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Wed, 29 Nov 2023
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit

2 + 2 = 4

Is life after death incompatible with physics?

Back in 2011, particle physicist Sean M. Carroll wrote a guest blog at Scientific American, dismissing the idea of life after death or the immortality of the soul. He began by responding to astrophysicist Adam Frank's reflections at NPR:
For myself I remain fully and firmly agnostic on the question. If ever there was a place where firm convictions seem misplaced this is it. There simply is no controlled, experimental verifiable information to support either the "you rot" vs. "you go on" positions.

In the absence of said information we are all free to believe as we like but, I would argue, it behooves us to remember that truly "public" knowledge on the subject — the kind science exemplifies — remains in short supply.

Carroll was having none of that!
I have an enormous respect for Adam; he's a smart guy and a careful thinker. When we disagree it's with the kind of respectful dialogue that should be a model for disagreeing with non-crazy people. But here he couldn't be more wrong.

Adam claims that there "simply is no controlled, experimental[ly] verifiable information" regarding life after death. By these standards, there is no controlled, experimentally verifiable information regarding whether the Moon is made of green cheese. --SEAN M. CARROLL, "PHYSICS AND THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SOUL" AT SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN (MAY 23, 2011)


Pre-schoolers, puppets and promise: More evidence kids are smarter than you think

bunny rabbit puppet
© elenacastaldi77 / Getty Images
If you are breaking a promise to a child, be sure to have a solid reason.

Pre-school children can tell the difference between a reasonable explanation and cop out when it comes to breaking promises.

In a paper published in Cognitive Development, psychologists from Duke University in the US studied the responses of 64 children, aged three to five, after animal puppets promised to show them a cool toy - and then failed to do so.

Afterwards, the puppets either gave a good excuse for going back on their word ("I had to help my friend with his homework"), a bad excuse ("I wanted to watch TV"), or no explanation at all.


We are at a metaphysical nexus

Back in the 1930s, the British philosopher R. G. Collingwood developed an idea that would puzzle — even anger — his colleagues. Some, like his friend T. M. Knox, even went so far as to suggest that Collingwood's later ideas might have been the product of a deteriorating mind caused by illness.1

What was it that people had such a hard time wrapping their heads around, perhaps even to this day?

Simple. Collingwood believed that when it comes to metaphysics, we should give up our ambition to finally, one day, arrive at the truth. Instead, he held that the metaphysician's job was to uncover and describe the historical evolution of metaphysical thought, including the logic inherent in these developments. While he saw value in the formulation of philosophical systems, he was convinced that they will never be able to pass the test of time and can never be considered true (or false).


Pope Benedict on intelligent design and the dangers of Darwinian materialism

Pope B
© Unknown
Pope Benedict XVI
Recalling the legacy of Pope Benedict XVI, I will always appreciate the fact that he recognized the dangers of Darwinian materialism, perhaps most strikingly in the homily he delivered at his installation in 2005.
"We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God."
But Benedict spoke clearly on the subject on other occasions as well. Almost lost by the mainstream media were two statements about intelligent design, in contrast to Darwinian evolution. First was a 2006 homily in Regensburg that was eclipsed in the news by his other, more famous address there that mentioned Islam. The second statement was made later that year in Verona, as covered by the Vatican Information Service (VIS).

Comment: See also:


Religion is different

Mapping evolution of moralizing religion in Afroeurasia 6000 BCE - 1800 CE

Mapping evolution of moralizing religion in Afroeurasia 6000 BCE - 1800 CE
Social life of human beings was utterly transformed during the Holocene. Agriculture, large-scale organized warfare, elites, rulers, bureaucracies, writing, and monumental architecture evolved independently in many world regions at markedly different times. These are truly universal features of complex human societies. Moralizing religion is different.

I recently finished writing a chapter for the Seshat History of Moralizing Religion in which I summarize the statistical patterns from the data that the Seshat project gathered on moralizing supernatural punishment/reward (MSP). You can read more about this project, data, and results in this academic publication. The main thrust of this research was on testing rival theories attempting to explain the evolution of MSP (it is summarized in this blog post). But today I want to write about the historical geography of MSP. I've put together this infographic, based on the Seshat data, which depicts the evolution of MSP in time and space.

Comment: See also:


Are plants conscious? Science writer says yes

Venus flytrap
Annaka Harris, a science writer focusing on neuroscience and physics and the author of Conscious: A Brief Guide to the Fundamental Mystery of the Mind (2019), challenges us to reflect on two points:
1) In a system that we know has conscious experiences — the human brain — what evidence of consciousness can we detect from the outside?

2) Is consciousness essential to our behavior?
The editor notes, introducing an excerpt from the book:
"But how sure can we be that plants aren't conscious? And what if what we take to be behavior indicating consciousness can be replicated with no conscious agent involved? Annaka Harris invites us to consider the real possibility that our intuitions about consciousness might be mere illusions."


The WEF isn't a cabal, it's a cult

World Domination in An Age for Lucifer
This book explores a strange new spirituality about to enter into competition with other established religions. My purpose here is to convince you that its emergence is probable, if not inevitable.

I begin this exploration with an unproven assumption based on Darwinian evolutionary principles: a new predator will appear on our planet, an evolutionary prototype designed to prey on humans. Another assumption then follows: this predator will evolve gradually and incrementally from humanity, just as we apparently evolved from lower forms to prey on them.

A further assumption suggests that these predators have already appeared as evolutionary prototypes, as new humans with advanced methods of survival and new forms of spiritual expression and religious organization designed to support and advance their predation."

— Robert C Tucker, An Age For Lucifer: Predatory Spirituality & The Quest for Godhood
an age for lucifer
Robert C. Tucker was a Canadian psychologist who worked with an organization called COMA - Council On Mind Abuse (not to be confused with his namesake, an American political scientist who covered the Soviet Union and wrote a biography of Stalin).

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MindMatters: Does Free Will Exist? Yes, Obviously - and Other Answers to Big Questions

batman free will
Today on MindMatters, we dive into Chris Langan's essay collection, "The Art of Knowing." In the process we discuss free will, Libet's experiments and their interpretations, reality theory, morality (relative? absolute? both?), why we need bad situations in order to grow, and Batman (the greatest superhero).

Running Time: 01:35:00

Download: MP3 — 130 MB


Danger-zone Psychopathy

gary cole office space movie boss

Gary Cole as “Bill Lumbergh” in Office Space (1999).
If you could go ahead and read this article, that'd be great. Oh, and I'm also gonna need you to subscribe, kay.

Are psychopaths smart? Contrary to the impression some may have of the psychopath as evil genius, the reality is not so romantic. According to Lobaczewski, they are less intelligent on average, and you won't find many, if any, super geniuses among their ranks.

Of course, that's not to say that there aren't smart psychopaths. Their bell curve is just shifted down a bit to the left (if Lobaczewski is correct). Which means you're probably just as likely to encounter a relatively smart psychopath as you are a slightly-more-than-relatively smart normal person. Here's how he put it:
The average intelligence of essential psychopaths, especially if measured via commonly used tests, is somewhat lower than that of normal people, albeit similarly varied. However, this group does not contain instances of the highest intelligence, nor do we find technical or craftsmanship talents among them. The most gifted members of this kind may thus achieve accomplishments in those sciences which do not require a correct humanistic worldview or technical skills. (Academic decency is another matter, however.) (Political Ponerology, p. 111)
As I wrote in the footnote to this paragraph, whereas psychopathy's interpersonal/affective traits are associated with higher verbal intelligence in the current literature, the antisocial traits are associated with lower general intelligence.


The Left's Grasp

Right or left-brained?
Or, how a pre-frontally damaged left-hemispheric oligarchy grasps at whatever they can in a desperate attempt to control something divorced from reality.

I've written a little of Iain McGilchrist's The Matter With Things, and I'm guessing I will be contemplating this work for a very long time to come. As I was reading parts again recently I cannot help but make the obvious correlations between the nature and actions of the left hemisphere and the nature and action of the global psychopaths attempting to take over the world.

For those not familiar with McGilchrist, he is a psychiatrist, philosopher and author who's primary thesis is that the western world is leaning toward a left hemisphere perspective. He has taken two master works (The Master and His Emissary, and The Matter With Things) to tease out this idea to an extraordinary degree of rigour.

I've done a series based on part of the last chapter of The Master and His Emissary if you are interested in the complete vision of a left hemisphere dominated world - it looks frighteningly like Orwell's 1984, 21st Century China, or the WEF.

The left hemisphere is all about our capacity for utilisation (to make use of things), expressing the will of the ego by acting on the world, manipulating the world for some utility. Whereas the right hemisphere is very different and has a broader scope. The right hemisphere could be thought of as responding to the world beyond itself with an understanding of the 'whole', the 'big picture', if you like. McGilchrist offers that the left hemisphere is about ap-prehending (from Latin ad + prehendere, to hold onto) and for the right hemisphere com-prehending (from cum + prehendere, to hold together) when interacting with the world.