Re: FW: MD Dawkins on quantum/mysticism convergence

From: Steve Drew (
Date: Tue Mar 19 2002 - 21:01:44 GMT

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    Subject: Re: FW: MD Dawkins on quantum/mysticism convergence
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    Hi Aaron

    > Date: Sun, 17 Mar 2002 22:12:57 EST
    > From: <>
    > Subject: Re: FW: MD Dawkins on quantum/mysticism convergence
    > In a message dated 3/17/2002 4:49:39 PM Central Standard Time, Steve Drew
    > <> writes:
    >> Hi Aaron,
    >>> Date: Sun, 17 Mar 2002 16:53:07 EST
    >>> From: <>
    >>> Subject: Re: FW: MD Dawkins on quantum/mysticism convergence
    >>> In a message dated 3/17/2002 11:06:28 AM Central Standard
    >>> Time, Douglas Brooker <> writes:
    >>>> Thanks for this.
    >>>> If I were conducting a study, my instinct would lead me to pay
    >>>> special attention to what scientists participating in the 'love fest'
    >>>> receive or perceive they receive from the mystical side. We can
    >>>> understand the way the aura of science serves to enhance the
    >>>> claims of mystics, but less understandable is what scientists receive
    >>>> from the other side.
    >>> Hi Douglas.
    >>> There can be considerable financial and social incentive for
    >>> scientists to sell out and join the "love fest." They may receive
    >>> lucrative book deals, for instance. Moreover, many "nonfiction"
    >>> books are actually conceived by literary agents, and that
    >>> includes science books. The agents are often just looking
    >>> for what will sell. So they may identify something that many
    >>> people will want to believe when they read about it, or that they
    >>> already believe or want to believe but would also like to see
    >>> "justified" in "scientific" language. Scientists may also be drawn
    >>> to the fame that can come from becoming an advocate for some
    >>> mystical idea. And there are even rich prizes (e.g., Templeton)
    >>> for connecting religion and science. All these sources of money
    >>> and attention increase the formation rates of new ways of
    >>> attaching science to mysticism, and then they increase the
    >>> centralized transmissivity of the new idea combinations once
    >>> formed.
    >>> Attaching the name of an authority figure to a belief system
    >>> also increases its transmissivity, receptivity, and longevity.
    >>> (See my 2001 stock market thought contagions paper on
    >>> that.) People feel more confident about voicing and
    >>> retransmitting an idea that they can attribute to an authority
    >>> figure. If the recipient of the message disagrees, the person
    >>> transmitting the message can always blame the authority
    >>> figure. They also realize that the listener/recipient of the
    >>> message is likely to give more credence to a message
    >>> attributed to an authority figure. That added credence then
    >>> increases the receptivity that the message enjoys. Finally,
    >>> it can make people more inclined to remember the message,
    >>> increasing its longevity.
    >>> Scientists who can be presented to the public as authority
    >>> figures can therefore be offered especially lucrative book
    >>> deals and other ways of profiting from the believers in
    >>> mysticism. Many scientists are aware of this.
    >>> - --Aaron Lynch
    >> Scientist are no more immune than other people from silly ideas, religion
    >> etc. The pure pursuit of knowledge never was and will, IMO , truly be the
    >> driving force for science. Or else why the race to publish first? Given
    > also
    >> that many scientists earn very little, the temptation exists when offered a
    >> serious wad to take it. Most scientists have families to support, and only
    > a
    >> relative few can afford to have their own opinions.
    >> But, yes, the authority figure is the important part when it comes to
    >> selling the idea.
    > Hi Steve.
    > Yes, scientists have their own irrational motives, as well as
    > requirements to put food on the table. Fellow scientists need
    > to consider these forms of influence, as does the general
    > public. People can benefit from being more savvy consumers
    > of information, and the more savvy information consumers
    > there are, the more the economics will favor honest works
    > rather than contagious and profitable mysticism. Ideally, I
    > would like to see less money and fame go to dishonest or
    > mystical works and more go to the honest and serious efforts.

    So would we all, but for a scientist to be honest they have to use
    qualifiers in many of their statements which the public in particular do not
    seem to be able to handle, e.g. the concept of risk. The charlatan and
    mystic have the advantage of being able to say things with 'certainty',
    especially if it is couched in pseudo scientific language
    > Often, selling out to mysticism is done by people who already
    > have food on the table, but who want to get rich. They
    > can then have vested financial interests in attacking more
    > honest and serious lines of work, or even claiming that the
    > more honest and serious works are actually the mystical
    > frauds. They can also have vested financial interests in
    > deflecting attention from more honest and serious works.

    True enough.

    > Awareness of such things may help improve the process,
    > especially in today's highly competitive market economy.

    I'm not too sure about this, for the same reasons as earlier. Risk
    assessment is emotive. After 9/11 the number of people who flew dropped
    while other forms of transport in the US rose, despite the greater danger,
    not less.
    The statisticians could not say it would never happen again. I don't know if
    there has been any research been done, but i would bet a couple of quid that
    more than a few mystics were consulted by people about travel plans.
    > - --Aaron Lynch



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