Comment by Matthew_C. on Crisis of Faith · 2008-10-17T02:59:00.000Z · LW · GW

no one who seriously suggests that mental states affecting health and shamanistic death spells are evidence for either 'non-reductionism' or psi is worth taking the time to refute in detail.

You obviously missed the salience of much of the chapter, which ranged from effects like voodoo death which could perhaps be explained reductionistically through nocebo effects, to effects like tumors disappearing because of placebo influence, which are much more difficult to account for, to effects like hypnotic induction of burns and blisters in particular locations which are exceedingly difficult to explain reductionistically, to effects like skin writing and remote staring experiments which cannot be explained reductionistically in any plausible manner.

In any event, most reductionists refuse to accept any role for placebo effect beyond subjective comfort, so certainly their views will be washed away by the torrent of evidence in Chapter 3.

Comment by Matthew_C. on Crisis of Faith · 2008-10-17T02:30:00.000Z · LW · GW

Psi advocates have had plenty of opportunities to demonstrate real phenomena. They have failed. They have repeatedly, demonstrably, empirically failed.

That is just talking point bull**. Go read the literature cited in Irreducible Mind, Entangled Minds or many other books.

Your problem is you won't believe anything unless some "magic man" shows up on a stage in front of James Randi and telepathically bends spoons in front of all the world. I agree with you that people who can do that do not appear to exist, and those who make those claims universally appear to be fraudulent.

You're not interested in evaluating the evidence that actually exists, because it isn't dramatic and theatrical enough for you. There is a huge body of scientific evidence that psi effects occur -- the fact that you are utterly unfamiliar with it is irrelevant to its merits.

Comment by Matthew_C. on Beyond the Reach of God · 2008-10-16T20:05:00.000Z · LW · GW

What makes you think that 'qualia' are a meaningful concept?

The problem, of course, is that qualia (or more generally, experiencing-ness) is not a concept at all (well there is a concept of experiencing-ness, but that is just the concept, not the actuality). A metaphor for experiencing-ness is the "theater of awareness" in which all concepts, sensations, and emotions appear and are witnessed. But experiencing-ness is prior to any and all concepts.

Comment by Matthew_C. on Crisis of Faith · 2008-10-14T00:51:00.000Z · LW · GW

In other words, if you were advocating one outrageous theory, someone might listen.

There is nothing outrageous about either psi or non-reductionism, except that both contradict your dogmatic belief structures of what the world must be like. In fact most human beings at most times (including today) have accepted both propositions as real. The word "crank" is used in your belief structure exactly the way "heretic" or "heathen" would be used in some previously dominant belief structures.

All I can say, is that science is a method of inquiry into what is true, not a set of doctrines to be believed in without question. You are welcome to wave the flag of "I am rational" all you like, but it's still blind flag-waving, cached thinking, and tribalism, no different than any other expression of this universal human expression. And pontificating on psi and reductionism, while refusing to actually read evidence that contradicts your priors, is much more like religion than science. Eli damn well knows this, and I strongly suspect he will read the material I provided before so pontificating again, even if many of his followers would rather beat the tribal drums. . .

Comment by Matthew_C. on Crisis of Faith · 2008-10-12T22:34:00.000Z · LW · GW


Read chapter 3, then come back and explain why a reductionistic explanation best accounts for the phenomena described there. Because if you are inconversant with the evidence, you simply have no rational basis to make any comment whatsoever.

You also seem to be playing some kind of semantic games with the word "reductionism" which I'll just note and ignore.

Comment by Matthew_C. on Crisis of Faith · 2008-10-12T17:25:00.000Z · LW · GW

Carl Schuman,

I keep posting the link, for a very simple reason.

Eliezer continues to post about the certainty of reductionism, while he has completely failed to investigate the evidence that reductionism cannot account for all of the observations.

He also continues to post snide remarks about the reality of psi phenomena. Again, he has completely failed to investigate the best evidence that he is wrong about this.

The post he wrote here shows a great committment to intellectual integrity. And I honestly believe he means what he wrote here.

I suspect at some point Eli's desire for the truth will overcome his ego identification with his current beliefs as well as his financial interest in preserving them.

I happen to have come across a PDF of Irreducible Mind which is temporarily available here.

Start with the introduction (the best part of the intro begins on page 23 (xxiii) ), then read chapter 3 which covers in detail a vast panoply of medical phenomena seen in clinical practice and in research which simply does not fit into the reductionistic framework.

Of course there are lots of other good books and thousands of important research papers, many of which are cited in the appendices of Irreducible Mind. But the advantage of this book, and especially chapter 3, is that the inability of the standard reductionistic dogmas to account for the evidence simply becomes crushingly obvious.

Comment by Matthew_C. on Beyond the Reach of God · 2008-10-05T13:30:00.000Z · LW · GW

In the interest of helping folks here to "overcome bias", I should add just how creepy it is to outside observers to see the unswervingly devoted members of "Team Rational" post four or five comments to each Eliezer post that consist of little more than homilies to his pronouncements, scattered with hyperlinks to his previous scriptural utterances. Some of the more level-headed here like HA have commented on this already. Frankly it reeks of cultism and dogma, the aromas of Ayn Rand, Scientology and Est are beginning to waft from this blog. I think some of you want to live forever so you can grovel and worship Eli for all eternity. . .

Comment by Matthew_C. on Beyond the Reach of God · 2008-10-05T12:56:00.000Z · LW · GW

I find Eliezer's (and many of the others here) total and complete obsession with the "God" concept endlessly fascinating. I bet you think about "God" more often than the large majority of the nominally religious. This "God" fellow has seriously pwn3d your wetware. . .

Comment by Matthew_C. on Religion's Claim to be Non-Disprovable · 2007-08-05T03:34:10.000Z · LW · GW

. . .I would not bother to voice my objection except that you are the leader of a project that if successful will impose on the entire future light cone decisions that will have the same unbendable and irreversible character that physical law now has.

How exquisite to read something like this in a thread attacking the absurdities of the narratives of religious beliefs. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Comment by Matthew_C. on Professing and Cheering · 2007-08-02T19:32:51.000Z · LW · GW

Zenkat, I suspect a great deal of the venom towards Gould is also due to his opposition to certain positions on human population / IQ test differences.