Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, Sep 20, 2016.
Sorry David, I get my skeptics mixed up sometimes ;-) you're correct, I meant Wiseman
You mention that you read several spiritual books after the accident and NDE... Did you also read philosophy? If so, what metaphysical stance would you say is a better approach to "reality" after the experience?
I don't agree with this. It's all interesting stuff, if people with something to say relating to Dr Long they could have posted.
Maybe this is just as important.
I've re-read the entire thread because for some time I've had the suspicion these threads are intentionally derailed. On the face of it we have an interesting podcast with one of the more credible figures in the NDE world, on oncologist who's untaken lengthy research into the phenomenon. Dr Long is the kind of physician who might add to the sum total of NDE knowledge, but his words prompted a thread that grinds to an off-topic halt. There's something of a pattern to these, and this is how this one panned out.
Page 2: Small Dog claims Dr Long clearly has a religious agenda, prompting off topic discussion to;
Page 5: Smithy's Book, adds to Dr Long's claims;
Page 7: Small Dog conflates NDEs with mental illness, off topic discussion to;
Page 9: Kamarling's defence of evidence in post 173, and against accusations of skeptic victimisation;
Page 10: Steve001 ignores this and insists Skeptiko victimises individuals;
Page 11: In response I discuss skeptical debating methods, leading to;
Page 13: "Gabriel's diatribe" accusation by Arouet
Page 14: Steve001 responds to discussion with one liners, Arouet begins lengthy exposition of his beliefs, leading to off topic discussion;
Page 16: Malf's request to remove off topic material.
Is this thread untypical of NDE podcasts, or exactly on method? The reader can decide.
You must have me on ignore.
I could have sworn I saw a post here saying something unexpected? Never mind
"Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves"
I need to remind myself of that quote from time to time.
I removed the previous post because I'd sent it in a hurry, and didn't want what I'd said to be misconstrued because I ran out of time.
I hadn't ignored your post, Steve, I'd begun mine before you submitted it, and agree threads should be left intact so that neutrals can see how the debate pans out. However I think it's important that long threads on important topics like this should be summarised in the same way Michael Larkin condenses the original podcast. This will convey the merit or otherwise of dissenting views, and allow solid research to contribute to the totality of knowledge on the subject. If skeptics routinely derail threads as I suspect, it allows evidence to be side-lined adding to the claims that more is required to gain credibility. I don't believe there's a credibility gap or a volume of data gap, I think there's acceptance gap. This takes various forms including questions of what denotes evidence, but also subjects threads to silly and unfounded accusations like the one Small Dog makes of Dr Long promoting religion, which can take pages to fend off. Meanwhile the subject at hand is kicked into the long grass. Maintain similar accusations on a regular basis and all evidence is sullied or "debunked" before its implications gain traction. In this way data is depicted as inconclusive, professionals are subjected to smears, the study is dismissed as woo and onlookers are bored to tears based on a single fallacious premise.
I would have no objection to this as long as the thread remains as it unfolds, warts & all. I feel that sometimes deleting things that may appear to mean little to some can show different things to others. It's like a piece of art that might be demeaned in some way if parts of it were removed.
I wouldn't normally feel like this type of thing is important, but I do here? Fwiw.
Having a consistent alternative would help tremendously. Look what a consistent view does. For example, it's able to help understand how nature works; how to apply that knowledge in a practical way to construct a computer so someone can write the materialist way of looking at reality is wrong.
Play fair, include yourself in this list.
Things don't have to have a known method to be true. Dean Radin maps things that have no known causality, and no immediate likelihood of a cause, but that doesn't mean he isn't doing science. We need to get away from effects being seen in opposition to materialism, and abandon terms like immaterialism or anti-materialism which have materialism as an a priori assumption. The study of the physical world is a useful one but it increasingly appears likely to be an in-exhaustive study.
No problem with that. Interested parties can re-read the thread and see if my summary falls short of the facts.
Or a concise summary of organised scepticism as played out on a proponent forum. Let the reader decide.
If you mean by philosophy Western philosophy, no. From my reading at that time I was captivated by Alan Watts and his exposition of Taoism and Zen Buddhism. Eventually I read a lot of Suzuki on Zen and then lots of others in the same vein, D. E. Harding (Douglas E. Harding) sticks in my mind, but now, I can't even remember most of the names of the authors or the books that I was reading at that time. Really the 'Big Mind' theme, at least by my reading of it, of Taoism/Zen was the thing - very attractive and made a lot of sense after the experience. (Looking back at that with your question in mind I'm pretty sure that some of what I was reading would have in some places given at least passing mention to idealism but it was all new to me and my focus in reading was always the spiritual aspect, rather than intellectual concerns, and so as a reader I'd be registering the bits that were of immediate interest and overlooking the rest. That sounds a bit like being stupid but I think most people read in that way to some extent - some things jump off the page, some things don't.)
However, as far as Western philosophy went any time I tried to specifically dip into it I quickly found myself lost in the arguments which, more often than not, I found incredibly abstruse and dry - it doesn't resonate with me. Too quickly I get lost in the abstractions. This to the extent that in the period of a few years after the experience I did get hold of D. E. Harding's "The Hierarchy Of Heaven And Earth" which, at that time, would have been the nearest ambition I had to come to read a complete book in the specific vein of Western philosophy and my reason for wanting to read it was because I liked Harding as a writer. Though I liked Harding's more "populist" books I very quickly gave up on the "The Hierarchy . . ." - too dry and too abstract for my way of thinking and feeling.
From all that I guess I would have to say that I didn't have a formal metaphysical stance that I was aware of at that time in my life - really I didn't have any strong notion of what metaphysics was at that point in time. (On the other hand maybe I did, it's just that I wasn't aware of what it is due to lack of exposure to Western philosophy.) What is practical is of more interest to me than abstraction. For that reason I have, now for many years, been a fan of Eckhart Tolle. He's very practical in his approach and what he teaches can be practised to good effect. He also eschews abstract philosophy and I find that comfortable for me. For me it all just amounts to do the decent thing, do the loving the thing - because that is the right thing to do. That doesn't have to be over the top, nor do you need to set yourself up as fall-guy for any less well intentioned folks that come along, just try and be in the park. Do that and, if NDERs are to be believed, as far as the afterlife goes, once you get there, you'll be very glad you lived your life in the correct way. I have no idea if that amounts to metaphysics.
All the above said I did, because of listening to Skeptiko, fairly recently, last year and a half or so, end up buying and reading Bernardo Kastrup's books (I haven't read his latest one, 'More Than Allegory'). "Rationalist Spirituality" (RS) and "Why Materialism Is Baloney" (WMIB) made a strong impact on my thinking. That was the first time that I read something that I would call "Western philosophy" that actually made any sense, and didn't come across as "dry", to me that I could identify with and I found Bernardo's writing to be of a quality that I could (mostly) follow. He's an exceptionally good writer and the only one that has, in effect, managed to make me read right through books which I'd broadly base in the genre of Western philosophy. It was only after reading those books that it dawned on me that, in Western terms, I would be called an idealist, and that identification occurred fairly quickly after the NDE and I was quite conscious of that happening (though, through ignorance, I didn't have the Western philosophical label to stick on myself). Nowadays I'm still uncertain as to what kind of idealist I would be.
The brilliant thing about Bernardo's WMIB (and some parts of his other books) is that I can take the ideas in there, apply them to my NDE as a sort of "template" for intellectual comparison as to what might have been happening during the NDE and it works - it actually works. I was quite excited when I discovered this. One thing I'm not certain about is if Bernardo believes in the existence of a soul/spirit in the sense that popular Christianity conceives of it - there's a discrete (spiritual) "body" that people have and that's it. By my reading he seems to veer away from that and raises the concept of "alters" - knots in consciousness/mind - and seems to use that concept as being to some extent analogous to soul/spirit though in doing that manages to steer clear of having an ultimately discrete "body"; it's a "knot" in consciousness/mind and ultimately reducible to being just consciousness/mind. I have thought of why he might be doing this and as best as I can come up with I think it's so that he strictly adheres to what I think is called monistic idealism - he doesn't want anything like soul/spirit to stand as a concept as this might give entry of a kind of dualism in his scheme of things. That's my sticky part with Bernardo but in no way detrimental. (If anyone here can explain that simply then please do so, I'd be interested, just pitch it for a non-philosopher.) Have to say though that I can't see anything wrong with his suggestions - they make good sense. Strong appeal there. And I do still spend a bit of time thinking around what he is saying and re-reading RS and WMIB.
So the short answer to your question would be that I quickly developed into an unwitting idealist of some sort after my experience (though there would have been huge swathes of inculcated dualism still in my thinking - so a bit muddy I guess) as that seemed to best accord with my thinking and feeling nature following the NDE. However, even though I was reading lots around Taoism and Zen (Buddhism) I could never identify with the notion that there is no "God" - that notion did not in any way sit with my actual experience, though my experience didn't in any way conform to the simple Christian notion that "God" was a big daddy in the sky that intercedes and intervenes at every turn.That unwitting idealist persisted and consolidated over the years and now, fairly recently, I can at least identify in Western terms that I'm an idealist of some kind, that for me best fits with what reality is and is informed by my experience. Mind (which has, from my point of view, a very marked strong feeling "component" to it that I can't separate them out from each other - I'm not sure how that sits with what Bernardo thinks) is so fundamental, sensitive and fluid there it is awesomely beautiful.
It would be disingenuous to suggest that we are not clear on the line that seperates "skeptics" and "proponents" on this forum as it relates directly to this topic. It is central to almost every discussion. We mean, quite clearly, that either consciousness is something that is generated by (produced by, derrived from, depends on...) the brain or that it exists (or likely pre-exists) independently of the brain. I may be mistaken, but I am pretty sure that you said in the past that you lean towards mind == brain.
People on this forum who can be regarded as "proponents" are those that have examined a great deal of the evidence--scientific, anecdotal, personal, or otherwise, for a wide range of phenomena including psychic phenomena, apparitions, NDEs, reincarnation memories, shared death experiences, etc., and simply cannot accept, based on any evidence that we have to date, that these phenomena are produced by brains.
Well, more accurately human mind = brain, but there can be mind without brain, so long as there is a system that integrates information. In other words, the human brain is a particular type of integrated system. (Note: I don't assert this, its just roughly where I am at this stage).
To be clear, when I say that I think there is less that separates us than meets the eye I'm not talking about our specific beliefs. I'm talking about the fact that there is less that separates us as people, our pros and cons, how we treat one another, how we see ourselves and each other, etc. In other words, we should, despite our differences we are closer to being Us than Us/Them. I think many people give far too much weight to metaphysical differences of opinion in how we see one another. When it comes to us as people, we are far more alike than we think. In other words we're not as good as we think, and they are not as bad as we think - we're far more similar than we are different. And even if I am wrong on this - wouldn't bringing the sides closer together, opening up communication be a better way to go about convincing the other side of one's position? My hypothesis is that maintaining this US/THEM divide triggers our fight/flight instincts putting up protective barriers that serve to close our minds.
Frankly - I don't know why these ideas get so much opposition on this forum. It is completely consistent with a lot of the beliefs that many here say they hold: in particular that of idealism. I wonder if it had been a proponent who suggested it if it would have gotten more support.
Yes, that's the current position of many on this forum. I'm not sure what you're getting at though. The fact that we come at it from different angles and perspectives is EXACTLY why we should be communicating with one another! At least if one wants to maintain that both they're position is well founded and that they are open minded.
The fact is, whether skeptic or proponent, we all have a different range of resources we draw from. We each use different methods in coming up with our ideas. Each of these methods have pros and cons (including my own). My goal is to learn from each other to take the best of what each side has - not with a goal that any particular metaphysic be the victor, but so that we give ourselves the best chance, using the best tools, of figuring out what is what.
I get that the methodological issues that I present are seen as a threat. But I don't think that fear is warranted. I also think it is that fear that fuels posts like Gabriel's. I get it, I do. There is some suspicion that I'm trying to trick people, to game the system. And while I get the fear, and don't blame them for it, I think there is also a duty to not simply brush these concepts aside. Just like I would not be warranted in just brushing your ideas aside (and I don't think I do).
I believe that humans are biased creatures, and that we really can't do much to get rid of them. I think our biases affect our perceptions a lot. I think we have a lot of good evidence of this (and anyone who believes that double blind studies are important has to agree with this). I call myself a skeptic not because I belong to some organization (I don't) but because I believe strongly that by using certain methods we can bypass those biases. I believe that regardless of our preferred metaphysic, if we are not employing such methods then we are at very high risk of misleading ourselves. I don't think this is a character flaw in people: we're hard wired with it. It's not an insult to call someone biased, it is a recognition of the human condition.
Being biased in itself does not make someone closed minded. Rather, to be open minded one must recognize one's biases, and recognize that there's a pretty good chance their biases have, well, biased them! To be open minded means, in my strong opinion, taking specific steps designed to lead you to reliable conclusion in spite of one's bias. Basically to take a detour around it.
I get the opposition and distrust towards me. But what I want people to reflect on is whether that distrust and lets be honest, in some cases, as demonstrated above, hate, is based on fear and bias rather than on a fair assessment. But not just towards me (I tend to use myself as an example because when I use others I just get accused of blindly defending them) but towards everyone. Skeptics and proponents alike. I don't leave anyone out here! All sides suffer from the same biases.
Ugh, this is getting too long again, so I'll wrap it up. If there are people reading this who think, yeah, Arouet, I may disagree with what you believe but I support the overall goal you have - I hope you say something. Or at least give this post a like. And frankly, if you think I'm completely off base, tell me how.
What exactly do you think I fear? I have fear for the health of my family but beyond that I can't think of anything that keeps me awake at night. If you mean death, I have no fear whatsoever. I don't want to die a lingering, painful death or lie comatose for years, but I'm as convinced as I am of anything that we survive. Near death experiences fit what I would expect of the dying experience. All those believers and atheists who've looked around the curtain and reported back, I don't think they're in on a big scam or deluding themselves. I don't believe they're proselytising by the back door, or have pressure on their eyeballs.
Skeptics fall into three camps as far as I'm concerned. Those who are ideologically driven and think society will go to hell in a handcart if we embrace anything except absolute reductionism and primitive realism. Those who have a screw loose (in the nicest possible way), boffins who can't eat without dribbling and think everything will succumb to the microscope if they stare long enough. And those who have never given things much thought and don't really care enough to look. I don't see any reason to doubt the testimony of NDErs except ideological constraints, eccentricity or sheer ignorance. The only people I'm replying to on Skeptiko are the ideologists, the rest are beyond any words I can offer.
Nah, I can't speak for others, but I don't view any methodological issues as a threat, I understand what they aim to accomplish and I'm all for them in that regard. At the same time, I do think that at this point in our understanding of reality that an overly rigid insistence and fixation on certain controls and biases can actually inhibit our understanding of and interaction with certain phenomena. The little bit that I know of psychic phenomena was obtained only after I temporarily put aside such instance and actually spent time interacting with it, for myself and especially with those who are able to exhibit it more easily than others. It is equally part of our duty not to brush aside the importance of that as well.
I recognise that my long posts are not being read, so I'm going to try and be more succinct, but don't take this as my complete response:
I'm talking about fear of the "other". This isn't a moral judgment. It believe it is a natural, evolved instinct, going back to before there were humans. In the tribal days, other tribes were real dangers, wanting your stuff, or your people. Our flight or fight response developed, protecting us from that. Suspicion kept people alive. While there are certainly places where that fear is still a reality our body reacts the same way even if there is no danger. (of course it stems farther back than our tribal days, many animals share this trait).
When I read your post, I see a lot of fear in them. Again, this isn't judgment. I could give you examples if you like but maybe that would be a better discussion by PM. Let me know.
Do you put me in one of those groups? Which one?
Well there's doubting in terms of questioning their honesty, and I agree that the vast majority of people who report NDEs are honest. Absent pretty strong evidence to the contrary I give NDErs the benefit of the doubt there.
But when it comes to interpreting their experience, understanding exactly what was going on, I think I've presented a number of good reasons (a bit in this thread but more in others, a couple in exchanges between you and I) for doubt that I submit are not due to ideological constraints, eccentricity or sheer ignorance. Whether intelligently or not, we are not designed for perfect recall or understanding and I don't think many people deny this outside of the NDE context, so why should we not be concerned about it within the NDE context?
You seem to characterize doubt as a negative thing. For me, it is not.
Ok, I've answered every question you've put to me in this thread. I don't think I've avoided any. Were you planning to give your thoughts about them? Also, do you think you could go back to my earlier posts and answer the questions I asked you?
Separate names with a comma.