***The Skeptiko Random Stuff Thread***

#41
So I'm wondering even if they do find some that are exactly like Earth, are we ruling out the possibility that life forms could exist in places other then what we deem "fit for life"? Is it possible that beings could live on a planet that is made of pure gas or beings that are pure electicity or plasma that do not even have a planet that created them, but were brought alive by events that created the universe?
 
#42
I think we are being our usual arrogant self.

Assuming that life could only be on Earth like planets and probably the difference between us would be an unusual accent :rolleyes:
 
#43
I think we are being our usual arrogant self.

Assuming that life could only be on Earth like planets and probably the difference between us would be an unusual accent :rolleyes:
Agreed.
Theres so many things we dont even know about our own planet/solar system/existance. To assume that life could arise under other conditions is not an impossibility.
 
#44
are we ruling out the possibility that life forms could exist in places other then what we deem "fit for life"? Is it possible that beings could live on a planet that is made of pure gas or beings that are pure electicity or plasma that do not even have a planet that created them, but were brought alive by events that created the universe?
Anything is possible. But it also possible that life can only exist in certain conditions and we don't have any evidence for life existing outside of those conditions. We therefore do not have any positive reason to believe that life could exist on such planets and it would be a waste of scarce resources to look for life on such planets.
 
#45
Anything is possible. But it also possible that life can only exist in certain conditions and we don't have any evidence for life existing outside of those conditions. We therefore do not have any positive reason to believe that life could exist on such planets and it would be a waste of scarce resources to look for life on such planets.
I see your point. I guess it does make sense to go with what we know as far as what planets may be the main supporters of life.
I wonder if ironically, there is a gaesous like alien out there that is thinking the same thing and we never discover each other because we looked in the wrong place. lol.
 

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
#47
All that you say above gives the inesscapable impression that for you, the word "science" and what it stands for, could just as easily be replaced by the word "materialism".
Well sure, if you are going to replace everything you feel like with the word "materialism."

Science does not have anything to say about anything, it allows us to powerfully investigate phenomena, and claims made about them.
That sentence makes no sense to me. What does have something to say about something?

~~ Paul
 

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
#48
My point was that science has no explanatory power, that is the job of theory and hypothesis (although philosophical metaphysic will do just as well). Theory is falsified through the method of science, but the method itself is not what has explanatory power, it is the theory. So, in this case, the theory Paul so clearly subscribes to is that materialism is sufficient to explain all phenomena. Now that is a testable hypothesis. Science explains nothing, it allows us to investigate and either validate or falsify a theory and nothing more.
Materialism is not a theory, it is an ontology. Hypotheses are proposed as part of science and then tested for positive and negative evidence. As the positive evidence grows, a theory is developed around the successful hypotheses.

If materialism has anything to do with science, it is in the set of axioms that are assumed in the scientific epistemological framework. But I'm not even sure that the framework has much to do with metaphysics.

~~ Paul
 
#49
Went to a Steve Vai concert last night- what a brilliant musician and showman! They played for more than two and a half hours; we certainly got our money's worth. They ended the set with "For The Love Of God" (which I've linked to in the Chill out thread) and brought down the house. As my wife pointed out, we've now done the Vai trifecta- we've seen him with Frank Zappa, Daved Lee Roth, and now with his own band.:)

Pat
 
#51
Materialism is not a theory, it is an ontology. Hypotheses are proposed as part of science and then tested for positive and negative evidence.
~~ Paul
Paul is correct, materialism (e sobriquet) is not a theory, it is an ontology. But I do not think people are protesting it's reality as an ontology. Calling materialism an ontology is akin to calling a rapist promiscuous.

The problem is that materialism has been promoted to status of doctrine-in-lieu. Our change from a heavy-handed Christian Church ruled academia, across 250 years to a materialist ruled academia, was not a "modification of epistemological assumptions" - it was an overthrow. And while our current deployment of materialism is certainly underpinned by some valid predictive methodology, another overthrow is in the offing.
 
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#53
Below is a quote from Nassim Taleb . . . He posted this on Facebook a day or so ago:

More commentary on why neurobiology is a very soft science (high dimentionality matrix/nonlinear responses).
From The Black Swan (2007), less aggressive statement (it looks that mathematics led me to get more aggressive in debunking):
"For an example that justifies skepticism about unconditional reliance on neurobiology, and vindicates the ideas of the empirical school of medicine to which Sextus belonged, let’s consider the intelligence of birds. I kept reading in various texts that the cortex is where animals do their “thinking,” and that the creatures with the largest cortex have the highest intelligence—we humans have the largest cortex, followed by bank executives, dolphins, and our cousins the apes.
Well, it turns out that some birds, such as parrots, have a high level of intelligence, equivalent to that of dolphins, but that the intelligence of birds correlates with the size of another part of the brain, called the hyperstriatum.
So neurobiology with its attribute of “hard science” can sometimes (though not always) fool you
into a Platonified, reductive statement. I am amazed that the “empirics,” skeptical about links between anatomy and function, had such insight— no wonder their school played a very small part in intellectual history. As a skeptical empiricist I prefer the experiments of empirical psychology to the theories-based MRI scans of neurobiologists, even if the former appear less “scientific” to the public."
 
#55

Listen To - for the first time ever in history, finally built and played on - a crazy piano invented by Leonardo Da Vinci, called Viola Organista




Leonardo da Vinci, in between doing stuff like painting the best-known piece of art in the world, apparently had time to sketch up a quick blueprint for an instrument: the "viola organista," a piano-violin hybrid that he never built. It looks just like a piano, and plays like one, too, but instead of the hammers that connect to strings and play notes, cranks wrapped with horse-hair like violin bows rub the strings. The resulting sound is familiar but strange, something like a church organ that's just a little on the tipsy side.

Polish concert pianist Slawomir Zubrzycki built the instrument from da Vinci's original plans, and recently unveiled it to a live audience at Poland's Academy of Music


To me it sounds different all the time, depending what song he plays. At some times it sounds like a cello, a harp and a church-organ all mixed up in a symphony orchestra. Other times it sounds just like violins, or a Spinet. Imagine if Leonardo was let loose on all the scientific breakthroughs of our modern times, all the things he might have been able to develop and/or invent. I wonder where the world would be if we were blessed with at least a few hundred Leonardos each millennium.

Listen to some of the music played on this instrument here. Especially the tune from around 6:40 into the clip. Its sounds just like a violin and cello duo.>>

 
#56
Paul is correct, materialism (e sobriquet) is not a theory, it is an ontology. But I do not think people are protesting it's reality as an ontology. Calling materialism an ontology is akin to calling a rapist promiscuous.

The problem is that materialism has been promoted to status of doctrine-in-lieu. Our change from a heavy-handed Christian Church ruled academia, across 250 years to a materialist ruled academia, was not a "modification of epistemological assumptions" - it was an overthrow. And while our current deployment of materialism is certainly underpinned by some valid predictive methodology, another overthrow is in the offing.
While I'm neiter a materialist nor a Christian, and strongly disagree with a lot of ideas held by the proponents of these two positions, sometimes I still have to defend them a little bit - in the cases when the criticism becomes too hot.

I think the worst event that happened to both Christian spiritual path and materialist philosophy is reaching the dominant position in society. They become the foundation of the authorities' wordview, and therefore, were institutionalised, dogmatised, rigified and forcefully imposed on people. They become, respectively, an organized dogmatic religion and an organized dogmatic ideology - the cornerstones for the theocratic and ideocratic opression.

And, being protected from criticism - and, therefore, from necessary change - they lost their original spiritual and philosophical roots.

The only way to self-revival for them is to deinstitutionalize themselves, embrace the deserved criticism and undergo changes.
 
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#57
While I'm neiter a materialist nor a Christian, and strongly disagree with a lot of ideas held by the proponents of these two positions, sometimes I still have to defend them a little bit - in the cases when the criticism becomes too hot.

They become, respectively, an organized dogmatic religion and an organized dogmatic ideology - the cornerstones for the theocratic and ideocratic oppression.

And, being protected from criticism - and, therefore, from necessary change - they lost their original spiritual and philosophical roots.

The only way to self-revival for them is to deinstitutionalize themselves, embrace the deserved criticism and undergo changes.
I agree with everything you contend here Vortex. There exists a difference between a cultural ideology and a that of an enforced doctrine from a position of power. History has shown us that enforced doctrines only die with the people who enforce them. The resident institutionalists are not changed from within, they are replaced. Libya's spread of arms and insurrection throughout West Africa could not be met with reason or common understanding. They viewed themselves as re-establishing an old Empire, which was lost through Western treachery - nothing was going to stop them in their rational and club-peer-reviewed quest. Aspirations of institutional control, arrogance and celebrity promoted disdain, are the warning flags of intransigence. They constitute a hot fight. Such is the state of things, and not an individual creation.

But to those who are the proselytized, those who are the young minds undergoing the indoctrination, the ultimate depravity of such institutions must be made clearly manifest, BEFORE their minds are lost to the indoctrination. This is crucial. In this regard, our limited lifespans and the necessity to continually re-educate as if a snake shedding its skin with each succeeding generation, based upon the stark reality that we will one day die, should be cited as THE single most effective step in the scientific method. Mollycoddling of institutions is a game they play with YOU, and not one of you influencing them. Our uber-religious and our uber-null-set skeptic institutions will not change. They will simply die. In the meantime, I refuse to allow either one the luxury of pretense of representing God or Science - before those who are not yet indoctrinated into their club.

This aspect is more certainly a cold fight.

While I do my work, I have made it a habit to study honestly, the local religion and history of each culture into which I immerse myself, so that I can gain an empathic understanding of some of the mindset of the local populace before we begin work on their behalf. I have sat in morning reflection with PhD's in Nuclear Physics while they sought the bestowal of Ganesha. I have sat quietly honoring evening prayers with senior governmental officials in their obedience to Allah. I have spent decades in the Middle East, India and China, Anatolia/Caucasia, Europe and Africa. The diversity of religious thought throughout the world is staggering. This being so pronounced, that the state exists wherein even religions comprised in name are so divergent in teaching so as to be unrecognizable in comparison to the root doctrines (Sub-Saharan Islam, Tamil Hindi, or Caribbe Catholicism come to mind). Material Null Set ontologies constitute a religion, no different than the panoply of philosophies practiced across the globe. That which constitutes a 'religion' is not simply defined by a doctrine of venerating a personified deity; much less the Christian God. This is the weakness of atheism, such that it renders the philosophy almost moot, in that it does not recognize that religion is so much more than the simple regard of deities. That constrained argument set is simply an artifice, a constraint manufactured by our Western academic heritage. It is a surreptitious presumption, slipped by to force a bifurcation fallacy of argument. It should be met with a refusal to surrender such ground a priori. Validly, there exist religions of philosophy, religions of ethic, and religions of ontology. Each is an institution, unique, cultural, and actually carries merit in some aspect of its teachings, including materialism and atheism. Even the proto-religions such as the Anatolian-Chinese Chang'e or Kabbalah, carry messages of culture, insight and value.

Until they become an institution of power. Once under such provision they then begin to weave into the target culture a barely perceptible fabric of enforcement corruption, and self preservation. An undercurrent of personally justified bias which in itself constitutes more evil than the good that they contribute.

Several years ago, I was asked to strike an alliance between three tribal leaders, who had sat in opposition to national policies, under which they believed that only competing tribes would benefit. I drove in a dusty green Subaru to each dwelling - to sit with them in the dark after evening prayers. By coming to them humbly in the middle of the night, meeting their wives and children, and sitting with them in the non-electrified dark, during the evening prayer - they gained a trust - a trust that I did not sit in judgement of their state or ontology. I was not there to hand them a new religion. This trust allowed our group to ally three tribal leaders separated since 1280 ad. To stop the flow of arms, to begin to focus on what lay before them in terms of cooperation, and to ultimately coax the children, not the adults, into abandoning the dogma which was ultimately the cause of the trouble. They had assembled practices and cultural re-enforcements which ensured that everyone walked the line of division. The corruption of thinking was imperceptible to the participants. The outcome of this slight corruption of thinking was enormous suffering.

But the children did not seek institution nor empire, until they were taught such goals. They did not regard outsiders as stupid, or irrational, or evil, or hated by god, or not sufficiently educated, or not in the peer review club, or not the great unwashed who do not follow the scientific method.

They humbly bore the manifest concern for the plight of their fellow tribes-people.

To the 'children' who humbly sit in wonder and ask the core questions of sincerity, we must provide every avenue of support in their quest to seek such answers. But to the institutional empires seeking to enforce their religion, through an arrogant disdain for any who are not in the club, holding up a mirror so that those pondering new status as initiates will be able to see the doctrinal cloth they will be donning, is our best weapon against just such an entity; one whom will never change, until the individuals pass on and are replaced from the inside out.
 
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#59
Dean Radin's "The Conscious Universe" received its 100th review on Amazon! I consider it to be a good number. Of course, it is not as high as the number of reviews of Eben Alexander's "Proof of Heaven" (6,636 for now), but it is still a good number.

BTW, I noticed an obvious increase of interest towards serious literature on non-conventional subjects. It is easily visible if one looks at the Amazon pages of the books about psi, afterlife and spirituality - some time ago, they were not receiving new reviews at all (after the couple of initial ones); the situation, however, changed recently. It appears that publication of the "Proof of Heaven" was a kind of turning point: after its release, the interest toward consciousness-related subjects increased strongly, and all books concerning these topics started receiving new reviews.

The trend is not limited by the topic of consciousness. For example, the more conventional topic of mind and "mental health" is now also open to revision and alternative views. For example, see the high number of (mostly positive) reviews for Robert Whitaker's "Mad in America" and "Anatomy of the Epidemic", containing detailed criticisms of the coercive biological psychiatry, as well as other books about the humanization and general reform of mental health system (and mind-centered approaches towards human psyche and its problems).

Maybe the Turning Point - the New Renaissance - for which all the alternatives-seeking people like us have been waiting for decades, is really quite near? I hope that the New Inquisitors (skeptics, censors, bureaucrats et al.) would be as powerless to stop it as the Old Inquisitors (clerics, feudals et al.) were powerless to stop the Old Renaissance.

We now have the communicative, educational and reformative power of the Web, as Craig Weiler notes in his book. This is time for us to enact the Great Change.

I chose the Star of Chaos as my avatar picture for a reason - we are going to live in a time of metamorphosis. Consider it to be a small act of magick of mine, to invoke the transforming power of the Chaos to support and guide us through the Work of world-change we are about to perform. ;) :) :D
 
#60
I visited Ray Kurzweil's website today and found this piece:

Using Bayesian statistics to rank Wikipedia entries

Well, both Wikipedia and Bayesian statistics are common topics for discussion here, aren't they? Well, could they be taken together?

What do you think about it? Can the usage of Bayesian statistics help to choose the better information on Wikipedia? Or would it be used to push "fringe", "alternative", "dissident" etc. views even further from "respectability"?
 
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