Archive for November, 2009

Parliament of the World’s Religions

Posted in Religion with tags on November 29, 2009 by jackpot12

Congress of world Religions 1893

It’s that time of year everyone! The parliament of world religions will be held in Melbourne Australia in a couple of weeks and Andrew “Sasha Baron” Cohen will be on hand to police the madness thanks, according to his blog, to a “generous donor”. You may recall last issue of Enlightenext magazine where Cohen was pleading for donations to save his magazine, and thus- the earth, from certain ruin. The life savings of his disgruntled former apostles has apparently been devoured by the Lord’s work.

It’s nice to see how far religion has advanced since 1893.

 

Parliament of World's Religions 2009

Cohen’s impossible quest to override the human amygdala and limbic system to “evolve” a species of “God-Men” through concentrative group medibation sessions (meditative masturbation) is about as promising for “evolving” the human soul as the penis pump is for male enhancement. No amount of wishing will turn a cat into a dog, a chimp into a human, or a human into a god-man. This is because humans have brains, and brains are very limited and faulty organs which are literally organized in such a way as to ensure that god-men can’t exist. One can’t not be human. Cohen blurs the definition of “evolution” and imagines some hazy mind/matter intelligent design interaction which will speed the process of literally reorganizing human neurology through some kind of intent over coming generations. Good luck bub, it won’t happen. Your organization will turn to historical dust and end in misery and failure just like every one of your predecessors. But have fun. I’ll grab some popcorn and watch you prove my point, again, and again and again.

D’Souza’s Sophomoric Arguments

Posted in Science & Spirituality on November 28, 2009 by jackpot12

Dinesh's Crowning Achievement: Being Born Again

 

 

Oh good gaaawwwwdddd. I can’t believe I even considered buying this guy’s book. It goes to show that any of us have the ability to write a successful book about the evidence for the afterlife (couldn’t be any more sophomoric than Dinesh’s), but we just lack the name recognition. Here is a guy who starts the show by talking about how the existence of hell in religion is some sort of powerful refutation of atheism because, as Dinesh says, if religion is all about providing an afterlife paradise why would it include a hell? Almost giggling with self-congratulatory brilliance. He says it twice, so I guess he really is this short sighted. I shudder to think that he has never considered that people long for justice beyond the grave and the addition of hell provides a place where enemies can dwell. Every religion or spiritual system has a way to contionue justice after death- hell, karma, learning lessons, being forced to reincarnate until you are “enlightened”. This is as obvious as breathing the air, but apparently an elusive concept for D’souza.  But of course, I often wonder when I hear conservatives talk about anything, whether they even believe what they say. Could D’souza really not have thought of this? Or is this just the same old talk radio canard of hoping your audience doesn’t know a whole lot so you can make a point that seems convincing? Reminds me of when the fake T.V. preacher Robert Tilton said, “there are five people watching me right now, and you’re one of them!” (never mind the show was taped). I guess it weeds out all those threatening elitists who might know better, leaving only those dumb enough to think they actually are one of 5 watching.

My perception of D’souza as a smart idiot is validated by this. But granted, a person who has never had an NDE who scours the NDE literature in a scholarly way only to come to the conclusion that fundamentalist Christianity is valid is either lying, brain dead, or delusional. Christians who want to believe in NDEs must somehow omit the ones that don’t fit (the majority of accounts) or pretend the devil is tricking people. Everyone else who wants to believe in NDEs must just look at Christian accounts as symbolic. I don’t know how Dinesh pulls it off. He is a scholar, but seems brutally intellectually challenged nonetheless. Blinded by stubborn indoctrination.

He makes one good point. 100 people taking LSD will have 100 very different experiences, but 100 people having NDEs will have a 100 experiences with striking similarities.

Damning NDE Refutations

Posted in NDE on November 27, 2009 by jackpot12

Lord Parnia

Whenever I read parts of this article by Keith Augustine, I feel my hopes for survival after death being smashed smithereens. And for good reason. In my opinion, this article is a better argued and more comprehensive defense of the annihilation hypothesis than exists anything published in defense of the survival hypothesis. Take this simple fact I learned for instance just now- Greyson and colleagues have discovered a statistical correlation between the time passed since an NDEr has had their experience, and the depth of the experience. This indicates that the experiencer tends to embellish the story as time goes on.

Augustine writes, “The AWARE study is designed to find out whether or not any of these NDErs will be able to accurately report the complex images that appear as hidden visual targets visible only from the ceiling. Parnia explicitly states that the purpose of the study is to “settle this debate once and for all” (Taylor 24), adding that “if no one sees the pictures, it shows these experiences are illusions or false memories” (Dreaper). The study has been encouraged by both skeptics of and believers in a survivalist interpretation of NDEs.”

My only question is whether Sam Parnia will become the official spokesperson for atheistic materialism after observing the null findings of his study.

In trying to find more information about cardiac arrest and the NDE, I found an argument more powerful than that I had read by Augustine. This comes from Gerald Woerlee and it severely undermines the idea the cardiac arrest survivors in Pim Von Lommel’s study were certain to have flat EEGs. This is because, as Woerlee describes, nobody stands around observing people in a hospital having a cardiac arrest. They are doing chest compressions and moving a couple of liters of blood through the body. I can understand how Woerlee is so emotionally outraged at the lack of attention paid to what is actually happening during these cardiac arrests. Read what he has to say about cardiac arrests and the NDE, and I don’t think it is possible to think the same way about it ever again.

Accordingly, statements claiming that all people are unconscious, and all people have a “flat EEG” while undergoing active cardiac resuscitation are pure speculation, and likely to be quite incorrect.”- Gerald Woerlee

 

Update: I have found the article, and it was published in 2008 by Jason J. Braithwaite, not Augustine. There is a whole section on EEG and NDE. I don’t know what to make of the claims or what scientific consensus would be on the speculations. In part he says:

“However, the emerging evidence is somewhat unhelpful for the survivalist. Tao, Ray, Hawes-Ebersole, and Ebersole (2005) compared EEG activity from surgically implanted electrodes placed in or around deep sub-cortical regions of epileptic patients, with cortical EEG electrodes placed on the scalp of the same patients. The results were quite surprising. Tao et al. showed that for 90% of cases, large amplitude paroxysmal firing needed to recruit 10 cm2 of brain tissue in order to show up against background cortical EEG traces. In other words, large seizure-based activity was being recorded by the surgically implanted electrodes (indexing clear and widespread brain-seizure activity) which was completely absent from scalp-based EEG traces until it propagated through and excited 10 cm2 of brain volume. This is a considerable amount of brain tissue.”

“Furthermore, a recent study that employed both EEG and brain-imaging (fMRI) techniques to explore seizure processes found significant increases in localised cortical neural activity (indicative of a seizure) in the fMRI BOLD (blood-oxygen-level dependant) response, which was completely absent from the EEG data (Kobayashi, Hawco, Grova, Dubeau, & Gotman, 2006). This is particularly striking in that this occurred despite the fact that the intense seizure activity occurred in a region where EEG electrodes were closely spaced. Kobayashi et al. note that this is striking as the EEG completely missed the most intensely discharging region despite the fact that this region was also located at the cortical level.”

The Greyson Approach of Radical Diplomacy

Posted in NDE, Science & Spirituality on November 26, 2009 by jackpot12

Bruce Greyson, one of the open minded skeptics regarding the near death experience has said that there is not enough evidence proving or disproving the afterlife. He says he would not be surprised either way. I agree. Part of me feels as if the NDE must be caused by endogenous brain activity. I suspect that Karl Jansen’s idea that the brain in trauma or perceiving trauma or under other circumstances will release neurotransmitters which cause some sort of blockade effect which leads to an experience more profound than any externally introduced hallucinogen such as LSD, is a very reasonable hypothesis.  The other half of me thinks that psi is probably true, consciousness is real and probably has some sort of property independent of space-time and thus is easily imagined (or by nature must) go beyond the degree that materialists confine it. But with comments Chopra provides like, “when there was no measurable activity in the brain, when they were in fact brain dead” despite such measurements not even being part of the Dutch study and not being fully understood, the biased perception comes through- Chopra begins the whole thing insisting that the brain does not create consciousness.

Always with the professional believers like Chopra there is some element of their beliefs that betrays good sense. Someone may have rational views towards psi experimentation and then make some statement about how the evidence for RAMTHA is incontrovertible. I get exactly the same feel from Peter Fenwich who seems very reasonable for a while and then jumps to some pretty wild rationalizations about the elements of the NDE that seem to me extremely unlikely and not supported by the bulk of the accounts.

Michael Shermer is so sold on the idea that the brain does everything that he states that neurons create consciousness as a solid fact. Maybe he’s right, but how can such a conversations have any meaning when both contestants write conjectures as if they are facts, and are so blinded by their own bias that they don’t even notice when they say it? Neither is open to the others conclusions. In the end, we just don’t have enough evidence either way. I would not be surprised by either of these “astonishing hypotheses”. But upon learning which one is true, I would be stunned.

In a Nutshell

Posted in NDE, OBE, Science & Spirituality on November 24, 2009 by jackpot12

The following videos are priceless, encapsulating the very essence of the debate over the NDE. A greater concentration of veridical claims in one room never have I witnessed before and a drama by an NDEr who clearly doesn’t want to be alive. My favorite parts are when the NDEr laughs to herself when the camera happens to be on her as someone suggests the experience was not on the up and up. And the part where the audience cheers at the idea that the whole experience is a product of nothing but the dying brain. A show like this can occur in the UK but not here in America. In the UK people tend not to favor religion, though they are very much into new agey things. In America the audience of a show like this would never reveal overt skepticism or negativity towards religious claims and they would tend to use the experiences to support their Christian fundamentalism. Put down whatever you are doing and watch. Pay very close attention to the first video at the 6:55 mark.

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Its All Just a Phase

Posted in OBE on November 23, 2009 by jackpot12

I am almost done reading the phase (OBE) book by Michael Raduga. There are several interesting observations he makes which I will include.

First I want to note the two times I can remember where I was actually in what he would call “the phase” ( a term which includes lucid dreams, OBE’s, alien abductions, and NDEs). The one was the meeting with the guides I have written about. The other happened when I was probably 4 or 5 years old in California. It was so realistic that it was impossible to discern from reality. I was sitting in front of a fold out table in our camper in the Sierras somewhere probably. My dad, brother and uncle were there. It was dusk, My mom was cutting my steak into tiny cubes so I could eat it the way she always did then. I knew the environment was a bit surreal at first, but as my vision honed in on the steak it appeared perfectly lifelike, as did the camper and everything else. I can’t remember if I ate any of it. My dad, brother and uncle decided to go running through the terrain at dusk- an event which never would have happened, proving that this experience was not a waking state. They were excited and all the conversation was perfectly natural. They went outside and started running and I was jealous I was too young to follow them. It was entirely lifelike, not like a dream. Next I remember glancing over the foothills silhouetted at dusk and there were two enormous flowers, like those from a child’s coloring book (daisies) sprouting from the mountain (hundreds of feet tall). I looked at it and thought something like, “weird that doesn’t look real at all, but everything else seems perfectly real.” I have always maintained this memory because for years I could not tell whether this actually happened or not. Now I realize it was in “the phase”. It was a dream that was so entirely realistic that it was not discernible from reality apart from the impossible imagery. There were probably others I just can’t remember.

Raduga states:

“If the first experience with the phase phenomenon

happens by accident, it is almost impossible not to interpret it as a

real separation of the soul from the body – a physical exit. This is

how the initial phase experience really feels. With experience it

becomes easily noticeable that certain things in reality do not match

things in the phase, like the placement of objects or furniture in the

house where a phase is first encountered. No actual physical exit from the body has ever been proven through scientific experimentation and observation. For example, in

the phase, it is not possible to fly around to locations in physical

world, although it may seem so, the locations that are experienced are

produced within the mind. Nor is it possible to pinch someone in the

phase and then to find a bruise on the person while in reality.”

Assume that the phase state is just an exceptionally unusual state

of brain and that perception within it is no more than an unusually

realistic play of its functions. Assume that a practitioner in the phase

decides to travel to a forest…….

The brain creates a hyper-realistic space superior to that of everyday

reality, consisting of millions of blades of grass, leaves, hundreds of

trees, and a multitude of sounds. Each blade of grass has depth and

build, not just a point. Each leaf also consists of component parts. A

unique, natural pattern makes up the bark of each tree.

Suddenly, a wind begins to blow through the forest, and millions

of leaves and blades of grass, following a mathematical model of the

propagation of air masses, begin oscillating in a wavelike fashion.

Thus, a certain resource inside us is capable in mere seconds not only

of creating millions of details in the desired scene, but also to control

each of those details individually!….

No computer, however powerful, is capable of similar

feats………..

All in all, in order to approach knowing the

whole of the information available in the phase, personal knowledge

capacity would need to increase by 100 or even 1,000 times…..

The only information that is not available in the phase is that

about which the subconscious mind does not have any preliminary

information….”

Bubba Battle Royale and Reminiscences of a Placebo Priest

Posted in Religion, Science & Spirituality with tags , , on November 21, 2009 by jackpot12

Samuel Harris, Chistopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett debate a flock of orangutans including Dinesh D’Souza, perhaps the only one worthy of debate among them. Amazingly Bubba Wright was invited and makes a guest appearance before the 50 minute mark. Given a choice which side to be on, Bubba Wright, the author of the most anti-human work ever scribed in any language, (with the possible exception of Mein Kampf and Straw Dogs by John Gray) “The Moral Animal”, decided to be on the side of the believers! But made it clear that he disagreed with everyone there- believers and atheists. Quite fascinating. Our theory is maintained- that Robert Wright’s crystal clear and masterful description of the human predicament in TMA drove him to subclinical temporal lobe epilepsy and the graphophilia so plainly demonstrated in his recent copious canons.

Daniel Dennett talks about people who go to seminary school and decide the bible is bunk after learning things they were never taught in Sunday school. He says “Some walk away, and those are the lucky ones.” And some stay. This struck a chord with me as it brought memories of my first trimester of Chiropractic school where I learned things I did not know before and was mildly tempted to leave the school. Everyone easily talked me out of it and 97,000 dollars and a 6.8% interest rate with years of no income later, my life is permanently financially lost, barring the act of winning the lottery or gold-digging a spouse. Mormons are cheap. I tithe 20% to Nelnet student loan corporation, a company of scam artists riddled with controversy. I had the great misfortune of getting double spinning backfisted by the invisible hand by imparting my two greatest financial transactions through the criminal institutions of “Nelnet” and “Countrywide”. I will spend decades providing cashflow for some fat slobbering prick for a nearly useless education which took 3.5 years to aquire. As Michael Shermer would attest- the concept of the “student loan” is one of the many bitch slaps from the invisible backhand of supercapitalism where the hand holds you underwater- for 25 years. I would much prefer a system where merit is based on test scores and education is provided freely to those who qualify only, as they do in say Switzerland.

By 70% of the way through Chiropractic school, there was not one single person I knew who did not realize that what they thought they were getting into was not what they did get into. Some walked away after graduation. Maybe those were the lucky ones. They were also the devastated ones. Dennett masterly explains how priests talk to each other different than how they are trained to talk in front of the congregation. In the same respect, a typical conversation between Chiropractic students often went something like, “I don’t have any idea what I’m doing do you?” . “No”. Then to the patient – “here’s exactly what I’m going to do and here is exactly what is going to happen.”

Ahh, placebo priests in training.

I bring this up because when your paycheck requires you to maintain a particular belief, you are not free to *consider* the opposing views seriously. Priests, homeopaths, acupuncturists, all selling bankrupt ideas that ironically help certain people feel better despite having no factual basis in reality to speak of. The more studies coming out to show that homeopathy does nothing at all, the more popular it becomes.

My genes did not provide an internal milieux capable of inhabiting that world. I am convinced that my form of reason is a genetic mutation, or perhaps a variant, not something natural selection found useful to dole out in large part to each dancing, drinking, drugging and fellating member of the small orgiastic tribal hedonists our species evolved from. And for that I’ve suffered tremendously.