Re: Debunking pseudoscience: Why horoscopes really work

From: Dace (
Date: Thu Nov 15 2001 - 20:38:02 GMT

  • Next message: Philip A.E. Jonkers: "Re: Debunking pseudoscience: Why horoscopes really work"

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    Subject: Re: Debunking pseudoscience: Why horoscopes really work
    Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2001 12:38:02 -0800
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    Hi Philip.

    > > > Memetics, at least Susan Blackmore, takes the self one step further
    > > > you seem to do. It treats the whole perception of the self as one
    > > > collection of memes: the self-plex. This data-base of our own person
    > > > fed by either channels from outside (friends, family, yes: astrologers
    > > > and the like) or from within by self-reflection, self-analysis etc.
    > >
    > > What do you think "within" means? If there's no self, where does
    > > self-reflection come from? Without a self to define what's inside, how
    > > there be anything outside? Try a little self-deconstruction next time.
    > Okidokie, let's dig into that one for a moment. Let's for a moment do
    > that the self is being built only as soon as one's able to communicate
    > with people from the outside world. Let's do assume
    > the self starts from scratch without any intrinsic self present. The ego,
    > you call it, is fed as soon as people communicate with you.
    > You are acknowledged as a human being as other
    > human beings talk to you.

    And what is it, precisely, that's being acknowledged and talked to? Your
    discussion is predicated on the actuality of some kind of entity that
    pre-exists the development of the self-plex (ego).

    > The perception of yourself starts to grow as
    > other people pass on either observations from them of you
    > about certain features, qualities, traits you exhibit or though
    > self-inspection.

    Who perceives, who observes, who inspects? All of this implies what you're
    trying to disprove. You'll have to reformulate your argument so that it
    lacks any of these concepts. No words like "you" or "people" or the things
    people do. You've got your work cut out for you.

    > My point is, and I share that with Blackmore,Dennett en Ryle I guess, is
    > the self is really built from scratch. The self that responds (by
    > or accepting) to incoming new self-knowledge is basically the
    > self-knowledge already present. When you are young (I mean really young)
    > your self-plex is very limited and under-developed and you just take any
    > information about your own being for granted as you don't have any
    > foundation to reject it.

    What is it that takes information about its own being for granted?

    > As more compelling argument we should consider children who are brought
    > up entirely by non-human beings. Take, for instance, wolf-children. Those
    > are kids found living like animals in woods complete with making
    > animal sounds. Perhaps you'd like to check out:
    > Within the self-plex interpretation this behavior is fairly easy to
    > due to lack of contact with other humans the self-plex
    > hasn't been developed at all. Any conception of the self remains fixed at
    > basic instinctive animal kind of level. I'm tempted to make the
    > conclusion then that the self is an exclusive product of civilisation.
    > How would you account for this phenomenon Ted, using the intrinsic
    > self-approach?

    Thanks for the reference.

    Like real wolves, wolf-children exist in the same way that any organism
    does. To be alive is to have one's own existence, as delineated from
    existence in general. If the universe is public existence, then the
    organism is private. In a sense, humans have brought this process full
    circle, as our intellect has reintroduced universality but in the context of
    mind instead of space. The paradox is that self-contained mentality, which
    exists strictly within individuals, doesn't seem to emerge except in the
    context of collective, social influences.

    > > Blackmore, Dennett, Ryle-- and analytic atomism in general-- dismiss the
    > > self as a concept, an image. We do indeed have an imaginary self, and
    > > has a name: the ego. This "self" is a cacophony of attractions and
    > > repulsions. We identify with some things and repel from others. We
    > > this and fear that. (Also known as love/hate). Unquestionably, this
    > > has no intrinsic reality. Whatever we think we are, that's not it. But
    > > does that mean we don't exist at all? Or does it tell us something
    > > the limitations of the intellect, of concepts and discriminations? Our
    > > ideas about the world aren't the same as the world, so why would our
    > > of the self be the same as it?
    > Because the whole set of ideas/notions about the self define the very

    Begging the question. You're trying to use your conclusion as a premise.
    You still haven't proven that the self is defined entirely by ideas and

    > > > Memetics provides a
    > > > good ground to deny the possibility of a spiritual entity housing the
    > > > physical representation of the human being (Cartesian theatre).
    > >
    > > The true self is inseparable from body and mind, which themselves are
    > > the same thing. In other words, the "self" is simply the self-existence
    > > the body/mind. The damn thing exists intrinsically. That's what being
    > > alive means. It means you exist. Then, when you die, you don't exist.
    > > Seems like the masses are a step ahead of you on this one.
    > Extending this argument means that animals, since they exist, have
    > selves too. This means that they have minds too. This begs to stretch the
    > definition of the self to such extend that any being interacting with
    > its environment possesses a self. But this nullifies the special meaning
    > the self reserved for humans.

    What's special about our self-nature is that it's mental instead of bodily.
    Bacteria, plants, invertebrates, mammals, etc., all exist intrinsically.
    They all have sensation, mind, and action. The mind is a means to an end.
    It enables the organism to avoid what it dislikes and obtain what it needs.
    Only among humans does mentality become the end itself. Instead of using
    the mind merely to satisfy the body, physical items become props in a
    cultural terrain projected from consciousness, a.k.a. "the world."

    > > > I might have missed something in prior discussions but could you
    > > > fill me in on what you refer as `reflexive consciousness'. Does it
    > > > coincide with something such as human spontaneity?
    > >
    > > It means our awareness reflects back in on itself. We know ourselves as
    > > minds, not just as bodies. This is the basis of individuality and
    > I see, but don't you think freedom is a fallacy? Which person interacting
    > with other social beings is truly free? I mean I am not free to kill my
    > next-door neighbor eachtime he plays loud music.

    Outside of a human-imagined "law," you are free to kill him. That society
    limits the freedom of the individual is proof that such freedom does indeed
    exist. And you're still free to talk to him or just move away.

    > > > Deterministic models however may be useful to reveal mechanisms which
    > > > are mainly responsible for the phenomenon they are meant to describe
    > > > (e.g Newtonian mechanics, but any deterministic paradigm will do).
    > >
    > > Science can be treated one of two ways, either as glorified engineering
    > > compartmentalized philosophy. It all depends on whether you truly want
    > > understand. Do you want reality or utilitarian models?
    > Nice distinction, but not an entirely clean one I think. With engineering
    > do you mean the mathematical description of the part of reality you
    > wish to model? With compartmentalized philosophy you mean the
    > interpretation of the model without failing to see plausible links between
    > models by using reductionism (e.g. biology after evolution-theory)?

    If science means knowledge, then it's essentially the modern form of
    philosophy. Just as science can be considered the philosophy of the
    particular, philosophy is the science of the general. But historically,
    science is the little sibling of capitalism. The market economy is the
    great rationalizer of consciousness. The word "rational" was originally an
    economic term, meaning to weigh the value of one thing against another.
    Succeeding in the market requires getting accurate information in order to
    make accurate predictions. It's all about calculating and analyzing in
    order to harness and exploit. Sound familiar? Given its symbiotic embrace
    with capitalism, science is essentially utilitarian, not philosophical.
    It's devoted to gain, not truth.

    > I would feel that science usually is a bit of both: QM is an entire
    > mathematical theory but without interpretation QM intuition and
    > would be impossible. This is a vital practical element of QM enabling you
    > to make quick intuitive lines of reasoning and as such quicly dismiss
    > dead-ends.
    > Physics is not only about getting the math right. In fact usually you
    > use math to prove your line of reasoning based on physical intuition
    > (=crude model or perception of the phenomenon at hand).
    > Einstein was a great physicist, but he was a poor mathematician. He would
    > simply be nowhere without his prowess for physical intuitive reasoning
    > (`gedankenexperiment') but he would be the laughing stock of the block
    > if he failed to back up his reasoning without mathematical models or
    > arguments. In a certain stage in his life, he even got himself a
    > mathematician to work out the intuitions he got from brainstorming.
    > Usually a theory is based on a hunch, an idea, intuition, from that point
    > the model is matured by casting it into an ideally robust mathematical
    > framework.
    > Therefore I don't think you can do the one without the other in science.
    > The distinction is there alright, but only a paper one. Otherwise it's not
    > science but either philosophy or math, for which I hold no objections
    > however as I like both (separately).
    > Philip.

    Math is mechanical reasoning. Math to philosophy is like assembly lines to
    automobiles. Where philosophy is a fine, hand-built car, science is a fleet
    of trucks racing across every facet of existence.


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