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June 09, 2007

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I can relate, my friend. I can post three in a day then just completely lose motivation for a week or so. I still check your site frequently. Enjoy the break!

I've not criticising the fact you haven't posted, but boy am I tired of these Sceptic Circle things. I hate the click through thing I have to do with the archive site, and I hate the pomposity of it all.

And every time I read it I can't help but think "sceptics' circle jerk".

Dom:

Simple - don't read it then.

Well, I don't, see. Not anymore. That's why I'm giving feedback. Well, complaining. Well, whining.

The Common-Sense World

The above links don't seem to work, try these:

http://tinyurl.com/2frrhq

http://tinyurl.com/yq2gcp

To be fair to Dom, it does get difficult to present items in not only an interesting way, but in an original one, too. I do try mixing up the presentation into something unique, as several of the past hosts have: Houdini hosting from the dead, for one recent instance; the choose-your-own-adventure story for another.

Adding things that aren't strictly submissions (stories or articles that catch the host's eye) can help avoid stagnation as well.

But there's on other thing: Akusai's note about woos running out of ideas is certainly an issue - the problem lies in us finding a new angle to cover when some bizarre aspect of belief crops up yet again - when orgone is still making its tedious rounds after 50 years of nonsense, what's left to be said about it?

How many times can it be pointed out that Sylvia Browne (or Kevin Trudeau or Peter Popoff or... or...) is an utter ass and con artist?

How can you avoid the political when world leaders explain their actions by saying that "God told them to do it"?

It's really a case ofpointing out the same logical flaws, the same magical reasoning, the same malicious intent being done by new beievers and old frauds. But it's a challenge I appreciate people trying to overcome. I'm awed, for instance, that Bronze Dog has managed almost 100 posts of faulty reasoning and intellectual shortcuts taken by defendes of woo.

Are all the articles brilliant? Of course not. But some are; and others are a fun read; and there may be a few that are interesting for their own sakes, or even enlightening.

And that's what we publish the Circle for.

That Chopra article is liberally filled with strawmen. In fact, that is pretty much all it is. If you are going to read it, don't smoke or approach it with a naked flame.

Skeptics ignore science? Skeptics ignore quantam physics? Skeptics aren't needed?

It's also contradictory as well as just plain wrong in many places. For instance, he starts the post saying:
In a series of recent posts I've been offering evidence of the possibility that the mind exists outside the brain.

But then a few paragraphs later we have:
Still less do they care about the mysterious connection between mind and body.

Hang on, are they connected or not? Is it mysterious or not? And it's a strawman to boot.

And then he says skeptics are not interested in the enigma of creation.

Really? So all those arguments between skeptics and creationists just don't exist then?

I have a test I propose for Chopra or any of his followers. Let us remove your brain and we'll see how your mind works then. I will refrain from the obvious continuation of this point.

There is I believe at least one strawman in each paragraph of the article. I tried to count them but gave up after the second paragraph.

The science content is flawed.

He makes an ad hominem about crude skeptics, then complains about skeptics making ad hominems.

This is the first time I've bothered to read anything by Chopra and I have one question.

Do people really believe this idiot?

Jimmy: As for “do people really believe this idiot?” (Chopra) – yes they do. My first ever post on this blog was about a “profound” (not) comment by Chopra on Larry King. I’ve written other articles about him, as has Orac and PZ.


the mind of man lives in air


Everyone is free
everyone has right of speech
one may say anything
like his mind is out of his brain
lives in air and communicates
with other minds through
mind-fields that are
mysterious things of
consciousness that only someone
whose mind lives in air -
out of his brain - knows

he may say all this
and a lot of other shit
in part one, part two
and part three tidbits -
all speculations
all mindless nonsense

true, his mind is not in
his skull, it's flying in air
resting on branches of trees
when it's cloudy
and under them when
it's raining or sunny

those with brains love those
who have brains and revere those
with superior brains
same is true with those
who have lost their brains

like the followers of a
new age sage, the quantum guru
of health, wealth, demons and devils,
souls and spirits and ghouls

on their shoulders they carry
empty skulls. Excuse me, not empty.
They're full of nonsensical theories
of everything under the sun -
the most amazing one:
the mind of man lives in air
out of his brain.

~white wings
http://whitewings.sulekha.com

Jimmy_Blue

Now that you have finished searching for strawmen in the chopra article, when are you going to critically examine your own comments? Starting with your last comment in the acupuncture thread.

Skepticism is not an image.

Martin:

No matter whether you agree or disagree with Jimmy’s last comment in the acupuncture thread, it is obvious he was responding to the exact comments you made (including a straw man of your own about “selfish genes”), and so he was not making straw man arguments.

Deepak Chopra on Mind outside the Brain and mirror neurons.

"To gain credibility, the mind outside the brain must also be mirrored inside the brain. If your brain didn't register what the mind is doing, there would be no way to detect the mind. Like a TV program being broadcast in the air, a receiver picks up the signal and makes it visible. The brain is a receiver for the mind field. The field itself is invisible, but as mirrored in our brains, it comes to life as images, sensations, and an infinite array of experiences."


"So far, the phenomenon of mirror neurons hasn't been isolated to single neurons in the human brain. Due to the complexity of the laboratory work, it hasn't traveled very far into the general public. This means that mirror neurons will be held captive for the time being by the belief system of neurology, which is overwhelmingly materialistic. That is, the brain being a solid object comes first while mind, if it exists at all, comes second. Yet I would argue that most of the things we most cherish about the mind, including empathy, language, and learning, depend on mind coming first, and the mirror neuron serves its purposes."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deepak-chopra/the-mind-outside-the-brai_b_52404.html

The Mind Outside the Brain (Part 4)

Trv:

Do you believe this junk or are you just here to entertain us?


http://tinyurl.com/2p3js5
The Mind Outside the Brain (Part 4)

J_B: I don't believe that junk. But I would love here criticism from those who know the science. I liked the way you debunked the previous article by Chopra in this thread.

Trv:

I can't claim to know the science, but after reading Chopra it is obvious he doesn't either.

The first line:
To gain credibility, the mind outside the brain must also be mirrored inside the brain.

Yeahbuhwha?

Gain credibility with who, in what way? Do we now have two minds, one outside and one inside the brain that isn't the real one but looks like it? This is just pure 100% proof nonsense.

If your brain didn't register what the mind is doing, there would be no way to detect the mind.

This is an unfalsifiable claim and circular claim (well, ethically unfalsifiable anyway).

There is no way to tell that the brain registers the mind even though the mind is an outside entity because there is no way other than the death of the brain to try to determine if the two are seperate. What Chopra is saying is that 'I know the brain registers the mind because we all have a mind, therefore it's true that the brain registers the external mind, otherwise we wouldn't have a mind, so since we all have a mind, the brain must register it.'

Like a TV program being broadcast in the air, a receiver picks up the signal and makes it visible.

How is a TV program broadcast in the air? The reciever doesn't make the program visible, you need a projector of some kind as well. In fact, this analogy is terrible for his purposes. Without the hardware, it is irrelevant what is being broadcast 'in' the air.

The brain is a receiver for the mind field. The field itself is invisible, but as mirrored in our brains, it comes to life as images, sensations, and an infinite array of experiences.

How convenient for him. What he asserts exists is invisible, so he never has to prove it. Prove their is a mind field before you can claim there is one. Prove it is seperate to the brain. In fact, hopefully he'll volunteer himself as the first test subject, since he is so certain of what he writes.

A mirror neuron does exactly what I've described: it observes activity in the outside world and imitates it without any material connection to another brain.

Er, really? Because he said that the 'mind field' is interpreted by the brain as a reciever, and this has bugger all to do with mirror neurons, and even the Wikipedia article he links to mentions nothing about his mind field, the external mind or the brain as a reciever. So exactly which bit does he think does exactly what he described?

The mirror neuron is a physical part of a physical brain that fires when it sees a physical action that it recognises as similar to an action that the brain recognises having performed the action itself. It doesn't need to be linked to another brain, materially or not, and that is not its purpose. Dumbass.

Mirror Neurons

Chopra seems mostly honest when he sums up the imitation side of the science around mirror neurons (notice how all of a sudden science is his best friend because it provides him with some genuinely interesting research he can link to his gibberish, but science and skeptics are the enemies the rest of the time). When he gets on to empathy he starts to talk crap again though.

Empathy is one. How is it that we sense what another person is feeling or what they intend to do.

We don't sense it. We recognise it because the brain recognises the same actions and reactions when we feel the same way, so the same neurons fire. Just like if I kicked Chopra in the nuts after kicking you in the nuts you would know how it feels, but you wouldn't sense it.

Mirror neurons become a plausible explanation.

Possibly, the results are not clear and the experiment described leads a lot to be desired. Mirror neurons in humans have not been identified as they have in monkeys, and mirror neurons linked to emotions have not even been identified in monkeys. However, scientists noted that people who self-reported themselves as empathetic had increased brain activity in the areas of the human brain that are similar to the areas of monkey brains where mirror neurons for physical activity have been noted. Hardly convincing, but that doesn't stop Chopra from getting 23 out of 1+1.

One is reminded of simple experiments with magnets, where lining up a piece of iron with a magnet will cause their atoms to begin to align, creating the magnetic effect without the two ever touching.

The. Stupid. It. Burns.

One wonders if Chopra should have used magnets as an example if he doesn't understand the concept of magnetic fields. Dumbass.

The very fact that an action can be so precisely matched between two unrelated brains has strong implications for a theory of mind.

Or maybe it actually provides further proof of evolution from common sources that built brains using similar but gradually more complicated plans you twat.

This means that mirror neurons will be held captive for the time being by the belief system of neurology, which is overwhelmingly materialistic.

And there we go, back to science no longer being his friend. Let's see just how hypocritical Chopra can be shall we? Mirror Neurons were discovered by 3 Italians. One of whom was Professor Giacomo Rizzolatti. Professor Rizzolatti is a philosopher perhaps? Holy man? Guru? No, he is a neurophysiologist. Damn that belief system of neurology.

And since when did scientific theory and hypothesis based on observable facts become a belief system? Since Chopra decided I guess.

That is, the brain being a solid object comes first while mind, if it exists at all, comes second.

I challenge Chopra to prove this is not the case. Chopra, pinpoint the exact moment when the mind comes into existence, before the brain forms.

Yet I would argue that most of the things we most cherish about the mind, including empathy, language, and learning, depend on mind coming first, and the mirror neuron serves its purposes.

You need the physical mirror neurons first you idiot. Remember how you said the mind comes first? Well, what does it do before the brain containing the mirror neurons comes along? Please show your working. Please prove that all the things you list need the mind to come before the physical brain. Again, show all working.

I mean come one, they really take this shit seriously?


Jimmy_Blue

That was smooth. With your permission I will repost your comment at

Chopra's website

. I hope it helps his gullible followers wade through the nonsensical goobledygook and bring some sense to him.

Thank you.

Trv, knock yourself out. I might drop the insults and swearing since that removes the chance of it being removed from his site for those nasty words and mean insults (I'd take a bet now for instance that if Chopra replied to it he would focus almost exclusively on ad hominems, insults and mean nasty soulless skeptics who can do nothing but call him names), and I might suggest waiting to see if anyone else from here has anything more to say, a team effort in debunking Chopra's nonsense if you like.

Otherwise consider my permission granted to post it changed or unchanged!

The whole rant against materialism demonstrates Chopra's idiocy when it comes to science. Science is about learning how things work. We have no evidence that the brain is anything beyond electrochemical reactions, therefore we won't presume otherwise until we see evidence.

The only people who have a need to talk about material/natural versus immaterial/supernatural are those who require pointless semantics games. The scientific view is that if anything has an effect, it's 'material'. If it doesn't have an effect, it doesn't really matter whether or not it exists.


Jimmy_Blue

Thank you, I did post your comment uncahnged at chopra run website, while at Huffingtonpost I edited them to conform to their comments policy.

In his latest post in the series he sights more evidence for the plausibility of his mind field.

"With the discovery of mirror neurons, another piece of the puzzle was added, the puzzle being how we learn and understand others. Learning occurs in the animal world largely by imitation, it is thought. Recently whale researchers were startled

when a group of humpback whales learned a new song form other whales that had intruded into their territory. "

"The same mysterious mix of free will and determinism holds elsewhere. It has been observed that when new mothers are away form home, their milk flow will start when the baby at home cries because it is hungry. Shared rhythms exist everywhere in nature. College women living together in dorms are known to have their menstrual cycles begin to synchronize. Whenever there is synchronicity without contact between the two events, only mind outside the brain offers an adequate explanation. The phenomenon of identical twins being in communication is one example. One twin will sense the exact moment when the other is injured or dies, often feeling a mirror image of the trauma in their own bodies. (I personally witnessed one such example: a twin had an abdominal attack in my presence at the moment when the other twin was mugged and stabbed in the stomach in a distant city.)"

The Mind Outside the Brain (Part 5)

http://tinyurl.com/23gesb

http://tinyurl.com/ypmxj7

Really, Chopra is an idiot. He might use big words, but he is an idiot.

As for mothers and babies and milk, I suppose it escaped him that since babies feed on a regular basis that when the baby is ready for food (it starts crying) the mother is ready to provide it, regardless of whether they are standing in the same room or on opposite sides of the solar system. More importantly, what exactly does breast milk have to do with free will?

And as my wife just commented to me, when she was breast feeding if we were out and about and a baby cried, not just one of our kids, then she would get what is known as the let down reflex, where milk starts to flow. How does mind outside brain explain that?

If he is shocked, excited, startled or overawed by this, then yes, he is an idiot.

Whenever there is synchronicity without contact between the two events, only mind outside the brain offers an adequate explanation.

Ah, the old false dilemma. Rhetorical trick, logical fallacy. 'There can't possibly be any other explanation except for the one I give.'

And an anecdote that no-one can prove. Keep it up Chopra, although my work is done. When you write crap like that it debunks itself.

Had an ufologist stop by my place doing the same thing: If we can't identify a dot in the sky it MUST be an alien spacecraft.

God in the gaps, aliens in the gaps, and soul in the gaps. Same defeatist attitude behind all of them: If we don't know at this very arbitrary moment, we must conclude with something that can't be examined or verified, rather than accept not knowing and working to find out.


Jimmy_Blue and Bronze Dog, thank you, I posted your comments at Chopra's site.

His latest evidence for mind outside body(part 6) is the Rupert Sheldrake's Telepathic parrot Study.

http://tinyurl.com/244lbx
http://tinyurl.com/2hrtvw

Unfortunately for him, SkepDic carries a detailed article on Sheldrake's finding:

N'kisi & the N'kisi Project

http://skepdic.com/nkisi.html


Jimmy_Blue

It seems that Chopra was pissed off reading your responses in this thread, that were posted unchanged at his website in part 4, 5 of his mind-outside-body/brain posts:

"The Woo Woo Factor"
Deepak Chopra - June 25, 2007

http://tinyurl.com/2z2bav


Trv:

I don't think Chopra is referring to me specifically but I don't mind being one of the many that ridicule him, the guy is almost so unintentionally funny that I have to wonder if he is really for real or not.

There's a raffish lack of respectability to blogs, however, that drive away good people and good minds.

Is just another way for him to say 'People don't take me as seriously as I think they should.'

The invective rises higher and higher the more you prick the rigid mind-set that most skeptics cling to.

That's funny because you could say exactly the same thing but swap 'skeptic' for 'woos' and the sentence would make even more sense. I have never been the target of as many insults and ad-hominems as when I question religion, astrology, the secret and all the other ridiculous beliefs these people cling to.

Sometimes they are about fairly radical ideas, like the mind outside the brain.

Now you see 'radical' was Einstein's theory of relativity or Darwin's theory of evolution. I think the word Chopra was looking for was ridiculous.

I am happy to be associated with "woo woo" because I haven't the slightest doubt that reality is much more ambiguous than materialists believe.

Wouldn't you say that is a little, well, absolute, for someone who doesn't believe things are, absolute. No scientist or skeptic would or should ever consider that something they think does not have the slightest doubt attached.

Science is the religion of our time, and deviation from its dogma, even in the name of science, brings too much stress to true believers.

Boring, this is a woos favourite accusation. Please show how science is dogmatic. Science is the very opposite of dogmatic, every conclusion or theory is open to question and open to revision upon the production of new and reliable evidence. Just because you cannot provide that evidence, and just because your ideas are ridiculed does not mean science is dogmatic.

Leave aside the fact that skeptics are self-appointed vigilantes for the suppression of curiosity (a delightful coinage from the English writer Lyall Watson).

This is quite simply laughable. Every skeptic I know is driven by curiosity. Most of them are scientists, which is a field whose existence depends on curiosity. Without curiosity there would be no science. On the other hand just recently I was told by a woo online that something was too hard to know so we shouldn't bother. Now who wants to suppress curiosity?

None of these are supernatural speculations

Maybe not, but they are silly.

In these posts I don't look for anyone to be for or against the opinions I offer. I'm looking for companions in a hidden journey.

That must be why he ignores all criticisms of his argument and posts what amounts to :

'Skeptics are so rude, why don't they take my seriously. And science is dogmatic. (Except of course when I use it to support my silly arguments).'

The best thing that can happen to anyone, skeptic or not, is to learn science properly, then look beyond its basic assumptions, making room in your mind for the unknown.

What is science if it is not making room in your mind for the unknown and then trying to make it known? The difference between science and woo is of course that woo wants you to stop with the unknown, let it remain unknowable (because then it is so much more mysterious and wonderous and exciting) and stand in awe, before eventually worshipping it.

For some this was a mild inoculation, for others the beginning of a lifelong habit of investigation.

At least he got that right, scientists dedicate their lives to investigation of the unknown. For them science unlocks all frontiers and demolishes all barriers to knowledge so that they may understand the biological, the chemical, the physical and, in the end, the universe. Damn those dogmatic scientists. I certainly wouldn't want to have anything to do with that.

But science has given us diabolical means of destruction and mechanized death. It has foisted an arid skepticism in matters of spirituality and all experiences outside the materialistic worldview.

Oh, so it must be bad then. Now of course religion gave us the Crusades, the Inquisition, Jihad, suicide bombings, genital mutilation, sexual oppression and the suppression of learning. Woo gives us people who give up medical treatments known to work for woo that doesn't and they die. Woo has given us people who make decisions on an international level based on what someone using an indeterminable set of rules says the stars tell them to do. It has foisted an uncritical mindset and the unquestioning obedience to fuedal laws in matters of spirituality, reality and life.

To presume that conventional science is a benign, objective, morally neutral force in the world is hopelessly naive.

Science is, the people who use it aren't always. If you can't tell the difference there is very little point in carrying on the discussion. To presume that woo is harmless, useful, benign and effective on the other hand is in fact hopelessly naive. To believe that Chopra is in fact a highly intelligent person with deep and meaningful insight is likewise, hopelessly naive.

I would much rather talk to ten people who believe that they have heard from their dead Aunt Minnie than a hundred who shout in my ear that only idiots believe in the afterlife.

That explains a lot.

But even among the well-mannered there is an enormous tendency to conform.

Oh you're right. Hitchens, Dawkins, Sagan, Einstein, Randi, Douglas Adams, Gould, Hawking. Such conformists. Never had an original idea. Oh but wait, hang on just one second. Since the majority of people in the world are open to woo of some form or other then being a skeptic would actually make you a, wait for it, non-conformist. Wouldn't it? Genius. Try actually for once doing some research that doesn't involve Wikipedia and finding some statistics on what the population is willing to believe, and how many of them take a skeptical position. Then tell me skeptics are the conformists.

However, what is intellectually respectable changes from age to age.

Ah the old 'science has been wrong before ploy.' Of course, I would think that this is what woos have most to fear, since history prior to now is filled with superstition, illogic and the 'woo'.

Now, note that I predicted that Chopra would not deal with any of the criticisms directed at his theory and would simply concentrate on the fact that he was called names. I rest my case. Maybe I'm psychic.

Skeptico, I apologise for the lengthy off topic post but I was not sure if this post would get through moderation over on intentblogs since I only just registered there.

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