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Are you a Deepak Chopra fan? What a pity! Then I feel sorry for you.

If you are fond of Deepak Chopra-like quotes, or ditto articles, then you probably are a real woo. (And I’m pretty sure you are going to hate not only this blog post but ALL that is written on my blog.)

In the following article you can read, and find out, why you deserve feeling sorry for. 
 
Let’s start by having a look at: http://deadstate.org/science-confirms-it-your-friends-who-find-meaning-in-pseudo-profound-bullsht-have-lower-iqs/ . 
 
The article is entitled: “Science confirms it: Your friends who find meaning in ‘pseudo-profound bullsh*t’ have lower IQs”

The conclusion is that people who are impressed by wise-sounding but at the same time more or less meaningless – or at least mundane and truistic – New Age-like quotes tend to have a lower IQ.
 
Mr Gordon Pennycook, a PhD student who led and conducted  the research, writes in the cited paper:

“Our results support the idea that some people are more receptive to this type of bulls**t and that detecting it is not merely a matter of indiscriminate skepticism but rather a discernment of deceptive vagueness in otherwise impressive sounding claims.”

In other words: It’s not only about intellectual vices (read: laziness) but also a fondness of vague and generalized statements.
Both these characteristics are typical of those who indulge in magical woo-ish bullshit thinking. 
 
But wait, don’t leave yet, there is more to come. 
 
In fact, this fondness of vague and general (and sometimes ambiguous and/or dubious) statements also means that woos seem to like to impress on others – OR to become, themselves, impressed by their peers. 
 
Such statements, often spread between members on woo-ish (New Age-) forums, seldom (almost never) contain any groundbreaking or new information. It’s rather like saying that if you are rich and healthy, you’ll probably feel much better than those do who are poor and sick. 
 
Who can argue against that sort of statements? Who will be awarded a Nobel Prize for that discocery? 
Here are three of the quotes the respondents in the experiment were asked to ponder and value:
 
1) Imagination is inside exponential space time events; 
 
2)  Nature is a self-regulating ecosystem of awareness; and
 

3) In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.

All three were liked abd appreciated by sursprisingly many of those who were classified as believers in magical woo beliefs. 

Gordon Pennycook concludes, in his paper: Those more receptive to bulls**t are less reflective, lower in cognitive ability – numeracy, verbal and fluid intelligence, are more prone to ontological [ontology = the nature of being] confusions and conspiratorial ideation, are more likely to hold religious and paranormal beliefs, and are more likely to endorse complementary and alternative medicine.”
 
So I doubt it’s funny to be a woo. 
 
Or, who knows, maybe woos suffer from the Dunning-Kruger syndrome? Read more about the Dunning-Kruger Effect here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-macaray/the-dunningkruger-effect_b_4476166.html and, if you want more serious information, here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect .
If so, then they don’t realize or understand the message from Gordon Pennycook (or me).
In a way, that’s a win/win situation. Cf the saying: “All is well that ends well.”
Anyhow. There is a New Age Bullshit Generator available on the web. You can find it here: http://sebpearce.com/bullshit/ .
 
With the help of that generator you can reionize all the electrons in your brain. And become your own Deepak Chopra, and spit out woo bullshit statements both by wholesale and by retail. 
 
When I pressed the “Reionize electrons” button, I received the following “unique” Deepak Chopra-like message:

Joy is the richness of truth, and of us.

The goal of bio-feedback is to plant the seeds of wonder rather than turbulence. Ecstasy is the driver of chi.

Our conversations with other travellers have led to a condensing of hyper-astral consciousness.

Materialism is the antithesis of love. Yes, it is possible to disrupt the things that can eliminate us, but not without passion on our side. You must take a stand against suffering.

We can no longer afford to live with desire. You may be ruled by yearning without realizing it. Do not let it eliminate the healing of your circuit. Only a being of the stratosphere may rediscover this fusion of guidance.

Humankind has nothing to lose. Reality has always been full of seekers whose dreams are transformed into ecstasy. We are in the midst of an ever-present blossoming of love that will give us access to the quantum soup itself.

Illusion is born in the gap where spacetime has been excluded.

By blossoming, we self-actualize. To roam the vision quest is to become one with it. We grow, we live, we are reborn.

Without wellbeing, one cannot heal. The complexity of the present time seems to demand a refining of our essences if we are going to survive. Where there is materialism, being cannot thrive.

 
I JUST SAY: Beat that if you can! 

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Internal narratives: Brain networks and levels of awareness

Senses are physiological capacities of organisms. Good examples of (advanced) sense organs are eyes and ears.

With the help of the sense organs the organism receives data from its environment and can thereby increase its chances to survive.

This data information is processed by special neurons inside the organism, usually brought together in a brain.

Even an animal like the roundworm C. elegans has a brain (consisting of around 300 neurons). The brain of a jellyfish consists of around 800 neurons, fruit flies have ca. 100,000 neurons, modern humans 86,000,000,000 neurons. But don’t believe we humans have the most neurons. The African elephant has no less than 267,000,000,000 neurons (so in a way God seems to love elephants more than He loves us humans, although we are created In Imaginem Sui, in His image).

BTW, you can find more information about the number of neurons in different species here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_animals_by_number_of_neurons

What all these neurons have in common is that they belong to different neural processing networks inside our brains.

In this blog post (I’m now reblogging) three major networks are described: (1) the central executive, (2) the default mode, and (3) the salience network. (Salience can here be translated to “Relevance”.)

Here’s a quote from the reblogged article; in it the special functions of these three networks are described:

The executive network is “responsible for high-level cognitive functions, notably the control of attention and working memory”, the default network is “an integrated system for self-related cognitive activity, including autobiographical, self-monitoring and social functions”, and the salience network “mediates attention to the external and internal worlds”. (END OF QUOTE)

The information process in our brains can also be described as consisting of at least three components. Those are (a) a detecting and discerning process (a.k.a. perception); (b) a process that brings different perceptions together (a.k.a. the associative process or, simply, associations); and finally (c) the process of trying to interpret or explain what processes (a) and (b) mean, or result in.

This third interpretative process involves inventing, or contriving, an idea that formulates the perception, and its caused associations, mentally, which is called conceptualization.

In other words, to conceptualize is to try to receive an interpretation, a.k.a. explanation, that the conscious you can feel content with and accept as the “real” explanation of what started the whole process (i.e. what your eyes and ears just reported/signaled to the thalamus and from there was forwarded to different networks in the brain).

It’s important to stress that all these networks in the brain support both unconscious and conscious awareness, that is, representations – or conceptualizations – can, and does, often operate below the level of awareness. And because all these representations always (in a healthy brain) become tagged with emotional tags (for example fear), and because they always start at a subconscious level, it’s correct to say that they are, always, in one way or another, a result of priming.

This latter process means you are prone to interpret what you see or hear in a way that coincides with your own cognitive belief paradigm systems.

That’s why Christian God believers (and UFO disbeliever) often think they see angels, demons or ghosts, while an atheistic UFO believer is convinced he/she instead sees an alien being or an extraterrestrial spaceship, from another (exo)planet.

BTW, here’s a very good article explaining the process of priming: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priming_(psychology) .

With all this said, now, at last, it’s time for you to read the article I just reblogged.

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No, that man didn’t meet any interactive ghost on the train

Here’s a good story about a man on a train trip who experienced a woman sitting on a seat next to him.

Suddenly the woman started talking to the man. But he couldn’t hear a word.
So he leaned towards her, and she seemed to lean towards him.
Her mouth was moving all the time as if she was speaking to him. But still he couldn’t hear anything of what she was trying to tell him.

After a short while he discovered, to his dismay, that the lady had vanished. Putz weg.

Anyhow, the man with this odd experience realized he suffers from a near sleep disturbance related to sleep paralysis. So he understood he had just experienced a hallucination caused by an MWR (meaning Microsleep WITH REM, i.e. a short microsleep period containing some REM dream elements or episodes).
The woman, who seemed to sit next to him, was of course not a ghost (not even of the interactive kind), but the whole scenario must instead have been part of an ongoing waking dream.
My conclusion: That man is not a woo. Kudos to him for that.
IF woos had experienced that same scenario, they would have been convinced that they just had a close encounter with a spirit contact from the “Other side” (of death) – or, maybe, a visitor from another, hitherto unknown, dimension. That’s what their belief/thought paradigm tells them it must have been. Their bizarre magical thinking produces such thoughts.
Read the whole story here: http://theassap.blogspot.se/2015/11/the-invisible-soundproof-barrier.html .
And read more about different kinds of near sleep experiences (NSEs) here: http://www.assap.ac.uk/newsite/articles/Near%20sleep%20experiences.html . A fascinating and most recommendable article.

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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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King’s College London comes to its senses, deep-sixes postgraduate theology curriculum

Two quotes from this blog article that conveys, IMO, very pleasant news for all non-God believers.

1) What a good feeling it is to see a university get rid of its theology courses! Religious history or comparative religion is fine; theology, not so much. If you want to teach about the properties of nonexistent objects, do it in a private divinity school or seminary.

2) It’s an embarrassment to Oxford and other state-supported schools in the UK that they would even have programs in theology, and this has always baffled me. It may be a holdover from the days when those schools were actually religious institutions, but in a modern world there’s no excuse for it. In fact, having theology programs in public universities would be illegal in the U.S., as it would constitute an illegal violation of the First Amendment (public endorsement of religious doctrine).

NOW I wonder: When will the same thing happen here in Sweden?

Why Evolution Is True

What a good feeling it is to see a university get rid of its theology courses! Religious history or comparative religion is fine; theology, not so much. If you want to teach about the properties of nonexistent objects, do it in a private divinity school or seminary. There’s simply no excuse for a public university to act as if superstition is real; it’s as if they had an entire curriculum devoted to ghosts, their properties, and their wishes, and pretended they were studying real objects! Or an entire curriculum on homeopathy in or alongside a medical school.

But King’s College London has made the decision, although it was ostensibly made on financial grounds. According to The Tablet(a Catholic news weekly),

Leading theologians have criticised the closure of a university’s post-graduate theology and ministry programme as “deeply regrettable”.

(Note that there are also “ministry” courses, so King’s College is also in…

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Woo-wooprofilering

Gesus shows in this blog, published on his own blog GesusBloggen, some characteristics or personality traits that are typical of woos . Very interesting, indeed! There are also many comments to that blog. One of the many commenters is bbnewsab, i.e. me. I present some links to articles about why it’s so easy to believe in magical and religious thinking.
BTW, you can read more about magical and religious thinking by clicking this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magical_thinking .

Gesusbloggen

Tänkte man kunde göra en gärningsmannaprofil på en typisk woo-woo, en såkallad Woo-wooprofil.

Woo-wooprofilering bygger på beteendevetenskap där man studerar de mest troliga demografiska, sociala och beteendemässiga egenskaper som gärningskvinnan bakom ett woo kan tänkas ha ;-]

Man förutsätter att hur en person agerar överensstämmer med personens personlighet. Utifrån känd information om var, när och hur ett woo utförts försöker kriminalpoliser, rättspsykiatriker och rättspsykologer tillsammans beskriva troliga personliga egenskaper hos gärningskvinnan. Denna profil sammanställs sedan med vetenskapliga erfarenheter av vilka människor som beter sig likartat.

En riktig woo-woo, mest troligt:
woo-wooprofil
– Är kvinna
– Är runt 40 – 50
– Är frånskild ev omgift
– Har varit hemma med barn
– Har äldre, ev “utflugna”, barn
– Kan “gått in i väggen” tidigare
– Är eller har varit sjukskriven
– Är “vilsen” och ev ensam
– Har en eller flera katter
– Söker efter någon mening med livet
– Har…

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Just weeks after converting to Islam, Daniel Munoz blamed killing his wife on the voice of Allah, Australian court told

Not at all surprising. Voice hearing is often a sign of psychosis. And religious fanaticism is sort of a mental disease disease in itself. Cf. this article by Patrick McNamara: The god effect (see: http://aeon.co/magazine/psychology/dopamine-marks-the-line-between-religious-believer-and-fanatic/ ).

Religion spawns both benevolent saints and murderous fanatics. Patrick McNamara ia asking: Could it be different dopamine levels in the brain that drive that switch? Especially in a neural circuit/network involving strong connection between the amygdala, the nucleus accumbens and parts of the prefrontal cortex (PFC).

The amygdala is responsible for emotional activity and reactivity. Specific areas of the PFC are associated with emotion regulation and critical thinking skills.The nucleua accumbens is center for reward sensitivity. Too much activity (= hyperactivity) in this brain circuitry/network makes you over-creative (= you’re not inhibited by any limitations), which in turn can transform you to a (religious) fanatic.

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Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the Spirits

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is also known for his belief in spirits and fairies. His credulity seemed almost infinite. By the time he published The History of Spiritualism, most of the mediums he discusses in that book had been exposed resorting to fraud, in some cases repeatedly. Some of the mediums had even confessed. None of this deters him. He is able to defend the supernatural abilities of anyone who seems to display gifts that in some way bolster his religious beliefs in a spirit world.

Skeptical Humanities

Note: The following essay is based on a segment from Skepticality.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is known for many things: the creation of Sherlock Holmes, a spectacular mustache, and his belief in spirits and fairies.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Hairy Friend Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Hairy Friend

M’colleague, Bob Blaskiewicz, has discussed Doyle’s* seemingly ludicrous belief in the Cottingley fairies, but spiritualism was Doyle’s burning passion. He possessed a religious, missionary, perhaps even messianic zeal to promote belief in discarnate spirits and life after death. He lectured and wrote voluminously on the subject, including a two volume History of Spiritualism.

It’s easy to make fun of Doyle’s beliefs. Really easy. Stunningly easy. In fact it’s quite hard to refrain from making fun of them. In his writings on spiritualism, he displayed the same degree of levelheadedness and perspicacity that led him to conclude that this is an actual picture of a fairy:

"And his mustache is THIS big!" “And…

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Lite själ igen

Christer Brodén om begreppen själ och ande. Ett citat ur artikeln: Asaguden Heimdal, det har jag nämnt förut, tros kunna ha en förhistoria som solgud under bronsåldern. Rig är ett annat namn på honom, som på sanskrit, ett annat och riktigt forntida indoeuropeiskt språk, betyder medvetande, d.v.s. den seende och tänkande.

Blickens Äventyr

Glömska

Arkeologen Marija Gimbutas hör till dem som tror, att skrivkonsten och andra färdigheter uppfunnits och glömts bort och på nytt uppfunnits under vår historia. Det är hypoteser, men för mig känns de trovärdiga.

Begreppen själ och ande har fyllt med otaliga tankar de senaste årtusendena. Även sådana tankar glöms bort och nya skapas. Orden kan däremot leva kvar. Mitt ofta framförda paradexempel är ett av Guds namn i Bibeln, Shaddaj. Det var tidigare namn på en mångud i staden Ur, som Abraham kom från.

Vad själ och ande haft för betydelse under årtusendena kan nog vara väldigt svårt att reda ut. Jag fick min idé om en tidig betydelse hos de där två begreppen, en gång när jag såg bilden av ormgudinnan från Kreta. Den bilden har jag haft med många gånger.

knossos21c-2

Stenarna på Gotland

Den överensstämmer ju med bildstenen från Smiss, som jag också visat här flera…

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