Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, Aug 11, 2015.
I wrote to John, inviting him to Skeptiko, and he sent me the following reply.
David, thanks for your thoughtful and very informative response to my talk. Skepticism comes in many forms, some of which don't appeal to me. I'm sympathetic toward your kind. You are a seeker, as I am, rather than an ideologue. I would love to participate in the Skeptiko forum, but I'm just too bogged down in teaching and writing--I'm trying to finish my first novel--and I'm pretty antisocial, to be honest. FYI I just blabbed in even more depth about consciousness etc on something called Meaning of Life TV. Here's a link: http://meaningoflife.tv/videos/32118.
All the best in your journey, John
Poor Horgan had a quiver in his voice every time he had to go back and defend materialism in the face of contrary evidence presented by Alex. It sounds like his life would be over and without meaning if he ever had to admit materialism is wrong. His faith seems very shaken by the evidence. He goes to the church of science every day but is just going through the motions.
UPDATE: This video shows how the dome was built and explains why it is such a tough engineering problem:
John Horgan: I think consciousness studies is the most exciting frontier in science right now. I’m really burned out on cosmology and particle physics. They’re still peddling multiverses and string theory and it seems stale… and I don’t even think it’s very scientific. But, by default, I still am a materialist to the extent that I think if there will be understanding of consciousness, and mind in general, it will come from probing the physiological underpinnings of the mind which, as far as we know, is the brain itself.
Dr. Koch: No. That’s not a romantic idea at all. That’s sort of everyday business for brain scientists. The assumption is, as I said before, that your brain, and only your brain—not your liver, not other parts of your body—give rise to specific conscious experience.
Mike Jawer: It’s going to take a while but it’s moving in the right direction because neuroscientists need to understand that we’re not brain-based organisms. I talk about the body as an orchestra [and] you have different players, and the brain might be the conductor let’s say. But you’re not going to get any sound without the tubas and without the flutes and the trombones, the violins and so forth. And they’re all parts of us.
Nexus Magazine, Volume 12, Number 3 (April - May 2005)
by Paul Pearsall, PhD
Gary E. Schwartz, PhD
Linda G. Russek, PhD
According to this study of patients who have received transplanted organs, particularly hearts, it is not uncommon for memories, behaviours, preferences and habits associated with the donor to be transferred to the recipient.
This paper reports key observations from 10 representative cases of transplant recipients who were open to sharing experiences of personal changes following their operations that are consistent with the systemic memory prediction.
It is not a question of materialism. You can make the argument that mind is not the brain purely on physical evidence. Neuroscientists need a new paradigm.
John Horgan took his shtick into the bear pit, speaking at the end of this year's NECSS. Novella's response is here and hopefully demonstrates that Skepticism is starting to move beyond its critics:
If the multiverse serves as a model that might accumulate evidence, why can't the same be said for astrology?
Where do skeptics get their expertise to deal with the issues of homeopathy and GMOs? Because it seems one would have to have some requisite coursework to claim expertise?
I don't doubt Skeptics debate things like the simulation hypothesis and the multiverse, but Skepticism has things it wants to be true, and these ideas about how the world works are canon its adherents play missionary for. And the latter has been used by skeptics to try and get around questions relating to fine-tuning and the potential relationship between consciousness and quantum mechanics.
I think in the same way science is - as David Bailey put it - better when making applicable technologies so too is Skepticism as a movement better when focusing on problems in scientific investigation. Sadly the movement, perhaps in some cases better classified as a religion given the push for metaphysical assertions, seems to have missed quite a few of those problems when outside their pet issues like homeopathy or Psi.
No reason at all. Every model needs to be assessed on it's merits. As I understand it the multiverse is a mathematical model (and my math ability is too limited to judge its merits). Would there be an astrological model based on maths? If not, based on what? The notion that our lives are influenced by the stars in the sky seems a testable claim on the face of it. Oh, here you go: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astrology_and_science.
I agree that some reading in these areas is necessary before forming a confident opinion on any subject. The evidence seems pretty much in on homeopathy (e.g. http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/homeopathy-ineffective-study-concludes) even Horgan considers it a "soft" target. Have we got a thread on GMOs? What are your concerns?
We must meet different "Skeptics"... Most I meet and talk to, including those on this forum, are pretty humble in these areas.
You might be right. George Hrab labelled Jamy Ian Swiss his "Religious Moron of the Week" in a recent podcast, specifically over the way he treated Horgan after his talk at NECSS. Skeptics need to be alert to the dangers of dogmatism... I think (hope?) the good ones are.
Well I don't follow astrology but I can see various metaphysics where it can end up working for people. I'm happy to take a neutral position on it, at most I think we can look at the ways people might rationalize to themselves it's working when it isn't.
For reference though I'll note Braude did write an essay on astrology. As to how it works - depends on how you think causation & time works. For example Weiss' metaphysics would easily allow astrology, and it seems a possibility under Bernardo's.
Skeptics are humble about intelligent design, fine tuning, the nature of consciousness? Not in my experience.
As for the future of the movement the problem is one can be skeptical about different things to different degrees. I think over time this - in tandem with movements away from a scientific consensus on our remaining mysteries - will fracture the skeptical movement just as differing interests fractured the New Atheist movement.
OK. We're not that far apart here. You have a distrust of "big S" Skepticism. I think it can be a helpful way to approach the world but I agree some "Skeptics" can be closed-minded dicks. Some proponents of immaterialism can be closed-minded dicks with knee jerk reactions to anything "mainstream science" (whatever that is) offers up... Does that mean Bernardo is wrong? Where does that leave us? I've no idea...
It seems to me the realm of definitive answers is a very small one.
For example, regarding homeopathy, I know a person from the higher education circle who swears by it. Says it saved the life of his child. I've read articles on how it might work and articles on how it's useless and in some cases harmful.
Another person from the "ivory tower" used past life regression to get rid of a phobia. Another attended an ayahuasca church ceremony that caused a major positive shift in their mental state. Of course others have done ayahuasca, or even just mindfulness meditation, and had an adverse reaction. But then people have adverse reactions to conventional medicine as well.
So once a person is given arguments for or against an "immaterialist treatment" - at what point is said person allowed to assess their own risk? For example if we label GMOs, and a huge group of people don't buy them, is that still not people making their own choice?
If education is the problem - the "skepticism is about method not conclusions" assertion - then the target should be critical thinking skills skeptics, proponents, academic theists, pagans, etc should be able to agree on? After that present arguments for different sides of the Hard Problem of Consciousness, the different interpretations of quantum mechanics, various metaphysical questions.
Couldn't have said it better myself!
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