Alex Tsakiris, Four Questions About the Future of Skeptiko |414|

#21
Alex, so good to see you cut to the chase like this!

I'll go straight to question #3:
3. What is the relationship between "this reality that is bound in space/time" and "that reality that transcends space/time"? And if this other reality transcends space/time, what does it tell us about our reality that is confined by space/time? Does it suggest that his reality is a lesser reality?

Something which seems more and more likely to me is that our reality is some kind of playground for "forces"/entities/archetypes (sorry I cannot be very precise - I wish I knew who is pulling the strings but I can only speculate). Meurs wrote (post #3 in this thread): "The obvious strategy would be to consider what we from the higher realm might get from a lesser realm. It has to have some purpose. Knowledge can't be it."

I agree - it can't be knowledge. And this is why I don't consider the idea that "we are bits of God discovering himself" convincing at all. First of all, the very definition of the word "God" implies an all-knowing entity, so (s)/he/it would not need to create a material world to discover anything about himself.

I find it bizarre that people should immediately jump to the conclusion that our material world was created by the "ultimate Being"/ Ground of Being. We could be removed from (s)/he/it by many, many "layers" (which is, by the way, the Gnostic view of things)!

This reality may very well be the creation of "beings", who themselves emerged/were created by other beings/forces/some would say "gods" or spirits I suppose (again, I don't have words or clear concepts to describe them, obviously. I don't think that we humans have adequate, shared words to refer to them, because they are able to 'manifest' in different ways in human experience (in the material world too: synchronicity etc) and consciousness (NDEs, visions, dreams etc) - and they do so, I guess, because they want to provoke certain reactions on those who 'experience' them, but still wish to confuse mankind by the bizarreness and diversity of their "interventions", so as to leave us guessing. The word "Being" makes one think of 'individuals' with some kind of life of their own. They may be more akin to "forces", like the Gods of mythology, for example)

The purpose of this? What is the purpose of games like "the Sims"? Obviously those who play the game enjoy it. There doesn't need to be more to it.

I don't know if you saw my post of yesterday (#99 in the rey hernandez thread) with a suggestion for a future show - I'm not saying that this guy "knows the truth" but I sure would be interested in his answers to your questions.

http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threa...nd-the-paranormal-412.4357/page-5#post-130449

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With reference to what you say in your solo podcast: "So, there are so many layers to that because as appealing as that Gnostic sensibility is, it doesn’t really give us any hope of transcending outside of this little street fight."

Of course, I wish I knew the way out of this material reality! This is what makes me a seeker. You'll be interested to hear that this guy has addressed the question (see the two excerpts below, from the Amazon sample of his book, which I haven't read ).


Edit: I am listening to an interview with Dr Gallimore which is very interesting and much better quality (video and sound). If you go to minute 24 he starts describing his experience with and speculations about "other dimensional beings" :

https://www.reddit.com/r/GrahamHancock/comments/by5l3f
 

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#22
I think the motherlode question is, what might be the cause of our discontentment with life here regardless of how good we might have it? Maybe its because life is painful, relentlessly painful even though there might be nothing wrong with us. If we sit on a comfortable chair long enough it gets painful. If we go bike riding it eventually gets painful. We can go swimming but that too gets painfully tiring. It is thus for us from the very beginning of life as we lay on a little bed days after our birth awaiting our mother to offer us a bit of attention and the comfort of her body touch to sooth us. Reports from near death experiencers tell of an indescribable feeling of peace and total contentment on, "the other side" of this life however. So, in "living my own gospel" I have faith that if I carry this life all the way to what may be a bitter end in the way of a possible painful disease, there at last I shall see the Creator's hand extended to embrace His servant son. But even eternal bliss, "Gets boring" as near death experiencer Mellon Thomas Benedict has said, So maybe the restless of us will ask the Creator if we may have another go at life on Earth even if it is no longer necessary. kind regards ~g
 
#23
2. The fundamental sense of discontentment we have as a species - something is just not quite right - and your underlying mind is trying to figure this out.

- Is there a reality to this 'normal' - the experience of fundamental discontentment?​
- Is there a way to change that state?​

and I would add:
[- Should we change that state in ourselves?] - Is it possible that we are here to convert hell into a live-able realm, and in transforming hell, we are also changed for the better? (Hell is defined as that realm where evil is a Wittgenstein object, but goodness is not)​
I'm very open to what you're saying. for me what seems most relevant is the kind of stuff that dr. Jeffrey martin was talking about:​
Dr. Jeffery Martin, The Finders Course Works, Sorry Haters ... - Skeptiko

so whether it's a kundalini awakening, an experience with christ consciousness during an nde, or a long slow zen-like grind of chopping wood and fetching water a different way of being in the world is possible.

Also, and this is an important distinction to me, I want to explore this is as a scientific / reason-based fact. i.e. if you sift through the data this seems to be a reality. so I don't need to come at it as an experiencer and tell you about jesus or krishna or my meditation technique. I can just follow the data and say this seems to be reality.
 
#24
#25
What is the role of deception? How is it related to the nature of evil? I feel it to be a direct link with question #1 of a ‘fundamental dissatisfaction with the way things are’.
that's interesting... I don't feel that connection on a personal level but I understand your point. on a personal level the "fundamental dissatisfaction" thing seems very ordinary, understandable and traceable to the voice inside my head:

- I've constructed a model of how the world should be. I'm worried that it won't be that way. I live in fear.
 
#27
#1 Biological robots in a meaningless universe

We are not biological robots, there is a huge amount of evidence that the afterlife is real and consciousness is non-physical. but I don't understand what "free will" means so I can't say if we are spiritual robots or not. I tend to believe that everything, including behavior, thoughts, emotions, and impulses has a cause.

I don't know if the physical universe has meaning. How can a universe have meaning? A word or a symbol can have meaning. The universe as far as I know is not a symbol in that sense. I believe life and the universe were created for a purpose: To provide spiritual beings with a place to have experiences that cannot be had in the spiritual realms.
agreed but I think it's important to make a distinction regarding "biological robots in a meaningless universe." I mean, scientific materialism is falsifiable in a number of different ways ( as you know and have written about). and (as discussed in the show) it seems to be an agenda driven dogma. so as we go on with our quiet little level 3 conversation we have to acknowledge that the stadium is full of strokes that have been manipulated into believing something else.

#2 Discontentment
I think discontentment is built into us biologically because it helps species to maintain themselves, and also because the physical world is not meant to be perfect. It is meant to be imperfect to provide us with problems to experience - people learn best by solving problems - by learning from experience. We are here to learn.
I think the data suggests otherwise. again one of the things I like about jeffrey martin's work is that he's measuring against well-established psychological markers.



If Dr. Martin wants to convince folks otherwise, he should publish controlled studies demonstrating it.
or you could just do exactly what he's been doing :)


(Alex, you seem to be supportive Dr. Martin's research. One of his finding is that meditation produces a reduced sense of agency. Does that affect your view of free will? )
I don't think he's claiming there's no free will... is that what you hear him saying?
 
#29
Okay about being "discontent". Sure a lot of time we are restless, we don't know why things are & just when we think we got it figured out, we find we are either wrong or someone lead us down some shady path.

HOWEVER, this "discontent" you speak of, I'm not sure what you are discontent about. Just in general? Are you eating right, riding your bike & getting enough rest? Taking your vitamins? Okay then, are you surrounding yourself with weirdos? Freaks or flakes? Stop that, they are sooooo draining.
haha. fortunately, I think I figured out my problem. you see despite the fact that there are six billion people on the planet, and they're all having unique experiences, my mind has somehow constructed this reality that puts me at the center of everything. I get peeved when it rains more than two days in a row. I'm mull over past mistakes and missed opportunities even though I have no way changing what's happened. I've compiled a massive list of likes and dislikes and when the world doesn't conform I don't like it. I live in fear that everything won't turn out the way that I want.
 
#30
=> while attainable, contentment is necessarily transient
again, I got to reference dr. Jeffrey Martin's work because he's the first social scientist to take a serious look at this question. his results suggest that we are able to make a significant shift regarding contentment. way beyond what psychology thought was possible.


=> the western world has backed itself into a corner, compelled to understand by means of a tool that precludes understanding and is thrashing about accordingly
what about ET? puts a different spin on the story, eh?
 
#31
I think the much more interesting paradigmatic explanation of consciousness is the emergence model (as opposed to "consciousness doesn't exist"). I also tend to believe that the emergence model is basically compatible with idealism models, extended consciousness models, etc. in addition to being basically compatible with materialist models.
I don't think the emergent model gets us anywhere. when does consciousness begin? when does it end? What's necessary and sufficient to cause consciousness?

the emergent model is only meaningful when we understand the constituent elements. the emergence of a sand dune can be modeled because we understand and sand, wind, moisture and all the other stuff that makes up a sand dune. we don't have the same with regard to consciousness.
 
#34
I think the much more interesting paradigmatic explanation of consciousness is the emergence model (as opposed to "consciousness doesn't exist"). I also tend to believe that the emergence model is basically compatible with idealism models, extended consciousness models, etc. in addition to being basically compatible with materialist models.

I also tend to think that emergence and the related fields of dynamic systems theory, complexity theory, and chaos theory are super interesting and rather difficult, kind of like quantum mechanics is interesting and rather difficult. It seems like folks are more interested in QM than they are in dynamic systems/complexity theory, which is unfortunate because it seems to me that there is fertile ground in the dynamic systems/complexity theory that could be woven into idealist models in interesting ways.
To me 'emergence' is more like a lazy excuse - just a fancy way of saying "We are stumped".

I mean other examples of emergence include things like the behaviour of sand dunes or the wetness of water.

Well I mean once we understand that air flowing over a sand dune can become turbulent, I think we have the outline of a proper explanation of sand dunes.

As for the wetness of water - I don't really know what that means - does it refer to a collection of physical properties, or is it a vague reference to a qualia of feeling water (in which case surely we are back with the original problem because the phenomenon involves consciousness).

The sand dune problem is entirely physical and not really particularly surprising.

Because scientists are clearly not fools, people just tend to give them the benefit of the doubt, but when it comes to issues such as consciousness, they seem to be stumped, and often end up producing explanations that just don't make logical sense. Always look at what they say and try to figure out exactly what it means.

If they explain consciousness, which clearly exists but is hard to define, with a vague expression like emergence, which they also don't define, you can reasonably bet they don't have a clue.

David
 
#35
where do you think this reality sits relative to the other realities?
I'm not sure. I believe there are lower 4th density beings intermingling with us: earthbound spirits, non physical entities. I could say well it's the same space but tuned to a higher frequency. I don't think it's a 4th spatial dimension. Beyond the 4th there seems to be a more fundamental separation but I don't understand it. It's the other side of the tunnel. Also, I've experienced something like the Overview Effect looking at earth through VR goggles. It felt like a memory, as if I'd seen that view before but with a deeper understanding. In that sense, perhaps there is some kind of space separation.

(Basically, I believe there is a 3D physical realm along with a non-physical realm "nearby" where our thoughts and emotions can influence and from which non-physical entities can influence us. This is the sandbox, and there are higher realms beyond this sandbox that are harder to reach for most of us.)

As far as deception, I suspect it's non-physical entities working with black magicians.
 
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#36
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I think the data suggests otherwise. again one of the things I like about jeffrey martin's work is that he's measuring against well-established psychological markers.
Could you say more specifically what data you are referring to and what exactly it shows and if you can provide a link to the data that would be helpful too.

If Dr Martin is claiming that meditation reduces discontentment, I agree. Many people who meditate make that observation. I don't insist on scientific results for something very simple like that.

But if you believe Dr. Martin's classes produce Buddhist awakening in a few weeks I need more convincing. I am very much interested in what Dr Martin is doing but I think you have to be careful about his research results because the last time I looked, they were based on subjective self assessments from research participants and there were no experimental controls. People who pay money for a class might be less than objective about what they got out of it. He also has a conflict of interest in finding positive results since he charges a fee for the course and that could also unconsciously influence his results.

Dr. Martin might be measuring well established psychological markers, but I don't agree characteristics of PNSE as defined by Dr. Martin (see below) are Buddhist awakening, I think they are the result of a lot of meditation. Experiments using blind protocols and experimental controls could potentially prove me wrong. Has Dr. Martin published research reports that give the scientific basis for grouping the characteristics of PNSE into four stages? Understanding the details about how he collected data and formed his conclusions is necessary to evaluate the validity of those conclusions.

...
I don't think he's claiming there's no free will... is that what you hear him saying?
I think that is what the meditators are saying ... because that is the effect meditation has had on me - the more I meditate, the more I see thought, emotions, and impulses as either arising by some invisible process in my mind or as arising from specific causes so I don't feel like I have anything like free will. I assume people who think they have free will think that way because they feel like they have it. I don't see free will as something that could exist objectively because I don't understand what it means. People think the definition is self-evident / self explanatory, but it isn't to me. What does "free will" mean? One problem I have is if you can predict behavior does that mean you don't have free will? How you answer that question affects the definition. So depending on the definition I might or might not agree we have free will. But actually, I think that the possibility behavior cold be predictable means that the concept of free will is incoherent - not that we don't have it, just the phrase is not something that means anything.

"PNSE 4 - No sense of agency"

http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threa...nlightenment-be-taught.1953/page-2#post-58913

The whole point of PNSE is that it is defined very specifically.​
PNSE 1​
- Expansion of sense of self, connection to divine​
- Much less affected by ‘self’ thoughts​
- Distance from but still have positive and negative emotions​
- Deep peace but can be suppressed by triggered conditioning​
- Effects from perceptual triggers fall off quickly​
- Deep peace and beingness feels more real than anything previous​
- Trust in ‘how things are’​
- Personal history less relevant, memories less​
PNSE 2​
- ‘Self’ thoughts continue to fade​
- Peace increasingly harder to suppress/conditioning fades​
- Shift towards increasingly positive emotions, until only very positive emotions remain​
- Intermediate levels of perceptual triggers increasingly fade​
- More likely to feel that there is a correct decision or path to take when presented with choices​
- Higher well-being than location one​
PNSE 3​
- Only single positive emotion remains​
- Feels like a combination of universal compassion, love, joy, …​
- Higher well-being than location 2​
PNSE 4​
- No sense of agency​
- No emotions​
- No ‘self’ thoughts​
- Perceptual triggers at their bare minimum​
- No sense of divine or universal consciousness​
- life was simply unfolding and they were watching the process happen​
- Memory deficits/scheduled appointments, etc.​
- Highest well-being reported​

...​
 
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#37
Could you say more specifically what data you are referring to and what exactly it shows and if you can provide a link to the data that would be helpful too.

If Dr Martin is claiming that meditation reduces discontentment, I agree. Many people who meditate make that observation. (I don't insist on scientific results for something very simple like that.)

If you believe Dr. Martin's classes produce Buddhist awakening in a few weeks I need more convincing. I am very much interested in what Dr Martin is doing but I think you have to be careful about his research results because the last time I looked, they were based on subjective self assessments from research participants and there were no experimental controls. People who pay money for a class might be less than objective about what they got out of it. He also has a conflict of interest in finding positive results since he charges a fee for the course and that could also unconsciously influence his results.

Dr. Martin might be measuring well established psychological markers, but I don't agree characteristics of PNSE as defined by Dr. Martin (see below) are Buddhist awakening, I think they are the result of a lot of meditation. Experiments using blind protocols and experimental controls could potentially prove me wrong. Has Dr. Martin published research reports that give the scientific basis for grouping the characteristics of PNSE into four stages? Understanding the details about how he collected data and formed his conclusions is necessary to evaluate the validity of those conclusions.



I think that is what the meditators are saying ... because that is the effect meditation has had on me - the more I meditate, the more I see thought, emotions, and impulses as either arising by some invisible process in my mind or as arising from specific causes so I don't feel like I have anything like free will. I assume people who think they have free will think that way because the feel like they have it. I don't see free will as something that could exist objectively because I don't understand what it means. People think the definition is self-evident / self explanatory, but it isn't to me. What does "free will" mean? One problem I have is if you can predict behavior does that mean you don't have free will? How you answer that question affects the definition. So depending on the definition I might or might not agree we have free will. But actually, I think that the possibility behavior cold be predictable means that the concept of free will is incoherent - not that we don't have it, just the phrase is not something that means anything.

"PNSE 4 - No sense of agency"


Predicting behavior is purely based on probabilities, anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. There is no 100% way to predict someones behavior, it only ever comes down to speculation based on their past actions, personality, etc. It is a probability. Every good psychologists knows this. To be extremely blunt (because I think its necessary to get the point across), free will means for no reason at all I can come home and kill my puppy that I love for virtually no reason at all. I can jump out my window right now when I have no past suicidal tendencies or thoughts. Free will is the choice. Free will is the wildcard.
 
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#38
One point could be that there may be at least two kinds of consciousness: non-self-reflective consciousness (NSRC), and self-reflective consciousness (SRC). As many of us know, Bernardo Kastrup opines that M@L has NSRC, but not SRC. NSRC is posited to have always existed, and to be fundamental, whereas SRC could be emergent, could arise from what is pre-existent, due to "laws" or latent predispositions/potentials in M@L's NSRC.

It may not be so much that M@L is omnipotent, as that anything it is capable of creating comes to be if it "wants" (a word that belongs only in the realm of SRC, but it's the nearest I can get to the concept) it to be so. There may be things that it is incapable of creating; that it would never "occur to it" to create in the first place. "Creation" in this context is, again, a notion occurring only within SRC. I am always bound by the means available to me for expression of concepts, viz. language.

Necessarily, as SRCs ("souls"), we are limited, can only interact with that which we seem to perceive. If we can't perceive something either directly through our senses or indirectly through instrumentation, then for all practical purposes, it doesn't exist. Maybe sometimes we can change this; maybe sometimes it's not that it doesn't exist, but more that we haven't yet been able to perceive its existence, and as soon as we can, the sphere of our knowledge and potential influence increases somewhat. But we can never go outside this sphere, whatever its ultimate extent might be, because there resides the NSRC of M@L, to which we have no direct access.

We use words like "deception", "evil", and so on. Words arise within SRC, and have a range of meanings influenced by our perceived experiences within it. I posit that such words are insufficient to describe the NSRC of M@L. By our very use of language, we, in effect, unwittingly circumscribe our idea of what M@L might be. Put another way, we project onto M@L our own limitations. We get to very difficult problems about how a good God could have created evil, forgetting that "evil" is a concept within our SRC that might be totally inappropriate within the NSRC of M@L.

Did M@L create "evil"? Did it create "deception"? Or are these things that we have given names to, and which are characteristic only of SRCs?

Maybe more later...
 
#39
Predicting behavior is purely based on probabilities, anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. There is no 100% way to predict someones behavior, it only ever comes down to speculation based on their past actions. It is a probability. Every good psychologists knows this. To be extremely blunt (because I think its necessary to get the point across), free will means for no reason at all I can come home and kill my puppy that I love for virtually no reason at all. I can jump out my window right now when I have no past suicidal tendencies or thoughts. Free will is the choice. Free will is the wildcard.
Computer neural networks routinely make choices that their human creators cannot predict (some can beat grandmasters at chess which shows even the grandmasters can't predict their behavior), but the computers are nonetheless deterministic, so I don't see unpredictability as proof of free will. If you define free will in a way that says computer neural networks have free will then I would agree under that definition free will can exist.

A computer could be unpredictable because it made decisions using a random number generator (I mean a real random number generator not a pseudorandom number generator). That is another reason I don't think unpredictability is proof of free will.

But when you write "Free will is the choice" I don't see how that explains anything. To me it looks like you are using two terms that mean the same thing (free will and choice) and asserting one explains the other. When you explain something you have to explain one thing in terms of something different so you can show some relationship or analogy to provide more information. I don't see how saying "Free will is the choice" helps anyone with a basic understanding of the English language to understand what free will is.

I am not saying people don't have free will. I am saying people who feel like they have it need to come up with a better way of explaining their feelings.
 
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#40
Computer neural network's routinely make choices that their human creators cannot predict, but the computers are nonetheless deterministic, so I don't see unpredictability as proof of free will. If you define free will in a way that says computer neural networks have free will then I would agree under that definition free will can exist.

But when you write "Free will is the choice" I don't see how that explains anything. To me it looks like you are using two words that mean the same thing (free will and choice) and asserting one explains the other. When you explain something you have to explain one thing in terms of something different so you can show some relationship or analogy to provide more information. I don't see how saying "Free will is the choice" helps anyone with a basic understanding of the English language to understand what free will is.
This has been argued to death on this forum already, and I'd rather not take the direction of this thread down that path. Maybe we should move the free will discussion, if we want to continue it, to the free will thread (I believe there used to be one)? Perhaps free will is in the same category as a qualia, inexplicable besides it being what it is in essence. It is an idea, to reduce it down to a system may not do it justice.

While I do recognize the condescension in your post (very spiritually enlightened Jim!) in regards to my comprehension of the English language, the reason I described it as being "the choice" was not because I did not understand how definitions work. It is because, in my eyes, I believe free will to be in the same category as consciousness. You seem to want to define it in explanatory terms, to reduce it down to a system or an analogy. Consciousness can't be explained like that, what makes you think free will and other things like that could be as well? Some things simply just "are."

Whether you place free will into that category is ultimately up to you, I certainly do. Your experiences with meditation seem to tell you otherwise and that is your truth. No one here can convince you otherwise. It may seem like a "cop-out" to place free will into the qualia/consciousness category, but that's just my perspective on it from contemplating it. If determinism is what works best for you and is closer to what you believe to be your truth then that is what it is. There are lots of reasons to believe determinism, and there are lots of reasons to believe in free will. Both are backed by mathematics. I will say though, a deterministic universe is definitely pre-QM line of thought. Or at the very least, QM shed much doubt on the truth of determinism in its totality, and the debate to this day that started between Einstein-Bohr still is ongoing.
 
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