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I have read the article by Sudduth and I think he will not be satisfied until someone develops a survival hypothesis that make predictions that can be falsified, that is, according to him, the key is not what observations could confirm my hypothesis but what observations would falsify my hypothesis, following the Popperian epistemology.

I think once you accept the epistemological approach of Suddurth, he is right. The survival hypothesis and transmission theory seem unfalsifiable hypothesis, because the only thing that could falsify the survival hypothesis is that there is no afterlife, but how to prove a negative statement? Also some people on the brink of death have extrasensory experiences is an observation that supports the transmission hypothesis , but the fact that other people on the brink of death not remember anything does not falsify the transmission hypothesis.

However, I do not accept the epistemological approach of Sudduth, because he is a deductive approximation based on the work of Popper: postulate hypothesis draw their predictions and observe if the hypothesis is falsified, but the hypothesis of survival is part of the abductive and inductive hypotheses: observe a number of phenomena and infer the simplest hypothesis that relates to everyone. And here the simplest hypothesis that relates OBEs, NDEs, apparitions, mediumship and people seem to remember their past lives is a determined survival hypothesis, ie that there is a vehicle of the psyche that remains after biological death and it can appear, own certain individuals, rebirth and remember their previous incarnations lives.

I read his post. He remains really darn abstruse. He also attributes some of Michael's arguments to me (reason highly unclear). The use of the term "minions" isn't all that friendly. And I don't think he answers the best arguments (other than Michael's, but frankly his response is opaque to me). So, hmm...

LOL! In 1966 I was 13 years old. I guess we were living in Garden Grove, California at that time? Whew that was a long time ago.

I have a difficult time understand this Psi stuff because it seems to pointless? Who then is ultimately in charge? Why and how does the Medium hook up with this information? It makes no sense whatsoever to me.

I do believe in the "one mind" theory because that is what many NDEers report and it fits with the holographic universe theory but I still believe that Mediums are connecting with the projected souls of individuals from that one mind. Like rays of light coming off the Sun; they are still connected to the Sun yet they are individual rays.

Why Sudduth converted to Hinduism if he is an anti-survivalist...?

It's definitely the term minions carries with it the kind of inherent contempt for the vulgar populace that is so common in Oxbridgians. I believe Chris Carter's work is medicinal in that it presents intelligently a position that is opposite of mainstream philosophical thinking. I have been around for quite some time now almost 70 years and have looked at death in the face, on more than one occasion. On any of those occasions my philosophical conclusions concerning the further existence of my consciousness were rendered irrelevant by the power of the moment.
As a Zen teacher or Zen master if you will, I find intellectual endeavors worth while for the sharpening of the mind and for examination of our belief systems. However, that being said Zen eschews a highly intellectual approach to spirituality, or more often feeds our ego and are intellect than it does bringing us closer to the truth. A great Zen worthy once said if you wish to know the truth then cease to cherish your opinions, the same worthy said don't slander the sky by looking through a pipe.
Academic philosophers are by nature intellectually combative and excessively opinionated. To put it bluntly they make lousy Zen students. For one thing they talk too much about Zen – we say in our tradition that such a person begins to stink of Zen.
A long time ago Lao Tzu said those who know do not speak,but Chuang Tzu said why then old man Lao did you write 10,000 words?(the TAO DE CHING".

In reading Prof.Suddoths blog I found a number of curious statements concerning what Nirvana is, put forward as if the author understood the concept completely and that there was only one interpretation of it. Certainly it is true that in Sanskrit and Pali it means to blowout such as the flame of a candle. However exactly who or what exists or does not exist is interpreted very differently by different schools of Buddhism, for instance.the Hwa Yen school or the Yogacara school of the Mahayana traditions. or what you might find in the earlier Theravadin traditions and the Abhidarma.

I am sure that the good Professor would not claim he spoke for all of the analytic philosophy or theist theology and philosophy he would clearly state that his ideas are his position based on his studies. All that I wish all these people whether they be Susan Blackwell the paranormal debunker and quasi-Zen student, or Stephen Batchelor the expert in atheists Zen and countless others who speak for Zen without the requisite credentials.,

None of them have received sanction as a Roshi nor seen transmission from one tradition much less three as I have. Even then I speak for my understanding based on 50 years of practice and decades of Sutra scholarship wearing out my Monier williams Sanskrit dictionary. So I am not inclined to argue with the professor about Kants Critique of Pure Reason, or Adolf Harnack's History of the Dogma, however when he gets into the subject of Zen Buddhism it's another matter.

Since the good Prof. seems to like Zen poetry here is one for him

If there is no self
then where is its boundary?
If there is no boundary
where is time?
If there is no time
where is eternity?
Is it the cat chasing the tail?
Or the tail attacking the cat?

Yours in the Bowels of Minionhood
Shogaku Zenshin Roshi

Dr Michael Sudduth says:
"Fifth, several of your readers are under the impression that disposing of materialist views of mind/reality somehow renders survival more plausible. But that’s too quick in point of logic. At best, disposing of materialism removes an objection to some hypotheses of survival, but removing an objection to a hypothesis is not the same thing as providing evidence for a hypothesis".

If all flavours of materialism are shown to be false, this does not make the hypothesis that we survive more probable?* It seems to me there are no possible arguments that could be made to justify this stance.

Either our bodies produce consciousness or they do not. If we can eliminate all the materialist hypotheses, then *necessarily* the probability of all the other hypotheses increases. Hence the only way it could *not* increase the probability of survival would be if this increase in probability only occurred for the other hypotheses where the body produces consiousness eg, property dualism, strong emergentism etc, and for there to be no increase at all in the probability for the various survival hypotheses. However it is clear all these relative probabilities would remain the same.

This is just similar to the tactic that the materialists employ when they proclaim that the existence of NDEs gives *no evidence whatsoever* for a life after death. This entails that if we have 2 possible worlds -- one where everyone near death has an NDE, and the other where no-one does -- the likelihood there is a "life after death" is the same in both worlds. This of course is simply absurd.

Given this one assertion being clearly transparently false this doesn't inspire me to dig into all his other claims. It would involve a hell of a lot of reading for a kick off!

*(unless, as many scientists are prone to do, he's adopting some peculiar definition of the word "evidence" . But such a redefinition would be uninteresting and mere sophistry since what people are interested in is how *more probably* the existence of NDEs make a "life after death").

I find myself concocting a cartoon:

A geek with a triple Ph.D. is a passenger in a plane. The plane is 60 seconds away from flying directly into a brick wall. Meanwhile, the geek is feverishly punching numbers into a calculator.

Geek: "According to my calculations, the argument that a brick wall exists cannot be definitively and logically given more weight than the argument that a brick wall does not exist."

Pilot: "Geek, I agree with your logic, 100%. That said, I think I will arbitrarily, randomly, and rashly decide to turn this plane upward, ASAP!!"

This makes me think of a scene in a Star Trek episode featuring crusty old Dr. McCoy and Mr. Spock. A crisis was at hand. Spock was saying something like, "I cannot calculate with precision the proper course of action," to which McCoy replied, "Dammit, Spock, then you'll just have to guess!" Spock's replied, "Then I shall make the best guess I can."

Dr. Sudduth, what is your best guess of the mechanism for physically verifiable deathbed assertions (e.g., Aunt Tillie just unexpectedly died 3000 miles away) not explainable in conventional ways? If this were an episode of Final Jeopardy for all the marbles, what would be your "Hail Mary" answer?

*****************

BTW, an aside: I am going to start using my real name, which is James Oeming (formerly "A Comma in Infinity").

Sorry, I can't understand the topic of discussion, may be because there are many slang words for an italian guy...
Could someone explain in plain words Sudduth's thoughts to me? Is he (Sudduth) a skeptic or a believer?
Michael's way of exposing is very clear, instead!

Calling others someone's minions or they are only capable of doing lazy testing are perfect examples of the human ego wanting to be known for knowing.

Interesting phenomena is that name-calling is not a sign of self-confidence but a sign of self-doubt and an insecurity of one’s beliefs.

There are infinite paths to the awakening process. Even a path that includes name-calling; as nothing is wasted.

Study and research into these mysteries of life is not for the faint of heart. There is much more evidence (even qualitative evidence) for personal survival of consciousness than for materialism as an absolute.

There are two places to avoid when looking for personal survival: science and religion as they both have agendas and beliefs to protect at all costs. exceptions of course.

Science and religion have yet to discover the necessity of a perfectly imperfect world of variation for expression to occur. Variation of phenomena has its own reason for existing. Take away variation and the universe ceases to exist.

All I can say is: "Whaaaaaaat?"

It seems that such navel contemplation is rarely, if ever, seen in those who had actually has practical experiences indicative of survival, I'm with James on this one.

Why Sudduth converted to Hinduism if he is an anti-survivalist...?

Sudduth is not anti-survivalist, but he believes that the empirical defense of the existence of an afterlife has traditionally not work. What is interesting is how Sudduth can accept Hinduism if he put the bar so high for empirical defense of the existence of an afterlife, because if we are only going to be based on reason and experience, then we would not have to accept any religion, since faith is always required to accept the religion.

BTW, an aside: I am going to start using my real name, which is James Oeming (formerly "A Comma in Infinity").


James,

I really liked your former tag. Nice metaphor. ;-)

I took the term "minions" to be tongue in cheek. Matt Rouge perhaps should be honored that he was singled out as an uberminion.

I really don't understand Sudduth at all. All I take away from reading his stuff is that really really really doesn't like auxiliary hypotheses. And I try to think of anything in life, or science for that matter, that doesn't involve auxiliary hypotheses and I fail to do so.

Then I think that maybe it isn't so much the presence of auxiliary hypotheses that bothers him, but that he thinks that the survivalist auxiliary hypotheses are unproveable and therefore no better than super -psi auxiliary hypotheses; which are also unproveable. In which case I wonder why he doesn't just a write a one or two sentence piece stating exactly that instead of a bunch of overly wordy paragraphs. But I'm not sure that is what he's saying because of all of the fluff. Or maybe it's not fluff and it's meat that I can't digest.

Juan,

||What is interesting is how Sudduth can accept Hinduism if he put the bar so high for empirical defense of the existence of an afterlife, because if we are only going to be based on reason and experience, then we would not have to accept any religion, since faith is always required to accept the religion.||

Excellent point. Maybe we should be examining the infinite number of "auxiliary hypotheses" involved in belief...

You know thinking about it I think it would be fun to have minions. Sort of like when Kramer had a personal assistant on Seinfeld. If I ever win the lottery maybe I'll get myself a "minion" to go behind me and I'll just tell him/her things I want him/her to do? I won't have to do anything! I'll just have my minions do it!

Sudduth's latest post makes no mention of "Living Agent Psi".
It also avoids the matter of deception , even though he accepts that NDEs give prima facie evidence for survival for those who have had those experiences, yet at the same time resists making the conclusion that they actually experienced what they believe they experienced, which implies that they misunderstood their experiences and were deceived.

Maybe we should be examining the infinite number of "auxiliary hypotheses" involved in belief...

I can speculate that Sudduth could answer. I suspect he is from those who divide their minds into two compartments, one for science and one for religion. In science only reason and experience is supported and very high epistemological bar sets. Instead in religion the faith is accepted apart from reason and experience.

Sure, in my opinion the failure of this thinking is that the world is one and no one can be split your mind into two without cognitive dissonance. So I tend only base it on experience and reason (= abduction and deduction). Then the problem is to find out if there is an afterlife based on the experience and reason.

According to Sudduth, the survival hypothesis is a deductive hypothesis, so that the traditional and empirical defense of such hypothesis fails, because it is not enough to show that the survival hypothesis is the only hypothesis that is not refuted by the data and alternative hypotheses are refuted by the data, since it is always possible that there are alternative hypotheses that have not been taken into account consistent with the data; is necessary regardless of the alternative hypotheses that the survival hypothesis has testable predictions.

So if the survival survival is taken as deductive, Sudduth was right, but I do not take the survival hypothesis as deductive. In my opinion, the survival hypothesis is an abductive hypothesis, so we do not start from the simplest hypothesis and then go to the data to confirm the hypothetical predictions, it is the other way around, we start from the data and going to the hypothesis simplest linking all data. In this case, the simplest hypothesis that relates a set of data such as OBEs, NDEs, apparitions, mediumship and people that seem recall their past lives, is a personal survival hypothesis, the inference to the best explanation, which makes that otherwise these data would have no sense.

I have been reading Sudduth for a couple of years before this series of posts. He is a former Evangelical Christian who converted to Vedanta Hinduism a while back. Whatever this series of posts implies, he IS a survivalist and, from what I understand, has had a series of paranormal experiences dating back to childhood that have convinced him of survival.

I'm not sure what his larger project here is, and there is a certain level of "I am smarter than everyone else" attitude that comes through in his work.

But to be clear, he is NOT an atheist or fundamentalist materialist.

Concerning abstruse obscurantism in academic philosophy writing. From http://www.openculture.com/2013/07/jean_searle_on_foucault_and_the_obscurantism_in_french_philosophy.html :

.....Today we thought we would keep the conversation going with a fascinating audio clip (above) of philosopher John Searle of the University of California, Berkeley, describing how Michel Foucault and Pierre Bourdieu – two eminent French thinkers whose abilities Searle obviously respected – told him that if they wrote clearly they wouldn’t be taken seriously in France.

Searle begins by reciting Paul Grice’s four Maxims of Manner: be clear, be brief, be orderly, and avoid obscurity of expression. These are systematically violated in France, Searle says, partly due to the influence of German philosophy. Searle translates Foucault’s admission to him this way: “In France, you gotta have ten percent incomprehensible, otherwise people won’t think it’s deep–they won’t think you’re a profound thinker.”

.........."With (Jacques) Derrida, you can hardly misread him, because he’s so obscure. Every time you say, “He says so and so,” he always says, “You misunderstood me.” But if you try to figure out the correct interpretation, then that’s not so easy. I once said this to Michel Foucault, who was more hostile to Derrida even than I am, and Foucault said that Derrida practiced the method of obscurantisme terroriste (terrorism of obscurantism). We were speaking in French. And I said, “What the hell do you mean by that?” And he said, “He writes so obscurely you can’t tell what he’s saying. That’s the obscurantism part. And then when you criticize him, he can always say, ‘You didn’t understand me; you’re an idiot.’ That’s the terrorism part.”

John Searle's points don't only apply to France. What about San Francisco? And make that 90% not 10%.

Doubter wrote,

||John Searle's points don't only apply to France. What about San Francisco? And make that 90% not 10%.||

Lolololol.

Even if all the evidence for survival was found wanting, that wouldn't of course entail there's no survival. So obviously to question all the survival evidence, and indeed to conclude it constitutes no evidence whatsoever, needn't suggest that one doesn't personally subscribe to survival.

We'd still have the problem of how the brain produces consciousness. And it seems to me that it's somewhat more surprising than to suppose the internal components of a TV set actually generate the storyline of the programmes being shown.

I think though that Michael Sudduth should try to express himself in a more readily understandable manner. Not sure if I should buy his book or not. I need to be able to understand it! And not to keep re-reading sentences in order to glean its meaning. I always try to make my own blog entries as understandable as possible. (For those who might be interested here is the following link: http://ian-wardell.blogspot.co.uk/ )

Sudduth is not a materialist, but he does share a similarity with them.

It is on insisting that things must fit into a box.

Materialists insist that reality must fit into the box that is their worldview.

Sudduth insists that explanations must fit into the box that is his desired methodology.

All that has to been to show what is wrong with either the materialist position or Sudduth’s position is to show that things don’t fit into the box.

It has been noted that Sudduth is trying to set the epistemological bar very high. How high?

Sudduth insists that the survival hypothesis make testable predictions , would that also mean that those predictions be tested and validated?

Wouldn’t that mean having a theory of survival?

Also since survival has major implications on the nature of consciousness wouldn’t a theory of survival actually be a theory of consciousness that incorporates survival as a major feature?

Regarding the question of testability, Chris Carter has already provided a response in his interview at Jime's blog more than a year ago.

http://subversivethinking.blogspot.ca/2013/03/interview-with-chris-carter-on-his-book.html

Here is the relevant quote:

|| the proposition “at least some human minds have survived past the point of biological death” is a scientific hypothesis: it is not. It is a hypothetical statement regarding a possible fact, and not a hypothetical statement regarding a universal relationship between facts.

We need to be clear here on what we mean by “theory,” and what we mean by “fact.” For instance, gravity is a fact of nature, yet we have theories of how gravity works. Similarly, evolution appears to be a historical fact – after all, there is the fossil record. Yet we also have theories of how evolution works.

Scientific theories are not speculation about particular facts; they are tentative explanations about how certain facts fit together. ||

Here we see a logical sequence; we understand the facts first , then we understand how the facts fit together.

As for Sudduths position?

It is pretty much the same as saying that we cannot be sure of the facts until we are sure of how they fit together.

That seems to have things backwards.

More on Chris Carter’s interview at Jime’s blog.

http://subversivethinking.blogspot.ca/2013/03/interview-with-chris-carter-on-his-book.html

Here is another relevant quote:

|| “No human minds have survived bodily death” most certainly is capable of being proven false by evidence. And it is important to remember that the falsification of a statement implies the truth. ||

The materialist view of consciousness views consciousness as bound to a physical body and physical mechanism; the brain.
It predicts that with the breakdown of bodily and brain function consciousness would cease.

Falsification of this prediction means the converse/opposite; that conscious does not cease with the breakdown of bodily and brain function. Put another way; the survival of consciousness.

Sudduth writes that NDEs might be used as an argument against materialism but would not work as argument for survival:

|| On my view, NDEs provide prima facie justification for belief in survival for those who have such experiences, and the testimonial data from such experiences may provide an interesting argument against some materialist philosophies of mind. But I don’t think there’s a good argument for survival from the testimonial data.||

Does mean that evidence against the materialist prediction of consciousness terminating on bodily death would not count as evidence for the survival of consciousness on bodily death?

How this would work logically I don’t know.

Reporting for duty (I think). Just discovered this blog. Looks heavy and promising.

I see Ian said on 5/30 "Either our bodies produce consciousness or they do not."

As a pretty dyed in the wool Sheldrakian, I can veiw stem cells, for instance, as antennas. From there, one can infer a lot I guess. Yes, when one's thought a bit about Rupert Sheldrake's hypotheses, one can align somewhat with "evidence from design." Throughout the years I've taken my main evidence from getting through trials...trials when the concern of another showed up...others. But I have an old habit of noting how design supports this other more interventionary evidence.

Recently, out of everything I've heard or read, Amit Goswami talking on the "tangled hierarchy" keeps coming back to mind. Yes, lately I've been deeming this concept just about the most profound thing around, outside the heart's reasons (which have always been around, Pascal). This is because someone who was in my life has gone on. Actually, we both saw "What the Bleep" together. Now praying to saints makes sense to me. What seems to be especially important to me personally, though, are the breeches, or the distance (some might consider me tied up with too many shades of dualism). Mark Woodhouse's "energy monism" makes some sense to me, as it acknowledges the distance by degrees. Be interested in hearing anyone's thoughts on this.

Don't know the real extent of the debate, but just searching today I found someone's pretty eloquent summation of the view out there that's opposite mine.

"How he [Godel] gets there I don't yet fully understand but his conclusion seems to be that our individual consciousness is not exclusive to us, and that bits of our consciousness also reside in the brains of others whom we know. Conversely, bits of their consciousness reside in our own brain, perhaps as influences* on our thinking (my interpretation). If we extend this concept to the current thread, I suppose you could argue that we live on through the minds of others whom we know."
http://forums.digitalspy.co.uk/showthread.php?p=63977946

I can believe the "bits" may reside in other's fields, and/or that given cells or neuron arrays can access such. Guess from the POV of another tradition, you could look at these "bits" as fragments or "samskara"s, but that these are all that's left of us further along doesn't tally up with writings that have impressed me. Aurobindo's idea, for example, of the "psychic body" (soul) returning as a "seed" makes sense to me, and (combined with Sheldrake's ideas on morphological development) how it re-develops [grows] in each sojourn. "Monad" in a way lends too much simplicity to the reality of what a soul is, but in another sense (don't ask me which) it seems appropriate. My sense is that care of my soul seems to mean insuring that it continues travelling where it is supposed to go. Burn up as much karma as possible to get there (to that end, even walking into a bonfire too big demonstrates good intentions). Burn up enough so your perception isn't clouded when the Ground Luminosity appears. If the bonfire's a shortcut...alright by me.

Having been preoccupied lately, I hadn't had the chance to read Dr. Sudduth's response until today. To be honest, I'm not quite sure what to make of it. It seems to me that the sort of objections he raises would apply to any hypothesis in the social sciences. How exactly do you formulate rigorous testable theories in anthropology, for instance?

Dr. Sudduth seems to be very concerned with setting up a formal process by which to validate a set of predictions - which is admirable, except that in the social sciences, especially where fieldwork is involved, you're never going to have the same degree of predictability that you can get in the physical sciences. At least that's my take on it.

Dr. Sudduth's approach in this respect is perhaps summed up by his remark that:

"... Rouge has hedged the prediction with an extremely important qualifier, namely *in some cases*. So why should T lead us to expect O, yet only in some cases? Which cases exactly? What are the even approximate parameters here?"

Parenthetically, he's misattributing the argument about the transmission theory to Matt Rouge, when it was actually mine. But that's not important. What I'd like to focus on is his discomfort with the qualifier "in some cases."

I agree that, in a sense, this is a kind of hedging, but I don't see how such hedging or qualifying can be avoided in any area involving human behavior. Human behavior is not absolutely uniform. There are always irregularities and exceptions.

Again, this is true in any of the social sciences. No particular outcome in a social or psychological context is completely predictable and absolutely unvarying. The best you can say is that it happens "in many cases" or "for the most part." To require more than that is, it seems to me, a category error – it's applying the standards of chemistry or physics to fields of inquiry that are qualitatively different and necessarily less certain. Pure water will invariably boil at 100°C at sea level, but no human reaction is that predictable.

As an example: A heterosexual man will develop an erection when caressed by an attractive woman "in some cases," but not in all cases. The fact that the erection occurs in some but not all cases does not invalidate the general proposition that an erection is produced by sexual stimulation. To understand the "parameters" would require a detailed understanding of the mechanism of erections, including all the physical and mental factors that go into it. Even today, we lack such a full understanding, which is why some cases of erectile dysfunction cannot be treated. Nevertheless, we are justified in saying that an erection can result from sexual stimulation in many cases.

If we were to apply Dr. Sudduth's methodology to this issue, I'm afraid we would be left with the conclusion that there is no strong basis for believing that erections and sexual stimulation are causally connected. After all, an erection doesn't happen in all cases, and we can't specify all the possible exceptions, or explain all of them.

The argument reminds me of a phrase I encountered in Aristotle: "always or for the most part." This was Aristotle's way of saying that a given observation is often true, but not necessarily always true. I'm also reminded of Robert Anton Wilson's neologism "sombunall," short for "some but not all," which he used in making the point that most observed phenomena are not absolutely regular or predictable.

Ultimately, I'm afraid I just don't see the force of Dr. Sudduth's arguments. It may be that I lack the philosophical sophistication to grasp the nuances of what he's saying (I'm certainly no philosopher). Or it may be that he's not explaining himself clearly enough – a frequent criticism heard from commenters on this blog.

In any case, I do appreciate his taking the time to respond in detail to the criticisms delivered on this blog, and I also appreciate the fact that someone in academia takes the issue of survival seriously enough to pursue this rather arcane debate.

Even if all the evidence for survival was found wanting, that wouldn't of course entail there's no survival. So obviously to question all the survival evidence, and indeed to conclude it constitutes no evidence whatsoever, needn't suggest that one doesn't personally subscribe to survival.

True, but what it comes here is whether the traditional and empirical defense of an afterlife is successful.

Does mean that evidence against the materialist prediction of consciousness terminating on bodily death would not count as evidence for the survival of consciousness on bodily death?

No, I think Sudduth says that NDEs can be used to justify the belief in the existence of an afterlife for those who have had such experiences, but NDEs are not scientifically valid evidence to justify the existence of an afterlife because they are testimonial aka anecdotical.


"Ultimately, I'm afraid I just don't see the force of Dr. Sudduth's arguments."

Michael, let me just say what a pleasure it is to read one of your down-to-earth comments after spending some time with Dr. Sudduth. Maybe this is my problem, but I'm instantly skeptical of arguments made by anyone whose writing is such a chore to read.

I think sometimes the medium truly is the message.

On a separate note, have you been reading Dr. Ruth lately? Your extended analogy (pun optional) ventures into uncharted territory for this blog. :)

Sudduth’s objection to the empirical case for survival is that (in his opinion) it does not have a testable hypothesis. In his earlier blog posts he argued that the objection of lacking a testable hypothesis against design arguments applied to the empirical case for survival.

||Philosopher Elliott Sober is well known for his trenchant critique of design arguments……….

Understood more precisely, his argument is that the testability of a hypothesis depends on the testability of the auxiliary statements on which the predictive consequences of the hypothesis depend, the auxiliary hypotheses required for the design hypothesis to have predictive consequences are not testable, and therefore, the design hypothesis is not a testable hypothesis.||

http://michaelsudduth.com/getting-sober-about-survival-i/


||Sober’s criticism of intelligent design arguments seem particularly applicable to empirical arguments for postmortem survival. They too depend on untestable auxiliary hypotheses, and this has important consequences for the assessment of the force of empirical data allegedly suggestive of survival.||

http://michaelsudduth.com/getting-sober-about-survival-part-3-of-3/


I agree that the case for survival would be strengthened with a testable hypothesis or a group of testable hypothesis.

I do not agree with Sudduth NOT taking a step by step approach; first knowing what the facts are , then understanding how the facts fit together.

Facts are known by observation and experience. Testable hypothesis and theories which integrate validated hypothesis are used to understand how the facts fit together.

The empirical case for survival as presented by people like Carter states that people have in various forms (such as NDEs and mediumship,etc) have had experiences of consciousness existing without being bound to the brain and body (consciousness surviving bodily death).

The empirical case for survival as presented in this way depends on the reliability of observation and experience of people who have had such experiences.

If their observation and experience is reliable beyond reasonable doubt then survival is established beyond reasonable doubt.

I understand people can (and some do) argue that the observation and experience of such people is not reliable.

The point is that the question of reliability will not be settled with a testable hypothesis.

The presence of a testable hypothesis will not make the observation and experience reliable, and the absence of a testable hypothesis will not make the observation and experience unreliable.

The relationship between a testable hypothesis and observation is the other way round.

A testable hypothesis will be validated (or falsified) by experience and observation, or experimentation ( which depends on observation).

Trying to validate experience and observation through a testable hypothesis will either result in circularity or infinite regression:

Observation being validated by a testable hypothesis, which in turn is validated by observation , which in turn is validated by a testable hypothesis………and so on.

Sudduth wrote in his response:

|| Fifth, several of your readers are under the impression that disposing of materialist views of mind/reality somehow renders survival more plausible. But that’s too quick in point of logic. At best, disposing of materialism removes an objection to some hypotheses of survival, but removing an objection to a hypothesis is not the same thing as providing evidence for a hypothesis.||


I have a couple of questions for Sudduth:

According to materialism consciousness is bound to a physical body and a physical mechanism; the brain.
In this view with the breakdown of bodily and brain function (death) consciousness would terminate.

If this view is falsified wouldn’t that logically imply the opposite; that consciousness would survive bodily death?

If not then how can consciousness neither terminate at bodily death nor survive bodily death?

I can't find this suppose paper but a man by the name of Christopher Moreman came up with an alternative explanation for the cross correspondences. He called it chance coincidence. I found this.If anyone can get access to this paper and do a rebuttal to it would be appreciated. I would myself but I can't get access to it.

Moreman, Christopher (2003). A Re-examination of The Possibility of Chance Coincidence as an Alternative Explanation for Mediumistic Communication in the Cross-Correspondences. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 67: 225-242

I'm glad I'm not the only one here who has found Sudduth's writing to be incredibly hard to understand. I consider myself intelligent enough to understand most arguments, AND I was a philosophy major, but in this case I guess I just wasn't up to the task. :)

According to materialism consciousness is bound to a physical body and a physical mechanism; the brain.
In this view with the breakdown of bodily and brain function (death) consciousness would terminate.

If this view is falsified wouldn’t that logically imply the opposite; that consciousness would survive bodily death?

If not then how can consciousness neither terminate at bodily death nor survive bodily death?

I'm not him but I can answer. If materialism is true, at least the more extended version, then the mind can not continue after biological death. If the mind can continue after biological death, then materialism is false, but if materialism is false, then nothing follows, because it is possible that materialism is false, that any other metaphysical position is correct and that there is no afterlife or that materialism is false and there is afterlife.

This argument is a example of this:

1. If A, then B.

2. Not B, then not A.

3. Not A, then nothing follows.

A few brief points about this very interesting discussion:

1. We should perhaps be wary of attacking Michael Sudduth's motives or his choice of language - those are basically ad hominem attacks and they kind of suggest that this group of people doesn't like people who have different views and will try and criticise them rather than their point of view.

2. Sudduth is operating within an academic philosophical milieu that aspires to use language as precisely as possible, often in technical ways. The motive is to try and ascertain the truth by avoiding vagueness. I think we'd agree that trying to find the truth is a good thing. We shouldn't criticise him for using language from within his discipline and to do so seems to me to speak of our own insecurity.

3. People seem confused by Sudduth both believing in survival and questioning it - but isn't that a good thing? It seems to me that he wants to know if it's a logically justified belief, hence the rigorous and quite technical approach. I applaud that - seems to me he's trying to avoid any kind of lazy or vague or wishful thinking to work out what logic really reveals here.

OK, that's one set of points.

Now on the topic of auxiliary hypotheses, I've dug into some blog articles Sudduth wrote and it's actually really hard to find examples of what these hypotheses might be (which is a bad thing) but I found some - they include (this is just one example):

"There are some living persons P such that, if P were to survive death, P would exhibit efficacious psychic functioning in the form of extra-sensory perception and psychokinesis."

What this is basically saying is that just because consciousness survives, why should we think the conscious self can communicate with people on earth?

In other words what I think the auxiliary hypothesis argument boils down to is this:

Saying consciousness survives, on the basis of these various kinds of evidence, would require so many other things to be true which we don't know to be true and can't expect to be true.

Whereas something like living agent psi doesn't require so many of these questionable type things to be true.

You know what? It's a version of the extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence argument. And that means – I think – that it presupposes that a certain type of reality is more likely than another. In other words, if you assume survival and various things that go along with it are unlikely, then the whole thing seems a whole lot less likely than just supposing the materialist account is correct with the addition of a bit of psi.

But... if you assume the materialist account is fundamentally incoherent and flawed, and that the materialist account plus super psi leaves massive unexplained holes, then it's not so obvious that super psi (or simply not accepting survival) is OVERALL more likely.

Sudduth mentions at one point 'the burden shared by the survivalist to show that the probability of the data is greater given the survival hypothesis than the competitor' - meaning, I think (and I struggle to understand too), that the survival hypothesis is on the face of it way less likely than the alternatives.

And my point is that that depends on what kind of reality you think we live in.

So: Sudduth's argument presupposes a certain kind of reality.

And that means, quite possibly, that his argument is begging the question (in its technical sense - assuming what is in question).

I think one could be way more technical and precise than I have just been. I just suspect that in essence 'auxiliary hypothesis' relies on saying one of reality is more likely than another, based on what our culture typically believes.

From another perspective that, for example, views consciousness as a fundamental feature of reality, the *expectation* might be that, for example, dead people are able to perceive what the living are up to.

That's enough for now. Hope that helps a bit.

What this is basically saying is that just because consciousness survives, why should we think the conscious self can communicate with people on earth?

It is true that the mere survival of the consciousness does not imply postmortem communication, but there is evidence of postmortem communications, so this would not be an auxiliary hypothesis, but a phenomenon with some evidence.

Another example:

A empirical traditional proponent of an afterlife: if reincarnation exists, then one might expect that there are people with memories of their past lives and similar birthmarks to mortal wounds in their past lives.

Follower of Sudduth: reincarnation does not imply that there are people who remember their past lives or even have similar birthmarks to mortal wounds in their past lives, so these two statements are independent and unproved hypotheses.

My opinion: people who remember their past lives with similar birthmarks to mortal wounds in their past lives are not independent and unproved hypotheses but observed data, precisely for this I postulate the reincarnation as the best explanation of the phenomena.

Finally, I agree with your three points, Piers. Sudduth uses a very arid language, but he tries to be as accurate and
rigorous as possible, dealing with an issue that is already complex and trying to logically justify a position. The problem is if he is being too logical to treat the hypothesis of survival as deductive hypothesis when it in my opinion is an abductive hypothesis.

Excellent comments, Piers, and nicely balanced. I even like this:

"Sudduth is operating within an academic philosophical milieu that aspires to use language as precisely as possible, often in technical ways. The motive is to try and ascertain the truth by avoiding vagueness. I think we'd agree that trying to find the truth is a good thing. We shouldn't criticise him for using language from within his discipline and to do so seems to me to speak of our own insecurity."

Which is probably partly in response to my saying:

"Maybe this is my problem, but I'm instantly skeptical of arguments made by anyone whose writing is such a chore to read."

I agree with you.

Thank you Juan for comments.
You have mentioned that you do not agree with Sudduth’s epistemological approach. Yet at the same time you are trying to present his position in the strongest way that you can.

This is the hallmark of a genuine truth seeker.

That being said, I do not agree with Sudduth’s position that evidence against materialism does not count as evidence for survival.

If he had taken the position that CERTAIN evidence against materialism would not count as evidence for survival I would agree. The problem is that the position he seems to take is more general.

According to the materialist view of consciousness would not continue with bodily death because it is bound to the body and brain(termination).

Falsification of the prediction that consciousness would not continue with bodily death would logically imply that consciousness would continue (survival).
If materialism predicts ‘A’ would occur then falsification of this would mean that ‘A’ does not occur.

If the occurrence of ‘A’ means consciousness would not continue, ‘A’ not occurring would logically imply that consciousness would continue.

I understand that that there can be multiple alternatives to ‘A’. Like consciousness continuing (surviving) for a short time, or consciousness continuing (surviving) indefinitely.

This would mean that alternatives to ‘A’ like ‘B’ and ‘C’ etc are alternatives of how consciousness would continue(survival).

In this case falsification of the materialist prediction means that the real debate is not between survival and termination of consciousness but on what form of survival.

If falsification of the prediction that of consciousness discontinue with bodily death does not logically imply that consciousness would continue (in some form) an explanation is needed on how consciousness can neither continue nor discontinue on bodily death.

To conclude my last comment:

Though I will no doubt continue to feel a greater affinity towards people who express their ideas in words and arguments I (a pretty well-read guy) can understand more intuitively. That sort of thinking and writing fits better with my own approach to truth.

Juan wrote,

||This argument is a example of this:

1. If A, then B.

2. Not B, then not A.

3. Not A, then nothing follows.||

Yes, this is called "denying the antecedent":

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denying_the_antecedent

OK, let's clear up the biggest question first, how much is a minion paid and in what currency?

I can think of two big problems with the demand of that kind of testability and prediction. What is known to be useful in studying reality here is of no knowable usefulness in studying reality in the afterlife. There is no reason to believe that statistics or probability are relevant to people who have died.

Second, if mediums are talking to or for conscious entities, you're dealing with the results of intentional acts and conscious volition. There's no reason to believe that they would consistently act in a way that would be testable. They could choose to not cooperate, perhaps they're under some form of requirement to not cooperate, there is simply no way of knowing the meaning of unsuccessful results.

Psi testing is generally done using fairly pedestrian and non-volatile, repeatable phenomena, communication by a dead person with their living loved ones are likely not going to be reliably pedestrian, non-volatile or repeatable. I wonder how you would establish the range of possible alternative outcomes and the probability any one of them happening by mere random conditions. Probability was developed to try to study phenomena in the physical universe we have access to, there is no way of knowing if it is relevant to anything else.

I've come to find the isolated direct hit or "dazzle moment" to be more convincing than any supposed analysis of probability of this topic.

Piers, your comments were great! I disagree somewhat, however, on your first set of points:

||1. We should perhaps be wary of attacking Michael Sudduth's motives or his choice of language - those are basically ad hominem attacks||

I think Sudduth has staked out a clever patch of ground in this debate, and his stance ultimately amounts to high-end trolling with the goal of being relevant in this debate and ultimately of advancing his book sales and academic career. That's no big sin to be sure, but I will call him out on the schtick

I think the response to him in this forum has been pretty civil. He's not slinging mud either, so it's all good IMHO. You are right that caution is warranted, however. Personally, I really don't like his tone and stance, so maybe I have been too harsh, and I have questioned myself along the way...

||and they kind of suggest that this group of people doesn't like people who have different views and will try and criticise them rather than their point of view.||

I think that's off. We've been debating him.

||2. Sudduth is operating within an academic philosophical milieu that aspires to use language as precisely as possible, often in technical ways. The motive is to try and ascertain the truth by avoiding vagueness.||

If so, he fails. I was a philosophy major, and his stuff is certainly on the difficult end of philosophy I have read. He really does seem to make his points in as difficult a manner as possible and, despite having the opportunity, has not reworded his argument so as to communicate better with us.

||I think we'd agree that trying to find the truth is a good thing. We shouldn't criticise him for using language from within his discipline and to do so seems to me to speak of our own insecurity.||

Yet I think his stance is all about making others feel cowed and insecure and creating walls. As I said in an earlier comment, since he believes in survival, why doesn't he *start* by finding common ground with Carter (and by extension, us) and try to build on the data with us to find what he believes to be the *correct* solution? In other words, make a bee line for the Truth as he sees it? Well, the reason is I think clear: to be "that guy" who argues against survival and appears to support super-psi. And he's basing whole books on that stance, so I don't think I'm spitballing here. Again, this is no crime against humanity, but it's not a stance I find to be worthy of praise.

||3. People seem confused by Sudduth both believing in survival and questioning it - but isn't that a good thing? It seems to me that he wants to know if it's a logically justified belief, hence the rigorous and quite technical approach. I applaud that - seems to me he's trying to avoid any kind of lazy or vague or wishful thinking to work out what logic really reveals here.||

Yes. He has good points to make. I agree with him about "lazy testing." Given the right stance and attitude, I think he could add a considerable amount to the debate, even if I ultimately disagreed with him. I think, however, his stance, attitude, and method are muddling the truth instead of clarifying it. Look at all the confusion in these comments about what the guy actually believes. Survival or no? Super-psi or no? He totally brings this on himself, and he wants it that way. It's unfortunate.

You have mentioned that you do not agree with Sudduth’s epistemological approach. Yet at the same time you are trying to present his position in the strongest way that you can.

From the Sudduth’s position the falsity of materialism by non-survivalists reasons, for example, which appears in the book Irreducible Mind makes no more plausible the existence of an afterlife because there is a broad set of non-materialist positions that remain compatible with the data and some not postulate an afterlife and others do. This from the point of view of deductive logic. From abductive logic, the falsity of materialism makes more plausible the existence of an afterlife? Perhaps, at least that makes the antecedent probabilities about the afterlife are higher, but what we need to do is to examine the data pointing directly towards an afterlife, not the non-survivalist evidence pointing to a transmission model.

Falsification of the prediction that consciousness would not continue with bodily death would logically imply that consciousness would continue (survival).

I think you 're confusing because of what it is if the data indicates that consciousness survives after bodily death. According to Sudduth, there is a broad set of survivalists and non-survivalists hypotheses that are compatible with the data, being very difficult to know what happens. According to my position, although there is a very broad set of survivalists and non-survivalists hypotheses that are compatible with the data, there is a survivalist hypothesis that is the best explanation of all the data.

I'm not troubled at all by Michael Sudduth's strange opinions. Best to let him get on with it.

In the UK at the weekend we had a Sunday morning TV debate on the Big question of life after death. ( The programme is actually called the Big Questions) Usual suspect, Chris French was present (nice guy) but still going on about false memories and endorphins. I thought oh no, is there nobody that's up to date with what's going on...and then....

One of the investigators from the Aware study ( seated way far out left) ( French alternatively was right in the middle with a very attractive blonde sceptic) spoke up, Ken Spearpoint chief of resuscitation at a big London hospital. I'm only reporting what he said so please don't blame me if he's overstated the case (although I can't think he would do that)

He said. The Aware study results are being released imminently (I am sceptical of that:-))
He said the patients they study are not nearly dead, they are DEAD, no pulse nor respiratory effort, flat EEG often for tens of minutes. (He said) They have consciousness when they are in fact dead.
It's a very positive "otherworldly" experience for them from which they don't want to return from. One patient was absolutely desperate to go back to where he went, he was EUPHORIC etc

A woman at the front of the audience then asked Spearpoint this question.

"Have you had any patients that have seen things occurring around them (their comatose bodies)and told you what you were doing (approx.) while they were flat-lined ?"

Spearpoint repled "Yes"

The attractive blonde sceptic then said that the brain must still be working then. Chris French looked perplexed and everybody started shouting to get to speak. A butch English woman dressed like the Dalai Lama then immediately took the conservation away to something far less controversial.... sigh ....

Just one more thing.
The attractive blonde misrepresented the denture case as an "explanation"...

Interestingly, Spearpoint reported a case (that occurred many years ago possibly this was what got him interested) which was similar to the denture case (but obviously not involving dentures), where a man described his resuscitation in great detail during a fifteen minute period of cardiac arrest.
When Spearpoint went in sometime later to check on him, the man had an expression of recognition on his face. he's see the whole thing apparently and "knew him" because of that.

" I wonder why he doesn't just a write a one or two sentence piece stating exactly that instead of a bunch of overly wordy paragraphs. But I'm not sure that is what he's saying because of all of the fluff. Or maybe it's not fluff and it's meat that I can't digest." - No One

It's called verbal gymnastics. And it's constructed to paper over what is, essentially, mental squalor. Tedious in the extreme.

Thank you for your follow up comment Juan.

I apologize for not being as clear as I should be.

You had written:

||From abductive logic, the falsity of materialism makes more plausible the existence of an afterlife? Perhaps, at least that makes the antecedent probabilities about the afterlife are higher, but what we need to do is to examine the data pointing directly towards an afterlife, not the non-survivalist evidence pointing to a transmission model.||

I believe this is in line with what I had written earlier.

||If he had taken the position that CERTAIN evidence against materialism would not count as evidence for survival I would agree.||

What I had written about falsification (of a certain kind) of materialism as evidence for survival was an if and then proposition:

If the prediction that consciousness discontinues with bodily death is false then that would mean that consciousness continues in some form.

With this proposition I was trying to show a logical boundary.

I understand that Sudduth argues that there different survival and non survival hypotheses that are compatible with data .

The point is that they need to fall on either side of the boundary, and that saying that in principle no evidence against materialism can count as evidence for survival in some form is not correct.

Some of us here feel that Sudduth is not exactly expressing his objections and demands against the empirical case for survival in the most straight forward way.

I am one of them.

However his writings do have certain passages which show the true nature of his objections and demands against the empirical case for survival.

Here are some relevant quotes:

|| What is essential to all formulations of survival arguments is the idea that the survival hypothesis is supposed to lead us to expect (deductively or probabilistically) the observational data||

http://michaelsudduth.com/falsification-simplicity-and-survival/


|| The central problem facing empirical arguments for survival is simply not empirical in nature. ||

http://michaelsudduth.com/chris-carters-challenge-survival-vs-super-psi/


|| The real question here is not whether we will survive death, but “what is the nature of consciousness itself?” When the latter question has been answered, the question concerning postmortem survival will probably no longer be asked. ||

http://michaelsudduth.com/getting-sober-about-survival-part-3-of-3/

This is why I wrote earlier that he will not be satisfied until we have a scientific theory of consciousness that incorporates survival.

For those who are interested the programme Duck soup mentioned shown last Sunday is now on youtube. I've only watched the first 10 mins.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E42FnKtm9jE

If the prediction that consciousness discontinues with bodily death is false then that would mean that consciousness continues in some form.

But this is a tautology, so is trivially true, so we have to find evidence for the survival hypothesis, not only evidence against the materialism.

This is why I wrote earlier that he will not be satisfied until we have a scientific theory of consciousness that incorporates survival.

True, but can be reasonable accept the existence of a fact without a theory to explain it, as in the past with earthquakes, so that's what's happening now with the afterlife.

Must say, some of those Sudduth quotes would make wonderful contributions to 'Pseuds Corner' in the British satirical magazine Private Eye. ;)

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