Wednesday, April 08, 2009

More from the Huffington Post

Why What Frightens 'Skeptics' Frightened Einstein

by Philip Slater

"I'm fascinated by the fanatical zeal with which self-styled skeptics pounce on non-ordinary events and try to discount them--largely by the liberal use of words like 'preposterous'. Posing as 'scientific', these ideologues are clinging to a materialism long since discredited by quantum physics..."

21 comments:

Tor said...

Interesting article.

Not so interesting comments afterwards.

Informed skeptics are rare these days..

Tor

Dave Smith said...

Oh dear, prepare for more angry comments from 'sceptics' denouncing any speculation that psi may follow from quantum mechanics and how the million dollars still lies unclaimed. Someone has already used the word 'magic' in the comments section to describe the idea of psi.

To be fair, I think Mr. Slater should have demarcated speculation from established evidence more clearly in this article.

For example, the paragraph that begins,

"We are trained from birth to see things as disconnected..."

contains some interesting ideas but some of it is clearly speculation such as,

People with greater ability to communicate telepathically aren't 'gifted'--they simply haven't been as thoroughly indoctrinated.

Interesting idea but the way it's been written makes it sound like a claim based on evidence. Ammunition for the zealous debunkers I feel.

Robbie said...

Good article.
Nice to see more journalists reporting in favour of PSI, rather then against it.
Despite the negative comments afterwards, by people who think they know better then everyone else, I'd say this is another good step in the right direction!
Robbie

Dean Radin said...

It's not possible to please everyone, and in any case, that's not what science is all about.

Historically, practically every new scientific advancement that pushed our sense of reality was met with howls, so all the hot reactions we see now are just par for the course.

Roulette said...

Has there every been a good PR campaign to convince people that it's not so scary if some people can read some minds some of the time?

(sigh)

anonymous said...

"Historically, practically every new scientific advancement that pushed our sense of reality was met with howls, so all the hot reactions we see now are just par for the course."


I read somewhere recently, on the internet I think, that a field of science is ahead of it's time when it doesn't connect with anything else in science. (I can't remember where I saw that does anyone have a link to something like that?)

This may be relevant as to why parapsychology hasn't been thoroughly accepted by mainstream science. It's been at least five generations since there has been very good evidence for psychic phenomena. Is there any other field of science that has taken so long to catch on?

If research was focused on relating psi to other fields science would that would help it gain acceptance?

Maybe this is why there are NDE studies by doctors and some hospitals allow nurses to practice Therapeutic Touch (energy healing). Psychologists have discoverd past life regression by accident when doing age regression. When psi connects with medical science it can force it's way in more easily.

If this is right, then looking at meditators who can influence interferometers seems like a good approach since it connects psi to quantum physics.

Other approaches might include studying presentiment in athletes which would connect with sports medicine, studying the effects of after death communication on grief to connect survival research with psychology... etc...

Ross said...

It seems to me (and hopefully others) that the real "scientist" is rarely to be found these days (with the notable exception of Dean and others). If it's always going to be about defending what we think we know, against what we are testing empirically, then science might as well disappear. Oddly, this seems far too subtle a point for some "scientists"

Here's a nice quote:

"One of my guiding principles.....has been the scientist's motto 'Take nobody's word for it' (nullius in verba), a corollary of which is that if scientists as a whole denounce an idea this should not necessarily be taken as proof that the said idea is absurd: rather, one should examine carefully the alleged grounds for such opinions and judge how well these stand up to detailed scrutiny." Professor Brian Josephson, Nobel Prize Winner at age 22, Cavendish Laboratory Cambridge.

Now that is the beautiful scientific attitude. Without it, nobody should call themselves a scientist - even if they have the "credentials"

Dean Radin said...

> If research was focused on relating psi to other fields science would that would help it gain acceptance?

This approach does seem to be a trend in psi research over the last two decades or so, especially in the areas of mind-body healing, intuition, creativity, and personality studies. It is also why for the past few years I've been conducting studies exploring the role of consciousness in the collapse of the quantum wave-function. Those experiments are directly relevant to a hot topic in physics.

Tor said...

Dean Radin said:

It is also why for the past few years I've been conducting studies exploring the role of consciousness in the collapse of the quantum wave-function. Those experiments are directly relevant to a hot topic in physics.

I would say that these experiments you are doing are the hottest physics experiments at the moment, closely followed by the ones done by Anton Zeilinger's group.

Tor

FB said...

One approach is to recruit a qigong master and then measure his/her physiology.

Some Chinese researchers have accomplished interesting feats of qigong and published about them, but the problem is that one has to spend years immersed in qigong to become a qigong master.

So far as I know, the Yan Xin group stands out as having accomplished a lot, but frankly my Mandarin is atrociously bad and I can't keep up with the Mandarin-language publications at all.

http://www.yanxinqigong.net/

FB said...

"Not so interesting comments afterwards."

There is one good one by "John Michael" who linked to :

http://www.arlingtoninstitute.org/tai-presents-dr-harold-hal-puthoff

It's two movie clips, about 48 and 44 minutes. I enjoyed them.

Those clips mention the fact that remote viewing is effective and has been used for silver futures. If external qi can't convince people, maybe some business-minded entrepreneur can hire a large number of remote viewers to turn out predictions of the future on a for-profit basis.

Lawrence said...

One has to take into account the fact that parapsychology (and its implications) goes against the paradigm of scientific materialism, and so for this primary reason it is going to be rejected by many, those who hold dear to a worldview that is dependent on scientific materialism being valid. It is for this reason, rather than parapsychology is "new" and the rest of it, that it is rejected in such irrational ways. Remember that parapsychology in the West, as a scientific discipline, dates back to the 1880s. It isn't that new in other words. And psi will still be rejected by the mainstream a hundred years from now so long as the psychological and cultural need for scientific materialism and reductionism persists.

So parapsychology is not just another branch of science or knowledge on the "cutting edge", that needs mere time and more evidential data to be accepted. It is not like that, the cultural/psychological/ideological barriers to psi remain very strong.

Also given what goes on in the scientific world especially, where scientific reductionism and materialism rule supreme and brook very little if any dissent (one sees this especially in medicine or what passes for it), the opposition to psi (because of its implications) will remain staunch and pervasive. Psi is a great taboo (one of the biggest) in our culture because of the nature of our culture (materialistic, reductionist, competitive, hierarchical power structures etc) and psi cuts through all that, showing it up as false and ruinous.

So the resistance to psi is very strong in our culture as a whole, and it is important to recognise the resistance to the taboo of psi is largely subconscious. It is deep-rooted and so people often respond in the most irrational ways to the very mention of subjects like telepathy - the implications are too threatening and disturbing to a materialist worldview that is pervasive. This is why one cannot reason with most opponents of parapsychology, because reason has nothing to do with their worldview, scientific materialism is held to with emotional and ideological hooks, and people are not going to give up on it so easily, if at all. Remember that people are their beliefs, our beliefs are our very identities. So giving up on a belief is akin to losing one's identity, it is a very real kind of dying - and people will do anything to avoid that. This is why cognitive dissonance is so pervasive and why it works the way it does - we are our beliefs. This is of course why the responses to very real and significant evidential psi data is so often irrational and even simply nonsensical, and anything but scientific.

Dean Radin said...

What Lawrence says is exactly right.

I meant that psi was a new idea from the perspective of contemporary scientific thought. E.g., what we now call quantum nonlocality is not a new idea from the perspective of first person mystical experience. But from a scientific viewpoint it is radically new.

So with psi we're dealing with a double whammy. Most people are allergic to new ideas in any form, so that is one source of hot reaction. But with psi we're also colliding with basic beliefs about the structure of reality, and who and what we are. Smash these two explosive ideas together and no wonder we see emotional explosions.

Apropos, Charley Tart's new book The End of Materialism covers this topic in detail. I'll say more about Charley's book in a separate post.

Sandy said...

“Charley Tart's new book The End of Materialism covers this topic in detail.”

I’m really looking forward to reading Dr Tart’s book. I’m hoping it will help me solve my own issues regarding these topics. I have a lot of sympathy for the skeptical disbelievers. I know what they practice is bad science, and I want to be a good scientist, but that doesn’t make acceptance of psi any easier.

The idea that someone can be spiritual and scientific seems so unlikely.

Keep in mind that statement just came from a scientist who has had a number of anomalous experiences. If I’m having difficulties, no wonder other scientists have problems with this stuff.

Tor said...

Dean Radin said:

Apropos, Charley Tart's new book The End of Materialism covers this topic in detail. I'll say more about Charley's book in a separate post.

It is out now? I was waiting for this one. I hope it's the kind of book I can recommend to non-physical scientists, or laymen, as an explanation to what our physical world view is today. It's easier to give them a book than to give them an one hour personal lecture. And then they can also read it at their own pace, reducing the mental pain some feel when confronted with this.

Tor

Dean Radin said...

> It is out now?

It is indeed. I just finished reading it. Charley has had as much first-hand experience as anyone alive in grokking the tensions between science and spirituality. I resonate with much of what he says.

It's written like a textbook that one might find in a transpersonal psychology program, and it would be suitable for scientists or non-scientists.

Patrick said...

typical obnoxious know-it-all comments after the article -- all from ill-informed dogmatists who slow down scientific progress in the name of "reason"...

Bharat said...

On materialism:

I haven't read Dr Tart's new book but I have come to a conclusion quite recently regarding scientific materialism: It doesn't exist. If its own proponents cannot tell us what 'matter' is, the burden is hardly on me to accept it or try and argue against it. At the moment, the nature of matter is as coherent as the nature of Santa Claus. Granted, one day matter might be completely understood, but then again one day so might Santa Claus or meme "theory". Until then, there is no reason to take one more seriously than the others.

See 'The Self and its Brain' by Sirs Karl Popper and John Eccles (a philosopher and a Nobel-orize winning neuroscientist, respectively) and 'The Matter Myth' by Paul Davies and John Gribbin (physicists).

Ross said...

Anyone interested in the relationship between physics and consciousness might like to take a look at Vernon Woolf's work - www.holodynamics.com. This won't cut any ice with career sceptics, but then, by definition, what does? Maybe it will help if they think of it as a warm, cuddly, tentative hypothesis and not a vicious threat to all they hold dear.

Ross said...

Anyone interested in the relationship between physics and consciousness might like to take a look at Vernon Woolf's work - www.holodynamics.com. This won't cut any ice with career sceptics, but then, by definition, what does? Maybe if will help if they think of it as a warm, cuddly, tentative hypothesis and not a vicious threat to all they hold dear.

David Bailey said...

Bharat wrote, "I haven't read Dr Tart's new book but I have come to a conclusion quite recently regarding scientific materialism: It doesn't exist."

I think a better term for their belief, would be "mechanistic". They believe that consciousness must be produced by a mechanism - rather like a computer program - and thus cannot be fundamental.

I do agree that as you dissect scientific materialism it does rather fall to bits!