Dr. Jeffrey Long’s, God and the Afterlife, Science & Spirituality Have Collided |327|

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, Sep 20, 2016.

  1. gabriel

    gabriel New

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    That places you right there. The entirety of the NDE phenomenon undone because people don't have perfect recall. The hundreds of people coming up with similar accounts haven't remembered them correctly. I don't doubt what they're telling me because to do so I'd have to find an overriding reason, and I can't think of one that fits the data.

    I have no intention of reading lengthy posts containing random question marks unless those points are put to me in brief, succinct form. Do that, and I'll answer any you put my way.
     
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  2. Arouet

    Arouet Member

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    You might be surprised to hear that I agree with the overall position you are expressing. Our differences lie I suspect in the bold. We do not want to be overly rigid. And that should not be the goal. The corollary of course is that if you go too far the other way, you won't be justified in being confident in your results. It is a delicate balance and each adaptation should be carefully considered and assessed. I think there is room for reasonable people to discuss and disagree.

    In other words, if the methodology inhibits the phenomena that we are trying to observe, it may require adapting. But if that adaption increases the risk of bias, we need to factor that into our confidence in the results. And really, what we should be looking for is a method that doesn't obscure what we are trying to study, but allows us to be confident in the results. How do you assess the risk of bias of the adapted methodology?

    Also, I think we need to differentiate between methods of eliciting the effect and methods of interpreting the results. For example, when it comes to studying NDEs, our methodology comes after the phenomena has occurred. We aren't as concerned with preventing an effect from occurring.

    Finally, adapting the methodology doesn't mean "let's not be concerned about the thing the methodology tries to control for". We can't just say: even though witness testimony is notoriously unreliable in other circumstances, we're just going to treat NDErs' testimony as completely accurate.

    So I agree with you in principle.
     
  3. Arouet

    Arouet Member

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    If you believe that accurately sums up my position, then with respect, you really don't understand my position at all. Even if you just relied on my posts in this thread.

    This didn't really answer the question.

    Ok, let's start here:

    Question Section:
    • Earlier you defined "legalism" as "the application of doubt to a situation that doesn't warrant it, with the sole aim of muddying the water. It's about loopholes, not objective truth." How do you determine when doubt is warranted and when it is not? How do you differentiate between looking for loopholes and looking for objective truth.
    • Earlier in the thread you referred to evidential high jumps. How do you determine if a proposed methodology is an evidential high jump?
     
  4. Kamarling

    Kamarling Member

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    I think there is a suspicion of skeptics among proponents but I would not call it a fear. It can't be denied that skeptics do organise with a purpose to demolish and deny discussions such as we have here. We are all aware of groups such as the JREF crowd, Skeptics in the Pub, CSI(COP) and a multitude of humanist and atheist groups. So naturally we are suspicious of skeptics who camp out here on a board dominated by proponents (one of the few such boards that I'm aware of). We wonder what on earth they get out of such a dalliance; missionary zeal, perhaps?

    As for yourself, Arouet, that suspicion will be difficult to overcome. What Billw describes as an "overly rigid insistence and fixation" on methodology may well be seen as a thinly disguised skeptical ploy to introduce doubt where such doubt is not warranted. From my point of view, I don't see the need to assume that every single NDE account must be flawed. As Gabriel rightly points out: many of those accounts fit what I would expect. There are people here on this forum who have had such experiences and I can only imagine how they must feel when they are subject to constant insinuations of delusion, false memories, fabrications and confabulations.

    Yet it would be a mistake to regard the reluctance to view a convincing NDE account with cynicism as a lack of aptitude for critical thinking. As I have said before, it is more the case that many here have set the threshold for credence at a different level. Some skeptics are remarkably uncritical of things they assume are just true (neo-Darwinism, for example).
     
  5. gabriel

    gabriel New

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    Legalism is applying the letter of the law against the spirit of the law, which is the search for truth. The analogy with regard to NDEs is thousands of people of different backgrounds and beliefs have similar experiences, which is suggestive of a real phenomenon, but skeptics attempt to undermine individual cases to make NDEs as a whole appear suspect. If there was a uniting characteristic that made them flawed, scepticism would be appropriate, but the only feature they have in common is they're related by human beings. Human beings are known to be flawed (in numerous ways, not just memory) so NDEs must be flawed. It makes sense from a skeptical viewpoint but common sense dictates that it is complete rubbish as a criticism. The appeal is to a higher authority, philosophical materialism. As I don't subscribe to that philosophy, the likelihood of NDErs reporting something objectively real, as opposed to a delusion based on human weakness, is the most parsimonious explanation.

    An evidential high jump is the demand for proof that exceeds one demanded by the normal conventions of evidence. What is extraordinary to a philosophical materialist may be unremarkable to the man in the street. "You seem to characterize doubt as a negative thing. For me, it is not." That's obvious but I suspect you reserve doubt for things that question your preconceptions. In particular ideas like survival that permeate cultures worldwide, and are the bedrock of near death experiences, but don't match reductionist science.

    What I suspect you're doing here Arouet, is stress testing the conventions of reasonable discourse. How far can the things we call facts be relied upon to be objective and authentic. At what point do words cease to convey meaning about the thing we call reality. In reply I'd say there's no lower limit, and if you can convince someone we're atomised bits of biological matter imagining we're in communication, rather than reasonable human beings discussing a Skeptiko topic, you've scored a pyrrhic victory. It's impossible to know via the internet whether your motives are pathological or ideological.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2016
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  6. K9!

    K9! New

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    Perhaps because you could have just responded to Bill's post...
    ... with a "yes".
     
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  7. Arouet

    Arouet Member

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    David has been kind enough to create a thread for this discussion and I will respond in more detail there, but I'll just conclude with this in this thread:

    If you're going to insist on reducing everything to soundbites, refusing to read or contemplate anything longer than a soundbite, that's going to present you with an extremely limited understanding. If you're not going to look past the soundbite it is easy to present the position as extreme or ridiculous. But what's the point? How does that benefit anyone?

    Anyhow, I will continue this discussion in this thread:
    Arouet's discussion about NDE's
     
  8. TikiB

    TikiB Member

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    So I am curius do people here think NDE'ers make it more likely that a god exists?
     
  9. Lincoln

    Lincoln Member

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    You should read through the thread, there are varied opinions on that subject. Just don't get lost in the field of straw men.
     
  10. Baccarat

    Baccarat New

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    Not necessarily. If we shall insert labels I guess I would be a biblical atheist. But I do believe in ESP (experienced it) Skeptical of reincarnation although I am not well versed in the subject. I am on the fence about the afterlife.

    Pretty much people on here have varying degrees of "belief" One can believe in an afterlife and dismiss the notion of god.

    Someone can explain it better while I get better explaining things ;)
     
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  11. Andrew Paquette

    Andrew Paquette Administrator

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    I haven't posted for a long time because I have been totally occupied with my PhD and other work-related business. That said, while reading through the proofreader's comments for my thesis (I am about to submit it), I listened to this episode and enjoyed it a great deal. I'll have to admit up front that I haven't read more than the first four responses in the forum, but my response is a general one, to Alex's question at the end.

    Although there is a difference between NDEs and dreams, just as there is a difference between NDEs and psilocybin experiences, the results of Long's study are quite possibly 100% consistent with what I find in my dream journals, but the drug-induced experiences I have read about in Krippner and other places are quite different.

    The so-called "mystical experiences" prompted by psychotropic tribes are, if anything, an extremely pale version of the kind of experiences described by Long, and the kind I have had in dreams. My impression is that such forced experiences diminish the quality of the experience greatly, possibly to the point of being useless, or at least dissimilar enough to be an example of something different, despite superficial similarities.

    As for the "God" questions I saw in the first few posts here: when I read of people who interpret "a light" or "a kindly being" or "a powerful force" as God or Jesus (who they often conflate with God) I find myself a bit impatient because it reminds me of the difference between the psychotropic mystical experiences vs. the natural NDEs. Is God present or not? If you have to guess, or deduce that the thing you see is God, then as far as I am concerned, it probably isn't God. This is also true for those who assume that Jesus is God. If it is Jesus, then it is Jesus, not someone/something else. This is largely because in my dreams, God has appeared 15 times (out of 12,224 dreams). In each example, there is no questioning who or what he is. Maybe it is a mistaken identification, but there is no way to determine that from the information contained in the record (or my memory). In each case, it is a totally convincing, fully aware identification of God as a real being visibly before me. Anything less, I should think, should not be identified this way.

    While working on my PhD, I also worked on the fifth of the five articles I set out to write before I get to work on my next dream book, and it is on a similar subject to Long's. However, after listening to this podcast, I think I've wimped out a bit because I am personally uncomfortable with how religious the material will look to some people, though I do not interpret it that way at all.

    Anyway, that is my reaction, and hello to everyone!

    AP
     
  12. Far.From.Here

    Far.From.Here New

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    Are you talking generally here about shamanism practiced by indigenous peoples?
     
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  13. Andrew Paquette

    Andrew Paquette Administrator

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    I'm talking about every research article I've seen on the subject of psychotropic drugs used to stimulate a mystical experience. I know that some of the articles reference shamanism, but the experiments are not about shamanism so much as a researcher's interpretation of it boiling down to taking psychotropic drugs and then reporting the results. I expect the result is similar among native peoples provided it is done in the same way because it is at its heart artificial. For the most part I am suspicious of purposeful attempts to cause psi effects or mystical experiences. When I say "suspicious" I do not mean "skeptical that an effect may occur" but that I consider it a weak substitute for spontaneous experience when it works.

    AP
     
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  14. Have you read Strassman's reports of subjects of DMT?

    I've yet to see anything that convinces me NDEs or spontaneous experiences are necessarily better than those that are induced, but willing to check any material out.

    Of course we could just be talking about the quality of hallucinations/dreams, with some seeming more intense than others but few to none providing anything veridical.
     
  15. Andrew Paquette

    Andrew Paquette Administrator

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    My impression comes from published descriptions of spiritual vs. mystical experiences. The drug-induced examples may be vivid but tend to be less specific. They may feel clear to the percipient, but do not have the clarity or directed objectives found in other types of spiritual experience.

    AP
     
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  16. I'm not sure that makes the experience "pale in comparison"?

    I'll have to double check but I remember rather specific experiences of DMT users - including one woman who felt healed mentally from experiences of past trauma.

    Also directed objectives always seem a bit questionable to me, at least as much as vivid chaotic scenes. It's interesting NDEs have been used to promote particular human beliefs like the Pureland Buddhist school or Grecian Mysteries but not, to my knowledge at least, played much part in major humanitarian movements like the end of slavery, voting rights for women, etc.
     
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  17. I also recall a few people noting that a lot of disorganized, fractured experiences apparently don't count as NDEs in Western parapsychology? I mean if we look at that list of modern Japanese NDEs I see stuff that is more chaotic than the traditional shamanic psychedelic experience.

    I mean the latter shamanic journey is so well documented Graham Hancock even noted it can be carried over in consistent fashion to be compared to the UFO experience.

    I suspect that if we level the playing field by bringing in the more disorganized and bizarre NDEs there isn't much difference. As for dreams, well bizarre dreams - even lucid dreams - are par for the course.
     
  18. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Hi Andy - it is very good to see you active on the forum again!

    It is interesting that you distinguish between forced experiences and natural ones. Is it your view that 'natural' NDE's are somehow 'intended' to happen, whereas psychedelic experiences are not?

    Do you at least accept that psychedelic experiences are somehow related to NDE's - at least in that they strongly suggest that the mind is somehow not what it is normally assumed to be - a meat computer!

    Perhaps you should expand on how you see NDE's in relation to religion.

    David
     
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  19. It would be weird if some guy who gorged himself on cheesefries and has a heart attack induced NDE in which he meets God would be taken more seriously than a shaman who has undergone training but also taken ayahuasca.
     
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  20. Lincoln

    Lincoln Member

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    Hey maybe the guy who was gorging on fries was influenced by Eckhart Tolle and was living in the now.:D
     
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