‹ First  < 4 5 6 7 8 > 
 
   
 

James Randi coments on Sam Harris

 
M is for Malapert
 
Avatar
 
 
M is for Malapert
Total Posts:  1606
Joined  23-09-2006
 
 
 
25 June 2007 12:25
 

[quote author=“mahahaha”][quote author=“M is for Malapert”]

I am not exactly saying that pot is a factor in the occurence of woo.  I am saying that there is a correlation.

Totally agree.  Not to mention a certain brand of politics.  Bill Maher is a proud and admitted pothead, with whom I agree about 95% of the time.  There’s something about THC and grokking the bigger picture and seeing through b.s.

Yeah, but I’m not a pothead—not that I wouldn’t love to be; I just can’t stand the anxiety—and I do think I am equally able to see the bigger picture and detect b.s.

That’s why I say there is a correlation.  Possibly it’s just something in the air. 

I say that I have been permanently affected, and have a tendency to depression and to musing on the impermanence of it all, because of growing up close to the northern California coast.  You’d optimistically buy shorts and “crop tops” for summer days, and wind up in flannel and long jeans.  Anyway, exposed skin was out of the question because of the poison oak. 

My friends and I would be playing on the swing set in bright sun at our summer house on Wagnon Road, and suddenly… a chill.  We’d look up and there would be that white bulk rising over the western hill, blotting out the sun.  Fog prematurely terminates every summer’s day, if it doesn’t last all day.

Swimming lessons at 8 in the morning were a hell of sunless freezing water.  We’d sit in miserable blue rows, teeth chattering, outside Ives Pool in Sebastopol waiting for our parents to pick us up.

My mother spent her first summer in California when my father was a postgraduate student at UC Berkeley.  (Post graduation from the Naval Academy; otherwise plain graduate student.)  She said that she thought she’d commit suicide if she woke up to one more gray, cold summer day.

Sebastopol has its 4th of July fireworks on the 3rd (so people can see the ones in Santa Rosa too).  Going to the fireworks entails wearing one’s heaviest clothes, bringing blankets, thermoses of hot drinks, etc. etc.  By nightfall, it is bitterly cold and just gets colder. I will never forget my first summer in Minnesota.  We went to fireworks on the 4th.  It was HOT.  People were wearing shorts.  Not a breath of air.  Just SO WRONG.

Sir Francis Drake, sailing down the coast of northern California in a June during the Little Ice Age (1579), said that he had never experienced a winter in London as cold as that coast in summer.  (He even reported snow-covered mountains; not a feature of today’s summers, though even today most crops fail west of the fog line; hence Sonoma and Marin County’s sheep and dairy farms resulting in empty landscapes once you go far enough west.  Where I live, the dividing line is O’Farrell Hill on Bodega Highway about 4 miles west of Sebastopol.  Coming home from the coast, you get to the top of O’Farrell Hill and look eastward to a landscape of neat farms and orchards - divided into rural ranchettes mostly today, too bad.)

Anyway, I say that kind of weather has its effect on the brain.  I did not experience Seasonal Affective Disorder in Minnesota because I was already Seasonally Affected by growing up in the fog.

 
 
mahahaha
 
Avatar
 
 
mahahaha
Total Posts:  375
Joined  12-10-2006
 
 
 
25 June 2007 12:28
 

[quote author=“M is for Malapert”][quote author=“mahahaha”]
I’ve been a pothead for close to 50 years, and lack the brain cells to prove it.  :wink:

Now we know why you wrote “Remember what the doorknob said”...  :D

Crickey.  That should read 40 years.  Proving, I suppose, the point.

 
 
M is for Malapert
 
Avatar
 
 
M is for Malapert
Total Posts:  1606
Joined  23-09-2006
 
 
 
25 June 2007 12:35
 

[quote author=“mahahaha”][quote author=“M is for Malapert”][quote author=“mahahaha”]
I’ve been a pothead for close to 50 years, and lack the brain cells to prove it.  :wink:

Now we know why you wrote “Remember what the doorknob said”...  :D

Crickey.  That should read 40 years.  Proving, I suppose, the point.

No comment, but—

Does a dog have Buddha nature?

 
 
burt
 
Avatar
 
 
burt
Total Posts:  14657
Joined  17-12-2006
 
 
 
25 June 2007 13:03
 

[quote author=“M is for Malapert”][quote author=“mahahaha”][quote author=“M is for Malapert”][quote author=“mahahaha”]
I’ve been a pothead for close to 50 years, and lack the brain cells to prove it.  :wink:

Now we know why you wrote “Remember what the doorknob said”...  :D

Crickey.  That should read 40 years.  Proving, I suppose, the point.

No comment, but—

Does a dog have Buddha nature?

Ask woffy

 
eucaryote
 
Avatar
 
 
eucaryote
Total Posts:  3470
Joined  20-08-2006
 
 
 
25 June 2007 13:03
 

[quote author=“M is for Malapert”][quote author=“mahahaha”][quote author=“M is for Malapert”][quote author=“mahahaha”]
I’ve been a pothead for close to 50 years, and lack the brain cells to prove it.  :wink:

Now we know why you wrote “Remember what the doorknob said”...  :D

Crickey.  That should read 40 years.  Proving, I suppose, the point.

No comment, but—

Does a dog have Buddha nature?

If there be such a thing, dogs got it!

 
 
eucaryote
 
Avatar
 
 
eucaryote
Total Posts:  3470
Joined  20-08-2006
 
 
 
26 June 2007 06:40
 

I know very little about scientology except that it must be woo-woo of the first order.

Here’s an interesting tidbit about the German govt. not allowing Tom Cruise to visit german military bases while playing a role because of his scientology.

Why is the German military so freaked out about run of the mill woo-woo?

 

On a related topic, it seems that we will never get rid of woo-woo. I guess I’m being dense for just now realizing this but it appears that woo-woo just springs spontaneously from the human “mind”, such as it is. It would seem that that this side effect of “mind” represents a major evolutionary defect that works at odds with the organisms survival possibilities.
Sam Harris is fond of bringing up modern day gurus that seem to spring from the earth. We have our own more modern day, white man’s example of an idiot like joeseph smith founding a major religion on based on total nonsense. Didn’t Hubbard found scientology on a bet?

If we rid the earth of conventional religion today, tomorrow would see a host of new infections, rushing to fill the niche they left in the brain space. I think we need to see this as a medical problem.

 
 
Traces Elk
 
Avatar
 
 
Traces Elk
Total Posts:  5591
Joined  27-09-2006
 
 
 
26 June 2007 06:43
 

[quote author=“eucaryote”]I think we need to see this as a medical problem.

Nah. I think we need to see this as an evolutionary dead end. :D

 
 
M is for Malapert
 
Avatar
 
 
M is for Malapert
Total Posts:  1606
Joined  23-09-2006
 
 
 
26 June 2007 07:21
 

[quote author=“eucaryote”]
Why is the German military so freaked out about run of the mill woo-woo?

Because they have a history with irrational cults, popular delusions, and the madness of crowds.

German schoolchildren are, or were, given lessons in defying authority.  This came from the research by Stanley Milgram which found that people would not resist authority, even when they wanted to, because they didn’t know how.  All their childhood teaching had been aimed towards obedience to authority.

Milgram experiment

 
 
eucaryote
 
Avatar
 
 
eucaryote
Total Posts:  3470
Joined  20-08-2006
 
 
 
26 June 2007 08:59
 

[quote author=“M is for Malapert”][quote author=“eucaryote”]
Why is the German military so freaked out about run of the mill woo-woo?

Because they have a history with irrational cults, popular delusions, and the madness of crowds.

German schoolchildren are, or were, given lessons in defying authority.  This came from the research by Stanley Milgram which found that people would not resist authority, even when they wanted to, because they didn’t know how.  All their childhood teaching had been aimed towards obedience to authority.

Milgram experiment

I am aware of the Milgram experiment. I have just finished reading “Mistakes were made but not by me”. Great book on cognitive dissonance.

What is the connection with the germans? I didn’t read the wiki article but I will.

As far as it being an evolutionary dead end goes, it does seem that growing this big brain may have been counter productive since we just fill it with imaginary crap. Meta-physical crap, as it were.

It seems that just as any creatures exists creates a niches for other creatures,  our magnificent bandwidth must grow crud. The reason to believe is like the adaptive advantage that one piece of crud might offer relative to another piece of crud.

Didn’t I hear somewhere that we were going to invade Mars?

 
 
eucaryote
 
Avatar
 
 
eucaryote
Total Posts:  3470
Joined  20-08-2006
 
 
 
26 June 2007 13:01
 

[quote author=“SeanK”][quote author=“eucaryote”]

Didn’t I hear somewhere that we were going to invade Mars?

I hope we win.  :wink:

If we don’t fight them there, we’ll have to fight them here!
They’re all just like Marvin, and they blow themselves up all the time,  though usually by mistake! 8)

 
 
burt
 
Avatar
 
 
burt
Total Posts:  14657
Joined  17-12-2006
 
 
 
26 June 2007 18:02
 

[quote author=“eucaryote”]
On a related topic, it seems that we will never get rid of woo-woo. I guess I’m being dense for just now realizing this but it appears that woo-woo just springs spontaneously from the human “mind”, such as it is. It would seem that that this side effect of “mind” represents a major evolutionary defect that works at odds with the organisms survival possibilities.
Sam Harris is fond of bringing up modern day gurus that seem to spring from the earth. We have our own more modern day, white man’s example of an idiot like joeseph smith founding a major religion on based on total nonsense. Didn’t Hubbard found scientology on a bet?

If we rid the earth of conventional religion today, tomorrow would see a host of new infections, rushing to fill the niche they left in the brain space. I think we need to see this as a medical problem.

I would not call it a side-effect of having a mind, rather it seems to be built right into the way that the brain/mind evolved.  If you look at the literature on “heuristics and biases” or “cognitive illusions” it gives evidence that the mind is automatically predisposed to jump to conclusions, see causal connections where none exist, and so on.  Further, this is evolutionarily advantageous (it is far better for survival in a paleolithic environment to see something that isn’t there than not see something that is there—in the first case you run from shadows, in the second you become dinner).  The “side effect” in my view is the ability to think logically and abstractly without bias—that is hard for anybody to learn, as evidenced by many of the postings here.  Anybody who wants to observe the formation of superstitions in themself can easily do it by witnessing the workings of their mind while participating in something like a poker game.  There there is the stress and release (or threat and escape) that is the hallmark of a conditioning situation, the hypnosis of the cards, and so on and the mind will try to grasp onto anything that might bring “luck.” 

So, following on this, I would not say it was a medical problem, but one of proper education.

 
M is for Malapert
 
Avatar
 
 
M is for Malapert
Total Posts:  1606
Joined  23-09-2006
 
 
 
27 June 2007 11:40
 

[quote author=“burt”]Anybody who wants to observe the formation of superstitions in themself can easily do it by witnessing the workings of their mind while participating in something like a poker game.  There there is the stress and release (or threat and escape) that is the hallmark of a conditioning situation, the hypnosis of the cards, and so on and the mind will try to grasp onto anything that might bring “luck.”

I never find myself thinking in terms of “good luck”, superstition, or anything of the sort.  Ever. 

However I was playing Trivial Pursuit on line with my son, and I kept losing.  I could answer every one of the strings of questions he was getting, but as soon as it was my turn it was something too hard. 
Was it just my impression?

We set up a semi-controlled experiment to see if the questions really were running against me.  It turned out that they were.  Out of 22 questions his persona answered, we both got 18 right immediately (no guessing except in one case for me and possibly one for him).  We both got two outright wrong (not guessing) and each split one.  Meanwhile my persona answered 9 questions (because I had fewer turns).  We both guessed at three and happened to get them right.  We both knew the answers to two, we both guessed and got three wrong, and I missed one that he got right.

This happened in two different times of logging into the game.  We still can’t figure out if it is an outcome of the game program (what would be the point of having one player’s questions harder?), or if it was just a loooooong string of accidents, or if we missed something altogether.

 
 
burt
 
Avatar
 
 
burt
Total Posts:  14657
Joined  17-12-2006
 
 
 
27 June 2007 16:41
 

[quote author=“M is for Malapert”][quote author=“burt”]Anybody who wants to observe the formation of superstitions in themself can easily do it by witnessing the workings of their mind while participating in something like a poker game.  There there is the stress and release (or threat and escape) that is the hallmark of a conditioning situation, the hypnosis of the cards, and so on and the mind will try to grasp onto anything that might bring “luck.”

I never find myself thinking in terms of “good luck”, superstition, or anything of the sort.  Ever. 

However I was playing Trivial Pursuit on line with my son, and I kept losing.  I could answer every one of the strings of questions he was getting, but as soon as it was my turn it was something too hard. 
Was it just my impression?

We set up a semi-controlled experiment to see if the questions really were running against me.  It turned out that they were.  Out of 22 questions his persona answered, we both got 18 right immediately (no guessing except in one case for me and possibly one for him).  We both got two outright wrong (not guessing) and each split one.  Meanwhile my persona answered 9 questions (because I had fewer turns).  We both guessed at three and happened to get them right.  We both knew the answers to two, we both guessed and got three wrong, and I missed one that he got right.

This happened in two different times of logging into the game.  We still can’t figure out if it is an outcome of the game program (what would be the point of having one player’s questions harder?), or if it was just a loooooong string of accidents, or if we missed something altogether.

Maybe God is punishing you.  :wink: 

Seriously, it was good to set up the experiment.  There is something called the availability heuristic: the mind estimates frequencies and probabilities on the basis of what is most easily available in memory.  This would be fine if memory were not biased, but memories come with emotional tags and the ones with the strongest tags (negative or positive) are most easy to recall.  Some people focus on the negatively tagged memories and ask “why does this always happen to me.”  Others focus only on the positive tags and get disgustingly pollyannish.

 
eucaryote
 
Avatar
 
 
eucaryote
Total Posts:  3470
Joined  20-08-2006
 
 
 
27 June 2007 17:44
 

[quote author=“burt”]There is something called the availability heuristic: the mind estimates frequencies and probabilities on the basis of what is most easily available in memory.

Interesting comments Burt.

I was surprised when an engineering associate of mine, told me the story of how to win at slot machines. The idea being to find a machine that has been played extensively for hours without having it pay out. The “theory” being that the longer the time the machine has taken to pay, the more likely it is to pay the next pull. I was amazed that someone well educated in engineering was never educated sufficiently in probability and statistics, something drilled into biologists.

In reality, of course, the machines pay according to the probability built into the machine. The odds are the same every time you pull the lever, regardless of the machines payment history. I understand that with slot machines, by law, the machines must pay at to a given probability which is posted with the machine. Of course the machines with higher probabilities cost more to play. In the end the house always wins of course.

Roulette wheels post a “tree” that represents the history of past hits. Again the probability of a hit is built into the game and really doesn’t change from one spin to the next. The house always wins in the long run. The point of the history tree is feed peoples “imaginations” and get them to spend more money.
I don’t know that education can compete with the endorphin rush that participants feel from standing at the roulette wheel watching their life savings go down the drain. :?

 
 
burt
 
Avatar
 
 
burt
Total Posts:  14657
Joined  17-12-2006
 
 
 
27 June 2007 19:25
 

[quote author=“eucaryote”][quote author=“burt”]There is something called the availability heuristic: the mind estimates frequencies and probabilities on the basis of what is most easily available in memory.

Interesting comments Burt.

I was surprised when an engineering associate of mine, told me the story of how to win at slot machines. The idea being to find a machine that has been played extensively for hours without having it pay out. The “theory” being that the longer the time the machine has taken to pay, the more likely it is to pay the next pull. I was amazed that someone well educated in engineering was never educated sufficiently in probability and statistics, something drilled into biologists.

In reality, of course, the machines pay according to the probability built into the machine. The odds are the same every time you pull the lever, regardless of the machines payment history. I understand that with slot machines, by law, the machines must pay at to a given probability which is posted with the machine. Of course the machines with higher probabilities cost more to play. In the end the house always wins of course.

Roulette wheels post a “tree” that represents the history of past hits. Again the probability of a hit is built into the game and really doesn’t change from one spin to the next. The house always wins in the long run. The point of the history tree is feed peoples “imaginations” and get them to spend more money.
I don’t know that education can compete with the endorphin rush that participants feel from standing at the roulette wheel watching their life savings go down the drain. :?

Right, good example.  This also relates to what is called the representativeness heuristic: people tend to categorize things on the basis of superficial but obvious representative characteristics.  One example of this is when given a choice between two sets of lottery numbers: 4 9 17 23 35 41 and 1 2 3 4 5 6 most people will choose the first because the second “obviously has no chance of winning.”  (Translation: it doesn’t seem representative of a random process to me.)  The literature on this sort of thing is fascinating, if occasionally depressing.  smile

 
‹ First  < 4 5 6 7 8 >