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I wonder if there's also a "waiting for the other shoe to drop" aspect when life seems to be too easy.

Ha! great post, Michael. I just came from your FB page where I made a comment very much along these lines. The monkeys are running the zoo.....the lunatics the asylum...and you're right, social media gives them a megaphone and it's a deviously clever megaphone for the reasons you describe.

I remember when I studying abnormal psychology. We'd focus on a set of diagnoses and the literature would always say, "It is estimated that 1% to 1.5% of the population suffers from this condition".

It dawned on me at some point that there are a lot of diagnoses and if 1% or so of the population suffers from each one - as the lit says - then there are a lot of clinically unbalanced people out there; many of them seriously so (as in bi-polar, various psychotic conditions, cluster B personality types, ADHD etc). Based on the literature, I'd estimate that at any given time 20% of the population is exhibiting symptoms of serious mental illness. Another 25% is experiencing symptoms of a less acute psychiatric issue that, nonetheless, could impact their expressions on social media (Asperger's, anxiety, hyper-active, substance abuse, etc).

I always kind of doubted the literature a bit. I mean there can't be that many crazy people out there, right? However, after I began my career in healthcare insurance and looking at cost driver data, I think the literature is correct. I can see the number of mental health and substance abuse hospitalizations (you have to be a fairly serious case to be actually hospitalized). I can see the number of members receiving prescriptions for psychiatric drugs.

Then, there is some adverse selection occurring on line. Crazy people probably have more time to spend on line than well adjusted people.

So, take all of that and all of what you said in your post, and what happens is that even well balanced people start to go off the rails a little because they begin to get the impression that "everyone" out there is "nuts". This causes fear and anxiety - and, perhaps, a perpetual defensive posture - for "normals"; which isn't healthy.

One last point; it is easy to be "accepting" of others when it is on line or otherwise at a distance. Not so easy when they are in your face with bad breath and slurred speech as you describe. Certain types of people want to "good" and "open" and "accepting". They want to signal their virtue. So much easier to that online as opposed to in person. But that "virtuous" behavior, enabled by the distance afforded by online interactions, has the effect of diminishing reason and emboldening madness in the real world. It starts online and migrates into actual behavior on the streets, in the halls of the law makers, etc.

Brave new world we have here.

I think that a thought is just a thought and it may be unwise to attach a modifier to it, like crazy, stupid, wrong, etc. When one does that, one immediately has made a judgement and decided that the other person’s thought (even when not coming from a “drunk at the bar”) does not conform to one’s own evaluation and understanding of things. Maybe most of us think that it is only other people who have “crazy’ thoughts and that our thoughts are for the most part sane and intellectually sound. Of course that view is just a matter of perspective and acceptance of ‘stupid’ ideas changes over time. What is ‘true’ and ‘stupid’ today may not be tomorrow.

I think that with most eventually-validated new ideas when they were first proposed, people thought they were ‘crazy’. There are numerous examples in scientific discovery where people were ridiculed or killed or in the case of medicine, lost their license to practice because they proposed something which later turned out to be a fact, e.g., stomach ulcers caused by bacteria, need to wash hands to prevent infection, the relationship of vaccination to brain development of infants, treatment of precocious puberty to prevent child aggression, hypnosis, the earth revolved around the sun. These examples seem like simple obvious ideas to us now and not at all ‘crazy’ as once thought.

Alas---people, especially on the internet, do not want to discuss but would rather argue to show superiority of their thoughts. This is easy to do since the possibility of getting ‘punched out’ does not exist on the internet although emotional blows can be sorely felt. Contrary to what we are encouraged to believe in the schoolyard, that, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me”, words on the internet do hurt and can result is serious sequelae, e.g., suicide.

Just mentioning an idea that is considered taboo by current group-think brings out immediate condemnation, labeling, posturing and loud guffaws from other posters. In a previous comment, long gone, I mentioned Darwin’s interest and discussion of human beings belonging to more than one species and his interest in breeding plants and animals from a selected cohort exhibiting desirable traits and its application to humans. The condemnation for mentioning these ideas was explosive from a few commenters and became personal. Apparently when one does not like the message then it is acceptable in current society, I suppose, to kill the messenger. - AOD

I find it fairly easy now to just skip over anything written with poor grammar, many misspellings, and of course, the use of ALL CAPS. It does wonders in saving time and energy.

On the other hand, I'm not totally dismissive of conspiracy theories and will give them a little thought. Authorities aren't always right - at one time, for instance, all of these things were once considered OK: leeches, tobacco, sugar, and leaded gas. Authorities thought the world was flat, and women who liked cats and herbs were witches. On the political side, austerity was thought to cure economic crises and tax cuts created jobs. It always pays to keep an open mind!

Here's a link http://amasci.com/weird/flamer.html to a short site introduced thusly:

FPD, the Flamer Personality Disorder?!!
Internet Troll as a form of mental illness
W. Beaty, 2001

I've met a certain class of people on Newsgroups and e-lists who all seem to have the same "symptoms." I am led to suspect that their type of behavior might be a form of mental illness. To discuss this, first I must define it. My list of diagnostic criteria for FPD, the FLAMER PERSONALITY DISORDER is below. (grin) Know anyone like this? It's a composite description of two real-world people I know, plus three of the worst internet trolls I've encountered, plus the "flamer" side of my own personality (yes, we all have one.)

"100 Internet Troll Types":
https://www.ipredator.co/troll/

"How to Win Arguments Online: A Flamer’s Guide!" (Excellent)
http://www.jonathancrossfield.com/blog/2008/05/how-to-win-arguments-online.html

"Classification of Flames in Computer Mediated Communications"
https://arxiv.org/pdf/1202.0617.pdf

Wikipedia entry on flaming:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flaming_(Internet)

"The 18 Types of Internet Trolls" (illustrated)
http://www.smosh.com/smosh-pit/articles/18-types-of-internet-trolls

"Flamers and Their ALL-CAPS Screeds, You Know the Type"
"Over the years, Reed, a Minneapolis children's book illustrator, has posted caricatures of 84 mythical flamers and flamer-haters. To enter his Flame Warriors site (www.winternet.com/~mikelr/flame1.html) is sort of like entering a hellish Sesame Street populated by Oscar the Grouch and 83 of his relatives."
https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/2003/12/21/flamers-and-their-all-caps-screeds-you-know-the-type/0edf97c0-9d84-467a-ae80-fbd758435e07/?utm_term=.0ccd9048030e

Unfortunately, Mike Reed's site at the address above comes up "Not Found." Maybe the webarchive has saved an old version.

My wife and I first got a computer around the year 2000. After I first started participating on message boards it didn't take me long to figure out that they are really good at creating or causing duality and separation. Message boards are just another mechanism for us to experience more duality and separation in our lives.

I got on the near-death.com message board and there was a guy on there named Marineboy and he would disagree and argue with almost every thing I posted. It drove me nuts and eventually I left the near death message board because I had no interest in arguing or debating with him. It was like it was his life's mission to raise my blood pressure and make my head explode.

It's striking how the internet is similar to a part of Emmanuel Sweedenborg's spiritualist readings: he wrote that, in the first stages of the spiritual world, people act as they do now. They work, they play, and they live life as they always have. However, it's not long before all the social niceties and the masks we wear fall away, revealing who we are at our core with nothing to hide it, and we hurry off to join others with similar minds (heaven or hell). In a way, the internet has done the same. With the promise of anonymity (though that's diminished in recent years), people tend to reveal who they really are. My experiences show that there's a lot of people who are incredibly judgemental, shockingly cruel with words, and downright vicious towards anyone who disagrees with them (as a visit to the comment section of any news article will prove!).

However, the internet does also bring out the best in people. Artists can share their work with millions, and some even give away music and content free of charge for anyone to use. People will create videos, tutorials, and guides about any and all subjects you want to learn about. Connecting with fellow fans on a variety of subjects can lead to lifelong friendships, and spiritual seekers like ourselves have access to a treasure trove of material never before seen in human history. And even better, all this easy access helps us learn critical thinking and the all-important act of discernment.

In short, the internet is like life: there are dark, festering, squalid pits you'd be wise to avoid, and there are beautiful places with kind, wonderful people who are happy to share their loves with you, and you can do the same in turn.

I wrote, "Unfortunately, Mike Reed's site at the address above comes up "Not Found." Maybe the webarchive has saved an old version."

I've just check and although the Wayback Machine had saved his site many times, they are all now inaccessible. I guess Reed is preparing to sell the images in an e-book, or to monetize them in some other way.

Nicely written Ian.

Apparently according to Swedenborg and others there is little or no diversity in the many mansions of heaven as spirits reportedly tend to gravitate to and congregate with others of similar tastes and beliefs. It seems to me that the physical world as divinely planned was exactly like that with each culture and people inhabiting a separate but more or less equal and environmentally interesting area with the potential to thrive on its blessings. Whether or not people take advantage of that potential lies within their free will to choose and develop what was given to them.

It seems to me that there is a great loss with the amalgamation of the people of the earth into one group of hybridized sameness. - AOD

This issue relates to the extreme political polarization our country is supposedly showing. I think there are plenty of liberals or conservatives out there who would love to have an intelligent discussion on issues, but the climate in comments/forums seem to prevent it. As soon as someone makes a reasoned argument (it doesn't matter which "side"), they are jumped on by the opposition with taunts and general disrespect. Of course moderators can shut things down, but it doesn't help much.

"It seems to me that the physical world as divinely planned was exactly like that with each culture and people inhabiting a separate but more or less equal and environmentally interesting area with the potential to thrive on its blessings."

That's a nice, optimistic way of looking at it. I have a more pessimistic interpretation. I remember that when Victor Hugo was in exile on the Isle of Jersey, he became fascinated with a Ouija board-like device and received many purported spirit messages. Of course it's entirely possible that these messages originated in his own subconscious and reflected his unhappiness at the time. In any case, the gist of the messages was that Earth was a kind of hell in which souls at a lower level of advancement predominated.

This perhaps ties in with the idea that, on spiritual planes, souls of similar vibrations cluster together, producing harmony, while on Earth, souls of vastly different vibrations are forced to share the same space, creating all kinds of tensions and conflicts.

I've come to have a certain degree of sympathy for the gnostics, who believed that this universe is either a botched job by an inferior deity or an intentionally hellish world designed by an evil god. The more I see of the craziness, evil, and pointless suffering in this world, the more I think it is either a prison for undeveloped souls or a cosmic cock-up.

As for the Internet, I think it allows many good things into our lives, but also many bad things. It's like opening your door and just allowing anyone to walk in off the street. And there are more crazies out there than we like to acknowledge.

Portions of a recent opinion piece on the Ace of Spades blog tie in with the subject of this post. The blogger argues that America has "gone crazy" (temporarily, we can hope) because of the constant stress of media freak-outs over relatively trivial matters and because of the associated ritual caterwauling on the Internet. He writes:

"I believe the dominant media culture has gone crazy due to the trauma of not getting their way [in the last election]. I further believe that their constant hysteria makes more sane people not actually crazy, but very stressed out and agitated.

"If you've ever spent five minutes in the company with a manic or very anxious person, you know that such psychological states are easily transmittable. I personally know that when I used to have panic, that panic infected the people around me. ... It's all part of our pack animal evolution -- it's evolutionarily advantageous to pick up the signals of alarm (even subtle ones) from a neighboring pack animal. ... But those things are good only when the pack animals around you are sane and reasonably reacting to stimuli that seem to indicate genuinely possible threats.

"However, when half of the pack has Mad Cow Disease and shriek and wail over nothing at all, this transmission of anxiety and fear becomes toxic for the healthy members of the pack. Half of America now consists of barely-functional lunatics, and it's best to avoid them for all sorts of reasons."

I don't agree that "half of America" consists of lunatics, and there are other parts of the essay I would take issue with. But he makes some good points, especially about avoiding unwanted overstimulation, and he includes links to other people's provocative writings on the same subject.

http://ace.mu.nu/archives/371343.php

Authorities thought the world was flat
Kathleen
---

At the risk of being pedantic, this is a common myth. Actually, nobody of any learning ever thought the earth was flat.

The roundness of the earth has been known since Pythagoras in the 6th century BC at least.

However, your overall point is well made!

Regards,

Douglas

I hope people will link to the Ace of Spades blog that you provided, Michael. There is a lot of thoughtful material there. I didn’t take the time to figure out who the author is but he/she seems like a pretty-good writer and thought provocateur. He/she quotes Stella Morabito in which she says in part that,

“[W]hoever has the power to dictate public perceptions of reality is in a position to dictate public opinion and behavior. Abusing language and images to stir up emotions is an ancient trick of power-mongers. And once journalism turns into unchecked propaganda, we become trapped in its dangerous illusions.”

She continues saying
“Only the teensiest fraction of Americans have any real interest in violent extremism, whether it be the violence represented by the specter of the Klu Klux Klan or the violence promoted by groups life Antifa who pretend they are fighting for social justice. But the media is promoting imagery of the former as a foil for the latter.”

I listen sometimes to a several people on talk radio which for the most part all provide some rational thought stimulation commentary. However I often think that although these people may think they are helping their cause by pointing out the inconsistencies of their opposition with sound bites and bombastic commentary, in reality I think they are disseminating support for their opposition. They are whipping–up the crowd by keeping before the public the very things that they would like to eliminate. -AOD

"Actually, nobody of any learning ever thought the earth was flat."

True, but today the flat earth "theory" is making a (small) comeback, thanks to - you guessed it - the Internet!

https://www.livescience.com/24310-flat-earth-belief.html

This is an example of the crazy ideas that are out there, and the way that the Net's epistemological egalitarianism works in putting all ideas on a somewhat equal plane.

According to something I read, the recent eclipse has flat-earthers distressed and doubting.

Art: "I got on the near-death.com message board and there was a guy on there named Marineboy and he would disagree and argue with almost every thing I posted. It drove me nuts and eventually I left the near death message board because I had no interest in arguing or debating with him. It was like it was his life's mission to raise my blood pressure and make my head explode."

I remember Marineboy. The quality of his closed minded Skeptic thinking was indicated by, for instance, his claim that NDEs are happening mostly in a restricted human population (white Americans and Europeans) carrying a relatively new gene mutation complex. This new evolutionary development was supposed to have originated and be concentrating in the population because having NDEs somehow promoted survival and reproductive advantage. Needless to say, he was a big fan of evolutionary psychology and its tracing of all human moral, ethical and psychological traits to random mution + natural selection.

Marineboy aggressively used the near-death.com blog to promote his theories.

In the above link, Eric Oliver, political scientist at the University of Chicago, said, in his comments about flat-earthers that,
,

"If they were like other conspiracy theorists, they should be exhibiting a tendency toward a lot of magical thinking, such as believing in UFOs, ESP, ghosts, the Devil, or other unseen, intentional forces,"

His comment makes me wonder if I am in the same category as the people who believe that the earth is flat?

S'pose so! - AOD

"... his claim that NDEs are happening mostly in a restricted human population (white Americans and Europeans) carrying a relatively new gene mutation complex."

NDEs are happening in countries where advanced medical equipment makes resuscitation possible—that is, in the U.S. and Western Europe. Parsimony favors this interpretation,as opposed to a "gene mutation complex," which sounds like special pleading.

\\"I remember Marineboy...{snip}...Marineboy aggressively used the near-death.com blog to promote his theories." - doubter//

LOL! That was so long ago! This is amazing. Isn't it amazing how big the internet is and yet here it is almost 15 years later and someone I'm reminiscing about is remembered by someone else I'm talking to? We're talking about someone who I believe is from England which for me is clear across the Atlantic Ocean!

The internet reminds me sort of like what near death experiencers describe when they talk about the connectedness and oneness of the other side, what we are moving towards? But instead of having computers it's like our consciousness or "soul" is the computer and we are all hooked up to one another and everything, past, present, and future is easily re-lived just by focusing our attention on it.

What a strange and amazing world we live in.

Roger's brief comment about the eclipse has given me an opening to make a comment also about the eclipse. Think for a moment about the relative sizes of the sun, moon and the earth. The sun is humongous, maybe a million times the size of the earth while the moon is about a quarter of the diameter of the earth. Yet when humans view the eclipse they see what appears to be a moon, blocking out the sun and more or less the exact same size as the sun. What is the explanation for this?

I suspect it has to do with the relative distances between the earth and moon and sun and their sizes, but isn't it interesting that this should be so?

There was a thought at one time that the earth and solar system, even the universe evolved or was created for the benefit of humans. That is, things evolved for the use and pleasure of men and women. I think that Alfred Russel Wallace thought that that was so.

Sometimes I wonder too why humans are sized relative to the rest of the world so that for the most part they can take advantage of it. Trees are not too big that they can't be cut for lumber, oceans aren't too vast that they can't be crossed, water is abundant, foods and minerals also are plentiful and available for man's use. And, many discoveries have been made that seem to benefit man alone; electricity is one example.

Why does the color scheme of the earth seem so agreeable to man. The sky is blue, clouds are white and sunsets are pink, and orange, all subtlety blended together to produce a very pleasing experience---for man. Does any other animal appreciate that beauty of the earth? Why are leaves green and not purple in a black sky with yellow clouds. Why are flowers and birds and insects so beautifully colored. Before man arrived I don't think that they were so colorful or even existed.

What if advanced intelligence evolved in something the size of an ant? (This is not to say that ants are not intelligent.) Even though the environment of the earth would be agreeable to the life of an ant, would an intelligent being the size of an ant really be able to take advantage of and appreciate all of the beauty and resources of the earth? Would that being be able to evolve by natural selection to be the 'ruler of the universe' that man likes to believe he is?

Is the size of man and an agreeable environment an intimation of a divine plan? - AOD

While I appreciate your sense of wonder, Amos, and who knows, maybe humans are favored in some ways by the universe, I'm not buying several of your arguments.

"I suspect it has to do with the relative distances between the earth and moon and sun and their sizes"

Yep. The sun's diameter is 400 times greater than the moon's, and it's 400 times farther away, so from our perspective, they seem to be the same size. A weird coincidence, for sure. But is it metaphysically meaningful? I tend to doubt it.

"Does any other animal appreciate that beauty of the earth?"

My guess is that because animals aren't tied up with intellectual concepts that keep them occupied in one small part of their being, they probably enjoy it more. The feel, the sounds, the look, the tastes, and certainly the smells—why would you think that humans enjoy these more than, let's say, dogs?

I suspect that most of the things cited by AOD, though not the relative sizes of Earth and moon, simply reflect the fact that humans had to adapt to their environment, not that the environment adapted to (or was designed for) them. Others reflect humanity's unique status as a highly technological species. If the dinosaurs had evolved into scientists and engineers, electricity would have been just as useful to them as it is to us.

Also, I doubt that flowers, birds, and insects are colorful for man's benefit. The bright colors of flowers assist pollinating insects in locating the correct species. The bright plumage of birds seems to serve to attract mates.

I imagine that if fish could philosophize, they would marvel at how the world had so obviously been made for them - three-quarters of its surface being covered by water! 😉

A bit like observing that hole in the road is perfectly designed to accommodate the puddle so exactly. (Attrib someone else).

"I imagine that if fish could philosophize, they would marvel at how the world had so obviously been made for them - three-quarters of its surface being covered by water!"

I like that, Michael! And did you know that 80% of open-ocean fish live in the dark depths, and emit their own light?

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/artful-amoeba/80-percent-of-open-ocean-fish-make-light/

So we know what *they're* thinking: this planet was *made* for us—it's wet and it's pitch black!

(Amos, I don’t mean to pile on the criticism. Your perspective is a really common one.)

factor at work in producing the edginess and unease that characterize modern society – an unease that makes little sense when you consider the unprecedented safety, affluence, and comfort that most people in developed nations enjoy

The unease is usually (or often) attributed to things such as:
- decrease of social safety
- rise of perceptions that the public institutions fail to perform and that our elected representatives don't take our best interests at heart
- rise of fear-mongering in the media
- increasing social atomization

But on the Internet, everything is different. The crank, the loon, the angry drunk, the mentally disturbed loner is not always immediately identifiable as such. .......

That is very true and has played a large role in many failures of dialogue on online discussion platforms.
I'd rather speak of troubling behaviours rather than of individuals as such. The idea that there are many disturbed individuals is in conflict with the fact that there are relatively few traffic accidents.

Speaking for myself, I guess that Internet has been overall beneficial, much more of a blessing than a curse. Online, you may find hundreds of seriously defective stances. By the nature of the situation, they're mutually conflicting. In 'real' life, particular defective outlooks tend to dominate a given physical and social surrounding, and one can't get away from it with a push of a button. Those outlooks shape people's whole lives. They can claim lives. And before they claim lives, they take away sanity, and lead to most of that online deviant behaviour which is often just a vent.

My guess is that because animals aren't tied up with intellectual concepts that keep them occupied in one small part of their being, they probably enjoy it [beauty of the earth] more. The feel, the sounds, the look, the tastes, and certainly the smells—why would you think that humans enjoy these more than, let's say, dogs?
But who has seen a dog—or any aqnimal—gazing rapturously at a sunset, or a rainbow? Animals seem pretty earth-bound. (OK, wolves howl at the moon, but what that means is debatable.)

Roger said:

"But who has seen a dog—or any animal—gazing rapturously at a sunset, or a rainbow?"

I thought about that. But who has seen a human sniff, sniff, sniffing at the grass, the trees—everything and anyone in sight? We all know that a dog's sense of smell is infinitely superior to a man's. And since you've never been a dog, how do you know that your sense of sight is more thrilling or satisfying than a dog's sense of smell?

And ever see a man rolling around on the ground, massaging his back against the grass or snow for the sheer pleasure of how it feels? Or chewing on a bone that might seem to have little on it left to taste?

But I'm sure you could add your own examples of how animals enjoy themselves sensually. I'm frankly amazed that most humans jump to the conclusion that we derive more pleasure for our bodies, our environment, our senses, than animals do. Especially since we spend all day in our heads!

For all we know, an amoeba's existence is the most ecstatic of all. Does an increase in size mean an increase in pleasure? Were dinososaurs better equipped to enjoy life than we?

That should be "more pleasure *from* our bodies."

I agree Roger, where is the evidence that dogs enjoy a beautiful sunset?

There is no divine plan. Humans are animals that, over time have evolved from hot basaltic rock according to the theories of Charles Darwin; they have no purpose other than to reproduce their own kind until the solar system is engulfed in a fiery explosion and turns to ash to drift to through the universe forever. - AOD

"Were dinososaurs better equipped to enjoy life than we?"

I'll bet the really big ones were. The ones with big honking johnsons.

I’ll tell you what my dog seems to enjoy in order of time spent and the degree of ecstasy: sleeping, eating, pooping, peeing, chasing a ball, going for a walk, playing in the water and copulating (if she ever had a chance).

I haven’t noticed her gazing at sunsets yet. - AOD

Excellent post based on an excellent metaphor. Well, not really a metaphor, since the figure of the drunk is one drawn from real life. An extrapolation.

I think the post, if anything, underestimates the depressingness of the situation. Yes, the Internet teaches us how many crazy and antisocial people there are, and the degree to which "normal" people have a crazy and/or antisocial side.

But what to me is worse is that there is a crushing mediocrity to the online world. Take YouTube videos. Yes, they're famous for having hate-filled, nasty comments, but even if there were none of those, comments can run as high as high as 30% of Likes and several percent of total views. The upshot is that any video with a significant number of views will soon have so many comments that one own, no matter how much it may contribute to some sort of discussion, will never be seen. Further, a large percentage of the comments are saying nothing in particular (which is fine if they are just kind words, but the problem is that soon any kind of conversation is impossible).

I post on a message board online, basically the only place online where I post anonymously. The people there are high-IQ on average, but try to propose any type of original thought, and one runs into very conservative, templated thinking. Not even, "Hey that was interesting you thought of that, though I disagree." No, just reflexive opposition. (In contrast, I feel that people here really listen to what I have to say, whether in guest posts or comments.)

The truth is that the vast majority of people in the world are extremely orthodox and have bought into the worldview and way of doing things in their immediate vicinity. This is what I find much more disheartening that the crazies online.

Bruce: AOD wrote:

Even though the environment of the earth would be agreeable to the life of an ant, would an intelligent being the size of an ant really be able to take advantage of and appreciate all of the beauty and resources of the earth?
..............
Why does the color scheme of the earth seem so agreeable to man. The sky is blue, clouds are white and sunsets are pink, and orange, all subtlety blended together to produce a very pleasing experience---for man. Does any other animal appreciate that beauty of the earth?

You replied:
My guess is that because animals aren't tied up with intellectual concepts that keep them occupied in one small part of their being, they probably enjoy it more. The feel, the sounds, the look, the tastes, and certainly the smells—why would you think that humans enjoy these more than, let's say, dogs?

But AOD spoke only of visual delights, not of "The feel, the sounds, ... the tastes, and certainly the smells." I, likewise, focused only on the visual aspect.

However, regarding AOD's larger point about the earth seemingly made for man to appreciate more than other animals, that seems true as regards sounds: Amimals don't appreciate music, although they like some genres better than others if they are forced to listen to music.

Feel: You won't see a chimp rubbing a piece of jade. (Or maybe someone has??) Animals mostly rub to scratch itches.

As for tastes, man's seem more refined, in that there are certain nutritious foods man will not eat unless there is no other alternative, and there are certain other prepared dishes that he will strongly prefer over average food. These are more distinct than animals' food preferences, and are likely less concerned with survival (nutrition). Gnawing on a chew toy or bone is possibly just to satisfy an instinct to exercise its teeth and jaws.

As for the smells, who sees animals sniffing the roses? They don't derive aesthetic pleasure from the odors they investigate—they use odors for sexual reproduction and survival-avoidance.

I agree it's hard to argue that the earth was made for man because man gets more out of it than animals, or anyway gets a higher quality of pleasure from it (sometimes). There's not such a tremendous difference between man and animals in what they get out of the earth as AOD was arguing.

PS: Animals don't seem to get much out of earth's sounds, like sighing winds, breaking waves, etc. Nor for eath's "feels" like gentle zephyrs, bracing breezes, etc. Nor for earth's odors like burning leaves, the tang of the sea, the aroma of damp soil, etc. Nor for eath's sights like frost patterns.

There are things in the environment of man that apparently are used by man alone and I find it difficult to understand how any of those things contributed to the evolution of the ‘human’ form currently occupied by man. For example, what other animal or living creature utilizes the vast deposits of oil, gas and coal as man does. What other animal uses iron, copper, gold, silver, granite, limestone and other mineral deposits? Does any other animal care about diamonds, rubies, pearls and other gems of the earth? What animal uses fire to cook food, keep warm or forge steel. What other animal cuts trees for lumber (well, maybe beavers). Who else has discovered and used electricity, radio waves, x-rays, nuclear fusion and fission? ---- I could go on and on!

The point is that many or all of these things have nothing to do with the evolution of humans. Humans may have evolved into the form we see today, but the abundance of things for the use of man were just there, waiting, as it were, for the right time for their discovery and exploitation by man.

Permit me to quote one of the telling quotes of Alfred Russel Wallace from his book “The World of Life”, which I highly recommend, published around 1910. Wallace writes,

“The overwhelming complexity and diversity of this vast cosmos in its every part and detail, is the great fundamental characteristic which our highest science has brought prominently to our notice; but neither science nor religion has given us the slightest clue as to why it should be so. Science says: ”It is so. Ours not to reason why; but only to find out what is.” Religion says: “God made it so”; and sometimes adds, “it was God’s will; it is impious to seek any other reason.” In the present work I have endeavored to suggest a reason which appeals to me as both a sufficient and an intelligible one: it is that this earth with its infinitude of life and beauty and mystery, and the universe in the midst of which we are placed, with its overwhelming immensities of suns and nebulae, of light and motion, are as they are , firstly, for the development of life culminating in man; secondly, as a vast school-house for the higher education of the human race in preparation for the enduring spiritual life to which it is destined.”

Well, thoughts like the above apparently did not get Wallace the acclaim he deserved but from a non-materialistic perspective, perhaps Wallace was spot-on. - AOD

I'm more or less with Bruce's take on nature feeling joy.

But:

||For all we know, an amoeba's existence is the most ecstatic of all.||

An amoeba is a single-celled organism that has no nervous system. It can't "feel" anything.

We can theorize that such biological entities and even plants can feel and "enjoy life," but it would have to be something not based on sense organs, a nervous system, a brain, etc.

We could at that point just as easily theorize that inanimate objects also "feel."

I'm not mocking the noting... just saying that, based on what we currently know, there are many biological systems including many animals that experience nothing at all.

Matt said:

"An amoeba is a single-celled organism that has no nervous system. It can't "feel" anything."

People who temporarily die (NDErs) also do not have viable, functional, nervous systems. And yet they consistently report that the feelings they experienced were infinitely deeper and more ecstatic than any they have ever known.

Material "equipment" is not a requirement for feeling. It's a barrier to it. If the NDE teaches us anything, it's this!

Roger, I don't want to get into an argument, really. But I can't help saying a little more:

"But AOD spoke only of visual delights, not of "The feel, the sounds, ... the tastes, and certainly the smells." I, likewise, focused only on the visual aspect."

And one of the points I was making is that we often assume that sight is the most important of the senses. Maybe, if we could smell as intensely as animals do, we would consider *that* the most thrilling of senses.

"Amimals don't appreciate music,"

Really? What exactly is it that birds spend hour after hour doing, if not singing? And while you may claim that the purpose is functional, that's merely an assumption. And besides, don't humans, for example, also frequently make music to attract mates? It's called serenading.

And no, bird music is not *our music*, but in this enormous universe with an infinite of beings with different tastes, who's to say that human music is *better* than bird music? Does more complicated necessarily mean better?

"As for the smells, who sees animals sniffing the roses?"

Maybe thay find other smells more appealing. It's like saying that because I don't watch reality shows, I don't like TV.

"Animals don't seem to get much out of earth's sounds, like sighing winds, breaking waves, etc. Nor for eath's "feels" like gentle zephyrs, bracing breezes, etc. Nor for earth's odors like burning leaves, the tang of the sea, the aroma of damp soil, etc. Nor for eath's sights like frost patterns."

How in the world can you possibly know this? Have you walked a mile in their paws?

Pure and simple, we humans are chauvinists.

AOD,

That Wallace quote is really great, and I think this part:

"the earth [...] and the universe [...] are as they are , firstly, for the development of life culminating in man; secondly, as a vast school-house for the higher education of the human race in preparation for the enduring spiritual life to which it is destined.”

is the answer to Michael's suggestion here:

||I've come to have a certain degree of sympathy for the gnostics, who believed that this universe is either a botched job by an inferior deity or an intentionally hellish world designed by an evil god. The more I see of the craziness, evil, and pointless suffering in this world, the more I think it is either a prison for undeveloped souls or a cosmic cock-up."

It's not so much a botched job as a beginning job, IOW.

Bruce wrote,

||People who temporarily die (NDErs) also do not have viable, functional, nervous systems. And yet they consistently report that the feelings they experienced were infinitely deeper and more ecstatic than any they have ever known.

Material "equipment" is not a requirement for feeling. It's a barrier to it. If the NDE teaches us anything, it's this!||

Again, academic, as I don't fundamentally disagree with your point, but surely humans in NDEs are replicating and expanding upon their earthly "equipment" in some way, no?

In contrast, an amoeba simply doesn't have any equipment to begin with. One could just as easily suggest that an oxygen atom lives a life of ecstasy. And if a lack of equipment is a boon to experience, than nonexistent beings would be the most ecstatic of all. Now that might sound like a cheeky argument, but think about it: what makes an amoeba *exist* in any sense more than a rock or an atom or simply the thought of something.

Again, academic. I see my dog tossing toys in the air, obviously playing and experimenting with physicality, and it's clear that at least some animals enjoy life quite a bit.

It is not a botched job, it is exactly as it should be. The Universe is designed to teach us the things we came here to learn - the things we can't learn in heaven.

Life isn't supposed to be easy or "a bowl of cherries" as my mom used to say. Life is supposed to be shocking and challenging and hard and difficult. It is designed to evoke lots of emotion and for us to experience lots of duality and separation and time and space and what it is like to be in a body and control that body and the parameters of the body, what "out there" looks and feels like, and to make memories of what it was like to live in a 3 dimensional + 1 time Universe.

There is a connection between emotion and memory so we have to experience enough emotion in this life so that we remember all the lessons that we have learned, enough to overcome those feelings of oneness and connectedness and lack of time and space on the other side. The alternative would be for us to forget who we are and merge back into that collective oneness or consciousness in the place we call heaven.

We come here simply to become separate unique individuals and to learn what it means and how it feels to be separate and what time and space look and feel like - which is something that can't be learned in heaven due to those overwhelming feelings of oneness and connectedness.

And after we get to the other side we will look back on this life like it went by in the blink of an eye. You can't learn what it was like to live in a body and to control that body and the parameters of the body unless you come here first and get in one and live some time in a body - just like you can't learn how to drive a car by just reading a book about it or watching someone else drive a car. The only way to learn about being in a body is to "drive one."

Excerpt from Carl Turner's mystical experience, "I had the realization that I was everywhere at the same time...and I mean everywhere. I knew that everything is perfect and happening according to some divine plan, regardless of all the things we see as wrong with the world."
http://www.beyondreligion.com/su_personal/dreamsvisions-kundalini.htm

Notice the allusion to the holographic nature of the universe in the first thing he says "I had the realization that I was everywhere in the Universe at the same time." That is how I know that Carl Turner's statement is real, and the next thing that comes after it is true too - because they both corroborate the holographic universe theory which can't be an accident.

When Pilate asks Jesus if he is the King of the Jews Jesus answers him "My Kingdom is not of this world." That is true of all of us. We are just temporary sojourners here, students, who come here to learn a few simple lessons before we merge back into that great holographic oneness we call heaven. This life was never meant to be easy or perfect because it is just a holographic projection that was designed to teach us the things we'll need on the other side to live life as separate unique individuals.


Matt said:

"surely humans in NDEs are replicating and expanding upon their earthly "equipment" in some way, no?"

I don't see any evidence for that at all.

"than nonexistent beings would be the most ecstatic of all."

You've *really* lost me there.

"One could just as easily suggest that an oxygen atom lives a life of ecstasy."

When you die, Matt, and get to the heart of these things, I want you to say: "Bruce! I'm so sorry, you were right all along! Consciousness does extend to *all* aspects of reality! Everything is indeed part of The One Mind!

:)

I've been thinking about this post off-and-on, and it's struck me that educated people probably felt this way about the Gutenberg press. They probably felt horrified that the rank-and-file could publish their "crazy ideas" willy nilly and God knows what would happen...And things did happen, with many people disseminating ideas against the ruling political and religious establishments. There was also a lot of people who tried to keep the "peasants" from learning to read and write back in Europe, and in the U.S., very shamefully, literacy was very discouraged among slaves, for obvious reasons. So, I see the Internet as a continuation of the dissemination of diverse opinions. Many of them are very bad of course, but it seems to be the same trend, for better or worse.

Kathleen,

Good comment, and in fact Slate.com wrote an article on this point about the rise of cheap paper in the 19th century:

http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2017/08/the_19th_century_moral_panic_over_paper_technology.html

Bruce,

I say that people are replicating and expanding upon their equipment in NDEs because they are using the basic human senses and cognitive faculties, albeit often in greatly expanded form.

My point about nonexistent beings is this. Let's suppose that an amoeba has the most ecstatic existence of all. What connects *that* ecstasy to *this* amoeba? If I break the amoeba's cell wall and it does, does that ecstasy disappear? Or maybe it continues in an amoeba afterlife?

Humans do indeed experience ecstasy because we have the equipment to do so. The fact (if one believes in the Afterlife) that those faculties continue after death doesn't mean that they are not based on the original physical faculties or could exist without that origin.

Supposing that the equipment is irrelevant, that anything could have a mind naturally leads, IMHO, to supposing that generic ecstasy and other emotions and whatnot could exist without physical equipment. Which I think is absolutely true! However, those are spirits, not necessarily of physical origin. Further, there is nothing to connect such spirits to particular plants, amoebas, rocks, oxygen atoms, and other things that we don't think of as having minds because such minds are never in evidence to us.

||When you die, Matt, and get to the heart of these things, I want you to say: "Bruce! I'm so sorry, you were right all along! Consciousness does extend to *all* aspects of reality! Everything is indeed part of The One Mind!||

I would say that right now. But that doesn't mean that an oxygen atom has a mind and thoughts and feelings. At the same time, I would say that it does have some relationship to Consciousness. I think it's possible (indeed, in most cases necessary) to be part of and relate to consciousness in a small way without having an actual mind.

The physical body experiences various sensations through it's peripheral nerves, spinal chord and brain; sensations including pain, temperature, taste, vision, location etc. Emotions such as happiness, joy, ecstasy, aesthetic pleasure, fear, hate, and other 'emotions' probably don't require nerve transmission and it may be questionable that these emotions are really experienced in the brain but rather experienced by consciousness, wherever and however that may exist.

Emotions may be experienced in the dreaming and other dissociated states of consciousness but physical sensations in the dream state, only exist when there is bleed-through from the physical body. There are no nerve receptors needed to experience joy or beauty either when awake or dreaming. These are things of the spirit. And although current thought is that depression (sadness) is a chemical dysfunction of the brain, it could be that it is really a condition of the consciousness and therefore not always amenable to treatment by physical means as mental health specialists are finding out.

With the dissolution of the physical body, pain and other physical sensations are left behind with the nervous system but attributes of the spirit remain with the consciousness as it transitions to higher realms. - AOD

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