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Pretending to Believe?
Posted: 15 May 2009 09:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]  
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I think Salt should ghost write a book for burt. ‘Consciousness Studies Explained’

Dennett would be proud.

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Posted: 15 May 2009 12:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]  
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burt - 15 May 2009 12:24 PM

. . .  Face it, Salt sincerely believes that the only real science is what he does, and is jealous of the funding fMRI researchers get.

In case you’re talking to me here, burt, I’ll respond as though you are. Salt Creek, I’ll openly admit, has influenced my take on things over the past couple of years. But I felt every bit as ornery about the topic of this thread when I wrote this:
http://www.samharris.org/forum/viewthread/417/
as I do to this day. (Just in case you assume I’m a sock puppet. Not that I’d refuse being a ghost writer to a worthy thinker. Quite the opposite.)

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
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Posted: 15 May 2009 06:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]  
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Salt Creek - 15 May 2009 01:01 PM
burt - 15 May 2009 12:24 PM

Based on this argument we ought to worry about quantum mechanics being real science because of all the woo woo people come up with using it.  Face it, Salt sincerely believes that the only real science is what he does, and is jealous of the funding fMRI researchers get.

Not any more jealous than I am of Hollywood A-list producer/directors who make a far better living than 99.99% of scientists of any stripe. When someone like Burt is a capable mathematician in his twenties, and burns himself out on acid in his thirties or forties and ends up shilling for pseudo-science like “consciousness studies”, we just see the dry husk of an academic hack trying to hang on…

We do not worry about quantum mechanics being “real science” because of loci such as the electronics industry, where A-list directors also make a better living than eggheaded academic hacks.

Burt wants to hop on the bandwagon of publishing that took off with “The End of Faith”. The remainder shelves of bookstores are full of that crap, and there are few blockbusters. But burt is capable of writing only leaden prose and leaning on the reflected glory of Doris Lessing and Neal Stephenson, and needs a ghost writer in more ways than one. Think you’re going to be on the A-list, Burt? We know you have confidence in yourself. But you should be making nice to people who can write.

That’s why I’m hardly ever nice to you.  raspberry

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Posted: 15 May 2009 06:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]  
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unknown zone - 15 May 2009 04:49 PM
burt - 15 May 2009 12:24 PM

. . .  Face it, Salt sincerely believes that the only real science is what he does, and is jealous of the funding fMRI researchers get.

In case you’re talking to me here, burt, I’ll respond as though you are. Salt Creek, I’ll openly admit, has influenced my take on things over the past couple of years. But I felt every bit as ornery about the topic of this thread when I wrote this:
http://www.samharris.org/forum/viewthread/417/
as I do to this day. (Just in case you assume I’m a sock puppet. Not that I’d refuse being a ghost writer to a worthy thinker. Quite the opposite.)

The sorts of concern you express are basically concerns that people doing fMRI and such research seeking to identify brain areas with belief, etc., and what are called the neural correlates of consciousness do this carefully and properly according to good scientific practice.  Salt, on the other hand, simply dismisses all of this as nonsense.

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Posted: 16 May 2009 08:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]  
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Might it not be nonsense? Might it not really tell us much of anything?

So certain areas of the human brain ‘light up’ on fMRI’s when certain thoughts are introduced. So certain monoamines flow to certain areas of the brain when certain thoughts are introduced. So what? What does that actually tell us?

Belief. Everybody believes in something. I believe in natural origns. Billions of people believe in supernatural origins. So what? All of our brains would light up, if certain thoughts or ideas were introduced. This already has been proven and it is really no surprise.

A persons brain could light up thinkng about a baseball game as easily as it could light up thinking about god. What does that really tell us? It tells us what we enjoy or what makes us feel good.

Faith or belief seems to be more of a learned cultural element than a biological physiological element.

Some people believe and learn to disbelieve and some people disbelieve and learn to believe. Some people always believe and some people always disbelieve. If we were hardwired biologically to be one way or the other, how could all this diversity happen?

Many people want to find a ‘belief module’ or a ‘God Gene’ but It looks like the human brain is just not that simple. All of us are capable of belief or disbelief regardless of how our brains light up.

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‘If ignorance of nature gave birth to gods, knowledge of nature destroys them’

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Posted: 18 May 2009 07:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]  
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From The God Spot

Might as well pop this in here. Caught this on the way in from a series this week on NPR. Researchers are once again using psychedelics and technology to help answer our most fundamental questions.


http://www.npr.org/

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=10424074

Since when do we pass up scientific documentation of the functioning brain?

The pretenders probably can’t even relate to the reported experience because they’ve never had it, but they sure do believe those that have, the Bible is replete with them. They become the leaders, prophets and authority figures to the gullible, who simply don’t want to replace it with anything else.

Think Bruce will ever be convinced that his experience wasn’t of divine origin? Neither will the pretenders believe that Bruce’s experience wasn’t just that.

I still see two separate groups here.

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Posted: 19 May 2009 09:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]  
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goodgraydrab - 18 May 2009 11:56 PM

They [those that have had the reported experience] become the leaders, prophets and authority figures to the gullible, who simply don’t want to replace it with anything else.

I disagree.  I think the leaders are the biggest pretenders of all, although they pretend for a different reason than all those useful idiots who pretend to believe in order to fit in.  I’m convinced the Pope is an atheist, or at best an agnostic. 

And that holds true for more than just religion.  Our patriotic leaders who “believe” in America, the Captains of Industry who “believe” in free market capitalism, or the dictators of totalitarian regimes who “believe” in communism—they’re all greedy, power-hungry liars.

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Do-gooding is like treating hemophilia—the real cure is to let hemophiliacs bleed to death, before they breed more hemophiliacs. -Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

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Posted: 20 May 2009 02:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]  
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Antisocialdarwinist - 20 May 2009 01:11 AM

I disagree.

Yes, I agree. I had been meaning to add that the eclectic view to which I hold would suggest both situations to be significantly influenced in one shape or another, with a lot of overlapping and intermeshing of ideas and behaviors encompassed in this subject universe.

The research though is great because it would lead to understanding the processes of self-induced related brain states, and those from outside sources, like the environment such as electro magnetic waves that may be concentrated in certain geographical areas more than others. Gets me thinking again of the expected flip in the earth’s magnetic poles. When is that supposed to happen?

Which leads me to a question. Why am I under the impression that short of Ghostbuster nuclear powered proton packs and de-materializers, that we should have the equipment and technology now, that would detect whatever divine and spiritual sources that are claimed to exist. I mean, spirits show up to television studios and talk to people, and what greater controls than over a near death/death situation involving angels and white lights in emergency and operating rooms?

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Posted: 20 May 2009 08:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]  
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goodgraydrab - 20 May 2009 06:56 PM

Which leads me to a question. Why am I under the impression that short of Ghostbuster nuclear powered proton packs and de-materializers, that we should have the equipment and technology now, that would detect whatever divine and spiritual sources that are claimed to exist. I mean, spirits show up to television studios and talk to people, and what greater controls than over a near death/death situation involving angels and white lights in emergency and operating rooms?

You don’t need all that stuff to detect divine and spiritual sources.  All you need is to believe.

goodgraydrab - 20 May 2009 06:56 PM

The research though is great because it would lead to understanding the processes of self-induced related brain states, and those from outside sources, like the environment such as electro magnetic waves that may be concentrated in certain geographical areas more than others. Gets me thinking again of the expected flip in the earth’s magnetic poles. When is that supposed to happen?

I don’t think there is any difference between self-induced brain states and brain states that result from outside sources, be they direct experience or electromagnetic waves.  You can prove this to yourself if you’re willing to spend a few weeks learning to touch type (if you already touch type, then you can re-learn it on a different keyboard layout, like the Dvorak keyboard).  Once you’ve memorized the keyboard layout, alternate between practicing for real for a week and imagining that you’re typing for a week.  At the end of each week, give yourself a typing test.  I think you’ll find, based on my own personal experience, that your improvement is about the same whether you’re actually practicing or just visualizing. 

The Soviets conducted a similar study on Olympic shooters.  They had one group do nothing but imagine they were practicing shooting for some time period; a control group practiced with real rifles and ammo.  The results showed that visualization, if done correctly, is nearly as effective as actual practice.  In either case, it’s just a matter of making and strengthening synaptic connections.  Your synapses can’t tell whether the input is real or self-induced.

The magnetic poles will switch when the government decides it’s time, by using the HARP radar up in Alaska.  First it raises the ionosphere; then it swaps poles.  It’s like lifting the lid off a pot on the stove so you can turn the pot roast inside.

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Do-gooding is like treating hemophilia—the real cure is to let hemophiliacs bleed to death, before they breed more hemophiliacs. -Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land

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Posted: 21 May 2009 11:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]  
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Antisocialdarwinist - 21 May 2009 12:48 AM

You don’t need all that stuff to detect divine and spiritual sources.  All you need is to believe.

True. There’s no point in looking under every last space rock for something that’s allegedly everywhere.

I don’t think there is any difference between self-induced brain states and brain states that result from outside sources, be they direct experience or electromagnetic waves.  You can prove this to yourself if you’re willing to spend a few weeks learning to touch type (if you already touch type, then you can re-learn it on a different keyboard layout, like the Dvorak keyboard).  Once you’ve memorized the keyboard layout, alternate between practicing for real for a week and imagining that you’re typing for a week.  At the end of each week, give yourself a typing test.  I think you’ll find, based on my own personal experience, that your improvement is about the same whether you’re actually practicing or just visualizing. 

The Soviets conducted a similar study on Olympic shooters.  They had one group do nothing but imagine they were practicing shooting for some time period; a control group practiced with real rifles and ammo.  The results showed that visualization, if done correctly, is nearly as effective as actual practice.  In either case, it’s just a matter of making and strengthening synaptic connections.  Your synapses can’t tell whether the input is real or self-induced.

That’s a good description of how learning takes place and how particular neuro pathways are formed. Still, I would suspect that for other types of experiences, other chemical factors and involvement of different brain areas are significant in their effects. As long as the particular process in the brain can be reasonably replicated from whatever the source, then there should be little to no difference in the resulting effect. But, I would expect that other variables such as the conscious and willful nature of self-thought and motivation, plus personal and cultural associations might vary the perceptions, descriptions and meaning of the experience, thus, what and how it is learned. The bottom line is, will believers ever accept that of all the scientific explanations of how the process takes place, including the mechanisms and sources, none of them will include god as a variable. You’re right, one factor is the thought of god (belief), not an actual god (if only we could get our hands on one), and it’s only found in the human brain, which we now hold in our hands to examine.

The magnetic poles will switch when the government decides it’s time, by using the HARP radar up in Alaska.  First it raises the ionosphere; then it swaps poles.  It’s like lifting the lid off a pot on the stove so you can turn the pot roast inside.

Alaska?!? Please don’t let Palin near it. I also saw where it may cause massive holes in the ozone layer so that significant increases in radiation in our atmosphere may occur.

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