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The underlying issue

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  • The underlying issue

    I think at the end of the day, the difference boils down to a fundamental disagreement about how much we should trust our own senses and our own subjective view of reality, which to the skeptic comes a simple reply, "not much, if at all", but to the believer is quite the opposite, "absolutely".

    I don't trust anything I experience because I know how fallible and prone to mistake my mind and perception can be. I wrestle with what I'm able to perceive and act accordingly because as practical matter I have to, but I know there is an immense amount of complicated nature happening all around me and within me of which I am completely unaware, except through scientific discovery and my understanding of it.

    I view reality through the pinhole of human ignorance and fallibility, and only science as far as I can tell has the potential to make that pinhole larger.

    Beyond that I do what I have to do to survive and take comfort in the simple pleasures in life.

  • #2
    Originally posted by ISkeptic View Post
    I think at the end of the day, the difference boils down to a fundamental disagreement about how much we should trust our own senses and our own subjective view of reality, which to the skeptic comes a simple reply, "not much, if at all", but to the believer is quite the opposite, "absolutely".
    ......... No

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Open Mind View Post
      ......... No
      That was valuable, thanks

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      • #4
        No problem, pleased to help out

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        • #5
          Originally posted by ISkeptic View Post
          I think at the end of the day, the difference boils down to a fundamental disagreement about how much we should trust our own senses and our own subjective view of reality, which to the skeptic comes a simple reply, "not much, if at all", but to the believer is quite the opposite, "absolutely".

          I don't trust anything I experience because I know how fallible and prone to mistake my mind and perception can be. I wrestle with what I'm able to perceive and act accordingly because as practical matter I have to, but I know there is an immense amount of complicated nature happening all around me and within me of which I am completely unaware, except through scientific discovery and my understanding of it.

          I view reality through the pinhole of human ignorance and fallibility, and only science as far as I can tell has the potential to make that pinhole larger.

          Beyond that I do what I have to do to survive and take comfort in the simple pleasures in life.
          Yes, up to a point, I agree, but the problem is that science itself has been filtered through our all-too-human fallible method of interpretation! Every experiment - however computerised - has been designed and programmed by humans, and the results have to be interpreted by humans. Further back in time, humans made a lot of decisions that defined the way science works.

          Those decisions certainly hit a rich lode of ideas in the form of the physical sciences, but I'd say the field of consciousness and artificial intelligence has been pretty barren.

          Avoiding subjectivity in science worked pretty well until science wanted to attack consciousness itself.

          David

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          • #6
            Originally posted by ISkeptic View Post
            I think at the end of the day, the difference boils down to a fundamental disagreement about how much we should trust our own senses and our own subjective view of reality, which to the skeptic comes a simple reply, "not much, if at all", but to the believer is quite the opposite, "absolutely".

            I don't trust anything I experience because I know how fallible and prone to mistake my mind and perception can be. I wrestle with what I'm able to perceive and act accordingly because as practical matter I have to, but I know there is an immense amount of complicated nature happening all around me and within me of which I am completely unaware, except through scientific discovery and my understanding of it.

            I view reality through the pinhole of human ignorance and fallibility, and only science as far as I can tell has the potential to make that pinhole larger.

            Beyond that I do what I have to do to survive and take comfort in the simple pleasures in life.

            I don't think it's that simple - trust yourself or trust science.

            First of all science has proven itself fallible because it is done by scientists (most of whom are people by nature ), and also because they operate in a social framework of politics, economics etc. They make mistakes, but hopefully they take steps to correct them.
            Second, even scientists use intuition to guide them. You might call it a 'hunch' but when they go out on a limb to pursue a particular formula often they are taking abit of a leap into the unknown. They may spend months working on an equation that leads them down a dead end, or a hypothesis that becomes null.
            What you do find is that many scientists choose a particular area because of their own experience of it: biologists, geologists and even mathematicians have their own autobiographical history that takes them down their own path. You cannot sepate the human experience from the domain of science.
            I understand what you are saying, infact I experience it too (in my own way) on a daily basis. My husband is a Math/physics Phd in General Relativity and thinks that any thought that he cannot quantify, explain or understand is "useless to him." (Yeah, we have problems sometimes )
            The way I look at is is that there are logical explanations - we just haven't found them in their entirety yet. I look beyond what is on the table already and accept that knowledge will come, and the bridge will be built. All processes have a mechanism which allows them to operate, whether it be that consciousness survives physical death, extra dimensions, or a real spiritual realm or whatever, or not.
            I had a similar crisis to what you seem to be going through. I found that just saying "I don't know right now" helped me. But I did open my mind to the possibility of love and balance in our universe and that was a huge relief for me (but not for my husband who thinks I'm nuts)

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            • #7
              Originally posted by vikki View Post
              But I did open my mind to the possibility of love and balance in our universe and that was a huge relief for me (but not for my husband who thinks I'm nuts)
              Perhaps you should point out to your husband that there are quite a lot of folk who post here, who have a hard science education.

              David

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              • #8
                Originally posted by David Bailey View Post
                Perhaps you should point out to your husband that there are quite a lot of folk who post here, who have a hard science education.

                David
                I did David, I did....

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                • #9
                  You know, to further that comment, it's amazing to me that he just doesn't seem to be interested in these kinds of questions. That's how some people are I guess.

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                  • #10
                    While I'm here I'll voice a few concerns. Maybe this is cyclical, and I have missed a chunk of it being fairly new here, but is there really a way to bring two opposing perspectives together to further our knowledge of psi and 'the big picture'?
                    It seems that people just get fed up and leave. And after reading recent exchanges I can understand that, from both sides.
                    Personally I feel I have learned quite alot from articles and links posted. But also from listening to the intensity of beliefs - again from both sides. And there are 'sides' it seems.
                    It's abit depressing actually -- the way things end up.
                    Does it really have to be that way?

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by vikki View Post
                      While I'm here I'll voice a few concerns. Maybe this is cyclical, and I have missed a chunk of it being fairly new here, but is there really a way to bring two opposing perspectives together to further our knowledge of psi and 'the big picture'?
                      It seems that people just get fed up and leave. And after reading recent exchanges I can understand that, from both sides.
                      Personally I feel I have learned quite alot from articles and links posted. But also from listening to the intensity of beliefs - again from both sides. And there are 'sides' it seems.
                      It's abit depressing actually -- the way things end up.
                      Does it really have to be that way?
                      Sometimes I think this forum is my karmic punishment for my aggressive atheistic materialist attitude when I was younger. To have the same arguments thrown at me that I once thought were so clever is an interesting experience to say the least. I've been tempted to leave many times, but then just like a favorite TV show, it comes to mind again and I'm back. The irony is that while I ordinarily do not enjoy the conversation in many ways, on another level I do, because it gives me an opportunity to discuss a subject I am interested in and to respond to criticism instead of just listening to the criticism and walking away as happens in "real" life.

                      Actually, the last bit deserves clarification. When I worked in industry, the video game and motion picture business, primarily in Hollywood but also in San Jose, I didn't talk much about these things. This was partly because I was so busy, partly because the bias was palpable. The slightest comment hinting that telepathy might be genuine for instance, and I'd be treated to a long sanctimonious presentation on the evils of sloppy thinking. With these kinds of "hints" serving as a guide, I stayed away from the subject, and even stopped recording my dreams altogether for several years.

                      When I did get trapped into a psi conversation, it usually happened because of a conversation about something else where my opinion was radically different than someone else's because of my psi experiences. This would lead to the inevitable discovery of a few of my experiences and my attitude about them. This never worked out well, and I found very quickly that there was no way to have a conversation with anyone at my office without this stuff coming up, so I just cut myself off from all social gatherings.

                      At my current job, it isn't quite as bad, but that may be more because I live in Holland than because of the job. I've had conversations with skeptics here that are fairly pleasant. This goes for politics also. In America, I don't think I've ever had a pleasant conversation about politics with someone who holds the opposite position, but here it happens all the time. If I had to rate them, I'd say the group of people I ran into in Hollywood were much more dogmatic skeptics than the skeptics I've run into here. In between I lived in Phoenix and for a few years went to church there. Now that was the best as far as discussions went. I found the open-minded serious interest of the Christian and Jewish people I ran into to be a real breath of fresh air. This isn't to say there weren't points they were dogmatic about also, but the conversations weren't pervaded by hostility as in Hollywood, or the boundaries of conversations so narrow as they are where I am now.

                      In general, I found the religious people I spoke to to be more scholarly than any secular person I'd yet run into, and as a group, quite intelligent. Not only that, but in general gracious as well. This is the general picture though. The few bad seeds were so potent that ("you're a devil!") my family and I decided to not join a church here in Europe, and we haven't. I joined a couple of theological forums when we first arrived, and that is where I discovered that the graciousness I saw in person at church in the US falls away pretty quickly on the Internet. After dumping those, I ran across Skeptiko.

                      In comparison to all the rest, the dialogue here, despite having to put up with being constantly described as deluded, easily led, credulous, or in other ways being inaccurately characterized in a demeaning way, this dialogue is a real step up from other real world or Internet locations. There just aren't very many people who have had any genuine psi experiences at all, and many fewer who have them regularly as I do, so to find a community where I can talk about that with even a couple people is an improvement.

                      The arguments with skeptics are frustrating, probably for them also, but this may be inevitable. P_Synthesis knows this and stays out of these things for the most part, making him smarter than I am in this regard. I go and get involved in these conversations despite there being no way at this remove to demonstrate what I am saying, and that demonstration is the one thing skeptics want more than anything else. SandyB and I have already exchanged several demonstrations by email, but these things are unpredictable and frankly, in a way I don't want to have anything like that happen with the skeptics here. I have occasionally been tempted to try and do it, but have to say I am too offended by the general attitude to go through with it.

                      And that is the crux of everything. No one likes to be thought of as stupid, credulous, or as a religious zealot, so offense is natural. On the other end, skeptics don't like to (as they see it) have their intelligence insulted with unbelievable (to them) accounts or studies, nor do they like to be characterized as naive or bigoted. In other words, they will get offended also. With both sides offended, how can a pleasant exchange take place? In this situation, it is tough to imagine, though my experience here in Holland tells me it must be possible, unless, like the religious Internet forums, the only reason it works is because the people I know here are too well-trained socially to reveal their thoughts openly and cause offense.

                      As the skeptics see it, this is a dialogue about evidence (of the physical world) vs belief (in untestable things). As I see it (and possibly other proponents as well) it is about dogmatic belief (among skeptics) vs abundant evidence (that they ignore.) So in both cases it is approximately the same thing, but with either side rejecting or accepting evidence based on completely different criteria. With this as the basis for dialogue, nothing can be properly sorted. If I see a color as green and you see it as red, we can't even agree on the most basic factors that we are dealing with. Our positions based on the information we accept or reject make sense, but the real debate is about why I accept my objective observations and contemporaneous notes, but Iskeptic dismisses them as "subjective beliefs." On the other end, it is about why Paul (or any other skeptic) seems to completely ignore all of the most pertinent aspects of any given study or experiences (by not responding to direct questions) and instead focus on trivial aspects of them in order to criticize psi-friendly explanations.

                      Now I'm getting lost in here. I should quit while I'm ahead, and go to the gym and get some exercise. Bottom line: yes, it sure is frustrating. For me, it's better than nothing, even if it is a bit like getting slapped in the face while eating dinner.

                      AP
                      Last edited by paqart; October 3rd, 2010, 04:02 AM.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ISkeptic
                        I think at the end of the day, the difference boils down to a fundamental disagreement about how much we should trust our own senses and our own subjective view of reality, which to the skeptic comes a simple reply, "not much, if at all", but to the believer is quite the opposite, "absolutely".
                        I don't think it's quite this black and white, but believers do have themselves in a pickle. Much of their evidence is from personal experience. From my viewpoint they have built a house of cards on this personal experience, and so must insist that their experience indicates what the house of cards requires it to indicate. Admit to the possibility that a few of those cards might simply be illusion or delusion, and the house might come tumbling down. I think this is why it's very difficult to engage a believer in a discussion of the fallibility of memory.

                        It's as if believers have a conflict of interest with their own doubt.

                        ~~ Paul

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Paul C. Anagnostopoulos View Post
                          I don't think it's quite this black and white, but believers do have themselves in a pickle. Much of their evidence is from personal experience. From my viewpoint they have built a house of cards on this personal experience, and so must insist that their experience indicates what the house of cards requires it to indicate. Admit to the possibility that a few of those cards might simply be illusion or delusion, and the house might come tumbling down. I think this is why it's very difficult to engage a believer in a discussion of the fallibility of memory.

                          It's as if believers have a conflict of interest with their own doubt.

                          ~~ Paul
                          Paul, I've asked you this more than once now, with no answer. You talk about "fallibility of memory" yet I have before-the-fact contemporaneous written documentation of most of the things I discuss on this forum. Where does "memory" come into play with that documentation? From your reactions or non-reactions to date, it is very difficult to tell if you don't have an answer to this question, or have decided that somehow it has been answered.

                          AP

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by paqart View Post
                            Paul, I've asked you this more than once now, with no answer. You talk about "fallibility of memory" yet I have before-the-fact contemporaneous written documentation of most of the things I discuss on this forum. Where does "memory" come into play with that documentation? From your reactions or non-reactions to date, it is very difficult to tell if you don't have an answer to this question, or have decided that somehow it has been answered.

                            AP
                            Individually we most likely can't comment on the cases you cite. But that does not preclude or exclude bringing up this fact that human memory is fallible.
                            A keyword search using these words fallibility of memory will bring up a number of sites that discuss this. From that it is safe to say that memory may fail or even created false memories
                            Last edited by really; October 3rd, 2010, 11:13 AM.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by paqart
                              Paul, I've asked you this more than once now, with no answer. You talk about "fallibility of memory" yet I have before-the-fact contemporaneous written documentation of most of the things I discuss on this forum. Where does "memory" come into play with that documentation? From your reactions or non-reactions to date, it is very difficult to tell if you don't have an answer to this question, or have decided that somehow it has been answered.
                              Your documentation is certainly a good piece of evidence that supports your beliefs about your experiences. However, you have no idea how much your description of a dream is influenced by your (possibly distorted) memory of the dream and your (possibly subconscious) beliefs about what might happen in the future. Nevertheless, it's an impressive database.

                              ~~ Paul

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