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Posted on September 5 at 9:27 a.m.
Why do storytellers anywhere spin big yarns? They seek attention and to compensate for lack of other means to power. 99.999% of the populous has missed the exposes of the Loch Ness monster hoax, the crop circles hoax, UFO hoaxes too numerous to mention, spiritualist hoaxes, the Shroud of Turin hoax, psychic "surgery”, perpetual motion machines and on and on ad infinitum. All are tales that are still swallowed whole by many. These hoaxes were all perpetrated by a person or persons for a reason.
What is the harm of being a little gullible and having a little fun? Well, there are tens of thousands of cases each year in which scam artists take money from the gullible (does the pet psychic get paid?). They have taken billions of dollars from gullible Americans.
On an even darker note, does anyone remember the news when acting President Ronald Reagan stated that he believed the Biblical apocalypse would occur in his lifetime? Remember that within Reagan's grasp - 24 hours a day - was the command console for the nation's nuclear arsenal. Anyone for a little self-fulfilling prophecy?
Remember the furor over Nancy Reagan and her consultations with a psychic? Did her gullibility allow a self-proclaimed psychic to influence U.S. policy?
Lack of desire or ability to think critically may allow people to believe quite harmlessly in psychics and UFOs. But it also allows corrupt minds to control the gullible, with deadly results. Hitler and the reverend Jim Jones come to mind. It takes only one charismatic person with a bad idea to lead gullible minions to kill millions of people in pursuit of a false belief. And mentioning that, there are people gullible enough to believe that the Holocaust never happened, providing fertile ground for the repetition of history.
Horace Mann said, "Ignorance breeds monsters to fill up the vacancies of the soul that are unoccupied by the verities of knowledge." It is lack of critical thinking that allows those monsters to run free. The idea that the pet psychic can telepathically communicate with animals is so foolish that if I were not familiar with people who believe I would think this whole pet psychic gig was a joke. She and her customers should be provided mental health care for our protection.
On Missing My Dog
Posted on August 30 at 9:59 a.m.
Thanks for explaining the situation Ray. I've been curious about this. Let's encourage people to hike with experienced leaders. Neophytes are unaware of the local dangers. Years ago, when my sister and her family visited from the mid-west I took them to the 3 pools above 7 Falls. I'd covered that trail ~100 times, and can jog from my car on Tunnel Rd to the pools and back in an hour, so I was surprised that with her athletic family in tow the round-trip took 4 hours. It is easy to overestimate one's ability to hike in these rough hills, and the mistake I made for my sister I think many make for themselves. With a delayed start up the Cathedral Peak ridge I've hiked myself into that mid-day summer oven. Even with a hat and plenty of water it was a foolish trek. 'Too soon old, too late smart'; now I'm more wise than I used to be, yet not so as I'd like to be. Detailing the mistakes of these hikes gone awry may inspire us all to greater caution.
On Summer of Search and Rescue
Posted on August 19 at 4:46 p.m.
In the Letters section of the Sep/Oct issue of the magazine Skeptical Inquirer Geoffrey Milos wrote, "Kurt Godel used mathematical symbols to demonstrate that every coherent system of statements relies on at least one unprovable assumption...the religious among us call that assumption God." Bruce Greyson, Professor of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences at the Univ. of Virginia wrote, "Embracing either theism or atheism in the absence of empirical evidence is equally the result of our fear of ambiguity and uncertainty and is an emotional rather than rational choice."
Tam, you have chosen one of Greyson's two false options. In light of the 'one unprovable assumption' theory, the rational choice is agnosticism. Anything else is sophistry. Someone pointed out "knowing" is above our pay grade. Panpsychists' misuse logic to convince themselves they know the unknowable and their semantics confuse the issue for the rest of us.
My original assertion stands: this is a quest for spirituality that has gotten out of hand. I drift between atheist and agnostic, yet consistently use a pantheist framework that allows me a stable and powerful spirituality. I do not make the mistake of believing that this framework has any objective traction, it is subjective and solely for my spiritual health. The panpsychist framework DOES seem to make the mistake of believing that the framework has some objective traction.
You are selling a spiritual viewpoint as useful for something other than spiritual salve. You assert panpsychism has logical bona fides it does not. Neither is panpsychism useful in describing the Universe, as it has no predictive or historically descriptive value. It does nothing to reconcile the divide between atheism and theism. Use it for your personal spiritual growth but please don't try to describe the Universe with it.
On Absent-Minded Science
Posted on August 19 at 4:43 p.m.
Tam, you wrote, "It is literally impossible..." The billiard ball example does not support that assertion. I can conceive that such a system could exist. The issue here is not materialism, it is lack of insight and faulty logic on the part of panpsychists.
"The solution...some degree of mind in all matter." This is not a solution to the non-problem, it is a premise for science fiction.
Much of this discussion appears to be a semantic nightmare. A circuit with a feedback could be described as 'self-aware', having 'Mind'. I could argue that an iron atom is self-aware and thus has capital M 'Mind' because it has physical charisteristics that allow it to retain its identity and that inform it how to act internally and interact with the 'outside' world. If it joins with other atoms in a chemical process the combined individual 'Minds' become a larger, more complex 'Mind'. This is a restating of materialism in a different semantic scheme.
Human mind/self-awareness then gets blurred into the re-phrased descriptions of physical interactions at the atomic level, thus allowing one to impute Mind to inanimate objects. Semantics allows this argument, not logic.
This is followed with, "If there is mind in us, and in all matter to some degree, then mind surely has had a role in the evolution of life from the very beginning." Despite any argument to the contrary, this is Intelligent Design. Multiple 'if/thens' give atoms magical power to act consciously and direct their own evolution. If I could jump to the moon I could get some green cheese and jump back. Panpsychism's fiction may be more grandiose, use bigger words, have better references, yet is no more plausible.
Posted on August 11 at 9:37 a.m.
This is Creationism / Intelligent Design theory. Check out Ray Hartman's video on God's making of the banana ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qq7LXn... ) and then the refutation of his argument ( http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Banana ) and decide which view Mr. Hunt's argument supports. This struggle to find Mind in the universe is the struggle to find God in the universe and is a spiritual quest. Science ignores God because science is all about defining the rules and by definition ignores God, though not (human) mind, which may be subject to 'rules' that may be investigated through science. Finding spirit does not require finding God, and a spiritual life can be lived in harmony with science. God is the trap that prevents this harmony and the Buddhists seem to be the only major group that has succeeded in avoiding the trap. I'm neither Buddhist nor scientist - just stand against Creationism and other ignorance. And it is almost impossible for me to spell Buddha correctly!
Posted on August 2 at 9:23 a.m.
Correction : I believe upper Matilija Falls is Lat 34.541, Lon -119.406?
On Holding On to a Historic Trail
Posted on August 2 at 9:12 a.m.
I've hiked Murietta Canyon but never to Matilija Falls. I did walk as far as the Bonsall Ranch and can understand why the Bonsall's want to close access via their property. How about a new trail section that just skirts their property? For those who enjoy Google Earth as I do : The Bonsall Ranch is in Matilija Canyon, at the junction with Murietta Canyon (Lat 34.510000°, Lon -119.392000°). I believe Matilija Falls is Lat 34.5339, Lon -199.3960? Here is a link to someone's photo album of their hike to the falls: http://planetrambler.com/150mph/08062...
Posted on July 30 at 8:28 a.m.
SB County Water has a website to promote water-wise landscaping [http://www.sb.watersavingplants.com/sb.php] that provides information on plants suitable for SB. Be warned that the application to save selected plants to a personalized list has a few bugs.
On <em>Landscape Plants for California Gardens</em>
Posted on June 27 at 9:31 a.m.
There has been some research into 'facilitated communication', which is sort of like talking to animals, but instead involves communicating with people in semi-vegetative states. In the latest issue (July/August 2010) of Skeptical Inquirer magazine is an article, Fabricating Communication, that describes a test of 'facilitated communication' and finds it to be fabricated communication. While the 'facilitator' truly believes he/she is helping to relay the thoughts of the subject, the 'facilitator' is in fact making stuff up - putting words in the mouth of the subject. A simple double-blind test with animals could be conducted by putting together a group of 10 animals with their 10 favorite toys. I would bet my house that the 'pet psychic' could not match the toys to the pets.
On Only Human
Posted on May 27 at 7:59 a.m.
Shalawa should remain natural. Our 'civilization' has destroyed much of nature. It is not safe to drink from the streams. We refer to our division and destruction of nature in pure double-speak as 'improvements'. How short-sighted and arrogant to believe that paving and building (and putting in park benches) improves upon nature. Please, leave this area 'unimproved'.
On Memorial Benches Removed for ‘Cultural Considerations’