Category Archives: Science vs. pseudoscience

A common non sequitur

A blog post containing good examples of illogical conclusions so easily drawn by woos and others using the magical & religious thought processing system in our brains (a.k.a. IPS #1, the Information Processing System #1; for details, see https://bbnewsblog.wordpress.com/2015/07/02/the-two-information-processing-systems-ipss-in-your-brain-one-is-woo-ish-the-other-is-rational/ ).

Skeptical Exaddict

Recently I found an interesting non sequitur posed to an “atheist and freethinkers” Facebook group I belong to. Interesting because it’s an argument I’ve seen before. I commented that it was a non sequitur, and the OP didn’t know what that is. (Neither did I until recently, but Google is my friend.)

So what is a non sequitur? It’s Latin for “does not follow”. Very simply, it’s a bad logical argument where a conclusion is drawn that is not derived from the arguments presented. There are many different kinds of logical fallacies that result in non sequitur statements, but they do seem to follow a basic pattern, which is that some inference happens between the arguments and the conclusion; there’s a disconnect and some sort of implicit assumption going on, which is unstated.

For example: The sky is blue. My pen is blue. Conclusion: Who wrote the sky?

See…

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On Pascal’s wager

A brilliant rebuttal of Pascal’s wager.

Skeptical Exaddict

Pascal’s wager is something I had never heard of until yesterday. It is an excellent example of a false dilemma, also known as a false dichotomy.

Essentially, it states that it is better to believe in God than to risk eternity in Hell. From the rational wiki link, it can be summarized as:

  1. If you believe in God and God does exist, you will be rewarded with eternal life in heaven: thus an infinite gain.
  2. If you do not believe in God and God does exist, you will be condemned to remain in hell forever: thus an infinite loss.
  3. If you believe in God and God does not exist, you will not be rewarded: thus a finite loss.
  4. If you do not believe in God and God does not exist, you will not be rewarded, but you have lived your own life: thus a finite gain.

It can be…

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Words Can Literally Change Your Brain & Perception Of Reality

A little while ago I wrote this post on my own blog: https://bbnewsblog.wordpress.com/2015/10/14/magical-thinking-springs-up-everywhere-and-language-is-its-accomplice-how-language-can-and-does-deceive-us/ .

Now I notice that also my knowledgeable cyberfriend Victoria Neuronotes has written a post about how words literally can change the brain wirings and the way we perceive and interpret what is going on in the world (called reality) we all live in.

Not only are words able to offend or encourage, they also deceive and prime our brains. They influence our salience, that is our (mostly) unconscious need/habit to decide (also unconsciously) what is more valuable – or less valuable – to us.

Words also contribute to make us more biased. Especially religious people are very good at paraphrasing. That’s why they so easily can worship a God like the Abrahamic evil and punishing God and even claim, in a spirit of ecumenical and monotheistic understanding, that the God of the Muslims, Jews and Christians actually is the same God – a claim that is logically false. (Also consider the difference between monotheism and monolatrism/monolatry, where monolatrism is the recognition of the existence of many gods, but with the consistent worship of only one of all these deities, while monotheism is the doctrine or belief that there is only one real and true God.)

Victoria NeuroNotes

In 2011, on New Year’s Eve, I started thinking about all the years I spent in church listening to preachers talk dirt about humanity. I recalled the years I had a negative self-image. I knew why.

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How smells can influence and bias your mind (not only the smell of fear). Why ghost believers and ghost busters often have scary feelings.

Your brain is able to literally smell the sense of fear. It’s not a sixth sense. Nothing paranormal or supernatural at all.

Instead, this unconscious ability can help explain, for example, why ghost believers, if being in the same allegedly haunted house, often trigger each other to share the same spooky experience. 

As a matter of fact, the smell of fear is very contagious (cf. the mass hysteria phenomenon, in which a large group of people exhibit the same state of mental agitation). 

In many animals this ability to smell the chemicals of fear is pretty advanced. Just think of dogs who nowadays are trained for detecting cancer, bomb chemicals, truffle, dope – you name it. 

It’s all about the vomeronasal organ (VNO), an auxillary olfactory organ located in the brain. The VNO contains sensory neurons specialized to detect chemical stimuli. These neurons target the amygdala, the brain’s fear center. 

The vomeronasal system is important for reproduction and social behavior (think of pheromones, chemical substances secreted externally in order to influence the physiology and behavior of others belonging to the same species). 

The presence of a VNO structure in adult human beings is still debated, expecially how functional such a VNO in adult human beings might be. For details, have a look at this paper: http://chemse.oxfordjournals.org/content/26/4/433.full . 

Here’s a quote from the abstract: [There are] conflicting evidence for and against human VNO function but chemical communication does appear to occur among humans. However, several examples reported in the literature do not meet the proposed definition for communication by pheromones: ‘chemical substances released by one member of a species as communication with another member, to their mutual benefit’.

And here are three more articles about this interesting topic: 1) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/3545435/The-smell-of-fear-is-real-claim-scientists.html  (Title: The smell of fear is real, claim scientists); 2) http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2015/10/20/4333431.htm (Title: Sharing the scent of fear); and 3) http://www.livescience.com/24578-humans-smell-fear.html (Title: Humans smell fear, and it’s contagious). 

Many woos are convinced that they can detect paranormal scents. For instance the scent of a ghost. Here is one of the best articles I’ve found on that matter:  http://www.assap.ac.uk/newsite/articles/Paranormal%20smells.html (Title Paranormal smells). Highly recommendable reading! 

Among the bizarre olfactory phenomena mentioned in that article are phantom smells, for example phantosmia. This is a form of olfactory hallucination, i.e. the perception of a smell in the absence of any physical odors.

If there is a misinterpretation of an existent physical stimulus,the proper medical term is parosmia. Such olfactory dysfunctions (a.k.a. dysomias) are characterized by the inability of the brain to properly identify an odor’s “natural” smell. 

These distortions of smell are not as common as phantom smells, but parosmia is still something that must be taken into consideration whenever a certain odor is associated with a haunting. 

Among ghost hunters a well-known sub-category of parosmia is known as troposmia or cacosmia. 
 
What then happens in the ghosthunter’s brain is that the natural odor is transcribed into what is most often described as an unpleasant aroma, typically a burned, rotting, fecal, or chemical (like sulphurous) smell. (So its not a totally odd idea to believe some ghost “souls” seemingly must have been dwelling in Hell before returning to the surface of Earth in order to pay us a visit.) 
 
Nevertheless, sometimes there might instead be instances of pleasant scents. so-called euosmia (which perhaps may induce thoughts of an afterlife in Heaven).
 
Because foul odors are so easily associated with negative hauntings, falsely smelling a foul odor may cause a bias in perception of a haunting.
 
Smells are known to become trapped in fabrics, wooden structures, even masonry and so on. The scent ions may be released years later, if the right humidity, temperatures, or barometric pressures are at hand. 
 
So, just to summarize: Neither conscious nor unconscious odors are proof of any ghost activity. But smells are able to influence and bias your mind, especially if you are a woo that has primed your brain to process information in a magical and religious way by clinging to the intuitive, illogical and preposterous information processing system a.k.a. IPS #1, the way a child’s mind is processing information. For more details, see:  https://bbnewsblog.wordpress.com/2015/07/02/the-two-information-processing-systems-ipss-in-your-brain-one-is-woo-ish-the-other-is-rational/ .

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17 not-so-stupid questions for Atheists

I found this nice and lovely post on Tiffany’s Non-Blog (run by Tiffany267, a “professional” bullshit debunker and, at the same time, pearl finder); see: https://tiffany267.wordpress.com/2015/10/21/questions-for-atheists-asked-and-answered/

Tiffany267 tells her followers that the original post can be read here: https://boldquestions.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/17-not-so-stupid-questions-for-atheists/

She also gave this motivation for “reblogging” the post: “One of my favorite atheist bloggers shared this list of questions targeted to atheists and some wonderful responses. Please enjoy!”

I just say: Hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I – and seemingly Tiffany267 – did.

From now on I’m following this “Question With Boldness” blog.

Question With Boldness

Godless Mom was contacted by a christian student with a series of questions.  And, surprise, instead of being “gotcha” questions, they seem to be actual genuine questions, a real effort to understand non-belief.  So I’ll answer them here, and also cross-post them in the comments to the original blog entry, here:

http://godlessmom.com/questions-for-atheists-from-a-college-student-answer-them-yourself/?utm_content=buffera2f92&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Other bloggers and commenters have answered them, but I’m going to give my own answers without comparison to theirs.  So I apologize if this comes out as repetitive.

1. Why are you an atheist?

Because I don’t have enough evidence to warrant belief in any god.

2. Have you ever believed in a Higher Power?

Sure, I was raised liberal Protestant, and it was just the assumption everyone made.  God’s in charge, Jesus loves you, so let’s sing some more songs about love.  I was the kid that was involved in everything – Sunday school, youth group, youth…

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Religious Trauma Syndrome: How Some Organized Religion Leads to Mental Health Problems

The existence of a Religious Trauma Syndrome (RTS) is often denied by true believers and others who support religious beliefs and think that religious faith is good for humanity.

But the RTS is, indeed, for real. Many tears have been shed because of that sort of traumas.

So, please, read Valerie Tarico’s take on this important topic very carefully.

Also read Marlene Winell’s take (in three parts) on that same subject on the Ex-Christian blog:

Part 1 = http://new.exchristian.net/2011/06/religious-trauma-syndrome-its-time-to.html .

Part 2 = http://new.exchristian.net/2011/07/understanding-religious-trauma-syndrome.html .

Part 3 = http://new.exchristian.net/2011/11/trauma-from-leaving-religion.html

It’s not going to extremes calling religion a poisonous method that obstructs and complicates people’s endeavours to find a high quality of life. It also hinders you from becoming a really “free” thinker, one who is allowed to study any books s/he likes.

Many philosophers, politicians and scientists have expressed their gloomy ideas of religion and its future.

For example, Karl Marx said: “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people”.

Frederick II once said: “Religion is the idol of the mob; it adores everything it does not understand”.

Napoleon Bonaparte said: “Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich”.

Friedrich Nietzsche said. “In Christianity neither morality nor religion come into contact with reality at any point”.

He also said: “The Christian resolution to find the world ugly and bad has made the world ugly and bad”.

Albert Einstein (who didn’t believe in any personal God of the Abrahamic kind) said. Science without religion is lame, [but] religion without science is [also] blind.
At the same time he also said: “The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity”.

If Albert Einstein had been alive today, I think he would have stated: Things about religion seemingly have to become worse before they at last can be transformed to a non-poisonous life philosophy. There is still a very long way to go for today’s religions all around the world.

BTW, talking of promoting science and reason, have a look at this blog post: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/about-thinking/201510/what-can-we-learn-ben-carsons-brain .

From that blog post we learn that, unfortunately,neither intelligence nor (high) education is able to promote ‘good thinking’.

And finally, my own take on this:

Religious cults are nowadays mostly confined to having to rely on ‘God of the Gaps’ arguments. The primary goal for today’s cult leaders has become to try to convince their ignorant and incredulous followers that science is, always, wrong, meaning that it’s, also always, better to believe in what holy scriptures like the Bible and Koran say is the truth. That strategy is also known as intellectual dishonesty.

ValerieTarico.com

Religious Trauma Syndrome- AnguishAt age sixteen I began what would be a four year struggle with bulimia.  When the symptoms started, I turned in desperation to adults who knew more than I did about how to stop shameful behavior—my Bible study leader and a visiting youth minister.  “If you ask anything in faith, believing,” they said.  “It will be done.” I knew they were quoting the Word of God. We prayed together, and I went home confident that God had heard my prayers.

But my horrible compulsions didn’t go away. By the fall of my sophomore year in college, I was desperate and depressed enough that I made a suicide attempt. The problem wasn’t just the bulimia.  I was convinced by then that I was a complete spiritual failure. My college counseling department had offered to get me real help (which they later did). But to my mind, at that point, such help…

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Science vs. religion: How to evaluate evidence. Original title: What Did The Atheist Say To The Elephant?

This blog post is entitled “What Did The Atheist Say To The Elephant?”

Nevertheless this scholarly essay-like post should be tagged as belonging to the religion vs. science debate.

So the elephant (or elephant metaphor) isn’t the important thing here. Instead, it’s much more about evidence and how to interpret evidence of divine beings a.k.a. gods or Hidden Causal Agents (HCAs).

I’ve written a long comment to Charles Rogers’ blog post. And that comment I’m going to insert as an introduction and complement on my own blog.

Here is my comment almost in extenso:

In the introduction you wonder what an atheist would say after he had examined your elephant. You suggest that maybe the atheist would say: “There is no elephant.”

No, I don’t think so. If I were the atheist, I would instead say the following (fasten your safety belt because it will be a very long, and partly bumpy, ride):

Now I enter the podium to give my “TED Talk”:

Listen. folks! No one knows enough to prove – in an objective way – what this object (called, by some, an elephant) is we have in front of us.

Yet your claims of what some of you have found and concluded, by examination of the object, are of the absolute kind. You show no relativism at all in your theory buildings. That I would call a preposterous and presumptuous take on this special matter.

If your hypothesis (your theory building) can be shown to be wrong in some detail (or some details), then your hypothesis can’t be totally correct. And then it’s no longer an absolute hypothesis; It has become a relativistic one.

That is, for sure, not good for the credibility of a hypothesis claiming to represent the absolute TRUTH.

Therefore, if I can show you, maybe even convince you, by demonstrating in a theoretical way that some details your hypotheses rely on can’t be correct, then that in turn must mean – and the conclusion be – that I have invalidated your hypotheses and that you are obliged to elaborate more in order to face the challenges they don’t meet at the moment.

Wait, don’t leave me now. I’ve got more to tell you. Please, be seated again, don’t leave.

Let’s look at your hypotheses from yet another angle. If you agree that you are all damn sure just your interpretation of the object is the only correct one, then you also insist that only you are the one who has got the absolute TRUTH about this object we all have examined here today.

So, what does that implicate? If more than one of you insist just they have found the absolute TRUTH, of course all of you (claiming that you’ve found the absolute truth) can’t be right. N’est-ce pas (Isn’t it)?

Now I want to paraphraze Christopher Hitchens. He used to say this: Let’s suppose there are 3,000 religions in the world. If 2,999 of them are deemed false by you, would it not then be more honest if you admitted that this indicates that also the 3,000th religious faith probably is a false one?

Or why should just your religious faith be the one winning the top lottery prize?

Some of you (who claim you’ve found the absolute TRUTH) MUST, are bound to, be wrong, Only one can, by definition, win the top lottery prize. Either you win it – or you don’t. Tertium non datur (meaning there is no middle alternative in which more than one can win. But at the same time it’s possible that no one wins the top lottery prize because it’s possible the winning ticket remains in the tombola).

The conclusion must therefore be like this: Two existing religious claims of having found the absolute TRUTH can’t both be correct at the same time, i.e. either the claim X is right and claim Y is wrong – or claim X is wrong and claim Y is right. And, as said in the paragraph above, of course nothing prohibits that both claim X and claim Y are wrong at the same time.

Oh, I see that some of you seem to be ready to leave the room now. Please, don’t! Instead continue listening, folks, because I’ve got some more interesting things to say.

Have you heard of something called science – and scientific research?

Good!

Then you should know that science is not about claiming to have found any absolute TRUTH. All real science is relativistic. It conveys no absolute TRUTHS. That’s how science works.

Rather, it accumulates empirical evidence for or against various hypotheses. By doing this, science can show – even demonstrate – that some phenomena must be incompatible with the laws of physics (at least in the way we currently understand them).

And believe me, we understand those physical laws better and better.

This also shows the great advantage of science: It accumulates empirical evidence for or against various hypotheses.

So, If I can show you that religious (faith) ideas are incompatible with the laws of physics as we currently understand them today, by having accumulated empirical evidence for them during hundreds of years, then the probability is very high that they actually are correct, since they are supported by all this evidence.

Please notice I’m now talking of probabilities, not absoluteness. That’s how science works.

In fact we all rely on and have trust in probabilities.

For example. let’s say I invite you to play the lethal game of Russian roulette (just as an example, don’t try this at home) and offer you two different revolvers, one with one of its six chambers loaded with a round and the other six-shooter loaded with five rounds. Then I’m pretty sure you’ll choose to use the revolver with only one round in its six chambers. N’est-ce pas?

So probability is something we all have to deal with in our daily lives. And we rely on what probability tells us.

As a matter of fact, because scientific data are based on not only observations but also on experimental data, we should be allowed to regard science to be more reliable than religious faith, since such faith is based solely on subjective emotions and feelings, and we know today that emotion-based knowledge is very unreliable (just as memories and testimonies are).

In short, there is a constantly increasing amount of evidence supporting the view that those people who believe in gods (i.e. have a religious faith) probably have fallen prey to unreliable inner experiences/feelings, false memories, unreliable testimonies from others, different kinds of biases (like confirmation bias, wishful thinking and so on).

So religious faith and science are like two boxers in the boxing ring. In one corner you find a boxer who trusts the laws of physics (finding them very reliable because they have been tested so many times by so many different scientists and by such an enormous number of rigorous and high-precision experiments that they leave no room for religious beings driven by as yet undiscovered kinds of energy).

In in another corner of the boxing ring you find the religiously true believer, who says, “I trust my gut feelings and they tell me to believe there is a divine entity governing and/or guiding our lives.

Their boxing gloves contains arguments. These arguments are used to knock out the opponent.

The scientific boxer is supported by a coach who tells him: IF there still are undetected forms of energy “out there”, that must mean those new kinds of energy have to interact with the already known energy forms. But this – as you have seen – does not happen. Take the GPS as an example. Thanks to the GPS we can find out pretty exactly where we happen to be on the surface of Earth. If there were still undetected energy forms, they should interact with the GPS. But we can’t find any traces of such interactions.

And the coach continues: Spoon-bending is another good example. Spoons are made of atoms (exactly as all other objects are). Today’s physicists know exactly how much energy is available in a spoon. They also know the masses of the atoms (forming a spoon). They also know the kinetic energy of thermal motions within the metal the spoon is made of.

In short, and taken together, we can say without hesitating the least, that any new particles, or hidden energies, that might exist within a spoon would have been detected long ago in experiments made by physicists all over the world. BUT THAT IS NOT THE CASE.

The scientific boxer becomes dull of confidence that he’s going to win the boxing match.

The coach of the religiously true believer tells his client. Just believe in God. And if you also pray to God between the rounds, you can’t lose. God never desert His believers. And if He does, and you lose the boxing fight, then there is a meaning behind that godly decision, maybe to make you a humbler man or something like that.

Now I reach the end of my lecture.

Therefore I decide turn to KK, the medicine man of this RWT community/group, directly.

Dear, KK, My answer to your question how an atheist would describe the elephant-like object can be summarized in the follopwing way:

I believe the four well-known natural physical laws are correct. They have been validated in millions of experiments over the years.

These four natural physical laws leave no room for beliefs in divine entities.

So either the physical laws are correct (using that adjective in the scientific way). and the belief that we are surrounded or at least influenced by divine entities is wrong.

Or else all the accumulated knowledge that physics has gained and validated so far (during many centuries) must be thrown in the dust-bin and be considered more or less worthless.

It this were the case, then today’s physicists would advise us not to rely on the GPS. And the physicists should admit that, of course, spoons can be bended spontaneously, by themselves, and that, also of course, a broken window can be whole again (by reversing the time arrow) etc.

I myself find it much easier to believe in Santa Claus than to believe that all accumulated and validated data in the field of physics should be thrown in the dust-bin.

Concerning your elephant metaphor, KK, i tell you this: I didn’t get the opportunity to examine the whole elephant-liek object, neither did the other examinators get that opportunity. So I avoid expressing my thoughts of what constitutes the elephant-like object. And I find it impossible to make a complete and all-encompassing statement about your elephant-like object. No absolute TRUTHS can be said of that object.

Therefore I choose to criticize all the other examinators for trying to launch absolute explanations of what the object really is. By doing that, they are not honest people. Cf. the saying “Lying for Jesus”, Even the church fathers had a long tradition of lying for Jesus. See for example:https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=A7x9UnwBIBVWwgIAURU_Ogx.;_ylu=X3oDMTByaGwzcXNvBHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDOARjb2xvA2lyMgR2dGlkAw–?qid=20090125072821AA3Fv7m

I hope you are satisfied with my answer, KK.

BTW, I recommend you to read this article: http://www.livescience.com/52364-origins-supernatural-relgious-beliefs.html. It’s about the plausible origins of supernatural/magical and religious beliefs. A very interesting article, also summarizing today’s knowledge of the matter.

Please, tell me your thoughts of what can be read in that article.

Charles Clanton Rogers

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Six blind men were asked to determine what an elephant looked like by feeling different parts of the elephant’s body. The blind man who feels a leg says the elephant is like a pillar; the one who feels the tail says the elephant is like a rope; the one who feels the trunk says the elephant is like a tree branch; the one who feels the ear says the elephant is like a hand fan; the one who feels the belly says the elephant is like a wall; and the one who feels the tusk says the elephant is like a solid pipe. At the risk of offending someone, I suggest That Moses, Jesus, and other iconic giants describe a part of the elephant.[1]  What did the Atheist say after his examination? “There is no elephant”?

I wrote, “The Individual, the Family, the Tribe.”(2)

http://therogerspost.com/2015/10/03/individual-tribe/

My friend and sparring…

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REBLOGGED from I Doubt It: If you think Bigfoot is an interdimensional being, you’ve lost your footing.

Thank you, Sharon Hill, for this excellent and unveiling blog article!

I just have to share it with my followers.

Sharon shows her readers how magical and/or religious(like) thinking can end up in superstition of the most supernatural kind.

She discloses woo bullshit thinking and ditto reasoning at its best (or I should probably rather use the adverb “worst” here).

Anyhow, in her article she gives many examples of how true believers in woo bullshit both act and react. True believers are clearly emotion-driven. They use, also as adults, the same information processing system (in their brains) that prevails during childhood. Logical thinking is none ot their businesses.

(If interested, read more about the brain’s two information processing systems – a.k.a. IPSs – here: https://bbnewsblog.wordpress.com/2015/07/02/the-two-information-processing-systems-ipss-in-your-brain-one-is-woo-ish-the-other-is-rational/ . But now back to Sharon Hill.

Here are some quotes taken from her blog article.

She concludes:

1) Actively engaging in supernatural creep means you’ve crossed a line. No longer looking for a reasonable explanation, you have become unreasonable, uncritical, and lost in the spooky fog. No satisfactory answers can be found that way. You’ll only fall down deeper into the rabbit hole.

2) [The whole thing is] rather religious, if no rational evidence or discussion will work. I’ve heard it suggested more than once that UFOlogy, Bigfootology and ghostology are very much like religion. Spiritualism actually was one and there are several alien-themed religions and those based on nature spirits. It’s a short leap when belief is the priority.

Those are conclusions I myself can – and want to – subscribe to.

Sharon Hill really deserves great honor and praise for daring to speak out her mind on this woo-ish matter. So I want to finish this “introduction” by saying, BRAVO! Thank you so much for your brave and disclosing blog, Sharon!

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Just face the facts, there is no soul, there is no afterlife. It’s your wishful thinking that deceives you.

In the autumn of 2014 Dr. Sam Parnia’s long awaited AWARE study about the authenticity of Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) as evidence of a surviving soul was published.

Dr. Parnia’s study can, at best, be described as very disheartening and depressing for those believing that NDEs are evidence of a soul that survives the bodily (physical) death.

Almost exactly a year ago I posted this blog focusing that interesting subject, see: https://bbnewsblog.wordpress.com/2014/10/07/as-i-said-before/

Now, a year later, I think it’s about time to have a new look at the NDE phenomena and how they can be explained without involving religious bullshit concepts like god(s), soul(s) or afterlife.

Let me start by asking you this question: Are you acquainted with a blog named “Imperfect Cognitions”?
Anyhow, it’s a site where all kinds of delusional beliefs, hallucinations and distorted memories are discussed:
In today’s newsletter from “Imperfect Cognitions” I found this blog post, written by Hayley Dewe, a PhD student from the School of Psychology at the University of Birmingham. The title is: “Debunking Dualist Notions of Near-Death Experiences”.  You find her article here:  http://imperfectcognitions.blogspot.se/2015/09/debunking-dualist-notions-of-near-death.html .
Hayley Dewe’s research is based in The Selective Attention and Awareness laboratory, directed by Jason Braithwaite. Her research focuses on the neurocognitive correlates of anomalous (for example hallucinatory) experience, specifically pertaining to the ‘self’, embodiment, and consciousness.She explains NDEs in the following way:

NDEs are striking experiences that typically occur when one is close to death or exposed to life-threatening situations of intense physical and/or emotional danger (first coined by Moody 1975, Life after Life. New York: Bantam Books). This unusual experience includes a variety of aberrant components such as: sensations of peace and vivid imagery, bright flashes of light, the sensation of travelling through a dark tunnel towards a bright light, a disconnection from the physical body (a shift in perspective: the Out-of-Body Experience), and the sensation of entering a light / visions of an ‘afterlife’ etc.

And she continues:

From a parapsychological (or survivalist / supernatural) perspective, NDEs are understood as mystical and spiritual experiences that expose the individual to another world (or afterlife). This is taken as evidence for the survival of bodily death (i.e. dualism); that the mind/consciousness is not dependent on the brain.

In stark contrast is the scientific/neuroscience perspective. Here, it is argued that NDEs are hallucinatory phenomena, generated by a disinhibited and highly confused, dying brain (known as the ‘dying brain account’).

After this introduction she argues that:

#1: There are a host of logical fallacies and methodological discrepancies within the parapsychological literature.
#2: There appears to be no objective study validating the presence of an entirely inactive human brain with the simultaneous occurrence of an NDE!
#3: Even if there were evidence of a completely inactive brain, and subsequent recollection of an NDE, how could one pinpoint the precise time frame during which the NDE components occurred? That is, the NDE itself may well have occurred before levels of brain activity became ‘inactive’ (or ‘flattened’), or even experienced and recalled afterwards, during recovery.
#4: No component of the NDE is actually unique to the ‘near-death’ experience.
#5: As a matter of fact, you needn’t necessarily be ‘near to death’ to experience NDE phenomena.
So the only reasonable and likely conclusion seems to be: Dualist / Survivalist arguments of NDEs are, at the very best, flawed.
And I myself want to add here: They are not only flawed. They are completely wrong, built as they seem to be on wishful magical and religious bullshit thinking .
In short: THERE IS NO SOUL! Forget what you’ve read or heard about that religious bullshit concept.
And if souls don’t exist, the corollary must be: YOU’D BETTER FORGET ABOUT THE BELIEF IN AN AFTERLIFE, TOO.
For more details, see: https://www.skeptic.org.uk/magazine/onlinearticles/497-braithwaite-dying-brain (Towards a Cognitive Neuroscience of the Dying Brain), and:  https://www.academia.edu/10060970/Occams_Chainsaw_Neuroscientific_Nails_in_the_coffin_of_dualist_notions_of_the_Near-death_experience_NDE_  (Occam’s Chainsaw: Neuroscientific Nails in the Coffin of Dualist Notions of the Near-death Experience [NDE]).
In the coming weeks or months I hope to have time to blog about the non-existent soul and non-existent afterlife.
But for the time being I have to confine myself to recommend all (true) soul believers – that is those who refuse to abandon their bullshit ideas of soul and afterlife – to study the contents in blog posts like these: https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/05/26/sean-carroll-we-dont-have-immortal-souls/ , http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2011/05/23/physics-and-the-immortality-of-the-soul/#.Vgrou3qqqko , and http://jayarava.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/there-is-no-life-after-death-sorry.html .
Need I say more? Yes, I think I also need to say that true believers are not so easily convinced that soul and afterlife are typical religious bullshit concepts. Sacrosanct beliefs, anchored in religious faith, are unfortunately extremely difficult to eradicate. For more details, see: https://victorianeuronotes.wordpress.com/2015/09/08/are-brainwashing-techniques-in-the-bible-and-strategically-used-in-churches/ .

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Filed under Atheism, Christianity, Cognitive flaws, Consciousness, Delusions, Gods, Hallucinations, Islam, Jesus, Judaism, Mind, Neuroscience, Philosophy, Psychology, Religion, Science vs. pseudoscience, Soul, Theological bullshit, Woo, Woo-Personality

THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT LOGICAL FALLACIES: 24 common ways of wrong-thinking that often lead to distorted conclusions.

All of us every now and then fall a victim to logical wrong-thinking. In fact we are full of intellectual vices.
Sometimes this mental deficit or dysfunction/malfunction is called LMD (the Lazy Mind Syndrome). Read more about LMS here: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/11/16/920860/-BEWARE-Lazy-Mind-Syndrome-LMS-growing-mental-disorder-in-U-S-endangers-our-American-democracy# .
LMS seems to be unusually prevalent in religiously true believers. Probably that’s why the representatives of the American political American Right show such a profound intellectual dishonesty and indulge in angry, arrogant and dishonest rantings and never – or at least very rarely – apologize for their blind misstatements, personal attacks, under-handed insinuations and direct factual contradictions.
While googling for Lazy Mind-articles I also found this pdf article: THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT LOGICAL FALLACIES: 24 common ways of wrong-thinking that often lead to distorted conclusions. See:  https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/pdf/FallaciesPoster16x24.pdf .
I immediately understood that this overview of common logical fallacies can explain many, if not all, of the misstatements done by both religious and political (yes, you’re right, they ARE overlapping each other in a very distinct manner) true believers.
A logical fallacy is defined as a flaw in reasoning. Strong arguments are void of logical fallacies, whilst arguments that are weak tend to use logical fallacies to appear stronger than they are. They are frequently, and often also very sneakily, used by politicians, priests, ministers and others twho earn a living by fooling people in one way or another.
So don’t be fooled! Take a look at these 24 common methods and techniques that so often are used by true believers.
Because the poster with the 24 logical fallacies is published under a Creative Commons No Derivative Works license 2012, by a man named Jesse Richardson, you are free to print, copy, and redistribute this artwork, with the binding provison that you reproduce it in full so that others may share alike.
Here are the 24 logical fallacies that thou shalt not commit yourself and that thou shalt look for when meeting and debating a true believer.
1) STRAWMAN: Misrepresenting someone’s argument to make it easier to attack. By exaggerating, misrepresenting, or just completely fabricating someone’s argument, it’s much easier to present your own position as being reasonable, but this kind of dishonesty serves to undermine rational debate.
After Will said that we should put more money into health and education, Warren responded by saying that he was surprised that Will hates our country so much that he wants to leave it defenceless by cutting military spending
2) FALSE CAUSE: Presuming that a real or perceived relationship between things means that one is the cause of the other. Many people confuse correlation (things happening together or in sequence) for causation (that one thing actually causes the other to happen). Sometimes correlation is coincidental, or it may be attributable to a common cause.
Pointing to a fancy chart, Roger shows how temperatures have been rising over the past few centuries, whilst at the same time the numbers of pirates have been decreasing; thus pirates cool the world and global warming is a hoax.
3) APPEAL TO EMOTION: Manipulating an emotional response in place of a valid or compelling argument. Appeals to emotion include appeals to fear, envy, hatred, pity, guilt, and more. Though a valid, and reasoned, argument may sometimes have an emotional aspect, one must be careful that emotion doesn’t obscure or replace reason.
Luke didn’t want to eat his sheep’s brains with chopped liver and brussels sprouts, but his father told him to think about the poor, starving children in a third world country who weren’t fortunate enough to have any food at all.
4) THE FALLACY FALLACY: Presuming a claim to be necessarily wrong because a fallacy has been committed. It is entirely possibly to make a claim that is false yet argue with logical coherency for that claim, just as is possible to make a claim that is true and justify it with various fallacies and poor arguments.
Recognising that Amanda had committed a fallacy in arguing that we should eat healthy food because a nutritionist said it was popular, Alyse said we should therefore eat bacon double cheeseburgers every day.
5) SLIPPERY SLOPE: Asserting that if we allow A to happen, then Z will consequently happen too, therefore A should not happen. The problem with this reasoning is that it avoids engaging with the issue at hand, and instead shifts attention to baseless extreme hypotheticals. The merits of the original argument are then tainted by unsubstantiated conjecture.
Colin Closet asserts that if we allow same-sex couples to marry, then the next thing we know we’ll be allowing people to marry their parents, their cars and even monkeys.
6) AD HOMINEM: Attacking your opponent’s character or personal traits in an attempt to undermine their argument. Ad hominem attacks can take the form of overtly attacking somebody, or casting doubt on their character. The result of an ad hom attack can be to undermine someone without actually engaging with the substance of their argument.
After Sally presents an eloquent and compelling case for a more equitable taxation system, Sam asks the audience whether we should believe anything from a woman who isn’t married, was once arrested, and smells a bit weird.
7) TU QUOQUE: Avoiding having to engage with criticism by turning it back on the accuser – answering criticism with criticism. Literally translating as ‘you too’ this fallacy is commonly employed as an effective red herring because it takes the heat off the accused having to defend themselves and shifts the focus back onto the accuser themselves.
Nicole identified that Hannah had committed a logical fallacy, but instead of addressing the substance of her claim, Hannah accused Nicole of committing a fallacy earlier on in the conversation.
8) PERSONAL INCREDULITY: Saying that because one finds something difficult to understand, it’s therefore not true. Subjects such as biological evolution via the process of natural selection require a good amount of understanding before one is able to properly grasp them; this fallacy is usually used in place of that understanding.
Kirk drew a picture of a fish and a human and with effusive disdain asked Richard if he really thought we were stupid enough to believe that a fish somehow turned into a human through just, like, random things happening over time.
9) SPECIAL PLEADING: Moving the goalposts or making up exceptions when a claim is shown to be false. Humans are funny creatures and have a foolish aversion to being wrong. Rather than appreciate the benefits of being able to change one’s mind through better understanding, many will invent ways to cling to old beliefs.
Edward Johns claimed to be psychic, but when his ‘abilities’ were tested under proper scientific conditions, they magically disappeared. Edward explained this saying that one had to have faith in his abilities for them to work.
10) LOADED QUESTION: Asking a question that has an assumption built into it so that it can’t be answered without appearing guilty. Loaded question fallacies are particularly effective at derailing rational debates because of their inflammatory nature – the recipient of the loaded question is compelled to defend themselves and may appear flustered or on the back foot.
Grace and Helen were both romantically interested in Brad. One day, with Brad sitting within earshot, Grace asked in an inquisitive tone whether Helen was having any problems with a fungal infection.
11) BURDEN OF PROOF: Saying that the burden of proof lies not with the person making the claim, but with someone else to disprove. The burden of proof lies with someone who is making a claim, and is not upon anyone else to disprove. The inability, or disinclination, to disprove a claim does not make it valid (however we must always go by the best available evidence).
Bertrand declares that a teapot is, at this very moment, in orbit around the Sun between the Earth and Mars, and that because no one can prove him wrong his claim is therefore a valid one.
12) AMBIGUITY: Using double meanings or ambiguities of language to mislead or misrepresent the truth. Politicians are often guilty of using ambiguity to mislead and will later point to how they were technically not outright lying if they come under scrutiny. It’s a particularly tricky and premeditated fallacy to commit.
When the judge asked the defendant why he hadn’t paid his parking fines, he said that he shouldn’t have to pay them because the sign said ‘Fine for parking here’ and so he naturally presumed that it would be fine to park there.
13) THE GAMBLER’S FALLACY: Believing that ‘runs’ occur to statistically independent phenomena such as roulette wheel spins. This commonly believed fallacy can be said to have helped create a city (Las Vegas) in the desert of Nevada USA. Though the overall odds of a ‘big run’ happening may be low, each spin of the wheel is itself entirely independent from the last.
Red had come up six times in a row on the roulette wheel, so Greg knew that it was close to certain that black would be next up. Suffering an economic form of natural selection with this thinking, he soon lost all of his savings.
14) BANDWAGON: Appealing to popularity or the fact that many people do something as an attempted form of validation. The flaw in this argument is that the popularity of an idea has absolutely no bearing on its validity. If it did, then the Earth would have made itself flat for most of history to accommodate this popular belief.
Shamus pointed a drunken finger at Sean and asked him to explain how so many people could believe in leprechauns if they’re only a silly old superstition. Sean, however, had had a few too many Guinness himself and fell off his chair.
15) APPEAL TO AUTHORITY:  Saying that because an authority thinks something, it must therefore be true. It’s important to note that this fallacy should not be used to dismiss the claims of experts, or scientific consensus. Appeals to authority are not valid arguments, but nor is it reasonable to disregard the claims of experts who have a demonstrated depth of knowledge unless one has a similar level of understanding.
Not able to defend his position that evolution ‘isn’t true’ Bob says that he knows a scientist who also questions evolution (and presumably isn’t herself a primate).
16) COMPOSITION/DIVISION: Assuming that what’s true about one part of something has to be applied to all, or other, parts of it. Often when something is true for the part it does also apply to the whole, but because this isn’t always the case it can’t be presumed to be true. We must show evidence for why a consistency will exist.
Daniel was a precocious child and had a liking for logic. He reasoned that atoms are invisible, and that he was made of atoms and therefore invisible too. Unfortunately, despite his thinky skills, he lost the game of hide and go seek.
17) NO TRUE SCOTSMAN: Making what could be called an appeal to purity as a way to dismiss relevant criticisms or flaws of an argument. This fallacy is often employed as a measure of last resort when a point has been lost. Seeing that a criticism is valid, yet not wanting to admit it, new criteria are invoked to dissociate oneself or one’s argument.
Angus declares that Scotsmen do not put sugar on their porridge, to which Lachlan points out that he is a Scotsman and puts sugar on his porridge. Furious, like a true Scot, Angus yells that no true Scotsman sugars his porridge.
18) GENETIC: Judging something good or bad on the basis of where it comes from, or from whom it comes. To appeal to prejudices surrounding something’s origin is another red herring fallacy. This fallacy has the same function as an ad hominem, but applies instead to perceptions surrounding something’s source or context.
Accused on the 6 o’clock news of corruption and taking bribes, the senator said that we should all be very wary of the things we hear in the media, because we all know how very unreliable the media can be.
19) BLACK-OR-WHITE: Where two alternative states are presented as the only possibilities, when in fact more possibilities exist. Also known as the false dilemma, this insidious tactic has the appearance of forming a logical argument, but under closer scrutiny it becomes evident that there are more possibilities than the either/or choice that is presented. Whilst rallying support for his plan to fundamentally undermine citizens’ rights, the Supreme Leader told the people they were either on his side, or on the side of the enemy.
20) BEGGING THE QUESTION: A circular argument in which the conclusion is included in the premise. This logically incoherent argument often arises in situations where people have an assumption that is very ingrained, and therefore taken in their minds as a given. Circular reasoning is bad mostly because it’s not very good. The word of Zorbo the Great is flawless and perfect. We know this because it says so in The Great and Infallible Book of Zorbo’s Best and Most Truest Things that are Definitely True and Should Not Ever Be Questioned.
21) APPEAL TO NATURE: Making the argument that because something is ‘natural’ it is therefore valid, justified, inevitable, good, or ideal. Many ‘natural’ things are also considered ‘good’, and this can bias our thinking; but naturalness itself doesn’t make something good or bad. For instance murder could be seen as very natural, but that doesn’t mean it’s justifiable.
The medicine man rolled into town on his bandwagon offering various natural remedies, such as very special plain water. He said that it was only natural that people should be wary of ‘artificial’ medicines like antibiotics.
22) ANECDOTAL: Using personal experience or an isolated example instead of a valid argument, especially to dismiss statistics. It’s often much easier for people to believe someone’s testimony as opposed to understanding variation across a continuum. Scientific and statistical measures are almost always more accurate than individual perceptions and experiences.
Jason said that that was all cool and everything, but his grandfather smoked, like, 30 cigarettes a day and lived until 97 – so don’t believe everything you read about meta analyses of sound studies showing proven causal relationships.
23) THE TEXAS SHARPSHOOTER: Cherry-picking data clusters to suit an argument, or finding a pattern to fit a presumption. This ‘false cause’ fallacy is coined after a marksman shooting at barns and then painting a bullseye target around the spot where the most bullet holes appear. Clusters naturally appear by chance, and don’t necessarily indicate causation.
The makers of Sugarette Candy Drinks point to research showing that of the five countries where Sugarette drinks sell the most units, three of them are in the top ten healthiest countries on Earth, therefore Sugarette drinks are healthy.
24) MIDDLE GROUND: Saying that a compromise, or middle point, between two extremes must be the truth. Much of the time the truth does indeed lie between two extreme points, but this can bias our thinking: sometimes a thing is simply untrue and a compromise of it is also untrue. Half way between truth and a lie, is still a lie.
Holly said that vaccinations caused autism in children, but her scientifically well-read friend Caleb said that this claim had been debunked and proven false. Their friend Alice oered a compromise that vaccinations cause some autism.

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