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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2007 > Apr > Apr 4

Re: Defending The Indefensible - Shough

From: Martin Shough <parcellular.nul>
Date: Tue, 3 Apr 2007 22:17:24 +0100
Fwd Date: Wed, 04 Apr 2007 09:42:36 -0400
Subject: Re: Defending The Indefensible - Shough


>From: Mike Good <boneheadart.nul>
>To: ufoupdates.nul
>Date: Sat, 31 Mar 2007 10:28:25 -0700 (PDT)
>Subject: Re: Defending The Indefensible

>>From: Martin Shough <parcellular.nul>
>>To: <ufoupdates.nul>
>>Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2007 14:48:50 +0100
>>Subject: Re: Defending The Indefensible

>>>From: Cathy Reason <CathyM.nul>
>>>To: <ufoupdates.nul>
>>>Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2007 13:59:52 +0100
>>>Subject: Re: Defending The Indefensible


Hello Mike

Apologies for delay in responding. I've been in bed with flu for
a few days, so my mind may be even foggier than usual.

>How interesting that this little debate that I began with some
>outrageously bold statements has finally come full circle. It
>has reached a point where Martin is actually arguing my own
>assertions! Granted, the semantics are different, but he is
>confirming what I was saying about the preconcieved notions of
>much of our culturally accepted and cherished scientific
>beliefs...!

No, no, absolutely no! Let me remind you of those original
statements which you now aptly characterise as "outrageous":
Science is just a fairy tale, no better or worse than any other
fairy tale or religion, journals just credulously publish any
old thing, there's no point trying to be rational about UFO
reports and it's no fun anyway, so why not just believe whatever
cool thing you want. I sincerely hope you are the only one on
this List capable of imagining that the differences between us
are merely semantic.

<snip>

>Oh forsooth! To be casually brushed off in such an impertitnent
>manner! Well, I will gladly become the rhetorical whipping boy
>if it means recogntion of the fact that science is not the
>intellectual balwark and open minded love-fest that Martin
>imagines it to be.

That remark is as good as a frank admission that you haven't
understood me _at_all_. You seem to be determined not to grasp
what science is.

>Cathy Reason (the voice of Reason?) has taken my side, in a
>manner of speaking. For this I thank her. I, obviously, do not
>share in their intellectual/academic pursuits. So, I have
>remained silent while this debate has gone on. I let the smart
>people do the talking here.

Cathy's focus was on the question of materialism and of
undetected constraints on theorising caused by irrational a
priorism in science. I would be very surprised if she supports
your overt anti-rationality and your _insistence_ on a priorism
(dressed up as metaphysics), but that's as may be.

>But Martin will, perhaps, (okay, maybe not) be surprised to
>know that I did not come to my point of view by cherry-picking
>scientific data to buttress my hare-brained ideas. No! I came
>to my hare-brained ideas legitimately, through the study of
>(shudder!) metaphysics!

If I _were_ surprised, I would have very good reason, since your
posts were focused squarely on science.

The first was a frankly ridiculous caricature of the scientific
process as a subjective free-for-all where published scientific
results were no better than subjective claims taken on trust,
leading to the conclusion that scientific theories were like
"belief in the tooth fairy". And what was your evidence? 1) That
you'd read about scientific papers demonstrating the effects of
unconscious experimenter bias in certain kinds of experiments,
and 2) The placebo effect, again discovered by scientific
experiment and published - where? yes in scientific journals
back in the 1930s. Oh joyous compound inconsistency! Science
taught you these things, Mike, not metaphysicians, and also
invented the statistical techniques and protocols - which you do
not mention - that are routinely used to minimise unconscious
experimenter bias and control placebo reactions. Not a whole lot
of "legitimate metaphysics" there.

In the second post, following criticism, you rowed back on that,
saying that what you'd really intended was to dramatise by "a
little exaggeration" the role of consciousness in fashioning
actuality, referencing "implications of quantum mechanics",
"quantum thinking", "scientific theory" and "quantum
understanding" all in two short paragraphs. Again, physics. But
not correct physics. You're talking about the famous wave
function collapse of course, but there must be a dozen or more
different current interpretations of what the QM formalisn
_might_ mean, of which only two or three require the "collapse
of the wavefunction" to be a concrete event at all, and only one
of these preserves the idea of Von Neumann's linear chain of
superposed states ending at the mind of Wigner's Friend. But it
was bound to be a popular one.

As I already said, this idea was introduced into physics by
physicists three quarters of a century ago and eventually gave
rise to what I think can fairly be described as the popular
orthodoxy more than 30 years ago. By now that orthodoxy seems a
rather old and tired one, because in all that time the idea
hasn't proven its usefulness. Which is why it is _not_ part of
the formal theory of quantum mechanics. Maybe someone will find
both a need and a method to make it so after all. But in that 75
years the importance of the quantum gravity issue has grown into
arguably the biggest single problem in physics and the suspicion
that some radical reformulation of QM will be involved in the
resolution has grown alongside suspicions that this may be how
the measurement problem finally gets removed or understood.
Whether or not the unknown future theory that solves these
problems might also involve consciousness is of course
impossible to know without inventing it.

I think you are right, at this stage, to withdraw all of your
misplaced claims of support from science, along with all of your
misplaced criticisms of science, and rest your case openly on
the a priori metaphysical speculation which you now tell us was
the core of your thinking all along.

>Oh my! Now I have went and done it! The cat is out of the bag!
>I have single-handedly delegitimized myself by admitting that I
>am just another one of those airy-fairy nutbags!

>Oh, the shame.

It would take a will of steel to resist the retort, "If the cap
fits... "

>But this shameful revelation brings me directly to my original
>point: That quantum physics are beginning to confirm what the
>mystics have been saying all along. The universe is nothing,
>more or less, than a huge complex continuum, subject to change
>through the application of consciousness. This is the
>metaphysical truth that science, in fits and starts, is only
>beginning to acknowledge.

Science does not "acknowledge truths", it tests guesses - tries
out "preconceptions", those "preconceptions" you dislike but
cannot yourself escape simply by calling them "metaphysical
truths". If physics does some day conclude that the universe is
what you say it is (and it hasn't) then it will be because this
particular "prejudice" or "preconception" has been refined into
a theory coherent enough to be "even wrong" and has survived (at
least for a time) attempts to refute it. Then you will be able
to feel vindicated of course and cry "I told you so" - at least
for a time - whereas if physics never does conclude that
consciousness is essential to actuality then of course it will
be physics that is at fault, not you, because after all it's
just another bunch of subjective fairy tales anyway, whereas you
have the metaphysical inside track, right?

>But what a fascinating and mind-blowing revelation this is!

It would be, wouldn't it! I can hardly wait either, you make the
future sound so very exciting. And it will be exciting, whether
it resembles your a priori expectations or not. In fact I dare
predict that it will be the more exciting in proportion as it
tends away from the old unhelpful quantum mysticism and towards
some shape that our present-day minds - whether focused or
"blown" - can't presently visualise.

>>>This is the crux of our disagreement, I believe.

>>And of our agreement apparently :-)

>Yes indeed Martin! Truer words were never uttered here. Thank
>you so much for an entertaining (if sometimes tedious) debate.
>The world is a fascinating place, and it is made all the more
>fascinating when previously conflicting philosophies are
>finally shown to emerge from the same wellspring!

I wonder if beneath the leaden irony of this post there is a
genuine pleasure in seeing conflicting opinions resolved? If so,
I'm sorry to have to disappoint you, but it was not you that I
was expressing any agreement with. And that's definitely my
final word in this thread.


Martin Shough



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