‹ First  < 5 6 7 8 > 
 
   
 

James Randi coments on Sam Harris

 
unsmoked
 
Avatar
 
 
unsmoked
Total Posts:  7198
Joined  20-02-2006
 
 
 
28 June 2007 10:11
 

Over a thousand years ago in China Mr. Yuansou said, “If you do not listen truly, you will call the bell a pitcher, and inevitably wind up adding error to error, talking about “Buddha,” “Zen Masters,” “mind,” and “essence.”  How is this different from gouging a wound in healthy flesh?”

For Salty’s poll, more candidates for woo woo capital of the world - Nevada City, CA; Port Townsend, WA.  Perhaps we could make ourselves useful and decide on a design for the trophy.  I suggest a circle with its circumference divided neatly into six equal parts by its radius.  That always struck me as woo woo.  I mean, why didn’t it come out 5.56732 parts?

Over a year ago I saw Sam give a talk on C-Span 2.  Afterward, someone asked him about modern physics.  He replied, “It is getting harder to tell if physicists are joking or not.”  Has anyone else noticed that science is getting more woo woo than woo woo?  I submit that we need a new poll to determine the woo woo woo woo capital of the world.  My vote:  Fermilab.

Mr. Yuansou’s quote from “Zen Essence, The Science of Freedom” translated and edited by Thomas Cleary.

 
 
mahahaha
 
Avatar
 
 
mahahaha
Total Posts:  375
Joined  12-10-2006
 
 
 
28 June 2007 10:57
 
[quote author=“unsmoked”]Has anyone else noticed that science is getting more woo woo than woo woo?

Stephen Hawking, A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME:

One could say: “The boundary condition of the universe is that it has no boundary.” The universe would be completely self-contained and not affected by anything outside itself. It would neither be created nor destroyed. It would just BE.

Subtitute Hawking’s choice of the noun “universe” for any of the following:

“absolute”
“brahman”
“tao”
“godhead”
“god”

etc.

and the decription would be accepted without question by any woo woo group who uses their particular symbol for the same ineffable concept.

My only quibble is that if you accept the notion of “no boundary” then the concept of “outside itself” loses meaning.

Other than that, there ain’t much distinction between the words of this renouned scientist and any mystic, past or present.

Woo woo and science are one.

What’s the world coming to?  Salty will vomit on his monitor.

[ Edited: 28 June 2007 15:44 by ]
 
 
M is for Malapert
 
Avatar
 
 
M is for Malapert
Total Posts:  1606
Joined  23-09-2006
 
 
 
28 June 2007 12:03
 

[quote author=“burt”]
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

The California lottery had a series of ads with celebrities giving their “winning numbers”—the ones they always play.  One person—I don’t remember who—said his were 1 2 3 4 5 6.  That ad only ran once.

 
 
M is for Malapert
 
Avatar
 
 
M is for Malapert
Total Posts:  1606
Joined  23-09-2006
 
 
 
28 June 2007 12:08
 

[quote author=“burt”]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.

Right: I wanted to be sure it wasn’t just my impression.  The outcome was exactly as described.  Of course you can’t let out the possibility that we were primed for my questions to be harder and “forgot” the answers, as well as other possibilities.  But the impression preceded the experiment.

I also did really well playing Family Feud before I got the game (free download) and the first day after buying it.  Then the questions became just stupid.  Everyone was complaining—but I noticed that previous high scorers were still scoring high.  Just not me.

 
 
DriverOp
 
Avatar
 
 
DriverOp
Total Posts:  1
Joined  21-06-2007
 
 
 
28 June 2007 17:48
 

Randi comments on Harris’ response:
http://www.randi.org/jr/2007-06/062907.html#i5

 
unsmoked
 
Avatar
 
 
unsmoked
Total Posts:  7198
Joined  20-02-2006
 
 
 
29 June 2007 06:00
 

Another candidate for woo woo capital of the world - Hollywood.  The film industry reaps billions from the insatiable public appetite for religious and science fantasy.  Like the Church, Hollywood disseminates ‘nonsense as fact’ worldwide.  The idea that a person’s thoughts/memories continue when the brain dies is one of the basic themes of both.

 
 
Pat_Adducci
 
Avatar
 
 
Pat_Adducci
Total Posts:  461
Joined  16-12-2006
 
 
 
29 June 2007 06:23
 

Since joining Netflix I have come to appreciate Hollywood as the mythology capitol of the world. The finest talents of each generation are certainly not setting up shop in any church!
I don’t see the prevailing mythology depending much on any ideas of life after death. What I see in the movies is sex, money and power, preferably combined, as heaven right here on earth. Nothing else matters much.
The religious fundamentalists have little choice but to try to blow us all up; they don’t seem to be able to compete on a level playing field with the basic Hollywood Myth.

 
eucaryote
 
Avatar
 
 
eucaryote
Total Posts:  3470
Joined  20-08-2006
 
 
 
29 June 2007 06:30
 

Interesting,

I see that Randi is also familar with the term woo-woo, which I think should be more properly spelled wu-wu, just because is reads more mysteriously.
Wu itself could relate to some contrived and powerful para-physical aspect of the universe, which could be drawn upon for good or evil….whoops I think this has been done before?! :o

On a more serious note. I have to agree with Sam Harris that there is a difference between what we are calling woo-woo and what we identify as religion, especially the conventional ones.

The difference is this.
Religion postulate a super-naturality, (is that a word?) that by definition can never be proven and is not falsifiable.

What we are calling woo-woo, I think, consists of claims about the world that can be tested and found to be false.

If such a claim is tested and found to be true, then the claim ceases to the para-normal and simply refers to the normal and open to the methods and instruments of science to further elucidate and define. In this way, phenomena that the ignorant might have once seen as para-normal or meta-physical become normal and phyiscal. Gravity and electricity come to mind along with the discovery of where malaria comes from and why milk sours.

So I don’t have a problem with Harris being able to write off idiot religions while being “open” to a demonstration of woo-woo at work in the world, or a study of how woo-woo comes to assert and manifest itself in the organism.

We should recall Arthur C. Clarkes 3 laws as well as his observations regarding intelligence.

[quote author=“Arthur C. Clarke”]
When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.

The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

It has yet to be proven that intelligence has any survival value.

 
 
M is for Malapert
 
Avatar
 
 
M is for Malapert
Total Posts:  1606
Joined  23-09-2006
 
 
 
29 June 2007 10:17
 

[quote author=“Pat_Adducci”]
I don’t see the prevailing mythology depending much on any ideas of life after death.

Huh?  What about all the horror movies?  Reincarnation movies?  Paranormal movies?  GhostSixth SenseExorcistLake HouseCity of AngelsThe OthersWhat Dreams May Come?  Those are just off the top of my head…

 
 
M is for Malapert
 
Avatar
 
 
M is for Malapert
Total Posts:  1606
Joined  23-09-2006
 
 
 
29 June 2007 10:29
 

[quote author=“eucaryote”]Religion postulate a super-naturality, (is that a word?) that by definition can never be proven and is not falsifiable.

Don’t forget all the “proofs” of God’s(s’) existence though.

[quote author=“eucaryote”]What we are calling woo-woo, I think, consists of claims about the world that can be tested and found to be false.

Which is why Sam made that remark about modern physics (string theory).  Verging on claims that cannot be falsified.

Personally, what I’m calling woo-woo is more often what Robert Park calls “voodoo science”.  That is, claims which HAVE been tested and never supported, and which violate theories for which we do have overwhelming evidence, but which people still carry on with anyway.  For instance, a machine that produces more energy than it consumes.  Cold fusion.  Card reading.  Spoon bending.  Psychic anything.  Spirit readings.  Etc.

 
 
M is for Malapert
 
Avatar
 
 
M is for Malapert
Total Posts:  1606
Joined  23-09-2006
 
 
 
29 June 2007 10:32
 

[quote author=“eucaryote”][quote author=“Arthur C. Clarke”]
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Something’s missing from that sentence.

 
 
eucaryote
 
Avatar
 
 
eucaryote
Total Posts:  3470
Joined  20-08-2006
 
 
 
29 June 2007 12:06
 

[quote author=“M is for Malapert”][quote author=“eucaryote”][quote author=“Arthur C. Clarke”]
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Something’s missing from that sentence.

I didn’t recall the entire quote so I looked it up. It gets the point across.

Yes those forms of woo-woo, from spoon bending to pyramid power have been looked into and those who want can continue to look into them as Sam suggests and if they find anything then they should definitely let us know eh? Otherwise, the rest of us would just as soon fight battles that we stood a chance of winning.

If we could find some talent that could bend spoons with some reliability, then it would be something to look into. As soon as we discovered how it was done, then the supernatural would become natural either if it were a trick or actually due to some aspect of reality that had heretofore gone undetected. Soon we would come up with a spoon bending force detector and meter so we could extend our senses and know it’s spoon bending presence and power. I mean why stop with spoons? :wink:

 
 
M is for Malapert
 
Avatar
 
 
M is for Malapert
Total Posts:  1606
Joined  23-09-2006
 
 
 
29 June 2007 14:01
 

[quote author=“eucaryote”][quote author=“M is for Malapert”][quote author=“eucaryote”][quote author=“Arthur C. Clarke”]
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Something’s missing from that sentence.

I didn’t recall the entire quote so I looked it up. It gets the point across.

Yes, except that magicians aren’t mystified by magic.  And likewise people who invent, or participate in advanced technology don’t find it magical either.

I think a frickin’ radio is amazing and I’m COMPLETELY blown away by magic tricks—I mean, I saw one where the magician could not possibly have seen the number he read before it was written down and put in the sealed envelope—but intellectually I realize that a radio works in an everyday laws of nature fashion (I even helped build one once), and that the magician was doing sleight of hand, even if I don’t know precisely how.

I think he must have meant it seems magical to people who aren’t familiar with it.  You know, like the old Bic lighter commercial.

 
 
eucaryote
 
Avatar
 
 
eucaryote
Total Posts:  3470
Joined  20-08-2006
 
 
 
29 June 2007 17:22
 

[quote author=“M is for Malapert”]
Yes, except that magicians aren’t mystified by magic.  And likewise people who invent, or participate in advanced technology don’t find it magical either.

Yes, that is true. Those enlightened ones, most responsible for the technology often have a difficult time explaining how technology is not magic or just how boring it really is when you understand it well.

On the other hand, some technology, especially much of what we have learned about design, can be very elusive and take a great deal of trial and error to get the nuances right. Witness all of the flying machines that were tried before Orville and Wilbur got it more or less right. It is those nuances that fascinate me about design.

That’s a little off topic. It’s nice to know that people like Randi are out there, debunking claims. I am still more ready to extend the benefit of whatever doubt may exist to those who make extraordinary claims about the potential “nature” of the world as opposed to those who make claims about the “super nature” of the world.
In any event, I think that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”, is still the best dictum.

 
 
Pat_Adducci
 
Avatar
 
 
Pat_Adducci
Total Posts:  461
Joined  16-12-2006
 
 
 
29 June 2007 17:47
 

[quote author=“M is for Malapert”][quote author=“Pat_Adducci”]
I don’t see the prevailing mythology depending much on any ideas of life after death.

Huh?  What about all the horror movies?  Reincarnation movies?  Paranormal movies?  GhostSixth SenseExorcistLake HouseCity of AngelsThe OthersWhat Dreams May Come?  Those are just off the top of my head…

OK, I can see that my evidence is sadly inadequate given all the movies I haven’t seen.
I’m thinking of a recent movie I enjoyed ‘The Illusionist’. Life after death was a very strong theme of this movie. However, what was treated as ‘real’ was romance and murder.
Maybe I need to start a different thread on movies and mythology, because this isn’t fitting in with the topic here.

 
‹ First  < 5 6 7 8 >