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I suppose bones is one of those arrogant, moody, teenage atheists you see bitching all over the web. Youtube has a bunch of them.

I was debating with diehard skeptics the other day on a forum on the topic of Veridical NDEs. No matter how solid the cases were that I brought up, and no matter how Veridical they were, they could always present clever sounding highly speculative totally unprovable coulda-woulda-shoulda based invented conspiracies to show how it must have happened naturally. Either through subconsciously recalling the knowledge from previously hearing it / seeing it / driving by the area, conscious fraud on their part or everyone involved, the experiencer or nde researcher exaggerating things, and simple lucky guesses. If all ease failed, "memory is imperfect, they remembered wrong, and tried to fill in the blanks in retrospec", and for recognizing deceased relatives they never met from pictures, "face misrecognition is very easy".

No matter what answer I gave, they kept answering with "weak, that is so weak", and kept coming up with clever sounding answers combined with snide arrogent cynicism.

Then I realised, truely, it's pointless to argue with them.

It wasn't Occam's Chainsaw by any chance, was it?

Michael very well stated. Excellent overview of SPR and the problems one encounters when someone does research outside the accepted norm of researchers beliefs.


Larry king had some folks on that had seen UFO's and the ultra skeptic did the usual skeptical response. Denial in spite of even physical evidence that collaborated the eyewitness sightings.

“They will defend a pet theory to the death.’ Even evolution with all of its gaps it is taught as fact. If one challenges any of the “facts” of evolution that person is immediately accused of being a religious creationist.

“This is why physicist Max Planck remarked that science advances "one funeral at a time"; obsolete ideas give way only when their proponents are no longer among the living. Human nature, with all its stubbornness, bias, and vanity, is not eradicated simply because one assumes the mantle of "scientist."”

Here I go again but this is the power of paradigms. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t ask myself “well what paradigm am I defending today”.

After teaching hundreds of seminars to assist organizations that want to change from a dept as entities busy people, push system paradigm to a lean flow line of site focus on the bottleneck and the busy person (rather then the idle person) pull system mentality, I know first hand how difficult and rare a paradigm shift is.

Also I know first hand the “one funeral at a time” statement. It appears that one or three funerals may be our big three automakers demise as they appear to be unable to make this paradigm shift and it was not for lack of trying.

A mental shift from a results only-oriented society to a process oriented society is required to accomplish this mental shift in how we view the world of work. Indeed in how we live and view life.

The other blog that I post on the folks there accuse me of being unscientific and some other choice names like puny brain for not accepting science as some kind of error proof research. They work very hard at invalidating me as a person. Dr Hora suggests that everyone has a god and many materialists and atheists have made a God out of science. Scientism.

You want arrogant, moody teenage atheists? Try this site on for size:

www.everythingispointless.com.

I suspect this kid is a clinically depressed sociopath who fancies himself a deep existential philosopher.

Thanks for sharing that link, Tim.

I could only describe these coalitions of anti-spiritual philosophy as mental quagmires. It leads to no happiness, no motivation, no love, no adventure, no mystery. Just a bunch of cynical dips who fail at life. Sorry, but this is true.

If you have a lifestyle and a philosophy centered completely around Dawkins' materialistic nihilism, I would imagine such a person would never be able to experience the enjoyment of such things as exotic wine, falling in love / great sex, new and amazing places and cultures, dancing, music, reading, and so forth, because if you DID you would be contradicting your own philosophy that life is meaningless.

This guy writes:

"Any purpose that you would like to delude yourself into having, is beside the point, and often detrimental to your general well being..."

I think the only way to have a lifestyle like this blokes' is to become a complete shut-in, never seeing the bright outside world (lest you accidently discover meaning), so you must work a dull shift in the post office skeleton crew, go home and shut yourself into your room, engorge yourself on ranch doritos, dreary internet blogs, and World of Warcraft (a computer game that must be played while finding the least amount of enjoyment or meaning as possible, mind you.) Sounds like a fun time!

I agree about the internet being infested with moody teenage atheists. It's really annoying at times, most of the ones I've encountered have their heads up their asses.

I'm regards to coulda woulda physical counterexplanations I've seen to try to explain away paranormal phenoma, some of them are more far-fetched than the phenomena in question. Then again, if one's entire sense of self-righteous superiority is irrevocably invested in a philosophy of reductionalist nihilism, I suppose all those those mental contortions would seem justified...

>www.everythingispointless.com

>I suspect this kid is a clinically depressed sociopath who fancies himself a deep existential philosopher.

I wouldn't call him a sociopath, but he does seem depressed. Here's a quote from his site, pulled almost at random:

I must admit, that everyday I find myself thinking that another day has gone, That the earth has spun around once, on that slow journey around the sun. It is scary. Apes, huddled together on a rock, spinning in space. With no destination, but the grave. Okay, so some people can enjoy their time on earth. I get that already. But when you understand that life formed randomly, that humans are not inevitable, and that everything is pointless, it kinda sucks all the fun out of life, (because fun = endorphin release, and so what?). We are descended from creatures that survived and fucked.

This is not deep, but it is the kind of thing that a very young person might think of as deep.

On second thought, now that I've read more of his blog, maybe he is a sociopath ...

And I don't think he's quite as young (or as innocent) as I originally assumed.

He certainly seems to be morbidly depressed. I got a kick out of a comment left by one of his fans, advising him to write a book because "you have so much to give."

In almost every post the guy talks about how miserable and borderline suicidal he's feeling, so what exactly does he have to give, other than a migraine headache to anyone who takes him seriously?

When you're depressed, you tend to think you are seeing things more clearly than ever. That seems to be this guy's permanent state of mind. And he keeps reinforcing it by reading pessimistic literature. Talk about confirmation bias!

"On second thought, now that I've read more of his blog, maybe he is a sociopath "

His name is Louis Savva. He trained under Chris French, the UK parapsychology skeptic.

By the way, here is a video of him on a UK tv show:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJ06nHAj0iM

This very evening I spent with my 2 1/2 year old granddaughter. And once a week I spend several hours doing volunteer work with 3 and 4 year olds.

The joy and amazement in these children’s eyes is something to behold. They are real and authentic and find joy in the littlest of things. They are in the moment and every new discovery is an adventure. By the time they reach the 4th grade many of them have that look in a classroom of disillusionment in their eyes and their creative mind has been shut down to a wimper.

To believe that these wonderful living joyful Beings are here entirely to some random mutation and national selection and some chance may incorporate more ignorance than a religious person that thinks their God is a Being that looks like a man with a long beard sitting on a golden throne passing judgment to see who suffers in hell for eternity or who lives in heaven forever with this judgmental God that the human mind has created.

How long will the materialists with their pointless universe and the religious with their God made in man’s image be allowed to hijack the human mind? But if there were not an “unawareness” or a “not knowing” of our consciousness there would be no joyful discoveries or new adventures and no “Other” to love or to be loved by another.

Infinite Oneness becomes infinite perceived Beings through ignorance.

Louis does show all the signs of being a ruminator, a person who chews endlessly on the same thought cud over and over. Cognitive therapy has treatments effective for that, though his depression requires a separate course. More to the point, Michael points out what Chris Carter underlines in his excellent "Parapsychology and the Skeptics" about scientists (and those infected with scientism) clinging to their outmoded theoretical belief systems. It IS true: argument with such people is a waste of time. All their intransigence accomplishes is to slow the rate of progress, as Kuhn showed back in the sixties in his masterful "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions". The quote attributed to Max Planck is only too true, and we can add Arthur C. Clarke's observation that if an (older) scientist tells you that something is impossible, he/she is almost certainly wrong. What people like Louis/Bones and his more credentialed advocates (Dennett, Hyman, Blackmore, et.al.)fail to see is that they are fossils, that their position is already lost, that they are (intellectually) already dead. Psi phenomena have been reported for millenia, continuing into the present and unexplainable by mechanistic means. Classical Newtonian physics is dead as well, despite the survivors grasping the wreckage, supplanted by quantum physics. In order to account for ALL observable phenomena, including the existence of consciousness, quantum physics will have to be greatly expanded upon. GUTs are not enough, don't go far enough to explain consciousness, which quite possibly predated the origin of the physical universe (the von Neumann interpretation taken to its logical conclusion). The scientific method will have to be modified in order to address these questions effectively, as materialist reductionism is a dead end in such matters (as scientific history so clearly shows). That Louis/Bones and others like him can maintain such a closed loop of depressed intellection shows only the effect of pathology on consciousness, and has no bearing on the ideas and evidence offered to demonstrate a path out of the loop of negative thought. Perhaps the greatest sadness in this is that such people will not realize the immensity of their mistake until AFTER their life has ended.

Ernest Becker, the cultural anthropologist who won a Pulitzer for his 1973 book, "The Denial of Death," would probably say Louis is suffering from "Johan Syndrome."
Becker himself seems to have suffered from this. In effect, it boils down to lacking the strength to open oneself to the totality of life's experiences. If you can't deal with them, you attack them.

I really have enjoyed this conversation and blog. I saw the everythingispointless website some time ago and it really got to me then (a year ago or so). But recently I started thinking about how I have been working on spirituality. I used to be much like louis and Randi was a favorite figure of mine. But for the past three to four years I have been seeing it just as odd as fundamental Christianity, or any dogma for that matter. But recently I started wondering if I have been concentrating on the debate too much. Should I let it go somewhat and concentrate more on my personal development. If I accept that there is more and see plenty of evidence for it, is it more important to continue the debate or just let it be settled in my mind? Just a thought. But I think I still will continue to check out this blog because its interesting and populated by interesting and informed people.. Just not sure if I should be worried about the scientific debate anymore. Is that lazy? Is it time to just let go? Any thoughts on that would be great.

Typed that last entry about Johan's Syndrome a little too hastily. I think it was Maslow who named Johan's Syndrome. Attacking the realities of life is one way people who can't repress the idea of death deal with it. Becker didn't deal with it that way. He attempted to understand it by embracing it, but I don't think he was very successful. At least that's my read on it what Becker said.

For me, it's very interesting to know the "psychology of skeptics", because it's very intriguing how supposedly intelligent people can be so dogmatic, arrogant, close minded and dishonest. They'are smart sophists and use every dialectical trick to win arguments.

Most of them are motivated by a very strong ideological worldwiew (specially materialism, neo-positivism and atheism) and, in case of professional skeptics, also have an economic motivation. For example, recently, the skeptic, member of Csicop, friend of Randi and so-called "quackbuster" Stephen Barrett was exposed in U.S. courts:

http://www.canlyme.com/quackwatch.html
http://www.healthfreedomlaw.com/
http://www.humanticsfoundation.com/barrettvsrosenthal.htm
http://www.quackpotwatch.org/

He lie about his scientific credentials and confessed his ties with AMA, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

Skepticis are preventing that many discoveries and alternative theories (paranormal phenomena, alternative therapies, etc.) may be discussed in a rational and scientific manner to know their real value. Their work is spread disinformation to fool professional scientists and the public.

>And once a week I spend several hours doing volunteer work with 3 and 4 year olds.
The joy and amazement in these children’s eyes is something to behold.

It may not be scientific, but I agree.
My wife has watched two twin brothers since they were 6 months old. Now they are almost 5. These two little guys have done more for my belief system than any dozen books. There is no way that they are the result of purely random accidents. The depressed nihilist juvenile should spend some time around little kids.

"What people like Louis/Bones and his more credentialed advocates..."

Louie and Bones aren't the same person. Louie is the guy who runs everythingispointless.com. Here is the wikipedia entry on him:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louie_Savva

> If I accept that there is more and see
> plenty of evidence for it, is it more
> important to continue the debate or just
> let it be settled in my mind?

It's easy to get caught up in an emotional debate, but I've decided that it's better to settle the question in my own mind. I don't think humans are really meant to know for certain, because if we did, life here would radically change, and it might negate the point of being here in the first place. (we are given hints & glimpses, but rarely enough for absolute proof)
The way I look at it, if the fundy-materialist is wrong, they are going to have a serious oh-!@(#$ when they pass, if they are right, then know one will ever know when we die

Goodness, he has some impressive credentials. It also appears he's this generation's Sue Blackmore, going to the opposite extreme because he perhaps didn't find the evidence for psi that he was seeking.

Strange to adopt such a virulently nihilistic viewpoint after such as rigorous education.

Jess wrote:

"I used to be much like louis and Randi was a favorite figure of mine. But for the past three to four years I have been seeing it just as odd as fundamental Christianity, or any dogma for that matter"

Hello Jess, in your opinion, which are the reasons of your change of mind? Most skeptics I know don't change their views, and any kind of argument or evidence you could give them reinforce their worldwiew. Their ideological system of thinking is protected against any refutation.

Here's Bones profile he is a paranormal investigator he says he's out to debunk as much as possible anything that looks paranormal. http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendID=2536098

By the way my conversation I did have with him is on a paranormal research group on myspace

http://groups.myspace.com/Paranormal


Yeah I saw that website before everythingispointless.com he definitely is a hard headed atheist.

>>I don't think humans are really meant to know for certain, because if we did, life here would radically change, and it might negate the point of being here in the first place. (we are given hints & glimpses, but rarely enough for absolute proof)<<

I've heard this universal cosmic law refered to as the "Perpetual Uncertainty Principle" (an obvious nod to Heisenberg), which basically states that the existence of a "paranormal" realm and related phenomena can never and will never be conclusively proven nor conclusively disproven, regardless of time, money and effort invested, that for every compelling argument for there will always be an equally compelling argument against somewhere else. Circumstantial evidence is attainable but never the smoking gun.

I think this is why psi is so hard to research, if you're actively seeking to prove it's existence the PUP comes into play and gives you borderline, often contradictory results (ganzfeld), yet when you're doing something else and least expect it you have an "experience" and thus anecdotal evidence, which of course isn't quite as ironclad as the empirical variety, though the sheer number of such anecdotes is enough to make you go "hmmmm."

The same goes for the debunkers, just when they've smugly finished "proving" all purported paranormal phenomena implausible and nonexistant the PUP steps in to balance things out and a medium inexplicably gets a spectacular bullseye hit or a clinically-dead patient experiences an impressive veridical NDE, and so the eternal stalemate continues.

After my earlier posts about Ernest Becker, Maslow, and Johan's Syndrome, I dug out the book to refresh my memory on what Becker was saying. "The idea of death, the fear of it, haunts the human animal like nothing else," Becker wrote in his 1974 Pulitzer prize-winning book, 'The Denial of Death.' "It is a mainspring of human activity – activity designed largely to avoid the fatality of death, to overcome it by denying it in some way that it is the final destiny of man."

If I am interpreting Becker correctly, one can react to this fear in one of four ways: 1) He can totally repress the idea while striving to be "one with his toys." 2) He can fail to repress the idea and suffer various forms of depression and mental disorder. 3) He can fail to repress the idea and attack everything about life, including the paranormal. 4) He can embrace death and thereby live in eternity, enjoying life even more.

Most people opt for #1 above and that is what drives materialism and hedonism, the latter simply being materialism without humanism. Becker refers to this person as the "automatic cultural man," what Kierkegaard called the Philistine. For Kierkegaard, Philistinism was man fully concerned with the trivial.

Becker called repression of death the enemy of mankind. The theme of his book is that the unrepressed life can bring into birth a new man. Robert Jay Lifton, a distinguished professor of psychiatry and psychology, says much the same thing in his book, "The Broken Connection." He states that we must “know death” in order to live with free imagination.

Only a small percentage of people fall in the #2, #3, and #4 categories and it is often a matter of degree. Clearly Louie and Bones appear to fall into category #3. In attacking the paranormal, they find a purpose in life. Without that purpose, they would fall in category #2.

Thanks for the reply Tony.

Dey,

Well, to be honest, its all very anecdotal. I, like many "skeptics", thought I was rebelling against untruth and woo woo, religious idiots who were afraid of their own immortality. Anyways. I had some experiences that started, slowly and grudgingly, change me. No need to go into detail really. I guess that the whole eye opener was when I started seeing how personal attitudes from a few of my profs changed during my final years of college. A few adored me when I was a "skeptic" but then not so much. I did however have a couple of great ones as well. That was about three years ago. So, I don't know exactly. But I think that it was good being a know it all skeptic because now, like a lot of people here, can take a step back from it and see things clearer.
But I don't think that I can help change minds. Even though I still have a high ego. But I am starting to think that isn't important (i think). But there is an ego boost in tearing someone down and "being right". But its nicer and more relaxing to know that I can always be wrong. Hope that answers your question.

Have a great day.

p.s.
My apologies for digressing a bit off topic earlier.

On other forums I browse, whenever a religius/spiritual topic comes up, I see this sort of attitude a lot. I'm not very familiar with paranormal literature outside of what Michael has mentioned here, but I always find that attitude rather...depressing. It's like reading what they say makes *me* depressed, if that makes sense.

I don't argue with them, but I find it tiring to see the same sort of attitude wherever I look.

It wasn't so much that Eddington lied per-se, because he did record the shift in the apparent position of Mercury beyond the limb of the eclipsed Sun as best he could, but the group of them did prevaricate over the media circus surrounding the event because in actual fact Einstein's prediction was incorrectly derived and, coincidentally, Eddington's measurement was incorrectly conceived, with a net effect of the errors in both canceling each other out and arriving at a serendipitous agreement.

IIRC, it wasn't until the 1990's when the experiment was repeated, this time correctly and compared against the corrected prediction, and found to match, but that did little to dampen the intervening 80 years of Eddington's "experimental proof" of Special Relativity being trumpeted to ranks of undergraduate physics students!

This comment from a seriously scientific astronomy blog pretty much sums it up:

"If astronomy were a science," as one astronomer put it, theoreticians would admit that the theory had been falsified, and they would start over with an eye to the evidence. Instead, they hang on to the theory with ever more stubbornness and hope a little tinkering and adjusting will bring the facts into line.
[ Comets: The Loose Thread ]

"...but that did little to dampen the intervening 80 years of Eddington's "experimental proof" of Special Relativity being trumpeted to ranks of undergraduate physics students!"

It was General Relativity not Special Relativity. Do you have some association with Tom Van Flandern?

Very interesting... as always! Cheers from -Switzerland-.

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