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funsway
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Quote:
On 2013-05-30 02:49, Sean Giles wrote:
Quote:
On 2013-05-30 01:42, Smoking Camel wrote:
I recon that in the moments right before death, all skepticism crumbles.


I reckon that in the moments right AFTER death, all religion crumbles Smile


ah -- but "spirituality" and "religion" are not the same thing. Yes, religious beliefs may slough away with a heightened awareness -- while some knowledge of one's spiritual nature is enhanced.

But, if suggested either skepticism or religion crumbles -- why do not those who have claimed a OBE experience evidence a heightened spiritual awareness.

I realize some only claim a "near death" experience, while other have been declared dead -- with or without an OBE.

This means that "death" "near death" and being "out of body" are all definitional and relative to the perceptions of the persons involved and not armchair quarterbacks.

A person experiences something that defies ready explanation and grasps for some concepts that might give some anchor or relevance to that experience. The clutch at words learned or acceptable to listeners with little regard to scientific validity. The later claims of others that they bit into an orange rather than peach does not deny that they tasted something -- the experience and memory is real for them. The folly perhaps is assuming there must be some explanation at all.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

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mindmagic
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I'd like to recommend the book I'm currently reading. It should be the essential textbook for all psychology courses, but it won't ever be so because it's going to upset (or be ignored) by most mainstream scientists. Just be warned: it's written as and like a psychology textbook, 800 pages of dense type, including extensive references and index, together with a reading list for psychical research. Take a look at the contents pages on "Look Inside".
http://tinyurl.com/qy5z9s9

Barry
Michael Daniels
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According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first definition of "paranormal" (adj.) is found in Webster's New Internat. Dict. Eng. Lang. (1920) as "designating phenomena analogous to physical phenomena but with no known physical cause, as mediumistic 'raps', telekinesis, etc."

The OED also has the first definition of paranormal (n.), i.e., "the paranormal", as dating to 1958 in J. Blish "Case of Conscience" (1959, i. 82): "He has no belief in the supernatural - or as we're calling it in our barbarous jargon these days, the 'paranormal'."

Interestingly, "parapsychology", though often a term attributed to J.B. Rhine in the 1930s, actually dates to 1887 according to the OED, though not with its present-day meaning - Science 27 May 1887, 511/1: "The term 'para-psychology' may be invented to apply to those weirdly imaginative systems of thought by which some intellects strive to satisfy their inner longings, and to make the world seem rational."

Parapsychology in its modern sense (as the field that studies the paranormal) was originally a German term "Parapsychologie" (M. Dessoir, 1889, in Sphinx, 7 June, 341).

For what it is worth, my own definition of "paranormal" is "Beside or beyond the normal. Inexplicable in terms of our ordinary understanding or current scientific knowledge." ( Glossary of Parapsychology - http://www.psychicscience.org/paraglos.aspx )

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Slim King
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Scientists may have THEORIES but there has NEVER been any proof of exactly what DeJa Vu is .. It's all theory and conjecture.
Yet many millions of people have memories before the events happen!!!!! It is so frequent that others say it's NORMAL .... But it's not. We are surrounded daily buy many Paranormal events.
THE MAN THE SKEPTICS REFUSE TO TEST FOR ONE MILLION DOLLARS.. The Worlds Foremost Authority on Houdini's Life after Death.....
Garrette
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Quote:
On 2013-05-30 09:22, Slim King wrote:
Scientists may have THEORIES but there has NEVER been any proof of exactly what DeJa Vu is .. It's all theory and conjecture.
Yet many millions of people have memories before the events happen!!!!! It is so frequent that others say it's NORMAL .... But it's not. We are surrounded daily buy many Paranormal events.
You are mixing the layman and scientific definitions of "theory," and you are contradicting yourself about extant theories within your own post. But for more specific criticism, many millions of people do not "have memories before the event happens," they have the impression of having memories. Critically, they don't notice having these memories until the event actually happens. Deja vu events do not consist of someone saying "I'm about to walk in that room for the first time, and I will see a red overstuffed chair next to a floor lamp with fringed shade." What happens is they walk in to the room, see the red overstuffed chair next to a floor lamp with fringed shade and say "This feels like the second time I've done this even though it's only the first time."

Without reference to any scientific studies, examination of those details regarding the order in which deja vu occurs should be sufficient to cause pause before jumping to a definition of paranormal even absent a specific mundane explanation.

But deja vu is actually an excellent example of a couple of ideas in this thread: (1) whether the lack of a specific explanation makes something paranormal, and (2) the question of replicability.

There are, in fact, likely non-paranormal explanations for the sense of deja vu, at least one of which has been mentioned in this thread. The more recent hypotheses involve a misfiring of neurons (or synapses? sorry; I'm not a scientist and don't have the articles to hand so I may misremember details) such that what should be stored as a short-term memory upon first experience instead dumps immediately into long-term memory causing a dissonance between expected feeling and actual feeling. Slim King is correct in his claim, even if not stated properly, that this is not proven, but he is mistaken in his implication that this means there is no reasonably conceivable mundane explanation.

A major reason that the hypothesis is not theory is that the experience cannot as yet be reliably replicated. In this instance, what science does is say "We think it is likely X, but we're not sure." The mistake some non-scientists make is to take that honest admission of uncertainty as license to claim that any conceivable explanation is just as likely. While a conflation of short and long term memories may in fact be the wrong explanation for deja vu, it does not follow that pixies implanting false memories has as much merit. Likewise, it does not follow that actual "pre-memories" is an as-likely explanation.

My short point being: Saying "we don't know" is not equivalent to saying "any answer you can think up is reasonable."
mastermindreader
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And as I observed earlier, there is no definite scientific explanation of gravity. That doesn't make it paranormal.
Garrette
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Yeah, I was going to write a similar post, but you were quicker than I was, and probably far more succinct.
Garrette
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On 2013-05-30 01:42, Smoking Camel wrote:
I recon that in the moments right before death, all skepticism crumbles.
Missed this before, but I have to disagree. I have had more than a couple of moments when I thought I was near death. There was not one instance in which I adopted a belief I had previously discarded. Nor am I the only one who disproves the old "no atheist in a foxhole" canard along with its multiple variations.
Garrette
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On 2013-05-29 23:48, Pakar Ilusi wrote:
Those who need scientific evidence will never convince those who don't that scientific evidence is needed.

Case in point, deities.

I'll leave it at that.
Sorry for the string of posts, but I'm avoiding a task I don't want to do... (sigh)

I mostly agree, but I think something important is being missed. "Needed" depends on context.

Nearly everyone I know personally believes things I do not. They don't "need" evidence for their beliefs, and I don't suggest they need to show me such evidence. I take no issue with anyone's beliefs (there are extreme exceptions; I'm only human). I take issue when others suggest that there is evidence (or more correctly, sufficient and compelling evidence) and therefore non-belief is factually incorrect.

Do you believe something? Okay.

Is it a belief you hold because (a) it comforts you, (b) you have personal experiences that convinced you, (c) a combination of the two? Okay.

But if you take the next step and say "Here is evidence that should convince you that my belief is factually correct," then I will look at the evidence to determine if it is sufficient to support the belief, and I will do it in as objective a way as I can, and I will do it acknowledging that my conclusions are provisional and possibly mistaken. I will not do it so I can say "abandon your belief," though I may say "your belief isn't supported by the things you claim are sufficient evidence."

So "need?" For most things, there is no need. If I am remembering correctly, even Paul Kurtz, (secular humanist) chose Deistic belief not because it was factually supported but because it was comforting. He had no need for evidence, and I would have had no need to ask it of him.
Slim King
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Garret. You are simply wrong and your assumptions are just that.
THE MAN THE SKEPTICS REFUSE TO TEST FOR ONE MILLION DOLLARS.. The Worlds Foremost Authority on Houdini's Life after Death.....
Garrette
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On 2013-05-30 12:24, Slim King wrote:
Garret. You are simply wrong and your assumptions are just that.
I'm genuinely interested in specifically what is wrong and what you consider are my assumptions.
DWRackley
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Although I’m quite guilty of holding beliefs that are patently untestable, I’m leaning toward Garrette on this one. I do look for reasonable alternatives. (But being from the “Thoughts are Things” school, I probably lend more weight to the subjective than he would). Even my experience with calling the hospitals on cue could be laid to simple coincidence. (Think of the “uninteresting numbers” paradox.)

There are a number of reasonable possibilities for Déjà vu, including the simple observation that many places, scenes, and settings APPEAR similar on cursory inspection.

I’ve been working on a text about fear (for a few years now Smile ), and one of the things that keeps coming up is the power of the Amygdala/Hippocampus (taken as a unit) in “setting up” a sort of trigger for emotional recall, including a kind of “pre-conscious” fear.

That is to say, a person can walk into a room and be completely safe, but find enough similarities to another time when they were afraid, and even if they are not consciously aware of the similarities, they will experience a fear response “for no reason at all”.

(To my thinking, the misdirected feedback loop so often cited as a cause for Déjà vu is much less plausible (my opinion only), but still not unreasonable.)

But here we have a testable example of a current encounter triggering a response from a previous experience. Who’s to say that at least SOME feelings of Déjà vu aren’t simply a remembered pattern?
...what if I could read your mind?

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Pakar Ilusi
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You're wasting your time intellectually debating anything with Slim King.

Imo... Smile
"Dreams aren't a matter of Chance but a matter of Choice." -DC-
Pakar Ilusi
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He uses X-Files science!
"Dreams aren't a matter of Chance but a matter of Choice." -DC-
Garrette
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@DWRackley: The idea of a remembered pattern isn't one I had really considered. A very interesting take on it. Thanks.

@Pakar Ilusi: I suppose it can be a waste of time, but that depends on goals, which change over time, or even between log-ins. While I don't find anything Dave has posted in this thread to be convincing, and I can't recall a time when I've agreed substantively with him in the past in this type of discussion, I have found that he can on occasion cut through a lot of bull (including my own which I don't realize is there) and get straight to the point. Even if I don't agree with his conclusions, he can sometimes wave away the fluff that unnecessarily muddies the water.
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Here's an interesting take on "The science delusion" .the science folk at TED subsequently banned(?) the talk. It's 20 mins but well worth a watch.

http://youtu.be/JKHUaNAxsTg
I no longer smoke camel cigarettes.
Garrette
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On 2013-05-30 17:43, Smoking Camel wrote:
Here's an interesting take on "The science delusion" .the science folk at TED subsequently banned(?) the talk. It's 20 mins but well worth a watch.

http://youtu.be/JKHUaNAxsTg
I’ve got a lengthy discussion of Sheldrake’s lecture, but I’ll start with a short version for those who don’t want to read the whole thing (and I don’t blame you):

=======
Sheldrake speaks well, but his talk has at least the following flaws:

1. He moves between definitions of “science” without making it clear when he does so

2. He falsely attributes 10 Dogmas to science

3. He misrepresents changes in the speed of light and in the Gravitational Constant as actual changes as opposed to refinements in measurement

4. He presents his idea of Morphic Resonance as both hypothesis and theory

5. He claims evidence of Morphic Resonance but has no references for that evidence either within the lecture or outside it

6. He takes a Dawkins quotation out of context to misleadingly change its meaning

In short, it is not a convincing lecture at all.

=======

And here’s the long version for those of you with too much time and too high a tolerance for boredom and pain:

I’m afraid that I find Sheldrake to be far from convincing, and given his obvious intelligence, breadth of experience, and excellent education, I find it hard to be charitable regarding his motives for basic errors.

He speaks at time of “science” as a methodology, as an institution, and as a body of facts. The problem is he slips between them without making it clear in order to imply whichever definition fits his current point. He starts out saying

Science believes it understands the nature of reality in principle, leaving only the details to be filled in.”

Well, science believes no such thing as it is simply a methodology. As for individual scientists, the degree to which they think there are only details left varies, but if the majority thought there were no more houses to be built but instead only baseboards and carpeting to be installed, then no one would be discussing String Theory or M-Theory and no one would be using the Large Hadron Collider. Frankly, on behalf of the legions of scientists who toil every day both in the application of known facts and in the search of new knowledge, I take offense every time somebody who knows better (like Sheldrake) throws out this misguided insult.

Do you not think that any of the scientists that Sheldrake derides wouldn’t love to be the one to prove that the speed of light is NOT constant, that G is not constant, or even that Morphic Resonance is true? Fame and Nobels await such a scientist.

Sheldrake compounds his insult with the tired and mistaken characterization of scientists as people who “don’t believe in God [but] believe in science.” Do no scientists believe in God? If they don’t, does this automatically mean they are blinkered functionaries? What if they believe in a God different from the one in which Sheldrake believes? Are they still men of little mind? More than that, the idea of “believing” in science is nonsense. Belief implies a non-evidentiary position. Science is exactly the opposite. The methodology has proven to be effective (note: it has not proven to be perfect). As such, it has earned the trust of those who practice it as well as those who deride while enjoying its benefits.

Frankly, Sheldrake’s statement that there is a conflict between “science as a method of inquiry…and science as a worldview,” and that the latter “has come to inhibit and constrict the free inquiry which is the very lifeblood of the scientific endeavor” is ludicrous. Science is not a worldview. Science is, as he says, a method of inquiry. Even if it were a worldview, how does it inhibit or constrict anyone’s free inquiry? Sheldrake himself is free to conduct whatever inquiry he likes. The fact that he can’t support his conclusions with evidence is not indicative of a shortcoming of science but of his methods. He is a man made of souring grapes.

Sheldrake further earns my scorn when he quotes Richard Dawkins out of context. Sheldrake says that Dawkins called humans “lumbering robots,” and Sheldrake means it as an example of Dawkins subscribing to the evil scientific worldview. But the entire context of Dawkins’ remarks (from “The Selfish Gene”) make it quite clear that he was calling both the body and the mind together (remember that Dawkins distinguishes the two; it disproves another of Sheldrake’s points) a lumbering robot in their role as the vessel that allows the replication and therefore survival of the gene. It is not a trivial distinction, and Sheldrake’s characterization of Dawkins’ comment as evidence that scientists view everything, including people, as mere machines is simply and factually wrong. Moreover, Sheldrake is smart enough to know this. If he isn’t, he has no business making such a speech as is in the link; if he is, he’s being intentionally deceptive.

Sheldrake lists 10 “Dogmas of Science” in order to attack them. I won’t list all ten, but most are simply incorrect. I will list a couple of the major ones that are incorrect and incorrect in such a way as to undermine all of Sheldrake’s position.

Dogma #2: ”Matter is unconscious. There is no consciousness in stars, planets, or plants or animals, and there ought not to be consciousness in us, either, if this thing is true.”

While it is true that most scientists do not hold that there is consciousness in stars, planets, or plants, it is a minority of scientists who hold that there is no consciousness in at least some animals and certainly a negligible minority who think there is or ought not to be consciousness in humans (though most won’t separate them from other animals, either). Sheldrake is simply wrong, and as his attack on this dogma is one of the key pillars of his position, his entire argument falls here. Scientists, psychologists, neurologists, and biologists cannot fully explain consciousness, but its existence is not in itself a puzzle. Consciousness as an emergent property (and “mind” as an emergent property) is hardly new and is certainly not the means by which Sheldrake’s evil materialistic enemy is to be overthrown.

Dogma #4: The total amount of energy in the universe is always the same except at the moment of the Big Bang ”when it all sprang into existence from nowhere in an instant.

The first part of that is true in a broad sense. The net amount of energy (calculating mass in there, too), is zero, just as it has been since at least micro-seconds after the Big Bang.

The second part is only trivially true. “Nowhere” didn’t exist at the moment of the Big Bang because “somewhere” didn’t exist. Sheldrake may have meant “nothing” instead of “nowhere,” but it doesn’t help his case. “Nothing” can’t really exist. This isn’t a philosophical position; it is a consequence of quantum physics and its principles, specifically the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. I am far, far, out of my depth in discussing this, but I am knowledgeable enough to know that Sheldrake (who, though well educated, is no more a quantum physicist than I am) is out of his depth, too, and has missed a key point.

Dogma #10: ”Mechanistic medicine is the only kind that really works” therefore Governments ”ignore complementary and alternative medicine.”

In the United States, the National Institute for Health began sponsoring Complementary and Alternative Medicine Centers in 1994, and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 1999. In the United Kingdom, complementary medicine has been part of the National Health Service for years. Frankly, I don’t think the NCCAM should exist, and its track record bears that out, but the fact remains that Sheldrake is again factually wrong. The Government has adopted those medicines, and it did so long ago.

He is wrong about his other dogmas, too, at least most of them, but I don’t want this to be longer than it already will be, so I will skip the others and move on to physical constants.

Sheldrake spends a lot of time discussing the speed of light and whether it actually is a constant. To be honest, I don’t know why he spends time on this, because if it were shown that the speed of light isn’t constant it would mean that most of the models of the universe and cosmos would need to be adjusted. That would win people some Nobels and lead to even greater understanding, but it would not suddenly prove telepathy. Universal models have changed before; it is likely they will change again. Big deal.

But even if it mattered, Sheldrake provides exactly zero evidence that the speed of light isn’t a constant. His entire argument rests entirely on a misunderstanding of what he was told by the head of “Metrology at the National Physics Lab.” Finding the exact speed of light is a matter of measurement AND of correlating with other knowns in the scientific world. Sheldrake fixates on a non-controversy from 1928 to 1945 when the recognized speed of light shifted by less than an error bar from earlier measurements. He then misstates when the latest speed of light was settled on by saying it was defined into existence in 1972. Well, it actually was “defined”, but it was in 1983 and it wasn’t arbitrary. There was science behind the decision, science based on the knowledge that finding a perfect vacuum in which to use perfect instruments to perfectly measure how fast light moves is impossible.

He does virtually the same thing with the Gravitational Constant, though he is more vague in his attacks. Suffice it to say that, just like for the speed of light, Sheldrake offers exactly zero evidence to support his claim.

Finally, there is why Sheldrake is really at the TEDx talk: To promote his hypothesis of “Morphic Resonance.” He bounces back and forth between calling it a hypothesis and a theory, but it doesn’t matter. There is insufficient evidence to say it has merit. I’m not saying he should abandon it. Sheldrake can hypothesize it and research it all he likes, and when he actually proves it, then I will applaud him as he accepts his own Nobel Prize. Until then he needs to be honest and say that his hypothesis is no more than that, but he doesn’t.

He talks about evidence. Evidence that isn’t really there. He says there is evidence that rats trained on a new trick in one location make it easier for rats of the same breed to learn the same trick in another location, yet he provides no references. (I went to his website hoping to find references there; the only remote reference is an offhand comment in one of his articles (not scientific papers) about how it happened long ago, but there is no mention of a paper confirming it and no indication that Sheldrake himself has attempted to replicate it).

He says the same thing of crystals. They have memories. Make a new crystal, and it may be difficult to do. Make a second and it is easier because the second crystal has the memories of the first. The third is easier still, and so on. Is there evidence of this? No. Has Sheldrake done any experiments on it? No.

One can only assume that dogmatic scientists hide in Sheldrake’s lab waiting to knock beakers from his hand should he dare attempt to create a crystal.

Sheldrake speaks well, and he is quite engaging, and he quotes a friend of his who has a catchy phrase about scientists and the Big Bang (”Give us one free miracle, and we’ll explain the rest.”). But the catchy phrase is in the end as empty as Sheldrake’s lecture.
Slim King
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Wrong again!!!! LOL
THE MAN THE SKEPTICS REFUSE TO TEST FOR ONE MILLION DOLLARS.. The Worlds Foremost Authority on Houdini's Life after Death.....
Smoking Camel
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Garrette. Thanks for your comments.

This kind of stuff needs to be interpreted on an intuitive level. There's many different layers to reality and our narrow minded senses can only percieve a small fragment of the whole. Have you tried getting making contact with your higher self or your spirit guides? They will no doubt help you grasp the reality of all of this.

Have you entertained the idea of a trip to Peru? Spend sone time with a shaman, Recieve higher wisdom and guidance form the vine...... Maybe we could organise a Café trip...... See if randi will sponsor it.
I no longer smoke camel cigarettes.
Pakar Ilusi
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Quote:
On 2013-05-30 21:35, Garrette wrote:
Quote:
On 2013-05-30 17:43, Smoking Camel wrote:
Here's an interesting take on "The science delusion" .the science folk at TED subsequently banned(?) the talk. It's 20 mins but well worth a watch.

http://youtu.be/JKHUaNAxsTg
I’ve got a lengthy discussion of Sheldrake’s lecture, but I’ll start with a short version for those who don’t want to read the whole thing (and I don’t blame you):

=======
Sheldrake speaks well, but his talk has at least the following flaws:

1. He moves between definitions of “science” without making it clear when he does so

2. He falsely attributes 10 Dogmas to science

3. He misrepresents changes in the speed of light and in the Gravitational Constant as actual changes as opposed to refinements in measurement

4. He presents his idea of Morphic Resonance as both hypothesis and theory

5. He claims evidence of Morphic Resonance but has no references for that evidence either within the lecture or outside it

6. He takes a Dawkins quotation out of context to misleadingly change its meaning

In short, it is not a convincing lecture at all.

=======

And here’s the long version for those of you with too much time and too high a tolerance for boredom and pain:

I’m afraid that I find Sheldrake to be far from convincing, and given his obvious intelligence, breadth of experience, and excellent education, I find it hard to be charitable regarding his motives for basic errors.

He speaks at time of “science” as a methodology, as an institution, and as a body of facts. The problem is he slips between them without making it clear in order to imply whichever definition fits his current point. He starts out saying

Science believes it understands the nature of reality in principle, leaving only the details to be filled in.”

Well, science believes no such thing as it is simply a methodology. As for individual scientists, the degree to which they think there are only details left varies, but if the majority thought there were no more houses to be built but instead only baseboards and carpeting to be installed, then no one would be discussing String Theory or M-Theory and no one would be using the Large Hadron Collider. Frankly, on behalf of the legions of scientists who toil every day both in the application of known facts and in the search of new knowledge, I take offense every time somebody who knows better (like Sheldrake) throws out this misguided insult.

Do you not think that any of the scientists that Sheldrake derides wouldn’t love to be the one to prove that the speed of light is NOT constant, that G is not constant, or even that Morphic Resonance is true? Fame and Nobels await such a scientist.

Sheldrake compounds his insult with the tired and mistaken characterization of scientists as people who “don’t believe in God [but] believe in science.” Do no scientists believe in God? If they don’t, does this automatically mean they are blinkered functionaries? What if they believe in a God different from the one in which Sheldrake believes? Are they still men of little mind? More than that, the idea of “believing” in science is nonsense. Belief implies a non-evidentiary position. Science is exactly the opposite. The methodology has proven to be effective (note: it has not proven to be perfect). As such, it has earned the trust of those who practice it as well as those who deride while enjoying its benefits.

Frankly, Sheldrake’s statement that there is a conflict between “science as a method of inquiry…and science as a worldview,” and that the latter “has come to inhibit and constrict the free inquiry which is the very lifeblood of the scientific endeavor” is ludicrous. Science is not a worldview. Science is, as he says, a method of inquiry. Even if it were a worldview, how does it inhibit or constrict anyone’s free inquiry? Sheldrake himself is free to conduct whatever inquiry he likes. The fact that he can’t support his conclusions with evidence is not indicative of a shortcoming of science but of his methods. He is a man made of souring grapes.

Sheldrake further earns my scorn when he quotes Richard Dawkins out of context. Sheldrake says that Dawkins called humans “lumbering robots,” and Sheldrake means it as an example of Dawkins subscribing to the evil scientific worldview. But the entire context of Dawkins’ remarks (from “The Selfish Gene”) make it quite clear that he was calling both the body and the mind together (remember that Dawkins distinguishes the two; it disproves another of Sheldrake’s points) a lumbering robot in their role as the vessel that allows the replication and therefore survival of the gene. It is not a trivial distinction, and Sheldrake’s characterization of Dawkins’ comment as evidence that scientists view everything, including people, as mere machines is simply and factually wrong. Moreover, Sheldrake is smart enough to know this. If he isn’t, he has no business making such a speech as is in the link; if he is, he’s being intentionally deceptive.

Sheldrake lists 10 “Dogmas of Science” in order to attack them. I won’t list all ten, but most are simply incorrect. I will list a couple of the major ones that are incorrect and incorrect in such a way as to undermine all of Sheldrake’s position.

Dogma #2: ”Matter is unconscious. There is no consciousness in stars, planets, or plants or animals, and there ought not to be consciousness in us, either, if this thing is true.”

While it is true that most scientists do not hold that there is consciousness in stars, planets, or plants, it is a minority of scientists who hold that there is no consciousness in at least some animals and certainly a negligible minority who think there is or ought not to be consciousness in humans (though most won’t separate them from other animals, either). Sheldrake is simply wrong, and as his attack on this dogma is one of the key pillars of his position, his entire argument falls here. Scientists, psychologists, neurologists, and biologists cannot fully explain consciousness, but its existence is not in itself a puzzle. Consciousness as an emergent property (and “mind” as an emergent property) is hardly new and is certainly not the means by which Sheldrake’s evil materialistic enemy is to be overthrown.

Dogma #4: The total amount of energy in the universe is always the same except at the moment of the Big Bang ”when it all sprang into existence from nowhere in an instant.

The first part of that is true in a broad sense. The net amount of energy (calculating mass in there, too), is zero, just as it has been since at least micro-seconds after the Big Bang.

The second part is only trivially true. “Nowhere” didn’t exist at the moment of the Big Bang because “somewhere” didn’t exist. Sheldrake may have meant “nothing” instead of “nowhere,” but it doesn’t help his case. “Nothing” can’t really exist. This isn’t a philosophical position; it is a consequence of quantum physics and its principles, specifically the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. I am far, far, out of my depth in discussing this, but I am knowledgeable enough to know that Sheldrake (who, though well educated, is no more a quantum physicist than I am) is out of his depth, too, and has missed a key point.

Dogma #10: ”Mechanistic medicine is the only kind that really works” therefore Governments ”ignore complementary and alternative medicine.”

In the United States, the National Institute for Health began sponsoring Complementary and Alternative Medicine Centers in 1994, and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 1999. In the United Kingdom, complementary medicine has been part of the National Health Service for years. Frankly, I don’t think the NCCAM should exist, and its track record bears that out, but the fact remains that Sheldrake is again factually wrong. The Government has adopted those medicines, and it did so long ago.

He is wrong about his other dogmas, too, at least most of them, but I don’t want this to be longer than it already will be, so I will skip the others and move on to physical constants.

Sheldrake spends a lot of time discussing the speed of light and whether it actually is a constant. To be honest, I don’t know why he spends time on this, because if it were shown that the speed of light isn’t constant it would mean that most of the models of the universe and cosmos would need to be adjusted. That would win people some Nobels and lead to even greater understanding, but it would not suddenly prove telepathy. Universal models have changed before; it is likely they will change again. Big deal.

But even if it mattered, Sheldrake provides exactly zero evidence that the speed of light isn’t a constant. His entire argument rests entirely on a misunderstanding of what he was told by the head of “Metrology at the National Physics Lab.” Finding the exact speed of light is a matter of measurement AND of correlating with other knowns in the scientific world. Sheldrake fixates on a non-controversy from 1928 to 1945 when the recognized speed of light shifted by less than an error bar from earlier measurements. He then misstates when the latest speed of light was settled on by saying it was defined into existence in 1972. Well, it actually was “defined”, but it was in 1983 and it wasn’t arbitrary. There was science behind the decision, science based on the knowledge that finding a perfect vacuum in which to use perfect instruments to perfectly measure how fast light moves is impossible.

He does virtually the same thing with the Gravitational Constant, though he is more vague in his attacks. Suffice it to say that, just like for the speed of light, Sheldrake offers exactly zero evidence to support his claim.

Finally, there is why Sheldrake is really at the TEDx talk: To promote his hypothesis of “Morphic Resonance.” He bounces back and forth between calling it a hypothesis and a theory, but it doesn’t matter. There is insufficient evidence to say it has merit. I’m not saying he should abandon it. Sheldrake can hypothesize it and research it all he likes, and when he actually proves it, then I will applaud him as he accepts his own Nobel Prize. Until then he needs to be honest and say that his hypothesis is no more than that, but he doesn’t.

He talks about evidence. Evidence that isn’t really there. He says there is evidence that rats trained on a new trick in one location make it easier for rats of the same breed to learn the same trick in another location, yet he provides no references. (I went to his website hoping to find references there; the only remote reference is an offhand comment in one of his articles (not scientific papers) about how it happened long ago, but there is no mention of a paper confirming it and no indication that Sheldrake himself has attempted to replicate it).

He says the same thing of crystals. They have memories. Make a new crystal, and it may be difficult to do. Make a second and it is easier because the second crystal has the memories of the first. The third is easier still, and so on. Is there evidence of this? No. Has Sheldrake done any experiments on it? No.

One can only assume that dogmatic scientists hide in Sheldrake’s lab waiting to knock beakers from his hand should he dare attempt to create a crystal.

Sheldrake speaks well, and he is quite engaging, and he quotes a friend of his who has a catchy phrase about scientists and the Big Bang (”Give us one free miracle, and we’ll explain the rest.”). But the catchy phrase is in the end as empty as Sheldrake’s lecture.


Wow, nice... Smile
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