For quite a while I've been interested in Bayesian reasoning/statistics, even though I've never understood this subject very well.
Now I'm reading Steven Pinker's new book, "Rationality." It has a chapter on Beliefs and Evidence that focuses on Bayesian reasoning. Which is, basically (this is an introduction to an online tutorial):
Bayes' rule or Bayes' theorem is the law of probability governing the strength of evidence -- the rule saying how much to revise our probabilities (change our minds) when we learn a new fact or observe new evidence.
"Prior probability" in the Bayesian perspective is our credence in an idea before looking at the evidence for something. "Posterior probability" is our credence in an idea after we've examined the evidence.
How this is calculated is kind of complex. But even without knowing anything more about Bayesian reasoning, the following excerpt from the Beliefs and Evidence chapter should be mostly understandable, with the exception of the paragraph in parentheses, which is quite technical.
Pinker explains why believing in miracles doesn't make sense.
Our neglect of base rates is a special case of our neglect of priors: the vital, albeit more nebulous, concept of how much credence we should give a hypothesis before we look at the evidence.
Now, believing in something before you look at the evidence may seem like the epitome of irrationality. Isn't that what we disdain as prejudice, bias, dogma, orthodoxy, preconceived notions? But prior credence is simply the fallible knowledge accumulated from all our experience in the past.
Indeed, the posterior probability from one round of looking at evidence can supply the prior probability for the next round, a cycle called Bayesian updating.
It's simply the mindset of someone who wasn't born yesterday. For fallible knowers in a chancy world, justified belief cannot be equated with the last fact you came across.
As Francis Crick liked to say, "Any theory that can account for all the facts is wrong, because some of the facts are wrong." This is why it is reasonable to be skeptical of claims for miracles, astrology, homeopathy, telepathy, and other paranormal phenomena, even when some eyewitness or laboratory study claims to show it.
Why isn't that dogmatic and pigheaded?
The reasons were laid out by that hero of reason, David Hume. Hume and Bayes were contemporaries, and though neither read the other, word of the other's ideas may have passed between them through a mutual colleague, and Hume's famous argument against miracles is thoroughly Bayesian.
Nothing is esteemed a miracle, if it ever happen in the common course of nature. It is no miracle that a man, seemingly in good health, should die on a sudden: because such a kind of death, though more unusual than any other, has yet been frequently observed to happen. But it is a miracle, that a dead man should come to life, because that has never been observed in any age or country.
In other words, miracles such as resurrection must be given a low prior probability. Here is the zinger:
No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous, than the fact, which it endeavors to establish.
In Bayesian terms, we are interested in the posterior probability that miracles exist, given the testimony. Let's contrast it with the posterior probability that no miracles exist given the testimony.
(In Bayesian reasoning, it's often handy to look at the odds, that is, the ratio of the credence of a hypothesis to the credence of the alternative, because it spares us the tedium of calculating the marginal probability of the data in the denominator, which is the same for both posteriors and conveniently cancels out.)
The "fact which it endeavors to establish" is the miracle, with its low prior, dragging down the posterior. The testimony "of such a kind" is the likelihood of the data given the miracle, and it's "falsehood" is the likelihood of the data given no miracle: the possibility that the witness lied, misperceived, misremembered, embellished, or passed along a tale tale he heard from someone else.
Given everything we know about human behavior, that's far from miraculous! Which is to say, its likelihood is higher than the prior probability of a miracle.
That moderately high likelihood boosts the posterior probability of no miracle, and lowers the overall odds of a miracle compared to no miracle.
Another way of putting it is this: Which is more likely -- that the laws of the universe as we understand them are false, or that some guy got something wrong?
Actually there is no evidence for tomorrow.
It is entirely based on faith.
The fact that there have been so many days in the past is actually not related at all to tomorrow. Tomorrow is moving in the exact opposite direction from what is known, which is always retrospective, looking back.
But it is natural to make assumptions about the familiar and dismiss entirely the unfamiliar, not realizing the reality that every new moment is indeed new.
That is a matter of personal experience.
We constrain our beliefs to our experience, and each experiences life differently.
Posted by: Spence Tepper | October 15, 2021 at 01:00 AM
Nice. I'm familiar with statistics, and with conditional probability, including Bayes' Theorem --- I'm no expert, far from it, but it was part of what I'd studied, and part of what I use in my work (not focused around it, but as part of general statistics; and statistics is a general tool that I do use in running analyses and spreads, sometimes) --- but this particular application of conditional probability, to estimating the probability of miracles, is something I'd never ever conceived of, or come across before. Cool!
Of course, to only look at likely outcomes is less than optimal, the whole black swan thing, but no doubt Steven Pinker deals with more detailed specifics also, in this book of his. I'm curious about his more detailed treatment of this idea, and am putting this book on my reading list. Meanwhile, should there be anything more from here that you'd consider worth sharing, Brian,that would be much appreciated.
Posted by: Appreciative Reader | October 15, 2021 at 07:40 AM
Hello, Spence. This is wholly off-topic as far as this thread, but since you're here, check out this link: https://www.msia.org/newdayherald/archives/60867-interview-ishwar-puri. (Dungeness had posted it in the other thread, but you mustn't have seen his post or mine over there I guess.)
Read all of it, you'll enjoy it. Basically it's an interview with Ishwar Puri, but --- and without necessarily going into the truth value of any of this, at this time, but only to point out this very interesting similarity --- what I thought you'd enjoy and appreciate was the how closely his ideas as well as experiences, as he discusses them there, track yours. (Specifically, what he says about the end result of meditation, RSSB-style, in terms of personal effort; and also about having easy and ready access to the "Master within".) Moment I read this --- and the context for doing that isn't in any way related to you, this is entirely incidental --- your accounts of your own experiences is what immediately came to mind.
Posted by: Appreciative Reader | October 15, 2021 at 08:11 AM
Where did the laws of the universe come from? How is their origin and existence not a miracle (an inexplicable occurrence of, at the very least, someone arising from nothing?)
Or are the laws of the universe merely an illusion of our minds?
I refute Hume thus.
Posted by: Tendzin | October 15, 2021 at 08:30 AM
"Actually there is no evidence for tomorrow.
It is entirely based on faith."
What about when tomorrow comes, and you don't want it to?
Posted by: umami | October 15, 2021 at 11:23 AM
Thank you so much for the link of Ishwar Puri,
He explains clearly that there is no free will at all, for me this is the most interesting part of that interview, thanks!
Most people in different religions believe in God. What is the definition of God? He is the creator. He is omnipresent, he is omnipotent, and he is omniscient. The third word, omniscient, means he knows everything. Does he know what I’m going to decide tomorrow, or not? If he doesn’t, he’s not God. And if he knows, it’s predestined. So when we’re asking the question of whether we have free will or if it’s predetermined, just with this proposition we discover that if God is a reality as we understand it, then it has to be predetermined—everything. So it’s predestined—the whole thing— but it doesn’t look like that. And it deliberately does not look like that because otherwise there will be no game, you can’t make any choices and you can’t do anything. Free will is a great experience but only an experience. It’s not real. It’s predetermined. How we make our choices is also predetermined, what thoughts come to us is
Posted by: La Madrugada | October 15, 2021 at 01:08 PM
"What about when tomorrow comes, and you don't want it to?"
How can what you want or don't want matter?
Rather I think it is a matter of accepting that most of reality is beyond comprehension. And therefore to want or not want is a tiny consideration on a very large machinery.
What can we do to function with whatever happens? First step, accept our fate. Second step, commit to your faith.
Posted by: Spence Tepper | October 15, 2021 at 06:56 PM
Thanks for your comments. The reality in me must be the same in you. And in everyone.
Any awareness of it will yield similar experience.
I've also enjoyed listening to Dr. Puri for many years. He also echoes ancient writings as well., The power of the divine sound has been written about for a long time.
"The wind blows where it lists, and you can hear its sound, but cannot tell where it comes from. This is so for everyone born into the spirit."
"I listen now to the sound of God, like the sound of the flute in the ears of the mystic." Socrates, in Phaedo
Posted by: Spence Tepper | October 15, 2021 at 07:04 PM
La Madrugada, and Spence,
Leaving out those broader discussions --- all of which is off-topic here, in any case --- my short focused point was, when I read this link of Dungeness's, two things struck me. First, where he says the end result of RSSB meditation is to manifest the inner master; the rest is a matter of Grace. And two, Puri apparently is in such direct communion with his master that, for instance, when faced with some mundane difficulty, he is able to summon his inner master for a quick consultation over a short drive.
Without entering into any kind of broader discussion over this -- because my POV is likely different than many of you -- I only wanted to point out how closely that tracks your experiences, Spence, as you recount them here. I thought you'd appreciate the reference, and that congruence of your views and experience with his.
Posted by: Appreciative Reader | October 15, 2021 at 10:42 PM
Thank you for sharing that.
Yes the reference is very good, at least in so far as it supports my own experience. But perhaps more importantly to me, exceeding any experience, that Puri is an affirmative, encouraging and peaceful man. A rare quantity, and a source of peace and inspiration to find the light within ourselves, that is in each of us.
Posted by: Spence Tepper | October 16, 2021 at 08:31 AM
>> A rare quantity, and a source of peace and inspiration to find the light within ourselves, that is in each of us.<<
Of course, he was of the "old school" ... but did he tell his listeners to spread that light into the world in the form of ..CHATITAS?? ... as you go on to claim THEY did
Posted by: um | October 16, 2021 at 08:44 AM
"but did he tell his listeners to spread that light into the world in the form of ..CHATITAS?? ... as you go on to claim THEY did.."
I think there is always a danger in depicting someone else's point of view, which you disagree with.
I will reiterate what I've said time and again, and which every Saint and mystic whose writings I have read or spoken with has epoused.
1. This is a place of endless suffering.
2. Even those who appear happy hold that for a very limited time.
3. All life ends, so life is not a great arrangement.
4. There is much more to this life than we know, and even a form of escape and liberation that is everlasting, and a Joy beyond joy we can experience in this life.
5. That destination can be reached in different ways, though it is the same destination.
6. Our primary focus on life should be pursuing that blissful objective.
7. However, to do this one must live an absolutely pure life, at least according to some simple principles
8. These are harmlessness, devotion to the good, a life of purity, kindness and responsibility.
9. That responsibility includes acts of kindness and support to all, starting with our family and our community.
Objective 4 cannot be achieved without submission discipline and effort on 5-9.
And 10. Because we are imperfect, we have a prefect lover within us who carries all power and love, residing within us to help.
11. It is our duty to submit this life to Him and follow His will, as best we can. And while this requires continuing effort, it is the source of infinite pleasure.
When He asks us to help each other, why do so without delay.
I hope this helps you put these things into perspective.
Posted by: Spence Tepper | October 16, 2021 at 12:12 PM
"When He asks is to help one another we do so without delay."
Posted by: Spence Tepper | October 16, 2021 at 12:15 PM
I could have written these things myself and with me all others that have not demented.
None has ever said that the followers of a mystic should spread that light into the world in the form of ..CHARITAS... as you go on to claim THEY didhave made is seen time and again.
It is a personal distortion of their teachings and you will be unable to find an English Q&A or discourse from any Beas Master, Mr. Puri Included.
The exeption to the rule is what is going on in Agra.
If a person with an open mind will study the chapters on love and seva he will find no summon to better the world.
That would be impossible as it is counterproductive to the core teachings, as how they see the world and the sojourn of people and the consequences of action in terms of karma for those that were chosen to follow that path.
The fact that you have inner experiences, where you can consult the inner master, does not impress me at all as there have been many that strayed away from the path based upon this type of experiences.
People might see in you a source of inspiration the way you conduct your life both private and professional, but that has nothing to do with the core teachings of sant mat
teachings that are not yours and you are not asked to act as a teacher and keyholder.
Posted by: um | October 16, 2021 at 12:32 PM
You see Spence in the 30 years I was closely involved with this religious multinational never, when one of the dignitaries of Beas or elsewhere would visit us, there has been an demand on their side to open up a center for say the homeless, the elderly etc and the demands from us to open a service center for our own elderly etc so that they could live e vegetarian way of life, where always refused to this very day
And if you have follow the differnt blogs created by exers and anti-santmaters , you will no doubt have found time and again the claim that these oversea centres were used for just a little service a couple of times during the year.
Never has their been a demand by the satsang speakers to be involved in community service or to spend money for charitative purposes.
There is no end to it
\And all that are writting here even the owner of this blog does know these things to be correct as I write them
Posted by: um | October 16, 2021 at 12:43 PM
You continue to make the same error.
You and I may disagree in our opinions about the duty to perform charity, but please do not attempt to place yourself in the position of spokesperson for Beas. Neither you nor I are appointed representatives of that organization.
As for the writings of the saints on this matter, please provide citations that prohibit helping family, friends and community once our spiritual duties have been entirely and completely fulfilled first.
I have not found any such writings among mystics nor Saints.
But you are most welcome to educate me by providing evidence.
YYou must have forgotten how Baba Ji converted Beas into the world's largest COVID patient treatment center.
This wasn't done to prove His generosity but as a model for how the rest of us should behave.
Any exposure to Shabd, like a gentle acid, dissolves the barrier between you and your brothers and sisters in every place on earth. Then you will need Master's help setting limits, not being reminded to be kind.
You must have forgotten the writings.
Posted by: Spence Tepper | October 16, 2021 at 06:36 PM
I was just ruminating. We have an expectation that tomorrow will come. How much of the expectation is based on evidence and how much on faith? Faith can be based on evidence, such as when you have faith in a person you know well, or it can be based on "spiritual apprehension," such as in religious faith. Religion can't be proven particularly, so religious faith contains an element of wishful thinking. Usually we wish that tomorrow comes, but sometimes we don't because life can be hard. If only the clock would stop and morning not arrive...but it does...every time...without fail. So there are cases in which tomorrow comes against the wish that it didn't. Tomorrow comes like it or not, no faith is required. That was my thinking process as best I can retrace it.
So we agree that the machinery grinds on, and want has nothing to do with it. But what does faith have to do with it either? Is there a word for something like faith, but the expectation is against the wish? Dread, I suppose.
Posted by: umami | October 16, 2021 at 08:20 PM
Yes, I do know and of many other things he and his followers were involved in the point is that social work is not part of their teachings.
You consider yourself and are considered as an evolved soul yourself ... but what have you done in your life to promote social work?
When did you write her that people should leave their house to help society?
Your own words are the testimony of what social involvement means to you.
No offens, it it is not about you it is just about the suggestions that are made here that the teachings of Beas have something to do with CHARITAS as is practiced by Christians ...
Posted by: um | October 17, 2021 at 04:51 AM
Ha Ha UM
My answer was corruptively deleted
Someone asks a question and then
my answer is corrupted / edited / deleted
This may hold 10 minutes
Is brian human?
Posted by: 7 | October 17, 2021 at 08:27 AM
It is all in "his" hands 🤣
Posted by: Um | October 17, 2021 at 08:51 AM
I've seen it first hand that , everytime something good happened in the life of a brainwashed sangat they would purposfully attribute it to gurinder singh Dhillon. But if something bad happened they would say it's there karma.
Why don't we just say life is life, and that all of life is a miracle instead of reinforcing GSD, the looney clown, in the wrongful place as a god. This is lunacy, and a reason why unfortunately brainwashed individuals would not get out of the clutches of kaal and the negative influence of which RSSB and gurinder are part of.
Posted by: Uchit | October 17, 2021 at 02:04 PM
Anyway, Faith in the religious sense has always rung hollow to me, so I'm trying to relate it to Dread, a more familiar presence. If dread is faith for pessimists, is faith dread for optimists?
Posted by: umami | October 18, 2021 at 06:33 AM
Haha, excellent! Only a week or so ago I was watching a documentary about a criminal court case I now forget the details of where Bayesian statistics were dubiously employed to create the dishonest, deceptive and manipulative air of scientific and mathematical credibility to inherently subjective opinions (ie., pseudo-science and pseudo-mathematics) - and lo & behold, a few days later here we have excerpts from Pinker doing precisely the same thing, and those who share the same ideological beliefs as him have accepted it unquestioningly.
Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, I do not believe one needs to be especially intelligent to see through Pinker's absurd nonsense (a level of intelligence which I would imagine the majority of readers here and certainly Brian possess), but one does need some modicum of clarity and unbiased thinking (which I do NOT imagine the majority of readers here, and certainly not Brian, possess :).
So let's see if I can assist some ideological dogmatists in recognising their circular logic instead of imagining, delusionally, it has any semblance of scientific and mathematical credibility?:
Pinker writes, somewhat incoherently (I may ramble, but what I write is coherent - please distinguish :):
"This is why it is reasonable to be skeptical of claims for miracles, astrology, homeopathy, telepathy, and other paranormal phenomena, even when some eyewitness or laboratory study claims to show it.
Why isn't that dogmatic and pigheaded?
The reasons were laid out by that hero of reason, David Hume......
"Nothing is esteemed a miracle, if it ever happen in the common course of nature. It is no miracle that a man, seemingly in good health, should die on a sudden: because such a kind of death, though more unusual than any other, has yet been frequently observed to happen. But it is a miracle, that a dead man should come to life, because that has never been observed in any age or country.""
First of all, it is absolutely incoherent to lump the arguments against "astrology, homeopathy, telepathy, and other paranormal phenomena, even when some eyewitness or laboratory study claims to show it", with Hume's own definition of a "miracle" as something "that has never been observed in any age or country."
And I do mean absolutely incoherent and absurd. It of course goes without saying there has been many thousands of years of anecdotal evidence (observations) for things like "telepathy and other paranormal phenomena", and overwhelmingly strong evidence from precisely those "laboratory studies" Pinker so readily dismisses with his pseudo-scientific digress to Bayesian statistics (he is literally saying that even scientific evidence - of which there is plenty - cannot disprove his statistical "evidence". I wouldn't even call this pseudo-science, I would just call this anti-science. This is what dogmatic belief can do to you!).
But incoherencies and absurdities aside (not actually possible, because Pinker's entire usage of Bayesian statistics here is implicitly incoherent and absurd), let's look at the Bayesian method as it is employed here. Pinker writes: "In other words, miracles such as resurrection must be given a low prior probability".
First of all, due to Pinker's obviously confused and incoherent conflation of Hume's definition of "miracles" as something "that has never been observed in any age or country" with "telepathy" and all other "paranormal phenomena", he has automatically assigned an incorrect "low prior probability" to ALL so-called "paranormal phenomena" absolutely equal to that of an imagined "resurrection" that "has never been observed in any age or country" (one is really left to wonder at this hypothetical "miracle".....what can Hume be referring to? It cannot even be the alleged resurrection of Jesus Christ, because that is alleged to have been witnessed by multiple persons, so I am somewhat confused......or perhaps Hume, like Pinker, was?).
The secret to Bayesian statistics, as employed here by Pinker, and by those dodgy lawyers using Bayesian statistics to bamboozle juries and convince them of outright lies is simple; One MUST (there is no way around it......you don't even need to go near Godel's incompleteness theorem here, the self-referential, subjective gap is so huge, so wide, you don't need complicated maths to see it!) assign ARBITRARY AND SUBJECTIVE "probability weighting" to certain phenomena BEFORE you can apply the statistical analysis. In other words, this is a castle built on clouds. Where is the SCIENTIFIC evidence that shows "telepathy" has a "low probability"? Where? Oh yes, please forgive my bad memory.....Pinker actually outright claims that even scientific evidence itself - of which, again, there is overwhelming quantities - would not be sufficient to challenge his ARBITRARY, SUBJECTIVE and I very strongly suggest IDEOLOGICAL worldview. Regardless of the copious scientific evidence alongside many thousands of years of anecdotal evidence, Pinker is inherently and implicitly aware there is a "low prior possibility" of all this being accurate, and so feeds this into his Bayesian model. One doesn't need to be too bright to understand the concept of "garbage in, garbage out".
So let's perhaps take a step back and put more accurate and scientifically based data into this Bayesian machine and see what comes out?
There is overwhelming, statistically speaking almost certain evidence for the reality of a whole array of so called "paranormal phenomena". This is simply fact.
There has been many thousands of years of such experiences recounted anecdotally of phenomena we have no scientific explanation for as witnessed by up to thousands of people at a time. This is simply fact.
Nearly every single culture across the entire globe and going back 10s of thousands of years have believed, and indeed DEPENDED upon in some case a whole variety of phenomena and abilities we would label "paranormal" today. It is only a tiny slice of humanity's history that has worshipped the God of Matter and Meaninglessness, 2 centuries (in those 2 centuries were contained a century of the most horrific secular ideological-based inhumanities in humanity's entire history, and a rapid descent into environmental disaster all based on our secular scientific "advances", but that is merely an horrific aside in this context). The stranglehold of this ideology on pop-culture, I suggest, is already waning. What was hip and cool 20-25 years ago, neo-atheism, simply no longer makes sense to the younger generation.
So, I suggest we re-run this Bayesian machine, but enter the more factually accurate extremely high probability of "paranormal phenomena" given the many millennia of anecdotal evidence, and copious scientific evidence of the past 100 years, and the low probability atheism and materialist reductionism is accurate, given all the evidence against it, and how it literally threatens all life on earth during it's miniscule time on earth and has only been around for 200 years!
What will the results be, I wonder? :)
Posted by: manjit | October 19, 2021 at 11:53 AM
manjit, there are numerous flaws in your comment. I don't have time right now to address them all, but here's a start.
Contrary to what you say, there's essentially zero solid evidence of anything supernatural, such as ESP or consciousness existing separate from the body. So the prior probability of this occurring is vanishlngly low. Almost zero. It thus makes perfect sense to look skeptically at any new supernatural claims, since there's been no demonstrable proof of previous claims.
You're correct that there's lots of anecdotal reports of supernatural experiences. There's also lots of anecdotal reports of alien abductions, encounters with Big Foot, ghost sightings, and so on. People make false claims for all sorts of reasons, as I noted in a recent post. Delusion. Greed. Attention. Wishful thinking. Etc. Etc.
There's also many anecdotal reports of Covid vaccine problems that aren't true. After Colin Powell died of Covid after getting two shots, antivax people started to claim that this showed vaccines aren't effective.They either were ignorant of the fact that Powell was vaccinated way back in early February, hadn't gotten his booster yet, and had a form of cancer that weakens the immune system, or they purposely spread this lie for their own political purposes.
This is an example of motivated reasoning, which you're also engaging in. You want to believe in the supernatural. I get that. I spent 35 years doing the same thing. But you should take a step back and consider the lack of evidence for what you believe. Searching for truth is much more important than searching for falsehoods that make us feel good. At least, that's the way I see life.
Posted by: Brian Hines | October 19, 2021 at 01:22 PM
Hi Brian, thanks for your reply - quite the surprise. You wrote "Contrary to what you say, there's essentially zero solid evidence of anything supernatural, such as ESP or consciousness existing separate from the body."
I'm sorry, there's "numerous flaws" in this statement, scientifically speaking, that is. I have on many numerous occasions going back 10 or more years provided numerous links to various scientific and highly convincing anecdotal evidence which entirely disproves this un-factual cliche that you have mindlessly repeated for the same amount, and you have had no answer to those facts and evidence. I also do not have the time to address all your factually erroneous and unscientific claims by re-posting all that copious and unacknowledged information.
I will simply post this link to some of the copious evidence for the scientific FACT of "paranormal phenomena", which alone would take many years probably to study:
Please ignore at your leisure. Reality really couldn't care less about your dogmatic and unscientific beliefs and ideology ;)
In regards your "there's essentially zero solid evidence of anything supernatural, such as...... consciousness existing separate from the body."
I'm sorry, but haven't you posted here several posts containing praise for what you considered to be reductionist scientists like Koch and Tononi?
You DO realise they're panpsychists who literally are suggesting "consciousness exists separate from the body"?
Please do try to keep up with your OWN claims and beliefs, and attempt some modicum of consistency, coherency and integrity.
You write: "You're correct that there's lots of anecdotal reports of supernatural experiences. There's also lots of anecdotal reports of alien abductions, encounters with Big Foot, ghost sightings, and so on. People make false claims for all sorts of reasons, as I noted in a recent post. Delusion. Greed. Attention. Wishful thinking. Etc. Etc."
I'm sorry, but this is a grossly arrogant, ignorant and judgemental statement to make about subject you clearly know very, very little about, despite what you claim. And very obviously so.
Having actually spent decades reading and hearing many thousands of those "false claims", your characterisation for the motivation behind them are ridiculous, absurd and entirely out of touch with the reality of the phenomena. You are trying to appear knowledgeable about a subject you have absolutely no understanding, knowledge or experience of any note, imo.
Please just try actually reading something outside of the religion of meaningless matter you follow. Ridiculously sounding books with even more ridiculously inane content like "How to reply to the top 10 arguments against atheism" simply betray your mindless religious adherence to a closed off (and, mind you, utterly banal and dreary) world view and cosmology. Literally closed-minded dogmatism that you THINK you are against, but aren't.
It goes without saying some of the witnesses to "anecdotal" evidence of the paranormal were some of THE most respected, trusted and admired people in society. This is basic stuff. The arguments on your blog were outdated and obsolete during the time of William James and FWH Myers, 100 years ago. This is simply farcical imo.
You write: "I get that. I spent 35 years doing the same thing. But you should take a step back and consider the lack of evidence for what you believe. Searching for truth is much more important than searching for falsehoods that make us feel good. At least, that's the way I see life"
Ah but Brian, it's not how long you've been sipping from the cup, but how deeply you've drunk. You don't appreciate your 35 years may not even be worth 2 years of "growth" in another human being.
Drinking deeply is not for everyone, but one who is drunk must certainly proclaim "drink deeper!"
“The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.”
― Werner Heisenberg
Posted by: manjit | October 19, 2021 at 02:02 PM
Where is the SCIENTIFIC evidence that shows "telepathy" has a "low probability"? Where? (...) Regardless of the copious scientific evidence (... )
.......manjit, that's a pretty tall claim, you know. You're claiming there's "copious scientific evidence" for telepathy. Would you care to back that up, and present one or two actual instances of such evidence?
"I will simply post this link to some of the copious evidence for the scientific FACT of "paranormal phenomena", which alone would take many years probably to study:
.......Yep, there's lots of lots of stuff in that link you've presented. However, it's hardly done to point people at what is practically a small library, or at least a large bookshelf within the library, and ask them to check out its contents or else be revealed as someone who ignores evidence. You're claiming there's "copious evidence" of paranormal phenomena. Perhaps you could present one single instance of such, whether from within the list referenced via that link or from elsewhere, that you yourself are comfortable defending, and then let's all sit down and discuss that single instance threadbare. We won't need "copious" evidence, even a single solid piece of evidence will be enough to make us question the worldview we currently see as reasonable.
You're astute enough to know what kind of evidence will pass muster, I know that. You clearly demarcate, yourself, between anecdotal evidence and the other, acceptable, kind. Me simply declaring in an essay in some website or some book that I've acquired the power to flap my wings and fly, or to sprinkle holy water (or send out healing energy) and have broken bones fixed in an instant, that sort of thing isn't evidence, I'm sure we're agreed on that.
If you're able to present some solid evidence either for telepathy, that you'd mentioned specifically, or for paranormal phenomena in general --- one single solid piece of evidence, from what you claim is a copious collection --- and if you'd actually stay and defend that instance that you've presented, why then I'm sure we'd be able to have a discussion around it that we can all agree is reasonable, and one that might hopefully lead to actual agreement (on the implications of that piece of evidence).
Posted by: Appreciative Reader | October 20, 2021 at 07:20 AM
@ Manjit : [ “The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.” --Werner Heisenberg ]
Thank you. Bottoms up.
Posted by: Dungeness | October 20, 2021 at 07:23 AM
@ AR e.a.
That discussion about so called scientific prove, is going on by now for ages without conclusion.
It is like these debates ob freewill etc..
The question is however, why does a person so dearly want to debate these issues. It seems to me that these discussions are side tracks, to prevent the debaters to address the real issues underneath that question about prove, freedom etc.
In our parental home we were not allowed to use religious statements as an instrument in a debate for the simple reason .. it will work as a deus ex machina.
The 'technique" of making something seen as an divine order, ends the debate, and makes it possible to have others accept things that they otherwise never would do, if the other person would demand it on personal grounds.
Almost all do's and do not's of any religion is of that kind.
In the same way the demand for "scientific proof" is used. It is used to silence a person
bypassing the need to think for oneself.
These skeptics etc are, without knowing themselves real blind believers, so much so that an it makes an orthodox believer envious ... hahahaha
Posted by: um | October 20, 2021 at 08:01 AM
Hello, um. *waves*
That was a casual comment from you, I realize, but I think there's interesting points you raise there that might make for food for thought.
But first, though --- and entirely out of curiosity, and without any kind of subtext of any kind, so please don't go all self-deprecating about this! :---) --- what is this "e.a." I see there right after my initials (or at least, my avatar's initials)?
"The 'technique" of making something seen as an divine order, ends the debate, and makes it possible to have others accept things that they otherwise never would do, if the other person would demand it on personal grounds.
Almost all do's and do not's of any religion is of that kind."
.......Agreed, um. Religions are big on authority.
"In the same way the demand for "scientific proof" is used. It is used to silence a person
bypassing the need to think for oneself.
These skeptics etc are, without knowing themselves real blind believers, so much so that an it makes an orthodox believer envious ... hahahaha"
.......I'm afraid I don't see that, at all, um. Exactly the opposite. Anyone can verify this for themselves. (Although yes, in practice, and especially with actual science that is very complex and involved, and QM would be a great example of this, one is singularly unable to actually verify either the theory or the application for oneself, unless one is prepared to devote actual years of one's life to serious study of the subject, so yes, in a sense and at the individual level that's true. But still, one is free to check secondary sources, including popular sources, of which there are plenty, and put in as much effort as one desires, to move as close to actually knowing and actually verifying this, if only from secondary sources, even as a dilettante.)
"That discussion about so called scientific prove, is going on by now for ages without conclusion."
.......Depends on the question. I mean, some questions haven't reached a conclusion, sure. But (many) others have.
This specific set of questions, for instance. About telepathy specifically, and more generally about the paranormal. I'd say we've pretty much reached a reasonable conclusion. Neither exists.
"The question is however, why does a person so dearly want to debate these issues."
.......Great question. As it happens, I think it admits of a great answer.
First, while yes, it can indeed descend to a "debate", or worse, but I personally prefer not to see this in those terms. A debate would mean I'm trying to defend my pre-set position, while someone else is trying to defend theirs. You know, like arm-wrestling. I myself like to see it as an open, honest discussion --- that is the only kind that I myself would consider worth my time and effort.
As to "why". That "why" is the same "why" that fuels scientific research. That same principle fuels this more humble and private "research", at the individual and personal level.
While this is obvious to me, and I don't believe I've ever thought about this explicitly, but now that you raise this question, I think it is important to understand this "why" clearly.
It isn't that we don't actually reach a conclusion. Sometimes we don't, but very often we do. But here's the key part that distinguishes science (and a scientific worldview) from blind faith and religious thinking. Never ever is an issue considered settled for good. Every issue is always open to be being reexamined. Every conclusion is always open to being overturned if there is sound reason to, if there is sound evidence to warrant such overturning.
So, one, it is important to recognize that every conclusion reached is, at the end of the day, essentially tentative. (Epistemologically speaking, that is --- I don't mean that we look out every morning to check which direction the sun's rising from, to state the obvious!) Two, it is important to keep oneself open to contrary views and opinions. Three, one must always be prepared to change one's mind and one's position if new evidence so warrants. Four, that calls for a certain intellectual honesty, as well as an intellectual openness. And five, that after all is how we arrive at new knowledge, both at a collective level and at an individual level.
So that's why these endless discussions. They never will end. Never ever.
Does that mean we'll spend all our time doing this? Again the obvious answer is: only to the extent we want to! Both at the collective level, and at the individual level, how much effort we invest in "discussing" and in "finding out" and "examining" stuff, is a function of both our propensity and our ability. If we don't want to do that, we can stop doing that. And start again whenever we want to, again.
But other things being equal, I'd say it's better to keep an open mind and an ongoing discussion, at whatever level and depth, than not doing that. For all of those reasons I've outlined.
Posted by: Appreciative Reader | October 20, 2021 at 10:11 AM
Sometime things from Dutch slip into what I write. In Dutch e.a = en anderen / and others.
How to answer the rest?
Most Skeptics organised in groups, are scholars but not all scholars are skeptics or would like to be seen with Skeptic colleagues.
There are many Christians, most practice it in private in their own way. Some however want to be seen as Christians.
In any gathering preceded by a speaker, be it school, or other gathering, after the speech is over, some people will come forward and flock around the speaker. Most often it are always the same people, that have something to ask, say or debate.
One day I approached such an group and said: "look, you people are always here to share you opinion with the speaker. What makes you thing that it is so important for the speaker to know what you think about it?
Thousand of people are faced with the problems that do arise emotions in society. To take an example .."abortion. There are those that are PRO and those that are contra that walk the streets. But most just do not!
These Pro and Anti persons have something in common in fact they are the same in how the handle something. Instead of keeping it with themselves the are after an interaction with the greater public.
That all is done for a PERSONAL and PSYCHOLOGICAL reason.
So what are the do's and do not's is not interessting, nor what people bring before the people but what is interesting is the motive behind it to do it ...walking the street etc is a TOOL.
The ongoing demand for prove is a psychological TOOL that serves a purpose that has nothing to do with the demand for a proof itself.
Posted by: um | October 20, 2021 at 11:16 AM
Oh A.R. ... most skeptics have grim faces, small lips and piercing eyes ... hahaha
Posted by: um | October 20, 2021 at 11:20 AM
"In Dutch e.a = en anderen / and others."
.......OK, cool. Absolutely, there are some words and phrases and usages in some languages, that aren't necessarily exactly conveyed in other languages, at least not without using a great many words and clunky expression. The everyday acronym "u.s.w.", for instance, in German, that I myself sometimes find myself using when writing in English.
"These Pro and Anti persons have something in common in fact they are the same in how the handle something. Instead of keeping it with themselves the are after an interaction with the greater public."
.......Right, I understand. You're referring to those folks who for some reason seem to set great store at being seen to be engaging. Absolutely, educational institutions, as well as professional seminars and the like, do have their fair share of these characters. It's less, or not at all, about actually working towards clarity, than about, well, being seen to be doing that, for whatever reason (psychological, and/or social, and/or professional). Agreed, that kind of thing, and that kind of person, is not very ...well, not something one would want to be around.
Posted by: Appreciative Reader | October 20, 2021 at 11:49 AM
@. A.R ... Most of what I write are exaggerations and generalizations and are meant tno that much to say something as to point at something that is not said.
Most of what I write is related to "seeking the keys at home, where they were lost in the first place"
Of course there are people that are serious searching for truth and nothing but the truth, be it by science or other wise.
To be sure what they are after, one has to know the motives.
Knowing the motives and the personal background is helpful in understanding what a particular scholar is researching. Like understanding of a culture makes a better understanding of say a meditation technique or an practice that was born in that culture.
It is doubtful if people not born in a culture will ever be able to undo the technique from its cultural coverings. ... even Zen. I wonder if people in the west can realy practice Zen
Are you living in Germany?
Posted by: um | October 20, 2021 at 12:08 PM
No, um. It's just that your use, and explanation, of that Dutch usage reminded me of this particular German usage. Much like food, most useful ideas and usages are cross-cultural in today's global context, but there still remain some ideas and nuances --- and following from that, some usages --- that haven't yet been transposed on to other (linguistic) contexts, and do not admit of straight direct translation.
And I take your point about the essentially personal and private nature of the spiritual endeavor, which I guess was your larger point. I agree, absolutely.
However, I'm less sure about your opinion that meditation techniques are culturally insulated. First, because I'm not sure that's the case at all. And secondly, because even if there were indeed some essential distinction, even then, aren't we all far more culturally fluid than our parents and grandparents, so that such distinct cultural silos themselves are more and more an obsolete idea?
But of course, these are just my unevidenced thoughts, and I don't really know as fact how this stands. They're interesting questions, certainly, both of them.
Posted by: Appreciative Reader | October 20, 2021 at 01:02 PM
Pondering, another sip of coffee ... what to answer..
Lately, Manjit pointed at a book by Peter Kingsley, Reality.
By exception I worked myself through that book. I have done with reading.
What remained was the point he made that the works of certain Greek Mystics and philosophers, as expressed in their poetry, is never to be understood properly without deep knowledge and understanding of the time periode and the meaning of words at that time.
Probably you have to be Italian, to understand and appreciate their hand movements, and signs. They have to be done by heart, automatically and not by mind. The same holds for the way Japanese people bow before one another.
Most people know how to bow their knees in a church, but only few are kneeling. It needs a trained eye to see the difference.
Sitting, as is practiced in Za-Zen is deeply embedded in the Japanese culture and I doubt if a non-Japanese is realy able to understand it properly.
Bilingual mothers, mothers living in an other country than were they are born and raised, are advised for that reason to speak to their babies and, children, in their own language as it is impossible to load the newly learned languages with the finer emotional intonations.
One can translate sentences, certainly the simple ones, exactly in other languages, yet the meaning is different.
My goodness how to explain these things .... the sound of an piano is not made by the fingers but depends on the quality of the wooden resonation board deep inside the instrument.
What holds for linguistic concepts and the meaning they have only properly understood by those raised with these concepts, the same holds for the use of tools. Zazen is a tool.
The understanding of the meaning of the role of the "teacher /guru" in Indian society, is beyond the grasp of people from the west and for that reason they cannot practice Guru Bhakti as it should be done.
Posted by: um | October 20, 2021 at 01:40 PM
@ um : [ The understanding of the meaning of the role of the "teacher /guru" in Indian society, is beyond the grasp of people from the west and for that reason they cannot practice Guru Bhakti as it should be done. ]
Hm, that's true but once inside, a mystic likely smiles at such concerns. [ A Dutch
mystic may wonder briefly why he was such a Mierenneuker? ]
Posted by: Dungeness | October 20, 2021 at 04:29 PM
I have never had an experience of the mystic. From how you write here I got the impression you did.....
Against that background it is surprising to see that my words evokes the use of this type of language from an [Dutch] Mystic.
Posted by: um | October 21, 2021 at 01:30 AM
um, I've been thinking some about what you'd said, about the cultural aspect of mysticism. It was actually a very interesting question to think over, and here's my further thoughts about this.
At the end of the day, it's a question of what you yourself are after. (Generic "you", obviously.) Well, not just that, it's also, I suppose, a question of what's available. People pursue hobbies, pastimes, things they spend time on, for different reasons. For some, part of what they're after is the whole cultural appreciation thing. And that's perfectly fine, if that's what one wants. (Speaking for myself, the cultural thing is most emphatically not what I'm after. I'm fine with it, that is, I've no objection to it, and I might even enjoy getting to know different cultures closely, but that's entirely secondary, and that's not the reason why I'm in this at all.)
Let me take some examples here, to make my meaning clear. Let's say I wish to go in for, I don't know, karate, or this tai chi thing of Brian's, or maybe just old-fashioned fitness (buffing up, bodybuilding). Now learning karate might involve immersing oneself somewhat in the Japanese culture thing, the bowing, the kimono dress, all that. Likewise tai chi and Chinese cultural aspects. As for gymming, that's ubiquitous these days, but at one time if you wanted the real hardcore deal you might've wanted to go to the Mecca of bodybuilding, the original Gold gym, and that might involve some immersion in your typical California scene of those times.
I'm sorry, I'm rambling a bit here, I realize, but perhaps you get what I'm driving at? What is it you're after, exactly? To do the whole Japanese culture thing? Nothing wrong with it, that's a great goal to have. But me, if I wanted to learn karate, what I'd be after was essentially the techniques, and the skill. That Bushido psych-games bullshit isn't what I'm interested in. Sure, I'll do it if it's necessary --- and at one time, it may actually have been necessary. But it is entirely possible to present an entirely "secular" version of those things (of karate, and of tai chi, and of fitness/body-building, that focuses on the core of those things, without getting mired into the cultural mumbo jumbo --- and using the word "secular" in this broader sense), and should such purely secular training be available, that's what I'd focus on.
And indeed, deliberately stripping off the cultural trappings may help you avoid a great deal of bullshit. Recall the discussions we've had here on Brian's blog, both via Brian's articles and via comments here, about the whole "bullshido" phenomenon. That cultural part of it is a great breeding ground for superstitious bullshit. If cultural immersion per se isn't your goal, then it might be a good idea to look at the essence of what you're after, minus the cultural trappings, to see if there's anything of real substance and real worth there, and to focus on that core (should such exist at all).
Likewise with this meditation and mysticism business. There's no reason at all why these must necessarily be yoked on to the cultural trappings that are entirely incidental to how some particular form of it developed --- be it Indian (as a great many mystical traditions happen to be), or Japanese, or Chinese, or European, or the the other kind of Indian (the shamanic type), or whatever. You know, cut out the dross, focus on the core. (Should such be there at all --- if it turns out that, like the proverbial onion, cultural baggage is all that this is about, then just discard the whole thing and move on.)
um, thanks for raising what I think is a very important question. As it happens I seem to be have arrived at the exact opposite conclusion on that question than you did, but I've tried to lay out my reasoning here (even if in somewhat rambling fashion), and perhaps you might appreciate where I'm coming from here.
And incidentally, this is one area --- well, yet another aspect --- where there's a clear divergence between spirituality and/or mysticism on one hand, and religion on the other. The latter is absolutely and without exception onion territory, you just can't divorce the culture from the religion. Which is fine, as far as I'm concerned, because I'm not remotely interested in religion at all. As far as mysticism, should there be anything of actual substance in it, then there's no reason why that shouldn't be available separately from the culture of the place where some form of it happened to have developed. While, like I said, one is agreeable to sampling different cultures, and indeed even to immersion in such, should that be necessary, but it's important to know what it is one is after, and to carefully cut out the bullshit and go for the core, the actuality, of what it is one seeks.
Posted by: Appreciative Reader | October 21, 2021 at 07:41 AM
Having gone through your respose, again that idea of "waking up in the cinema" forces itself into my thoughts, in the first place.
That waking up is related to the realization what all I do carry around starting from birth.
Most of these things were not back-upped during my lifetime by experience the content of all concepts I have gathered.
All these things were put before me like "food on the table". Faitfully, believing others in good faith, for their position, their expertise etc, I consumed, tried my best to consume and digest it all. But after waking up I discovered that besides those that put food on the table in good faith and with good intentions, besides the food itself, there had been an consumer, an neglected consumer of that food. As I wrote before I came to realize that I was not born to consume whatever can be consumed, physical, mental, cultural etc ... and ... that left alone, or not being asked I would never have had interest in or taste for most of what I consumed.
So, how do I phrase it ... I tend to stop the discussion with others about things that are to be had in the street and can be seen there and rather ask myself for answers about what life is all about etc .. if these type of questions should arise at all.
Rumi talks about donkeys carrying around books and that lovely story of the man even carrying the donkey. All this knowledge, this craving for ever more knowledge, is like mental bad cholesterol, it clutters the clear perception, the simple being.
And ... culture is an impression, an stamp that is not only effective in the words used to describe but even in the body itself. It is impossible to free oneself from those impressions physically and mentally.
Long, very long times alone might help one to recover the original song a person is born with and which he had to sing before death. That song, even the resemblance of that song has been lost in acquiring the techniques, the social cultural techniques, for that song to be heard. That song is buried under layers of education. The only way out is to undo that education.
With out our consent and knowledge we were raised to become ....XXXXX ... there you can write ALL the things you can formulate AR ...ALL and everything.
Za -zen is nothing but adding another page to the already heavy load.
Even the way you sit is cultural contaminated ... and you think you can get rid of it that easely ?!
But what i write is nothing but "ant fucking" to use the words of Dugeness. so do not waste your time.
Posted by: um | October 21, 2021 at 08:26 AM
AR ... you were not born to be a rationalist, than why behave like one?
Figure out what it is to be human, or the unique variation that goes by the name AR.
Nobody as anything to share of themselves with you.
There is nothing you can learn from them what you need to be human.
The answers are in the house... there all lost the key to who and what they are.
If you cannot find your purpose there you cannot certainly find it elsewhere.
We are helpless
Posted by: um | October 21, 2021 at 08:36 AM
Those were both very introspective and clearly heartfelt posts, um. While obviously your experience at the cinema hall is something that is, frankly, beyond my understanding, but I do agree with what I believe is the broader point of what you're saying here: that at the end of the day, the spiritual endeavor is a private, personal, solitary, introspective affair. (Correct me, please, if I'm mistaken in concluding that that is the essence of what you're saying.)
You'd raised two interesting discussions yesterday: first, this, about the introspective and personal, private nature of the mysticism (however defined); and two, about how the culture of where some school of mysticism developed is so intertwined with that discipline that it is difficult, if not impossible, for someone from a different culture to partake fully of it.
Well, like I'd said yesterday, the former question I'm in full agreement about. My thoughts today were around the second question, the question of culture, and whether it is possible to fully penetrate to the mystical traditions of a culture different than ours. And my considered view is that, should there at all be a real, substantial core to that mystical tradition, then yes, it is indeed possible to access such, without getting overly distracted with the cultural aspects. Indeed, taking away our emphasis from the cultural baggage can actually help separate the superstitious dross from the actual solid core (should such exist at all).
What you now do is reiterate your former point about the introspective, solitary, personal nature of mysticism; and, once again, I agree wholly and fully with that sentiment, both at the instinctual level, that is, at the level of what my gut says, as well as at the level of such understanding of the different mystical traditions as I've been able to take in.
You do bring in an added nuance here, in those two comments of yours, that I'm not sure I understand fully --- and I'm not sure quite what to make of such of it as I do understand. You seem to be saying that all techniques are superfluous, and that the only thing that matters is what unfolds spontaneously within us. (Correct me, please, if I've misunderstood your words.)
Now absolutely, the technique/s is/are only the foundation. Beyond a point --- in any kind of involved effort, not just meditation --- one must of necessity leave behind the technique, and go with the spontaneous. But that is a stage arrived at by first internalizing the technique. The foundation isn't what we're after, and is something we must bypass; and yet without the foundation there can be no upper floors at all.
I suppose spontaneous "awakening" might occur, to some, entirely by happenstance, and wholly and fully spontaneously (or so the spiritual literature documents); but I understand you to be saying here that that is the only way, and that effort per se, and techniques per se, are entirely futile. I'm not sure what to make of that --- and, to be honest, I really do not have the direct personal experience of mystical attainment to really express an opinion on this one way or the other.
Any further thoughts you may have on what I've said here, or further building on what you'd said earlier, will be most welcome. (Although, um, it occurs to me, absolutely fascinating though this side discussion of ours has turned out to be, I'm afraid we're derailing this thread away from the subject matter of Brian's original post. Perhaps we could take any further comments of ours on this subject to the Open Thread.)
Posted by: Appreciative Reader | October 21, 2021 at 10:15 AM
I breath where I happen to be ... but , alright I will keep my breath and you to the next room, labeled open threat.
Posted by: um | October 21, 2021 at 10:23 AM
@ um : [ I have never had an experience of the mystic. From how you write here I got the impression you did..... Against that background it is surprising to see that my words evokes the use of this type of language from an [Dutch] Mystic. ]
Sorry if that colloquialism was offensive. I assumed it was just
a funny Dutch idiom. German lifted the phrase from Dutch as
well and it only meant "getting too hung up in small details" or
something close to that.
I imagined that a mystic who had meaningful experiences
within wouldn't care about performing bhakti in the "correct"
manner is all. Apologies if the joke went too far.
Posted by: Dungeness | October 21, 2021 at 11:20 AM
Dearest Um, you wrote: "Lately, Manjit pointed at a book by Peter Kingsley, Reality.
By exception I worked myself through that book. I have done with reading.
What remained was the point he made that the works of certain Greek Mystics and philosophers, as expressed in their poetry, is never to be understood properly without deep knowledge and understanding of the time periode and the meaning of words at that time."
Haha. My insincerest apologies for mentioning it :)
It's been 8 or so years I imagine since I read it so I too am only left with "what remained"......so it is curious what you say because I don't quite recall that emphasis.
What remains with me from that book was the very persuasive suggestion that; 1) Parmenides was one of the central founding influences on much of Greek mystical philosophy that comes to us from more well known sources, 2) The Parmenides was teaching a profound non-dualist teaching, more than a 1000 years before Adi Shankara, that was clearly based on personal experience, 3) The obvious inference that experiential, "mystical" non-dual experience and teachings have had a profound influence at the highest levels of western society and consequently the evolution of culture, politics, sciences, philosophy, ethics, morals etc, 4) How the genuine teachers and teachings get forgotten and distorted by mainstream culture, 5) How difficult it can be read about such things :)
But anyway, you are now member of a very elite club of people who have read that book. You should receive your badge and secret handshake instructions in the main shortly :)
Hi Dungeness, you write: "Thank you. Bottoms up."
Cheers to you too! :) PS "mierenneuker"? SPECTACULARY good work, well done & many thanks. I literally and genuinely mean this; I think that is the first time I have actually learnt something new on this blog in many a year.
Ahh, Appreciative Reader - what are we to do with you, ey? :)
I'm not sure you appreciate how spectacularly bizarre and absurd I find your reply, so beyond any kind of rationality that it genuinely delights & thrills me (the irony, that is, given your belief in the "rational" :)
So rather than waste my time attempting to pretend some sort of constructive rational, intelligent conversation is taking place, as you appear to imagine you are engaging in, at least on your part, please permit me to just summarise and satirise your perspective:
Me: "There is overwhelming scientific evidence for phenomena labelled psi"
AR: ".......manjit, that's a pretty tall claim, you know. You're claiming there's "copious scientific evidence" for telepathy. Would you care to back that up, and present one or two actual instances of such evidence?"
Me: "Here's just one small sampling of the data: https://www.deanradin.com/recommended-references "
AR: "Why this is ridiculous, there is too much data there. That's really not the done thing, providing copious evidence precisely when you said there was. Bad show dear chap, very irrational. You don't really expect anyone with a feigned interest in truth and this subject to actually trawl through that? How about you pick one or two examples and we discuss it here, me and you, the scientific, mathematical and philosophical geniuses that we are, and see if we can get to the bottom of this mystery?"
Me: "Errrrrr. Dude, there are literally thousands of studies & metastudies available, pick one......do you need me to hold your hand? Any "investigation", "research", "critical appraisals of methodology" (snigger :) you think you will engage with me here, ad infinitum tedium, has already been done rigorously, repeatedly by scientists and mathematicians, including sceptics, and the results are already in. I really couldn't care less if you believe this, lie that it is otherwise, or just ignore this inconvenient truth. Sorry. Read Dean Radin's Conscious Universe, and you will see why your request is utterly absurd. I have spent years on this tedium because I have an ACTUAL interest in the truth, facts, reality, not the mere pretence of such, studying the research, observing forums discussions between pro and sceptical viewpoints by highly intelligent and qualified people, know the history.........even the sceptics who actually look at the date agree - you won't recognise the fine print because you're not familiar with the terrain - but Pinker is hinting PRECISELY at this fact.......why do you think he says we cannot believe in things like telepathy EVEN if the scientific data demonstrates it unequivocally? Because the scientific data (do followers of the scientism religion even remember what is anymore? Bayesian statistics my ars....:) does demonstrate something which upsets his worldview, ideology, religion......hence the recourse to anti-scientific Bayesian analysis. Try to keep up with the absurdity, it keeps coming thick and fast.
Anyway, there's also the fact that for the vast majority of humanity's history, the vast majority of people have both believed and had experiences we would label "paranormal", "telepathy" being one of the more common experiences. It is only a think sliver of time and humanity that has believed otherwise. And yet, even today, I suspect the majority of people still and experience in some kind of "supernatural" phenomena. This article from a few weeks ago on the BBC suggests that prayer amongst the 18-34 is growing compared to the previous generation, and sits at 51%. This is of course just one aspect, telepathy and precognitive dreams do not necessitate a belief in prayers, for eg. Plus, this is the UK!"
AR: "This specific set of questions, for instance. About telepathy specifically, and more generally about the paranormal. I'd say we've pretty much reached a reasonable conclusion. Neither exists."
Me: "When you say "we've pretty much reached a reasonable conclusion. Neither exists.", do you mean the Royal "we", or just you and Brian have reached a "reasonable conclusion"?
Hahahaha, lala land it is then!
All the best AR! :)
Posted by: manjit | October 22, 2021 at 11:32 AM
When people present me with information, by means of books, video, TV etc etc my intention is often drawn towards, let us call it unintended, collateral data. This information turns out to be very helpfull in understand what and why people want me to show me something.
Besides what I wrote, the writer did also tell about the common practice used to come to the sought after experience ... sensory deprivation, a technique still in use, if I have to believe the books on Tibetan Buddhism., in which a person, as it were, is burred alive and the use of contaminated alcoholic drinks, contaminated with mother corn.
And ofcourse ... the book was on philosophy; the things you mentioned 1-5
Posted by: um | October 22, 2021 at 12:15 PM
"... pick one ..."
Posted by: manjit | October 22, 2021 at 11:32 AM
Actually, although you may not realize it, but that's pretty much a common enough response that you get from people making irrational claims. Someone claims racism is a thing, you ask them to back it up, they point at some book that they demand you read --- while refusing to themselves articulate and defend the oh-so-very-convincing argument that they've found in the book. Someone else claims UFOs are proven, you ask them to back it up, and they direct you to "all the literature out there" that they ask you to go through, while themselves not spelling out the argument/evidence that they've found so very compelling. You seemed to be following that exact same tack here.
So as to separate out that kind of empty pretense of evidence from the actual evidence, I'd suggested that you might choose one particular piece from among that whole bunch of stuff.
So, "pick one", you say to that; and hey, that's fair enough!
As the one making the claim, I thought it only fair to offer you the chance to choose that particular instance, that specific paper/case, that particular piece of evidence, that you were most comfortable discussing and defending. Because the idea, as far as I am concerned, isn't an arm-wrestling match, but to explore this honestly, and to see if there's actually anything in what you so confidently claim. If there is, I'm happy to acknowledge it, why not? I mean, it isn't as if I have any vested interest in holding on to either side ... it is just a question of what appears reasonable to me.
(And I wasn't suggesting that just you and me slug it out. The idea I had in mind was more like we take one single case, your choice, and we all of us collectively contribute towards arriving at, hopefully, a conclusion that we'll all agree with at the end of a reasoned discussion (about one specific case). All of us who care to do this, you certainly, me as well, Brian I guess should he care to join in, and Spence, and um, and Dungeness, albert, Tendzin, whoever's around and wants in, the more the merrier --- "merrier" in terms of the wider range of time and effort and expertise that a group might bring to the table, as opposed to just one or two individuals; and also in terms of a wider perspective being that much less susceptible to whatever biases a single individual might carry.)
And nor do we need to hammer it all out all at once. There's no deadline after all. We could just start a thread on it --- Brian could start a separate thread around it if he likes, or we could just start off in one of the Open Threads here --- and all of us who're participating, we could bookmark it and keep returning to it as and when we're able. The idea is, let's not make this an interminable talk-fest, nor a discussion started with a bang but abandoned soon after, but basically come to a conclusion, as soon as possible, but over as long as it takes, given time constraints and all, to thrash out one single paper/case.
So, and I ask you again, you could pick one single instance that you yourself like, that, as you believe, proves telepathy.
Or else, if you're happy for me to "pick one", well then okay, I'll do just that, pick one from among that bunch myself. I'll go through that website, browse around a bit, pick one case myself, and when I've done that I'll post my thoughts on it on the thread we've designated for it (a separate thread, or else an Open Thread, doesn't much matter which). And we'll take that as the test of your claim.
Posted by: Appreciative Reader | October 22, 2021 at 12:27 PM
edit: when I said, above, "racism is a thing", what I meant is, "differences between races are a thing", that is, the claim being made was that racism is not pure prejudice but justified by factual differences among races in terms of, for instance, intelligence.
Both those examples I presented above, racism as well as UFOs, are instances I've personally encountered myself, of tall claims made but not backed up (while attempting to give the impression that there's an overabundance of evidence).
Just wanted to clarify that, because on rereading my comment above, I thought simply the word "racism" sitting there might actually convey the exact opposite meaning to what I'd intended.
Posted by: Appreciative Reader | October 22, 2021 at 12:34 PM
Thanks for your reply. Well I hope you're descent into collateral data didn't cause too much collateral damage to you :)
You write "Besides what I wrote, the writer did also tell about the common practice used to come to the sought after experience ... sensory deprivation, a technique still in use, if I have to believe the books on Tibetan Buddhism., in which a person, as it were, is burred alive and the use of contaminated alcoholic drinks, contaminated with mother corn."
I'm sorry, I actually forget the details of this - can you recall the page numbers this is on?
Yes - sensory deprivation or "dark night retreats" are still done in the Tibetan Buddhist/Bon practices, as well as some Daoist and Shaiva tantric practices.
Re. the alcoholic drinks "contaminated" with something......I think Brian Muraresku probably has more insight, facts and data to shed on that particular mystery......;)
Can I just take this opportunity, Um, to say again that whilst I do not always agree with what you're saying or your emphasis (as I have made vocal, often :), I do certainly very much enjoy reading your comments here.....it's hard to describe why, but you make me think in different ways, which is very rare and a thing I always appreciate deeply.
PS - you may or may not care to know, but the "mauj has been changed" and I started a new job last week :)
Hi Appreciative Reader - first of all, I do hope things are well with you and yours.
In regards your reply....hmm......well, it is so spectacularly weak, ineffectual, non-sequitur, irrational and frankly surreal, that I actually just feel....well, "bad" for you (especially so given your belief you are being rational, reasonable, objective, etc; the irony is simply too much to bear).
"A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices."
Take care of yourself!
Posted by: manjit | October 23, 2021 at 03:37 AM
No, I cannot recall the page numbers.
Well I personally do not care for very much if at all, but it is certainly a pleasure for me to hear or see a person happy.In that sense it matters to me that you have been offered a new Job and a burden is lifted from your shoulders.
And ..."Blessed are those that believe and trust, their fate being a matter of his Mauj and that they are save in his hands" ... people that rejoice in that faith and are not haunted by doubts, created by an analytical mind.
If you go to any church, outside the official services, you might find their some people, mostly elderly ladies, praying, look at them for a while, their faces etc.
They find the strength in their faith to go through their lives..... their faith ... not the prove that their is a god and that they are heard .... it is THEIR faith .. that brings serendipity on their faces.
Unfortunately that human capacity is a rare commodity and it cannot be made or created. If one has it one can lose it and once lost it is not that easy to kindle it anew
AR .. I know this is far beyond the topic of this blog
Posted by: um | October 23, 2021 at 04:56 AM
Thanks, things are good, by God's Grace. (Which latter phrase can be taken as figure of speech, a matter of habit, if a literal reading does not resonate. And literally, if it does. :---)) You too, I hope?
As for my earlier comment, that you comment on here, I don't see how "weak" and strong, effectual or "ineffectual" enter into it. This isn't a test of strength, or at least it wasn't meant to be as far as I am concerned. You are free to treat this exchange as such if you wish, obviously.
You found my suggestion a non sequitur? Had anyone else made that comment, I'd have asked them if they weren't confused about what that term means. Not you, though, you're too well read not to be familiar with a commonplace term like that. But I don't see how anyone at all can possibly imagine what I suggested is irrelevant to what you'd said.
It's clear you don't wish to back up what you'd said. (Pointing people to a whole mass of literature that in your own view would take them literally years to trawl through --- and I'm cent per cent sure you yourself haven't read a major portion of what that site references --- while refusing to directly mention or engage with any specifics within, cannot be said to be "backing up" your claim in any shape or form.) And that's fine, your not wanting to substantiate what you'd said. I've no wish to force the issue. Nor do I wish to challenge your worldview against your will, whatever floats your boat. Just, I'll give no more weight to what you'd said, in this case, than I would to other random unevidenced and outre opinions that people sometimes hold and advance. And I'm afraid that the surreal-ness and the prejudice, that you speak of, seem to apply entirely to your own unusual views and comments (as far as this specific issue, I don't mean in general).
All of that said, I've bookmarked your link. Thanks for posting it, because it looks interesting (not promising, but interesting certainly). Not that there's any need to refer to it any more here, but I'll check it out one of these days. (And yes, if and when I do check it out, in the very unlikely eventuality that I happen to find anything there that challenges my worldview, I'll be sure to come back here to this thread and let you know.)
Posted by: Appreciative Reader | October 23, 2021 at 06:56 AM
Oh, I'd missed this in your comment, manjit. Saw it in um's post, and then went back and went back and found it in yours as well.
Congrats, man, that new job I mean.
Posted by: Appreciative Reader | October 23, 2021 at 07:02 AM
"Steven Pinker likes to portray himself as an exemplar of science fighting against a rising tide of unreason. But in relation to phenomena that go against his own beliefs, he is remarkably irrational himself: he asserts that evidence is not required to assess the reality of phenomena he does not believe in, because they cannot possibly be true. How can a champion of rationality adopt such double standards?"
Everything in this article is very obvious, which makes the dogmatic, fundamentalist double standards of those who mindlessly agreed with Pinker's obviously absurd, incoherent, unscientific and irrational article all the more telling, imo.
Alas, what are those mindless meat automatons without the ability of free thought to do?
Posted by: manjit | November 24, 2021 at 09:44 AM
Case Closed: ESP Is Real | Mitch Horowitz speaking at Hereticon, 2022
"As we enter the third decade of the 21st century, one longstanding scientific and philosophic controversy can be laid to rest: extrasensory perception, or ESP, is real. We have amassed overwhelming and replicable evidence that renders ESP denialism a position of sentiment rather than science. In his presentation at Hereticon in Miami Beach on January 12, 2022, PEN Award-winning historian Mitch Horowitz describes the facts around ESP research—and explores why our intellectual culture has been temporarily deterred from accepting them. Sound-bite skepticism and polemically skewed coverage—especially on Wikipedia—cannot, finally, dispel the excellence and repeatability of decades of academic ESP research. Our generation, Mitch explains, is poised for a breakthrough in understanding. "
Posted by: manjit | February 24, 2022 at 07:08 AM