Archive for the Opinion Category

Dr. Kevin Nelson on Skeptico

Posted in Science & Spirituality with tags , , on January 29, 2010 by jackpot12

Kevin Nelson

I personally find Alex Tsakiris profoundly annoying. I think he has a naive believer’s mentality, is condescending and gets in over his head. Why doesn’t Alex Tsakaris have a show about how Pam Reynolds NDE started 2 hours before stand still?

I am partial in this debate to Roger Nelson even though I frankly don’t agree with either of them. DOCter Nelson is fond of saying that we have an enormous amount of understanding about consciousness. But what he means is we have a bunch of data about the neural correlates of consciousness and no understanding at all of the actual generation and origin of experience (assuming you are not like Dan Dennett and think there actually is a problem to be solved). One must explain what the correlation is between electromagnetism generated by ion gradients across membranes, and the experience of being aware of your existence and typing such emails to your friends all the time as “why do we even bother to wake up in the morning”. Descartes should have said something like “I am healthy and pain free, yet I often wonder why I bother to exist….. therefore I am.” That would have been far more profound. Unconscious entities don’t ponder why they continue to bother operating. In reality, everyone who thinks for a moment about this puzzle of consciousness must find it absolutely striking. The total failure of AI to form anything resembling a consciousness or a fluid intelligence seems to drive home the point that the complexity and number of interconnections is not what *causes* consciousness to occur. At least, it has mostly convinced me. Wrapping quadrillions of Christmas lights around the planet and turning on the power would do nothing to make the planet conscious, or even on iota closer to becoming conscious. There is a totally missing element. One we have no idea about. It may be generated by the brain, it may not. But the typical non-religious lay person who thinks  they have consciousness all figured out just because there are neural correlates just hasn’t  thought deeply about the problem at all.


The way to argue with science

Posted in Global Warming, Religion on January 20, 2010 by jackpot12

I’ve pretty much had it listening to global warming deniers and creationists. They aren’t interested looking at the actual facts. They invent their own, and twist everything 180 degrees opposite of what the data imply. They rely on the fact that most people won’t examine any of the evidence themselves, accepting anything thrown into the wind as having an equal likelihood of being true as anything else.  When thoroughly debunked, they just continue spouting the debunked idea as if nothing happened. This video illustrates the phenomenon (which should be named, classified and studied).

Here is how the phenomenon works with the global warming “debate” and the most popular attack piece from denialists.

A fascinating life

Posted in Science & Spirituality on January 9, 2010 by jackpot12

Integral nihilism

I love this picture of the post-NDE Kenneth Wilber staring out the window with some unknown reflection in mind.  You can see this and other interesting things on his website.

I find Wilber to be an endlessly fascinating person of almost unparalleled intellectual ability. He can read three books before lunch with a self described “spooky” reading comprehension ability.

Recently Wilber came close to death and wrote extensively about it. Since then I’ve often wondered what he thinks about death and whether he still believes in LAD. Was anything changed by coming to the brink? His body took a tremendous beating and it took him a great effort to recover from a grand mal seizure which triggered, according to Wilber’s own account, multiple classic NDEs.

I wish that Wilber would distance himself from Andrew Cohen. I think Cohen will eventually go down in a blaze of glory and scandal. Despite Wilber’s massive egoic desire to define and confine life and nature into a philosophically elaborate description in order to give meaning to the meaningless cacophony of randomness called life, Kenneth has a level of personal balance that seems immune to serious scandal.

Life after life

Posted in Science & Spirituality with tags , , on December 28, 2009 by jackpot12

Another solid hit recorded by Garry Schwartz

I have watched Life after Life at least 4 times since 1999 when it came out. It is a good documentary and details some hair raising accounts. It ends with a seemingly astounding mediumship session from George Anderson. But after watching it several times I came to the conclusion that there are time frame discrepancies which reveal the highly edited nature of the reading. The show makes it look like Anderson was right on the money in sequence, but you can tell the sketchy parts were edited out to make it look like a very smooth reading. Watch closely. If the reading were given exactly as it appears without editing it would be a shocking triumph for mediumship. But in seeing the father’s remaining skepticism concerning all of George’s misses, it would seem that he did not experience the same reading as us viewers did watching the documentary.

After 10 years since this first mediumship experiment, what has transpired? John Edward got his own show which was cancelled, and mediums are still so bad at what they do that none of them can even convince me (someone who wants to believe) that it is true. One must question the ethics of mediums. If a medium was even 70% accurate it would be shocking. Yet that would mean the other 30% of a good medium’s statements given to a grieving family are made up. Am I the only one who thinks this is bad?

If there be an afterlife, the veil is not thin, but thicker than lead.

A Year of Mostly Bad Tidings

Posted in Opinion on December 26, 2009 by jackpot12

I couldn’t decide which picture best sums up my year, how I feel-

The symbolism is up to you

Or a simple visual of my financial state-

My monthly home mortgage

Lately I have been so worried about worldly matters I have actually stopped considering my survival index.

By the way, the final result of my official psi experiment involving Russel Targ’s ESP trainer app for the iphone is:

10,008 trials with a p value of .024

So there you have it. I guess I fit right in there with all the other psi experimentation. Which is to say that it is an interesting result that can easily be ignored by someone who doesn’t want to believe it. A rather compelling result. If the p value were extremely low, you would know the app was rigged or I made some error. If the p value was higher you would know I have no esp. So .024 is about right. I would have preferred it to have stopped at .01, but I will settle for .024, which gives me a reason to continue suspecting that psi is probably true. Maybe I’ll do another 10,000.

But psi makes little difference when you owe more on your mortgage than your house is worth, and it will be years before your house can be sold for what you bought it for, and you still owe on a student loan. The trash can above is the 500 or 600 dollars I throw away each month. If you factor in the interest on my student loan that I could be paying off with that extra money you would have to turn each of those ones into 100 dollar bills to tally how much I am pissing away. Pissing my financial future away.

I am glad to be a very nonmaterialistic person. Give me a shelter, some books a computer and some guitar strings and I’m okay. But make me work until I’m 90 and we have problems.

On a lighter note, I noticed some cracks in the plaster wall of my bedroom along the vertical seams that weren’t there before. Then I noticed a couple of damp spots behind it and buckling of the plaster in one of the corners. Water seems to be getting through somehow on one side, but the corner where the plaster buckles is opposite the damp spot and dry. If it is just the plaster it is easily repaired. Finding the source of water must be done first but may be difficult. My worry is it could be some sort of shift in the foundation of the house which would mean another 10k in the waste basket totally uncovered by insurance (I looked it up). Remember when my crawl space flooded?

I want to sell my house as soon as financially possible, but to do so at a decent price I need to make thousands of dollars in repairs. And hopefully not over the ten thousand dollar range. What’s ten thousand here or there anyways? It’s like shoving a sword even further into a man’s chest when the tip is already poking a foot out his back.

I was invited to a Christmas eve party and somehow ended up in a church holding a candle and listening to a pastor say that (and this is almost a direct quote) /human beings don’t deserve love and hope and forgiveness and well being, but god gave it to them thanks to the sacrifice of Jesus/

I eyed the audience to see if anyone thought this was as preposterous as I did. I could handle the service before then, with the community gathering and apparent interest in positive values. But then it became clear it was just a thinly veiled societally accepted cult as the uninspired pastor droned various scriptural dogmas about the supremacy of the deity only to have the audience drone them back. “I believe this.. I believe that… da da da..” Everything was there but the pendulous stopwatch swinging on a chain in front of our eyes. It was a spiritually dead experience. This may have been the only time in my adult life I have attended such a service to see it and experience it with informed eyes, playing along. It became clear the only reason for such a place was to give hope and societal bonding to those going through divorce, financial hardship, illness, and fear of raising children. It was a protective creed in a defensive posture and not a creative proactive one.

We escaped and began drinking beer and wine and talking of our egoic exploits as though nothing transpired. And nothing did.

One person isolated me in the kitchen and drilled me over why I decided to not practice Chiropractic. Her tone was as if she was certain I was in the wrong. This question makes me feel identical to if someone were to ask “why did you divorce your wife I really loved her”. But they never know what they are doing. It has been a long time since I had to do this, and I just laughed out loud, knowing that no ground could be made, enjoying the incredulous expression on her face. Both of us thinking the other one doesn’t know what they are talking about. Myself knowing the issue is unworthy of discussion.

The next morning I called to wish my parents a Merry Christmas and my dad decided to go on and on about how much he likes his Chiropractor. How he doesn’t understand why I didn’t practice. It is a divorce that never truly ends. You can escape your own past but other people cannot. Like a drug addict who exits a rehab center they are advised to cut ties with the same friends that enabled their behavior before. When I decided to get out of Chiropractic I burned almost all bridges and cut ties for the same reasons. Because everyone did nothing but try to tell me there was something wrong with me for not practicing.

I told my dad I would rather go to jail for a couple of years than practice Chiropractic, which is true. It is a physical impossibility for me to enter that world again. But the past won’t let me go no matter how far beyond it I am personally. As my retirement fund is used to support an institution I reject and a group of white collar criminals , the end of my indentured servitude is not in sight.

Everyone tells me that I am very smart and very capable and that somehow I can use my abilities to make more money. This makes me even more frustrated because I have not discovered a way yet.

Climate Change Denial

Posted in Opinion, Politics & Religion, Republicans & Democrats with tags , , on December 13, 2009 by jackpot12

Paula Kirby

Paula Kirby sums up the mind-set of Christians on global warming the way only an ex-Christian can understand.

After years of observing the “climate change debate” on message boards and with some people I’ve called “friends” (Though I can barely stand the presence of them), it has occurred to me that the lay public who get fired up against the idea of anthropogenic global warming and listen to talk radio every day really have no grasp of what they are talking about and have no desire to obtain one. But they stand undaunted. There is something about the concept of “faith” (belief in things unseen) which makes Christians more easily able to deny facts that sit right in front of their face en masse. They have become good at maintaining certain beliefs, not just in the absence of evidence, but in the presence of an enormous amount of evidence to the contrary. They take pride in this skill.

On these message boards the AGW deniers outweigh the rest in a way that is strangely disproportionate to the weight of the scientific arguments. I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t know so many of these people myself. They throw out all sorts of crap about volcanoes and natural cycles as if somehow nobody has looked at these things or thought about these things before. One of our old blog readers once went on and on about sun spots and solar irradiance based on some guest who appeared on the Art Bell show years ago. Never mind that we are in a trough in the solar cycle with fewer sunspots than usual and the last decade was the warmest on record. They get worked up over the fact that 1998 was the warmest year on record and we haven’t surpassed that since. This happened twice before over the last 20 years where a temperature spike was followed by a decrease and skeptics said GW was over both times only to have the old records smashed in the future. There’s no reason to think that it won’t happen again. In fact the year of 1998 is just a cherry picked starting point. 2005 was almost identically warm globally as 1998. These idiots are fond of talking about how the earth is in a cooling trend because 1998 hasn’t been surpassed. But we can cherry pick that 2007 was the warmest winter globally in recorded history, and the warmest 6 month period in history has happened just recently, not to mention record thawing of the polar ice-caps faster than expected, warming in ocean readings and thawing glaciers world-wide. But these people know this. They just know that playing dumb for their audience of knuckle dragging fools works. It works. And it will help destroy consensus for any policy or action which might constrain business practices. That’s all they know. That’s all that matters to them. The science and all the numbers and data are nothing but incidental superfluous pieces of irrelevant information that can be distorted and twisted and muffled and spewed out to the howling masses of cult following twits by the think tanks (reincarnations of the tobacco industry denialists) that churn these fake talking points out just as fast as a stenographer can dictate them and email them to Rush.

The lay talk radio listener gets all keen every winter and determines that since he’s still as cold as always scraping ice off the windows that this is absolute proof positive that global warming is a scam. Once again, you wouldn’t believe such profound stupidity could be possible if you didn’t witness it yourself. I did last winter by checking out the Glen Beck radio show on my way to work occasionally and almost every time I listened someone was using their own local weather as an absolute verified proof positive point of certainty that global warming was entirely made up. I listened just wondering if any of these buffoons had the slightest idea how incredibly stupid they sound as they belched out their confused conflations of local weather with global climate. Turns out the listeners don’t, but the hosts do. They’re acting. Beck, Limbaugh, Gretchen Carlson, all very bright and talented douche-bag thespians who are literally pretending to be stupid on purpose and scattering known nonsense to a listening audience who takes scientific illiteracy as a badge of honor and emblem of the monocular “real American”. Stewart delivered a gem recently to illustrate how these lying buffoons of unreason and groomed facades of shallow rehearsed salesmanship make an appearance on set as cartoonish distortions of their actual knowledge base.

The truth will win in the end, but will it be too late? How many Stanford honors grads who probably came close to acing their SAT can proudly say they need to look up Czar in the dictionary and come to the conclusion that they are like kings and somehow this whole position and rank was just magically invented when Obama became president?

Democrats and liberals are not perfect or guiltless of their distortions. The difference is that the conservatives and republicans make lunacy the mainstream heart of their movement. Who is the intellectual voice in a movement where intellectuals are naturally outcasted? The whole of movement conservatism is propped up like a wounded soldier on the hearty shoulder of rapture millennialists who will eventually come to realize that Jesus is not coming back, and fall under the weight of the hollow sham they’ve held us all hostage with.

Thomas Campbell’s My Big TOE

Posted in OBE, Science & Spirituality with tags , on December 6, 2009 by jackpot12

I have enjoyed watching this seminar by Thomas Campbell, the author of “My Big TOE”, TOE meaning theory of everything. Campbell is the physicist mentioned in Bob Monroe’s books. He helped Bob set up the Monroe Institute research. A few things I find rather refreshing about listening to Campbell’s views-

– He is rational.

– He knows that a real TOE must include consciousness.

– He understands that all spiritual techniques, meditation techniques,and so called healing arts techniques are non-literal training wheel ways of directing intent (I tried unsuccessfully to explain this to my friends for years, they still believe in their fantasy techniques).

– He has had numerous OBEs on the level of those described by Monroe and he believes in them. He claims to have tested his own OBEs and confirmed their reality. He at least seems believable and quite passionate about what he is saying. In this final clip at 8 minutes he encourages people to test their OBEs to confirm that they are not just fooling themselves.

Still I am puzzled to no end why people who make claims of veridical proficiency cannot just commit themselves to proper experimentation to document the reality of their perceptions. I reject the notion that proof is unattainable. This leaves me highly skeptical of any such claims such as “I proved it to myself but I can’t prove it to you.”

I still consider it likely that the OBE is as Michale Raduga says- a journey into ones own subconscious mind. But this does not say it is not real. I have yet to see verifiable evidence retrieved from this state.

I posted this before watching the following clip. I think this is a very meaningful and courageous statement made by Campbell. He certainly walks his talk of not being afraid.He explains here how the NDE or DE is an intermediate frame where the powers that be will tell you any little story you need to make you feel better while you transition. It may be sad for some to hear that the loved ones met are “virtual” people and not what they seem to be.