Politics, God and Religion vs. Science


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Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Dec 8, 2012 - 06:56pm PT
I too don't pay much attention to all this doing laps around a burning bush
but this page has some gems - HFCS's JTree wabbit and Mr Gills achievement
of 'dreaming'. Did Castaneda also say you have to abandon yer family to get
properly ensconced on the path?

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Dec 8, 2012 - 07:04pm PT
I always enjoy Mh2's take on things as he looks at them from such a different perspective than I do. As for people taking a turn toward plasticity, I don't think so. We thought at the beginning of the psychedelics revolution that humanity was on the verge of a mass change and it didn't happen. Most people migrated toward recreational drugs that were fun and not thought provoking, and eventually they settled for middle class normality. I think it will always be so.

The main thing that explorers in plasticity seem to have is leisure time. The two civilizations that specialize in this sort of experimentation are the Indian and Tibetan. In one case, life is tropical and easy in terms of survival, in the other it is difficult but if one has enough food stored up for the winter, one has lots of time during that season. Both cultures value asceticism. In our own culture, being a dirtbag or a teacher would seem to be the closest equivalent and I note that jogill and I both fall in the latter category. Making a living from ideas is also the nearest one can get I think, to having plasticity be a survival value. Most people go for less leisure and more money.


Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Dec 8, 2012 - 07:19pm PT
Ed: The question is, why do we perceive our setting from the point-of-view that we do? We build "maps" of the world around us and function well inside those maps (walking around a familiar location at night and knowing where to go, for instance, without seeing).

I believe I've tried to address this multiple times as an evolved behavioral aspect of predation. You can't hunt prey or escape predators without "building maps" - it's a fundamental behavior/capability for survival.
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
Dec 8, 2012 - 07:25pm PT
So that's what the kids are calling it these days. I had a bio-marker when I woke up this morning.

And I like to have 3 before I start up a multi pitch. Just in case

The 'travel' referred to by some posters I have taken to mean a sort of out-of-body experience in a nominally waking state.

Are you referring to the out of body experiences by those teetering on the edge of death? Hovering over the operating table etc? I saw a guy like that once. Recently excavated from an avalanche deposit, blue, unconscious, not breathing. He spontaneously restarted breathing after his airway was cleared of snow. When i got there he was pink, breathing regular if a bit labored, eyes open but unresponsive, fixed and staring off into the great blue yonder, which was weird as I was yelling at him right in the face. He was soon strapped down on a spine board and sent off to the clinic. Later that night in the bar he related his "experience" to one of my co workers, where he described accurately the old story of hovering over the site, looking down on himself and all else who were present.

Dr. F.

Ice climber
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 8, 2012 - 07:43pm PT
Didn't Carlos Castaneda admit that all his books and stories were made up?
that they were Complete fiction?

I've read a little about it, and it mostly consists of what they call "Astral Travel".
It is when your your soul leaves your body, and it can travel to anywhere you want, in Eckankar, you travel to the feet of great spiritual leaders, and they teach you the secrets of life or whatever.

Question? Why haven't these travelers ever given us any information that we don't already know ??
Why can't they tell us the secret of cold fusion? or Perpetual motion? anything???
These same mystics couldn't even tell us that the earth was round, or that germs cause diease, that spirits don't control the weather, etc.

It's all the same stuff, but slightly different.
Just another brand of BS.

Dec 8, 2012 - 08:10pm PT
Why haven't these travelers ever given us any information that we don't already know ??

Because arrogant people with closed minds do not deserve answers nor can they even to begin to assimilate any of those answers to begin with.

It's not meant for labcoats who do nothing but stare at lifeless data.

It requires a scientific open mind.

Not one that have already decided what is true and false beforehand like Dr F.

Life comes from life ......

The Utility Muffin Research Kitchen
Dec 8, 2012 - 08:15pm PT

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Dec 8, 2012 - 09:59pm PT
Thinking of the map analogy, another group of people who have had a lot of these experiences are people who work in military intelligence. Of course they have to be very circumspect in who they talk to about these things, because the people who do security clearances have a very limited view of what is normal behavior. On the other hand, intel types are called upon to see relationships that most of us would miss, patterns of communications in terms of geography and frequency and so on, different sorts of maps so to speak.

When dissected, Einstein's brain had an enlarged visual-spatial area. I wonder if one wouldn't encounter something similar with people who often experience extraordinary phenomenon? As for getting answers to practical questions, that is not the focus of such experiences. Personal answers and personal growth are generally what the seeker is looking for and that is what they get. Perhaps Einstein's true genius was in being able to use extraordinary perceptual abilities for something beyond the personal.
Donald Thompson

Trad climber
Los Angeles,CA
Dec 8, 2012 - 10:32pm PT
On your question about 'maps' perhaps you need to ask it more explicitly.
I take it to mean a visual concept of the lay of the land. A sort of primal google maps? The google maps we were all endowed with.?

In a way it is all about language. Loose or otherwise. I say this because the lay of the land is an abstraction. Let me refer you to the Aristotelian logical premise upon which most of western scientific and intellectual history has been based, namely, A = A.
As a physicist you know this is not correct, that in fact A does not equal A.
Any given object or event that you perceive is never the same from moment to moment.
Remember the allegory of the man who can never cross the same river twice? All the physical attributes of that river have changed . Even the man has changed.
Our perceptions 'that nothing has changed 'is an abstraction. Language is an abstraction. It is meant to reflect our limited perceptions.

Given this state of affairs in the physical universe, and our inability to perceive of it in any way other than as a general abstraction, at least in this connection, it seems to me that the lay of the land is a perfectly workable abstraction that has been perfected by eons of evolution to provide us with the minimum amount of distilled information to allow us to get by, whether we are butterflies or Neanderthals.


Dec 8, 2012 - 10:50pm PT
Donald has good brain ......

Dec 8, 2012 - 11:06pm PT
a puzzle I'd like to understand

Then keep at it Ed.

It will come to you one day and it will be very close to you ....
Donald Thompson

Trad climber
Los Angeles,CA
Dec 8, 2012 - 11:14pm PT
and perhaps I am the only one who senses the world as if from a location located coincidentally with my head... could be that I'm having a unique experience that no one else has... and have generalized that personal experience to all of humanity.

There is no question at all,that each one of our experiences are highly unique. But also never forget that the universe is very, very social. Our perceptions and experiences are more alike than unlike.
Who could ever predict that an electron ,which is more than a thousand times smaller than a proton , could have a magical affinity for this giant (and vice versa) Like a hamster falling in love with a brontosaurus.
Why? Because the universe is unavoidably social and produces affinities at the most fundamental levels.
The maps we follow within our noggins may be varied and distinct , the paths wonder all over the place ,but where they all lead is to the same place, our destination is to the base of the same cliff.

Gym climber
South of Heaven
Dec 8, 2012 - 11:26pm PT
Ed, you only think you perceive the world from your head because you limit most of your perception of the world to thinking. Nothing wrong with that, it is just how you are... and we love you man. Fools who dismiss scientific thinking in favor of god do so only because they limit most of their perception to emotion. There is nothing inherently wrong with that... other than it results in people like blurring.

There is a vast state of existence beyond the head that existed long before what you call thinking. Life did not evolve from the head, it evolved from countless interactions between countless organisms and countless environmental conditions. No amount of thinking can unravel that. No scripture can convey it. It is a process involving more than we can imagine. It has never been thought, it has only been.

It really is a special kind of existence when you can balance all of the channels of perception. Maybe WB will tell us how...

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Dec 9, 2012 - 07:00am PT
Ed: well not what I'm getting at, really, mice have maps too... even butterflies (in some rather restricted sense) and it probably true that this is part of the set of behaviors we've obtained through our evolution, as you say, they are useful, we remember were we find food and go back to that same spot... instead of random walking over the landscape.

mostly I was wondering about the perceptual feelings of Point-of-View, and in some ways our adoption of it as "normal" without ever pondering where it comes from, and as it pertains to this thread, it is, in some ways, the perception of something "abnormal" or "paranormal" that gets our attention, and when we try to explain in in terms of "normal" we come up short...

Ed, I believe evolved behaviors related to predation are in fact the only reason you have any perceptual "point of view" at all and also any sense for a "normal" and "abnormal".

I'm not talking about 'maps' in a broad, static, wander-about sense per se, so much as a what takes place on a millisecond-by-millisecond basis when a stalking Bobcat finally leaps at a Snow Hare. Perceptions of time, space, terrain features, trajectories, etc are brought together to rapidly construct maps of the future and the ability to [accurately] place oneself and others in those future maps are what determine not just that outcome, but the ongoing 'balance of power' between species.

You can trace the evolution of that 'dance' of predation behaviors down to protozoa and up to humans and I would posit they are entirely responsible for your sense of 'self', 'normal/abnormal', and your 'point-of-view'. That in order to survive in a predation-driven world we are constantly and forever located (locked) at the 'center' of our own universe vis-a-vis point-of-view. Hell, in some ways I can extrapolate that out socially [institutionally] to understand why the early Church considered Galileo such a threat. Or, to carry it out even further, how corporations became persons.

I would posit further still that 'consciousness' as we know it evolved from a collection of enabling behavioral capabilities associated with what we commonly refer to as an 'ability to anticipate' and the requirement that one be the 'center' of one's universe to be successful at it. And who knows? Maybe Einstein's true genius was simply an uncommon ability to detach from that self-centered point-of-view to locate himself somewhere other than in the center of his own universe.

Dec 9, 2012 - 08:56am PT

At first I didn't think I understood your question. You're asking why your perceptual point of view is centered in your head, right?

Just a few thoughts right now. (There's really too much to write, and I don't have the time to read through some old notes.)

1. Other than tactile sensation, all of your perceptions are sensed through organs in your head.

2. You (like the rest of us) believe "you" are your body.

3. Perceiving sensations may well be the basis for all concepts and feelings (emotions). Without the body, we would have no basis for concepts or emotions.

William James' old idea that feelings (from the body) gives rise to our representations of the world was replaced by the computer model of the brain in the 1940s, and for the most part, the computer model has endured as the dominant model of cognition. Unfortunately, it hasn't resolved some thorny issues, and there seems to be no need for the body in the model. That lack is a problem, since most of us think that the body should play an important role in evolution and the development of intellectual capabilities.

Recently though, there is a new set of researchers (Damasio, Barsalou, Prinz) who think that "embodied cognition" or "grounded cognition" makes more sense.

4. Simulation (making mental models and then "running" them) is the most advanced thing the mind does cognitively.

What the body does is first (i) gather sensory inputs; (ii) use the sensory inputs to construct a replication of the sensory inputs (incomplete, sketchy, to be filled-in with more experience); (iii) run the model-replication to see if it reproduces the same result mentally; (iv) evaluation, think, speculate on what the model means (use other concepts on the model); (v) repeat to hone the models. [Ed, this says that mapping is central to cognition.]

It is usually thought that we first have an interpretation about a situation, and then the interpretation generates an emotional feeling or state in the body (e.g., fight or flight preparations). James-Lange in the 1890s (and today Prinz, Damasio, and others) say that is probably backwards. They say we first have perceptions-feelings gleaned by the body, and then we have an emotional state that arises from them.

Think of an especially raw, thrilling experience on the rock for yourself, and note how your body starts to generate an "as-if" physical experience IN THE ABSENCE of the actual experience. First one has the sensation, then the body gets emotionally charged. Body first and foremost, then cognition (feeling and concepts). Here (and always), the mind is running mental simulations of the physical experience, and those experiences generate chemistry we recognize as emotional states.

There's so much more to write, but I've written far too much. (Sorry.)

To summarize:

1. We are our body.
2. The body registers sensations.
3. The body's sense organs are located in the head.
4. Sensations (the body) are the basis for thought and emotion.
5. The mind's main function is model-building and model-running (simulations).
6. The dominate concept the mind generates is that of an individualized, autonomous self (ego-identity). This implies a subject and object. It is believed that perceptions correspond to objects (externally and internally).

One can see cracks throughout this logic, all of which resonate with spiritual teachings. Undercut any of these propositions, and the entire head-centered point of view collapses. Break all of these links and propositions, and you get nondual awareness.

People break away from their typical head-centered points of view regularly when they get themselves involved in the humanities (a good book, a movie, a play, a musical rendition) as well in meditative experiences.

Again I apologize for the academic rendition here.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Dec 9, 2012 - 09:32am PT
Terence McKenna,
Launch your meme boldly and see if it will replicate.

The Utility Muffin Research Kitchen
Dec 9, 2012 - 09:38am PT

Dec 9, 2012 - 09:46am PT
Ed, you only think you perceive the world from your head because you limit most of your perception of the world to thinking.

I demonstrate my perception of the world when I duck a rock aimed at my head. I'd like to see someone demonstrate perception of the world without using their brain. Also, a lot more than conscious thinking goes on in your head.

Evolution does not seem to have equipped us for watching 48 television screens all at the same time, although if that were needed for survival it could probably be done. Spiders seem to have a few too many eyes.

When I first saw Ed's question I thought it was about how we locate things, including ourselves. For example, with 2 eyes you get stereo vision and can estimate the distance to things from binocular disparity, among many other cues which don't require 2 eyes. With 2 ears you can locate the source of a sound. Smell, touch, taste, and completely internal sensations also contribute to placing us in the world we recognize, although not in a world as conveniently visualized in Euclidean terms as the world of sight and sound. Because we aren't just sitting looking at TV, and because we need to move around in and accomplish things in the world around us, we need to have all the mechanisms we use to locate and identify things agree. It seems to me that wherever in our conscious thinking we become aware of this agreement, or become aware of problems with it, is the place Ed is calling our point-of-view. As an experiment, spin around in circles as fast as you can for as long as you can and then check your point-of-view. The angular and linear accelerometers in your inner ear also play an important role in locating you in your environment. There might be some justification in claiming that your point-of-view is located midway between your ears.


I'd like to know what sort of point-of-view Helen Keller or someone like her would have.

Yes, I am a big fan of jumping spiders. I remember reading papers on their vision back in the 70s written, if I remember rightly, by a member of the Land clan of Kodak. I think a couple at least of their eyes can move in saccades which is unusual for little critters but a useful trick for hunters.

High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
-A race of corn eaters
Dec 9, 2012 - 09:47am PT
Cintune, look no further than your homunculus there to understand Werner's exceptional climbing and posting abilities.


Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Dec 9, 2012 - 09:48am PT
MikeL: 4. Simulation (making mental models and then "running" them) is the most advanced thing the mind does cognitively.

5. The mind's main function is model-building and model-running (simulations).

6. The dominate concept the mind generates is that of an individualized, autonomous self (ego-identity). This implies a subject and object. It is believed that perceptions correspond to objects (externally and internally).

Both capabilities (4 & 5) are behavioral capabilities I am positing are wholly evolved in response to predation with 'minds' (6) part and parcel with, and providing 'context' for, better utilizing those behavioral capabilities; i.e. the mind provides a 'normal'/'abnormal' state machine and memory platform necessary to operate in the world and also 'provides' for the notions of past, present, and future.

Consciousness emerged out of those behaviors as the necessary capabilities of the mind evolved in response to ever more complex predation scenarios.

MH2: Spiders seem to have a few too many eyes.

Ever sit down and interact with a Jumping Spider? They're very smart, make deliberate eye contact, and are most definitely conscious which I chalk up to them being a hunting, versus web-sitting, species of spider. It's not hard to work up through the taxonomy of existing species to watch consciousness emerge from increasingly complex behaviors.

Speaking of complex predation behaviors...

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