The Beef With Science

Discussion in 'Critical Discussions Among Proponents and Skeptics' started by EthanT, Aug 7, 2014.

  1. EthanT

    EthanT Member

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    I was making a quick response to one of @David Bailey 's posts and it grew into a monster that I thought deserved its own thread. Hope you don't mind David. Your post just got me writing about a view of science I have been thinking about for some time. I guess the 2nd part below is where I really get into that

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    David, I basically agree with this, except for the anticipated collapse, which I think will be a lot different than many folks seem to think. Also, talking about collapse in this manner is probably exactly why folks get the impression psi has to do away with known physics to make it a reality, which is a total falsehood, imho. I don't think it does much for the psi proponent's cause, either. On the other hand, the basic framework/foundation of Quantum Field Theory (or the Standard Model) has been experimentally confirmed to significant degrees of precision. Likewise with General Relativity. However, we know they're both incomplete theories. I think it is a lot more likely psi/consciousness will require extended theory that completes the two major branches of physics (relativity and quantum theory) as folks like Dean Radin, Roger Nelson talk about, rather than collapse the "whole house of cards" (and an experimentally confirmed "house of cards" at that) as I keep hearing on this forum more and more.

    Also, although I think it is wise to be wary of "extrapolations", I think you draw the wrong conclusions. When we extrapolate WAY back in time (like the 10^-30s you mention) towards the Big Bang we go further and further into higher-energy physics (GUTs, etc), which we understand less and less. In other words, it's not just an extrapolation of any one specific theory, as it is an appeal to higher-energy and not-as-well-understood physics. This is what I was trying to say in the Cosmology thread a ways back. It's a real concern, imho. However, if those "extrapolations" are wrong in that regime, that doesn't mean the framework of the two major branches of physics today - quantum theory and relativity - are going to "crash and burn". It just means we don't understand the higher-energy physics, which wouldn't be a big surprise to many physicists. I'm personally expecting to find out as much.

    I just hope you're not including Many Worlds (MWI) in this - the most down-to-earth theory ever, hehe ;-)

    I do agree with this to some extent too, but I take on a different attitude. I rejoice that science is losing touch with the generally accepted view of reality, because the sooner they do, the better. Let me explain, because that probably sounds crazy, hehe.

    On this forum, we all talk about how consciousness can never be fully modeled mathematically, that materialism is dead, that experimental empiricism can only go so far, and so on and so on. Well, we're finally all living in an age where science is having to confront the bounds of empirical ability and the limits of materialism! And, what do we do? Sit around and talk about the ills of science, almost like science is somehow evil. I personally prefer to view science today more like an infant entering a new realm which is totally unfamiliar. Of course, it doesn't know how to compose itself or conduct itself, let alone know exactly how to move forward. It's going to have to grope around and take many stabs in the dark, many of which will appear futile and not very well-executed. I'm personally excited to see science fumble and bumble around in today's exotic theories, because within that I see the greatest potential for it to open up to new ideas that were once anathema.

    This is what science is beginning to go through in my opinion and it's beginning to lose its enamor with its current view of reality (materialism, experimental empiricism) and will eventually discover a new one. If you could view all of humanity symbolically as that allegorical infant, then the Dawkins and Schermer's of the world would be analogous to unconscious contents within the consciousness of every individual that always resist change and fears the unknown. I'm not sure we should damn science any more than we would damn an infant lost in a new environment. It's going through all the "growing pains" and exhibiting all the reactions to be expected as the overall conscious awareness humanity currently has about reality starts to expand. Can we really expect anything more? Do we really expect the transition out of materialism to be a smooth, effortless affair? Within mythology, transformations of consciousness are always accompanied by angels and demons

    Anyhow, this age we live in looks to finally be a potential taking off point into a science of consciousness/psi. The willingness of scientists to let go of empiricism and extrapolate into realms that are never directly empirically accessible, even in principle (here in the form of the multiverse, etc) is in my opinion a baby step towards that - albeit one still tinged with materialism. (But, at least it finally and completely shrugged off positivism by doing so! More evidence of how the reality of science is indeed changing!). But, all of this is going to plant a seed that will ultimately be the end of materialism/reductionism as the dominant worldviews. Physicists are talking about things they never would have decades ago. They are considering new ideas. And, as we notice on here often, more and more are beginning to become open to psi and the idea that consciousness is somehow fundamental.

    It's an exciting time. Science is going to play a big, pivotal role. Let's embrace it. ;-)
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2014
  2. Formal Dining Room Set

    Formal Dining Room Set New

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    Interesting stuff, E. Thanks for posting.

    This just got me thinking about something somewhat related. And it is this: When folks talk about a theory for Psi, often times it seems they are actually referring to a mechanism. I think it is a big mistake to anticipate an actual mechanism for psychic functioning, whatever the particulars might be. Psychology doesn't have a mechanism, unless the considered mechanism is mind in a vague sort of way. The parapsychological mechanism should be considered the same- the substrate of the mental. And then obviously any theory of Psi shouldn't require a mechanism.

    Materialism demands there be a mechanism, since from that viewpoint mind equals brain. Switching the mental into the physical, current thinking demands there be a physical mechanism for mental communication. Strangely, this is the assumption of many forum members, so we hear about various possible QM means by which telepathy might happen and so forth. I'm pretty sure this is absurd. It just shows the grip of materialistic thinking even on immaterialists. If parapsychology needs a mechanism for acceptance, then I'd say parapsychology is pretty much doomed, because there probably isn't one. This is all in my super humble and inferior opinion, of course.
     
  3. Imperial Philosopher

    Imperial Philosopher New

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    The whole problem with that line of thinking is that generally things need to have some sort of consistent mechanism or pattern that can be studied and tested. Without something like that to go off of, I'm not sure how you'd register the possibility of a given phenomena, never mind whether it actually exists. But, that might be just my operating within material protocols. In all fairness, I haven't the foggiest idea how to approach anything immaterial because I don't encounter such things often.
     
  4. We could track the regularities, like in Krippner's Dream Telepathy experiments, without worrying overmuch about the mechanism. For example we might be able to deduce cheddar cheese helps with boosting details recalled via dream telepathy without determining the how.

    Or, at least, not a "how" that fits into reduction to structure & dynamics. OTOH it might all be explained via mechanistic closure but like FDRS I sincerely doubt this would be the case. Rather, IMO a smoking gun for Psi would show the limits of mechanistic explanation. In fact this is what I think David was referring to - a particular culture seemingly dominating scientific circles that assumes the ability of current science to complete the explanation of Everything via reduction of phenomena to structure & dynamics.

    Of course, this has been an incredibly successful strategy so far....though some, like Nagel, seem to think qualia present a big problem*. Personally I think without some breakthrough from parapsychology subjective experience alone won't produce dramatic shifts away from reductionism though it's possible panpsychism will prove untenable with time or that teleology will make a come back.

    *Some excerpts from Mind & Cosmos:

     
  5. steve001

    steve001 Member

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    The Beef With Science
    I favor a roast chicken.
     
  6. radicalpolitik

    radicalpolitik New

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    There's nothing like a thick, juicy steak!
     
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  7. Formal Dining Room Set

    Formal Dining Room Set New

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    Oh, yeah. I agree, IP. I'm probably misusing the word mechanism. I'm referring to a physical medium by which information could potentially be transmitted or whathaveyou. For example, in contrast to that, psychiatry/clinical psychology work by grouping symptoms of thought and behavior in order to identify disorders. I guess this would be one of the main differences between the hard and soft sciences. Psi shouldn't need to work within the framework of physics or chemistry in the same way that psychology doesn't require physics or chemistry. So something akin to what we already have with Carpenter's First Sight theory...
     
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  8. EthanT

    EthanT Member

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    Totally agree!

    I think we might get something like OrchOR that shows the mind/brain might be able to do crazy things. Or, things like TSQM that start make reality look REALLY conducive to psi. But, ultimately I think consciousness cannot be mathematically modeled, which boils down to saying it isn't mechanistic. And consciousnesses is pretty important element of the psi phenomenon!

    Ultimately, I think science needs to start seriously considering the experiential aspect of empiricism, or the subjective
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2014
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  9. EthanT

    EthanT Member

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    Shortly after I posted the OP I knew that title was going to be trouble! ;-)
     
  10. steve001

    steve001 Member

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    After I read the the above I thought of this, something I read a few days ago.
    Equation predicted happiness of over 18,000 people worldwide
    http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threa...ppiness-of-over-18-000-people-worldwide.1144/
     
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  11. EthanT

    EthanT Member

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    That's different than what I mean, though. Actually a good example of what I mean is suppose the wave function really is epistemic instead of ontic. Same thing, here's this mathematical model, but all the time you know there is some underlying reality you're missing. To me, that's what the above equation is like. You can make any equation model anything with a bunch of fudge factors, but does it really represent the underlying reality? My guess is that the underlying reality of consciousness will always be out of reach of mathematics, because quite frankly it is the source of mathematics, imho.

    Or for another (not so great?) analogy, it would be like trying to explain the full reality of Quantum Mechanics using Newtonian theory ... you can't, because the latter is a subset of the former.
     
  12. If the physical universe is created by thought in the mind of god, then there is no ultimate reality to explain quantum mechanics or to explain what a wave function is. There are only mathematical formulas that describe how our reality will act. It is exactly what you would expect if you found natural laws that obeyed mathematical rules that made no physical sense ... because there isn't anything physical behind them ... there is only a mathematical engine (consciousness, god's mind) behind them.
     
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  13. Reece

    Reece Member

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    About studying and testing, I've often thought about starting a thread asking this: if we were to take psi and the whole lot as a given, what exactly would we begin testing? I want to ask this bc I'm infinitely skeptical of ever finding much to say about it, except for things like what's favorable for inducing it. Most all tests so far have been to show that these things actually occur. What would/could happen next?

    I think my skepticism also has something to do with science relying on reduction to function: it has to find causes and effects which are found by pulling things apart. I think psi can only be approached holistically. The end result of holism at its extreme is "everything causes everything," which even a materialist would likely find true. I don't believe the intellect is capable of backing up that far in any comprehensible way. It's only approachable intuitively.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2014
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  14. If you have an experimental system that you feel comfortable demonstrates psi, then the next step is to use that system to study, as you say, 1) things that "induce it", this would include 2) looking for people who show a greater abilities and examine their characteristics. You could look at talented psychics and also screen the population at large. This could also lead to 3) improved methods for training psychics. Also you would look for 4) practical applications. We already know of many: mediumship (to demonstrate the reality of the afterlife, obtain spiritual knowledge, and in grief therapy), remote viewing, dousing, psychic detectives, past life regression therapy, and energy healing. Research could make these more reliable and available. And research could also lead to 5) objective methods for certifying professional psychics.
     
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  15. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    EthanT,

    Thanks for that thought proving response - I want to think a bit before replying, but in the meantime, here is an interesting link that Sciborg_S_Patel posted in the thread where this discussion began:

    http://discovermagazine.com/2010/ap...-laws-of-nature-wild-goose-chase#.UrNqoY3ahLA

    It would seem that some people are considering the idea that there aren't really fundamental laws of physics - maybe they simple change with time and location. Part of the motivation seems to be that physics seems to be evolving into ever more untestable ideas.

    David
     
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  16. EthanT

    EthanT Member

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    Hi David,

    Even if they don't necessarily change with time and location, I'm definitely warming up to the idea that the laws themselves may not be fundamental. I recently read Wheeler's "Law Without Law" and gotta admit I didn't quite grasp what he was saying, but got the impression he may be on to something.

    I'l check out the article you posted too, looks interesting, thanks!

    Josephson adds more to Wheeler here:

    http://arxiv.org/abs/1108.4860
     
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  17. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    EthanT,

    Maybe there are several distinct problems with science.

    1) The have the issue that there may be incorrect basic assumptions - such as the idea that the laws have to be fundamental, or that explanations have to be reductionist, and of course the assumption of materialism.

    2) I wonder if the structure of institutionalised science really works properly. For example, here are two articles relating to dietary salt and saturated fat:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/03/o...the-truth-about-salt.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    http://blog.singularvalues.com/2014/08/dietary-gospel-on-fat-is-wrong.html

    The both refer to scientific data that has been known for a long time, and yet health authorities still put out the opposite message! The New scientist article (referred to in the second link) is years late,and yet I'd hazard a guess that the wrong advice will continue to be given for years more - maybe indefinitely!

    At heart, the issue here is relatively simple - you think saturate fat and/or salt is bad for people, so you run studies to check, and they don't back up the theory - yet the theory persists! Now translate this into the far more obscure world of physics. It certainly explains why string theory has held its grip!

    3) Another aspect of institutionalized science is that whereas scientists a century or more ago were small in number, and desperately keen to discover the truth, a great deal of science nowadays, is done by people who are much less interested in the truth, and much more interested in fulfilling their quote of publications, and climbing up the greasy pole. I once had an email discussion with a researcher connected with ψ (I won't describe the exact context, because it was a private email), and he more or less admitted that was why he didn't want to explore various aspects of his results!

    4) Then there is fraud!

    In the long term, the prospects for science may be bright (as you suggested above), but in the short term, I can't help thinking science will need to undergo some sort of rethink as to how it is organised!

    David
     
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  18. EthanT

    EthanT Member

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    I basically agree with everything you said and definitely recognize the problems you mention (don't even get me started on the fat/sugar and food thing, hehe), but I view it a little differently.

    Science is just a method and is really nothing in and of itself. Science is made up of people and can only be and function via people. So I see it as a people problem, not a science problem. And people are conscious beings, so the state of the world is a reflection of the state of consciousness in humanity. Most of the problems we see in the world today are symptoms of the state of consciousness we find ourselves in, which is essentially materialistic (at least in the West). What we see going on in science is one small part of it, just another symptom.

    So, ultimately, it's bumping your head up against human nature, which changes at its own pace. Science will evolve as we evolve.

    Like I mentioned before, science in the West is empirical in the experimental sense. But, Yoga could (and often is) claimed to be an empirical science in the experiential sense. So, there's what appears to be two totally different types of science coming from two totally different types of worldviews. But, they practice similar underlying methods. What we need is a science that is an amalgamation of the two, imho. But, that will only happen when we're ready for it. Like the saying goes, people get the government they deserve. Maybe the same could be said for science.
     
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  19. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    I suppose that difference is that you are interested in what science in the abstract might achieve, whereas I am talking about real everyday science in 2014, that tries to suppress ψ and probably propagates a lot of false ideas because it can't seem to change direction.

    At a slight tangent, I do sometimes wonder if the sort of intense concentration involved in learning or using hard maths, or certain types of computer programming, may be somewhat akin to meditation! What do you think?

    David
     
  20. There are many different types of meditation so a direct comparison isn't necessarily possible. Math and programming can focus the mind and displace all other thoughts and in that sense they are somewhat like meditation. However math and programming cause fatigue while meditation is usually relaxing and restful. Math and programming can leave your mind very active while meditation usually calms the flow of thoughts. When you feel rested, relaxed, calm, and peaceful after meditating, you notice the difference when something happens to upset you and after a while you develop the desire and ability to maintain that peaceful state of mind rather than let your mind become upset. So meditation can help one develop equanimity in a way that doesn't happen when you do math or programming. Another difference is that math and programming use analytical thinking while meditation in general quiets the analytical mind and allows the intuitive mind to have more influence on consciousness. This is not just a temporary effect, because of neuroplasticity, neurons that fire together wire together. I think this is why meditators and artists tend to do better in experiments testing for psi. It is probably a good idea to cultivate both analytical and intuitive thinking so you don't become "unbalanced". You don't have to meditate ... yoga, tai chi, or artistic pursuits, walking in nature, etc. etc. can quiet the analytical mind and or cultivate the intuitive mind. Sometimes the best ideas relating to an analytical pursuit will rise from the intuitive mind while you are meditating or walking in the woods.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2014
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