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

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  •  Keep on truckin', Neimann. (1+ / 0-)
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    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

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    •  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-)
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        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

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