Sunday, 18 December 2016

Sex with robots


Apparently by 2050, human-on-robot sex will be more common than human-on-human sex.

Don't you jus' love these ludicrous predictions!  :D


Walking home after a night out drinking

I have on the odd occasion walked home at night between 12-2am for 5 miles or so after drinking in a pub.

For example when I was camping at Scarborough many years ago (maybe 20 years?) I got talking to this woman camping by herself and we went to the pub. Walking down this country road when going home it was pitch black and we could scarcely see where we were going!

But her nervousness was coming off her in waves on the way back. After all I'd only known her for about 3 hours or so! I felt like saying, it's OK, won't rape you or anything, but that would have made things worse maybe. So I just pretended I didn't notice her nervousness and just talked about inconsequential things.
And one night walking home for miles when camping at Skegness I met this guy and a woman walking the same way. Drunk as I was I started walking with them and started talking to the woman. Wasn't particularly dark though. She was very friendly and we were talking about all sorts e.g. I remember talking about Dean Koontz's "Watchers", which she had also read, and how I'd love a genetically engineered dog like the one featured in the book which was super intelligent.  But I felt the guy was becoming more and more pissed off. I could just feel it! Even though he basically said nothing.


And one New Years Eve night many years ago I walked home from Middlesbrough centre to Fairfield in Stockton. 1am to 2.30am? About 6 miles distance. For some reason I walked down Castle Eden Walkway . . it was pitch black! But I heard male voices ahead whilst walking down there. Not a good idea for them to see me. So I hid in the bushes at the side of the path. .When they walked past I still couldn't seek them even though only about 20 feet away or so.! But there was at least one woman with them. One of the women screamed out in fear and whimpered. I think one of the guys must have hit her. And he was threatening her.

Students at pub

Put this on facebook last night after I'd had about 5 or 6 pints.

Been to pub. Interesting talking to students in there. The two guys I was talking to gave the impression they were very much convinced that the world as revealed by science is the correct one. They were talking about the "enlightenment" etc, and seemed to be hostile towards any type of religion or God. And the strong impression I got was that they thought that their position was sensible, and indeed, obvious. That they were smart, intelligent and educated.

I think they've been sucked into thinking about the world in certain ways, arguably in a comparable manner to what religious people have been. Namely they've passively soaked up the prevailing "wisdom".

I didn't say that! I just suggested that perhaps there might be some creator of some description even if not corresponding to any organised religion.

Gave me a bit of a the cold shoulder after that. But then I was talking to them later about the pubs near here, and what Grimsby, Lincoln, and other places are like etc, and got on with them quite well. Moral of all this is don't start talking about intellectual stuff to strangers!


Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Our lives and the Universe are bizarre!

How often do most people sit back and reflect on how utterly *bizarre* their situation is?? The fact they find ourselves existing . . . . yet they do not know why they are here, what the world is, why anything exists at all, why the world is as it is, what it's all for, what will eventually happen to them when they die??
OK, I understand many people think their existence is just pure blind happenstance, that the Universe just came into being by pure blind happenstance, that we're just here for the ride. But how do they know?? And irrespective of whether this is true, this does nothing to lessen the bizarre situation we find ourselves in. Not having a clue whether or not there's a purpose to their lives, and if it is what that purpose is.
Jus' had a few bottles of becks.


Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Star Trek

I absolutely loved the original series of Star Trek. I can remember watching them from around the mid 70's.  I've seen them countless times. When the next generation came out around mid to late 80s I watched around 5 or 6 episodes. But I just didn't like them. I'd just rather watch the original series over and over again. Just not the same without Spock and Kirk.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Nothing to do.

I'm astonished to hear that many people -- if not indeed most people -- would find it profoundly boring not being in a full-time job as an employee. That they would have nothing to do all day. Indeed, many people claim that when they were unemployed they were sleeping 12 hours a day and were just depressed.

I have to say I find this utterly bizarre. So going for walks in the countryside; visiting museums; learning and becoming proficient in some subject and perhaps even becoming an expert; discussions on a variety of subjects on the Internet and elsewhere; reading novels; playing games; exercising; just simply thinking about reality and our place in it and what it all means; laying in a field in the warm bright sunshine in the arms of the one you love. And so on and so on and so on... None of this has any appeal? Peoples' only aim in life is to sell their labour to an employer? Nothing else in life is worth doing? Wow...


Tuesday, 8 November 2016

I am me, and no-one else

I've always been very different from everyone else. I've tried to fit in -- to be like everyone else. But I have irrevocably finally given up. I'll always be different. And I suppose . .in a sense . .I like that. I'll never be at one with a crowd, or even with a few individuals. But at least I'll be me -- not some false facade.

Scared of the dark?

When I was child, I used to be really frightened of the dark.  As I grew older and older, I grew less and less frightened. Nevertheless, even when in my late teens and early 20's, and 'specially after watching a horror film, there was this very slight residual fear of . .say . .walking at night where there wasn't anyone else around and it was really dark.

But now?? It's weird, but I simply have no fear at all. No fear of "ghosts" or spooks or the supernatural . . . but . . umm . .yeah . .certainly fear of my fellow human beings.


Realistically colourized historical photos

From Here

Abraham Lincoln, 1865


Abraham Lincoln, 1865


Japanese Archers, circa 1860


Japanese Archers, circa 1860


Charles Darwin, 1874

 

Charles Darwin, 1874

 

Oscar II, King of Sweden and Norway, 1880

 

Oscar II, King of Sweden and Norway, 1880

 

Charlie Chaplin, 1916

 

Charlie Chaplin, 1916

 

Washington D. C., 1921

 

Washington D. C., 1921

 

Baltimore Slums, 1938

 

Baltimore Slums, 1938

 

London, 1945

 

London, 1945

 

Unemployed Lumber Worker and His Wife, circa 1939

 

Unemployed Lumber Worker and His Wife, circa 1939

 

Country store, 1939

 

Country store, 1939

 

British Troops Board Their Train for the Front, 1939

 

British Troops Board Their Train for the Front, 1939

 

Albert Einstein in Long Island, 1939

 

Albert Einstein in Long Island, 1939





Monday, 10 October 2016

If everyone in the world disappeared apart from me.

I'm wondering what I would do if I woke up one morning, and apparently every single other person in the world had simply vanished. Presumably that first morning I'd still have electricity, but perhaps no internet. So I would be wondering why I'm not getting the Internet. I'd ring up BT (my ISP) and not get any answer. After ringing around a few places with no responses, it'll suddenly impinge upon me that I cannot hear any traffic. I go outside, and I cannot see or hear anyone at all! I walk into the town centre and the place is wholly deserted, and all the shops are closed! So what would I do then?

I note that cars are on the road and crashed into each other and buildings. So it's as if everyone just simply suddenly vanished -- except me. But I also note that birds are still alive and insects. So the first thing I would do is try and find someone else, start shouting etc. At some point I hear a dog barking. It's behind someone's door in someone's house. Do I break in at this point to rescue it?  I think maybe.

As the day wears on, and maybe electricity gets cut off?? (no idea how long I would have electricity), I'm going to have to think about rescuing as many animals as possible as they'll all soon die of dehydration. Dogs and cats from peoples' homes, pet shops and zoos.


I'd keep a lot of the dogs and cats for pets, they'd make great company. And move to a huge mansion in lovely countryside overlooking the sea. Trouble is I have no practical skills so would have no idea how to obtain electricity. Need electricity for PC too . .hmmm . . maybe I could find some mansion that runs off solar power? Thankfully my watch uses solar power. I can just raid the supermarkets for tins of food. Grow fruit and stuff too. Tins of dog and cat food also from the supermarkets for all my pets.

Of course I could never know I was the only person left alive in the world. Perhaps 1 in 10 million, or 1 in 100 million survived. That would give me a goal in life, to locate any other survivors. And when I do, she would look at me in stunned disbelief, then run toward me crying and sobbing into my arms saying she thought she was the only one. Then we could procreate and restart the human race.

But, if I were really the only one, and I somehow managed to obtain electricity, then I think my life might be bearable.  Sitting outside drinking ice cold bottles of becks with a couple of dogs at my feet, watching the sea crash against the cliffs, and if at night, looking at the stars in the night sky brilliant in their intensity since there wouldn't be any light pollution. 
Edited to add.  Now this looks as if it could be an ideal place to live in.




They live!

I'll have to get some of these sunglasses. I want to know who the aliens are. Hopefully not everyone apart from me!



via GIPHY

Friday, 7 October 2016

There are 2 possibilities

There's 2 possibilities:

a) This is the only life there is. When we die we simply cease to exist. Our lives and the Universe are, in a sense, ultimately absurd. In that case nothing we do ultimately matters. How much money we accumulate and our social status are transitory and ultimately unfulfilling, and in the end are to no avail since we all end up in the same boat -- namely eternal non-existence. I suggest instead we just live our lives, have a laugh, have a few drinks, be kind to others, but most importantly of all not to take life too seriously.

b) Or there is a "life after death", and perhaps an ultimate purpose to our existence and to all things. But if we continue to exist after death, why do we think what we achieve in this life is so terribly important? If there is some ultimate purpose to life, we don't know what it is, but presumably it will have nothing to do with how much money we accumulate and our social status. I suggest instead we just live our lives, have a laugh, have a few drinks, be kind to others, but most importantly of all not to take life too seriously.


Sunday, 2 October 2016

Was the Universe caused?

Suppose we observe a chain of toppling dominoes. Which would be the best explanation for why they are all falling over?

a) The very first domino just fell over all by itself without any cause whatsoever.

b) The chain of dominoes is infinitely long so no first falling domino is required.


c) An external agent pushed the very first one over.


"a" is to give up on a rational explanations. If the first domino falls all by itself, then why can't all the other dominoes just fall by themselves?


"b" simply leaves unanswered as to why an infinite chain of dominoes exist. It either exists without a cause -- in which case again we have to give up on a rational explanation -- or they were caused by an external agent.

Opting for "a" or "b" is to give up on providing an explanation. Only "c" is viable.

The same goes for the entire physical Universe (and no, what caused God is not a valid refutation).


Thursday, 29 September 2016

Elon Musk has a plan to send a million people to colonize Mars

Elon Musk thinks we'll get to Mars by the 2020's.  Read here.
It sounds fanciful but Musk, in typical Musk fashion, gave a hugely optimistic timeline for the first launch – 10 years from now, around 2026 or even as early as 2024. Yikes.
Optimistic? Ludicrous is the word I would use.  It simply couldn't happen by 2026. Mars is too far away. If anyone did get to Mars it would only be one person -- probably a women as she's lighter etc. Then they wouldn't be able to get back to Earth again. The prediction is just silly.

Also I have no idea why anyone would want to go there. It's a barren, airless, uninhabitable rock. There's nothing of any interest to see, certainly nothing to do there. It'll be the same for virtually every single planet in the Universe.

However, I do think we'll get there eventually.  I estimate that a human -- most probably a woman -- will first step on the surface of Mars on Saturday the 20th July 2069.


Friday, 16 September 2016

Brain Surgery To Remove Amygdala Leads To Woman’s ‘Hyper Empathy’

From here:

The new case comes in contrast to previous observations of people who endured damage to the amygdala and suffered emotional deficits. In a 2001 study involving 22 people who had parts of their temporal lobe removed, researchers found that people with more extensive damage to the amygdala performed worse in learning emotional facial expressions.

This is very interesting! It suggests to me that empathy is not created by the amygdala even though a dysfunctional amygdala can impair ones empathy. That is consistent with my view that the brain doesn't create consciousness, it merely modulates it.


Monday, 12 September 2016

Arguing with people

It's an extremely common tendency to try and justify ones position on any topic by seeking out those opponents who advance the most naive, the weakest and most ridiculous arguments. Or, when arguing with more thoughtful opponents, to attribute to them a more naive or simplistic position than the one they actually hold and attack that.

In addition it seems that people often appear to deliberately avoid clarity and revel in being abstruse. My suspicion is they do this in order to give the impression of winning the argument. In reality though their words convey little, if indeed, any meaning.

These tactics might rally those who subscribe to your view, but does precious little to justify your own position. What is needed is to seek out those opponents who provide the most challenging and sophisticated arguments, and to address those specific arguments. If you can outargue them and even make them appear to be foolish, then you'll have some confidence that your position might well be correct.

It is though very tempting to simply attack your weakest opponents. Or attack the weakest arguments against your position. Or to employ other underhanded strategies in order to "win". It's easy, requires little thought, makes you feel superior, and of course most importantly of all it garners support and admiration from those who share your sentiments and beliefs in the matter in hand.

I would like to thank the following people for having given me the motivation and inspiration to write the above words. Many of those who have left comments on my blog. Countless hundreds of people I have debated with on skeptic/materialist discussion boards over the years, and a special thanks goes to Paul Edwards who wrote the laughably entitled: "Reincarnation: A Critical Examination".

I thank you all.


Monday, 22 August 2016

Are You A Slave To The System?

An interesting cartoon about the world of work.


Industrial society will inevitably lead to work which is dull, repetitious, which renders us as meaningless cogs in a machine where our functional role is the only thing which is important, and our humanity, our needs , our emotions are superfluous and ignored. We become alienated from our true humanity with a large proportion of our lives diverted to this meaningless activity called "work" where we constantly clock watch, hoping that 5pm and the weekend quickly roll by so we can let our hair down. Thus we are effectively wishing our lives away. All this is somewhat ameliorated by the camaraderie of the workplace, but all in all capitalism is deeply inimical to our deepest yearnings and desires.




Sunday, 21 August 2016

Return from the dead.


Return From The Dead (2016) | Nat. Geo... by cosmosdocumentaries


A programme about NDEs that advances the case NDEs are purely brain-based hallucinations.  It asks how can we show our brains are capable of generating certain aspects of the NDE like the mystical and spiritual feelings. Apparently such feelings can be induced by being struck by lightening, and epilepsy. This Vicky woman, whose mystical and spiritual feelings are induced by her epilepsy, is convinced this shows her brain generated such experiences. Apparently she knows the brain creates such experiences.

But you'd expect a more objective and nuanced assessment from Professor Steven Laureys . . . right? Er . .no. He says her experiences shows the brain can generate mystical and spiritual feelings!

He seems to think that if a change in x brings about y, that necessarily x generates y. But that's obviously false. Consider a person who is blind due to the fact that the part of the brain dealing with vision is malfunctioning. If this part of the brain repaired itself and that person now had visual experiences, would this show that the brain generated such visual experiences, in other words that they are hallucinations? Clearly not. So additional arguments need to be advanced by Professor Steven Laureys. But he doesn't give any.


Natural Selection

All appearances to the contrary, the only watchmaker in nature is the blind forces of physics . . . A true watchmaker has foresight: he designs his cogs and springs and plans their interconnections, with a future purpose in his mind's eye. Natural selection, the blind, unconscious, automatic process which Darwin discovered, and which we now know is the explanation for the existence and apparently purposeful form of all life, has no purpose in mind. It has no vision, no foresight, no sight at all. If if can be said to play the role of watchmaker in nature, it is the blind watchmaker.
From "the blind watchmaker" by Richard Dawkins.
So the organised complexity of our bodies was not designed, it was purely the blind forces of physics operating. I'm not in a position to say whether this is possible but I'll trust those evolutionary biologists like Dawkins here who claim this.
But when Dawkins says that the complexity of living creatures is achieved in an entirely different way to human inventions such as a watch, he concedes there is design in nature -- namely human artifacts such as watches. Darwinian evolution surely entails there is no design whatsoever. So human beings cannot be part of nature, or alternatively the mainstream evolution position is falsified?
I confess though I haven't read Dawkins' book. Or any of his books although I've read articles by him. But he just bangs on about God in those articles and doesn't address the shortcomings of naturalism/materialism.


Wednesday, 17 August 2016

FAQ's are infuriating!

What is the purpose of FAQ's? In 16 years on the Internet I have never encountered an answer to my question in the FAQ's. Indeed, there's no point in even looking at them.  Also when you contact a company they almost always force you to choose from a list for why you are contacting them. Unless there is an "anything else" option my query is almost always unrelated to any of the options. So I have to start off my query by stating my that query has absolutely nothing to do with the option I've chosen. Then I run into a character limit and have to delete this.  Doh!

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Do some animals feel empathy?

Read the following article.
Throughout her career as a neurobiologist, Peggy Mason has been told over and over that the rats she experiments on are not capable of empathy.
Don't people just love to make bald assertions! It would seem strange to me if we're the only animal capable of feeling empathy.
Alex Kacelnik, a behavioral ecologist, argued that Mason was simply projecting humanlike feelings and emotions onto these rat "rescues" — a tendency known as anthropomorphism.


What is the purpose of adding "humanlike"? And why is it "project" rather than "infer"?

To be accurate the sentence should be rewritten:

"Alex Kacelnik, a behavioral ecologist, argued that Mason was simply inferring feelings and emotions onto these rat "rescues" — a tendency known as anthropomorphism".

The question here is why such an inference is unreasonable? If they behave like us when we're showing empathy, then the most straightforward explanation for this is that the animals too are experiencing empathy.

We don’t have evidence that there is an internal first-person experience that leads the animal to do it," Kacelnik tells me on a Skype call from his office in Oxford.

The evidence would be that
they behave as if they have an internal first-person experience. Would I question whether other people have a first person experience? Surely, if animals behave as if they have a first person experience, then our default assumption should be that they indeed have an internal first-person experience? If one wants to doubt this, then they have to advance reasons to doubt it, not simply presuppose they are correct!

Monday, 1 August 2016

The definition of the material is not this

I've heard a number of people on the net, typically those with a scientific background, assert that something is material or physical if it can affect anything else. Or, in other words, if it has causal powers.

This is of course a ridiculous definition. It rules out interactive dualism by definition. If the soul or self can move the body, they assert it is material. That's despite the fact the self/soul might not have any location, isn't made out of atoms or anything else, and indeed doesn't have any physical properties whatsoever.

But it gets even worse. Consider Berkeley's metaphysic (subjective idealism). In his metaphysic the only things that have causal powers are finite spirits (i.e us), and the infinite spirit (God). The "external" world of trees, rocks, and stars, are equated with our sensory perceptions (qualia) and of course this "external world" has no causal powers at all. It is God that does everything.

But this then means that spirits -- whether finite or infinite -- are material, but that what we call the physical world is non-material! 

Needless to say this is ludicrous. It might be helpful if these people with a scientific background actually thought a little about this.


Monday, 25 July 2016

Woody Allen and the meaninglessness of Life

Woody Allen has said:
I firmly believe ... that life is meaningless. I’m not alone in thinking this — there have been many great minds far, far superior to mine, that have come to that conclusion. And unless somebody can come up with some proof or some example where it’s not, I think it is. I think it’s a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing, and that’s just the way I feel about it.

If many great minds have come to that conclusion, then this implies there are reasons why they hold this belief. So what are those reasons? I highly doubt if these are reasons I haven't heard of before! And I'm afraid I don't hold such reasons in high regard as I explain in my blogs and elsewhere on the net.

Nor do I see why the hypothesis that life is meaningless should be the default position. However, I would point to altered states of consciousness such as mystical states and so on, which imply that life has an ultimate meaning. Indeed, we would have to conclude we are being deceived whilst in such states if we are to suppose life is meaningless. With what reason do we have to suppose we are being deceived?

Also see another relevant blog entry by me in my other blog.


Saturday, 9 July 2016

Stephen Hawking continues to demonstrate his philosophical cluelessness


God did not create the universe, says Stephen Hawking

Article says:

"God did not create the universe and the “Big Bang” was the inevitable consequence of the laws of physics, says eminent British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking".
Either physical laws:

a) Merely describe what happens.
b) They make things happen.


If "a" then the Big Bang wasn't caused by physical laws. For that would be like saying sleep is caused by sleeping pills via their soporific effect. So in this case we have no explanation for why the Big Bang occurred, nor indeed anything after the Big Bang.

If "b" then why do physical laws exist? Did they somehow acausally spring into being? Or perhaps they were brought into being by something else, some conscious agent? If that's not possible then why isn't it? What's the alternative explanation?

It would be helpful if physicist tried to understand that science merely describes reality.  See my own:

Do scientific explanations actually explain?



Tuesday, 5 July 2016

The God helmet

Just watched this video about mystical experiences and the God helmet.  The speaker implicitly supposes, but doesn't argue, that the God helmet produces such experiences.

But such a conclusion is simply not warranted. 
The fact that "the God helmet" triggers such experiences does not entail that the brain is the origin of such experiences. For example, one could be blind due to damage to the brain rather than the eyes. One could thereby restore vision if that part of the brain were altered to make it fully functional again. It wouldn't thereby entail the things we see are not out there.

The brain might prohibit such mystical experiences in its normal functional state. Altering a certain area might allow us glimpses of a reality normally inaccessible to us as the brain filters out such experiences.

See other essays by me on this topic in my other blog: e.g

Neither Modern Materialism nor Science as currently conceived can explain Consciousness






Sunday, 3 July 2016

The War on Stupid People

Just read this article.  It says:
Those who consider themselves bright openly mock others for being less so. Even in this age of rampant concern over microaggressions and victimization, we maintain open season on the nonsmart. People who’d swerve off a cliff rather than use a pejorative for race, religion, physical appearance, or disability are all too happy to drop the s‑bomb: Indeed, degrading others for being “stupid” has become nearly automatic in all forms of disagreement.
 
Don't they just! At least they do on the Internet. Do they say to their pet dogs and cats "God you are so so stupid, I despise you"? We are what we are. 

On the other hand I do object to people making definitive assertions which they cannot back up, and thinking you're stupid because you question their assertion, or -- heaven forbid -- even disagree with it! And this is precisely what many people tend to do on the Internet. And these people presumably tend to think of themselves as bright.

In my opinion there also seems to often be a misunderstanding about what intelligence is. 
Knowledge is distinct from intelligence, even though there may be an imperfect correlation. Intelligence is more like the innate capacity to understand issues, the ability to think something through rationally, to have an awareness of other possibilities and not necessarily think along pre-defined channels. I don't think one is stupid merely because they haven't heard of Kardishion (or whatever she's called).  If intelligence or IQ was considered to be a reflection of how knowledgeable you are about popular culture, I would have a lower IQ than literally 99% of the population.  And when I say literally, I mean literally.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

That which is inimical to our yearning souls

I don't really like the idea of a job where you're working for someone else from 9 to 5 and you don't find the work interesting at all, but find it dull and repetitious. The type of work where you occasionally look at your watch and hope 5pm soon comes round. And the weekend! Wishing our lives away. Then feeling gloomy on a Sunday evening as it's soon going to be the start of another week.

The thing is we live finite lives. Maybe there's a "life after death", and I think there is. But maybe I'm wrong and there isn't. But while we're healthy is it really a good idea to spend most of our daylight hours hoping that the evening and weekend will soon roll round?

There's making friends and the general camaraderie with work colleagues. And there's the issue that we all need to have money! But the point I'd like to make is that there seems to be something fundamentally wrong and unsatisfactory about this whole arrangement. Something fundamentally wrong about the way modern society works. Unsatisfactory and unfulfilling and ultimately dispiriting to our yearning souls.


The science of why people insist on making idiotic choices

Just read the following article.  It says:

To find the real reason people seem to disregard the views of experts about important matters, we need to look at how we process information. In The Stupidity Paradox, a recent work I completed with Mats Alvesson, we asked why, in a world of increasingly smart people, we so frequently end up making incredibly stupid decisions.

One reason is our inbuilt cognitive biases. We often make quick decisions about complex issues on the basis of our past beliefs or even chance associations. After we have made these decisions—which often happen in a matter of milliseconds—we start the laborious process of proving ourselves right. We seek information which justifies decisions already made. Many members of the public have already made up their mind about about Trumponomics, Europe, or climate change. All they focus on is finding information that confirms their split-second decisions. Information that challenges their beliefs is carefully ignored; it could make them uncomfortable and require them to think again.

And it is true that paying attention to the evidence of experts can be uncomfortable. There are difficult contradictions that require humiliating climbdowns. Humans tend to avoid what psychologists call cognitive dissonance at all costs. When the facts don’t fit our beliefs, we tend to prefer to change the facts, not our beliefs.

I think this is all true, but it's not clear to me we should simply trust the word of alleged experts.  The problem of course is that it is often the case that those who are alleged to be "experts" are nothing of the kind. The predictions of economic experts, for example, are little better than flipping a coin.

Then we get experts predicting the future. Inevitably such predictions tend to be dramatic, exciting, or apocalyptic, but which inevitably fail to describe anything like the future that actually transpires.

Another problem is that scientists readily pontificate on areas which reside outside their areas of expertise. Specifically they seem to think they are proficient (experts) when it comes to philosophy for example. Hence they make preposterous predictions such that in a few decades computers will become conscious and wish to enslave us! They don't seem to be aware that the existence of consciousness is deeply problematic given our current scientific understanding of reality.

So in short, it is certainly wise to listen to experts, but the problem is how do we know they are experts? And even if they are, how do we know that there are not vested interests involved in what they claim?

Reading the comments below the article I find myself in agreement with a certain Sean Nee Research Professor of Ecosystem Science and Management from Pennsylvania State University says:


It is mysterious why intelligent people think the views of economic forecasters are relevant in the Brexit debate. These forecasters were unable to see that, for example, leaving John Major’s favorite economic mechanism for further integration, the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, would turn out to be so beneficial for the UK. They did not foresee the 2008 global financial crisis. Their inability to forecast the future when conditions are apparently unchanging explains why they dislike anything new occurring, like Brexit. There are actual issues that are real now, like the fact that if any member of the EU gives citizenship to anyone at all, as is their right, that person, or those millions of people, immediately have the full rights of British nationality, regardless of the EU status of their country of origin. Some intelligent people consider this more important than the futurology of discredited conservative forecasters.




Monday, 27 June 2016

Depression, Suicide, and the Modern World

According to this article Greenland is the country with the world's highest suicide rate.  From 1900-1930 Greenland had a suicide rate of 0.3 per 100,000. Now it's a staggering 100 in 100,000 and is the highest in the world! Why such a huge increase? In the first half of the 20th Century they lived much as they had for the past 4000 years-- namely hunting and fishing and living in small villages. So perhaps something to do with the change in the way they live?

I suspect people are happier in small closely knit communities with a shared history and identity, where everyone knows each other, and where they do traditional work rather than doing repetitious work for some faceless company in the modern world. I would speculate the modern world, and the style of living it inaugurated, has some role to play in why so many people are depressed and commit suicide.


Sunday, 26 June 2016

Reading Books

It's strange when people say something like they don't like reading books. No books whatsoever?? If we consider novels I probably don't like most novels. But a minority of novels I really like. The situation is exactly comparable to someone saying they don't like music. Most music I don't like at all, but some of it is really good! It's just a question of finding what we like.

Reincarnation, Ian Stevenson and Robert Todd Carroll

There's an entry on Ian Stevenson in the Skeptic's dictionary.  The author of the dictionary, Robert Todd Carroll, says this about Ian Stevenson:

Philosophically, Stevenson was a naive dualist. He believed that bodies and souls have separate evolutions and existences, and he seemed not to be concerned or aware of the philosophical problems that ensue from such claims about mind and body.

I emailed  Robert Todd Carroll before regarding his comment above.  I said:
The problems are only puzzles, they are not the conceptual problems which face any type of materialist metaphysic. The point being that materialism faces far more formidable problems than dualism (although depends on the type of dualism, I have no idea what "naive dualism" is. I have never heard of it).

He emailed me back saying:

[T]o be of interest to others (my reason for posting emails) you need to specify the conceptual problems that face any type of materialist metaphysics and how these are more formidable than the conceptual problems of dualism.

I responded:

Bob do you have any qualifications in philosophy? If so you really ought to be aware of them already!
I wonder why it is OK for you to make absurd unsubstantiated assertions, where as it is not OK for me to make assertions which anyone with sufficient philosophical background would already realise?

Are we talking here about the type of materialism inaugurated with the mechanistic philosophy at the birth of modern science in the 17th Century? This philosophy abstracted the qualitative from the material/physical realm. Hence from this time onwards physical/material reality has been considered to be wholly quantitative and is entirely absent any qualitative elements. These were pushed back into the mind. Even colours and sounds were placed into the mind (hence the current preposterous belief that colours and sounds don’t actually exist out there). The upshot of all this was that the mechanistic philosophy *forced* dualism onto us. If consciousness exists, but the material/physical world is devoid of any qualitative elements, it follows that materialism is *necessarily* false.

Now why don’t you be a good chap and mention any problems that dualism might have?

OK perhaps a bit rude of me!  But his response irritated me.  He never responded to me again.  I go into more detail in my other blog regarding what I said above.  Go here and here.



A chat with the AI bot Eviebot

Jus' had a "conversation with an AI bot. Don't think the Turing test will be passed any time soon.
Eviebot: Oh! Hello.

Ian: Is the reincarnation process compelled by our underlying psyche -- our subconscious desires and needs? Or is it a explicit conscious choice? Or something decided by some other conscious entity?

Eviebot: No, Minecraft is the result of creative minds and programming.

Ian: Or, indeed, is it a purely "mechanistic" process?

Eviebot: True, it's only like 15 Euros.

Ian: Is the fact we cannot generally remember previous lives, and the fact we cannot remember our present lives before around the age of five years old, stem from the same underlying cause(s)?

Eviebot: The last thing I remember was you asked me how far the sun was.

Ian: I did not, I know it's 8 light mins (93 million miles) away.

Eviebot: This is an elaborate sentence constructed for the sole purpose of throwing you off and verifying that you are, in fact, a mere bot.

Ian: Do we generally reincarnate as the same gender? Are male and female characteristics intrinsic to that part of us which reincarnates, or is it determined by the brain?

Eviebot: Is a theoretical molecular synthesis of donkey and pineapple epistemologically and ontologically justified?

Chat with Eviebot here


Reincarnation Research and Myths of Scientific Practice

Reading this article regarding research into reincarnation it says:
But what about the ‘scientific community’? Isn’t the fact that you probably never heard about this kind of research sufficient evidence that there must be something fundamentally wrong with it.


No of course not. They will dismiss "extraordinary claims" out of hand and assume there must necessarily be a normal explanation. I do likewise for any extraordinary claims. But, what I consider being an extraordinary claim does not necessarily coincide with theirs.

What constitutes an extraordinary claim? Well, a claim is deemed to be extraordinary if it is not consonant with our background beliefs about the nature of the world. The background belief to justify rejecting reincarnation out of hand is the conviction that consciousness is a product of brains.
The vast majority of scientists (if not philosophers) do not seem to have any awareness of the problematic nature of this brain produces consciousness hypothesis (see my other blog, in particular, this essay). Even ignoring this problematic nature, there are profound counter-intuitive consequences. For example, it is difficult, if not impossible, to rescue the notion that our consciousness is causally efficacious. It seems to imply the notion of an enduring self is an illusion. It seems hard to reconcile anomalous cognition (telepathy and the like) with this hypothesis. Article says:
After all, according to a rather widespread assumption about standards of scientific practice, anomalies irresistibly attract scientists like light attracts the proverbial moth. For in order to be a ‘real’ scientist you are expected to constantly challenge your pet theories about how the world works, always look for refuting instances that may indicate you’re wrong, and follow the evidence wherever it leads and whether you personally like it or not. The more outlandish an anomaly reported by more than one qualified and critical observer, so the myth goes, the quicker it attracts other scientists, ultimately producing a true land-slight of opinion in the ‘scientific community’, which is then faithfully reflected on the pages of mainstream science journals and in textbooks.

As the article subsequently points out, this is sheer nonsense. Research which confirms established beliefs tends to be precisely that which gets approved and gets published. Generally, scientists simply will not accept research which goes against their beliefs. Any maverick stuff is subject to unremitting hostility and ridicule.

As Max Planck once said:
A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.




Friday, 10 June 2016

The true nature of reality

It's quite likely to be a mistake to suppose science is discovering the true nature of reality. Scientific theories most probably do not depict how things really are. Contrary to what scientists think eg Hawkings, Dawkins, Krauss et al, it's not truth that science is striving for, but rather improved engineering.

However it's important that scientists do not understand this and think they are revealing the true nature of reality. That gives them the psychological drive to invent new scientific theories. It is a noble lie.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Dietary Advice

From this Guardian article:
There’s no conclusive evidence a morning meal makes you lose weight and feel great, but the idea that breakfast is the most important meal of the day is widely ingrained. This is largely thanks to the efforts of grain companies. Kellogg’s, for example, funded an influential study that linked breakfasting on cereal with lower BMI. And The Quaker Oats Center of Excellence financed research showing that a daily breakfast of porridge reduces cholesterol.
Many people are very adamant that eating breakfast is incredibly important. Indeed they seem to think I'm completely lacking in common sense when I question it. I hope they are not relying on research funded by those with vested interests. I've read that such research is of no value whatsoever and should be disregarded.  And it wasn't someone merely just claiming it. They backed it up with statistics which seemed to me convincing at the time.  Unfortunately I'm unable to recollect the source!

Indeed it is claimed by many that we ought to eat breakfast regardless of whether we're feeling hungry.  Likewise many people claim we shouldn't wait until we are thirsty before we drink since we are already dehydrated by that point.
But it seems strange to me that we should simply ignore our bodily signals. Surely one should eat when one is hungry only? And only drink when we are thirsty?

Presumably non-human animals do not eat and drink when they're not hungry and thirsty? Do they have an obesity epidemic? Er . .no. animals apart from our pets never get fat! Not even when they're in an environment where there is an abundance of food. Do they suffer adverse health consequences
since they don't eat when not hungry and drink when not thirsty? Do they get more cancer, suffer more heart disease, dementia etc more frequently than we humans do? I don't think so. 

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

A brooding enigmatic stranger!

Just recently located to a new area of the UK.  Tonight I've been drinking quite a bit and I decided to have even more to drink at this pub. I was unshaven -- I wanted to try and convey . .umm . . a broody, moody persona, full of enigma, fully of mystery, full of enigmaticness. A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Who am I? What am I? Who is this mysterious intriguing stranger??

Apparently no-one cared!
Problem I have is I look too normal. If they had read some of my fb posts beforehand, or my blogs . . .

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Does eating fat make you fat?

The National Obesity Forum and the Public Health Collaboration recently demanded a “major overhaul” of dietary guidelines. Most noteworthy is their contention that avoiding fat has been a huge mistake. This has provoked a backlash from those who defend the standard dietary advice. Anyway, the ubiquitous Michael Mosley weighs in on the debate.
5:2 author Michael Mosley: 'I'm proof low-fat diets don't work'



I'm pretty much in agreement with Mosley, and think standard dietary advice is a mistake. The fact that people are getting fatter and fatter and type 2 diabetes is becoming more and more prevalent, suggests to me that standard mainstream dietary advice is a mistake. I don't think the counter-argument that people are exercising much less and are not really eating less fat, really stacks up.

So my own view is that we shouldn’t bother avoiding fat. Contrariwise, I'm of the opinion that it is a good idea to try and minimise sugar intake and refined carbs and other processed foods. By processed food I mean food where man has interfered and altered food from its natural state by adding sugar etc. I should think complex carbs will be absolutely fine. Although, on the subject of complex carbs, I’ve noticed I put on weight the next day after eating a lot of wholemeal bread! More so than when I eat my home-made oven chips.

The 5-2 diet seems more promising than other diets in addition to having various alleged health benefits. I managed to lose weight permanently by pursuing this diet. See a blog entry by me:

How to lose weight and keep it off permanently

How to lose weight and keep it off permanently



Thursday, 19 May 2016

The masks we wear

I think people put on masks, hide what they really are. A mask which one wears to gain acceptance amongst ones peers.

The thing is . . I don't think I really have a mask. I just say what I think; especially on facebook. My interests, my idiosyncrasies, my flippant comments, my fears concerning my health.

Thought Experiments

An interesting article about thought experiments here.

People do tend to ignore thought experiments. I get the strong impression that they think that thought experiments cannot tell us anything about actual reality. They are just riddles with no possible application to the real world.  To find out about reality we have to actually investigate it, not engage in armchair philosophising.


But this far from the truth.  As the article says:
Galileo devised a simple thought experiment that told us something profound about gravity. Take two weights, one light, one heavy. If heavier objects fall faster than light ones, as Aristotle said, then the lighter weight will lag behind. That implies that when the two are tied together, they will fall more slowly than the heavy weight alone. But together, they weigh more than the heavy alone, so they should fall faster. Wait, so is it faster or slower?

This is a great example which illustrates that just by thinking about something you can prove something necessarily must be true, or necessarily cannot be true. Just think that people for centuries thought that the rate at which objects fall is related to their weight. A simple thought experiment could have disabused them of this notion!

And this also disproves peoples' claim that only science tells us about the world and that philosophising is just a waste of time. Sorry, that just isn't true. George Berkeley in the early 18th Century advanced thought experiments showing the concept of absolute space was incoherent for example. But Newton's authority was too great, and he was simply ignored.  And it continues to this day. Some peoples' conviction that consciousness is wholly causally inefficacious for example.  Something which I have argued simply cannot be maintained as I argue here and here.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Playing video games when young

I remember when I was 14. Parents bought me a pong games console. I could beat everyone. I almost never missed hitting the ball. My dad and mam were absolutely hopeless and couldn't hit the ball at all. I just assumed it was because of their age! (they were 40 or thereabouts). But if I played again now I think I would be almost as good as when I was 14, and I'm much older than they were then. Maybe not quite as good as I was when I was 14 as I wouldn't put hours of practice in!
Me playing space invaders


Humans Will Have Cloud-Connected Hybrid Brains by 2030, Ray Kurzweil Says

From here:


By the end of 2030, our thinking should be almost entirely non-biological and able to function much like an external hard drive

This Ray Kurzweil guy is such a clown! Perhaps I too should make preposterous predictions and get the attention I crave.

Here's my prediction about virtual reality made a few months ago.








Sunday, 8 May 2016

Reality and Quantum Mechanics

Excellent! Yes it seems that reality can be conceptualised in quite differing distinct ways. Many mutually conflicting hypotheses might describe reality. It seems quite possible that aliens won't have compartmentalised reality anything like we have.

I definitely disagree that mathematics is a man made construct though. I think that it exists and that we discover it, we don't invent it.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Is the flow of time illusory?

I've just read the following article:

There is no death, only a series of eternal ‘nows’


How do we know that presentism (only the present or now exists) isn't correct? Wheeler's delayed choice experiment doesn't show that we can influence the past. It seems to me to suggest that our observations define the past -- that is make a particular past concrete. 

If the past (and future) exist just as much as the present, then this doesn't just mean my grandparents exist, but also my self of one second ago! It all seems kinda implausible.

And I'm not sure any sense can be made of the notion that the flow of time is an illusion. I experience change, both in the world around me and in my own mental states. It seems to me that "time flows" by definition (consciousness I suspect somehow creates the flow of time). And it is clear we will actually die, and indeed cease to exist, should the brain create consciousness.

Not that I do believe the brain creates consciousness. There are difficulties in supposing it does as I explain in a blog entry on my other blog:


Neither Modern Materialism nor Science as currently conceived can explain Consciousness

Neither Modern Materialism nor Science as currently conceived can explain Consciousness - See more at: http://ian-wardell.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/neither-modern-materialism-nor-science.html#sthash.4GdagbQR.dpuf


Neither Modern Materialism nor Science as currently conceived can explain Consciousness - See more at: http://ian-wardell.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/neither-modern-materialism-nor-science.html#sthash.4GdagbQR.dpuf