Mod+ 283. RESPECTED SCIENCE WRITER DONE WITH “UNSCIENTIFIC” STRING THEORY… WHAT’S NEXT WILL SURPRISE YOU.

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, Aug 11, 2015.

  1. Alex

    Alex New

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  2. It sounds like methodological naturalism. It determines the outcome ahead of time and allows you to ignore inconvenient evidence on theoretical grounds.
    If you ignore all the evidence that the mind is not the brain, then it really does seem like the mind is the brain.

    Science can't prove a theory, it can only falsify a theory. Science is about the best explanation of the evidence.

    The evidence from mediumship, NDEs, etc etc is best explained by the afterlife.

    The evidence of God is best explained by God.

    The evidence of the origin of the universe is best explained by intelligent design.

    The evidence of the origin and macro-evolution of life is best explained by intelligent design.

    ESP is not produced by the brain, quantum entanglement cannot explain it.

    Nobel Prize winners Max Planck, Erwin Schrödinger, Brian Josephson, Sir John Eccles, Eugene Wigner, George Wald and other great scientists and philosophers such as John von Neumann, Kurt Gödel, Wernher von Braun, Karl Popper, and Carl Jung believed consciousness is non-physical because of the evidence, they were not limited by the physical nature of the brain.

    The example below explains one way you can use science to identify when a non-material explanation is best:

    Many scientists also believed the evidence that the universe was designed. They were not limited by the material nature of the brain, they saw that the scientific evidence is best explained by a non-physical intelligence outside of space and time. These scientists include Nobel prize winners such as Albert Einstein, Werner Heisenberg, Guglielmo Marconi, Brian Josephson, William Phillips, Richard Smalley, Arno Penzias, Charles Townes Arthur Compton, Antony Hewish, Christian Anfinsen, Walter Kohn, Arthur Schawlow, and other scientists, Charles Darwin, Sir Fred Hoyle, John von Neumann, Wernher von Braun, and Louis Pasteur.
    http://sites.google.com/site/chs4o8pt/eminent_researchers

    But people who think science is the only way to obtain information about the universe are believers in the religion of Scientism. They ignore all of history before the scientific revolution when people developed knowledge and technology without the use of randomized double blind experiments. The best example of this is to consider what would happen if a believer of Scientism became lost in the desert or in a jungle. He would be dead in a day or two unless prescientific aborigines found him and showed him how to survive.

    But didn't science cure humankind of superstition? Not according to Nobelist John Eccles. Materialists have just created a new superstition palatable to their world-view.
    https://sites.google.com/site/chs4o8pt/eminent_researchers


    And faith is science is misplaced:
    From the transcript:
    There is only so far you can ruffle feathers. It would destroy everything he has built up during his career to come out against materialism (or even in favor of a material Sasquatch). Certainty of persecution for heresy against Materialsm might influence his willingness to consider the evidence against materialism objectively or...


     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2015
  3. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Alex's question at the end of the interview:

    What do you think about quasi-materialism--viz the idea of being by default a materialist because anything one would ever know about consciousness, or the mind, is going to come through the material brain?
     
  4. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    I loved that interview! Without trying in any way to sound arrogant, I think John is where I was about 10 years ago - beginning to realise that science isn't always what it pretends to be, and puzzled by the nature of consciousness.

    I think some of what he says is almost identical with what Alex says, but packaged differently. For example when he talks about materialism with a much expanded causality, that may be almost equivalent to talking of a non-physical realm.

    He seems to sense the rot in a lot of science. For example, he mentions the campaigns against CAGW - not in agreement or disagreement - but pointing out that science really can't retreat into a hole and say "We are the experts!" - when it stops communicating it is probably because it has decayed internally. For example, if CAGW science was robust, wouldn't there be scientists bursting to explain to us all just how it is possible to separate the signal from CO2 from the signal from all other forms of climate change?

    For that matter, wouldn't there be scientists bursting to explain how the cosmic microwave background could be disentangled from the galactic foreground which is 5000 times as strong (according to one estimate I read). One form of scientific bullshit, is the pretence that you can perform these absurdly heroic feats of data manipulation and get anything useful as a result.

    The inability to explain science adequately isn't so much an indication that it has probed too deeply for most of us to understand, it is a symptom that it has decayed!

    I liked the fact that John brought up Rupert Sheldrake and his hallucinogenic drug experiences - I think it is exciting to watch a very influential man start to understand the issues that SKEPTIKO is here to debate.

    I really hope he joins us on the forum - Alex - do, please invite him!

    David
     
  5. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    I see it more as an intellectual stepping stone - a way for John to start to think outside the box!

    David
     
  6. WhatIfthe2nd

    WhatIfthe2nd New

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    I have not listened to the podcast, only read the (hi-lighted) transcripts. But does this mean John Horgan has abandoned his thesis in the book "The End of Science", which I read in 1996? Where he argued that there was nothing left to discover, other than trivialities, because all the big questions have been answered?

    Nice to see he abandoned MWI and string-theory and looking at consciousness, even if it is from a material perspective.
     
  7. Steve

    Steve Member

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    I thought this was a revealing interview.

    This post might appear to be biased. I really don't want it to be, as I am equally likely to feel the same way about anyone, be they proponent or skeptic. It just is.

    To answer the set question: I think that John is probably hard wired to be the way he is and will remain that way during this life, using whatever excuse. As Alex has said to him, the evidence of mind NOT being equal to brain is compelling. Only if you are able to let it in ! It may be an 'out there 'point of view, but if we really are not biological robots, we should be open to such suggestions. I think that we are here to grow, it may be that we feel that being programmed a certain way will be the best way to grow. It's not right or wrong. I myself seem to have been hard wired the other way.

    John is a very nice man who has had quite a bit of experience of 'The Other Realms' through taking drugs and in his own way is a fan of Rupert Sheldrake. He seems to be an open minded guy - until push comes to shove. He admits, as so many do, that he hasn't read the latest research on Near Death Experience. He doesn't believe in ESP, Reincarnation or other supernatural things like Ghosts. Maybe he wouldn't be so passionate about ending wars if he had more of a proponent point of view? Who knows ? There are people on the forum who have changed from being skeptics, becoming more in line with Alex's way of thinking. I don't know how many were persuaded by just thinking about things deeply versus those that have had a personal experience which changed them.

    I don't remember anyone being on the show that when it ended I felt had changed their mind one bit. I could be wrong, but nobody stands out. I mean no disrespect to Alex or anyone else, but what is really being achieved? It is an honest question.
     
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  8. Steve

    Steve Member

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    I can only admire your optimism. In spite of both these things I got the feeling that he wasn't about to be convinced. :)
     
  9. Inner Space

    Inner Space New

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    John Horgan's vague hand waving about a kind of materialism that expands our notion of causation beyond the "billiard ball" causation that dominates current science leads to a philosophical view that is no longer materialistic. You cannot have your cake and eat it too. Let's go back a few thousand years to Aristotle's four principles of causation - efficient, material, formal and final causation. The first two - efficient and material causation - are the basic principles of materialist science. The mind/brain identity theorist seeks to reduce formal and final causative principles to efficient and material causative principles. For example, my desire to pat my pet dog involves mental "intentional" states (ie. perceptions, desires, beliefs, goals) that are presumed by the materialist to be ontologically reducible to the interactions of physical particles in the world with the sensory neurons/cortical neurons/motor neurons of the brain. If you believe that formal and final causative principles are ontologically irreducible and that nature must involve them in some fundamentally irreducible way, then you are no longer a materialist. Sorry John. Incidentally, I read Horgan's book "The Undiscovered Mind: how the brain defies explanation" and I am big fan of his healthy scepticism of sciences attempt to account for human psychology. However, I find the sub-title of his book ironic since it is not "the brain" that defies explanation but rather our human mind.
     
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  10. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    What do you think about quasi-materialism--viz the idea of being by default a materialist because anything one would ever know about consciousness, or the mind, is going to come through the material brain?

    I rather warm to John Horgan; he's what I think of as a fairly non-dogmatic materialist and as such appears to be a worthy interlocutor--certainly one with whom it's actually possible to have a fairly productive dialogue. One feels he might conceivably give ground in light of evidence, and anyone capable of holding Rupert Sheldrake in high regard can't be all that bad.

    Let's face it, if you're going to be a sceptic, he's gone as far as it's possible to go without capitulating. His reservations are ones that I myself sometimes feel--until I think of the brain and try to imagine everything we know and don't know as existing only within its limited physical volume and innate capacity. Strangely, materialists don't marvel at the fact (as they see it) that this relatively small, off-white mass of neurons is what, effectively, creates a whole universe.

    They might claim it doesn't create, so much as merely witnesses, but on that, they're on shaky ground. We know that ultimately what we think of as the universe is decidedly nebulous. We see a galaxy, for example, and interpret it as a distant agglomeration of stars, those stars being massive radiating bodies like our own sun. All our interpretations are the result of the particular way we perceive reality, even when that perception isn't direct (e.g. of non-palpable electromagnetic radiation), but rather conceptual. Indeed, there's much more that is indirectly rather than directly perceived, and the latter itself isn't strictly speaking concrete reality. It's more the result of the limited way in which we see the world and construct detection devices based on our perception/interpretation.

    We're forever changing our interpretation of reality, and in large part science is about that interpretation remaining consistent with what our detection devices tell us (when we're not indulging in speculative theory, that is). Whenever an inconsistency arises, that's when we start coming up with altered interpretations and perhaps new devices for detection or taking advantage of those interpretations. At the end of the day, detection devices and new inventions are all funnelled through the filter of our senses: we have to create some kind of signal we can agree we recognise in order for phenomena to be considered as real.

    When it comes to the brain, in science we may look at it from a detached point of view, as if in a sense we don't have anything to do with our inner appreciation of the world. That's all well and good, but it in no way explains why that inner appreciation apparently exists, and in fact why it constitutes the basis for all interpretation. Why is there such a thing as interpretation? Why are we interpreting beings at all?

    Central to the concept of interpretation is the fact that nature isn't self-evident and that we feel impelled to understand it. Science is one of the ways we go about that, and that would be fine and dandy if we didn't elevate it to being the only way. As soon as we do that, we trap ourselves in materialism, which becomes the only explanatory filter; nothing else can exist, and that's such an impoverished interpretative framework.

    Impoverished it may be, but for some people, like John Horgan, it's the only thing they can bring themselves to completely rely on. They're perhaps not entirely closed to at least the notion that present-day science hasn't yet explained everything, but that doesn't extend to the possibility that it won't--even though they may write novels about a brain implant turning someone into a buddha. On the one hand, he seems to be accepting the concept of a buddha, but on the other, he thinks of that state being the possible result of a brain implant of some sort. What kind of implant? Organic, from someone else's brain, or a man-made, mechanical device? If a device, was it consciously designed to do that, or was it just an accident?
     
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  11. Alex

    Alex New

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    Hi David... might be nice if you extended an invite.
     
  12. Alex

    Alex New

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    when I reflect on my own re-thinking it seems to have sometimes taken a pretty long time... wish it wasn't the case :)
     
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  13. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Can you PM me his email address please.

    Exactly like myself! It isn't so much whether John Horgan changes position or not, it is that other people can see someone confronting the edge of former certainty in that interview. He said that materialistic explanations for consciousness were his default position. That isn't really a ringing endorsement of materialism, and indeed when thinking about any phenomenon, genuine materialistic explanations are always the default ones - communication between two people in mobile phone contact, might be partly ESP, but you wouldn't use such communication as evidence of ESP!

    @Inner Space - People need time to re-evaluate their take on things, and while that is in progress they may well come across as being vague!

    David
     
  14. Andrew Paquette

    Andrew Paquette Administrator

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    I hate to pick on what some would look at as a side issue, but it relates to Horgan's objectivity. When he commented on how "Hawkish" the U.S. is, and how the country is "killing babies and no one seems to care" I immediately wondered what he was talking about. We didn't invade Ukraine, we gave the Iranians everything they wanted in our recent deal with them, we welcome illegal aliens with open arms, we took soldiers out of the Middle East in large numbers, removed missiles from eastern Europe, etc. On killing babies I agree, but I thought he was talking about war, not abortion.

    At the very least, if Horgan had looked at both sides of this issue his remarks would have been more measured.

    AP
     
  15. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    We didn't invade the Ukraine, but the US and UK put money into an effort to destabilise the elected president - which ultimately succeeded. The former president had held the Russian leaning east of the country and the West looking part of the country together. After it was destabilised there were new elections in the West that left the East disenfranchised. President Putin warned the Kiev government not to use military force on the East, but they went ahead anyway - producing the present situation.

    The US has also interfered in a long list of countries, destroying their stability and causing enormous suffering to their peoples:

    Afghanistan, Iraq, Lybia, Syria (indirectly), even Iran is as it is today because the US replaced the elected government with the hated Shah of Iran.

    Try to imagine if some foreign power started destabilising Canada! Would the US take no action?

    David
     
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  16. Andrew Paquette

    Andrew Paquette Administrator

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    Horgan was talking in the present tense. The military incursions you refer to are fairly old. As for Iran, I wouldn't say that "it is what it is today" because of the Shah. The Shah held off their radicalism for awhile, but it was waiting to emerge. If the Shah hadn't been there, it would have happened earlier. The events surrounding the Shah may be the reason Iran targets the U.S. in its rhetoric, but is not the reason why they fought Iraq and have funded terrorist attacks elsewhere.

    I do agree that the U.S. has recently interfered with various governments, but have done so by pulling out the military, not be sending it in. Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Syria, and Yemen are all examples of this (and of course we didn't help Ukraine either).

    AP
     
  17. Aquila ka Hecate

    Aquila ka Hecate New

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    I'm not going to jump into the political discussion - sorry, guys.:)

    I rather warmed to Horgan as well. I felt his almost-despair at delving into issues and not resolving anything...then getting a good look at warlike humanity and how we seem to be near to rending each other into bloody little gobbets and deciding that that is the issue he needs to focus on.

    There's nearly always something trickster-like about most of our encounters with the numinous. I put in a spell as a materialist atheist myself for some years, and with my background in science I felt briefly as if we had the answers within sight. Then I took a harder look at some of my own experiences and started reading up on others' and realised that we are very far indeed from getting a grip on what we are in or to the universe and what it means to be human.

    I still support a radical group of folks who believe that civilisation is precisely the wrong path for humanity and who have committed to bringing it to an end at all costs. What can I say? It's my idealistic indulgence - and I get that John Horgan feels that the dangers humans in their current hyper-warlike state pose to life on the planet are dire indeed.

    As to quasi-materialism; I maybe understand that as a somewhat fearful position, coming from someone who has marinated in the scientific paradigm for so long. Science has in many ways been such a boon to us and accomplished so many incredible things, that it may seem like the safest course to hang onto hope that it can save us. And the potential disappointment one would encounter if we ended up being merely biological robots, for someone who had entertained thoughts of something more, would be devastating indeed.
    I've been there, too. But if one really takes on board all the evidence: all the research done at the edge of what the mainstream scientific community considers reasonable, one has no choice but to confirm that strict materialism is in fact a failed worldview.
     
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  18. Aquila ka Hecate

    Aquila ka Hecate New

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    PS That "done with String Theory" really tickled me, for that was the straw at which I started to balk at my chosen field, Physics, as well.
    To this day I tend to look askance at it as overly-convoluted and a bit of a damned stretch.:)
     
  19. K9!

    K9! New

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  20. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    I think a lot of human affairs are action and reaction. The Shah was so close with America, and made so many people hate him that a violent counter-reaction was inevitable.
    As I understand it, Iran was traditionally a religiously moderate country.
    Well I guess they couldn't stand another 10 years war, but honestly what did you achieve in Iraq?
    Well I sincerely hope you don't try to help the Ukraine in the same way as you did Iraq. Most of the extremism in the Mid East has been fuelled by crass interventions by America. Perhaps the most tragic one was in Afghanistan when the Soviets moved in, and tried to modernise the country and make life better for the women. What did the US do - it cosied up with the mullahs in Pakistan and persuaded them to launch their suicide attacks against the USSR - which paved the way for the Taliban and the 9/11rtraining camp.

    Maybe we should get back to the topic that occupied most of the podcast!

    David
     

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