A Philosophical Critique of Empirical Arguments for Postmortem Survival

Discussion in 'Critical Discussions Among Proponents and Skeptics' started by manjit, May 23, 2017.

  1. manjit

    manjit New

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    Sounds like an interesting book, though with a hefty price tag.....anybody read this? From a review:

    http://pelicanist.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/post-mortem-examinations.html

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Philosophi...c6b718584653f6f1d6453&creativeASIN=B017KUOSX2

    edit: not sure what the rules or etiquette is on posting almost entire blog entries, but I've edited the original post to paste almost all the book review as it's just so fascinating....
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2017
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  2. Mr.Sandman

    Mr.Sandman Member

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    Yes. I read it and it's one of the most misunderstood books both by skeptics and proponents.

    First of all, it's an academic book. It was published in a "modern theology" series and it's clearly aimed at people with some familiarity reading philosophy text. And, as an analytical philosopher, Sudduth employs a lot of bayesian inductive arguments. Laymen will probably get lost very quickly in the middle of an argument and will probably need to re-read it multiple times. (PS: To be fair, Sudduth explains everything you should know of Bayesian inference that you will need and it's not complicated, however, if you never read a book like that, you will get lost for sure).

    The book mentions some philosophers,like CJ Ducasse and CD Broad and great part of the book is an analysis of their arguments. If you don't what these philosophers defended, you'll probably get confused or have an incomplete picture of their ideas.

    Sudduth is very "pro-psi" and "pro-paranormal" and, as I recall, he himself had a strong mystical experience, causing his conversion from christianity to hinduism. I also believe that he was once an editor for the Journal of Scientific exploration. And that's the main reason why skeptics deslike this book (if you are a skeptic, the best reference I can give you is the recent book by Keith Augustine).

    However, the reason a lot of proponents desliked the book is because Sudduth argues that "super psi" is a better hypothesis than "personal survival". And by better hypothesis, I'm refering to the hypothes that fit the empirical evidences better. It's important to point out that Sudduth never says that the empirical evidence is worthless or that it doesn't support survival, he only says that there's no reason to prefer survival over super-psi (in fact, according to him, it's the opposite).


    I would recommend that you only read this book after reading Braude's Immortal Remains, Robert Almeder's Death and Personal Survival and papers by C.D. Broad and Curt Ducasse.
     
  3. materialism is bad

    materialism is bad New

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    I dont understand. I've never heard of psi experiments where they see tunnel of light or deceased relatives. Many OBEs during cardiac arrest are followed by tunnel of light, and if it's a psi thing I'd expect them to see the scene from the doctor/nurse point of view, not floating above the ceiling where there's no person to transmit the information.

    Personally I don't believe in mediums (they're all frauds to me, using cold reading/general statements that apply to many people), and I'm highly skeptical of psi in general, although I think just telepathy is certainly a possibility.
     
  4. I've gotten the impression that Sedduth doesn't want post-mortem survival accounts to be true because they contradict the afterlife narratives he holds to. Both the Christian Heaven/Hell narrative as well as the Vedanta Mind@Large narrative.

    All that said, I've not read his books so I might be treating him unfairly. IIRC he was going to write a book in support of the survival hypothesis.
     
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  5. Mr.Sandman

    Mr.Sandman Member

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    I don't want to discuss that, mainly because I'm not a supporter of the super-psi hypothesis. But I think that once you accept NDE as something that involves some "paranormal" aspects, you open a pandora box and you need to investigate all allegedly paranormal claims, from reincarnation to abductees (I'm not saying that you should accept everything, indeed you'll end up rejecting most of it). And when you start analysing everything, things start to get very messy.

    Yes, I think that is probably the case. Specially because he does think that consciousness continues after that, he just denies personal survival.
     
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  6. Typoz

    Typoz Member

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    It isn't necessary to go via a medium. Many bereaved people experience some form of contact with the deceased, One could argue that a proportion of this may be 'wishful thinking' but there remain some experiences of direct contact which won't so easily go away.

    One sub-category of such experiences occurs among those approaching their own death, who may receive surprise visits from deceased loved ones. But, as in NDE accounts, there are also instances where the experiencer is physically healthy at the time. It's a broad subject.
     
  7. materialism is bad

    materialism is bad New

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    My thing with mediums is that they make money. I'm extremely skeptical of people who profit off paranormal stuff. NDE researchers get their reputations and careers destroyed and salaries reduced, they are very different from mediums. I do believe some deceased contact of family relatives are genuine, but mediums asking for $$$ to contact the deceased are all frauds.
     
  8. Typoz

    Typoz Member

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    I believe that all generalisations are risky (including this one - irony is deliberate). Whenever we declare "all of something is something" it is almost certain to be erroneous.
     
  9. manjit

    manjit New

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    Thanks Mr Sandman, perfect response! I will take your advice and start with Braude and immortal remains! Cheers
     
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  10. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Well I am a moderator, and I am unaware of any such rule.. :)

    I always think Super-psi is the weakest of arguments.

    Materialists clearly can't rely on the super-psi argument. You have to concede so much to accept ψ, never mind a super version of it, that you might as well accept the original proposition. I mean ψ, more or less by definition, involves minds doing things that aren't compatible with materialism.

    If you want to read something academic on the subject, I would recommend "Irreducible Mind" - which is reasonably cheap on the Kindle. It covers a range of subjects, that break the materialistic view of mind, including the idea that it ends at death.

    Nevertheless, I think it is best not to look for conclusive proof of what happens after death, because unless perhaps you have an NDE, you will always be left with a niggling doubt. Be content with a high probability that our consciousness continues after death.

    David
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2017
  11. north

    north Member

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  12. As Gabriel once said, for the living-agent psi hypothesis to be true the mind would have to have incredible power that appears difficult to explain in material terms (I always find macro-PK the most "immaterialist" power). It suggests there's at least the strong possibility that there's an afterlife.

    The mimicry thing is what makes me very skeptical about living agent psi. We have psychic power but it manifests itself in ways that suggest an afterlife as opposed to those instances of Psi that have no such suggestion.

    I'm also not sure how living agent psi would fit into the evolutionary picture. All this power but it ends up manifesting in largely "useless" ways as far as the propagation of our genes are concerned? Seems like it would be selected against long before. There are "just so" stories one can make up about why evolution ended up producing psychic manifestations to fake the afterlife but it seems rather desperate to me?
     
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  13. Yet parapsychologists have offered a variety of materialist explanations for Psi? There are books featuring a variety of materialist explanations.
     
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  14. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Well OK you have to convince yourself that materialist ψ is impossible. I don't give the idea any credence:

    1) ψ seems to break loads of physical constrains simultaneously. Think of, precognition, ESP over long distances, remote viewing, NDE's etc. Theories that make sense of data like that, inevitably have to be abstracted from physical concepts.

    2) None of these theories seem to be used for anything else - or even acknowledged. Their only function is to sort of debunk ψ. I mean, think of the various theories of NDE's. If neurones can do all the wonderful things they are supposed to do when starved almost to death of oxygen, wouldn't this be relevant to something else rather than just explaining NDE's?

    3) The concept of the neural net - that is supposed to contain our memories (at least in as much as any theory explains memories), is inherently statistical. You train a neural net with data, and it forms a representation of reality and can 'recognise' situations and things. The problem is that there is absolutely no reason to expect that a representation of your NN for beer (say), it will look like anything other than noise if I receive it.

    Sometimes looking at potential explanations from a high level, as above, can reveal a lot. If you plunge into the details you may get lost.

    David
     
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  15. Retrocausation is accepted by some as an explanation for entanglement, entanglement itself can suggest ESP over long distances, NDEs involving Psi don't help us explain the origin of Psi.

    That said NDEs might resist materialist explanation while Psi used by conscious, living humans doesn't.

    Are there any explanations for consciousness - materialist or otherwise - currently producing applied technologies? AFAIK the best we have are potential tech from IIT and Orch-OR.

    Well being an immaterialist for philosophical reasons as much as experiential ones I would agree with this, but this is an argument against materialism based on thoughts/memories. As Eric Wargo once put it - Consciousness may remain impervious to quantitative mechanistic/materialist description while we could still explain Psi in materialist terms - at least in so far as we can explain sensation in neuroscientific terms or how cameras and walking talkies work.

    But high level abstraction can yield to arguments based on how wondrous Psi seems...but even things that seem wondrous can be explained in materialist terms. I would suggest checking out ESP Volume 1 & 2 or the Parapsychology: A Handbook for the 21st Century as both give us a variety of materialist explanations.

    Now empirically we may find materialism fails to provide reasonable explanation for Psi but at the current moment only macro-PK seems to really resist materialist explanation.

    On the flip side materialism can be true while still having an afterlife.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 25, 2017
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  16. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Yes, but to use entanglement to explain precognition, you need retrocausation (obviously) together with a quantum explanation of consciousness. Also I think retrocausation in entanglement doesn't transmit information - just a statistical correlation that has to be observed at a later time. I.e QM explanations of precognition are out unless you admit some extension of QM that permits information transfer to occur in these situations.

    A genuine backward transmission of information could also create paradoxes - think of Andy Paquette's dream of being mugged and murdered, which allowed him to avoid the event. From the point of view of retrocausation, this information was transmitted and as a result it could not be transmitted.........

    David
     
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  17. Baccarat

    Baccarat New

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    I just doing understand how .1? Percent of anything can hold or project such a complex reality
     
  18. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Wow - what were you smoking - perhaps you were observing the complex reality first hand?

    David
     
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  19. Baccarat

    Baccarat New

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    What I'm trying to say is, supposedly we are 99 percent empty space, are we really trying today that .1 percent is creating our reality? The universe is a cohesive unit you need more than one component to set it in motion
     
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  20. Max_B

    Max_B Member

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    Looks reasonable to me if we stick to adding things up - in an information sense. Once you start playing around with 4 dimensions and quantum coherence, it's a bit analogous to looking ahead and seeing a pothole, and altering course to avoid stepping in the pothole, which you've already seen. Here on earth, nobody thinks it's strange to do that... using energy to accelerate matter and use the degrees of freedom available to them based on the information available to them under gravity... and they 'appear' to change the future. But if your just adding things up, and understanding that within 4 dimensions and quantum coherence...
     
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