He thinks chaos magic offers a better explanation than science. Of course, he’s right |309|

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, Mar 22, 2016.

  1. Alex

    Alex New

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    He thinks chaos magic offers a better explanation than science. Of course, he’s right |309|
    by Alex Tsakiris | Mar 22 | Others

    Gordon White’s new book Star.Ships seeks to recalibrate our history in light of the falsification of scientific materialism.
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    photo by: Chris Radcliff
    While putting together this episode of Skeptiko I kept thinking of this terrific new movie I saw recently called “The Big Short.” It’s a Hollywood-ized version of the events that led to the economic crash of 2008. My favorite character in the movie is the socially awkward surgeon-turned-hedge fund manager, Dr. Michael Burry. He’s a great character in the film, and from the interviews I’ve read, he’s quite a character in real life too. As a hedge fund manager, Burry was one of the few people to see the coming collapse of the real estate market and profit from it by betting hundreds of millions of dollars of his fund’s capital on his analysis of the data.

    In 2005, the US housing market was booming and few thought it would ever end. But Burry followed the data… to wherever it led. He painstakingly analyzing thousands of the mortgages behind the complex financial instruments being sold on Wall Street. He found many of the mortgages being touted as rock-solid, safe investments were in fact really risky. Then, he made his move.

    So, here’s a guy who followed the data wherever it leads, and it paid off big. That’s a Skeptiko moment. Here’s another. By 2007 the mortgage market was faltering badly. The number of foreclosures was rising dramatically and worry was everywhere. So, in a scene lost to a lot of moviegoers, Burry decides to cash-in his trade. He bet the market was going to crash. The market is crashing. He’s ready to take his hedge fund profits and go home. So, he calls up his investment partner Goldman Sachs and says, “look, it’s obvious the market is crashing; let’s negotiate a price and settle this transaction.” This is commonplace. Goldman Sachs is making the market for this security, it’s assumed they will complete the transaction. But Goldman Sachs doesn’t call him back. Remember, we’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars here, and they’re not calling they’re refusing talk to him. When he finally reaches them they say, “we’re not really sure how to price your investment.” In other words, we’re not ready to acknowledge the fact that the real estate market is crashing even though everyone on earth can see it’s crashing. It’s a great point in the movie because it shows that not only is the mortgage-backed securities system corrupt, but the entire investment banking system is corrupt at a level no one could have imagined. As the story turns out, Goldman Sachs eventually buys back Burry’s position, but only after lining up protecting their losses by finding a greater fool they can sell their position to.

    The reason I bring all of this up, and why I think it’s relevant to today’s interview with Gordon White, author of a terrific new book Star.Ships, is that, as you know, it’s not enough to just follow the data wherever it leads, you have to trust your analysis of that data even when everyone around you denies it. And like Michael Burry experienced, that’s not always an easy thing to do. This seems a lot like the situation we face with materialism. It’s a crazy idea from almost any angle. This notion that we’re all a biological robots in a meaningless universe; that we have no real love for anyone; that we have no real experience other than these illusions caused by random chemical reaction in our brain, is idiotic. But if you look at mainstream science there’s very little breaking of ranks. Science isn’t returning our phone calls.

    And that’s what’s so great about Star.Ships. Gordon White starts with what we already know — materialism has been falsified. From there he dares to reexamine and recalibrate what we might find from analyzing all of this data–that is, the body of scientific evidence we’ve collected. As you can tell it’s quite an undertaking, quite bold. But if that’s where the data takes us, somebody has to do it:

    Gordon White: You can look at history and realize that the same kind of mystery that we can experience or search for today has probably been the defining quest of mankind. I actually think the question rather than the answer is the answer… I find comfort in being able to look back over essentially 70 thousand years of human history and [realize] they’re dealing with it as well. They’re dealing with grief and spirit contact, and telepathy, and a much bigger richer tasting, exciting universe just as we are–or can be. Also, it’s okay if you don’t have the answer because we’ve been looking for 70 thousand years.
     
  2. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Alex's questions at the end of the interview:

    What do you think about Gordon's claim that we're all magicians--either practising or non-practising?

    Is a magical worldview a more accurate interpretation of what we are experiencing?
     
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  3. Great interview....covered a lot of stuff and managed to capture a conversation I think is happening in different ways among different people.

    The materialist cookie is definitely crumbling bit by bit. I mean even in science you have Smolin's very Whitehead-esque idea that Novelty is a fundamental principle, Fuchs idea that human experiences like love add something new to the universe, all the various ideas about Information as a something as or more fundamental than matter, various challenges to the idea of artificial "intelligence", evidence for Orch-OR & IIT which aren't necessarily materialist theories (the latter being a bit more gray on that), and so on.

    So I don't think it's necessarily immaterialists vs academia though I'd agree there's a long way to go with many pitfalls related to the AI gravy train ahead of us. I mean McFadden, who thinks consciousness is bound by EM fields, doesn't think his idea supports telepathy but isn't opposed to the idea of post-mortem survival. Goertzel, who may design the first AI managed companies give he's been given millions from investors to do so, is a Psi proponent. Physicist Adam Frank on NPR actually suggests Einstein might be wrong to have left out the phenomenal aspect of consciousness and how that relates to the nature of Time.

    I actually think how amazing it is to look at the landscape of academic opinions on consciousness now and compare it to even 2013.

    Now are we all magicians? If magic is action taken to change consciousness through the will...probably? Human nature seems to consist of trying to manage our emotional sweeps and have some sort of paradigm to take into our set of reality tunnels. On a deeper level, engaging the Imaginal or even our cosmos sized etheric bodies ("Your soul is not in your body, rather your body is in the cosmic immensity of your soul")....I don't know. That leads to:

    Is the magical worldview more accurate than the materialist/mechanistic interpretation of our experience? Not sure. The average person in the Western world seems to walk in a mechanistic, left brain environment. Now personally I don't think their memories, thoughts, reasoning, or experiencing is explicable under materialism....but are their lives better explained by an ecology of spirits, astrological influences, past life memories, nightly dream journeys into the subtle worlds, and the continuous occurrence of Psi effects?

    That's a hard question, as I want to believe it's the latter - that the world is that fully enchanted...but I remain unsure. I do think we'll see a growing awareness of the magical practices, as I recall the Rosicrucians noting that magic is something you can do to in lieu of just being a victim. As the healthcare system along with the medical science fails the average person, whose job may just be performed by an AI anyway, it's not clear what the mechanistic society is going to offer. Similarly when a person's dream of a better life for their kids is extinguished, I suspect organized religion is also going to be weakened which is happening anyway due to scientific advancement & awareness.

    There's also the emptiness of the materialist worldview for most people. If you're poor in a rural area or in a city, what does materialism have to offer? How many CGI videos of space or DNA can you watch...assuming you even have access to the Internet? Even for me I can't stand to think of such a wretched world as the one materialism suggests. Really the selfish narcissism of the materialist cults' view amazes me and amuses me all at once as Sam Kriss so eloquently criticizes:

    Neil deGrasse Tyson: pedantry in space

     
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  4. AltrusianGrace

    AltrusianGrace Member

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    Totally dig Gordon and a lot of what he says. Havnt listened to the show yet but as for the final questions - we are all magicians. It took me a decade from 10 to 19 years old, practicing different systems of magic, before psychedelics made me realize the underlying sameness of it all, and to realize what is actually meant and felt in terms of the will and intent - we are all capable of that and it's all that's needed really for successful magic. It's not 100% because I think there's some kind of cyclical nature to it, when the will can latch on to these lines of energy which in turn carry the intention of the magician. But definitely have to "feel" it - same type of thing that's referred to as being in the flow, like athletes and such.

    A magical worldview is accurate for me, but it isn't accurate for everyone. It's what works for the individual in order to discern their own state of being in the flow.
     
  5. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    What do you think about Gordon's claim that we're all magicians--either practising or non-practising?

    His claim is as true as saying we're all spiritual beings and that there are a number of phenomena that conventional science can't explain. Magic is just another modality of expression; one can even say that its seemingly special claim to be able to manipulate underlying reality isn't that special. It's something one might say is supported by observations of the actions of many spiritual figures throughout history, not to mention non-spiritual figures when circumstances allow (hence the distinction between practising and non-practising, be it in magic or spirituality).

    Whatever reality is, there are a number of ways, a number of modalities, for its expression, and ways of manipulating it. One could even say that conventional science is a partial way of understanding and manipulating reality--one that we've found to be particularly reliable (except when it strays into areas of wild speculation such as multiple universes, black holes and so on)--and as such is a form of magic. Just because a thing works every time doesn't make it less magical, though we've more or less come to define "magic" as applying to something that isn't readily replicable, perhaps to the point where we doubt or dismiss its very existence.

    Is a magical worldview a more accurate interpretation of what we are experiencing?


    It's an interpretation: one amongst many, be that religion, spirituality, or conventional science. They all have their pluses and minuses, according to (amongst other things) how exclusively they are adopted. I think Gordon White's point about the magical/spiritual dimension having been present from antiquity rather than arising from "civilisation" is a fair one. Magic/spirituality is and always will be with us, even in times like the present where materialism holds sway in the West. I don't understand why some people are stridently materialist, and why being so makes them feel better. Were materialism to be right, what the heck would it offer? Nothing. No purpose at all for being alive, no sense of amazement at being here, no point trying to explain anything. How very strange then that materialists try so hard to rationalise and explain; therein, materialism contains the seeds of its own destruction on account of its own illogicality.
     
  6. Alex

    Alex New

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    nicely put.
     
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  7. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    This was a very interesting interview - exactly the sort I most like on Skeptiko.

    Of course, if we don't live in a totally materialist universe, we must live in a magical one, and a universe that contains even a tiny bit of magic, is utterly different from one that contains none!

    I like the idea of re-thinking ancient history from that standpoint. Unfortunately, his book is not yet available from Amazon, and thus not in Kindle format - hopefully that will change soon.

    I was struck by his comment that the archaeologists who were good at unearthing remnants of ancient civilisations were probably not going to be the best at using them to recreate history. Indeed, the whole idea that much archaeology was invented by people who wanted to fit it into a story, resonated with me, because I think a surprising amount of science is remarkably shaky.

    This does make me wonder yet again if the modern science way of understanding reality could be a 'myth' - no more a way of seeing the world that has magical powers. I think of the Amazonian shamans who discovered a lot of medicinal plants. They say they do it by dream contact with the spirits, and the standard materialist explanation, is that they discovered them by trial and error! Which is more likely!

    David
     
  8. I think it was Dion Fortune who first described magic that way, so sadly I must forgo credit. :)
     
  9. mariuss

    mariuss Member

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    If you order the book from Scarlet Imprint (paper back also available) then they immediately give you a DRM free PDF version as well. That was a really nice surprise.

    http://scarletimprint.com/books/star-ships/
     
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  10. Hurmanetar

    Hurmanetar New

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    Fantastic interview! :)
     
  11. Alex

    Alex New

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    agreed. great point.
     
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  12. malf

    malf Member

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    Not 'illusion', but 'magic'? I guess it has to be one or the other :)
     
  13. Inner Space

    Inner Space New

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    Aleister Crowley defined Magic(K) as "the art and science of causing change to occur in conformity with the Will." By Crowley's definition moving my arm is an act of Magick since my arm moves in conformity with my Will. Given that neuroscience cannot logically explain why my arm moves when I intend it to move without relegating my intention to a mere "illusion" created by my brain, it would seem Crowley's notion of Magick must be an essential part of our ontology and what it means to be human. After all, one cannot logically argue a materialist position that intentions are just illusions since then a materialist would have to argue that their intention to formulate an argument against the reality of intentions is also an illusion, thus making the materialist position absurd. How much of the universe changes with conformity of the Will depends on the size of the person's Will and the Will's capacity to change, in turn, in conformity with the universe.
     
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  14. Bucky

    Bucky Member

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    Unfortunately I heard him say in another interview that his publisher doesn't distribute the book via Amazon, but they can ship a hard copy anywhere in the world.
    Personally I've gone through a 2 year long e-reading phase and now I miss physical contact (and sniffing) with the real thing.

    I'm done with all this idealism, I need something physical! ... :D:D
     
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  15. E.Flowers

    E.Flowers New

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    That seems oddly in tune with the "intentionality" experiments that have been done since then.
     
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  16. Bucky

    Bucky Member

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    Good point. There's a book I read many years ago... "The intention experiment" if my memory doesn't fail me. The author was also interviewed here, probably around 2010.
    The book presents a whole lot of studies revolving around the use of intention to bias reality. There was a mix of good experiments with some other less convincing research but overall I remember it was a pretty good overview of the studies done in that field.

    Did anybody else read it?

    ETA: It's this one:
    The Intention Experiment, Lynne McTaggart
    http://www.amazon.it/Intention-Experiment-Lynne-McTaggart/dp/0007194595/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1458899666&sr=8-1
     
  17. Bucky

    Bucky Member

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    No offense, but ...
    You know those situtations where you overhear one or two words from a conversation and you interject something that is totally out of place and goofy?
    Yep that's the effect of what you just wrote :eek::D
     
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  18. Far.From.Here

    Far.From.Here New

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  19. Bucky

    Bucky Member

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