Monthly Archives: November 2015

12 bad reasons for rejecting scientific studies

Here are some very bad reasons or arguments for rejecting scientific studies (and therefore you can, of course, be damned sure to find them being referred to by woos and religious people).

xxx Science has often been wrong in the past, so why should I trust science today?

xxx Science is all about the money and no scientist gets money to research to confirm the “Other World” and its spiritual inhabitants.

xxx My gut feelings tell me science can’t be trusted. I rely on my intuition much more than I trust scientific research.

xxx I’m entitled to have my own opinion/belief. Science has no right whatsoever to decide what I should believe or not believe in.

xxx I’ve done my own research and my husband/wife agrees with me that my conclusions are correct.

xxx Science is based on dogma as much as religion is. And I prefer religious dogmas more that scientific ones, because religion is about Heaven or Hell, and I don’t want to go to Hell.

xxx Science is used by governments and politicians – not to speak of skeptics or atheists – to deceive and mislead us ordinary people.

xxx I trust my cousin who says he/she was cured by prayers instead of relying on and following his/her doctor’s advice. Why would my cousin want to lie to me?

More bad reasons/arguments can be found in the post I now reblog. Please, read it. I’m sure you are going to enjoy doing it – unless you are a woo or a religious person. (How can I be so sure of that? Because my cousin told me so. 🙂 )

xxx

The Logic of Science

quote there is nothing wrong with asking questions but you have to be willing to accept the answers to those questions vaccine safety scientific studyA few days ago, I posted what I thought was a fairly innocuous image (right) onto my blog’s Facebook page. I was, however, sadly mistaken. My page was quickly flooded with comments by people who arrogantly insisted that there was nothing wrong with blindly rejecting all of the thousands of studies showing that vaccines are safe. I probably shouldn’t have been surprised by this, but still, I was astounded by the level of hubris and willful ignorance that was being so proudly displayed. What didn’t surprise me, however, were the attempts at justifying such a baffling position. They included all of the usual tropes about conspiracies, scientists being paid off, government corruption, etc. (I have included screen shots of some of the responses to the meme throughout this post). Most of these responses suffered the same fundamental problem. Namely, they assumed that there was something wrong with the studies rather…

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Journey of the Human Mind Series: “The Three Curtains”

This blog post, written by my dear friend Charles Clanton Rogers, is full of both important information and knowledge about the scientific history of mankind.

Professor Rogers shows his readers/followers what was hidden behind the “curtains” of magical beliefs our ancestors used to cling to in their belief and thought paradigms.

I’m most interested in what professor Rogers can tell us about what’s hiding behind the third curtain, because that part of his interesting blog post is about the neuroscientific revolution, still ongoing.

That revolution can, in a way, be said to have started with the discovery that “the Ego is not even master in its own house, but must content itself with scanty information of what is going on unconsciously in its mind.” (A quote from Sigmund Freud.)

And here’s another telling quote from (I believe) professor Rogers himself: “Many people in the Twenty-first Century fail to recognize how the mind can be misled. Perception is often distorted and never absolute when tested objectively. I believe it is likely that humans have sought reality and truth from the dawn of civilization. The recognition of mortality causes Fear. Fear un-docks the mind from certainty which accentuates the fear. The lack of certainty makes man aware of the unknown.”

So true. So full of insight. (That’s why I believe must be from professor Rogers himself.)

One of his many (they are thirteen in all) references is the primatologist Robert Sapolsky, professor at Stanford University, USA. He’s an expert on the uniqueness of humans. And his conclusion is that human behavior is not as unique as we want and prefer to believe. For example: Researchers have found that monkeys and dogs have a clear sense of fairness. Rats show altruism and exhibit empathy. Chimps engage in war.

All these traits were once believed to belong solely to humans, but today we know that they also exist in other members of the animal kingdom.

Lately I read a paper in which the neuroscientist Christopher Petkov and his group at Newcastle University demonstrated/found that macaques and humans even share brain areas responsible for processing the basic structures of language!

And who doesn’t remember Alex the Parrot, who had “intelligent” conversations with his owner Irene Pepperberg, an animal psychologist. Read more about Alex here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_%28parrot%29 .

According to Sigmund Freud, mentioned in professor Rogers’ blog post, emotions play an important role in our lives.

I fully agree.

In fact, “emotions are not just the fuel that powers the psychological mechanism of a reasoning creature, they are parts, highly complex and messy parts, of this creature’s reasoning itself.”

That quote is taken from a reference not mentioned in the blog post I am now reblogging but from an essay entitled “The Intelligence of Emotions: Philosopher Martha Nussbaum on How Storytelling Rewires Us and Why Befriending Our Neediness Is Essential for Happiness”.

Here’s the link to that essay: https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/11/23/martha-nussbaum-upheavals-of-thought-neediness/ . Absolutely worth reading, too.

Talking of links, here’s another one: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-makes-our-brains-special/ .

I’m sure both professor Rogers and professor Sapolsky are going to like that article (about what makes the human brain so special and unique). And hopefully my own blog readers/followers will, too.

Charles Clanton Rogers

In dim old town alleyways.

Wizard 1

‘Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”  (OZ: “The Great and Powerful Wizard.”)

By the completion of  Frank Baum’s  classic allegory parable: The Wizard of Oz,  everyone sees that the man behind the curtain is a charlatan.  For the entire tale, the protagonist have been deceived by an ordinary liar attempting to convince them that he was the Great and Powerful Oz when he had no powers at all except for deception. His obfuscation was revealed when Toto  simply pulled back the curtain.[1]

Homo Sapiens started thinking of more than survival, let us say fifty-thousand years ago.  I propose that man’s search for clear thinking and truth, was frustrated by three curtains for 49,500 of the 50,000 years. [2]

That is for 99% of the history of the mind. I submit to you: there have been  three curtains obscuring the answers men sought.[3]

Curtain number one: The Earth…

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The brain’s default network: Anatomy, function, and relevance to disease. Plus three other important networks in your brain.

This is a very good and easy to understand article about the Default Mode Network (DMN) in our brain.

It is in the DMN the process of scene construction takes place, a kind of mental simulation of reality rather similar to what William James used to call the “stream of consciousness”.

Also read this article: http://emergentcognition.com/2015/11/17/scott-barry-kaufman-scientific-american-the-real-neuroscience-of-creativity/ . About how creativity is implemented in the brain.

In that article you can read about another default network in your brain: the Default Imagination Network (DIN).

The DIN is involved in constructing dynamic mental simulations based primarily on personal past experiences. It provides us with alternative perspectives and scenarios to the present “view”. The DIN is, in turn, dependent on how we are primed (i.e. what we are taught/conditioned to believe and/or how we interpret what we see, hear, experience and so on).

The DIN cooperates with two other neural networks: 1) the Executive Attention Network (EAN), and 2) the Salience Network (SN).

The EAN is all about attention vs. inattention. It helps us to focus and concentrate – or stop focusing/concentrating.

The SN tags the events (both external and/or internal) that we experience (become aware of), either consciously or unconsciously, and tells us how relevant (= salient) any information is with regard to solving the task at hand.

All three networks can, of course, be influenced by how our brains are primed. That’s why a believer in demons or angels interprets his experience as evidence of existence of spiritual other-worldly religious beings, whereas the UFO believer is convinced he has had an encounter with aliens.

Emergent Cognition Project

A shared human experience is our active internal mental life. Left without an immediate task that demands full attention, our minds wander jumping from one passing thought to next—what William James (1890) called the “stream of consciousness.” We muse about past happenings, envision possible future events, and lapse into ideations about worlds that are far from our immediate surroundings. In lay terms, these are the mental processes that make up fantasy, imagination, daydreams, and thought….

While remembering, envisioning the future, and conceiving the mental states of others are different on several dimensions including temporal focus (e.g., past versus present) and personal perspective (e.g., self versus another person), they all converge on similar core processes (Buckner & Carroll 2007). In each instance, one is required to simulate an alternative perspective to the present. These abilities, which are most often studied as distinct, rely on a common set of processes by which…

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The Bomb in the Brain. About Child Abuse: A Danger to World Stability.

Very important information about possible effects of child abuse (of both the mental – like neglect or bullying – and physical/sexual kind).

Many good links.

Nevertheless, I want to add this link too: https://spiritandanimal.wordpress.com/2015/10/10/the-bomb-in-the-brain-the-effects-of-child-abuse-information-clearing-house-ich-3/

The video is entitled: The Bomb in the Brain – The Effects of Child Abuse.

NeuroNotes

Physical as well as psychological abuse of the child is not only harmful but highly dangerous. Not only for the individual but under certain circumstances for whole nations. ~ A. Miller, Ph.D

Watch (Warning – video contains graphic material)

It is now clear that what a child experiences in the first few years of life largely determines how his brain will develop and how he/she will interact with the world throughout his life.—Ounce of Prevention Fund

Our brains are sculpted by our early experiences. Maltreatment is a chisel that shapes a brain to contend with strife, but at the cost of deep, enduring wounds. —Teicher

According to the World Health Organization,  ‘World Report on Violence and Health’,  children who grow up in a violent environment are more likely to be victims of child abuse. Those who are not direct victims have some of the same behavioral…

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Hormone from Hell? About the neurotransmitter dopamine.

A very good – and easily understandable – summary of in what ways we are influenced by the neurotransmitter dopamine.

I only want to add: This competent blogger has yet another blog, called Victoria Neuronotes. You should follow that blog too.

NeuroNotes

| 1K pharm  |  Dopamine is a small molecule. Nothing too complicated really. Two neighboring hydroxy groups on a benzene ring with an amino group just around the corner. But, oh! What a molecule. It is a neurotransmitter produced in various parts of the brain and has five known target receptors. According to the Wikipedia entry for the compound: “Its main function as a hormone is to inhibit the release of prolactin from the anterior lobe of the pituitary.” But, that belies a whole host of issues for which dopamine is responsible. Dopamine, after all, has a role to play in behavior and cognition, in voluntary movement, in motivation, in our level of concentration, working memory, learning, sleep patterns, our moods, sexual gratification, punishment, and, of course, reward.

Reward

We all know it when we receive it. It’s that most pleasurable feeling, that emotion that drives us…

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Death Cult Christianity

I just found another blog post to reblog. This time written by The Brazilian atheist John Zande, a very skillful anti-theist debater and blogger.

In this blog post John Zande analyzes Christianity from a death cult perspective. His post is full of valuable facts and data put together, by him, in a very praiseworthy way.

Maybe he should have analyzed also the concept of Christian martyrdom.Therefore I’m now going to add some facts about that aspect.

To start with, two links that might be of interest:

1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_martyrs ; and

2) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lapsi_(Christianity) .

Today we shake our heads when we see or hear about Muslim suicide bombers killing themselves at the same time as they kill innocent people (often seen as religious enemies, non-believers, wrongdoers, apostates etc).

Since the suicide bomber does this evil act in the name of Allah, he or she is promised, by an imam or cleric, to get/have instant access to all the enjoyments in Paradise immediately after his/her death.

But we must not forget that also Christians have practiced martyrdom by killing people belonging to other religions (maybe especially Islam).

By defending Christian religion and values and/or attacking those who refused to see Jesus as the Christ hypostasis of the God Trinity you could become a martyr, if you died (was killed) while trying to do this.

Here is another good article about Christian martyrs: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2012/10/christian_martyrdom_when_did_christians_stop_trying_to_die_for_god.html .

A quote from this article: “[…,] even Christian authorities have abandoned the prohibition against voluntary martyrdom. The diaries of medieval crusaders clearly indicate that they viewed themselves as martyrs, and Pope Urban II offered the fallen complete absolution and immediate passage to heaven. (The status of crusaders as voluntary martyrs is somewhat controversial, because they may have viewed themselves as draftees in a defensive war.)

Let me summarize like this: The concept of “Lying for Jesus” is still today rather well-known. But the idea of “Dying for Jesus” seems to have fallen into oblivion. So it’s about time to resuscitate that notion to show there are more reasons than the ones cited by John Zande to call Christianity a death cult religion. (I myself even consider the Christian Communion to be a cannibalistic ritual.)

David at Applied Faith has a post up, How Evangelicals Can Look Not-So-Crazy about the End Times, concerning the imminent arrival of the Christian End Times

“We’re in a climate where Christians are being mass-murdered and driven out of the Middle East. Russia is violently propping up the Shia regime in Syria, Iran may already have a nuclear weapon, and the United Nations routinely persecutes Israel. Many Christians believe that Islam is evil, and the followers of Muhammad may spawn The Anti-Christ.” 

As you might however have gathered from the article’s title, his worry is not the pending annihilation of our home planet and the eradication of all life at the hands of his particular Middle Eastern god, Yhwh, but rather the somewhat annoying fact that evangelicals, like himself, are broadly considered “crazy” by the general public when they start hollering the end is neigh. It’s an honest complaint, and…

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The logical paradox of ghost hunting

Most of us know – and it’s reiterated over and over again by true woo bullshit believers – that supernatural phenomena can’t be tested or measured the same way as is the case for natural physical phenomena, because supernatural energy emanating from the spiritual world doesn’t behave the same way as energy from the real physical world does.

Supernatural energy always hides from such equipment that is used to detect and measure “natural” energy.

This is as plain as a pikestaff. *Shush, don’t question this woo-ish claim, or else you risk becoming insane; it’s not worth it, unless you intend to become a woo yourself.*

So instruments and gadgets used to measure physical phenomena are worthless to use if you are aiming at detecting/measuring the supernatural, for example ghosts and other purely spiritual beings/entities/energy fields.

Yet we can see/hear/read almost daily that ghostbusters use scientific tools in their search for ghosts.

How come? Why is it so?

This 64,000 US dollar question is a real logical one since it’s building on so illogical woo premises.

The blogger himself prefers to call it a logical paradox. That’s very kind and humble by him, because some true woo believers can thereby misunderstand the whole thing and instead interpret that term (“logical paradox”) as evidence of something worth being considered as useful and taken seriously although it’s just ordinary woo bullshit.

You need not be blind in order to not seeing that. It’s enough if you’re a woo.

Woo-ish true believers won’t see anything contradictory at all by using scientific equipment to detect ghosts.

This talented blogger, whose post I’m now reblogging, claims that the tradition to use scientific equipment to look for ghosts is inherently self defeating! He is so right.

According to this blogger we basically have the following three possibilities:

1. Ghosts don’t exist

2. Supernatural ghosts do exist, but cannot be tested using science

3. “Ghosts” exist, but then that must mean they are natural, not supernatural, physical phenomena, and that claim is, in turn, proved by the fact that the ghosts can be documented using science apparatuses.

The Logic of Science

paradox inception meme Arthur Joseph Gordon-LevitMany people believe in the paranormal, and a great deal of time and effort is spent searching for evidence of it. Indeed, shows like “Ghost Hunters” are extremely popular, and the notion of using scientific equipment to detect the supernatural is well ingrained into our literature, movies, and culture more generally. The reality is, however, the ghost hunting is a perfect case study in pseudoscience, and it is based on a series of logical fallacies and amusing paradoxes.

Most obviously, ghost hunting (along with related pseudoscientific ventures such as UFO spotting, searches for Big Foot and Nessy, Creation Research, etc.) suffers a serious flaw which automatically removes it from the realm of science. Namely, it starts with a conclusion (i.e., ghosts exist), then tries to prove that conclusion. In contrast, real science always starts with the evidence, then forms a conclusion based on that evidence. This distinction is extremely important…

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About woo-ism, psychiatric symptoms and immune system disturbances

Autoimmune and inflammatory activities in the brain seem to be linked with psychiatric symptoms. Have a look at this article: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/10/25/451169292/could-depression-be-caused-by-an-infection

I even suspect there may be a positive correlation between woo-ism (believing woo experiences must be true/genuine/real phenomena PLUS also displaying a higher disposition towards experiencing such paranormal – and psychic – phenomena).

It’s undeniable that there exists an overlap between mental and physical illness. They have many symptoms in common.

Furthermore, lately researchers have detected a network of vessels that seem to be able to directly connect the brain with the immune system, so it’s not farfetched to assume that neuroinflammatory and/or neurodegenerative diseases are associated with immune system dysfunction.

For details, see: http://www.nature.com/articles/nature14432.epdf?referrer_access_token=M_gEqyTF4woL1TO0pPtt_dRgN0jAjWel9jnR3ZoTv0PP9svrp_06Oir1YyDWe7ejvVLL2VbrH_EwNtYJfrQFs76c429WdrHUa3kC6-ROdf0a_sf0Wq3y-_lXvDuWqqE81teEmgu9jJgiCo644XrZpoQFLHRhQL_oQbZPSnuILCbsmK4rEXRW91jKrI6Im8RIguooFs6WobJt6z2yuX7A2pJD0k4VDG0jAeie6V4PmjIrmox96-6NYWQfQMxCVLxb&tracking_referrer=www.npr.org .

There are also many indications that stressors of any kind, especially in childhood, can activate our immune system. A hyperactive immune system alarm goes hand in hand with autoimmune diseases. And woo believers are known to have more autoimmune disorder diagnoses than non-woo believers.

Examples of such stressors are physical abuse, sexual abuse, feelings of neglect and grief, nutritional deficiencies, sleep deprivation, and much more. A childhood full of stressors like these might pave the ground for woo beliefs later on.

This finding is, in turn, completely compatible with the positive correlation between woo believers and mental disorders like depression, GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder), bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. And those diagnoses are, in turn, suspected to be caused, partly, by an infection that has activated the immune-inflammatory system of their bodies.

So it’s easy to imagine that both stressors (like those I just mentioned) and Infections during childhood – maybe already in the womb – might work in concert with genetics to make that individual (already as a fetus) sensitive to not only psychosocial factors but also to become prone to believe in, and experience, paranormal phenomena.

BTW, Here’s a book I can recommend to all those interested in the woo-personality traits: http://www.davidritchey-author.com/hoa.htm .

The author David Ritchey summarizes his findings here: http://www.davidritchey-author.com/hoa-findings.htm . The following six points are listed (especially point #5 is of extra interest here):

1. Various factors including Biology (“nature”), Trauma and Abuse (“nurture”) and Temperament Type Preferences (“personality”) can predispose an individual to be an Anomalously Sensitive Person (ASP).

2. If an individual is anomalously sensitive in one realm (the “Physiological,” for example), s/he is very likely to be anomalously sensitive in the other realms (“Cognitive,” “Emotional,” “Altered States of Consciousness” and “Transpersonal Experiences”) as well.

3. The Anomalously Sensitive Person is likely to: be female, be hypopigmented (blond hair/blue eyes), be Non-Right-Handed (left-handed or ambidextrous), be artists, be born as one of a set of twins/triplets/etc. and have an other-than-conventionally heterosexual sexual orientation.

4. The Anomalously Sensitive Person is likely to: have an Introverted (rather than Extraverted) Orientation, have a preference for an Intuitive (rather than Sensate) mode of Perceiving and have a preference for a Feeling (rather than Thinking) mode of Judging.

5. The Anomalously Sensitive Person is likely to: have unusually sensitive immune systems, be highly reactive/responsive to sensory stimuli, exhibit learning/attention styles that differ from the norm, be very attuned to the emotions of both themselves and others, be especially facile at accessing Altered States of Consciousness and to frequently have Transpersonal (“metaphysical,” “paranormal,” “psychic”) Experiences.

6. The HISS data support the position of those negativists who hold that anomalous sensitivity is indicative of temporo-limbic epilepsy. The HISS data also support the position of those positivists who hold that anomalous sensitivity is indicative of kundalini arousal. The HISS data also support those who have no position and hold that anomalous sensitivity is indicative of anomalous sensitivity.

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