Saturday, September 15, 2007

ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH

I'm back from Colorado now. Back at sea level where the air has oxygen in it. That's nice. I didn't learn until my last day there that newcomers should take Asprin regularly to dialate their capilaries and get more oxygen into their systems. I guess I shoulda read up on it before going.

While I was there Kyle Larson gave ma a copy of a book called I Am a Strange Loop by Douglas Hofstadter. He's the guy who wrote Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, which I never read. I'm just starting on I Am a Strange Loop but it's pretty interesting so far. Hofstadter thinks that the self is just a strange loop of energy within the brain that has no intrinsic reality. Something Buddhists have been saying for 25 centuries. It's good to see a Western scientist (or is he a philosopher?) saying the same thing. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Related to that I was hanging out with Kyle's wife Jessica and their 2 year old daughter Sophia (who is also called Chuck). Jessica mentioned that she could see Sophia gradually developing a sense of a separate self. She said that it seemed that her daughter was just beginning to get the idea that, for example, her mom was an independent being and that she herself was too.

I remember Nishijima saying that by doing Zazen "we come back to our childhood." It's true. As your practice deepens you can begin to recall the view of the world you had before you developed this idea of a separate individual self. Normally we think that the ideas we had as little children were mistaken and that the adult idea is a truer representation of reality. But I don't agree at all.

Big thanks to Waylon Lewis and the staff at Elephant magazine for their kind hospitality and to the folks at Denver's channel 7 news who had me on their daytime news show. If only LA was that hip. Thanks to Kim Corbin at New World Library for arranging that, too.

Anyway, all day Zazen retreat today so I gotta go.

I'll be in Japan from Sept. 19-28 if anyone's looking for me.

105 comments:

yudo said...

Actually, Hofstadter (I did read his book, although I didn't understand everything as far as maths are concerned)mentions a lot old Joshu. He has a lot of discussions between Achilles an the Turtle, and they talk a lot about Joshu. He calls him a Master of Enlightenment, that is ME...
His book is partly about the Theorem of Gödel, which is about undecidable propositions. He thus says that "Mumon penetrated the mystery of the undecidable as clearly as any other in his verses on Joshu's Mu.
"Has a dog Buddha nature?
"That is of all the most important question
"If you answer with yes or no
"You lose your own Buddha nature."

Mysterion said...

"Hofstadter thinks that the self is just a strange loop of energy within the brain that has no intrinsic reality. Something Buddhists have been saying for 25 centuries."

"It's deja vu all over again."

Cogito ergo sum
French: Je pense, donc je suis
English: I think, therefore I am

I guess Brad is willing to put Descartes before the course.

(drumroll, rimshot)

Mysterion said...

Joshu's Mu.
"Does a cow have Buddha nature?"

Moo...

(dr, rs)

Jinzang said...

Hey, I think that's funny. I'm talking about a book on Zen and you're talking about a book by an artificial intelligence programmer. I think we got our polarities reversed, like that episode on Star Trek where Spock had a goatee. All you have to do is ask Scotty to fool around with the transporter and things should be fine.

Anonymous said...

Jimmy Breslin was treated for a brain aneurysm (a weakness in a vessal wall that can kill or disable unless treated by a risk surgical procedure. The title of Breslin's book seems seems to encapsulate what Buddha and Hofstadter are trying to teach us:

"I Want to Thank My Brain for Remembering Me"

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt said...

i'd say i've been rendered speechless reading this conversation, but that might be mistaken for a moment of kensho...

Mysterion said...

Digressing to the naked ape, for a moment, THIS is an interactive map of mankind's journey over the last 160,000 years based on mtDNA (females) and Y DNA (males) and archeology.

Mysterion said...

In the Rinzai school, 'Kensho' means "looking into one's own true nature." It is somewhat interchangeable with the concept of satori.

True Kensho means you have (just) attained no attainment.

Kensho is not just Mu (nothing), but Ku (empty nothing).

Anonymous said...

word

Boonton said...

I'm about halfway through Hofstadter's book. His take on Gödel was different from the ones I've ready before but fascinating.

From what I understand, his 'loop' is basically of a system observing itself. Sort of like a TV camera that tapes itself in a mirror making an infinite series of nested pictures.

What makes a loop strange is that a system maps itself symbolically to the real world. In other words, you see a tree. Your brain state at that moment maps to 'tree'. Your brain then is able to refer to itself thinking about a tree, in other words a brain state that represents a brain state etc. Very deep book, but at the same time not a very hard read...sort of like Brad's books.

Boonton said...

Also, I remember in one of the classes I took at the Tibetan place a meditation.... The premise of it was that the mind is "a clear empty space, located at your heart with the power to perceive". One of the images they used was of a mirror, what you focus it on is reflected and a clear mirror reflects perfectly.

The vision I had was bending a mirror into a sort of U shape so that it faces itself. What does it see then? Emptiness reflecting emptiness? Meditating on your mind focuses it on its own emptiness...very good meditation although I've since found a Zen group and have been working on that.

Smoggyrob said...

Hi everyone:

You know, I had what I call a kensho experience, back around 1990. I wasn't sitting then (I'm still struggling to establish my daily practice), just reading. I was reading "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (I love a good cliche). I got to this part talking about how our sensory input is limited: we can see in this range, we can hear in that range, there are other senses we don't possess, etc. I read a line like, "We walk out on this great beach of reality, scoop up one handful of sand, and call what we can grasp reality."

I don't know if what followed lasted ten minutes or two hours, and find it difficult to explain exactly what I experienced. It had something to do with interconnectedness, totality, stuff like that. It was a great experience, and I'm happy it happened, but it didn't really change my life too much. I didn't start sitting for twelve years after that. But after a couple of years of sitting, my life did start to change.

The peak experience I went through didn't have much effect, but the boring experience of sitting has. Anyhow, that's how it was for me. The lesson I take from that is one zen masters and dog owners have repeated from time immemorial: "Sit!"

--
Rob

Anonymous said...

> dog owners have repeated from time > immemorial: "Sit!"

So dogs *do* have Buddha Nature!

Woof!

Anonymous said...

Buddhists with open minds like
to watch the grass grow.

Anonymous said...

conspiracy guy,

you said that you had never found any evidence on randi.org refuting your beliefs. please take the time to read the following article. you have previously mentioned debunking 9/11 debunking. that book was written by a philosophy and theology professor. the following refutal of that book is written by an engineer:

http://911guide.googlepages.com/drg_nist_review_1_0.doc


let me know what you think.

dan

Anonymous said...

here's another for the conspiracy nut.

http://wtc7lies.googlepages.com/introduction

please take the time to read it carefully. You want to be fair and balanced like fox news right?

Thom said...

Our daughter is nearing two as well, and I can definitely observe a 'sense of self' in formation... all of these experiences, sensory and otherwise, are going in/taking place, and they're accreting to form a place of distinctness, preferences, judgment. Which is quite incredible to watch--and vaguely odd that I am trying to travel in the inverse direction with zazen...

Anonymous said...

I don't like to even acknowledge this stuff but the 911 conspiracy nuts are just true believers. nothing anyone can say to them will change their minds. this stuff is their religion and is truer to them than reality. they are scary in their ignorance.

hendrik said...

Hi Brad,

I think you'd probably enjoy the Godel, Escher, Bach too.

Have a good flight.

hendrik

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

just in case anyone doesn't know. landoverbaptist.org is a satirical site.

Mysterion said...

But Landover has an academic side too... LOL

Noah, knowing what Ham had done, cursed Ham's son, Canaan, and Canaan's descendants. (Genesis 9:20-25).

Landover pokes fun at the IGNORANT.
God just LOVES the ignorant, he made modesty just for them.

Anonymous said...

WHOA HO HO HO HOOOOOOOOOOO

Takalookat SG for latest article
Meester Brad had two bowls of Wheaties(TM) this morning!!!

Yes we hear you loud loud and clear clear.

I do not want to speak highly of drugs of the mind expanding variety. I wasn't exposed to them on very many occasions.
I wasn't looking for a 'high' and I'm not a thrill seeaker.
I wasn't looking for an early exit nor did I want to go 'way out'
I was looking for a way to get through.
I wanted an answer to the huge emotional pain which was my experience of existence.

Something did help. It's not as if I wanted to escape the present or keep taking trips.
Something on some deep level got affirmed.
It's not like life wasn't still painful. But something got through...

I'm really lucky.

To be able to look for what you are lacking
To find that there is nothing to look for
To find there is nothing lacking

Many years later, and with the continuation of luck--things lead from one to another to zen,
specifically zazen.

nothing to look for, nothing lacking.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Food said...

Hofstadter has a good line, that the self is "a hallucination hallucinated by a hallucination."

Anonymous said...

Please do not feed the animals!
Ignore the trolls, whether they
be of the 9/11 variety or of any
other non-Buddhist persuasion.

Do not try to "eliminate disturbances"
or you will just add fuel to the fire.

If you ignore them, they'll just go away
on their own.

And now, please ignore the following.
(I am embarrassed to admit that I got
suckered into the fray.)

Excellent, dan!

Ryan Mackey's NASA/JPL/CalTech credentials
certainly beat those of David Ray Griffin,
Professor of Religion and Theology (unless,
of course, you want to know how many angels
can dance on the head of a pin).

In order to cut straight to the chase, I
examined Mackey's treatment of the two
points raised previously by the 9/11 poster
regarding World Trade Center 7.

1) On the issue of symmetrical (straight-down,
no toppling over) collapse, Mackey says on
page 115:

"a tall structure cannot topple sideways"

Yet the link above shows photos of seven
buildings that have done just that.

2) On the issue of the free-fall speed of
collapse, on page 113, Mackey adds an
additional 8.2 phantom seconds to the
collapse. Sorry, but every WTC7 video
I've seen takes no more than 7 seconds.
Count 'em yourself...

One...
Two...
Three...

On the most recent post, ex-fighter-pilot
Russ Wittenberg (who actually flew two of
the hijacked jets) sounds like a pretty
credible expert. And where exactly is the
Boeing 757 (engines? wings? suitcases?
bodies? debris?) in those Pentagon lawn
photos?

Four...
Five...
Six...
Seven...

Perhaps what's creepiest of all is that NO
government or major media website, TV
show, or magazine will show the first
WTC7 video or pre-roof-collapse Pentagon
photos. Why not? What are they afraid of
if the truth is on their side?

Also, the DoD has dozens of videocams on
every side of the Pentagon. If they wanted
to shut the skeptics up, why not release
ALL of that video footage rather than just
one partially obstructed video?

One last thing, have you ever noticed that
official-story-conspiracy-theorists tend to
engage in a lot of name-calling, while the
skeptical-alternative-conspiracy-theorists
tend more to just the facts.

Please ignore all of the above and it will
just go away on its own.

Anonymous said...

how many angels
can dance on the head of a pin?


According to the US government:
19 if they happen to be Saudis.

Anonymous said...

jinzang,

thanks for recommending the hagen
book. very sane advice. just wish
i had come across it sooner.
woulda saved a lot of wasted time
and misspent energy.

oh well, better late than never.

Anonymous said...

yes, just ignore the disturbances and go back to sleep.

Anonymous said...

"One last thing, have you ever noticed that
official-story-conspiracy-theorists tend to
engage in a lot of name-calling, while the
skeptical-alternative-conspiracy-theorists
tend more to just the facts."

Actually I have noticed the exact opposite to be true. Strange

dan

Anonymous said...

"a tall structure cannot topple sideways"


Sorry conspiracy guy but you'll have to explain to me how some photos of blocks of flats getting knocked over by an EARTHQUAKE have anything to do with ryan mackey's claim that a TALL structure cannot topple sideways.


Also, has it occurred to you that the videos have not included the missing 1.2 seconds. Why would this even make a difference to Ryan's argument that the collapse was not sudden? read it again.

I have seen lots of photos of plane debris on the pentagon lawn. It's just you never see those photos on 'truth' sites.

http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=plane+debris+on+pentagon+lawn&gbv=2


notice how only the 'truth' sites have photos of a lawn free of debris but the other sites have lots of photos of debris

dan

Anonymous said...

Hey Jinzang! Have they made a homeopathic solution of the world trade centre yet? I wonder what it would cure.....

http://www.biolumanetics.net/tantalus/Cases/BerlinWall.htm


Sorry I just couldn't resist. If you agree not to mention homeopathy on this blog again I'll agree not to rant at you everytime you do. deal?

Now I just have to get over my addiction to ranting at the delusions of the 9/11 nuts and then maybe I'll actually talk about Buddhism! maybe.

dan

Anonymous said...

The purpose of these links is to provide some facts and criticism to the most common theories raised by 9/11 Nutters.

you might be a 9/11 conspiracy nut if..

The Conspiracy Nuts

Conspiracy Nuts And 9/11

Those conspiracy idiots

counter-video of the famous "Loose Change 2nd Edition

There is no "mystery" as to who makes most of the conspiracy posts to Brad's blog..

Anonymous said...

sorry the link didn't post properly. here it is again:

http://www.biolumanetics.net/tantalus/Cases/BerlinWall.htm



to the guy above me, i hope you weren't implying that its dear mysterion who makes the 9/11 posts.... God, is it? no it couldn't be he's too dilligent in his internet research to fall for that nonsense.

dan

Anonymous said...

goddamit! still didn't post! one more time:
www.biolumanetics.net/tantaus/Cases/BerlinWall.htm

dan

Thom said...

Can we leave 9/11 alone for a while?

Anonymous said...

dan - what is so diligent about cutting and pasting and then not even crediting his source as he did in his landover post? he just throws shit at the wall.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mysterion said...

Conspiracy NUTS.

Reality.

The twin towers were designed and built to fall to their own footprint in the event of a catastrophic structural failure.

Bottom line:

There is no discussion with a believer. A belief is a chrystalized structure in the brain which lacks fluidity - the ability to adapt to new information.

"In his classic paper, entitled The Fixation of Belief, Peirce describes four general methods that serve to substantiate belief; he identifies these as the method of tenacity, the method of authority, the a priori method, and the method of science. In the clinical context, each of these methods represents a different kind of evidence that may be introduced into the therapeutic process by the client and clinician.

The method of tenacity refers to the unwavering acceptance of an idea because it is what one already believes; it is the continuing adherence to a belief on the basis of its longstanding acceptance by an individual or group.

In terms of client beliefs, it is important to recognize that some beliefs are resilient aspects of a client’s construction of self, and these central beliefs will shape a client’s perspective of therapeutic goals and outcomes." SOURCE

Nixon will always be a saint to those who believe Nixon was a saint.

Reagan will always be a God to those who believe Reagan was a God.

I am not writing about politica here! I am writing about brain function.

Believe nothing.

No expectations

I think most people come to Buddhist practice with great expectations. We don't go to Christianity or Judaism or Islam with these kind of expectations, and I think in Asia most modern people do not go to Buddhism with the kinds of expectation we have.

What do we expect? I suppose we expect some enlightenment or some peace of mind or some sense of happiness or relief or profundity for our lives. Maybe we expect some kind of sensational experiences or some serenity of deep wisdom. Maybe we don't even know what we expect, only that we do expect something. Maybe we are excited by the expectation that something will happen and we don't know what it is. I think we have these expectations because Buddhism, and especially Buddhist meditation, is completely new to us. We see it as a possibility for our lives. This is probably true, but then again every moment is full of possibility, only we have become jaded to the possibilities. Since Buddhism is new to us we haven't yet becomes jaded, although some of the old timers around here are approaching that! This is our practice, to try not to become jaded even though we are very familiar with the teaching and might not have too much idealism left.

In a way, our expectations are good, our freshness is good, and I think Suzuki-Roshi appreciated it very much, He said we have beginner's mind: in other words, we have great expectations but we don't really have any preconceptions, at least not any preconceptions founded on experience. Since we don't know what we are doing when we do Buddhist practice, we are free to expect the impossible. All our preconceptions are fantastic and imaginary. This is a fresh mind for practice. [Since being a child], Suzuki Roshi wanted to come to the West to practice with people who had that kind of fresh expectant mind.

Naturally then, he taught us non-expectation, non-hope. And this was and is a good teaching for us --exactly because we have so many expectations. If we can use the energy and enthusiasm of our expectations for practice, and transmute it into non-expectation, then we will be able to practice quite well. The strong point about expectation is that it produces energy and enthusiasm, but the weak point is that it leads to grasping and attachment and distraction, which are the opposite of Buddha's teaching. If we expect something we must be completely mistaken about the nature of experience and the nature of self and the nature of time. We think we need something and that later we might get it. Or we think we have a problem and later we might not have it. We think that Buddha lived a long time ago and that we live now. But actually none of these things are true, they are only persuasive projections of our mind. What is actually true is that this moment arises now independent of anything, and everything is included in this moment. Buddha and self are here, and problem and no problem are here. If we persist in having the expectation that things will change and that we can somehow make them change, we won't really understand things or change. When we can give ourselves completely to this moment of our lives --and then to this moment and this moment-- without any expectation, then we can have some happiness. We do not need to get mad at ourselves for having expectations, because it is good that we have expectations. But we have to use expectation to go beyond expectation. Maybe we can say that having no expectations means that we always have expectation but that what we are expecting is nothing. One of my favorite sayings of Suzuki Roshi is something that he shocked people with in a lecture once. He said, "The problems that you have now you will always have." He also said, at another time, "I have found it necessary to believe in absolutely nothing." SOURCE

Anonymous said...

Meester Meesyterion
That was a mighty fine piece o' posting right thar.

BBB: back to buddhist basics

dan said...

"dan - what is so diligent about cutting and pasting and then not even crediting his source as he did in his landover post? he just throws shit at the wall."



yeah? Well I don't see you continually pulling out some of the most amazing stuff on the internet on a daily basis.

I think mysterion's last posts nicely illustrate what i'm talking about.

Jordan & The Tortoise said...

Mysterion,
I agree, with the above poster.
That was some good reading.

Thanks
Jordan

Jinzang said...

If you agree not to mention homeopathy on this blog again I'll agree not to rant at you everytime you do. deal?

As I recall, your "rant" began after I mentioned Julian Winston. What sort of person would I be if I didn't mention my friends out of fear of being criticized? Sorry, no deal.

I've tried not to get drawn into an argument over homeopathy because I believe people come here to find out about Zen. So I try to make my posts have at least some slight relation to Zen or whatever Brad has said. And I believe most people would appreciate it if other commenters here would do the same.

Anonymous said...

The twin towers were designed and built to fall to their own footprint in the event of a catastrophic structural failure. --mysterion

Hey Conspiracy Nuts,

Just in case you don't believe
mysterion, here's an interview
with the World Trade Center
Construction and Project Manager:

Frank A. DeMartini

Anonymous said...

9/11 believers/non-believers:

truth and lies then/now
before our very eyes, linked
inextricably

Anonymous said...

To the conspiracy nut,

If you could only read, you'd
find plenty of stuff debunking
your foolish conspiracy theories
in the so called

"mainstream media"

BTW, cool haiku, anonymous.

Anonymous said...

Days until an investigation was ordered into the Pearl Harbour attack: 9
Days until an investigation was ordered into the Kennedy assassination: 7
Days until an investigation was ordered into the Challenger disaster: 7
Days until an investigation was ordered into the sinking of the Titanic: 6
Days until an investigation was ordered into the 9/11 attacks: 411

Money allocated for the 1986 Challenger disaster investigation: $75 million
Money allocated for the 2004 Columbia disaster investigation: $50 million
Money allocated for Clinton-Lewinsky investigation: $40 million
Money allocated for the 9/11 Commission: $14 million

Money authorized by General Mahmoud Ahmad, head of Pakistan’s intelligence agency (ISI), to be sent to suicide hijacker Mohamed Atta prior to 9/11: $100,000 USD
Number of references in the Final Report to foreign governments providing funding for al-Qaeda operatives: 0 references

Number of hours that the Commission met with President Bush and VP Dick Cheney: 3 hours
Number of hours of recordings made of their testimony: 0 hours
Number of hours of stenographic notes made of their testimony: 0 hours

Number of people who, along with janitor William Rodriguez, were on WTC-North Tower sub-level one, and reported hearing a massive explosion below them just seconds prior to Flight 11 impacting the tower: 20 people
Number of references to Rodriguez’ testimony or testimony of the 20 others in the Final Report: 0 references

Number of pages in the Commission Final Report: 571
Number of pages in which the collapse of 47-storey steel-framed WTC-7 is mentioned: 0 pages

Anonymous said...

okay, conspiracy nut(s), i give up.
my brain hurts. i can't take the
cognitive dissonance any longer.

i agree there should be an
independent investigation of 9/11
with the power to issue subpoenas.

there, now please let's get back
to buddhism.

jinzang, do you have any homeopathic
remedies for cognitive dissonance?

dan

Anonymous said...

dan: LOL

Lone Wolf said...

I haven't posted a comment here for awhile. This semester is keeping me so busy that I don't have time to blog.

Learning Japanese is taking up most of my time. It's a rather hard language to learn, but I'm enjoying it. I just hope I pass the class.

Anonymous said...

mysterion,

LOL!

Frank DeMartini is the new
Marshall McLuhan!

LMAO!

Anonymous said...

"As I recall, your "rant" began after I mentioned Julian Winston. What sort of person would I be if I didn't mention my friends out of fear of being criticized? Sorry, no deal."

Actually my rant started when you claimed that sceptics are biased in the same breath as uttering your support for homeopathy which set of my woo woo alarm and I just couldn't resist.

Sceptics are biased BECAUSE of the evidence. Homeopaths are biased DESPITE the evidence. Big difference.

But look, i'll drop it now I promise you can talk about how great your friends are all you like and I'll just grit my teeth........ soooo, have you ever been prescribed Homeopathic Berlin Wall? lol sorry I promise that's the last of it.

dan (the orignal one not that it matters much anyway)

Jinzang said...

Actually my rant started when you claimed that sceptics are biased.

What I said is that skeptics, like everyone else, have a world view. World view and biad are two different concepts.

Anonymous said...

um no you said: Try getting your information from places other than the skeptic sites. Obviously what you've learned there is biased and incorrect

Although you were right that I was incorrect about chiropractors not having to register the tone of your comment suggests that you you think they are biased.

Then later when I said a sceptic was someone who didn't believe something until they had evidence that it was true (perfectly reasonable really), you disagreed and started talking about world views.

Arkan wolfshade said it well:

Skepticism is a process, not a position. To paraphrase Michael Shermer, modern skepticism is the embodiment of the scientific process; whereby evidence leads to conclusions and new evidence forces the re-evaluation of pre-existing conclusions. It is self-correcting, neutral in nature, and is structured in such a manner that it helps to eliminate personal biases/factors the individual practitioner may have.

http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=91966


saying that scepticism is a world view is incorrect. People who call themselves sceptics may be subject to a particular worldview however but that isn't scepticism.

dan

Anonymous said...

Out of interest what evidence would it take for you to believe that homeopathy was no more effective than a placebo?

dan

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

buddism
the discovery that the mind also needed to defecate.

Not only do we naturally move our bowels, move our lungs, move our hearts; now filling, now emptying,
but mind and its collected material also needs emptying.

the zafu is the toilet seat of the mind

not good to push or strain, just let those thoughts pass

I guess chanting could serve as a laxative for this process--letting whole chunks of thought move along effortlessly, just keep up with the chant, the rest occurs by itself

it's rather crude, this analogy--but the fact is, mind, just like the trash, needs to be emptied.

I like what Brad said on recent SG article. I like how he captures these moments of insight and shares them. It reminds me of Native People's sharing significant dreams.

I am not my own self
I am not a self selfishly unto itself
I am a vital nerve, a response system
when it is not Mardi Gras, why am I revelling and creating havoc?
(but isn't the reveller reminding the rest of us that there is always something worth celebrating?)

Is this my beautiful house
Is this my beautiful wife
Same as it ever was, same as it ever was

With a thank you to David Byrne (quasi quoted lyrics from?)

when thoughts pass:
the breathtakingly awesome Beauty!
beauty before me, beauty behind me
beauty above me, beauty below me
beauty at each side
beauty surrounds me

And now I go to take a sit. Beauty is not far from my behind.

>>cowpie

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jinzang said...

your comment suggests that you you think they are biased.

If you go to a conservative web site, what you read about liberals will be biased. If you go to a liberal web site, what you read about conservativess will be biased. If you want to understand any subject, you have to read the primary source material. For homeopathy that would be Hahnemann's Organon. You can't just rely on someone's opinion about the source material. That is shallow and biased.

modern skepticism is the embodiment of the scientific process

The scientific process is whatever the community of scientists say it is. Like any community, there are social dynamics at work in it. These can't be ignored. This is the reason that modern philosophy of science depends heavily on historical research.

what evidence would it take for you to believe

off topic.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jules said...

Jinzang wrote: For homeopathy that would be Hahnemann's Organon.

There's an online version here. Interesting reading.

I respect homeopathic medicine. I think the real mechanism by which it works has been scientifically proven to exist. A mechanism that's arguably underutilized in modern medicine, probably because people underestimate its effectiveness. Unfortunately it hasn't worked well for me in the past.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

getting to the source? So you're saying that unless I've actually read nostradamus I can't say that he was full of crap even though he failed in his predictions?

The criticisms of homeopathy are based on the evidence. that's all. If homeopathy worked then sceptics would find it no more controversial than aspirin or penicillin.

jinzang please explain to me how a 'social bias' could affect the outcome of a double blind controlled test on homeopathy?

i'll say it one more time. scepticism is not a belief system it is a way of acquiring beliefs. a process. if a sceptic is biased against something it is because there is no evidence that it is true and lots of evidence that it is false. surely the homeopathic berlin wall says more than i could ever hope to about how retarded homeopathy is.

i take your refusal to answer my question about what it would take for you not to believe as a sign that you would never not believe in the power of homeopathy. you would prefer to buy your head in the sand. that lack of flexibility in your belief system is not very buddhist.
wow! i actually brought it back to buddhism! and on a buddhist blog as well! who'd have thought eh?

to the 9/11 guy. obviously you still have not read ryan mackey's paper. if you had you wouldn't have mentioned the janitor (from ryan mackey's essay):

The most precise statement from Mr. Rodriguez is that from his appearance at the NIST Public Meeting on 12 February 2004 [106]. In this meeting Mr. Rodriguez presents a statement during the question and answer section, found on Page 70:

The fire, the ball of fire, for example, I was in the basement when the first plane hit the building. And at that moment, I thought it was an electrical generator that blew up at that moment. A person comes running into the office saying explosion, explosion, explosion. When I look at this guy; has all his skin pulled off of his body. Hanging from the top of his fingertips like it was a glove. And I said, what happened? He said the elevators. What happened was the ball of fire went down with such a force down the elevator shaft on the 58th – freight elevator, the biggest freight elevator that we have in the North Tower, it went out with such a force that it broke the cables. It went down, I think seven flights. The person survived because he was pulled from the B3 level. But this person, being in front of the doors waiting for the elevator, practically got his skin vaporized.

From this statement, it seems perfectly obvious that he, too, is describing the fuel explosion that immediately followed the aircraft impact. This is clearly not evidence of other explosives, and it surely is not evidence that the Towers were demolished, as it took place roughly at the time of impact rather than during the collapse.

Mr. Rodriguez is a problematic source, however, because he has repeatedly modified his story, and now apparently does believe there were explosions (caused by explosives) that detonated immediately before the jet impact. From the Arctic Beacon:

"Seconds after the first massive explosion below in the basement still rattled the floor, I hear another explosion from way above," said Rodriguez. "Although I was unaware at the time, this was the airplane hitting the tower, it occurred moments after the first explosion."

… "I know there were explosives placed below the trade center. I helped a man to safety who is living proof, living proof the government story is a lie and a cover-up.” [105]

What is not explained of course is how Mr. Rodriguez determined, from his position in the basement, which of the many loud noises he heard was the aircraft impact, or how he accounted for the delay as those sounds were transmitted at different speeds through the structure and through the air. Besides the impact itself he could also have heard large pieces of debris hitting the ground outside, as well as the impact of falling elevators, notably the large service elevator near to his position. It is unclear which of these would seem loudest from his perspective. We must therefore conclude that his insistence that the aircraft impact took place afterward is sheer speculation.

The “corroborating” account of Jose Sanchez similarly does not suggest explosives:

“It sounded like a bomb and the lights went on and off,” said Sanchez in the tape recording. “We started to walk to the exit and a huge ball of fire went through the freight elevator. The hot air from the ball of fire dropped Chino to the floor and my hair got burned,” said Sanchez in the tape recording. “The room then got full of smoke and I remember saying out loud ‘I believe it was a bomb that blew up inside the building.’” [107]

Here Sanchez admits that his first thinking, namely that it was a bomb, was his first reaction – before he had any way to know that an aircraft had struck the building. This account also makes it clear that the explosion in the basement levels took place at least a few seconds after the initial event.

The explosion they experienced, the one that damaged the freight elevator, bears all the hallmarks of being caused by jet fuel, and none that match explosives. The “fireball” is proof of a deflagration rather than a detonation. We also have corroboration that jet fuel traveled throughout the Towers by virtually every occupant -- as NIST reports in NCSTAR1-7A, 72% of those interviewed from the North Tower recalled smelling jet fuel in the stairwells.

Mr. Rodriguez’s account has also changed significantly over time, casting further doubt upon his conclusions and his split-second accuracy. This is outside the scope of this paper but is treated in detail by researcher Mark Roberts [108].

Even supposing we take Mr. Rodriguez’s speculation at face value, it is unclear how this supports Dr. Griffin’s hypothesis. The explosion he describes here happened at approximately the same instant as the aircraft impact, well before collapse of either tower. Furthermore, if it was an explosive, it was not particularly powerful – it was close enough to Felipe David to burn him severely in a fireball, but it did not kill him, pierce him with shrapnel, or bury him in debris. Such a bizarre explosive would be of no value at all in terms of demolishing WTC 1.

dan

Anonymous said...

"I respect homeopathic medicine. I think the real mechanism by which it works has been scientifically proven to exist. A mechanism that's arguably underutilized in modern medicine, probably because people underestimate its effectiveness. Unfortunately it hasn't worked well for me in the past."

the problem is jules is that for homeopathy to work you have to not believe it is a placebo. this is why it doesn't work on you and me because we know it is a placebo. it works on jinzang because he doesn't think it is a placebo.

i have nothing against placebo's in some situations for example psycho somatic illnesses. what i strongly object to is people getting rich from selling placebo's to guillible people who may even forego proper treatment due to their belief in homeopathy.

for placebo's to be properly utilized in medicine they should be prescribd by a doctor (which is fee in UK so no sarcy american comments about big pharma and dr's being corrupt please. that's a totally seperate issue). they should not be sold in health stores as the panacea for everything as homeopathy is marketed as.

you know what cracks me up?

on the labels of homeopathic medicines it says

'NO SIDE EFFECTS!'

lol

dan

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jinzang said...

that lack of flexibility in your belief system is not very buddhist.

I do a mental exercise that I call "the demon discerning mirror." Whenever I'm upset by someone else's fault or accuse another person of having a fault, I look at myself and almost always I see that I have the same fault as the other person .

Jinzang said...

do you have any homeopathic remedies for cognitive dissonance?

The closest rubric I can find in Kent's Repertory is "Mind, thoughts, two trains of." But cognitive dissonance is not a disease or a symptom of one.

all of Dan's rooms have the cleanest corners of any house for MILES around.

That would be "Mind, fastidious." A well known rubric. But I think "Mind, quarrelsome" is a better rubric for his (and my) behavior.

Jules said...

the problem is jules is that for homeopathy to work you have to not believe it is a placebo.

Yeah, that was my point. And I wanted to say that it's not worthless. Suggestion and expectation are so powerful that every scientific research project has to take them into account.

they should not be sold in health stores

Why not? It's not like they're really expensive. Nobody's "getting rich." If someone uses a homeopathic remedy and gets results, I think their money is being well spent. Obviously common sense still applies and homeopathy shouldn't completely replace conventional therapy.

If you have issues with people getting rich by taking advantage of people with poor decision-making skills, then there are lots of places to direct your wrath. I'd suggest you start with the energy drink companies and the four-dollar-coffee shops. I know some very smart people who spend more money on caffeine than on clothes.

Jinzang said...

So you're saying that unless I've actually read nostradamus I can't say that he was full of crap even though he failed in his predictions?

If you haven't read Nostradamus's quatrains, how could you possibly KNOW that he failed? You would have to take it on FAITH.

i take your refusal to answer my question about what it would take for you not to believe as a sign that you would never not believe in the power of homeopathy.

It's a sign that I understand that discussing the matter with you would be futile. I wanted to talk about competing world views, because I thought it had some relevance to Zen. But it doesn't seem that you have grasped the concept. Unless you can cross this Pons Asinorum I see no point in a discussion of homeopathy.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jinzang said...

Let me redeem myself (in my own mind if no one else's) by reposting what I wrote on my blog tonight, since it has something to do with Zen.

I sense that science and its relation to Buddhism is a big problem to a lot of people who are considering Buddhism. They want to know if Buddhism is consistent with the scientific world view or whether it's at odds with it. It's a serious question that deserves more than an answer than I can give tonight. But I will say one thing. I think that if you believe in anything too strongly, it becomes an obstacle to your practice. The proper attitude to take is not "yes" or "no." It's "yes, but." I think this is what is meant by the famous phrase, "If you meet Buddha on the road, kill him." Why is strong belief an obstacle to practice? Any belief is conceptual and Buddhism points to a truth that is non-conceptual. As long as you're satisfied with a conceptual system, and that's any system, including Buddhism, you won't want to go beyond it. Our situation is that we have our eyes firmly fixed on the horizon and we never think to look to the sky.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

"If you haven't read Nostradamus's quatrains, how could you possibly KNOW that he failed? You would have to take it on FAITH."

No I'd just have to read about what reputable sources had said that quote his predictions and then show how they haven't come true. Same with homeopathy. I haven't read the orignial sources but i know enough about 'proving' and that weird thing where you shake the water 10 times in each direction before diluting it until there's nothing left, to know that homeopathy's science is nonsense.



"I think that if you believe in anything too strongly, it becomes an obstacle to your practice."

that's what i mean. It seems that you will never let go of your belief in homeopathy being a placebo regardless of how much evidence is thrown at you. I on the other hand would immediately believe in homeopathy and let go of my belief that it's bollocks as soon as someone shows that in as objective a way as is humanly possible that goes to the best lengths to remove all human biases, that homeopathy is more effective than a placebo.

Everyone may be subject to a particular worldview but the point of science is to find out what is true regardless of what social conditioning you have. it may fail sometimes but at least it tries.

You still haven't answered my question though: how exactly would the worldview held by an experimenter affect the outcome of a double blind properly controlled test on the efficacy of homeopathy?

I am starting from the belief
that there is a real world. A world that exists regardless of what beliefs one has. A sceptic tries as hard as possible to see this world as it really is by only believing things that he/she has good reason to believe in.
there is no good reason to believe that homeopathy is anymore effective than a placebo and there is definitely no good reason to believe that the 'science' behind homeopathy is sound. to believe this stuff is to ignore the way the world strongly seems to be based on all of the available evidence.

To anyone who thinks I'm being a dick about this I'm not trying to attack Jinzang I'm attacking his belief in homeopathy which is different but I probably still am coming across as a dick. Oh well.

But I think Mysterion's right. The corners of my house are far too clean.

dan

Anonymous said...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2007/aug/15/endarkenment

Anonymous said...

www.guardian.co.uk/science/2007/aug/15/endarkenment

Anonymous said...

guardian.co.uk
/science/2007/aug/15/
endarkenment


man i suck at this

dan

Jules said...

dan:
Click here for an explanation of how to create clickable links.

For the above link which displays the word "here", this is what I typed:

<a href = "http://www.w3schools.com/html/html_links.asp" >here</a>

Jinzang said...

I'd just have to read about what reputable sources had said that quote his predictions and then show how they haven't come true.

You can either do a little work and read the primary sources yourself, or rely on selected (i.e., biased) quotations from a "reputable source." One is considered good scholarship, the other not so much. But you're right, it's the sort of analyisis you usually get from skeptical sources.

how exactly would the worldview held by an experimenter affect the outcome of a double blind test

Several ways. Here are just two. The defintion of health and disease depends upon your world view. There's no gauge you can hook someone up to to see that they have ninety five units of health. And the homeopathic definition of health is different that the allopathic definition. Allopaths think removing symptoms without affecting the underlying disease is a good thing, though obviously not ideal, and call it palliation. Homeopaths think it's a bad thing and call it supression. For example, an allopathic doctor will give an antipyretic to someone with a fever, even though they know that the fever is part of the body's defense mechanism against disease. When I've asked about this, I've been told making the patient more comfortable is more important, and the insult to the body's defenses is negligable. These are value judgenments dependant upon a world view. So the evaluation of the results of a clinical intervention are dependent on your world view. What "works" depends on what work you think needs to be done.

Second, you cannot evaluate the effectiveness of a medical treatment for a disease that does not exist. Just as the homeopathic defintion of health differs from the allopathic definition, so does the homeopathic definition of disease. For example, consider the common cold. It can be caused by more than two hundred different viruses. And the symptoms will vary from patient to patient. So on what grounds is the common cold considered a single disease? It's a purely notional entity created by lumping people with somewhat similar symptoms together. How can you study the effectiveness of a treatment for a cold when it's a fictitious entity? It's only according to the world view of allopathy that the common cold is a single entity with a set of treatments. Other medical systems will see different diseases requiring different treatments.

man i suck at this

You're like a dog with a bone. Why don't you give it a resst?

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dan said...

yes jinzang that was all very interesting but you still haven't answered my question. here it is again.

how exactly would the worldview held by an experimenter affect the outcome of a DOUBLE BLIND TEST



as for your first point you can call sceptics biased all you want but i'll say it again. all it would take for a sceptic to believe in homeopathy would be real evidence that it worked. i would love it if homeopathy worled. imagine the possibilities. but until it is proven that it is not just the placebo effect i will not believe it. sceptics are biased because of the evidence. homeopaths are biased despite the evidence. big difference.

some of the biggest critics of homeopathy over at randi.org are people who used to be homeopaths. i'm really not sure what hanuman's organ is gonna tell me what i don't already know about the 'science' of homeopathy.

please tell me which of the following information is biased and false:

Homeopathy is based on two unproven concepts:
Similia similibus curantur - like cures like. This is the concept that diseases are cured by substances that provoke symptoms similar to those of the disease. Thus, vomiting has a tendency to be cured by an emetic.

Potentiation - that this effect becomes stronger the more the curative mixture is diluted. Common dilutions are measured in centesimal scales, e.g. 30C. This means that a drop of the substance is added to a volume of 100 drops of water and tapped against a leather book (succussed). A drop of this dilute mixture is diluted 100:1 and succussed. For 30C dilution, the process is repeated 30 times.

We know from Avogadro's Law (unknown to the founder of homeopathy, Samuel Hahnemann, in the 18th century) that statistically none of the "active" material remains after the first few dilutions. The later steps are not really dilutions at all, but replacing water with other water.

Over 150 clinical trials have failed to show that homeopathy
works. Some small-scale studies have yielded positive results,
but this is due to poor methodologies or random effects. When all the evidence from many trials is pooled together, homeopathy
is no better than a placebo.
A recent Lancet paper compared 110 homeopathy trials with
110 conventional medicine trials. The authors found that the
higher quality trials offered strong evidence that conventional
medicines work and no evidence that homeopathic preparations
work. In other words, the better the research, the less effective
homeopathy appears. Over a dozen similar analyses have arrived
at the same conclusion: that homeopathy does not perform any
better than placebos.


what about the following snippet? is this true?
from a sceptic blog:

"When I talk to people about homeopathy I always make sure I include the third of Hahneman's principles after like cures like and the law of infinitesimals, which is the need to strike the vial containing each dilution several times on a leather pad in order to potentize it. You seldom hear present-day homeos mention this, because it makes the whole thing sound so obviously ridiculous, and of course it can't be, can it...?"

do you believe that homeopathic berlin wall is effective in treating illness jinzang?

the bone sure tastes good.

Jinzang said...

This has gone on far too long. If you are genuinely interested in the clinical trials of homeopathy and not just in sparring with me, have a look at Dana Ullman's summary and the abstracts on the National Center for Homeopathy site.

Mysterion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mysterion said...

Current status of Naturopaths in California:

The House Health Committee amended out some functions such as manual manipulation (chiropractors), naturopathic physical medicine (physical theropists), electromagnetic energy (quackery), colon hydrotherapy and therapeutic exercise (Yoga).

This may (or may not) have satisfied all the other health occupations that practice in one form or another, the various activities removed from the bill. But it is like licensing a surgeon, and denying him or her the ability to remove an appendix.

I am of the opinion that faith healers should also be licensed and regulated.

Jinzang said...

Richard Burton only popularized it in England. He was the 'Suzuki-roshi' of Homeopathy for his social peers.

I don't know where you come by this information. Richard Burton may have used homeopathy (I don't know) and he certainly led an interesting life, but he is not known as a popularizer of homeopathy. What's your source for this information? The person responsible for introducing homeopathy to Great Britain is Dr. Frederick Foster Harvey Quin. He also introduced the British royal family to homeopathy, who continue to use it to this day. Perhaps you're confusing Richard Burton wirh Dr. James Compton Burnett, who wrote a number of booklets popularizing homeopathy?

Mysterion said...

I could easily be in error.

Like I said, it was EIGHT years ago, in another phase of folklore, thatI was reading books from antiquity about Sir Richard Burton and homeopathic cocoa came up. 'Old wife's tales' are, in fact, the main source of folklore. Homeopathy falls into that category - in my unqualified opinion (to which I am entitled).

Grimm's 'Children's and Household Tales' (Kindermärchen und Hausmärchen) remains the classical collection.

The Grimms moved to Göttingen in 1830. Wilhelm become assistant librarian and Jacob librarian. But they were dismissed (by the church) in 1837 for protesting against King Ernest Augustus for setting aside the Hannover constitution (much like King George has done in America today).

Mysterion said...

Anyway, I apologize. Homeopathy plays no part, large, small, or miniscule, in my life. Homeopathy is much much much much much much much less than 1/16384 of a concern to me.

Anonymous said...

Read Dana Ullman? YAY! JACKPOT! I was waiting until you brought his evidence into it! Please please please read this thread if you are genuinly interested in hearing what Dana Ullman has to say:

Right here

Dana Ullman is posting as 'James Gully' throughout the thread. admittedly its mighty long but fascinating. Please do this jinzang! Please read it!

dan

(with thanks to jules for showing me how to post links properly -again)

Jinzang said...

YAY! JACKPOT!

Do you shave yet?

Anonymous said...

Jinzang's tactics so far:

Refuse to answer all my questions

Tell me to read Dana Ullman who's 'evidence' has been completely ripped apart on the thread I pointed him towards and then totally ignore said thread.

Then when none of that works retreat back to some good ol' personal insults.

Classic woo woo.

Do I shave yet? Why? Are you going to try and show me some amazing homeopathic cure for razor rash or something?


dan

They call him James Ure said...

Yeah, we Coloradoans are pretty cool. ;)

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