Monthly Archives: July 2015

Some Simple Evidences for an Old Earth

LETTERS TO CREATIONISTS is yet another blog I just have to recommend. Not only is the blogger – his name is Scott Buchanan – a veritable scholar, he also knows how to hit the weak points in the Young Earth Creationist (YEC) woowoo-ish and delusional thought paradigm.

Some good examples of Scott Buchanan’s way to refute YEC bullshit-thoughts can be found in this article, called “SOME SIMPLE EVIDENCES FOR AN OLD EARTH”, so now I choose to reblog it here on my own blog.

Scott Buchanan discloses a variety of intellectual flaws – a.k.a. intellectual vices (a term originally coined by Linda Zagzebski, a US philosopher) – that are very common especially among Young Earth creationists, for instance gulliibility, carelessness, closed-mindedness, LETTERS TO CREATIONISTS is yet another blog I just have to recommend. Not only is the blogger – his name is Scott Buchanan – a veritable scholar, he also knows how to hit the weak points in the Young Earth Creationist (YEC) woowoo-ish and delusional thought paradigm.

Some good examples of Scott Buchanan’s way to refute YEC bullshit-thoughts can be found in this article, called “SOME SIMPLE EVIDENCES FOR AN OLD EARTH”, so now I choose to reblog it here on my own blog.

Scott Buchanan here discloses a variety of intellectual flaws – a.k.a. intellectual vices (a term originally coined by Linda Zagzebski, a US philosopher) – that are very common especially among Young Earth creationists, for instance gulliibility, carelessness, closed-mindedness, negligence, idleness, cherry-picking, rigidity, obtuseness, prejudice, lack of thoroughness, an appalling insensitivity to scientific facts and an amazing neglect of important relevant details, especially if those details contradict the inner core of creationist religious reasoning and faith (usually due to cognitive dissonance).

Here’s a quote from Scott Buchanan’s blog article, containing some obvious and important facts that YE creationsists try their best to repress and/or deny:

Hundreds of Thousands of Annual Layers in Arctic and Antarctic Ice Cores

Cores of ice, hundreds of feet long, have been drilled out of glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica. Summer/winter layering can be discerned in them. The GISP2 core from Greenland has been counted back at least 110,000 years, using the corroboration of two to three independent methods. Antarctic cores go back more than 400,000 years, quite undisturbed by any world-wide Flood. At least nine different methods were used to date the layers of the Antarctic cores.

Letters to Creationists

The age of the earth is important in framing an interpretation of the early chapters of the Bible. Genesis 1 describes the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the formation of earth’s life forms, in six “days”, which were demarcated by “evening and morning”.

Early Christian writers held various opinions on the length of these days. Some (e.g. Basil) believed them to be 24-hour days, some (e.g. Cyprian) held them to be 1000-year periods, others (e.g. Origen) to be allegorical only, while Augustine opined that it was difficult to be sure about what the “days” of Genesis actually were.

Today’s Young Earth (YE) creationists typically take them to be normal 24-hour days, and also take the genealogies in Genesis and elsewhere in the Bible to be literal and exhaustive representations of post-creation chronology. This leads to a Creation about 6000 years ago, with nearly all the observed sedimentary…

View original post 3,272 more words

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Atheism, Blogs I follow, Cognitive flaws, Delusions, Evolution, Religion, Science, Theological bullshit, Woo

The strange-face-in-the-mirror illusion a.k.a. the Bloody Mary (optical) illusion

These two articles explain the Bloody Mary optical illusion very well:

1) http://io9.com/5906432/an-optical-illusion-that-explains-the-origins-of-imaginary-monsters ; and

2) http://mindhacks.com/2010/09/18/the-strange-face-in-the-mirror-illusion/ .

You know, you’re staring into a mirror, in low light, for for some (say 5-10) minutes. Many teenage girls have done this, alone or together. And soon they see very strange things happen in front of them, in the mirror. Their faces become warped or turn into something else, often a very spooky experience.

A quote from article #1,

The descriptions [of what they experienced/saw] differed greatly across individuals and included: (a) huge deformations of one’s own face (reported by 66% of the fifty participants); (b) a parent’s face with traits changed (18%), of whom 8% were still alive and 10% were deceased; (c) an unknown person (28%); (d) an archetypal face, such as that of an old woman, a child, or a portrait of an ancestor (28%); (e) an animal face such as that of a cat, pig, or lion (18%); (f ) fantastical and monstrous beings (48%). (END OF QUOTE)

So it’s not difficult to understand why people believe in ghosts.

But how do the scientists explain this sort of dissociative identity effect (a.k.a. the Troxler effect)?

This quote from article #2 explains what happens,

…the dramatic effects might be caused by a combination of basic visual distortions affecting the face-specific interpretation system.

The visual system starts to adapt after we receive the same information over time (this is why you can experience visual changes by staring at anything for a long time) but we also have a system that interprets faces very easily.

This is why we can ‘see’ faces in clouds, trees, or even from just two dots and a line. The brain is always ‘looking for faces’ […]

According to Caputo’s suggestion, the illusion might be caused by low level fluctuations in the stability of edges, shading and outlines affecting the perceived definition of the face, which gets over-interpreted as ‘someone else’ by the face recognition system. (END OF QUOTE)

Unfortunately people used to magical & religious woo-bullshit thinking don’t know this. So they believe they’ve had a glimpse of a spiritual world, inhabited by spiritual beings.

Leave a comment

Filed under Brain, Cognitive flaws, Delusions, Hallucinations, Woo

The Unreliable "Feeling of Certainty"

A personality trait common in many (pseudo)religious people (like woos) is an intellectual vice called feeling of certainty (a.k.a. feeling of knowing).

Beliefs (especially strong ones) are normally caused by imperfections in our capacities to process information and draw conclusions.

Examples of intellectual vices (a term coined by Linda Zagzebski, a US philosopher) are gulliibility, carelessness, closed-mindedness, negligence, idleness, rigidity, obtuseness, prejudice, lack of thoroughness, and insensitivity to detail.

Read more about intellectual vices – a.k.a. bad thinking – here: http://aeon.co/magazine/philosophy/intellectual-character-of-conspiracy-theorists/ .

Today we know that differences in intellectual character may help to explain why some people, facing the same situation, will end up believing X, while others believe Y (or vice versa).

The feeling of certainty/knowing is closely related to gullibility. and can be defined as a propensity to believe things for which there is no good evidence, and/or dismiss claims for which there is excellent evidence.

So there are two important ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true. And the other is to refuse to believe what is true. Both ways lead to woo-ism (i.e.magical and/or religious thinking).

Even worse, if people are made to feel uncertain, then they regress their adult cognitive faculties by strengthening and increasing the brain’s pattern detection system. And that means they return to the the child’s information processing system based on emotional, intuitive, prelogical magical and religious thinking.

In other words, one of the biggest cognitive problems we face in this world is that fools and fanatics are always so sure of themselves while wiser people are so full of doubt.

But at the same time, don’t forget what Winston S. Churchill once said, “The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes.”

διά πέντε / dia pente

What most people do not know is that certainty is a feeling. It’s probably on the same level as jealousy or anger. It’s a reaction to certain stimuli. Yet just like anger, the stimulus doesn’t have to actually exist to create the feeling. Imagine your significant other cheating on you, or imagine someone you love crying or getting injured. These scenarios are not true yet the feeling we get when we imagine it is no less real.

Check this out. I will give you the “feeling of knowing” right now:

A newspaper is better than a magazine. A seashore is a better place than the street. At first it is better to run than to walk. You may have to try several times. It takes some skill, but it is easy to learn. Even young children can enjoy it. Once successful, complications are minimal. Birds seldom get too close…

View original post 1,209 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogs I follow, Brain, Cognitive flaws, Delusions, Neuroscience, Woo

Christian Belief Through the Lens of Cognitive Science: Part 2

This is a very interesting article by Valerie Tarico about God’s mostly anthropomorphic bodily appearance and nearly always humanlike mind.

Here are some examples of what we learn by reading Valerie’s text:

1) We learn that the orthodox Jesus story, as it appears in our gospels, follows a specific sacred or mythic template that existed in the Ancient Near East (actually long before Christianity or even Judaism). Cf. what is said about The Hero’s Journey, a pattern of narrative, once identified by Joseph Campbell, that is applicable in both secular storytelling and religious myths.

2) Our supernatural notions are shaped by built-in structures in our brains.

3) Those “default” systems/networks in the brain are unconsciously (and, in a way, you may say compulsively) searching for recognizable patterns for events and experiences in our surroundings. These processes allow us to generalize, i.e. from just a few bits of data or details we are able to construe some kind of wholeness (a more or less consistent pattern).

These pattern-seeking neural processes are usually summarized as apophenia or patternicity (apophenia can be defined as the experience of seeing and identifying meaningful patterns or connections in random or meaningless data, while patternicity is the tendency to find meaningful patterns in both meaningful and meaningless noise.

4) The found patterns – they are closely related to memories – have to be filed somewhere in the brain. That’s why the brain has got different filing systems.

We invent labels to tag each object (i.e. element or property), so that similar objects (i.e. the same sort of memories) can be directed to and saved in the same file(s). Those built-in filing systems are steadily increasing and refined over time.

5) Valerie also tells us that the labels usually start out blank. But actually some of them don’t. We all seem to have a couple of “preprinted labels” (cf. C.G. Jung and his idea that there are so-called innate archetype patterns residing in the “collective unconscious” of all humans).

But Valerie prefers to give the labels more mundane names, like “Humans”, “Non-humans”, “Animals”, “Plants”, “Man-made objects”, “Natural objects” and the like.

6) A very important pattern-seeking process (maybe the most important of them all) is about facial recognition. This (facial recognition) system can sometimes overfunction (giving rise to a phenomenon called pareidolia), and sometimes be underfunctioning (causing face blindness, prosopagnosia).

And now, at last, we are approaching the religious aspects and consequences of how our brains are wired. In short, Valerie Tarico tells us that the neural wirings in the brain can explain why most religions imagine and teach that their divine beings are both bodily anthropomorfic and also feeling, thinking, reasoning, and (at least partially) acting like we humans usually do (for example eating food that we put on a sacrificial altar, being angry, disappointed and so on).

ValerieTarico.com

Why God has a Human Mind 

Jesus was a human, fathered by a god and born to a virgin. He died for three days and was resurrected.  His death was a sacrifice, an offering or propitiation.  It brings favor for humans. He lives now in a realm where other supernatural beings interact with each other and sometimes intervene in human affairs.

Gradually the mainstream of the American public is becoming aware that none of these elements is unique to Christianity.  Symbologists or scholars who specialize in understanding ancient symbols, tell us that the orthodox Jesus story, as it appears in our gospels, follows a specific sacred or mythic template that existed in the Ancient Near East long before Christianity or even Judaism.  In part this is due to the flow of history.  Religions emerge out of ancestor religions.  Though the characters and details merge and morph, elements get carried through…

View original post 1,839 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogs I follow, Brain, Delusions, Gods, Jesus, Mind, Neuroscience, Religion

Can you trust the Ouija board as a means to connect with the spirit world? (SPOILER: No, of course not!)

Have a look at this YouTube video,  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRo8TytvIDw .

How come the spirits can’t deliver other than gibberish, if the participants around the table are blindfolded?

The American psychologist Ray Hyman is but one who has answered that question. Forget about spiritual or paranormal forces, or mysterious “energies”. It’s all about a phenomenon called ideomotor action.

This phenomenon is well known to psychologists. It explains how suggestions, beliefs or expectations are enough to cause unconscious muscular movements.

Here are two of professor Ray Hyman’s conclusions, I quote from this article, http://www.relativelyinteresting.com/do-ouija-boards-really-work-spoiler-alert-they-dont/ :

[1] “Honest, intelligent people can unconsciously engage in muscular activity that is consistent with their expectations”; and

[2] “They also show that suggestions that can guide behavior can be given by subtle clues.”

In other words, when people go to play the Ouija board, they know in advance of what it’s supposed to do. They expect the Ouija board to give them some sort of results. And subconsciously, the participants guide the pointer so that it gives the wanted “answers” (cf. wishful thinking).

An almost similar phenomenon is Facilitated Communication.

Let me quote from the Skeptic’s Dictionary ( http://skepdic.com/facilcom.html ),

“Facilitated Communication (FC) is a technique that allegedly allows communication by those who were previously unable to communicate by speech or signs due to autism, mental retardation, brain damage, or such diseases as cerebral palsy. The technique involves a facilitator who places her hand over that of the patient’s hand, arm or wrist, and guides a finger to letters, words, or pictures on a board or keyboard. The patient is allegedly able to communicate through his or her hand to the hand of the facilitator which then is guided to a letter, word, or picture, spelling out words or expressing complete thoughts. Through their facilitators, previously mute patients recite poems, carry on high level intellectual conversations, or simply communicate. Parents are grateful to discover that their child is not hopelessly retarded but is either normal or above normal in intelligence.”

Read more about FC by clicking this link, http://www.apa.org/research/action/facilitated.aspx .

In short, these phenomena are part of the True Believer Syndrome, where mass delusions – as usual in the woo belief paradigm – play an important role.

Leave a comment

Filed under Delusions, Religion, Soul, Woo

64. Did Jesus set a deadline for his return?

This post by “500 Questions” answers the question, Did Jesus set a deadline for his return? And the answer is, YES, he did!

This brilliant article refers to verses in both the Old and New Testament. And those verses are all indicating that The Second Coming of Jesus/Messiah is just round the corner.

Anyone who tries to interpret those verses in another way must be described as delusional.

And as you all know (I hope), delusions are necessary to have, if you really want to believe in religious (also called magical) thinking.

BTW, here’s a good site for those who want to learn more about magical & religious woo-bullshit thinking, https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/magical-thinking .

I recommend you to visit that site.

500 Questions about God & Christianity

The end of all things is near.
— 1 Peter 4:7

“Say what you like,” we shall be told, “the apocalyptic beliefs of the first Christians have been proved to be false. It is clear from the New Testament that they all expected the Second Coming in their own lifetime. And, worse still, they had a reason, and one which you will find very embarrassing. Their Master had told them so. He shared, and indeed created, their delusion. He said in so many words, ‘this generation shall not pass till all these things be done.’ And he was wrong. He clearly knew no more about the end of the world than anyone else.” It is certainly the most embarrassing verse in the Bible.
— C.S. Lewis, The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays, p.97

Jesus and his FollowersThe late, great C.S. Lewis once confessed to believing that Jesus had made several “embarrassing” predictions about…

View original post 6,172 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Atheism, Blogs I follow, Delusions, Jesus, Religion, Theological bullshit, Woo

19. What evidence is there that humans have a spirit? Part 1: The Science of the Soul

This article I found at the blog “500 Questions”. It’s about concepts like “spirit” and “soul”.

The article has the following subheading, “The Science of the Soul”.

That subheading looks like an oxymoron to me. I’d not even call it “The Pseudoscience of the Soul”.

To me the soul concept is so full of bullshit, contradictions and misunderstandings that it should be tossed into the rubbish-heap immediately.

BTW, here’s an article discussing the similarities and differences between Islam and Christianity in their view of the soul, http://www.123helpme.com/islamic-beliefs-on-the-soul-view.asp?id=163194 .

I quote from the end paragraphs of that article,

Muslims and Christians both believe that a person is not just made from his or her mind and body, there is also the soul. They both believe that each person has an immortal soul (cannot die) which cannot be seen and makes people different from each other, however Christians believe that only humans were given souls as they were in the image of God whereas Muslims believe that humans, plants and animals have souls too. Christians believing that animals don’t have souls allows them to eat meat normally, but because Muslims believe that animals do have souls, they have to sacrifice the animal properly in order to eat the meat. Christians believe that people were made in the image of God meaning that God put something of his own divine and everlasting nature into each person, which is the soul, but Muslims don’t believe that exactly as they believe animals and plants have souls too. Both Muslims and Christians both believe that the soul was put into the body during birth, and the soul leaves the body at death.

Muslims and Christians both believe that a person is not just made from his or her mind and body, there is also the soul. They both believe that each person has an immortal soul (cannot die) which cannot be seen and makes people different from each other, however Christians believe that only humans were given souls as they were in the image of God whereas Muslims believe that humans, plants and animals have souls too. Christians believing that animals don’t have souls allows them to eat meat normally, but because Muslims believe that animals do have souls, they have to sacrifice the animal properly in order to eat the meat. Christians believe that people were made in the image of God meaning that God put something of his own divine and everlasting nature into each person, which is the soul, but Muslims don’t believe that exactly as they believe animals and plants have souls too. Both Muslims and Christians both believe that the soul was put into the body during birth, and the soul leaves the body at death.

In other words, almost the same bullshit is taught to Muslims and Christians.

500 Questions about God & Christianity

As much as we talk about the idea of the spirit, you’d think it was a well documented fact, but is there any empirical evidence that proves spirits actually exists?

The Science of the Soul

Since science usually limits itself to studying that which can be observed, measured, and experimented upon, there’s seemingly little work that can be done in the area of the spirit; but there have been a few studies (oft labeled “pseudo-science” by skeptics) that infer the existence of a spirit, such as near death experiences, out of body experiences, communication with the dead, the mind/brain connection, reincarnation, etc.

That’s a lot of ground to cover, so let’s dig in…

21 Grams – Weighing the Soul

In the 1880s, pictures of ghostly images caught on film were once used as evidence for the soul. And later, in 1911, the x-ray machine was even used to try and photograph the…

View original post 1,671 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Atheism, Blogs I follow, Delusions, Islam, Mind, Neuroscience, Philosophy, Religion, Soul, Theological bullshit, Woo

20. What evidence is there that humans have a spirit? Part 2: Near Death Experiences (NDEs)

Very good summary of the NDE delusion. But as always, comforting lies are preferred to unpleasant truths.

500 Questions about God & Christianity

I confess. I once spent a couple of years as an absolute NDE junkie. In my early search for evidence of the soul, NDE survivors seemed to have the proof I was searching for. I read everything I could get my hands on; I was hooked by all the similar and compelling stories… at least for a while.

My interest in NDEs eventually waned after reading a book by Christian cardiologist Dr. H. Leon Greene.  In his book If I Should Die Before I Wake, Dr. Greene reports having revived hundreds of patients, none of whom ever reported having a single NDE. This, along with his distaste for non-Christians having positive NDEs, led him to write a thorough and critical examination of the NDE. While biased by Christianity, his arguments against the NDE were nonetheless logical and compelling.

Still… all the people who report having NDEs seem so sincere and…

View original post 1,838 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogs I follow, Brain, Consciousness, Delusions, Hallucinations, Mind, Neuroscience, Philosophy, Religion, Soul, Theological bullshit, Woo

NDE: Spirituality vs Religiosity

Very good blog article about the difference between THICK BOUNDARY and THIN BOUNDARY personality types.

A quote from the article: Thick boundary types would prefer organized religion because it’s clearly defined in its social structure and in its belief system. However, thin boundary types prefer more open-endedness and inconclusiveness which goes against most organized religion, especially of the highly organized variety such as the Catholic Church.

Research shows that thin boundary types are more open to non-ordinary experiences (i.e., spiritual, paranormal; et cetera). An NDE, by definition, is a thin boundary experience in that it’s a very personal experience of thin boundary between life and death.

Also have a look at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boundaries_of_the_mind .

Here’s a quote from that article:

Relationship to other personality traits: The Boundary Questionnaire has been related to the Five Factor Model of personality, and “thin boundaries” are mostly associated with openness to experience, particularly the facets of openness to fantasy, aesthetics, and feelings, although some of the content was correlated with neuroticism, extraversion, and low conscientiousness. Scores on the questionnaire are also positively correlated with absorption, transliminality, hypnotisability, and suggestibility. Thin boundaries are also associated with the Feeling and Intuition scales of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

Marmalade

Last night, I was listening to Coast to Coast AM. The host mentioned a study in passing which caught my interest. The study was about the impact of NDEs on spirituality and religion. He said the results of NDE experiencers was the opposite of those church attenders who never had an NDE. After their NDE, experiencers were increasingly interested in spirituality and yet their church attendance decreased. On the other hand, non-experiencers over time (as they aged?) became less interested in spirituality all the while attending church more often.

I tried to find this study, but was unable to find it. NDEs is the topic of tonight’s show on Coast to Coast Am. The guest is Pin van Lommel who has written about the topic, but I don’t know if the study is discussed in one of his books. I did find other research which was related. In the following paper, I found a description of research…

View original post 435 more words

1 Comment

Filed under Blogs I follow, Brain, Delusions, Hallucinations, Mind, Neuroscience, Religion, Soul, Woo

The Paranormal and Psychology: Personality traits correlated to SPEs ( Subjective Paranormal Experiences)

Very good overview of personality traits (and personality theories) applicable and relevant to people prone to magical & religious woo-bullshit thinking.

Marmalade

A hallucination may occur in a person in a state of good mental and physical health, even in the apparent absence of a transient trigger factor such as fatigue, intoxication or sensory deprivation.

It is not widely recognised that hallucinatory experiences are not merely the prerogative of the insane, or normal people in abnormal states, but that they occur spontaneously in a significant proportion of the normal population, when in good health and not undergoing particular stress or other abnormal circumstance.

The evidence for this statement has been accumulating for more than a century. Studies of hallucinatory experience in the sane go back to 1886 and the early work of the Society for Psychical Research[1][2], which suggested approximately 10% of the population had experienced at least one hallucinatory episode in the course of their life. More recent…

View original post 5,198 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogs I follow, Brain, Delusions, Hallucinations, Mind, Neuroscience, Religion, Soul, Woo