Proposed new forum: "Reasoning about reality"

Discussion in 'Guidelines & Introductions' started by Laird, Mar 26, 2016.

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Do you support the creation of this new forum?

  1. Yes, as named.

    5 vote(s)
    41.7%
  2. Yes, but with a different name.

    3 vote(s)
    25.0%
  3. No.

    3 vote(s)
    25.0%
  4. Unsure / not willing to answer.

    1 vote(s)
    8.3%
  1. Laird

    Laird Member

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    G'day all,

    This is a proposal for a new forum, provisionally titled "Reasoning about reality", but of course open to your (especially @Alex's) suggestions/alternatives. Why this new forum? Because it seems to me that there are many threads on this board, across its multiple forums, asking, or ending up in the question, roughly stated, "What in the world is really going on in this reality in which we find ourselves, and how can we assess the possible answers based upon what we know about it?"

    The most prototypical of these threads, especially if judged by its opening post(s), is @manjit's 2014 Speculation on the Nature of Reality. A little more recently (last year) we had a similarly-motivated thread by @Steve, I Think I've Found An Answer. @Alan Amsberg's 2014 thread, Do the entities sending us messages sometimes lie?, especially from page 2 onwards, gets into this speculative-reasoning-upon-reality theme too. Then, much more recently on this theme, we have the threads Gnosticism - The world is a vampire, sent to drain? Secret destroyers hold you up to the flames? by @Sciborg_S_Patel, Debate on British morning TV between Psychic and Magician (especially from page 3 onwards) by @Roberta, and, currently, There is no evil...? by @Selina. No doubt there are others that I have missed.

    What do you guys, especially Alex, think? Is it worth splitting off a dedicated forum for these sort of exploring-what-might-really-be-going-on-here-especially-given-the-evidence discussions?

    Here, for reference, from manjit's 2014 thread, featuring manjit's writing, is a sample of the more interesting type of discussion/question-raising that could be had in a dedicated forum:

     
  2. I like the idea, though there isn't that much traffic through Spirituality so it seems to accommodate this sort of thing?

    But it isn't exactly "Spiritual" either....I did vote for a different name as the proposed name seems more like a skeptic/believer debate forum?
     
  3. Laird

    Laird Member

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    Thanks for the feedback, Sci. The "Extended consciousness & spirituality" forum seems to me to get plenty of hits, but maybe I'm just biased. The dates of last reply of recent threads are at least daily over the past week or so.

    In any case, assuming a new forum is viable, which name, if any, would you suggest?
     
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  4. We also could discuss the ultimate nature of consciousness from the perspective of Buddhist and Hindu meditative practices. Do experiences of oneness and no self represent truth or are they only subjective? How do they relate to each other and to afterlife phenomena?.
     
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  5. Laird

    Laird Member

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    Nice, Jim, very interesting and relevant avenues for discussion. I think we all agree here that "reality" and "consciousness" are intimately linked, whatever we might conceive that link to be - and it's definitely something we could explore.
     
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  6. Typoz

    Typoz Member

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    The title, "Reasoning about reality" has a nice use of alliteration, it rolls off the tongue nicely. However I'm unhappy about both the nouns.

    Reasoning to me is unsatisfactory, it is not necessarily the best way to approach these matters. Inspiration or direct knowing via intuition may be at least as good.

    Reality - well I'm not sure what that means, is it a way of including certain things while excluding others, or is it meant to not exclude anything ... and so on.

    Overall, though I would not oppose any changes, I've no particular excitement about endorsing this either. Call me a neutral.
     
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  7. Maybe Consciousness & Reality?
     
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  8. The fine tuning of the universe to support life which seems to indicate the universe was designed and created by an intelligence is another piece of the puzzle as well as arguments that the origin of life and evolution of species required intelligent intervention.
     
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  9. Laird

    Laird Member

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    Thanks for the candid assessment, Typoz. I'm sure it won't matter much, but in case it does, here's why I chose the provisional name.

    I am a fan of "reasoning" because reason is, as far as I can tell, the best way to exclude obviously bogus interpretations of "reality", and to synthesise (or at least aid in the synthesis of) apparently disparate views of reality. e.g. if somebody says, "God tells us that this square is a circle", then we can deduce some things from that (assuming some normative logic, which, of course, is not a given) - either that this "God" is illogical and thus unlikely to be real, or that the person telling the story is illogical and thus not to be trusted. And given the focus of this board, Skeptiko, we have a lot of "squares" and a lot of "circles" to start off from i.e. NDEs, OBEs, STEs, non-dual experiences, etc. That gives us a starting point from which to say "OK, well, hey, *this* line of evidence says *such and such*, but *this other* line of evidence says the exact opposite... reason tells us that they can't both be true, and so we need to find some reasonable way of synthesising the two, and here's one possibility".

    Now, you suggest inspiration or direct knowing, and I would *definitely* not discount either, but... how are we to evaluate these? Ultimately, are we not going to have to subject them to comparison with the inspirations and direct knowings of others, to see whether or not they are compatible? And isn't this going to, ultimately, be a matter of *reasoning*? e.g. so-and-so's inspiration is that the Christian apocalypse is upon us, but such-and-such has a direct knowing instead that we live in a cyclical universe, and that good follows evil follows good, on and on to eternity. Surely we need some means of *reasoning* between these inspirations or direct knowings, unless they are to be entirely personal (in which case, we are bound not to interfere, but also not to follow)?

    As for "reality", I find that it's a nice "container term". I would generally interpret it in the sense of spiritual/metaphysical systems, but it equally applies to systems such as the biological (e.g. evolution versus intelligent design) and the political (Trump versus Sanders, or liberal versus conservative): these are all part of "reality", broadly conceived.

    So, I would argue that my suggested name, when interpreted broadly enough, captures enough about the proposed forum's intent to be worthwhile.

    But definitely keep on speaking up if you disagree - even suggest another name if you can muster the excitement. :)

    I'd vote against. :-/ It doesn't convey enough of the sense of rational evaluation between plausible alternatives, after discarding implausible alternatives.

    Jim, your posts and articles have impressed me a lot, and I definitely see the potential for your coherent worldview to be explored, and, dare I say, dissected and critiqued on a potentially new forum. You have definitely given me a lot of food for thought; I would be very interested in your very carefully argued views being put under a spotlight, as well as carefully compared and contrasted against alternatives. I would like for this new forum to be very rigorous, and I have some ideas on how we might set it up to be as stringent in regards to what is ultimately "passed" by it as possible, and I would certainly not preclude your worldview from "making the grade".
     
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  10. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Laird,

    I'm not overly keen on splintering the forum. I mean some people would be more attracted to your forum, while others would stay here and be unaware of what you were saying. I know people could go to both forums, but there is only a finite amount of time one can reasonably devote to the internet!

    Ideally, I would like there to be some way in which the Skeptiko forum could contain sections on particular subjects. Such a section would be analogous to the CD forum (say) in that it would contain multiple threads. I think the decision to start such a section would have to be under the control of Alex, but then it would develop just as the other sections do.

    On the old forum there was a forum that was accessible by invitation only. I would hope that as things are going now, we wouldn't need such a restriction in the first instance.

    David
     
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  11. Laird

    Laird Member

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    G'day David,

    I'm not sure whether we're talking at cross-purposes due to different definitions (forums and sections). I define Skeptiko as a whole as a "board", and each of the "sections" within it (CD, Consciousness and Science, Extended Consciousness, etc) as "forums". I'm not proposing a new *board* i.e. an alternative to Skeptiko, simply a new forum, i.e. a "container" like CD but with a specific focus.

    Does that make sense or do we need to keep working on the lines of communication?

    Laird
     
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  12. Laird

    Laird Member

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    P.S. in response to my last post, since I'm running out of battery and won't be able to post for several hours yet: I ought to have emphasised re the above that the new forum would likely be premised at least on the *possibility* that the spiritual/metaphysical is intimately related to the biological, which is intimately related to the political i.e. that all of these three are intimately related, and that the relations would be up for exploration. This could, of course, be challenged.

    Also, I might as well spell out what I meant by this:

    I would suggest that individual posters, or groups of posters, be free to propose a coherent world view under which they propose that all of the evidence typically examined on Skeptiko can be interpreted without contradiction, and that others then attempt to either validate or invalidate those world views / interpretations with respect to the evidence. I acknowledge that this is kind of a "macho" approach, so there could be an alternative approach: that threads be started where the aim is to discuss the evidence and try to see where it leads, without an a priori stipulation as to how that should be: just open-ended exploring. Probably there are other possibilities.
     
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  13. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    That does indeed clarify your idea - I thought you were contemplating setting up a website of your own!

    Alex once said to me that he didn't want to change the front page (that lists all the various sections), but perhaps there might be another way to achieve this. Why not PM Alex and point him to this discussion?

    David
     
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  14. Laird

    Laird Member

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    Oh, and finally, of course all participants on the forum would have dismissed the materialist/physicalist worldview, so that we were beyond kindergarten. The only trouble being that teachers beyond kindergarten are likely to be as much students as teachers! We would all be teaching to and learning from one another!
     
  15. Laird

    Laird Member

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    I did that upon my very first post in the thread! We'll see what, if anything, he has to say.
     
  16. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    I'd like to see one or two other such sections - in particular it would be nice to have a section devoted to the best evidence for ψ phenomena, and maybe one devoted to the relationship between science and ψ.

    The problem with using threads in the general sections, is that they get buried too rapidly.

    David
     
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  17. Typoz

    Typoz Member

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    Yeah, I can only add that I'm not standing in anyone's way or trying to create an obstruction.

    It think it's just that we approach things from a different standpoint. For example a while back there was a discussion on the topic of Free Will. There were many participants and it clearly was of great interest. Yet it tended to leave me cold, not particularly desiring to participate. In saying this I don't wish to denigrate yourself or anyone else. Only to express that people are different. What excites and moves one person bores the pants of another. And vice versa of course. Perhaps at this point I should gently withdraw, as I'm not aiming to sow discord, merely to indicate perhaps that there are many paths.
     
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  18. Alex

    Alex New

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    I think the name is fine... and the topic is great... if impossible :)

    suggestion: let's try and create a Skeptiko blog post out of this... i.e. collect these though, ideas, opinions, interview excerpts into 1500-2000 word essay/post. might give us some momentum and purpose :)

    are you up for it Laird?
     
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  19. Max_B

    Max_B Member

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    I doubt we need anymore forums, nobody knows where to put stuff as it is, and it all gets jumbled up. Threads don't stay on track anyway.

    And the idea you can discuss reality, without reference to transformations which actually work (dismissed?) makes very little sense to me.
     
  20. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    The real problem, as I see it, is that stuff gets buried. Yes you can search for it if you know it is there, but if you don't you will never find it. For example:

    We had an extensive, and fascinating, discussion about the viability or otherwise of evolution by natural selection.

    We could use a section that was reserved for high quality evidence for the various phenomena we discuss. Possibly this forum could be read only, and moderators would copy things into it.

    Maybe just one extra section that contained links to past items might work instead, I don't know.

    David
     
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