (#302)
    by warrax on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 05:56:22 AM EST

    for the misunderstanding. I wasn't actually trying to say that you specifically supported Dyson's views. I was trying to say that anyone who would support Dyson's views based on your comment would be supporting his views based solely on authority.

    And judging by your extracts, his views are actually sort of based on authority themselves. But saying that the scientific method and "paranormal" phenomena are complementary is IMHO a cop-out, although, if taken literaly you could say that they are complementary in the sense that paranormal phenomena cease being paranormal once they can be demonstrated using the scientific method (thus, they cannot be paranormal and demonstrable by the scientific method at the same time, hence "complementary"). If that's what the quote you gave actually means then he's obviously, but pointlessly, right.

    Furthermore, I see no reason to believe that the SM and PP should be complementary. Surely the simpler proposition is simply that PP cannot be demonstrated using the SM because what people observe as PP are actually just striking coincidences(*).

    (*) Which seem to happen more that you would intuitively think. Mainly because you only observe unlikely coincidences which actually have some meaning to you/your life, but also because probability is a funny thing (and often very counterintuitive; see Birthday Paradox) in general.

    -- "Guns don't kill people. I kill people."
    [ Parent ]

    awestruck by authorities... (none / 1) (#206)
    by jobi on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 02:29:21 PM EST

    Freeman Dyson is a credible theoretical physicist

    Yeah, so why are you quoting him on faith-healing? That's not theoretical physics, is it?

    Why do you assume that Dyson, or any other specialist for that matter, can speak authoritatively on anything outside his speciality? If you want to quote an authority, qoute one in the field you're talking about. And stop being so slack-jawed awestruck by authorities! They're just human, you know. They too can be in the wrong.

    ---
    "[Y]ou can lecture me on bad language when you learn to use a fucking apostrophe."
    [ Parent ]
    Interesting. (none / 1) (#296)
    by celeriac on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 04:48:01 AM EST

    Are you saying that if I give quotes from an authority on faith healing, they will be taken as more credible than quotes from an authority on science?

    Given the intellectual climate  of this website, I find this notion to be highly dubious.

    [ Parent ]

    I'm quoting him on faith-healing (none / 1) (#343)
    by caek on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 03:35:37 PM EST

    because the fact that he doesn't discount it is interesting precisely because he's a respected scientist.

    [ Parent ]
    fuck, i'm tired of this (none / 1) (#350)
    by slippytoad on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 06:59:51 PM EST

    Freeman Dyson is a credible theoretical physicist who appears to ascribe a little more credence to faith-fealing

    Newton believed astrology, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle bought a totally transparent and phony 'fairy-photograph' scam. So what? Show me the proof. Randi's site, if you trawl it for a bit, has many examples of otherwise reputable academics being completely bamboozled by this kind of crap. Proof is proof. Credible authority figures are not, and without proof their credibility is suddenly meaningless.
    If I were the al Qaeda people right now I would be planning a lot of attacks in the next few days and weeks -- John "Bring 'em On" McCain
    [ Parent ]

    minor correction: only 10% s-africans HIV infected (2.25 / 4) (#50)
    by elias on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 05:44:43 PM EST

    Most figures indicate that 'only' 10% south africans  are HIV infected. Give the other 2% a chance please :)

    Not that it in anyway debunks the claim that some african figures of authority are seriously messing with serious science in the field of HIV/AIDS and are thereby causing the deaths of a lot of simple people who simply don't know better.

    my secret, deep-seated, flawed belief is... (2.60 / 10) (#52)
    by Baldrson Neutralizer on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 05:59:18 PM EST

    that I have free-will and hence my "rational mind" is my own to control.

    har har, just kidding.

    Modern life, in EVERY ASPECT, is a cult of mediocrity.-trhurler

    You're right. (2.75 / 4) (#74)
    by awgsilyari on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 07:47:13 PM EST

    How can it be yours to control when your only true purpose is to neutralize Baldrson?

    --------
    Please direct SPAM to john@neuralnw.com
    [ Parent ]
    interesting question (none / 0) (#239)
    by Baldrson Neutralizer on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 06:16:27 PM EST

    if I do in fact have free will and I chose that name out of my own volition, then I should also be able to reject any burden that comes along with it, such as neutralizing baldrson, or pursue the path of baldrson neutralization out of my own free will.

    if I do not have free will, then that name came from somewhere, as does every action following that. But where does it say that there is a guiding rule that says what is true at one point in time is necessarily true at a later point. Hence the name might have been appropriate when I signed up (to neutralize baldrson), now it is just a relic since I cannot change it or create a new account with a different name (thanks rusty!).

    but since I don't believe in god, and hence no such thing as destiny, and though the universe may be deterministic, I don't believe that events must unfold in a straight line (they never do), so the name could be meaningless entirely. sorta like the one my parents gave me. a relic of circumstances beyond my control.

    Modern life, in EVERY ASPECT, is a cult of mediocrity.-trhurler
    [ Parent ]

    Of course you control yourself (none / 2) (#121)
    by conthefol on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 01:43:16 AM EST

    Just like a hammer decides to stay rigid.

    [=- We Can Do Better. -=]
    [ Parent ]

    uh (none / 2) (#199)
    by Battle Troll on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 01:58:03 PM EST

    Belief in free will is no less rational than disbelief in free will; plz fix k thx bye
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]
    dude (none / 1) (#216)
    by conthefol on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 04:37:18 PM EST

    The comment I was replying to had contradictory statements: "I have free will" and "I control my mind". These are obviously incompatible because free will means that you can't totally control your own future.

    I was just pointing out that a mind can only "control itself" without free will.

    Then again, free will also means 20 other things so it's useless.

    [=- We Can Do Better. -=]
    [ Parent ]

    the contradictions were intentional (none / 1) (#235)
    by Baldrson Neutralizer on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 05:58:46 PM EST

    From the article (quoting Shermer):

    Most of us, most of the time, come to our beliefs for a variety of reasons having little to do with empirical evidence and logical reasoning. Rather, such variables as genetic predisposition, parental predilection, sibling influence, peer pressure, educational experience and life impressions all shape the personality preferences that, in conjunction with numerous social and cultural influences, lead us to our beliefs. We then sort through the body of data and select those that most confirm what we already believe, and ignore or rationalize away those that do not.

    "Free will" is an excellent example of this. Belief in free will is no less rational than belief in determinism or whatever you want to call it, as Battle Troll said. But only because we don't have enough empirical evidence one way or the other (some people would suggest that we do have more evidence one way than the other, but I am not one of those people).

    My (poorly made) point was that a lot of us rationalize free will and profess belief in it one way or the other in much the same way that people are susceptible to their confirmation bias in believing astrology. It is self-evident by the overtones of everything we do (i.e. I believe in determinism). I don't see a difference, yet these hard-core skeptics would make you feel like a knuckle-dragging cave-dweller that couldn't operate a stick because you believe or don't emphatically reject something outside the "scientific" norm.

    Modern life, in EVERY ASPECT, is a cult of mediocrity.-trhurler
    [ Parent ]

    I can't operate a stick (none / 2) (#240)
    by conthefol on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 06:21:04 PM EST

    My car's an automatic. :(

    [=- We Can Do Better. -=]
    [ Parent ]

    HIV/AIDS (1.60 / 5) (#61)
    by 123456789 on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 06:45:37 PM EST

    Interesting site asking people to rethink HIV/AIDS based on available scientific evidence:

    http://www.aliveandwell.org

    I don't have any vested interest in HIV/AIDS or the site, but I'm curious what other k5ers' thoughts are after reading a few of the articles on the site. If nothing else it is informative as to the definition of AIDS, how it refers to "old" diseases, and how the definition is different in various locations (ie you can have AIDS in the USA, go to Toronto, draw exactly the same labs and not have AIDS).

    ---

    ---
    People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid.
    - Soren Kierkegaard
    Genetic variability (none / 2) (#133)
    by Blarney on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 04:36:06 AM EST

    Here we have a problem with the "normality" I mentioned in my previous comment. There are people who can be infected with HIV and never develop AIDS. There are people who can be exposed to HIV repeatedly and never catch it, due to genetic characteristics of their cell receptors. And, although I've never heard of a scientifically confirmed case, I would not be surprised if there exist some people who were infected with the HIV virus and spontaneously were rid of it, just as most people's bodies are capable of dealing with most viruses! There is plenty of anecdotal evidence of a similar phenomenon with tuberculosis, which is usually considered a disease that never spontaneously resolves - it might, it's just rare enough that doctors don't waste time thinking about it.

    Furthermore, it is well known that not every drug works in every person. Many drugs that only work in 50% or less of their consumers are on the market today - and why not? They still show a good effect, statistically significant, on a population of consumers relative to a control group. Besides, an alert doctor will soon change a useless drug for a different one, and the patient will eventually hopefully get a drug that works for them. For example, 10% of people lack a certain enzyme which will convert the drug codeine to it's active form - and will experience no pain relief whatsoever. Some drugs show undesirable side effects in a small fraction of their consumers - and there are quite a few horror stories out there of drugs that caused absolutely horrible problems to a very few people who took them, problems that were not evident in clinical trials due to small sample sizes.

    There are many people in the world with HIV, and it would not surprise me or anyone who has read the scientific literature if there are some people out there who would be honestly better off without the HIV drugs than with them. However, that does not mean we should abandon the existing treatment programs - they improve the prognosis of most people with HIV, and until such time as better means of designing a better treatment for an individual person are available it is totally appropriate to keep using and developing them. Proteomics and pharmacogenetics are hot areas of research now, which could help doctors design the best treatment for each patient in the future, but right now epidemiology and pharmacology are statistical sciences. That does mean that some people will be ill-served by even a scientifically proven treatment protocol.

    In my view, the people who go around saying that HIV needs no treatment are irresponsible fools. The people who claim that HIV always causes AIDS, and that it is always incurable - they may be overgeneralizing! But they're not causing nearly as much damage as certain fuckers - like the African government officials who deny that HIV needs treatment. I wonder if some of these HIV deniers are in the pay of Big Pharma, trying to reduce the (IMHO, justified) ever increasing demands that patent restrictions and corporate profits should not condemn hundreds of millions to an unnecessary, premature, and miserable death. Not that this means anything, it's all ad-hominem to be sure - but that's just what I think.

    And if you check my previous post and link to Robert Anton's Wilson's essay on normality, you'll see a pretty good argument why we should all be more careful with our generalizations and Aristotlean IS-Nesses. It could save lives if we were.

    [ Parent ]

    Good points, (none / 2) (#211)
    by 123456789 on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 03:33:24 PM EST

    although in general I don't see you directly addressing most of the issues the site brings up. For example, if it is well-known (or even possible) that the drugs only work in 50% of the population, then why are they pushed for 100% of the patients (as is the case for AIDS patients)?

    Thanks for the comment, tho...

    ---
    People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid.
    - Soren Kierkegaard
    [ Parent ]
    Didn't mean that... (2.75 / 4) (#224)
    by Blarney on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 05:07:55 PM EST

    I was saying that there are many individual drugs on the market that only work in less than 50% of the users. However, that's one drug. Doctors usually have a choice of 2 or 3, sometimes even more, and do have a pragmatic habit of just switching drugs at random until a drug or a combination thereof starts to work on their patient.

    [ Parent ]
    My brother... (none / 3) (#209)
    by Fon2d2 on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 02:47:08 PM EST

    at one point in high school wanted to write a paper about whether HIV causes AIDS. The teacher rejected the topic outright in what was an obvious appeal to authority and popularity. My brother complained bitterly. I agree that he should have been able to write the paper and it made me a little bitter at the time as well. I didn't understand why a fringe belief should be completely rejected instead of grading based on the merits of whatever paper he would've wrote. Plus I would've liked to have seen what he came up with. All the same though, it didn't surprise me at the time, considering how much I hate school.

    Off topic. Another instance my brother complained about was when he had to design an eco-friendly city and the teacher wouldn't let him add a nuclear plant. I once again agreed with him on this. That scenario stank of environmental lobby brainwashing. Nuclear power has such a stigma my brother was once again not even given a chance to argue his case. Of course everybody else had hydro plants with no mention of the extensive damage caused to local water tables and ecosystems. Not to mention it's unrealistic to presume there will be hydro power wherever your city is going to be located.

    [ Parent ]

    Modern, stupid teachers (none / 1) (#212)
    by 123456789 on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 03:37:32 PM EST

    "Those who can do, those who can't teach."

    Even though I have a lot of respect for a few of my educators I have to say that by and large they're a sorry lot.

    I know a woman who, after she got her B.A. went on to get accepted to a Masters of Teaching program at a well-respected private university (along with generous scholarships due to her undergrad grades). After half a year she quit, forfeiting the scholorships and opportuinity, because of how insanely narrow-minded the instructors were. She came to realize that she couldn't be intellectually honest and make it as a teacher.

    What does that tell us?

    ---
    People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid.
    - Soren Kierkegaard
    [ Parent ]
    Further reading... (none / 1) (#217)
    by Fon2d2 on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 04:39:48 PM EST

    I've never had the energy to wade through this entire treatise. I have however read enough of it to find it intriguing and hold onto the link. Perhaps someday when I'm really feeling ambitious, I'll take another go at it. You seem like someone who would at least be interested in the link. Be warned though, it contains vast amounts of verbiage.

    And I have to agree with you about educators. There are a few whose influence I have really appreciated, but you said it: by and large they are a sorry lot.

    [ Parent ]

    One more thing... (none / 0) (#220)
    by Fon2d2 on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 04:44:11 PM EST

    Make sure to read chapter 6, The Subjegation of Students. I was just glancing at that one and it very articulately explains a lot of my animosity towards school.

    [ Parent ]
    I'm there (none / 0) (#244)
    by speek on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 06:37:07 PM EST

    I eat this stuff up. Thanks for the link.

    --
    al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
    [ Parent ]

    The reality of AIDS (none / 0) (#349)
    by slippytoad on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 06:55:33 PM EST

    About a month ago a long-time friend of mine finally succumbed to AIDS. It was no illusion. There is skepticism, and there is just out-and-out crankery.
    If I were the al Qaeda people right now I would be planning a lot of attacks in the next few days and weeks -- John "Bring 'em On" McCain
    [ Parent ]
    Most science doesn't lend well to sound bytes. (2.33 / 9) (#72)
    by lukme on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 07:41:00 PM EST

    Think of topics in freshman chemistry, try to have a meaningful explaination of equilibria in 30 words or less. Without understanding equilibria, how could one understand weak acids, buffers (concepts that are built onto equilibria)?

    In somes ways, it is easier to "understand"/believe ESP than to believe in really abstract concepts found in science.


    -----------------------------------
    It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
    shoddy journalism (none / 1) (#177)
    by PigleT on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 11:06:35 AM EST

    I offer this as an absolutely *prime* example of shit journalism denigrating the works of scientists to the "masses":
    http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99994844

    See, if you want soundbytes, you don't talk about the "fine-structure constant", you talk about "fundamental" things, about "new analysis", about "sharp contrasts", about "disagreement", about "vital questions" - to the extent that it takes 4 paragraphs just to name what you're talking about, and never mention any detail as to where it comes in handy - in short there is no story *anyway*, it was just invented on a slack day, with a bunch of "human interest" (ie boring crap) slapped around it.

    With this sort of thing doing the rounds... yuck. Just yuck. How does anyone get anything of substance to differentiate between this and the daily horrorscope, anyway?

    > In somes ways, it is easier to "understand"/believe ESP than to believe in really abstract concepts found in science.

    Maybe. I remember I spent 4 weeks being told "Einstein didn't like the outcome of this quantum stuff" - well sod Einstein, sod his likes and dislikes, show me the equations and I'll make my OWN damn' mind up about the lot!
    ~Tim -- We stood in the moonlight and the river flowed
    [ Parent ]

    If you want to see the equations read (none / 0) (#628)
    by lukme on Sat Apr 17, 2004 at 11:35:48 PM EST

    any quantum mechanics text. Sakurai's Modern Quantum Mechanics is highly recommended, although I find it a bit hard to read.

    As for your piece on newscientist, I now see why I don't even bother reading it. I'd be interested in hearing your analysis of the journalistic qualities of sicence, nature and "chemical and engineering news".


    -----------------------------------
    It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
    [ Parent ]
    I see stupid people (2.60 / 15) (#79)
    by flo on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 07:57:39 PM EST

    They're everywhere, walking around just like you or me. They don't even know they're stupid.
    ---------
    "Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
    Sometimes they ask me to do things for them. (nt) (none / 0) (#551)
    by vectro on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 07:33:28 AM EST



    “The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
    [ Parent ]
    Comment (2.28 / 7) (#82)
    by Big Sexxy Joe on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 08:17:54 PM EST

    9% of respondents claimed astrology is "very scientific" and 32% described it as "sort of scientific".

    I'm would guess that a lot of those people were thinking of astronomy.  It's actually an easy mistake to make if you think about it.  Most people know that astrology is "unscientific."  They often don't know what that means though or are willing to believe the unscientific.

    I'm like Jesus, only better.
    Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour

    Perhaps these people (none / 0) (#111)
    by Sesquipundalian on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 11:06:12 PM EST

    only pay vauge attention to distinctions like the one between say; cosmic spiritualism and cosmology. Perhaps these people are preocupied with something else.. something you haven't noticed?

    You may have missed something.


    Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
    [ Parent ]
    On cosmology... (none / 1) (#242)
    by debillitatus on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 06:23:34 PM EST

    To be frank, most of cosmology isn't that far removed from spiritualism.

    Damn you and your daily doubles, you brigand!
    [ Parent ]

    That was true until fairly recently. (none / 0) (#414)
    by glor on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 04:52:09 PM EST

    Thanks to technological advances, cosmology is making the leap to becoming a quantitative science.  Read for instance about the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) whose observations were reported at great length last year.

    --
    Disclaimer: I am not the most intelligent kuron.
    [ Parent ]

    There's other even more outlandish claims... (2.12 / 16) (#83)
    by bADlOGIN on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 08:18:47 PM EST

    After a couple thousand years, people are still getting suckered into this one.
    You'd think a real son of god could have figured out a way to save his own ass.


    Sigs are stupid and waste bandwidth.

    A way to save his own ass. (none / 0) (#85)
    by conthefol on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 08:26:56 PM EST

    He probably did figure out a way, according to scripture at least.

    [=- We Can Do Better. -=]
    [ Parent ]

    He was not trying to save His ass. (none / 2) (#92)
    by SnowBlind on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 09:10:07 PM EST

    He was trying to save yours.

    Or so they would have you believe.
    Personally, I don't believe in altruism, He died on the cross to save the world for selfish reasons...



    There is but One Kernel, and root is His Prophet.
    [ Parent ]
    certainly possible, Biblically (none / 2) (#103)
    by conthefol on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 10:11:49 PM EST

    The Bible describes the intent and actions of Jesus, not his motives.

    [=- We Can Do Better. -=]
    [ Parent ]

    But he's fucking God. (none / 2) (#210)
    by UserGoogol on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 03:04:25 PM EST

    He could've waved a hand and said "boom, you're forgiven." Why the hell did He have to kill Jesus to do it? Especially because Jesus just ended up ressurected a few days later.

    [ Parent ]
    because he was born (none / 0) (#271)
    by banffbug on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 09:26:55 PM EST

    he had to die. same as you and me. btw, you are God too. Rejoice and respect everything else's god nature.

    [ Parent ]
    Actually... (3.00 / 4) (#164)
    by bugmaster on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 09:29:55 AM EST

    I've always thought that the whole Jesus (Osiris, Horus, that Babylonian guy, you name it) myth makes a lot of (internal) sense, if you consider it in terms of the original religions (Hinduism). God (the Holy Spirit, creator of the world, yadda yadda) is simplpy too "big" to fully enter our Universe; he exists outside of it. But... he really wants to know what it's like to be human, sort of. Solution: God creates an avatar (Jesus), into which he uploads a severely limited version of his Godhood. Personality-wise, Jesus is God, only without omnipotence, omniscience, super-intelligence, etc., but he is also human, with human desires and feelings. Jesus lives his life, accumulates experience, and is eventually killed -- at which point, his soul ascends to the spiritual plane (using an already established method which human souls utilize every day), and God is able to download its life experience and merge it into his uber-personality.

    It's an elegant solution, it's pretty cool, and besides, it was good enough for Shiva so it should be good enough for YHVH. Don't get me wrong, I still think that Bible is pure fiction, but in this one case it's not internally inconsistent.
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]

    Who says he didn't? n/t (none / 1) (#205)
    by Fon2d2 on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 02:28:33 PM EST



    [ Parent ]
    I would hope that... (1.75 / 8) (#87)
    by skyknight on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 08:43:04 PM EST

    more than "25% of the public believes in the ability of the stars and planets to affect people's lives"... You see, there is this thing called the moon (you may have heard of it back in grade school) and it affects the tides here on earth. Think about it! Oh yeah, and then there is also this star called the sun; not only does it keep earth in orbit around it, but it warms our planet, too!

    It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
    So much for context ... (none / 0) (#113)
    by interrobanger on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 11:26:42 PM EST

    Which is this case is metaphysical effects.


    ===============
    God Hates Figs!
    [ Parent ]
    Easy targets, hard targets (1.42 / 19) (#98)
    by driptray on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 09:31:22 PM EST

    Making fun of people who believe in "paranormal" stuff reeks of elitist wankery. It's shooting fish in a barrel. You skeptics should really turn your attention to debunking harder, and more relevant subjects.

    Like, say, modern medicine.

    Is there really any solid evidence for most medical procedures? How many procedures are based on something other than controlled, properly randomised, double-blind studies?

    Modern medicine reeks of primitive superstitions. The doctor's white coat is nothing more than the special dress of the primitive witchdoctor, designed to set him apart from ordinary folk. Everyday medical tools such as stethoscopes and thermometers are modern amulets, to be waved over the sick. High-tech tools such as X-ray machines and MRI machines are just bigger, costlier amulets. The special terminology of the medical profession is equivalent to the magical incantations of the primitive witchdoctor.

    There's plenty of good targets for skeptical thinking. Targeting aliens and ghosts is just picking on society's losers, and doesn't help to advance science in any way.
    --
    We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating

    Modern medical procedures (2.87 / 8) (#107)
    by conthefol on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 10:33:52 PM EST

    I disagree. Most medical procedures do in fact have good reasons.

    Let me name one: antiseptics. Here's the solid evidence: If a doctor performs surgery and remembers to clean up, you now have a decent chance of survival.

    Which medical procedures were you thinking of? Are you just complaining that you don't understand biology, or what?

    [=- We Can Do Better. -=]
    [ Parent ]

    Childbirth (2.00 / 6) (#110)
    by driptray on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 10:56:04 PM EST

    The only area of modern medicine that I have more knowledge of than the average layperson is childbirth. It's full of superstitions that are in the process of being debunked.

    For example, shaving. It was (and in some places still is) required that women be shaved before giving birth. The rationale was that it was cleaner and that there was less infection. Turns out that that was total bullshit, although you'll still find sone obstetricians who believe it.

    Episiotomies. These have traditonally been considered to be a good thing because it was considered that they healed better than a natural tear. Turns out to be wrong again - natural tears heal quicker and better. But many hospitals still perform regular episiotomies.

    The wearing of gowns and masks. Many hospitals require all people present at a birth to be masked and gowned. Again, cleanliness and infection is given as the reason, although there is no evidence to show that it makes any difference.

    Perhaps you think these example are trivial, but I think they point to a potentially wider chink in the credibility of modern medicine. But I don't know for sure, and that's why I want all the so-called skeptics to stop bothering with the low-hanging fruit and start aiming at something a little more serious.
    --
    We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
    [ Parent ]

    ah, good example. -NT (none / 1) (#112)
    by conthefol on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 11:06:27 PM EST


    [=- We Can Do Better. -=]
    [ Parent ]

    I'm no expert (none / 2) (#116)
    by fenix down on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 12:25:50 AM EST

    But most of that is probably just that you're in a hospital.  Just like they stick you in a wheelchair whether you need it or not, they'll slap gowns and masks and gloves on anybody who stands still for too long.

    Still, obstetricians are weird.  They've built up this whole pseudoreligious deal around everything they do to compensate for the fact that they don't really do all that much.  Some of them will do shit for no reason other than to feel useful.

    [ Parent ]

    I don't think so... (none / 2) (#153)
    by lowmagnet on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 08:46:55 AM EST

    It has nothing to do with superstition, and everything to do with theory. There IS a difference there that you are seriously failing to grasp. AT ONE TIME they thought those things were good, but they have now found that they aren't as good as before, BUT THEY AREN'T ABSOLUTELY BAD, either. If wearing gowns in the obstetrics room were killing or maiming patients, I'm certain they would change that process.

    [ Parent ]
    Whie coats (none / 2) (#161)
    by bugmaster on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 09:22:15 AM EST

    Huh... Personally, I've always assumed that white coats are white because it's critically important for them to be clean, and most dirt isn't white, so it's more noticeable. But, ultimately, it may be that white coats are white for the same reason police uniforms are blue: tradition. A white coat instantly says, "this man is a doctor"; this is a much faster (though, admittedly, less accurate) method than asking everyone for their printed credentials every time.
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]
    Yes (2.50 / 4) (#196)
    by Big Sexxy Joe on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 01:53:28 PM EST

    Is there really any solid evidence for most medical procedures?

    Only ones with FDA approval.  Tons of experiments are done on all medicines, procedures, and diagnostic equipment which is used in medicine.  If anything, I'd say the medical field is overly cautious.

    I'm like Jesus, only better.
    Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour
    [ Parent ]

    Try this: (none / 0) (#331)
    by Mr.Surly on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 02:36:06 PM EST

    If your appendix ever becomes inflammed, DO NOT go to the hospital.  Send me a postcard if you survive.

    [ Parent ]
    Hmmm...amulets (none / 1) (#338)
    by Scratch o matic on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 03:13:41 PM EST

    My doctor made me stand behind one of his amulets, then later showed me a picture from it that he said showed my insides! Witch doctor!

    [ Parent ]
    Here's my point... (none / 0) (#346)
    by driptray on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 05:46:31 PM EST

    Were you healed?
    --
    We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
    [ Parent ]

    Only after... (none / 0) (#347)
    by Scratch o matic on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 05:52:27 PM EST

    I ate the garlic.

    Related subject: for several years my mother had terrible pain in her legs. She went to orthopedists and nutritionists and hemo-ists or whatever you call doctors who deal in blood. She tried certain medications, and ate a radical (though healthy) diet. She even travelled out of state to see specialists.

    Turns out she needed a certain type of shoe.

    [ Parent ]
    Haha! (none / 0) (#602)
    by pod on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 02:31:55 AM EST

    Heh, this is silly. Doctor's white coat: tradition and convinience. It's important to have clean surroundings, dirt shows up very nicely on white cloth. Actyually, assorted medical staff usually wear blue or green. Your family doctor or a lab tech wears a white coat because that's the UNIFORM, it's expected, it's traditional, it's familiar. Any particular style of clothing you like to wear? Sweaters? I think sweaters are stuffy and elitist. "Amulets": ever heard of psychosomatic illness? Placebo? Or would you rather doctors prescribed expensive medicines when their patients refuse to leave when told there's nothing wrong with them? XRays and MRI scans are often used to CYA. You know, just in case you miss something on that 1 in 10000 chance, someone dies or gets sick and sues you. "Special" terminology: every field has special terminology. Doctors and surgeons call a heart a heart, like everyone else. Usually, that's not precise enough, and 'standard' every-day words aren't descriptive enough. Better to have one latin word or a made-up word to identify some tiny part of an obscure organ, than a sentence or common words. That one word is still far more precise and accurate. I know, I know, YHBT.

    [ Parent ]
    I've bent a spoon before. (1.61 / 18) (#102)
    by snowlion on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 09:55:14 PM EST

    I've seen my friends bend many spoons (and forks) before.

    Even hard as rock spoons of my own choosing.

    About half way through the process, the metal becomes very very warm- hot even. You can hand the spoon to anyone present, and they'll feel it too.

    This isn't something that I can repeat. I wasn't any good at it, and was only able to do it once. It was like the metal suddenly became play-dough.

    What can I say? Cutlery bends.

    This is hardly a rare occurance. Many people have seen this.

    ----

    So, I had a shared dream with my best friend.

    We were in 8th grade, I think, and we went to school. We liked dreams and things like that, and frequently reported them to each other. It turned out that in this one dream we had, we kept seeing each other, over and over, and our stories of what happened matched perfectly.

    What can I say?

    I'm sorry if this bothers you.

    ----

    So a friend and I were interested in telepathy, and wanted to see if we could do it. We played "guess 1-10." I was the sender, he was the receiver.

    We got 9 out of 10 right. What are the odds of that?

    We have never been able to repeat it, but hey. I thought it was pretty cool.

    ----

    My dad tells me about when he was younger. The phone rang in the morning, and dad's mom said, "Joe, pick up the phone. It's about Aunt so-and-so- she died last night." My dad lives in Birmingham, Aunt whoever lives in North Carolina. So my dad thinks, "Hunh," answers the phone, and sure enough, it's news that this woman, who was otherwise in good health, last everyone knew, had died at night.

    Dad asked his mom how she knew, and she said that she saw it in a dream.

    ----

    Now, I'm sure Mr. Randy has explanations for all of these things.

    But in the end, who cares what Mr. Randy thinks?

    If you've experienced these kinds of things, (and my impression is that most people on the planet have,) Randy's going to be about as convincing as an Objectivist.

    I can easily imagine an Objectivist saying, "$1,000,000 to the first person who can prove Ayn Rand wrong." And I can easily imagine said objectivist gloating after 20 years that nobody could prove Ayn Rand wrong. That's because: Objectivists are just like that. You can't prove them wrong. No matter what. It's just not possible.

    Same with the "Amazing Randy." He's a dork. Everyone knows that psychic stuff happens. The only ones who don't are the Rationalist Materialists, who are anything but rational.

    If anyone is interested in these issues, the best source I've read is the last chapter of "Travels," by Michael Crichton. He recounts all sorts of things in his book- becomming a doctor, being a psychiatrist, making movies, climbing Mt. Kilamanjaro. But, he also recounts seeing auras, and bending spoons. He's got a great, and intelligent, argument at the back of the book, that argues against Randy and company. If you're interested in this some more, go read that.
    --
    Map Your Thoughts

    explanation (2.25 / 4) (#106)
    by conthefol on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 10:27:22 PM EST

    Cutlery bending: When you do work on the cutlery, it is converted into heat. A similar example: try stretching a rubber band and toucing it to your forehead. Let it relax and touch again. It should be warmer. The harder it was to bend the spoon, the hotter it will be.

    The interesting type of cutlery bending is actually Uri Geller style - do it "with your mind".

    Dreams: Hmm, okay. I'll leave those ones alone.

    Guess the number: Depends on how you were doing it. If it involved you telling him the number and him saying "Yeah that was it!", then I'll conclude that he was just fucking with your head. :)

    The problem with all this paranormal stuff is that it happens to people, rather than people making it happen. That in itself says to me 'coincidence'.

    [=- We Can Do Better. -=]
    [ Parent ]

    One-up on the 1-10 guessing (none / 1) (#234)
    by Cheetah on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 05:57:39 PM EST

    An experience of mine recounted here. I make no assertions of the paranormal, just an experience as I remember it. I don't know what was really going on, or why.

    On a camping trip with some friends. Boredom sets in. Playing cards come out, we play hearts for a while, this gets boring. On some random whim, we try the guessing game. The deck is thoroughly shuffled. The sender takes the top card, 'sends' it to the receiver. The receiver says the card out loud, the sender shows the card. No lying about what the thing being sent was possible there.

    After a few minutes of the expected random behavior, suddenly we started getting every single card right within seconds of the card being drawn. This continued for about 20 cards (taking turns at being sender or receiver) before we got freaked out and bored again.

    The one thing I can add to this is that, when I was receiving, I could 'feel' the answer hit my head, like a momentary headache. Perhaps this was just delusion, though.

    I have experienced other things similar to this at other points, but none of them was improbable enough to not be classified as simply a weird coincidence.

    My personal hypothesis is that, in some people, there may be structures in the brain that operate something like radio antennae. This jives with my weird experience events in that distance is important. But radios in the brain is a pretty far fetched and improbable thing too.

    I've thought up many other possible explanations for what happened, but none of them pass muster any better than the brain radios. shrug

    [ Parent ]

    So, Scientists should reproduce this then. (none / 0) (#328)
    by snowlion on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 01:59:39 PM EST

    If it's just microfractures, or whatever, then scientists should be able to reproduce this with ease. Sadly, I can't reproduce it, even sitting with a spoon for an hour. Go figure.
    --
    Map Your Thoughts
    [ Parent ]
    Proving Randy wrong is easy (2.83 / 6) (#132)
    by zerblat on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 04:32:54 AM EST

    I can easily imagine an Objectivist saying, "$1,000,000 to the first person who can prove Ayn Rand wrong." And I can easily imagine said objectivist gloating after 20 years that nobody could prove Ayn Rand wrong. That's because: Objectivists are just like that. You can't prove them wrong. No matter what. It's just not possible.
    The difference is that it would be extremely easy to prove Randi wrong. Just bend some spoons, or transmit some thoughts to someone you can't communicate with in any conventional way. How many times did you play "guess 1-10"? And how many of those were successful? One? What are the odds of that?

    Weird coincidences aren't as unlikely as you might think. They happen all the time, they should happen all the time.

    [ Parent ]

    We need the expected weirdness scale. (none / 0) (#542)
    by snowlion on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 12:42:09 AM EST

    You have to be able to reproduce the weird experience.

    However, I've only bent a spoon once. (I mean, not counting those spoons that you can bend just normally.)

    With my friends, it was a hit or miss thing. Sometimes they could do it, sometimes not. Sometimes the spoon became ready after about 3 minutes, some times after 10 minutes, some not until we try again in a few days, some never.

    I don't think my friends feel confident enough to go visit Randy, and claim a million dollars. Most of them have the idea that people's beliefs project power. (Go figure: Psychic power affected by the psyche? No way!)

    I don't know if it's like that or not; Maybe they actually can go in and get a million dollars.

    I'm now imagining them with their bent spoons: "Well, Randy, here's the spoon you wanted us to bend." "Uh, well, that was just micro-fractures, I'm sure of it. I'll have my friends check it in the lab." (2 weeks later) "Yeah, sorry, can't give you a million dollars. My friend said he thinks it's microfractures. I mean, what- Psychic spoon bending? C'mon, give me a break!"

    Yeah, there's a real winner.

    As for coincidences, check the other threads. We'd like to know how hard it is to get 9 out of 10 to match in a given trial.

    You need a "weirdness scale" before you can dismiss this as "just coincidence." I mean, if you wake up one morning, and the entire bible is written out in clouds in the sky, and then disolves after 1 second, how weird is that? If someone tells you about that, do you say, "Just a coincidence?" "We expect weirdness?" So we need a weirdness scale, before that argument of yours is convincing.

    --
    Map Your Thoughts
    [ Parent ]

    My Challenge ! (2.75 / 4) (#157)
    by bugmaster on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 08:54:44 AM EST

    Ok, since you seem to ph33r Randi, here's my own challenge:

    I will throw 10d10, 10 times in a row, and your telekinetic task would be to make them land all 10s, every time. If you prefer clairvoyance, then I will pick out my favorite colored dice (yes, I'm a dork, can't you tell ?), and have you predict the exact number/color matchup, 10 times in a row (green=1, blue=4, golden flecked=7, etc.). If you complete these tasks, you get a prize. Of course, you'd have to do the test in my presence, using my dice (you can make sure that they're fair dice in whatever way you like), throwing them onto the table out of my favorite teacup.

    If you complete this task, you'll get a valuable prize (I haven't decided what, as of yet, but you'll get something).

    Now. I claim that you will not be able to complete this task. But notice that, in this case, there most definitely is a way to prove me wrong: just manipulate or predict the dice correctly, and the prize is yours. My challenge is probably easier than Randi's, but his is set up along similar lines.

    Which part of this is unfair ?

    Oh, and incidentally: I claim with my magic telekinetic powers, I can throw a coin (ok, a fair coin), and produce a reasonably long series of heads (or tails) -- say, five in a row, or so -- fairly quickly (well, I haven't learned to fully control my powers yet, so I can't do it right off the bat). What are the odds of that, hmm ?
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]

    Odds of getting 5 in a row (none / 0) (#327)
    by snowlion on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 01:38:50 PM EST

    I've already said I haven't been able to reproduce these experiments, so, I'll just ignore the first part of your post. As for the last part of your post, I was actually curious what the odds were. I've forgotten my probabilities, so I'm resorting to raw experiment with computer. It seems that the odds of getting 5 in a row, amidst, say, 100 throws of a coin, are roughly 97%. Amidst 1000 throws, it seems pretty close to 100%. I'm guessing that if you flip your coin a hundred times ("fairly quickly,") you'll get your sequence of 5. Now, I've rewritten the program to simulate my friend and I guessing numbers, and counting matches. 1-10, 10 trials. I'm counting matches per # of trials. If it hits 9 out of 10 matches, that's a success. Right now, it's busy running a million trials. My last run, at 100,000 trials, yielded ZERO positives. So, we're not anywhere near even .01% likelihood. I think you'll have to play the number guessing game for a ''very, very, very'' long time, in order to match what my friend and I experienced.
    --
    Map Your Thoughts
    [ Parent ]
    beware of random numbers in simulations (none / 1) (#336)
    by JetJaguar on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 03:04:12 PM EST

    Simulating this kind of trial on a computer using the usual pseudorandom number generator built in to most compilers can yield spurious results. I wouldn't put any faith in this sort of simulation to be evident of anything. You need to perform an autocorrelation test and/or a fourier transform test on your list of randomn numbers first to be sure they are randomn enough. It's entirely possible (even likely) that there is a low-level periodicity hiding those numbers than can skew the results of your simulation.

    [ Parent ]
    Math (none / 0) (#356)
    by bugmaster on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 08:47:31 PM EST

    The other poster is right: pseudorandom numbers are crap. You should download random numbers from random.org, or something.

    Fortunately, we have this thing called math, and it can help us with all kinds of probability problems. Here's most of the solution:

    The odds of getting any specific face on a coin (Heads/Tails) is 1/2, assuming the coin is fair. The odds of getting the same specific face twice in a row are (1/2)*(1/2) = 1/4. N times in a row is (1/2)^N, if N=5 then the probability is 1/(2^5) = 1/32. But we don't care if we get HHHHH or TTTTT, so it's 1/32*2 = 1/16.
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]

    more math (none / 1) (#415)
    by glor on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 05:11:30 PM EST

    The above poster made the interesting comment that the odds of five-in-a-row in a sequence of 100 tosses is actually fairly high.  This is because if you have more than 16 five-toss sequences, you probably have one where they are all the same.

    One way to think of it is the chance of NOT getting five in a row is 15/16, and the chance of not getting five in a row in 100 independent sequences is (15/16)^100 = 0.0016.  I'm not quite sure how this changes if the tosses aren't independent (looking for a sequence of five in 100 tosses), but the order of magnitude is right.  If you don't get five heads in a row in 100 tosses, you're pretty lucky.

    Oh, and the random number generator gsl_rng_mt19937 claims to have a period of 10^6000.  It's in the GNU Scientific Library.  While it's easy to write a crappy pseudorandom number generator, that doesn't mean that they're all crappy.

    --
    Disclaimer: I am not the most intelligent kuron.
    [ Parent ]

    random numbers (none / 0) (#424)
    by JetJaguar on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 09:13:29 PM EST

    Oh, and the random number generator gsl_rng_mt19937 claims to have a period of 10^6000. It's in the GNU Scientific Library. While it's easy to write a crappy pseudorandom number generator, that doesn't mean that they're all crappy.

    Agreed. But unless you go out of your way to get a good one, then it's just junk. All of the built-in rand functions in compilers are *really* bad, and I would bet $100 that snowlion used the canned rand instead of getting one of the good ones.



    [ Parent ]
    It may not be as horrible as you think: (none / 0) (#617)
    by glor on Wed Apr 14, 2004 at 11:05:29 AM EST

    The man page for rand(3) in the Linux C library claims to have fixed at least the simplest problem that Press et al. warn about in Numerical Recipes, and I suppose that they may have considered others as well.  I stand by my claim without restating it.

    Oh, and the point of my math exercise was that snowlion's numbers have the right scale, so that he's probably not suffering too much from flaws in his random numbers.

    --
    Disclaimer: I am not the most intelligent kuron.
    [ Parent ]

    So, what are the odds of 9 correct guesses of 10? (none / 0) (#537)
    by snowlion on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 12:15:41 AM EST

    My friend and I exchange numbers 10 times, and get 9 right.

    Assuming complete randomness of selection, what would the odds be?
    --
    Map Your Thoughts
    [ Parent ]

    Eh ? (none / 0) (#546)
    by bugmaster on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 02:07:01 AM EST

    I don't understand the rules, so I can't answer. What numbers do you exchange ? In what order ? etc.
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]
    You're ignoring an important fact, (none / 1) (#497)
    by warrax on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 11:14:56 AM EST

    namely that people when asked to pick 'random' numbers will tend to pick some numbers much more often than others.

    Also, since you know your friend, you might already have (even if just subconciously) an idea of what kinds of random numbers he or she tends to pick. That greatly influences the odds and should not be ignored.

    -- "Guns don't kill people. I kill people."
    [ Parent ]

    It seems more likely to me to be psychic. (none / 0) (#538)
    by snowlion on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 12:23:53 AM EST

    Sure, it's possible, that we have numerical
    synchronization techniuques within our subconscious.

    But this sounds like "fitting the model to our expectations and desires," rather than "fitting the model to our evidence."

    You're granting a lot of power to the subconscious, if you ask me. Especially, given how sloppy our conscious is..!

    Psychic phenomenon seems far more likely to me.

    --
    Map Your Thoughts
    [ Parent ]

    Not to me. Here's why: (none / 0) (#549)
    by warrax on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 04:49:37 AM EST

    But this sounds like "fitting the model to our expectations and desires," rather than "fitting the model to our evidence."
    How so? I merely provided a non-paranormal explanation of the event. I think it was you who suggested, "Oh, it's magic!" (which is essentially what your explanation was). How's that for fitting the model to your expectations and desires?

    I the same way that you probably don't invoke paranormal explanations for everyday occurences, I don't think you need to invoke the paranormal to explain your observation. There are at least 2 (or 3) perfectly reasonable explanations:

    1. You know your friend well enough to 'know' which numbers they are likely to pick.
    2. It was a fluke (which you sort of admitted yourself by saying that you haven't been able to repeat it, that's very typical of flukes :)). Contrary to popular belief, flukes happen all the time; it's just that only a few of them "make sense" to us (four aces, lots of tails, etc.), so we only notice/remember those.
    3. It was a combination of the above.
    You're granting a lot of power to the subconscious,
    I don't really think knowing your friend is a "lot of power", you probably already know a lot of their habits already, why are their "number-guessing" habits off limits? Your brain already has an amazing ability to process huge amounts of data at a subconcious level and it really is just a huge generic(*) pattern matching machine, so I don't see why you shouldn't expect it to be able to see patterns in your friend's guesses.

    (*) This is important: It sees patterns in all sorts of things which weren't even around when it evolved.

    -- "Guns don't kill people. I kill people."
    [ Parent ]

    Damn... can't resist (3.00 / 5) (#159)
    by bugmaster on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 09:09:14 AM EST

    Ok, I wasn't going to take the troll-bait, but you've made it too sweet. I... can't... help it... must be all that psi.

    Spoon-bending: bending, stretching, or deforming metal in any way generates heat, partly due to friction. The repeated deformation also creates microfractures and generally destroys the structure of the metal, which makes it really easy to bend. This trick will not work as well with tempered steel (such as a non-cheap saw blade, or an old-fashioned razor blade); the steel will snap eventually, if you push it too far.

    Dreams: Dreams are often, but not always, based on repeated or vivid experiences; I personally used to dream about programming all the time, when I wasn't dreaming about missing a physics final. People whose experiences are similar will have similar dreams.

    Guess 1-10: I actually have no idea how this game is played, so I can't answer.

    Death in the family: Anxiety about absent loved ones, and thus dreams of their death, are fairly common (we're human, after all). They wouldn't be loved ones, otherwise.

    I claim that my explanations make a lot more sense than ESP, aliens, etc.; furthermore, my explanations are falsifiable (i.e., there is a clear way in which they can be proven false), and they do not draw on mystical powers which cannot be measured in any way or even seen. Actually, I think that your examples are perfect case studies for confirmation bias (and other selective thinking), as well as the usual laws of probability.
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]

    spoon bending (none / 0) (#238)
    by speek on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 06:15:18 PM EST

    I'm not sure I understood your point about spoon-bending. I assumed snowlion meant he bent the spoon without touching it. If that tricks worked "poorly", I'd still be impressed. Did I miss something?

    --
    al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
    [ Parent ]

    Spoon bending (none / 0) (#281)
    by bugmaster on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 11:13:07 PM EST

    Ah, sorry, I was assuming he did it with his hands. If he bent spoons without touching or magnetostricting (er... is that a word ?), then yeah, that would be impressive.
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]
    Sorry, I was touching spoon. (none / 1) (#319)
    by snowlion on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 11:49:56 AM EST

    However, I don't buy the microfractures theory. Mostly, because I'm not actually good at spoonbending. If it were microfractures, you'd think you could just hold a spoon long enough in your hand, and it would bend, right? (And, further, you'd think a bunch of scientists would be demonstrating this effect, as well.) I've held spoons and forks in my hand for a full hour, and haven't been able to bend them. I was only able to bend spoons ''once.'' (My friends, on the other hand, demonstrated probably 50-100 times. They left a wake of bent cutlery behind them.) I've ''heard'' of people bending spoons, forks, without touching them. However, I've never seen it, so I'm a little more skeptical of this. I'm open to the possibility, though. At any rate: Microfractures seem like a lame excuse. If scientists really think it's microfractures, they should be bending spoons and forks just like my friends.
    --
    Map Your Thoughts
    [ Parent ]
    I guess I don't get it (none / 1) (#340)
    by speek on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 03:22:07 PM EST

    I can bend spoons pretty easily if I'm allowed to touch them. Sometimes I do it unintentionally like with ice cream, and it's really annoying.

    --
    al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
    [ Parent ]

    I was at this summer camp once (none / 2) (#365)
    by craigd on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 10:44:24 PM EST

    where the cutlery were really flexible. I bent a fork by accident during normal eating. Maybe the camp was haunted!


    A man who says little is a man who speaks two syllables.
    [ Parent ]
    Metal Fatigue (none / 2) (#357)
    by bugmaster on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 09:07:35 PM EST

    Metal fatigue is a well-known phenomenon (since the Bronze Age, probably). They teach about it in college, or high school, I forget which. It's also a real bitch in things like airplane wings, which tend to flex a lot during the lifetime of the plane. Most airplanes have special "fatigue meter" sensors (actually, just accelerometers) that can estimate how much lifetime the wing has left. I am surprised you haven't heard of this until now.
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]
    Can YOU reproduce Spoon Bending by metal fatigue? (none / 0) (#540)
    by snowlion on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 12:31:12 AM EST

    Sure I've heard of metal fatigue.

    However, it doesn't apply to spoon bending.

    If it did, I could just go through the motions, and bend the spoons back that I'd bent before. Simple mechanical process, right?

    And we'd have hoards of scientists out there demonstrating spoon bending to us. Without tricks, such as picking easy-to-bend spoons in the first place, or heating the spoons up before hand, or whatever.

    There'd be some web page out there, put up by the Skeptical society, showing us how to bend spoons that we can't normally bend, by the simple application of metal fatigue technique.

    But they don't. Because it isn't. So your argument is utterly unconvincing to anybody who's actually bent spoons. Which is actually a pretty large number of people. I imagine tens of thousands of people are alive today who have bent spoons, at the very least.

    --
    Map Your Thoughts
    [ Parent ]

    Actually I could (none / 0) (#548)
    by bugmaster on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 02:36:08 AM EST

    First, I'd bend the spoon back-and-forth a bunch of times, to make it nice and soft (that's the "fatigue" part). Then, I'd use some sleight-of-hand to bend the sucker, just like Geller. Well, ok, obviously I'd need a bit of practice first, seeing as I am a programmer, not a professional magician.
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]
    unreal! (none / 1) (#533)
    by dlec on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 11:48:39 PM EST

    Death in the family: Anxiety about absent loved ones, and thus dreams of their death, are fairly common (we're human, after all). They wouldn't be loved ones, otherwise.

    You paranoid skeptics are unreal! Somebody dies in a foreign country and the phone rings and before it's answered somebody says "Aunt X has died", and you classify that as common? You definitely don't joke about someone's death. The only way that would work is if Aunty X was known to be seriously ill, and even then it would be strange to predict her death on the basis of the phone ringing -- unless you were expecting her to pop off at any moment, or the call came in the middle of the night.

    My mother had a similar experience. She claims she saw the spirit of someone famous (can't remember who) in the corner of her room one night (while awake) and realised that the person was dead. In the morning it was on the news. Yes, I'm sure you have a rational explanation for that too. You're all a bunch of la la's.



    [ Parent ]
    la la's (none / 0) (#536)
    by CaptainSuperBoy on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 12:11:56 AM EST

    You're all a bunch of la la's

    I'm not sure that you appreciate the irony in calling skeptics "la la's" after admitting that your mother sees dead people.

    --
    jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
    [ Parent ]

    la la (none / 1) (#565)
    by dlec on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 11:16:42 AM EST

    Okay then, your self delusional, it's all the same to me. You ignore all the evidence, refuse to try experiments that will allow you to see for yourself -- since it couldn't possibly work anyway -- and then have the cheek to insist that other people's experiences must be made up because they don't conform with your world views.

    My mum's as straight as they come, and I have had many paranormal experiences myself, that only a self delusional skeptic would even try to explain away.

    Can you say, la la!

    [ Parent ]

    Anecdotal (none / 0) (#567)
    by CaptainSuperBoy on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 11:19:51 AM EST

    It's anecdotal, plain and simple. It doesn't mean anything. Did you know there's a "god region" of your brain? It probably accounts for religious feelings, but it's just a bunch of neurons. When this region is stimulated people report a sense that they're "not alone."

    Aside from that, now you're just calling names. Cut it out.

    --
    jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
    [ Parent ]

    anectodal for you (none / 0) (#572)
    by dlec on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 11:57:27 AM EST

    It's anecdotal, plain and simple. It doesn't mean anything.

    It is important when it happens to you or someone you trust. I just asked my mum about this and she told me again. She says she was in bed looking up and she saw this guys face (Rene somebody) floating above her. She said it looked like a ghost but it was only his head, and that she wasn't scared but it was quite calming. He wasn't very famous, and she had no personal interest in him whatsoever, but she feels that it was probably his old house -- she had no proof for that, but that was the feeling she had. Next morning he was on the TV reported as dead. She has only ever seen two ghosts. If that happened to you could you honestly discount it?

    Did you know there's a "god region" of your brain? It probably accounts for religious feelings, but it's just a bunch of neurons. When this region is stimulated people report a sense that they're "not alone."

    All the levels (matrerial, emotional, energetic, spiritual) are connected to each other, so if you change one you change the rest. Of course there will be a place in the brain which becomes active when you experience religous awe.

    Don't think you're so special. Try and maintain an erection while breathing calmly. It's impossible. Try and maintain an erection while breathing long deep breaths to get the maximum blood flow. Again imposible. The sexual state can only be maintained by short hard breaths. Curiorsly, it is possible to become sexually aroused merely by breathing in the way you do during intercourse. It's all connected.



    [ Parent ]
    raising the standards... (none / 0) (#385)
    by grendelkhan on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 08:18:03 AM EST

    He's a dork. Everyone knows that psychic stuff happens.

    Well, you've certainly convinced me.

    --grendelkhan
    -- Laws do not persuade just because they threaten --Seneca
    [ Parent ]

    The million is yours (none / 0) (#389)
    by svampa on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 10:47:38 AM EST

    Talk with James Randi, you will win a million dollars.

    I would do it if I could do things like that.



    [ Parent ]
    Do you have a conscious experience? (1.28 / 7) (#105)
    by Eight Star on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 10:19:42 PM EST

    If yes, then I assert that that is paranormal, as it has no scientific explanation, and none is evident on the horizon.

    If no, then you are a zombie.

    consciousness is paranormal? (3.00 / 7) (#108)
    by conthefol on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 10:45:14 PM EST

    I fail to see how the appeal to paranormality suddenly lets us have consciousness where ordinary materials don't. Please detail a paranormal mechanism or chaos-ism which is able to provide consciousness. Please explain why atoms cannot emulate it.

    Yes, I expect you to define 'consciousness' such that it is completeles useless. I expect that once you are done defending your assertions, you will be left with a tiny kernel of futility which bears no impact other than in invoking emotions of fear; fear that I'm a zombie. If missing some useless aspect makes me a zombie, then fine, I am a zombie.

    Oh wait, you can't even tell if I have this 'conscious experience', so it's even more useless. Any possible (mis)use of this arbitrary zombie classification is now rendered inoperable as you have no way to tell if I am a zombie.

    So we have conscious experience which only you can really percieve. I'm really a fairy princess.

    [=- We Can Do Better. -=]
    [ Parent ]

    I notice you didn't answer the question (none / 1) (#218)
    by Eight Star on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 04:40:22 PM EST

    I can not say with any certainty that ordinary materials don't have consciousness. In fact I suspect they do. But I know I do, and know of no scientific explanation for it.
    Unfortunately, as you state we can't tell if anyone else is conscious, which brings me back to the original question, Do you have conscious experience? I assume yes, because I don't believe in zombies. If you are conscious, and there is no scientific explanation, does that not prove, at least to you, the existence of something paranormal?

    [ Parent ]
    scientific explanation (none / 1) (#227)
    by conthefol on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 05:27:46 PM EST

    I do indeed have consciousness. I agree that there is no scientific explanation (Yet). There is no paranormal explanation either. :)

    Self awareness, the feeling that I am here. Who is here, who is this I? A spirit? A brain? We can't even tell the difference.

    [=- We Can Do Better. -=]
    [ Parent ]

    doesn't need to be (none / 2) (#229)
    by Eight Star on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 05:35:21 PM EST

    It is paranormal by definition because it is outside of (current) science. I don't need to invent souls or other such for it to be paranormal.

    [ Parent ]
    ah (none / 1) (#233)
    by conthefol on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 05:49:31 PM EST

    It appears that I have been thinking about some other definition. I was thinking 'not in accordance with scientific laws' rather than 'no scientific explanation'.

    [=- We Can Do Better. -=]
    [ Parent ]

    ah (none / 1) (#237)
    by Eight Star on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 06:08:05 PM EST

    Indeed, dictionary.com provides both definitions.

    I agree that consciousness need not cause anything to happen that would otherwise be outside of the laws of physics. (i.e. atom's in your brain obey the same laws as those outside.)

    [ Parent ]

    I think maybe (none / 1) (#241)
    by speek on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 06:22:30 PM EST

    He's getting at the conflict between the idea of Free Will and materialistic determinism. It could be argued that believing in Free Will is akin to believing in something paranormal.

    --
    al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
    [ Parent ]

    nope (none / 0) (#255)
    by conthefol on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 07:38:17 PM EST

    He wasn't talking about free will or materialism or determinism.

    He was just noting that consciousness currently has no scientific explanation, which means it is 'paranormal' ... not necessarily supernatural, though.

    [=- We Can Do Better. -=]
    [ Parent ]

    Just because (none / 1) (#489)
    by warrax on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 08:13:09 AM EST

    you (or anyone else for that matter) can't think of a scientific explanation doesn't mean that one doesn't exist, and it's certainly not grounds for claiming that something "paranormal" is at work. It's in fact much more plausible to think that we just don't understand enough about the mechanichs of the brain to be able to formulate a theory of how consciousness arises (and what, exactly, it is). In my book it's much simpler to think that "we just don't know" instead of "we don't know... must be some sort of paranormal effect".

    Besides, maybe you just think you're conscious, but are really a zombie.

    -- "Guns don't kill people. I kill people."
    [ Parent ]

    oh dear (none / 0) (#530)
    by dlec on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 10:48:55 PM EST

    Just because you (or anyone else for that matter) can't think of a scientific explanation doesn't mean that one doesn't exist, and it's certainly not grounds for claiming that something "paranormal" is at work.
    Google: define:paranormal

    [ Parent ]
    Bravo! <audience appauds> Bravo! (none / 0) (#219)
    by BuddasEvilTwin on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 04:43:19 PM EST

      I really enjoyed your verbal thrashing.

      After reading an article in the Economist about a theory of how "punishers" may have evolved into society, I realized that I'm not the kind spirited person I told myself I was...

      Suddenly, I feel the need to ask:  

    How should a free society balance kindness needed to counter tyranny and the cruelty needed to counter stupidity?

    [ Parent ]

    I have no idea (none / 1) (#228)
    by conthefol on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 05:28:49 PM EST

    How should a free society balance kindness needed to counter tyranny and the cruelty needed to counter stupidity?

    Capitalism, I guess. :P

    [=- We Can Do Better. -=]
    [ Parent ]

    not sure (none / 2) (#272)
    by banffbug on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 09:34:41 PM EST

    maybe my experience is unconcious. either way, I'm here, and so is everything else. I'm not some little man sitting on a chair inside my head, pulling levers and pushing buttons making this bag of skin move around.

    I eat, I sleep, I think, but do I grow my hair, do I beat my heart, or do I die?

    [ Parent ]

    And of course zombies are paranormal [nt] (none / 0) (#364)
    by craigd on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 10:36:05 PM EST




    A man who says little is a man who speaks two syllables.
    [ Parent ]
    I know you guys respect Kurt Gödel (1.71 / 7) (#109)
    by Baldrson on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 10:48:22 PM EST

    In the future, it [will be] deemed a great oddity that 20th-century scientists had discovered elementary physical particles but had failed even to consider the possibility of elementary psychic factors. - Kurt Gödel

    -------- Empty the Cities --------


    Fallacy: Appeal to authority (2.83 / 6) (#123)
    by Jhudsy on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 02:13:59 AM EST

    Just because Kurt Godel was a brilliant mathematician does not make him an expert on physics or psychics. This fallacy in reasoning is very common, so common in fact that philosophers have given it a name: "Fallacious Appeal to Authority".

    [ Parent ]
    Gödel and Physics (none / 1) (#145)
    by jdy on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 07:21:36 AM EST

    Just because Kurt Godel was a brilliant mathematician does not make him an expert on physics
    Indeed. For a better idea of Gödel's expertise in physics, see his papers An example of a new type of cosmological solutions of Einstein's field equations of gravitation and Rotating universes in general relativity theory, both in volume II of the Collected Works (with an introductory note by Hawking). Gödel was a close friend of Einstein, by the way, so you might imagine that he wasn't entirely unacquainted with physics in general.

    [ Parent ]
    The parent article suffers from fallacies (none / 0) (#163)
    by regeya on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 09:24:56 AM EST

    In particular, the notion that the "scientific thinker" should dismiss anything out-of-hand that is apparently not provable is an argumentum ad ignorantiam.

    [ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
    [ Parent ]

    also the basis of (none / 1) (#197)
    by Battle Troll on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 01:53:42 PM EST

    Gutter positivism, ie, g**kthink.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]
    No evidence, (none / 0) (#208)
    by handslikesnakes on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 02:45:26 PM EST

    no science. If you can't give me a reason to believe it, I'm not going to.



    [ Parent ]
    No evidence, (none / 1) (#223)
    by regeya on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 05:04:11 PM EST

    no proof of anything. Lack of proof does not equal proof of non-existence.

    [ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
    [ Parent ]

    Sure. (none / 0) (#225)
    by handslikesnakes on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 05:15:04 PM EST

    But "lack of proof" is far closer to "proof of non-existence" than "proof of existence".

    I'm not going to say something doesn't exist if there's no evidence, but I'm going to call bullshit on anybody who says it does.



    [ Parent ]
    Wrong again, but thanks for trying. (none / 3) (#253)
    by regeya on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 07:28:44 PM EST

    Christ, you're stupid.

    [ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
    [ Parent ]

    Care to explain why? (none / 0) (#287)
    by handslikesnakes on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 12:13:40 AM EST

    Or did you just feel like tossing out insults?

    [ Parent ]
    Sadly appeals to authority appeal to K5'ers. (none / 1) (#173)
    by Baldrson on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 10:32:26 AM EST

    Ever hear of "authoritative" reference? I has to do with the way cliques of academics manipulate society at large. One has to work within such constraints when dealing with folks like those around K5.

    -------- Empty the Cities --------


    [ Parent ]

    I don't nt (none / 0) (#191)
    by Big Sexxy Joe on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 01:47:01 PM EST



    I'm like Jesus, only better.
    Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour
    [ Parent ]
    Godel's Ontological Proof (none / 0) (#384)
    by grendelkhan on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 08:14:52 AM EST

    Godel was also well-known for a proof of the existence of God. Does this mean that all mathematicians are believers?

    Furthermore, where's my goddamn jelly donut?

    --grendelkhan
    -- Laws do not persuade just because they threaten --Seneca
    [ Parent ]

    Ah, yes, Gödel. (none / 0) (#471)
    by Estanislao Martínez on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 05:17:18 AM EST

    He believed that some spy agency (KGB, IIRC) was trying to poison him, so he wouldn't eat any meals not prepared by his wife. Then his wife passed away, and he died of malnutrition.

    Brilliant guy, too.

    --em
    [ Parent ]

    Relevant quote (2.60 / 10) (#114)
    by Erbo on Wed Apr 07, 2004 at 11:54:05 PM EST

    Janine Melnitz: "Do you believe in UFOs, astral projections, mental telepathy, ESP, clairvoyance, spirit photography, telekinetic movement, full trance mediums, the Loch Ness monster and the theory of Atlantis?"

    Winston Zeddemore: "Ah, if there's a steady paycheck in it, I'll believe anything you say."

    -- from the movie Ghostbusters
    --
    Electric Minds - virtual community since 1996. http://www.electricminds.org

    Well done. (2.20 / 5) (#115)
    by causticmtl on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 12:12:22 AM EST

    Great article. I am *this* close to forwarding it to some flaky family members.

    ... but I won't.

    They'll just hate me for thinking about *them* in particular.

    heheh

    Do it. (none / 2) (#184)
    by bakuretsu on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 11:34:13 AM EST

    Their hate cannot overcome the good you will do them in attempting to bring a small light to their Platonic cave, if you catch my drift.

    -- Airborne
        aka Bakuretsu
        The Bailiwick -- DESIGNHUB 2004
    [ Parent ]
    Moon influences behavior (1.83 / 6) (#118)
    by koz on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 12:48:01 AM EST

    First, a very good article. As for astrology, I don't believe it myself, but there are a number of behaviors that are directly related to the moon. Familiar to many of us, there is a woman's menstral cycle. A normal cycle is considered 28 days, the same as the moon. Granted, the scientific explanation is rooted in evolution, but while it may not be a cause-effect relationship, there is a correlation. For instance, coral spawning is directly related to the full moon. It's due to the tide resulting from the moon phases, which one could consider to be the moon's influence on behavior.

    Is it possible to behavior and action to planets and stars? The scientist in me says they are too far away to provide a significant impact. But without testing, I also cannot rule it out.

    Geez (2.16 / 6) (#127)
    by PrinceSausage on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 02:44:47 AM EST

    Coral spawning is directly related to the tide. Not the full moon. The tide.

    Let me say that again just so that it's clear.

    Coral spawning is directly related to the changes in the coral's environment brought on by the tide.

    Not the full moon. Again. The tide.

    The fact that the tide is brought on by the moon has nothing to do with it.

    [ Parent ]

    and? (none / 1) (#148)
    by Viliam Bur on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 07:47:11 AM EST

    Maybe human life is not affected by the stars. Maybe it is affected by gravitation waves, by increased radiation of neutrinos, by more light in the night sky, by the strange configurations of the light dots. Again. Not the stars.

    Let's test it...

    [ Parent ]

    Not enough (none / 1) (#152)
    by bugmaster on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 08:44:50 AM EST

    It's not enough to just say, "maybe". Maybe it's affected by the gravitational waves... How ? How would you test it ? What would be the experiment and the control, and what (measurable, repeatable) results does your hypothesis predict ?

    That's the difference between science and random speculation.
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]

    The composition of the ground below me... (none / 2) (#188)
    by DavidTC on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 11:47:20 AM EST

    ...has a much much much large gravition influence on me than even the frickin sun.

    Why doesn't astrology give you horoscopes based on what floor of the hospital you were born on, and whether the floors were concrete or wood? That would make more sense.

    -David T. C.
    Yes, my email address is real.
    [ Parent ]

    that's called (none / 1) (#236)
    by speek on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 06:06:54 PM EST

    feng shui. You don't want the shui'ers and the astrologers to get in a fight, do you?

    --
    al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
    [ Parent ]

    Actually (none / 0) (#283)
    by bugmaster on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 11:14:28 PM EST

    Yes, yes I do want them to fight ! I'd buy tickets to that event, too :-) "Astrologer vs Feng Shui, Round one, FIGHT !"
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]
    Um. (none / 1) (#245)
    by celeriac on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 06:40:35 PM EST

    In the summer it is warm. In the winter it is cold. These phenomena are directly related to the position of the sun in the sky. To deny that temperature can have an effect on development is insane.

    [ Parent ]
    And did I disagree with that? (none / 1) (#410)
    by DavidTC on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 03:03:46 PM EST

    No, of course not. Of course light from the sun affects life on this planet. And a lot of other things from the sun. But the gravity from the sun doesn't in any noticable amount.

    I was taking issue with the posts before me, which speculated some sort of unknown to biological effect star's gravity might have on humans.

    Which is completely bullshit. The wall next to me is affecting me more gravity-wise than the sun, right now.

    It's akin to tuning the radio to a music station and asserting people listening are affected by sort of hidden pattern produced by a few electrical generators halfway around the world, while completely disregarding the loud music playing from the speaker. It's absurd.



    -David T. C.
    Yes, my email address is real.
    [ Parent ]

    What? (none / 0) (#623)
    by Gully Foyle on Thu Apr 15, 2004 at 11:42:51 AM EST

    The gravity from the Sun doesn't affect us in any noticable way? I think you'd definitely notice it if the Sun suddenly <i>stopped</i> bending space-time, since you'd no longer be falling around it.

    If you weren't picked on in school you were doing something wrong - kableh
    [ Parent ]

    No I wouldn't. (none / 1) (#625)
    by DavidTC on Fri Apr 16, 2004 at 02:19:13 PM EST

    Why would you think that?

    While the sun may be larger than the earth, gravity drops off at the distance squared. I'm not affected by the sun's gravity in any noticable way, or even any unnoticable way.

    If the sun vanished, and it was night, and no one bothered to inform the US, it might be an hour before anyone noticed, and that would be because it was getting colder, not because of any gravitational effects.

    Barring heat, we wouldn't notice at all until we rotated around to the day side. Barring the visible absense of the sun, we wouldn't notice until the stars started 'moving' wrong, which could take a month. (Actually, the moon might start moving 'wrong' first, or at least different from the POV of the earth.)

    We don't even have tides from the sun, for god's sake. I was going to say we might have very very very small earthquakes, like 3.0, but, seriously...the sun's gravity has been redirected every night for billions of years, I think we're all earthquaked out.

    -David T. C.
    Yes, my email address is real.
    [ Parent ]

    Tides from the sun.... (none / 0) (#626)
    by JetJaguar on Fri Apr 16, 2004 at 04:17:11 PM EST

    You need to review the subject of tides. The sun certainly does cause tides. Do you know why we have "spring" tides and "neap" tides? They are the result of constructive and destructive interference of the tidal forces from the moon and the sun. When the earth, moon, and the sun are aligned (at new moon, and full moon), the fields work together and we have a larger tidal differential (spring tides), when the moon-earth-sun angle is 90 degrees, the forces are out of phase, and they work against each other, and the tides level off (neap tides).

    [ Parent ]
    Jeebus (none / 1) (#248)
    by celeriac on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 06:47:49 PM EST

    So you are saying, the spawning of the coral is not directly caused by the moon?

    Coral spawning is directly related to chemical changes in the coral's environment. Not the tide. Changes in the coral's environment.

    The fact that these changes are brought on by the tide has nothing to with it.

    Hint: Descriptivism is, at best, a side effect of the scientific process.

    [ Parent ]

    I strongly disagree with your last statement (2.50 / 4) (#165)
    by izogi on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 09:35:47 AM EST

    Is it possible to behavior and action to planets and stars? The scientist in me says they are too far away to provide a significant impact. But without testing, I also cannot rule it out.

    The scientist in me says there's nothing to test, because there are no consistent claims that amount to anything more than manipulation. You might say that "maybe astrology works", but first you'd better sit down and define exactly what astrology is -- define some methodologies and expected behaviours so that it can actually be tested. Even then you'll have to knock off one astrologer at a time, so good luck.

    I realise that the scientific method relies a lot on testing, but it also relies on making rational judgements about what's worth testing, and how the results relate to the hypothesis. If you consider the claims made by most astrologers (which, as with nearly any activity including science, are different depending on who you ask), you should at least be able to make a reasonable decision about whether it's true.

    The unfortunate irony is that the origins of astrology were in some way scientific. For instance, people observed that when the stars were in certain locations, it would signal good and bad times for planting crops. (That's straight out observation, which is scientific.) Even Isaac Newton was interested in astrology, which at the time was very mixed with the very new philosophical science of understanding the mechanics of space. But at least to his defence, nowhere near as much was known about space then as is known now.

    It's a shame that early astrology was extended into loopy pseudoscience of thinking that the gods were using the stars and planets to foretell events. Today, the only relation between science and astrology is that the former consistently disproves the latter whenever practitioners of the latter provide anything specific enough to be disproven.

    The scientist in you says that the planets and stars are too far away to have a significant effect. With this I agree, as I'll also acknowledge that since gravity isn't known to absolutely degrade at any set distance, it's possible that there's some gravitational effect on Earth from other planets and stars.

    But seriously, take a look at what astrology typically predicts from a scientific viewpoint and compare it with what you've said. Do you really, honestly, seriously think there's a chance in hell that these forces from specific known planets, based on their observed locations in the sky and people's birthdays, affect people's love life and money problems??? Do you think it would have predicted for Nancy the safe times that Ronald Regan could have left the Whitehouse? This is what astrologers typically claim to do. Do you really need to test it any more than it has been already?


    - izogi


    [ Parent ]
    this is a valid criticism of astrological methods, (none / 0) (#194)
    by Battle Troll on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 01:52:37 PM EST

    The scientist in me says there's nothing to test, because there are no consistent claims that amount to anything more than manipulation. You might say that "maybe astrology works", but first you'd better sit down and define exactly what astrology is -- define some methodologies and expected behaviours so that it can actually be tested.

    But you're getting close to denying the very existence of any phenomena that can be observed but not yet explained.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]

    Menstruation (none / 0) (#601)
    by pod on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 02:08:54 AM EST

    There may be something to what you're saying here, IF all women around the world (or even within a 1km radius or whatever) menstruated at the same time, in sync with the moon, and IF all their cycles were exactly the same length.

    [ Parent ]
    Actually this does happen, but.... (none / 0) (#627)
    by JetJaguar on Fri Apr 16, 2004 at 04:32:10 PM EST

    The factors that cause the cycles to sync up don't appear to be associated with lunar phase, and it has been documented. However, the fact there are so many other organisms that have cycles strongly correlated with lunar phase probably indicates that women's cycles are more than likely, some kind of evolutionary hold-over. In other words, the 28 day cycle comes from some past common ancester whose reproductive cycle did depend on the moon. However, as we evolved, the need to keep synced up was lost, but we were still left with a 28 day cycle, and there was no evolutionary need for it to change, so it stayed at roughly where it was at.

    [ Parent ]
    I'm going out on a limb (2.68 / 16) (#119)
    by Tatarigami on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 01:17:35 AM EST

    ...and suggesting that the problem isn't belief in the supernatural, but the acceptance of a theory without attempting to examine the evidence -- which applies to sceptics as well as believers.

    For example, this conversation which I have dramatised for you in an amusing and enlightening manner:

    Friend: "Do you believe in aliens?"

    Me: "Depends.  What do you mean by aliens?"

    Friend: "You know, little green men on other planets."

    Me: "Well, recent advances in astronomy have shown us that planets exist in many solar systems, but we don't yet have the experience to say whether the conditions needed for life to arise are frequent.  And even given that those conditions exist on other planets, intelligence may not be so successful a survival trait that it tends to develop in many places.  However, given the vast number of observed stars in the universe which could have planets, which could in turn have life-friendly environments, which in their turn could have conditions which make a problem-solving intelligence an advantage, I think there's good reason to anticipate that somewhere out there exists non-human intelligence."

    Friend: "So you're one of those headcases who believes in aliens."

    Me: "The time has come for me to rip out your offensive vocal cords and slap you with them."

    What's wrong? (2.00 / 5) (#198)
    by Fon2d2 on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 01:55:51 PM EST

    It seems to me like your friend paraphrased your statement pretty well.

    [ Parent ]
    Re: What's wrong? (none / 1) (#600)
    by pod on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 02:04:36 AM EST

    That he did. I think the unstated subtext in the question, what it was really getting at, "do you believe in aliens (that visit earth and abduct people)?" The reasonable answer to the literal is "yes, there probably are aliens somewhere in the universe, at this very time, perhaps in our own galaxy". There's a difference between a 'nutcase' who believes in aliens and that he's seen them kidnap his dog, and someone who says there is probably life out there somewhere.

    [ Parent ]
    There's a difference between skepticism and idiocy (none / 3) (#204)
    by handslikesnakes on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 02:24:48 PM EST

    Now, if you had said tacked on "and [t]he aliens ARE already here...We just can['t] detect them." to your second to last statment, your friend would be perfectly justified in calling you a headcase.

    As it stands, Friend's problem is that he didn't distinguish between aliens and aliens buzzing around our planet.



    [ Parent ]
    and yet (none / 1) (#230)
    by speek on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 05:37:08 PM EST

    I'm mostly being attacked on my assertion that intelligence has most likely arisen elsewhere.

    --
    al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
    [ Parent ]

    who isn't a drama queen? (2.22 / 9) (#124)
    by limivore on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 02:17:58 AM EST

    Belief=to hold a theory intensely/closely/firmly. That is, to do more than simply entertain it but to call it accurate or the truth or something like that.

    Why hold a theory closely? Because it serves you to do so- ex: it has proven to be a useful guide in achieving ends like getting food or achieving a sense of high self-worth or enjoying the pleasure of feeling that one has 'intellectually grasped' something- or maybe it aids in the assertion of your favourite story of "what reality is, starring YOU".

    Where do we get these theories that we believe?
    A) from our culture- eg: other people, tv, books, etc.
    B) from authorities and authoritative works (see A. Also keep in mind that the authoritativeness of authorities is itself culturally derived).
    C) Via trusted technologies of theory-crafting, like logic : the technology of deriving "good theories" from other good theories. This only works with an initial set of theories however, they don't just appear out of nowhere. Where did those first theories come from? Did we just make them up? Maybe we did.

    What do we mean when we say "belief A is true but belief B is false"?
    We mean that belief A is MORE ACCURATE than belief B. A belief is called accurate or "true" when it accurately renders one's perspective. Of course, perspectives vary, so when a person says that theory B is false he is saying that B DOESN'T APPEAR TO RENDER HIS PERSPECTIVE ACCURATELY.

    Again, perspectives vary, and we ARE embedded from birth in a 24-7 barrage of cultural propoganda stuffed with arguments as to how theories A, B or C are true or  false or whatever. It's hard to keep a level head.

    Objectivity? What a joke. It's a story scientists tell their children at bedtime.

    What Belief? (2.60 / 5) (#139)
    by teece on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 06:13:26 AM EST

    Where did those first theories come from? Did we just make them up? Maybe we did.

    It is not entirely clear to me what kind of belief and theory you are talking about.

    Where did Newton's theory of Gravitation come from? He pulled it out of his ass -- after very careful and brilliant examination of the world around him. Further, his theory predicted things, and it was falsifiable. Turns out, it predicted things correctly. Extremely fucking correctly, as a matter of fact. My theory that Gravitation is the result of invisible, death ray wielding Zorgons is equally valid then? Even though it predicted absolutly nothing, and has been falsified many times (times which I conveniently ignore, of course).

    Not all belief is equal. Not by a long shot. While at a fundamental level it is probably impossible to be completely objective, and all human action is based on imperfect evidence, and thus requires some amount of faith in one's belief, it is for damn sure that certain beleifs are a hell of a lot more logical than others.

    The quacks on sci.physics that are sure Relativity/EM/QM etc. are all wrong and bullshit have never done anything usefull for me. The scientists and engineers that 'believe' in those things have given me TVs, computers, MRIs, etc.

    So I guess I don't really understand what your point is.

    -- Hello_World.c, 17 Errors, 31 Warnings...
    [ Parent ]

    Well (none / 2) (#146)
    by Belligerent Dove on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 07:35:10 AM EST

    The most important way in which I see you disagree with the parent poster is when you say that certain beliefs are more logical than others. I assume by this you mean to say rational.

    I think that about that, the grandparent poster's point is — and I'd agree — that such a statement is something we ascribe to theories when (after) we notice they work. That is to say, instead of saying that rationality works, which is difficult to justify philosophically, we call all things that work rational. One possible such view on how that could express itself in real life can be found in Kuhn's investigation into the history of science.

    So I guess I don't really understand what your point is.
    Amen! There's nothing spectacular about it except for the fury which such philosophical talk evokes in some scientists. (Though I don't mean to dismiss the value in that. ;))

    But the way in which I like to understand limivore's intention is that skeptics should stop talking about the objective truth and that they should lay the emphasize on proper justification for beliefs. In a way this is already there modus operandi, but many skeptics inconsistently and incessantly worship the objective truth. What I mean by this is best explained by an archetypal example of a skeptic who would, in the name of truth, deny people an ill person the placebo effect of homeopathy or the mental ease from talking to a psychotherapist.

    [ Parent ]

    Worldview difference (2.50 / 4) (#151)
    by bugmaster on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 08:41:56 AM EST

    I think this disagreement between the parent posters is due to a fundamental difference in worldviews.

    According to the objectivist (or whatever they're calling it today) worldview, there exists an objective reality, which we inhabit. We will never be able to perceive this reality with 100% accuracy -- our senses are faulty, our devices are innacurate, etc. In this worldview, "truth" is just an approximate degree of how closely your model of reality (gravity, Zogon rays, etc.) corresponds to the world outside. This is the view that skeptics usually (though not always) espouse. There are tools which allow the skeptics to build more accurate models (well, assuming their worldview is true, of course), such as the scientific method.

    According to the relativist (or whatever they're calling it today) worldview, objective reality does not exist. What we perceive as "real" is a either a consensual hallucination, or a mental projection, or something to that extent. Thus, "truth" is merely a measure of internal consistency of your beliefs; there are as many truths as there are people. Thus, under the relativist worldview, science is discourse which is similar to literature or art criticism -- only scientific discourse is, of course, much more stifling, due to all the built-in rules and whatnot.

    As you can see, these two worldviews are diametrically opposed; they cannot be reconciled. As you also can probably see, this last sentence betrays my own adherence to the objectivist worldview. I personally think that this worldview makes a lot more sense, because it explains where all these nifty computers come from (among other things), and why I can't make gravity point sideways at my whim. Unfortunately, the objectivist worldview is not nearly as inspiring as the relativist one; it explicitly disallows certain feats, as the objectivist science has determined that they will never be possible. ESP, faster-than-light travel, and perpetual motion engines are among these impossible feats.
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]

    One physical world? Sure. Truth? Too troublesome. (none / 2) (#215)
    by Belligerent Dove on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 04:31:59 PM EST

    Oh but I think a relativist can agree that there is a physical world out there in which we all live. And when a relativist agrees with that he'll probably also agree that our sciences have created an impressive collection of rules that offer great predictive behavior (or have such a history). In fact, the relativism which I have come across is extremely dull in that regard. It only happens to be some dogmas and also many people seem to not understand exactly what the consequences are from dropping those dogmas.

    What on the other hand, does need to be dismissed are the idea of 1:1 correspondence to reality and the thought that there is something like the scientific method that makes our body of knowledge converge to reality. Fortunately this is, as I said before, not a big deal.

    The intuitive idea 1:1 correspondence to reality says that we have knowledge (truth statements) which describes reality at its very essence. By means of an example I'll explain both the relativist's and the essensialist's view on some truth statements. It's not historically accurate but I'll get to that later.

    The ancient aspiring physicist might have said “the apple falls from the tree.” True says the relativist. True says the ancient realist. Fast forward; along comes Newton, he says “the apple is pulled to the earth by gravity.” True says the relativist. True that, and those ancient people were wrong, says the Newtonian realist. Along comes a guy with a funny haircut, he says “hey now. That Newton fellow was a smart cookie but when we do this complicated tests it breaks down. Fortunately, I discovered the general theory of relativity which solves all problems.” True — space time is curved, says the relativist. Thanks to our superior technology and experiments we can finally see reality, says the ever optimistic realist.

    Point is, all these truth statements have been and continue to be useful every day and the relativist acknowledges that. What the relativist refuses to do, however, is saying that he describes reality. The relativist is too relaxed for that and he's betting that bright scientist will devise new experiments which will require new theories to explain their results. The relativist says that statements claiming to be in 1:1 correspondence to reality are a joke surely to be proved wrong by new experiments.

    At this point you might think that I'm digressing. Surely the point is that thanks to science we can approximate the essence of reality. We are even converging toward it! Or so you might think. I'll look into what it means to approximate reality first, and then I'll talk about converging toward reality. To make my job easier I'll continue this only with respect to truth and reality in physics.

    When one speaks of approximating the essence of reality, they usually mean one of two things. The first meaning can be that one believes to have rules and laws about the physical world which will either hold up eternally or will otherwise only be refined, never proved wrong, in the future. I'll bring this idea up again when I talk about convergence toward truth. The second understanding is that one has an as accurate model of the physical world as possible at a given time.

    That one has when “using the scientific model” an as accurate model of the physical world as possible at a given time is, I believe, true. It is trivially true because scientists build their theories to explain as much observed phenomena as possible. So it's true by definition. The definition in question being one which decides which theory explains as much as possible of observed phenomena. In other words, it's a definition or theory of justification.

    And this term, justification, is key because what this particular meaning for the approximation of reality is, in effect, is not truth but justified belief. Thus, what is required is a definition, a theory, of justified belief. We need such a theory without depending on 1:1 truth correspondence; we need it to not be based on the dogma of the scientific method; and we want it to be one that only tells you which belief out of many is that one belief which works best of all. This definition or theory is also, as far as I'm concerned, what skepticism is or should be about.

    Mind you, as Kuhn showed (link in previous post) this would have at one point in time meant that you would have chosen an epicyclic model of the solar system over the model outlined by Copernicus. But when we don't fool ourselves into thinking we know what truth is, that shouldn't be a problem.

    Next: Does our scientific body of knowledge converge to an essence of reality or not? The answer seems to be an obvious YES at first so I'll start with what science can bring us.

    Science will over time, as a consequence of what I talked about concerning the first meaning for the approximation of truth, bring us a larger and larger body of knowledge that describes the observed worldly phenomena in greater and greater detail. There; bland and uncontroversially I believe that is what science will bring us. The question left is, why isn't that also bringing us closer to truth?

    Well, it simply isn't obvious that there is an essence of reality. At least, it isn't known if we won't spend eternity coming up with new experiments that bring us unexpected results each time. Either because of the relation of our theories to reality, or because of a, perhaps, fundamental nature of the Universe. I won't go into the second reason because that has nothing to do with relativism.

    At last it's time to give a reason why our theories may not get us to a point where we have explained everything there is to explain. Well, quite simply there are an infinite number of ways to explain any event and an infinite number of ways to explain the relations of things in an observation. Each of these ways having their own nuances. Sometimes flaws are found in a currently used theory and then a new explanation needs to be found.

    This can express itself either in the growing and refining of laws in a certain school of thought, or this can express itself -violently- as the overthrowing of a paradigm and replacing it with something radically different. Like when Einstein's theory replaced Newton's explanation of gravity. This, again, is a dull fact. You'll already find many (if not most) physicists saying that Newton is a special case of relativity.

    You notice this, by the way, well in psychology where there are many schools of thoughts, each with their own experimental successes and failures. In physics at the moment (though this has not always been the case; see Kuhn) there are two models accepted, being a cosmological model based on relativity and a quantum-level model. Both models are inconsistent but are also complements (how relative!). Ultimately they might both be “obsoleted” by something else; perhaps a string theory, perhaps M-theory, I don't know; which in turn would invite new experiments and so on. Anyway... whether or not there will ever come a time where we'll hit the fabric of reality, I don't dare say but we sure don't have any reason to assume we will a priori.

    Another point where the one truth can be challenged are the construction of a theory that explains, for example, biology from physics. There's a lot of concepts that need to be mapped for that to happen; and the relativist's view is that many of those concepts are going to be peculiar to humans and the culture that we live and die in, i.e. not realistically translatable, or even definable in logic. And if biology works, then there's still psychology, economics, etc. The unification of all sciences, in conclusion, is very unlikely to ever happen. I wouldn't think that worldview is controversial though.

    There are more arguments, of course, and I have lots more to say but I quit here with a sigh of desperation. Oh well; at least now I have experienced first-hand why people fill whole books on this topic.

    [ Parent ]

    Relativism (none / 1) (#285)
    by bugmaster on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 11:36:06 PM EST

    Oh but I think a relativist can agree that there is a physical world out there in which we all live.
    No. He can't. Because then he'd be an objectivist.

    The rest of your post, though, does sound like you subscribe to the relativist position. For example, you speak of infinite number of explanations for any event which are all equally valid; an objectivist would deny this. You also refer to science as being composed of "schools of thought"; while there nominally are schools of thought in science, an objectivist would deny that these schools of thought are identical to those of, say, philosophy. The notions of "mapping concepts" and "unification of sciences" are likewise incompatible with the standard objecivist view.
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]

    One physical world (none / 0) (#290)
    by Belligerent Dove on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 02:44:42 AM EST

    I don't know what you mean by relativism but from a postmodern perspective it's fine to believe in a shared physical world.

    [ Parent ]
    Re: One physical world (none / 1) (#305)
    by bugmaster on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 07:18:50 AM EST

    Ok, I'm actually not sure what beliefs postmodernists subscribe to; last time I tried to read their papers, I lost the ability to discern right from bottom and left from blue.

    Moving right along: if you believe in a "shared physical world", then you have a really easy criterion for truth (the degree of correctness with which your model approaches the real world), and verification of truth (scientific method, theories, experimentation, etc.). Thus, not all possible explanations for an event are equal, since they all have varying degrees of correctness, and you can pick the one that is most likely to be true. Thus, science ceases to be a matter of mere opinion -- and I think this is something that most relativists will deny.
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]

    did you read his post? (none / 1) (#311)
    by speek on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 08:36:58 AM EST

    I'm actually not sure what beliefs postmodernists subscribe to

    Did you read his big long post? You don't get a much clearer statement of a postmodernist view of science than that. It's not complete, of course, but it's a great start.

    Your "easy criterion" for truth is impossible to verify unless you're God. Your "verification of truth" is verifying that perceived outcomes match expected perceived outcomes. From "the apple falls", to "the earth's gravity pulls the apple", to "the apple follows the paths of space-time", we have succeeded in verifying our beliefs - up until our perceptions expanded beyond the previous explanation. At no time are you actually verifying that "your model approaches the real world". You may conjecture that since you're able to predict more interesting stuff that you're getting closer, but it will always be simply conjecture.

    Proving that conjecture to be more than conjecture has been one of the big goals of philosophy, and some suggest we'd be better off just dropping it. Who cares? It works. Let's see what else works and not worry about corresponding with reality.

    --
    al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
    [ Parent ]

    Big long post (none / 2) (#312)
    by bugmaster on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 09:07:37 AM EST

    You don't get a much clearer statement of a postmodernist view of science than that.
    It's a shame, I know. Moving along:

    You're absolutely right that we cannot be 100% certain that there exists an objective reality. Duh. However, objectivists use the principle of parsimony (aka Occam's Razor) to conclude that the reason that their "perceived outcomes match expected perceived outcomes" is that their methods are good; and, the methods are good because they are based on correct assumptions; the assumptions being, of course, that the real world exists.

    It is, of course, possible that there isn't a real world of any kind, and that the evil AIs who run the Matrix are simply messing with our heads. However, this explanation is a lot more complex, and thus we're justified in assuming the simpler one (that the real world exists).

    You mention that "it works" (science, I assume), and we shouldn't care why, but... what do you mean by "works", exactly ?
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]

    you've got some preconceptions getting in the way (none / 1) (#314)
    by speek on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 09:36:11 AM EST

    You're absolutely right that we cannot be 100% certain that there exists an objective reality

    Not what I said. You seem fixated on that. For myself, I am currently a materialist through and through. Yet, also very much a relativist in the sense described by the previous poster. A real world exists. Absolutely. No argument.

    what do you mean by "works", exactly ?

    And there's the rub. If we didn't perceive science as being useful in some way, we'd drop it like a hot potato regardless of it's truth-value. What "works" is defined by us, by our culture, our history, our desires, etc.

    This doesn't make our beliefs a random free-for-all. There is still a real physical world that still smacks us dead. You just have to recognize the divide between the real world and our explanations of it, and the link between the two is not an equivalency test that we conduct via the scientific method. The scientific method tries the link the two through the intermediary of predicted results.


    --
    al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
    [ Parent ]

    Works ? (none / 1) (#315)
    by bugmaster on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 10:18:43 AM EST

    So, uh, again: what do you mean by "works" ? I want to know what you mean by it, not society or culture or whatever. So. Again. What do you mean when you say, "science works" ?

    Anyways, I don't think I've ever stated that we are omniscient, as you seem to imply. I think you completely agree with me on the scientific method though (it links our models to reality through predicted results). But that means that you have abandoned relativism altogether, seeing as you posited that there is a reality to which we can link our models. Welcome to my worldview :-)
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]

    works (none / 1) (#316)
    by speek on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 11:26:58 AM EST

    What works is what helps me achieve my goals. Atkin's diet works for me because I lose weight on it and feel better eating that way. Prozac doesn't work for me because all it did was make the skin peel off my hands. Are either of these statements true? Does my model match up with reality? Does it matter? The explanation "works" for me, for now.

    Actually I never held a view of the world that matches what you seem to mean when you say relativism. And I did not say we can link our models to reality - I said that's what science tries to do. The flaws with claiming that it succeeds have been repeated too many times here to go through it again.

    --
    al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
    [ Parent ]

    Confusion (none / 2) (#354)
    by bugmaster on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 08:20:11 PM EST

    So, it seems like you enjoy the byproduct of science (computers, cars, Prozac, diets -- though Atkins is not all that scientific), but you claim that science does not succeed in its main goal. Hm. How's that again ?

    In any case, your "it works" explanation refers to technology, not science. I, of course, would claim that without science, technology couldn't exist -- but that only works if the core assumptions of science are true, which you deny (I think).
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]

    What 'if science works' means (none / 1) (#380)
    by Belligerent Dove on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 07:11:22 AM EST

    A scientific hypothesis works if it is able to make predictions. If it isn't able to do that, then we drop the hypothesis.

    Similarly, if a science works is generally determined by its continuing success in adding useful hypotheses.

    [ Parent ]

    I don't quite like that. (none / 1) (#468)
    by Estanislao Martínez on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 05:08:35 AM EST

    I just have to jump in.

    I think that the crucial thing about using the word "works" in the view presented in this thread is that it reintroduces science into society. "Science works" means "science furthers people's interests". But it is also crucial to see that various people's interests are in conflict in any society, and these conflicts are constantly being adjudicated in favor of one part or the other.

    As such, any attempted summary of what the word "works" means in the statement "science works" is ideological: it adjudicates in favor of one set of people's interests.

    --em
    [ Parent ]

    Works (none / 0) (#487)
    by bugmaster on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 07:40:11 AM EST

    It sounds like "science works" is a bit of a non-statement, then. *shrug*
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]
    Nope. (none / 0) (#590)
    by Estanislao Martínez on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 06:37:12 PM EST

    It means that "science works" means that science furthers some people's interests. It can sometimes be the case that some of these interests are shared by most everybody; e.g. since most people would rather not die from a disease, there's plenty of results in medicine that are in most everybody's interest. It is also often the case that scientist research something that nobody really has an overriding interest over: e.g. nobody enormously cares that the boiling point of different saline solutions is one number, and not another one.

    But very often, the products of science respond to the interests of one group of people over those of others. Contemporary diagnostic psychiatry, for example, developed out of the confluence of a variety of interests, including those of insurers, relatives of mentally ill people (through lobbying organizations), the pharmaceutical industry. This is often in the best interest of the patient (the old psychoanalytic approach to schizophrenia, that it was produced by "schizophrenogenic" mothers, was not very good for patients, and put the blame on the relatives to top it off); but other times it isn't (oftentimes children are diagnosed with "conduct disorders", essentially, as a way to shift blame from neglectful parents; and the neuroleptic drugs that we give schizophrenics aren't often all that good for them).

    --em
    [ Parent ]

    True (none / 0) (#569)
    by Belligerent Dove on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 11:35:53 AM EST

    Though I think I had myself (sneakily) covered in the word “useful”.

    Still, I don't see much disagreement (ideological or otherwise) about usefulness on the topic of physics so I don't see your remark having practical effect in that area. Perhaps you weren't talking about physics though.

    [ Parent ]

    science works (none / 1) (#391)
    by speek on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 10:57:17 AM EST

    Science is working great. I never said otherwise. But "working" is a pragmatic criteria that assumes nothing about what's "True". Technology existed long before science, which was mostly invented in Europe between 1500-1800 and is still being refined today. But the romans, chinese, egyptians, greeks, Mayans, etc all had "technology".

    --
    al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
    [ Parent ]

    So? (none / 0) (#464)
    by handslikesnakes on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 04:18:37 AM EST

    Are you suggesting that we return to trial and error in our technology, rather than in our theory?

    Because it's fairly obvious that "round" is a good shape for a wheel, but not that silicon is a good material for processing binary logic.



    [ Parent ]
    Truth is problematic (none / 1) (#326)
    by Belligerent Dove on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 01:32:56 PM EST

    In some way, I would indeed agree that science is a matter of opinion. The specific matter in which it is a matter of opinion lies in the types of proof that is excepted in each field. This is very uncontroversial in math (though, for example, induction has not always been accepted by all mathematicians as proof) and physics (a science which until Newton was not as stable though); and is liberal the social sciences.

    Your criterion for truth still depends critically on the possibility of 1:1 correspondence with reality and on the scientific method converging toward it. And that's a fatal flaw.

    You bring up again the scientific method, but could you also care to describe what it is exactly that you mean? I bet that no matter how you describe it, it will depend somewhere on a theory such as verification, confirmation, falsification or something probabilistic like Bayes. Each of which has been shown to have their own set of problems. Hence, stating that science will bring us truth is and remains a dogma.

    [ Parent ]

    Truth (none / 1) (#355)
    by bugmaster on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 08:35:40 PM EST

    I don't think I ever claimed 1:1 correspondence; in most cases, three significant figures or so are enough. Science doesn't deal with proofs at all, it just deals with degree of certainty.

    Scientific-method-wise, yes, everything has problems, but I can't tell which specific problems you mean just by looking at your comment.

    I absolutely agree that "science will bring us absolute truth, amen" is a dogma; however, I've never claimed that. "Science is the best thing we have that brings us incrementally closer to truth" is good enough for me.
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]

    Science (none / 1) (#377)
    by Belligerent Dove on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 06:52:12 AM EST

    You may not claim 1:1 correspondence but you do claim the scientific method gets us closer and closer to it.

    I agree that science doesn't deal with proof at all, of course. It is to some extent also true that science deals with degree of certainty, but said degree is definitely relative to your justification theory and to the experiments performed. What this means is that we can not know a priori if we're actually building theories that bring us closer to truth, or if we're just building elaborate hacks to deal with the specific experimental results we got our hands on. For all we know, physicists might very well be building a modern variant on the epicyclic model of the solar system; and sure, that'd give us nice results now; but long term they'd want to make a paradigm shift to cope with new empiric data gathered.

    I would explain the problems inherit in some interpretation of the scientific method, but you'd have to be pretty specific lest I'd need 5,000 words to reply. It's mostly basic Philosophy of Science stuff really.

    [ Parent ]

    Re: Science (none / 1) (#386)
    by bugmaster on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 08:52:19 AM EST

    Of course, it's always possible that our current scientific models are dead wrong. But then, the burden of proof would be on you to explain why they come up with increasingly more accurate predictions. I gave what I think is a pretty simple explanation -- because our models are getting closer to reality -- but if you reject it, it's up to you to come up with something better.

    Note that true "paradigm shifts" happen very rarely; that whole "whoa, the Earth is not the center of the Universe !" thing comes to mind, and that was before science was truly developed. Even old, discarded models, give us some pretty useful predictions. For example, we now know that Newtonian mechanics is not the whole story -- but it's pretty good if all you want to do is send a rover to Mars. We know that the Earth is not flat -- but if you want to measure the height of a building, or launch a cannonball, you might as well assume that it's flat. Epicycles don't work for sending probes to Mars, but they're pretty good for modeling planetary motion that you can see from Earth. And so on and so forth.

    Scientific inquiry progresses gradually, not in magic paradigm shifts.
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]

    Paradigm Shifts (none / 0) (#388)
    by Belligerent Dove on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 10:08:30 AM EST

    The alternative I offered was the self evident fact that we're building models that fit more and more evidence. The fact that predictions are more and more accurate affirms that the Universe can at least to a certain extent be understood in mathematical rules and laws.

    In this light it will be interesting to see what will come of those high-tech experiments to test some String Theory / M-Theory hypotheses, and in what ways Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity might be effected by future inquiry into a unified theory of physics.

    I would think that you agree with my previous posts in that second paragraph. The only objection you seem to raise is that my examples somehow weren't 'true' paradigm shifts because they still work in the conditions they were designed in. This is what I have been saying all along. New experiments came along and different models had to be built to accommodate. The old models just didn't live up to the dream of 'touching' the essence, or fabric, of reality anymore. And sure, when such a model is instated scientific inquiry progresses slowly, but these Kuhnian paradigm shift do exist also.

    [ Parent ]

    Re: Paradigm shifts (none / 1) (#406)
    by bugmaster on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 01:50:26 PM EST

    The alternative I offered was the self evident fact that we're building models that fit more and more evidence.
    That's just restating the question, not providing an answer. I asked the question, "why can we build increasingly better models ?" I then answered this question, "because these models are getting closer and closer to the actual objective reality of the world". What's your explanation ?

    I don't think I understand what you mean about paradigm shifts and touching the fabric of reality. No scientific model that we have today claims to make us omniscient -- but they don't need to, so that's not a problem. You could've meant something else though, I'm not sure.
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]

    Stop asking for explanations. (none / 0) (#470)
    by Estanislao Martínez on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 05:15:15 AM EST

    I asked the question, "why can we build increasingly better models ?" I then answered this question, "because these models are getting closer and closer to the actual objective reality of the world". What's your explanation?

    You're not going to get an answer to that question. And that's part of the point. Why do you want such an answer? Do you think you need one? What would change if you had one?

    You and your materials science colleagues try a bunch of different sets of equations, and one of them allows you to synthesize a plastic that's harder than what you had before. You try it again, it works again. That's all. What more do you want?

    --em
    [ Parent ]

    What do I want ? (none / 1) (#484)
    by bugmaster on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 07:31:40 AM EST

    Oh, nothing. I just want to be intellectually honest. I want to use technology (harder plastics), which are a product of science (organic chemistry), which rests on the basic assumption that there exists a real world. Thus, I either have to accept this assumption, or come up with something better. Sure, I can pretend that "I'm not going to get an answer to that question", but I don't want to be a hypocrite.
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]
    It's hard to give it up, I know. (none / 1) (#499)
    by Estanislao Martínez on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 12:29:36 PM EST

    which rests on the basic assumption that there exists a real world.

    The point is that this is not right. The assumption doesn't buy you anything. Think it through. What difference does it make if it works because there is a real world which the theory corresponds to, or if it works just because?

    --em
    [ Parent ]

    That's just silly (none / 0) (#526)
    by bugmaster on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 09:18:38 PM EST

    It sounds like what you want is to close your eyes and sing, "It looks like the evidence is overwhelming that there's a world out there, but... I'm not listening ! la la la la !" Uh, ok. That sounds pretty silly to me, though.
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]
    We have to be careful with words (none / 0) (#580)
    by Estanislao Martínez on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 03:09:26 PM EST

    What's at stake is whether there's an "objective" world-in-itself, which our sciences derive their truth from by correspondence. All parties in this discussion agree that there's a "world" (I may have expressed myself less carefully than I might); the disagreement arises whether the world is independent from any representation.

    What I say now: appeal to such a mythical object as the "objective" world doesn't make the mystery at hand (the fact that choosing one formula over the other lets you synthesize a better plastic) any less mysterious. It only displaces it: instead of being stumped by questions such as "how can this formula work?", you're going to be stumped by questions such as "how can my use of language correspond to a world-in-itself?" (which is a variant of the older, classic question of how can ideas in the mind reach a world, instead of just further ideas).

    Your insistence in an "objective" world can only be sustained by your faith that questions such as the second one are less mysterious than the question about the formulas and the plastics. But studying this sort of thing leads me to conclude that they aren't, and that by displacing the mystery you don't get any closer to an "explanation".

    --em
    [ Parent ]

    Oh, ok (none / 0) (#596)
    by bugmaster on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 11:33:23 PM EST

    ...the disagreement arises whether the world is independent from any representation.
    Oh, that's easy then. Science assumes that such a world exists (because the scientific method deals with an external world with immutable laws); therefore, if you want to use science, you have to assume that too. It's sort of like software: if you want to run Evolution, you have to install Gnome. There are no deep philosophical reasons; it's just a package requirement.

    ...instead of being stumped by questions such as "how can this formula work?", you're going to be stumped by questions such as "how can my use of language correspond to a world-in-itself?"
    Huh, that always seemed obvious to me. Our language is a product of our brains and our senses; our brains evolved specifically to build reasonably accurate models of the world (it's easier to chase down food that way, run away from predators, etc.); and our senses, inaccurate as they may be, are still affected by the world (that's how they, uh, sense things). Thus, it makes sense that we'd develop language that corresponds to the world (not 100% of course). It makes even more sense when you recall that we ourselves are part of the world just like rocks or trees or whatnot.

    Now, I definitely agree that my explanation is not unique. We could all be living in the Matrix, or reality could be shaped out of the Aether, or whatnot. Still, I think the naturalistic explanation makes a lot more sense than the alternatives.
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]

    That's circular. (none / 0) (#614)
    by Estanislao Martínez on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 08:30:13 PM EST

    Science assumes that such a world exists (because the scientific method deals with an external world with immutable laws); therefore, if you want to use science, you have to assume that too.

    You're baldly asserting the point under question. What various people have told you in this thread is that this is not true-- that we don't need any such assumptions to do science. It doesn't matter what you assume, if you manage to choose a formula that will let you synthesize a plastic that meets your requirements.

    Our language is a product of our brains and our senses; our brains evolved specifically to build reasonably accurate models of the world (it's easier to chase down food that way, run away from predators, etc.); and our senses, inaccurate as they may be, are still affected by the world (that's how they, uh, sense things). Thus, it makes sense that we'd develop language that corresponds to the world (not 100% of course).

    This is a circular argument. You're assuming part of the conclusion: that there is a world-in-itself independent of our representation, so that it makes sense to talk of what our brains evolved to do in and of themselves, independent of how we represent people as being.

    --em
    [ Parent ]

    I'm back (none / 0) (#575)
    by Belligerent Dove on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 12:33:46 PM EST

    I offered you a tautology, which isn't necessarily bad, and is all you should expect here as my point happens to be that the concept of truth is obsolete. That's truth understood as one-to-one correspondence with reality. And if that doesn't suit you then you're welcome to come up with a different different definition for truth.

    The fabric of reality is a term that I think was coined by Stephen Hawking. He does use the term in any case.

    You're correct that no scientific model today claims to make us omniscient, but they do make claims on reality. And many of the (implicit) claims made by the model (not science per se) are at any time untested (e.g. the predictions made by the Newtonion model about gravity on cosmological scale). My point here is that these claims need to be understood in terms of the experiments performed and that you just can't infer from established models how reality will seem to work when you try sufficiently more advanced experiments.

    I like this page on pardigm shifts. Does that explanation help you understand the concept? Sadly there's a lot of trash out there, including Wikipedia's description.

    [ Parent ]

    Addendum (none / 0) (#610)
    by Belligerent Dove on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 11:29:37 AM EST

    A relevant link.

    [ Parent ]
    Strawman. (none / 0) (#466)
    by Estanislao Martínez on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 04:53:58 AM EST

    According to the relativist (or whatever they're calling it today) worldview, objective reality does not exist. What we perceive as "real" is a either a consensual hallucination, or a mental projection, or something to that extent. Thus, "truth" is merely a measure of internal consistency of your beliefs; there are as many truths as there are people.

    Nope. The people you label "relativists" don't believe anything of the sort.

    I'm pretty sure that I meet your standards for "relativism", and I'll tell you this: we can agree that science does a pretty remarkable job of allowing us to manipulate our world for various ends. But when you jump to the conclusion that this is "explained" by there being an "objective relaity", and that the theories are true in virtue of "correspondence" to this reality, you've made a pretty nasty leap of logic.

    You'll never be able to demonstrate that there is such a "correspondence" at all, much less to explain why science succeeds in doing what it does (and don't overestimate it-- science fails all the time).

    --em
    [ Parent ]

    Whay to fall flat on your face. (none / 0) (#539)
    by artis on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 12:29:44 AM EST

    Unfortunately, the objectivist worldview is not nearly as inspiring as the relativist one; it explicitly disallows certain feats, as the objectivist science has determined that they will never be possible. ESP, faster-than-light travel, and perpetual motion engines are among these impossible feats.
    Impossible? Impossible? IMPOSSIBLE?
    --
    Can you know that you are omniscient?
    [ Parent ]
    oh, please... (2.50 / 4) (#147)
    by Viliam Bur on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 07:42:38 AM EST

    I have heard this postmodern stuff more then enough to make me feel tired. Of course we believe a lot of things just to make us happy (or sometimes unhappy); we say of lot of things we actually do not believe, just to have some advantage, etc. This does not mean that everything we believe follows the same pattern.

    For the sense of self-worth, I have to believe things that make me proud; they do not have to reflect anything except my own expectations on what is noble - this is only between me and me. For finding a food, it is useful to believe it is where is really is - this is between me and environment. Of course, I may live in Matrix, where the food is not the real food, and the place with food is not a real place; yet this is between me and environment (environment = Matrix); the more I understand the environment, more food I find.

    You put focus on from where we get the ideas from. It certainly is a good thing to notice; but too much stress on this usually leads to argumentation ad hominem: "They (teachers) want me to believe that 2+2=4, but they are bad people and try to manipulate me; therefore 2+2 is not really 4."

    Of course, different experience leads to different beliefs. This is why scientists put so much stress on experiment = the repeatable experience. You believe that experiment X will bring result A, I believe that it will bring result B - great! Let's do the experiment, let's repeat it 100 times, see the results together, invite third parties as observers, and let them also repeat the experiment. Sometimes this cannot be done; but when it is, this is the scientific way of gaining knowledge.

    Being surrounded by cultural propaganda - does it make people unable to see through it? Your comment sounds like you are able to see the propaganda, you are able to say something contrary to general beliefs. Then, others may be able to do this too.

    Objectivity means trying to build on shared experience. Though not all experience can be shared, some can. Though not everyone is honestly trying, some are.

    [ Parent ]

    succinctly, then, and more... (none / 2) (#276)
    by limivore on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 09:55:18 PM EST

    1)
    Theories derive from perspectives.
    AND
    Perspectives derive from theories
    Every stage magician knows that.
    Therefor our culture functions as a positive-feedback story generator. A lie generator.

    2)
    As for the "scientific method"
    A theory is an infinite reduction of that which is rendered by it. A theory reflects the perspective/intents of  the theory-author primarily.
    Does infinite reduction = falsehood?
    If I call dogs "hairy brown 4-legged beings", am I wrong?

    So we live in a bubble of dreams and the only facts are the local ones. Is that dishearteningly unmajestic?

    [ Parent ]

    This is a bit surprising. (2.54 / 11) (#125)
    by razumiking on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 02:18:17 AM EST

    It's strange to see people with such a firm belief in science and rational thought so irrationally reject the idea of "psychic phenomena." There's been some psychological research (notably the study done in Germany a while back and subsequently reproduced elsewhere) that seems to suggest that ESP and telepathy are not so farfetched at all.

    Beyond the (rather underpublicized) scientific evidence, everyday experience ought to tip off the perceptive observer that something is going on in this area that is not well understood. For example, those of you who have been very close with another for a long period of time may have noticed how you begin to pick up on each other's thoughts, even without looking at each other. This sort of thing is very common in my experience and it baffles me how little attention it gets.

    Beyond this, there's deja vu, shared dreams, and all the various other things one hears about (and often experiences first hand). Where would ideas like these even come from without some basis in reality?

    In the final analysis, one has to realize that skepticism is no reason to dismiss everyday experience. Science is not so much about skepticism as empiricism. Once you've denied what you experience everyday, you've abandoned science for pseudoscience and intellectualism for pseudointellectualism.

    Explanation is not the experience (none / 1) (#138)
    by Viliam Bur on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 05:46:20 AM EST

    Guessing the thoughts of people you know for a long period... is probably just a proof that you know them very good, and that people are predictable enough. Shared dreams may be a consequence of some shared experience (which reflects in dreams). And so on...

    However, I strongly agree that being "scientific" can be often used for rejecting the ideas one does not agree with; if these ideas are not experimentally proven enough. If something is difficult both to prove and reject, some people will say "It is not true, because it was not scientifically proven" - but not being proven is not the same as not being true.

    I suggest being careful about drawing conclusions from everyday experience. It is my everyday experience that Sun moves on the sky; but the Earth is actually rotating. I am not denying the experience; I am only careful about accepting the first (most simple) possible explanation of the experience, that comes into mind.

    [ Parent ]

    Reminds me about a story (none / 0) (#149)
    by lowmagnet on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 08:17:53 AM EST

    That reminds me about some old science fiction story with these 'psychics' that studied the human thought process that they could read the emotions of everyone around them from external stimuli. They could also read each others thoughts because their method of thinking was so regimented that they thought like robots.

    [ Parent ]
    Yeah? (none / 0) (#179)
    by bakuretsu on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 11:17:51 AM EST

    It reminds me of a book I read in 6th grade called "Psion," a pretty terrible sci-fi novel in which the protagonist is a telepath and joins a rag-tag group of fellow mind powers people, among them a telekenetic and a teleport, to rescue people or some shit.

    Yeah, those were the days. I got a kick out of all the vulgar language, mostly. Hey, I was in 6th grade, what do you want?

    -- Airborne
        aka Bakuretsu
        The Bailiwick -- DESIGNHUB 2004
    [ Parent ]

    evidence (none / 1) (#273)
    by banffbug on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 09:43:42 PM EST

    posture, pupil dilation, cheek colour, forehead wrinkles, mouth muscles, body tenseness, figiting, breathing, are all externally readable signs, it doesn't take a psychic to deduce these.

    [ Parent ]
    No rejection (2.00 / 4) (#267)
    by Scratch o matic on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 08:58:19 PM EST

    Randi's philosophy (and mine) is not that these things are impossible. It's that there is no properly collected evidence of them. Note that I said evidence, not proof. And the key words are properly collected.

    If someone contacts Randi and says, "I can detect water with a stick," he doesn't say, "No you can't." He says, "Great. Show me." Simple.

    A lot of people who believe in these things tend to misunderstand, or ignore, the concept of science. Science is merely a process for forming and testing theories to learn about how things work. It needn't involve fancy equipment and test tubes and lab coats. If I claim that I can pop a balloon in a locked room from the room next door, and my claim is tested in such a way that all other methods of popping the balloon are eliminated, then it has been scientifically proven that I can pop the balloon. It may take other experiments to learn how I did it, and it may be determined that I have some not-yet-understood power, but initally my claim was tested and proven to be true.

    I don't understand why, when people make claims to have fantastic abilities, it isn't reasonable to ask them to demonstrate their abilities in such a manner that other, more plausible explanations are removed from the scenario.

    [ Parent ]
    Except.. (none / 1) (#423)
    by Steeltoe on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 08:52:32 PM EST

    I believe YOU do, but what Randi does is say "Now, we both know you're a fraud and a crook!".

    He's arrogant, rude and refuses to have people come to his tests, where he is police, judge and jury, with no neutral, objective or even expert witnesses.

    It's a scam and a fraud, clean and simple.

    It's great that you believe in science, but there are closed-minded people who like to tell people what they should believe. They are no better than priests in the dark ages.

    Explore the Art of Living

    [ Parent ]

    No, that's not what he says. (none / 0) (#440)
    by craigd on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 12:00:17 AM EST

    At least, there's no proof that that's what he says. Maybe he does, but you've been posting the same source for this over and over again, and that source is not a reliable one.

    As mentioned in multiple places, the letter where he said that is fake. If you stop saturating us with your claims and instead listen rationally to the people who respond to your evidence with evidence, we'll also find your claims that the paranormal exists a bit more tenable.

    For some reason, whenever someone calls you on that letter, you vanish, only to reappear elsewhere with the same letter. Oddly, that's exactly how many pseudoscientists* behave.


    *(The fact that there are pseudoscientists out there is not to be interpreted as a blanket assertion by me that there aren't also real people doing things Randi thinks are false. They just haven't shown the proof yet)


    A man who says little is a man who speaks two syllables.
    [ Parent ]
    You mistake me (none / 1) (#492)
    by Steeltoe on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 10:27:47 AM EST

    I think you just proved my point about sceptisism. It's draining my energy just to talk about this, because the willingness to accept truth is just not there. Even a simple letter from Randi has to be "debunked" and attacked by many different people. If you follow the link in this post and go to the second page and search for the words "quite real", you'll see for yourself. This is STILL not _evidence_ though. I have none, and will probably never be able to satisfy that fully either.. At the end, you just have to go on your instincts and feelings to find the truth. We exist, and in the end that's hard to deny.

    In the light of this, it makes it pretty funny to read the other posts "debunking" the letter..

    Evidence for what? I just pointed to a site that shows the other side of the coin, what other people think of this "challenge". I believe everybody should judge for themselves on this, because either you love Randi, or you hate him. And that's fine. I did it to balance the story, and I happen find truth in it, but that's just my "gut feeling". I may be wrong, I happily concede that.

    I'm not here to prove anything, just to show that sceptisism can become too extreme, so that you leave out possibilities and treat other people badly (you didn't). After researching on the internet, I see there have been tons of lawsuits and ugly confrontations. I have no interest in digging up dirt or getting dirty on this. Nor do I have an interest in telling people what to think, you be the judge yourself.

    I'm asserting three materialistic points though:
    1) James Randi $1 million dollar challenge is deceptive and not scientific at all. Thus it "proves" nothing, it's more of a circus than an objective scientific method.

    2) James Randi does not seem very objective to me, thus the tests should be performed by a _neutral_ and objective scientific party.

    3) James Randi himself could learn to treat other people with more respect. It's hard to open yourself up, when you're being intimidated by somebody. From what I've read before, he can be quite abrasive. I've seen posts by Randi himself apologising for his rough replies sometimes, so this is well-known.

    I don't think I need to prove these opinions, either you agree, or disagree. My "gut feeling" about the man, is that I want to be as far away as I possibly can. You may think otherwise, and that is completely fine with me.

    I don't agree with his methods, nor his temper or anger behind all his dealings with "paranormal phenomenon". That's just my opinion, which you are free to disregard.

    I did howeever send an email to Richard, the author of the site that hosts the letter, about getting a better quality scan. To me it seems authentic enough, I don't think I need "evidence" of existance of just a letter, but then, maybe I'm a more gullible person.

    What I do know is that all this is beneath my standards, maybe it's better to just ignore foolishness and arrogance from now on. To react to it, I obviously become part of the silly game..

    Just to conclude, I experience more to life than just science. In fact, the best parts of my life right now is those things that science do not recognise at all. In fact, it is my experience that the more open minded and explorative you can be, the more you will experience. I replied to this, because I wanted to share my truth. Let people make of it what they may. There are no evidences here.

    Explore the Art of Living

    [ Parent ]
    Well, I'm convinced. (none / 0) (#494)
    by pwhysall on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 10:53:09 AM EST

    I'm quite prepared to accept that Randi really did tell a nutter to fornicate elsewhere.
    --
    Peter
    K5 Editors
    I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
    CheeseBurgerBrown
    [ Parent ]
    Correction to the above: (none / 0) (#517)
    by craigd on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 06:12:38 PM EST

    Randi admits that the letter is genuine, even though it looks rather phony. I was worng about him; he really is a jerk.


    A man who says little is a man who speaks two syllables.
    [ Parent ]
    I always thought (2.66 / 9) (#129)
    by brain in a jar on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 03:47:59 AM EST

    that incredibly specific horoscopes would be funny.

    Pisces: Mars is in ascension while a rare occlusion of venus brings canine risks: At 4:15 pm you should go indoors to avoid being chased and bitten on the ass by the neighbour's doberman which has finally figured out how to get through the hole in the fence that you have been putting off repairing.


    Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.

    Great idea! (none / 0) (#136)
    by Viliam Bur on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 05:28:26 AM EST

    Today at 4:15 pm 499.999.000 Pisces (6.000.000.000 / 12 - K5_readers) will be bitten on the ass by the army of dobermans. The Apocalypse is beginning...

    [ Parent ]
    Read an Indian newspaper (none / 2) (#143)
    by leonc on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 07:09:28 AM EST

    I once read that every single Aries in the Indian civil service was about to get promoted. Seemed unlikely to me.

    [ Parent ]
    Horoscopes (none / 3) (#150)
    by bugmaster on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 08:26:15 AM EST

    The incredibly specific horoscopes do in fact exist -- in The Onion. Actually, IMO the horoscopes are the best part of the paper. My favorites (which I have saved locally, so, sorry, no linky) include this one:
    The interesting thing about the blood of the innocent isn't the taste or the occult power it gives you, but just how little there actually is.
    and this one:
    Your religion was almost right: Those you vanquished in life are waiting for you in death, but not to serve you.
    And, of course, my own horoscope (Scorpio):
    Sometimes, one must be cruel to be kind. From now on, it's best to assume this is the case until proven otherwise.
    Well, ok, not all of them are that evil. That's just me.
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]
    Weirdly enough (none / 2) (#249)
    by Tatarigami on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 06:52:34 PM EST

    ...considering this article's mention of the Randi Foundation million dollar prize, I snipped this from today's horoscopes:

    Virgo: (Aug. 23?Sept. 22)
    Horrible, six-mawed creatures from beyond time and space won't let you have a chance at the million-dollar prize unless you buy their magazines.

    Co-incidence? Or something far more sinister? There may be The Onion writers among us...

    [ Parent ]

    What if... (2.16 / 6) (#140)
    by bob6 on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 06:15:47 AM EST

    Randi pays 1M$ to Mrs Smith because he didn't debunk her claims of telekinesis. And she actually move things with just willpower, then obviously a new scientific field spawns from this fact. After billions of $ invested in research, millions of publications and thousands of conferences, we come up to some scientific explanation of Mrs Smith performance. Does she have to pay back?

    My point is: once proven a claim isn't paranormal anymore, it becomes a fact. Randi can't loose.

    Cheers.
    You answered your own question (none / 1) (#141)
    by Belligerent Dove on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 06:23:53 AM EST

    ... incorrectly.

    [ Parent ]
    I see dumb people [n/t] (2.33 / 9) (#154)
    by kero on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 08:50:59 AM EST



    Charles Fort (2.71 / 7) (#156)
    by c4miles on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 08:51:07 AM EST

    I'm a big fan of Charles Fort - a fortean, if you will. He was a chronicler and apologist of the inexplicable, and was fond of ridiculing science and religion for their out-of hand dismissal or explanation of weird happenings (Rains of fish caused by waterspouts? Where's the pondweed? In fact, where's the waterspout? How come recorded falls are localised when tornadoes/waterspouts tend to vent tangentially?). Relevant quote: "I can think of nothing in philosophy, science, or religion, that is anything more than the proper thing to wear, for a while".

    "The Amazing" Randi is a spiritual descendant of Mr Fort - half-joking, half-serious, but always with the goal of education.

    If you're still wondering about what a fortean is, here's an illustrative joke:

    A fortean, a believer, and a skeptic are out walking at night. The fortean sees an odd light in the sky, and says "Look, a UFO!". The believer cries out "Finally, proof of life elsewhere in the universe! I knew this day would come!". The skeptic says "It's not an alien craft, the chances are infinitesimal. It's most likely a satellite or weather balloon". The fortean turns to the other two, and says testily "Look, which part of UNIDENTIFIED don't you understand?"

    Oh, and the Fortean Times is probably the most entertaining magazine on the planet, despite giving full attribution and citations to every article they publish.
    --
    For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.

    Let's go fishing... (none / 1) (#169)
    by LilDebbie on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 10:10:42 AM EST

    in the Super Sargasso Sea.

    My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
    - hugin -

    [ Parent ]
    Ah. Plumbing the briny heights... (none / 1) (#174)
    by c4miles on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 10:36:49 AM EST

    I still can't work out how much of Fort's musings
    were straw men set up for his own amusement, and how much were veiled insults to the scientific/religious establishment. I'm pretty sure, however, he didn't believe his own theories on "the unexplained" any more than he believed the explanations of others. IIRC, he says so fairly explicitly somewhere in The Book of the Damned.
    --
    For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.
    [ Parent ]
    I thought his sarcasm was pretty clear (none / 1) (#187)
    by LilDebbie on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 11:42:49 AM EST

    although I did get a nasty case of the jibblies when he suggested, in explanation to the showers of gelatin-like substance, that, to paraphrase, "the twinkling of the stars is the result of their light passing through something that quivers."

    My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
    - hugin -

    [ Parent ]
    I actually read a short story (none / 1) (#193)
    by Battle Troll on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 01:49:49 PM EST

    Predicated on Fort's cosmology being true. IIRC, the prop-pilot-flying protagonist is eventually killed by a bizarre monster living in the gelatinous sky.

    Damn, I wish I could remember the name; it was a great story.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]

    Lo! (none / 0) (#310)
    by pwhysall on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 08:29:37 AM EST

    Best book title ever.
    --
    Peter
    K5 Editors
    I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
    CheeseBurgerBrown
    [ Parent ]
    Ugh. Try not to ejaculate on your keyboard. (1.75 / 16) (#160)
    by Fantastic Lad on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 09:11:48 AM EST

    Skepticism is a powerful tool which is only rarely ever used properly. Anybody who bothers to actually research James Randi will quickly recognize that the man is a witch-hunting egomaniacal twit who will never give up his million bucks for the simple reason that he has no desire to discredit the thing in his life which makes him 'important'. Take a look at the various reports about exactly how the rules are set in his 'unbiased and rational' tests. --And what happens to those who cry foul. Randi is a raving zealot, plain and simple.

    The above article was written by somebody who clearly didn't bother to do even this small amount of research; (What? You mean read more than just Randi's PR on his own website and on the sites of his fans in order to learn about him?) --Yet despite the fact that the writer of this article hasn't properly researched his subjects, he speaks with great pomp about those who delude themselves with irrational, half-baked thought.

    This is exactly the kind of dazzling hypocrisy which broadly marks the garden variety 'skeptical' thinker. Nice barrel fish for anybody who feels an itchy shotgun finger! Any takers? --Don't expect to change any minds, though. We're dealing with cultists here who are seeking comfort through dogmatic belief (in 'Science') rather than knowledge through actual critical examination.

    Essentially, those who do not fear the pains of growth and truth have a chance of seeing objective reality for what it is. All others are sleepers or self-deluding cowards seeking composure and comfort in shoring up the lies they were fed as children. For most people, 'Science' is a misused belief system just as stupid and faith-based as any religion or New Age foolery.

    Feel incensed? Fine. But before responding, go away and do more than just token, 'See I looked!' Randi-style, eyes-wide-shut research. Then come back.

    -FL

    Or perhaps a guy with a misguided passion (none / 3) (#172)
    by c4miles on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 10:27:54 AM EST

    The man causes more investigation and press for unexplained phenomena (in which you seem to be interested) than perhaps any other single person in the world. Well, there's Uri Geller, but he's just blowing his own twisted trumpet, badly. The world of fringe science is full of  debunkers, discreditors, and disputed theories (and rightly so - as spinal tap said, it's a fine line between genius and stupidity). Welcome to the party.

    Long story short, agreed, the article's a little fanboyish. But despite his self-aggrandisation, I get the feeling Randi actually does want incontrovertible proof of the inexplicable; he just doesn't believe he'll get it. Hence he's showboating, and enjoying the ride.

    I've considered writing a piece on Charles Fort for K5. Yeah, yeah, sounding like a stuck record and all that - I'm a CF fanboy partly because of his faults, not despite them. Would that be of more interest?
    --
    For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.
    [ Parent ]

    I hope you go for it (none / 1) (#247)
    by Tatarigami on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 06:46:02 PM EST

    I'd like to see an article on Charles Fort here.

    [ Parent ]
    well written, but completely wrong (2.83 / 6) (#200)
    by davros4269 on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 02:01:30 PM EST

    Since you made those claims about Randi, why not do us all a favor and do the research and paste it here for us?

    "dogmatic" science? I hope you are suggesting that some people are dogmatic about science, not that "science" itself is dogmatic?

    Randi's tests are what they are for rational reasons. Take the case where he went to Russia to check out if "blessed" water can heal people. He wanted to see if the healers could tell the difference between blessed water and normal water. It was pretty hillarious! He could not do a rational test - it was obvious they couldn't tell the difference...

    In any case, find a specific circumstance where someone has "cried foul" to one of his test resuls as you say and lets inspect it closely - it should be interesting.

    BTW, what's intersting to me is the technique used by the frauds out there. Randi was on Larry King with a "famous" psychic, who agreed to a test he proposed. Most of the people which called in believed her - how many of those people do you think went to Randi's site to see if she had taken the test and what the outcome was? The last time I was at his site, she hadn't responded, as a matter of fact, Randi was keeping a clock counting the days since they appeared together on the show.


    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    Articles. . . (none / 0) (#317)
    by Fantastic Lad on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 11:37:52 AM EST

    Actually, having my interest piqued once again by this subject, I went off to Google in order to dig up the articles I had in mind.

    Psh.

    What the heck is going on out there? It was maybe only a year ago that I went through this same process, and at that time I had quickly been able to locate numerous pieces which described Randi's process in a critical light. I specifically recall reading about a trip to an alternative scientist's workshop and the unprofessional conduct Randi exhibited there. This time through the Google engine, however, the flood of fan rhetoric and complimentary links to his sites were enough to drown out any signal in the noise.

    Still, I was able to dig up a few small items. The most useful piece includes this essay. --I'll caveat this in advance; the article is hosted on Uri Geller's site. (Ugh. Spoon benders. I know.) But despite Geller being as big a sensationalist as Randi, (both are professional stage magicians), it nonetheless references numerous of the cases which highlight Randi's half-baked approach. --And considering that virtually all of the material I've seen regarding Randi is unashamedly biased PR drivel derived directly from Randi's own books and affiliated websites, it hardly seems unfair to ask that people examine some of the reporting from the other side of the table.

    Nonetheless, if anybody has any third party links or copies of articles and transcripts, I would be grateful to see them. I'll have to start a file for when this subject comes up again.

    -FL

    [ Parent ]

    interesting (none / 1) (#344)
    by davros4269 on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 04:34:42 PM EST

    I started to read it word for word, but stopped when it refereed to outside research - if you want to discuss it further, look up this outside research and paste it here and we can look at it.

    A few things I did notice - some of what you wrote in your first comment are direct copies from this Essay - nothing wrong with that in and of itself. However, it seems a bit biased, as you have admitted.

    This opinion piece sounds like propaganda for Uri - who is a known fraud. Randi does what Uri does, and then teaches people how to do it - it's a very awesome and cool way to debunk stuff.

    Anyway, it would be cool if you could find a specific example how Randi's methods are somehow "wrong", preferably a bit less biased.

    The CIA (i think) did research into ESP, and they did have one facility that seemed to have a higher than random-chance success rate. But, they were never able to reproduce it and it conflicted with the data from all of the other centers - this is WHY they had the same test at different centers. I mean, who knows? Maybe the folks working at one center had reason to take the results, or, had crappy recording methods or who knows what else. To be sure, in other words, multiple locations had the same research going on at the same time. It was ruled a fluke and the research was stopped.

    BTW, I don't like the idea that "skepticism" itself is extremist or religious - that's an obvious misuse of the meaning - that would be like saying that biologists in favor of evolution (most all of them), are extremist-anti-creation types (never mind that little bit about the overwhelming evidence).If Uri claims his abilities in the real world, there are clear ways to check up on his claims, and he fails. If the stuff is supernatural or somehow outside the bounds of science, fine and good - but when his "abilities" effect the real world, the natural world, in other words, it becomes testable. If Uri can paint pictures with his mind in an alternate universe, for example, fine - the claim can't be proved or disproved. If he claims to be able to do it in this universe, then bang - we have ourselves a test we can easily do.


    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    How? (none / 1) (#403)
    by Steeltoe on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 01:04:06 PM EST

    How do you know Uri is a fraud?

    Explore the Art of Living

    [ Parent ]
    he can't bend spoons - what else can't he do? (none / 3) (#408)
    by davros4269 on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 02:49:58 PM EST

    He made it famous bending spoons. It's not possible to bend spoons without touching them - Randi teaches (or taught, not sure if he still does), classes on spoon bending.

    His students would go out and first "fool" people and then show them how it was done, rather than hoodwink them for cash ;)

    Tell me, how is he "not" a fraud? I'm allowed to ask since his "powers" are the claim being made. Surely we can't accept it as default that a man has supernatural powers, especially when his "trademark 'gift'" is fraudulent. As further evidence that I'm allowed to ask, consider that most people can't do these magical things - it's this very ability he claims to have which makes him famous and sets him apart, no?

    Did he ever agree to a test by Randi? Certainly we know he would fail the spoon bending test...


    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    There is no spoon ;-) (none / 1) (#420)
    by Steeltoe on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 07:16:48 PM EST

    You make it sound like bending spoons is a trick, that you can do to fool people, and that's it. As if it doesn't matter at all HOW the spoon bends, if it's trickery or not.

    I would kindly ask you to have an open mind, before coming to an early conclusion..

    Have you done actual research into the matter, been to an Uri Geller show, or seen the tapes where they recorded him bending spoons contained in glass-jars? This was done in some scientific experiments in Russia.

    I don't claim I know he did this, but you shouldn't dispute it by prejudiced reactions to what threatens your worldview. In science, new worldviews had to be created for many advances and discoveries. It's incredible how we're still in the dark ages today, where if you study something "paranormal" (out of the ordinary), you're attacked on every side. Just like the priests in the dark ages..

    I'll leave it for now. Both Uri and Randi are big egos, which I won't discuss further. To say it short, they have a long legal history together..

    All I know is that sceptics cut out the beautiful essence of life, which is too bad for them.

    Explore the Art of Living

    [ Parent ]

    sorry, I think you gave yourself away (none / 3) (#428)
    by davros4269 on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 10:37:40 PM EST

    This statement says it all:

    All I know is that skeptics cut out the beautiful essence of life, which is too bad for them.

    Truth is beauty. Define science and the scientific method. Then, explain why it's good to be extremely skeptical and rigid. What you interpret as something akin to "religion" or "ego" is merely science working itself out against something you believe, for whatever reason.

    Do you know the story of Johanas Kepler (sp?)? Learn from it. He wanted desperately to prove something that he believed in and ended up discovering some secrets of how the solar system works - which he accepted against his desires.

    I know enough about Uri. I know that he and others have tricked scientists, during experiments, under controlled observation - only later did they realize that they were had. Science self corrects itself in a similar manner.

    Randi may have an ego - who knows, who cares? Who cares about the man? He and other skeptics like him are doing good work, debunking the BS and leaving the real beauty behind. Even Einstein during his later years was heading down the wrong track and out of touch with more modern science - he got set in his ways, it seems, and ignored new research. The point is, his later ideas received no special credence because of his earlier brilliance. Each bit of science has to stand on it's own, and science invites and requires skepticm. Science seems brutal that way - but there is thus far no better way of learning the truth about anything.

    How can you possibly appreciate beauty at all, if you have to delude yourself? I don't mean that as an insult, but as an honest question.
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    Mheee! (none / 1) (#512)
    by dlec on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 05:11:37 PM EST

    You talk utter bollox and you're an idiot. Bahhh!

    [ Parent ]
    uhm... (none / 0) (#524)
    by davros4269 on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 09:01:38 PM EST

    Let me see...give me a sec...ok, here I go:

    I know you are, but what am I, and what about a comment related to my post? ;)


    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    strong empirical evidence for paranormal activity (none / 1) (#529)
    by dlec on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 10:18:41 PM EST

    I know you are, but what am I, and what about a comment related to my post? ;)

    Yes that's original, reminds of Junior school, so I'm guessing your about 12 years old ;) Okay, now I have your attention, please read the multitude of experiments conducted by the respected biologist Rupert Sheldrake.

    Since you won't like what he prooves, even though he has much solid empirical data, read his rebuttal of a criticism by a closed minded skeptic (like yourself). If you can't be bothered to read at least this paper you should cease calling yourself a skeptic and start calling yourself a dogmatic skeptic. If your eyes are truly open and you are willing to read from his large body of emprical evidence you will see that he has, IMO, irrefutable evidence for paranormal activity.



    [ Parent ]
    I gave it a look (none / 2) (#544)
    by davros4269 on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 01:27:40 AM EST

    First off, it's not a matter of "what I like or dislike". Actually, it would be quite cool if human had these "powers".

    I will say that usually, I scoff at this type of thing, because based on what science knows thus far and based on simple laws of physics, much of this "stuff", like moving stuff around with your mind, is impossible (as far as we currently know) - further, you cannot deny that between astrology, alien abductions, big foot and the like, that if any "real" scientists in this field exist, they have an enormous hill to climb, through no fault of the scientific community - there is just too much BS to wade through. Most of that crud is easily disproved or, to the dismay of either side, stamped with a big-fat "inconclusive" - which effectively means FALSE.

    Having said that, I read some stuff on the controversies page - I didn't read what the Skeptical mag said directly, only what he wrote. The mag had an interesting idea with the "learning the randomness thing", but then again, his response made sense too.

    I didn't do real research, I didn't read the thing word for word, and like I said, i didn't read what the mag said, but based on a brief skim, as a layman, I'd say that this is interesting and requires further research. I book marked his site.

    However, the question begs itself - if so many colleges and whatever else it said are doing these types of research, and if the stats show a higher than random percentage of positive - why don't mainstream journals carry the research?

    Something this interesting, I would assume, would filter down to Discovery mag, new scientists, what have you. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that media coverage determines the truth of these experiments, but red flags are raised if this amazing stuff seems always positive in SO MANY experiments, yet draws no attention - ya know??

    In any case, I'm sure they can devise a method to remove that learned-random-patterns-problem and make a better experiment which will clear it up, though you'd think that one of the "many" colleges doing the research would have thought of that already...

    BTW, what evidence do you have that I'm a closed minded skeptic? Because I'm 100% convinced that Uri Geller bends spoons with his HANDS?

    puh-leeeeze - how's that for JR. High?

    That almost sounds like a very non-skeptical view of my nature...tsk tsk...


    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    It's not that simple (none / 0) (#576)
    by Steeltoe on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 12:35:10 PM EST

    However, the question begs itself - if so many colleges and whatever else it said are doing these types of research, and if the stats show a higher than random percentage of positive - why don't mainstream journals carry the research?

    Something this interesting, I would assume, would filter down to Discovery mag, new scientists, what have you. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that media coverage determines the truth of these experiments, but red flags are raised if this amazing stuff seems always positive in SO MANY experiments, yet draws no attention - ya know??

    In any case, I'm sure they can devise a method to remove that learned-random-patterns-problem and make a better experiment which will clear it up, though you'd think that one of the "many" colleges doing the research would have thought of that already...


    Not very many scientists wants to be associated with anything like it, because it would mean a professional suicide. There's just too many sceptics who will start discrediting the _scientists_ themselves, rather than their research and doing other attacks. Not to mention you will find it hard to ever be able to publish anything ever again or find a decent job. I ask, is this the proper conduct of how science should "further its horizon"? This is how it is, it's barabaric and arrogant, which is why most such projects go underground or is done "on the side".
    Explore the Art of Living

    [ Parent ]
    isn't it that simple? (none / 1) (#579)
    by davros4269 on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 02:30:51 PM EST

    Colleges are ALREADY doing these experiments - if I am to believe his site - like I said, I didn't do "true" research. Scientists conduct those experiments, with their students.

    To me, that doesn't add up. BTW, a scientist can go into whatever field he/she wants. Scientists aren't arrogant for ignoring research like this, though by definition "they" can't be ignoring it, if all of these experiments are going on, right?

    Are you sure the arrogance is on the side of "science"? Why call it "paranormal"? Did he (the guy at that website), or, did you? It's already fact that some fish can communicate to each other in what "seems" to be their minds - I forgot the details, electric signals through the water or something, anyway, it's not physical body signs, sound or chemicals - I'm foggy on the details...If you want, I'll research the link for you.

    Based on what I know, do I think that something magical is going on when you stare at someone? No, of course not. I think that if there is something to this, they will find a biological reason. Again, with "many" groups doing this study, I am told on his website, I'm sure they will come to the bottom of it ;)

    If your "side" relies on arguing that "science" is flawed and that there is some conspiracy or cover-up going on to shoosh the folks with superhuman powers, than you've lost me - that isn't skepticism on your part, it's fanaticism. Creationists think that they have found human bones in the same rock strata as dinosaur bones, but that "evolution Men In Black" raid those sites and remove the evidence...rofl

    There are still scientists that refuse to accept that birds are descended from dinosaurs, even with good, mounting, evidence. Some carry some weight and have contributed much and you could argue, have a "vested interest" in their views. However, science doesn't ignore new fossils ;)

    If there is something to this man's research, you will see tons of new scientists jumping on it like flies to fresh shit, trust me...new directions like give men chances to make a name for themselves and contribute something in a new field.


    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    hmmm (none / 1) (#588)
    by dlec on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 06:06:59 PM EST

    To me, that doesn't add up. BTW, a scientist can go into whatever field he/she wants. Scientists aren't arrogant for ignoring research like this, though by definition "they" can't be ignoring it, if all of these experiments are going on, right?

    No, at the moment almost all scientists are ignoring this type of work. The fact that schools are involved is a little genius on the part of Sheldrake. He decided that a good way to get people interested would be to get them to perform experiments themselves. This requires experiments that can be performed cheaply, and so he created a book in 1994 called "Seven Experiments that Could Change The World". The fact that students have replicated this work widely is not scientifically interesting, since they probably don't have the credentials to do so, and since there work will not have been independently peer reviewed.

    There have also a couple of skeptics who set out to discredit this work by repeating it for themselves, and although both claimed to have done so, in my opinion they actually prooved it without a doubt. The best example of this is the study of the dog LT that was shown to wait for it's owner by the window prior to the owners return. This was prooved convincingly by Sheldrake and later 'debunked' by the keen skeptics, Richard Wiseman and David Marks. In Sheldrake's own words:

    In my own randomized tests, the dog was at the door an average of 4 per cent of the main period when his owner was absent, and 55 per cent during the first 10 minutes of her return journey (n = 12; p = 0.0001). In Wiseman et al.'s tests in the same location, which Marks thinks were better designed than ours, the respective figures were 4 per cent and 78 per cent (n = 3; p = 0.03) (Sheldrake, 1999b). Far from refuting the pattern of results that Smart and I observed, Wiseman et al. replicated it. But they wanted to debunk Jaytee's abilities. They ignored our data, and discarded most of their own to arrive at the conclusion they expected: Jaytee had failed their tests. They invented an arbitrary criterion by which to judge Jaytee. If he went briefly to the window before Pam set off for no apparent reason (as judged from the videotape), he had failed. These "failures" were part of the 4 per cent of the time Jaytee was at the window when Pam was absent. After these "failures", his waiting at the window when Pam was on the way home could be ignored, even though he was there for 78 per cent of the time.

    I think that is a conclusive test. There was another groundless objection, but you should read the paper, criticisms and rebuttal for yourself. I think that what those people did is actually very low and unhonorable, particulary since they widely reported that they had debunked the work. Does this sound like a scientific community anxious to know the truth to you?

    Are you sure the arrogance is on the side of "science"? Why call it "paranormal"? Did he (the guy at that website), or, did you? It's already fact that some fish can communicate to each other in what "seems" to be their minds - I forgot the details, electric signals through the water or something, anyway, it's not physical body signs, sound or chemicals - I'm foggy on the details...If you want, I'll research the link for you.

    Paranormal is whatever can not currently be explained by science. The fact that a dog can immediately detect when its owner has decided to return from home, even though there are no clues for this, is paranormal since science has no way to currently explain it. ESP is currently paranormal since science can't explain it, but would become a normal activity once it can.

    Based on what I know, do I think that something magical is going on when you stare at someone? No, of course not. I think that if there is something to this, they will find a biological reason.

    Of course. Even if magic were possible as you put it, it must have a scientific explanation since everything always does (IMO). The opposite stance to take is that there is no cause and effect, and things happen without reason. Even if you believed it was God's will then that could have a scientific explanation provided you could explain the process through which the will of God was translated into action.

    If there is something to this man's research, you will see tons of new scientists jumping on it like flies to fresh shit, trust me...new directions like give men chances to make a name for themselves and contribute something in a new field.

    I think your being a little naive here. Sheldrake's experiments into the paranormal have been going on for over 10 years and he is not taken seriously because he discredited himself by proposing the theory of Morphic Resonance. I think if he had remained quite about that, and let the results stand on their own merit, he may have enjoyed far more success.

    Science is actually very cliquey, and you can only get the grants by doing what the establishment consider as worthwhile. Shelldrake moved to California, probably becuase there is much more psionic work being conducted in the USA.



    [ Parent ]
    well said, but (none / 0) (#597)
    by davros4269 on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 11:33:58 PM EST

    The "if-y" stuff is about the colleges - his site made it seem that "research" was being carried out - these are administered by researchers who are scientists, professors and what not. That still doesn't add up - maybe there is an element to this that he didn't include on his web site?

    If science is cliquey, then everything is. My premise is that if there really is sufficient explanations to counter the specific skeptics, like that mag, on this research, it will speak for itself, especially with "so many colleges" doing this research. Just like new fossil finds are doing for what used to be convention wisdom for dinosaurs. Yeah, a fossil may be more "in your face" than what you consider rare-ish research, but again, the website made it seem a bit "non rare".

    It seems a bit paradoxical to me...


    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    good for you (none / 0) (#581)
    by dlec on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 04:19:02 PM EST

    BTW, what evidence do you have that I'm a closed minded skeptic? Because I'm 100% convinced that Uri Geller bends spoons with his HANDS?

    None, I take it all back -- that was a very reasoned response.

    you cannot deny that between astrology, alien abductions, big foot and the like, that if any "real" scientists in this field exist, they have an enormous hill to climb, through no fault of the scientific community - there is just too much BS to wade through. Most of that crud is easily disproved or, to the dismay of either side, stamped with a big-fat "inconclusive" - which effectively means FALSE.

    Completely agree. Almost all the people that claim they can do psychic stuff are talking complete BS (IMO). These are normally people that would like to believe, but have no actual proof, so they just invent it instead.

    However, the question begs itself - if so many colleges and whatever else it said are doing these types of research, and if the stats show a higher than random percentage of positive - why don't mainstream journals carry the research?

    I'm not that familiar with scientific journals, but I believe there have been some papers accepted by the main ones. Rupert Sheldrake himself has published in New Scientist, Journal of Scientific Exploration, and others (see his papers section). There is also a report I read from SRI that went into Nature about experiments on Uri Geller.

    Something this interesting, I would assume, would filter down to Discovery mag, new scientists, what have you.

    I don't know? I only knew of Sheldrake because of a series called Heretic that was shown on BBC2 some 10-15 years ago where they discussed how he was outcast from the mainstream scientific community for attempting to introduce the idea of morphic resonance, even though he had had an exemplary record up to that point, and had good evidence for his claims.

    In any case, I'm sure they can devise a method to remove that learned-random-patterns-problem and make a better experiment which will clear it up, though you'd think that one of the "many" colleges doing the research would have thought of that already...

    He already has. The experiment works with the same results using coin spinning. His web site is really good, but it is also quite bitty since it is artificially seperated into categories rather than appearing as linear dialogue. You have to hunt around a bit to put it all together, but it's worth it if you have some time -- the guy is clearly very clever, and has an interesting story to tell regardless of whether you agree with him or not.

    puh-leeeeze - how's that for JR. High?

    The JR High thing was because I said you're an idiot, and you replied "I know you are, but what am I". That was something we used to do in Junior school. Just my own experiences.

    Anyway, good talking to you.



    [ Parent ]
    research (none / 0) (#598)
    by davros4269 on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 11:47:16 PM EST

    I don't read the journals myself either, I'm not a scientist by trade, only by hobby ;) but I wonder if those journals are the "real" thing? there are some shady journals which publish "creation/young Earth stuff too"...I'd also need to see just what exactly he got published, if we are talking about a real journal. A trick that YEC (young Earth Creationists) use is proclaim that scientists which have been published work in their field - they word it to sound like it's something, but when you check, you notice that what they had published isn't related in anyway to YEC...

    Anyhoo, it will be interesting to see what becomes of this, if anything.

    I still don't like the paradox of "many colleges" working on this, in what would seem to be under scientists of some stripe vs the "no one will accept this as mainstream"...

    My response was childish by design because I thought your response to my post was, well, childish too ;)

    Good talking to you too


    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    new worldview (none / 1) (#429)
    by davros4269 on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 10:41:23 PM EST

    I wanted to add - forgot in the other post - for this new worldview to become the norm, it requires the same kind of evidence, which can stand up to rigid skepticsm, just as every other worldview...where is it?
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]
    How about this: (none / 0) (#441)
    by craigd on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 12:03:44 AM EST

    Nothing Geller does can only be explained as paranormal. That doesn't mean he's a fraud, only that he has yet to prove otherwise. He may be legit, but I won't believe it until I see proof. Neither will James Randi.


    A man who says little is a man who speaks two syllables.
    [ Parent ]
    Try again please. (none / 1) (#445)
    by Fantastic Lad on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 12:55:36 AM EST

    I started to read it word for word, but stopped when it refereed to outside research - if you want to discuss it further, look up this outside research and paste it here and we can look at it.

    Don't be silly. It'll take five minutes to read the damned thing, which will put us on equal footing in regard to it. And please understand; ALL papers regarding any kind of reporting of events are going to make reference to outside research, (which I am indeed looking for and have found a few pieces of). Your desire to have me cut and paste it all without your exerting any effort, (even that of reading the opening statements), indicates that you aren't really interested in examining any viewpoints other than the ones you already have. This is a form of evasive denial, which is certainly NOT the behavior of a true skeptic.

    Further, while this essay is biased, it should be noted that ALL sources are biased. The ONLY way one builds a knowledge structure is by examining available information and then cross examining back and forth so that falsehoods cancel out, facts are mapped, and a picture of the truth eventually emerges. But for this to work, you have to expend the effort and actually look at the pieces of evidence.

    In any case, I absolutely did not reference from this essay in my original post. If I had done, I'd have linked to the thing in the first place. I am not a child and I do not play the idiot games you seem to be suggesting. I only discovered the thing after being asked to provide more information. You are making assumptions, further evidence of your being a false skeptic.

    BTW, I don't like the idea that "skepticism" itself is extremist or religious - that's an obvious misuse of the meaning - [. . .]

    You are quite correct in this, but it does not stop the word from being mis-used. The fact of the matter is that most of the skeptics I've run across are using Faith rather than Critical Analysis to form their beliefs.

    This letter from Randi is an excellent example. --You'll note that Randi is dismissing a claim based on Faith in his beliefs rather than on Skeptical thinking, which would require research and analysis. (Thank you to Lugh for providing this link.)

    Cheers!

    -FL

    [ Parent ]

    It would be an excellent example (none / 0) (#447)
    by craigd on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 01:21:01 AM EST

    if it weren't a crock of shit. This has been discussed before in comments higher up.

    If you can provide a non-photoshopped letter, I'll listen. But you can't, can you?


    A man who says little is a man who speaks two syllables.
    [ Parent ]
    lack of info (none / 0) (#452)
    by davros4269 on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 02:08:07 AM EST

    How should Randi respond? Can't we assume that the period is SO long that it's basically impossible? People DIE after they are without food for extended periods, it's known as starvation ;)

    I guess we would not really KNOW for sure, but lets say that an cosmonaut left the space station without his flight suite and then sent a letter to Randi saying that he did the EVA in the flesh - how should Randi respond?

    Since we know what space does to human bodies, can't we give almost 100% odds that it's a hoax?

    Is there any evidence, anywhere, that the laws of the universe change randomly in front of our eyes, as it were? What's the quantum probability that a tennis ball will go through a brick wall without making a hole, going instantly to the other side? It's so unlikely, that the universe will likely end before it happens...
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    He should be a lot more polite about it. (none / 0) (#515)
    by craigd on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 06:09:21 PM EST

    He really is every bit the ass the letter's recipient claims... he's admitted that the letter is actually what he wrote.


    A man who says little is a man who speaks two syllables.
    [ Parent ]
    ass? (none / 0) (#523)
    by davros4269 on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 08:55:28 PM EST

    Oh, ya know, honestly, I didn't even look it at that way. I suppose, yeah, it was kind of ass-ish.

    I might have said, "If you are SERIOUS, get your ass to a diner!"

    Seriously, I've heard that he has a large ego, that he's an ass - who cares? Show me how his methods are flawed. If he gives a faulty test or loaded test somehow, that would be something to talk about.

    If you want to start a "Randi's personality sucks" thread go for it, but lets make sure to keep it seperate from this thread, which seems to challenge his skepticalness (word?).
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    The problem is (none / 0) (#527)
    by craigd on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 09:47:47 PM EST

    That by rejecting this guy rudely (rather than with a polite letter saying something like "I can't think of a way to test this that any ethics board will allow, but if you come up with any ideas drop me a line") and being an ass about it, he hurts his own cause. I wouldn't care what his personality is, if he weren't harming skeptics everywhere by making the prize every bit as unfair as his critics claim.


    A man who says little is a man who speaks two syllables.
    [ Parent ]
    I can kind of see your point (none / 0) (#543)
    by davros4269 on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 01:01:32 AM EST

    when you phrase it that way, it makes more sense - the issue isn't the personality of Randi, but the procedure he uses.

    It doesn't matter if Randi has a personal bias against ESP junkies, as long as that doesn't effect his procedures, his testing, etc. For example, Hawking wanted to "find" Black Holes, and he did, more or less. His bias towards them before finding them doesn't undue the mounting evidence for their existence.


    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    oops, bad letter, and "conspiracy?" (none / 2) (#451)
    by davros4269 on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 02:02:52 AM EST

    Ok, let me respond this way. First, yes, I agree, if I were doing true research I would read those external references, but I would also toss out the essay itself and draw my own conclusions. ALL research is biased in the same way that definitions are open ended and we are ALL prejudice - yet, I'm not a bigot. Do you see what I mean? That piece was CLEARLY biased, not just slightly biased, like anything written by man (as we might argue).

    As for referring to the essay, I thought you had a sentence in your original post which was word for word from the essay. I searched again, though not thoroughly, and failed to find it. Maybe it was a comment from someone else, who knows. Apologies for that. No assumption, merely a mistake, it seems.

    You are quite correct in this, but it does not stop the word from being mis-used. The fact of the matter is that most of the skeptics I've run across are using Faith rather than Critical Analysis to form their beliefs.

    Lets use a real world example. Lets say that I said I saw a ghost. What in your view would constitute faith-based analysis vs skeptical analysis?

    I find the letter link unconvincing and working in my favor, actually. First off, I will make some assumptions ;) Randi is a busy guy and can't be bothered with silly claims. Ok, why is it silly? Well, since I can't find a date on the thing, only the mention of "since 1998", I will further assume that the period of time involved is a time span greater than what medical science will allow. I realize that I'm giving Randi the benefit of the doubt here, but the only other possible comment I can make is that it's merely inconclusive, since we don't know the elapsed time involved. However, if the time is short, big deal - people fast for various reasons and when they pull the food tube on folks in nursing homes, they can carry on for a good month - in poor health to boot - I've seen this first hand. What else could/should I assume?

    If medical science knows, lets say, that people require a certain amount of food to sustain life for a certain period of time, allowing some leeway either way, is it unreasonable to think a claim of say, 4 years without food, unreasonable? Again, this assume lots because we don't know the elapsed time.

    Try this: we know some people have tolerance to pain, and we know some people can be badly burnt and make it. Now, what if I sent a letter to Randi telling him that I set myself on fire for 10 minutes, then jumped in a lake, and went on to work the same day, to the shock of my co-workers, and that i lived happily ever after, with no ill health effects and no medical care? I would expect a similar letter from Randi.

    What if I said that I could fly, unaided, using just my own body and mind? How should he respond to that one? Am I just having "faith" in science by dismissing that one right off the bat? In one way, that's a bad analogy because it's very easy to prove or disprove.

    Apologies for the length of this response, but, I have to ask, are you arguing from "conspiricay theory"? what I mean to say is, is the "scientific community" working against the ESP crowd, lets say? Why? If there were any good evidence at all, scientists old and new would jump on it, the same way they are jumping on string theory (which isn't actually even a theory!).

    Yeah, yeah - I fully understand that often, new discoveries have a period of breaking in before they are taken seriously. But you can't use this historical fact to suggest that any crackpot idea, like flying humans, ESP superpowers or multi-year lack of food periods are merely being denied, what, the funds for their respective research??

    These claims are by definition outside of ordinary experience (extraordinary) and require therefore extraordinary evidence to prove. It is up to the person making the claim to be able to show his/her ability. If Randi tests someone and that someone says that they are having an off day, or, that their ability only comes on randomly or any such other "problem", what's a REAL skeptic to make of this?

    First, that it could be just an evasive maneuver and that there really is nothing to it.

    Second, there may not be a viable test which CAN be done. In this case, it will be deemed inconclusive. Alas, the prize is not won - can you blame a skeptic? What would your solution be?

    Perhaps the ability is such that it can't be tested at all? In this case, the prize doesn't apply and, actually, neither does science. These phenomena have to be able to be disproved, and the person making the claim has to be clear just how it is to be disproved. These are rational, sane, and skeptical methods
    Will you squirm when you are pecked? Quack.
    [ Parent ]

    Shaq claims he can slam-dunk a basketball. (none / 3) (#263)
    by Scratch o matic on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 08:16:15 PM EST

    If he wanted to prove it to me, he would take it to the net and slam dunk it.

    Randi is willing to give $1M to anyone who can demonstrate "paranormal" ability under controlled conditions. What's wrong with that? If people claim they can do something, what is wrong with asking them to do it? A person who claims to be able to bend a spoon with his mind ought to be able to bend a spoon with his mind...in a way that eliminates the possibility that he is really bending it with his hands.

    You may take issue with Randi's personality, but what he's asking for is not all that outrageous.

    For people who don't know, Randi does not perform the tests. They are performed by third parties agreed to by Randi and the applicant.

    [ Parent ]
    Basket Balls. . . (none / 3) (#289)
    by Fantastic Lad on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 01:42:31 AM EST

    Randi is willing to give $1M to anyone who can demonstrate "paranormal" ability under controlled conditions. What's wrong with that?

    Nothing. In fact, that's exactly how I determined for myself that there are forces which are deliberately ignored by orthodox science. The problem is that Randi has a significant bias against truth. His tests are designed to be unworkable and he plays up the genuine kooks and stupid bits of New Age, of which there are many, and he laughs off the rest.

    This is his JOB. If James Randi allows himself to be proven wrong, he's not just out 1 Million dollars, but he is also out of work and he looks like a fool. The psychological wall standing between Randi and his admitting that he doesn't know what the heck he's talking about is ten feet thick and made of lead. Randi and his dumb test are a complete write-off.

    Further, basket ball players, (as per your example), are not discredited, laughed at and murdered for being able to perform jump shots. This world contains some extremely nasty people whose JOB it is to make sure that people are stopped from disproving the tenets of Orthodox Science. Why? If it were to be conclusively demonstrated in public with Big Television Authority Figures saying, "Yep! We were wrong the whole time. Magic Really Exists!", --Even for something small, then the whole ball of string unravels.

    The entire economy is based upon falsehoods. (The 'necessity' of fossil fuel is just one example.) The entire political and technological realm is similarly based, and it's all about holding power over the masses. If people knew the kind of realities which have been kept from them through lies and unwitting PR agents like Randi, then they would be very angry. There are a very small number of individuals who hold most of the power in this world, and they are morbid and eternally paranoid of losing their place. There is a vested interest in keeping the world stupid.

    If James Randi ever switched sides, he'd be removed.

    If you want to know how the world really works, then you have to go and see for yourself. Your television -and James Randi- are certainly not going to do it for you.

    Interestingly, most people are cowards, completely incapable of overcoming their programming. Point 'em at the sky and say, "Look! Chemtrails! Those were put there by the same people who gave you television, touch screen voting and Flu shots which contain mercury! People who obviously know more than you do and who do not have your best interests at heart! So why on earth would you believe them? They're the ones who determined what you learned in school, what you see on the news, what food you eat. Wake up, bingo! You're only stupid if you keep on pretending that everything is A-Okay!"

    --I find when you do this, or point somebody in the direction of a really good Astrology reading which shakes their foundations, (and no, you'll not find such things in the newspaper), that they'll be rattled and upset for several days as their belief system threatens to fall apart, (or more appropriately, as their cage door swings wide), more often than not, that person will reboot their head and try to forget all about it.

    I find it hard to respect this.

    -FL

    [ Parent ]

    I knew in advance (none / 0) (#303)
    by Scratch o matic on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 07:07:42 AM EST

    In my desk drawer is a slip of paper, and on that slip of paper is written, "I will receive a response from someone called 'Fantastic Lad'." The paper also has written on it several of your sentences, word for word. I was able to do this because I have special abilities.

    Of course, there are other possible explanations for how this paper came to be, but let's just take my word for it.

    Once again: The tests are agreed to in advance by the applicants. If applicants are unable or unwilling to demonstrate what they say they can do in such a way that other, more plausible explanations are removed from the scenario, then I find it odd [not really] that people would believe the fantastic, unexplainable and untested claim over the handful of other simple explanations.

    [ Parent ]
    Repeating. . . (none / 2) (#321)
    by Fantastic Lad on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 12:44:30 PM EST

    Once again: The tests are agreed to in advance by the applicants. If applicants are unable or unwilling to demonstrate what they say they can do in such a way that other, more plausible explanations are removed from the scenario, then I find it odd [not really] that people would believe the fantastic, unexplainable and untested claim over the handful of other simple explanations.

    You need to step back a few feet.

    The applicants who are even allowed to enter into Randi's process are screened by Randi. He's only going to pick kooks.

    Secondly, if you would please re-read my previous post, you will (perhaps??) recognize that people with genuine abilities would have to be pretty stupid to throw themselves into such a dangerous and deliberately biased crucible which has a massive interest in keeping the status quo exactly where it is.

    -FL

    [ Parent ]

    We're in circles now... (none / 3) (#330)
    by Scratch o matic on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 02:29:51 PM EST

    The applicants who are even allowed to enter into Randi's process are screened by Randi. He's only going to pick kooks.

    I haven't heard of a case where he has refused to test someone who makes a specific claim. If you have, please share it with us.

    ...people with genuine abilities would have to be pretty stupid to throw themselves into such a dangerous and deliberately biased crucible

    So let me get this straight. Someone who has genuine abilities, even an average joe with a normal job, would be taking some huge risk if he tried to claim the million-dollar prize by simply demonstrating his skill? I'm sorry--that just doesn't make sense.

    If you claim a properly controlled experiment is "deliberately biased," then will you agree that the typical environment (TV shows, etc.) is deliberately uncritical?

    It's quite simple. You say you have a special talent? PLEASE DEMONSTRATE IT! That's all.

    I do not know Randi personally, and I agree that it makes sense to consider that he has a vested interest in the outcome of the tests. But certainly there is the same vested interest on the part of the claimant, no? That's why the details of the test are agreed upon by all parties advance. Again, if you have details of someone who was asked to perform their skill in an unreasonable environment, please share them with us.

    I think your position comes down to this: "I [not you, but the generic 'I'] have this amazing skill, but I am not willing to demonstrate it in a controlled environment that I help to design. You'll just have to take my word for it.

    It's not just Randi...I've never heard of ANY successful test of such claims under PROPERLY CONTROLLED CONDITIONS. Surely that means something to you? Jiminy, my head hurts at the logic!

    [ Parent ]
    Your "genuine" abilities are not... (none / 1) (#334)
    by JetJaguar on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 02:47:41 PM EST

    testable. And in fact, you even admit that they won't mean anything to anyone but yourself. That's all well and good, but I submit, that as a scientist myself. The conditions that you've stated under which your abilities manifest themselves are impossible to reproduce, impossible to quantify, and most importantly impossible to distinguish from it all simply being in your head.

    In my view, it isn't worth bothering with because nothing useful can come of it.

    [ Parent ]

    Science and Faith (none / 0) (#450)
    by Fantastic Lad on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 01:51:07 AM EST

    Your "genuine" abilities are not testable. And in fact, you even admit that they won't mean anything to anyone but yourself. That's all well and good, but I submit, that as a scientist myself. The conditions that you've stated under which your abilities manifest themselves are impossible to reproduce, impossible to quantify, and most importantly impossible to distinguish from it all simply being in your head.

    In my view, it isn't worth bothering with because nothing useful can come of it.

    We are in total agreement except regarding the 'Nothing Useful' bit.

    I found it to be entirely useful to me. --But I said that as well.

    It may certainly have 'all been in my head'. --But the same goes for you!

    When it comes right down to it, the chair you are sitting in cannot be proven to exist; your senses may be lying to you, and yet you continue as you must, searching and seeking and examining, putting together the most workable knowledge structure you can. You are a scientist, after all. But do not fool yourself; you are also a creature of Faith. Your faith is the experience of the chair. Mine is only different in that chairs do not pass away and that they are an experience which can be more easily shared with others.

    Instead, try proving that you had an idea last week.

    Not so easy!

    If you only believe in 'easy' things, like chairs, then you are limiting yourself. This is the main problem I have with Orthodox science. There are experiences which cannot be easily proven but which exist nonetheless.

    -FL

    [ Parent ]

    You've misunderstood my point (none / 0) (#495)
    by JetJaguar on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 11:05:52 AM EST

    By and large we're in agreement. But here's the rub:

    You want "orthodox" science to take you at your word, when all the things you claim to experience are explicitly beyond the realm of what science can test. In essence, there is no test that can be designed that would prove conclusively that your experiences are real. Call it a shortcoming of science if you like, but unfortunately that is the way it works. If your experiences are not repeatable by anyone then how are we to come to any kind of conclusions about the reality of them. In other words, there is nothing useful that can come of it to me, personally. Since the number of people that claim to have your experiences is extremely small, and I have seen with my own eyes that there are a lot of people that claim all kinds things that are completely wrong, my conclusion is that it is more likely that your experiences are just in your head and are not real. It is possible that this conclusion is wrong, but without in corroborating evidence, it just isn't worth my time to investigate it. In other words, I think your experiences have a very low (but non-zero) probability of being real.

    As for proving that I had an idea, or thought. That is a very different kind of thing in the sense that it is very repeatable. People have ideas all the time, if I got a hot one last week, nobody is really going to question it too much given the fact that just about anyone that you meet has the same experience all the time. Science may not be able to explain exactly how it came about, but nobody disputes that it doesn't happen because everybody gets ideas. Do you see the difference?

    Ultimately, its a numbers game. You might not like it, but I afraid that's how it works. As a scientist, I have to maximize my time, and focus on things that I believe will work out. And I don't believe that there is anything in your experiences that I can prove. I'm not completely dismissing them, I am only saying that there are no tools I can use to prove them correct (or incorrect).



    [ Parent ]
    Yeah. We're on the same page. (none / 0) (#501)
    by Fantastic Lad on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 12:59:57 PM EST

    You want "orthodox" science to take you at your word, when all the things you claim to experience are explicitly beyond the realm of what science can test.

    Actually I don't mind if the orthodox scientific community continues to completely ignore this sort of thing. Who cares what they think? They're the artificial stage production of 'applied knowledge' anyway. Sheesh. Everybody knows that scientific knowledge within the military is many decades ahead of the public arena. The public arena is a ridiculous sham. Heck, just taking planned obsolescence into account, 'new' scientific knowledge is nothing but a pretty falsehood.

    Those scientists who are not unwittingly laboring to perpetuate an elaborate fog of PR bullshit know that guys like me are entirely 'for real'. Indeed, I have it on excellent authority that little cases like mine are entirely understood, and indeed, worried over. (Well, not directly. I am of very little power and very little threat.) But it is the fear of many people 'waking up' that drives much of the energies of the secret sciences. The EM pollution blanketing much of the populated world is very specific in its design. . .

    As for proving that I had an idea, or thought. That is a very different kind of thing in the sense that it is very repeatable. People have ideas all the time, if I got a hot one last week, nobody is really going to question it too much given the fact that just about anyone that you meet has the same experience all the time. Science may not be able to explain exactly how it came about, but nobody disputes that it doesn't happen because everybody gets ideas. Do you see the difference?

    Certainly. --Untestable phenomenon (like ideas) are only worthy of consideration when they happen to everybody. When they happen to only a segment of the population, they are to be ridiculed and violently disputed by the likes of James Randi and similar champions of 'reason'.

    Reminds me of the Dr. Seus book, "Horton Hears A Who." --Those monkeys nearly boiled Horton in oil for claiming to hear something nobody else could! Pity those with big ears, eh?

    It would be nice if people would instead learn about and develop their own senses. It's entirely possible to do this.

    -FL

    [ Parent ]

    More from Randi (none / 3) (#335)
    by Scratch o matic on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 03:03:39 PM EST

    Mr. Lad... I think you have quite a warped view of what Randi's business is. I have some excerpts that my clear it up a bit:

    First, a description of Randi replicating "paranormal" abilities for a group of scientists, during a broader study of the claimed abilities of Yuri Geller:

    He demonstrated in a laboratory his ability to bend and break spoons and keys that we supplied. He caused bursts on a Geiger counter and made one of our spoons become flexible and finally break in two while one of us held it at each end. Then Mr. Randi caused a compass needle to deflect by about 15° and caused several watches to advance. We were made well aware in advance that Mr. Randi appeared before us as a conjuror, and we watched him closely, knowing that he was doing tricks. We gave him no advantage that might be given to a "sensitive." After the performance, he revealed to us how some of these tricks had been done. We believe that in investigating phenomena of apparently paranormal nature, a qualified conjuror must be closely involved.

    Then Randi adds, and please read this carefully:

    But, importantly -- this evidence -- by itself -- in no way proved anything about Geller's performance except that it could be replicated by simple trickery!

    Note that Randi does not claim that his demonstration proves anything at all about Yuri Geller. He simply wants to demonstrate that there are OTHER PLAUSIBLE AND PERFECTLY UNDERSTANDABLE EXPLANATIONS. Or, as he likes to put it, "Why bend a spoon with your mind when you can bend it with your hands?"

    I don't think Randi issued his challenge (and it's been years now, by the way,) to "disprove" anyone. Nor would anyone who wins the money "prove" anything about Randi. He simply has provided an enticement to demonstrate a paranormal ability that is not more easily explainable by trickery or misunderstanding. To date, nobody has been able to do so.

    [ Parent ]
    This certainly sounds reasonable. . . (none / 0) (#449)
    by Fantastic Lad on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 01:26:39 AM EST

    However, it does not change the fact that Randi is not a reasonable man.

    Anybody can write a good bit of PR; we see it all the time from corporations and public figures, but such evenly meted out words rarely reflect the truth.

    It seems to me that Randi would probably not have been involved in so many messy libel cases were he as reasonable and honest as described. --I don't know where you got that example from, but if it was from Randi himself, then I am afraid that based on the man's track record, it is not worth much.

    Here's another piece from the annoying Uri Geller's site. . .

    On Monday April 12th 1999, at 9:20 AM New York time, Uri Geller saw James Randi standing with a producer of the American TV program "Inside Edition", outside the cordoned area where magician David Blaine was buried. Uri was standing with his wife, two children and Shipi Shtrang, his brother in law. Shipi who was filming the event on a professional sony video camera. Uri walked over to James Randi, who was just a few feet away, extending his hand in greeting. Randi refused to shake Uri's hand. Uri asked Randi "why aren't you shaking my hand Randi?" In turn, Randi answered "because I hate your guts". The producer looked a bit embarrassed. All this has been captured on video.
    As Uri Geller tends to be litigous, (he's sued Randi a couple of times), and therefore aware of the laws, I suspect that he wouldn't be foolish enough to publish such an item if it were not true. It would be nice if Randi published his stuff with the same level of self-monitoring.

    -FL

    [ Parent ]

    Congratulations, then (none / 2) (#390)
    by roystgnr on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 10:55:00 AM EST

    The applicants who are even allowed to enter into Randi's process are screened by Randi.

    Could you show us any examples of applications which you believe have been unfairly denied?

    He's only going to pick kooks.

    Excellent; you're in!  Now, authoring such statements as "This world contains some extremely nasty people whose JOB it is to make sure that people are stopped from disproving the tenets of Orthodox Science.", "The entire economy is based upon falsehoods. (The 'necessity' of fossil fuel is just one example.)", and "If James Randi ever switched sides, he'd be removed." doesn't necessarily make you a kook, but you're at least good enough at sounding like a paranoid kook to fool any screening process.

    [ Parent ]

    Networking. . . (none / 0) (#446)
    by Fantastic Lad on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 01:05:17 AM EST

    Could you show us any examples of applications which you believe have been unfairly denied?

    This example was recently provided by another poster. letter of denial

    Networking is a very wonderful tool. I encourage anybody with further links to offer them here.

    -FL

    [ Parent ]

    Randi-minati (none / 0) (#304)
    by bugmaster on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 07:13:54 AM EST

    It sounds to me like there's some sort of a global conspiracy designed to keep you psychics down, led by Randi and his Illuminati pals, of course. They will stop at nothing to silence The Truth ! Ph33r !

    Ok, that's great, but on a more sensible note, which specific part of Randi's testing procedure do you disagree with ? And -- and here's the tough one -- is there actually any kind of test that will satisfy you ? Or is testing your abilities impossible/unfair a priori. ?
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]

    Really? (none / 1) (#307)
    by warrax on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 07:30:13 AM EST

    In fact, that's exactly how I determined for myself that there are forces which are deliberately ignored by orthodox science.
    Why not share with us the experiments you performed, what conditions they were done under and what the results were? Let us decide for ourselves! What are you afraid of?

    -- "Guns don't kill people. I kill people."
    [ Parent ]
    Proof (none / 2) (#320)
    by Fantastic Lad on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 12:33:44 PM EST

    Why not share with us the experiments you performed, what conditions they were done under and what the results were? Let us decide for ourselves! What are you afraid of?

    Afraid?

    That's not it. Experiences of this nature aren't going to happen under controlled laboratory conditions. I don't live in a lab; Life is where experiences happen.

    When I live through a shared dream, a reality shift, an 'impossible' communication, see energy, or have any number of very personal and difficult to describe experiences which validate the existence of forces not explained by high school science, they are my experiences. Only from my perspective can they be incontrovertible proof; they are only any good to me. For you or anybody else, they are only stories.

    Case in point. . .

    I was in love with a girl who was very energy aware. She didn't love me back and it had been days since I'd last seen her. I was thinking about her very strongly, (specifically not masturbating to her. I consider it rude; like having somebody without their permission.), but nonetheless, a singular moment of extremely intense feelings overwhelmed me one afternoon, so strong and self-indulgent that it made my head spin. At the height of this little episode, the phone rang and I picked it up.

    "Hello?"

    "Hello, my ass! Will you cut that out!!! Jeezus! I have an essay due! You can't just flood the world with your emotions like that. Stop it! I'm fucking sensitive to this, and when you have feelings like those, they drill into my head!"

    "You mean. . ?"

    "YES!"

    I was stunned. And embarrassed. It was a good thing I'd not been jerking off to her, or it would have been worse. This was during a period when it was my world view that was being shaken apart; I was the one struggling to come to terms with exactly the kind of subjects being discussed here. It was a very scary/uplifting time; the sort of time which many people try all their lives to avoid exactly because of how painful it can be. Her voice softened.

    "Look. . . I'm sorry. I know this is tough on you, but for some reason you've decided to start becoming aware now, and it looks like I'm one of the people you're supposed to learn from. But I'm no good at teaching. It's too much for me sometimes. And that's probably why. We all have to learn. --But are you beginning to get it? Are you beginning to see why power isn't necessarily a blessing?"

    Now, I can tell you a hundred similar stories involving various people and incidents. And maybe you can see why I'll not be performing any of this stuff for the good of 'science,' the world at large, and certainly not for those like Randi.

    And that's exactly the way it is supposed to be. It's not about winning a million dollars or 'showing' the world.

    You have to have your own experiences. The nature of forces which are not locked down in the physical world is that they tend to have this quality. The Universe, which is quite conscious, does this deliberately. If you want access to the world beyond the mundane, you have to find your own proofs.

    -FL

    [ Parent ]

    I suppose you are right. (none / 1) (#324)
    by bakuretsu on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 01:09:54 PM EST

    Philosophically speaking (please refer to the wonderful text on Wikipedia), The Coherence Theory of truth would support your statement because you and your girlfriend both had the belief that what she felt was true; the coherence of those beliefs maintains their truth. Please note that the philosophical strength of the Coherence Theory relies on the fact that it has no basis in reality, merely on agreement between people, and therefore is not usually accepted as truth by others (probably something you've encountered trying to explain this event to people of a more closed mind).

    Your report doesn't pass muster for the Correspondence Theory of truth, however, which roughly asserts that truth is the intersection of belief and of the independent reality. If only one individual can observe the corroborating evidence (in this case, only your girlfriend had observed the effects of the energy), then the belief can't be said to intersect with an independent reality; only her reality.

    I certainly don't mean to say that what she felt wasn't real, or that the experience holds no meaning, or even that the whole event isn't "true." In fact, I would go so far as to say that some of the things that have the most meaning for people are those that are not scientifically proven, or provable at all. Enter religion.

    This is just an opportunity for me to parade Philosophy 101 around K5, hopefully to everyone's edification.

    -- Airborne
        aka Bakuretsu
        The Bailiwick -- DESIGNHUB 2004
    [ Parent ]

    Agreed. (none / 0) (#453)
    by Fantastic Lad on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 02:09:04 AM EST

    Your report doesn't pass muster for the Correspondence Theory of truth, however, which roughly asserts that truth is the intersection of belief and of the independent reality. If only one individual can observe the corroborating evidence (in this case, only your girlfriend had observed the effects of the energy), then the belief can't be said to intersect with an independent reality; only her reality.

    The way I deal with this is through the weight of repeated 'testing'. --By 'testing' I mean, experiencing and then looking at the conditions surrounding the experience.

    I've had this kind of experience happen many times, in many different ways, in numerous different environments, with numerous different people. With each experience, three possibilities become more likely:

    1. Something unusual really is going on.
    2. Somebody is deliberately trying to fool me through mundane means.
    3. I am trying to fool myself on a subconsious level. (I discount the conscious level, because I truly believe I am being honest with myself.)

    So as the weight of experience builds up, so does the strength of my faith that forces beyond the mundane are in evidence. Naturally, I could be wrong, (this is the other side of Faith), but based on everything I currently know, think, and have experienced, I am inclined to work with my reality as though these forces are in effect. --As they certainly seem to be.

    For me, they are only somewhat less real than the sun and sky, (which may also be tricks of the senses; after all, nothing can be proven to exist, as I am sure you recognize given your philosophy background!)

    My knowledge structure is a work in progress. . .

    -FL

    [ Parent ]

    Finally. (none / 0) (#630)
    by bakuretsu on Mon Apr 19, 2004 at 11:50:19 AM EST

    My comment was a reason for me to dust off my philosophy notes from last year.

    The way I see it, it really doesn't matter what beliefs you hold, or how "true" or "false" they are from others' perspectives. I'm glad that you are open to discussion about it in a logical (or philosophical) manner; it is refreshing.

    At the end of the day, as long as nobody is getting hurt, your beliefs have little import. Perhaps they are important to YOU, and that is what matters, but I can say I fall in a neutral zone on this issue. If your beliefs caused you to attack and maul senior citizens at the mall, perhaps things would be different.

    This is my fundamental point of view on religion (and faith). Your beliefs are nobody's business but your own, until they cause others harm in some way. This includes aggressive proselytizing, etc.

    Just my $0.02.

    -- Airborne
        aka Bakuretsu
        The Bailiwick -- DESIGNHUB 2004
    [ Parent ]

    Hmmm... (none / 1) (#333)
    by Scratch o matic on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 02:47:36 PM EST

    It might surprise you to know that I agree that the experiences you describe would be difficult to "test," nor do I have any interest in telling you or anyone else that such things don't happen. My support of Randi's challenge is more directed at people who claim specific, testable skills -- and I believe most paranormal claims fall into that category.

    [ Parent ]
    Testable skills (none / 0) (#375)
    by dejarad on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 04:16:42 AM EST

    Magola (magneticman.com) has testable skills. He can pick up objects and adhere them to his body. Jump around with them. Pick them up from the ground using his forehead. All proven and witnessed by hundreds (millions if you count TV), yet Randi does not want to test this. Why do you think that is?

    [ Parent ]
    From Randi's web site... (none / 1) (#381)
    by Scratch o matic on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 07:12:02 AM EST

    He says [emphasis mine]:

    This is a person who has made much noise about being tested, but has never submitted his talents to us for that purpose. I wrote him by e-mail on July 3rd last year and told him to apply, but I also told him that I'd dust his skin with talcum powder -- a substance that seems to inhibit magnetism for these performers. To cover the embarrassing fact that he has not replied, he has now made a claim that I already accept his powers. That's hardly the case. . .

    It never occurs to these people that I've no urge whatsoever to travel across the world to see yet another "sticky skin" demo -- but I'll be in Germany in September and in Italy in October. Maybe MM will come around and wow me? He lives in Munich, and I'm available. And will he win the million....? I don't think so...


    If Magola claims to have applied--a simple process--perhaps he would be willing to produce a copy of his application? And if he is quite certain that he can pass this test, perhaps he could submit the application in a public manner, so there is no question that he applied?

    [ Parent ]
    Suppose he were to say (none / 0) (#448)
    by craigd on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 01:24:02 AM EST

    that he wouldn't work with talcum powder? After all, the application lets you put restrictions on it... could he win the million?


    A man who says little is a man who speaks two syllables.
    [ Parent ]
    Probably not (none / 0) (#506)
    by Scratch o matic on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 01:47:01 PM EST

    This gets us to the point reached elsewhere in the thread...what constitutes "supernatural?" I don't think that being able to pick up things with sticky skin is that impressive. He does claim that this is a magnetic force, after all. But yes, he would be able to define the conditions of his ability. If his condition is,"I can pick things up, but not if something is on my skin to make it less sticky," then I don't think that constitutes a supernatural ability.

    [ Parent ]
    If he could do it through things (none / 0) (#514)
    by craigd on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 06:07:52 PM EST

    other than talc?


    A man who says little is a man who speaks two syllables.
    [ Parent ]
    experiential evidence (none / 0) (#378)
    by dlec on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 06:55:05 AM EST

    Very well written, and I completely agree. When I was about 17 I statrted to smoke Canabis and that led to a whole bunch of weird things happening. Yes, I was under the influence of drugs, but my reality changed. It was the start of a much larger change in my beliefs, which has been aided by a number of other experiences, including more powerful drugs ;-)

    At first I looked outside for confirmation, but soon realised that there was a lot of crap out there, and I couldn't really trust any of it. So I came to trust experiential evidence above written evidence, even though it was only a part of my own reality.

    I have had a lot of incredible experiences, but almost none of them are testable since they are mostly just an altered state of conciousness which is completely personal, or shared with some other person. I have never believed that they were supernatural, only that they were yet undocumented by the scientific establishment.

    Let me share a few since I think they are interesting, although certainly not miracles in the scientific sense:

    I have often experienced a deep connection with trees, such that I can feel a great deal about them, understand their nature, and sense a mutual respect. Different trees have different characteristics, and the grandest are often the most noble and strong.

    I once went out with a girl in a different area, who phoned me only occasionally, but where I always knew she was going to phone a few seconds before the phone rang, and became so confident in this ability that I would say "Hello Julia" before she even said a word -- always freaked her out.

    I have been able to detect the type of energy between me and another person so I know the type of feeling they are really experiencing, rather than what they say they are. Sometimes this can be really intense. One time I was sitting in a room full of people and was between a friend and this other guy who had popped into the room. They were seemingly exchanging pleasantries, but actually detested each other. The energy going through me was so strong, and negative, that I had trouble breathing, and had to sit quietly until it was over. Nobody else in the room noticed this, and my friend himself swore it wasn't true.

    I went on a healing course were the group love was so strong by holding hands in a circle at the start and end of each day, where the energy that went through you was so beautififul, and so so obviously a composite (a complex energy), yet so harmonious and uplifting that it was like being under the influence of drugs.

    I have given people Reiki healings (no contact energy healing) sometimes that were so powerful that they felt there body was on fire and coursing with energy. Manytimes, I have given healings where the recipient feels so peaced out that they lay for 20 to 30 minutes to recover, and sometimes the recipient feels physically ill and disoriented, and asks me to stop early -- often the non-believers.

    I have performed automatic writing for periods, requestings daily tasks to perform, and have been given tasks that although seemingly unimportant, create a such a feeling of well being, and euphoria, that it is like being on opium all day long.

    I have spent periods of my life eating nothing but raw foods, and found that the resulting euphoria, and connectedness are equal to the feelings that can be achieved through mediation or the ingestion of drugs for spiritual purposes.

    I have had no contact sex with a girl with to improve the sexual relationship, and come close to orgasm, merely through the circular flow of sexual energy through the penis and breasts.

    I have felt a love so strong for somebody that it was a like a bubble encasing us, and a euphoria that can not be explained through any other experience.

    I have experienced a connectnedness to all about me, and the entire Universe, so that I finally understood that I belonged, knew my place, and knew that I was truly loved; so powerfully that it would almost make you cry just to to look about you.

    I don't know if any of this is testable. Perhaps some tests could be devised, but I am not really interested anyway. Stuff like this is to important not to experience for yourself, and like love, is only a pale imitation when it is described by others.

    [ Parent ]

    I'm curious. (none / 0) (#383)
    by grendelkhan on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 07:58:50 AM EST

    If I understand you correctly, you're saying that there are events and powers in this world that cannot be explained by science as we know it. (Most Western-thought scientists would agree with you on that one.)

    Furthermore, you claim that the scientific method (hypothesis/double blind/that sort of thing) cannot be used to verify these powers. So... if these things can't work reliably, or can't work when it matters, or can't work when somebody's watching... what good are they?

    You've redefined the problem set to be practically useless. If that's the case, what's the damn point in going 'beyond the mundane', as you say? The description above seems to cover only random coincidences that are then taken as incontrovertible, reliable fact.

    --grendelkhan
    -- Laws do not persuade just because they threaten --Seneca
    [ Parent ]

    my take on this (none / 0) (#433)
    by dlec on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 11:29:06 PM EST

    I'm not the parent, so this is only my view on things...

    Furthermore, you claim that the scientific method (hypothesis/double blind/that sort of thing) cannot be used to verify these powers. So... if these things can't work reliably, or can't work when it matters, or can't work when somebody's watching... what good are they?

    There are loads of widely experienced phenomena that can not be proven in a scientific test but don't need to be since they are so widely experienced. When somebody suggests that they have had experiences that are not so common, but as equally real as the other experiences, they must provide proof. What if a large percentage of the population were unable to experience fear? What test could you devise that would provide undeniable proof of this emotion?

    This is not so silly as it sounds. I remember speaking to a friend about romantic love, who was almost skeptical of it's existence because he had never had personal experience of it. This is actually very scientific, and perhaps he should be commended for disregarding the accounts of the many authors, musicians, and poets who have authored countless works on the subject, since he had no personal evidence for it. I myself would never trust what anyone else says either, but I am open enough to experiment and see if I can re-create the experience personally. [If you'd like to do this please see the end of my post for suggestions]

    Through my own experience, I have come to realise a bunch of things which I now know to be true, or suspect to be true, all of which are not widely believed in.

    Know to be true:

    1. All beings and life forms (vegetable and animal) are connected energetically
    2. All transactions between beings are accompanied by an energy transfer
    3. Energy transfer is nuanced so that, for example, jealousy is distinct from respect
    4. Persons/Beings that we have a more intimate relationship with, we are more highly connected with.
    5. Energy transfer can occur over large geographic distances
    6. Happiness and health are acompanied by positive energetic conditions, and unhappiness and disease are accompanied by negative energetic conditions.
    7. It is possible to access knowledge that is seemingly not our own.
    8. To connect to a being or organism is to begin to know that being, and is to begin to feel it's emotions.
    9. Change (All?) can be realized by working at the material, energetic, emotional or consciouss levels.

    Suspect to be true:

    1. Consciousness is (mostly) a trinity, and when badly aligned feels like a schizophrenia.
    2. Conciousness can not be produced by movement -- i.e. not in a purely physical dimension.
    3. Consciousness is, to some extent, sharable, as are emotions.
    4. All matter is based on an energetic foundation.
    5. Consciousness is the ultimate stuff.

    There is probably a lot more, but that is quite enough to be getting on with. If you want to experience these things for yourself then that can be done in a whole number of ways. The most convenient being:

    1. Take (in order of preference) peyote/LSD/ecstasy/opium/marijuanna with the intent of allowing some spiritual experience. [do this with somebody who is responsible and has a good knowledge of the drug]
    2. Receive a healing from somebody that practices energetic healing (just ask around since many people dabble)
    3. Only eat raw foods (e.g. salads, fruit, water) for a couple of weeks
    4. Use automatic writing to help connect to your super consciouss, and ask for a task to perform at the beginning of each day.
    5. Join a meditation class and try to find a mediation that works for you (quite tricky)
    6. Drink nothing but water for five days.

    -- Best of Luck



    [ Parent ]
    Fear (none / 2) (#473)
    by warrax on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 05:21:09 AM EST

    What if a large percentage of the population were unable to experience fear? What test could you devise that would provide undeniable proof of this emotion?
    Fear has secondary effects which can be demonstrated, for instace heightened awareness caused by the increased adrenaline. People who could not experience fear would not know what it felt like (obviously), but they could see the effects of it and therefore come to accept that there is an underlying cause to the secondary effects (if they would call it "fear" is another matter, but let's leave that to rest). Any claimed secondary effects of "paranormal" powers have in all cases been shown to be flukes/trickery (through double-blind experiments). Since no such secondary effects have ever been shown to occur, there is no reason to believe that there is an underlying cause. (I mean, you only look for a cause if there is an effect, right?)

    I'm not even going to comment on the rest of your post besides saying this: LSD is known to cause severe mental problems in some people and alters your perception of realtiy to such a degree that anything you "perceive" while under the influence (and possibly afterwards) is completely worthless from an observational point of view. You are taking a hallicinogen and you're honestly surprised that you can perceive "energies"? You're fucked up in the head, of course you can see "energies"! That's what hallucinogens do!

    -- "Guns don't kill people. I kill people."
    [ Parent ]

    my point exactly (none / 0) (#490)
    by dlec on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 09:30:22 AM EST

    Fear has secondary effects which can be demonstrated, for instace heightened awareness caused by the increased adrenaline. People who could not experience fear would not know what it felt like (obviously), but they could see the effects of it and therefore come to accept that there is an underlying cause to the secondary effects

    Well I think you just proved my point. You wrote off my example by suggesting that secondary effects could be observed, and that would be enough. So why does my friend find it difficult to believe the effects some people describe while being in love even though they are so widely reported? The problem of course is that the secondary effects are not unique to the state of fear or love. Interestingly, one of the secondary effects you point to is heightened awareness, which again can not be proved.

    It has been shown that the brains of healers that work with energy go into a 7.8 - 8Hz alpha cycle in phase synchronisation with the earth's electromagnetic field. This is a secondary proof that is clearly not enough in of itself since it has not satisfied many scientists to date.

    I'm not even going to comment on the rest of your post besides saying this: LSD is known to cause severe mental problems in some people ...

    Your quite right, LSD is a potentially dangerous drug if abused over a period of time, as are opium, ecstasy, and marijuanna. That is why I suggest you take them soley for their experiential value, and not as a regular recreational tool. I mention drugs first because although they do have dangers associated with them, they are also the most convenient method. Perhaps you would find one of the other methods more pallatable, and also very good for your health.

    ... and alters your perception of realtiy to such a degree that anything you "perceive" while under the influence (and possibly afterwards) is completely worthless from an observational point of view. You are taking a hallicinogen and you're honestly surprised that you can perceive "energies"? You're fucked up in the head, of course you can see "energies"! That's what hallucinogens do!

    This is a common mistake. People that haven't taken halucinogens assume that they merely change your perception of reality. People that have taken them often realize that they allow you to percieve other aspects of reality. This isn't just about halucinogens either; ecstasy allows you to experience connectedness to, and empathy with, all people.

    As we know, what we are able to percieve is very much dependent on the state of our body chemistry, but that in no means allows us to say that true reality is the state that we perceive under normal body conditions. Try eating nothing but raw foods for an extended period of time and you will find that your normal state can often be described as euphoric, lucid, connected, peacefull, energetic, and loving. Your definition does not allow for any relativity; it requires that there be some agreed upon state of normalcy, which in reality doesn't exist.

    As for seing energies, I have never had that experience myself, but others do claim to be able to see energies. I always perceive them. In any case, since you are so confident, I challenge you to choose the most preferable method of discovery from those I suggested and draw your own conclusions. It would be most un-scientific of you not to.



    [ Parent ]
    Subject (none / 0) (#491)
    by warrax on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 10:12:36 AM EST

    Interestingly, one of the secondary effects you point to is heightened awareness, which again can not be proved.
    Oh, I didn't mean "heightened awareness" in any sort of drughead sense. I just meant that you have more situational awareness, your reaction times are lowered, etc. This has certainly been shown to occur when the andrenaline concentration in the body is increased (up to a point). Btw, "widely been reported" does NOT equal "shown in double-blind tests to occur". One of these "methodologies" can be influenced greatly by the observers, the other cannot. Let's see if you can guess which is which.

    Wrt. drugs: The key word here is "experience". I'm not contesting your experience, I'm just saying that the drugs are the cause of that experience, not some undiscovered reality beneath the "everyday" reality. I think my explanation is simpler than yours, don't you?

    -- "Guns don't kill people. I kill people."
    [ Parent ]

    simplicity !== truth (none / 0) (#502)
    by dlec on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 01:12:23 PM EST

    Wrt. drugs: The key word here is "experience". I'm not contesting your experience, I'm just saying that the drugs are the cause of that experience, not some undiscovered reality beneath the "everyday" reality. I think my explanation is simpler than yours, don't you?

    No. Theories are all very well but without evidence they are just that. I have proven that these realities do exist, whereas you have only postulated that they don't. If you only rely on theories you tend to make mistakes, and those mistakes become amplified as you layer on top of them.

    The statement that taking drugs allows access to other realities is best tested by experimenting with those drugs, or devising experiments with other people that take them. IMO, taking them yourself is far more impressive, although of less scientific value.

    Rupert Sheldrake has a number of ideas for experiments that can proove these seeming realities do in fact exist (Seven Experiments That Could Change the World), and that can be performed on a tight budget. Although many of these experiments have yet to be performed to a satisfactory level, he does point to the experiments that have occurred so far, and how they tentatively show that current Science fails in many ways.

    As regards drugs, Sheldrake mentions a test he performed where he spun a coin and asked people to either stare at somebody, or not stare at them, and have the person being watched say whether they thought they were being looked at or not. Although the majority of people tested were unable to detect this in any statistically relevant way, two people were. A woman, who claimed to have played it as a game when a child, and a man who was on ecstasy and said it made him far more sensitive to it. See here for the details, and skip down to the section My Own Investigations.

    There is probably a lot more Scientifically credible evidence; based on my own experiences I could certainly propose some. In any case, I'll let you draw your own conclusions.



    [ Parent ]
    How? (none / 0) (#508)
    by warrax on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 02:09:26 PM EST

    I have proven that these realities do exist
    Where is your proof? You haven't provided any (double-blind and reproducible if you please). And you conveniently forgot about the first part of my reply. Oh, and asserting (without anything to back it up, I might add) that Occam's Razor does not apply isn't going to win you any arguments.

    Bleh. Believe whatever you want to believe. I've spent way too much time on this topic already and I'm obviously not going to convince you of anything, so let's just leave it at that, shall we?

    -- "Guns don't kill people. I kill people."
    [ Parent ]

    fin (none / 0) (#511)
    by dlec on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 03:41:51 PM EST

    Where is your proof? You haven't provided any (double-blind and reproducible if you please).

    That's because I haven't done any double blind experiments (though you might read the link I provided if you want that type of proof), in the same way I would imagine that you have never felt compelled to perform such experiments to proove your own senses. My own proof is of the type, If I can touch an object then it must exist in some way or another, whatever that means.

    And you conveniently forgot about the first part of my reply.

    No, I think I dealt with that by saying that these proofs you offer are not unique to the cause (fear), so they don't provide substantive proof that fear exists for a person that can't experience it. Anyway, you have selectively ignored most of what I have said, so its like the pot calling the kettle black.

    Oh, and asserting (without anything to back it up, I might add) that Occam's Razor does not apply isn't going to win you any arguments.

    I never said any such thing. I said that the truth is not necesarilly the simplest solution. Otherwise we might as well believe that God created the world in seven days -- far easier to comprehend than relatvity or quantum theory, no?

    Occam's razor is that, all things being equal, the simplest explanation is the most likely. If you choose to discount all evidence or personal accounts/experience that do not fit a model (see the links I provided earlier), then it becomes easy to say that all things are equal, and that my suggestions introduces unnecesarry baggage, whereas yours is optimally simple.

    Bleh. Believe whatever you want to believe. I've spent way too much time on this topic already and I'm obviously not going to convince you of anything,

    That would be difficult I admit. You are trying to ask me to discount my personal experience by supposing that it is some hallucination or internal distortion of reality, whereas I am asking you to do something that will allow you to have experiences that you are currently not capable of experiencing.

    so let's just leave it at that, shall we?

    Yes, happilly. Good talking to you.



    [ Parent ]
    care to elaborate? (none / 0) (#416)
    by JussiK on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 05:14:38 PM EST

    Now, I can tell you a hundred similar stories involving various people and incidents. And maybe you can see why I'll not be performing any of this stuff for the good of 'science,'...

    Well, maybe I'm dense, but I can't see why not? I'd really like to know. I mean, you make it sound like something supernatural happens every other day. Should be pretty easy to document that...

    [ Parent ]

    testing. . . (none / 0) (#455)
    by Fantastic Lad on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 02:47:14 AM EST

    Well, maybe I'm dense, but I can't see why not? I'd really like to know. I mean, you make it sound like something supernatural happens every other day. Should be pretty easy to document that...

    Well, first of all, I don't have such experiences daily, and second, I have a life which I intend to live without cameras and testing machines etc., being put in place for the benefit of people who should ideally be learning through their own efforts. Knowledge discovered and tested by you is of far greater worth than that simply placed before you.

    Compare a cute little thirty second CNN article. . .

    "ESP! Well, wasn't that interesting! What do you think of that over at the sports desk, Mike?" "Ha ha. Well, I'll tell you, a little ESP would have helped the Chicago Bulls in last night's game. As you can see. . ."

    Or changing your life around so that such forces become through necessity an integral part of your reality.

    In my case, experiences beyond the norm happen at unexpected times and they only do so when I am actively not draining my personal energies in the grind of daily slaving in the corporate environment caught in the throngs of of other slaves. You need to cultivate your mind and body, --ie, get on a path you love, live healthy, stay away from Television and food poisons and the various other methods through which populations are controlled and damped down. Awareness is directly linked to how much energy you have. If there is no light in your eyes, no spring in your step, then you are going to limit your ability to perceive on higher levels.

    As such, maybe you can see that this is something you need to do for yourself. Start small, with no expectations, (as I did. I honestly knew little about such things and had no real interest beyond the vague notions most of us develop when we are kids.) All I wanted was to get my life in order. To seek health of body and mind, and get on what I later learned was described by the mystic sorts as a, 'path with heart'.

    Now it should be noted that part of having a healthy mind is to not be closed off or scared of different ways of thinking. --And this is seen in the pattern of living; not being afraid of stepping out of your comfort zones in even mundane ways exercises this part of your mind so that it can function on other levels as well. Try a food which scares you. Read a book you would not normally read. Explore a part of your world you would never normally go. Explore with eyes open that which makes you feel anxious and unsettled. This forces you to grow.

    In the end, this is all very personal stuff and you must make the choice on your own to face it. Once you do that, you will find that other things will naturally follow. It takes time, so it's best to start now.

    -FL

    [ Parent ]

    a path with heart (none / 0) (#504)
    by dlec on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 01:32:04 PM EST

    Great line. Carlos Castenada if I remember correctly: "choose a path, choose any path, but choose a path with heart". BTW, I am in complete accordance with what you are saying. Not often I feel that way.

    [ Parent ]
    More... (none / 0) (#309)
    by Scratch o matic on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 08:08:41 AM EST

    [This is the second of my responses...might make more sense after reading the first.]

    The problem is that Randi has a significant bias against truth. His tests are designed to be unworkable...

    A properly designed double-blind test ELIMINATES BIAS. That's the whole basis of the process we call science. In the dowsing example I gave elsewhere in this thread, a dowser was allowed to set out the samples and was allowed to detect them with his stick. He did this with 100% accuracy (when he knew where the sample was,) said the setup was OK, and proceeded with the double-blind test under the same conditions. Neither he nor Randi knew where the samples were in the double-blind test. The dowser got 1 out of 10 right...exactly what would be expected by pure chance.

    Having said that, let me say that I understand the spirit (no pun intended) of your idea that knee-jerk skepticism can be as bad as knee-jerk belief. I dismiss most of these claims out-of-hand because my experience has shown me that most such claims will be either untested or will fail when tested. But I would not claim, as some do, that such things absolutely don't exist. I for one think this universe is a wonderful, mysterious place. The idea that someone is able to influence objects with only their thoughts, to use one example, is no more wonderful than the idea that I can hit keys on this laptop with no wires attached and make letters appear on someone's desk in Hong Kong. There are enough "miracles" in the world for me without having to believe those that seem fantastic but have other, simpler explanations that can be determined through proper exerimentation.

    [ Parent ]
    Worldwide conspiracy against paranormals? (2.25 / 4) (#339)
    by talorin on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 03:19:19 PM EST

    Mulder to Scully, come in Scully.  Running low on tinfoil.  Please advise.

    [ Parent ]
    If only I believe ... (none / 1) (#342)
    by cdguru on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 03:35:15 PM EST

    The entire economy is based upon falsehoods. (The 'necessity' of fossil fuel is just one example.)

    I believe that using the energy from methane released after eating at Taco Bell will power my car. I believe ... I believe ... I believe ...

    Nope, I'm still here with an empty tank.

    Would you care to elighten us as to your secret source of energy that will eliminate fossil fuels? So far every alternative that has been considered fails one important test: energy density (i.e., it fits in a car).

    We all would like it if we could replace all fossil fuels with energy beams from the stars. Maybe if we believe hard enough... But I doubt it. Maybe it is just my Western-influenced rational thinking. I guess if we were all trained from children to be irrational the world would work differently.

    [ Parent ]

    Ethanol, for instance (none / 0) (#460)
    by jungleboogie on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 03:49:45 AM EST

    We could all be using a renewable source of fuel-ethanol derived from corn, sugar cane, or other plants. Not only could it be done at the same or lower price than oil, but it has been done in other countries. Like Brazil, which ran on 95% ethanol, until the oil industry and its money took hold again. Very few americans even know this is possible, yet it blows every politician's rhetoric OUT OF THE WATER.

    In theory, a small company could certainly market the replacement car parts for popular vehicles, and another could supply cheap ethanol in convenient forms. But, in the U.S., the way that they fight conversion to alcohol fuels is by making the regulatory barriers so high that nobody can make the stuff any cheaper than gasoline.

    See http://www.brasil.terravista.pt/jenipabu/3786/enalcohol.htm for one account of Brazil's (temporary) transformation. There's really no reason it couldn't be done in the USA if the government would step out of the way. (hahahah!!)

    [ Parent ]

    By 95% Ethanol, I mean... (none / 0) (#463)
    by jungleboogie on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 03:58:39 AM EST

    I mean that 95% of the cars ran on 100% Ethanol, not a mixture of 95% ethanol and 5% something else. And while I'm at it, for the diesel engines, you could of course use vegetable oil rather than diesel fuel....Plants of the earth can be cultivated by man to produce enough fuel for our modern civilization to run, today, and not millions of years from now.

    [ Parent ]
    Unlikely events are often Poisson distributed (2.33 / 12) (#170)
    by tetsuwan on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 10:13:07 AM EST

    Now, most people do not realize that unlikely events come in two kinds:
    1. Unlikely events that can happen anytime, that is the chance of them happening is nonzero a lot of the time. These events obey the statistics of a Poisson process.
    2. Unlikely events that are not only unlikely, the odds of them happening except on very special occasions is zero or infinitely close to zero.
    If you are familiar with physics, you now that tunneling is unlikely given any potential barrier greater than the kinetic energy of the particle (read electron). [Except for resonant tunneling, but that's cheating.]. But tunneling happens all the time! In a piece of metal, there's so many electrons constantly bumping into potential barriers that at any given moment, some of the electrons are actually crossing a classically forbidden barrier.

    Now "weird" events in normal life work the same way. Close friends often think about the same persons and subjects. Close friends think about the other friend often. These are uncorrelated events, but they happen so often that sooner or later you and your close friend are going to think of the same thing at the same time and then think of talking to each other at the same time.
    People think about other people they haven't met in a while in some sort of Fibonacci-distributed way and it's no mathematical wonder if they should think of contacting the other person at the same day, say two years after the last time they met.

    The spooky thing about a Poisson process is that the unlikely events tend to be lumped together in time. Thus three or four events that seem extremely unlikely can happen in a short succession and this is still mathematical normalcy. Now you will probably ask if then everything is mathematical normalcy. No, it isn't. Predicting specified unlikely events in short time frames is mathematically abnormal. Unspecified unlikely events happen all the time. Specified unlikely events will some day happen. The point is unspecified unlikely events happen often, and are more often than not lumped up in time.

    Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance

    heh (none / 2) (#259)
    by conthefol on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 07:46:52 PM EST

    Ever notice how people only remember the coincidences? How many times has everything gone normally? A lot more.

    [=- We Can Do Better. -=]
    [ Parent ]

    How many times has everything gone normally? (none / 0) (#534)
    by artis on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 11:54:35 PM EST

    I'd tell you, but I've forgot. :-D

    But seriously, filtering your own bias is hard work.
    --
    Can you know that you are omniscient?
    [ Parent ]

    Thank you. (none / 0) (#300)
    by warrax on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 05:18:34 AM EST

    You said it so much better than I ever could.

    -- "Guns don't kill people. I kill people."
    [ Parent ]
    The only thing I need to know about science... (1.71 / 7) (#183)
    by wanders on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 11:31:18 AM EST

    ...is that Good Science produces technology; Bad Science does not.

    Science that does not produce technology, or at the very least documentedly successful techniques, can safely be left for the scientific community to deal with. You may have infallible proof for cold fusion, alien civilisations on Mars, extrasensory perception and string theory, but until you can show me the technology, I shall remain unimpressed.
    ~
    ~
    :x

    Science is more than technology. (none / 0) (#202)
    by handslikesnakes on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 02:11:00 PM EST

    What tech has archaeology given us?



    [ Parent ]
    you are making his point for him (nt) (none / 0) (#232)
    by speek on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 05:48:55 PM EST


    --
    al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
    [ Parent ]

    archaeology is a historical science :: no tech -nt (none / 1) (#258)
    by conthefol on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 07:44:36 PM EST


    [=- We Can Do Better. -=]
    [ Parent ]

    archaeological technology (none / 0) (#270)
    by limivore on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 09:23:54 PM EST

    archaeological theories?
    Theories count as technology, don't they? They're like maps...

    [ Parent ]
    You know, I'm not sure (none / 0) (#301)
    by wanders on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 05:35:29 AM EST

    Archaeology could, perceivably, have had some technological spinoffs - or at least provided some useful techniques - as good ideas can remain good even if they are very old.

    But by and large, archaeology is merely a source of fascinating tales of the past. I wouldn't personally go so far as to call it Bad Science, even though its pay-off is arguably quite small. Between reading about the ancient whathavyouians, I'm not so impressed by it.

    Remember, I didn't originally say that archaeology wasn't science, I merely alluded to that it could fit my definition bad science.
    ~
    ~
    :x
    [ Parent ]

    Technology is not everything (none / 1) (#401)
    by Steeltoe on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 12:35:44 PM EST

    If we don't develop spirituality and a community, technology will become our destruction. How can we develop bigger and bigger bombs, and still believe we're fixing something? The solution to the problem is human, not in bigger guns.

    Explore the Art of Living

    [ Parent ]
    Definition of Technology (none / 1) (#592)
    by Dyolf Knip on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 10:23:03 PM EST

    Is simply knowledge about how to do something. 'Advanced technology' can be as complicated as scramjets and bombs, but it can be as simple as an improved harness for horses or learning to leave a field fallow for a season. Science is itself a technology: a system for developing reliable, falsifiable theories about how the world works.

    Now, when you say, "we need to develop spiritually and as a community", what do you mean? Because it sounds to me like nothing more than so many buzzwords. You need to explain what spiritual development is, you need to explain why you think that spiritual development, which to date nobody has ever shown to exist (in the supernatural sensed), is more important than development of the so-called "Stuff in the Real World".

    However, if by "spritual development" you actually mean, "better methods of getting billions of humans live together without killing each other", then you have just described a field of technology which has undergone many advancements through the years. The change from the highly egalitarian tribal culture to the more socially stratified ones of villages and later cities and nations was part cause/part consequence of a rising population and the apparent inability of many people to live together in anarchy. Representative government is a technology that attempts to prevent unintended consequences of this previous development, a powerful minority antagonizing the majority with impunity, eventually causing rebellions and civil wars and all kinds of nasty stuff. On the whole, I'd say it's been more successful than suggesting we all sit around singing Kumbaya for purposes of 'spiritual development'.

    What Shermer is working against here is the claims by so many sharlatans that their 'technolgy' is reliable, repeatable, and usable on terms no more unreasonable than that which common sense and some healthy scepticism would demand. If a simple parlor trick can't be duplicated under controlled conditions, it's a safe bet it can't be done at all.

    ---
    If you can't learn to do something well, learn to enjoy doing it poorly.

    Dyolf Knip
    [ Parent ]

    I can't agree (none / 1) (#413)
    by GenerationY on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 04:16:21 PM EST

    Science is a method. Bad science is the failure to appropriately apply that method. What you are taking about is good science that produces what are in your view trivial results.

    Technology (by one definition the body of knowledge that speaks to physical interaction with the world through tool use) is, in any case, a product of engineering; a process which need not necessarily be particularly scientific in its approach (ie. it just works).

    [ Parent ]

    Shermer kind of falls to pieces with the line: (none / 3) (#192)
    by Battle Troll on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 01:47:07 PM EST

    "Rather, such variables as genetic predisposition, parental predilection, sibling influence, peer pressure, educational experience and life impressions all shape the personality preferences that, in conjunction with numerous social and cultural influences, lead us to our beliefs."

    Genetic predisposition to beliefs? That's rather hard to swallow.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD

    A Genetic Predisposition to the THINKING PROCESS (2.75 / 4) (#213)
    by BuddasEvilTwin on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 03:55:36 PM EST

    Try thinking about it a little before you knee-jerk. Genetics affect how the mind thinks in a variety of ways. MRI scans Dyslexic, Schiztophrenic, and Autistic are obvious examples of genetics playing a HUGE role in affecting the rationalization process.

    [ Parent ]
    humbug (none / 0) (#612)
    by Battle Troll on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 04:55:26 PM EST

    Try thinking about it a little before you knee-jerk.

    Back atcha, sport. Shermer's language leaves it unclear whether he's an ideal instrinsicist or whether he's merely inarticulate, but neither interpretation is flattering to him.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]

    It does neither, you're assuming and projecting (none / 0) (#619)
    by BuddasEvilTwin on Thu Apr 15, 2004 at 12:44:51 AM EST

    Back at me nothing.

    I can see how someone with boolean mentality might default to those interpretations.  

    Here's a suggestion:  Give people credit before you assume.

    [ Parent ]

    Science has shown us (none / 3) (#246)
    by Tatarigami on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 06:42:09 PM EST

    ...that there are physical locations in the brain dedicated to experiencing of religious awe. Genetic predisposition can affect factors like how intensely it's felt, how easy it is to trigger, etc.

    Just an example.

    [ Parent ]

    Indeed. (none / 1) (#323)
    by bakuretsu on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 12:49:26 PM EST

    For those in want of a reference, here it is:

    Brain's "God module" may affect religious belief.

    I remember reading about this in Popular Science some years ago, but it doesn't look like anyone archived the story except for the progressive new age quacks. It's a shame, it was a valid study.

    -- Airborne
        aka Bakuretsu
        The Bailiwick -- DESIGNHUB 2004
    [ Parent ]

    humbug (none / 0) (#611)
    by Battle Troll on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 04:54:09 PM EST

    there are physical locations in the brain dedicated to experiencing of religious awe

    Awe is an emotion, not an idea. Is anger an idea? What about love?
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]

    Er. (none / 3) (#251)
    by celeriac on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 07:12:39 PM EST

    No harder to swallow than genetic predisposition to other personality traits.

    A genetic predisposition to a particuar, highly specific, belief, leaving predispositions to other beliefs unaffected, would be pretty unlikely. But I don't think that is what is being suggested.

    [ Parent ]

    indeed (none / 1) (#257)
    by conthefol on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 07:42:12 PM EST

    If your genes weren't human, I'd expect that would affect you somewhat.

    [=- We Can Do Better. -=]
    [ Parent ]

    Shermer quote in Scientific American (2.33 / 6) (#214)
    by maluke on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 04:19:32 PM EST

    So does his comment provide any proof that "rarely do any of us sit down before a table of facts and choose the most logical and rational explanation" or is that it doesn't fit his vision of what is rational? Or maybe he provides any insight on origins of his belief that "Most of us come to our beliefs for a variety of reasons having little to do with empirical evidence"?

    That's his dogma and he's as limited by it as religious people are by their's. If there are things "you may not question" then you are not true to yourself and got stuff to do before you fight other people's idiocy.

    Well, yes. (none / 1) (#322)
    by bakuretsu on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 12:45:39 PM EST

    Shermer is criticizing the skeptics who have taken their point of view too far and suffer from what he calls (in that article) "confirmation bias."

    If you actually read the beginning of his book "Why People Believe Weird Things," you will see that Shermer is a true skeptic; he keeps his mind open to all possibilities.

    It is important for skeptics to understand and acknowledge confirmation bias so that they don't fall victim to that very thing, the idea that there are facts you cannot question.

    Science itself represents the process of questioning everything, including theories that have been accepted for years.

    -- Airborne
        aka Bakuretsu
        The Bailiwick -- DESIGNHUB 2004
    [ Parent ]

    I see dead people every night on the news (1.71 / 7) (#222)
    by sllort on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 05:01:16 PM EST

    Give me my fucking money
    --
    Warning: On Lawn is a documented liar.
    I can "witch water" (1.16 / 6) (#231)
    by McMick on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 05:39:43 PM EST

    And that's supposed to have no scientific basis. However, I can do it, so I know that science is wrong on this matter. I don't believe it has anything to do with anything supernatural whatsoever. I believe it has something to do with electromagnetism, but since everyone thinks it's a bunch of hogwash, I figure nobody has taken it seriously enough to find out why it works, and instead just repeat the dogma that it's an old wive's tale. At any rate, I know a couple of other people who can do it as well. It is also great for finding underground pipes, wires, etc. (which is why I think it's electromagnetic -- the method I've learned will find wires OVERHEAD as well as underground, which can be confusing, as while you're doing this you naturally are looking toward the ground). Pipes don't have to have water in them, they can be empty or stuffed with cable, it doesn't seem to matter. Whether soil type has anything to do with it I couldn't say, because the only type of ground I've done this stuff over was made of clay, sand, rock, and topsoil. However, people I know have done it the same way on other types of soil so I would assume that I can as well. Take 2 welding rods and remove the material from them, leaving just the bare rods (I suppose just cutting and bending up coathangers would work too, but I've never used one). Put a 90 degree bend near one end of each rod, giving yourself an inch or two of "handle" to hold them with. Keep your grip light and as loose as possible, holding them between your thumb and forefinger. Keep the rods level and parallel to each other about 10" apart, pointing away from you. Start walking slowly. When you get over any hollow spots, pipes, water, etc. the rods will be drawn to a central point and will turn inward and cross one another. You can actually see them want to stay pointing at the spot you've detected, and if you keep walking forward slowly, they'll eventually uncross and keep turning until they are pointing at you! Hopefully you get what I mean. Same thing happens if you stop and walk backward slowly, they'll cross again and uncross as you pass over the point. I've mapped the water and gas lines on a few people's properties this way.

    If it works for you, great! (none / 1) (#252)
    by celeriac on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 07:26:38 PM EST

    In general, this apparatus is so sensitive to the way you move and hold them that you are always exerting some degree of conscious or unconscious control over them. I've played with them, and it became a game--can I make the wires cross over here? How about over there? After a while you stop being conscious of how you are holding the wires, and they just start doing what you expect them to.

    I prefer to believe that on some conscious or unconscious level, you are reading the same cues--vegetation, soil texture, rocks, lay of the land, etc. -- that most people would use to guess where water or pipes are.

    But if that's the way it works for you, I have no objections--I don't think conscious competence is superior to unconscious competence.

    [ Parent ]

    conscious competence (none / 0) (#256)
    by conthefol on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 07:40:33 PM EST

    Probably better since it means you can teach your skills to other ppl.

    [=- We Can Do Better. -=]
    [ Parent ]

    I disagree (none / 0) (#279)
    by McMick on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 10:22:32 PM EST

    It has nothing to do with competence of any sort on my part (certainly I have no idea of where a water or gas line would route into a typical house). I forget exactly why, but I had to help a neighbor find the water pipes under his land so he could do some digging. It worked, and it most certainly wasn't because of my knowledge of plumbing.

    [ Parent ]
    tell it to the parent comment... -nt (none / 0) (#280)
    by conthefol on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 10:34:43 PM EST


    [=- We Can Do Better. -=]
    [ Parent ]

    Nope, I disagree with you. (none / 1) (#605)
    by McMick on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 05:27:18 AM EST

    It wasn't an "open field", it was the guy's front yard. It was a grass lawn, uniform and green. No distinguishing dips or rises. It was flat. Ever seen a golf course fairway? That was this guy's lawn, except that his grass was probably as high as the "rough" around a fairway.

    [ Parent ]
    See, (none / 1) (#297)
    by celeriac on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 04:58:16 AM EST

    if you had been able to trace water lines under fresh, flat pavement, that would be something. But finding buried pipes in an open field is not impressive. Burying water lines requires you to tear up the earth, causing changes in vegetation and soil that persist for years.

    You present the hypothesis that you can find water solely through the use of dowsing; I present the alternative hypothesis that you are using other information. To falsify my hypothesis, you need to perform dowsing in the absence of other information.

    [ Parent ]

    Or tear up the ground (none / 0) (#438)
    by craigd on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 11:54:46 PM EST

    as if you were intalling pipes in several places. Then bring in a dowser to see which ones he sees as really having the pipes.

    Your way is probably better, but there's more than one way to do anything. You can even control for multiple variables.


    A man who says little is a man who speaks two syllables.
    [ Parent ]
    Yup. (none / 2) (#363)
    by craigd on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 09:57:51 PM EST

    I once played around with angle rods in my adolescence. I wasn't looking for anything at all. I found a few random spots in the yard where they crossed consistently, and others where they didn't. Of course, I started to wonder about this. So I did it blindfolded, with someone watching. (I saw this as a better test than digging up the yard to see what there was there).

    The angle rods did not behave the same way when I couldn't see where I was. Otherwise, I would probably be trying for the money, but I clearly don't have any paranormal ability. Not surprising, IMO.


    A man who says little is a man who speaks two syllables.
    [ Parent ]
    trancing out (none / 1) (#376)
    by dlec on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 05:47:26 AM EST

    I agree with this idea completely. I have found many activities where trancing out (using only the sub-conscious) is superior to using the conscious mind. The most scientific example I can offer was a Nintendo game & watch I used to have as a child.

    If I played in a normal state of consciousness I might be able to achieve a score between 150 and 250 points. If I put some music on however, and allowed myself to trance out, I could get 300 points without losing a single life.

    For some reason, at a score of 300, an alarm would go of to tell you how well you'd done, and this would always bring me out of my trance. I would then immediately lose all my original and bonus lives within another 15 to 30 points.

    The difference was so noticeable on regaining consciousness that it amazed me that I was ever able to get that far; the speed of the game was so fast that it was almost a blur. I considered opening the game up to remove the buzzer so I didn't have to wake up, so that I could get a higher score.

    Now that would have been more scientific since then I would be able to know if I really could have continued on for much longer, or whether the speed just got insane at that point anyway. Well, I was only about 10 at the time, and never thought about the scientific value; I just wanted a higher score, but was afraid to break the game by messing with it.


    [ Parent ]

    Duh (none / 1) (#399)
    by Ublis on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 12:19:43 PM EST

    It helps in a lot of activities to "switch" to auto-pilot. But there's nothing paranormal about it, just a matter of a lot of exercise meaning tasks turn into reflexes. Try thinking about how to walk and you won't be able to move a single leg. Compare the typing speed of a touch typist (who "finds" keys "unconsciously") with that of a hunt-and-peck typist, who looks for the keys very consciously. Try thinking about how not to fall off a bike and you'll hit the ground within seconds.

    These are not paranormal, they're perfectly normal and due to repeating an activity until it becomes automatic, in which case it's performed much faster than when you do it by thinking about it.

    Your game example is the same thing: you played that game by reflexes (built up due to a lot of practice), it goes well. If something startles you, you switch back from auto-mode to think-things-through mode and notice a speed penalty.

    [ Parent ]

    because dowsing rods are a crutch (none / 1) (#427)
    by dlec on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 10:16:08 PM EST

    Yes, I know all of this. I merely offered my most scientific example of the sub-conscious mind working differently to the conscious mind.

    The point I was making was not that this is somehow paranormal (whatever that means), but that some tasks can be performed better sub-consciously. I made this point because dowsing seems like one of those activities (as suggested by celeriac).

    The tool (the sticks) is a crutch which make it easier to get into the right state of mind for the process. Now it may be that dowsing relies on the super-conscious rather than the sub-conscious, which makes my example less relevant, but it is much the same thing; Dowsing provides a simple means to get in touch with the right type of consciusness necesarry for the job in hand, in much the same way that automatic writing does.

    [ Parent ]

    Congratulations on your $1M! (none / 1) (#254)
    by gilrain on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 07:37:33 PM EST

    If you can honestly perform this consistently, then this would be a candidate for his little contest.

    [ Parent ]
    PLEASE apply for the prize! (none / 1) (#261)
    by Scratch o matic on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 07:56:06 PM EST

    I can assure you that your claim would qualify as paranormal, and if you could perform it under controlled conditions you would get the $1M.

    Interestingly, Randi says that dowsers (which is the talent you described) are by far the most common type of applicant. None has ever performed better than random. None. EVER. I urge you to apply if your talent is real.

    Visit www.randi.org for details.

    [ Parent ]
    And watch carefully... (1.20 / 5) (#262)
    by greenrd on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 07:58:36 PM EST

    And watch carefully as The Amazing Randi carefully sets the conditions of the contract such that he can't lose.

    (So I've heard, anyway.)

    I believe that some paranormal phenomena are real. That's the only explanation that makes sense for me for why no-one has successfully claimed the prize.


    "Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
    [ Parent ]

    WTF? (none / 1) (#264)
    by CaptainSuperBoy on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 08:30:59 PM EST

    WTF, did someone steal this account? Greenrd used to be at least semi-rational, now he's linking to whatreallyhappened and he believes in boogeymen?

    --
    jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
    [ Parent ]
    Please look some more (2.80 / 5) (#265)
    by Scratch o matic on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 08:36:25 PM EST

    And watch carefully as The Amazing Randi carefully sets the conditions of the contract such that he can't lose. (So I've heard, anyway.)

    I'm afraid you've heard wrong. The conditions for the test are in accordance with any properly conducted, controlled, double-blind experiment. And, most importantly, THE APPLICANT AGREES TO THE TEST BEFORE IT IS CONDUCTED.

    Here are some excerpts from a recent test. The full text is here.

    I had asked him to carefully "scan" the floor area of our library in advance to make sure there were no distracting elements present, and he himself carefully chose the positions of each of the ten cups on the floor. He was encouraged by me to adjust the placement of the cups as many times as he needed to, during this phase. He'd told us, first, that at least five feet of separation was required between each cup, but that he could work with just three feet between them. I immediately insisted that he must use at least five feet, since I did not want to allow an excuse later on that the spacing had been inadequate. As it turned out, he chose to have some cups within a foot of one another. But we could not interfere with his choice, since he assured us that all was sufficient for his needs.

    Mike also asked that several metallic objects (trophy cups, plaques, steel devices) be removed from the bookshelves nearby. At his request, a teaspoon was taken to the next room because he said that the silver could also attract his stick; that spoon was made of aluminum. But, again, we did not correct his statements...

    ...For the "open" phase of the preliminary test procedure, the target package was placed in the designated cup, which was then openly placed in the spot Mike had chosen for it, mouth-down. He then scanned all ten cups, and declared -- both by pointing and verbally -- where he believed that his stick had detected the target. Another number was then selected, and the procedure was repeated, twenty times in all. His score was 100% in these "open" tests.

    Following the "open" sequence, for each of the "blind" tests, Mr. G. and I stepped out of the library area, and two other persons randomly (by choosing a face-down card, as before) placed the target package in position, then they left the area and informed us that the target was in place. Mike and I re-entered, alone, and he made his determination while I watched carefully to be sure that he did not nudge any cups, or otherwise attempt to use any means but the movements of his forked stick, to make his guess; at no time was any such procedure observed. After Mike made his guess on each trial, the other two persons were invited back in, and we recorded the results. That procedure was repeated ten times....

    The results were that when Mike G. knew the location of the concealed target (the "open" tests), he obtained 100% results. When the test procedure was double-blinded, he obtained exactly what chance alone would call for: one out of ten correct.


    It's not hard to design a properly controlled test of a paranormal claim. Apparently it IS hard to pass such a test. That is, it's hard if you don't actually have paranormal powers.

    [ Parent ]
    Yeah it shouldn't be hard (none / 0) (#278)
    by McMick on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 10:15:14 PM EST

    All I need to do is have Randini pick some stranger's yard, and I can do the rest.

    [ Parent ]
    Except (none / 3) (#284)
    by sholden on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 11:30:00 PM EST

    To be a valid scientific test it has to be double blind and repeatable.You can't just find water in someone's backyard. And the backyard owner probably won't like the fact that to work out the random chance of success you'll then need to dig up every square inch of it to see where water was. And do it in a few dozen backyards.

    Cups of water seems fair. Maybe underground tanks?

    It's worth a million dollars, so if you actually could do it then you'd be a millionare rather than claiming magic powers on the internet.

    --
    The world's dullest web page


    [ Parent ]
    Is it an suficient test (none / 2) (#325)
    by dudsen on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 01:16:32 PM EST

    If the thing really is about detecting electromagnetic flux it might actually require quite long pipes in order to work.
    In that case tanks of water or cups would yeald an false negative result.
    If it indeed isn't the water but the distorsion the pipe is creating that is found.

    Take newtons law og gravity, with forces that smart it takes quite expencive experiment's to prove.
    Im not sure the theory of gravity would be able to pass the terms of randi's chalenge, especielly when all expences is to be paid by ordenary people.

    [ Parent ]

    Whatever the claim is... (2.75 / 4) (#332)
    by Scratch o matic on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 02:41:15 PM EST

    If the claim is that you can detect "long pipes," then a test can be designed using "long pipes."

    Most dowsers, though, seem to claim the ability to find smaller objects.

    But your point is important anyway. Those are the details that are worked out in advance. If a person said, 'I can detect long pipes,' and Randi said, 'You'll have to make do with these small cups of water,' then I would be squarely on the side of the dowser and opposed to Randi's position. But as far as I know, that has never happened. Or more specifically, it has never happened before the test...apparently it is quite common for testees to find excuses for failure after the test, even though they themselves assisted in designing the test (and they even tested the setup prior to the blind test, to make sure they could perform under those conditions.)

    He asks three simple questions of a claimant as part of the preliminary application: 1) What can you do, 2) Under what conditions can you do it, and 3) To what degree of accuracy can you do it. A test is then designed around that information. As far as I know, he has never turned down an applicant who has been able to answer those questions coherently.

    [ Parent ]
    Dude (none / 1) (#373)
    by conthefol on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 02:48:25 AM EST

    You come up with the test! Long pipes, lead pipes, whatever.

    [=- We Can Do Better. -=]
    [ Parent ]

    or real life pipes (none / 1) (#398)
    by dudsen on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 12:12:32 PM EST

    Some things just cant be observed in clean room laboratory settings in this case the must be comducted in some guys backyard something randi probably wouldn't accept as an double blind experiment.

    Remember that not all scientific facts can be proven by double blind laboratory experiments.

    I think the lagest problem with randi's game is that it's played by non scientist and that it only seeks to falsify claims.
    Most people with speciel ability's probably have an completely fase idea about wry and what they actually are doing.
    In this case it's rather easy for randi to construct an simple experiment that falsify that claim.
    But its also quite easy to make similar experiments that falsify known scientific facts like newtons theory of gravity.

    [ Parent ]

    Examples of unprovable scientific facts please (none / 3) (#402)
    by Ublis on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 12:40:55 PM EST

    "Remember that not all scientific facts can be proven by double blind laboratory experiments."

    Like what?

    "Most people with speciel ability's probably have an completely fase idea about wry and what they actually are doing"

    They certainly do have a false idea, like the one that they have a mysterious ability in the first place. But that aside, the rules specifically state that why or how is not important. They only care about the result, it even says that explanations are ignored! They don't care if you can tell which number will win the lottery because you talk to Jezus or read the stars or can manipulate the outcome of the lottery by the immense mysterious powers of your brain, as long as you demonstrate under controlled conditions that the numbers you pick actually win.

    "In this case it's rather easy for randi to construct an simple experiment that falsify that claim."

    The guy does not construct an experiment on his own. The para-person in question is allowed to tell what his abilities are, what the boundaries of those abilities are and signs an agreement that he/she thinks the devised test fair to those. Do you have an example of a test which seemed unfair to you? The example linked elsewhere in these threads to the cups-test showed a test which seemed perfectly reasonable to me. The parathingummy was even allowed to configure things to his liking. In fact, the only thing he was not allowed to do, is look under the cups (duh).

    "I think the lagest problem with randi's game is that it's played by non scientist and that it only seeks to falsify claims."

    Nope, not to falsify claims. The test rules are made in such a way that anyone who has "powers" is allowed to participate at own cost (couldn't expect the foundation to pay free holidays for all wacko's in the world, could you?), which IMO is a VERY good investment. The paraperson invests a tiny little bit of money in return for 1 mln. Sounds like a very good deal to me! If I had magic powers, I'd find the money necessary to be tested and get the million.

    Also, where do you think his test procedure is unfair, or would be fairer if he held a Nobel prize? The fact that he's not a scientist doesn't mean that he can't prove something is fake. The website even specifically states that statistics experts can be consulted.

    [ Parent ]

    you want's to not beleave. (none / 0) (#480)
    by dudsen on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 06:52:30 AM EST

    The ting is that randi experiments dont dismiss the powers they only falsify that particular theory.

    You asume that the only thing that can be wromg is the actual ability, not the theory that lies behind the experiment.

    An drowser's anedoctial story's cant be dismissed as lies just because the lab experiemt fails to proce anything.
    it's remain an non proven ting but non proven doens't translate into non exsitent.

    Alien abduction theory's, vampire story's and that sort of thing is an other isue.
    Just because the actual existence of vapires or aliens on this planet, isn't that likely, there still can be interesting ting's behind the stories people are telling.
    Remember that for a lot of the involvet people, the thing is an real memory not something the lie about.
    It's not true or false.

    [ Parent ]

    Listen... (none / 1) (#488)
    by warrax on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 07:59:22 AM EST

    The ting is that randi experiments dont dismiss the powers they only falsify that particular theory.
    The purpose of the double blind experiment is to falsify the claimed effects of the "superpowers" people say they have REGARDLESS OF THE MECHANICS OF SAID SUPERPOWER. If a "superpower" has no effect, then why would there be any reason to believe in it?

    Example: If you claim to be able to predict the future, but you can't actually show that you can predict the future, then I would have no reason to believe that you have that ability. "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" and all that.

    -- "Guns don't kill people. I kill people."
    [ Parent ]

    You can't test a memory. (none / 0) (#500)
    by handslikesnakes on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 12:48:08 PM EST

    Yes, they could be telling the truth - or they could lying or just plain crazy.

    How do we distinguish between the different types without testing?



    [ Parent ]
    Re-hee-heeally? (none / 3) (#404)
    by warrax on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 01:35:31 PM EST

    But its also quite easy to make similar experiments that falsify known scientific facts like newtons theory of gravity
    Really? Why don't you come up with one, then? That'll learn us!

    Even ignoring the fact that Newton's laws do not actually apply in all reference frames, it's pretty likely that pretty much every "experiment" falsifying a "known scientific fact" could be shown to be flawed. After all, that's the whole point of the scientific method! If an expirment shows that a theory doesn't hold, then the theory is modified (or outright rejected) to account for the experiment. If all experiments agree with the predictions of a theory, then we lend more credibility towards that theory.

    -- "Guns don't kill people. I kill people."
    [ Parent ]

    Could be proven flawed (none / 0) (#478)
    by dudsen on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 06:22:54 AM EST

    Thats the key here, when i design an experimemt i must know the exact thery the proportion of forces at game and so on, if i mis judge some i make an flawed experiment.

    How to you prove that all objekts really do influence each other in the kind of laboratory setting that afordable for ordinary people.

    [ Parent ]

    You are not thinking. (none / 2) (#482)
    by warrax on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 07:13:45 AM EST

    Read this and UNDERSTAND it please:

    SCIENCE DOES NOT CONCERN ITSELF WITH PROVING POSITIVE STATEMENTS ABOUT THE WORLD. IT IS BASED ON FALSIFICATION, NOT VERIFICATION.

    You cannot prove a statement such as "Gravity exists". You see... everything you are observing could just be in your head. You can show to some degree that objects appear to attract each other (this can and has been shown). When a theory has been shown to NOT be FALSE a great number of times, we tend to say that the theory is correct wrt. the conditions it has been tested under. Also, designing an experiment is NOT the same as performing it. If you design a good experiment, I'm pretty sure you can find people who are willing and able to perform the experiment.

    -- "Guns don't kill people. I kill people."
    [ Parent ]

    wry does thing stay port (none / 2) (#479)
    by dudsen on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 06:25:05 AM EST

    If all objekts are atracted to each other wry can't i make two ball roll toward's each other?

    [ Parent ]
    Are you stoned? (none / 1) (#483)
    by warrax on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 07:18:13 AM EST

    Or just not very bright?
    1. Friction: The gravity between the two balls is not enough to overcome it.
    2. Gravity: Gravity from other objects has a stronger pull on the balls.
    3. You do NOT control gravity.


    -- "Guns don't kill people. I kill people."
    [ Parent ]
    Again (none / 0) (#409)
    by conthefol on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 02:50:38 PM EST

    Randi does not design the test.

    Randi does not design the test.

    Randi does not design the test.

    Your job is to make a test that will be able to prove you right, and also able to prove you wrong. If it can't do both, then it's not a test of anything.

    I encourage you to set up your own private test before talking to Randi, to maybe find out what you can and can't do. You can be the scientist! Find out what makes it work. Try different situations.

    [=- We Can Do Better. -=]
    [ Parent ]

    That's what an experiment is. (none / 1) (#474)
    by sholden on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 05:26:14 AM EST

    Remember that not all scientific facts can be proven by double blind laboratory experiments.

    Such as?

    Some things are seemingly impossible to develop experiments for but that just means they will never be scientific facts.

    In fact I don't think there is such a thing as a "scientific fact". Science has theories, well respected theories are often called laws, but they are still just theories and could be disproved at any time.

    I think the lagest problem with randi's game is that it's played by non scientist and that it only seeks to falsify claims.

    All scientific experiments exist to falsify claims.

    You know:

     1. Come up with a theory.
     2. Make some prediction based on it.
     3. Do expirements to test those predictions.
     4. Modify theory to take into account the predictions it got wrong and go to step 2.

    Note there is no "5. Theory matches all experiments declare it the one true path".

    That's delibrate, the entire idea of experiments is to falsify theories. Successful experiments are those which find flaws.

    Sure as the predicitions of a theory of are verified by experiment confidence builds that the theory is valid, but the reason for the experiments is to prove it wrong.

    But its also quite easy to make similar experiments that falsify known scientific facts like newtons theory of gravity.

    Yes it is, everything predicted by relativity that is different than that predicted by Newton's theory would have pretty good odds of falsifying Newton's theory of gravity (of course relativity might be wrong, so it's not a sure thing - but Newton's theory is certainly incorrect).

    --
    The world's dullest web page


    [ Parent ]
    You can't double-blind test everything (none / 1) (#360)
    by Lugh on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 09:26:05 PM EST

    Parachutes, for example. Or, you probably shouldn't, at any rate.


    Remove the obvious falsehood to e-mail me.
    [ Parent ]

    Heh (none / 0) (#396)
    by warrax on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 12:03:43 PM EST

    That's quite a funny read, but it seems to ignore the fact that you can conduct trials with e.g. crash test dummies (wired up to detect all sorts of external forces or internal stresses); and from those conclude (not with certainty, but "beyond a reasonable doubt") that parachutes would be beneficial to people as well.

    I believe the automotive industry does a great deal of similar testing to show the beneficial effects of the various safety features of their cars.

    -- "Guns don't kill people. I kill people."
    [ Parent ]

    And... (none / 3) (#266)
    by Scratch o matic on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 08:40:23 PM EST

    And by the way, this is a very interesting comment:

    I believe that some paranormal phenomena are real. That's the only explanation that makes sense for me for why no-one has successfully claimed the prize.

    Why wouldn't it make sense that no one has claimed the prize because no one has the talents they claim to have?

    You have a belief, and the tests don't support your belief, so you discount the tests, preferring instead to believe anecdotes and untested claims. Interesting.

    [ Parent ]
    So you've heard (none / 2) (#277)
    by slippytoad on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 10:06:38 PM EST

    But don't know. Per Randi's account, the tests are very simple. The biggest problem he has is getting people to actually say what they can do in concrete terms. As for dowsing, it's the most commonly tested paranormal claim, and it always fails, and the dowsers are the ones who have the hardest time believing the test results, even though it's a simple test and the results are self-explanatory.I believe that some paranormal phenomena are real.

    I don't believe, I know they are not. That's the only explanation for why no one has ever claimed this prize, or managed to display talents like these in controlled situations. It all sounds so fantastic when you read about it in a book . . .
    If I were the al Qaeda people right now I would be planning a lot of attacks in the next few days and weeks -- John "Bring 'em On" McCain
    [ Parent ]

    Controlled SItuations Need Never Occur (none / 1) (#507)
    by bento on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 02:05:54 PM EST

    Once again, all the careful and fair controls that Radni specifies apply to the *formal" test. No one has ever taken the formal test. Everyone is rejected based on the preliminary test, which has no rules other than Radni must accept the results. This is the test that everyone has failed. Yet Radni's challenge is defended as fair based on the criteria of the formal test, which no one ever gets to actually take. I'm not saying the paranormal exists, but Radni's challenge is a fraud.

    [ Parent ]
    What? (none / 3) (#299)
    by warrax on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 05:09:57 AM EST

    And watch carefully as The Amazing Randi carefully sets the conditions of the contract such that he can't lose.
    People seem to always claim this, but has anyone actually taken a specific example and pointed out precisely how the conditions are biased in his favour? Seriously, if you have any links, it'd be great if you posted them so we can actually make up our own minds on the matter.

    -- "Guns don't kill people. I kill people."
    [ Parent ]
    last line verry hilarious! -nt (1.00 / 4) (#372)
    by conthefol on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 02:45:09 AM EST


    [=- We Can Do Better. -=]
    [ Parent ]

    Dowsing (1.40 / 5) (#274)
    by Brandybuck on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 09:44:49 PM EST

    I can dowse water too. I used to be very accurate. Amazed all my friends and relatives, and made several "skeptics" sit up and take notice.

    Then I figured out how it worked. It's simple really, and it has a perfectly logical scientific explanation. Unfortunately, the explanation means it won't work with Randi's controlled tests. This doesn't mean that dowsers are fakers. On the contrary, they are among the most sincere of all "psychic" practitioners.

    How does it work? Should I really say what the secret is? No, I'll be mean and keep the secret to myself.

    [ Parent ]

    Must. Resist. Temptation. Can't. (none / 3) (#298)
    by warrax on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 05:05:21 AM EST

    Just in case you are actually serious:

    So... it has "a perfectly logical scientific explanation", but you won't actually tell us the explanation so it can either be debunked or tested. Gee, that really makes me feel better. You know, I have a perfectly logcial scientific explanation for [insert paranormal phenomenon here], so I guess that makes [insert paranormal phenonmenon here] true, huh? Oh, btw, I can't tell you what the explanation is, because... Uh... I'm mean... yeah! That's it!

    The "[scientific explanation, but] it won't work with Randi's controlled test" is also a real gem. Without an explanation as to why it won't work with Randi's test (while still being a "scientific explanation") this statement is completely worthless.

    -- "Guns don't kill people. I kill people."
    [ Parent ]

    The explanation (none / 1) (#412)
    by Brandybuck on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 04:10:00 PM EST

    I'm not claiming it's paranormal. I only said that it worked. Go read my post again.

    I will give you the explanation. I didn't before because it's so obvious it borders on the stupid.

    Dowsing works because the subconscious "knows" where the water is. That's it. It doesn't really know where the water, but it thinks it knows. Either external cues or pure guesswork tells the subconscious that it's time to dip the dowsing rod. Since this is subconscious, the conscious mind is extremely amazed at the dowsing rod acting on its own initiative. It's freaky if you're not expecting it.

    Look at the typical dowsing equipment. It takes only a miniscule and unnoticable amount of subconscious movement to cause a forked rod held in an unstable grip to twitch and dip, or stiff piano wires to cross, or a pendulum to change direction. It's the same thing that makes a ouija board work.

    As for actually finding the water, that's easy. Most anyplace you dig a well will get you water. There's also geological clues to direct you to better spots, that the subconscious mind will pick up, like not finding water at the top of a rocky hill, but finding it at the lower part of a green valley. Finding your sprinkler pipes under your front lawn is a snap. You laid them yourself so you know where they are! Even if you didn't lay them, simple logic dicates where they ought to be.

    But what happens if a dowser fails to find the sprinkler pipe? He claims (in all sincerity) that he was detecting a source of water much deeper...

    Uncontrolled dowsing "experiments" work because the subconscious mind is picking up clues from the researcher. The closer you get to the water source, the more the researcher tenses up. That's why Randi's setups always fail for the dowsers, the people who know where the water is are not present.

    Dowsing does "work", but if you don't know why it works, having the dowsing rod literally jump out of your hands is enough to make you believe that it's paranormal. Also dowsers are very sincere in their belief in their abilities. They are not duplicitous, except for the fact that they themselves have been duped by their own subconscious.

    [ Parent ]

    Apologies (none / 0) (#509)
    by warrax on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 02:18:49 PM EST

    for misreading your post as supporting claims of the paranormal. But I think you kind of "brought it upon yourself" (not that I think I was being particularly rude or anything :)) in that you very being deliberately vague about the explanation.

    Anyway... very good and reasonable explanation, but I think there might be easier and more reliable ways to find water underground. :)

    -- "Guns don't kill people. I kill people."
    [ Parent ]

    heh (1.00 / 4) (#371)
    by conthefol on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 02:41:06 AM EST

    I have scientific proof that you're a moron.

    [=- We Can Do Better. -=]
    [ Parent ]

    context (1.50 / 4) (#275)
    by banffbug on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 09:54:50 PM EST

    No one wants the sanctity of their 'rational' thought process debunked, you might be prove a fool, or worse. So we stick to 'approved' avenues of thought, where science and knowledge rule supreme. The problem with science is that it can only talk about what can be reproduced. Love cannot be reproduced, therefor from a strictly scientific viewpoint love does not exist, and is meaningless in discussing, as no experement can show its presence. But love (and by it's nature hate as well), however unquantifiable, affects and moves all of us. The rational must make room for the irrational in our thoughts.

    Love (2.50 / 4) (#286)
    by bugmaster on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 12:01:57 AM EST

    Actually, love can be reproduced. Not only that, but it sometimes leads to reproduction :-)
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]
    Love exists, but it is not sacred (none / 2) (#370)
    by conthefol on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 02:38:08 AM EST

    If I present a human being with certain designed stimuli, it can be very probable to cause love. Cause love.

    Much easier for hate.

    [=- We Can Do Better. -=]
    [ Parent ]

    Support groups for "alien abductees" (1.66 / 6) (#282)
    by Smerdy on Thu Apr 08, 2004 at 11:14:15 PM EST

    I find the mention of such groups in a humorous tone to be horrifically callous, on terms with saying "and there are even support groups for victims of child abuse" in the same context. Whether these people are really abducted by extraterrestrials or just suffering from tragic mental illness, I don't think there is anyone who has made a cursory investigation and denies that there is a significant segment of the world population suffering from this particular kind of post-traumatic stress syndrome-like condition, and that it often ruins their lives.

    you're not a fucking sceptic! (none / 3) (#292)
    by maluke on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 03:24:22 AM EST

    Being a sceptic means you don't call any stuff 'nonsense' unless you've got reasons to do so. Like proof by trial, NOT assumptions.

    Heh, Really? (none / 1) (#294)
    by teece on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 04:03:45 AM EST

    Because I would argue being a skeptic entails assuming everything is probably bullshit unless it is proven otherwise. :-)

    -- Hello_World.c, 17 Errors, 31 Warnings...
    [ Parent ]

    probably bullshit != nonsense (none / 2) (#306)
    by maluke on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 07:20:12 AM EST

    There's "probably bullshit" and there's "nonsense". Feel the difference.

    Telling something is nonsense means one has made up his mind already, which is not sceptic but stupid.

    [ Parent ]

    Okay. (none / 0) (#462)
    by talorin on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 03:57:50 AM EST

    I have an invisible, intangible elephant living in my backyard. He can tell the future, but he lies.

    [ Parent ]
    I would say .. (none / 0) (#585)
    by maluke on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 04:54:01 PM EST

    I would say 'who cares' then, if it's just in your backyard and you're not my neighbour, why should I care.

    I don't believe you, and won't investigate, but what you said makes perfect sense. Really.

    And what's more important - I don't want to look stupid in case if you're not lying.

    Peace.

    [ Parent ]

    The answer you get depends on question you ask. (1.14 / 7) (#293)
    by Shubin on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 03:29:52 AM EST

    There is a problem with the science. Yes, a real problem. Usually there is a discovered fact, and the duty of the science is to invent and to prove some theories explaining those facts. This worked always, even in the Middle Ages, when human's knowledge about the nature was very little.
    But nowadays there are facts about which the science has only ONE intention : to prove that they were falsified or (at least) misinterpreted. This is completely different approach compared to the normal scientific method.
    There were no attempts to study, to say, dowsing or telekinesis or blind reading from the point of view of physics, physiology or psychology.
    Any scientist would say 'it's all fake' and refuse to talk about such facts. Why ? Because his/her colleagues will call him unscientific. He will not be able to print any articles. He will be banished from the scientific society. Looks like a witch hunt, isn't it ?
    And this is true that people who are claiming that they study alien UFOs and such, are usually comlete idiots, never attended a school and do not know nothing. (I've got many examples, just read newspapers)
    Now a conspiracy theory comes to mind : probably all this is a plot ? Maybe the idea is to repel real scientists from studying certain facts by creating strong opposition in the scientific society and by planting a bunch of certified idiots around each of those restricted areas ?
    Guys like Randi also helps this process. Just read his offer. Under those terms it is not possible to prove that a man can boil an egg, to say nothing about mind-reading and such.
    You asked for a secret ? Here it is.

    unfair rules? (3.00 / 6) (#329)
    by dwyn on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 02:11:42 PM EST

    Guys like Randi also helps this process. Just read his offer. Under those terms it is not possible to prove that a man can boil an egg, to say nothing about mind-reading and such.
    I'll try to run down Randi's rules, point by point. Which ones do you think are too restrictive? IANAL, neither am I associated with Randi or the JREF- I just think that he's got the right idea (if not the perfect attitude):
    1. Applicant must state clearly in advance, and applicant and JREF will agree upon, what powers or abilities will be demonstrated, the limits of the proposed demonstration (so far as time, location and other variables are concerned) and what will constitute both a positive and a negative result. This is the primary and most important of these rules.
    Sounds fair to me. The challenge works by the scientific method: you concoct a theory and an experiment, you agree what constitutes "success" and "failure" of the experiment, then you perform it. If it's successful, you're golden; if not, you're back to the drawing board. Note that a failure does not necessarily disqualify a candidate (see below).
    2. Only an actual performance of the stated nature and scope, within the agreed-upon limits, will be accepted. Anecdotal accounts of previous events are not accepted or considered. We consult competent statisticians when an evaluation of the results, or experiment design, is required. We have no interest in theories or explanations of how the claimed powers might work; if you provide us with such material, it will be ignored and discarded.
    Again, standard stuff. Anecdotal evidence isn't. This leaves open the question of the abilities and/or powers that are by nature non-repeatable and still extraordinary, but frankly, I can see no way to reconcile that, given the case history of regular Joes (and high-profile scientists) that have been defrauded by con artists claiming to be psychic.
    3. Applicant agrees that all data (photographic, recorded, written, etc.) gathered as a result of the testing may be used freely by JREF in any way that Mr. Randi may choose.
    Nothing wrong with this, and it helps show to the world (and the scientific community) that the prize was awarded in good faith. Also, should research projects be spawned as a consequence of awarding the prize (quite a likely outcome), the evidence would be invaluable.
    4. No part of the testing procedure may be changed in any way without the agreement of all parties concerned. JR may be present at some preliminary or formal tests, but will not interact with the materials used.
    Makes sense. The scientific method at work. I think this is no more than a clarification of rule 1, above.
    5. In all cases, applicant will be required to perform the preliminary test either before an appointed representative, if distance and time dictate that need, or in a location where a member of the JREF staff can attend. This preliminary test is to determine if the applicant is likely to perform as promised during a formal test. To date, no applicant has passed the preliminary test, and this has eliminated the need for formal testing in those cases. There is no limit on the number of times an applicant may re-apply, but re-application can take place only after 12 months have elapsed since the preliminary test.
    There are several parts to this rule: 1. perform before a representative; 2. preliminary test before a formal test; 3. time limit before reapplication. They all make sense- they are meant to discourage one crazed applicant from "flooding" the JREF with application requests. (Note that there is no application fee, and thus no other economic disincentive.)
    6. All expenses such as transportation, accommodation, materials, assistants, and/or all other costs for any persons or procedures incurred in pursuit of the reward, are the sole responsibility of the applicant. Neither the JREF nor JR will bear any of the costs.
    Makes sense, again. If an applicant is so certain of his/her powers, and can demonstrate such powers, then surely s/he can find a sponsor for a $10,000 trip around the world to get tested. After all, in case of success, the applicant gets a $10,000 check on the spot.
    7. When entering into this challenge, the applicant surrenders any and all rights to legal action against Mr. Randi, against any persons peripherally involved, and against the James Randi Educational Foundation, as far as this may be done by established statutes. This applies to injury, accident, or any other damage of a physical or emotional nature, and/or financial, or professional, loss or damage of any kind. However, this rule in no way affects the awarding of the prize.
    Standard contract stuff. Most every contract you sign ends with a "you surrender all rights to sue me"- the application is free, so the JREF should not be forced to bear legal costs. Note that "this rule in no way affects the awarding of the prize," which I interpret as "if your test has to take place in a locale where you can't give up your right to sue, the test will still take place, and you can still get the money if you're successful"
    8. At the formal test, in advance, an independent person will be placed in charge of a personal check from James Randi for US$10,000. In the event that the claimant is successful under the agreed terms and conditions, that check shall be immediately surrendered to the claimant, and within ten days the James Randi Educational Foundation will pay to the claimant the remainder of the reward, for a total of US$1,000,000. One million dollars in negotiable bonds is held by an investment firm in New York, in the "James Randi Educational Foundation Prize Account," as surety for the prize funds. Validation of this account and its current status may be obtained by contacting the Foundation by telephone, fax, or e-mail.
    Seems pretty fair to me. You get $10,000 on the spot, and the rest in ten days. There would be some logistical problems associated with carrying around $1,000,000 at every test, and this rule sets forth a guarantee that the money exists and could be withdrawn at any time.
    9. Copies of this form are available free of charge to any person who sends the required SSAE, marked on the outside, "Challenge Application," requesting it, or it can be downloaded from the Internet, at www.randi.org/research/challenge.html
    Nothing interesting. You can get the application form for free.
    10. This offer is made by James Randi through the JREF, and not on behalf of any other person, agency or organization, though others may become involved in the examination of claims, others may add their reward money to the total in certain circumstances, and the implementation and management of the challenge will be carried out by James Randi via the James Randi Educational Foundation. JREF will not entertain any demand that the prize money be deposited in escrow, displayed in cash, or otherwise produced in advance of the test being performed. JREF will not cater to such vanities.
    "Such vanities" could be construed as cop-outs (and, in fact, have been used as such.) Note that Randi did actually agree to place the money in escrow in the Sylvia Brown case - please read the comments on his web page.
    11. This offer is open to any and all persons, in any part of the world, regardless of gender, race, educational background, etc., and will continue in effect until the prize is awarded. Upon the death of James Randi, the administration of the prize will pass into other hands, and it is intended that it continue in force.
    Non-discrimination and continuity. Fair.
    12. EVERY APPLICANT MUST AGREE UPON WHAT WILL CONSTITUTE A CONCLUSION THAT, ON THE OCCASION OF THE FORMAL TEST, HE OR SHE DID OR DID NOT DEMONSTRATE THE CLAIMED ABILITY OR POWER. This form must be accompanied by a brief, two-paragraph description of what will constitute the demonstration. PLEASE: Do not burden us with theories, philosophical observations, previous examples, or other comments! We are only interested in an actual demonstration.
    Again, a reiteration of rule 1. Be clear on what you're going to do, do it, get the money. As I said before, this does rule out the abilities or powers that are by nature unrepeatable- and I'm sure that the JREF would be willing to amend the rules if such abilities could be included without substantially increasing the risk of falling prey to fraud.

    Personally, I think the rules are fair. I can't say whether they have been fairly applied in the past. Randi has published the current (as of two months ago, I believe) queue of applicants, so if anyone believes they have been treated unfairly, they are welcome to produce any documentation. Also, I do hope that -- someday -- someone will prove Randi wrong and take his money (although I am a skeptic and think it ain't gonna happen) -- because it would open the door to new areas of (scientific) knowledge.

    [ Parent ]

    Preliminary test is the problem (none / 1) (#475)
    by bento on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 05:30:05 AM EST

    As I posted above, the problem is the preliminary test. There are no standards for this in the agreement (only for the formal test), so someone can only pass it if Radni says so, which is an obvious conflict of interest. Since all rejections have occurred in the Preliminary test, this is, in practice, the actual test. There is no indication that any of the careful criteria of the formal test have ever been to any applicant or ever need be so applied, unless Radni wills it so.

    [ Parent ]
    Now look (none / 1) (#547)
    by Shubin on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 02:28:36 AM EST

    "Applicant must state clearly in advance, and applicant and JREF will agree upon, what powers or abilities will be demonstrated, the limits of the proposed demonstration (so far as time, location and other variables are concerned) and what will constitute both a positive and a negative result. This is the primary and most important of these rules." I (acting as J.Randi) agree to confirm your ability to boil an egg only under the following conditions :
  • you should use no heat source of any form.
  • you may not touch an egg or anyway come closer than 2 feet to it
  • the maximum temperature of an egg should not exceed 20 degrees Celsius.
  • no microwave or other types of radiation should be used....
  • Still want to compete ?
    Let's read more :
    >We consult competent statisticians when an evaluation of the results, or experiment design, is required
    FYI, many biochemical scientific experiments fails to pass any statistical tests by nature. Statistics is not omnipotent, contrary to popular belief. It is not universally applicable.
    In our example, if you even succeed to boil an egg, it means nothing, because it does not pass certain statistical criteria. To prove yourself, you should boil an egg at least 1000 times in succession within given limit of time...

    Now for the most important part

    Nobody have passed the preliminary test yet. This is almost impossible in the world of science. I know about weird scientific works, for example attemps to make "psychotronic" weapons, Kozyrev's studies, etc. These experiments yielded NO results, but what makes the difference form Randi's challenge - they WERE conducted.
    According to the scientific 'game rules' there could be positive result or negative result, but if you make no tests, you get no result. Randi makes no tests. So his offer is an empty talk
    This is what I want to show - not to discredit Mr. Randi, but attract attention to the strange fact that some areas are completely closed for serious scientists. It is not proven that everything is fake. Randi's work does not prove it, it convinces us - this is the thing that every magician does very well. But there is some difference...

    [ Parent ]
    But, because the claimant sets the conditions (none / 0) (#553)
    by craigd on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 09:43:50 AM EST

    you can insist on a heat source.

    You can't win the million that way, because the phenomenon is well-documented and scientifically explained, but if you said your telepathy only worked in the presence of a strong electromagnet, he'd probably have to let you use one. Similarly, the ability to boil an egg depends on a heat source.


    A man who says little is a man who speaks two syllables.
    [ Parent ]
    Who sets the conditions ? (none / 0) (#554)
    by Shubin on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 10:05:25 AM EST

    I beg your pardon, but I've read the agreement and could not find there phrase 'claimant sets the conditions'. It says about 'agreement'.
    And observing the fact that this agreement has never been achieved, we can conclude that propositions made by Mr. Randi were not acceptable by claimants. That means - no heat source :-)
    It's a pity that nobody noticed that I am not against Mr. Randi's offer, neither I am an adept of pseudo-science. All I wanted to do is to present the 'meta-conspiracy' theory. Whether Randi's offer fair or not, it definitely does not help real study of certain things. I can not define those 'things' exactly, I do not beleive in existence of anything supernatural. But.
    Studying horoscopes could sufficiently improve our knowledge of history. Many historical dates could be defined more precisely looking at the horoscopes of kings and other persons, living at that time. But astronomers refuse even to speak about this. Just one example. Nobody can hear me... :-((


    [ Parent ]
    The problem is in the facts (none / 3) (#369)
    by conthefol on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 02:33:17 AM EST

    If the facts can't be tested, then what kind of facts are they?

    There were many many many many many attempts to study telewhatever. The facts say: IT NEVER WORKS.

    [=- We Can Do Better. -=]
    [ Parent ]

    Yes you can (none / 3) (#397)
    by Ublis on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 12:09:28 PM EST

    Under those terms you can prove perfectly well any real claim, like that you can boil an egg in a metal container full of water and placed above a heat source. Which rule exactly do you think would prevent you from proving you can boil an egg?

    I'll even give you a hand:

    1. You agree that if you place an egg in those conditions for 5 minutes and its contents remain liquid, you have failed. He agrees that if the egg goes hard, you are right. You'll also have to agree upon reasonable terms like the size of the container and the type of heat source, e.g. not try to boil in an egg in a huge container heated by a candle. You're even allowed to say that you can only boil eggs in say 70% of the cases (as long as that number is more than you'd expect eggs to boil on their own).

    2. You'll have to actually perform that experiment to demonstrate it really happens. Stories about how many eggs you've prepared in your life don't count, for rather obvious reasons.

    3. Has nothing to do with your ability to perform the experiment. It's an obvious measure to prevent fraudulent claimants from saying that they actually succeeded, as the foundation is allowed to prove with recordings that the claimant failed.

    4. Another obvious one. You agree upon the test in advance and can't keep changing your mind and drag the procedure on forever and ever. If you say you can boil an egg in five minutes in advance, you shouldn't come in on the test day and say it actually needs to stay in boiling water for 3 years. If you knew it takes three years (and you do, because you claim you've done it before!), you should have said it in advance.

    5. Has nothing to do with the ability to prove claims. If you can do it, you can do it in a preliminary test just as well as in an official test.

    6. Obviously you don't expect them to hand out holidays to all goofballs in the world. Undoubtedly if you get through your local, preliminary test, you can attract some sponsorship for the final test.

    The rest are all administrative things, which also have nothing to do with your ability to prove your boiling-egg theory.

    [ Parent ]

    silly (1.00 / 7) (#295)
    by seanw on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 04:16:32 AM EST

    this is a bunch of totally Western minded smart people who are all a little nervous about their world view, reassuring one another

    that's right, you are all right.  Science and Rationality are the way to go.  Nothing outside that exists, because no one can "prove" it.  anyone who thinks otherwise is just silly.  that's right, don't worry now, go back to sleep

    Who's nervous? (none / 1) (#348)
    by slippytoad on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 06:41:58 PM EST

    Seriously, if you're in this debate at all, the people who display fear are the ones who won't submit their abilities to testing. I have no fear at all of testing psychics and dowsers and astrologers of any kind. I don't think it's junk, I know it. I just like to see things proven. What makes Randi's challenge unique and entertaining is that he's a stage magician, and his life experience in that field gives him a far better chance than most to catch a fraud in the act.
    If I were the al Qaeda people right now I would be planning a lot of attacks in the next few days and weeks -- John "Bring 'em On" McCain
    [ Parent ]
    why am I nervous? (none / 2) (#368)
    by conthefol on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 02:25:14 AM EST

    Because I do not understand why people trust their irrationalities. How many times have they been bitten by their feelings? Oh wait, they forget all those times.

    [=- We Can Do Better. -=]
    [ Parent ]

    Not a problem. (none / 2) (#444)
    by craigd on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 12:42:53 AM EST

    If it can't be proven, it's truth or falsehood is meaningless. Maybe there's psychic forces that don't manifest themselves. Fine. I don't care either way.

    Randi is trying to show that there are no meaningful paranormal phenomena.


    A man who says little is a man who speaks two syllables.
    [ Parent ]
    Randi's Challenge (2.72 / 11) (#308)
    by bugmaster on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 07:40:56 AM EST

    Numerous would-be psychics, dowsers, telekinetics, etc. have posted comments on this article, which can be summed up as "Randi's Challenge is unfair". I don't get it. Personally, I have read the rules, and I find them to be clear and utterly fair -- a welcome relief from the usual EULA-grade lawyerese. It seems to me that Randi is basically saying:
    • You must clearly define what your special powers do. It's irrelevant how they work, only the end result matters.
    • You must clearly state what kind of demonstration will prove that you have these powers, and you must agree what results will prove that you do not have these powers.
    • You must agree not to change your mind once the demonstration is underway.
    • You must agree not to sue Randi.
    To me, this sounds pretty standard, and it's actually similar to a job application. For example, let's say I claim that I know C++, and I want to prove this to my employer. I would offer to demonstrate my powers, by writing a tree-search program in C++, in one day. I should be able to code, compile, and debug this program; my employer will then throw data at it to see how well it performs. If my program performs correctly (by finding the search target when it's there, and printing "not found" when it's not), I get the job. If my program crashes, outputs wrong results, or loops indefinitely, I lose.

    Many employers are using exactly these kinds of tests to weed the qualified applicants from the chaff. Sounds fair to me.

    Bottom line: If you think Randi's rules are unfair, which ones do you disagree with ? They are numbered from 1 to 12, so please cite the ones that are unfair. Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Randi in any way, I'm just a regular guy.
    >|<*:=

    Not that easy (1.25 / 4) (#394)
    by Steeltoe on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 11:51:52 AM EST

    I won't waste more space writing to sceptics. You are clearly not the world-movers of tomorrow. Instead, you are the stranglers of today attempting to block science and spirituality moving forward. I'm not advocating believing in everything people say, but not to stomp them and alternative research down either. Have a healthy doubt, but also be open to new experiences, unless you really want a dull life..

    Check out this link for more elightenment on Randi's "million": http://www.alternativescience.com/james-randi.htm.

    It's not so easy as just following the rules. Once you've signed, you're in for a maltreatment by fundamentalist and prejudiced sceptics who treat you like a crackpot. Who really wants that, and the heavy presence of grandious scepticism will kill all grace surrounding the poor test-person. Besides, how can you ever win by performing the impossible? Once it's done, it's not impossible/unnatural anymore!! So the whole thing is just a big scam.

    Sceptics: I understand you're pissed off at established religions and money-scammers, but that doesn't mean you're entitled to know everything in this universe. I believe we're in for a big reform in world-view in the next fifty years, but it has to be experienced, not weighted on a scale. A flower is beautiful because it radiates an inner glow of life, not because it weights 2.38 grams. Once the life-force is out of the body, it is ugly, almost non-recognizable. These are subtle things. The beauty, the joy and the love in this world is immeasurable. <bt>
    Explore the Art of Living

    [ Parent ]
    Ok... so... (none / 2) (#405)
    by bugmaster on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 01:46:39 PM EST

    You agree that Randi's rules are perfectly fair, but you refuse to follow them because neener-neener ? What's your point ? Do you have a point ?

    It seems like you're claiming that Randi's tests are unfair because he's a skeptic. Well, duh ! If he was a believer, he wouldn't be testing anyone, would he ? He'd just give out the $1e6 for free. Look, all you need to do is bend a spoon just by staring at it; how hard can it be ?

    I don't see how spoon-bending is equivalent to smelling a pretty flower in a subtle, almost non-recognizable way. Either you bend the spoon, or you don't. Similarly, either you correctly predict each card drawn out of a shuffled deck, or you don't. These are simple tests that don't even require a ruler, let alone a mass-spectrometer or any other scary scientific instrument -- but neither are these tests subtle or vague. It seems like pshychics, telekinetics, etc. should be able to do this, if they really do have all these special powers.
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]

    Obviously.. (none / 2) (#418)
    by Steeltoe on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 06:34:00 PM EST

    You didn't follow my link.
    It's *Randi* that is not playing fair here..

    Explore the Art of Living

    [ Parent ]
    Randi (none / 0) (#426)
    by bugmaster on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 10:01:55 PM EST

    I read that post. On the surface, it sounds like Randi has been caught red-handed. However, as many posters have pointed out, the scan of that letter looks uber-fake, which greatly undermines the entire argument. I am afraid that, in this case, I'll need more evidence.
    >|<*:=
    [ Parent ]
    Show us the evidence. (none / 0) (#443)
    by craigd on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 12:08:16 AM EST

    If the only thing you will post is that fake letter, and then you dissappear when its fakeness is pointed out rather than engaging your critics (but, not having learned anything, go on to post it again) it sounds to me like you're just trying to push a point and are immune to the truth.

    I'm not. I'll believe that Randi is the jackass you claim he is. That letter fails to prove it, however, because it was photoshopped. into existence.


    A man who says little is a man who speaks two syllables.
    [ Parent ]
    Re: (none / 3) (#476)
    by djotto on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 05:35:20 AM EST

    Please read this.

    I have no particular axe to grind here but when people claim their beliefs ("that fake letter" should have been "that letter that I believe to be fake") as proven facts, they do themselves and their argument a disservice.



    [ Parent ]
    Yup. (none / 0) (#516)
    by craigd on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 06:11:11 PM EST

    You're right. Randi really is a complete jackass, and having seen his admission of it I now place far less faith in his claim that he's prepared to pay out the million.

    The guy might be a fraud, but Randi still needs to prove it.


    A man who says little is a man who speaks two syllables.
    [ Parent ]
    Restored my faith (none / 0) (#577)
    by Steeltoe on Mon Apr 12, 2004 at 12:44:21 PM EST

    You've just restored my faith in human kind. Not wether we agree or disagree or even your conclusion, but that you *listened*.

    My heart melts :-)

    Explore the Art of Living

    [ Parent ]
    I'm a skeptic. (none / 1) (#607)
    by craigd on Tue Apr 13, 2004 at 07:14:14 AM EST

    I believe in things based on evidence. If the evidence suggests something other than what I expected, I'm ready to change my mind.

    When this article appeared, I thought there were far more like me than it seems there really are, which is a damn shame.


    A man who says little is a man who speaks two syllables.
    [ Parent ]
    I'd be more inclined to trust that site... (none / 3) (#436)
    by craigd on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 11:47:57 PM EST

    ...if it weren't the one that tried to discredit him by forging a bullshit rejection letter to a would-be claimant of the million.

    Look around the comments on this story, and you'll notice proof that the letter is fake. If they're going to lie about Randi, how can I trust that they are telling the truth in other spots?

    Don't get me worng, I'm not saying I know their view on him to be false. I do, however, know that they aren't the ones to trust.

    I'm an honest skeptic - I keep an open mind until I see the evidence. Frankly Randi's unanswered challenge is evidence against the paranormal. It being rigged would nullify that evidence, but I have yet to see evidence that it is rigged. In fact, I have seen very good evidence that those who claim it's rigged can't produce the real proof. How am I supposed to interpret that as anything other than a validation of his claims?


    A man who says little is a man who speaks two syllables.
    [ Parent ]
    Evidence (none / 1) (#477)
    by Steeltoe on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 05:37:58 AM EST

    Can you please point me to the *evidence* of the letter being fake?

    I'm not saying you're right or false, but if you are a true skeptic, you should base it on *evidence*, not suspicions..

    The image is of bad quality (JPEG), but I don't see any evidence yet.

    For example, the picture could well be scanned into an OCR program that would have made the text more "clear" and adjusted it automatically. To get *evidence*, somebody should of course investigate further than just browsing a few webpages.

    This is just another example of skepticism turned hostile IMHO.
    Explore the Art of Living

    [ Parent ]

    I could, but (none / 1) (#513)
    by craigd on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 06:07:14 PM EST

    since posting this I've seen a link to where Randi admits that he actually wrote it. The artifacts that make it look fake apparently arose by other means.

    All I can say is, he really is an ass. I'm suddenly far less swayed by his claims that he's simply waiting for someone with real powers and will test any claim.


    A man who says little is a man who speaks two syllables.
    [ Parent ]
    The Problem is the Preliminary Test (none / 1) (#469)
    by bento on Sun Apr 11, 2004 at 05:14:10 AM EST

    I don't have a particular opinion of Radni or those who have disputed with him on the substance, but his test seems dishonest and grossly unfair based on his own rendition. More specifically, he has two tests - the formal one and the "preliminary" one. The formal one seems to be fair enough, but no one ever gets to that. Rather everyone has been rejected on the preliminary test. And Radni's application specifies no standards whatsoever for the preliminary test. There is no stated, and certainly no enforceable, standard for having passed the preliminary test other than Radni's, or his foundation's, sayso, and since this is where all the failures have occurred, this is, in practice, the actual test. I can see that Radni well understands fraud and huckersterism.

    [ Parent ]
    experiments with psychics (none / 0) (#618)
    by gbv23 on Wed Apr 14, 2004 at 07:22:41 PM EST

    I wonder why this guy hasn't tried the Randi challenge with some of his subjects. His site includes his reply to the criticisms of noted sceptic Ray Hyman (with whom I had an excellent class in college)

    [ Parent ]
    it's a culture thing (2.42 / 7) (#318)
    by Cruel Elevator on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 11:45:32 AM EST

    Every culture has assloads of superstitions. Some have it more, some less.

    If you look at Asia, you'd notice that these superstitions form a very important part of their culture. It blends in with their religion as well.

    I have had first hand experience of a few of them.

    Thai:

    Every other Thai sees ghosts. If you talk to a Thai, and ask them about any "paranormal" encounters, they'd happily go on about it. Examples range from  "That factory is haunted. The owner's wife died in here. Every other night, someone sees a women in white dress", to the very silly "someone knocked, but when I answered the door nobody was there. Must've been a ghost". They believe in something called the "spirit of the land" and when they make a building on a land, they build a small temple to appease the "spirit". Funny thing is, they put in a Hindu god in that temple although they are Buddhists. WTF?

    Chinese:

    These guys are probably the most superstitious race in the planet, probably other then uneducated tribes in Africa. By Chinese I mean a part of Malaysia and Singapore as well. They believe that spirits of their relatives can affect their fate, and this is why they gamble like crazy in certain special days. They go through a complicated process called "Feng Shui" which describes how a building should be laid out. Property prices vary according to Feng Shui. If your house has a bad Feng Shui, expect to get an awful resale value. Cell phone numbers and driving license plates are priced according to "lucky" numbers. If they think you have a bad "face" they won't even do business with you.

    Indians:

    Almost as bad as the Chinese. That's pretty obvious for a community that has over a thousand (million?) gods. Check out their wedding rituals. The bride must not look at the roof, her mom must not be present when she leaves and on her wedding night, and she's required to stay awake the whole night. You'll see old shoes hanging from their trucks which is supposed to prevent bad luck. There's also something about hanging broomsticks on new items for the same reason. Lately, I've heard from an Indian friend that they are "outsourcing" their superstitions as well. Some Indians are practicing Feng Shui.

    Cultures tend to borrow idea from each other. These people can sound pretty convincing, and hey, people need hobbies. All these ideas about Paranormal Activities spice up their otherwise pathetic dull lives.

    As for Americans, few years back (before the outsourcing crisis began) a very large amount of Americans thought that India was all about mystic hermits who could do strange things, cows on the streets and Indian food. If they believe that, how hard is it to believe in UFOs?

    What I'm interested in learning about what sort of superstitions have crept into the IT world. I've found this funny quote from a software developer:

    "Guys who work with computers too much are restricted to the 2D world. At times, through the corners of their eyes, they can see stuff in the parallel dimensions. This occurs mostly at night."

    Anyone got interesting examples?

    C.E.

    don't be a dick (1.00 / 6) (#341)
    by limivore on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 03:25:03 PM EST

    You might be stupider than u think.
    It's important to that keep in mind.
    So don't be a dick, just in case.

    [ Parent ]
    Not more, but different (2.75 / 4) (#392)
    by svampa on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 11:19:47 AM EST

    Every culture has assloads of superstitions. Some have it more, some less.

    Not more, but different.

    It's not a matter of wich culture, but of educated vs not educated. uneducated people of western countries have as much superstitions as anyother place in the world. The difference is that in western countries the average people is more educated than the average people in other places.

    But we so used to see the superstions of our own culture, that we call them lack of education or even we are not aware of them.

    Spirits are not so different from saints, or God or Jesus.

    "The car crased but God save us"

    Why God save you but not thosand of people? are you special?. Thai sees spirits in every where and noise. Christian culture sees the hand of God in every success where azar has been on your side.

    It has nothing to do with religion or faith, it's plain superstition.



    [ Parent ]
    crazy people (1.57 / 7) (#337)
    by ShiftyStoner on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 03:12:35 PM EST

     See everyone is crazy. That makes me crazy. Because I'm sane. But really, I just think I'm sane because I'm crazy? Crazy crazy crazy, everyone is cray.

     So when I say thinks like, the matrix has just as good of a chance at being real as what most people think is real, is a crazy thing to say.

     My belief is that I may very well know nothing at all about anything. In fact, realety may just all be created in my head. It all might just be a dream.

     We all could be inside of some advanced(by our standords) computer. Nothing but energy, representations that we all see as real.

     I might be dead, reliving my life in memory. I might be a clone of my original self who wanted see how he would have turned out in diferant life styles. People may be able to read my mind and see everysecond of my life.

     Aliens may be walking around among us invisabley. We might be living on top of a large world we can not see.

     Our universe might just be an atom to another universe. And our atoms may be entire universes.

     Who knows. If everything I know to be real is nothing but my perceptions of chemicals flowing around in my head, everything very well could be nothing more than chemicals flowing around in my head. Or maybe there is no such thing as atoms or molecules, and I am a soul. Maybe I am god.

     So all I can do is asume everything is real, and there is a chance that everything i think is real is not. Really there is an infinite amount of possibilities for this world not being what I think it is. Many people, don't even know what this world is even if it's not real. As you have shown. But maybe, the stars do play an enourmouse role on our lives. Maybe bipolar, depression, schizofrenia, maybe none of it is real, all just how you stars were alighned at birth. There is no way to truely prove anything.

     Time and time again we "prove" ourselves wrong about things we thought we proved. About everything. From what everything is made of to whats going on in our heads. What were made of whats good for us. Are right and wrong real, is there a meaning to life.

     Just because of we are constatnly disproving ourseves is prof anough for me that nothing has been proven.

     Assuming that my perceptions of the world are real. I still don't know anything, virtualy. I don't know for fact the sun is anything more than a bright dot. I have never seen it. I don't KNOW that the stars are anyting more than large fireflies. They may be window int0 other dimensions for all I know. I don't know that there really was a hitler.

     I don't know that there is a war going on in Iraq. I don't know if there is anyother country than USA and Canada. I don't know if they are more than 100 miles long. From experiance, I know very little, experiance is the only thing that i know to be true of this world for fact. Even in the world as I know it, a truman show type life is posible for me. Without me knowing it ever.

     So what the hell, leave all the astrology nuts alone. They don't hurt anyone. THey just crave guidance in this huge chaotic world that they know nothing about. Get mad at the christians, and other groups that go around killing people, trying to run everyones lives.  
    ( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler

    Yo (none / 1) (#367)
    by conthefol on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 02:13:02 AM EST

    The fundamental substructure upon which our universe is built is irrelevant. Be it superatoms or bits quantum foam or tits, the real question is: Does it make a difference?

    There are a hundred different representations for the universe you inhabit. And you can't tell the difference.

    Is the world real? Does it matter? Is one representation real and another not? You only care about this thing called 'realness' because there's a word for it. The word has no meaning.

    Allow me to throw some more uncertainty into your mind. Yesterday never happened - it's just a false memory. Tomorrow won't happen - God might get lazy and skip a few days, or perhaps he'll just drop the toy project and not bother to create the future. Maybe death is a transition to godhood. Maybe your moral sense is completely wrong. Maybe the killers and emperors and zealous fundamentalists go to heaven, while the docile stoners will be punished. Maybe Christians are totally right. Maybe you're both wrong. Maybe the best thing we have is science. Maybe there are supernatural abilities. Maybe belief in the supernatural will get you killed. Maybe your fear of death is arbitrary. Maybe your life has no meaning. Maybe meaning has no meaning. Maybe there is objective truth. Maybe you're wrong about everything. Maybe everything you hold deeply sacred - love, spirit, life, truth, reality, whatever - is completely arbitrary and really not at all special or useful.

    Maybe this speculation is useless because you can speculate any way you want. Maybe the best thing we have is the predictions of Science. Maybe the people who accept paranormal things based on irrationality are just being stupid.

    Maybe there's nothing special about you in any way at all.

    [=- We Can Do Better. -=]
    [ Parent ]

    Exactly (none / 0) (#421)
    by ShiftyStoner on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 07:28:34 PM EST

     Maybe, and there is a damn good chance of it, we know nothing, nothing at all. Even if there really is a we.

     So why nock crazy people when your probably crazy.
    ( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler
    [ Parent ]

    We know there is a we (none / 0) (#425)
    by conthefol on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 09:57:31 PM EST

    I don't directly control your actions, and vice versa. Regardless of representation, we are separate minds.

    [=- We Can Do Better. -=]
    [ Parent ]

    Don't KNOW (none / 0) (#431)
    by ShiftyStoner on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 10:55:56 PM EST

     How do I know I'm not the only conciouse being. That is the only thing I know for certain. That I am real. That is it. I maybe wrong about anything/everything else. There is only one certainty, I think, im real.

     How I exist I don't even know for certain. I cant be sure on what I'm made of. I can't be sure on why I think. I don't even know for sure how long I have existed or how long I will. I may be a milasecond of concios thought then gone.

     In a dream, I percieve other conciose beings. Animals, people. Very differant from myself. This very well could be a dream, couldn't it? An advanced dream. If my entire life was a dream, I wouldn't know. I weould have no Idea about this world outside of my dream world. What if there is a world outside of this one that I can, or may never be woken from.

     
    ( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler
    [ Parent ]

    Murkier waters (none / 0) (#439)
    by conthefol on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 11:59:07 PM EST

    Who is this "I"? I haven't really studied the philosophy of identity. :/

    [=- We Can Do Better. -=]
    [ Parent ]

    based on *who's* authority? (1.50 / 6) (#351)
    by alizard on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 07:00:40 PM EST

    How many Skeptic cultists think that James Randi is qualified to speak about matters of science?

    How many peer-reviewed scientific journal publications has Randi authored?

    What non-honorary degrees in science does he hold from accredited academic institutions?

    What about technology? How many patents does he hold?

    Where did anyone get the idea that James Randi is qualified to discuss what is a legitimate topic for scientific inquiry and what isn't?
    "The horse is dead. Fuck it or walk away, but stop beating it." Juan Rico

    he's not (none / 3) (#353)
    by dwyn on Fri Apr 09, 2004 at 07:04:28 PM EST

    He is, however, extremely qualified to speak on matters of deception (voluntary or not).

    [ Parent ]
    Part of science is (2.75 / 4) (#437)
    by craigd on Sat Apr 10, 2004 at 11:50:34 PM EST

    that who you are doesn't matter. If you follow the scientific method, then outsider status doesn't invalidate your results. The problem is merely that most non-scientists or "alternative" scientists don't follow the method that would get them listened to, not that they wouldn't be if they did.

    As an example: Benjamin Lee Whorf, an influential linguist, was not employed as a scientist but as a claim investigator for a fire insurance company. Yet his theories were based on legitimate experimentation, and got listened to.


    A man who says little is a man who speaks two syllables.
    [ Parent ]