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June 26, 2006

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Whenever someone uses this kind of argument on me, I have an analogy that shows them the difference between faith and trust.

When I sit in an airplane, I trust that it will convey me safely to my destination. I trust this because I know that thousands of airline flights crisscross the world and land safely each day, that the airlines employ large numbers of mechanics tasked with ensuring the safety of their planes, and that when an accident does occur, there is an investigation initiated to find out what went wrong and prevent it from happening again.

On the other hand, the kind of situation that would lead me to have faith (in the religious sense) in an airline would be if dozens of flights were crashing each day, killing thousands of people, and the airlines were making no effort to determine the cause, instead waving off bereaved relatives with explanations like, "We have specialized training you don't and know a lot of things you couldn't hope to understand, so just trust us when we tell you that we know what we're doing."

This analogy should help anyone grasp the difference. Trust is based on evidence; faith is not.

I wasn't trying to sneakily trick you into buying into the Mayan Calendar through that comment - but thanks for commending my cleverness.

My thesis is nonduality - mind and matter, psyche and cosmos, are actually different aspects of the same thing. Therefore, it is perfectly natural that the material and empirical destruction of the biosphere - which is likely to bring about the rapid collapse of our current civilization - is meshed with the accelerated evolution of human consciousness to a new threshold of awareness.

I theorize (following Jose Arguelles and John Major Jenkins) that the Classical Mayans were shaman-scientists who used psychedelic substances and non-ordinary states to assemble a knowledge system linking time, astronomical cycles, and consciousness, and that through this exploration, they were able of determining the completion of one cycle of human consciousness and the shift into a new cycle. In fact, one basic element of this transition is the integration of modern scientific rational knowledge with the esoteric and intuitive knowledge of shamans and mystics - left brain meets right brain. Quetzalcoatl, symbolizing integration of bird (heaven) and snake (earth), represents this process.

My problem with many skeptics is that their avowed skepticism is actually a cover for their deep belief in materialism as truth. They then proceed from this position to critique any other perspective, not recognizing their own internal bias. In actual fact, materialism is a belief system. All that we really know of material reality is what comes to us mediated through our consciousness - therefore it should be paternaly obvious that our consciousness is fundamental rather than the material world we perceive through our senses. Quantum physics tells us there is no objective or privileged position in time and space.

Scrolling past the appeals to other ways of knowing...

My problem with many skeptics is that their avowed skepticism is actually a cover for their deep belief in materialism as truth. They then proceed from this position to critique any other perspective, not recognizing their own internal bias. In actual fact, materialism is a belief system. All that we really know of material reality is what comes to us mediated through our consciousness - therefore it should be paternaly obvious that our consciousness is fundamental rather than the material world we perceive through our senses. Quantum physics tells us there is no objective or privileged position in time and space.

Sounds like you're trying to build a case for special pleading. Unfortunately, consciousness itself is "material" or "natural." The real problem woos have with materialism is that it's actually all-inclusive, not restrictive: Anything that has an effect is material. By definition.

I was thinking of doing a "Doggerel" entry on a single word, but I couldn't think of one. I think you've brought up a good one: "Obvious."

Re: My problem with many skeptics is that their avowed skepticism is actually a cover for their deep belief in materialism as truth. They then proceed from this position to critique any other perspective, not recognizing their own internal bias. In actual fact, materialism is a belief system.

Actually, no. All I ask for is that there should be evidence to back up claims. If there is no evidence then we have no need to believe in the thing a person is claiming – and that is true whether materialism is true or not.

I’ll give you an example. We have evidence that Newton’s laws are correct (close enough anyway). When NASA sends up a probe to Mars, say, they need to get the calcs correct so that the probe goes into orbit and doesn’t crash on the surface. Newton’s laws are correct each time – if they get the figures wrong the probe crashes on the surface (or misses completely), and we don’t get back pictures from Mars. That is true whether materialism is correct and Mars is a real place made of matter, or if (for example) subjective idealism is correct and everything is mental. Whatever ontology is correct, you still don’t get the pictures of Mars if you don’t program the correct speed and trajectory into the rocket, and that’s true if the rocket is material or if it isn’t.

Materialism sure feels real, and my guess it it’s probably true, but it’s truth is irrelevant to the question of whether or not a claim is supported by evidence.

Re: All that we really know of material reality is what comes to us mediated through our consciousness - therefore it should be paternaly obvious that our consciousness is fundamental rather than the material world we perceive through our senses.

That doesn’t follow. I could just as easily say:

All that we really know of consciousness is what material reality shows us - therefore it should be obvious that material reality is fundamental rather than the consciousness through which we perceive it.

Re: Quantum physics tells us there is no objective or privileged position in time and space.

Can you please describe the quantum physics experiment that demonstrates that?

I think Daniel is mixing Heisenberg's quantum uncertainty up with the general relativity concept of "no privileged frame of reference".

I doubt he understands either concept well enough to make a coherent argument to back up his meaningless sentence.

my lengthier arguments are in my book... i am getting a bit sick of your arrogant tone of dismissal.

The quantum physics experiment I was thinking of (one of them) is John Wheeler's Delayed Choice experiment.

one point:
"We have evidence that Newton’s laws are correct (close enough anyway)."

We don't even know what we mean by "laws" - whose "laws"? What makes us so sure they are permanent? Rupert Sheldrake notes that the idea that there are fixed "Laws of Nature" is itself an antiquated notion deriving from 17th Century metaphysics - the same monotheistic and unchanging vision of reality that underlies the Newtonian worldview. Sheldrake suggests that the "Laws" of nature might be more like "habits" that form through a process he describes as "morphic resonance." You can check this out in his book, "Patterns of the Past."

I am pointing out that we have a lot of work to do to realize how quantum physics has pulled the rug out from under the Newtonian-Cartesian ground we thought we were standing on so firmly.

Above, your reversal makes no sense: Consciousness obviously comes first. You only perceive material objects through the images and sense-data that are conveyed to your conscious awareness. "The reality of the psyche" in Jung's terms is completely self-evident when you meditate upon it - but of course it is so much easier to be arrogant and reject other people's ideas. That's what believers like to do.

The quantum physics experiment I was thinking of (one of them) is John Wheeler's Delayed Choice experiment.

Wheeler's Delayed Choice Experiment was a thought experiment highlighting some weirdness of the wave-particle duality of light. It says nothing about "objective or privileged position[s] in time and space." A major principle of Special Relativity is that the laws of physics are the same in all inertial reference frames, hence there is no observable "preferred" frame. I suspect this is where you got that idea. But physics has no bearing on anything you've said, as much as you try to misinterpret it to support your beliefs.

We don't even know what we mean by "laws" - whose "laws"?

Actually, Wikipedia has no trouble stating what we mean by a law.

And appropriately enough, you're (perhaps unintentionally) equivocating in your use of the word "law" when you say "whose laws?" -- laws of nature are not decided by someone, in the way human laws are. They're simply the way nature seems to operate, based on our observations.

Re: my lengthier arguments are in my book... i am getting a bit sick of your arrogant tone of dismissal.

Well I’m getting sick of your dopey arguments, but I didn’t complain. Actually, I thought I had been fairly polite up to now. This is my blog, and no one is forcing you to come here, but if you do I‘m going to ask you to back up your claims. Don’t complain if you can’t.

Re: The quantum physics experiment I was thinking of (one of them) is John Wheeler's Delayed Choice experiment.

So you can’t describe the experiment as I asked. More to the point, you can’t explain how it supports “Quantum physics tells us there is no objective or privileged position in time and space”. As far as I can see it supports no such claim, although I'm sure everyone awaits your explanation with baited breath.

Of course, no one really understands the quantum results Daniel is talking about. Daniel, along with many woos (see # 10), uses this confusion and ambiguity to try to make out he knows something oh-so deep about the universe that is backed by science. He doesn’t.

The effect Daniel is alluding to is one of the fundamental mysteries of quantum mechanics. Mysteries – that means we don’t know what it means. But that doesn’t stop woos from insisting it means their fairy-stories are true.

Re: one point:
"We have evidence that Newton’s laws are correct (close enough anyway)."

We don't even know what we mean by "laws" - whose "laws"? What makes us so sure they are permanent? Rupert Sheldrake notes that the idea that there are fixed "Laws of Nature" is itself an antiquated notion deriving from 17th Century metaphysics - the same monotheistic and unchanging vision of reality that underlies the Newtonian worldview. Sheldrake suggests that the "Laws" of nature might be more like "habits" that form through a process he describes as "morphic resonance." You can check this out in his book, "Patterns of the Past."

Pure red herring. Sheldrake can suggest what he wants, but my point (that you clearly missed), remains, namely that my insistence that there must be some evidence to support your claim before I will take it seriously, has nothing to do with whether materialism is true or if it isn’t.

Re: I am pointing out that we have a lot of work to do to realize how quantum physics has pulled the rug out from under the Newtonian-Cartesian ground we thought we were standing on so firmly.

Agreed we don’t understand things as well as we thought. So why are you so sure that QM supports your beliefs? It seems to me you are the one who has made his mind up he understands the universe so well. You even quote QM to support your beliefs, even though you can’t explain how they do.

Re: Above, your reversal makes no sense: Consciousness obviously comes first. You only perceive material objects through the images and sense-data that are conveyed to your conscious awareness. "The reality of the psyche" in Jung's terms is completely self-evident when you meditate upon it

Your claim that “consciousness obviously comes first” is just your opinion. I could just as easily say, you only perceive material objects because they actually exist. You have offered not one shred of evidence that “consciousness” came first. It’s just your belief system that you apparently need to justify your claims.

As I said, it doesn’t matter to me whether consciousness exists first or not – I still need evidence for your claims before I take them seriously.

Re: but of course it is so much easier to be arrogant and reject other people's ideas. That's what believers like to do.

Yes you do.

I only reject ideas for good reasons. All the logical fallacies employed here more than suffice for me to reject Daniel's ideas.

If you feel like providing evidence, rather than misdirection and arbitrarily manufactured exceptions to logic, I'll be listening, Daniel.

Quantum physics. It's for when all else fails for the really keen 21st century charlatan and bullshitter - Daniel.
Believe it or not, Daniel, there are a few people who do understand quantum physics - but you obviously aren't one of them. The tone and (lack of) substance of your arguments rather indicates you'd have a quite a bit of trouble with the inverse sqare law, never mind quantum physics.
Another thing you clearly don't understand, Daniel, is the difference between philosophy and science.

I remember seeing some shows dealing with early 20th century quackery. Electricity was the hot item back then, since no one understood it. Now, it's quantum mechanics.

About the ships:

I'm sorry my souce for this is vague, but I distinctly recall an old episode of Nova or Nature on PBS which dealt with the first encounter of the Indians in Puget sound with European ships. So far from not seeing them because they did not fit into their frame of refernce, they interpreted them in accord with thier belief system and thought them to be an epiphany of the raven god.

Actually, Helena, that story can be found in the thirteenth episode of Carl Sagan's Cosmos, "Who Speaks For Earth?", in which they re-enact the 1786 arrival of the explorer La Perouse in Latuya Bay. The Tlingit people thought the object on the horizon was the raven god and a sign that world's end was nigh, but an old warrior volunteered to row out in a canoe and meet the supposed raven. . . only to discover, when his aged eyes got close enough, that it was a ship, crewed by people.

So, we have empirical evidence that the "Bleep" story is nonsense. Not that evidence ever mattered in these discussions. . . .

Dear Sir,
I find your post very interesting. I want to comment this in my blog (http://delenda-est-carthago.blogspot.com), thus, I ask your permission to translate it to spanish and post it in my blog, of course, mentioning you as the author

Thank you.
antonio_lopez46@yahoo.com

Antonio:

Sure - please translate it for your blog if you wish.

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