It's easy to pick on people that use psychics -- but really it's not any more or less silly than a bunch of mainstream spiritual beliefs.
I'll also play devil's advocate and suggest that perhaps some people also get value from their psychics. As far as I can tell from the outside, some psychics essentially serve as life coaches for their clients.
And just as some people find religion comforting with regards to their passed relatives ("I know Grandma is in heaven!") others may find similar comfort talking to Grandma via a psychic -- even if both are total fabrications.
Its not a fix on its own, just accidentally more (likely to be) correct than psychics, from the perspective of the believer.
Claims that education, or atheism, are cult-like or religion-like are common enough, but they require ignoring what an education actually means and instead assuming it's just deferring to a (different) bunch of books.
An education gives you critical thinking, the ability to rationally consider, deduce, conclude, the willingness to discover, to be wrong, etc.
I guess gp was describing someone who was eager to discover, but certainly lacked an understanding or developed abilities around critical thinking.
>they require ignoring what an education actually means and instead assuming it's just deferring to a (different) bunch of books.
But thats the key. People do that. All the time. In practice, education doesn’t follow your idealized version of it. Education, by which I mean western education, struggles to even resemble the ideal, and if anyone tells you to go get educated (thinking of the ideal), they will lead you to a very different path, because it’s done as an accident of the education system (that is, a mistake, a rarity).
My point is that people don’t think that hard about what they learn; regardless of the source. All the fantasicism and cargo culting of programming communities are a direct result of this: fully educated people falling prey to the same mistakes you can accuse any religious follower of.
Both (educated) liberals and conservatives accuse each other of these mistakes on a daily basis.
Education isn’t magic; you should be applying the same skepticism to it as anything else, and it becomes fairly obvious that people can and do make the same mistakes they do with the bible as they do with the textbook
That goes without saying.
Your argument seems to be that some people don't 'get' education. That's hard to argue with - I'm sure some people don't.
You said originally: "Education is a cult in and of itself"
And that's what I rail against.
Your observation that 'education isn't magic' is well aligned with my original point.
The bible too isn’t bad on its own... a good wholesome christian turns out to follow a pretty good set of morals.
My railing is against the belief the education is inherently better in these things than any other form of teaching (religions, myths, tradition, etc), but its not — critical thinking is outside of it, and most won’t partake in it regardless of which teaching methodology. The only saving grace is that education supposedly embraces it as an operation, where perhaps the christians might have once damned you for it, but in practice, education systems try quite hard to minimize the act (it would slow down standardized teaching, and memorization far simpler, scalable and cheaper to teach)
I feel that you're conflating your experiences with, or observations of, bad teaching -- with education in the general / abstract.
And this bit just feels like you're now trolling me:
> The bible too isn’t bad on its own... a good wholesome christian turns out to follow a pretty good set of morals.
It's definitely better, but not fundamentally superior. (this perhaps is the troll, the blasphemy, the should-be-made illegal belief)
>I feel that you're conflating your experiences with, or observations of, bad teaching -- with education in the general / abstract.
I'm arguing that, in practice, education is not education, and thus telling people to get educated as a solution to some mistake like following psychics blindly, is based on the exact same mistake that the target person made. If you critically think about education as it occurs in practice, it rarely offers critical thinking; it theoretically does, just as the bible theoretically offers you inner peace, but in practice, it does not. And its difficult to argue that the (now like ggggp) gp meant your idealized form of it, because you wouldn't get the solution from the default form of education. But the mistake was made, because of a blind faith in how the system describes itself (your idealized version), rather than an understanding of how it actually functions.
Also what do you have against a good wholesome christian/hindu/muslim/etc? Ignoring the god-ly aspect, religion passes down a culture, and they tend to be pretty damn good ones at that, if they don't run off to some extreme (the good, wholesome description protects us from that scenario). Of course they have their history... but again, so does any other. A religious or geographic one, they all have something to be ashamed of. It's not like the heathens and worshippers of science are without fault as well.
Blind faith in education is as dumb as blind faith in a psychic. ...and it turns out education doesn't stop you from executing blind faith.
And its not that surprising that people don’t realize this occurs, and spreads the word blindly, with unwavering faith in its problem-solving ability
What happens after we die?
What does it all mean?
Does my pain have meaning?
Am I special?
What is consciousness?
Will I ever be able to talk to my dead grandmother again?
That's why there have always been predators around willing to take your money in exchange for easy answers to these (and other) questions...
What happens after we die? You stop being. The conscious experience of it is the same as before you were born, i.e. nothing.
Does my pain have meaning? Not to the universe, yes to the people that care about you?
Am I special? Live is special, it's the most amazing phenomenon we appear to have in the universe. But at the same time, the "universe" doesn't care about you.
What is consciousness? A physical process happening in your brain.
Will I ever be able to talk to my dead grandmother again? No.
You might not like these answers, but that doesn't have any bearing on them being true or not.
> What happens after we die? You stop being.
You don't know that of course, and have no way of knowing that. Although I'll agree that from a modern, rationalist point of view that's the default reasonable assumption.
> What is consciousness? A physical process happening in your brain.
And same goes for that one; the brain clearly relates to consciousness, but you can't be sure it produces it. Maybe it receives it somehow; maybe it's even more complex than that. I'd even go as far to say that if we were to create a black box AGI tomorrow, the question would still not be solved: the only thing you'd have proven is that a specific arrangement of matter appears to result in consciousness, nothing more.
Moreover, reality itself happens - in a very concrete way - in your head, not outside of it. Plato's cave and all that (or for a more technically oriented one, the brain-in-a-jar idea). Your point of view is rational in the extreme, but also extremely reductive. I don't think one should be so quick to reject deeper - and, dare I say, spiritual - ways of considering our universe.
> You don't know that of course, and have no way of knowing that.
I'm a little surprised how many threads here "OMG YOU CAN'T KNOW FOR SURE SO HERE'S THIS OTHER STUFF YOU SHOULD CONSIDER LIKE SPIRITUALITY!!!".
When you turn off your computer, does its essence float away to computer heaven? When your car breaks down, does its soul get sent to automotive hell? I accidentally stepped on and broke my HP Calculator a few years ago, it won't turn on anymore, so is it in computation limbo? These questions are (purposefully) absurd, but where do you draw the line in "attributing spiritual crap to machinations?"
You simply began existing once. What's to say that you won't just as easily begin existing again, or that you haven't already existed many times?
Of course it does, as its very basis is that there are no supernatural forces influencing anything that the science observes. Or to formulate even simpler: there are no "miracles": if something happened, it was possible to happen. You can't postulate "and then the deity came and intervened" if you are doing scientific inquiry about some event. If you could everything could be simply explained by deities playing around.
Therefore, the scientific approach to human history is also very simple: it's the people who invented the gods, and not vice versa.
So you can personally believe in deities somehow, but if you try to explain your scientific work with their involvement, your work would immediately not be scientific anymore.
To give again a simple example, Newton didn't try to explain the movement of the planets with angels pushing them around, but with the plain physical laws. And it worked. Newton believed in god(s) somehow, but he hasn't let that interfere with the laws. Then he did some other works which involved gods, but these aren't science.
It's that simple.
Agreeing to such answers at the emotional level is an entirely different enterprise, quite hard for many people. Many people would rather feel content than learn a bit of uncomfortable truth, and I'm not going to judge them.
Just like educating beginning developers in the important of security, we should educate children to sanitize their inputs, validate things they are told, think critically, and realize the code that others are trying to run on them.
Things that are not relevant to the task at hand (for many, the news) are accepted without critical thought. That's why advertising is so successful.
I've been studying various models of charismatic behavior recently and I've come to wonder whether, given _any_ particular dominant interaction or communication style, if played up it will activate the "investigator/auditor" reflex/role of another style.
As an example, growing up around charismatic people, they are very much capable of doing something like this NYT article in reverse, for example getting the quiet, researcher-bean-counter-style approach of some government office critiqued on the evening news, organizing "irrational but passionate" protests, etc.
It’s not entirely unlikely that this scene was based on real mob stories. In the fictional depiction, the psychic would have had to have been in cahoots with Christopher Moltisanti for this to have been a deception, since it’s unlikely a psychic would have otherwise guessed about the poison ivy that Paulie got when whacking Mikey Palmice with Christopher.
Good on these people to have the time to debunk common myths and frauds. This might help prevent some from succumbing to their scams.
James Randi spent his life debunking these charlatans. See Youtube for many examples if you really want to go down the rabbit hole.
-> I don't want to hi-jack this thread but did want to point out the John Oliver story and my general bewilderment wit YT not demonetizing these channels - no need to block or censor but just give them no money for their traffic.
So, it's just a bad month for psychics. But Oliver NEEDS to be given an award this year from some Skeptic organization.
BTW, check out the Wiki article for Thomas John... now including all the new stuff, as well as links to articles written by Gerbic with the inside scoop on the sting, as well as the con that is John's "Seatbelt Psychic" show! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_John_Flanagan
Also, I write for Skeptical Inquirer, and have interviewed PI Bob Nygaard about his psychic-busting career. Read it here to get an idea of the magnitude of the problem caused by these TV psychics (it's Pt2, but Pt 1 is linked at the top): https://www.csicop.org/specialarticles/show/introducing_psyc...
Also, one of our undercover "agents" just published his insider tale of our latest sting operation against Matt Frasier: https://www.csicop.org/specialarticles/show/undercover_at_a_...
(Or just any investment that is improbably without insider info, that works as well)
We, earlier this week, read about someone who attended a meditation retreat left in handcuffs because meditation did crazy things to the mind. I mean, he was just eating and sitting and sleeping silently. We have holes in understanding of consciousness, and can't even tell if something is sentient or thinking.
And then, we have people feeling emotions in areas. These emotions can be shared. many people can feel being stared at.
The hole seems to be the intersection of: consciousness, mind, and emotion.
Can we point at emotion? Can we throw it against a wall? Can we describe anger without emotions? How do we measure it? Why can some people feel the anger in an area? Same for mind and consciousness - show me an example. Quantify it.
What's confusing is that your declaration of "They're just wrong, and are confused by confirmation bias." is that the very statement is confirmation bias of sciencism. Either there is proof (positive or negative), or there is not. Do not confuse lack of proof as proof of lack.
Lack of proof does not mean proof of nonexistence. And if we look at things like the aether, was made a distinct proof that it didn't exist as conjectured (although its rearing its head as a quantum Foam).
But I await for proof, be it positive or negative, of emotion and consciousness. Because all you did was throw insults.
> Show a mechanism or proof of the effect. Otherwise it's nonsense.
One can highlight open questions with no apparent answers. And it absolutely doesn't make those questions "nonsense". But this view is called Scientism, and is not science. "Proof or its fake" is absolutely not science.
"Proof or its unproven" is science.
It is certainly evidence of nonexistence. Do you believe every single claim you've ever heard because you can't conclusively disprove it 100% of the time always? Of course not, you use your reason and assume that more positive claims are false until proven otherwise.
We laugh at it today, because some patent commissioner couldn't see past his own limited view, and made that claim.
Yet, when I postulate questions about things we have very little science with, I'm dismissed. I ask for science to be used with emotions; yet Im the dumb one. I want scientific method to determine consciousness; yet I'm the non-scientific one.
Again, you're the standard fare when it comes to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientism
But I do get where you're coming from, having followed some of the same articles you've been referencing in your posts.
I think Deepak Chopra had some useful things to say. He is normally derided as trafficking in woo, especially in his remarks about James Randi.
But if you read what he has to say, his position makes sense. A lot of otherwise intelligent people fall into materialism as a sort of intellectual default and it's not wrong to challenge this.
And this in turn goes back to what Alan Watts had to say, the idea that materialism should be resisted in spite of its surface plausibility.
(The meat of it is around 10 minutes in)
If taken to the extreme, this logic can be used to prove literally anything. "Haven't seen any proof of invisible back-massage fairies? Well, don't confuse lack of proof as proof of lack!". When your framework can be used to prove something false, it means that the framework is unreliable.
I don't really know what "sciencism" is, but we know that the scientific method has been demonstrated to work in producing results that are useful to us. I am typing this message on an electronic keyboard, plugged into a computer, plugged into a giant-ass interconnected network hitting satellites and fiber-cables and whatnot, all of which were developed by scientists or engineers following a scientific method.
To use your wording, however, while I can't conclusively say "lack of proof is proof of lack", I can easily say "lack of proof is strong evidence of lack". Occam's razor tells us to discard unnecessary assumptions.
I can, and I'll show you how, too, for a mere $100. (cash only)
This isn’t to discount the reality that many psychics are knowingly conning their customers.
You can't prove it's existence, but you can't disprove it either. Belief in it's existence is purely based on opinion, not fact.
The downside is that once you do it successfully, no one is going to believe you, anyway. :)
Edit: I would never want anyone to "believe" me, nor would I recommend anyone "believe" anything. There is only direct experience which brings knowledge, this is the standard for consciousness work.
Direct experience by a skeptical observer in a controlled environment.
Preferably backed up by a solid, provable null hypothesis and some statistics.
We don't know anything with absolute certainty, we know many things with overwhelmingly great certainty.
I think psychics are a bunch of baloney too, but by definition the supernatural is not natural and not provable/disprovable. Let's not pretend that the act of disproving has some magic reach because then psychics or creationists or whoever will latch onto that overreach as a defense.
If we can interact with something, even indirectly, we can perform experiments on it.
Skeptics: Of course there are many charlatans out there, but I'd love to understand how you justify dismissal of all non-local consciousness phenomena given that the CIA has been using Remote Viewing for decades and that anyone can learn to do it. Go prove it to yourself that it works and you'll taste the potential of consciousness and non-duality.
CIA's FOIA docs on Remote Viewing:
Learn Remote Viewing:
A lot of the psychic stuff - telportation, telekensis, remote viewing etc doesn't follow this. Even worse, in many cases it violates well understood laws of physics etc. Even worse, in contract to someone like bill gates who did some cool software stuff, we don't have example of even one psychic using their powers to fortell the future flaunting and demonstrating their powers and become rich and wealthy.
Out of 5 billion people - not one.
That's exactly what you can do with remote viewing: test that it works for yourself.
It seems like you're assuming that it is possible to use such powers for base and counter-life purposes like amassing wealth or that anyone that has reached such a subtle level of consciousness would even care about being wealthy.
Personally, I've been able to identify basic blind targets (from a target pool such as https://intuitivespecialists.com/target-pool/) and started training in earnest, but soon abandoned it as an egoic pursuit in order to focus my attention on raising my consciousness through traditional spiritual practices (meditation, psychadelics, self-inquiry, lucid dreaming, etc).
There is a lot of fun that can happen when you've silenced your mind, sit still, and close your eyes for a few hours. :)
The fact there is a boundary between what is reliably and repeatedly observed in reality, and what science can explain means we need more people doing experiments on themselves to give scientists more data. If everyone tried enough Remote Viewing to have success (not that much work) the materialist paradigm would crumble.