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View Diary: Bill Maher rips into the GOP's anti-intellectuals with advanced degrees (116 comments)

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  •  Thoughts (2+ / 0-)
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    Qwisp, zLocke
    you are comically credulous with respect to broad and largely meaningless generalizations like, "Many knew and observed things while out-of-body that couldn't be explained in other ways."
    That was my own brief generalization, intended for a very short, general comment.

    Would you like me to go  into thousands and thousands of words of more detail, describing for you very specific incidents garnered from the scores of people I've known who have had such experiences over several decades?  

    Because I can.  In fact, I've tried to in various threads like this, in reply to comments such as yours ... only to have my hours of effort completely ignored.  So I've pretty much given up hope.

    "I now possess this information because I was out of my body, yet perceiving the universe just as if I was in my body, perceiving just as if I were receiving the exact sorts of real physical stimuli to my real physical receptors, even though of course I couldn't be, because my real physical receptors were down there in my body etc. etc. etc." is not an explanation, it's a fantasy.
    Talk about putting vague generalizations into people's mouths.  I have never heard anyone say anything remotely close to what you are saying they say.

    I don't claim it's an explanation.  I am conveying the reality that many, many people have had these experiences.  And many of those people report -- just as you say -- accurately perceiving things that their physical receptors couldn't have picked up on;  things which I've had externally corroborated by other people.  These people don't talk in broad generalizations, as you claim.  They talk very specifically about specific experiences they've had.

    Two (very brief) examples:  One man who was clinically dead and undergoing intense life-saving measures later thanked the nurse who walked in during it all and covered his groin area with a towel to grant him a little dignity -- even though they had never met before.  She asked how he knew she had done that.  He said he saw her do it from up in the corner of the room.  I heard the story from both of them.  They are not flakes.  He was a down-to-earth Midwestern small-town farmer.

    Another man, while in the "other world" was surprised to meet his twin brother -- surprised because he had never even known he had a twin brother, because his twin brother died at birth and no one had ever told him about it.

    By the way ... in attacking me personally you are doing the exact same typical thing I've gotten over and over again in such replies: attacking my character while ignoring the substance of a point I've brought up again and again to crickets:

    the materialism science is based on -- the idea that that materialistic science can explain everything -- is just that ... an idea ... an ideology.  It is simply a philosophical position ... a metaphysical preference.
    No one has ever responded to this statement.  Easier to attack another person personally, I guess.
    •  yaawn (0+ / 0-)

      it doesn't happen.

      people's "consciousness" doesn't sail up and away out of their bodies and reside in other fabulous places and rave all night and behave just exactly like a physical manifestation of their body, only it isn't a physical manifestation of their body, which doesn't stop it from perceiving the physical world just as if it were an actual physical body (e.g., light rays received through an aperture refracted by a lens so as to arrive in focus on a sheet of neural cells filled with pigments that respond to specific wavelengths of light in specific ways so as to permit the brain to produce a 3-dimensional model of the material space immediately in front of the observer).

      it.
      doesn't.
      happen.

      and by the way, there's no such thing as ghosts.

      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

      by UntimelyRippd on Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 06:06:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I wish I had that kind of certainty. (1+ / 0-)
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        dancerat

        It must make life much easier.

        Once again, and predictably, you've completely failed to address any of the substance of my comment ... any of my examples, or my years of personal experience talking to dozens of people whose experiences indicate the opposite of your unsupported "facts" and assertions.  Just insults.

        By the way, how many people who have had near-death experiences have you known and talked to?  How many books on the scientific studies about them have you read (written by the actual researchers, I mean, not just the "skeptics")?

        •  it would make life easier if one weren't expected (0+ / 0-)

          to politely accommodate the fantastic delusions of other people.

          by the way, aliens haven't visited either.

          To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

          by UntimelyRippd on Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 08:50:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  why all the importance of near death experiences? (0+ / 0-)

          LSD can create experiences just as incredible and all it tells us is that assaults on the brain can create incredible experiences that mean nothing other than the brain was assaulted.

      •  By the way ... (0+ / 0-)
        people's "consciousness" doesn't sail up and away out of their bodies and reside in other fabulous places and rave all night and behave just exactly like a physical manifestation of their body, only it isn't a physical manifestation of their body, which doesn't stop it from perceiving the physical world just as if it were an actual physical body
        What you describe here is almost completely, 100% wrong when compared to what people who have actually near-death experiences describe.  What they say is almost the exact opposite.  

        Obviously you know nothing about the reality of people who have such experiences, and can only spout simplistic preconceived notions and stereotypes.

        •  "obviously" (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JosephK74

          Except, that's what you just described: A person believing that "he" was somehow hovering up in a corner of an operating theatre -- that his consciousness somehow was localized (and oriented) in time and space (though without the benefit of his brain cells) -- not only localized in time and space, but localized in a very particularly "useful" point in time and space; in fact, not even "a" point in time and space, but a continuous (at least, continuous beyond the quantum scale) series of points in time and space, happily though inexplicably coincident with the progress of his detached body through time and space, sailing along at hundreds of thousands of miles per hour despite being no longer (apparently) subject to the whimsical command of gravity (and therefore inertia); and having accepted this incomprehensibly implausible interpretation of the experience, you go on to assert and accept that he was able to sense physical phenomena -- that he was able to "see" as if looking down from that frame of reference at the surgical tableau beneath -- yet what does it even mean to "see" if one has no fucking eyes, because one is not corporeal at all. What the fuck exactly was responsible for the impression of an image within his consciousness, given that he had no lenses with which to focus the light that was bouncing off of the people and objects in the room?

          It.
          Is.
          Fucking.
          Nonsense.

          Overwhelmingly compelling nonsense, for the guy trying to make sense of his own hallucinatory experience -- but nonsense nonetheless. People who believe they've been abducted by aliens are just as sure of themselves, and just as wrong.

          There's nothing simplistic about my notions, oh pilgrim. One doesn't develop my deep and rich contempt for superstitious and supernatural thinking by idly dismissing other people's desperate delusions; to the contrary, one reaches this point only by actually contemplating what it would have to mean were such interpretations of reality accurate.

          There is, on the other hand, something hilariously infantile about notions of being and consciousness that propose that consciousness is both independent of the material, and yet very directly and specifically tethered to the material.

          To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

          by UntimelyRippd on Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 09:18:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  About "seeing" (0+ / 0-)

            I didn't realize people were still reading and leaving comments here, so I'll add a few more.

            You are almost completely wrong because, despite what you believe, experiencers typically don't claim that the way they perceived while out of their bodies was just like they way they do with their physical bodies.

            On the contrary, as the experiences progress, they typically start to notice that their modes of perception are very, very different, and they are often fairly disoriented by that fact until they start to get the hang of it.  (For example, they often say that while out-of-body they could "see" 360 degrees, all around them, simultaneously.)

            Pursuing this question of "seeing," the near-death researcher Kenneth Ring -- an emeritus professor of Psychology at the University of Conencticut -- even did a study of experiencers who had been blind from birth.  He found that what they referred to as being able to “see” while clinically dead didn’t really seem to quite match physical seeing … it seemed to be something different ... even though they were able to describe details in the environments them which they wouldn’t have been able to see while conscious and alive.

            And again, you didn't answer my questions:

            how many people who have had near-death experiences have you known and talked to?  How many books on the scientific studies about them have you read (written by the actual researchers, I mean, not just the "skeptics")?
            Since you didn’t answer, I will guess the answer is none.  If so, you seem to have no problem making definitive declarations about something you know almost nothing about and have almost no personal experience with.
            •  By the way ... (0+ / 0-)

              Studies have found that people who have reported having near-death experiences -- who reported watching themselves from outside their bodies -- were able to describe resuscitation procedures and equipment much more accurately than people who were clinically dead and revived, but who didn’t report having the experience … who pretty much had to guess at how it worked.

          •  Again ... (0+ / 0-)

            ... in saying this ...

            Overwhelmingly compelling nonsense, for the guy trying to make sense of his own hallucinatory experience
            You are again willfully ignoring the main substance of my comments.  This is what is so frustrating.

            You say it was just a man “trying to make sense of his hallucinatory experience.”  But in my examples I didn’t just say that those people saw some stuff.  

            I very specifically pointed out that those people’s “hallucinations” just happened to accurately match what was physically going on around them while their eyes were closed and they were clinically dead with no perceptible brain activity.  And that what they "hallucinated" was able to be verified and corroborated with external people.  You didn't acknowledge that at all.

            But in your take, I suppose -- (I have to suppose because you didn't actually address my example) -- that man just happened to hallucinate that a woman came in and put a towel over him, when in fact a woman did come in and put a towel over him.  What a coincidence!  

            Further, that hallucinatory woman just happened to look exactly like the woman who really did put a towel over him;  so much so that when the real woman came into his room later, he mistook her for the woman in his hallucination and thanked her for doing it.  And she mistook his thanking her for actual recognition because she, like the hallucinatory woman, had also just happened to put a towel over him.  What a coincidence!

            And that other man just happened to hallucinate a twin brother who told him he had died at birth ... when he just happened to actually have a twin brother who had died at birth.  Even though he never knew that before the hallucination.  When he later asked his parents about it, they confirmed that he had indeed had a twin brother.  What a coincidence!

            And in another example I didn’t relate:  Another man just happened to hallucinate in a way that accurately matched what was actually happening as his body was put into the ambulance and driven to the hospital;  and who was following in the car behind;  and what various family members were doing in different parts of the hospital;  and what another relative was doing at home at that time (because in the hallucination he had decided to check in on that person) …   It was all just a coincidence!

            Everything is just coincidence.  Nothing to see here.  And all the other thousands of examples of such accounts are just coincidence too.  There couldn’t possibly be anything to them all.

            Coincidence after coincidence after coincidence after coincidence after coincidence after coincidence (multiply thousands of times) ... is just a coincidence.  That's rational.

        •  Keep on truckin', Neimann. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          niemann

          It's an uphill climb, I know, but you're not alone. I admire your elegantly argued defense of the non-rational, and the intelligent way you reply to those who hold forth on the veracity of experiences they have not had.

          For me, any type of ultimate certainty is misplaced. The problem is epistemological: We can never know whether what we experience is objectively real (or even whether there is anything objectively real). Everything mediated by the filter of experience may be interrogated, even our consensual, 3D universe, which because it can be empirically approached is therefore assumed to be "real." It certainly seems more solid and predictable, but ultimately we still experience it in a mediated way; whatever picture we construct is therefore always and by definition incomplete.

          I've had a number of  nonordinary experiences--from OBEs to shamanic journeying to accurate far seeing. I am trained in science, and I approach all these experiences with skepticism. That said, those experiences were all as seemingly real and as palpable baseline reality seems. I pride myself on always interrogating the nature of every experience, subjecting ordinary reality to the same scrutiny I'd apply to an OBE.

          In the end, though, you're not going to convince anyone who hasn't had these experiences. They will always dismiss them, to their loss. Part of the trick to having them is being open to them--I believe that people are having nonordinary experiences all the time but usually dismiss them as something mundane, or they fail to acknowledge them at all. To me, the kind of immovable certainty that the pure rationalists arguing with you exhibit, along with their reflexive willingness to demean and condemn anyone who offers earnest and well thought-out counterweights to their viewpoint, has too much in common with the religious zealot who cannot tolerate any challenge to his worldview. They believe that their beliefs aren't beliefs, but objective truths. And that's both sad and dangerous.

          Ironic points of light flash out/Wherever the Just exchange their messages. -W.H. Auden

          by Crypsis on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 03:18:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thank you. (0+ / 0-)

            It does indeed feel like trying to rationally debate religious fundamentalists.  They willfully ignore everything which might discount their belief system, as if you had never said anything at all, and just keep repeating dogmatic statements of certainty.

            As I've said, I love science.  (Like many near-death experiencers, by the way.)  I just can't believe anymore that it's the be-all and end-all of reality.  What I don't like is what Huston Smith referred to as "scientism" -- which is a very different thing.  By that he meant an ideology based on the philosophical belief that materialism -- and the science that follows it -- is the only thing.

            •  It's fear, mostly (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              niemann

              Which subtends every person's rigidity when it comes to a belief system. One problem with scientism is that its strongest adherents buy into the slippery slope fallacy: If I admit that empiricism might not be the ultimate arbiter of truth, then it's a small step to snake-handling and speaking in tongues ... or bombing buildings.

              But that's just fear talking. I have no doubt that empiricism is a marvelous tool in dealing with what it can describe: the artifacts of space/time. But I also have had experiences that do not fall neatly into that category, experiences for which I have no explanation and cannot duplicate. That doesn't mean I'm going to start believing everything; it just means that I have doubts about the ability of scientific method to explain all phenomena. I don't know why that's such a threatening proposition for some people, but apparently it is.

              I make no claim about the nature of these nonordinary phenomena, but they are as real to me as the keyboard on which I'm typing now. People who dismiss as irrelevant or non-existent things they can't describe ought not to be trusted.

              I don't know why we all can't start from the same position as any true scientist or seeker. "I don't know," or "It's possible" are not hard things to say, you'd think.

              Ironic points of light flash out/Wherever the Just exchange their messages. -W.H. Auden

              by Crypsis on Wed Jul 24, 2013 at 02:52:06 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  and the reason "No one has ever responded to this" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JosephK74

      :

      the materialism science is based on -- the idea that that materialistic science can explain everything -- is just that ... an idea ... an ideology.  It is simply a philosophical position ... a metaphysical preference.
      ... is because it is low-rent sophistry, about ten minutes more profound than solipsism. Pastafarianism is "just" an idea -- an idea originally conceived with some level of care (not to mention delicious irreverence) precisely to demonstrate the difference between those philosophical positions that are "just" ideas and those philosophical positions that have some weight behind them. Materialism isn't "just" an ideology: It is the only ideology for which there is any actual evidence accompanied by any sort of coherent model of what might be going on. What most materialists don't like to concede is that materialism has no reasonable model (despite considerable applied intellectual effort) for the experience of consciousness. That failure, however, doesn't represent a get-out-of-epistemological-jail card for every other half-baked "idea" about the where/when/why of conscious existence.

      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

      by UntimelyRippd on Sat Jul 20, 2013 at 09:28:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  For this crew it's always (0+ / 0-)

        some "mystery" that just be explained, an argument from gaps and some personal experience.  It's no different than people who have said "heat can't possibly just be agitated particles, I just can't fathom that!" Newsflash, that's what heat is, regardless of how difficult it is for anyone to imagine.  They don't seem to realize that the fact that there are other causal possibilities for these experiences undermines their arguments entirely.

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