Awakening from the Meaning Crisis

With life better than ever, why doesn’t it feel like it?

According to Dr. John Vervaeke, “there is a recent and steady surge in the search for meaning. Interest in mindfulness, psychedelic experience, transformative and mystical experience, as well as interest in wisdom and the search into ancient philosophies, like stoicism and Buddhism”.

There is also an academic uptick and public interest to study meaning in life. Is there a unifying account for why this is happening? What is it about todays world that drives people in record numbers to search for meaning?

Distrust in every institution, apocalypse, suicide, cynicism, the imminent collapse of civilization, the decline civility, all of these things are pervasive and they are now taken for granted as inevitable”. But are they? Statistically this is the best time ever to be alive—why doesn’t it feel like it?

Fall Camp

For centuries we have been influenced by a dominant mythology that turned out to be inadequate, Yet we seem to be happier overall, living with a displaced sense of meaning vs no meaning at all. We are in transition to a higher level of consciousness and wisdom. Change is sometimes painfully inept at explaining itself, but one thing seems to be clear—humanity is seeking something better in frustration to form a cohesive philosophy that results in contentment.

Religion has been exposed—so now what? The head-game of Hebrew religion and faith as a virtue has proven inadequate to take us to the next level. Everybody seems to know better, yet at this moment nihilism seems to be a rising tide, while crystals, tarot, psychedelic experience, mystical driven merchandise is setting record sales.

The most depressing thing in the world is turning back to the things that got you right where you are now—but what alternative is there?

All italics Dr John Vervaekeprofessor of cognitive science, University of Toronto, “Awakening From The Meaning Crisis”

Stick Man

Author: jim-

One minute info blogs escaping the faith trap.

232 thoughts on “Awakening from the Meaning Crisis”

  1. I think the question is what do people want to do with their lives? I don’t think there is any escaping this question. Do you want contentment? Thinking about things will often have the opposite effect.

    For me I want to live a moral life. If as it turns out there is no such thing – oh well. I don’t mind trying.

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    1. Thanks Joe. True to all that. I was just reading your other comment on Mississippi Abortion and all the things that humans do to each other makes me wonder…is human life really sacred, as you say? Teaching that seems at odds in favor with any specie, let alone our own.

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    2. I guess the question is can you really live a moral life in accordance with rules and precepts.

      Seems to me the answer is obviously no if you’re doing it for fear of consequences of breaking them. That would mean morality is just a matter of being sufficiently afraid.

      If you only obey them out of respect for the person or institution they come from then it’s down to how you evaluate moral authority. So it’s not so much about virtue as it is good judgement. If you choose an authority that’s not particularly moral and follow it scrupulously then you’re not being particularly moral yourself. Worse, you’ve abdicated your moral responsibility to others and become an ethical automaton. You’d be no more moral than a robot that acts in accordance with its programming.

      So what about rules you make for yourself?
      Guidelines aimed at avoiding pitfalls and weaknesses in your own moral character would seem to be a good idea. But rules? How could you ever come up with a list of principles or some sort of ethical flow chart that would be of practical and timely use when faced with the often complex and urgent moral decisions we must all make on a daily basis. Can any rulebook possibly cover the circumstances of real life? Could there really be a categorical imperative? The one principle to put above all others in every circumstance?

      Consequentialism doesn’t seem to be much use either. We can never really fully know all the consequences that will flow out indefinitely in all directions from even the most minor moral decision. And at some point it’s probably going to come down to balancing a material cost against something like human life, health, trust or fulfillment. What price the pain of a child?

      Every decision we make has some sort of moral content and we’re making decisions all the time. We’ve got to have some way of deciding morally in real time in accordance with the unique and complex situations in which we’re constantly finding ourselves. It’s gotta be faster and more flexible than any rulebook could be. More practical than trying to anticipate the infinite consequences of even the smallest act. It can’t be rational or reasoned because real life is coming at us too quick from too many directions. It’s gotta be more instinctive and intuitive.

      So I reckon living a moral life isn’t something to achieve or attain, but a goal to constantly aim for while knowing we’ll never really reach it. Our morality has to come from within ourselves, not from an external prescription or calculated formula.

      So to improve our morality we need to be improving ourselves as moral beings, so the decisions we make will become progressively more moral. We need to increase our sensitivity to our own moral feelings and develop our capacity to act in accordance with them. And we need to be mindful of how we respond to the world and how the world responds to us, to ensure our own ethical instincts develop in accordance with how we live. Or can we dissolve the separation between ourselves and the world and enter a sort of moral flow state in which the self and the universe are one?

      Because freedom isn’t freedom from. It’s freedom to.
      Real freedom is the ability to act in accordance with what you feel to be right.

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        1. Lol, I was told “nice” is kind of a pansy word. Almost neutral.

          As with many other loaded words, “nice” is often used sarcastically in Australia to mean anything but nice. But to many in my circle it has the even more specific negative meaning of ‘po-faced liberal bigotry’.

          That arose from an early 90s literary scandal in which a bunch of prominent Australian arts luminaries awarded the country’s most prestigious book award to an antisemitic novel written as apologia for WWII Ukrainian Nazi collaborators. The author claimed she was Ukrainian Australian and the book was a lightly fictionalised account of the history she was taught by her family, but that was eventually revealed as fraudulent and she had no Ukrainian ancestry whatsoever.

          After the embarrassed committee revoked the award there was a discussion about it on an arts program on ABC Radio National. During the discussion a very well-heeled, scrupulously liberal broadcaster named Terry Lane reacted with horror when someone suggested the book had won the award not despite its antisemitism but because of it, as it had offered those on the committee a ‘polite’ means of justifying their own antisemitism.

          “But I know these people.”, quavered Lane, “They’re nice people”.

          So now when I or some of my friends hear a racist outburst from an Australian liberal couched ‘politely’ in humane and concerned terms (which is pretty often, especially when discussing the liberal racist Northern Territory National Emergency Response) we’re likely to affect a cultured, well-educated, ostentatiously virtuous tone of voice to say something like “Oh, that’s nice” or “What a nice person”.

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  2. I consider searching for meaning of life to be a waste of time. Living it is what matters. Should I attempt to figure out assholes like Putin? Ack! I’m thrilled to wake up every morning. That is all the meaning I need.

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    1. Could it be this search for meaning is that so many are just generally unsatisfied? Dead end job or one that you dislike, little free time to pursue any interests? It seems the happiest people have found their niche and are able to make a living doing what they naturally enjoy.

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    2. In my life, Eilene, not searching for the meaning of life is the true waste of time. We each have our ways of living, there is no need to insult eavh other with blanket statement such asyours above. We each must do as our expetiences dictate.

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        1. As I just said to Cabrogal, casual conversations can be loaded with all kinds of bombs. No insult taken. I would just like to see people be more aware of what their words mean. It is seldom what they intend.

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          1. So if you honestly think intention matters more than effect, why not allow the most generous interpretation of others comments rather than remaining so highly sensitive and prickly by assuming otherwise?

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            1. I’m not accusing you of saying anything other than presuming (by your defensive response) that a comment is intended as a means of imposing some belief on you rather than discussing a position you may not have considered. That’s what I mean by ‘prickly’; it indicates a preference for interpreting a different opinionated comment negatively when you yourself freely admit you have found this rarely to be the intention after the fact. All I’m saying here is why not presume any prickly feeling you may have probably doesn’t come from the commentator but from the way you interpret it. This is what I mean by ‘generosity’: assuming good intentions even if the comment contains criticism.

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            2. Further, the written word is sometimes difficult to interpret … other than from our personal perspective. Many years ago, I remember being taught to avoid using the word “you” when discussing issues. Not always possible, of course, but something I TRY to keep in mind. 🙃

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            3. Yeah, I’ve got a really bad habit with the rhetorical ‘you’. Been trying to break it for years with little success.

              One problem is that eschewing it can often result in anything I say being “all about me”. I think anything I say is all about me, because I don’t really know about anything else. But the stigma of making it “all about myself”, including the charge of “lacking objectivity”, still makes me flinch at keeping my observations in first-person singular.

              What’s it all about?

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            4. One of the things I (try to) do is substitute “you” with a more general term. Example: a previous comment included this: you cannot see. Instead, how about some people cannot see. See the difference? The point is made without getting personal. 🙂

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            5. As I said, Tildeb, we aporoach and see the world differently. You are missing my point, and I am certainly not seeing yours. If you do not mind my saying, you talk like you know everything, and that everything has to correspond to your way of thought. All I am saying is you don’t know everything, and you do not have the right to tell other people how to act, think, or feel. This is not about intentions, or generosity, or prickliness, this is about being open to differences. For as long as I have been reading your comments, your style has never changed. You write like you are the Authority on everything. And you are the authority on you. But that does not make you the authority on rawgod, or Jim, or Nan, or anyone. Your words do not leave room for argument, or even converse discussion. I guess you do not realize this, so today I am taking the time to explain it. There are people in this world who do not do Tildeb! They, like you, do themselves.

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            6. I write using the same style that you are not alone find overbearing: I explain what I think and why I think so. It’s what I hope is an informed opinion, one that offers something rather than just stated in a sentence or two. Often that subject involves a criticism of something written that I think is valuable to someone else to be made aware of. Regrading my own contributions, if anyone sees or offers something that I think raises a good point that is different from my own, I will not only change my position and feel thankful that someone bothered to make the effort but usually say as much to the person and thank them. I don’t think this is usual but it is honest. And I pride myself on trying to be honest.

              But I also realize that using this method of explanation requires length and an assumed willingness that someone will understand that my conclusion rests not at the beginning or middle but at the end of what I’ve written. That conclusion is how to interpret what preceded it. So, as Nan points out, this length and style increases the chances of misinterpretation – a likelihood that approaches certainty I think when you read anything on which I’ve commented. But it’s a chance I take because I think it’s worthwhile. This is how discussions that have differences of opinions can unfold and be helpful to everyone. That’s the intention. If it doesn’t help, ignore it.

              This length and style seems to motivate you to assign negative motives to me that simply aren’t true but demonstrate little if any willingness whatsoever on your part of the discussion to recognize your own contribution to this low esteem you have of me and why YOU think I write this way. I attribute this motive you have of me to confuse the criticism of an idea with criticism of the person expressing it… but use this as if a justification for responding in kind. You assign negative motive – or presume it is a personal criticism – and then you respond with a negative comment. And I am not the only target. You do this a lot so I call this ‘prickly’ and ‘defensive’. But you take even those pretty innocuous criticisms without any generosity of spirit. And that’s why I’m pointing out the trend and suggesting you try a different approach based on your own conclusion that bad intentions are actually rarely found. At the very least, the possibility that you create your own assumptions and mistake them for what’s true is an interesting possibility because it might be self revealing.

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            7. It is not the length that motivates me to to assign negative motives to you, it is the way you have boxed yourself into believing the only people worth talking to are those who believe in science the way you do. AT LEAST THAT IS HOW YOU COME ACROSS. If someone believes in something they cannot prove scientifically, such as the fact I believe in a spirituality that is totally and completely inaccessible to science at this point, I am unworthy of your attention UNLESS I force you to take notice of me.
              I am not saying you are a bad person, I am just saying you present yourself as unapproachable if a person does not have the same mindset as you. You say above you change your position if someone comes up with a good consideration that you have not thought of, but I would venture to say such a new idea must be within the boundaries of your science-based vocabulary. Outside that vocabulary it cannit exist for you.
              A while ago we agreed on something, I cannot remember what, but you seemed to take me a bit more seriously after that. But now that I have challenged your position again I am back to being persona non grata. And, yes, I have challenged others, but they are like you, based almost completely in science. You cannot see outside science, but that is where I reside. Science has its good points, but it is not the be-all and end-all you seem to think it is. Science has a long history of making mistakes, and when something new comes along it fights tooth and nail to hang onto that mistake until it is forced to change. Closed minds that have to be pried open. So far in 5 years or mire, I have not seen you change your mind once about even the possibility of something unscientific being possible. Jim’s site here is a melting pot, if you will forgive the expression. It is a mixture of science and what you call “woo-hoo” or some such DEROGATORY term. What is someone who does believe in what you call woo-hoo supposed to think. It is not woo-hoo to us. Here I cannot speak for anyone but myself, but am I supposed to ignore my own experience just because it is woo-hoo to you? I don’t think so! My experience is as valid to me as anything science gives you is valid to you. But because it cannot be proved YET, since science does not have the tools to prove it, you throw it away like the proverbial baby in the bathwater. What you see as negative is me FIGHTING FOR my corner of the cosmos, which you refuse to all8w to exist. But be assured, Tildeb, IT DOES EXIST! It is just not visible within your scientific box! And science is a box, a closed one…

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            8. Someone makes a claim about reality. So, I apply my question: is this true and how might I know?

              I know I can be fooled very easily. To help me not be fooled, I don’t use my beliefs to arbitrate reality. I’ve said many, many times that I try my best to allow reality to arbitrate my beliefs about it.

              When people use their beliefs to arbitrate claims about reality, how do they do this? Well, first they believe something, and then they apply it. Because the source with this method is ‘belief’, it is a faith-based method. This is how religion works, for example. Another very common substitute for ‘belief’ is ‘assumption’. I assume something is true, I will very easily assign that to a claim not realizing the source is not reality but my assumptions. And nowhere is this more prevalent than from people who experience something and assume that an interpretation based on a preferred belief is equivalent to reality. And by far the most common arena in which this happens is in the brain. Something happens in here, and people assume it is caused by something out there as if then experience is compelling evidence for whatever the subject interprets caused it. This is called testimonial. Again, a HUGE feature of justifying claims about reality that are, in fact, subjective assumptions. And again, this is a central component of justifying any and all religious beliefs… as if questioning the validity of the beliefs means a rejection of the experience. The experience is what it is; the interpretation of that experience is wide open to questioning.

              So.

              Along comes a claim about reality often based on what someone believes, or assumes, or interprets. Is it true and how might it know? Rather than go along with the claim, I check in with reality. What evidence is there from reality to support or refute the claim? That’s where my opinion about the truth value of the claim will lead me.

              What method of inquiry into how reality works is very productive and produces knowledge demonstrated by informing applications, therapies, and technologies that work for everyone everywhere all the time? Well, it’s the toolbox we call ‘science’. It offers a highly reliable method that can be tested. Most importantly, it’s a method that can used independent of imported and subjective beliefs, assumptions, and interpretations. That is really helpful in allowing reality to arbitrate beliefs, assumptions, and interpretations, about it.

              This is what I do when someone makes a truth claim. How much or how little does reality using the method that reduces my imported beliefs, my imported assumptions, my imported interpretations have to say about the claim? And to do this requires fuel, so to speak. It requires evidence. Any claim about reality that relies only on imported belief, imported assumptions, and imported interpretations (like testimonials) deserves much higher lower levels of confidence not because I say so, not because ‘science’ is hard taskmaster, but because reality by way of compelling evidence independent of wishful thinking (what I call ‘woo’) will demonstrate a much higher likelihood that a claim is probably true. Doesn’t mean it is true; it is more likely to be true.

              Now throw in how we understand reality to operate as demonstrated by applications, therapies, and technologies that work for everyone everywhere all the time (so far) and, if the two are in direct agreement, then the likelihood increases. If it is variable, the likelihood decreases. If the claim is in direct conflict, it’s highly unlikely.

              That is how I come at claims about reality. And I do this to try to not be fooled by others (whether the Jehovah Witness at the door honestly believes they are bringing The Good News! or not) but most importantly I try not to fool myself into going along with a belief that is incompatible with reality’s arbitration of it.

              That’s the whole show. There is nothing personal about it. I still have much respect for many people with whom I disagree about all kinds of things not least or which are religious and political beliefs I think are simply incompatible with respecting reality. That’s why I know that such beliefs are not an indication of personal value or moral character… because they can be changed.

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            9. I know I can be fooled very easily. To help me not be fooled, I don’t use my beliefs to arbitrate reality. I’ve said many, many times that I try my best to allow reality to arbitrate my beliefs about it.

              But you get that ‘reality’ is actually a construct, right?

              Your perceptions are formed just as much by ‘top down’ a priori assumptions as by sensory input. And no matter how consistent the internal rules you use for interpreting them, if you dig down far enough you’re always gonna hit tenets and axioms that can’t be proved either by the rules or by something outside them. They’re taken on faith.

              Even something as apparently fundamental as “I think therefore I am” rests on the unexamined assumption there’s a class of phenomena called ‘actions’ which require an ‘actor’. That’s the same assumption that led our ancestors to attribute natural phenomena to the actions of gods.

              alternative

              Don’t get me wrong. I think there probably is an objective reality (though that too is an article of faith upon which I construct my ‘reality’). I just know that I’ll never be able to purge my own beliefs from my arbitration of reality and they’re always gonna impose biases (e.g. confirmation bias). It also allows me to accept and use several overlapping (and often incompatible) bases of reality to try to come to grips with what life presents me. It’s not all that different to scientists who happily apply both relativity and quantum mechanics to try to interpret and predict data despite knowing they’re not compatible with each other.

              It also helps me keep enough humility in my models to, hopefully, be able to see and accept their limitations.

              There are more things in heaven and earth than dreamt of in any of my philosophies, so I use as many of the ones I have as I can apply to bring what I perceive into focus. It’s a bit like what jim talks about in his ‘Triangulating your Position’ post, except that when you’re dealing with something as multidimensional as perceivable reality you need more than just a tripod to get a stable base.

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            10. A construct at work… certainly from a personal point of reference, sure. But let’s be careful here. How likely is the construct to be the case and what tools do we have to evaluate this as best we can outside of what we personally naturally import to it? I think that’s a key question often shunted to the side or ignored completely in the name of faith based claims as if it’s too improper rather than a massive inconvenient to alter a favoured belief.

              So the term I usually use here in place of ‘construct’ is ‘model’. As in, “This is a model that I use to to navigate this situation.” The close up model is built on what seems to work and so the wider that model is able to work, for me and for you and many others, the stronger the likelihood the understanding that constitutes (or has built) the model is reflecting what seems to be the case. That ‘reflection’ is what I call ‘reality’; our models of understanding are based on likelihood so the higher the likelihood, the higher the likelihood our understanding is reflecting what is there (at scale).

              So what seems to be the case is based on scale, sure, but the point I think important is that it best understood as reflecting what seems to be the case rather than assembling what is the case. Beliefs assemble; the toolbox of science extract.

              And so ‘what seems to be the case’ – the model that seems to work the best over time and involving impersonal applications, therapies, and technologies that work for everyone everywhere all the time has enough consistency and reliability to be granted higher likelihood of accurate reflection of what is the case – a higher likelihood our understanding correctly models what is the case – than what someone ‘constructs’ that doesn’t have to meet this wider and much more objective challenge.

              In shorthand, it’s using the compare and contrast model to inform what understanding has been constructed.

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            11. I don’t think ‘model’ goes far enough.

              Yeah, you could talk about a particular scientific theory or religious dogma as a ‘model’ because it’s at least in part available to conscious, critical examination and so can be updated, discarded or augmented with other models if it demonstrates shortcomings.

              But a lot of my ‘reality’ comes in under the radar of that sort of critical analysis, even at the level of basic perceptions before I start thinking about what those perceptions convey.

              For example, I don’t see in 3D. I see two flat 2D planes with holes in the middle where the optic nerves plunge through the maculas. I don’t use that input to ‘model’ 3D objects. Their apparent images are constructed through mental processes. I can deliberately fool them via optical illusions and can get past them to the images they’re constructed from with various actions that will collapse their apparently 3 dimensions into 2 or reveal where the missing data in the blind spots is.

              BTW, here’s one of my favourite tricks for fooling 3D processing. Sometimes I make models like this up and leave them around the house to watch the reaction of visitors.

              Everything from my notion of myself as an individual entity to my perceptions of time and space is constructed from a combination of sensory input and mental processes that act to filter or mask reality sufficiently for me to be able reason out explanatory or predictive models for some of it. There’s loads of conceptual and processing bottlenecks in my mind that can’t even deal with the volume of stimulus pouring in from my sense organs, much less the full spectrum of ‘reality’ impinging upon me. So a lot more of my perceived ‘reality’ emerges from discarding data and selective attention than from what actually gets through to my conscious awareness.

              Nearly all of that operates beneath the level of awareness. A lot of it can’t even be forced into awareness with mental tricks such as optical illusions or practices that suppress the ego. So it isn’t modeled.

              Yes, I can use certain models to draw conclusions about things I don’t usually directly perceive, such as to find explanations for the results I’m assured have been observed during the double slit experiment, but that just makes me wonder how many other things currently reside outside my perceptions and whether my models account for them or ever could. And without direct perception how can I validate my models? Perhaps they’ve reached the point where they are completely divorced from any ‘reality’ and can only validate their own internal consistency.

              Most prospective ToEs currently pursued by physicists posit dimensions I can’t even imagine, much less observe and I’d be very surprised if any of them could even account for something as central to my ‘reality’ as my own consciousness.

              When a relative won the Nobel for physics the expert consensus was that nearly everything had already been scientifically explained. Once black-body radiation and the photoelectric effect had been sorted science would have its Theory of Everything. My relative wasn’t buying. So he had several other ‘models’ he used to try to understand his ‘reality’, one of which was a heterodox form of Anglicanism. The fact they couldn’t be reconciled with each other was of no consequence to him because he didn’t believe any of them reflected an absolute reality. They all offered different perspectives from which he could approach it without expectation of attaining it.

              When I consider how far the symbols we use to model reality – such as words or mathematical formulae – are from anything perceptually ‘real’ I’m humbled by the extent of the mystery before me. Those models might convey something, but it’s no more ‘reality’ than the pixels on my computer screen while I watch the news are the reality of the fighting in the Ukraine. Even the simplest aspects of reality, such everything needed to specify the speck of dust I just noticed on my screen, are completely beyond the scope of any of my models and – I dare say – any models humanity will ever come up with.

              Beliefs assemble; the toolbox of science extract.

              But the toolbox of science is assembled from beliefs.

              As I recently tried to explain to SoE (to no avail) mathematics – arguably the most fundamental tool in the scientific box – doesn’t derive or extract meaning from reality. It imposes it.

              There are no categories or classes beyond what we use to simplify our experiences for symbolic manipulation. There’s no “one orange plus one orange equals two oranges”. Every instance of what we call an orange is a completely unique entity. Physical entities aren’t greater or less than each other. They’re not similar or dissimilar. They just are. Our way of conceptualising them is what makes them into a ‘crate of oranges’ or a ‘bowl of fruit’. Mathematics is totally independent of that which it ‘describes’. It doesn’t describe intrinsic qualities, just possible interpretations. Categories, classes and relationships are semantic meanings we impose on reality, then manipulate with mathematics (or logic, etc).

              The ‘truth’ of mathematics may seem self-evident to us, but no doubt the ‘truth’ of many theological beliefs seemed just as self-evident to medieval scholars. Perhaps someday teachers will explain to their classes that people once ‘believed’ in mathematics and students will marvel at how quaint and ignorant we were.

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            12. But science has decided to expound on one line of text while the universe comes at us multidimensionally.
              I don’t think we can discount half the world for not biting on the western model of perception when itself is so limited to an elite line of text.
              So, a generous estimate says that physicists comprise 1/100 of a percent of the adult population. Let’s be generous and say another 20,000 are capable of doing QM with practical understanding, and we get up to 2/100% of the US adult population capable of working with and understanding QM, which provides zero input to the nature of consciousness and the limitations of perception.
              The model you suggest that works for impersonal applications has extended the lives of nearly all humans to live in a situation like we are living in today. There little humanness in it yet it is the most believable imagery of the random fluke we call existence.

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            13. BTW, here’s a quote I used to try to drive home my points about math to SoM. Some folk respond better to voices of authority than to reasoned argument.

              “As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.” – Albert Einstein.

              SoM initially dismissed it as a fake quote and when I pointed out it isn’t he instead dismissed Einstein with the charge he made primary school math blunders like dividing by zero (which has a tiny kernel of truth but is irrelevant). Not sure what you’ll make of it tildeb.

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            14. Oh, I can certainly appreciate exactly what Einstein means. The joy of having math teachers all around me all of my life!

              Math is an axiomatic system of representation. Quantity. Force. Motion. All kinds of stuff. That’s it. You know this. It does not map one-to-one to reality but reality can be mapped representationally to math. If not, well… pull a Newton and invent a new math! But the point here is that we use representation all the time and in many ways. Not just in math. (Our senses are conduits that sends various kinds of impulses – input – that our brains then try to interpret into a useful and accurate representation of our environment, whether our conscious attention is used or not.)

              So there’s always going to be an element of uncertainty as soon as we use any interpretive language, input, or impulses. There is always going to be an element of interpretation. This is why APPLICATION (otherwise known as ‘testing’ with feedback) is so important. The difference between reality and our representative system will always contain and must include uncertainty because of this difference so, if someone claims certainty, they have to remain only within the axiomatic system being used and not make that representative jump to reality.

              I understand all this. But I still insist that all this .representation when tested AND produces applications, therapies, and technologies that work for everyone everywhere all the time, then that level of likelihood and/or confidence in what is being represented deservedly should equivalently rise in likelihood and/or confidence. And that really is the language of science.

              In fact, and as an relevant aside, I wrote curriculum for math fundamentals specifically for the lowest capable students across 4 elementary years (bottom 5th percentile) and raised their understanding in 40 hours to the 95% percentile. I used the same curriculum with adult ed and had 100% graduation rate for high school math equivalency. If there’s one thing my scattered education has provided me, it is showing that the same idea can have many algorithms. This is very helpful when teaching math… which is really nothing more than showing the student that he or she already ‘knows’ the concept; they just need some guidance on how to show it (and probably receive all those marks that magically seem to make people ‘smart’). More importantly, one can check by doing the opposite and see if the ‘answer’ maps back to the representation. 100% results are almost always the case (unless there are bonus questions). One can only enjoy watching students many of whom once struggled with trying to learn algorithms to produce ‘correct’ answers suddenly ‘see’ that by understanding what this or that or the other algorithm represents is actually something they already knew but didn’t make the connection! Just like plugging in an electrical appliance, math when plugged into understanding becomes a very useful tool. But that’s all it is: a tool used to represent something. If the representation is insufficient or no longer applicable to accurately describe something, it’s as useful as a bucket of nails without a hammer. That’s why it’s a tool and not a window, a language and not a thing in itself.

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            15. I’m so glad you already get that tildeb. I feared I was about to run up against the widely held belief that mathematics is some kind of ‘code’ intrinsic to reality that we ‘discover’, rather than something we invent and use to impose representational meaning and order upon ‘reality’. That dogmatism has derailed many discussions I’ve had in the past.

              I’m also stoked that you’ve been able to pass that understanding on to students. That was something lacking in my own math education that put me into regular conflict with teachers. TBH, I paid very little attention to math textbooks, formulae or teachers until university, deriving my own methods for translating what I already ‘knew’ into mathematical representations I could then use to solve problems. It’s a skill that served me very well during my IT career. By my second year of BSc math however what I was studying had become sufficiently abstract that I could no longer ‘realise’ it into internal representations I could later back translate into mathematical symbols. So I had to start doing the slog work of actually reading textbooks, paying attention to lecturers and memorising formulae. That put me off my teenage ambition of becoming a professional mathematician someday. It’s too much like hard work.

              (Our senses are conduits that sends various kinds of impulses – input – that our brains then try to interpret into a useful and accurate representation of our environment, whether our conscious attention is used or not.)

              So there’s always going to be an element of uncertainty as soon as we use any interpretive language, input, or impulses.

              Exactly.

              But it’s not just ‘uncertainty’ of the kind that made Newtonian/Euclidean math inadequate to describe gravity and motion at very large scales. There’s inevitable a data loss – a loss of ‘reality’ – when we interpret something into symbols, whether linguistic, mathematical or anything else.

              For example an orange is something incredibly rich in sensory and conceptual data, including such things as ripeness, taste and history. But in order to have two oranges we must discard all the things that define those oranges as separate entities and retain only the features that fail to distinguish them from each other. We’ve lost a very large part of their individual ‘realities’.

              Even a fundamental particle (inasmuch as they can be said to exist) has more qualities – both immediate and historical – that distinguish it from other fundamental particles we classify as the same type than it does in common with them.

              The conceptual tools we use for science inevitably trim away a lot of ‘reality’ for the sake of convenience and practicality. They’re further limited by the frameworks – such as causality and objectivity – within which they operate. There will always be very large pieces of ‘reality’ they fail to come to grips with.

              What’s more our own mental processes do the same thing. They ‘trim’ what isn’t useful – mostly in evolutionary terms – in order to present us with a very limited version of ‘reality’ which we can use to meet our needs. There’s no reason whatsoever to believe such representations are complete, accurate or true. Just useful.

              I understand all this. But I still insist that all this .representation when tested AND produces applications, therapies, and technologies that work for everyone everywhere all the time, then that level of likelihood and/or confidence in what is being represented deservedly should equivalently rise in likelihood and/or confidence.

              Why would you believe this?

              The rules of grammar and techniques of painters produce applications that are useful to many people in many places for much of the time (I’d suggest the absolutes you use in your own formulation go well beyond the evidence) but that’s no reason for confidence they represent something real. They work. That’s good enough. So we hang onto them and reuse them. I’d suggest our models of reality are the same. And just as you can’t extract all possible utility of poetry from any particular set of rules I’d suggest you can’t experience the richness of reality from within a single conceptual model.

              Our models will always be representations that fall well short of the ‘real’ thing. So we’re better served by applying multiple models to our interpretations of reality. It’s probably helpful if those models are consistent within themselves but not that they must be consistent with each other. Trying to reconcile them all into a single, all-embracing model of everything is more likely to produce the sort of cognitive dissonance that impairs our ability to perceive what little reality is accessible to us.

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            16. I often turn to analogies to test ideas and see if the reasoning stays consistent. For example, if one substitutes, say mathematical algorithms as different ways of representing the same… ideas/things/concepts/descriptions… (I don’t know the right term here), we’re back to reflecting in various ways the same… whatever. The ‘whatever’ is what I’m calling reality or the real world or the environment in which we navigate. If we substitute linguistic grammar, I think it’s easier to grasp that different words from different languages can quite easily reflect the same… whatever. The ‘whatever’ remains the same.

              To create applications, therapies, and technologies that work for everyone everywhere all the time I think displays a higher likelihood of reflecting that reality than, say, testimonials contrary to all these models used for all these things that work this way. The utility of the working isn’t related only to the specific; it’s related as a means to TEST the modeled explanation to see if it works reliably and consistently REGARDLESS of who is using it. This is very strong evidence that what is being reflected is independent of any one person’s beliefs or interpretations. And this is the element that is rarely appreciated by those who wish to frame consciousness’ access to reality as only a subjective endeavor as likely to be the case for this person who believes this over here and that person who believes the opposite over there. It’s all equivalent; therefore all of us have equal access to separate realities.

              Well, no. And the stick in the mud here are these applications, therapies and technologies that work for everyone everywhere all the time. That tilts the likelihood of this belief or that one to have to comport. And that’s why I try my best to allow reality to arbitrate my beliefs about it. There is a clear Bayesian difference.

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            17. I think it’s easier to grasp that different words from different languages can quite easily reflect the same… whatever. The ‘whatever’ remains the same.

              Are you sure of that?

              One of the first things I noticed when I started learning different languages is that their translations into English via dictionaries and phrasebooks often diverged wildly from their native meaning. What’s more, there often was no linguistic or conceptual equivalent for them in English, even if they’d entered English as loan words only to be used to represent something entirely different (e.g. the difference between the Sanskrit and US English meanings of ‘karma’). Often it was only possible to learn the meaning of a word or phrase from within the culture that coined it and in relation to other words/phrases in that language.

              A similar example is the way having different words for colours doesn’t only change how we talk about them, it changes how we perceive them (this article is also interesting for its examples of how context changes not only meaning but perception itself).

              One thing I noticed during my years backpacking around Asia (particularly in India) is that immersing yourself in a different culture actually changes how you perceive reality. Not only do previous models of reality become inadequate at capturing or explaining your experiences, your way of remembering them also changes. After a month or so in India my memories of Australia would become distant and unreal – like the fading memory of a dream – but upon returning to Australia they would solidify into the foreground again while my Indian memories would become dreamlike.

              I think such changes forced upon models of reality goes a long way towards explaining culture shock and the different effects it has on people. To someone like me the shock of being immersed in a new culture is disorienting but usually exhilarating, despite some aspects being disturbing or frustrating. I think those who identify more strongly with their models of reality are likely to feel threatened by the experience, often responding with fear or anger and sometimes descending into debilitating paranoia. The latter are more likely to be attracted to brief, carefully curated guided tours that enable them to ‘do’ a country and collect the appropriate photos while remaining within an almost impervious cultural bubble. That’s probably easier and cheaper now that communication technology has not only blurred the differences between cultures but also enabled travelers to stay in close contact with friends and family at home while seeing the sights half a world away.

              The utility of the working isn’t related only to the specific; it’s related as a means to TEST the modeled explanation to see if it works reliably and consistently REGARDLESS of who is using it. This is very strong evidence that what is being reflected is independent of any one person’s beliefs or interpretations.

              I think blinded placebo controlled trials go some way towards putting that into perspective. The placebo group believe they’re receiving an active medicine and alleviation of their symptoms serves to confirm that. But they’re not. And we know from the nocebo effect that chemicals that have a positive effect on people who believe them to be medicines can have a negative effect on those who believe them to be poisons. Does this invalidate medical science?

              But even if something has a consistent effect across a large number of people regardless of their beliefs that doesn’t mean it reflects reality. You can put people into a stable room then display whirling images around the walls. This will disorient most people’s vestibular systems to the point where they’ll become dizzy and experience motion sickness. That doesn’t confirm they’re spinning. And as far as I know everyone experiences the magic dragon illusion and many people, regardless of belief or culture, can see 3D images in autostereograms. None of that demonstrates correspondence with reality.

              Reality as we experience and conceive of it arises from our mental construction of it and our belief systems. Change them sufficiently and our perception of reality will also change and if we don’t want to be ‘insane’ we must also change our way of thinking about it. What isn’t captured by those models and constructs doesn’t enter into our reality – or if it does it will be interpreted as an illusion or dream and quickly fade from ‘reality’ due to our inability to ‘anchor’ it with our symbol sets and classifications. I think my own ‘literal’ dreams are of that nature and I’m only able to remember them inasmuch as I can attach them to symbols and shoehorn them into a narrative. I think that’s why I can experience apparent hours of dream narrative in the few minutes between hitting the snooze button and when my alarm goes off again. A lot of it is back constructed into the dream to give it coherence.

              So to say that refining any one model enables us to more closely apprehend reality seems a very big leap to me, even if it enables us to make predictions about other things and share experiences described by the model. If you’ve got a purely physical model of reality you will perceive physical confirmations of it. If you’ve got a purely religious concept of reality your confirmations will be religious in nature. Both arise from faith.

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            18. Yes, language offers different kinds of descriptions and none are complete in describing everything. It all passes through shared meaning. So we have to be careful thinking the words (a specific lexicon) are the only or even main avenue of description that is ‘correct’. This leads back to another important point I raise all the time when it comes to trying to understand reality independent of our beliefs about it: how we think (what language we are using) determines what we think (our understanding of reality). I try to make the ‘how’ – the method – independent of me and my beliefs.

              In many of your articulate responses (thank you for that effort, BTW) you go between the personal and the impersonal and suggest what’s the case in the former automatically applies to the latter, and the reverse. This makes detailed responding to one point often quite difficult. For example, when I use the term ‘model’, you respond to it as if this is something at the personal level and then comment about how this can be insufficiently trustworthy, to which I fully agree in the point you raise but not in the sense in which I have used the term. For example, I think it’s relatively accurate to suggest a person’s brain assigns incoming stimuli (in whatever form) to functioning using an evolving map of one’s environment. This environment can be called ‘reality’ in the sense that the level of success in functioning in it indicates a level of accuracy of the evolving map. In this same sense, the encountered environment is reflecting how accurate the mapping has captured its points of contact. If we don’t map the coffee table but assume it is a large pillow, contact with it by our shin plays a role in helping us to make changes to the map. Refusing to do so but maintaining high confidence by exported belief that it is and remains a large pillow when it is in fact a sharp edged coffee table is not going to affect how the shin and the contact point interacts and sends relative input to the brain. It seems to me that this entire process is what you think I mean by ‘modeling’. It’s not.

              The meaning behind the term ‘modeling’ I use is in the form of an impersonal non individually specific explanation that describes generically the ‘what’ that is being reflected… not by a narrow spectrum examination by this individual’s personal interaction or that person’s alternative possibility but as a broad spectrum ‘understanding’ applied successfully by all.

              I understand we can’t ‘know’ one-to-one anything being reflected (reality) for exactly the same reasoning Einstein uses to separate math from reality. All we have to work with is trying to figure out – trying to model – ‘what’ is being reflected. Our beliefs in this case are basically irrelevant (coffee table? pillow?); what truly matters is the interaction that tilts likelihood this way or that (our shin’s encounter). So how well or how poorly the model (the explanation about what is being reflected) works in application not only for me or only for you but in general for everyone. That is the tilting factor that raises or reduces likelihood of the model being used: how well does it work generally? This is why I keep raising the importance of applications, therapies, and technologies that WORK for everyone everywhere all the time is an indicator that the models being used for their function is a far better ‘tool’ for figuring out what is being reflected (reality) than, say, the suggesting the chemical composition of a pill used to cause an hallucinatory and subjective testimonial is an equivalently productive ‘tool’. I think that’s a false equivalency because the likelihood of being a useful tool to reflect what is being encountered is by no means equivalent: the first is highly impersonal (the cell phone works based on our models – our understanding of radio waves and sending/receiving electronic signals applied – regardless if one believes fairies are transporting verbal messages around the globe almost instantaneously between these devices) while the second is entirely dependent on subjective interpretation (while tripping, I ‘saw’, I ‘heard’, I ‘felt’… and so on… which means…). The metric I use is likelihood. And so what I believe or I think or I wish or I have experienced has little to do with recognizing the important role of modeling and why I intentionally used this ‘tool’ to help determine my beliefs about reality.

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            19. Just found another cool video using illusion to demonstrate how much of a construct our visual perceptions are.
              I really love this stuff.

              On the one hand, visual perception is more information dense than other sensory input, so you’d expect there to be more shortcuts involved in processing it that take us further and further from the ‘raw data of reality’ (yeah, I know how misleading that phrase is).

              But, OTOH, the more ‘primitive’ senses are processed by ‘more primitive’ neural structures, but with the natural selection priority still on surviving and reproducing. So, smell for example, is a very sensitive chemical detector that enables us to distinguish (in theory) between something like a trillion different molecules. So while the bandwidth of smell is far narrower than sight its discrimination is much, much greater.

              So instead of simplifying the signal into something we can understand and respond to, the structures interpreting smell augment it. Scents not only produce conscious recognition of a particular odour, they – even more quickly – evoke an unconscious response by triggering old memories of previous times we detected that smell or even more visceral responses of attraction or aversion that seem to be at least partially genetically encoded. Because conscious reasoning tends to be too linear and slow for many survival responses what we get is a ‘gut’ response instead, which we interpret (retrospectively) as an emotion, instinct or intuition. So when we get a whiff of the sabre-tooth tiger sneaking up behind us we don’t need to think “Hmm. I recognise that smell. It’s a big nasty thing that eats people.”, rather we can go straight into fight or flight mode (I’d recommend the latter if it’s a sabre-tooth) faster than we can even think “FUUUUUUCK!”.

              So yeah, our sense perceptions aren’t about presenting us with reality and certainly not in a form amenable to reasoned thought. They’re about keeping us alive and fucking. We might then be able to do as Kant suggested and use reasoning on those sensory data-points to ‘triangulate’ (to borrow from jim) further data-points that are beyond our sense perceptions. But the initial data-points aren’t accurate representations of ‘reality’ and the ability to use reasoning – which evolved as a way of extracting extra utility from those data-points – isn’t a means of using them to discover ‘reality’. It’s all about handing down genes.

              So to say that reasoned ‘science’ is somehow validated as a measure of reality because it reliably and ‘objectively’ produces useful results is a non-sequitur. It’s an extended form of logical induction that helps us to stay alive and have kids that will do the same. But like all logical induction its utility depends heavily upon reliable repetition. At any time there could be a ‘black swan event’ that forces us to re-evaluate a line – or even a whole branch – of scientific inquiry right back to its fundamental axioms. Then we get one of Thomas Kuhn’s ‘paradigm shifts’ that completely alter the ‘reality’ that area of science has been presenting us. It’s happened many times in the past and there’s no reason to believe it will stop happening until science stops.

              So maybe you could argue science is ‘progressing’ us towards a complete picture of reality, but I’d suggest it’s doing so in the same way traveling along a highway is ‘progressing’ us towards the horizon.

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            20. Again, you’re going from the individual state and extrapolating that the same is true across the spectrum. Like you, I know perfectly well my senses can be fooled. Like you, I understand my individual responses to various stimuli can produce very skewed results of what has been encountered. I have some synesthesia that results in some weird behaviour/abilities (the most common, perhaps, is sunlight making me sneeze; the least common might be reading music – seeing it – like a coloured 3d landscape). So I understand what you’re saying about consicous and unconscious interpretations of input and why that makes encountering our environment more about our biology’s response than ‘reasoned’ induction.

              But…

              When a model of understanding aerodynamics is applied, it has nothing to do with our senses when a wing gains lift. It doesn’t matter what any individual sees, tastes, smells, hears, or feels when sitting in plane with such designed wings and a reliable power source: lift will be achieved. This understanding is modeling what we have independent reason to think will work reliably and consistently for everyone everywhere all the time (given the same conditions). It matters that the conditions in which aerodynamics apply that seem to exist completely and utterly independent and outside of us. Any one’s individual senses plays no role here. Any one individual’s interpretation plays no role here. What plays a role is the environment itself. And it is stable enough to allow an applied understanding of IT to provide the backdrop in which aerodynamics stays the same (given the same conditions). THIS is what I’m saying is central to understanding that a ‘reality’ exists independent of us. And we have excellent reason to give this claim high confidence not because any one of us says so but because the applied understanding BASED on this being the case works all the time. Without fail. So… what is being represented in the modelling – an independent reality – seems to be the case. If it weren’t, we wouldn’t have that consistency.

              Granted, at the very small level, our understanding breaks apart. But at this level, our understanding STILL represents something stable enough exterior to us and our beliefs to bet our lives on… and win. Every. Single. Time. That ‘working’ of applied understanding deserves high confidence. Claims contrary to it deserve extremely low confidence.

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            21. Have you ever flown in the fog in a small plane with your hand over the gyro horizon or artificial horizon? Your example is the exception to perception.

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            22. When a model of understanding aerodynamics is applied, it has nothing to do with our senses when a wing gains lift. It doesn’t matter what any individual sees, tastes, smells, hears, or feels when sitting in plane with such designed wings and a reliable power source: lift will be achieved.

              But the very notion of ‘lift’ arises from assumptions we make from what our senses present us (e.g. the concepts of ‘up’ and ‘down’ which have no meaning outside a gravitational field). And the models we use to explain those interpretations of sensory input also arise from assumptions we make about our sensory input.

              Let’s bring it back to earth (not) with another hypothetical.

              I believe the air and seas are packed with tiny, invisible cherubim. Airfoil shapes are particularly holy and when moved past cherubim in accordance with the correct rituals they will respond by flying beneath it and bearing it upwards. By varying the rituals with various shaped airfoils I am able to refine my model and improve the ritual so that others who use it will see better results. I might even be able to extrapolate to various shapes and aspects of ritual that are currently too holy to be performed given mankind’s current distance from grace, but as rituals and holiness are improved it will become possible to produce improved versions of the flying ritual. This serves to verify the presence of cherubim as an aspect of reality not discernible with our normal senses.

              Sounds completely divorced from ‘science’? Well it isn’t. The history of science contains many cherubim, from humours to phlogiston to aether to the ‘force’ of gravity. All worked perfectly well to explain observed phenomena and predict future observations (until they didn’t). All enabled technologies which worked to some degree to produce practical, reproducible 0utcomes regardless of the beliefs of those who employed them. Were they real?

              I’d argue it’s terribly conceited to imagine that just because modern science is more elaborate and results in more technologies that it’s closer to reality. Over my lifetime I’ve seen several established scientific theories debunked and shown to be wrong, sometimes catastrophically so. I’m even prepared to go out on a limb and predict that several current scientific consensus will be overturned in the near future, including that the shapes of galaxies shows the existence of dark matter, that amyloid plaques and/or tau tangles cause Alzheimer’s and that diagnoses such as ‘depression’, ‘bipolar disorder’ and ‘schizophrenia’ define or outline mental illnesses. They are cherubim.

              But I’d go further and state that all science is made up of cherubim. That ‘scientific progress’ consists of discarding old cherubim in favour of new ones that have greater utility. That cherubim are science precisely because they are based on faiths that can (theoretically) be falsified. And that to claim they represent or even model the very nature of reality is to move beyond the testable faith of science into the untestable faith of scientism.

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            23. I don’t think it’s ‘conceit’ whatsoever when models not only ‘work’ in application but act as reliable and consistent building blocks of understanding upon which more and more and more advances are made resulting in more and more applications, therapies, and technologies that – oh by the way – also work for everyone everywhere all the time independent of those who use this understanding in applied ways.

              What you’re describing is very much the notion widely accepted that underpinned natural physics. And this had very limited success for well over a thousand years and produced no reliable and consistent applications that worked for everyone. This was a time of widespread superstitious nonsense because there was really no obvious difference between such ‘physics’ and the vague and shifting will of gods and spiritual forces. These ‘explanations’ did not produce new insights: they were your ‘cherubim’.

              Then along comes Galileo who upends the cart not by creating modeled explanations but does one simple thing: he allows reality to run the show. He dropped stuff from heights and measured results. He did so from stationary places and moving places. He found out how hunters shooting moving objects became proficient. He drew pictures of what he saw in the night sky. He collected data first and then tried to figure out a model that would not just explain the data BUT accurately predict the same results IF the same conditions were met. His beliefs had nothing to do with it, although some of his models did not work out for just this reason! Of course, many people used the ‘failures’ as if evidence the method was equivalently uncertain producing ‘knowledge’ as assigning natures – benevolent and malevolent – to stuff for thousands of years and ‘explaining’ it away as ‘the will of God.’ Galileo showed us a method of using reality to arbitrate our beliefs about it… not to be ‘correct’ but to be neutral.

              It is the neutrality of this method that matters because it’s not based on conceit. The chemistry, say, understood and applied to boil water in Peru is exactly the same chemistry understood and applied in the Philippines. There simply is no conceit required because exactly the same fundamental understanding of chemistry is applied ten thousand, a hundred thousand, millions upon millions of different ways using exactly the same fundamental understanding. That understanding would not be the same and produce exactly the same results by everyone everywhere all the time IF something else, something completely independent of people yet absolutely stable, weren’t equally accessible to all. It is that ‘something’ that Galileo used to arbitrate his beliefs and that ‘something’ is the identical reality understood to cause all the rules we follow about aerodynamics to fly all kinds of things not because some unknown agents like cherubim are busy but because there is exactly zero evidence to support this alternate claim.

              And when you add in the overlap understanding of this exterior ‘something’ that backdrops our perceptions of our environments, we find synergy between chemistry, physics, and biology. The model understanding of living within the same material reality – no matter how weirdly it may seem to operate at extremely small focus – is so well established and so overwhelming used to common effect that now try to return to ‘natural physics’ model of creating realities by extending mind outwards – be it the minds of people, gods, or spirits – is a step back into the vast and timelessly alluring ignorance of superstitious nonsense.

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            24. What you’re describing is very much the notion widely accepted that underpinned natural physics. And this had very limited success for well over a thousand years and produced no reliable and consistent applications that worked for everyone. This was a time of widespread superstitious nonsense because there was really no obvious difference between such ‘physics’ and the vague and shifting will of gods and spiritual forces. These ‘explanations’ did not produce new insights: they were your ‘cherubim’.

              Not sure what you’re trying to say here. It might help if you pinned down dates for your “well over a thousand years” that “produced no reliable and consistent applications that worked for everyone”.

              Are you suggesting that the avoidance of bad smells such as sewage and decomposition and the eventual development of medieval plague masks that arose from and informed the theory of bilious humours didn’t reliably and consistently protect people from infection?

              Are you suggesting that incorrectly conceptualising gravity as a force doesn’t still enable artillery computers to accurately drop high explosives onto targets reliably and consistently?

              Are you suggesting the many millennia of pre-Enlightenment and Indigenous inquiry and mythopoetic theorising didn’t result in uncounted reliable and consistent applications that worked for everyone; from the avoidance of foods with high health risks such as pork and shellfish to the use of quinine to prevent and treat malaria (or willowbark as an anti-inflammatory pain relief) to stories of bunyips that probably saved the lives of many thousands of Aboriginal children by keeping them from wandering alone near dangerous bodies of water?

              The long-lived memes you call ‘superstitious nonsense’ were developed and propagated in the same ways as the ones you call ‘scientific theories’, by applying human observation and intellect to phenomena so as to provide responses that could predict and influence outcomes in constructive ways. The responses that didn’t produce reliable, consistent results eventually fell by the wayside while the others continued being used, typically being enshrined into cultures with explanations that were no more or less superstitious than many that now revel in the highfalutin label of ‘scientific theory’.

              With the benefit of hindsight we can see that some – such as the practice of bleeding for medical purposes or inducing insulin shock for mental health purposes – were very ill-advised. And doubtless many of our current scientific theories will be looked upon as equally ill-advised someday, unless they are so ill-advised there will soon be no-one left to look back upon the follies of their ancestors.

              And when you add in the overlap understanding of this exterior ‘something’ that backdrops our perceptions of our environments, we find synergy between chemistry, physics, and biology.

              You do get there’s nothing exterior about the categories “chemistry, physics, and biology” right?

              They’re specialist categories we impose for subdividing aspects of knowledge we develop using very similar tools and theoretical frameworks, not divisions inherent in the universe. The fact they overlap and support each other isn’t synergistic because they’re not really different things. The way knowledge or procedures from one category often have utility in others is no more coincidental than that some of the techniques used to grow beans can also be used to grow tomatoes.

              My ancestors used something English speakers call Songlines to maintain cultural cohesion, navigate vast distances, find and prepare food, govern diplomatic relationships between bands and tribes, regulate marriages to prevent inbreeding, define rules of behaviour and much, much more. Though all of these things appear at least as different from each other as physics from biology a single Dreaming song would often have application across several of these categories. And they very definitely produced reliable and consistent results that worked for everyone, including lost or fleeing Europeans who had no understanding of the principles underlying them.

              Simply elevating your own belief system above that of others by virtue of your own value system and imagining it thereby objectively superior is incredibly chauvinistic. Claiming it has a unique handle on the nature of reality is approaching the sort of megalomaniac delusions that signify a fanatic.

              “Scientism is the view that science and scientific method are the best or only objective means by which people should determine normative and epistemological values, or that the natural sciences constitute the most authoritative worldview.” – from the Wikipedia entry on ‘Scientism’.

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            25. Science is an umbrella term that describes an approach or a method of inquiry different from other kinds of inquiry. A common substitute for ‘kinds of inquiry’ is ‘ways of knowing’. In philosophical terms, science is a method that requires methodological naturalism (MN), meaning the tools of inquiry being employed must be able to link causal claims with causal effect. That effect – to be known – requires ‘stuff’ that can be affected.

              Now, as soon as one tries to describe this method, the immediate charge is ‘scientism’, as in a belief similar to a religious belief is being imported. And so any claims called ‘scientific’ magically become equivalent to any belief claim whatsoever. That’s what I sense is happening here. And under this umbrella of equivalency, any and all claims are equally valid. The claim of cherubim causing lift is equivalent to what we call aerodynamics, as if the two are different only by philosophical assumptions.

              This is dishonest because the ‘unscientific’ claim suggesting cherubim, for example, (that appears to be similar but isn’t) absolutely fails to demonstrate the link of causal effect. It can’t even produce a cherubim! So it becomes a word game, as if ‘science’ is just an equivalent word game. Using this method of painting false equivalencies by playing word games is no different a claim regarding cherubim than saying ‘god did it’. It explains nothing. All inquiry ends. It’s a just-so story painted as if equivalent by ONLY using effect and then pretending the cause squinted at just so is ‘just as likely’.

              In contrast with this failed methodology of only selecting effect and calling all methods to explain it ‘equivalent belief’, the method of science requires causal effect between this demonstrated ‘stuff’ here and that demonstrated effect on ‘stuff’ there to be consistently and reliably demonstrated as undergoing causal change… not for this ‘believer in scientism’ here or that ‘believer in cherubim’ there but as part of a larger picture – the reality we share – to ‘explain’ to ‘model’ how this causes that.

              Additionally, the same method called science then BUILDS on this-causes-that to this other thing, this other possibility, this other related area, and builds new this-causes-that explanations that then lead to the next and the next and the next and the next…. That’s a productive method of inquiry: one that build impersonal knowledge. That is not an equivalent religious kind of belief. Pretending it is I think serves only one master: that religious belief is ‘another way of knowing’ when it is not. It has nothing to do with knowing and everything to do with believing. It is a kind of apologetics that acts only to undermine the acquisition of – in philosophical terms, justified true belief – knowledge. So isn’t it handy that we can dismiss the need for demonstrating knowledge by claiming those who do so worship at the alter of ‘scientism’… because, hey, they’re just believers (from-a-different-mother) too!

              Now this is where the individual part comes back into play, as if passing along knowledge in a song or ceremony or tradition somehow questions the method called science. It doesn’t. How about indigenous knowledge of plants and animals told in story form? It doesn’t. How about navigation by story of celestial characters? It doesn’t. The form of knowledge should not be confused with a word game altering it into a religious kind of belief; what’s important is whether it is justified true belief. So it’s the ‘justified’ part that is important and not the ‘belief’ part touted to be equivalent.

              I shouldn’t need to have to say any of this in 2022 transmitted through electrons in wires and waves to different parts of the world simultaneously. These machines and technology are not a productive of our personal beliefs: these are a series of applications and technologies premised on what I’m talking about, namely, shared knowledge of a singular causal reality built upon a shared understanding of it. No amount of false equivalencies and word games will alter this justified true belief in this scientific model of inquiry we use to function in this shared reality.

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            26. Science is an umbrella term that describes an approach or a method of inquiry different from other kinds of inquiry. A common substitute for ‘kinds of inquiry’ is ‘ways of knowing’. In philosophical terms, science is a method that requires methodological naturalism (MN), meaning the tools of inquiry being employed must be able to link causal claims with causal effect. That effect – to be known – requires ‘stuff’ that can be affected.

              I think you’ll find all belief systems use at least partially unique methods of inquiry – some more different to both science and theology than they are from each other – to link causal claims to causal effects. And the notion effects require ‘stuff’ that can be affected is what led to phlogiston and aether theories.

              Now, as soon as one tries to describe this method, the immediate charge is ‘scientism’, as in a belief similar to a religious belief is being imported.

              Huh?
              I’ve got no problems with the scientific method when it’s applied to scientific problems. Just like I’ve got no problems with the methods of carpentry when applied to building stuff. Using a tool for something it’s not suited for is a problem, but that’s not scientism (though scientism demands that science be used that way).

              Scientism is believing science can be used to solve all problems, that it’s the only correct method for deriving values and epistemological principles and the most authoritative worldview for discovering and defining what’s real.
              It’s a religion.

              The claim of cherubim causing lift is equivalent to what we call aerodynamics, as if the two are different only by philosophical assumptions.

              You missed my point.

              I wasn’t trying to equate my ‘cherubim theory’ with aerodynamics. Just refuting your suggestion there’s anything unique about current scientific theories in being able to produce explanations to fit observations and using them to develop technologies for which it “doesn’t matter what any individual sees, tastes, smells, hears, or feels when sitting in plane with such designed wings and a reliable power source: lift will be achieved.”

              I haven’t tried to think it through thoroughly but my guess is that aerodynamics will produce more elegant and conservative explanations for a wider range of phenomena than does cherubim theory, but that doesn’t mean it accurately reflects reality. It just means it fits a lot of the perceptions of phenomena that we consider important. So far. Because it’s science we have to remain open to the possibility it may be completely refuted by future observations and replaced with another theory that better fits the tiny, distorted fraction of reality we can observe or conceive of.

              It can’t even produce a cherubim!

              Dark matter theory is yet to produce even a subatomic particle of dark matter. Is it unscientific?

              String theories can’t demonstrate the existence of the extra dimensions they rely upon to explain observations. Are they unscientific.

              Quantum theory can’t demonstrate the existence of any physical correlates to a wave function. Is it unscientific?

              Using this method of painting false equivalencies by playing word games is no different a claim regarding cherubim than saying ‘god did it’. It explains nothing.

              Not at all. By observing the phenomena attributable to cherubim I’m able to use them to explain a wide range of other observations and refine the rituals required to put cherubim to practical use.

              For example, by setting a flame on a platform hanging beneath a large bag I’m able to burn cherubim’s butts, prompting them to fly rapidly upwards into the bag and provide lift to the whole platform. The shimmering effect seen above flames is caused by the rapid upwards movement of hundreds of invisible, outraged cherubim.

              the method of science requires causal effect between this demonstrated ‘stuff’ here and that demonstrated effect on ‘stuff’ there to be consistently and reliably demonstrated as undergoing causal change

              It absolutely does not. Cause and effect is never provable. It can only be inferred by induction. “It has happened thusly many times under these circumstances so it is likely to happen thusly again under similar circumstances”. If the correlation occurs consistently enough you can produce a theory that it’s causal and perhaps even use it to some benefit, but you can never definitively link cause to effect. Check out Hume. Or processism as an alternative to causality.

              It has nothing to do with knowing and everything to do with believing.

              All knowledge is just castles in the sky built on foundations of faith. If you accept the unprovable axiom that everything is matter-energy and space-time emanating from a big bang you’ll use that to derive different knowledge to if you accept the universe is an expression of the will of a divine creator. Knowledge derived from some belief systems may have more practical applications than others, but that doesn’t mean they correspond more closely with reality.

              I can use my knowledge about the Starship Enterprise and the lore of Star Trek to produce further knowledge about its likely tactics and effectiveness in a one-on-one with a Klingon K’t’inga class battlecruiser. Doesn’t mean any of it’s grounded in reality.

              the acquisition of – in philosophical terms, justified true belief – knowledge

              I think you’ll find Edmund Gettier blew the concept of justified true belief out of the philosophical water in the 1960s. Epistemologists like Nozick who still hold to jtb can only do so by abandoning causality.

              Now this is where the individual part comes back into play, as if passing along knowledge in a song or ceremony or tradition somehow questions the method called science. It doesn’t.

              It’s not supposed to. It’s supposed to demonstrate science doesn’t hold a uniquely privileged position in being a belief system which produces “reliable and consistent applications that worked for everyone” and uses cross-category synergies to generate, systematise and transmit knowledge.

              I shouldn’t need to have to say any of this in 2022 transmitted through electrons in wires and waves to different parts of the world simultaneously.

              Actually neither energy nor information is carried by electrons in wires. It’s carried by the resultant electric and magnetic field the movement of electrons produces. Well, that’s the theory at least.

              these are a series of applications and technologies premised on what I’m talking about, namely, shared knowledge of a singular causal reality

              You’re preaching scientism again.

              Our technologies are premised on systematised, shared knowledge of what has worked in the past and therefore is likely to work in the future. In many cases that has nothing to do with science (it isn’t necessary to have a phlogiston or redox theory to build and use a campfire). They say nothing about your hypothetical Singular Causal Reality.

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            27. Oxford English Dictionary
              Rhetoric: ​ (formal, often disapproving) speech or writing that is intended to influence people, but that is not completely honest or sincere.

              I raise methodological naturalism, you substitute philosophical naturalism and call it scientism.
              I raise likelihood, you ignore it.
              I raise causal effect, you substitute belief system.
              I raise applied tiered knowledge demonstrated through application, you substitute foundations of faith.
              I raise Galileo (the giant upon whose shoulders Newton admittedly stood), you dismiss with Hume.

              And so on, and so on, and so on. It’s a never-ending and non productive rhetorical approach. It’s not honest.

              These are just a few of the false equivalencies I criticize to pretend ‘other ways of knowing’ produces EQUIVALENT knowledge as the method of science goes into how reality seems to operate independent of any one person. That is the controversial pivot point around which I have been trying to make clear: if reality were not independent of individuals, if this claim were true, if it were the case that reality is dependent on the the individual, then our scientific understanding is absolutely and utterly wrong in every single application, therapy, and technology because they have no basis upon which to work.

              That’s really what you’re arguing against.

              If successful in your quest here to ‘prove me wrong’ that we share a common reality and the method of science demonstrates this very clearly, then the result is that no one has any clue how anything anywhere works. It just so happens to work but we have no clue why because, hey, we don’t share a common reality and we certainly know nothing about it. In fact, we can’t possibly. (Phlogiston and aether!) That’s where your rhetorical technique is trying to lead us.

              Well, by all means, lead yourself there. Convince yourself that you just so happen to know better than… well, at the very least every honest scientist who has ever lived. I’m sure in rhetorical terms that’s equivalently likely!

              Maybe you’ve convinced yourself your approach to undermine or ignore or misrepresent every single point I’ve tried to raise using rhetoric is somehow worthwhile, somehow enlightening, somehow beneficial, but I find the inherent dishonesty by embracing and championing false equivalencies to accomplish the task you’ve set for yourself quite disappointing. Using intelligence and ability in language to knock down rather than build up shared understanding is a destructive waste of potential in my estimation.

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            28. Very strange how AI in driving goes along with this ‘belief’. How does that work, I wonder? And, of even greater mystery, why does this exported (let’s call it) reality go along with the projected faith?

              Oh, I know: godidit!

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            29. I think my refusal to adopt scientism as an absolutist faith arises partly from my family history – artists and mystics on one side, scientists and technologists on the other – but more so from my science education.

              I studied for my BSc double major in physics and psychology from 1979 to 1981. Since then over half the ‘science’ I learned in psychology has been utterly discredited and debunked, not least the ‘harder’ neurological side of it. Not just developed, refined, superceded or updated but completely trashed. Much of it is now considered abusive.

              It included neurological theories explaining the ‘mental illness’ of homosexuality which led to surgical methods of ‘curing’ it that were still in use in Australia through to the 80s, including by Australia’s then most respected psychiatrist, Dr Harry Bailey, who also killed upwards of 30 of his patients with completely ineffective (and now illegal) deep sleep therapy.

              I was also taught the serotonin theory of depression and dopamine D2 pathway theory of psychosis as cutting edge science. The first had been discredited by the early 90s and the second barely a decade later, but both are still used to justify involuntary drug treatments that can’t be shown to benefit patients.

              And it was only after getting my degree that I discovered that recovery rates for those treated for psychotic illness and major depression are no better now than they were in the 1920s and suicide rates for young Australians track very closely to prescription rates for antidepressants (which carry a less specific suicide risk warning here than the FDA mandated black box warning in the US).

              Yet this is considered a science. Does it ” work for everyone everywhere all the time independent of those who use this understanding in applied ways”?

              I’m convinced there is so little progress in practical mind science technologies because they’re approached as ‘sciences’. They adopt the necessary scientific veneer of objectivity, reductionism and rationalism to the mind – which is overwhelmingly subjective, holistic and irrational – and in doing so not only fail to make significant progress or produce durable theories but are just as likely to inflict horrendous abuses on patients as provide therapeutic assistance.

              Psychiatry and psychology are what you get when you use the ideology of scientism to drive scientific over-reach into practices and areas of knowledge for which it’s singularly ill-suited. Biology and chemistry are routinely applied ‘synergistically’ to psychiatry in order to rationalise the continuation of treatments that don’t consistently work and are just as likely to harm as help. And despite their utter failure to “work for everyone everywhere all the time independent of those who use this understanding in applied ways” they’re still almost universally considered to be ‘science’ and are being imposed upon cultures and people who have far better track records of dealing with emotional and psycho-social disturbances than do Western mind scientists.

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            30. I would like to ask you, 2nd person singular, probably the stupidest thing anyone will ever ask you to do.
              You say you depend on things being “reflected” to you, or at you. Would you agree relections can bring mirrors to mind. Mirrors reflect. To see a reflection one is probably looking at some kind of reflective surface. Now, whatever you are looking at in that reflection, try looking at it through a lens, microscopic, telescopic, magnifying, or whatever. Is what you are looking at through the lens the same as looking into the mirror? You may argue you are seeing the same object, just seeing different aspects of it. But, no way are you “seeing” exactly the same thing. It has changed.
              Now, instead of a mirror, or a lens, even, look through a prism. What you see are “rainbows of lights.” Are you seeing that same object, or vista? Your mind knows you are, but your eyes are seeing something completely different. No matter what your mind knows, your eyes cannot be fooled. They see light.
              The thing is, in each instance, you are looking at the very same thing, reality. But, by changing how you view that reality, you are seeing different things.
              To only look at reflections to determine your view of reality, you are dismissing other views of that reality. You can “believe” your mind, or you can believe your eyes, but can you believe both?
              When I see reality, I don’t just use one viewpoint, or one method. I try to look with eyes, mind, and yes, spirit, because I kmow how to look with all three states of being, whether you believe in them or not. Reality has more states than you can see, according to the way you communicate. I am not going to argue what you see, I can see those same things. But I can see more than you do, because I allow myself to see more. I do not constrict myself wihhin a box, as you do. I keep myself open to all kinds of possibilities. I wish you could do the same.

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            31. Tildeb asks … You can “believe” your mind, or you can believe your eyes, but can you believe both?. Seems to me the two work together.

              But essentially, when push comes to shove, we “believe” what we want to believe … even IF our eyes and/or mind may tell us otherwise. Witness: Christians.

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            32. Lol. That was me asking that of Tildeb. Eyes and mind are not the only ways to see. Spirit is the third way.
              Yes, we believe what we want to believe, but Tildeb refuses to see “believe” as an option. He knows he sees reality, but all he sees is “HIS” reality.

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            33. You say, “You say you depend on things being “reflected” to you, or at you.”

              Not what I’m saying. The consistency between applications and the explanations is a really important arbitrator of any views you OR I might raise as a possibility.

              You say, “To only look at reflections to determine your view of reality, you are dismissing other views of that reality.”

              Not the case. Not what I’m saying. I’m pointing out repeatedly that something doesn’t align not with ME but with how we understand reality to operate AND all the applications that work based on that understanding. It’s not about me.

              You say, ” Reality has more states than you can see, according to the way you communicate.”

              No, this is according to what you think I’m saying. My ‘seeing’ has nothing to do with it. If other states exist contrary to our understanding, then how do they factor in to how these applications continue to work? Adding a layer of, say, spirituality to the operation of aerodynamic lift doesn’t do anything to either further explain what’s going on OR affect lift in any way. So the claim is empty of real world evidence for it. It’s just added BECAUSE it adds nothing knowledgeable or practical or useful or insightful or anything that causes affect. It’s like praying.

              You say, “I do not constrict myself within a box, as you do. I keep myself open to all kinds of possibilities.”

              I am not doing any constricting. Reality is doing the constricting. You keep telling me it’s me! But it’s not. And so it is reality that is constricting all kinds of possibilities that annoys you so much. I’m just recognizing that conflict. So I try to keep myself to respecting what reality has to say about these possibilities (and claims about reality people make based on the term ‘possible’) and award a probability instead. Probability also means likelihood and so if a possibility aligns with reality, the likelihood – the probability of this being the case – is increased whereas if the possibility conflicts with reality (and how it operates according to stuff that works reliably and consistently based on that understanding) then the likelihood is reduced and the confidence I have in that possibility is lowered.

              But the essential part of all this is that this impersonal Bayesian reasoning I strive to use seems to evade your grasp, and so you continue to think that whatever I believe is an equivalently personal and subjective belief – from an equivalent possibility – that must agree with my interpretation of my personal senses. I can’t seem to shake you from believing this accurately describes me, what I think, or is the ground of dissention between us. If I could shake you into understanding, you would not be saying the kinds of things you say about what you think I mean.

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            34. But the essential part of all this is that this impersonal Bayesian reasoning I strive to use seems to evade your grasp

              Might I suggest that Bayesian reasoning eludes your grasp, tildeb?

              If you’re going to apply prior probability distribution to your evaluation of new evidence you need some way of broadly quantifying it.

              So to, for example, apply Bayesian analysis to the likelihood of the laws of aerodynamics being overthrown you need to be able to broadly sample comparable previous scientific theories to estimate the relative frequency at which they’ve been overthrown in the past.

              Philosophers of science such as Kuhn and Popper would doubtless define science and scientific progress in terms of the potential for theories and paradigms to be overthrown. You, on the other hand, seem to define science in accordance with what you believe to be true or real. Any refuted theory or paradigm – whether refuted years, decades, centuries or millennia ago – is no longer ‘science’ and so need not be incorporated into your probability distribution.

              There’s no way to quantify an objective prior as to whether a scientific theory is likely to be overthrown as there’s noi objective way of quantitatively evaluating past and present scientific theories. So in applying Bayesian inference to the possibility of any current scientific theory or paradigm being overthrown your a priori odds so diffuse as to be uninformative.

              Your invocation of Reverend Bayes is yet another example of appealing to an expert in an attempt to lend bogus authority to your own opinions.

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            35. Oh for crying out loud, cabrogal, I reference Bayesian reasoning to indicate likelihood rather than projected certainty. Of course you would latch on to this as if I am drawing upon authority in a misguided attempt to thwart criticism of MY understanding of MY science, MY doctrinal belief, MY interpretation of MY reality.

              Again, pure rhetoric eliciting the response you want from others rather than an honest referral to my actual position. This is why I find this tedious because my corrections in how you are intentionally interpreting what I’m saying to fit into your repackaged facsimile of it to show others that I’m ‘wrong’ serves only to stroke your ego. What you’re doing is dishonest and insincere.

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            36. I don’t think this is the point of cabrogals points at all. It is to illustrate that even someone as methodical and reasonable as you can’t escape the contradictions until we are willing to reason beyond the comfortable norms. Outside and inside the the box are arbitrary lines. You been to the edge, stood and looked down, then backed away where others have jumped. IMO there is certainly a place for that, but until we’re willing to admit the rabbit hole exists we’ll always be playing on the edge unwilling to understand there are many legitimate ways of being human.

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            37. I reference Bayesian reasoning to indicate likelihood rather than projected certainty.

              I know what Bayesian inference is tildeb.
              How many times did I say ‘likely’, ‘probability’, ‘possibility’ and ‘odds’ in the previous comment?
              Now how many times did I say ‘certainty’ or one of its synonyms?
              Who’s the one using dishonest rhetoric here?

              The point I made – which you distorted beyond recognition – is that you have no basis whatsoever for quantifying the likelihood (i.e. probability distribution) that, say, aerodynamics will be replaced. So invoking Bayesian inference as if it’s something that gives you the capacity to make a reasonable guess about it is pure BS. It’s an attempt to represent your prejudices as data.

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            38. Where you get your beliefs from is irrelevant. There are millions of people, non-religious people, who do not agree with your reality. But you won’t look at any of them. The majority view is what you see. I am not saying I am right for anyone but me, but my reality negates your reality, for me. You can talk about your reality all you want, you cannot make me accept it because I know it is wrong for me.
              No, a spiritual view does not change aerodynamics. It doesn’t even consider it. Birds’ wings are aerodynamic. Airplane wings are aerodynamic. Butterfly wings are not aerodynamic. Dragon fly wings are not aerodynamic. Rocket wings are not aerodynamic. Yet all of them fly. Aerodymnamics are only relevent where areodymacs are necessary. They are not necessary to fly. My spirit is not aerodynamic, but it can fly. But you will NEVER believe that!

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            39. So, what I’m saying is that the personal can misinterpret and assume and conclude with a significant degree of inaccuracy no matter how many senses we bring to bear. And so I use the analogy of receiving a ‘reflection’ of something that is really there.

              With this understanding in place I am now going beyond this personal approach to reality, beyond even agreement between many people about what if anything constitutes it. What I am trying to explain is that it matters very much if we come up with a description/explanation and then apply this to be the basis for something impersonal, something that works consistently and reliably well for what seems to be the case for everyone everywhere all the time. And I argue this to get beyond what any one person or group of people believes. What I am describing is the method to do this, a compilation of tools – physical as well as representative – to get to this point of using an explanation in a completely impersonal and objective way.

              This is why I raised the point of aerodynamics: an understanding that doesn’t rely on one’s senses, doesn’t require personal interpretation, doesn’t need a motive that serves someone or even many. It’s an explanation that when applied to the environment in which we seem to find ourselves, seems to be the fixed case over time… a case not just for thee and me and any person in the world but critters, too. To an impersonal environment, to understand how and why that environment changes by impersonal causal effect.

              And so we build all kinds of things that, using this explanation – what is called an explanatory model, or ‘model’ for short – forms the basis of a foundation of understanding what’s going on, what we’re encountering. When the model works for everyone everywhere all the time consistently and reliably well regardless of the person, critter, or even thing that might use or affect it, what I’m saying is that THESE are allowing ‘reality’ to be understood as a framework of what is… a framework that is not subject to personal biases or preferences or beliefs or interpretations or assumptions… it just works BECAUSE there is just such a reality behind the environment in which we find ourselves.

              If reality were not this way, not a fixed case of how things really are, then ALL these applications, therapies, and technologies wouldn’t work the way they do. Aerodynamics is just one among thousands of models that all work together and create a large unified picture.

              What I’m saying is that THAT matters. The reasonable conclusion is that there IS an objective reality that couldn’t care less about what we think of it. It just is. That’s why I continue to say our beliefs about reality should be arbitrated by reality.

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            40. So, what I’m saying is that the personal can misinterpret and assume and conclude with a significant degree of inaccuracy no matter how many senses we bring to bear.”.
              This is not very true. If it were, we’d lean to the side of spiritual things being g reality. I would submit that time alone and relaxing observations of the natural world are much more accurate than the bias laden influences of reality.

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            41. That’s an interesting point and probably one you didn’t think I’d agree with. But…

              There are levels to this what I’ll call ‘direct’ interaction that I think are both important and intriguing.
              The first is encountering patterns – especially surprising patterns – that indicates something beyond ourselves.
              The second is connectedness, that everything – from the animate to the inanimate – seems to have some large or small part to play in the wholeness of the entirety.
              The third is our part: both observer and participant in something beyond ourselves.
              The fourth is what I call ‘having my battery recharged’ by getting back into ‘nature’ and just being rather than doing and how beneficial it is to my biology. Many people call this a ‘spiritual’ experience but… I don’t know what that term means or how it is helpful at all.

              I’m sure there are more but these immediately come to mind, so to speak!

              But as far as understanding what and where these patterns arise, how causal effect is demonstrated independent of what we might import, evaluating our individual importance in the whole and the whole’s treatment of us, our real world impact through time, and the biological recognition that each of us is a part and product of ‘nature’ and not separate from it (so much for the religious impetus), I think all of these together are an opportunity to engage with what’s real rather than what we think is important.

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            42. But as far as understanding what and where these patterns arise, how causal effect is demonstrated independent of what we might import, evaluating our individual importance in the whole and the whole’s treatment of us, our real world impact through time, and the biological recognition that each of us is a part and product of ‘nature’ and not separate from it (so much for the religious impetus), I think all of these together are an opportunity to engage with what’s real rather than what we think is important.

              Yeah, you surprised me with this comment tildeb. I see now you can see beyond the bounds of your explanatory model into areas it can’t explain.

              But even though you concede we ‘think’ such things are important and implicitly suggest they’re aspects of lived experience we all share – at least to some degree – you exile them from the domain of “what’s real” in the same way Daniel Dennett denies the reality of the apparently universal experience of consciousness.

              Don’t you think a model of reality that denies the existence of what we think is important might just be missing something important itself?

              Are thoughts, values, meaning and subjective experience not real?
              Surely everything you think you know about your explanatory model is derived from your subjective experiences and your conviction of its value arises from your subjective values and personal quest for meaning.
              Have you not just explained your explanatory model away?

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            43. Maybe he’s coming around a bit?

              Just so long as he doesn’t come around merely because he’s shifted his locus of intellectual authority.

              Tildeb doesn’t need our opinions or perspectives. What he desperately needs is epistemic humility.

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            44. I would say he is in need of nothing and everything is functioning as it could given the tools we have to work with. To change that takes a special circumstance.

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            45. Not at all. I think he’s mostly brilliant as measured by the best, current, and accepted schools of thought tuition can buy.

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            46. You are!
              You’re putting a curse on him!
              His comments on this blog have revealed a lot about his habitual cognitive pathways and now you’re scattering caltrops of self-consciousness along them to throw him off his stride.

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            47. Hahaha. I can only hope to illustrate there are many valid ways of being human. I trust evolution to do what it does. Scientism is woke to believe they have special insights when they don’t. I have no impunity to this either, so can’t we all just get along?

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            48. I trust evolution to do what it does.

              “Evolution,” she said, “is about failure and death”. from Crystal Nights by Greg Egan.

              If you’re into hard sci-fi I highly recommend it. It comes in at less than 10,000 words and, as with a lot of Egan, is an easy read into some big ideas.

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            49. Jim, believe it or not this has nothing to do with me. Reality is not my belief I am trying to impose on others. It just is. The difference is that I think we should respect its role to ARBTRATE our beliefs about it.

              Well, such blasphemy!

              With just the right touch of rhetoric, this position can be painted as personal hubris. How DARE I suggest we subject our beliefs about reality to reality? No way… let’s keep pretending our beliefs imposed on reality make it so and if anyone disagrees with this ideological insistence, well, those people must have all kinds of character flaws and questionable morals.

              Yeah, that’s going to work out well.

              Good grief.

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            50. Jim, believe it or not this has nothing to do with me. Reality is not my belief I am trying to impose on others. It just is. The difference is that I think we should respect its role to ARBTRATE our beliefs about it.

              It always comes back to this doesn’t it tildeb?

              You refuse to take responsibility for your own opinions, instead attributing them to an external authority or even ‘reality’ itself – even to the point of admitting you’re not an expert and don’t understand them – yet you still insist on jamming them down other people’s throats and insisting your own blinkered perspective is the only correct one, because, hey, it’s not really your perspective, its a transcendent fact you have access to via ‘science’.

              How exactly is this any different to ‘knowing’ something via divine revelation?

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            51. It just is” awfully close to the Tao. The problem is science has definite borders of inquiry and the wording cleverly guarded to not sound too mushy. But the reality “that just is” isn’t the observable/physical world as we know it but the cause of it. Like Hoffman said, all we see is the icons. The problem with that theory is behind the icons reality is suspiciously missing.

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            52. But the reality “that just is” isn’t the observable/physical world as we know it but the cause of it.

              I’m far from convinced causality is a feature of reality at all, rather than a convenient notion we use in the same way we apply inductive logic. It represents events in a way sufficiently simple and reproducible for us to extract utility from it, but that doesn’t make it reality.

              https://beingsakin.wordpress.com/2011/04/30/on-time/

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            53. Oh good grief, cabrogal, I have shown EXACTLY epistemic humility and even outlined it here in this thread! But I’ve also added to it, in that such humility should also be balanced by likelihood (but since when did any philosophical school of thought mitigate its overreach by incorporating reality as a vital arbiter?). And likelihood I have shown is based on how well models ‘fit’ the edifice of APPLIED understanding. This is DEMONSTRATED to be the same for all, DEMONSTRATED by applications, therapies, and technologies that work for everyone everywhere over time. In other words, the BALANCE for uncertainty has to be considered against reality’s arbitration of it and not left up to each individual to presume the right to separate and accept conflicting interpretations of incompatible realities that lack even a modicum of equivalency. Open minded? Sure. But not so open for one’s brain to fall out.

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            54. humility should also be balanced by likelihood

              The belief you have any handle whatsoever on the likelihood your belief system represents or approaches reality flies in the face of epistemic humility.

              DEMONSTRATED by applications, therapies, and technologies that work for everyone everywhere over time

              Which doesn’t prove – or even render likely – that your belief system incorporates reality any better than the fact quinine relieved malaria for everyone and that many other indigenous jungle medications and nutrients were reliably efficacious means Quechua beliefs in tree spirits accurately reflect reality.

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            55. I’m still waiting for the “applications, therapies, and technologies that work for everyone everywhere over time”

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            56. This is how science works to examine real world problems, understand what is going on, and then come up with various kinds of real world solutions through applications, therapies, and technologies that seems to work for everyone everywhere based on the idea that we share a common external reality. This is not a religious belief.

              This – as I’ve said about 100,000 times to little effect – is a productive METHOD of inquiry. And here’s more evidence that it seems to work reliably and consistently well to produce knowledge about the real world.

              My point in this thread is that it’s the working of this accrued knowledge using the method of science when applied that bolsters the case of likelihood that this external common reality is the case. Not me. A preponderance of evidence.

              Why you have such a problem with this concept and chronically try to rephrase and repackage and make various substitutions to ‘science’ in order to create doubt about its usefulness is truly a luxurious doubt that you can afford to express in varied ways ONLY by being two-faced and hypocritical because you cannot live and remain true to living out those doubts while you simultaneously continue to eat and breath and excrete. It’s just a mind game you’re playing and blaming me as some kind of Bad Person for daring to point this out, that there are sufficient reasons independent of you and me to grant science-as-a-method a high degree of confidence.

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            57. Not me. A preponderance of evidence.
              Why you have such a problem with this concept

              Err, because there’s no such thing as evidence free of the person interpreting it?

              The same ‘evidence’ you see as proving science can provide a good/best/complete description of reality would prove to someone else that God is in His heaven and all is right with the world and to yet another person that all we can see of ‘reality’ are the patterns our own minds impose on it.

              If you actually started taking responsibility for your own beliefs and worldview I’d find it much easier to respect you and take you seriously.

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            58. “Err, because there’s no such thing as evidence free of the person interpreting it?”

              That is the stupidest thing ever written.

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            59. That is interesting when you admit it. I like this—“Russell, the greatest empiricist of the first half of the twentieth century, tended to think of evidence as sense data, mental items of one’s present consciousness with which one is immediately acquainted. In this, he stood squarely within the tradition of classical empiricism. Quine, the greatest empiricist of the second half of the century, maintained throughout his career that evidence consisted of the stimulation of one’s sensory receptors.[2] The logical positivists held that whatever evidence there is for a given scientific theory is afforded by observation statements or ‘protocol sentence’,—
              The scientific method is geared to understandings in line with a level of comprehension that may seem bold to the end user, but is virtually a drop in the ocean. We’re no different than the tool makers of the past. I’m sure that chopper tool was the shit back in the day. Now they come in 12 colors and we think we really one upped nature with our scientific prowess.

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            60. Yeah, it’s pretty obvious evidence only has meaning empirically.

              You might be able to debate whether a falling tree makes a noise when there’s no-one to hear it, but I can’t see how you could come up with a coherent meaning of ‘evidence’ that didn’t include something to not only perceive it but to surmise with it.

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            61. It also depends on what level of magnification you’re willing to accept as real. Every piece of evidence can be carried out another step. I got a reply a while back I really liked, but for some reason the real scientists like tildeb, don’t want to go there. “ “We are talking about discrete natural units, or packets of energy hence the word quanta. It is why it was called quantum mechanics/physics in the first place”. So what is evidence and when does that same evidence become woo?

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            62. I was struck by something one of the NASA dudes in the video said.

              “Science limits itself to understanding phenomena that repeat … and you could conceive there may be things in the universe that only happen once”.

              Really all things in the universe only happen once. Everything that happens does so in interaction with countless other inputs and it’s statistically inconceivable that all of them will be the same at two different times.

              Inductive reasoning is a practical tendency of human minds to assume what has always happened will always happen under the same conditions and- as with placing real world objects in categories, classes and sets – it relies on filtering out a lot of detail in order to make two or more events appear the same.

              Science is the application of inductive reasoning. As with “the sun will rise in the east tomorrow”, events equated with each other using scientific induction are, hopefully, good enough to make reliable predictions based on certain preconditions. But of course there’s conditions in which the sun won’t rise in the east tomorrow, such as in polar regions or when the earth’s rotation stops or when the sun ceases to exist. Likewise, if we specified all the details of the sun rising – the exact time, exact direction, etc – we’d have to start incorporating a heck of a lot of other factors – such as the time of year, atmospheric refraction, the tiny variations in the earth’s rotation and axial tilt, etc – until we got to the point where we couldn’t gather sufficient ‘evidence’ to make a completely precise prediction. No two sunrises have ever been or will ever be exactly the same.

              So inasmuch as science can manifest “applications, therapies, and technologies that work for everyone everywhere all the time” it can only do so by disregarding enough of reality to make two or more objects or two or more events seem the same.

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            63. That part of the quotes really stood out to me as well. On the other hand, no-thing that can only happen once can ever happen at all.

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            64. Some other good quotes:

              “Oh yes, there’s other ways of understanding. I would say these other means are not all that different from science. People don’t recognise that science uses intuition, inspiration, I might say revelation. It uses faith. We have to have faith in science in order to do science. So I would maintain science and religion use all of our human abilities, and they’re more similar than people think.”

              Of course unexamined faith in any belief system is what’s called blind faith and is a step on the ladder to fundamentalism. Someone who does science, like almost all those in the video, constantly question it and try to discern the difference between its current extent and its ontological boundaries. Those who do scientism don’t concede it has any boundaries short of perfect understanding of reality.

              “In terms of all the knowledge in the entire universe, probably as a group scientists know a very small percent and probably it’s always gonna be that way … Someone said, ‘The purpose of knowledge is to display your ignorance’ … because the more you learn about something the more you learn that you don’t know about it.”

              That’s a pretty good expression of epistemological humility. And a pretty good explanation of why tildeb doesn’t recognise how little he knows.

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            65. Apparently real science is mixing a few concoctions to kill worms (or filter them, since in our sophisticated efforts, still no cure for Guinea worms) and reliable circuitry to power entertainment and get driving directions. But really sciences greatest achievement is the Guinea worm cloth. An application that works on everybody all the time regardless of belief.

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            66. Yeah, scientism loves to take credit for social programs, poverty alleviation, public health measures, education and basic common sense when they work well.

              When they don’t … well they’re not science.

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            67. Your comment here reminds me of Amazon Outreach. Damn the unintended consequences of meddling and the blind eye of such honorable belief. I understand it’s probably too late to stop the locomotive, but should we really do what we can?

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            68. When I wrote it I was thinking of how so many people claim increases in first world life expectancy for ‘medical science’, despite the fact that most of it can be credited to improved diet and sanitation and greater access to emergency health care.

              I’m told life expectancy in the US is going backwards these days. Maybe that’s why so many Americans are losing faith in science. If science can’t keep taking a bow for new healing miracles it must be time to turn to the televangelists and ivermectin merchants.

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            69. These people lived thousands of years without our help. Now we need their minerals and timbers to construct our advanced gadgets—and we’ll throw in some miracle filter fabric to make their lives we took away, better.

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            70. It’s an example of using reality to arbitrate our beliefs about it and come up with applications, therapies, and technologies based on these arbitrations that – oh by the way – work for everyone everywhere all the time.

              Jim, you pretended that you were ‘waiting’ for me to provide you with an example. So I submitted this as a very simple and highly effective example, one that reduced a massive amount of suffering… not because it’s some weird version of a religious belief but a straight forward application of understanding root problems.

              I keep going back to this difference between beliefs of the religious kind in which you and cabrogal are certain I must hold regarding the role of science as a method of inquiry into reality and how it operates – Scientism!and the actual belief I hold in the scientific sense in which you and cabrogal simply refuse to recognize, namely, that such applications, therapies, and technologies work which lends good reasons through demonstration to have a very high degree of confidence that reality is independent of subjective and personal beliefs about it.

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            71. My mistake for not accepting your cheese cloth as a scientific breakthrough. But on the other hand, this Uber hygienic culture has a host of unintended consequences no one can predict. Perhaps the allergy culture is one of those? But to put a filter on a pipe is a far cry from the missteps of pharmacology, medical practice, lap bands, hydrology, or any other breakthrough that is the result of lawsuits and dead ecosystems.
              The good doesn’t seem to ever outweigh the bad. Yet these are considered advances by science, whose focus is an a narrow band of conscious attention.

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            72. You keep going to the ‘consequences’ well. I’m not arguing any of this because it’s not the point. The point is that the method that allows reality to arbitrate our beliefs about it is an incredibly successful method not for this philosophical or that metaphysical reason about meaning but because the applications, therapies, and technologies based on this approach work.

              This working element, in turn, lends very strong evidence that the arbitrator of our beliefs about it – reality – is independent of us and our subjective approach. That is my point, made in as many ways as I can come up with to try to break through the bias and rationalizations you continue to throw up to block and dismiss the point, insisting again and again that ‘reality’ – this independent arbitrator I keep raising – is simply some mental construction projected by me. IF that were the case, THEN these applications, therapies, and technologies regardless of who uses them would not be so consistently and reliably productive! That’s my point. That’s my entire point. My point is not some religious belief I ma raising or some philosophical bending of terminology I am using or or some science-knows-everything position I take as is CONSTANTLY used by dishonest commentators attributed to me by design and dedicated to performing for applause; it’s a point that is rarely considered by promoters of reality-is-whatever-I-say-it-is or reality-is-whatever-I-want-to-believe-it-is. If either were the case, then science wouldn’t be so productive. That is my point. If you wish to address that point and how it apparently fits with your own model that we don’t know – nay, cannot know – anything about reality because reality is a mental construct, then please feel free to incorporate how these applications, therapies, and technologies actually do work so consistently and reliably well. Please. You haven’t done it yet.

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            73. This working element, in turn, lends very strong evidence that the arbitrator of our beliefs about it – reality – is independent of us and our subjective approach.

              For Newton’s sake tildeb, how many examples of technologies based on beliefs in divinity or nature spirits or positive thinking or whatever that consistently ‘work’ do I have to offer to convince you that something ‘working’ is not strong evidence that the belief system it’s attributed to is an accurate reflection of objective reality?

              Technologies were ‘working’ for thousands of years before the concept of science existed.

              Your thinking is magical. It’s like the explorer in the old movies who pulls out his Zippo to convince the natives he’s the prophet of the Fire God.

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            74. ”the consequences well. I’m not arguing any of this because it’s not the point.”. There you go trying to separate things into classes. Nothing exists that way. This comment is an excellent display of why philosophy is equally as important as the therapies
              I understand what you are getting at but I really think you are giving science and technology far too much credit. Why, might be a better question to all your claims? It isn’t about alleviation of juman suffering at all.

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            75. such applications, therapies, and technologies work which lends good reasons through demonstration to have a very high degree of confidence that reality is independent of subjective and personal beliefs about it.

              Do I detect a slight moderation of your position tildeb?
              Weren’t you previously claiming not only that there’s an objective reality (which I’ve never denied – only that a purely objective reality is both incomplete and, unlike subjective reality, not directly accessible) but that Science is the best or only way to discern ‘true and complete’ reality?

              If you are gaining a little epistemological humility there it’s a good start, but you’ve still got a long way to go. There’s still that issue of circular logic whereby ‘Science works’ because ‘Science is what works and when it doesn’t it isn’t a true Scotsman’.

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            76. Yes, cabrogal, how could anyone anywhere at anytime question your maxim that good science is all about disregarding enough reality? Thank goodness you will be on eternal alert to explain to all these stupid scientists when and where the appropriate boundary to determine when ‘enough’ denialism meets your philosophical satisfaction. Yeah, distrusting reality to arbitrate our beliefs about it is the very heart and soul of scientific inquiry.

              Good grief. Double down much?

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            77. Have you ever wondered why ‘reductionist’ is a term used so often in referring to science tildeb?

              Why practical science is always trying to eliminate or account for as many extraneous variables as possible?

              Why even under highly controlled and contrived laboratory conditions – even before the ‘replication crisis’ was a thing – trial results are often so difficult to reproduce?

              Why effects that can be produced reliably under lab conditions so often become unreliable in the field?

              Why so many scientific outcomes are expressed with probabilities rather than determinate causality?

              Hint: It’s because the inductive reasoning science relies upon can only work by simplifying a situation well beyond anything that exists in reality. It must filter, disregard and compensate for huge amounts of reality in order to dumb it down to the point where it fits within our ability to reason about it.

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            78. No, although you’ve once again taken brush and palette and created a painting of me as ignorant about how science works. I understand how challenging it is to link cause with effect. This has to be ‘reductionist’. Duh.

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            79. Evidence?

              Guinea worm:
              1980s – 3,500,000 million reported cases
              Then filter pipes.
              2021 – 15 reported cases

              This historical scourge could be eradicated this year. That’s the power of science.

              But by all means spend time and effort staring at your navel and deeply contemplating the meaning of the term ‘reported’ and doubt the 3,499,985 case count reduction. After all, it’s all subjective and perspective, donchaknow. If only you had had the opportunity to confer with cabrogal to explain to the Guinea worm why they didn’t really cause the suffering they did and to make it philosophically disappear from mind to ‘solve’ this problem rather financially support Big Filter Pipe.

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            80. Which gadgets are fine and useful and important to you, but not that useful to the Guinea worms. This isn’t a new species but a scourge caused by living conditions perpetuated likely by scientific discovery.

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            81. This isn’t a new species but a scourge caused by living conditions perpetuated likely by scientific discovery.

              Such as the great discoveries of race science that taught us the people living with guinea worms are unable to help themselves so the enlightened West should keep them in their place, help itself to their resources and keep working on our science until someday the scientific trickle down effect lifts even the scientifically challenged races into acceptable living standards.

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            82. What gets me every time with Christianity is you can’t blame Christianity for its atrocities—yet with such enlightenment I would think they should know better? Science is very similar in that regard.

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            83. Capital ‘S’ Science, yeah.

              Science as a tool isn’t a problem. Science as metaphysics is.
              But the main problem here isn’t science at all. It’s technocratic propaganda and its stooges.

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            84. Oh, your God performs miracle cures!
              How could I not have seen it before?
              The Science God of tildeb is clearly the Way, the Truth and the Light.

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            85. The scientific method is geared to modelling and then application. In other words, unlike philosphy, the scientific method allows reality to arbitrate our beliefs about it. In comparison to all others, this is a highly productive method.

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            86. What level of magnification arbitrates your reality? If you want to make gadgets fine. If you want to see how they are formed out of “units of energy” you’ll need philosophy to lead you there—or an imagination equal to Richard Feynman. That is what you’re lacking. This isn’t serious.

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            87. I guess the difference between science and philosophy is the difference between knowledge and wisdom. That’s probably why you see nothing in the latter tildeb.

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            88. Sorry, I forgot you don’t do philosophy tildeb. So there’s not much point suggesting you learn a bit about what philosophers have said about evidence.

              So I’ll try a simple question.

              For millennia the apparent movement of celestial bodies was taken by almost everyone as objective evidence they revolved around the earth. Now the exact same phenomena is taken as evidence the earth rotates on its axis.

              What changed?
              Celestial movement?
              Objective truth?
              Or the way people interpreted the evidence?

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            89. Thank goodness, then, that philosophy interrupted science and figured out celestial orbits. Good grief, cabrogal, do you ever think before insulting?

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            90. Thank goodness, then, that philosophy interrupted science and figured out celestial orbits.

              Could it be that your circular logic is coming into play again tildeb, suggesting that theories in accordance with current consensus are Science, whereas those that have fallen out of favour are ‘philosophy’ or ‘superstition’?

              So presumably when Aristarchus of Samos used the mathematics and celestial observations of the 3rd century BCE to propose a heliocentric system with the earth rotating on its axis (and even the notion that massive objects exerted greater attractive force than less massive ones) he was a ‘scientist’, whereas the centuries of thinkers following him who used the same (or better) data and methods to inform cartography, architecture, navigation, etc without subscribing to heliocentrism were merely ‘philosophers’.

              I’d imagine the various temples constructed in which sunrise at solstice illuminated the central altar, “that works for everyone everywhere every time” regardless of their beliefs, led certain weak-minded, arrogant thinkers of the day to be feel quite certain their worldview reflected ‘reality’ as it was able to correctly predict the course of the Sun God’s chariot year after year and stick it up the unbelievers with ‘objective truth’. OTOH there were probably those with the ontological humility to realise they couldn’t really completely second guess the gods regardless of the effectiveness of their system and so kept their minds open to alternative interpretations and the possibility their entire belief system might be overthrown with future events and understandings – or even that the wisdom of their ancestors included understandings that had been expelled by current dogma. It’s that latter group who allowed the development of new thought systems that eventually led to your Science tildeb.

              Good grief, cabrogal, do you ever think before insulting?

              But tildeb, you repeatedly make it clear you have no personal opinions, beliefs, interpretations or viewpoints and only relay the objective reality of Science and the superior understandings of Experts for our edification. So how can you possibly be insulted?

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            91. Could it be that your circular logic is coming into play again tildeb, suggesting that theories in accordance with current consensus are Science, whereas those that have fallen out of favour are ‘philosophy’ or ‘superstition’?

              No. Not what I said. Not what I meant. But, once again and regular as the tides, this is an example of a lovely little narrative you create and then impose and then criticize as if you’re offering a clever little insight. You’re not. You are performing.

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            92. Isn’t everyone? It is easy to see it in others, isn’t it. Each of us prefer certain games over the others. But they are games, even serious ones.

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            93. Once again, you are playing a word game substituting what’s meaningful with what’s independently real. This is why I have said consistently that experiences are real but that how we interpret them may not be no matter how meaningful we may find them to be. Meaning is subjective; reality is objective. These are not synonyms.

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            94. Where do you demarcate what is real with what is theory, as in physics. Remember a particle is an excitation of a field? When that takes form, is it then real, or still an excitation of a field? Where’s the line?

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            95. Meaning is subjective; reality is objective.

              Have you ever had an objective experience in your life tildeb?
              What you just said is that none of your lived experience is real. None of your thoughts are real. None of your emotions are real. Your consciousness isn’t real.

              If there’s such a thing as reality it’s gotta be able to incorporate the subjective and objective. Or transcend both.

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            96. Meaning is subjective; reality is objective.

              Really??? And who decides the “meaning” of “reality”?

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            97. AI has nothing to do with my question.

              But ‘AI’ is impressive. And ‘sciencey’. Like ‘Bayesian’.

              It’s one of those magic words that shows tildeb knows what he’s talking about. And you don’t.
              If you think he’s making no sense that proves it.

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            98. I wrote, “Meaning is subjective; reality is objective.”

              Nan wrote, “Really??? And who decides the “meaning” of “reality”?”

              So I said meaning is subjective (that answers the WHO decides about meaning) but that AI works which shows us an independent and objective reality.

              So Nan said AI has nothing to do with her question, but it does in reference to what I had originally said. If she wanted no part of the ‘reality is objective’ part, she wouldn’t have included it with meaning. So it DOES address her original question and separates meaning about reality to belong to the individual but keeps reality itself independent from this extracted meaning.

              I suspect what Nan is trying to say is, “What does the term reality mean?” as in what does this term encapsulate in total. I’m not going to try to accomplish that.

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            99. No cabrogal, that’s a hostile interpretation cast in as demeaning a light as you are able. It’s is not associated with me but a fiction of your imagination used only for rhetorical effect. This is dishonest.

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            100. AI has everything to do with it. It works regardless of whatever meaning you want to attach to it. Why does it work? Because reality is independent of us. And we’re the ones importing this notion of meaning, which is fine. It is, as I’ve said, subjective. But reality doesn’t care about your subjective interpretations of it, which is why if we want to know about reality we have to let reality rather than our subjective beliefs and interpretations about it arbitrate. That’s all I’m saying. The counter argument is all about whether a reality does exist independent of us – hence the total ignoring of my AI point – and many have convinced themselves not so much that their beliefs determine reality but that science as a method is just an extension of personal beliefs. That’s whacked.

              But that’s why I say accepting that notion is not going to work out well because it never has. Again, this is a position/opinion I hold not because I want to believe this is the case but because reality supports that lending more confidence to claims about reality that reality does not support tips the balance of likelihood for all kinds of dysfunction strongly in its favour. I think that’s a bad thing. A very, very Bad Thing that leads to widespread delusion and deluded policies that only make problems worse for everyone.

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            101. tildeb, you base your sense (or understanding) of “reality” on things that you have read and studied and have accepted as legitimate. But they are not the end-all, be-all simply because at its core — and as human beings with (comparatively) limited understanding —we just don’t know.

              We humans have made unending attempts over the centuries to understand ourselves and the world — and it is a worthy study. But IMO, the “answer” is ever-changing, so all we can do is continue our pursuit for knowledge, knowing that the final answer will most likely always be just outside our reach.

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            102. Your ‘just don’t know’ reminds me very strongly of religious arguments that cast anything less than 100% certainty as equivalent to we ‘just don’t know’ category in order to make room for some belief to be equivalent. You know this tactic.

              We do know enough about reality to have very high confidence that it exists independent of our preferred and imported beliefs about it. The preponderance of evidence supports this. But all of this, I am told, is just my personal beliefs. Well, that’s not true. That’s been the thread.

              You then use the next apologetic tool to imply that I am taking a position of end-all, be all, final answer and that this requires a certain level of hubris. This is exactly the kind of rhetorical tool used by religious proponents especially concerning creationist beliefs versus evolution, that scientists like Dawkins are incredibly arrogant and filled with hubris to believe reality has shown us in a variety of ways that the explanatory model of evolution deserves a very high degree of confidence compared to creationism. Sure enough, religious apologists from both sides of the belief aisle (and the ‘we don’t know’ fence-sitting agnostics) come out of the wood work to go along with the charade that describes these ‘believers in scientism’ who disagree that evolution and creationist beliefs are compatible but ‘different ways of knowing’, therefore think they must ‘know it all’. But then the sly appeal: do they really know it all (like they are supposedly claiming)? Really? Well, not like us reasonable people who understand we just don’t know everything.

              That’s what you’re doing here. It’s seductive, isn’t it?

              This is the same approach cabrogal is trying to lay down here, that pointing out a high degree of confidence for an independent reality is personal hubris, is scientism, is overreaching, is philosophically questionable, is all about ME. You seem to have gone along with this false framing. But I hope you recognize the tactic for what it is.

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            103. It is personal hubris, but that’s not any more temporary than any other attachment. Who gets to decide where to put the arbitrary lines and what level of magnification is the “real” one? That is based on your subjective level of acceptance.

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            104. This is the same approach cabrogal is trying to lay down here, that pointing out a high degree of confidence for an independent reality

              No tildeb. As I’ve said repeatedly, having reason for confidence of independent reality isn’t scientism. To (again) quote the Wikipedia entry, “Scientism is the view that science and scientific method are the best or only objective means by which people should determine normative and epistemological values, or that the natural sciences constitute the most authoritative worldview.”

              That’s what you do tildeb.
              It’s scientism.
              It’s a religion.

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            105. And yet you have no difficulty playing with words to make a practice and/or method that involves developing predictive models about the natural world that can be tested for their explanatory power over time through hierarchical applications that then creates more knowledge all about being an equivalent kind of religious belief.

              That’s what I think you are doing. I think that is grossly misguided and rationalizes a guaranteed method through establishing false equivalencies like science is religion, just a ‘different way of knowing’, to fool one’s self and justify today’s popular delusion that our imported beliefs define reality. Want to be a member of the opposite sex? Just change the words! Poof! All fixed. Yup, biology is a construct, identity is innate. Want to deal with climate change? No problem. Deny it’s a problem. Poof! All gone. And so on. That’s where such word game rationalizations that justifies false equivalencies will inevitably lead: greater and greater dysfunction. Not that mounting evidence of this effect from the world will convince the True Believers.

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            106. And yet you have no difficulty playing with words to make a practice and/or method that involves developing predictive models about the natural world that can be tested for their explanatory power over time through hierarchical applications that then creates more knowledge all about being an equivalent kind of religious belief.

              It may not technically be a religion in the same way Buddhism isn’t as it doesn’t involve the worship of non-human deities – though your placing of historical ‘prophets’ like Galileo onto a pedestal approaches a nascent form of it – but it involves making sweeping metaphysical assertions that don’t follow logically from the phenomena observed (e.g. the ability of ‘science’ to predict future events and bestow technological gifts shows it’s got a handle on reality above and beyond that of mere humans) and claims to suprahuman ontological and epistemological authority that allow ‘no other gods before it’.

              It’s not a ‘religious belief’ tildeb. The way you abuse science as scientism is a pseudo-religious way of thinking with which you attempt to define what’s ‘real’ (often by question begging definition of non-scientific phenomena as ‘not real’) and to claim intellectual authority beyond your personal knowledge or capacity as something bestowed upon you by your faith. It’s a religious belief system by which you filter, interpret and organise all your beliefs. That’s not a problem to me. I don’t imagine I have any special ontological/metaphysical insights – secular or otherwise – from which I can rule out the religious outlooks of others. But you use your own belief system to deny the validity of other people’s beliefs and lived experience. That’s bigoted religious intolerance of faiths you perceive as impinging on the exclusive turf your own and I do have a problem with that.

              You don’t only construct a metaphysics with scientific tools utterly unsuited to the task, you insist everyone else bows down to your folly.

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            107. In the unlikely event you actually want to know what distinguishes science from scientism and why scientism is to all intents and purposes a secular religion you could try reading this article by Massimo Pigliucci on the American Philosophical Association blog.

              Pigliucci describes himself as ” a critic of pseudoscience and creationism, and an advocate for secularism and science education” and, like me, doesn’t like to see science brought into disrepute by people who treat it as a religion they can beat non-believers over the head with.

              Someone called ‘Phil’ adds the following insightful comment below.
              “The followers of scientism seem to me to be religious fundamentalists who can no longer believe in religion, so they aim their emotional need for a “one true way” in a different direction. This is likely not a popular theory with such true believers, but it is does offer at least a few of them the opportunity to better understand that which they so ardently reject, religious faith. We can best understand what’s happening in others by finding that same thing within ourselves.”

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            108. Oh c’mon! Quit the religious references! IF there are any, it’s only because you (apparently) see them. I certainly had no “religious” thoughts floating around in the back of my mind as I was writing my response.

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            109. A writer I follow:

              “It is a time in history that calls for deep contemplation and cautious, measured action. A time in which we must think critically about the complex reality we find ourselves in.

              But we are ill-equipped to make sense of this moment. And that is because things stopped making sense some time ago.

              Our ability to reason things out has been compromised by a society-wide abandonment of principle. There is no longer any coherent, collective set of guidelines with which to judge reality.

              In other words: Things are no longer expected to make sense.”

              She links this abandonment of principle with increasing affective political polarization. She says,

              “It is now normal in the public discourse, especially on Twitter, to pick a side and bend one’s perspective, one’s arguments, and even one’s facts, to fit its dominant narratives. We feel less and less compelled to answer the most basic of questions: Does this make sense? Is what I am arguing governed by logic? Would I extend this same principle, this same line of thought, this same conclusion, to an issue that I disagree with?”

              And so this is now the starting point we face trying to address and solve problems together. Ain’t gunna happen when we can’t even agree that there even exists an ‘out there’ but just a multiverse of what is ‘in here.’ I want to explain that doesn’t fit with the cruise missiles targeting Ukrainian infrastructure, doesn’t fit with the bombardments and explosions that kill real people in real life today, doesn’t fit the position that arguing ‘whatever’ that contradicts this reality in nothing but a religious belief or exercising scientism. Tsk tsk tsk. Such hubris.

              All of these notions are just verbal diarrhea that extends the time of facing up to real world problems we all share and helps to stop working towards shared solutions because the real life problems have been waved away as either not real or unknowable. That’s the foolishness I’m talking about. And it is deep.

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            110. because the real life problems have been waved away as either not real or unknowable.

              “Real life” problems can (most times) be solved. But when we’re discussing the “complex reality we find ourselves in,” the answers do not fit into any boxes (although you seem to take considerable effort to do so).

              As I’ve said before, tildeb, you’re definitely not short on intelligence. But IMO, the one thing you do lack is recognizing that your view of things is just that … your view. You may back it up with facts, quotes, statistics, studies … but when push comes to shove, none of us have the final answer. Of course that doesn’t keep us from searching. 😊

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            111. Part of the problem is assuming there is a problem or that anything at all is in error. Tildeb completely contradicts his own beliefs that consciousness is an emergent property of geologic evolution. We are the result of hot gas, minerals and time. Evolution is geared to fitness. And this is the process of fitness in a nutshell. Without real world problems, what would drive evolution to a higher level of fitness than stress and setbacks? There is no moral precedent to align with evolution, and we seem to be blinded to reality by the same evolutionary nature of things. We see what we need for sex and reproduction.
              Btw, more harm has come from meddling with nature than it has solved. But this tug of war is perfectly in line with the entire cosmos.
              Presenting alternate viewpoints is also important, especially particular beliefs that cause the most stress to date. Seems like a curse, but who’s really in charge here?

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            112. AI has everything to do with it. It works regardless of whatever meaning you want to attach to it.

              Only according to some meanings of “works”.

              In the 80s and 90s I used to do regular contracts with a big multinational mainframe manufacturer. One of the systems analyst/programmers there was a disciple of Sathya Sai Baba.

              Every day I saw him apply his Computer Science Phd and logical skills to solve complex analytical and practical problems. I’d worked with him on and off for years before we had lunch together and I finally got to ask him about Sai Baba.

              I was a bit surprised when he breathlessly related his pilgrimage to Puttaparthi to meet his guru and how Sai Baba materialised the expensive watch he was still wearing out of thin air. He gave several accounts of other ‘miracles’ Sai Baba had performed right in front of his eyes.

              “But surely it’s not miracles that makes you a devotee”, I said, “You follow him for his wisdom and insight.”

              “No”, he replied, “It’s the miracles that prove he’s a saint. That’s how I know his teachings are true.”

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            113. But it may only work in this reality, because it is what our “present” understanding shows us. May I remind you EVERYONE used to see a reality where the Sun revolved arkund the Earth. Given known circumstances I probably believed the same when I was around back then. But times changed. Times are going to change again. Things we take as fact TODAY will be proven wrong TOMORROW. One of them might be aerodynamics. We still do not know what reality is. We can only think we do.

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            114. Have you ever seen the Ptolemic model? It’s a ‘Just so’ model with elements that simply don’t make any sense other than different rules applying for different ‘spheres’ (as in elevation away from the Earth). So your analogy doesn’t fit in that you’re going back to what people believed was the case rather than the inconsistency revealed by reality to show the explanation wasn’t correct. Furthermore, you don’t have all kind of applications derived from the Ptolomic model that work. None that I can think of. That lack of productivity, too, is an indication that the belief (or what I like to call the likelihood’ of something being the case) and the confidence awarded to it as probably the case is misplaced.

              So no, I don’t ‘see’ aerodynamics being replaced because that would require an alteration of reality and not simply our explanation of it. In other words, if you changed only the words used in the explanation, you would also have to change all the math to produce an alternate model that still worked as reliably and consistently and with as much evidence that explains it even better. This is an extraordinarily high bar (for those who refuse to award it high confidence). Possible, yes, but extremely unlikely.

              So there is a significant qualitative difference between the two in your analogy, although I know many people love to present ‘the science’ as being ‘wrong’ rather than what is almost always the case: the explanation doesn’t fit what reality is showing us to be the case and so ‘the science’ self corrects. That’s a methodological strength, but True Believers LOVE to present this change as ‘the science’ being wrong rather than the method robust enough to being open to correction. And that correction is based – again – on reality arbitrating it.

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            115. So no, I don’t ‘see’ aerodynamics being replaced because that would require an alteration of reality and not simply our explanation of it.

              Doubtless 100 years ago you would have said “I don’t ‘see’ Newtonian gravity and Euclidean geometry being replaced because that would require an alteration of reality and not simply our explanation of it”.

              You can say things like that tildeb because your model of reality is self-referential and circular.

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            116. Well, your ‘doubtless’ is wrong and so your projection of what you think I would ‘see’ leads you erroneously to conclude that reality as I understand it is therefore a projection from me. This then allows you the rhetorical means to paint my understanding as if circular and self refuting. It’s not.

              Said another way, my understanding of how we come to know reality is a verb and not a noun as you try to paint it here. That’s why science is the best tool to correct prior misunderstandings. Of course models can be altered but such alterations necessarily come with a high bar to incorporate the understanding of what has come before with how the evolved model furthers understanding of what’s really going on. This is by no stretch of the imagination a static endeavor and I certainly would not pretend any models of understanding were complete. What I AM saying is that all of this is a strong case that reality and the properties it contains are external to any of us and that the applications, therapies, and technologies that work for everyone everywhere all the time demonstrates this. None of this has anything to do with me or my belief in this, that, or the other thing nor any meaning I may create from it.

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            117. Of course models can be altered

              Yet you don’t “see” aerodynamics being replaced, as have so many other ‘fundamental’ scientific theories and paradigms in the past.
              You know science is falsifiable in principle but deny it in specific instance.

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            118. I feel sorry for you, Tildeb. You are so stuck in your reality you cannot even allow for anything else. There is no room for change, no room for improvement. Live, die. Big deal!

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            119. With this understanding in place I am now going beyond this personal approach to reality

              There’s the fundamental flaw with your thinking tildeb. The idea you can transcend your own mental capacity with a doctrine. That error has been used to justify ideological authoritarianism since the earliest days of written history.

              You insist on validating your own natural science based ontology with methodological naturalism – which assumes natural science as its starting point. So your logic is circular in the same way as as biblical fundamentalist who says “I know the bible is true because it says so in the bible and the bible is true”.

              You then make your own closed loop explanatory model the exclusive grounds upon which it can be interrogated. i.e. You insist that any questioning of your ontology must justify itself from within your ontology. That’s like a creation ‘scientist’ using Genesis as the ultimate arbiter of what’s ‘true’ science to dismiss Darwinism.

              Your explanatory model is a very long way from explaining everything “for everyone everywhere all the time consistently and reliably well regardless of the person”. Even within the realm of natural science it must concede this by accounting for placebo/nocebo effects when evaluating treatments, introducing randomness in the description of quantum events such as electron tunneling and radioactive decay and the notion of singularities such as the Big Bang and event horizons. The mind ‘sciences’ in general are rife with that sort of thing, though it’s rarely conceded by scientism fundamentalists, who instead of explaining things like consciousness and free will – which are inherently beyond the capacity of the model to explain – try to explain them away by essentially denying their existence.

              So your explanatory model is unable to explain something as fundamental to your own experience as your consciousness. It’s unable to say whether sensory qualia (e.g. the perception of ‘red’, ‘cold’ or even ‘pain’) are the “same for everyone everywhere all the time consistently and reliably well regardless of the person”.

              Yes, your explanatory model might be able to explain your reality tildeb, inasmuch as you impoverish it by ignoring or denying what your model doesn’t explain. But it doesn’t begin to explain either an ‘objective’ reality or the subjective reality of others, and certainly not to the point where you can use it as an authoritative basis to invalidate the beliefs and lived experiences of others.

              Science is a tool tildeb. Not a god.

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            120. “There’s the fundamental flaw with your thinking tildeb. The idea you can transcend your own mental capacity with a doctrine. The idea you can transcend your own mental capacity with a doctrine.”

              And there’s your fundamental flaw in understanding what I’m saying. It’s not a ‘doctrine’. Aerodynamics is not a doctrine: it’s one study among many of properties. And the evidence for its likelihood to accurately reflect how reality operates is demonstrated by reliable and consistent application. You might be able to wave away the explanation as if it were doctrinal remaining only as words and falsely claim they are one view among many equivalent views but you cannot wave away the success of the applications based on it. You cannot ignore how the same properties used in many other areas of study seamlessly combine with further understandings that remains coherent and knowable. And you cannot ignore how other explanations and areas of study that borrow the same understanding of properties external to anyone studying or apply these understandings fit into the same model and offer a means to create an avenue to deeper understandings, more sophisticated applications, new fields of study, new knowledge. This constant evolution of knowledge based on using fundamental understandings of properties external to the beliefs of individuals is overwhelming evidence that has nothing to do with a set of words rhetorically framed as if doctrinal.

              So you’ve got it exactly backwards, cabrogal. Reality and our evolving understanding of it has nothing whatsoever to do with my individual mental capacity nor directed at transcending it. That’s your rhetorical device here – using the language of religion – to try to paint what I’m saying onto the canvas of your religious framing of it. It’s not a sincere effort but a directed one towards a specific goal, namely, that science is just another kind of belief in the religious sense. Except you know it’s not.

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            121. Aerodynamics is not a doctrine

              I’m not talking about aerodynamics. I’m talking about the ontological supposition that leads you to believe learning rules of aerodynamics or optics or quantum mechanics or whatever gives you an objective window into reality that’s been wiped clean of your own personal, subjective perspective.

              It’s not just the observer effect jiggling what you’re trying to observe. Your entire POV determines how you’ll interpret, implement and assess the procedures you use to interpret reality. You can’t clean your glasses because you are the smear. Not being able to see your own head doesn’t eliminate it from the picture.

              you cannot wave away the success of the applications based on it

              ‘Success’ is part of you tildeb. It’s not a property of reality.
              And no I can’t wave away what you define as success, yet you seem perfectly able to wave away the limitations and shortcomings of procedural systems then extend them as if a tiny, reductionist, narrowly applied process that gives predictable results within the limits of what’s being measured can somehow be extended indefinitely through multiple dimensions to completely define reality – even though you know perfectly well (as you conceded in an earlier comment) that there’s things ‘we think are important’ which it doesn’t even begin to define.

              study seamlessly combine with further understandings that remains coherent and knowable.

              There’s nothing seamless about them tildeb.

              Scientific theories are a bunch of approximations that are ‘good enough’ to tell us limited things about certain circumstances under given conditions. Until they’re not, then they’re discarded and replaced with (hopefully) better models. It’s the splitting seams telling us what we don’t know that allow science to grow. And as well as the incoherences that suggest areas for further refinement there’s also apparent boundaries as to what’s knowable with science, some of which are codified in scientific theories or inherent in the very mathematics used to formulate them.

              using fundamental understandings of properties external to the beliefs of individuals

              C’mon tildeb. Are you seriously trying to say there’s something about science – or any other knowledge system – that’s external to the beliefs of individuals?
              You sound like the White Queen.
              How many things you don’t believe do you fundamentally understand before breakfast?

              Reality and our evolving understanding of it has nothing whatsoever to do with my individual mental capacity nor directed at transcending it.

              Or maybe you do understand what you don’t believe.

              Our understandings do evolve. And like biological evolution they’re not driven towards some kind of future perfection, or even superiority at anything other that what’s pragmatic under prevailing circumstances.
              And like the evolution of many species in the past and quite likely ours in the future, understandings can lead you into eventual dead-ends that couldn’t have been predicted until you ran into them. Sometimes a paradigm shift that forces you to reassess the understandings that got you where you are can find you a way around that dead end. But you also need to accept there might be dead ends you’re simply not equipped to circumvent and never will be. And you’ll never know how much ‘reality’ lies beyond them.

              That’s your rhetorical device here – using the language of religion – to try to paint what I’m saying onto the canvas of your religious framing of it. It’s not a sincere effort but a directed one towards a specific goal, namely, that science is just another kind of belief in the religious sense. Except you know it’s not.

              Darn tootin’ I know it’s not.
              Science is a tool well suited to doing what it’s been built to do. It’s also got a lot of capacity to be rebuilt on the fly to enable it to do more things as more is learned. But just because a knowledge system is able to build itself semi-robustly upon what it’s built before doesn’t mean it’s ever going to reach the sky.

              What science isn’t is an ontology that offers an exhaustive or privileged view of what ‘reality’ is. That is what I’m calling a religion. And that’s how you see science. As the religion of scientism.

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            122. How about when reality shows a side to someone that is totally off the charts? I did not believe in reincarnation, i barely knew what the hell it was. This was 1969. Men were on their way to the moon. Science was everything. There were no computers. Knowledge was not easy to come by in those days. I swallowed a pill, and it took me inside my brain, and through it into a place I could never have imagined could exist. It made me question my beliefs. Ten days later I took another pill, similar to the first one. I ended up in the same place. Isn’t that what a scientist is supposed to do, see if the experiment is repeatable? It repeated all right. With reference to the first visit.
              NOTHING you can say can make me stop belueving what I was literally forced to believe, not by someone else, but by me, only a me on a different level of conscioisness.
              I am not asking you to believe, i don’t give a shit if anyone believes. But you do not have to believe, you just have to accept. But how can you? Because you BELIEVE such a thing is impossible? But you CANNOT KNOW it is impossible. I KNOW IT IS NOT ONLY POSSIBLE, BUT ACTUAL FACT FOR ME. I cannot stop believing, that CANNOT BE CHANGED. But for the sake of people who have never and probably will never, have the same experiences as me, I say I only believe. It is a convenient lie, But why do you think I don’t back down to people like you who will not allow for a reality that science canmot see, yet.
              Others have had similar experiences to mine, but I don’t have names and addresses. I meet them online occasionally, compare notes, note the contrasts (many still see the Christian god), celebrate the similarities (we all went through a long tunnel accessible only through our own brains), and ended up in a fantastical place no one was prepared to visit!
              Don’t believe me, i don’t care. But don’t try to tell me my experiences are impossible, while living right here on this earth, because they are. And I am the proof.

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            123. I’m not saying anything you tell me I am saying. That’s a fact. So use that springboard that you are quite capable of convincing yourself that what you believe is true is, in fact, absolutely false. And this mistake – because it is an error that produces a belief in a fiction – has a cause. I have identified the cause for you (because I’m just that nice): you are making an ASSUMPTION that your interpretation is correct. In the case of assuming I have said what I have not said about your personal experiences (which I’ve said repeatedly are what they are: EXPERIENCES), you then make the mistake of INTERPRETING them as if they reveal a hidden ‘reality’. The likelihood that this interpretation is correct I think is very low. And I think it’s low BECAUSE nothing in reality independent of thee and me indicates such a place exists. But what DOES unquestionably exist is your brain. It should go without saying but I’ll reiterate the FACT that when the brain function is chemically altered, its function will be affected. And with certain hallucinogens, that altered function produces altered perceptions of reality. This is well documented.

              So, using likelihood as a metric, which is more likely: there exists a reality only accessible through certain hallucinogens, or certain brains when hallucinating produce what seems to be a different reality?

              No amount of imported subjective belief tips this objective scale one way or another. And it is the scale of likelihood that I try to use to inform my beliefs about the claim that such realities exist independent of the believer who insists it does because he or she has EXPERIENCED it. No, he or she has INTERPRETED the experience. And that’s religious testimonial in a nutshell: a way of interpreting reality using an imported framework. It’s called ‘faith’. And it fools people all the time, people who are honest and moral and earnest and good but who who are convinced that their interpretation of an experience is evidence for a ‘hidden’ reality. And rather than accept the possibility that their interpretation might be inaccurate, believers who award certainty to their faith-based beliefs (who invest their identity in the belief) usually take the position that any evidence-adduced sincere doubt about the claim – that is to say ‘science’ – must be the guilty party, reality must be wrong (it contains mysteries your ‘science’ is ill-equipped to study), and the request for compelling evidence for such a remarkable claim about reality must therefore be a sign of deep intolerance and hatred.

              And yet, I have equivalent faith (almost always a faith-based belief) that the NFL football team I identify with will win the Superbowl. But I also know I am quite satisfied to go along with elevating hope above reality; and I’ve learned no amount of money bet on this outcome, no demonstration of fealty and raised voice in certainty, increases the likelihood of it being true one iota. And I’m good with that! I just as good and tolerant and understanding expecting other fans of the NFL teams to which they are no less dedicated to be just as certain in their own ‘hope of things wished for’ as I am.

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            124. For crying out loud, show me where I said that!

              Look, doing the same thing and expecting a different result is not productive. To say the least. You keep interpreting what you believe I am saying (when I’m not saying that at all) and assume your conclusion is therefore accurate and so your highly negative and mistaken responses are justified. They’re not.

              That’s why I’ve invested all this time and effort to explain to you why your beliefs about me are not the case. In fact – and I mean exactly that: a fact – you keep producing and adding to an ongoing fiction. Worse still, you hold on to it tightly. So tightly that you seem to have just as much ‘certainty’ that I say and believe things I do not AND you couldn’t POSSIBLY be making the same mistake over and over and over.

              Well: you are. Your beliefs about me – what you think I think and what you think I say – are faith-based beliefs because they seem immune to reality’s arbitration of them.

              So, just for own consideration (I don’t need any kind of response), what other term would you call such an immune belief directed at you? Rational? Reasonable? Justified? And also, just for your own consideration, what motives would you assign to a person who consistently and reliably treated you and what you said and replaced it with a fiction this way?

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            125. It should go without saying but I’ll reiterate the FACT that when the brain function is chemically altered, its function will be affected. And with certain hallucinogens, that altered function produces altered perceptions of reality. This is well documented.

              Inasmuch as our perceptions of reality relies on chemical processes in our brains (it’s equally true to say chemical processes in our brains rely on our perceptions of reality) I think it’s more useful to think of it always as an hallucination, but one that alters as brain chemicals alter – whether via processes inside or outside the body.

              If you check out the recent neurobabble on how psychedelic drugs work to overcome ‘brain malfunctions’ (not my term) like depression, PTSD and addiction you’ll hear talk of a posited ‘default mode network’ (DFM) in the posterior cingulate cortex – a recently evolved structure which is believed to give rise to the notion of a separate ego. There is no reason to believe a separate ego is ‘real’ in any objective sense and it’s not even consistently ‘real’ subjectively.

              The DFM imposes a centralised ‘order’ on the intraconnectivity of the brain, channeling, filtering and suppressing perceptual and conceptual reality into something that can offer ‘meaning’ in relation to the ego. In that sense the DFM/ego does hide certain aspects of reality, likely for reasons which are usually pragmatic in natural selection terms but which sometimes narrows the focus of attention in a dysfunctional manner (e.g. upon an addictive drug, traumatic memories or aspects of life perceived as ‘negative’ and depressing).

              Classical psychedelics like LSD are believed to preferentially bind to 5-HT 2A receptor sites in the posterior cingulate cortex in a manner which suppresses DFM activity and leads to temporary ‘ego death’. With the ego out of the way a far richer set of interconnections are established (see diagram below) and a lot of previously ‘hidden’ (by the ego) ‘reality’ comes rushing in, typically overwhelming capacity for linear, rational interpretation, encoding as symbols or incorporation into narrative memory. That so much ‘reality’ overloads our usual conscious methods of interpreting it in no way makes it any less real. Subjectively it’s often the most ‘real’ thing the subject has ever experienced, though it’s beyond their capacity to articulate (i.e. it’s ineffable).

              So inasmuch as using concepts to discuss concept go (which is a bit like the Escher print of two hands drawing each other) it’s reasonable to say there’s a ‘hidden’ (by the ego) reality which is temporarily unveiled by psychedelics (as well as other kinds of ego dissolving peak experiences). The trick to psychedelic healing is to use pre-trip preparation and post-trip integration to ‘realise’ the often inexpressible insights that are so revealed in a manner which allows the reality filtering aspects of the DFM/ego to find new, less harmful ways to direct conscious attention. The neurobabblers talk about it in terms of ‘neuroplasticity’ and ‘developing new pathways’ but that’s just so they can maintain the locus of authority over psychedelic healing within the mind science guilds. The traditional models employed by cultures which have long employed psychedelic healing work at least as well in terms of practical outcomes so can be considered at least as valid.

              I’m not speaking entirely from academic theory here. Peak experience healing (sometimes using psychedelics) on both myself and others is something I’ve practiced for much longer than the current mind science fad for it has existed and I’ve experienced and observed some spectacular results. I wouldn’t (and usually don’t) try to explain it in the way I just did, but I’ve adopted an explanation I think will be more meaningful and palatable to you tildeb.

              believers who award certainty to their faith-based beliefs (who invest their identity in the belief)

              That’s how peak experience healing works tildeb. All our belief systems – including those the believer characterises as ‘science’ – are ultimately faith-based and we invest our identities in them. By temporarily disabling our egos, peak experiences offer the opportunity to discard harmful beliefs that have ‘rusted on’ to our identities and replace them with something more functional (though neither inherently more or less ‘real’). With psychedelic therapy it’s not the drug or therapist that heals. They merely clear the way and offer tools so the sufferer can heal herself. So one or two (large) doses of psychedelics can have therapeutic effects that last a very long time (even a lifetime) after their chemical effects on the brain have worn off.

              This is something traditional healers have practiced for centuries or millennia and science is only just beginning to catch up (i.e. appropriate and commercialise it). Many within the mind sciences are calling it a therapeutic revolution and you’ll be hearing a lot more about it over the next decade.

              I think rawgod would be the first to admit he’s not highly skilled linguistically. And I agree with you that he often responds in a ‘prickly’ way to attempts by others to communicate with him. But I don’t think you have any basis whatsoever for believing his interpretation of reality is any less legitimate than your own, despite how kludgy his articulation of it might be. Frankly, I don’t ‘believe’ in reincarnation either. But I recognise it’s because I can find no useful place for it in the models I use to interpret reality, not because I have any special insight into whether it’s ‘real’ or not.

              (it contains mysteries your ‘science’ is ill-equipped to study)

              Science is a human artifact used to impose a particular structure on the gathering and interpretation of knowledge. Like any other tool it’s suited to the task it was developed for and unsuitable for others. No matter how nifty the hammer, it’s not helpful to insist everything is nails.

              Science is particularly ill-equipped to study things with a large subjective component (e.g. consciousness, morality, art, the mind in general) or which can’t be linked into chains of cause and effect (e.g. the ’causes’ of the Big Bang or electron tunneling, the ‘effects’ of passing an event horizon, the ‘reality’ or otherwise of free will).

              That’s how you get scientism dogmatists like Daniel Dennett ‘explaining’ consciousness by insisting that contrary to everyone’s subjective experience it doesn’t really exist. Or Sam Harris simultaneously claiming that free will (therefore personal morality) doesn’t exist and that science can and does offer an absolute guide to personal morality; while still imagining he has a single, coherent belief system that can potentially explain all of reality.

              I’ve learned no amount of money bet on this outcome … increases the likelihood of it being true one iota.

              Unless it’s large amounts of money bet by criminal organisations, in which case it can have a decisive effect on the outcome of the game.

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            126. I am not a neuroscientist and so I have only a layman’s understanding of how the brain functions. But I know something about the healing properties of psychodelics offers regarding cluster headaches, depression, and PTSD. So in no way am I trying to pooh pooh any psychedelic experience. The experience is what it is. Where I take issue is with the claim that this is an avenue to a reality that really, really, really does exist… but for which there seems to be only hallucinatory testimonials and no other evidence. What’s missing is any explanation how altering brain chemistry produces a chemical pathway that allow only that subjective neurology to connect to it but nothing else. How does that work. Explain how ‘this world’ chemistry opens up awareness not just of but to ‘this other world’. All the work is still before us and so it makes likelihood much lower to draw an accurate conclusion. I suspect there is a much simpler answer.

              What complicates things even more is trying to understand how the bicameral brain we have can be shown to produce the same kind of familiar ‘somewhere beyond reality’ claims involving targeted magnetism, or how areas of the brain that have reduced blood flow also produce similar claims (prayer and meditation), as do physically damaged brains (My Stroke of Insight by neurologist Jill Bolte Taylor). But we must also remember we’re at the very front end of this study, that neuroscience is really in its infancy and we ‘know’ almost nothing other than just starting to get some of the fundamentals in place. I would love to be around in 150 years to see just how far our understanding might be. Maybe we should be choosing our vats now.

              I won’t go down the rabbit holes of defining consciousness or free will; I just don’t have the brain power available nor the interest to go through these very long arguments. From my safe distance, it seems to me we’re using representative terms that have poor connection with reality and seems to get hopelessly muddled in short order about what it is we’re trying to talk about. Sort of like assigning motion to ‘agency’ or properties to ‘natures’; using such vaporous terms doesn’t work to produce applicable knowledge about how to model the world we must navigate.

              But I did want to take the opportunity to address this notion that you “don’t think (I) have any basis whatsoever for believing his interpretation of reality is any less legitimate than (my) own.” I think you don’t appreciate that ‘my’ interpretation in this matter doesn’t matter. So the basis of my pointing out a fiction is not personal interpretation); the basis is pointing out that by assuming something is the case first, believing the assumption one makes is true a priori, and then imposing that belief as if true on others, does not serve finding out what is likely. In fact, it’s a guaranteed way – a failed methodology – to fool one’s self. It is how belief creates fiction but allows no means to test it because it’s already true… because it’s is assumed to be true… and so reality is not allowed to play any role arbitrating it. That’s not ‘my’ interpretation; that is how faith-based belief works as a method. I am criticizing the method here in regards to what rawgod continues to tell me what I think and makes up what I say BECAUSE it produces fictions right here in this thread. Those fictions do not belong to me in any way, shape, or fashion yet are believed to be true. So ‘my’ interpretation (as questionable as it may be in many things) plays no role.

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            127. If your brain had evolved slightly differently your reality would be completely different, which could involve blood flow and anything associated with brain injury. It isn’t as complicated as you’d Ike. There are an infinite number of possible perceptions based on slight changes in anatomy which would then make your current perception fringed.

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            128. I fully understand that my perceptions are based on my brain’s interpretation of of input. This is a major reason why I do not grant MY interpretations high confidence UNLESS it aligns with interpretations modeled in successful applications, therapies, and technologies… that is to say, knowledge independent of me and the imported beliefs I bring and try to impose on reality. I am fully aware that I can be fooled by using my imposed beliefs as a guideline, that I am being foolish if I then grant high confidence to my imported beliefs based only on MY interpretations, and that agree with Feynman that I am the easiest person in the world to fool. That’s why I say this subjective method of trusting my imported beliefs based on my interpretations to model the world is a GUARATEED way to fool myself.

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            129. ”interpretations modeled in successful applications, therapies, and technologies”
              So would it be fair to say this applies only to average successes in applied science? If the modality is mostly accurate, where does one fit when those medical modalities fail or present untoward effect? Even common psychotherapeutics have vastly different outcomes because neurology is not solely about neurons and synapses. This seems a little myopic to assume what we perceive in common is all that is valuable. What if someone has a tweak of neurology and sees the world differently? Are they wrong?

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            130. that is to say, knowledge independent of me

              Err, how can you access knowledge independent of you?
              Isn’t there an oxymoron in there somewhere?

              Do you think knowledge resides in, for example, books. Or is it something generated and therefore modulated by the activity of reading. Would not your capacity to access that knowledge without corruption be dependent on perfect reading comprehension? And would it not be degraded by your cultural and conceptual distance from the author in the same way Biblical Christians doubtless fail to understand the allegory, metaphors and literary devices contained in the Bible?

              Isn’t what you’re saying just a way of sanctifying your own beliefs by claiming they’re not yours at all but those of an abstracted superior external authority?
              Aren’t you simply making a statement of faith?

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            131. Let me pose a hypothetical.

              I’m a man of faith who believes there is an all-seeing external panopticon that acts as investigator, judge and jury over everything I and everyone else does, handing out punishments and rewards accordingly.

              I do something I know is sinful. Shortly afterwards I have a pleasurable experience. That’s doubtless a reward for the virtuous act I performed yesterday. The pleasure fades. I’m now being punished for my sin.

              I observe my neighbour and see he too acts sometimes virtuously and sometimes sinfully and sometimes experiences pleasure and sometimes pain. There’s at least one sinful act I’m yet to see him adequately punished for, but that might have happened while I wasn’t watching. Or perhaps it will catch up to him in an afterlife. I know there’s an afterlife otherwise it wouldn’t be possible to punish or reward people for actions carried out at the moment of death.

              Almost everything I observe provides independent confirmation that the panopticon is real and its judgements inescapable. My belief system may not map perfectly onto observable reality – sometimes I don’t observe rewards for virtue or punishments for sin – but I know it’s very close to it. It would be sinful to believe it will ever be perfect, so I carefully nurture my humility, but I’m content in the confidence my knowledge is steadily increasing and bringing me ever closer to complete apprehension of reality.

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            132. This hidden reality is very similar to Hoffmans investigation. We only see what is necessary for survival and breeding. We don’t have the brain capacity to perceive all of reality.

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            133. We don’t have the brain capacity to perceive all of reality.

              Which is kinda obvious when you remember your brain can be objectified as part of ‘reality’. So to perceive all of objective ‘reality’ (i.e. excluding subjective and/or non-dual aspects – probably along with many other dimensions we can’t even begin to imagine) our brain would have to perceive all of our brain plus a heck of a lot more.

              The ontology of physicalist mind sciences is rife with that sort of incoherence. You’ll often hear pop neurologists claim the human brain is the most complex structure known to man. Even setting aside the fact that ‘complex’ is another one of those semantic categories we impose that isn’t inherent in the qualities of entities, what does that say about societies, which are structures incorporating many brains?

              BTW, if you want to deconstruct the claim brains are uniquely complex, consider the fact complexity is always expressed as the richness of connections between neurons. Now consider the extra level of complexity that would be needed to express the relationships between all the molecules in a brain. Is that really any more ‘complex’ than the relationships between molecules in an equivalent (or greater) volume of seawater? What about the relationships between all its subatomic particles?

              It’s just neurologists using superlatives to mystify their chosen field while it’s attracting a lot of popular attention. Geneticists did the same thing a couple of decades ago (often with outrageous claims of genetic determinism) and are now trying to put themselves back at the top of the pop science pops with overhyped claims about epigenetics. I wonder if astrophysicists resent being usurped from the pop science domination they held for so long. Maybe they can ride the recently renewed interest in UFOs back to the top of the charts.

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            134. I guess my point is; with the evidence of this fact I would hope it lead to more tolerance and acceptance of others and their reality.
              The post I did a while back about evidence based reality was directed at a blog I read of the same name. If evidence of reality was paramount it would have to include all evidence, not just the materialist view of the cold hard facts excluding consciousness and perception.
              Of course there is a place for that as well because it gives us modalities. But nothing works for everyone every time across cultures except the gadgets. Mixing a few polymers and circuitry is the only reality out there by that metric.

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            135. The post I did a while back about evidence based reality was directed at a blog I read of the same name. If evidence of reality was paramount it would have to include all evidence, not just the materialist view of the cold hard facts excluding consciousness and perception.

              There’s a scientism website I used to comment on called ‘Science Based Medicine’ that explicitly spells that out and endorses it. The blog does a fair bit of good work in exposing medical scams and woo (or relaying and commenting on the exposées of others) but not only shrinks from criticising BS claims made by proponents of their own physicalist world view, but engages in unsubstantiated attacks on critics of that ontology regardless of how solidly their critiques are rooted in evidence. They also flatly refuse to concede the debt medical science owes to traditional medicine, insisting it’s not really medicine at all until it’s been made to comply with their world-view no matter how many people it’s helped.

              In one of their explanatory articles they distinguish their approach from mere evidence based medicine by insisting ‘Science’ (i.e. their own narrow ideological view of what the word means) needs to be put above evidence in evaluating medical treatments. That is, new therapies that don’t justify themselves in accordance with their physicalist worldview must meet a higher threshold of proof than those that do before they can be considered valid and authorised for use. They don’t specify whether that should be achieved by lifting the bar for those that aren’t ‘Science’ or lowering it for those that are.

              Generally the people who write the articles have some grasp of medical science – though sometimes it’s a poor one in the particular field they’re writing about – but the bulk of the commenters are typically zealous scientism fan boys who often freely admit they have no science education beyond secondary school and don’t understand the scientific principles expounded in the articles. Nonetheless they brook no criticism of ‘Science’ and usually resort to insisting everyone just accepts without question the authority of those they recognise as experts (i.e. those who write the articles).

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            136. I can’t help but think of this —”A Particle Is a ‘Quantum Excitation of a Field’. Nothing is as it appears to be through the lens of sensory perception.

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            137. Nothing is as it appears to be through the lens of sensory perception.

              Nor should we expect it to be.

              We know our vision can only detect a very narrow band within the electromagnetic spectrum, our hearing an equally restricted range of frequencies, our sense of smell is incredibly dull compared to that of animals as diverse as dogs, insects and fish, our taste buds detect only five dimensions of the billions of chemical variations in our environment, our touch can detect temperature, pressure and movement only and even that with rather crude resolution. And there’s a whole range of senses possessed by other animals we have no direct access to whatsoever.

              Even that incredibly restricted sampling of data from our environment is enough to completely overwhelm our ability to process and interpret it, necessitating a range of mental filters, shortcuts and tricks to produce an image we can begin to make sense of.

              Yeah, we can use devices to extend the reach of our senses and conceptual tools to systematise the resultant data in a manner that can produce practical applications, but these too discard or lose more information than they gather or use and much of it is so abstracted from any ‘reality’ we can conceive of it can only be manipulated in ways beyond our capacity to truly comprehend or independently validate.

              And there’s no mind on the planet that can begin to synthesise all of that into coherent or comprehensive picture of even the ‘reality’ we suspect, much less that we cannot yet suspect. In fact the increasing specialisation it requires acts to shatter and scatter any holistic picture that might be painted with the knowledge we’ve gathered into increasingly narrow ‘bubble realities’ in which the focused attention of the occupants is drawing them ever further from understanding other bubbles. The Renaissance Man is definitely a thing of the past.

              So as individuals we understand more and more about less and less as we approach the limit of eventually knowing everything about nothing and disappearing up our own fundamental axioms. Once our specialised ignorance is complete we will have attained oblivious certainty in all things.

              The shallow, shadow understandings of the inhabitants of Plato’s cave are probably just as close to ‘reality’ as are our own.

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            138. Actually I am very skilled linguistically, when the linguistics match the needs of a given topic. I am an English Honours Major. My vocabulary impressed more than one of my English profs. But, I cannot force English words to describe concepts beyond those covered by the English language. That would be like trying to translate a conversation between two Tiger Monkeys. They would not be discussing the weather, but they might be discussing the sweetness of the moisture trapped in leaves of a hibiscus plant. But their expertise on the sweetness of said moisture would not be expressible in English. They would be communicating monkey concepts, not human concepts. To think they would be would be anthropocentric. And I dare you to come up with a correctly used “would be would be” in the normal course of a normal conversation.

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            139. And I dare you to come up with a correctly used “would be would be” in the normal course of a normal conversation.

              That’s pretty easy. You’ve just gotta sing Que Sera, Sera as conditional.
              Whatever would be, would be.

              Now punctuate this:
              “That that is is that that is not is not that that is is not that that is not that that is not is not that that is.”

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            140. Que sera sera = What will be will be. Wrong verb tense. And you stole it from Doris Day’s lyricist, so this doesn’t count. Your sentence needs no punctuation. It is perfectly understandable as it is. What it needs is where the stresses are as you speak your words, stresses which are impossible to hear while reading text. Again, stolen words. But good try.

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            141. Wrong verb tense

              Which is why I said to sing it conditionally.
              You do know that ‘would’ indicates conditionality as well as tense, right?
              As in “He would make a fool of himself if he said that.”

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            142. University of Winnipeg. I was not correcting your grammar. I was changing your verb tense. Unfortunately I hit the SEND button before I finished what I was saying. But if the shoe fits, wear it. I am not trying to start a war, cg. But I did take 3 years of high school French and one year of French in First Year. I know my tenses when I see them.

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            143. I don’t speak French and have no idea how it deals with tenses. But I do speak English and know the various meanings of ‘would’. Such as this one from the Merriam-Webster.

              —used in auxiliary function in the conclusion of a conditional sentence to express a contingency or possibility
              “If he were coming, he would be here now”

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            144. In proper English I might day, “If he were coming he might be here now,” because for all I know he is caught in a traffic tie ip on the Patello Bridge, where it can often take 5 hours to untie it during rush hour. But, yes, I perfectly definitely understand the conditional tense, although in your example you are using past conditional as opposed to future conditional in “”What would be would be” where it actually makes no sense. But for the sake of discussion I will ignore that. It sounds like it is denying the possibility of free will.

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            145. Are you a French speaker. I haven’t dpoken French since high school, over 50 years ago, but there is no “conditionalality” in the statement “What will be will be.” It is “future definite.”

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            146. there is no “conditionalality” in the statement “What will be will be.” It is “future definite.”

              That’s right. But there is conditionality in “What would be, would be”. Which is why I suggested singing the lyrics conditionally to meet the criterion you specified.

              Is that so hard to understand?

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            147. You are the one who mentioned “Que sera sera.” I will admit I missed the direction to sing it in the conditional, but French is a precise languange. To sing it in the conditional it would no longer be “Que sera sera. ” It would have to be “Que serant serant,” or something like that, my memoty fails me. Whatever, i wrote the words “would be would be” as part of the comnent I made. It came naturally, without hesitation. I called attention to this because it is not a word combination that comes up in normal converstion frequently. This all started becsuse you said “I think rawgod would be the first to admit he’s not highly skilled linguistically. And I agree with you that he often responds in a ‘prickly’ way to attempts by others to communicate with him.” I have to wjoleheartedly disagree with that statement. Unfortunately, because you wrote that quite a while ago, and due to the rules of “threading” my comment appeared quite a distance away from your original statement, you may have forgotten you even said that, but I was quite shocked you took such a liberyy with putting words in my mouth thst were adamantly untrue. So, I wanted to correct you. It was meant to be a simple, one-off gesture. Now it has blown totally out of proportion. So, do you still think I am lacking in linguistic skills. I may be lacking in attentive reading skills, but I certainly am quite capable of holding my own in any conversation we might have involving earth-bound concepts. If you have no problems in discussing ideas or evens that happen or describe things outside the confines of this universe, I bow to you. But somehow I do not think you would be any better at it than myself. We would both be sighted men bumbling around in pitch darkness.

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            148. Okay, peace? I just read the whole of the comment that referred to my supposed lack of linguistics skills, a sentence which caught my eye in passing, and generated by the fact I pass over most conversations involving tildeb as long and boring dissertstions on why he believes in science, and therefore everyone should believe in science. While none of that is relevent to my forthcoming words, I just wanted to tell you why I passed over your comment. But, having this conversation with you inspired me to find out why you were using my name, even though you clearly do not know me.
              Eureka. Someone who actually understands what is cspable of being discovered while under the influence of psychedelics. Amazing! No. ASTOUNDING!
              You say you have used microdosing on yourself, and possibly others. I have no idea how microdosing works. In my days using LSD a trip lasted approximately 8 hours, and that was written in stone. Even people who ended up in Emergency Rooms in those days could not be brought down, to the best of my knowledge. I lost some good friends who were screwed up by being taken to ERs while under the influence. It sounds like microdosing is a whole new ball of wax. Still, the results are not that dissimilar. Thank you for recognizing that reality can be many things, and that just because one’s understanfing of reality is different from another’s understanding of reality, this does not mean that either understanding can be brushed aside wantonly without investigation.
              Not only did I not take microdoses of LSD, but I did not take “pure” LSD, which is what I am sure you are wotking with today. Street drugs were cut with other things, mainly body-awareness drugs. Why this was done I cannot say, but I know from my experience my trips were almost always influenced by not losing awareness of my body, until my last two trips. My mind was, one might say, tied to my body and could not escape. That did not keep me from having 90% psychological or mind-oriented trips, but being anchored prevented me from escaping my body as in did in my last two trips.
              So, are you a psychiatrist? A chemial scientist? Or something else. I presume you are some kind of professional with connections to the study of the brain/mind dichotomy. I wonder if there can be a meeting of the minds in some way. Totally unscientifically, I have studied my mind for over 50 years, tracing pathways in my brain/mind that I have never been able to find any professional acceptance of. This one comment of yours to tildeb reveals to me how much you are capable of understanding, whether you are accepting or believing or what. You may not be able to converse about what goes on beyond reality as we know it, but at least you can go with me into the depths of the mind that most people refuse to believe are even there. I am willing to be a guinea pig for science, short of ingesting LSD ever again. But so much of your comment speaks to me in language I have seldom encountered before. I am offering you my mind, if you want to explire it.

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            149. You say you have used microdosing on yourself, and possibly others.

              More megadosing than microdosing.

              I’ve never tried microdosing but I’m told it involves taking <50mcg at pretty high frequencies (20mcg per day indefinitely seems pretty typical) for performance enhancement purposes, particularly by 'creatives'. I suspect there's a fair bit of placebo effect at play.

              Recreational doses are typically in the 80-120mcg range.

              In a psychedelics naive person I'll typically do a test run with a low recreational dose just to check out their reaction, but the effective dose for my purposes is upwards of 3.5 mcg per kilo body weight, depending on apparent sensitivity, which is more than triple the normal recreational dose. I find that's what you need to reliably dissolve the ego and induce a mystical experience in most people. Obviously I don't try it with people who respond badly to lower doses. I also take a pretty comprehensive medical history and don't dose people with active hypertension, epilepsy or who take medications which can interact adversely with classical psychedelics.

              Even people who ended up in Emergency Rooms in those days could not be brought down, to the best of my knowledge.

              I’m assured antipsychotics will bring you down very quickly – including the phenothiazines that have been around since the 1940s – but psychedelic clinics like Synthesis in The Netherlands prefer to use benzos like valium to calm the subject, presumably to avoid the risk of neuroleptic malignant syndrome. I’ve never had to bring anyone down in a hurry but if someone has a history of psychosis I won’t treat them unless they have their antipsychotic medications to hand.

              I did not take “pure” LSD, which is what I am sure you are wotking with today

              I use either street LSD or psylocibin mushrooms (‘gold tops’ here in NSW). If I’m using street blotters I always have them tested before giving them to someone. So far they’ve all checked out pure, which is good as there’s some nasty LSD mimics getting around these days, like NBOM. Pure LSD is one of the safest pharmaceuticals known to man but it can still fuck over people with certain medical conditions.

              So, are you a psychiatrist? A chemial scientist? Or something else. I presume you are some kind of professional with connections to the study of the brain/mind dichotomy.

              I’ve got a bachelors degree in psychology and a masters in microbiology but I don’t consider either to be very relevant to psychedelic therapy. Mostly I’m from a family with a tradition of mysticism and someone who has used a lot of psychedelics for various reasons over my life, usually alone. I used to sell acid in the early 80s and did a lot of self-experimentation. Also psychedelic mushrooms grow wild on the land of several of my family members and I learned to ID them as a teenager (as well as a bit about preparation and doses).

              I first used psychedelics ‘therapeutically’ in the early 80s to treat substance addiction in myself and my friends (mostly heroin but also alcohol).

              I am offering you my mind, if you want to explire it.

              I’m humbled by your offer, but I wouldn’t know where to start.

              As you probably know, psychedelics are about letting people explore their own minds. In large enough doses they’ll knock the ego down for 6-12 hours and let people see themselves without getting in their own way. It’s not the drug that does the work, it’s the person taking it.

              The main parts of offering psychedelic therapy to others is preparation prior to the trip, support, reassurance and oversight during it and integration of any insights gained afterwards.

              The main difficulty with learning from it is that it’s so far away from usual experiences that it’s prone to slipping away like a dream after the drug has worn off. The boundless, egoless, non-dual mystical experience is essentially ineffable – it can’t be expressed in words or incorporated into narrative memory – so it can be hard to realise the insights it offers into your day to day life.

              Preparation involves offering people metaphors that can be used to explore their own minds, teaching techniques – such as body awareness and how to ‘feel’ embodied emotional memories – that might help ‘fix’ any insights gained and keep them accessible, telling them what to expect and how to stay relaxed and avoid panic, and establishing boundaries between the subject and the sitter to avoid unhelpful or potentially abusive interactions while under the influence. As well as the obvious, both must be aware of the risk of psycho-spiritual abuse while the subject is suggestible and potentially disoriented. Just because I’ve tripped a lot doesn’t mean I can tell others what theirs mean.

              Integration is several sessions of debriefing in which the sitter and subject discuss the insights from the experience (and any vivid dreams over subsequent nights), what meaning they have for the subject and how they might lead to changes in how s/he lives or deals with challenges.

              The tricky thing is to establish trust and psychological intimacy without compromising the subjects’ privacy or imposing my own ideas of meaning on them. So I try not to ‘explore’ their minds, but rather offer them tools they might use to explore it themselves. And I try to be as respectful as possible towards their world view. If they’re gonna lose their faith – whether religious or secular – I sure don’t want it to be because I convinced them to ditch it. And I don’t want to shove some version of my own into the space it leaves.

              That’s the scary thing about the psychedelic therapy fad. People who think the best way to help someone is to make them more like they are. That sort of arrogance is already rife in the mental health field (as well as the New Age) and there’s already worrying signs psychedelic therapy will offer people like that a whole new toolbox to abuse.

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            150. Thank you. Excellent discussion. So things have not really changed that much since the 60s, but yet, from what you describe, I only recognize them in similarity but not in deed. We, especially me,
              used acid in social and public situations. Movies, concerts, parties large and small. Never controlled. Aside from movie theatres, which allowed us to be “right there” in the movies (A reverse “Purple Rose of Cairo,” if ever you saw the movie. A great idea but sad ending.) my favourite place to trip out was Stanley Park in Vancouver, BC. I could “communicate” with nature in a way impossible while I was straight. I cannot even imagine sitting in a room with one unstoned person for 8 hours, but that could have been interesting too, I guess.
              But anyways, it was your discussion of ego, and losing the ego, that I was really impressed with. You have heard me talk about the results of my last two trips, obviously. They changed my entire life and helped remake me into an entirely different person on a certain level, over the
              course of the 53 years since. And that is what I would love to have “studied by outside sources.” When you say the drugs allowed us to live without our egos for awhile, it is both true and untrue for me. I certainly learned how to see through the world as presented by society, the world certain other people cannot break out of. There is so much more to life than science, and especially faith-based religion can offer us. The problem is, finding like-minded people to relate to. Because out-of-body and near-death-experiences are so unique, and so dependent on the “experiencer’s world beliefs” at the time of the experience, good friends are hard to find. I have been, to try to explain this, “a hermit in a great crowd” ever since these thinghappened to me. I have to interact in a world of constant rejection, which might be why my words might seem “prickly” to some ears.
              Anyways, I want to discuss one thing before I end, and thst is ego, because I just wrote a po
              st on it yesterday (though I am having technical troubles with it I hope to have corrected soon). While I was “otherwhere,” I think I had a piece of my ego with me. I was twice given the choice between moving on to a new life, a new body, and I turned it downeach time, because I did not want to abandon “my body” to life as a mindless vegetable. Does that speak to ego, or to self-love, or something else? I can remember thinking, slopwing down the process greatly, that my body was servicing me well enough that it deserved to stay occupied. There were a lot of other thoughts on a lo
              t of other levels, but that was one of the factors that helped me choose to return to this life, this body. It had never done me wrong, in the big picture, so how could I do it wrong? Do you have any comment to offer on that?

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          2. I just hope that the search for meaning leads to the finding of it. Or does the searching become the ends? As someone I know puts it, “There’s a reason they call it fishing, not catching.” If you never catch anything, is standing in the river with a rod good enough, or might the time be better spent doing (or being) something else? I suspect that meaning finds us, not the other way around.

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            1. Not being a fisherperson I don’t know what they desire. As for the search for meaning, it can go both wsys, I guess. Finding meaning in my life is an ongoing process, there is no one point where I can say my search is finished, like arriving at a shoreline. Rather it is more like coming to a new city, which is full of great little parks and shops and people. There is always something new to discover. Having said that, learning the process of how to discover those parks, shops, and people certainly is as important as the finding. I’ll use the allegory of waiting for a baby to be born. Being male, I don’t know the entire process for a woman, but I presume at each step you have to learn a new trick or method to help the baby along. Some parts are easier, relatively speaking, and some parts are downright agonizing (listening to the screams and watching the facial expression I can say I am glad I am not a woman at that point!) but when the baby is born and the expression on the mother’s face is sheer ectasy mixed with relief, that is transcendent! No, discovering meaning is not like that, but the range of emotions can be, as you encounter the roadblicks and overcome them. The result can be awe-inspiring. But like the baby, birth is not the end. It is only the beginning of an entirely new process–growth.

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  3. I love it when people use a phrase such as “a higher level of consciousness.” Immediately I know they are bullshitting me. They don’t even know what consciousness is but they do know there are levels and our level isn’t the highest, so they can sell access to that “higher” “level” of consciousness.

    Plus they promote the idea that one has to “search” for the meaning of their life, as if it existed outside of themselves. Once you convince people to search for “the meaning of life” you can sell them guides to the search galore and not have to worry about them finding anything, and so are are primed to be purchasers of your next guide.

    Meaning is something we create, not something that exists outside of us that we can find. If they were selling guides as to how to create meaning in one’s life I might have some respect for them, but they don’t and I don’t.

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    1. I so agree with you! Perhaps it’s because of where I am in “life” that I’ve put childish things aside (isn’t there some kind of bible quote about this?!!? 😈) and simply take life as it comes. As you said, Steve, meaning is something WE create. To go outside of ourselves to look for “something” is a fruitless endeavor, IMO.

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      1. I understand you Nan, but how did you get there? Persisting in the folly of it? Can or will anyone learn that from your own experience?

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        1. Of course we have to learn from our OWN experiences! That’s a given. But I tend to think some feel they have to spend time and effort to go outside of themselves to search for a “meaning” to life — and as a result, they often end up more confused than they were when they started! 😉

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          1. I think there is a reason self improvement books are still best sellers. But to get there it is imperative to shed off the old beliefs—even atheism is not a destination but a way-point.
            Snake that doesn’t shed its skin, dies.

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            1. But to go off in a slightly different direction … do “self-help” books really … well, help?

              P.S. I never considered myself a snake. 🐍😄

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    2. Dear Steve, I do love how you cancel my life even though I do as you suggest should be done. The ONLY place I look for answers is inside of myself, and it is inside of myself that I find different levels of consciousness. I know you think me a fool for even saying such words, but I will say them to my death. My level of consciousness has changed many times over the past 72 years of my life, starting from the mental desert of religion and moving upward through various levels of inssnity, to sanity, to unsanity and beyond. (See my definition of unsanity in the Urban Dictionary)
      This is not meant to be mean in any way, just a statement regarding the worlds I live in: just because you do not understand something does not mean no other being cannot either.

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  4. Vervaeke isn’t saying anything new here and I think can be summed up very easily: meaning is a process and not a product. How many ways does this need to be said to start to make an impression on people busy busy busy seeking meaning? I mean, seriously. So then the question becomes ‘how’ and, sure enough, we head off in all kinds of woo-related, psychodelic paths and go right back to assuming the product will then ‘give meaning’ it to us.

    Sigh.

    This failure to learn how to be wise, how to live an authentic and meaningful life, to me is shocking. And it comes back to grasping that the ‘how’ (like always) determines the ‘what’. That’s as true by the way one thinks (how one thinks determines what one thinks) as it is by the way we live each moment. And we are at the controls here. (That’s where a lot of people bail. “The Devil made me do it!”)

    It shouldn’t take decades of psychotherapy to understand, accept, and apply how to be wise, how to live an authentic and meaningful life. It require intention. It requires dedication. It requires discipline. It requires responsibility. So it’s hard work. So what?

    But failing to do this work and live this way has consequences. All the dysfunction and unhappiness and unnecessary problems that accompanies this failure sure employs a lot of people and takes up a lot of bandwidth.

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    1. Great comment.
      ”This failure to learn how to be wise, how to live an authentic and meaningful life, to me is shocking”. Part of the problem is the predominant mythology that has infiltrated every thought process has failed us. Groping around in the dark is the next phase, where wisdom eludes us, I don’t think most people know where to look. Academia (although less so) is also influenced by this mythology and provides bandaids—but the professors have ignored the inevitable human element. There is a common desire to have fulfillment outside of burying yourself in your work, which ethic is truly a colonialism trait that is unsatisfying to many, many personality types.

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        1. A fun comic, but you’ve got to expect some pushback. When or where do pastimes edge into unhealthy addiction? Video games and alcoholism seem like prime candidates. Moderation advised?

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          1. Of course, anything can become addictive. Moderation is definitely advised. I think the bigger point is it’s easy to get caught up in endlessly searching for some secret deeper meaning to life that will finally bring upon some long elusive happiness.

            Perhaps the simplest way to put it, at least one meaning of life is to enjoy life, which will look different for every person since what each of us enjoys, dreams, hopes for, and finds to be time well-spent will look different.

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            1. Moderation is definitely advised.

              Nah. Anything worth doing is worth doing until it kills you. Before something not worth doing does.

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    2. That all depends on “who is defining wisdom,” don’t you think? Right now Putin is defining wisdom as attacking the Ukraine when he is sure no one is going to challenge him militarily. The Ukrainians are defining wisdom as shoving an unrefined stake up Russia’s ass. And NATO countries are defining wisdom as patting Putin on the bum, saying “Be a nice boy, or we’ll eventually take away your toys!!! None of this helps the people who are losing their lives, having their homes shot from under them, and running screaming for the horders; they have no time for wisdom, just fear and thirst and hunger!
      So, I ask you, tildeb, how do you define “wisdom”? And how many people do you think there are who define wisdom as you do? I for sure know one person who will disagree with you!

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      1. I say what I mean, as in, “to learn how to be wise, how to live an authentic and meaningful life.”

        OED: the ability to use your experience and knowledge to make good decisions and judgments

        So, no, living – the willingness to engage life as it is – is the prerequisite for learning how to be wise, learning how to live an authentic life that produces ongoing meaning. And I intentionally use the term ‘authentic’ because thast’s the key: I think a lot of people try to borrow or buy or copy or follow someone’s or something’s life (or principles or values or morals or ethics or money or things or whatever) and think these will work to produce meaning for me. I say this to show that it requires ownership of these (ownership gained by living them) to make them authentic, that these ARE me in day to day life and my actions are consistent with them, and not items thrown into some collectible box that I’ve gather or inked into the skin as if they reflect my life. They have to be lived.

        If you want a good example of how to be wise, look at Zelensky (interesting and only right that his grandfather was the one brother out of four not killed by the Nazis for being Jewish). His principles are on display now and are lived moment to moment. He may be killed later but this is what makes him authentic right here and right now… by leading with his principles; by staying in a war zone, by going into the trenches to be seen, by living the values he exemplifies, yes, to show courage and resilience and how to meet imposed hardships and use them to live, but to invite others to try it for themselves. This is courage. He owns it. This is patriotism. He owns it. This is real leadership when the going gets tough: he calls for help not for himself but for his country (“I don’t need a ride; I need ammunition”) and shames the politicians of the West into “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Even if they don’t step up, look at rivers of people who do respond inside and outside Ukraine. This is an authentic life, a wise way to live, to find meaning by living principled actions even if they are hard. Especially if they hard. That’s real ownership. Even tragedy and disaster can be used wisely: the best can rise when the worst happens. There’s our shared humanity in action and it is powerful when our powerlessness seems to rule the events we face.

        Want to find meaning? I’ll say it again: get living an authentic life.

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        1. I already do, thank you. But I live it differently than you. My experience turns me in different directions than your experience turns you, which I am okay with. From the way you write, I’m just not sure you recognize any ways but your own. What you just said I read none of in your earlier statement. But even this isn’t much of an improvement. You still sound like it is your way, or the highway. That I refuse to accept.

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      2. God, if I ever have to look to realpolitik to find wisdom I think I’ll just chuck it in and stay foolish.

        OTOH, I’ve inherited more than my share Kshatriya dharma and that draws me to war like a moth to the flame. Maybe I should try to keep my nose stuck in the Bhagavad Gita and out of other people’s cannons.

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        1. What you do is up to you, Cg. But to authoritatively say someone is a fool because they exist in a different world goes too far. I struggle with this all the time, saying things in casual conversations that could insult others without me ever knowing I insulted them, or saying something like “You have to agree.. or believe…” No one has to do anything, or believe anything! Being respectful is all about not telling someone elsethey are a fool, unless you are speaking to Donald Trump directly. He is a fool, in any language.

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  5. You want meaning in life? Don’t hit your thumb with a hammer. Don’t do any welding wearing a flannel shirt. Always make sure you put the zip tie on a new mouthpiece for your regulator. Pick and choose your battles be they big or small.

    You’re welcome.

    The search for meaning leads to ridiculous assumptions, like religion, magic crystals, and other hokey B.S.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. People are going to think I am ridiculous with this assertion, but Science Fiction turned the tide for a lot of people. It started with Bug-Eyed Monsters, and great space operas, but it became a way to introduce the masses to philosophies that were massively unapproachable till then. CHILDHOOD’S END, Arthur C. CLARKE, 1953. A CASE OF CONSCIENCE, James A. BLISH, 1958. STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND, Robert A. HEINLEIN, 1961. LITTLE FUZZY, H. Beam PIPER, 1964. STAND ON ZANZIBAR, John BRUNNER, 1973. MONUMENT, Lloyd BIGGLE Jr.1974. That is just a sampling of the books I read growing up that affected my desire to discover who I truly was. I would add just about anything writren by Phillik K. DICK in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Those books opened my mind to so many new concepts and ideas, as they did for thousands and thousands of kids around the world.
    Science fiction struck many a blow against religion, in particular, organized religion. Throw in the psychedelic drugs that arrived in the 60s, the exposure to Eastern religions and philosophies, the coming of age of rock and roll, and you have most of the ingredients for European, Japanese, Australian, and North American cultures to blast off into Inner Space. The timing was perfect, chaos at its greatest.
    I am not saying those were the only roots of the surge for spiritual understanding, inner peace, whatever you want to call it. The Theory of Evolution. The “God is dead! declaration.” The Atom Bomb played a huge part too. Other advances in science. To put it in the best words of the times, it was the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius. And lucky me lived through it all. Go suck a rock, Forrest Gump! Lol.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I have read all those book, with the exception of Monument, plus a dozen or so P K Dick books. I just re-read The Zap Gun, and The Crack In Space.
      I am disappointed, now, when I read sci-fi books from that era, which show star-spanning Empires, hundreds or thousands of years in our future, which still show belief and reliance on God/gods. 😳
      Some authors were steeped in Religion, and they didn’t have Star Trek yet, to show them the way. 😉

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Ah, but the ones who were not steeped in religion, there were a light in the wilderness. However, times do change, as do we. We (meaning at least me) forget about the bullshit, and key on the good parts. Except for the Blish novel, I don’t remember the others being overly religious. And the Blish novel asked a lot of questions that could have gone either way, as I remember. Have uou (re-)read A Maze of Death? It is my favourite PKD novel. I still also love Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, but Blade Runner thoroughly mashed what “Sheep” was all about.
        Thanks for the reply. I knew there are others out there!

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Because Star Trek was TV. In those says, I much prefered the printed word. But did you know I was one of the many fans who wtote the network when they amnounced they were taking it off the air after only one season. Without myself, and thousands of people like me, no one today would even know the name Star Trek, lol.

        Liked by 2 people

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