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Good point, Prof.
I would go even farther and say that to define skeptics only by their approach to the paranormal is too confining.
I try to apply my skepticism and critical thinking skills to all aspects of my life. I use them on a daily basis in my work. I use them when making important decisions, such as buying a vehicle. I use them when reading an article in a newspaper.
In fact, it is the good results that I have gotten in evaluating these testable, mundane subjects that convinces me that skepticism & critical thinking are effective at determining the best course of action or what is most likely to be true in a given situation.
"It is proper for you to doubt ... do not go upon report ... do not go upon tradition ... do not go upon hear-say." ~ Buddha
As for the situation of the debate in France: here is my full report but I only wrote it in French too. To roughly sum up:
There is only one research organization on parapsychology in France, Institut Métapsychique International (IMI), which is recognized as public interest organization but hardly has any public support, and roughly no recognition of its views by any other organization. (So, thorough debates usually have to refer to the data produced outside France as evidence for psi)
Instead, the views of the skeptics groups ("Zététique") are strongly supported by the academic system and other official scientific organizations.
The founding organization of the whole French skeptical movement (Cercle Zététique) was more and more discredited and finally self-dissolved, as the leading and finally remaining few members were the most sectarian.
Members who left as they were not happy with its methods formed other groups, but inherited its ill-informed claims and its biased methods.
One of them is Laboratoire de Zététique, an official laboratory in the Nice university, directed by the founder of the Cercle (Henri Broch), and officially supported by 2 French Nobel prices, both dead but still put forward as honorary members.
The other, less official but the least sectarian and thus most respectable, thus with the maniest members, is the Observatoire Zététique, based in Grenoble. So they have basically the same ideology from the same guru (Broch) but make a difference by their "soft attitude".
Smaller groups and independent skeptical webmasters also exist.
The Observatoire made clear its independence to not be mistaken with the others'sectarism, and prefers to not put forward its divergence with the other groups, but all is explained in its forum.
The whole ideology of the Zététique groups is that they are not interested in the paranormal for itself, but made the choice to focus on paranormal claims (preferably the most crazy and incredible ones, or their own caricatural interpretation of them) as a toy model for a pedagogical project of teaching the scientific method to a large public. But the practical effect of doing so is a dogmatic, ideological fight against all paranormal claims across society through unserious investigations only; and their discrepancy with science is particularly manifested by their amateurist, demagogic approach of the scientific method (which one web site of a small zététique group claims to be applicable by a child) - while of course keeping the conclusion fixed by "science".
The skepticism pole of IMI's student group, whose members had to remain anonymous to avoid any sort of personal attacks, hold a blog and made a lot of contributions to many online discussions. Finally they set up a web site to debunk the claims of the Zététique movement.
By taking the time to review some of the many debates across forums and blog comments, it is striking how more rational and convincing (while remaining very polite and civilized) is the argumentation of these critics, as compared to the visible dogmatism, sectarism, amateurism and paranoia of the skeptics (widely discredited as such across any forum not hosted by them nor by any "officially scientific" organization).
So, the official support to the French skeptics groups and ideology is all a kind of Emperor's new clothes.
Now OK, with you skeptics, let's talk about the paranormal.
First, what is your approach about this ?
Is your criteria to decide, a matter of observation, or of theoretical possibility based on existing science, or both ?
How much did you read about NDEs ? and what is your conclusion about it ?
Do you think the mind's behavior is just a physical brain process ?
Do you think that artificial intelligence might someday pass the Turing test ?
About the mathematical argument linked above, why the mind is not algorithmic (this argument was first given by the famous founder of mathematical logics, Kurt Gödel),
- Did you know this argument before ?
- Do you have any objection to it ?
- Do you think the usual skeptics'attitude of considering the paranormal as being a priori incompatible with (or at least made unlikely by) the existing body of scientific knowledge, while ignoring this Gödel's argument against the algorithmicity of the mind, can be considered serious and worthy of being called scientific ?
While it is true that many pro-paranormal writers may abuse of the reference to quantum physics which they don't really understand, do you think many skeptics really understand quantum physics enough, for being fair when they dismiss as unserious the possibility for the mind to be immaterial and interacting with matter through quantum measurement processes ?
If they don't, again, how can they pretend to declare the paranormal to be made a priori unlikely by the current scientific knowledge ?
If you want to know how I reconcile Darwinism with the mind-matter duality, well for me there is no problem: there is no need of an evolved brain for souls to be there and to operate some quantum measurements, and "produce effects", just as small influences of mind on matter can sometimes be observed (this is difficult in ordinary conditions because we are macroscopical observers with minds enclosed in our brains, in front of subtle quantum effects from elsewhere, but there may be more important cases of influences of the minds on biological systems, especially in the form of "spiritual healings"). So, the links between mind and matter could progressively develop from primitive forms of interactions into evolved ones along evolution.
if you don't mind, I'll take these one at a time as I get a chance to answer them.
My approach, I think, is pretty simple, but I digress. 200 years ago, if you had told Thomas Jefferson that one day you would be sitting in your living room watching news unfold as it happens or surfing the internet for "automobiles that work without horses" he probably would have told you you were crazy. I have a similar approach today towards the paranormal. As of now, "mainstream science" has not yet shown a high probability of the existance of the paranormal, at least not using high standards of test validity. Of course, it's also doesn't take much thought to realize that once something paranormal is shown to have a high degree of probability, then the prefix "para" is removed. I.e. "paranormal" becomes "normal," "parapsychology" becomes "psychology," etc. If someone could read my mind, I mean REALLY read my mind, then that would no longer be a paranormal event, would it? So no, I don't believe in the paranormal, but I believe most everything is possible...
Invisible cloaks are "theoretically possible," but If I saw someone wearing one, I think I would see right through it... (yes, pun intentional...)
When you say artificial intelligence, what comes to my mind is a computer being able to "think," which, I believe, is probably not possible without pre-programming (so, I guess to answer your Turing Test question, probably not in my lifetime, but never say never.). However, does a cloned sheep possess intelligence? Would a cloned human possess intelligence? If the answer is "yes," which I believe it to be, then yes, I think cloning could possibly be classified as "artificial intelligence." Science is still, to the best of my knowledge, searching for the all-illusive "general intelligence," also referred to as "strong, artificial intelligence." But with the advances in DNA mapping and body parts being grown in laboratories, then might we someday be able to produce a brain in the lab and if so, could that be classified as "artificial intelligence?" I think the answer to that queston might be "yes."
Dude, you've got about a gazillion topics smushed into there. Maybe start a thread on each one. Jumbling them all up will result in a pretty fractured discussion.
Sorry, but if I'm not able to punch it in on my calculator, I'm afraid math and me go together like Mayonnaise and Peanut Butter. So, no, I did not know this argument before. I do, however, have an objection to a theory put forth by someone/anyone who wouldn't go to a McDonald's for a Quarter Pounder and Fries...(figuratively speaking)
Okay, I see some vocabulary questions need to be fixed in order for some questions to make sense.
About what the word "paranormal" means:
We have a well-know theory that describes physical processes, that is quantum physics.
Precisely, in principle, this theory makes probabilistic predictions on the evolution of physical systems. That is, it gives a probability law, the specification of the probability of any possible final effective state of a system at any specified later time once given the initial state of the system.
These predictions have been checked and fit with roughly all physics experiments that could be made.
There are just 2 practical difficulties in this question of comparing theoretical predictions with experience:
- The calculations are VERY complex and require large supercalculators, even for a very simple system of a few particles interacting in a short time, such as a simple chemical reaction between two simple molecules, and this complexity increases dramatically at every further particle included in the system; thus requiring to develop many approximation tricks for any effective understanding of large systems.
- Once defined the "theoretical" final state of the system as mathematically determined by the initial state according to known laws, there is no exact rule how to define the list of "effective" possible final states that have to be distinguished from each other, and whose "differences" from the theoretical state must be interpreted in terms of probabilities; as, in the way the laws of physics are currently defined, this distinction of final states is a mere "emergent phenomenon" at the macroscopic scale, and cannot really be defined in small systems of a few particles still interacting.
However it is still possible to make abstraction of these problems and assume that quantum physics does give algorithmic probabilistic determinations of the evolution of any system, as from an abstract mathematical viewpoint disregarding any practical calculation issue, it is possible to express things as such (an algorithm that must run forever to provide successively better approximations of the probabilities).
And while we do guess that our current Standard Model is not the ultimate law, and we know that it fails to converge to any well-defined predictions if calculations are pushed too far (with relativistic effects including an illimited number of virtual particles...), it is still possible to take these known laws as a "good approximation".
Now, the question of the "paranormal" can be defined in this way: is the behavior of living (concious) organisms, conform in any reasonable approximation, to what quantum physics (or, more generally, some algorithmically definable probabilistic law) would predict, if all boundary conditions (genetic heritage, perceptions from senses, including observing others'behaviors...) were the same as "in nature" ?
So, while the answer will probably never be directly accessible to any supercalculators, the question does make sense in the abstract.
About artificial intelligence: a cloned animal cannot stand as a case of artificial intelligence because, according to the dualistic view that every animal (let's say, at least all vertebrates) contains an immaterial soul directing its behavior, no significant material difference can prevent a soul from also incarnating into, and leading the behavior of, a cloned animal just the same as a "normal" animal.
So, the concept of artificial intelligence, must be reserved to a system that is forced to behave according to a well-defined algorithmical law with no bias from an immaterial soul's influence. This does not exclude probabilistic laws, since it is well-known in the theory of algorithmics, that sufficiently sophisticated algorithms of pseudo-randomness (with a large available memory), just "behave the same" as true randomness. Or other ways to turn around this point can be considered too, such as that, for any given probability law of behavior and a given concept of intelligence, the "probability of being intelligent" can be deduced, and be either close to 1 or close to 0.
Note that such a conception might fail if intelligence was algorithmically defined, as an algorithm for intelligent behavior could be deduced from it; this problem can be avoided by:
1) defining intelligence as humanly assessed like in the Turing test; or
2) sticking, for example, to the particular case of quantum physics and the abstract question of whether the same genetic codes would have any similar darwinian strenghts resulting from quantum physics as what we observe.
Uhm, err, ahhh, hmm. I'm just speachless.
Hope you don't give up on us entirely, Sylvain. We can use your knowledge.
I did this test in college thirty years ago, and discovered, then, that I was introverted (quelle surprise). I don't recall types, or numbers, but then I was very good at thinking and feeling, and oblivious on perception and intuition.
I recall I knew the word intuition and had read the descriptions of the intuitive pysche, and still felt clueless as to what intuition was. I started working on it, and it helped spark my interest in my wife to be, who, as near as I understand them, was the most intuitive person I ever knew.
Gut level and heart felt assessment, ten years after divorce is, THOSE PEOPLE ARE CRAZY!!!
As I understand it, intuitives have some integrative faculty in the mind I sorely lack which seems to make them “believers”. As the entymology of the word says, to intuit is (seem?) “to perceive directly without reasoning”
I grant the process by which they achieve such spontaneous certainty may be invisible to my faculties, but my wife scared me shitless sometimes. She reminds me of George Bush and Adolf Hitler in her somnambulistic certainty, and I suspect pseudo-skeptics may be intuitives of the opposite -version
Am I missing something here, or making too much of something I don't understand?
Took the test online twice today, accidentally skipping a couple of questions the first time. Came up INFP both times, with this breakdown.
Introversion Intuition Feeling Perceiving
78 25 38 17
89 19 38 50
Then their system went down, so I looked at another site, which described the T vs F and P vs J dichotomies. Twenty years ago, the test showed that I was self identified as a judgmental thinker, but …well, I did a lot of thinking about jungian theories, and decided I had my mother's anima, stuck inside my father's imago like an enigma in a riddle.
To cut to the point, I decided to take the results as diagnostic. I looked at the list of behaviors I embraced, and concluded that they did not work. My morning plans looked like daydreams by night fall, and I was disconnected from human contact. So I went to work on lowering my IQ and raising my EQ.
Conclusion....I found Meyers-Briggs useful in pointing out what aspects of my psyche I needed to work on to be a more rounded human being
"What's so Funny about Peace, Love, and Understanding?"
Refreshing i can dig it ,although if one americans france is a was. Not all tale about mud so muddy they got stuck every step- They probably stomped well that's all the more miles of france i want to find out about i adore everything i have not yet got anything truly france is one place i am going no matter.
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