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Posted: 06 April 2008 04:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 46 ]  
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Salt Creek - 06 April 2008 08:52 AM

This is so draconian, even I cannot underwrite it. Is a bacterium alive? Is a virus alive? It’s [Life] not the opposite of anything, but rather a particular configuration of a set of atoms and molecules.

since I don’t think your a pantheist how is this not a materialist view that there is no such thing as life/living just different “configurations of atoms”?

Salt Creek - 06 April 2008 05:22 PM

One way of looking at it is to consider life as a system of auto-catalyzing and cross-catalyzing biochemical reactions taking place inside a membrane open to the passage of matter and energy and capable of self-replication and response to changes in its environment such that it is subject to evolution by natural selection. There, doesn’t that pare away some of the magical thinking associated with this discussion?

OK, so lets define things that meet the above as Life, and define things that don’t non-life. Agreed. Then show where it is logically incorrect to assign 0 to non-life and 1 to life.

Not semantics, actually. I offered you in all seriousness a set of criteria to use for talking about life.

Sure…......

Did I leave something out, or are you just acting out the role of some amateur philosopher trying to distill the essence of existence for the nth time?

Unless you are anyone is born with all the answers to all the questions then we are all just amateur philosophers trying to distill the essence of existence. The difference between any two is a matter degree and not the kind that you hang on the wall. 

Do you want to understand how “death” occurs? In a single-cell organism it is because that system of reactions stops. In a multi-cellular organism, you can see that cell division has stopped.

Do you think your the only one who understands and/or has an idea of life and death? All the rest of us oboe playing, oxygen thieving, ignorant fuck wit rubes think its magic….......

[ Edited: 06 April 2008 04:29 PM by GAD]
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Posted: 06 April 2008 04:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 47 ]  
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Don’t you hate those damn email notifications! Especially when they get sent before you get your edits in.

Did I leave something out, or are you just
acting out the role of some prick philosopher trying to distill the essence of existence?

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Posted: 06 April 2008 06:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 48 ]  
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GAD - 06 April 2008 08:26 PM

Then show where it is logically incorrect to assign 0 to non-life and 1 to life.

There’s a simple cellular automaton recurrence simulation on a square grid invented by John Conway called, ironically enough, “Life”, in which a cell is either “live” (1) or “dead” (0). It has some other rules, such that a cell can “die” from loneliness (not having enough “live” neighbors, or from overcrowding (having too many live neighbors), or can be “born” by having just the right amount of neighbors. It does some very interesting things, like show complex behavior can arise from a recursion of simple rules, but leaves everything else out.

Your analogy is not logically incorrect, GAD, it just doesn’t lead to anything very interesting (except maybe for prick philosophers) unless you specify some more rules.

[ Edited: 06 April 2008 06:47 PM by Traces Elk]
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Posted: 06 April 2008 09:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 49 ]  
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I agree that “consciousness” is incompletely understood scientifically, and I also agree that people can say whatever they like about it becuase of that.  But I find pondering the idea of consciousness interesting and relevant.  Just because something can’t be seen through a microscope or weighed on a scale, or measured in some way by laboratory equipment does not render it invalid or unimportant.  It may be uninteresting to some, but it is not uninteresting to me.
    I think it’s pretty natural that topics like death and consciousness and the cycles of life would crop up in a forum like this.  This is not a scientific laboratory.  ( yes, that is an understatement)  It is the Sam Harris forum.  It is about the End of Faith, and Letter to a Christian Nation, and the pros and cons of religion.  It is about science and superstition, reason and logic, irrationality and fanaticism.  It is about the human mind and the evolution of consciousness.  It’s about how we treat one another.  These topics are significant and interesting to me.  I came to this forum because I couldn’t stay in my religion anymore.  This experience was, and still is, traumatic for me.  It’s hard when you’ve been brought up to believe in a personal saviour god to realize that you don’t believe what you have been taught to believe. I think there are alot of people like me out there who are just trying to find their way, and figure things out.  I’m interested in knowing about consciousness—about perception and awareness and mindfulness.  I’m even interested in knowing if I have a “spirit” or a “soul” (but not necessarily the kind described in the Bible…)  I’m here to learn about this stuff.  I want to hear what people have to say about death and consciousness, even if they can’t yet provide proof. Sometimes, it helps just to talk about it.

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Posted: 06 April 2008 11:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 50 ]  
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Salt Creek - 06 April 2008 10:44 PM

Your analogy is not logically incorrect, GAD, it just doesn’t lead to anything very interesting (except maybe for prick philosophers) unless you specify some more rules.

Not to over shadow Woofy’s sentiments, but interesting to whom? Interesting is subjective, yet you state it as an objective fact. In the same sentence with the term “prick philosophers” no less. Now that’s funny! LOL!

FYI for those interested.

Read about the game of life:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conway’s_Game_of_Life

Play the game of life:
http://www.math.com/students/wonders/life/life.html

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Posted: 10 April 2008 04:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 51 ]  
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Antisocialdarwinist - 03 April 2008 12:00 AM

Your argument, that we “don’t know if [death] is pleasant or unpleasant…until we actually experience it” is ridiculous.  You can’t “experience” death.  There’s nothing to experience!

If you consider death to not be an experience than it must be -1. So whats zero?

Believing that death (the state of being dead) might be pleasant or unpleasant is no different than believing in God.

 

Quite the contrary. Its an admission of the unknown. Or have you been dead before?

[ Edited: 10 April 2008 05:01 AM by meloncolin]
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Posted: 10 April 2008 05:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 52 ]  
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meloncolin - 10 April 2008 08:54 AM

Believing that death (the state of being dead) might be pleasant or unpleasant is no different than believing in God.

Quite the contrary. Its an admission of the unknown. Or have you been dead before?

An admission of the unknown does not properly include a pronouncement about the nature of that unknown. We can’t get to things like the quality or character of that about which we don’t know. It is the same basic error that believers make by presuming there’s a god or a creative force or an ultimate authority. We don’t even know if pleasant or unpleasant will apply. If we’re simply cognitively non-existent, for example, which seems the most likely state of being dead, how would pleasant or unpleasant even apply?

I think a solid foundation for properly disciplined skepticism and general intellectual responsibility requires that we conscientiously accept what “I don’t know” is all about, in full.

Byron

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Posted: 11 April 2008 10:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 53 ]  
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meloncolin - 10 April 2008 08:54 AM

If you consider death to not be an experience than it must be -1. So whats zero?

I don’t follow that logic.  A non-experience is a zero.  Negative experiences are negative, and positive experiences are positive.

meloncolin - 10 April 2008 08:54 AM

Believing that death (the state of being dead) might be pleasant or unpleasant is no different than believing in God.

 

Quite the contrary. Its an admission of the unknown. Or have you been dead before?

No, it’s not an admission of the unknown, any more than believing there might be a God is an admission of the unknown.  Both are admissions that you are willing to take a delusion on faith.

I agree with GAD here, that death (the state of being dead) is identical to the state of not having been born.  They are both the state of not existing.  I didn’t exist up until 45 years ago. Therefore, I feel qualified in stating that not existing is neither pleasant or unpleasant; neither positive or negative. 

That, and the fact that experience can only come from functioning neurons.  I think we both agree that our neurons stop functioning after death?

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Posted: 12 April 2008 02:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 54 ]  
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SkepticX - 10 April 2008 09:34 AM

An admission of the unknown does not properly include a pronouncement about the nature of that unknown. We can’t get to things like the quality or character of that about which we don’t know. It is the same basic error that believers make by presuming there’s a god or a creative force or an ultimate authority.

Can’t the same be said for people who stake their claim to knowing, with certainty, that life ends with death? That is a claim to the outcome of death based on a very orthodox idea (that all experience can be explained as brain function etc) which is considered proven beyond question, even though many other scientists regard that hypothesis flawed and contradicted by various peices of evidence. Isn’t it more honest to admit that we aren’t sure what happens at death and remain undecided until convinced otherwise?

We don’t even know if pleasant or unpleasant will apply. If we’re simply cognitively non-existent, for example, which seems the most likely state of being dead, how would pleasant or unpleasant even apply?



Perhaps i should have added ‘or neither’ after pleasant/unpleasant. I’m not saying that death would have to be either of those feelings or that it would even have to be framed in the same way as all other human experience is, I’m just inquiring. The question of weather or not any kind of emotion could still be involved in cognitive non-existance is going to depend on everybody’s own position regarding the brain-consciousness relationship and weather or not NDE studies are worth the paper they are written on.

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Posted: 12 April 2008 03:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 55 ]  
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Antisocialdarwinist - 12 April 2008 02:07 AM

I don’t follow that logic.  A non-experience is a zero.  Negative experiences are negative, and positive experiences are positive.

Zero is still a number, it’s not a negative. If negative experiences were negative then wouldn’t they be represented by -1? Is there a reason why it couldn’t be -1?

No, it’s not an admission of the unknown, any more than believing there might be a God is an admission of the unknown.  Both are admissions that you are willing to take a delusion on faith.

If I were making a claim to what happens after death, then I’d agree with you but I’m not, so I don’t.

It’s obvious why you would regard my comments as faith. Either you haven’t realized, or you disagree, that the science you’ve banked your position on regarding the nature of perception actually has a lot of good questions hanging over it, questions that leave many scientists unconvinced for good reasons. Your certainty is based on an unproven theory. 

I agree with GAD here, that death (the state of being dead) is identical to the state of not having been born.  They are both the state of not existing.  I didn’t exist up until 45 years ago. Therefore, I feel qualified in stating that not existing is neither pleasant or unpleasant; neither positive or negative.

What you call ‘you’ requires a brain, a whole heap of experiences and some learned behaviour . What about consciousness itself?

That, and the fact that experience can only come from functioning neurons.

 

Like I said, that ‘fact’ is far from conclusive.

[ Edited: 12 April 2008 11:58 AM by meloncolin]
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Posted: 12 April 2008 10:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 56 ]  
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meloncolin - 12 April 2008 07:52 AM

What about consciousness itself?

Since you haven’t bothered to specify what “consciousness” is, your question is ridiculous.

For most people, a sharp whack on the head is enough to interrupt “consciousness” (as medically defined). So you must be talking about “identity” or “life force” or “existence of the self” or some other equally inane blather.

Your flat rejection of the concept of “fact” simply shows how little respect you have for science, personally:

Like I said, that ‘fact’ is far from conclusive.

Your proposals denying that “experience” is supported only by neuronal activity (or in simpler life forms, by simpler chemical receptors) are unsupported by legitimate research. By the way, nobody but you here wants to talk about “consciousness” and “experience” as other than physical phenomena that should be carefully characterized by physical measurements, before lapsing into nonsense about “death is a 0 or -1, and life is a 1”.

Life is supported by biochemical reactions, including metabolic chemistry and neuro-electro-chemistry.

the science you’ve banked your position on regarding the nature of perception actually has a lot of good questions hanging over it

I didn’t think we were talking about perception, but about whether death can be represented by a number. Your perceptual mileage may differ, depending on the severity of your anxiety about mortality.

questions that leave many scientists unconvinced for good reasons

It’s obvious here that you are playing fast and loose with the words “many” and “scientists”. You cannot support your statement, and are trying to represent a personal belief/neurosis of yours as a respectable avenue of inquiry. Mainly, you have a deep and irrational fear and hatred of science.

meloncolin - 12 April 2008 06:59 AM

Can’t the same be said for people who stake their claim to knowing, with certainty, that life ends with death? That is a claim to the outcome of death based on a very orthodox idea (that all experience can be explained as brain function etc) which is considered proven beyond question, even though many other scientists regard that hypothesis flawed and contradicted by various peices of evidence. Isn’t it more honest to admit that we aren’t sure what happens at death and remain undecided until convinced otherwise?

“Life” ends with “death”, mel, otherwise we wouldn’t have two different words for those states. But now you’re equating “consciousness” with “life”. Is a bacterium “conscious”? Is a butterfly? Experience is what enables you to respond to your environment. Dead things do not respond to their environment other than by turning into organic goo.

This is not about making claims of absolute certainty. Your disrespect of science is abhorrent. I don’t think a person of your persuasion and prejudice is capable of evaluating the preponderance of the evidence and deciding that an idea has been authoritatively debunked. If you want to express beliefs of faith about “existence after death”, why be skeptical at all? You are plainly a hopeless crank about this issue, and probably think that addressing yourself to dead people is a worthwhile pastime.

[ Edited: 12 April 2008 11:08 AM by Traces Elk]
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Posted: 12 April 2008 12:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 57 ]  
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meloncolin - 12 April 2008 06:59 AM
SkepticX - 10 April 2008 09:34 AM

An admission of the unknown does not properly include a pronouncement about the nature of that unknown. We can’t get to things like the quality or character of that about which we don’t know. It is the same basic error that believers make by presuming there’s a god or a creative force or an ultimate authority.

Can’t the same be said for people who stake their claim to knowing, with certainty, that life ends with death? That is a claim to the outcome of death based on a very orthodox idea (that all experience can be explained as brain function etc) which is considered proven beyond question, even though many other scientists regard that hypothesis flawed and contradicted by various peices of evidence. Isn’t it more honest to admit that we aren’t sure what happens at death and remain undecided until convinced otherwise?

Wow.

Please see the many refutations of the ever persistent “you can’t know there’s no god” argument. The argument and the refutations are the same, just using different terms.

Byron

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Posted: 12 April 2008 02:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 58 ]  
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Salt Creek - 12 April 2008 02:46 PM

Your proposals denying that “experience” is supported only by neuronal activity (or in simpler life forms, by simpler chemical receptors) are unsupported by legitimate research.

It sounds like you may have read some of this ‘illegitimate’ research that counters the idea of life being entirely a product of chemicals and neural networks, are you referring to anything specific there?

By the way, nobody but you here wants to talk about “consciousness”

By nobody you mean you, right?

Life is supported by biochemical reactions, including metabolic chemistry and neuro-electro-chemistry.

You’ve accused me (quite fairly) of failing to define certain terms. I might just accuse you of failing to define that rather big one.

I didn’t think we were talking about perception, but about whether death can be represented by a number

.

I don’t think ‘we’ were. Myself and somebody else might have been.

Anyway, how can you expect perception and consciousness not to emerge in a conversation about life and death?

It’s obvious here that you are playing fast and loose with the words “many” and “scientists”. You cannot support your statement, and are trying to represent a personal belief/neurosis of yours as a respectable avenue of inquiry

There are have been various studies published either privatley or in major journals suggestive of consciousness after clinical death. Jim Tucker, Ian Stevenson, Michael Sabom, Bruce Greyson, Van Lommel, Ray Moody,Kenneth Ring…. take your pick.

You’re right of course, I could have/should have articulated to begin with and saved myself from having to type this 23 word sentence.

I was hesitant to for fear that the thread may deviate from it’s topic so far as to become unrecognizable, as it may start to now. Add that to the other fear I had of incurring your wrath which I thought might result in a ™ or an ® placed next to whatever I say. Perhaps even a ©.

Mainly, you have a deep and irrational fear and hatred of science.

Now I really feel like somebody who has questioned the church and been accused of heresy.

If it makes you feel better to believe that I ‘hate science’ (I gather you got the impression from those hundreds of posts I’ve apparently made denouncing the scientific method and the evils it wreaks on humanity and/or you’re still sore from that Buddhism thread) then by all means, continue. I’ll even promise not to come into your church smile.

This is not about making claims of absolute certainty.

Yet you talk as if you’re certain that you’re right….

Your disrespect of science is abhorrent.

Sorry, Dad.

I guess the prestige card was going to be played (by you) sooner or later.

I don’t think a person of your persuasion and prejudice is capable of evaluating the preponderance of the evidence and deciding that an idea has been authoritatively debunked.

That sounds like a dismissal based on personal grounds, not scientific ones. That can’t be good for the relationship.

If you want to express beliefs of faith about “existence after death”, why be skeptical at all?

You say that as If I speak with unrelenting conviction on these matters.

I’m not ‘certain’ of any of the various hypothesis on the outcomes of death. I consider each ones’ value based on the evidence at hand and what that evidence is suggestive of.

You are plainly a hopeless crank

What an ugly thing to say. On a side note, I can’t say I’ve ever cared much for ugliness.

It’s funny you would say such a thing after throwing words like ‘disrespect’ at me.

and probably think that addressing yourself to dead people is a worthwhile pastime.

Well I can’t say I’m surprised that you’d resign me to the ‘voodoo/Wu Wu’ out tray when it came to this issue. Hell, you even continued to do it when I posted evidence of the effects on the brain that meditation has.

Ho-Hum.

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Posted: 12 April 2008 02:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 59 ]  
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SkepticX - 12 April 2008 04:30 PM

Wow.

Please see the many refutations of the ever persistent “you can’t know there’s no god” argument. The argument and the refutations are the same, just using different terms.

Byron

Byron, this doesn’t address the core of the problem- that the gold standard negative-to-be-disproven that you, as far as i can tell, are operating on, is not as solid as many take it for. I argue that on the basis of evidence, not on the basis of logic-twisting.

[ Edited: 12 April 2008 03:04 PM by meloncolin]
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Posted: 12 April 2008 05:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 60 ]  
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meloncolin - 12 April 2008 06:37 PM

There are have been various studies published either privatley or in major journals suggestive of consciousness after clinical death. Jim Tucker, Ian Stevenson, Michael Sabom, Bruce Greyson, Van Lommel, Ray Moody,Kenneth Ring…. take your pick.

You’re right of course, I could have/should have articulated to begin with and saved myself from having to type this 23 word sentence.

I was hesitant to for fear that the thread may deviate from it’s topic so far as to become unrecognizable, as it may start to now. Add that to the other fear I had of incurring your wrath which I thought might result in a ™ or an ® placed next to whatever I say. Perhaps even a ©.

Sonny, Journal Of Near Death Studies (whom anyone can examine by googling and including a search for springerlink) ceased publication in July 2003. To date, there have been no “reports from the dark side” giving evidence that this journal has had any sort of life after death, as might be represented by citations of its articles in, say, the Journal of Chemical Physics. Or perhaps Psychology Today or Reader’s Digest.

I took a quick glance through the contents of the last several issues, and almost no one publishing in its pages listed any sort of academic credentials.

The community of Near-Death Experience “researchers” consists of psychologists and various medical personnel (including an M.D., or two obviously indulging their private ideology) who mainly communicate with one another only - there is no cross-fertilization with other fields of science. About half the pages written by these folks are merely fulminations against the refusal of academic science to accept Near-Death studies as legitimate, or arguing against the philosophy of materialism. This is largely because the body of research consists entirely of anecdotal reports recorded from people who, to no one’s surprise, have had near death experiences. So far, we have still not heard from one single actually, authentically dead person.

Emblematic of crank science of all kinds is the reliance on anecdotal “evidence” and where these cranks purport to have made “measurements”, the ‘signal’ is not statistically distinct from the ‘noise’, which is considerable, since it is coming from a community of cranks.

Consider how paradoxical it is to speculate about post-death existence, since, by definition, it is impossbile even to get an anecdotal report on it. Near death experiences are irrelevant to your speculation, and are adequately explained by the conniptions of a brain deprived of nutrients while the body is struggling not to shut down. Of course, “adequate” explanations are of no value to cranks like you. You are welcome to indulge your personal mania about this, and even to do so in public, as you are doing here. You seem to be in the throes of Near-Dolt Exhibitionism (NDE) and incapable of experiencing embarrassment.

Finally, if there were credible evidence that this was a worthwhile line of endeavor, you would be able to cite the names of hundreds of scientists at dozens of big-name medical institutions frantically trying to get a hold of one of the low-hanging branches of the money tree. Who is funding the research of your big guys Tucker, Stevenson, Ring, Sabom, and the rest? The Templeton Foundation? The Journal of Irreproducible Results?

[ Edited: 12 April 2008 05:42 PM by Traces Elk]
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