Here's another comment from David C. Lane on a recent post of mine that makes so much sense, I'm sharing it even before I've even lunch. Sometimes my hunger for transmitting truth is greater than my stomach's yearning for food.
Didn't someone once say, man does not live by bread alone? (or Trader Joe's meatless chick'n tenders).
Lane talks about his Remainder Conjecture in which supernatural claims should only be accepted after a rigorous examination of them through the lens of science.
This fits with David Hume's observation, which I wrote about yesterday, that we have a tremendous amount of evidence for the physical laws of nature, and extremely little evidence for any possible supernatural phenomena.
So any claim, for example, that someone was able to use ESP to predict a future event, or perform a miracle that violated the laws of nature, has to be viewed extremely skeptically absent very convincing evidence that the supernatural event actually occurred.
After all, we humans are mistaken all the time about what happens in our minds. We accept illusions as fact. We conjure up stories that fit with our desires and sense of self. We forget things. We lie to others and sometimes to ourselves.
Science generally wants to know how something happened, though this is less important when accurate predictions can be made about what is happening. For example, the basics of genetic inheritance were understood before DNA was discovered. And quantum physics is marvelously successful without understanding what exactly is going on at the quantum level.
But if someone makes a claim about having experienced a supernatural phenomenon, we need to ask how that happened. What in the human brain is able to contact a supposed supernatural realm? Of if that capacity isn't in the brain, then where is it? In an immaterial soul? OK, if that's hypothesized, then where is the evidence for soul?
Below Lane's comment I've shared an excerpt from an essay he shared in another recent comment, "The Virtual Reality of Consciousness." The basic message of the essay is that our consciousness doesn't reflect reality as it is, but as our mind makes it out to be.
Enjoy. I really like Lane's contention that those who view paranormal phenomena as being real should welcome each and every explanation for those phenomena that utilizes the normal.
The movie the "remainder conjecture" is to actually open up a blind spot, not hide one.
For instance, if we exhaust physical explanations first (for instance, trying to understand the neural correlate theory of consciousness) and we find after intensive and comprehensive research that it is insufficient to the task, then it opens up a window, what I call a "remainder", which gives us suggestive indications that something ELSE is needed beyond the physical parameters we explored.
So, ironically, those most in favor of the paranormal should be at the forefront of exhausting each and every explanation that utilizes the normal.
This in itself doesn't discount the supernatural in the least, but means that we won't be duped into confusing a purely physical event for a psychic one, which has too often happened in the past.
Science actually starts with ignorance since it doesn't assume (theologically or prematurely) to have any absolute answers and thus from this state then proposes guesses and models and then tests those to see which one best fits the situation and which one provides the greatest predictive value.
Therefore, science is always doubting, always questioning, and in so doing has been wonderfully progressive in terms of understanding that which before was misunderstood.
Also, what used to be seen as magical or mysterious or produced by a god, has often turned out to be generated by physical means. The sun and nuclear fusion (see Hans Bethe for more) is a good illustration of this.
Same with the idea of gravity. Einstein's general theory of relativity made predictions that could be tested.
However, some things like "gravitational waves" were so subtle that it took a 100 years for us to detect them, which was a great breakthrough that just came to light.
The same, of course, with the subatomic physics when physicists knew that there was a missing piece in the Standard Model..... In the early 1960s they theorized a missing Boson, later found and called (after one of its more well known theorizers) the "Higgs Boson."
The Nobel prize in physics was awarded for this breakthrough, though it took decades for the proof needed to verify it.
My point is a simple one. The more patient we are in science to look for physical causes first the better off we will be, since in that pursuit we won't be duped into magical and transcendental temptations too early.
I don't think it is at all absurd to try to find an explanation for all that we can. Indeed, that is why science is science, since it doesn't simply quit but rather chugs onwards..... and in so doing the most remarkable things can happen.
Often people forget that in the early 20th century there were many that felt that the secret of genetics would never be found and instead opted for Elan Vital..... thankfully, biologists and chemists such as Linus Pauling, Rosalind Franklin, Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkings, and James Watson were not deterred in looking for physical causations.
Indeed, they were influenced by Erwin Schrodinger's book, WHAT IS LIFE, which argued for looking for a physical medium by which information (genetic and otherwise) could be universally transmitted.
And, lo and behold, the double helix structure of DNA was discovered in 1953..... and it has radically changed our understanding of how life works.
So, again, let us pursue the Wilsonian idea of Consilient reductionism first..... and if that exhausts itself and there remains a "remainder"..... then we have something to build upon.
Or as Blaise Pascal said (or was attributed in saying), which I think goes to the heart of how science proceeds:
little faith, little doubt
great faith, great doubt
infinite faith, infinite doubt.
Here's the video Lane made about the Remainder Conjecture.
And here's the excerpt from Lane's essay, "The Virtual Reality of Consciousness."
Yet, there is a downside in possessing a higher form of consciousness since it allows its owner to ponder all sorts of improbable events that will never actually happen.
We too often can get ensnared with our ideas, our fantasies, our projections and begin believing all sorts of nonsense. For a robust virtual simulator to work it must conjure up a plethora of scenarios that mix and match incongruent narratives.
In other words, for imagination to work it must be massively elastic. The glitch is that sometimes our simulations over take us and we get entrapped within their corridors.
To the degree that we can test our imaginings in the empirical world and acknowledge their successes and failures we are regarded as somewhat sane; to the degree that we cannot we may be viewed as somewhat insane. It is a thin line indeed that separates the two.