Atheism and the day of prayer

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Quote Kerry:

You need to take my concept in its totality, Poor Richard. The first aspect of this is: Do you believe in the truth... If you don't believe that--or don't believe that 'we' can ever know that--then, as I've said, the only basis for which 'rational thought' can attain is more 'political' than it is 'truthful'. Then, like reed9, holding up 'authorities as the proof' is the order of the day....

Maybe you should define what you mean by "believe in the truth", because I really have no idea what you're trying to say in this post. And perhaps you can explain what criteria you use to determine the probability that a proposition or hypothesis is true.

I am not holding up authorities as proof. I am holding up established scientific facts as the best approximation of truth that we have. I am saying it is unreasonable, irrational if you will, to cling to poorly supported fringe hypotheses over well supported established theories. And I am especially saying that public policy ought to adhere to the best available science, regardless of our personal preferences or beliefs. Where the science is murky, such as with genetically modified crops, there is room for reasonable debate over how cautious public policy should be.

It's really not complicated. When the vast majority of experts in a field reach a consensus, then we ought to proceed as if that is most likely true. If new evidence changes that consensus, then we also ought to change our mind. Radical new hypotheses which overturn established theory have a correspondingly higher burden of proof - we should not lightly abandon everything we think we know.

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reed9
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Apr. 8, 2010 11:26 am

Not only do we not know the purpose we do not fully know the biology.--Poor Richard

Do you think if we 'understood the full biology', we would 'understand' why 'life creates life' and why 'previous life forms set the stage for further life development'? Do you think that 'describing every particular' explains 'all meaning in general'? Do you think 'consciousness' is just 'the interaction of neurotransmitters in a neural network'? The idea of an 'integrity binder' can supersede 'facts' in the matter--and I still see a need for 'the search for truth' to be continued....

At some future point where we fully understood the biological mechanisms and rules followed, HOW it all works, the WHY might not seem as necessary--Poor Richard

I disagree. Read above....

Plus, recall that I see a need for an 'integrity binder' if one believes in the truth. I also believe that we can know the truth. I also believe if every one of us cannot know the truth, then, there is no truth. I don't believe catering to 'authority' without understanding how they have come to 'know' this means anything 'rational'...

You lost me there. I don't know of any evidence that consciousness constitutes any kind of a fourth dimension. It sounds like woo.--Poor Richard

Do you think that 'consciousness' is contained in the 'three dimensional space' around us? That's why 'the truth' may be as much 'in here' as it is 'out there'....(as verse 22 in the Gospel of Thomas 'where the inside is like the outside and the outside is like the inside'...).

No. Not likely, especially if I stand that idea up next to the mainstream science theory that consciousness is an activity produced in the brain by the brain's intrinsic neural and perhaps other as-yet-to-be-determined extra-neural (but 100% natural) mechanisms. When I compare a well-supported (with empirical data) theory with a far-fetched theory, the more far-fetched one looses.--Poor Richard

The 'experts' I've read that posture the concept that 'consciousness' is only the 'interaction of neurotransmitters in a neural network' (such as Daniel Dennett in his 1991 book, Consciousness Explained) conclude that there really is no such thing as 'consciousness' on its own...which puts 'consciousness' in 'three dimensions'. However, there is evidence that that's just not the case--where is the 'three dimensional place' for 'imagination'? And, yes, as part and parcel to my belief in the truth contained in my 'integrity binder' is that such truth also has a subjective element. Another reason why I need an 'integrity binder' is that I cannot ascertain that subjective perspective of 'the truth' from other people--and I have a hard enough time doing so for myself. But, that does not stop me from believing in the truth that contains....it probably would if I didn't have a 'cognitive holding cell' as 'the integrity binder' to work with....

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Kerry
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

PR, I appreciate your careful reading of my post and response. The problem of current confused usage of language is precisely why I need to differentiate and clarify the terms, and obviously it is hard to avoid having common usage intrude.

I think the big fight between science and religion belongs to the Newtonian Age and a cultural history of secularism which has passed. That does not mean there are not still battles in public, particularly in the South where evolution continues to mean who gets to tell "our" children what story about their humanity. The story of Social Darwinism did not work out well for the kids born to coal miners. They wanted a story where their children were loved by God. It is important to get down to what these irrational battles are really about. It is a lot more than religion.

I am a big fan of science and keep finding points of contact rather than conflict with many religious metaphors and teachings. Rationalist assumptions about clarity and order in the universe have yielded to a more complex and interactive appreciation of the process. Predictability is not nearly as possible as earlier explorers thought it was and would be. The idea of gaining control and mastery over the laws of nature has yielded to getting a clue about how it really works so we can work with it as much as possible.

As a campus chaplain, I often had the religious studies prof debate the science guy. The religious study prof would spend time proving how reasonable and proof based his thinking was, then the science guy would wax romantic about the beauty and wonder of the universe. It was hard not to roll on the floor with hilarity, but there you are.

I have gotten over trying to measure whether religion does more harm than good because there is no way to get rid of it. My hope is to expose the retrograde processes of regression and repression and open up the pluralism and interaction of a healthy understanding of maturity. Being an old fart is not being a wise elder. I think it is an identity where one's self is identified with the full range of one's developmental selves and with others, making diversity both personal and external in a mode of compassion and humor. Or just the ability to love. Simple terms for the most complex mystery of all.

My hope is to engage people such as yourself, PR, in a more nuanced appreciation for why our thinking comes in an existential frame and uses narratives to organize experience and reflection upon it. We belong to narratives of family and "tribe." We do not create our own blank slate. Our thinking is deeply involved in our living, and when we learn to step apart and try to be "objective," we are doing something not quite "natural." That is why it is useful as an exercise to gain perspective. It is not how we think and act.

The epistemological issues raised by the Age of Reason lead me to a new appreciation of the mind/body system and the biochemical processes involved in cognition and awareness. More credibility is due to the information processed outside the Cartesian formula of "thinking." If you substitute "process information," we get a more expansive idea of "therefor I am." How imagination leads us to reality is an interesting question to pursue because it challenges the logic box and how we think we think.

The Mystery of Reality is not supernatural, but it is bigger than our knowledge of it. The discovery of an expanding universe blew apart the idea that the process was about filling in the gaps of knowledge. There is no "god of the gaps" thinking in my approach. Another false attempt to make religion credible.

Theology is about being human even though it is terminology based in theism. My point is that every construct of "reality" or "power" engages theology as it posits who and what we human beings are. When we propose a mechanical universe without "personality" or "intelligence," the implications for human nature are that we reflect that canvas more than engage it. I have no use for "intelligent design," but the idea that the cosmos has an "intelligence" and desire to be whole has credibility. Life is not just random, it has organic integrity.

My concern about secularism is not opposition to going without religion. I have the warmest affection for the victims of bad religion and see no need to bring them back to any fold, even a really good mature congregation. Being burned by bad religion leaves scars, and having been around some of the worst abuse, but with expert advisors, I know how rotten it can get.

Religious backed homophobia is a personal enemy. I have battled against this nonsense for decades, at the cost of professional advancement, and continue to be amazed that neither good scholarship nor common sense can get us past it. Generational change will rescue the church from this heresy. It will not get the message from its own Word of God. Pathology plus.

I would ask for a bit more respect for the real people behind my concerns about secular fundamentalism and other reactive dogmas and reductionism. I hung out with academics for many decades and continue to find science guys who reject the supernatural, superstitious etc., but do not get past objectivism in their own way. In fact, much of my campus work was in discussion of academic methodology and the moral implications of knowledge. This is why I have my ideas about limiting the subject to "objectivity." It is also why when they venture into moral arguments, they can make mistakes due to not knowing the discipline.

A lot of population control scientists see a danger and want a policy to enforce it. They have so much to learn about getting from A to Z here.

Others just get pissy about people who are not scientific objectivists.

My job was to deal with the human beings who were scientists, etc. Finding them struggling with a culture of arrested development and their own career disappointments did not make me think less of their intellectual work, but it did show me that they needed a lot more than the groves of academe were providing. There was nothing more satisfying than helping a tired prof find a new challenge in teaching kids who had goofed off in high school and found out later that they needed that degree. Sure, it was not the grad seminar at the Ivy League, but these were also students with some life experience. Show them what turned you on in geography, and they might find the required social science credit a lot more fun than they expected.

Same with math. Or writing. And getting a bunch of senior Stanford faculty to study peace together for a year and then teach it was a gas. They really got excited about learning something new.

Again, let me thank you for taking the time to read my posts. If I am trying to get religion to be taken more seriously it is about its reality, not because I want you to be more religious. I would like to amp down the religion and get it back in its place. Lot of people practicing without a license in addition to those who have a license but still drive drunk. Religion is a dangerous thing, and if it could be abolished, I would be fine with that. But it cannot, so it makes more sense to understand it, deal with it and diagnose the pathologies.

Surprise, what we find applies to more than what gets branded as religion. That is why faith, intellectual and moral integrity, is a human thing that we all have to live up to or not. The problem with the "not" is how we rationalize and cover our human ass instead of being honest about who we are. That happens outside the church a lot as well as in it.

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DRC
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Sorry, Kerry. Reed9 is right, you are willfullly and stubbornly wrong in your argument about God as the "integrity binder. Only in your head, dude. Point to Reed9.--Poor Richard

That is, of course, your belief. You mentioned in your reply to DRC of an entity called a 'rationalist in good faith'. What is the element of 'good faith' upon which you are judging such a 'rationalist'--and how do you get to the point of assuring yourself that such a rationalist is using a rationale in 'good faith'?

If you will attempt to follow that concept at all, I believe you will run into some 'circular reasoning' difficulty unless you can come up with a set-up in which you, yourself, can 'prove' every rationale and every rational issue. I don't think that is possible.

And, there is another point to this 'belief in the integrity binder' that I'm getting at. As you may know, the American founding fathers knew implicitly that a 'democracy' won't work if the actions within it aren't based on 'virtue'. 'Virtue', in this respect, I think can mean basically that 'they believe in what they say and what they do'. 'Virtue' does not mean, for instance, condemning one person (let's say, Bill Clinton) for doing acts (with Monica Lewinsky) that one might condone in oneself (like Newt Gingrich). 'Virtue' does not mean saying one thing and, then, doing another (that's a hypocrite). If the 'rational component' has no 'belief in the truth', then, as I have said, the only end-point left in society is political--one being 'appealing the authority' without understanding how that 'authority' knows....

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Kerry
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Maybe you should define what you mean by "believe in the truth"...--reed9

I believe in the truth. I believe that there is such a thing as the truth. I believe that the lack of the search for the truth leads to falsehoods that have political consequences (read about the American founding fathers and the requirement of 'virtue' to truly have a 'democracy'..). I believe that falsehoods can be misleading--both those implemented by 'programs' in 'society' as well as 'acting on' by any one particular individual. I believe 'programmed falsehoods' are more devastating than 'personal misleadings' because of the extent of its application. I believe that a belief in an 'integrity binder' is all that we can go by to correct that. That's about as close as I can come to a 'definition' for you. Can you 'rationally' usurp it? Perhaps--but, not without political consequences that, indeed, may not be true....

.....because I really have no idea what you're trying to say in this post. And perhaps you can explain what criteria you use to determine the probability that a proposition or hypothesis is true.--reed9

You really have 'no idea'? Then, do you, as Poor Richard alludes to, have a concept in mind on what it means to be a 'rationalist in good faith'? Or, to you, are the only 'good faith rationalists' the ones you claim as 'authorities'?

I am not holding up authorities as proof.--reed9

Yeah, but you're still holding them up, aren't you? At least, you're trying to hold them up over my head...

I am holding up established scientific facts as the best approximation of truth that we have.--reed9

There you go, again, claiming all these 'facts' to be 'established'--but, as I think that I've indicated to you, those 'facts' AREN'T THAT 'ESTABLISHED'. Some of them, such as the HIV/AIDS 'theory', didn't even get the Carl Sagan 'Baloney Detector Kit' assessment before being implemented as 'the program'...yet, you still claim them as 'facts', don't you? Using 'authorities' to do so....

I am saying it is unreasonable, irrational if you will, to cling to poorly supported fringe hypotheses over well supported established theories.--reed9

And, you are using lots of words that you aren't 'defining' in doing so--what is a 'well supported established theory'? And, rationally contrast it to a 'poorly supported fringe hypothesis'--and especially do so without resorting to 'authorities' that you don't personally understand how they 'know'....see the problem yet?

And I am especially saying that public policy ought to adhere to the best available science, regardless of our personal preferences or beliefs.-reed9

And, if there is no such thing as 'the truth', then that 'public policy' can have just as much a 'political perspective' as it can a 'truthful one'....especially if you don't know how the 'authorities' you claim to use know....

Where the science is murky, such as with genetically modified crops, there is room for reasonable debate over how cautious public policyshould be.--reed9

That's not what happened in the 'HIV/AIDS theory' case when HIV was passed off as 'causing AIDS in 100% of the patients' and, therefore, 'causing death in 100% of the patients' without one bit of 'objective evidence'--but, that doesn't stop you from stating that it's an 'established fact', either....using 'authorities' to do so....

It's really not complicated.--reed9

Uh, yes it is. I try to 'simplify' it with my cognitive use of the concept of an 'integrity binder'....

When the vast majority of experts in a field reach a consensus, then we ought to proceed as if that is most likely true--reed9

I do believe there are good scientists that don't believe that 'science' is a 'rule of the majority'--but, that may be what scientists that are left that actually believe in the truth.....and, by the way, those scientists might could also come up with the position that if there is an area in which the 'science' isn't well established (by etiological as well as statistical confirmation), it may be better NOT to 'start a program' over it...

If new evidence changes that consensus, then we also ought to change our mind.--reed9

There you go again making statements without explaining what you mean. How is 'new evidence' going to 'change the consensus' if a 'majority of the scientists' agree with the consensus? The problem I see you having is the concept of 'data' (as being 'objective facts' that everyone can see for themselves) and 'interpretation of the data' (which is NOT a 'fact' in any 'objective' sense). And, it's in the 'interpretation of the data' that I see where we have a contention to bear here....how is the 'interpretation of the data' proven to be true, reed9? And, let's do it 'rationally'....step by step....without resorting to 'authorities' that we, ourselves, don't know how they know...

Radical new hypotheses which overturn established theory have a correspondingly higher burden of proof - we should not lightly abandon everything we think we know.--reed9

You mean how a 'new virus' kills 100% of its possessors even with its own antibody around? You mean how two airplane impacts can cause three buildings to completely implode like they never have before? Those 'radical new hypotheses'? No, you don't mean that, do you.....yet, because 'authorities' told us so, we 'believe' them, don't we? You do. I don't...and, by the way, I have as much 'rational' reason NOT to believe them as you have reason to believe them...and I am basing that on what I already know...

As I've said in other areas, 'science' has a hard time explaining 'unique occurrences'.....that's why there are rational 'deniers' of such 'unique occurrences'...

But, in the political milieu this has become, it is really hard to find 'the truth' in such 'explanations of unique occurrences'--especially 'rationally' and 'scientifically'....

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Kerry
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Quote DRC:

I think the big fight between science and religion belongs to the Newtonian Age and a cultural history of secularism which has passed. That does not mean there are not still battles in public, particularly in the South where evolution continues to mean who gets to tell "our" children what story about their humanity.

Ah, but the battle is alive and well today. When politicians like Bradley Byrne are attacked by their opponents for not believing in the literal truth of the bible, and the response is, "I believe the Bible is true. Every word of it." Your position is sadly in the minority.

Quote DRC:I have gotten over trying to measure whether religion does more harm than good because there is no way to get rid of it. My hope is to expose the retrograde processes of regression and repression and open up the pluralism and interaction of a healthy understanding of maturity. Being an old fart is not being a wise elder. I think it is an identity where one's self is identified with the full range of one's developmental selves and with others, making diversity both personal and external in a mode of compassion and humor. Or just the ability to love. Simple terms for the most complex mystery of all.

Trying to get rid of religion would be the wrong way to go about things. There is a strong anti-science current in the United States. The goal, I think, should be to instill an appreciation for both the utility of science, as well as its beauty and wonder. I'm less concerned with whether the end product is a less religious society, though I suspect it would be, and more concerned with impressing upon people the aesthetics of science, first, because truth and knowledge are beautiful, and the necessity of science literacy in evaluating information and making informed choices, whether in our personal lives or in politics. For example, if you are a parent wondering whether to vaccinate your kid, you must have a basic understanding of what the science says, and what the actual risks and benefits are, to make an informed decision.

Quote DRC:When we propose a mechanical universe without "personality" or "intelligence," the implications for human nature are that we reflect that canvas more than engage it. I have no use for "intelligent design," but the idea that the cosmos has an "intelligence" and desire to be whole has credibility. Life is not just random, it has organic integrity.

This is where we start to really deviate. It may be that the universe is impersonal and cold. As Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg said in Dreams of a Final Theory, "At the other end of the spectrum are the opponents of reductionism who are appalled by what they feel to be the bleakness of modern science. To whatever extent they and their world can be reduced to a matter of particles or fields and their interactions, they feel diminished by that knowledge....I would try not to answer these critics with a pep talk about the beauties of modern science. The reductionist worldview is chilling and impersonal. It has to be accepted as it is, not because we like it, but because that is the way the world works."

I obviously disagree about the pep talk part. I think the universe as a whole is impersonal, yes, but it doesn't make it any less beautiful to me. Nor do I think it matters that the universe is cold and indifferent to us, for we are not cold and indifferent to it. Humans both find and create patterns. We are perfectly capable of supplying our own meaning and narratives without wishing for an external source. Life is just random and that's ok, because we can spin meaning out of randomness and beauty from the void. But it is a mistake to forget that our stories are not universal truths but personal treasures.

Quote DRC:Others just get pissy about people who are not scientific objectivists.

I think where we, or at least I, get pissy is that we don't understand starting from the answer and working back to the solution. We want to start from the null hypothesis, assume there is no phenomenon to be explained, and let the evidence guide us to conclusions. We want to start as a blank slate, open to whatever the universe has to tell us about how things actually are. Removing the human element is about checking our personal wishes at the door. We must maintain a level of detachment in our explorations in order to stay honest about the results.

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reed9
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Apr. 8, 2010 11:26 am
Quote Kerry:

There you go, again, claiming all these 'facts' to be 'established'--but, as I think that I've indicated to you, those 'facts' AREN'T THAT 'ESTABLISHED'. Some of them, such as the HIV/AIDS 'theory', didn't even get the Carl Sagan 'Baloney Detector Kit' assessment before being implemented as 'the program'...yet, you still claim them as 'facts', don't you? Using 'authorities' to do so....

How many times do I have to repeat that I am not going to debate AIDS with you anymore? If someone else wants to take the mantle up, fine, but the evidence for HIV, if you actually bothered to research it, is solid.

Characteristics of a good scientific theory are

1. It must be testable and falsifiable. Following that, you can never prove something completely true, but you can prove something false.

2. It must be repeatable. Independent researchers should be able to replicate results.

3. It must be stable. The theory doesn't change after repeated testing.

4. It should be simple. Ockham's Razor. If multiple hypotheses explain the facts, prefer the simpler one.

5. It is not based on authority. Relativity is not true because Einstein said it was. It's true because of the evidence.

6. Convergent lines of evidence support the theory. Evolution is supported by geology, genetics, and fossils, all arriving at the same conclusions.

7. It can make testable predictions. If this is true, then that also should be true.

Theories which fulfill most or all of these tenets, have explanatory power, have been verified by multiple good studies, and have not been proven false are established fact.

[/quote]

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reed9
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Apr. 8, 2010 11:26 am

We must maintain a level of detachment in our explorations in order to stay honest about the results.--reed9

We can certainly do that as long as we are just 'thinking about it', but what happens when we start 'applying it'. Can we really be so 'impersonal' once we start applying it?

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Kerry
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

The physicist may see an impersonal but fascinating universe, but that fascination is what makes it interesting to know about it, and its implications for who we are. The Psalmist begins with "who is man that Thou art mindful of him?" It did not take telescopes to see that the sky was filled with lots of stuff above the earth. The idea that we were tiny pips in time and space has always been there.

The idea that we matter to the cosmos, is I believe, a projection of our need as human beings and not an actual description of the cosmos. But the idea that our nature is congruent with nature and not at odds with it is the big point. Being "at home" being human here on earth even if we have a metaphysical frame of "eternal life" and a way to deal with unfairness without being driven to cynicism or selfishness is essential to being able to live together in peace and harmony.

Thinking and applying our sense of humanity is called "praxis." It is a good idea for theory and practice to come together. It is how we find out what works and what does not. And of course it is not impersonal either in thinking or application. The idea that thinking ought to be separated from our humanity or "soul" is not how real objectivity is realized. We are talking about honesty and integrity because it is the best we can do.

The reason to be honest and open with others is that "truth" matters. We are talking about honesty, not how real we really are. That comes later as being honest together means listening to what others have to say about what matters and reflecting on one's own thinking. It also means owning up to what really is going on in relationships, personal and structural. Because we are not very good at learning from our and others' mistakes, we need to make an extra effort in reviewing our own ideas and acts. I find that not defending my own errors and sins is a real step forward. It is hard enough to let go of some favorite myths, much less to discern reality face to face.

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DRC
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Quote Kerry:

We must maintain a level of detachment in our explorations in order to stay honest about the results.--reed9

We can certainly do that as long as we are just 'thinking about it', but what happens when we start 'applying it'. Can we really be so 'impersonal' once we start applying it?

Nope. Why do you think it's unethical for a doctor to treat his or her own family? They cannot maintain the necessary level of detachment to give good care.

This is also why our "intuitions" about reality are not as reliable as objective studies.

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reed9
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Apr. 8, 2010 11:26 am

If someone else wants to take the mantle up, fine, but the evidence for HIV, if you actually bothered to research it, is solid.--reed9

I think it's really so neat that the orthodox 'AIDS believers' try their best that they can to disprove the 'radical heretic' Peter Duesberg on ad hominem attacks alone, and, then, try to correlate their 'theory' to Duesberg's points.....makes you really wonder who's telling the truth here.....(and, by the way, I use the 'religious metaphors' here intentionally..).

Robert Gallo, one of the co-discovers of the HIV/AIDS theory, said there was no need to use such 'archaic measures' as Koch's postulates to 'prove the infectious agent causes the condition'. Now, here comes someone doing exactly that--using Koch's postulates to try to prove the infectious agent causes the illness.

A few little logical pitfalls in that paper, reed9, as Duesberg has already pointed out. The definition of AIDS requires the presence of the 'HIV antibody'--which presumes the conclusion and makes it impossible to 'prove' that HIV doesn't cause AIDS. As Duesberg tries to explain since most of AIDS in Africa does NOT involve the infections that define it in the developed world, a tuberculosis case that doesn't have HIV antibody present is just a tuberculosis case. A tuberculosis case that does have HIV antibody present is called AIDS.

There are other problems. Since the CD4 count of less than 200 has been used as another 'diagnosis for AIDS', there have been studies questioning whether that 'count' actually says anything with respect to 'immune deficiency'. And, as I've mentioned before, the laboratory method that 'counts' the number of HIV viruses present uses Kary Mullis' PCR--and Kary Mullis even wonders how his test can be used to do that since that test requires copying sequences of DNA to even work (that's how it can pick up minute amounts of DNA). Here's one source discussing some of this:

http://rethinkingaids.com/Content/PressReleases/NewAIDSStudyisFlawedandB...

And, I'm not sure how far off we can get from 'scientific proof' when, as Duesberg has indicated all along, the thesis that 'HIV is the probable cause of AIDS' was implemented as 'the program' before there was one test done or published to prove that premise....

By the way, would one case of an HIV-antibody positive status that never gets AIDS even without treatment 'disprove' this case for the AIDS orthodoxy? If the premise is that 'HIV causes AIDS 100% of the time and AIDS kills 100% of the time--quicker without treatment', it would....

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Kerry
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Nope. Why do you think it's unethical for a doctor to treat his or her own family? They cannot maintain the necessary level of detachment to give good care.

This is also why our "intuitions" about reality are not as reliable as objective studies.--reed9

I think your author is mistaking 'conditioned response' as 'detachment'. If these doctors were 'so detached', then they wouldn't be imposing their 'programs' on others. If they are imposing those programs as if absolutely 'detached', then, I would see no difference in that form of 'detachment' and the 'detachment' used by the Nazi physicians against their 'subjects'....

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Kerry
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote Kerry:

I think your author is mistaking 'conditioned response' as 'detachment'. If these doctors were 'so detached', then they wouldn't be imposing their 'programs' on others. If they are imposing those programs as if absolutely 'detached', then, I would see no difference in that form of 'detachment' and the 'detachment' used by the Nazi physicians against their 'subjects'....

Really? Going with the Nazi analogy? That's one of the most ridiculous and vile things I've heard in a long time. Dr. Novella clearly discusses the need for sympathy and understanding as separate from emotional involvement. Maintaining professional distance, using best practices and science based treatments is hardly akin to human experimentation in Nazi Germany. Way to bring the conversation to a new low.

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reed9
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Apr. 8, 2010 11:26 am

That's one of the most ridiculous and vile things I've heard in a long time--reed9

Interesting how 'vile' you think my problem of being 'too detached' is....

Dr. Novella clearly discusses the need for sympathy and understanding as separate from emotional involvement.--reed9

Does Dr. Novella, as just another 'expert' you like to cite, tell you how to 'separate' the 'need for sympathy and understanding' from its 'emotional involvement'?

Maintaining professional distance, using best practices and science based treatments is hardly akin to human experimentation in Nazi Germany.--reed9

Depends upon how 'detached' you are--and Dr. Novella isn't really being that honest when 'professional status' is part of any 'personal interest' of a professional. Is Dr. Novella 'detached' from that? I doubt it.

Way to bring the conversation to a new low--reed9

I'm just following your lead, buddy, because I already know where it goes--just like your 'rationalism' with no belief in 'the truth'--no where....

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Kerry
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Reed9 I guess you are not reponding to my post of a little over a day ago, so I am not sure what energy to put in here. I will throw out one thing which i think has relevance. A proffessor asked his students whether they thought religion was the major cause of war. The response was an overwhelming show of hans. When the proffessor asked them to name some of these wars, the answer was first the crusades. When asked for something more current, they failed to have any responses. A recent study by John Fox showed that about 4 percent of recent war could be directly attributed to religion. Religion may be used as a tool for war, but rarely is an initiating factor

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mattnapa
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote mattnapa:

Reed9 I guess you are not reponding to my post of a little over a day ago, so I am not sure what energy to put in here.

Which post?

Quote mattnapa:I will throw out one thing which i think has relevance. A proffessor asked his students whether they thought religion was the major cause of war. The response was an overwhelming show of hans. When the proffessor asked them to name some of these wars, the answer was first the crusades. When asked for something more current, they failed to have any responses. A recent study by John Fox showed that about 4 percent of recent war could be directly attributed to religion. Religion may be used as a tool for war, but rarely is an initiating factor

Initiating factor, perhaps not. But certainly a factor, nonetheless.

Beyond outright war or genocide, there is of course a tremendous amount of religiously motivated violence.

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reed9
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Apr. 8, 2010 11:26 am

Initiating factor, perhaps not. But certainly a factor, nonetheless.

Well I am not sure of all the rhetoric that has been said here, but my recollection tells me you have described it as a main cause.

Beyond outright war or genocide, there is of course a tremendous amount of religiously motivated violence.

I will try to check your link,. But any violence caused by religion should be juxtaposed with how much has been prevented by it.

The post I mentioned was number 96

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mattnapa
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Quote "kerry":As for your "integrity binder" or 'cognizant holding cell' demanding a God or guiding disembodied intelligence or some such grand, nebulous and spooky filler material seems like wildly exotic overkill for such a simple purpose.--Poor Richard


You need to take my concept in its totality, Poor Richard. The first aspect of this is: Do you believe in the truth? That's an important precept to my position. If you don't believe in the truth and believe that you have 'rationally' concluded that, then, of course, you have no need for an 'integrity binder'. If you do believe in the truth and feel that is 'rationally' difficult to confirm in what 'objective' assessments you can obtain, then I see that you do need an 'integrity binder' to carry on that concept against the odds of 'rational confusion'...

Kerry, I don't need to take your concept in totality, I need to stop debating with you. "You can't reason people out of something they wern't reasoned into." (Johnathan Swift)

Bye, bye, Kerry.

Poor Richard

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Poor Richard
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Quote DRC:

PR, I appreciate your careful reading of my post and response. The problem of current confused usage of language is precisely why I need to differentiate and clarify the terms, and obviously it is hard to avoid having common usage intrude.

DRC, in your immediate work/life context you may well have to engage with people that cannot abide replacing faith with reason, so trying to imbue faith with reason may be your only choice. This forum may not be a venue where that works as well.

Quote DRC:I have gotten over trying to measure whether religion does more harm than good because there is no way to get rid of it.

I don't want to take anyone's religion away. I see a need for more secular, science-based versions of ethics, morality, family, community, social justice, and the art of being human. so that caring, compassionate, responsible people have an alternative social/psychological framework to religion if they want it.

Quote DRC:My hope is to engage people such as yourself, PR, in a more nuanced appreciation for why our thinking comes in an existential frame and uses narratives to organize experience and reflection upon it. We belong to narratives of family and "tribe." We do not create our own blank slate. Our thinking is deeply involved in our living, and when we learn to step apart and try to be "objective," we are doing something not quite "natural." That is why it is useful as an exercise to gain perspective. It is not how we think and act.

Good points. That is why I emphasize that science must not shrink from addressing human life in its fullness and richness. "Bend down, librarian, and taste the page" (E.B. White) and "All your biology is Latin names" (can't remember the source) were favorite mottoes in my youth for good reason. Science has certainly had its stumbles, failures and faux pas. But I feel that reforming science is much more future-looking than trying to reform religion.

Quote DRC:The epistemological issues raised by the Age of Reason lead me to a new appreciation of the mind/body system and the biochemical processes involved in cognition and awareness. More credibility is due to the information processed outside the Cartesian formula of "thinking." If you substitute "process information," we get a more expansive idea of "therefor I am." How imagination leads us to reality is an interesting question to pursue because it challenges the logic box and how we think we think.

Cognitive neuroscience, neurothology, evolutionary psychology and evolutionary religious studies are all ways that science is exploring imagination, unconscious ways of knowing, and alternate ways the brain "thinks". The Cartesian formula of thinking is a dualistic theory of mind that has little currency in science today.

Quote DRC:Theology is about being human even though it is terminology based in theism. My point is that every construct of "reality" or "power" engages theology as it posits who and what we human beings are. When we propose a mechanical universe without "personality" or "intelligence," the implications for human nature are that we reflect that canvas more than engage it. I have no use for "intelligent design," but the idea that the cosmos has an "intelligence" and desire to be whole has credibility. Life is not just random, it has organic integrity.

Science should be about being human, too. Its getting better at that responsibility these days. Ultimately, it should be a better path to human potential than religion.

If the universe or any of its parts include non-neural intelligence, science is at least as good a venue to investigate this as religion. Personal experiences of transcendence and Imagination are an integral part of the scientific method, even if they are not yet formalized.

Quote DRC:I would ask for a bit more respect for the real people behind my concerns about secular fundamentalism and other reactive dogmas and reductionism. I hung out with academics for many decades and continue to find science guys who reject the supernatural, superstitious etc., but do not get past objectivism in their own way. In fact, much of my campus work was in discussion of academic methodology and the moral implications of knowledge. This is why I have my ideas about limiting the subject to "objectivity." It is also why when they venture into moral arguments, they can make mistakes due to not knowing the discipline.

I respect your concerns about scientific fundamentalism of the kind that insists that what is not known to science does not exist or deserve respect. Science is full of small minds and small, fearful people.Given that both science and religion are both full of such people, I feel that science still comes out ahead, especially for the long haul.

Quote DRC:My job was to deal with the human beings who were scientists, etc. Finding them struggling with a culture of arrested development and their own career disappointments did not make me think less of their intellectual work, but it did show me that they needed a lot more than the groves of academe were providing.

Pioneers always have it rough. I have been an exile from the halls of academe (my proper home in a more ideal world) for a long time. Science and academe are no better at self-examination than you or me--probably worse. However, the interdisciplinary movement in science will gradually force it to greater maturity and self-awareness.

The esoteric core of religion, myth, and art is really the self. Narratives are always the way that people will internalize knowledge. I only argue that the fount of that knowledge will increasingly be science. I only object to religion when it stands in the way.

Poor Richard

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Poor Richard
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Quote reed9:

Trying to get rid of religion would be the wrong way to go about things. There is a strong anti-science current in the United States. The goal, I think, should be to instill an appreciation for both the utility of science, as well as its beauty and wonder. I'm less concerned with whether the end product is a less religious society, though I suspect it would be, and more concerned with impressing upon people the aesthetics of science, first, because truth and knowledge are beautiful, and the necessity of science literacy in evaluating information and making informed choices, whether in our personal lives or in politics. For example, if you are a parent wondering whether to vaccinate your kid, you must have a basic understanding of what the science says, and what the actual risks and benefits are, to make an informed decision.

Quote DRC:When we propose a mechanical universe without "personality" or "intelligence," the implications for human nature are that we reflect that canvas more than engage it. I have no use for "intelligent design," but the idea that the cosmos has an "intelligence" and desire to be whole has credibility. Life is not just random, it has organic integrity.

This is where we start to really deviate. It may be that the universe is impersonal and cold. As Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg said in Dreams of a Final Theory, "At the other end of the spectrum are the opponents of reductionism who are appalled by what they feel to be the bleakness of modern science. To whatever extent they and their world can be reduced to a matter of particles or fields and their interactions, they feel diminished by that knowledge....I would try not to answer these critics with a pep talk about the beauties of modern science. The reductionist worldview is chilling and impersonal. It has to be accepted as it is, not because we like it, but because that is the way the world works."

I obviously disagree about the pep talk part. I think the universe as a whole is impersonal, yes, but it doesn't make it any less beautiful to me. Nor do I think it matters that the universe is cold and indifferent to us, for we are not cold and indifferent to it. Humans both find and create patterns. We are perfectly capable of supplying our own meaning and narratives without wishing for an external source. Life is just random and that's ok, because we can spin meaning out of randomness and beauty from the void. But it is a mistake to forget that our stories are not universal truths but personal treasures.

Quote DRC:Others just get pissy about people who are not scientific objectivists.

I think where we, or at least I, get pissy is that we don't understand starting from the answer and working back to the solution. We want to start from the null hypothesis, assume there is no phenomenon to be explained, and let the evidence guide us to conclusions. We want to start as a blank slate, open to whatever the universe has to tell us about how things actually are. Removing the human element is about checking our personal wishes at the door. We must maintain a level of detachment in our explorations in order to stay honest about the results.

Reed9, I like your posts. Please keep your word and don't argue with Kelly about HIV any more.

I would offer this for you and DRC to consider: Is there actually any evidence that the universe is entirely cold, impersonal, and unintelligent? We haven't explored that much of it yet. Is it possible that there are undiscovered forms of non-neural sentience or undiscovered principalities and powers, or as Shakespeare put it, that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in our philosophy (or our universities and laboratories)? Let's not despair prematurely. It may yet turn out that there is some kind of nebulous eyeball in space watching Kelly's every move...

Poor Richard

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Poor Richard
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Quote mattnapa:

Initiating factor, perhaps not. But certainly a factor, nonetheless.

Well I am not sure of all the rhetoric that has been said here, but my recollection tells me you have described it as a main cause.

Beyond outright war or genocide, there is of course a tremendous amount of religiously motivated violence.

I will try to check your link,. But any violence caused by religion should be juxtaposed with how much has been prevented by it.

The post I mentioned was number 96

Ah, I responded in the Denialism thread, as it seemed more appropriate the that discussion. Sorry, forgot to note that here.

If I simplistically called religion the primary cause of war, my bad. Causation is complicated to prove. It certainly played a fundamental role in the Iraq and Afghanistan war though. Bin Laden certainly had religious motivations. It plays a huge role in the ongoing violence throughout the middle east.

Frighteningly, fully a third of Americans support Israel because they believe the Jewish people must have their own country in order to fulfill Biblical prophecy and bring about the end of the world.

Probably not coincidentally, a third of Americans also believe in the literal truth of the Bible, according to polls.

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reed9
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Apr. 8, 2010 11:26 am
Quote Kerry: I suspect that reed9 is more an 'orthodox believer' than an actual 'rational thinker'--and orthodox believers do more to degrade the heretics, call that 'standard of thought', and, then, not answer the points the heretics bring out

Crank Howto

Who wants to know how to be an effective crank?

Well, I've outlined what I think are the critical components of successful crankiness. Ideally, this will serve as a guide to those of you who want to come up with a stupid idea, and then defend it against all evidence to the contrary.

Here's how you do it:

Step one: Develop a wacky idea.

It is critical that your wacky idea must be something pretty extraordinary. A good crank shoots for the stars. You don't defend to the death some simple opinion, like Coke is better than Pepsi. You've got to think big! You've got to do something like deny HIV causes AIDS, or relativity, or reject an entire field of biology, or deny the earth is older than 6000 years. If you can't think of anything, try reading the Bible for claims that are now obviously ludicrous - like the possibility of climbing into heaven using a ladder. Insist on its literal truth.

The thing you deny has to be something that's so obvious to the majority of people that when they hear it, they want to hear an explanation, if only because it's clearly going to benuts. This is critical to all successive steps. If you don't say something outrageous and contrarian, no one will ever see you as the iconoclastic genius that you are.

The presentation of this idea is also important. Remember that really important people with really important ideas don't have time for grammar or spelling. Also try interesting use of punctuation!!!!, CAPITALization and text color. When you EMPHASIZE things people will inevitably take your more seriously. (EDIT: Or if your case, the overuse of 'single quotes'.)

Make sure that you develop new physical laws, name them after yourself, and if you must cite anything, either cite your own name or work, or that of another crank. If you're feeling bold cite some famous scientist, like Einstein, but don't list a specific passage, just assume that they said or did something that supports your idea. After all you're both geniuses, you must think alike!

It's also important during your research of this new idea, never to be worried about preserving the original intent of other authors you quote or cite. If any words they say can be construed to mean something else, that's ok too. Academic license is part of academic freedom.

Whenever possible try to include figures. Line drawings and diagrams with complicated mathematical symbols are ideal. Remember, most people don't know calculus, include equations you find in other books to prove the mathematical or physical relationship you have discovered. The type of people who will believe your idea aren't big into checking others' work for consistency, so it will be OK. Those that do would never believe you anyway, but by the time they get around to that, you'll have a cult following.

Step two: Disseminate your idea

This can be done many ways.

The old-school method is to spend your day job writing angry letters to politicians, newspaper editors, and anyone else that you thought might listen to you.

Cranks with independent wealth can self-publish their own book (I have many of these provided courtesy of an astronomer friend whose institute regularly receives such works and places them in their "crank file"). A book lends credibility, especially to other cranks who think that anyone who could actually focus their intellects for long enough to write a book, must be onto something. Ideally, send your book to scientists in the field you are trying to undermine, they'll know just where to put them. If your idea has a more mainstream appeal, send it to church leaders and various pundits who might give it some play in their pulpits.

These days, technology has provided us what is known as a blog. Your target audience, despite the improvements in technology, are just as likely not to care as before. Less so, because now they don't even have to experience the inconvenience of opening your crank letter or having to file your crank book. The secret to generating traffic then is exploiting the fact that the internet gives access to all sorts of people who will be irritated by your mere presence. Leave comments in others blogs that describe how you have solved this big problem, where everyone else has failed. Ideally, get a minion to constantly extol your virtues and genius. If one is lacking just sockpuppet yourself from another computer. It's not even necessary to leave comments at science blogs or (real) skeptic sites. Any site will do, bother cat fanciers, tech geeks, whoever. Traffic will inevitably follow.

Technology has also made it easy to make videos and DVDs, and provided internet radio outlets for crankery. Do you have a new idea for how the twin towers fell? Well put it up on Youtube and embed it in your blog like so:

Podcasts also serve this function nicely - and since none of your critics will waste their time transcribing the nonsense you say in order to debunk it, videos and podcasts tend to be a good way to avoid excess criticism.

Do you have access to a religious mailing list? Send out your informational DVD on your new proof that all science is a lie to those that might receive it as gospel.

If you're very adventurous, try submitting a paper to a scientific journal. First try big, Science and Nature are ideal. If it's medicine try the New England Journal or JAMA - they are pretty good examples of the stodgy orthodoxy who will no doubt persecute you. When they reject your paper, remember, you're just like Galileo, or Einstein. They rejected your ideas because they're just not ready to accept them. Remember, you're a skeptic! You're one of those people keeping science honest by making them consider new ideas (except when they're very old ideas recycled). Don't let them brush you off easily, resend your manuscript multiple times. If they reject it claim victory! It means you're a true original. You've come up with something the scientific establishment just can't deal with because of their small-mindedness and bigotry. Ideally keep sending it to publications, to editors at their home addresses, to their children's school etc. If they get a restraining order claim victory! You've been persecuted! You now are a true heir to Galileo.

If you want your manuscript (it may make you sound smarter to call it your "treatise" or "monograph") to actually get published, try something like Medical Hypotheses. Journals with an impact factor of less than 1 might actually be desperate enough to publish something cranky, especially if you can jargonize it enough to make yourself sound smart, or create enough fake data to trick the editors. If it has to do with global warming consider a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed. The Creation Research Quarterly is perfect for anything disproving some facet of evolution, geology, astronomy, or physics. You don't have to be a creationist for them to like your crank theory, anything that pokes holes in dastardly consensus science is a victory.

Then try journals that don't require real experiments, rigorous trial design, peer review or anything that actually indicates actual science has been done. Other cranks in your "field" may have started just such a journal - like the Journal of 9/11 studies. There are about as many places that will publish crank work as there are crank ideas, don't stop trying! If you get your ideas published in such a journal claim victory! You have mainstream acceptance and a publication record now.

There are also many message boards that might like your idea. If you have a crazy new ideology about evolution try the International Society for Complexity Information and Design. If you have a new idea for what causes AIDS, a great starting point is the Dissident Action Group. Search for forums that might be amenable to your idea and post it there. Make sure to re-post it after every ten replies or so, so people can read it again. Another good starting place is Newiki which has the stunning tagline "If Copernicus or Galileo were alive today, this is where you would find their work." They clearly love the crankery.

Finally, don't forget other cranks are an excellent resource! Cranks usually like to hear about other cranks ideas, even if they conflict with their own crank ideas (9/11 conspiracy cranks might be an exception). Remember, intellectual consistency doesn't matter as long as you are both criticizing the orthodoxy. These other cranks can mention your idea. They will undoubtedly find it "interesting" if they mention it, even if they don't agree with all aspects of it. See our recent post on Denyse O'Leary and the Creation Museum, a perfect example. Ideally they will link your site, join your webring, mention your ideas, and many other cranks will promptly arrive to acknowledge your genius (sorry, only other cranks will ever do this - ever). Don't forget this means you will have to help them promote their crank ideas.

Cranks also have a major presence on radio - both internet and terrestrial. Are you anything like this crank? Or or this one? Maybe they'll have you on their radio show to discuss your new crackpot theory.

Follow these steps and soon your idea will be a topic of discussion everywhere. Don't forget to routinely make claims that the views of orthodox science are imperiled by the threat of acceptance of your ideas, it will make people more likely to believe your later claims of persecution and visit your site to see if you've figured out you haven't changed anything. Suggest that the valid scientific theory is debunked, or will be within a decade frequently, routinely declare victory over the mainstream theory.

Step three: (Not) Responding to Criticism
All great minds will be criticized by peon scientists who have grown fat and bloated with public grant funds. They've been feeding at the public coffers for so long, they wouldn't know an original idea if it fell out of the ether and struck them on their thick skulls. Here are some simple responses to common criticisms:

Accusation: "You haven't published in a real peer-reviewed journal"
Response: Either say "Peer review is just an old-boys network for peon scientists to pat each other on the back", or accuse journal editors of persecuting you. Compare yourself to Galileo.

Accusation: "You don't have solid proof"
Response: Either restate what you said already, restate it slightly differently, call your accuser a name, or suggest they are part of the conspiracy to hide the truth. Compare yourself to Galileo.

Accusation: "Because of X, Y, and Z, your theory is false and you're an idiot"
Response: Yell "That's Ad Hominem - I win the argument" (and that they've persecuted you).

Accusation: "Because of X, Y and Z, you are wrong"
Response: If they fail to call you an idiot, there are a few ways to respond to this. Either nitpick an aspect of their argument so that you can ignore the rest while diverting the discussion into a meaningless tangent. Or cut and paste large sections of print or references to papers that may or may not agree with you (the exhaustion strategy). Finally, it's always a good idea to just ignore them and restate your original argument. Alternatively demand they provide you with *scientific* evidence that their theory is the correct one. If they do, ignore it and restate your original argument.

Accusation: "No credible scientists or scientific agencies believe this theory"
Response: "That's because they're part of a conspiracy to hide the truth!" In addition assert motives for the conspiracy like maintaining control over the populace, spreading materialistic atheist dogma, acquiring grant money, etc. Don't forget to challenge orthodoxy and compare yourself to Galileo! He was persecuted by the orthodoxy too! Remember, whenever a majority of scientists believe anything, that means it's wrong. Cite Kuhn, compare yourself to Galileo again.

If they show up at your blog and leave comments, remember to delete anything critical at all, dissent must not be tolerated on your home turf. Anything critical might damage the proof of your unassailable intellect, and the absence of critique will make it appear as if your critics are afraid to engage you on your own turf.

You see? It's easy! All you have to do is ignore anything that contradicts your theory, nitpick others' arguments, force them to explain themselves, accuse them of lying, accuse them of conspiring against the truth, exhaust them with dumps of links or citations, repeat yourself, and compare yourself to Galileo, because he had problems convincing the orthodoxy too. Also, don't forget to call yourself a skeptic, or dissident, or iconoclast.

Step four: Get Persecuted!

You haven't graduated to being a full crank until you've been persecuted. Here are some suggestions:

1. If you are faculty at a university, make sure to write a book about your crank idea. When the other members at the department decide to deny you tenure because of your moronic ideas or call you an idiot claim persecution!

2. If you work at an office, make sure you spend your time promoting your crank idea. Tell everybody about it. Send mass emails about it. Leave copies of your "monograph" where your boss and others can find it - like the breakroom. If you're fired for pursuing your crankery on the job claim persecution!

3. If someone shows up at your website or forum and points out the flaws in your argument claim persecution!

4. If anyone calls you an idiot, a moron, a pseudoscientist, a crank, or denialist claim persecution!

5. If people don't immediately accept your idea upon hearing it claim persecution!

6. If they won't teach your idea in public schools as fact claim persecution!

7. If they won't teach the controversy over your ideas in public schools claim persecution!

8. If people criticize journals for publishing your papers claim persecution!

9. If people circulate petitions against teaching your ideas claim persecution!

10. If a journalists covers only the scientific side and doesn't cover yours claim persecution!

11. If no one visits your site or listens to you claim persecution!

12. If no one persecutes you claim persecution!

In this modern world there is such a thing as "parity of ideas". Everything must be balanced against its opposite. If anyone says anything that contradicts you, it is your right to be able to counter what they say for "balance", even if you don't have proof or credibility. If they don't do this you are being persecuted.

You see? It's easy to be a crank. Just follow these simple guidelines and remember, you're never wrong. No matter what.

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reed9
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Apr. 8, 2010 11:26 am

If you, Poor Richard and reed9, can bask in your assuredness that you have 'rationally' come up with the conclusion that there is no such thing as 'the truth', so be it--as I said to begin with, it was a 'belief'. But, I notice that neither you nor reed9 will admit that you have rationally concluded that there is no such thing as 'the truth'. Why?

I suspect that reed9 is more an 'orthodox believer' than an actual 'rational thinker'--and orthodox believers do more to degrade the heretics, call that 'standard of thought', and, then, not answer the points the heretics bring out--no matter, by the way, how rational those 'heretical' views can be--and I do believe that there are rational reasons to disbelieve, for instance, the HIV/AIDS theory as it has been proposed and the 911 'explanation' of three buildings imploding with two airplane impacts like never have happened before. Science does really have a hard time explaining 'unique occurrences'...'rational thought' is fundamentally 'comparative'...

So, what is being claimed as 'standard thought' in this orthodox thinking really isn't science (I think a real scientist would know that there is no such thing as a 'bad question'--only 'bad answers'..)--this is exactly like a religion--and, under the guise of 'scientific authority', you are just as much 'orthodox believers' in your chastising of 'rational dissenters' as they were in the dark ages with the Christian belief....and it will have similar results as the dark ages I do believe...we are no longer in an age of enlightenment but an age of 'orthodox rationalism' with 'blind faith' from the 'believers'...who think that the real proof of 'the truth' is 'out there'.....with the 'authorities' to 'preach it' as the 'new priests'...

If reed9 doesn't like the Nazi symbolism of 'detachment' as my warning of what that can do--as yet reed9 holds up another 'authority' that claims to 'separate sympathy and understanding' from its 'emotional involvement' but cannot tell me how--yet still claims some form of 'rationality' in that claim--maybe an American experiment would count (the Tuskegee syphilis experiments):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuskegee_syphilis_experiment

Anyway, I never was a big believer in 'sympathy', by the way--in 'sympathy', you've already put yourself in a 'better position' than the one you are 'sympathizing for' (so, a 'sympathizer' doesn't believe the one they are 'sympathizing' for is 'equal' to begin with). However, I am a big believer in 'empathy'--because 'empathy' puts you in the place of the one you are considering. But, again, that may just be me...

Poor Richard, I am a believer. And, I do believe in 'the truth'--and I do believe that a belief in the truth is necessary to search for the truth. But, as I've tried to indicate with reed9's 'discussion', the 'orthodox believers' of so-called 'standard rational conclusions' have a form of faith, also, since they cannot rationally discuss the dissident's (heretic's) claims (no matter how rational those claims really can be)--exactly in the same order that the orthodoxy and the heretics were dealing with in religious belief in the Middle Ages, you are professing as 'scientific dogma' today--claiming to be the 'rational ones' in doing so....while you have 'faith' in such 'rationality', and claim that that is all 'truth', you cannot actually claim to believe in 'the truth' in doing so--and that tells me a lot about your form of orthodoxy and claims on 'rational thought' (ie. as I've said, it's as much political as it is truthful).....

Keep the faith...

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Kerry
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Who wants to know how to be an effective crank?--reed9

Yet, you've not addressed one aspect of the HIV/AIDS issue that I have pointed out that Duesberg addressed. See, I do use 'authorities'--but, unlike you (or Poor Richard for that matter) I, also, explain how I understand them. I believe that comes with actually having to apply what you think in the case of medicine in many cases. You seem to have had that experience as you claim to have been distracted in your Reiki messaging while everyone else quoted how great you were at it--and that's OK. You've concluded that Reiki messaging is a hoax--and I have no argument with you there because I don't know anything about Reiki message. However, what you don't seem to believe is possible in 'scientific rationalism' is that 'hoaxes' can be applied through 'programs' such as the 'HIV/AIDS program initiated before any study was done to ascertain the premise' or 'wars started claiming two terrorist planes completely imploded three buildings'--but, those very hoaxes are possible because we still have orthodoxy claiming 'superior knowledge' against the heretics--again, no matter how rational some of those heretical views can be, the 'orthodoxy' ignores them (and, like the gnostics that did make up the bulk of Christian heretics, I do believe 'ignorance' to be the basis of all sin--or 'missing the mark'--and I really do believe that Duesberg has a point in questioning the HIV/AIDS theory as it has been proposed--I really do believe that there are really some questions regarding how energy and mass interact with three buildings completely imploding with two airplane impacts--and I really do believe that only a belief in the truth will keep us questioning that).

Sorry I edited my post out from under your rather lengthy remarks. By the way, I briefly looked over your remarks. Rational thought is just one tool in searching for the truth--and it actually claims more than it really knows. A true scientific analysis and study ALWAYS addresses all rational dissent--with the knowledge that rational thought oftentimes gets caught in its own trap--the premise to its logic may not be as 'proven' as the rationale implies.....and, as classical logical progression implies, rational thought is always 'comparative'--and, sometimes, it uses the wrong premise to compare with and sometimes it's faced with an issue that has no precedent to compare to. Usually when the latter happens, I do believe that rational thinkers in science are very meticulous and scrutinizing in considering such a 'new option'--not, as was the case in both HIV/AIDS and 911, 'jumping to conclusions' before even considering all the aspects of it....both innocently and, perhaps, not so innocently.....persecution in the long run has nothing to do with it IF you BELIEVE IN THE TRUTH.....if not, well, it's back to 'orthodox believers' vs. 'the heretics'--and who's 'telling the truth' there, right?

Keep the faith....

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Kerry
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

You see? It's easy to be a crank. Just follow these simple guidelines and remember, you're never wrong. No matter what.--reed9

You know, my brother (bufffalo1) has been speaking to me lately on how everyone here appears to ignore his remarks. I said something to him that 'Maybe they don't have anything more to say about it--or, maybe they think that you are unchangeable and think that you are always right.' But, right after I said that, we both responded, 'Of course, it takes someone who thinks that they are always right to make that judgment, doesn't it?.' Tit for tat, buddy, tit for tat. That, by the way, still doesn't rationally address the dissenter's point of view--even, as I believe to be the case with Duesberg, for instance, if there is a rational reason (with a rationale behind it) to state it...but, to the 'orthodox condescender in their claim on rational thought', it's still just 'disclaim' and not 'explain', isn't it?

But, there's still a 'faith' involved in that 'rational affront' that, as it appears here, the 'rationalists' don't like to admit...that exposes too much of 'the truth' for their standing and liking....and I believe in the truth....

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Kerry
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

You realize you stil have not commented on this?

The post I mentioned was number 96

[/quote]

Ah, I responded in the Denialism thread, as it seemed more appropriate the that discussion. Sorry, forgot to note that here.

If I simplistically called religion the primary cause of war, my bad. Causation is complicated to prove. It certainly played a fundamental role in the Iraq and Afghanistan war though. Bin Laden certainly had religious motivations. It plays a huge role in the ongoing violence throughout the middle east.

Not that I trust those sources here who have claimed al Ouaida hates us for our freedoms, but even they claim it is the territorial invasion of their holy land tyhat is offensive. It is not a war based on religion, and of course it is not a war at all. In middle east it is difficult to divide out the religous hatred from the national and cultural, and while it is high profile, the deaths are miniscule when compared on a worldwide basis

Frighteningly, fully a third of Americans support Israel because they believe the Jewish people must have their own country in order to fulfill Biblical prophecy and bring about the end of the world.

Money can buy thinking

Probably not coincidentally, a third of Americans also believe in the literal truth of the Bible, according to polls.

Probably about average for amwerican stupidity on most subjects. Nothing remarakable or indicative of religous types being stupider than normal

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mattnapa
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Poor Richard said

Cognitive neuroscience, neurothology, evolutionary psychology and evolutionary religious studies are all ways that science is exploring imagination, unconscious ways of knowing, and alternate ways the brain "thinks". The Cartesian formula of thinking is a dualistic theory of mind that has little currency in science today.

First off neuroscience would be nowhere if an objective self was not reporting their feelings. So any idea that science is "on the way" to discovering what is already experienced is strange to me. There will never be an identifiable nature to consciousness, There is no rational reason to believe it even happens in the brain. The idea has become more in fashion since the discovery of electricity's properties, and so the relay station effect has somehow become the seat of consciousnees. Memory, emotional reaction, and all other sort of reaction may prompt a person to react in a certain way, but are we really saying that feeling happened right there. The scientists have every reason to discount duality since science does not address the issue, and therefore their opinion is meaningless. It is great if they can make discoveries about how the brain functions, but it will never explain the apprehension of experience itself

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mattnapa
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As I've said, can the 'description of the particular' explain every 'meaning in general'? Deductive 'rationalists' have a problem with that question....and, induction is hard to 'prove' rationally in the linear progression such 'logic' entails...but, that just has the deductive rationalists ignore the point instead of trying to reasonably address it....

And, if 'religion imposing faith' is the problem, is 'rationality supposedly without faith' (or even the 'belief in the truth'..) the solution?

Not without its own forms of 'impositions', I'm afraid....

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Kerry
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Quote mattnapa:

Not that I trust those sources here who have claimed al Ouaida hates us for our freedoms, but even they claim it is the territorial invasion of their holy land tyhat is offensive. It is not a war based on religion, and of course it is not a war at all. In middle east it is difficult to divide out the religous hatred from the national and cultural, and while it is high profile, the deaths are miniscule when compared on a worldwide basis

As I said, it is a complicated issue without a single clear cause, but a wealth of political, cultural, religious, economic, and historical factors. However, if you look at other regions with less violent religious views, you do not find the same kind of conflict. You don't see Tibetan suicide bombers, despite their own history of oppression. I submit that the primary difference is one of religion.

Quote mattnapa:

Probably about average for amwerican stupidity on most subjects. Nothing remarakable or indicative of religous types being stupider than normal

I never said religious people were stupider than normal. We are all of us subject to various cognitive faults. There are many highly educated, intelligent people who fall prey to religious nuttery or pseodoscientific wackiness. Indeed, there is reason to believe intelligent people are easier to fool. That is partly why we should always be wary of claims without evidence (and understand what constitutes evidence), most especially when we are the ones making the claim.

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reed9
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Apr. 8, 2010 11:26 am

Let me give you a couple of specific examples that I've seen in practice as to how the 'statistics/authority' trap works in medicine and, then, I've got to go to get some other stuff done.

One, my father, 80 years old (and still as ornery as ever), called me today to discuss a new colonoscopy procedure to be done on him by a new gastroenterologist in town (his old gastroenterologist moved out years ago). He explained that his original polyp in his colon was detected over 25 years ago (so long ago that he can't remember what lead up to him even being studied by the barium enema that detected it)--however, at the time, he had no money for which to get it removed (no insurance to cover it) and he waited until he reached Medicare age to get something done about it (which he took as an option at age 62). He still had only that polyp--and it was removed by colonoscopy--and it was still benign. Now, he tells me that he hasn't had a colonoscopy done since then but this gastroenterologist wants to do another colonoscopy on him. I told him that, now, going on 30 years ago, we were trained that serial stool samples (x3) testing for occult blood served as good a manner in screening for colon cancer as was a colonoscopy--and, if applied to the general population, it was more 'cost-efffective'. However, since then, all 'standards of care' do seem to claim that a colonoscopy was essential in picking out early cancers of the colon--many of which start as fairly small polyps (with most if not all of the cancerous ones bleed a bit--the point behind the serial stool exams). At his age, perhaps, it could still be used as a screening test but it wasn't quite as fast, required a little effort on his part (to collect the samples), and wasn't seen as 'definitive' as 'colonoscopy'. Plus, of course, it didn't make the gastroenterologist as much money, either. So, I'm not sure where 'the statistics' have taken this. After the discussion, my father (after going off on how 'even people that never paid into the system get more benefits from Medicare than I do'..), decided to get the procedure, anyway...

Second involves an agent that I have been using all my career (almost 30 years), nefidipine (Procardia), for a sublingual treatment of hypertensive emergencies (where concurrent symptoms such as some form of end-organ compromise such as headaches, chest pain, etc., were happening in the face of a very high blood pressure reading). While it was never passed as an agent to do that with the FDA, its use became quite common for that purpose because it was so easy to do (vs., say, IV treatments, constant monitering, etc., that can, otherwise, be needed). A few years back (and in concurrence with that agent going generic), 'suddenly' it was being touted as 'being dangerous for sublingual administration'--and, I guess somewhere there was a 'statistical study' to prove that (but I've never seen it). Now, hospital 'overseers' try to chastise you for using it even though after discussing this with many people who have been in the business as long as I have, they never saw a complication with it (and I'm talking about people like fellow ER physicians, nurses who worked in dialysis centers that used to use it in the dialysis clinics that now send those patients to the ER, etc.--and I know that I, personally, have administered it hundreds of times....). But, nifedipine still got 'canned'. Should we trust our own experience, or what a 'statistic' or some 'authority' claims against it? I still use it despite that 'warning'--and, when confronted, I demand to see the stats and how those stats were obtained. I've received nothing that has convinced me, otherwise. One hospital pharmacist got me a study that showed that nine people who received that agent had a low blood pressure response that lead to cardiac and/or neurological damage. My response to that was that any blood pressuring lowering agent can 'overshoot' that lowering response and have the same results--that was just 'logical'--and, unlike some blood pressure lowering agents, nifedipine had a way to 'reverse' that response (since it was a 'calcium-channel blocking agent', adding calcium IV could do it)--and I openly wondered why this became a 'warning' after the agent had gone generic. If that was such a 'common' side effect, why did it take almost 20 years of its use to find that out? Now, some 'programs' are going back to using clonidine as a 'hypertensive urgency blood pressure lowering agent' (if an oral agent is to be used vs. IV)--an agent that was being used before nifedipine came on the market (and one that still doesn't have an FDA approval to use it that way). The problem with clonidine that was noted at the time (before nifedipine came on the market) was that suddenly stopping that agent oftentimes resulted in a blood pressure going way too high (higher than the initial blood pressure it was treating)--with obvious complications possible with that treatment. But, it appears, 'authorities' seem to 'cycle' these things around a lot. And, I'm not sure if those reasons are as useful in a clinical setting as they espouse....

But, it still goes 'into the program'......the veracity of which, and the benefits of which, and the 'cost-effectiveness' of which, is questionable at least to those of us who have had 'experience', otherwise....the kind of experience based on 'whatever works'....

Good day....

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Kerry
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

PR, my point is that it does not matter if the metaphor is just a metaphor, because the issue is us, not how our imagination addresses the nature of being ourself. The idea of a caring universe is more about the congruence of human nature with the natural world instead of being an alien being on earth. It is about feeling good to be part of it all instead of being a stranger in a strange land. And the existential reality makes how we think about who we are and where we are matter.

I do not see myself in alienation from human life or from the actual nature of this world. I am alienated by the imperial myths and martial realities of our insanity, but the reason that matters is that I am connected and not impartial about being alive here.

And I figure that the rest of us are in the same boat about the affirmation or denial of being. How we figure out what works for us is not scripted by others even if they have interesting comments to give us. Like wine tasting, there is an objective reality in the glass, but every palate gets it in a unique way. We agree on some descripters while others come from outer space. "What works" has something to do with how the human palate works, though. There is a reason that "complexity" is more interesting than a one-note wonder. The desire to take another sip is enhanced when the experience is not just the same thing again.

Making the descripters into a cult identity expertise to flaunt status is like the abuse of religion.

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DRC
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Quote reed9:

I never said religious people were stupider than normal. We are all of us subject to various cognitive faults. There are many highly educated, intelligent people who fall prey to religious nuttery or pseodoscientific wackiness. Indeed, there is reason to believe intelligent people are easier to fool. That is partly why we should always be wary of claims without evidence (and understand what constitutes evidence), most especially when we are the ones making the claim.

Amen. This is a pivotal point. It is incumbent on all scientists, academics, skeptics and critical thinkers to follow the "prime directive" inscribed over the door of the ancient Temple of Delphi to which the wisest people traveled from all over the ancient world seeking answers to their most difficult questions. That inscription read simply "Know Thyself".The inference is that this is a prerequisite to further enlightenment.

To gain knowledge of the world it is necessary first to know the details of any instrument(s) through which the world is viewed, such as a lens system or electronic device, and second, the operational characteristics of the observer. Most skeptics, especially the brightest and best educated, tend to take the latter as automatic or given. The self-insight of the human brain is anything but automatic. The brain is specifically adapted to hide the details of its inner workings from us. For the most part it is a "black box" that delivers only an executive summary and hides all the intermediate work. Understanding the hidden biases and other characteristics of one's own mind is as important as knowing the specs of one's lab equipment.

This prime directive has not yet been as widely acknowledged in the scientific community as it has been in some quarters of the religious community (in which the esoteric subject of many of the narratives is actually the self) or the self-help community. The scientific community has a lot of catching up to do, but I am encouraged by such things as the widespread interest that is developing in some parts of the scientific community in "mindfulness" practices.

Poor Richard

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Poor Richard
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Quote DRC:

PR, my point is that it does not matter if the metaphor is just a metaphor,

I believe it totally matters whether the "user" understands the metaphor as a metaphor or as a literal truth.

Quote DRC:because the issue is us, not how our imagination addresses the nature of being ourself. The idea of a caring universe is more about the congruence of human nature with the natural world instead of being an alien being on earth. It is about feeling good to be part of it all instead of being a stranger in a strange land. And the existential reality makes how we think about who we are and where we are matter.

It matters to me whether you are talking about an existential reality or an existential metaphor that may be inconsistent with reality. Many fairy tales are obviously about realities that are verifiable in the real world. A caring universe is only a hypothesis. It is not currently verifiable, no matter how much of a placebo effect it may offer.

Quote DRC: I do not see myself in alienation from human life or from the actual nature of this world. I am alienated by the imperial myths and martial realities of our insanity, but the reason that matters is that I am connected and not impartial about being alive here.

I too am alienated by the imperial and martial myths. But I am also alienated by the afterlife myths, the reincarnation myths, the salvation myths, the creation myths, the revelation myths, and yes, the caring and interventionist god/universe myths.

Quote DRC:And I figure that the rest of us are in the same boat about the affirmation or denial of being. How we figure out what works for us is not scripted by others even if they have interesting comments to give us. Like wine tasting, there is an objective reality in the glass, but every palate gets it in a unique way. We agree on some descripters while others come from outer space. "What works" has something to do with how the human palate works, though. There is a reason that "complexity" is more interesting than a one-note wonder. The desire to take another sip is enhanced when the experience is not just the same thing again

Someone recently pointed out to me that Ortega y Gasset proposed a "manifold" reality narrative by which we should understand that each person's mind creates its own representation or version of reality which he suggests is the "radical", root, or primary reality for each person. I would prefer that we simply acknowledge the individual personalization of reality due to brain nature/nurture variations without going so far to say that the personal reality is more real or more fundamental than the reality which is the sum of all human realities and all non-human realities alike. I think this "radical" individual reality myth could throw a lot of people off the tracks and into the weeds of extreme relativism that would undermine objective communication and consensus building.

Quote DRC:Making the descripters into a cult identity expertise to flaunt status is like the abuse of religion.

if you mean things like gratuitous jargon and overzealous reductionism I agree.

Poor Richard

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Poor Richard
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Quote Kerry:

Second involves an agent that I have been using all my career (almost 30 years), nefidipine (Procardia), for a sublingual treatment of hypertensive emergencies...A few years back (and in concurrence with that agent going generic), 'suddenly' it was being touted as 'being dangerous for sublingual administration'--and, I guess somewhere there was a 'statistical study' to prove that (but I've never seen it)...But, nifedipine still got 'canned'. Should we trust our own experience, or what a 'statistic' or some 'authority' claims against it? I still use it despite that 'warning'--and, when confronted, I demand to see the stats and how those stats were obtained...If that was such a 'common' side effect, why did it take almost 20 years of its use to find that out?

I shouldn't engage. I know I shouldn't, and yet...

I'm not a medical expert or pharmacist, so there's little I can say on specific treatments. As such, I will try to keep this broadly about principles.

One of the frightening things is this whole narrative is that you never even bothered to research the evidence yourself. Your mind was made up already and damned if anyone else could tell you different. You've never seen a complication, therefore it is perfectly safe. Hey, George Burns smoked his whole life and lived to a ripe old age, ergo, smoking is not harmful.

Medicine, as I should hope you know, is always about a cost/benefit analysis. There are risks associated with any treatment, and the risk must be balanced with the potential benefit. And no, it's not always clear where to draw the line.

If we are to believe the literature on nifedipine, there is little benefit to a small, but significant risk. If there are safer options, possibly more effective options, though maybe not as convenient, then yes, the standard of care should change to reflect that. Your paranoia that it's just a scam to make more money is not reason enough to abandon accepted standards of care. The fact that standards of care do change is because real medicine is evidence based. New information elicits change, unlike most alternative medicine. (When was the last time an alternative modality made a major shift in practices based on evidence of risk or ineffectiveness?)

Unfortunately, I could only find the full text of one article for free, but I'll list a couple of abstracts as well. Not that it matters, since you make up your mind first, and ignore opposing evidence, but what the hell.

The Use of Sublingual Nifedipine: a continuing concern

Should a Moratorium Be Placed on Sublingual Nifedipine Capsules Given for Hypertensive Emergencies and Pseudoemergencies?

The Dangers of Immediate Release Nifedipine for Hypertensive Crisis (full text)

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reed9
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Quote mattnapa:

Cognitive neuroscience, neurotheology, evolutionary psychology and evolutionary religious studies are all ways that science is exploring imagination, unconscious ways of knowing, and alternate ways the brain "thinks". The Cartesian formula of thinking is a dualistic theory of mind that has little currency in science today. --Poor Richard

First off neuroscience would be nowhere if an objective self was not reporting their feelings.

That assumption shows you are not well versed on this subject.

Unconscious subjects in an fMRI or qEEG machine can still be studied for correlations between the location and intensity of neural activity with other measurable autonomic states, unconscious reflexes and many other kinds of stimuli-responses that can occur in an unconscious and/or non-verbal subject.

Quote mattnapa:So any idea that science is "on the way" to discovering what is already experienced is strange to me

So? Lots of things that seem strange to me also seem like attractive subjects for scientific study. That's the difference reed9 pointed out between reasoning backwards from the answer vs starting from the null point and gathering evidence. (The latter is the preferred method)

Quote mattnapa: There will never be an identifiable nature to consciousness, There is no rational reason to believe it even happens in the brain.

No form of consciousness has ever been observed in an objective, verifiable, falsifiable, and reproducible way except in conjunction with a physical nervous system (meat puppet). Even assuming a verified case of ESP or astral projection or some "altered state" of consciousness, what do you suppose happens if you bash the person's brain in?

I suppose you could say that consciousness goes right on then in the spirit world, but what is your evidence?

Quote mattnapa:The idea has become more in fashion since the discovery of electricity's properties, and so the relay station effect has somehow become the seat of consciousness. Memory, emotional reaction, and all other sort of reaction may prompt a person to react in a certain way, but are we really saying that feeling happened right there. The scientists have every reason to discount duality since science does not address the issue, and therefore their opinion is meaningless. It is great if they can make discoveries about how the brain functions, but it will never explain the apprehension of experience itself

To be fair, this is still up in the air about two nanometers (one nanometer above God). You can bet on the spirit world if you like. I'll bet on the physical brain with one wrinkle I take from John Lilly. Lilly offers three models of the mind: 1) the contained mind (all neural, all inside the skull), 2) the uncontained mind (all non-material, independent of the flesh), and 3) the leaky brain. The leaky brain can be a) all material (including all natural forms of energy activity) or b) part material & part non-material, or c) all non-material. I vote for 3a, the leaky-but-all-mass/energy mind.

I have no problem with the hypothesis that brains can communicate with each other "wirelessly" or even with some unknown form of external intelligence or non-sentient influence via some as-yet uncharacterized form of energy. I think anecdotal evidence for this deserves scientific respect (i.e. polite agnosticism) unless it is somehow unequivocally ruled out. On the basis of anecdotal evidence and philosophy only though, we cannot currently assign it a very high probability and thus attract research grants (I fully expect you to snarl at that).

I will grant you that moving your head in a strong magnetic field can make you see sparkly lights.

That's about all I have to say about this unless you can demonstrate more familiarity with the relevant science.

Poor Richard

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Poor Richard
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First off neuroscience would be nowhere if an objective self was not reporting their feelings.[/quote]

That assumption shows you are not well versed on this subject.

Unconscious subjects in an fMRI or qEEG machine can still be studied for correlations between the location and intensity of neural activity with other measurable autonomic states, unconscious reflexes and many other kinds of stimuli-responses that can occur in an unconscious and/or non-verbal subject.

I do not think so. The autonomic states you refer to only have experential meaning if they are referred by reports of experience. For instance if your claim is that you can measure an autonomic known to be related to anxiety then you need to have had previous reports of what anxiety was like to have any understanding to have any experential understanding of what the autonomic state is like experientially

Quote mattnapa:So any idea that science is "on the way" to discovering what is already experienced is strange to me

So? Lots of things that seem strange to me also seem like attractive subjects for scientific study. That's the difference reed9 pointed out between reasoning backwards from the answer vs starting from the null point and gathering evidence. (The latter is the preferred method)

O.K Is there some principle of strangeness that you apply in a principled consistent manner, or is it just your take on case by case basis? As to reasoning backwards, I think you have the argument backwards. If the point is empiricism before a priori belief, then I am a proponent of empiricism first. Reed9 seems to openly admit a fondness for a priori belief, so I am not sure of your point

Quote mattnapa: There will never be an identifiable nature to consciousness, There is no rational reason to believe it even happens in the brain.

No form of consciousness has ever been observed in an objective, verifiable, falsifiable, and reproducible way except in conjunction with a physical nervous system (meat puppet). Even assuming a verified case of ESP or astral projection or some "altered state" of consciousness, what do you suppose happens if you bash the person's brain in?

Well the point about astral projection is at least interesting. Why does putting some burden of evidence of you guys to explain consciousness somehow equate with the fact that bodies can be damaged?. Or at least the experential phenomenon associated with such things

I suppose you could say that consciousness goes right on then in the spirit world, but what is your evidence?

Quote mattnapa:The idea has become more in fashion since the discovery of electricity's properties, and so the relay station effect has somehow become the seat of consciousness. Memory, emotional reaction, and all other sort of reaction may prompt a person to react in a certain way, but are we really saying that feeling happened right there. The scientists have every reason to discount duality since science does not address the issue, and therefore their opinion is meaningless. It is great if they can make discoveries about how the brain functions, but it will never explain the apprehension of experience itself

To be fair, this is still up in the air about two nanometers (one nanometer above God). You can bet on the spirit world if you like. I'll bet on the physical brain with one wrinkle I take from John Lilly. Lilly offers three models of the mind: 1) the contained mind (all neural, all inside the skull), 2) the uncontained mind (all non-material, independent of the flesh), and 3) the leaky brain. The leaky brain can be a) all material (including all natural forms of energy activity) or b) part material & part non-material, or c) all non-material. I vote for 3a, the leaky-but-all-mass/energy mind.

You asked why scientist thought what they do and this was my answer. The point was why is the brain "where" consciousness happens. It does need location does it not? All your points simply involve what the brasin might do once you have already made the assumption that consciousnees happens there

I have no problem with the hypothesis that brains can communicate with each other "wirelessly" or even with some unknown form of external intelligence or non-sentient influence via some as-yet uncharacterized form of energy. I think anecdotal evidence for this deserves scientific respect (i.e. polite agnosticism) unless it is somehow unequivocally ruled out. On the basis of anecdotal evidence and philosophy only though, we cannot currently assign it a very high probability and thus attract research grants (I fully expect you to snarl at that).

I will grant you that moving your head in a strong magnetic field can make you see sparkly lights.

That's about all I have to say about this unless you can demonstrate more familiarity with the relevant science.

How about free-will?

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mattnapa
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Quote mattnapa:

First off neuroscience would be nowhere if an objective self was not reporting their feelings.

That assumption shows you are not well versed on this subject.

Unconscious subjects in an fMRI or qEEG machine can still be studied for correlations between the location and intensity of neural activity with other measurable autonomic states, unconscious reflexes and many other kinds of stimuli-responses that can occur in an unconscious and/or non-verbal subject.

I do not think so. The autonomic states you refer to only have experential meaning if they are referred by reports of experience. For instance if your claim is that you can measure an autonomic known to be related to anxiety then you need to have had previous reports of what anxiety was like to have any understanding to have any experential understanding of what the autonomic state is like experientially

Quote mattnapa:So any idea that science is "on the way" to discovering what is already experienced is strange to me

So? Lots of things that seem strange to me also seem like attractive subjects for scientific study. That's the difference reed9 pointed out between reasoning backwards from the answer vs starting from the null point and gathering evidence. (The latter is the preferred method)

O.K Is there some principle of strangeness that you apply in a consistent manner, or is it just your take on a case by case basis? As to reasoning backwards, I think you have the argument backwards. If the point is empiricism before a priori belief, then I am a proponent of empiricism first. Reed9 seems to openly admit a fondness for a priori belief, so I am not sure of your point

Quote mattnapa: There will never be an identifiable nature to consciousness, There is no rational reason to believe it even happens in the brain.

No form of consciousness has ever been observed in an objective, verifiable, falsifiable, and reproducible way except in conjunction with a physical nervous system (meat puppet). Even assuming a verified case of ESP or astral projection or some "altered state" of consciousness, what do you suppose happens if you bash the person's brain in?

Well the point about astral projection is at least interesting. Why does putting some burden of evidence of you guys to explain consciousness somehow equate with the fact that bodies can be damaged?. Or at least the experential phenomenon associated with such things

I suppose you could say that consciousness goes right on then in the spirit world, but what is your evidence?

I have made no claims about this, but astral projection and psychic phenomena raise some possible routes for evidence.

Quote mattnapa:The idea has become more in fashion since the discovery of electricity's properties, and so the relay station effect has somehow become the seat of consciousness. Memory, emotional reaction, and all other sort of reaction may prompt a person to react in a certain way, but are we really saying that feeling happened right there. The scientists have every reason to discount duality since science does not address the issue, and therefore their opinion is meaningless. It is great if they can make discoveries about how the brain functions, but it will never explain the apprehension of experience itself

To be fair, this is still up in the air about two nanometers (one nanometer above God). You can bet on the spirit world if you like. I'll bet on the physical brain with one wrinkle I take from John Lilly. Lilly offers three models of the mind: 1) the contained mind (all neural, all inside the skull), 2) the uncontained mind (all non-material, independent of the flesh), and 3) the leaky brain. The leaky brain can be a) all material (including all natural forms of energy activity) or b) part material & part non-material, or c) all non-material. I vote for 3a, the leaky-but-all-mass/energy mind.

You asked why scientist thought what they do and this was my answer. The point was why is the brain "where" consciousness happens. It does need location does it not? All your points simply involve what the brain might do once you have already made the assumption that consciousnees happens there

I have no problem with the hypothesis that brains can communicate with each other "wirelessly" or even with some unknown form of external intelligence or non-sentient influence via some as-yet uncharacterized form of energy. I think anecdotal evidence for this deserves scientific respect (i.e. polite agnosticism) unless it is somehow unequivocally ruled out. On the basis of anecdotal evidence and philosophy only though, we cannot currently assign it a very high probability and thus attract research grants (I fully expect you to snarl at that).

I will grant you that moving your head in a strong magnetic field can make you see sparkly lights.

That's about all I have to say about this unless you can demonstrate more familiarity with the relevant science.

How about free-will?

[/quote]

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Looks like I have lost control of the Enterprise, my apologies. Just to add on the "know thyself" question, I think a buddhist or other reflective practitioner will get better answers than information from a neuro-scientist.

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mattnapa
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Why does putting some burden of evidence of you guys to explain consciousness somehow equate with the fact that bodies can be damaged?. Or at least the experential phenomenon associated with such things

We can't "explain" consciousness because there little understanding of just what consciousness is and no agreed upon definition. Your conception of consciousness has a lot of mysticism in it but little recognition of some of the truly bizarre and fascinating things observed by neuroscientists.

Here is an interesting excerpt from an article in New Scientist

Michael Gazzanioa, a neuroscientist at Cornell University in New York State, has studied 'split brain' patients - the left and right sides of their brains have been surgically separated (often as a treatment for severe epilepsy). In most people, the ability to use language is by and large localised in the left brain; but one of his patients had some verbal ability in both halves, although only the left could produce speech. When a written command, such as 'laugh', was presented only to the part of the visual field linked to the right brain, he laughed. When asked 'Why did you laugh?' he answered, using the left side of the brain, but simply fabricated a reason: 'Oh, you guys are really something!' The left hemisphere had apparently observed the laughter and tried to account for it somehow. This may be no quirk of split brains. Most of our reasons for action may be totally unavailable to conscious introspection. Our verbal selves may make up plausible reasons for the actions they observe their body making.

Research on split brains has revealed much more about the nature of consciousness. In some cases, each half brain displays separate desires, intentions and even hopes for the future - and a sense of self. It is easy to think that splitting the brain has split an originally single consciousness, but Gazzanioa believes that the surgery only reveals a general principle: that human minds are multiple entities consisting of many subsystems. It is only the ability to put things into words that creates 'a personal sense of conscious reality out of the multiple systems present', he believes.

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reed9
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Apr. 8, 2010 11:26 am

Read at least a similar story from Daniel Ornstien years ago. It is interesting, though the conclusions stated here do not necessarily follow the event described. I think seperate entities is really a bit much to draw. There are many strange contradictions with brain transplant theory, Theseus ship, and others. There are also those somewhat on the otherside, such as do absolute twin bodies equate to absolute sameness of identity. That might be a violation of the Pauli exclusionary principle. Also there is at least a curtain of certaincy surrounding the comparison of similar consciousnees. In the future we may make robotic entities which are pressumed to be identical moloecularly to humans. It may act just the same, but who is to say that experience is truly happening. Finally, the mind experiment which calls for the supposition that in the future we are able to bring back cloned replicas of ourselves seems to violate something inherent in our conscious nature, and that something is we cannot imagine ourselves as not existing for some period of time. The idea that the future you would not really be you again seems obvious. but why? I would suggest your interpretation of reality would in fact say this future person is "exactly" the same. The second point from the example is that we cannot imagine "not being" in this sense, and I suggest that intuition has meaning

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mattnapa
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

"The atheist's position is that we haven't been convinced that there is one."

~ Matt Dillahunty

Atheist Community of Austin

it is offensive and disingenuous to make the case that atheists are "religious".

We are no such thing. As Matt has said many time before on his show Atheism is the rejection of irrational, unverifiable claims to a deity. That is all, it is not a philosophy or religion, it is a stance on belief and not the pretense of belief.

Atheists can subscribe to any belief structure that does not make a god claim. This does not mean all, or even most atheists do. So don't over complicate the issue. If you say, oh but the secular humanists believe..temper that with the foreknowledge that not all atheists are secular humanists (i.e.).


Oxbow
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote mattnapa:There are also those somewhat on the otherside, such as do absolute twin bodies equate to absolute sameness of identity. That might be a violation of the Pauli exclusionary principle.

It's a huge mistake to try and apply principles of quantum theory to areas outside its purview. I like to call it the Chopra fallacy, in honor of that preeminent peddler of quantum woo, Deepak Chopra.

As a thought experiment, if we could suddenly create an exact replica of a person, yes, they would likely be the same person for all intents and purposes. At least for a split second, because, as Richard mentioned with twins, the nature part of what makes us us would diverge.

Quote mattnapa:Finally, the mind experiment which calls for the supposition that in the future we are able to bring back cloned replicas of ourselves seems to violate something inherent in our conscious nature, and that something is we cannot imagine ourselves as not existing for some period of time. The idea that the future you would not really be you again seems obvious. but why?

I'm not sure of the utility of this sort of thought experiment. It seems to tell us more about the limitations of our conceptual framework of thought than it does about the nature of the universe. Inasmuch as the future you doesn't seem to really be you, once more as with the twins, different paths through life equals different people.

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reed9
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Apr. 8, 2010 11:26 am

One of the frightening things is this whole narrative is that you never even bothered to research the evidence yourself.--reed9

Of course, you would miss the entire point. So, you don't think experience in the fleld matters as muich as what some researcher decided to put up for statistical analysis? I do. Just because they are 'researchers' doesn't mean they have any better angle on reality or on medicine than I do. And, since it is someone else that is claiming that what I am doing is wrong, it's not my responsibility to find out why, it's their responsibility to tell me. If they can't do that, they have no right to tell me. If you don't agree with that, you can bask in your statistical analysis hell because statistics are not a substitute for reality--or even the explanation of reality--or even the description of reality. Sometimes, it's better (and more informative) to experience it. Sometimes statistics helps you judge, but statistics cannot substitute for judgment--until you have a world that goes only by policy and is applied only be technitians. But, even then, someone is deciding what to do, if they are going by statistical analysis alone without a coherent etiological explanation and without a 100% correlation, they can make the same mistakes in any one case....sometimes it does take experience to know the art of medicine...

Personally, I'll listen to anyone who has anything to say about my way of practicing that practices themselves. Otherwise, anything else anyone has to say about it, if they think that they can do better, then, they need to be down here doing it. Because, if they are not doing it, they really have no earthly idea what they are talking about despite any and all 'statistical evaluations' they may claim to have. But, if they are going to tell me what to do and claim that there are studies that prove that, then it is they that need to produce the studies, not I going to have to look for their excuse....you do seem to have a hard time with that.

In fact, it 'frightens me' more for you to claim that every statistician has more of an understanding of medical reality than those that actually practice in it.

Hey, George Burns smoked his whole life and lived to a ripe old age, ergo, smoking is not harmful.--reed9

Obviously, despite your condescending remarks on my ability to judge my own practice, statistics don' have all the causes and effects down (because of the outliers), don't consider all the complicating factors that may not even be considered in the study (again, because of the outliers), and don't have the angle on every case they are studying (because of the outliers). And, again, science is not a 'majority rules' initiative--nor is medicine a 'statistical assessment' when the delivery of the care is one-by-one...

Medicine, as I should hope you know, is always about a cost/benefit analysis. -reed9

How do you know? Did the statistics tell you that? You are really either stupid or naive to think that 'the way medicine is reimbursed' doesn't determine a large part on 'the way medicine is practiced' (I thought we already went over this)--and 'cost/benefit' is only one way of assessing that. Profitability is another. You have a 'statistical analysis' that can really say when the cost matches the benefit and when the profit exceeds that? How do they go about setting that 'analysis' up? I'd liked you to try to explain it in enough detail to have me understand it...because I don't think anyone can...

And no, it's not always clear where to draw the line.--reed9

Yep--and sometimes experience matters. That, and knowing the limitations of the 'analysis' of all statistics....plus, recognizing that there is just too damned many people in medicine that like to tell others what to do that don't do it, themselves....no matter what statistical analysis or excuse they use...

If we are to believe the literature on nifedipine, there is little benefit to a small, but significant risk.--reed9

As I said, sometimes experience matters.

If there are safer options, possibly more effective options, though maybe not as convenient, then yes, the standard of care should change to reflect that.--reed9

That's the point. All agents have potential complications. And, since you do seem to have a problem with the nuances, if you didn't notice, the 'study' that they brought out didn't explain how it was specifically nifedipine that created the problem--it was the low blood pressure that nifedipine caused. As I said then, all agents that cause low blood pressure could do the same thing. You have a problem with the fact that statistics without an etiological mechanism explaining that action can really MEAN NOTHING. I mean someone could do a 'statistical analysis' that eating chocolate causes chicken pox--and, in the right crowd of kids, they might even find a correlation--that doesn't mean they know the etiology as to why 'chocolate causes chicken pox'. Got that?

Your paranoia that it's just a scam to make more money is not reason enough to abandon accepted standards of care.--reed9

Despite the fact that your condescending attitude has now granted you the right to assess my motives in this, I know for a fact that, absent 100% correlation and/or a definitive etiological mechanism (separately proveable), statistical analyses don't determine the practice of medicine. If anything, they may add some credence to some treatment modalities--but, that doesn't prove it in every case unless that treatment modality is 100% and/or with a definitive etiology behind it (separately proveable).

The fact that standards of care do change is because real medicine is evidence based.--reed9

How do you know that's their purpose? How are you so sure that the statistician isn't biased? In fact, why do you trust the statistician more than someone who actually may be directly taking care of patients? If there is a reason to suspect the practitioner in general, isn't there a reason to suspect the statistician? Or, what specifics do you know that says the statistician is more accurate in their assessment than the practitioner just by their statistics, alone? Read my example of chocolate and chicken pox above...

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Kerry
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote Kerry:So, you don't think experience in the fleld matters as muich as what some researcher decided to put up for statistical analysis? ...that, and knowing the limitations of the 'analysis' of all statistics....plus, recognizing that there is just too damned many people in medicine that like to tell others what to do that don't do it, themselves....no matter what statistical analysis or excuse they use...

I can only imagine if you had been around when hand washing came into vogue, it would be, "How dare those academics with their 'statistical models' tell me how to care for my patients! It's probably just those damn soap companies out to make a buck."

I have of course referred you to various practicing doctors who disagree with you and whose opinions you dismissed without real consideration.

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reed9
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Apr. 8, 2010 11:26 am
Quote mattnapa:

The autonomic states you refer to only have experential meaning if they are referred by reports of experience. For instance if your claim is that you can measure an autonomic known to be related to anxiety then you need to have had previous reports of what anxiety was like to have any understanding to have any experential understanding of what the autonomic state is like experientially

The point I was trying to make (poorly) is that much brain activity is not conscious and not even relevant to verbal reports of experience but is still correlated with behavior, health, and other value propositions.

A different kind of example is implicit associations. They are not part of the subjective experience but they influence behavior so they are discernible by appropriate testing. I'm not sure if any neural correlates have been discovered for them yet, but they should be a good candidate for fMRI studies.

But reed9's points were really much better and more fundamental than mine.

First, certain brain injuries, physical abnormalities, methods of direct stimulation, etc. produce distinctive, reproducible and reportable alterations of subjective experience, suggesting a strong correlation between the mind and the meat. Correlation is not causation, but we are still getting some important information in this way that we don't get by direct "knowing", self-examination, mystical practices, religious revelations, etc.

Second, the "modular" or multi-threaded and mult-layered nature of consciousness has been somewhat teased apart by science. The brain has been found to have many semi-autonomous, specialized centers, layers and networks some of which contribute something to the "symphony" of reportable consciousness (intervention causes reportable differences) and others which cause no reportable changes but may still affect physiology or behavior. It may be that the tendency of regions of the brain to differentiate or specialize and to function semi autonomously is associated in abnormal cases of development with multiple personality disorders. Is the disorder an exaggeration of a normal brain balkanization? Maybe fMRIs combined with anatomical images and subjective reports could shed some light.

In any event we know much less about what consciousness is than about how it acts. The same is true for gravity and electromagnetism, for example. We understand gravity only by a set of behaviors of matter and energy, not by what its "basic essence" or "ultimate cause" may be (if indeed there is any distinction). But we know that it is strongly associated with mass and distance. Consciousness is strongly associated with brain in a similar way. Are we wasting our time studying gravity?

CLONES AND TWINS: The brains of two identical twins or clones, as with any other two people, would progressively diverge both physically and psychologically over time according to differences in environment ("nurture") even if "nature" at conception were identical.

AI: Another issue someone brought up was meat vs metal (artificial intelligence). If we could functionally duplicate the biological brain down to the last neural detail, what would the distinctions in consciousness be? We can only guess. If we were able to "download" all the "data" from the meat to the metal, and the metal started acting just like the meat, how would we compare and contrast the subjective experience of each? I think we could make a pretty strong inference from careful, controlled observation of their behavior in various well-controlled tests and experiments. We could also ask them to share their own conclusions on the question with us, although we could never fully trust what the human said.

Quote mattnapa: Well the point about astral projection is at least interesting. Why does putting some burden of evidence of you guys to explain consciousness somehow equate with the fact that bodies can be damaged?. Or at least the experential phenomenon associated with such things

Didn't you ever break up your toys to see how they worked?

Quote mattnapa: You asked why scientist thought what they do and this was my answer. The point was why is the brain "where" consciousness happens. It does need location does it not? All your points simply involve what the brasin might do once you have already made the assumption that consciousnees happens there

When you poke, cut, zap, etc. some piece of the brain it often changes the subject's subjective experience. That gives the strong suggestion that a "thread" of consciousness associated with that experience either originates there or is modulated there on its way from soewhere else to somewhere else. First the evidence, then the hypothesis, then the experiment, then the theory. It often starts with a very mundane, often chance observation like a frog leg twitching unexpedctedly.

Quote mattnapa:How about free-will?

The thread about denial, cognitive bias, etc. touches on that. The brain is much like a black box, even to its owner. We seldom know in any detail why we think or act as we do. The subjectively experienced part of consciousness is like an executive summary of all the stuff that happens in the black box.

We have learned some of the ways the brain can be tricked or manipulated, how it can be programmed and deprogrammed, how it can be affected by hormones and other chemicals, by electromagnetic stimulation, how it's neural structure or "fabric" develops and becomes progressively geographically specialized over many years in dynamic feedback with the environment, etc. and we are increasingly able to correlate many of these things with subjective experience. Why pursue such information? It already has many uses in medicine, mental health, communications, education, etc. Eventually it will probably allow us to develop machine analogs of the brain (AI) and to reverse engineer and perhaps re-engineer (in the meat, the metal, or both) the hardware, firmware, operating system, i/o interfaces, user interfaces, and application software of consciousness.

It is fair to say there are many correlations between neural activity, consciousness, and behavior where causation is unclear, but this is true throughout science. In natural science there is for all practical purposes an infinite regression of causes. The strongest causality is proximate cause and the causal links get weaker the farther "distal" from that you get. The "ultimate" cause will be the most weakly discernible or verifiable cause and will require the biggest and most expensive machine to detect.

Religious and spiritual narratives or practices may touch on some of this, but not in a very comprehensive way nor in a very portable way across religious, cultural, and lingusitic divides. One potential service that science offers humanity is as a neutral lingua franca or universal language that is portable across such personal, cultural, religious, and national boundaries. Of course, it would only be fair to say that scientists, often as not, have their share of difficulties communicating with each other across disciplines.

Buddhists and yogis may know a little about this consciousness stuff, (maybe a lot about some of it) but in pre-scientific, idiosyncratic terms and from somewhat parochial perspectives. Many scientists have been eager to work with yogis and monks (the Dali Lamas says he has occasionally tried to encourage some of them) but little has actually been done in the lab. I imagine it will get done eventually.

Poor Richard

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Poor Richard
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

The point I was trying to make (poorly) is that much brain activity is not conscious and not even relevant to verbal reports of experience but is still correlated with behavior, health, and other value propositions.

A different kind of example is implicit associations. They are not part of the subjective experience but they influence behavior so they are discernible by appropriate testing. I'm not sure if any neural correlates have been discovered for them yet, but they should be a good candidate for fMRI studies.

Let me rephrase, understanding of experienced conscious states relies on the reports of the subject. What bodily functions occur outside of awareness, or which lead to conscious attainment, is another question

But reed9's points were really much better and more fundamental than mine.

First, certain brain injuries, physical abnormalities, methods of direct stimulation, etc. produce distinctive, reproducible and reportable alterations of subjective experience, suggesting a strong correlation between the mind and the meat. Correlation is not causation, but we are still getting some important information in this way that we don't get by direct "knowing", self-examination, mystical practices, religious revelations, etc.

Second, the "modular" or multi-threaded and mult-layered nature of consciousness has been somewhat teased apart by science. The brain has been found to have many semi-autonomous, specialized centers, layers and networks some of which contribute something to the "symphony" of reportable consciousness (intervention causes reportable differences) and others which cause no reportable changes but may still affect physiology or behavior. It may be that the tendency of regions of the brain to differentiate or specialize and to function semi autonomously is associated in abnormal cases of development with multiple personality disorders. Is the disorder an exaggeration of a normal brain balkanization? Maybe fMRIs combined with anatomical images and subjective reports could shed some light.

In any event we know much less about what consciousness is than about how it acts. The same is true for gravity and electromagnetism, for example. We understand gravity only by a set of behaviors of matter and energy, not by what its "basic essence" or "ultimate cause" may be (if indeed there is any distinction). But we know that it is strongly associated with mass and distance. Consciousness is strongly associated with brain in a similar way. Are we wasting our time studying gravity?

Association of two things is not proof that one aspect is non-existent. I honestly am not sure what you are asking. I have consistently supported the utility of science, so my answer is that we are not wasting our time with gravity

CLONES AND TWINS: The brains of two identical twins or clones, as with any other two people, would progressively diverge both physically and psychologically over time according to differences in environment ("nurture") even if "nature" at conception were identical.

I want to be respectful, but this is not the point. I understand given the human model that environmetal factors will create differences in any two initial set of twins. The point is that we could at least artificially create a moment of sameness, and it is that exact moment that I am asking to be considered. For me the point is best imagined on how a future you would relly be you again. But there is also a point about how science defines a body and consciousness

AI: Another issue someone brought up was meat vs metal (artificial intelligence). If we could functionally duplicate the biological brain down to the last neural detail, what would the distinctions in consciousness be? We can only guess. If we were able to "download" all the "data" from the meat to the metal, and the metal started acting just like the meat, how would we compare and contrast the subjective experience of each? I think we could make a pretty strong inference from careful, controlled observation of their behavior in various well-controlled tests and experiments. We could also ask them to share their own conclusions on the question with us, although we could never fully trust what the human said.

I think we agree here. My point is that it says something about the elusive nature of consciousness

Quote mattnapa: Well the point about astral projection is at least interesting. Why does putting some burden of evidence of you guys to explain consciousness somehow equate with the fact that bodies can be damaged?. Or at least the experential phenomenon associated with such things

Didn't you ever break up your toys to see how they worked?

Quote mattnapa: You asked why scientist thought what they do and this was my answer. The point was why is the brain "where" consciousness happens. It does need location does it not? All your points simply involve what the brasin might do once you have already made the assumption that consciousnees happens there

When you poke, cut, zap, etc. some piece of the brain it often changes the subject's subjective experience. That gives the strong suggestion that a "thread" of consciousness associated with that experience either originates there or is modulated there on its way from soewhere else to somewhere else. First the evidence, then the hypothesis, then the experiment, then the theory. It often starts with a very mundane, often chance observation like a frog leg twitching unexpedctedly. I understand this question is in some ways impossible to answer. Maybe you guys do not see the question in the same light feeling it is obvious that they are connected given the context of the situation. But I would hope you might see that it is very different from every other aspect of science in that we are now trying to associate matter directly with feeling. it may seem like a notion which is involved with a kind of every day common sense, but from the purely scientic view it is a quantum leap. To me the fact that location and consciousness seem to have a logical disconnect is once again a sign that consciousness and feeling elude the scientific model

Quote mattnapa:How about free-will?

The thread about denial, cognitive bias, etc. touches on that. The brain is much like a black box, even to its owner. We seldom know in any detail why we think or act as we do. The subjectively experienced part of consciousness is like an executive summary of all the stuff that happens in the black box.

We have learned some of the ways the brain can be tricked or manipulated, how it can be programmed and deprogrammed, how it can be affected by hormones and other chemicals, by electromagnetic stimulation, how it's neural structure or "fabric" develops and becomes progressively geographically specialized over many years in dynamic feedback with the environment, etc. and we are increasingly able to correlate many of these things with subjective experience. Why pursue such information? It already has many uses in medicine, mental health, communications, education, etc. Eventually it will probably allow us to develop machine analogs of the brain (AI) and to reverse engineer and perhaps re-engineer (in the meat, the metal, or both) the hardware, firmware, operating system, i/o interfaces, user interfaces, and application software of consciousness.

It is fair to say there are many correlations between neural activity, consciousness, and behavior where causation is unclear, but this is true throughout science. In natural science there is for all practical purposes an infinite regression of causes. The strongest causality is proximate cause and the causal links get weaker the farther "distal" from that you get. The "ultimate" cause will be the most weakly discernible or verifiable cause and will require the biggest and most expensive machine to detect.

Religious and spiritual narratives or practices may touch on some of this, but not in a very comprehensive way nor in a very portable way across religious, cultural, and lingusitic divides. One potential service that science offers humanity is as a neutral lingua franca or universal language that is portable across such personal, cultural, religious, and national boundaries. Of course, it would only be fair to say that scientists, often as not, have their share of difficulties communicating with each other across disciplines.

Buddhists and yogis may know a little about this consciousness stuff, (maybe a lot about some of it) but in pre-scientific, idiosyncratic terms and from somewhat parochial perspectives. Many scientists have been eager to work with yogis and monks (the Dali Lamas says he has occasionally tried to encourage some of them) but little has actually been done in the lab. I imagine it will get done eventually.

Poor Richard

It is all interesting, but what was your answer. I think whether we have free-will is a fairly conventional question. It seems like the answer was no, but I would like to make sure. I will say distal and proximal cause are not only rated in strength from the distance from the event. At least in the behavioral sense, it is clear that some significant life event can be seen as "more causitive" in the overall attitude of the individual than other cause more closely associated in time to some event.

I think there is some room here to grant each side some merit. I get the feeling from you guys that you are less inclined to do so, but I will openly admit that this can be my bias speaking.

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mattnapa
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

I can only imagine if you had been around when hand washing came into vogue, it would be, "How dare those academics with their 'statistical models' tell me how to care for my patients! It's probably just those damn soap companies out to make a buck."--reed9

What a stupid example of 'statistical analysis' in medical practice. Perhaps you ignored it but I'll point it out, along with any 'statistical analysis' that might be brought forth on the number of infections that occur in 'hand-washing' vs. those that don't, an explanation explaining the etiology behind why specifically hand-washing helps is also brought forth. 'Statistical analysis' without that etiology actuallly may be assessing how 'chocolate causes chicken pox'--and finding statistical numbers to 'prove it'....

You seem to keep ignoring that little nuanced point that no study that the 'imposers' are citing actually come to any explanation as to why it's nifedipine specifically that is causing these 'deleterious consequences' and not the fact that any agent that lowers blood pressure can lower the pressure too much in many circumstances which, in a few of the people, may indeed cause compromises in certain organs. But, that's not specific to nifedipine doing it (and any agent can have delerious consequences and side effects--you ever sat down and read a PDR?). And, remember, while it may make no difference to you as the condescending accuser that you are, there is actually a way to reverse that blood pressure lowering effect if need be (since it is a calcium channel blocking agent, administer IV calcium). That's clinically pertinent despite the stupid accusations of non-clinical personnel that just love to judge the actions of others without performing any actions, themselves....

I have of course referred you to various practicing doctors who disagree with you and whose opinions you dismissed without real consideration.

How do you know how much they practice? Are those 'practicing physicians' judging nifedipine use--and explaining why? Or, like yourself, just mouthing off what they believe to be 'authorities' in the issue. I've told you before, I've asked many practicing physicians (and nurses) about this and NOT ONE can give me an example of when nifedipine caused a significant and permenant complication.

I'm not quite as stupid about this issue as you give yourself a right to ignorantly presume. Let's say someone claims that my nifedipine has caused one of those complications. You come with your statistics to court. I come with the physicians that I have asked about their lack of complications of nifedipine's use. You claim a 'certain number of cases with adverse reactions' but, then, don't explain how that can't be any blood pressure lowering and is, somehow, specific to nifedipine because you really don't have an etiological explanation for your proposal--just some numbers that could actually apply to any blood pressure lowering agent. Then, I come with my practicing physicians that can say (like I do) that, after thirty years of its use, they have not experienced even one case as the 'statistics' show of an adverse complication that the 'statistics' list. Then, if we can imply that the study disclaiming nifedipine was paid for by a competitor, claim it shows no etiological mechanism behind its claim specific to nifedipine, claim that, unlike some dangerous blood pressue lowering agents, it at least has a mechanism that can reverse its effect if necessary (which I have never had to use after hundreds of uses), and, then, ask why it took over 20 years (and I am sure thousands upon thousands if not millions of times it has been used in that manner) to actually come up with this 'complication' (conveniently after it had 'gone generic'..)--and you might could see how a reasonable jury would have some thoughts about the claim....

I have already told the 'imposers' that if they will take up my liability as they try to tell me what to do, I'll gladly start doing it like the little automatons they seem to want practitioners to be. No one has taken me up on that offer. You have no fucking idea what you are talking about, reed9. Your claims are pure bullshit--including your 'trust' in 'statistical analysis'--especially without any concurring etiological mechanism to explain it (separately proveable). And, do me a favor--don't question my ability as a physician on this forum, again....until you can prove how you have ascertained that specifically to me. Got that, buddy?

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Kerry
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote kerry: And, do me a favor--don't question my ability as a physician on this forum, again....until you can prove how you have ascertained that specifically to me. Got that, buddy?

Sorry, buddy, but when you openly admit to ignoring the evidence based practices asked of you by your hospital and display a staggering ignorance of science and medicine with your AIDS denialism, then I will absolutely question your ability as a physician on this board or anywhere else. I would report you to your state medical board if I had the information to do so.

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reed9
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Apr. 8, 2010 11:26 am

Read above, dipshit. If the 'imposers' are ready to take on my liability, then they can tell me what to do and have me be the automaton that seems to serve their purposes (whatever those may be--or the reasons behind those may be). Otherwise, you and any of your kind have absolutely no justification of trying to tell me how to practice. If you and any of your kind are so sure about your point, then why don't you apply it and see where it gets you? I can make up my own mind--and, if I don't, I don't believe I should be practicing. Got that yet?

Now, you can bask in all your assurances that all those statistics are telling you everything there is to know about the 'proper medical practice', but you aren't going to get me to believe it on just your assertions alone. Got that yet?

Plus, and I will say this only one more time, if you have any claim on my capacity as a physician on this forum, I will ask you nicely to either keep it to yourself--or bring out how this specifically can relate to me because you have absolutely no right to judge either my character, my motivation, nor my capacity as a physician on a forum like this--and I am very serious about this point.

Otherwise, you can take your 'distracted Reiki-messaging expert' position and shove it where the sun don't shine. Got that yet?

Despite your condescending assurance as to what constitutes 'appropriate medical practice', I will stand with my knowledge that statistics CANNOT confirm anything on its own because I am well aware as to how statistics can be skewed and 'adjusted'. Like I said using spankycrissy's example, it's the Bariatric surgeons that are saying that Bariatric surgery 'statiscally cures diabetes'--but, unless they can show a study that every Bariatric patient that was previously diabetic can eat candy bar after candy bar and maintain the narrow levels of blood glucoes indicative of a patient without diabetes, they really haven't proven anything.....nor, by the way, 'cured' anything.....

By the way, you can get any 'medical board member' to come here and read anything that I have said and I will stand by every bit of it (it actually should be pretty obvious to you that I have 'exposed myself' to other physicians and hospital members with the story I have given you here--but, apparently, you are too fucking stupid to realize that--and they haven't 'threatened to go to the medical board' even if they disagree with me....and you give yourself that right, you fucking condescending ass..). Can you say the same for yourself, you condescending ass? Where's your 'knowledge' on HIV/AIDS? Where's your knowledge as to how viruses work? Where's your knowledge that everything about nifedipine, HIV/AIDS, 911, or any of the other contentions you so sanctimoniously assert 'assurances' over? Other than your 'point and click' bullshit, I haven't heard what you know ever coming from you. And, you give yourself the right to judge me. Go fuck yourself, you flaming ass. And, I do mean that in the most extensive way I can assert it...

Good day...

Kerry's picture
Kerry
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

reed9 and Kerry, because I have enjoyed and respected your posts and our discourse in the past, I must admit that I am bothered by the tone you have taken with each other. Reed9, you did go over the line of the personal and even a professional insult to defend your point about "standards of care' and the evidence-based science you see in conflict with what has been bad doctor practice in the past.

Hand-washing is a good point because it does tend to get short-changed by people who are really busy. Introducing a new theory to those who had practiced in patterns and been taught "truths" can be about authority and credentials instead of evidence and truth. I think we get this.

But Kerry has an essential point that is over-looked by the masters of health care policy (spending) and their interests in pharms and machinery and tests to line their own pockets. From "formularies" to "standards of care," money has too much say. What the people on the shop floor is not considered by those making the plans and sending them down to be implemented. ER experience will be dismissed when the number crunchers and salesmen are working with the administrators to avoid being sued.

I wish there were a better both/and at work, and when we get the profiteers out of the way, medicine will finally be able to be practiced as medicine instead of the insurance company dance.

And PR, of course knowing that the stories are not history or science is essential to their working as myths and metaphors. It is what has gone wrong with theism. But, the issues of history and science belong to the Enlightenment and the Age of Reason. Astrology and alchemy knew no such division. It was all one big mysterious reality.

I also agree that "supernatural" and other attempts to prove a reality beyond our epistemology are flawed because it is always about how we know what we "know." I think our interdependence is real and felt. How our biochemistry orchestrates the processing of the information we receive in every way we get it can confirm the poetry and imagination used to describe it before we knew that much science. It changes the way we imagine our mind working.

Imagine is the better word than thinking about our mind working because the frame is what we imagine. I think this is how we go beyond the Age of Reason without going back to superstition and security blanket religion. At the same time, I will not disparage the use of a symbol of comfort and security or a story that tells more truth than the reduction of science to some lie like Social Darwinism. The irony is that the coal miners of Tennessee had a better idea about the survival of the fittest than their masters. They knew that being food for the stronger rich was not a human story. But Darwin had not taught that either.

For those who have a simple view of the world and just hear the religious stories without doubting the science and history, "truth" often comes through in innocence. It is akin to the point about Liberation Theology where no priest had to interpret the exodus story. Peasants understood slaves being freed by God meant that they were really human and not the serfs and slaves their masters and the Masters' Church had told them they were. They got it straight out of the box.

Sometimes the heart is better than the "mind." The goal of faith is to connect the two in integrity. How we use words and what we think is real matters in everything we do.

DRC's picture
DRC
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Did Trump Commit Treason?

Thom plus logo News reports increasingly are suggesting that Donald Trump has committed treason in making a promise to a foreign leader. The question is, who is the foreign leader and what was the promise?
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