Saturday, June 02, 2007

Louie on Paranormal

The interview starts about in the middle. Wait for it to load.

Louie Savva speaks about his journey from belief in the paranormal to studying it and coming to the ultimate realization that it doesn't exist and that life and the universe and everything is completely pointless.

I strongly suspect he is correct. My experience is very similar, though I didn't study psi in a lab. I dedicated my life to the spiritual quest, and thanks to my curiosity delved into the knowledge base necessary to convince myself that there is at least no rational reason to suspect anything paranormal anymore. The evidence for the paranormal follows along the same exact lines as the evidence for everything else like it- big foot, loch ness, alien abductions etc... Intercessory prayer for instance doesn't seem to work. I was once a huge fan of Larry Dossey's work on this subject and it is interesting that Dossey's 2 favorite pieces of evidence for the validity of intercessory prayer have been debunked and discredited (the Byrd study on coronary care patients and the faked Korean study on fertility). And this was before the giant Duke study which basically once and for all stuffed the petard right through the heart of the matter.

I think what is telling about the prayer studies is how much of it seemed to offer promise and hope that it would work, only to lead to the conclusion that it doesn't. It makes you realize that all of psi research is this way- compelling pieces of data, mostly poorly done, which add up to nothing.

I went through the same period of radical confusion as Louie after I decided that life had no purpose. I didn't know what the hell to do with my life. My case is far worse than Louie's I think. He has many doors of opportunity with his face recognition and PhD, and just doesn't know where to go from here. I had no opportunities and no idea which uncompelling route to take. I spent several months at one point during my crisis hoping that I would die in my sleep.

But you never admit these things during them. You wipe it from your memory later. 30 years of belief in illusions has taught me more than anything else in this world that I am an animal with no recognizable freedom of will. I am a puppet. An animated carcass shitting and pissing and blabbering completely meaningless jibber jabber into the atmosphere- a faithful contributor to the water cycle, a consumer of animals, and a payer of student loans.

I am merely an observer. I think I've lost the ability to take a participatory life seriously enough for it to be genuine. I disbelieve in the authenticity of my own human experience.

I am a ruined human being. Reading that would make people instantly assume that I am depressed. Actually I am in quite good spirits. But since I consider the the term "human being" synonymous with "delusional primate puppet", I don't see being a "ruined human being" as being a bad thing necessarily. But I am mostly immune to the illusion, with all it's highs and lows. I find observation fascinating, and will die having lived a pointless and silly existence like every other living thing on the planet.

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Dídac López said...

What is the point or sense of life? I think that the most important question is not that. The most important one is that: What you would like to do? Perhaps it seems a very naive philosophy, but the Epicurean point of view has much sense for me. Reaching consciousness of our mortal and contingent consciousness, evoke in our minds an existencial nausea. But if we can transcend the nausea we will find a logic in our lifes. A logic that we can create freely (or, more properly, with a psychological feeling of freedom). However, a lot of people, fearing the nausea, prefer to abide an arbitrary and socially imposed set of beliefs. I'd rather like a mild but self-conscious happiness, that an artificial self-deception.

upinVermont said...

Dogma free radio?

Unfortunately, my ISP is such a disaster that I haven't been able to listen to the entire broadcast.

That said, I strongly sympathize with his conclusions. On the other hand, it also sounds like a swing from one dogma to another.

Unlike evolution, we don't have so much as a *model* for consciousness.

I just got back in touch with a childhood friend of mine. He said that an acquaintance died recently (not someone that he knew especially well). One night he awoke to an OBE, seeing himself asleep on his bed. He was next whisked off to a sail boat where the deceased man said to him: I just want you to know where I am. When my friend commented on how wonderful it was, the man answered that my friend couldn't stay.

My friend thought it was a particularly vivid dream until some time later, a mutual acquaintance called him up to tell him that the man had died. The conversation led from one thing to another until the man's love of sailing came up.

Up to that point, my friend had no idea that the deceased man loved sailing.

Stories like these occur every day, all over the world. It is evidence. They are inexplicable unless we posit "coincidence" or, in this case, some sort of subconscious memory and a physical mechanism that might "cause" this experience.

The problem is that hard skeptics must concoct one ad hoc hypothesis after another to explain them. In this case, Occam's Razor does not favor the skeptic. The simplest explanation is that there is an element to consciousness that is not local.

That is the simplest but by no means the simplest to "explain". Nobody has even the remotest "natural" explanation for what non-local consciousness would be. On the other hand, science, historically, has frequently asserted the existence of a thing before the thing is understood.

There's a difference though. The skeptic's resistance to NLC is not the same as the nineteenth century physicist's resistance to atoms or quantized light. The possibility of NLC opens up a philosophical/"spiritual" door that is messy, messy, messy. It opens up a whole nest of problems, such as LAD or the existence of God, and these are issues that rub hard against the clean belief systems of science, metaphysical naturalism, and "scientism".

In other words, the resistance to NLC is not evidence based, but dogmatic. Resistance is not to the concept as such, but to the issues NLC raises. People like to believe that their belief systems are the final word. I suppose that the skeptically minded are no different. NLC breathtakingly undermines their belief system.

"Science" vigorously undermines the belief system of the religious and the spiritual.

upinVermont said...

I finally got to listen to the entire interview. I went into town and mooched off Dartmouth's (I presume) fiber optic broadband. Now *that* is broadband. I downloaded the latest ITunes (almost 40 Mb) in 10 seconds. I kid you not.

Anyway, I like what he had to say. It doesn't surprise me at all and I'm just glad I spent as little time as I did believing in the para -psychological.

I only believe that *if* something like consciousness is not local, it may not be something we can ever prove. The evidence for it seems to be "random", though not meaningless, and completely out of our control -- meaning that we have no way to study it because we can't produce any evidence on demand.

Why bother? Indeed, there may be no reason to bother except that, maddeningly, the fact of our consciousness, if it is not entirely a biological creation, may be telling us something fundamental about the universe that we might otherwise overlook.

His motto that "Everything is Pointless" raises an interesting philosophical knot. The implication is that *if* nothing beyond a biological mind exists, everything is therefore pointless.

I still entertain an even *more* horrific thought, that some part of consciousness is *not* local, that LAD might be a possibility, but that everything *still* might be pointless -- or, at the very least, a point might not be required. Just have fun.

I should be the most self-pitying of all... because I'm not a "believer" or an "atheist. So quit yer' whining.

Aaron said...

Your viewpoint is reasonable concerning NLC. The problem I have is that the parapsychological evidence was the cornerstone of why I believed in it, and all the subsequent "paradigm" which follows once you accept the major premise.

There are bound to be numerous serendipities in life and they cannot be instantly assumed to be unexplainable. There are less than a handful of instances in the NDE literature that are truly amazing to me. And all of these- Miss Z, Pam Reynolds, and Maria's shoe just leave me with a fraction of an iota of an interest in still caring about the NDE research. With the recent prayer study failures and the inability to show anything for veridical sight and now another expert opinion of a former parapsychologist (Louie), coupled with Radin's image destroying spoon bending escapades, I am left *almost* at the level of Richard Carrier's certainty.

But still the anthropic principle nags me. It won't let me give up. I am almost done with Sagan's(wife's) new book and it just gets you really thinking about it. And it's funny that you wrote this:

"I still entertain an even *more* horrific thought, that some part of consciousness is *not* local, that LAD might be a possibility, but that everything *still* might be pointless -- or, at the very least, a point might not be required. Just have fun."

-Because recently I've been thinking about this possibility seriously for the first time (seriously as in actually thinking it could be true). Because life is absurd and full of profound suffering. The older I get and the more desperate I see that people are and the more delusional I see that even common society is and *requires* itself to be to keep the threads tied of every day existence, the more and more convinced I am that it is all excruciatingly pointless. Linda Stewart believing that her chronic pain has a purpose, or that Ed's mental illness is a great lesson. I'm sorry, but this exclaims my point..for me anyways.

Then I read Sagan. And It's so amazing we're even here. For brief moments I allow myself to imagine there is a conscious universe, and feel those great feelings I had once as a believer, then I wrap my mind around the real world I've seen and it just doesn't jibe.

And I just killed a mouse. Was it conscious? I would be incredibly surprised if it was not. I hope it had a great purposeful life. Maybe I taught it a lesson! Even killing a mouse sets me off in a state of philosophical revery- a feep and abiding sense of the pointless. I hate killing. I had to kill. Isn't that life?

All I can say is that I was once heavily swayed by psi anecdotes and what I considered to be valid research. Now I am almost just as heavily swayed towards not believing by the lack of good evidence and the lack of data.