Sam Harris and Telepathy

 
 
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gtrmain
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08 July 2006 09:11
 

I enjoyed Sam's recent Salon interview, that is, until the end when Sam espoused his agnosticism concerning such things as 'consciousness surviving death' and telepathy.

Even though Sam says such things may ultimately be explained by science, it leaves the door open for scientific investigation into just about any wacky paranormal phenomena.  Sam should know that organizations like CSICOP (http//www.csicop.org/) have investigated such claims numerous times. And they are ALWAYS fraudulent.

Further Sam dissapointed me when he gave an "example of telepathy". Harris mentioned something he claims we all experience "knowing who is calling before you answer the phone". Say it ain't so Sam. For every "telepathic" experience like that there are countless others where we guess the wrong caller.  We only apply significance to those experiences when we guess correctly.

Dare I say Sam is a moderate on such paranormal claims and is indirectly protecting the wacky fringe. Ah the irony….

 
 
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nv
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08 July 2006 17:20
 

I like it that Sam Harris has views that contradict my own. As any thorough reader of this forum knows with certainty, I’ve got a few nutty views myself.

Nothing grates against my nerves like a group of people giving themselves up to the spiritual or political leadership of a charismatic figurehead. Mr. Harris doesn’t try to rally contributors to this forum in any way. His ego doesn’t need that kind of stroking. This site doesn’t even have advertising or fancy graphics. Cheers.

 
 
 
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Josie
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09 July 2006 00:45
 

...it leaves the door open for scientific investigation into just about any wacky paranormal phenomena.

hmmm…doesn’t the objectivity required by the scientific approach practically demand that no door remain closed?

I guess that was kind of an obvious statement.  It sounds kind of condescending.  I don’t mean to be that.  It’s just that, even though I hate to admit it, any claim, no matter how bizarre, at the very least deserves objective scrutiny.

The “wacky fringe” at one time espoused such impossibilities as flight to the moon…  :D

 
 
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gtrmain
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09 July 2006 03:11
 

homunculus,
The impression I got in Sam’s interview was the interviewer suckered him into portraying religion as unscientific (which I agree it is) yet telepathy and the like was an unanswered question. Based on current science, telepathy is not more unaswered than, say, miracles.

We all have the right to have nutty ideas and we should use our imagination as we speculate about uncharted territory. Yet telepathy is not uncharted it has been investigated and debunked. So far the evidence does not support anything outside a material world.

 
 
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gtrmain
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09 July 2006 03:21
 

Josie,
My point is, science HAS investigated claims of telepathy and they have been debunked.

As a supporter of science I agree all claims are to remain falsifiable, and if one day science evidence overwhelmingly indicates telepathy, or god(s), exists I can handle that.

Palaeontologist Richard Dawkins said (I’ll paraphrase), “We should all keep an open mind but not so much that our brains fall out!”

All the best,
Larry

 
 
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Josie
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09 July 2006 04:47
 

[quote author=“gtrmain”]Josie,
My point is, science HAS investigated claims of telepathy and they have been debunked.

I guess it could be argued that methodology is constantly evolving or instrumentation is refined and so the door can never quite be closed on study of the supernatural…oh, I don’t know.  I don’t even have the energy to continue this line of thought.  I am not a passionate advocate for ghosts and UFOs and little pink flower fairies.  :D

I was taken aback by Sam’s precognition example—as well as the last chapter of the book where he got rather spiritual—also.  Not that I found it distasteful—in the case of spirituality, quite the contrary.  I thought it provided a sort of healthy middle ground, and that might be why he has chosen to delve in somewhat fringe notions…?

Palaeontologist Richard Dawkins said (I’ll paraphrase), “We should all keep an open mind but not so much that our brains fall out!”

Hey!  I’m a fan of Dawkins.  But my favorite quote is the one he borrowed from someone else:

“History is just one damn thing after another.”  raspberry

Josie

 
 
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gtrmain
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09 July 2006 07:14
 

Josie,
I know what you mean about the instruments of science getting more powerful and refined. I agree with you that the door of science must always be open yet choosy about what it investigates.

Dawkins makes great use of the languange. I dig an analogy he made about the vastness of the universe sayng,“If you sent out a message, at the speed of light, the day Jesus was born (2000+ years ago) it would not even be out of our galaxy yet!” Facts like that blow the believer away but their comeback is “God is not constrained by his own laws.” They want it both ways.

 
 
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rab
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09 July 2006 07:38
 

I think everyone possesses an intuitive sense like the example Sam gave about knowing who is on the other end of the phone.

However, we can go too far the other way. Some of the rational explainations debunkers use are far fetched and asinine. One example is when debunkers of crop circles claimed that they were caused by whirlwinds. Sure, whirlwinds that can make geometric shapes like straight lines and triangles.

That is ridiculous. However, I do believe they were made by artists—earthly ones, that is.

Rational arguments need to be just that—rational.

 
 
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gtrmain
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09 July 2006 08:30
 

rab,
As a science supporter I can’t accept that intuition means we somehow psychically know who is calling.  We can make educated guesses, for example, if you owe someone money it is a good chance they are calling. Or if it is your birthday it is probably your Mom.

As for crop circles being “explained” wrongly, the point is scientists limit their search to physical (material) answers and they don’t always get it right. Yet no matter what the answer, even if it seems to be the right one, it is left open to being proven wrong (falsifiability).

All the best,
Larry

 
 
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nv
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09 July 2006 16:57
 

[quote author=“gtrmain”]homunculus,
The impression I got in Sam’s interview was the interviewer suckered him into portraying religion as unscientific (which I agree it is) yet telepathy and the like was an unanswered question. Based on current science, telepathy is not more unaswered than, say, miracles.

We all have the right to have nutty ideas and we should use our imagination as we speculate about uncharted territory. Yet telepathy is not uncharted it has been investigated and debunked. So far the evidence does not support anything outside a material world.

I see what you’re saying. My point is that I don’t know Sam Harris from a hole in the wall. He’s an author and graduate student who happens to be sufficiently confident and poised to have succeeded with a book about a topic that’s dear to my heart. It doesn’t matter to me in the least if Harris has odd notions about how the world works, and the fact that I naturally feel this was is exactly what I like about Harris. He studiously avoids leading a cult. His ideas about potential and actual harm inherent in superstitous thinking are so important to him that he’s unconcerned about injecting his personality into the world.

 
 
 
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mudfoot
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09 July 2006 20:52
 

Faith is believing something based on no evidence, and even in spite of evidence.  There are lots of other reasons why people have faulty beliefs.  Sam Harris picks on faith.  If Sam Harris believes in the possibility that something outlandish is true, then he’s only being inconsistent if his evidence is from faith.

 
The Agnostic Gnostic
 
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The Agnostic Gnostic
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10 July 2006 03:54
 

[quote author=“gtrmain”]r
As for crop circles being “explained” wrongly, the point is scientists limit their search to physical (material) answers and they don’t always get it right. Yet no matter what the answer, even if it seems to be the right one, it is left open to being proven wrong (falsifiability).

All the best,
Larry

And as “crop circles” demonstrate, the simplest explanation for a phenomenon is generally the right one.  If clearly deliberate asthetic geometric patterns show up in your crops, the first assumption should be that some human person put them there.

AG

 
 
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gtrmain
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10 July 2006 10:51
 

Mudfoot, Agnostic, Gnostic,

Doesn’t it always seem that telepathy, or intuition is ONLY good for forecasting the most trivial matters like knowing who is calling you before you answer, but where is our telepathy or intuition when it come to, say, warning us of planes flying into buildings.

As a science supporter I am open to hard evidence of telepathy but I am not holding my breath.

I hope Sam retracts or clarifies his thoughts on such matters.

 
 
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mudfoot
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10 July 2006 11:37
 

Here’s an interview which he provided for that specific reason:
 

 
 
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jdbear
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21 September 2006 14:45
 

[quote author=“gtrmain”]I enjoyed Sam’s recent Salon interview, that is, until the end when Sam espoused his agnosticism concerning such things as ‘consciousness surviving death’ and telepathy.
...
Dare I say Sam is a moderate on such paranormal claims and is indirectly protecting the wacky fringe. Ah the irony….

There is no room for the existence of consciousness at all in materialist view. Guess that is just another wacky fringe idea.