Politics, God and Religion vs. Science

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Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Dec 6, 2013 - 09:39pm PT
I was just thinking about Dr. Miles, a prof. I had in undergrad school, a biologist who first introduced me to what then were some pretty crude brain mapping tools, including EEG and qEEg machine. Though limited, the EEG could give us real time feedback per some of the electrical goings on in the brain, and we had hours of fun doing different things with our attention and seeing how our brains responded in terms of amplitude in the various frequencies (Delta, Theta, Alpha, Low Beta, etc.), coherence across the hemispheres, etc.

I was thinking that the neurofeedback could tell us what was going on in “consciousness,” but Dr. Miles said, not so fast. Was I asking if the brain could tell me about subjective states themselves, or the biological signal associated with consciousness? Subjectivity itself was only directly accessible to the subject, and the EEG didn’t measure that per se. Scads of other biological signatures for things like blood pressure and temperature ended with these biological conditions – 98.6, and all that. There was nothing above and beyond. There was nothing more than the biological signals save for the physiology that was being measured. For instance, there was a body, a thermometer, and the later measured the former. Game over.

However with Neurofeedback, we had a measuring device (EEG), a brain that was giving an electronic signal, and the sentience that we were experimenting with to see how consciously shifting awareness and attention from narrow to wide, from figure to ground (to mention a few things), would allow us to manipulate the brain signal (EEG). If I wanted to amp up the Alpha, say, I needed only close my eyes and follow my breathing. In this sense, the EEG did not measure any of our sentient explorations, rather it measured the brain’s electronic response to same. Unless one already knew the subjective conditions normally associated with the corresponding mind state, the EEG could divulge nothing at all about subjectivity, because it was measuring biology. And unlike blood pressure or temperature, subjectivity was something more (sentience) than the sum of its biology.

This was an easy principal to understand when you had a 32 lead qEEG strapped to your head and, after considerable practice, were able to consciously cause the EEG signal to do all kinds of things. That’s when whoppers like, “mind IS biology” became regular howlers. Connected – absolutely. But where blood pressure, for example, was strictly biology and no more, the same was not the case with the EEG “mind” explorations.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Dec 6, 2013 - 11:44pm PT
http://www.academia.edu/237148/Materialism

Interesting and well wrought look at the challenges facing modern materialism/physicalism.

JL
WBraun

climber
Dec 7, 2013 - 01:15am PT
Consciousness ....... was not designed for self-examination.

So who was the designer?

heh heh .....
paul roehl

Boulder climber
california
Dec 7, 2013 - 03:03am PT
Better Question: who was the designer's designer? And then who was the designer's designer's designer? And so on into infinity. You desire an absolute... how can there be one?
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Dec 7, 2013 - 09:02am PT
Largo,

You have to always be aware of correlation equaling causation. It is a common mistake.

As Carl Sagan put it in his baloney detection kit:

•confusion of correlation and causation (e.g., A survey shows that more college graduates are homosexual than those with lesser education; therefore education makes people gay. Or: Andean earthquakes are correlated with closest approaches of the planet Uranus; therefore -- despite the absence of any such correlation for the nearer, more massive planet Jupiter -- the latter causes the former*);
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Dec 7, 2013 - 09:04am PT
Hell, everybody on this thread damn sure needs to understand these basic epistemological rules. Snipped from the chapter entitled The Fine Art of Baloney Detection by Carl Sagan's //The Demon Haunted World:

//
ad hominem -- Latin for "to the man," attacking the arguer and not the argument (e.g., The Reverend Dr. Smith is a known Biblical fundamentalist, so her objections to evolution need not be taken seriously);

argument from authority (e.g., President Richard Nixon should be re-elected because he has a secret plan to end the war in Southeast Asia -- but because it was secret, there was no way for the electorate to evaluate it on its merits; the argument amounted to trusting him because he was President: a mistake, as it turned out);

argument from adverse consequences (e.g., A God meting out punishment and reward must exist, because if He didn't, society would be much more lawless and dangerous -- perhaps even ungovernable.* Or: The defendant in a widely publicized murder trial must be found guilty; otherwise, it will be an encouragement for other men to murder their wives);


* NOTE: A more cynical formulation by the Roman historian Polybius:

Since the masses of the people are inconstant, full of unruly desires, passionate, and reckless of consequences, they must be filled with fears to keep them in order. The ancients did well, therefore, to invent gods, and the belief in punishment after death.


appeal to ignorance -- the claim that whatever has not been proved false must be true, and vice versa (e.g., There is no compelling evidence that UFOs are not visiting the Earth; therefore UFOs exist -- and there is intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe. Or: There may be seventy kazillion other worlds, but not one is known to have the moral advancement of the Earth, so we're still central to the Universe.) This impatience with ambiguity can be criticized in the phrase: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

special pleading, often to rescue a proposition in deep rhetorical trouble (e.g., How can a merciful God condemn future generations to torment because, against orders, one woman induced one man to eat an apple? Special plead: you don't understand the subtle Doctrine of Free Will. Or: How can there be an equally godlike Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in the same Person? Special plead: You don't understand the Divine Mystery of the Trinity. Or: How could God permit the followers of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam -- each in their own way enjoined to heroic measures of loving kindness and compassion -- to have perpetrated so much cruelty for so long? Special plead: You don't understand Free Will again. And anyway, God moves in mysterious ways.)

begging the question, also called assuming the answer (e.g., We must institute the death penalty to discourage violent crime. But does the violent crime rate in fact fall when the death penalty is imposed? Or: The stock market fell yesterday because of a technical adjustment and profit-taking by investors -- but is there any independent evidence for the causal role of "adjustment" and profit-taking; have we learned anything at all from this purported explanation?);

observational selection, also called the enumeration of favorable circumstances, or as the philosopher Francis Bacon described it, counting the hits and forgetting the misses* (e.g., A state boasts of the Presidents it has produced, but is silent on its serial killers);


//* NOTE: My favorite example is this story, told about the Italian physicist Enrico Fermi, newly arrived on American shores, enlisted in the Manhattan nuclear weapons Project, and brought face-to-face in the midst of World War 11 with U.S. flag officers:

So-and-so is a great general, he was told.
What is the definition of a great general? Fermi characteristically asked.
I guess it's a general who's won many consecutive battles.
How many?
After some back and forth, they settled on five.
What fraction of American generals are great?
After some more back and forth, they settled on a few percent.

But imagine, Fermi rejoined, that there is no such thing as a great general, that all armies are equally matched, and that winning a battle is purely a matter of chance. Then the chance of winning one battle is one out of two, or 1/2, two battles l/4, three l/8, four l/16, and five consecutive battles 1/32 -- which is about 3 percent. You would expect a few percent of American generals to win five consecutive battles -- purely by chance. Now, has any of them won ten consecutive battles ...?
//

statistics of small numbers -- a close relative of observational selection (e.g., "They say 1 out of every 5 people is Chinese. How is this possible? I know hundreds of people, and none of them is Chinese. Yours truly." Or: "I've thrown three sevens in a row. Tonight I can't lose.");

misunderstanding of the nature of statistics (e.g., President Dwight Eisenhower expressing astonishment and alarm on discovering that fully half of all Americans have below average intelligence);

inconsistency (e.g., Prudently plan for the worst of which a potential military adversary is capable, but thriftily ignore scientific projections on environmental dangers because they're not "proved." Or: Attribute the declining life expectancy in the former Soviet Union to the failures of communism many years ago, but never attribute the high infant mortality rate in the United States (now highest of the major industrial nations) to the failures of capitalism. Or: Consider it reasonable for the Universe to continue to exist forever into the future, but judge absurd the possibility that it has infinite duration into the past);

non sequitur -- Latin for "It doesn't follow" (e.g., Our nation will prevail because God is great. But nearly every nation pretends this to be true; the German formulation was "Gott mit uns"). Often those falling into the non sequitur fallacy have simply failed to recognize alternative possibilities;

post hoc, ergo propter hoc -- Latin for "It happened after, so it was caused by" (e.g., Jaime Cardinal Sin, Archbishop of Manila: "I know of ... a 26-year-old who looks 60 because she takes [contraceptive] pills." Or: Before women got the vote, there were no nuclear weapons);

meaningless question (e.g., What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? But if there is such a thing as an irresistible force there can be no immovable objects, and vice versa);

excluded middle, or false dichotomy-- considering only the two extremes in a continuum of intermediate possibilities (e.g., "Sure, take his side; my husband's perfect; I'm always wrong." Or: "Either you love your country or you hate it." Or: "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem");

short-term vs. long-term Bold Text-- a subset of the excluded middle, but so important I've pulled it out for special attention (e.g., We can't afford programs to feed malnourished children and educate pre-school kids. We need to urgently deal with crime on the streets. Or: Why explore space or pursue fundamental science when we have so huge a budget deficit?);

slippery slope, related to excluded middle (e.g., If we allow abortion in the first weeks of pregnancy, it will be impossible to prevent the killing of a full-term infant. Or, conversely: If the state prohibits abortion even in the ninth month, it will soon be telling us what to do with our bodies around the time of conception);

confusion of correlation and causation (e.g., A survey shows that more college graduates are homosexual than those with lesser education; therefore education makes people gay. Or: Andean earthquakes are correlated with closest approaches of the planet Uranus; therefore -- despite the absence of any such correlation for the nearer, more massive planet Jupiter -- the latter causes the former*);


* NOTE: Children who watch violent TV programs tend to be more violent when they grow up. But did the TV cause the violence, or do violent children preferentially enjoy watching violent programs? Very likely both are true. Commercial defenders of TV violence argue that anyone can distinguish between television and reality. But Saturday morning children's programs now average 25 acts of violence per hour. At the very least this desensitizes young children to aggression and random cruelty. And if impressionable adults can have false memories implanted in their brains, what are we implanting in our children when we expose them to some 100,000 acts of violence before they graduate from elementary school?
Graphic Rule
straw man -- caricaturing a position to make it easier to attack (e.g., Scientists suppose that living things simply fell together by chance -- a formulation that willfully ignores the central Darwinian insight, that Nature ratchets up by saving what works and discarding what doesn't. Or -- this is also a short-term/long-term fallacy -- environmentalists care more for snail darters and spotted owls than they do for people);

suppressed evidence, or half-truths (e.g., An amazingly accurate and widely quoted "prophecy" of the assassination attempt on President Reagan is shown on television; but -- an important detail -- was it recorded before or after the event? Or: These government abuses demand revolution, even if you can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs. Yes, but is this likely to be a revolution in which far more people are killed than under the previous regime? What does the experience of other revolutions suggest? Are all revolutions against oppressive regimes desirable and in the interests of the people?);

weasel words (e.g., The separation of powers of the U.S. Constitution specifies that the United States may not conduct a war without a declaration by Congress. On the other hand, Presidents are given control of foreign policy and the conduct of wars, which are potentially powerful tools for getting themselves re-elected. Presidents of either political party may therefore be tempted to arrange wars while waving the flag and calling the wars something else -- "police actions," "armed incursions," "protective reaction strikes," "pacification," "safeguarding American interests," and a wide variety of "operations," such as "Operation Just Cause." Euphemisms for war are one of a broad class of reinventions of language for political purposes. Talleyrand said, "An important art of politicians is to find new names for institutions which under old names have become odious to the public").

Knowing the existence of such logical and rhetorical fallacies rounds out our toolkit. Like all tools, the baloney detection kit can be misused, applied out of context, or even employed as a rote alternative to thinking. But applied judiciously, it can make all the difference in the world -- not least in evaluating our own arguments before we present them to others.

Malemute

Ice climber
the ghost
Dec 7, 2013 - 10:04am PT
Hell, everybody on this thread damn sure needs to understand these basic epistemological rules
Hell, there are a number of posters here who understand these rules well enough to use them to buttress their fairytale arguments.
MikeL

climber
SANTA CLARA, CA
Dec 7, 2013 - 10:10am PT
Ugh, enough with the cut and pastes.

There is no chance. Probability is partial, artifactual, and artificial. Probability looks like something that exists, but it doesn't. It's just a way of talking and seeing things. If I make-up some story (like chance), I can convince you it exists because it sounds reasonable to say such things, and it highlights. But that's no difference than taking a highlighter and underlining a few words in a text. I've made something stand out. That doesn't mean much of anything. It's just a discrimination. All discriminations are artificial (cause-and-effect, correlations, myths, stories, daydreams, worlds, fantasy, illusions, etc.).

There is only one fact. THIS--which is right in front of you at this very moment--is IT. You can call IT experience. There are many terms for IT. IT is indescribable and ungraspable, yet IT is fully knowable.

(i) IT is the dharmakaya, which is akin to open space; the dharmakaya is an open field, the basis of everything; it is emptiness. (ii) You have full and total awareness of IT (sambhogakaya); no matter what you see or sense, what you are aware of is simply your own awareness. This makes awareness tricky and illusive, layered, yet simple. (iii) In the union of awareness and emptiness arises infinite creative energy (nirmanakaya) which creates unending apparitional displays that we take as real objects.

These are things that you can suss-out and see for yourself if you're curious at any time, but you'll need to quiet down.

The daydream, as rsin puts it, is reality; everything is IT. The trick is to realize that the three kayas are one and inseparable. A full realization of that (to see it and live it) is awakening. The open field of all things is your total awareness, and IT is unendingly energetic and creative. IT is what is throwing up the displays in front of you. You are IT, and you are becoming increasingly aware of IT, your awareness, and the field that creates the space and energy of your awareness.

All the rest (correlations, cause-and-effect, fantasies, myths, emotions, etc.) are simply ways of talking and of parsing something that can't be parsed or talked about.
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Dec 7, 2013 - 10:19am PT
Horse sh#t. I know that there is a Lower Skinner distributary channel running along the east side of Stillwater Oklahoma at a depth of 4100 feet.

I KNOW IT.

If you want maps, cross sections, etc. just ask.

You guys don't want to follow the rules because it pokes holes into your sacred cows.
Randisi

Social climber
Dalian, Liaoning
Dec 7, 2013 - 10:24am PT
There is no chance. Probability is partial, artifactual, and artificial.

There's a good chance you're probably wrong.
WBraun

climber
Dec 7, 2013 - 10:38am PT
You guys don't want to follow the rules because it pokes holes into your sacred cows.


Hell, there are a number of posters here who understand these rules well enough to use them to buttress their fairytale arguments.

You guys are just plain crazy, you're make absolutes saying everything is fairy tales and then imposing "rules" which you guys break all the time.

Along with ...... making absolutes that modern material only science is the only truth.

That's another absolute you're trying cram down onto everyone's throat as an absolute.

You guys are just plain fuking out to lunch and pure crazy along with being oversensitive crybabies.

And you guys call yourselves big bad adventurer climbers???

Meh ...... pussies .....




BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Dec 7, 2013 - 10:41am PT
Hmmmm. You are the one throwing a hissy fit like a little bitch, WB..
WBraun

climber
Dec 7, 2013 - 10:54am PT
I gave you the truth.

You're the one who cries every time you post that someone is not being how you want and need them to be .....
Randisi

Social climber
Dalian, Liaoning
Dec 7, 2013 - 10:56am PT
You're the one who cries every time

BASE104 is one of the most level-headed posters on Supertopo.
Dr. F.

Trad climber
SoCal
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 7, 2013 - 11:00am PT
The only one crying here is WB
And with his victim like mentality, he seems to be threatened by us just talking about our reality and we are some how shoving something down his throat.
Pathetic

Keep up the good work Base and HFCS, citune, Fort, Malemute and the rest of the posse.
Dr. F.

Trad climber
SoCal
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 7, 2013 - 11:13am PT
The is no real part of Zen that we Westerns like to think of when we call things: Zen Climbing, Zen Base Jumping, Zen Skiing, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
These are complete Western Bastardizations of the word Zen.

When you are doing Zen, you are quietly meditating, which is far different than being "in the moment", "here and now", "time slows down" state of mind while doing some activity.

There are proper terms for it, Zen is not one of them.
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Dec 7, 2013 - 11:28am PT
The question that we all struggle with is:

How do you know that you know?

I fell asleep last night before the end of the Thunder/New Orleans game. I woke up and when I logged on I checked the score. We won.

Now right there are several huge pickles.

A) I wasn't physically at the game, so how do I know that the TV broadcast was real?

B) How do I know that Yahoo Sports got the correct score (as well as Sportscenter on ESPN)

To get down to the nitty gritty, I don't know who won. I do know that there is snow outside, because I am looking at it. But then again, how do I know that I'm not hallucinating?

There comes a point where it is easier to find some "practical" sense of knowing. For instance, from experience, I trust ESPN a lot more than my prayers, which don't always come true. I really feel for poor Go-B, because I was raised a good Christian boy myself. When I became old enough to think for myself, I found religion full of holes. There is really no way to know.

Could it be true? Yes, absolutely. Could it also be true that a monkey will fly out of my ass today? Yes, although extraordinarily unlikely.

I posted Carl Sagan's Baloney Detection Toolkit because it is the best summary of how to know that I've ever read.

A good example is Werner and I exchanging ad hominem attacks, which are null. They also make you look like an idiot. So no attacking the arguer.

Oklahoma enacted a "religious freedom" law in order to put the Ten Commandments on the lawn of the Capitol Building. Now the Satanic Church is proposing to build their own commandments right next to it.

You can't make this sh#t up.

http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/12/06/oklahoma-satanic-temple-piece/
Jan

Mountain climber
Colorado, Nepal & Okinawa
Dec 7, 2013 - 11:58am PT
The is no real part of Zen that we Westerns like to think of when we call things: Zen Climbing, Zen Base Jumping, Zen Skiing, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. These are complete Western Bastardizations of the word Zen.

When you are doing Zen, you are quietly meditating, which is far different than being "in the moment", "here and now", "time slows down" state of mind while doing some activity.

There are proper terms for it, Zen is not one of them.


One more time someone who doesn't believe in meditation is telling people who actually do it that they don't know what they're talking about. Interesting.

I suppose the Japanese also don't know their own culture when they say Zen philosophy was at the heart of everything from the code of bushido for the warriors to the tea ceremony, ikebana, and Japanese traditional architecture and gardening?

Or perhaps your statement was meant in the worst tradition of conservative Japanese zenophobes who think that foreigners will never be clever and unique enough, like the Japanese, to really understand Japanese culture. And that Japanese culture is so complex and unique it can't be applied outside Japan to anything else?

It's amazing how much some people dislike anything connected to a religious tradition so much that they will deny the physical, material culture that evolved from it.

Malemute

Ice climber
the ghost
Dec 7, 2013 - 12:03pm PT
Does Werner have a brain tumour?
I've read that he used to be a nice person.
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Dec 7, 2013 - 12:03pm PT
Jan,

I think that that is a harsh reaction. Simply because there are centuries of tradition behind something, that doesn't make it truth.

You must acknowledge that if you are to have an open mind at all.
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