Politics, God and Religion vs. Science


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Feb 28, 2013 - 10:22pm PT
The medical science types are comfortable with numbers.

Not so much, really. The numbers are for charting and the managers. When asked to give a number to your pain you should just say you will let them know if it gets better or worse, or better yet ask for more or less pain meds directly. Anything you are asked should be connected to how to care for you. The staff may appear overly concerned with procedures and technology but don't let them forget the reason they are there. You.

Feb 28, 2013 - 10:23pm PT
I found this article interesting and entertaining, I just thought I would randomly share it here.


The hyperdimensional matrix is a medium of transport; not physically, but of awareness. A message to a loved one that is already across can be transcribed into a rhythmic pulse of code, and an oscillating tension is created between subject and object that drives the momentum of transport. Awareness, if not physical matter, can be carried across impossible topological void. Time and space may not be insurmountable obstacles. Rescue may be achieved.

At first, following the code trace is obvious, like foot prints in snow, but it soon becomes subtle, and before long, one follows nothing more than a flickering memory thru a blue void. The key component in the process is a willing conspirator. Snow is obvious, but it melts. Memory is so subtle, but enduring.

Such a pulse may be incorporated into any medium that may convey information. A message of complete banality can have specific meaning to the one who has been maintaining and following the exchange, and thus may be perfectly camouflaged amongst refuse data. The message is transferable to the querent via any available media, the arrangement of which is the primary clue as to the personality and nature of the symbiont. It is perfectly capable of speaking through any mode of exchange, according to its appetite. It may be as subtle or blindingly obvious as needed.

A map of hyperspace may be imagined as a series of interfolded spheres. The outermost is the largest and most ephemeral from our perspective. It is the realm of impossibility; anything within this category is ontologically null. There are a myriad of interfolded layers within, increasing in probable domain toward the center, from the hugely unlikely toward the outside, to the nearly certain textures inside. At the absolute center is the formal manifest actuality. Every particle in physically real existence is surrounded by a hyperspatial field of probability as described; permutations within the probability field may affect consensus reality.

We are as neurons in a beast of intradimensional nature. We pass attention amongst ourselves, much like the circuitry in our minds. Networks of any nature are related across scalar values. Relationship between objects is of the same fundamental stuff as relationships between neurons, or in any system. Relationship is attraction and repulsion, and is the driving engine for our little beastís metabolism.

Genetic researcher Richard Dawkins has suggested that information structures may be selfreplicating through the behavior of language users. He suggests that discrete idea complexes may behave autonomously, seeking to propagate themselves. This virus-like model of information theory is called memetics. The symbiont appears somehow encoded within memes, much in the way our own physical blueprint is encoded within DNA.

Social climber
the Wastelands
Feb 28, 2013 - 10:39pm PT
I asked my doctor about the pain number thing.

He told me the number itself is not particularly significant because a patient has made it into the office under their own power and over the course of the appointment the doctor can judge pretty well how truly uncomfortable the patient really is.

The number is to establish a baseline over a couple of visits, a "mean" of pain reported.

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Feb 28, 2013 - 11:10pm PT
Those experiments make it excruciatingly clear that it would be entirely possible, if not trivial, in some not-to-distance future to record someone getting laid such that anyone appropriately outfitted could in fact replay, not a "digital summation" of getting laid, but a blow-by-blow which would in turn provoke quite similar quale in the recipient

This misrepresentation of experience fails on various levels. First, it assumes that all subjects are equal, so if only you produced the right stimulai, every recipient would have the same "experience." Not remotely so - we can easily see why. Second, said "blow-by-blow" is and can only be another stimulus package since if it is a digital "thing," is is entirely devoid of a subject, fundamental to having a "subjective experience."

But the part that you have flubbed most handsomely is the crucial, qualatative aspect of subjective experience which the subject himself provides.

Another fact is that experience is not a thing but a process which exists only in the current moment. So unless you learn how to time travel for real, you're out of luck.

Experience is not a movie you can get in he can and replay.


Feb 28, 2013 - 11:40pm PT
I had a look at the brain-to-brain interface paper:


It isn't of personal interest to me so it is hard to read it carefully. Plus it makes the dubious assumption that rats have brains.

The kind of in-the-brain recording that they did is very important for people who want to use such signals to control prosthetic limbs. If recordings of brain activity can discriminate between whether a person is, for example, lifting or lowering their arm, that could be used to control a device. To make such recordings investigators plant an array of small electrodes in a region of the brain involved in arm movement. Each electrode typically picks up activity from many neurons but the separation between electrodes means that each samples a somewhat different group of neurons. In the arm example, the timing and amplitude of responses across the array of electrodes could be associated with arm movements.

You can also relate sensory information to brain activity by the same method. Put a recording electrode in the appropriate part of the brain, push on a bit of skin, and your electrode will show activity if the neurons around it connect to that patch of skin.

If you could put enough tiny recording electrodes in the brain you should be able to resolve sensory and motor activity in great detail, and, since you have an idea of what the subject perceives and does, you can correlate the brain activity to sensory stimulation or movement.

Sensory and motor neurophysiology are well studied. Following how activity gets from sensation to action is hard, though, for activity more complicated than yanking your hand back from a hot surface.

Back to the rat study. The approach they used did transfer information from one so-called brain to another. However, the rat at the receiving end may have only been aware of a different sort of tingling sensation which it learned to associate with pressing the correct bar, eventually. I could easily be wrong, but it looked to me as if the same result could be accomplished by zapping the receiving rat on the outside, on the skin, rather than in the brain, according to what the sending rat did.

An exciting result would be to transfer a maze-running task from a trained rat to a naive one. That would require new understanding. What the rat paper describes is technology, which is not to be sneered at because it can lead to new understanding.

Mar 1, 2013 - 12:15am PT
Surprised someone hasn't mentioned the Book of Urantia with its Thought Adjusters.

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Mar 1, 2013 - 12:36am PT
Those rat impulses were actually transmitted through a computer and the internet as the two rats involved in the brain research were in North and South America respectively. And the second rat was only able to respond properly 7 times out of 10 while random chance would have been 5 out of 10. If we were talking ESP in humans, nobody here would recognize any validity to the experiment with those numbers.

Social climber
An Oil Field
Mar 1, 2013 - 01:09am PT
Urantia..I remember when that book was flying around in Hilbert Space.

Neuroscience is an area of nature that is becoming very interesting now that there are measuring devices that can tie a person's experience with anatomy. This stuff isn't even remotely new. With the availability of FMRI and PET scans, anatomy is now being observed to react in actual, real time experience.

The brain is an evolved organ of great complexity. Since it is unethical to cut into a living person's head and zap or record nerves, noninvasive techniques are used. Rats are different, and I'm sure that we've all seen rat's walking around with a cap of wires coming out of their heads.

A brain surgeon can, and does, check on nerve connections by stimulating a particular nerve with a small amount of electricity. It is a part of medicine already, and is used in nerve grafts, severed nerves, and who knows what else. If we had a real neuroscientist here, I think half of this conversation would get its ass spanked, and modern neuroscience is very young.

OK. I'll come out and say it. I think that JL is full of sh#t half the time. I agree that much of experience is subjective in the way that we perceive it, but that is how the mind operates. It would take a vast amount of storage space and power for a person to remember every leaf and blade of grass that he has seen in his life.

Hilbert Space. I had to look that one up. My math and physics is limited to ten hours of physics and three calculus classes. I never heard a mention of Hilbert Space...ever...until JL started talking about it. Did you pick that one up in your carpool, JL?

John likes to say never. He is totally convinced of his version of wha wha that it has become boring to me. I don't understand how you can convince yourself that you are having direct knowledge from meditation. Is that where you heard of Hilbert Space?

Meditation has been studied objectively and has been shown, objectively, to be healthy in some ways for those who practice it. I'm not an expert in meditation, but I have heard that. Correct me if I'm wrong. In that sense, I'm all for meditation and used to bug MikeL about it in emails. I've been curious about that for ages.

I see no difference between the Zendo and Scientology, other than Zen is older. Both became popular around the same time in the U.S., according to what I've read about Scientology.

You can measure subjective experience. It is done all of the time in the soft sciences such as psychology and sociology, and the results can be quite valuable. Hell, that is how elections are won these days.

Things like happiness are very important to every one of us, but even happiness can be studied. Counselors and therapists do this every day. Call them "brain coaches."

Finally, there is very little that we can say about nature that is complete. In theory, nothing is settled. All science does is chip away at it with new ideas. I've seen my work go through several upsets over the years, and eventually the best idea wins.

OK. Here is an ism for John.

constructivism: belief that knowledge and reality do not have an objective value.

Yeah, I stole it from the cool "ism" site.

Constructivism in that sense seems to mean that you can construct whatever universe you like and sell it on the street corner. That doesn't mean that it is correct. I think that identism (doctrine that objective and subjective, or matter and mind, are identical) is closer to reality than relying on a text or ancient teaching, such as Zen.

I still haven't gotten any kind of concensus on what spirit or spiritualism are.


Social climber
An Oil Field
Mar 1, 2013 - 01:16am PT
Well, he uses it like it is his left hand.

I looked it up, and it is pretty strange. Not something I would find in an undergrad math class.

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Mar 1, 2013 - 01:19am PT
Largo: First, it assumes that all subjects are equal, so if only you produced the right stimulai, every recipient would have the same "experience." Not remotely so - we can easily see why. Second, said "blow-by-blow" is and can only be another stimulus package since if it is a digital "thing," is is entirely devoid of a subject, fundamental to having a "subjective experience."

At no point did I say anyone would interpret and respond to the data they received identically - but, hand-for-hand, lip-for-lip, penis-for-penis stimulus - definitely. And in these experiments the the rats had a visual experience of a light [in their cage] going off which is highly suggestive that one day a complete visual datastream could be transmitted. At that point the "aspects of consciousness" transmitted would be quite high. But already, the rat perceiving and experiencing the light in their cage going off when it didn't would argue against your latter point.

Largo: But the part that you have flubbed most handsomely is the crucial, qualatative aspect of subjective experience which the subject himself provides.

Actually, I flubbed nothing whatsoever and explicitly delineated the distinction between the data stream and the subjective experience it provokes at the other end of the wire. Why would you imply otherwise?

Trad climber
Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay
Mar 1, 2013 - 01:21am PT
do we invest time and resources to investigate them [unusual phenomena] or is there anything you are prepared to dismiss out-of-hand as a waste of time and resources based on what we do currently know?

Healyje, this is a very good question and rather basic to this discussion.

One of the biggest challenges for each of us is how to allocate our time and attention. And people tend to push their opinions about this onto others. My mother tried for most of my adult life to persuade me to lose interest in rock climbing. go-B (and my father) wanted us to look for all our answers in the Bible. My own interests usually seem rather random to most people, but follow a dedicated common thread in my mind...specifically an interest in awareness and intelligence.

One basic issue here is differentiating between awareness/perception vs concepts/analysis. It is one thing to observe something, and another thing entirely to assign a framework concept of understanding to it. As a wilderness wanderer and tracker I have never seen evidence of a Sasquatch. But there are lots of people who think they have, leading to a local Big Foot Museum here in the Santa Cruz Mountains. If I did see something like that, I'd immediately do a detailed track analysis to determine all sorts of factors, such as whether it was a large man in a monkey suit or a 500lb Himalayan bear or...whatever is written in the tracks. One of my good friends, owner of a management consulting firm in D.C., flew to Albuquerque to show me a UFO mother ship. Once I explained the nature and dynamics of lenticular clouds, these things were no longer unidentified ...requiring a substantial shift in her world view. It is important to not force convenient concepts onto factual observations.

Another basic issue has to do with honesty in reporting and the dissemination of false information for various discreditable reasons. Our society is verifiable controlled by a very small group of people whose chronic abuse of power includes obsessive secrecy and dishonesty and disinformation about all sorts of things. Space aliens and UFOs seem to be a favorite topic, although again I haven't seen such. Calling it all BS and ignoring all contrary evidence is a convenient socially acceptable approach. Sorting out truth is very challenging.

Some of the subjects you mention have a lot of reports of evidence that is very difficult to verify or evaluate. One of my long term friends who is a very careful and persistent researcher, has devoted her life to gathering evidence and trying to understand some of these unusual phenomena. There is clearly too much evidence to just dismiss it. I trust her to look into these matters much more than I ever will, and find her conclusions very interesting.

However a good tracker tries with great discipline to withhold judgement and conclusions until finding the track with the foot still in it.

Social climber
An Oil Field
Mar 1, 2013 - 01:23am PT
As an aside, I got interested in the state of cloning in a discussion somewhere and did some light reading.

Many mammals have been cloned.

Funny. A clone is like an identical twin. You will look alike and share many traits, but you aren't EXACTLY alike.

The guy who cloned a whole herd of cows said that they went through typical cow social structure. A cow developed into the lead cow, etc. Although they shared the same DNA, they did not grow up to have the same personality traits.

What this means is that if you save some of your DNA so that you can be cloned in the future, "you" won't come back. It will be another guy who is your identical twin, and will mature differently.

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Mar 1, 2013 - 01:51am PT
Tom, appreciate the answer, but you still seem to be hedging quite a bit with respect to any statement about the role of current knowledge and logic irrespective of 'investigations' regardless of who's doing them. From my perspective you could send Albert Einstein or Al Giddings to Loch Ness and it wouldn't matter as the ecological and basic biological aspects of the proposition just don't pencil out.

Sort of like the guy who is talking about a manned Mars mission in 2018. Now it could just be me - and I don't have fraction of expertise in that realm as you - but that seems like more than a stretch to me, even without any further investigation.

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Mar 1, 2013 - 02:02am PT
It is difficult to distinguish the basic ideas of Scientology with other "reincarnation" beliefs,

This is only because you haven't looked at any of them seriously. It's like a humanities person saying that physics and oceanography are indistinguishable because they both use math.

Better to just say you don't know the difference and you're not motivated to find out.

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Mar 1, 2013 - 02:28am PT
Doesn't really seem like much of a distinction from this:


Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Mar 1, 2013 - 02:32am PT
And you take as littoral truth what any religious organization posts on its web page?
After first disassociating that organization from its historical and cultural roots?

Trad climber
Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay
Mar 1, 2013 - 02:49am PT
you still seem to be hedging quite a bit with respect to any statement about the role of current knowledge and logic irrespective of 'investigations' regardless of who's doing them.

I know enough to understand what tiny slices of observations form the underpinnings of 'our current knowledge.' You are asking me to commit my reputation to concepts of which I am not certain. I have looked into some of these things rather extensively because of my interest in aviation and space travel. And yes, I am hedging because I just don't know. It is amazing how much information and discussion is out there on some of these subjects vs how much real world observing most people do. And there are a lot of people who have staked their reputations on both sides of these issues.

I have spent quite a lot of time in the air and up in the mountains under the stars and observing the heavens with pretty good telescopes. I have observed thousands of meteors and auroras and human space vehicles. And yes, I've seen a few things not easily explained, including a rather bright persistent light seen through my telescope on the surface of the moon during the run up to LCROSS; and a bright 'meteorite' that made a sharp right angle turn as seen from high in the Tetons; and a very bright 'planet' to the north where there shouldn't be one, as seen from a small sailboat out in the Atlantic. But I wouldn't know how to convince anyone other than myself as to these observations.

I do know enough about Dennis Tito that if he offered me a seat on a trip to Mars, I'd be very happy to accept. Two time Lunar astronaut John Young told us he was a perfect candidate for the trip because he's too old to worry about whether he'd be coming back...

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Mar 1, 2013 - 03:22am PT
So let's try this another, less committing way. What do you suppose the odds are of surmounting logistical challenges alone to launch a manned Mars mission in 2018?

a) 0%
b) 25%
c) 50%
d) 75%
e) 100%

[ Repeat with inter-dimensional Sasquatch, Nessie, and the existence of high-performance Nazi flying disks, and a very bright unknown planet in our solar system... ]

Trad climber
Santa Cruz Mountains and Monterey Bay
Mar 1, 2013 - 04:17am PT
Well, Dennis Tito is talking about an Apollo 8 style loop around Mars with no landing intended, which greatly simplifies the logistics over a lander mission. The math is pretty complex for a slingshot around Mars, but well understood for designating the launch window. The trip will take advantage of the alignment of heavenly bodies in January 2018 to fly around Mars and return to Earth in the relatively short time of 501 days. The same opportunity will not arise again until 2031.

There are several contemporary heavy launch vehicles capable of throwing the mass out there. The obvious candidates are SpaceX Falcon 9, Russian Proton, Lockheed Atlas V, Boeing Delta IV, ESA Ariane 5, Chinese Shenzhou(check WalMart inventory); but others could be considered such as the Japanese H2 and Indian GSLV.

There are also several candidates for a human-rated vehicle. The best candidate would again be the SpaceX Dragon with an attached service module. The NASA contracted Boeing Orion would be fine, but probably not ready/available in that time frame unless Dennis bought one incomplete and rushed through outfitting it for the mission. Several NASA old timers including John Young did an evaluation as to whether an old Apollo spacecraft could be dug out of a museum and used. The answer was yes, except we just don't do that sort of engineering any more! The Russian Soyuz that Dennis Tito rode up to the Space Station could do the job with one of their service modules launched separately on a Proton and mated in orbit, but the living quarters are awfully cramped.

There are other options that could be contrived, however I understand the current plan is a SpaceX Dragon on top of the SpaceX Falcon 9. I studied this design as one of NASAs reviewers and attended a nine-engine firing test. Elon Musk has had Mars in his sights for this vehicle from the start.

The worst part of the challenge is the astronauts will experience extreme bone loss and basically be jelly fish upon their return. This is one of the main challenges on the space station, and we currently limit crews to six months, which is plenty bad enough.

Perhaps this could be mitigated by tethering the spacecraft to the service module and setting them spinning to induce artificial gravity. This has been somewhat tested with satellites in space but not made operational for humans. Space tethers deserve serious further development for several reasons.

So can this be done?? Oh Yeah!


Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Mar 1, 2013 - 05:53am PT
how long does an organization have to be around for it's historical routes to acquire authority?

given that reincarnation is a very old idea, why is there any authority in the fact that the idea has been around for a long time?

Excellent questions both. I always caution my students about the use of the word cult. Today's cult can become in a generation or two, an accepted and respected religion. I think the Mormons are a good example of this. Two thousand years ago all Christians would have been considered cultists. Probably Zen was considered a cult by more traditional Buddhists at one time.

So how to measure the difference if we don't believe in any religion or don't know the difference between them and don't want to check it out. The answer in this case is not based on respective dogma but rather, their societal outcomes.

Zen has produced a wonderfully unique art and culture and I have never heard of anyone persecuted because they left that form of Buddhism or Buddhism altogether. There have been accusations however, that Zen was too close to the military establishment in Japan (not India or China) right up through WWII.

Scientology however, has been involved in many controversies, alleged kidnappings and brain washings, and law suits. No particular culture can be ascribed to it, as the teachings frequently changed. It's founder is quoted as saying that the easiest way to make money in America is to form a tax exempt religion. They charge for their teachings which is considered bad form by almost all relgions. It's main cultural contribution seems to be its celebrity converts who rail against things like women making noise in childbirth and psychiatry. It's pretty well known also that children have been turned against and cut off all ties with, the non believing parent as in Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman's children.

Length of time doesn't indicate truth necessarily but it does provide a record for the non dogmatic aspects of a religion to be judged on.Thus the Amish while typically a cult, are not thought of in those terms, because 300 years has proved them harmless to anyone but themselves and that's their choice.

No doubt scientology's belief in reincarnation bears some similarity to Buddhism. But why go with a recent, ever changing, politically controversial, form of reincarnation which is languages, continents, and millenia away from the original? In this regard, religion and science are at odds. Perhaps because religion is so much older, most things have been thought of and tried already. Innovation is not likely to improve on the past. In science of course, after 300 years, there is much to be discovered still and innovation does provide better answers
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