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Old 04-21-2012, 10:13 PM   #61
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I don't believe in ghosts or the soul or anything like that for the exact reasons that Antaeos lined out in way more detail and clarity than I could have managed....

That said, I find the supposedly supernatural very interesting. Not all that bogus ghost hunter bullshit, but supernatural folklore and outdated beliefs about dream premonitions, spiritualist "science", etc. are extremely interesting topics to me. I think it's fascinating how the human mind can terrify itself with non-existent threats, but be blind to things that are far more likely to kill it.

Two of my favorite horror/supernatural type stories are E.T.A. Hoffmann's "The Sandman" and "Automata." Two very eerie stories about nightmares, doppelgangers, psychic phenomena, and malevolent spirits, but what I find most interesting is that they make constant suggestions that the origins of all this phantasmagoria is the human mind.
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Old 04-21-2012, 11:23 PM   #62
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Erm... and yet science is an empirical endeavor. There is no such thing as objectivity. Everything we understand through physical science is entirely dependent on the way humans perceive and understand things. It may have the benefit of some mass collective agreement, but it remains a mass consensus on subjective conditions and modes of thinking.

I'm no spirit or god nut, and i'm sooner an atheist than a deist, but to pretend that science is the answer for everything, or is somehow the only reality, is very nearly almost as ridiculous. Remember that science by definition proves nothing, it works only by continually disproving. The benefits of its exponential practical applications and seeming clarity should never be misconstrued as truth.
Post-positivism ftw. Spot on (from my subjective viewpoint)
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Old 04-21-2012, 11:46 PM   #63
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A ghost shit and a ghost wipe are two different things. The worst is when you take a ghost shit but don't have a ghost wipe.
Okay, what's a ghost shit then?
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Old 04-21-2012, 11:53 PM   #64
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It's when you take a dump, but nothing appears in the toilet bowl. They're the most unsatisfying shits ever.
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Old 04-22-2012, 01:08 AM   #65
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I prefer to keep the word "truth" out of science. Humans can make observations and they use science to construct a framework which self-consistently accounts for as many of these observations as possible. Yet the framework can never be more than an approximation to whatever "reality" is.

Reality contains patterns and humans are skilled enough at inventing patterns that they can replicate a lot of it. That's all there is to it. There's no scientific basis for even defining the word "truth".
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Old 04-22-2012, 06:42 AM   #66
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It's when you take a dump, but nothing appears in the toilet bowl. They're the most unsatisfying shits ever.
Ahhh, makes sense, yeah I agree.
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Old 04-22-2012, 06:43 AM   #67
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Old 04-22-2012, 01:19 PM   #68
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I used to think that ghosts exist, but as I've gotten older, I think the possibility is increasingly less likely.

And even if people do "see" a ghost or spirit or even an alien, there's a multitude of ways to explain it without assuming that the only possibility is the existence of ghosts.
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Old 04-22-2012, 01:35 PM   #69
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I'm one of those people that think complete understanding of the universe, what happens when you die etc is one of those things that will probably never be fully understood. I would go far enough to say that we aren't physically capable of understanding it (as in, our brains aren't advanced enough to grasp it).

Maybe the answer to all those big questions is staring us right in the face, but we just don't know it?
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Old 04-22-2012, 05:24 PM   #70
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Maybe the answer to all those big questions is staring us right in the face, but we just don't know it?
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Old 04-22-2012, 05:29 PM   #71
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Old 04-22-2012, 05:43 PM   #72
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Actually you're thinking too little. There's a vast body of neuroscience research showing how consciousness depends critically on brain function (see e.g. this talk). Death on the cellular level means your cells stop causing chemical disequilibrium across their membranes, essentially rendering neuronal signal transduction impossible. In other words, consciousness CANNOT persist after death. It doesn't even persist when you're asleep.

Ghost sightings and all that stuff can be readily explained as visual artifacts of human visual stimulus processing.

tl;dr there's no such thing as ghosts because the concept is absurd in the physical sense. pro-tip: whenever you think you've experienced something that would violate the physical principles of the universe, have the decency to be a little skeptical.
couldn't have put it any better
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Old 04-22-2012, 06:06 PM   #73
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Erm... and yet science is an empirical endeavor. There is no such thing as objectivity. Everything we understand through physical science is entirely dependent on the way humans perceive and understand things. It may have the benefit of some mass collective agreement, but it remains a mass consensus on subjective conditions and modes of thinking.

I'm no spirit or god nut, and i'm sooner an atheist than a deist, but to pretend that science is the answer for everything, or is somehow the only reality, is very nearly almost as ridiculous. Remember that science by definition proves nothing, it works only by continually disproving. The benefits of its exponential practical applications and seeming clarity should never be misconstrued as truth.
Thank you. Glad someone said it.
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Old 04-22-2012, 07:09 PM   #74
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Erm... and yet science is an empirical endeavor. There is no such thing as objectivity. Everything we understand through physical science is entirely dependent on the way humans perceive and understand things. It may have the benefit of some mass collective agreement, but it remains a mass consensus on subjective conditions and modes of thinking.
One can also use the term inter-subjectivity.

That would be more of a phenomenological approach though. How ever, I chose not to go completely social constructivist here, because I happen to think that science is the most successful method of determining how reality works....in a practical sense, not absolute, but as close as you can get with with a human mind.
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Old 04-22-2012, 07:38 PM   #75
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I happen to think that science is the most successful method of determining how reality works....in a practical sense, not absolute, but as close as you can get with with a human mind.
I wish somebody would tell this to /r/atheism.
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Old 04-23-2012, 05:50 PM   #76
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Emotions, whilst thoroughly enjoyable as part of the subjective experience of consciousness, do not tell me anything about reality – particularly compared to scientific method. They don't bring me any closer to 'truth' or 'the way things really are'. They are just the subjective emotional response generated by the precise neuroarchitecture of my brain, in response to external stimuli. Fun, but not providing 'truth'.

Interpersonal truth? Not even sure what that really is. But I feel like I would be hard-pressed to have some interaction with someone else shine light on a 'truth', unless that interaction involved some form of convincing argument, ie. one utilising objective evidence to modulate my understanding of the world.

And what is 'character developmental truth'?

My point is that emotions, subjective experience etc. are valuable experiences. But only for self-gratification. I would even go so far as to say that they influence our choices in life, because after all, we make choices to maximise subjective happiness and minimise subjective unhappiness. But they don't tell you more about the fundamental 'reality'.
While it's more common to speak of gullibility when it comes to superstitions and the supernatural, all this strikes me as a gullible or immature kind of rationalism, believing only those things that can be pinned down and quantified. As Tomes aptly suggested, "truth" is really the wrong word to be bandying about here. When I speak of emotions, character development and interpersonal experiences, I'm talking about kinds of perception, awareness and sensitivity to oneself and others - at a subjective and intersubjective level - that one builds up over life, reflecting upon them and learning further. Comparing this to scientific method... WTF, that's like comparing a banana to an elephant. Total non-analogy.

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To be honest, subjectivity itself is just something that has not yet been explained objectively. It is ultimately the product of neuronal firing, nothing more.
Well, let's talk again in a few decades when all this childish nonsense about "subjectivity" and "emotions" has finally been disproved by those enlightened rationalists. Hope I'm not around anymore if everyone thinks like that...

I don't understand this reference to subjectivity and emotions as being good "only for self-gratification" - do you think that our meaninglessly minuscule existence in the universe is somehow made more important by the fact that we research its laws? I certainly understand the beauty of the sciences, but suggesting that those things are what make life meaningful, while the things inside us are secondary, strikes me as totally ass-backwards.
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Old 04-23-2012, 06:19 PM   #77
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the only spirit I believe in
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Old 04-23-2012, 06:58 PM   #78
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I was told that we can hear while sleeping. And what about conscious sleeping? bullshit?
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Old 04-23-2012, 07:17 PM   #79
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One can also use the term inter-subjectivity.

That would be more of a phenomenological approach though. How ever, I chose not to go completely social constructivist here, because I happen to think that science is the most successful method of determining how reality works....in a practical sense, not absolute, but as close as you can get with with a human mind.
+1. It also seems to be, so far as I can think, the kind of approach that could offer an explanation for both discombob's and quartertone's notions of "truth", counting aside the former's response to the latter's post, in which my opinions would echo quartertone's. I'm no expert on social constructionist theory, but it seems to me interesting that it doesn't really segregate or provide judgement between either take anyway, hinting at the idea that they're both one in the same.

I think it makes a difference also if one starts off thinking of consciousness and the mind's function as being "eliminative" rather than "productive", however romantic the idea may be in some regards.
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Old 04-23-2012, 07:47 PM   #80
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Old 04-23-2012, 09:50 PM   #81
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My point is that science allows quantitative 'pinning down' – to the best capacity of human logic and rational thought – discussing the possibility of things that exist beyond the intellectual and perceptional capacities of humans is a moot point as we are fucking human beings at the end of the day, whatever other dimension of reality that may or may not exist beyond 'science' is not something accessible to us as a species, and therefore holds no relevance to us. The notion that a 'true' 'reality' exists beyond science is not disprovable. However, it is analogous to arguing the existence of god by the same argument "We are ants and god is a human, we cannot know the existence of a god". But even if there is a god, it is irrational to modify your life based on this assumption. There could be uncountable higher dimensions of reality, potentially a god, and who knows whatever else. You cannot base your life on things that are intrinsically un-knowable, so discussing them is literally a waste of time.

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While it's more common to speak of gullibility when it comes to superstitions and the supernatural, all this strikes me as a gullible or immature kind of rationalism, believing only those things that can be pinned down and quantified. As Tomes aptly suggested, "truth" is really the wrong word to be bandying about here. When I speak of emotions, character development and interpersonal experiences, I'm talking about kinds of perception, awareness and sensitivity to oneself and others - at a subjective and intersubjective level - that one builds up over life, reflecting upon them and learning further. Comparing this to scientific method... WTF, that's like comparing a banana to an elephant. Total non-analogy.
Your subjective experiences are the result of neuronal firing, so could theoretically be reduced into realm of quantitative science. I am talking about the science of social interaction, analysed on a neuronal level. There is no real reason why this could not be possible at some point down the line. If you believe that they are completely in different paradigms of knowledge, then I disagree. Subjective experience feeds into our consciousness, our meaning of self, our 'persona' so to speak. But in the end, all of these are products of neuroarchitecture, so could eventually be explained by scientific method. It may be a banana -> elephant comparison given our current understanding of neurology but I don't believe that this is, or will be, an issue that cannot be conquered in the long term development of human knowledge.

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Well, let's talk again in a few decades when all this childish nonsense about "subjectivity" and "emotions" has finally been disproved by those enlightened rationalists. Hope I'm not around anymore if everyone thinks like that...

I don't understand this reference to subjectivity and emotions as being good "only for self-gratification" - do you think that our meaninglessly minuscule existence in the universe is somehow made more important by the fact that we research its laws? I certainly understand the beauty of the sciences, but suggesting that those things are what make life meaningful, while the things inside us are secondary, strikes me as totally ass-backwards.
I think you're interpreting me wrong here, and I apologise if what I said was convoluted. I think subjectivity is the most important thing we have – as an individual person. These terms are not childish or silly, science is not out to 'disprove' these experiences, rather explain why they occur as a result of human neurology. There is literally no reason to live, other than for your subjective experience. That is the essence of being human. In that regard, we live for our subjective experience, and seek to appease it (self-gratification). There is no way to big up our existence in the universe – we have no objective purpose for existing, the fabricated subjective experiences created by our neurology are all we actually have.

I never said science is what makes life meaningful. I think appeasing your subjective experience is what makes life meaningful, however you choose to do it. However, if you have any sense of perspective and scale, you want to find the 'best fit for everyone'. How do you try and get humans as a whole to maximise their subjective experience during their lifetimes? I would argue that you need objectivity to achieve this. Science brings an objectivity that the emotional and subjective mind cannot. Greed and emotions cloud judgement far too often, and lead to greater gains for one whilst trodding on others. You could argue that emotions can tip the other way, leading to greater generosity. But all in all, they are not reliable and can't really be trusted. I don't see any other way to bring the best quality of life to as many people as possible, other than science. For that reason I hold science highly in my subjective experience, as making a positive impact on the world in that way would be self-gratifying, subjectively.

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Old 04-23-2012, 09:57 PM   #82
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Old 04-23-2012, 10:06 PM   #83
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thanks brosé, shit was funny.
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Old 04-23-2012, 10:09 PM   #84
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And let's not forget that an elephant and a banana are both coded from the same four nucleotides, so maybe they're not so different after all!

I'm ready to be discoboob's disciple, he obviously has a brain the size of my hip. I complained that science for all its treats is still only a tool of limited human understanding. He responds by saying subjectivity is awesome but as far as science goes, well what the fuck else do you want or need if you wouldn't be capable of understanding it anyway? That's fine, you right.
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Old 04-23-2012, 10:33 PM   #85
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And let's not forget that an elephant and a banana are both coded from the same four nucleotides, so maybe they're not so different after all!


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I'm ready to be discoboob's disciple, he obviously has a brain the size of my hip. I complained that science for all its treats is still only a tool of limited human understanding. He responds by saying subjectivity is awesome but as far as science goes, well what the fuck else do you want or need if you wouldn't be capable of understanding it anyway? That's fine, you right.
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Old 04-24-2012, 12:24 AM   #86
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My point is that science allows quantitative 'pinning down' – to the best capacity of human logic and rational thought – discussing the possibility of things that exist beyond the intellectual and perceptional capacities of humans is a moot point as we are fucking human beings at the end of the day, whatever other dimension of reality that may or may not exist beyond 'science' is not something accessible to us as a species, and therefore holds no relevance to us. The notion that a 'true' 'reality' exists beyond science is not disprovable. However, it is analogous to arguing the existence of god by the same argument "We are ants and god is a human, we cannot know the existence of a god". But even if there is a god, it is irrational to modify your life based on this assumption. There could be uncountable higher dimensions of reality, potentially a god, and who knows whatever else. You cannot base your life on things that are intrinsically un-knowable, so discussing them is literally a waste of time.



Your subjective experiences are the result of neuronal firing, so could theoretically be reduced into realm of quantitative science. I am talking about the science of social interaction, analysed on a neuronal level. There is no real reason why this could not be possible at some point down the line. If you believe that they are completely in different paradigms of knowledge, then I disagree. Subjective experience feeds into our consciousness, our meaning of self, our 'persona' so to speak. But in the end, all of these are products of neuroarchitecture, so could eventually be explained by scientific method. It may be a banana -> elephant comparison given our current understanding of neurology but I don't believe that this is, or will be, an issue that cannot be conquered in the long term development of human knowledge.



I think you're interpreting me wrong here, and I apologise if what I said was convoluted. I think subjectivity is the most important thing we have – as an individual person. These terms are not childish or silly, science is not out to 'disprove' these experiences, rather explain why they occur as a result of human neurology. There is literally no reason to live, other than for your subjective experience. That is the essence of being human. In that regard, we live for our subjective experience, and seek to appease it (self-gratification). There is no way to big up our existence in the universe – we have no objective purpose for existing, the fabricated subjective experiences created by our neurology are all we actually have.

I never said science is what makes life meaningful. I think appeasing your subjective experience is what makes life meaningful, however you choose to do it. However, if you have any sense of perspective and scale, you want to find the 'best fit for everyone'. How do you try and get humans as a whole to maximise their subjective experience during their lifetimes? I would argue that you need objectivity to achieve this. Science brings an objectivity that the emotional and subjective mind cannot. Greed and emotions cloud judgement far too often, and lead to greater gains for one whilst trodding on others. You could argue that emotions can tip the other way, leading to greater generosity. But all in all, they are not reliable and can't really be trusted. I don't see any other way to bring the best quality of life to as many people as possible, other than science. For that reason I hold science highly in my subjective experience, as making a positive impact on the world in that way would be self-gratifying, subjectively.
If I could summarize what I think your main points are:

It should be theoretically possible to explain all aspects of human behavior using the scientific method, since human society is a physical system.

The scientific method is the most reliable of approaches for determining how physical systems behave, so the optimal human society would use this approach to arrive at all its policies and actions.

Correct me if I've got it wrong, but this is what I will respond to:

The first part is not a well-founded assertion, as far as I know. We know that the universe is not deterministic on the atomic scale. Of course, most macroscopic systems are effectively deterministic due to the statistics of large numbers of particles, but it is still possible for a quantum event to influence a macroscopic system (eg Schrodinger's cat), and as someone who knows nothing about neurology I imagine this could happen in the brain.

More pertinently, there seems to be some evidence that the brain is a chaotic system, making it effectively impossible to model regardless of the above.

Nevertheless, you would probably argue that the scientific method will get us closer to describing reality than any other method will. But there's the question of physical realization of this level of modeling. Consider the fact that we currently can't predict the behavior of more than a few atoms using pure fist-principles techniques, despite the relatively low number of degrees of freedom in these systems. Presumably you don't need quantum methods to predict social interactions, but the relevant degrees of freedom in that case will still dwarf the atomic case by orders of magnitude. Even if it's theoretically possible, it becomes a statement of philosophy if it can't be achieved. And I'll place my bets on human society destroying itself well before it achieves the ability to predict what several isolated people will do, let alone a whole society.

(This prediction aside from the bloody uprising that would undoubtedly occur if people realized that their behavior was being perfectly predicted, and the B-movie epiphany that this event itself must have been predetermined )

Ultimately, social sciences and historical study are likely to remain better predictors of human behavior than pure science is, and we all know how well those approaches do.

But, the even more pressing point is that we undoubtedly already DON'T model human society based on the optimal information available to us, and such a scenario won't be achievable short of replacing all human decision making with robots.

All this to say that the scientific method is so unlikely to ever replace all other facets of human decision making, that discussing it is literally a waste of time.

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Old 04-24-2012, 01:03 AM   #87
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Okay I see where you're coming from.

First of all, I am not advocating chasing a rigid deterministic future when I talk about science, scientific advancement and incoporation of these things into decision making on a personal and societal level. Indeed, there are (based on current understanding) serious theoretical issues with rigid determinism as you rightly pointed out. However, I don't think this should negate the importance of science – I'll expand on this point in a bit.

Regarding neurology, I'll confess that my reading is far more superficial than I would like. Neuroscience is now largely chasing computational models of neuronal activities – apparently we cannot even simulate one neuron at our current level of understanding/computational power (I am not too sure which is the truly limiting factor here). There is a fundamental disconnect between trying to emulate the brain using a binary system, whereas the nervous system operates on a completely different paradigm of programming. Admittedly, my understanding of this area in particular is shoddy at best – Shadowcunter will be your guru in this regard if you are more interested. I'll be looking into this area more extensively over summer, though. My preliminary thoughts are that emulating the brain is not theoretically impossible. It is fairly likely that we are thinking about emulating the brain in completely the wrong way, trying to brute force the solution when a more elegant and novel solution is possible.

Anyway, like I said, I don't think science should chase a perfect explanation for everything. Like you said, it is possible that such a perfect explanation for everything within our human realm of understanding is theoretically impossible. I don't think we can even visualise that horizon of knowledge yet, but I won't rule it out as a distinct possibility.

But I disagree with your statement that discussing scientific method is a waste of time. Sure, it is highly unlikely to replace human decision making – in fact I don't think that it should. This is not the Isaac Asimov short story where we go to a computer and receive a printout of 'the answer'. That is not what I envision. I see science more as a strong and critical adjunct to human decision making. It should not (and likely cannot) fully replace our decision making, but we should try to negate the negative aspects of subjective decision making by using science. Science does not have to be 100% deterministic, nor be the 'explanation and predictor of everything ever' to achieve this. I'm merely talking about an increase in the importance and prevalence of scientific method, and more broadly speaking, logical and rational thought.

If we can encourage scientific, logical and rational thought as an integral part of being a responsible human being – well fuck me...I can't even fathom the amount of suffering that could be reduced, and potentially the amount of happiness that could be created by such a shift in ideology and belief systems. Nowhere in this vision is science required to be a deterministic predictive Big Brother, it is a strong guide for our decision making that should be taken very seriously, and has major potential to improve human quality of life for the whole species. And as a slightly facetious point, I suspect that preventing self-annihilation as a race will be critically dependent on our collective ability to embrace and realise the value of such an ideology and way of thinking.

Regardless, I share your cynicism. Looking out at the world, I can't help but feel that impending doom that we're all going to shove nuclear dildos up each others asses, or neglect glaring issues regarding human survival such as global warming in favour of short term transient gain and gluttony. I suppose that is intrinsic human nature, to some extent.

However, I have hope. I think human culture is evolving, and at a much faster rate than before – what with the internet and the rate at which kids are expected to grasp concepts and ideas these days. So I have a hope that such an ideological change is possible. This may be naive, but I can dream. I see no other recourse other than to push such rational thought at every opportunity. It is definitely worth talking about.

Last edited by discombobulation; 04-24-2012 at 01:09 AM..
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Old 04-24-2012, 01:38 AM   #88
Claude
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Fun to read last couple of posts.

Regarding your last statement, I tend to be optimistic as well. I don't see how we (or whatever species is next in the great evolutionary chain, though I'm not sure in what way human consciousness will alter/affect that process as we know it) can't move beyond the realities we deal with now.

I just don't know if it'll (or needs to) get worse before it gets better.
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Old 04-24-2012, 01:42 AM   #89
Tomes of Deceit
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I was playing devil's advocate a little bit. I agree with all of that. I can only speak for the culture of the US, but certainly rationality is underused and underappreciated here. As someone who naturally sees the world through logic rather than emotion, I've been accused of being insensitive. Of course I find those accusations unfair - I am on the same side as you in my belief that others would be better off looking at things the way I do.
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Old 04-24-2012, 01:49 AM   #90
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My mum told me many fuckin' retarded stories to me when I was a kid (I had to force them out of her, she was reluctant to tell). It's been years since she's told me the stories, so keep in mind that my memory might be off -- and let's keep it real, hers probably was to begin with.

>be my mom
>be child/teenager
>be with moms sister
>be in chile (lots of farm land at the time, unlike today)
>walk along deserted road with sister at night for whatever reason
>see huge fireball floating in the middle of the road
>they approach it

[don't remember exactly what happened next]
>fireball disappears and a large pile of money is left where the fireball was
>they go back home and celebrate with relatives about the money they got



another one

>be my mom
>be married
>still be in chile
>be at home with babby, night time, waiting for hubby to come home from work
>she hears typical noises reminiscent of hubby coming home (footsteps, washing hands, etc)
>she calls out to him coz the noises have been going on for ages
>goes to check source of noise, no hubby to be found
>goes back to kitchen (like a good woman)
>babby is gone (moms reaction = WTF)

[dont remember exactly what happens next]
>she goes outside and theres a huge half bird half man on fire floating in the sky holding her babby


beaners r fkn retarded
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