Mod+ 269. DR. MICHAEL SHERMER, SKEPTICAL SCIENCE REPORTING

#21
Well, Richard did try his best to try and distract us from the fact that his hero was misrepresenting the published work of a scientist.
This was addressed directly by Shermer in the interview. Am I the ONLY person here who listened to the podcast AND read "The Moral Arc"?
Oh my goodness, that means I'm the only person not talking out of my butt! :) <- the smiley face shows what an approachable and agreeable person I am.
 
#22
This was addressed directly by Shermer in the interview.
He stated that it was OK to misrepresent another person's interpretations of their work. It isn't OK to do that. I've written papers. I wouldn't misquote, misrepresent or attribute statements to a colleagues work that were never made by that individual. It's OK to disagree with someone's interpretation, but you don't get to re-write it for them. You state what their paper's position was, then you disagree with it. It's very basic to scientific discourse. If Shermer pretends not to know that, he's incredibly dishonest. The only other explanation is that he's incompetent.
 

Alex

Administrator
#24
from the skeptiko website:
Benja
The idea that the universe is intelligible (understandable for our reasoning) actually came from the idea that the universe was designed by an intelligent agent. Which is why, there is no coincidence that the first scientists were actually deeply religious (even the moto of Oxford says Dominus Illuminatio Mea (the Lord is my Light)).

"I hold (without appeal to revelation) that when we take a view of the Universe, in its parts general or particular, it is impossible for the human mind not to perceive and feel a conviction of design, consummate skill, and indefinite po wer in every atom of its composition." Thomas Jefferson (yes, he didn't like the church anyways).

"What is faith? Is it to believe that which is evident? No. It is perfectly evident to my mind that there exists a necessary, eternal, supreme, and intelligent being. This is no matter of faith, but of reason." Voltaire (another thinker who hated the church)

“We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library, whose walls are covered to the ceiling with books in many different languages. The child knows that someone must have written those books. It d oes not know who or how. It does not understand the the languages in which they are written. The child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books, a mysterious order, which it does not comprehend but only dimly suspects.” Albert Einstein

"I constantly sought knowledge and truth, and it became my belief that for gaining access to the effulgence and closeness to God, there is no better way than that of searching for truth and knowledge." Alhazen (he made significant contributions to the scientific method, he's the father of controlled testing).

"I had rather believe all the fables in the legends and the Talmud and the Alcoran, than that this universal frame is without a mind. And therefore, God never wrought miracle, to convince atheism, because his ordinary works convince it." Sir Francis Bacon, the father of the modern scientific method.

And as I explained before, the idea that proposes that humans are biological robots, which minds are products of natural selection, implicates that the ideas in our minds were selected for their survival value, not for their truth-value. Then materialism (according to its own premise), too, was selected for survival, not truth -- which discredits its own claim to truth because it undermines reason, thus it has no logical value. It's a self-contradictory claim.

Besides, materialism is based on determinism, and science has debunked it for like 3/4 of a century through Quantum Mechanics. Michael Shermer is right though: people can believe really bad ideas... but I'm afraid Materialism is one of them as well. As Kenan Malik, a writer trained in neurobiology, wrote, "If our cognitive capacities were simply evolved dispositions, there would be no way of knowing which of these capacities lead to true beliefs and which to false ones." Thus "to view humans as little more than sophisticated animals (or even robots) ...undermines confidence in the scientific method."
 
#25
From the Scientific American article that you are upset about:
Sometimes trauma can become a trigger. The December 15, 2001, issue of the Lancet published a Dutch study in which 12 percent of 344 cardiac patients resuscitated from clinical death reported near-death experiences, some having a sensation of being out of body, others seeing a light at the end of a tunnel. Some even described speaking to dead relatives. Because the everyday occurrence is of stimuli coming from the outside, when a part of the brain abnormally generates these illusions, another part of the brain interprets them as external events. Hence, the abnormal is thought to be the paranormal.

These studies are only the latest to deliver blows against the belief that mind and spirit are separate from brain and body. In reality, all experience is mediated by the brain. Large brain areas such as the cortex coordinate inputs from smaller brain areas such as the temporal lobes, which themselves collate neural events from still smaller brain modules such as the angular gyrus. Of course, we are not aware of the workings of our own electrochemical systems. What we experience is what philosophers call qualia, or subjective states of thoughts and feelings that arise from a concatenation of neural events.
All right, I agree with you that Shermer did not clearly delineate between what Pim van Lommel's paper concluded and his own conclusions about what he research meant. A straight reading of the above material would lead me to conclude that Pim interpreted his research in a way diametrically opposed to what his real views are.

I have followed up on your assertion and spent time verifying facts, even going so far as reading Pim van Lommel's comments on Shermer's article.

As a quid pro quo, I invite you to read just a little further on this topic yourself. In a later book, he was more precise in dividing the research of van Lommel from the conclusions he drew from that research. As an example, just try a few paragraphs from his book, "The Believing Brain".

(rats! I cannot post a google book link because the forum will not allow me to. If you search in Books.Google for 'Michael Shermer Pim van Lommel' and select the book "The Believing Brain" you will zip right to the relevant entry.
 
#26
From the Scientific American article that you are upset about:

All right, I agree with you that Shermer did not clearly delineate between what Pim van Lommel's paper concluded and his own conclusions about what he research meant. A straight reading of the above material would lead me to conclude that Pim interpreted his research in a way diametrically opposed to what his real views are.
So Alex was correct. And Shermer is still unwilling to own up to it, by justifying (in his own mind) that his conduct is perfectly reasonable (and ethical). Note, this same kind of activity is ongoing on Wikipedia as well at the moment. Many good scientists and scholars have had their biographies smeared in such a dishonest and none accountable (i.e. the perpetrators are not held accountable) fashion.

My Best,
Bertha
 
#27
All right, I agree with you that Shermer did not clearly delineate between what Pim van Lommel's paper concluded and his own conclusions about what he research meant. A straight reading of the above material would lead me to conclude that Pim interpreted his research in a way diametrically opposed to what his real views are.
Shermer should have admitted the first article gave the wrong impression of van Lommel's work. He didn't do that. He tried to side step the issue by pretending what he did was accepted scientific practice. It isn't.

In a later book, he was more precise in dividing the research of van Lommel from the conclusions he drew from that research.
That doesn't do anything to correct the mistake in the first article. He could have published a retraction. He could have at least admitted to Alex that he made a mistake. He did nothing to own up to his error or make any attempt to correct it.
 
#28
from the skeptiko website:
And as I explained before, the idea that proposes that humans are biological robots, which minds are products of natural selection, implicates that the ideas in our minds were selected for their survival value, not for their truth-value. Then materialism (according to its own premise), too, was selected for survival, not truth -- which discredits its own claim to truth because it undermines reason, thus it has no logical value. It's a self-contradictory claim.
We are biological machines. Perhaps you haven't been keeping up with neurobiology lately, for a short and entertaining precis, try David McRaney's book, "You Are Now Less Dumb". For an even more succinct and more entertaining reading, perhaps something from the comedy Cracked podcast: "Why Your Brain is Sabotaging You" or "Your Memory is a Filthy Liar".

We WERE selected for survival, not truth. If we were selected for truth, logical fallacies would not be necessary to state, fight against, or correct, we would have a better truth detection engine. The scientific method works by overriding our natural propensity for self-deception.
 
#31
We are biological machines. Perhaps you haven't been keeping up with neurobiology lately, for a short and entertaining precis, try David McRaney's book, "You Are Now Less Dumb". For an even more succinct and more entertaining reading, perhaps something from the comedy Cracked podcast: "Why Your Brain is Sabotaging You" or "Your Memory is a Filthy Liar".

We WERE selected for survival, not truth. If we were selected for truth, logical fallacies would not be necessary to state, fight against, or correct, we would have a better truth detection engine. The scientific method works by overriding our natural propensity for self-deception.
Everything you've stated so far here Richard is scientific THEORY. And many scientific theories have proven to not be quite correct over time.

Yet you're here making your pronouncements as if they are the gospel truth - on a website that is actually more critical and skeptical toward belief systems - including your obvious pronouncement of faith in materialism - than many Neo-Skeptics themselves.

My Best,
Bertha
 
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#32
In fairness to Shermer, The Lancet paper is very short on any firm conclusions with which to disagree.

And in support of Shermer's take on the study consider this quote, lifted directly from the discussion section of the paper:

And yet, neurophysiological processes must play some part in NDE. Similar experiences can be induced through electrical stimulation of the temporal lobe (and hence of the hippocampus) during neurosurgery for epilepsy,23 with high carbon dioxide levels (hypercarbia),24 and in decreased cerebral perfusion resulting in local cerebral hypoxia as in rapid acceleration during training of fighter pilots,25 or as in hyperventilation followed by valsalva manoeuvre.4 Ketamine-induced experiences resulting from blockage of the NMDA receptor,26 and the role of endorphin, serotonin, and enkephalin have also been mentioned,27 as have near-death-like experiences after the use of LSD,28 psilocarpine, and mescaline.21 These induced experiences can consist of unconsciousness, out-of-body experiences, and perception of light or flashes of recollection from the past.
 
#33
In fairness to Shermer, The Lancet paper is very short on any firm conclusions with which to disagree.

And in support of Shermer's take on the study consider this quote, lifted directly from the discussion section of the paper:
Shermer didn't claim to have misunderstood the paper. He told Alex straight out that he disagreed with it. And he then admitted to misrepresenting it.
 
#34
I actually read the book and was looking forward to hearing an interview with Michael Shermer.
It was almost 10 minutes before I realized that the name of the podcast was in error, there is a decided lack of critical thinking going on in the mind of the host.
When I heard Alex let the words "Cosmic Consciousness" out of his mouth I busted out laughing, I thought it was a prank!
Sadly, further listening didn't help his credibility. Believing in things like NDE, cosmic consciousness, and the concept that "religion has been good for society, mostly" are not based on facts. They are wishful thinking. Self-deception and trying to pull a blue blanket over your head might make you feel more comfortable, but they do not lead you to an honest and fulfilled existence.
Why blue, though?
 
#35
We are biological machines. Perhaps you haven't been keeping up with neurobiology lately, for a short and entertaining precis, try David McRaney's book, "You Are Now Less Dumb". For an even more succinct and more entertaining reading, perhaps something from the comedy Cracked podcast: "Why Your Brain is Sabotaging You" or "Your Memory is a Filthy Liar".

We WERE selected for survival, not truth. If we were selected for truth, logical fallacies would not be necessary to state, fight against, or correct, we would have a better truth detection engine. The scientific method works by overriding our natural propensity for self-deception.
Great! I'm so happy to hear we've finally got it all figured out!

One question - How long were you going to let the rest of us poor saps "investigate reality" like a bunch of fools before revealing that you had the answers? And why didn't you tell us that all we had to do was read a couple of non-technical books to understand how reality and consciousness work? Wow, it's all so easy!

Scientifically, all that's left to do is to iron out the last couple of details. Then we'll be ready to copy our brains into robots and blast off into space, leaving behind all those wishful thinking suckers!

8D <- this face shows how excited I am to blast off into space with robo-Richard and his immortal cyborg friends!
 
#36
The AWARE study did not provide any evidence.
No one has provided any evidence.
Evidence has not been shown.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.
You are your brain. All of the you that think of as "You" is in your brain.
Re AWARE... Evidence of what?
Re no one has provided any evidence... Evidence of what?

You are your brain. All of the you that think of as "You" is in your brain.
Well I don't think I would be me without a brain. But it doesn't follow that all that is 'me' is within my brain.
 
#37
Shermer didn't claim to have misunderstood the paper. He told Alex straight out that he disagreed with it. And he then admitted to misrepresenting it.
Well, like I said there's not much to disagree with. Firm conclusions are, rightly, not present in any NDE paper I've read.

If journal discussions and/or conclusions are to be considered sacrosanct or inerrant... Well, you know what that sounds like don't you? ;)
 
#38
Well, like I said there's not much to disagree with. Firm conclusions are, rightly, not present in any NDE paper I've read.

If journal discussions and/or conclusions are to be considered sacrosanct or inerrant... Well, you know what that sounds like don't you? ;)
You make it sound like a grey area. Shermer admitted his guilt. That's pretty cut and dried.
 
#39
I'm always amazed that materialists get away with their own version of atrocious metaphysics:

Shermer: "Evolution designed us to want to survive.." "That's what evolution designed us to do". Oh, I shouldn't use the word 'designed', I'll use the word 'created' instead.

He merely replaces the word 'God' with the word 'evolution' and takes it as a given that by simply transferring all the powers once attributed to an anthropomorphised deity to a 'process' that somehow it is self-evident that he is off the hook for accounting for any of it.
Then he quotes Dawkins:
"Imagine you're a molecule, what would you do to survive?"
Again, he is embedding an unattributed, metaphysical conscious 'decider' into the molecule...then denying that's what he means.

"You have to create a survival machine.....": Here we are expected to take his use of the word 'machine' seriously in that sentence, but not the metaphysical "You" who consciously "created" it to fulfill an anticipated end result.

This is the slight of hand at the heart of the materialist paradigm: Their press kit is always going on about how the only thing that matters to them is concrete fact - and that this is what sets them apart from those other people who resort to self-rationalizing metaphysics that are never definitively articulated or understood. When materialists resort to the same sort of metaphysics to fill in the gaps in their worldview, they just assert that 'that's not what we meant'. When pushed to explain, they inevitably default to "we haven't figured that out yet...but we know we will one day". So much for basing everything on concrete fact. It is a system that has a constant moving of the goalposts built into it so it can never be wrong.

Then he makes this extraordinary claim for so called "moral emotions" for which there is no objective evidence whatsoever and comes across as nothing but an attempt to use mythological narrative to account for morality in terms of a materialist belief system.

And yet these are the same people who go on ad nauseam about "extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence" for everybody else.

Why do these people get away with it?
 
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