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Science and the supernatural

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Are supernatural powers explainable with science?

Someone observes a cooincidence in nature.

Auric perception - auras are energy flows that concentrate around all beings - including the perceptor. They are perceived and usually as one of the five senses - most commonly sight. They are not seen with the physical eyes. They manifest as halos, smells, ... it requires deep relaxation and concentration on the person being read. A person's imagination is able to create the phantom of almost any physical sensation; one explanation of auras is that they are a creation of the imagination. Does the aura reader see accurately? Some "colors" represent states of the being. Books on the subject: "Hands of Light" and "Light Emerging" by Barbara Brennan. Can sense the medical and emotional state of the subject. Perhaps strong visualization skills and unconscious analysis; perhaps an energy aura that burns different colors. All matter has aura energy surrounding it, but it's stronger the more alive and conscious the subject is. Two people thinking about one another will have energy streams connected to one another. Emotional hangups and problems can be visible as "lumps" and "patches" of dense color or "stuff" around a person. One who sees auras can see far beyond merely how a person feels right now, but their psychology and how they tend to react in difficult situations as well. Those who see auras tend to learn to not reveal what they are seeing since the total openness can be very unnerving to "regular people" who normally consider their problems and vices buried within themselves.

Then there are the "chakras", which are some sort of focused energy points along an energy column running down the center of a person. Each chakra is like a "power channel" for different general emotional, physical, spiritual aspects of a person. If a person is trying to avoid a personal problem at some level, the related chakras will close down and can indicate where physical problems may start developing because of the problem repression. The chakras can be very useful in helping a person to resolve personal problems since the energy flows work both ways.. helping to "clear" a chakra can help a person to resolve long-standing personal problems. (This must only be done with the recipient's ermission and desire for such healing.)

Additionally, those who can see auras can also see nonphysical spiritual beings. Auras seem to surround things with consciousness, so this includes spirits and spirit guides as well. For a person who sees auras, the question of the spiritual/energetic nature of the world probably does not occur, because they literally see the answer around themselves.

And for those who can see auras and the energy flows, they can learn to work with their own energy and direct it and work with it. It becomes possible to "charge" objects with intent, such a making a room more open and pleasing by giving the room and the objects a pleasant, friendly energy charge. For a healer, being able to see this stuff and direct their own energies can be extremely useful to help people resolve whatever it is that needs healing/clearing/opening in them.

The other item is that this understanding does not have to be "local". You do not necessarily have to be next to someone to see and know these things. In terms of normal seeing, can you see off in the distance? Can you see what is happening, and what people are doing around you without you having physically "be there"? In the same way, you can also see these energy flows and energy exchanges everywhere around you, too. Far beyond being a "people person" with those locally around you, you can also understand distant people around you without ever talking to them or getting to know them.

In that face of such an understanding, do I see people like myself who cannot see auras/chakras/energy-flows as lacking a greater understanding of the world around us? Yes, I do. Am I attempting to develop a greater sensory awareness so I too may be a part of this experience? Yes, I am. I am still trying to develop a basic sense of seeing auras. When I am lightly focusing and looking at my hands, I can see "something" around the edges similar to what Ms. Brennan describes as the earliest stages of seeing these energy flows. I see a translucent layer about 1/8th inch "thick" around the edges. All my tests so far suggest it is no "illusion" -- not an "afterimage", not a "color fringe", not due to bright/dark contrasts... Book-wise, I see myself as being in chapter 2 of Ms. Brennan's first book.. :)

Is a "modern scientific explanation" better than an "ancient cultural belief"? Or is pragmatism everything? "It gives me access to infomration that I can not obtain as easily by other observation." Why do people seek, or accept, supernatural explanations for phenomena which may be more simply explained with logic and science?

Divination

Double blind studies

Magic causes cooincidences

Spoon bending

Fraud

Focusing on chi centers to improve one's aikido performance

"Science" to scientists means a method of obtaining results, and the results so far obtained by that method by the worldwide community of its practicioners.

"Science" to people who engage in these kinds of debates means a certain metaphysical view of the world, which includes the aforementioned results, but also specifically excludes a lot of things which are really not addressed one way or another by those results. Science doesn't say you can't believe in aliens or ghosts. It has no opinion about aliens or ghosts, until such time as aliens or ghosts allow themselves to be studied in a scientific manner.

Science has vastly incomplete knowledge. There is so much that we don't even know we don't know. Noam Chomsky: "Teachers of language should not turn to scientists of language to find out how to teach languages. People have been teaching and learning languages for millennia, and scientists are only barely beginning to understand how language works (and are revising their theories about it constantly). The accumulated, popular, "unscientific" experience about how to teach language is likely to contain insights that will remain unaccessible to scientific inquiry for decades, simply because science must go very slowly and very carefully if it is going to be true to itself. To limit oneself to a merely scientific understanding of language teaching would be to cripple oneself."

Science cannot solve all human problems.

Why do people believe in metaphysical phenomena? "Well, I think the more we find out, the more we ralize that humanity just doesn't matter. If you are given this impression that you don't matter, you're going to ask why are you here then, and science just can't answer that."

ITs very hard to square the actual experience of living with the rational observational models that scientism creates. In point of fact, poetry often is more descriptive of that personal reality [as science is descriptive of inanimate objects]

Well it works, it gains results, further the metaphysics give many people answers science simply isn't equipped to find.

Let's take shamanism. Does science say there are spirits etc? Nope. But you know what it does say? That drumming causes changes in consciousness. That postures, used in shamanism and yoga for example, also produce changes in consciousness and brain function. Given the seemingly increasing evidence produced by science for a mind body link that's stronger than we generally suspect, I think we can see some interesting implications.

Feb 9, 1999 12:33 from Sysco

At the risk of making a fool of myself, I'm going to jump right into the middle of this debate. I agree with Gwynn that there is a strong mind body link that has been scientifically demonstrated. Read, for example, "The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat" by Oliver Sacks. However, I do not subscribe to the theory that these discoveries point to the existence of spirits. Far from it -- I see them as affirming the theory that the mind is nothing more or less than the brain functioning. Seen in this light it makes a lot of sense that when you change the brain's mode of functioning, there is a direct effect upon the mind.

My own belief is that our ideas of the soul and of spirits are theories about how the brain works -- fairly successful theories, too -- and that science is adding to our understanding of the soul when it grounds the soul in the functioning of the brain, not taking anything away. Modern scientific discoveries about the brain, in other words, I see as analogous to Einstein's extension of Newton's laws. Einstein corrected Newton, but Newton's laws are still valid in a wide range of conditions. Neurologists are correcting our theories of the soul, but our theories of the soul are still valid in a wide range of conditions.

Feb 9, 1999 12:44 from Bodhi Dharma

Except that neurology will always have a degree of error - how big is that error? And I've seen no solid reason to believe that the material world is all there is. Therefore, I have difficulty ruling out the possibility of spirits.

Feb 9, 1999 13:02 from Sysco

Bodhi - nice to hear from you again. Can you please elaborate on your question about what degree of error neurology will always have. I don't want to misinterpret what you mean by such a thing. Also, would you make clear how a degree of error would tend to cast doubt on the theory that the mind is the functioning of brain.

Ruling out the possibility of spirits is not what I'm trying to do. In fact I believe we each have our own spirit or soul, and when I say that I mean that I think the theory that we have souls is a good way of describing the way the mind works. Neuroscience is shedding light on the nature of the soul, not ruling the soul out. It's grounding the soul in the body. We're finding out more about the soul, in other words.

Feb 9, 1999 13:11 from Bodhi Dharma

From a historical perspective, change has been a constant part of all sciences - why should neurology be different? And if there were no error, then why would there be change? Also, even according to modern neurology, mind isn't simply the functioning of the brain but is a gestalt including the neural pathworks of the rest of the body.

Feb 9, 1999 13:16 from Sysco

Bodhi - You seem to be defending a claim that I have not made (namely, that scientific theories are a perfect representation of reality). Are you implicitly arguing that because we can't know everything perfectly, we haven't really learned anything at all about the soul through the scientific method? What is the point you are trying to make by bringing up error? What part of my statement do you thing is shown to be wrong in light of this error? Please clarify for me... I want to understand!

Yes, I agree that the mind is the functioning of the brain, /including/ the sensory and motor connections carried throughout the body. Cutting the brain off at the spine would be a scientific error as well as a moral one. :) Of course you can carry that to an extreme and consider the rest of the body and even the environment around the body to be a part of the brain. While there are no definite boundaries anywhere between the brain and the world, it is useful to focus your study upon the brain and the nervous system when you want to learn about the soul, because the mind is most affected by the brain (and so loosely speaking the brain is the seat of the mind). For example, if you suspend the workings of the sensory receptors at the tip of my thumb, my mind may be aware of it but I will not experience the profound change in mind that would occur if you suspended the workings of the left hemisphere of the cerebrum. In short, I was speaking loosely, but truly, when I said the mind is the functioning of the brain.

Feb 9, 1999 13:37 from Maccabeus

Sysco> In what way does this enhancement of your understanding of the soul by thinking of it in terms of brain function affect beliefs in life after death? I think that's what a fair number of people are thinking of when they accuse psychobiologists or whatever one might call them of denying the soul.

Feb 9, 1999 13:42 from Gwynn

To be sure, most traditions of the soul, Norse paganism and Mongolian shamanism to name two I'm familiar with, postulate multiple souls or multiple soul components, similarly to the way we think of brain function. There is for example simple lifeforce, that thing that makes us alive ,then there's what we now call consciousness, etc. So I agree with the expanding of our understanding aspect. But I do think that these traditions also postulate somethign metaphysical, the life after death aspect for example, that shouldn't be ignored just because it's not "scientific".

Feb 9, 1999 13:31 from Fighter Pilot

Gwynn: You did say however that you believe that you have an effect on the observable world. Moreover, you indicated that these effects happen more often than not. To be true, that should be able to stand up to scientific rigor. If it does, then you may have something that should be persued further. If it does not, then there is another explanation.

Is anecdotal evidence of value?

Feb 9, 1999 14:14 from Bodhi Dharma

Sysco> I have not claimed that you have made the claim that scientific theories are a perfect representation of reality. What I have done (and ALL that I've done) is bring up the fact that they aren't. As for whether the scientific method has shown us anything about the soul, I imagine that different people will have different opinions on this and that their disagreements will come down, largely, to the question of what constitutes a 'soul'.

Fighter Pilot> The fact (or opinion?) that certain phenomena can be explained in certain 'established' ways does not validate the fact that they can be seen in other ways as well. For example, as a martial artist, I've experienced ki/chi phenomena. The unbendable arm is one such phenomena. The unbendable arm can be understood using fairly sophisticated physiology. It can also be understood using models of ki/chi flow. The fact that it can be explained using physiology does not invalidate the fact that it can be understood using ki/chi flow.

Feb 9, 1999 13:49 from Sysco

Long before the scientific method was conceived, each culture had its own ideas about whether the soul survived death and, if so, what was its ultimate destination. If the scientific method theorizes that there is no life after death -- and that is a claim I dispute -- it is not alone.

For example, the Bible records the traditional Jewish belief that we return to the earth when we die. That place beneath the earth is called Sheol. Sometimes the earth will swallow someone up alive and they go down alive into Sheol, but they then meet the same fate as anyone else: Sheol is where we lie and the worms cover us; we are forgotten; our lives are at an end; it is the lodging you wish on your enemies; death feeds on us and we decay; it is inevitable; going there is a matter of sorrow and anguish; there is no working, and no knowledge there. One of the greatest wishes God could grant us is to deliver us from there. This is often prayed for in Jewish poetry recorded in the Bible. In short, all die and there is no life after death. Death is corruption, and if in this tradition there is a soul which survives the worms, it sleeps endlessly except should God decide to deliver us.

Please, therefore, do not lay the denial of the soul at the feet of the scientists.

But there is nothing about neurobiology or neuropsychiatry which denies life after death. If, however, the brain is the seat of the mind, then when the brain decays so will the mind. I know of no scientific research into what else may still exist of the human personality after the brain decays, but that's because there's little or no clinical evidence to study. Provide scientists with some hard evidence that tends to confirm (or deny) the survival of a soul beyond body's death, and science will study it. After all, there's at least a Nobel Prize in it. ;-)

Feb 9, 1999 14:31 from Sysco

Bodhi - yes, you've brought up the point that theories are not a perfect representation of reality. But you brought it up in the context of my statements about the mind being the brain's function. You introduced your point as an "except that". So you seem to be bringing that point up to challenge my theory that the mind is the brain's function. And I am perfectly willing to consider your challenge -- you might be right, after all. What I am asking you to clarify is: in what way do you think your point does challenge my theory? /Why/ did you bring up the point?

Feb 9, 1999 14:32 from Bodhi Dharma

Sysco> Who was laying denial of the soul at the feet of the scientists?? Curiously, though, not all Judaism posits the end to be the grave. Lurianic philosophy, for example, posits reincarnation. Further, the question remains 'is the brain the seat of the mind', further 'is the mind the seat of the soul?'

Feb 9, 1999 14:34 from Sysco

Bodhi - what you say about the unbendable arm is a very good case of two theories that, while they may contradict each other in some ways, can also be seen as complementary. The unbendable arm is explained both by human physiology as understood by western medicine, and by chi flow as understood by eastern mysticism (maybe that's not an accurate label but I hope my overall point is clear). There is no reason not to frame western medicine as a complementary, not a conflicting, theory explaining the unbendable arm. In fact it seems to me as if a better understanding of the human body could be got by unifying the two approaches, not by discarding the mystical theory in toto.

Feb 9, 1999 14:40 from Bodhi Dharma

Sysco> I've always been inclined to approach things from mutually complimentary and opposite angles. I think it is because I am one of those people who use both sides of their brain about equally (to the point that I have Darwin's disease). When I see people use a fairly tight definition or paradigm towards a subject, it is my first response to bring up the opposite paradigm it look at how it compares/contrasts to what has been presented. Therefore, when you brought up the narrow approach of neurophysiology, it was my first response to bring up the opposite position - not as a challenge, but as a means to balance the perspectives.

Feb 9, 1999 14:38 from Sysco

Bodhi - Maccabeus said he thinks "a fair number of people" accuse scientists of denying the soul lives after death, as a consequence of finding the ground of the soul in brain function. I would say to that fair number of people that there are far more ancient traditions which deny life after death and find no contradiction between that belief and their personal experience. It may be that seating the soul in the brain does imply the soul dies when the brain does, but the scientists didn't dream this up.

On a different point, I agree with you that at some point different conceptions of what the soul is are also going to lead to different conclusions about whether it survives the death of the body. What I mean by the soul is the personality and mind of a living person, which I do not believe survives in any coherent way after death. For me, that precludes the objective possibility that anyone can actually communicate with the disembodied spirit of someone who has died.

On the other hand, I would not deny the importance, legitimacy, and practical value of the subjective belief that one has communicated with the spirit world. As Gwynn pointed out, what's important is the practical value of the experience, and it's not always the case that the primary importance is to define a scientific theory which explains the experience perfectly. Sometimes the primary importance is the experience itself.

Also, many aspects of a person's personality are inherited by family and friends, and survive the bodily death. Creative works also survive, and those are surely endowed with a measure of the personality that created them. The soul in that sense I would say survives bodily death.

Feb 9, 1999 14:50 from Sysco

Bodhi - in what sense is the imperfection of a scientific theory an opposite position to it? It seems to me that the scientific method includes and embraces the notion that none of its truths are permanent, that theories are a map, not the territory? I don't see that as a different perspective, but simply a fair characterization of science that scientists themselves would agree to.

Feb 9, 1999 15:03 from Sysco

Darwin's disease? Where would a discussion of that be on topic? It is my understanding that Darwin's disease is caused by a tropical parasite. See http://www.unb.ca/psychology/likely/voyage/lujan.htm I'll refrain from discussing this point further here.

Feb 9, 1999 15:21 from Bodhi Dharma

Perhaps I am misremembering the correct terminology. Darwin's disease as its been explained to me is the inability to make rapid distinctions between left/right directions brought about by a balanced or nearly balanced use of the two hemispheres of the brain. If I am mistaken, *grin* please excuse me for having egg on my face. The imperfection of scientific theory is a counterbalance to the ever popular opinions of 'scientism' - that if it doesn't make scientific sense, then it doesn't make sense at all.

Feb 9, 1999 15:40 from Bodhi Dharma

FP> I'm not sure that you have to have some discreetly defined spiritual beliefs to be a good martial artist. Remember that I've said that the unbendable arm could be explained both by fairly sophisticated forms of physiology and by models of chi/ki flow. Does it matter how you explain it? At this point in my development, based on my experience, I'd have to say probably not. (although it is interesting to point out that the head of the Kempo Ryu I'm in believes that it does matter, that the most skilled Pentjak Silat and Kali practioners I know say it matters, and that there are things about Chi/Ki flow which are currently unexplainable using existing science).

btw, the unbendable arm is a practice by which, as the name suggests, the arm becomes as strong as iron though the muscles are essentially relaxed. It is often found in Aikido/Aikijutsu and similar arts.

Feb 9, 1999 15:55 from Sysco

I don't know if balanced hemispheres is also called Darwin's disease, but I do remember taking some test or other once upon an eon, which described me as hemisphere balanced. So let's think up some good name for it and start a mutual admiration society. :)

Regarding the imperfection of scientific theory -- you may be counterbalancing "scientism" but I'll suggest that by doing so you are looking past my actual position, which doesn't seem to have much in common with the notion that if it doesn't make scientific sense, then it doesn't make sense at all. At times when I'm trying to explore spiritual or "magical" frames of mind, I don't apply science. I apply science after the experience is over, to make sense of it from an additional perspective.

Feb 9, 1999 16:40 from Gwynn

FP: Yes, generally I dismiss yes/no questions, because they're too simplistic. But once you get beyond that, you get into the realm of scientifically unverifiable, like I said.

To take another example besides Iraq, let's say a friend comes to me and asks about their job. I do the rune deal, and tell them it looks like something cool's coming their way. A week later they get promoted, or a raise, or something. Or better yet, six months later. Is this a valid result for you?

Feb 9, 1999 22:19 from DeMari

This is a tangent that may or may not be useful.

As an occultist I have long had an uneasy grasp of spirits. I was unsure if the existed or were metaphor for energy or types of knowledge or some amalgam of the three.

I was recently studying a kabbalistic text and was hit with a small epiphany on this subject. For at least some cabalists, the fundamental energy of the angel or demon in question is the spirit. In other words, they understand it similarly to what I might have called metaphor, but in that world view, the spirit is absolutely real. Thus to say there is not angels is to assert that there is not light, love, strength, beauty, etc. Say such a thing to a person who holds these views he will consider you an idiot. Most 20th century mass culturated people will asume that he is merely being quaint. Niether are true.

What is faced here is a set of different paradigms in the same language. If you do not accept the terms as offered, it makes no sense at all -- not because one side is wrong [or right] but because in their lack of humility, they have failed to understand exactly what the other person is saying and insist on understanding a wholey different and alien point.

Feb 10, 1999 11:00 from Fighter Pilot

Sure Gwynn like I said in a previous post, although I personally believe that spiritual answers are wrong, if I were given proof that you get more accurate results that with any other completly random method, then I would be persuaded to believe that there was something to it. In fact if you were to tell me that the rune method were to give you significantly more incorrect results than with any other method, then I would be inclined to believe there were something to it as well. But there is absolutely no clear evidence of that.

In fact, it could be more likely for you to be able to interpret your answers as being correct than incorrect given that they are rather vague. You could get that something good is going to happen at your job. I hope so, or I don't think that I'd be working there much longer. But if you were to come up with, three weeks from now, your boss will come up and say "hey you're a super cool guy, I'm going to give you a raise, oh and you get to move into your own office." And three weeks later it happens just like you say, well then you just hay have something.

I'm reminded of another thing I once watched. A class was told one week that they were each going to get a personalized psychic reading based on some information that they provided (b days, etc.). A week later a guy shows up and hands all of these personalized readings out to the class and asks everyone to read it without showing it to anyone. He asked who in the class (a college class btw, if it matters) who thought that the reading was half right. A couple of people thought that it was. One or two thought that it was completely wrong. A few thought that it was mostly right. About 99 percent of the class thought it was completely exactly right. The guy then had everyone pass the personalized reading to someone else. Much to everyone's surprise, the readings were exactly the same. They were just so vague and flattering that most everyone interpreted them as being correct. Were they? Not in more than the vaguest sense.

Feb 10, 1999 11:18 from Faunus

There's a lot of research on the mechanisms behind psychic readings of the kind you mention, FP. There's a text out there called "a guide to cold reading" which discusses it in detail.

The basic phenomenon is that contrary to popular belief, meaning is something we bring to words, not something that resides in it. And what meaning we bring is based on context and circumstances.

The same sentence spoken by two different people whom you *know* to hold two different beliefs will be interpreted in two different ways.

If you believe that someone has privileged information about the contents of your mind, you will interpret their words as referring to that privileged information, and it will not always be apparent that that was something you brought to the words, not something the words had inherent in them -- because that is the normal process of communication.

They don't even need to be *all that vague*. Ordinary communication is vague anyway -- because people can usually be reliably counted on to assign the correct meanings to words based on context. (On real life, that "context" includes nonverbal communication, for example. On the BBS, that is lost, and so it's much easier to mis-attribute meanings.)

I'm not sure how directly relevant this is to Gwynn's rune readings, but it's interesting stuff nonetheless.

Feb 10, 1999 22:31 from DeMari

Interesting indeed. Especially when you ask yourself the question that must proceed all attemtps to measure or evaluate the accuarcy of a reading. Which is how would this sort fo cold reading be externally different from a genuine psychic experience. [I am willing to bet my pocket change that it wouldn't be very different

I think that the real differnce in these paradigms is whether or not you expect the world to astonishing or expect it to be dull. I choose to see it as an unfolding of miracles.

Feb 11, 1999 02:07 from Luciferian

SCientific method cannot be used to prove magic, people have been trying to do ti for years. Scientific method cannto be used to prove that a given substance causes cancer. Scientific method cannot be used to evaluate intellegence.

In all of the above instances science can postulate theories and identify trends. This doesnt prove anything but it does give you a good idea of whats going on. So does tarot.

The favored publication that predicts wall-street stock trends for several years in a row was (and may still be I'm not sure) an astrological paper. Astrology and tarot adn many magical systems do give a pretty good idea of whats going on, but they opperate on a different logical system than scientific method.

Using runes, or tarot, or astrology, or flipping a coin or swinging a pedulumn or whatever - cause and effect are not always clear.

Every Magician will straight up admit that the subconcious mind plays a huge part in all magical proccesses. They will usually also say that there is something more. If a spell becomes a self fullfiling prophesy - it still works.

Magic can fail within its own system of refrence, its important to keep in mind.

Personally subjectivity annnoys the hell out of me, which is why i am currently trying to reduce the subjectivity of my own tarot as much as possible. If I reduce the influence of my own subjective interpertation from the readings than I maximize the influence of the greater forces at work. If I cant reduce the subjectivity than I'm going to try to get more specific in my readings, so far doing both has produced undeniable results, I'm getting really good.

I think the greater forces at work in tarot, or any divination system, are described to some degree in both magical writings and currents quantum theory.

Microcosm - macrocosm, as above so below. Any smaller system should ten to resemble the larger system, this is seen in chaos thoery of analysis of impossibly large systems like the weather. Computer simulatons will tend to resemble the larger strom system and will give a trained meteorologist and good idea of where its going to go and how long it will last. Ths far from exact, and in a strictly scientific sense whether prediction really doesnt work. But we overlook that adn satisfy ourselves with a "30% chance of rain".

Schrodingers Cat, not sure about the speeling, but the idea of this expirament was that ^okay i really suk at typing The expirament with the cat was wierd because it really crosses the line between scientific theory and paradign altering philosophy, but the modern result of the expirament is that quantum thoery now accepts that sub-atomic particles are altered just by people observing them. This has since been veified by many scientists. Just by paying atention to a particle people can affect where it actually exists. This seriously warps the line between observing something and actively trying to alter it.

Magical practice involves alot of focussing on things to change them, developing the ability to concentrate on a given situation unitl things go your way. You can do it with magic spells or with phone calls, your only real concern when asking yourself "did my spell work?" should be "did I get what i want?"

Magic focuses on the objective, not the means, and ignores the distintion between cause and effect as well as the difference between passively observing and actively altering a situation.

Scientific evaluation is not going to work, but it does make sense.

Feb 14, 1999 01:23 from Fighter Pilot

Luciferian:

Scientific method can no better prove magic than it can prove the existence of god. You see God and the mechanisms of magic (ie supernatural forces not slight of hand) are just by definition inherently unobservable. And both god and magic are claimed by their believers to be able to alter scientific results and observations at a whim. Not a very strong basis to set up any scientific argument for either.

Keep in mind that science cannot prove that the earth is round or that the moon orbits the earth. However, by our observations of shadows on different parts of the earth and that we can see only the masts of tall ships as they sail out to sea; we can form a theory that the earth is round. And as we are able to gather more information we can either accept our earlier theory or modify it to be able to conform to our newest observations.

You say that tarrot, runes, astrology, and magic "give a pretty good idea of what is going on." But your claims are completely unsubstantiated. However, convienently, when someone asks to observe these claims, they scatter and are impossible to pinpoint simply because they are being observed (even if the observations come after the fact in say a simple survey). Then we are told that this is to be expected since we can't say with certianty the precise location of sub atomic particles.

I'm not too sure where the subject of computer simulations of weather versus the actual weather comes into play. There are so many things that affect the weather. Our limitation is understanding and incorporating them all into a computer simulation. The more accurate the computer simulations are, the more accurately they would portray the weather.

But like I said before, that differs completely from any study of magic, tarrot, runes, astrology or whatever. Again believers say that you can't even observe the results with accuracy simply because you're trying to observe them. Not a very solid foundation.

Feb 14, 1999 08:40 from Lady Sadomasochist

I was under the impression that scientific method was used to prove the cause of what ordinarily would be considered "magic" - the old tenet being simply that magic is simply what science hasn't found an explanation for. The examples of divination I don't think really apply -- that's not so much about science as it is about mathematic probability.

Feb 14, 1999 11:13 from DeMari

FIGHTER PILOT:

Can we review this argument? I must be missing something.

"Scientific method can no better prove magic than it can prove the existence of god. You see God and the mechanisms of magic (ii supernatural forces not slight of hand) are just by definition inherently unobservable.

and

"You say that tarrot,[sic] runes, astrology, and magic "give a pretty good idea of what is going on." But your claims are completely unsubstantiated. However, convienently, when someone asks to observe these claims, they scatter and are impossible to pinpoint simply because they are being observed (even if the observations come after the fact in say a simple survey). "

Not only are these contradictory, but more important you are guilty of erecting straw men and depending on appeal to authority in your argument. (which is bad logic and bad logic leads to bad science) You refer to an unnamed study that you imply refutes claims [such as mine] that the method of divination permits me to have a more clear understanding of social and emotional interactions than I get from simple observation.

First, The reference to the unnamed study serves no purpose other than to say that " I am right because I agree with authorities who are smarter than us". Nonsense.

Second, Your election to assert that there are people refusing observation with a particular argument is a straw man. I missed the user that made that particular argument and you are not responding to any particular individual, but to a straw man opponent. [for other's see below]

Third, no third party observation is capable of telling me about what happens in my internal world. This is one of those incidents when scientific observation fails [as per your first point].

As an aside, I was speaking with a professor of psychology a few years ago who was telling me of studies that indicate that couples who date are usually within 2 or three points of the same I.Q. score. This he pointed out, means that a drunk college sophomore sitting on a bar stool can determine I.Q. more accurately in about 2 minutes than a doctor of psychology can in a couple of hours with a battery of tests. The point here is that there are skill and abilities that humans have that are far above "rational methods" They are especially acute in the social arena. Your point is, apparently, that no method can enhance them. Your basis for that assertion is . . . . what?

Other Straw men:

" And both god and magic are claimed by their believers to be able to alter scientific results and observations at a whim."

who made that argument? Never heard such a thing. I believe in magic and it is not a matter of whim. Its work.

More nonsense:

"Keep in mind that science cannot prove that the earth is round or that the moon orbits the earth. However, by our observations of shadows on different parts of the earth and that we can see only the masts of tall ships as they sail out to sea; we can form a theory that the earth is round. "

What the hell do you mean when you say proof? The argument you deny is proof is a matter of mathematical certainty and should be solvable by any high school geometry student. If that isn't proof for you, why do you have any faith in science?

"I'm not too sure where the subject of computer simulations of weather versus the actual weather comes into play. There are so many things that affect the weather. Our limitation is understanding and incorporating them all into a computer simulation. The more accurate the computer simulations are, the more accurately they would portray the weather.

But like I said before, that differs completely from any study of magic, tarrot, runes, astrology or whatever. "

Okay, How are they different. weather is more complex than human behavior? How come is it that you make excuses for the failure of the scientific model to nail a conclusion and are hostile to an alternate method that has similar problems. This is annoying not just because you disagree with me but because you do not hold yourself to a rational standard while excoriating others for failing to do so.

BTW, I am the last person who should criticize others spelling. I am dyslexic and misspell quite regularly. I percieve a common error signaled by your writting and for your possible edification the word is tarot [Ta Roh] and it is neither spelled nor pronounced like carrot. Assuming that you knew that and hit the wrong keys, I apologize for mentioning it.

Feb 14, 1999 12:29 from Da Pharaoh

The truth of the matter is that science (the scientific metod) is provisional. IT NEVER PROVES ANYTHING. There is always room for change. What science does is increase our confidence that certain things may or may not be fact. But, science NEVER overthrows the chance, however slight, that some phenomena may be explained another way.

I believe that as poverty increases, crime increases (positive correlation). If I use science in my observations, as many studies have, this increases my confidence that my hypothesis is correct. However, someone can come along later and show:

1. As poverty increases, crime DECREASES. (negative correlation 1)

2. As poverty decreases, crime increases. (negative correlation 2)

3. As Republicans win in office, both poverty and crime increases. (spurious correlation)

4. As poverty increase, crime increases, to a point, however after poverty if poverty keeps increasing, crime begins to decrease, because no one has anything worth stealing (curvilinear correlation).

5. Thereis no relationship between poverty and crime (null hypothesis).

I believe spirits exist. Science can improve or lessen my confidence in that nelief, however science can NEVER uphold or overthrow that idea for all time. That is not what science is all about, nor should it be.

Feb 14, 1999 12:26 from Fighter Pilot

In what way are those two statements contradictory? Magic and tarot (thanks for the correction) are unobservable because when they are observed the outcomes change...according to arguments made on here by others. I will concede that I am appealing to a study that I once saw. However, it's not one that refutes my claims but supports them. You just said that you did a study that supports your claims. As I've said before, I'd be more than willing to hear about that study. All that I've heard so far is "I think, I believe, It is my opinion" (from Gwynn) that magic etc. works. Not exactly a sound argument of support.

That aside is interesting. I'm not sure if that's suppose to be a support for magic...but I'm guessing that it isn't...but rather (^supposed) an example of how science can be faulty. That is true. Especially in instances where we know very little about what we are studying. But as we gain knowledge, our scientific hypothesis become closer and closer to the truth.

I will also concede that you are correct in saying that science can't tell you what happens in your "internal world"...not directly. But observations can indicate what is going on. We can tell by observations that someone is schizophrenic or that someone depressed etc. without knowing exactly what goes on in their "internal world" exactly.

Regardless of how hard you claim magic to be, you still claim to be able to alter the observable world. Whim does not denote any degree of difficulty in this case. Please note that other than that you don't deny my argument of this point.

To say that science can't prove the earth to be round is true that if we were to find compelling arguments to the contrary we would be forced to abandon that theory. All the evidence we have supports us, but that does not mean proof.

Sorry I'm still failing to understand the weather example. I make no excuses for the failure of the scientific method. In the case of weather I see no failure. We can't be 100% accurate especially when it comes to long-term predictions with the weather. Does that mean it fails? Not at all. On the other hand can magic etc. be shown to work as claimed? There is no evidence of that so far. If you do have proof that magic etc. works, I would certianly like to hear it.

Sorry about the previous (and current) errors in spelling or grammar. I was aware of the pronunciation of tarot, but not the spelling. But please if you see any other errors, let me know.

Feb 14, 1999 12:54 from Gwark

Fighter Pilot> Weather is not predictable beyond about 5 days, no matter how much computing power and/or precision you have, at least that is the current theory (although general trends can be predicted, but this is a little different) as far as I know. The problem is what that weather happens to have a sensitive dependence on initial condtions. This means that if you start from two nearby points, their behavior/location diverges exponentially. This implies that unless you have _exact_ initial conditions (which is not possible for us at this point and perhaps not ever) you cannot expect your model to accurately predict what will happen, even if you have command over all of the mechanisms which are effecting things.

That said, I am not sure what this might have to do with human behavior except that it also probably has a similar sort of sensitive dependence. If this is the case, it probably would not be unreasonable to expect to make predictions about general trends in a person's behavior, but it is probably impossible to make highly accurate predictions of specific behaviors beyond a very limited scope.

Feb 14, 1999 13:09 from C Brachyrhynchos

Of course there are various ways of interpreting Tarot.

For a magical explanation, Tarot relies on the belief that the Macrocosm is mirrored in the Microcosm. (The world is mirrored in the individual or the deck.) Thus the Tarot describes current conditions and probable outcomes.

For a psychological explanation, Tarot is a symbolic system for describing \ situations and events. The spread its self is a brainstorming technique. Even if the spread is random, the interpreter may see the situation from a different point of view.

Feb 14, 1999 15:13 from Scalar

http://www.altered-states.net/bio/aura1.htm

As best I can tell, this is a aura imaging system based on the concept of "holographic duplication". Have you seen those reflexology charts which show how certain regions of the hands, feet, ears, etc are all connected to the condition of other body parts?

This aura imaging system appears to be based on that concept. It uses two "hand detectors" to extrapolate the status of the rest of the body/aura. Each detector consists of multiple little conductive plates placed under each hand. The plates probably detect the GSR (galvanic skin response) across minute portions all over each hand, and can then map out the GSR levels as a 2D map across the hand. These tiny interrelationships are then probably used with reflexology data to extrapolate the status of the rest of the body and the aura.

Feb 14, 1999 16:14 from Scalar

Hmm, it just occurred to me that perhaps an aura detector might also be built by using two finely-focused E/M (or scalar) antennas to triangulate points in space and build up energy readings over time. By using triangulation, if we do not receive the same signal at each antenna, we can reject the signal as noise from before or beyond the target area.

Alas, since this is a serial mapper involving physically repositing the antennas for each point, the field might change before the detector could manage to map out the entire area.

It would be faster to use stationary sensors, arranged into two 2D planes to map out a floating 3D cube of space.. Then read off the sensors in each plane in rapid succession, going down the plane. No moving parts, and high-speed mapping is possible. Only problem is keeping all the individual detectors balanced and equally sensitive. but that should be managable by placing a reference transmitter at each intersection and tuning all receivers for the same energy levels. Also the calibration would require that the transmitter be held by a tripod rather than a human, since the biopresence of a person could affect the calibration adjustment.

The data would be sent to a computer for analysis. There are a variety of possible methods here, from simple signal-strength-detection at a single wavelength, to full-spectrum mapping of each point. The latter would require either lots of money (for an individual spectrum analyzer per detector) or lots of careful tuning (to develop a signal-switching network for routing detected signals to just two spectrum analyzers.. one for each plane of sensors).

The detected signals would be passed on to a computer for comparison, and the results mapped as a three-dimensional cube onscreen. The intensity might be mapped as brightness and the major frequency (assuming spectrum analysis) mapped as a color. The computer could then perform interpolation to create a "generalized image map" of the spaces between the detected points. This would not be a very accurate analysis, but would allow a person to see any general shapes in the field.

For ease of analysis, there should be a number of view controls available, such as rotating the 3D sensor map and picking out particular colors/frequencies for observation.

The only "difficulty" is that the 3D map will not show a human form, so a reference "stick man wireframe" inside thr 3D map might be necessary to make it easier to understand what is being seen on the screen.

    C||. . . 1
  B '||. . . 2
A ' '||. . . 3
' ' '||. . . 4
' ' '||. . . 5
' ' '  D E F
' '
'

Also transport would be bulky, though it could be modular, with the receivers mounted on two rigid panels which lock into slots on the corner post. A strut might be used from A1 to F1 to keep the sensors properly aligned.

Feb 14, 1999 16:35 from Faunus

Fighter Pilot and DeMari and Gwynn and Otherso:

It seems to me this argument has not yet left the area of vapid generalization for more than brief moments. I suspect this is because at least one participant has chosen for a domain of discussion matters of such generality that they cannot but be discussed in vague nonsense, and other participants have been drawn into this arena of futile debate.

I suspect focusing. Fighter Pilot, since it seems to be you against the world, you have the privilege of narrowing the debate. Are there any more specific claims you'd like to make than you've made so far? Let us take Runes. Would you like to tell us precisely what you think can or cannot be accomplished by means of such sortilege? As the essay questions always say, "be brief; specific."

Feb 14, 1999 19:12 from Scalar

Continuing this line of thought, we first need to figure out what an aura energy IS. We don't know the frequencies or energies involved, so for the first stage we are going to have to do some basic exploration.

I would start with a simple 2-detector triangulation unit, designed to cover a broad range of vibrational spectrum with adjustable sensitivity, and attempt to find ways in which I can detect the presence of a living biological object.. my hand, for example.

I would then ask for help from someone who is able to see auras (and work with auras to heal people), and ask them to try and "focus/change" the energy in the detector area to see if I can then detect a change in the local space. Asking for this help seems reasonable to me since I cannot afford the time and expense of building a sensor array and then throw it away if it happens to not cover the frequency bands in which auras exist.

It would be far easier to simply, humbly, ask that a "spiritually sighted" person help me at least detect something on one set of triangulation sensors before I go on to build the fullscale version. In this case, it would not be a situation of me trying to "prove" that auras exist, but merely to detect SOMETHING, anything, at all.

Or here's a possible extended-detector method: The Scalar/EMF dual detector A dual sensor array to cover both the normal EMF and the scalar frequency bands, using one set of panels to triangulate EMF while the other set of panels triangulates scalars..

EMF ===O-----
       |       |
       |  (X)  |              (X) is area being scanned
       |       |
         ------O=== Scalar

Further yet, it would probably be helpful to carry out these experiments in a faraday cage to prevent EMF noise problems.

There has been a suggestion that a faraday cage carrying a high-voltage charge can also block scalar energy. In this way a truly "quiet" testing environment could be created, but the task of isolating a faraday cage to allow it to safely carry a high-voltage charge is obviously not easy to achieve..

Feb 14, 1999 22:08 from Gwynn

FP:

Not really, I'm with Faunus. Your claim is "science says magic is wrong" or something to that general effect, but then you sort of back off from it "well science can't really PROVE anything, it just sorta ..." If science doesn't "prove" anything, then you can't attack anybody for believing in auras or runes or magic or little pixies sprinkling fairydust. You may think it's highly improbable, you may not personally believe in it, but by your own admision, you can't entirely rule it out either.

Which means all you've been saying for this whole thing boils down to"it looks to me as though magic etc. is rationally unsupportable, and I don't believe in it. Won't you come and join me, all you people who believe in it now?" You're making a vague personal preference kind of statement. So like Faunus said .. be brief, be specific.

Oh BTW, here's something specific for you. The weather and particle comparisons work thusly. Weather is impossible to accurately predict beyond a certain point. Human behavior is most likely the same way. So for say divination, a random method is used in hopes that it more correctly mirrors the random actions involved, or as somebody said, the macrocosm is mirrored in the microcosm.

Now for the particle bit and the uncertainty principle. Your theory seems to run thusly. "If you do maic/divination, I can observe it, just as Id observe a chemical reaction. My observation will have no effect on the outcome." We're saying that, as in the case of particles, or say anthropological research, your presence and observation will in fact have an effect on the outcome and the process. Why is this so hard for you to grasp? It seems perfectly reasonable to me.

Feb 15, 1999 00:17 from Fighter Pilot

Let's be clear about this Gwynn, I said that there is no support for magic, not that magic has been shown to be wrong. Like I've said constantly, if you've got the support, then show it. Keep in mind though saying that "I think, I believe, it is my opinion" that these things work just won't cut it.

Try not to get too hung up on the word proove. Like I said, science can't proove anything even that the earth is round or that the earth goes around the sun or universal gravitation simply because it only takes one credible observation to the contrary to change our way of thinking completely. You are absolutely right, I cannot rule out the existence of the magic properties or even (?) "little pixies sprinkling fairydust". And again, if you have any evidence that supports runes or tinkerbell then spread the word, since the world could surely benefit in some great way from that evidence.

Okay so the weather and human behavior is hard to predict. Impossible? That remains to be seen. So you're saying that since it is so hard to prove, we are better off representing it with a random method. Geeze that would work good with the lottery then huh? I mean what with it being impossible to predict the future numbers and all. I suppose I could set up a random number generator to more accurately predict what the numbers will be...you know "macrocosm mirrored in the microcosm". Sounds like a money maker, why don't you try it.

Okay about the quantum uncertianty principle. You are making one assumption that isn't necessarily true. Namely that it is necessary to observe a "maic/divination" under a microscope so to speak. The observation can come as an after the fact study of the claims and results. You say you are able to have some substantial outcomes on people or things using magic. Certianly, you have some evidence of that. More than I was wondering if my frined was going to show up tonight or tomorrow, so I went to the runes and what do you know it said tomorrow and it was right.

Just as a side note Gwynn, you should probably read what I say rather than reading into what I say. I don't mind you quoting what I do say, but quoting what I don't say and trying to pass it off as my own thoughts is more than just a little annoying. Again it stems down to the tactics of making me out to be the big bad guy who is trying to trample all over everyone. And as I said in a previous post, that's an interesting tactic. Kind of reminds me of name calling. You're not right cause you're a poop head. Good one.

Feb 15, 1999 02:43 from Scalar

All talk, but no action.

Let's get specific, shall we? Fighter Pilot, what specific forms of "proof" do you want? What would be acceptable to you?

1. Proof of concept. Magick just works but we don't know why.

2. Proof of aura/energy. Something is there but we don't know what.

3. Proof of aura/energetic change. Something is changing the local environmental energy levels but we don't know how.

It sounds as if the studies which already have demonstrated "something is there" or "this stuff really works" are either "not good enough for you" or you refuse to even look at these studies. In which case, personal testing in really the only option left for you.

Do you have the background necessary to perform your own "proper scientific exploration" of magick/auras? Can you manage to suspend your judgementalism long enough to not scare off any worthwhile test subjects? Are you willing to "get real" and put your own time and money into such an exploration to obtain electronics monitoring/recording equipment, building any necessary sensor hardware, doing classified ads looking for test subjects, providing a warm, friendly, "homely" space to run the tests, etc?

Or do you merely want to rant about "No proof!" in here and not do anything like trying to perform some actual tests?

Feb 15, 1999 02:18 from Luciferian

        Magic got me this job. I had been without a job for several months and
got sick of it. I put some serious energy into a magical working to get a job
and the next day I was offered a position at telegroup doing network trouble
analysis by a friend of mine. Of course I still had interview and go through
the usual gauntlet fo tests in the corporate selection proccess, but I knew I
would get it, the magic worked.
        tarot told me the girl I was seeing was going to start fucking around
with somebody else. it was a pretty straightforward reading. It came true.
After magical working our relationship has to a large degree been restored.
        I once used magical techniques in dealing with a madman downtown who
was chasing a friend of mine with a big stick. I grounded, centered, and
intoned his name. He stopped chasing my friend. I told him to sit down, he did.
I focused as much energy on him as I could and told him what he was doing was
ridiculous and that he should gho home. he did.
        about 2 years ago my sister was attacked downtown by a guy from ames on
PCP. SHe came into the coffee shop I was hanging out in with my friends and
told me what had happen. We took of looking for the guy but he was no where to
be found. We split up into group and spread out looking for him. I realized he
could have gone anywhere, I meditated for a few moments and focused on him, I
then walked into the library and found him hiding behind the computers. Nik and
I ended up beating him into submission in the library lobby, when the cops
showed up they thanked us, it took 4 of them to get him into a car, he broke
Niks arm. He was convicted on about 6 different charges last august. It seemed
as though it was mere luck that i found him at all. I believe in all sincereity
my magical skills brought him to me.
        I always have enough money, even when unemployed. I get inexplicably
good jobs with regularity. I honestly believe that can have anything I want.
Experience has shown this to be the case.
        If you live in Iowa City or in the area I invite you to meet me for a
tarot reading. I will be surprised if you do not feel it is acurate. I dont
really do any other divinations. As far as other magical workings go its hard
to do them effectively if you want to maintain skepticism, which is why i say
focus on the end and not the means.
        I only try to use magic to help myself out, or good friwends if they
need it. I am a minimalist magicaly and i try to be ethical. I am currently
trying to reconcile my magical working with Taoist philosophy, its hard.
        If you want more examples I have them, but you will see that none of
these really "prove" anything, but I do feel that these examples support my
claims.
        Youre lottery arguement overlooks the fact that Micro vs. Macro deals
with trends and tendencies, not specifics.
        Evaluating this with Magical logic its an invalid question. Its is a
questions of measn, not the end. If i need money I will get it, If i Want money
i will get it. I dont need to win the lottery. If youre going to pose your own
magical ideas you need to look at the larger question.

Feb 15, 1999 02:53 from Luciferian

Proving Magic does not require these tests. These tests may show something, but as we've discussed it wont "prove" anything. You have to use a different frame of refrence, you cant apply wholey scientific logic.

If your willing to accept a different set of fundamental assumptions, and a different means of analysis, than its not hard to see the validity of magic.

I reiterate my invitation to Fighter Pilot, if youre in the area lets get together for a reading. We'll see if you still feel its totally random afterwards.

Feb 15, 1999 16:39 from Xanax

About auras, am I the only one who remembers the James Randi reward of 10^5 or 10^6 dollars for anyone who could prove they could read auras? THis poor "psychic" woman attepted to use her ability to determine the number of people standing behind a screen. If she could really see someone's "aura", the aura would project above the screen and she could see it.

Well, she claimed to see 7 auras, but there wasn't anybody back there. D'ohh! Foiled again. And I would've gotten away for it if it wasn't for those meddling kids!

I guess the current version of auras has a new quirk that thwarts this sort of elementary experiment. Am I right?

Feb 15, 1999 16:42 from Faunus

The version of auras that some people here have expounded is that they are an unconscously generated sensory metaphor for understanding gained through unknown processes, probably subliminal sensory cues.

That would explain well enough why they don't project above a screen, I guess...

Feb 15, 1999 16:44 from Xanax

Well, that's nice. Most people just use a Tarot deck.

Feb 15, 1999 17:37 from Fighter Pilot

Scalar: Support that magick [sic] works will suffice. You haven't provided *any* studies which have demonstrated "something is there" or "this stuff really works", so how can I say that they are " not good enough" for me? Surely you don't mean Gwynn's runes example as being a study that demonstrates sufficiently the merits of magic. I'd be more than willing to hear any studies that you've performed. As of yet, you've not provided any.

Luciferian: Those are nice anecdotes. But I'm sure no one is surprised that I'm still skeptical. Certianly I don't know 100% of what went into your stories, but let me just see if I can find an possible explanation for your stories that doesn't rely on magic. (sorry I should first say that stories in no way implies that they didn't happen exactly as you say -- I'm really not that much of a dickhead:) I promise) Let's see you got a job from a friend of yours, so I'm not certian that you couldn't have gotten it without using magical "powers". Was it tarot that told you or could it have been that you picked up on a change of her behavior that made you interpret the cards a certian way? Again, it's not certian that you couldn't have come up with that conclusion without any supernatural help. About the madman, would he have stopped chasing your friend without your "magical" intervention? Would he have not realized that what he was doing was rediculous and have gone home just because you vocalized it to him, that is would the same outcome have worked without any magic at all? About the guy on smack you said it yourself it could have been just luck. Could you have found him if you didn't meditate and focus on him? About the money and job thing...you sound like you're fairly talented with computers and what not (based on the job you alluded to in your first example) could it be that it's easy to find a job whenever you want it? Could it be that if there's something that you can't get, wouldn't it be convienient to say "I don't want it?"

Hey I'm not trying to degrade anyone here (despite what scalar and gwynn would have us believe). I'm just trying to provide an explanation for things that doesn't rely on the supernatural.

Thanks for the invite for the tarot reading. Unfortunately I'm in the middle of navigator training right now, so I pretty much have to do what the Air Force says and go where they tell me to go (for now at least). So a trip to Iowa is pretty much out of the question. But why do I even have to be there? I mean how would tarot benefit from me being there? Could the answer be that you need my non verbal communication and my own questions to be able to interpret the cards in the way that doesn't make absolutely no sense? Maybe.

Incidentally Fanus, in Xanax's example I gather that it wasn't that the aura didn't show above the screen. It was that the lady saw an aura when there wasn't a person there for an aura to eminate from.

Feb 15, 1999 19:00 from Faunus

Fighter Pilot, I'm not sure what you were trying to "correct" in my post. I understood exactly what you just tried to explain to me. What in my post implied that I did not?

And am I to understand that your claim about magic is now accurately summed up in the statement: "a non-magical explanation can probably always be found for any supposedly magical phenomenon"? If so, you will probably find that nobody will argue with you about that.

But I suspect that you are actually arguing one step further:

"Because a non-magical explanation can probably always be found for any supposedly magical phenomenon, THEREFORE one ought not to believe in magic."

Perhaps you could explicate further the logic that links the premise and conclusion there.

Feb 15, 1999 20:55 from Deoridhe

Personally, I was pretty sure tarot readings were a matter of making connections between known facts and interpretations of the cards until I had a tarot reading (on myself) that was garbage, and I knew it.

I couldn't come up with any reason for the cards to fall in that configuration. It was a nonsense reading.

A week later my best friend died.

When I returned to our apartment, the top card on my deck was death.

I wonder sometimes if I got a nonesense reading (the only one I ever got) because or what was going to happen. I don't know. But I've toned down my sceptisism since then. And even if it's all placebo effect -- if it works, who cares?

Oh, and I know this is anicdotal, so all the pure scientists can ignore it.

YMMV

Feb 15, 1999 22:21 from SunDance

I've always explained tarot as a sort of brainstorming idea (as someone earlier pointed out). The cards, the images, the meanings, and the way the cards fall all help (me at least. YMMV) sort out the situation at hand. Maybe allow the diviner/divinee see their situation from a new perspective. *shrug* I do have a deck that people have claimed will sometimes rule out the situation you're inquiring about, and give cards more attuned to a more important situation. Which, even given that, really makes people who get readings from that deck think about their lives. This deck has consistently given me readings that weren't readily apperent, given the situation I'd been enquiring about. But the "more important" situation later became apperent.

Anyway, I've used tarot as less an "occult" or "supernatural" tool than something which makes the questioner think about their situation more deeply or in a different way. However, I have found that from readings I've done for other people, I've been able to gleen the questioner's situation, even when not voiced to me. Whether that be from "supernatural" influences, or my own knowledge of human nature remains to be seen.

The way I see it, obviously some people have had magic/magick, aura reading, tarot, runes, etc work in ways which are yet inexplicable. Once, being rooted to the ground and not floating off into space was inexplicable; however, science found an explination. I think, eventually, with the right tools, the "fifth sense" media (like tarot, magic/magick, etc as well as paranormal activity) will be observable by believers and nonbelievers alike.

Feb 15, 1999 23:31 from Fighter Pilot

Faunus: Perhaps I misunderstood what you said. I guess you'll have to clear it up. You said, "That would explain well enough why they don't project above a screen, I guess..." (sorry about the formatting). And I said that the lady didn't have a problem "seeing" the aura above the screen, but that there wasn't anyone there to project an aura in the first place. Again, maybe I misunderstood what you were trying to say.

You are just about correct on what I am arguing. But let's get just a few things straight. First I've never seen anything that can't be explained without using the supernatural. That's not to say that I've seen everything, but being that I'm a part of the TV generation and the internet generation, I've seen a lot. Second, it doesn't matter to me in the least what a person believes. I never said it did, and I never would. What did I say? Why is it that a supernatural explanation is the only or the best explanation? Why is the supernatural the first place to look for an explanation? Believe what you want though (again try not to quote me on things I don't say to make me out to be the bad guy), don't look for any non magic explanations, it doesn't matter to me.

But let me turn things around. you seem to indicate that sure "a non-magical explanation can probably always be found for any supposedly magical phenomenon" (again with the formatting my bad) "nobody will argue with you about that." But there's a supernatural or magical explanation that's so much neater, so why try to find any other non-magical explanation? Where is your logic in that?

Feb 16, 1999 00:23 from Gwynn

FP:

OK, let me quote you directly here.

I've seen a lot. Second, it doesn't matter to me in the least what a person believes. I never said it did, and I never would. What did I say? Why is it that a supernatural explanation is the only or the best explanation? Why is the supernatural the first place to look for an explanation? Believe what you want though (again try not to quote me on things I don't say to make me out to be the bad guy), don't look for any non magic explanations, it doesn't matter to me.

OK, so you don't care what I believe, you don't care if I believe in the supernatural. You don't even care, by your own admision, that I don't look for nonsupernatural explanations for phenomena ... except ... every post you've made here belies that claim. It's fairly obvious to anybody with a mind that you in fact care for some reason about what we believe, that you in fact care whether we look for nonmagical explanations. Otherwise why get so ... what, upset?, at my rune anekdote? I never said it proved anything. I ofered it as one, count it, one, piece of readily available evidence, that is readily available to my memory.

In fact, I didn't even offer it as evidence, all I did was ask if that sort of thing would constitute a good reason, a good support, and you've never said no directly to me. Instead you've started to hold it up as a bad sort of standard "surely you've got something better than Gwynn's rune example?" This is all fine and well and good, but this is why I said what I did at the beginning. I feel quite frankly that you're being dishonest in this debate.

On one hand yo uclaim not to care one way or the other ,but your posts as I've said belie this. I tend to agree with Faunus' conclusion. You seem to be saying "because I can find a nonmagical explanation, that one is more likely correct, therefore I need not have any stock in the magical explanation." You're further expounding this to us, I suspect in the hope to demonstrate that you're "correct" logicwise at any rate.

So like I said before, I'm not here to prove anything to you. I'm not here to do anything to support magic or otherwise. Now if you want to get honest in the discussion, I'll continue it. I've been fairly up front with my position, whether it's rational or not.

Feb 16, 1999 02:16 from Luciferian

Fighter Pilot
        One very important part of what I am saying si that all of my
annecdotes can be explained oterh ways, i never offered them as absolute proof.
Magic cannot every real provide absolute proof in any singular instance. In all
of the previously described annecdotes, the alternatives you suggested are
entirely plausible, in fact I accept them. But that does not change my
evaluation of these in the Magical sense, because as I have said many times you
cannot become fixated on the means, its is the end goal which magic is
concerned with. In every one of my examples the magic worked -how it worked is
not the issue-. Until you accept that magic will elude you.
        Magic is not a different world view that rejects science, its is a
broader world view that accepts scientifically verifiable reality as but a part
of the whole. It is a more comprhensive means of accepting the world around
you, and the world within you, even the part you cannnot imediately see or
comprehend.
        If youre are sincerely curious I can reccomend some books that will
explain this idea far better than I can.
        To answer some of your more specific questions about my scenarios:
    The job is a funny story becuase i am quite unqualified, I never completed
any degrees or certifications that were in any way aplicable. The friend that i
ran into was not someone I saw often at all, it was quite coincidental. Many
people have commented on how ridiculous it is that I have this job, some have
even teased me, jokingly acusing me of using magic to attain the position.
        The relationship thing was wierd, but there are circumstances in which
the Tarot can be very clear. Specifically I pulled a card called the Empress,
and it was very ill-dignified. In the spread I was represented by the Mage
ill-dignified. Ask anyone you know who knows tarot and they'll tell you that
this is clearly as sign of a relationship that is totally fucked. Of course I'm
not going to detail the spread here, but as I said I try to minimize the
subjectivity of my reading.
        The "madman" situation. Yeah, this could have all just happened anyway,
but at the time I was scared and the focus of magical skill gave the the
confidence and whatever else to tell this guy to sit down and go home. This
could be atributed to any number of factors. At the time I did this I was about
15, not a very commanding stature. Anyway in any intense social interaction
there are too many factors to account for, a change in a persons mood can be a
subtle or dramatic thing, as chaotic as any storm. However it may have occured
the magic worked again.
        The guy on PCP, yes it could have just been luck, but what is luck? I
made my own luck.
        This guy could have been anywhere, every cop in town was combing the
area, as well as all of my other friends. I realized that he could be anywhere
and relied on giudance from beyond. I belined for the library and found this
guy in about 1 minute. Yeah, that could just be luck. But at what point do you
say its more than luck? The answer according to magical theory: if it works.
I cast a spell to find this guy and I did.
        Under scientific scrutiny all of these fall apart, so do many ideas
currently accepted as fact by a large part ofour society. Using magical
evaluation these are all success stories because they worked. Youre going to
have to acknowledge this other way of thinking if youre going to constuctively
persue understanding of magic. If youre are only interested in a deconstruction
of magical ideas based on scientific evaluation, than I'm certainly not going
to argue with you. Science can disprove pretty much anything.
        Please keep in mind that Magical theory accepts Science. Do you really
believe that science has explained Everything? Science may well hold all the
answers you will ever need, but the life of a magician is a far deeper
experience of a larger world. At least that what I'm after.

Feb 16, 1999 03:07 from Luciferian

Also to Fighter Pilot, I am willing to try to read your cards without seeign you at all, yes I will miss the unconcious cues, yes the reading may suffer. But why not give it a shot? I'm intruiged.

There are realy 3 planes of magical interaction that I see, magically influencing yourself, which is the easiest by far as you already know everything about yourself, magicaly influencing people around you, harder but you still have another human to work with, and magicaly influencing someone or something entirely beyond my preception. This is clearly the most difficult type of magical working. I do not claim any large amount of power, but I will attempt your reading. I feel it falls in the last and most difficult category of magical interaction given that we know nothing of each other.

Interpertation, and adapting your interpertation to the person at hand is a large part of tarot. Because i cannot talk with you about your question and you are not able to shuffle the cards yourself, your influence on them will be minimized. This will be an interesting expirament.

So what do you want to know?

Feb 16, 1999 11:10 from Faunus

Fighter Pilot correctly points out that my note on the Randi aura test involved a slight mix-up of the facts. I should have said, "That would explain well enough why the woman was not able to use auras projecting above the screen to accurately determine how many people were behind the screen."

Other than that, I think my comments stand.

FP goes on:

"You are just about correct on what I am arguing. But let's get just a few things straight. First I've never seen anything that can't be explained without using the supernatural. That's not to say that I've seen everything, but being that I'm a part of the TV generation and the internet generation, I've seen a lot."

Good, and uncontroversial. I don't think anybody would argue with this.

"Second, it doesn't matter to me in the least what a person believes. I never said it did, and I never would."

As Gwynn said, then I wonder why you're going on about it so.

"What did I say? Why is it that a supernatural explanation is the only or the best explanation?"

You'd have to be talking about a specific incident to make this question answerable.

"Why is the supernatural the first place to look for an explanation?"

Again, you'd have to be talking about a specific incident to make this question answerable. However, if somebody's existing theory of life is such that it associates the supernatural with certain types of experience or phenomena, then it would naturally be the first place to look for explanations of those phenomena, in the same way that since we tend to connect the fact that lights go on and burners heat up with electricity, then when one is asked to explain why a particular light goes on or a particular burner heats up, electrical explanations are the first ones investigated.

To put it more generally: we always come to any experience with a preexisting theory or set of assumptions about experiences of that nature, and it will help us determine where to look first for an explanation.

"Believe what you want though (again try not to quote me on things I don't say to make me out to be the bad guy), don't look for any non magic explanations, it doesn't matter to me."

If you are speaking to me personally, this comment seems a bit odd. You might do well to take your own advice about not making assumptions about people's positions -- I have *never* advocated magical explanations for any particular phenomenon as primary. I have only questioned the reasonableness or appropriateness of some of your comments and proposed alternatives in a general way.

"But let me turn things around. you seem to indicate that sure "a non-magical explanation can probably always be found for any supposedly magical phenomenon" (again with the formatting my bad) "nobody will argue with you about that." But there's a supernatural or magical explanation that's so much neater, so why try to find any other non-magical explanation? Where is your logic in that?"

You use the word "logic" a lot. I am not sure that it means what you think it means.

If I *were* to say, "But there's a supernatural or magical explanation that's so much neater...." which I have NOT, I would have to be talking about some specific incident, not speaking in vague generalities.

If I *were* to make that statement, I would be speaking in terms of heuristics or hypothesis, not logic, since logic is the process of deriving new true statements from statements already established as true, not of finding explanations for physical phenomena.

And of course I would only feel qualified to make judgements about the relative "neatness" of different explanations for a phenomenon after I had defined "neatness" clearly and actually found the different explanations (and established that there was not a better criterion to distinguish between them than "neatness" -- for example, an experiment that could distinguish between them).

So since (a) I didn't say it, and (b) if I did say it, it would have nothing to do with "logic" except in the most vague, imprecise, and non-technical sense of the term, I am afraid I can't answer your question as to what is the logic behind the statement.

Feb 16, 1999 11:45 from Knight Of Faith

Doesn't the explanation game work both ways?

Anything supernatural can be explained as a natural event.

Anything mundane can be explained as having supernatural influence.

Maybe everything's supernatural, but we're just used to most of it, and we've found ways to describe it. I think that's waht it comes down to. If we can easily describe something, it's not supernatural. None of us really understands gravity fully, not everything that there is to know, we don't study gravity with every step, or wonder why we stay down, but it's somewhat magical if you think about it. When we run into other "magical" events that are harder to explain with what we know, or we dont' have an easy way to describe, we run into trouble.

Maybe everything's normal, and some things are magical.

Maybe everythign magical and some are just harder to understand magic.

Maybe everything a mix of the magic and mundane, but we have a hard time distinguishing the two because they overlap.

Feb 16, 1999 11:57 from Faunus

Indeed, the word "supernatural" brings with it certain assumptions about the existence of a set of natural laws and beings or forces that stand outside of those laws and are able to modify them -- assumptions which do not hold up in many worldviews.

Feb 16, 1999 12:33 from Gwynn

Yes, i had wanted to comment on that. Most magicians these days don't think of anything as "supernatural" it's just different aspects of nature.

Feb 16, 1999 12:52 from Sane Mike

Maybe, Knight of Faith, the laws of nature aren't enforced by Physics, but by Persons?

Feb 16, 1999 14:48 from Bodhi Dharma

Sane Mike> That's a good point.

As for the question of whether magick can be proven to work, I believe it should be able to.

If we use the definition of magick that it is 'the art and the way of changing the world in conformity with the will', then one ought to be able to confirm these changes. Try an event 100 times - say finding a $100.00 bill. Do the magick thing, record whether you get a $100.00 bill. Ideally, you probably should walk out of the experiment 10000.00 dollars richer. Reality being what it is, you'll probably end up with less.

Feb 16, 1999 15:08 from Grover

The laws of nature aren't enforced by Physics, but by Persons? So who does gravity?

Feb 16, 1999 15:10 from Lammam P Yrruf

I think the current Minister of Gravity is Lawrence Delaporte. His offices are located in a suburb of Denver.

Seriously, though, I think this is a subset of "the world is a creature of our collective imagination/perception." I have to say, this strikes me as nothing more than a watered-down nihilism. The world exists, it has form, it has reality. Its function is not defined by us.

On the otherhand, our UNDERSTANDING of this reality and function is very much the creature of human perception and centuries of discussion and observation. It is hard to separate, in discussion, stark reality from our perceptions and understanding thereof.

Feb 16, 1999 15:57 from Knight Of Faith

I don't buy the idea that the laws of nature are enforced by people. WAY too egocentric (speciocentric?) for my taste. Would the idea be that things are only they way ther are because of how we perceive them? Again, why must everything hinge upon us? This may be delving a little into philosophy, but I suppose it has to do with our spirituality as well. Why does the human perception dictate anything? I would speculate that were we all to wink out of being, the rest of the universe would go on quite nicely without us. In fact, most of the planet would be better off without us.

Feb 16, 1999 16:02 from Faunus

Knight of Faith:

Well, if you keep talking like that I'm going to stop enforcing Electroweak and then you'll be sorry.

But you bring up an interesting cliche: "most of the planet would be better off without us." How do you define "better off" separately from human prejudices, such as "life is better than barrenness, complexity better than entropy," and so on?

Feb 16, 1999 16:07 from Knight Of Faith

I would think that healthy, living organisms would be better off than those same plants and animals living in our industrial waste and being killed by our deforestation. I imagine that no species of animal wishes to be extinct, the very focus of life on earth is toward survival and reproduction, to the point that some animals only live long enough to reproduce, then die within hours.

If nature works that hard to keep organisms alive, and we work nearly as hard to kill them in our expansion and desire for comfort, it makes sense that they would be better off witout us destroying them.

Feb 16, 1999 16:09 from Sane Mike

Well, I didn't entirely mean "Persons" as in collective belief took part in actually defining reality. When I used the word Person the Trinity came to mind, but I didn't find it particularly useful to the discussion. I actually lifted the line from an old interactive fiction game I used to have that dealt with a college professor studying alchemy rather than chemistry. I don't much buy it, but I couldn't resist, and upon further reflection I could see angelology applied as easily as anything occult or pagan. *shrug*

Feb 16, 1999 16:19 from Faunus

Knight of Faith:

But how, except by anthropomorphizing them and projecting our desires onto them, can you possibly know what animals want, much less plants and microbes? Can they properly be said to "want" anything?

Feb 16, 1999 16:31 from Knight Of Faith

Faunus> You're correct, I believe, in saying that they don't "want" anything. As far as the natural tendency of the living things to reproduce and attempt to further their species, most living things on earth, with the possible exception of some endangered species and domesticated animals, would be better off without human interventions. We're much better at destroying living things than furthering thier growth. We upset natural balances of life and death and destroy the ability for areas to sustain life.

Based on the assumption that life on this planet is preferable, particularly to the living things, to the comlpete destruction of all life, the planet's inhabitants would almost all be better off without humans here.

If you want to base your ideas on the idea that it would be good for living things to be extinct, and that the natural order should be disrupted, then you could make the point that humans are beneficial to the earth's ecosystems.

Feb 16, 1999 16:44 from Drea

KOF: You said, "Based on the assumption that life on this planet is preferable, particularly to the living things, to the complete destruction of all life..."

Preferable to whom? It seems that you're assuming that there is an underlying "opinion" controling how the universe ought to run. How theistic is that? :)

Btw, does anyone know how I can become in charge of Friction, seeing as how it is my favorite physical force? Is there, like, an election or do I have to take a test or what?

Feb 16, 1999 17:21 from EarthQuaker

Faunus: The question that asks "can microbes properly be said to *want* anything" I think first requires that we answer "What is it like to be a microbe?" Microbes may not have an experience of "wanting something" similar to the human experience of "wanting something" (as such experience seems to require planning, abstraction, and a whole constellation of behaviors that seem to be implemented via cortical "circuitry"), but it seems possible that even microbes may experience "qualia" (or to use the Buddhist term, "suchness"), and may therefore themselves experience something similar to suffering. Whether microbes experience an aversion to this possible "suffering" is yet another question. However, it may be legitimate to speak metaphorically of what it is that a microbe might "want" should these hypotheticals turn out to be actual.

Feb 16, 1999 19:17 from Knight Of Faith

I'll put it this way: Animals tend to avoide painful stimulus. Drowning in an oil slick would seem to be painful.

Hence, the animals would be in a more natural state avoiding said oil slick. Since we would be producing the oil slick which the seabirds and otters would be drowning in, the animals would be worse off with our oil slick than without it. That is, at it most simple, the animals are in a more natural state without the presence of human intervention. If we can use the idea that nature provides a positive state, rather than the idea that it is our responsihbility as humans to change everything as completely as possible, we're doing bad things.

Feb 16, 1999 20:38 from Faunus

EarthQuaker: Point made. OK.

Knight Of Faith: Is escape/avoidance behavior sufficient to define well-being? If so, then human well-being is a strange thing. Children would be better off without parents, for parents often thwart their desires. Rapists would be better off if they accomplished their desires, since they seek to fulfill them and avoid capture. Angry people would be better off if they beat the shit out of people, because that is what they seek.

Yes, you can in a very vague and fuzzy way talk about animals having wants; however, it's not at all clear that any individual animal "wants" an eco-utopia without humans. Domesticated dogs might be very disappointed to see us disappear, and urban rats would be bitterly unhappy without us to leave scraps. And I haven't even mentioned the cockroaches!

I think it *does* make sense to talk about the Earth and its creatures being "better" or "worse" off, but I think we have to recognize that we make those judgements using our own standards of what is a good and bad thing.

I think there is something real about those standards. But we should recognize that they are ours.

Feb 16, 1999 21:03 from Knight Of Faith

Faunus> OK, I'll ask you, do you believe that the majority of animals and plants on earth would be better or worse off without people here? Or do you believe that the human race makes no difference to the rest of the earth, or that perhaps there is no way to make a judgement about our effects?

I'm interested in hearing your view before we continue to debate if we're being specific enough or how we should deterine what is better or worse for other living things on earth.

Feb 16, 1999 21:33 from Fafaf

I do think that technology has a 'unnatural' and possibly harmful impact on non-human (and human?) life, although I would hesitate to say if it would if our safeguards evolved as the technology does. But why do you think that humans harm the ecology? We are part of this world, as much as elephants and amoebas. Humans of various cultures have lived within a niche as much theirs as a tiger's niche is hirs. It's difficult to find an comtemporary example, but I'm sure any of us can come up with some from recent history.

If humans were to disappear as a race, there would be an evolutionarily short period of adjustment, and the world would continue with one less life-form.

(Assuming, of course, that there occurs no disaster that people might have prevented or alleviated. The Biblical Flood, would fall into that hypothetical circumstance, and in a few years, the World-killing Comet might as well, if our technology grows enough.)

Feb 16, 1999 22:53 from Simon Magus

Nature is good at promoting life on earth, but it's at least at good at extinguishing life. Some 90+ percent of all species that have ever lived on earth have gone extinct by natural processes, before human intervention. Maybe humans are at their most distinctively natural when they are in the very process of helping the proliferation of life "crash" in our latest wave of extinctions. We could be like nature's death instinct incarnate :/ And so maybe it's when we're at our LEASt natural, when we are most distinctively human, that we choose to protect, appreciate, preserve diversity on earth. No other animal has such ambitions, although many other animals destroy other life like we do, callously, thoughtelssly, short-sightedly.

Feb 16, 1999 23:34 from DeMari

Fighter Pilot:

The two statements appear contradictory to me because the first seems to assert the reasonable position that some subjects do not lend themselves to the tools of science. I agree wtih you that magic is one of these subjects that like religion is pretty well beyond the realm that scientific method can reach.

In the second statement, contained in the same post, you criticize an individual because he has not offered you the assertion that science can touch this subject.

BOTH positions cannot be true.

The only two studies Irefeered to in my post were some unnamed study that you appeared to use as an appeal to authority and the research suggesting that people can identify the I.Q. of a potential mate in a matter of moments.

I assumed that this study supported your position. This is why I criticized the reference. since it is not tabled for examination. you are using an illogical argument to assert your conviction that we should govern our beleifs by logic. If you are going to play this game. [which I think is futile] play honestly.

The study about I.Q.s is obliquely supportive of magic. If I would assert that I could cast runes and determine if someone was close to my I.Q. I am willing to bet that you woudl doubt that vocally. [I make no such claim] The fact is that people can determine the I.Q. of the people they associate with romantically with amazing accuracy. [Mind you they don't know what it is they just sort, intuitively, all those people who are not very close to theirs. You do not doubt this conclusion. The whole of the debate has been surrounding assertion that humans can obtain information by other than rational means. You doubt it when it is surrounded by occult tools but do not doubt it when it just happens. Is it not possible that some faculties can be trained for above average insight and yet still be a little fuzzy in their details?

With regard to your repearted claim that science cannot prove the world is round --- I say again: " What the hell do you mean when you say proof? The argument you deny is proof is a matter of mathematical certainty and should be solvable by any high school geometry student. If that isn't proof for you, why do you have any faith in science?" in addition we have successfully viewd the earth by direct observation from several angles. I am confident that the earth is round by any standard of proof that I make everyday decisions about, AND by any standard of proof that I understand science to use unless by "round" you wish to assert the perfection of a geometric sphere -- in which case we have conclusively proven that it is not round. either way your example fails.

Your ignorance of magics is part of your problem in this argument. Magic is a separate but lapping world view. You cannot hold to to scientific measures any more than you shoudl hold science to occult standards. I find both models to have their uses. But in short, magic a wholely encompassing spirtual process. Thus every act I make has magical influence. Every magical act I take has concrete portions. Your assertion that magic is not demonstrable in its ability ot change the world is a sensible as would be the assertion that rain was not wet. If you would like to understand the subject you are attempting to debunk, I am willing to explain. If you simply want to assert your version of "My gawhd is better than your gawhd" I am bored already.

KOF: I think that the world is a wholely magical place. some of the magic is mroe familiar than other bits.

Feb 17, 1999 07:51 from C Brachyrhynchos

Knight Of Faith: "I imagine that no species of animal wishes to be extinct, the very focus of life on earth is toward survival and reproduction, to the point that some animals only live long enough to reproduce, then die within hours."

A species, being a population without any real consensus-building structures, can't wish for anything.

Feb 17, 1999 07:55 from Simon Magus

I don't know how this "study" was conducted, but it certainly isn't random guessing for a person to infer someone's IQ from meeting them and getting to known them. Even if one did not speak to them, one has the evidence of the expression in their eyes, what they are doing at the time, the context in which they are found, the way they are dressed, their physical appearance, etc. That's hardly MAGIC! If one means by magic - supernatural powers. Intuition is often just a kind of subconscious or unconscious inferential process - very rational and logical. Not in any way opposed to the kind of reasoning used in scientific thinking necessarily!

I disagree that religion and magic are beyond the ability of "science" to study and comment on. Inasmuch as they are natural processes, they can be studied objectively as such. But science is a philosophy, or an empirical method, and it is one end of human endeavors. Value systems or mental skill methods are an entirely diferent human endeavor. They don't have to be opposed to science to be different in kind as operations. So I think human beings should be committed to science and scientific method, but also see value systems and other endeavors as (hopefully) noncontradictory but distinct systems. Potentially. On the other, for religions like humanism, practicing science can be a directly spiritual experience.

Feb 17, 1999 08:09 from Faunus

KOF writes:

"OK, I'll ask you, do you believe that the majority of animals and plants on earth would be better or worse off without people here? Or do you believe that the human race makes no difference to the rest of the earth, or that perhaps there is no way to make a judgement about our effects?"

I think I'd need a rigorous definition of "better or worse off" to be able to answer that question, and I don't have one.

I think that in very recent years (the last 3-400) we have had a negative impact on the biodiversity of the planet. But then, I don't think individual animals and plants care about the biodiversity of the planet. Or rather, I don't know how to determine whether or not they do care.

That brings up another question... Is it a matter of individual animals and plants being "better or worse off" or species or entire ecosystems being "better or worse off"?

"I'm interested in hearing your view before we continue to debate if we're being specific enough or how we should deterine what is better or worse for other living things on earth."

I cannot answer a question till I know what it means.

Feb 17, 1999 11:26 from Xanax

Deoridhe -- The event you describe is so significant that you chose to remember the connection with the state of your tarot cards. Also, the "Death" card only rarely indicates actual physical death in most readings....usually it indicates a serious change, which *might* mean death, but could also mean loss of job, etc.

Feb 17, 1999 14:39 from Scalar

Synchronicities are fun. Unexplainable and could be totally chance, but they are intruiging.

Monday I wrote on Heinous in Zen Buddhism> that Ireally don't know anything about what Zen or Buddhism are about. I have some idea, but I've never really looked into it.

Tuesday I'm at a bookstore, I pass this table of books and see one (I think) "Godel, Escher, and Bach" and I think, hey I'll bet there are some cool Escher drawings in there. So I pick it up and flip through it, and BOOM! There's a chapter that flops open... "What is Zen?"

It's like, damn! That is cool! "Ask, and ye shall receive." ;)

Feb 17, 1999 22:18 from Deoridhe

Xanax> I'm afraid I don't follow your first statement, "The event you described is so significant you chose to remember it by the state of your tarot cards" (rough quote from memory). I always just thought the cards were a funny side note because that was the only time I ever got a nonesense reading and it sort of solidified my belief that there was something there in a way that non of the 'working' readings had, since they could be seen as coincidence. Null hypothesis, and all that. Anyway, would you mind rephrasing what you meant?

Feb 18, 1999 00:31 from Gwynn

What he's saying is that you thought it was a nonsense reading, until the event, then you said "ah, it had some significance afterall, in its signifying nothing". What he's getting at is that the event effected you so much you mapped it into the tarot. Mind I don't agree with this, I'm just explaining what he means ... I think.

Feb 18, 1999 18:16 from Deoridhe

But it was a nonesense reading. Signifying nothing is still nothing. I was startled at the time because I'd never had such a blank reading.

I suppose, though, if one was to really try to map everything onto something using cognitive relevence, signifying nothing would signify something, especially if followed by a tragedy.

I'll have to think about that.

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