Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Modern sexuality

Sex got you all tensed up? - Beliefnet

In your opinion what changes in the 'social vein' would you start with?

"It has already started and it will be the death of paternalism and misogyny. It is called Norplant and safer, less invasive female controlled contraceptives. Once the female can truthfully say 'Go ahead fucker, it won't do any good,' although the .32 or three fingers up into the solar plexus will have the same effect, the mating dance changes considerably. It doesn't make any difference if God says do it, or force says do it, if the man wants progeny, he will have to convince her to stop the contraception. Certainly 'God says do it' will retain power over those properly conditioned to accept God's word. But even back in my childhood, there were a bunch of 'unlucky' Catholic families with 2 or 3 children. It was probably a coincidence that the woman was intelligent, educated, and employed.

There will probably still be women that will choose to be sex toys and probably even have children by the rich and famous, recent news events prove that, but it makes very little difference, those that aren't rich and famous are going to have to find the whorehouses or the hairy palms, or make themselves desirable husbands and fathers.

Your daughter won't have to control the horse, she will simply say what do you have that interests me? Guess what, male enhancement drugs wont cut it."

"A huge change and I see it in the teens I know well is the complete separation of sexuality and reproduction. Teens of the appropriate age are doing the teen thing just like their remote ancestors did. The difference is that they know how to prevent conception and if relevant STD's and are deferring reproduction until much later. This is a mind-boggling change in attitude toward both sexuality and reproduction. At least for those of us who grew up with much different sexual morality and iffy contraception.

My guess is that for those inclined that way late college and grad school will be breeding time for the females. Perhaps with older men who are already out working and established."

"Since the domestication of animals and crop plants in the early Holocene, It seems to me that genetics and evolution has been reduced to "Whatever the smart ape wants." If I am right that we are seeing the domestication of the human male, it might reduce to whatever the female smart ape wants."

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Question Authority.

Creedalness - Beliefnet

Do you think it is a problem that people are just inclined to simplify and form these creeds? OR is it something we must do? The best we can hope for is some sort of creed shopping to fit our circumstances and ability.

There appears to be a strong genetic tendency to believe anything our parents tell us, and as we mature we transfer this tendency to believe anyone who seems to know what they are talking about. This tendency is strongly reinforced by religious and business leaders as it makes their job of manipulating people easier. Wise parents can encourage critical thinking in their children, and a good education emphasizing critical thinking can reinforce the tendency to 'Question Authority' (This bumper sticker was famously seen upside down on a beat up Volkswagen of a friend and relative of mine.) Needless to say such people are thrown out of Sunday Schools and even Churches as disruptive.

There of course downsides to critical thinking, as many notice here, whether it is a religious, political, or social assertion the critical thinkers here are just tiresome about asking for evidence in support of the assertion, and quoting some 'expert opinion' is just another opinion. They frequently have problems saying 'Yes, Sir' in any situation, frequently causing problems in some work situations, in all churches, and the military. It can be countered of course, one can reasonably and rationally transfer authority to one who deserves it and generally react appropriately to orders.

Even on items like global warming critical thinkers don't accept authority figures whether they are smart as Al Gore, or as stupid as Sarah Palin. They look at the data, consider expert opinions which are supported by the data, and act accordingly."

Religion, Philosophy and Science

What Do Atheist Believe In? - Beliefnet

Religions are not an expression of the principle [of rational investigation.] While religion, science and philosophy are based on inquiry, it's the nature of that inquiry that separates them. Religion is based on faith. Questions asked are answered by some prophetic source, which is relied on as authority. Philosophy is based on reason. Questions asked are answered by persons who claim no special authority other than the weight of reason. Their answers are then scrutinized by a community of peers, each of whom has the same opportunity to question or criticize the answers given.

Philosophy recognizes no authority figures, per se, just the power of reason to find errors in logic. Unlike religion, which not only privileges faith but divides communities by allegiance to one prophetic source or another, philosophy is a bit more cannibalistic. Philosophical communities are built on analyzing and criticizing the answers put forth, even by the most respected figures. This process, which is more critical and competitive, tends to produce lines of thought that don't build so much as evolve toward more sophisticated ways of addressing a given issue.

Science, on the other hand, is based on the empirical method. Just as Moses and Isaiah would have made lousy philosophers, Aristotle would have made a poor scientist. That's because Aristotle - who did a decent job of analyzing the different constitutions of Greece - was too much of an armchair 'scientist' to engage in the scientific method. He asked questions, came up with reasoned answers and usually left it at that. Science, on the other hand, relies on empirical testing. A question is posed. A hypothesis is formed. A carefully constructed experiment is then used to test the hypothesis. The test results are then reviewed. If the experiment is a failure, the hypothesis is adjusted and further tests are devised. If the experiment is a success, test results are published so that the test may be replicated by peers.

Not every philosophical question makes a good fit for the scientific method. Some philosophical questions are basically definitional. ('What is Justice? What is truth?') The kinds of questions appropriate to science are those which can be empirically tested. Religion, on the other hand, is neither open to reason or testing. It is something taken on faith. Even where religious disputes involve reason, it's more a question of interpretation of a text that is taken, on faith, as authoritative. The role of reason is limited to a dispute over textual interpretation. In certain instances, reason is employed to propagate or defend the faith, but this is called scholasticism. It's really the rhetorical use of reason, reason as a weapon of propaganda. It's not about answering questions through reason.

A brilliant analysis of the differences I just couldn't ignore. Thanks Bill.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Get rich quick: take a joy ride.

Turning Bumpy Roads into an Electrifying Product: Scientific American:

"One carefree summer day in California, a few college students went for a joy ride. It was the perfect day to don the shades, roll down the windows, and crank up the tunes.

But then someone noticed all the bumps in the road. These were engineering students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the group got to thinking: Isn't there energy in that?

From the battlefield of ideas to the proving ground
MIT's technology licensing office, for example, researched where the device could fit in the market. They found the biggest bang in the biggest vehicles: heavy-duty trucks and military vehicles.

Friday, March 26, 2010

On Jealousy

Owning Your Own Shadow - Beliefnet

Jealousy is is not a learned behavior, it comes with the package of being human.
See below link.
Babies start feeling jealousy at 3 months, study says

From the link

Lead author of the study, Prof. Maria Legerstee, professor of psychology at York University in Toronto, Canada, says even three months old baby may have ways of letting mom know by crying, kicking and turning in their seats when mom's attention turns to someone else. She says the behavior is quite normal and parents need not worry about it. It's a normal and appropriate reaction,' Legerstee said...The findings of the study will be included in next year's Handbook of Jealousy: Theories, Principles and Multidisciplinary Approaches.

"Before I bow down before any belief system, I look to see what axes the believer may have to grind. Prof. Legerstee has made a career in psychology studying jealousy. As you may note the referenced research will be published in a Handbook companion to another book on jealousy.

It seems that she has rather well developed jealousy in her shadow. It is little wonder that she finds it in babies and believes

The development of 'non-basic' emotions such as jealousy, pride, embarrassment and guilt are thought to develop during the second year of life, generally known as terrible two's, Prof. Legerstee said.

Please note 'non-basic emotions' that is the shadow 'develop' during the terrible twos, by parents trying to control the child's behavior by loading up the 'terrible bag' with dysfunctional self images of jealousy, pride, embarrassment and guilt. Note the relationship to the Seven Deadly Sins of Catholicism. None of which are worth much to the believer, but which are gold for the preacher or therapist.

The terrible two's are terrible because the child is learning to relate to others in herm society. This is a difficult process both for the child and the caregiver. The child will test behaviors and act out emotional reactions to peers and adults. It is all to easy for the caregiver to label the behavior as bad, even giving it a name, 'Don't be jealous of Billy you can play with Jane later.' Or worse 'Don't be jealous of Billy, there are others you can play with.' By the way while you are at it you can stuff that jealous self image in your shadow bag, it will be real useful when you are a teen.

It is harder but better for the care giver to find a socially acceptable way to help the child find a way into the Billy/Jane group. The jealousy is initially rejection by the group, which needs to be dealt with by finding ways to overcome the rejection. Rejection by the social group is an evolutionary fatal result. The two year old must learn to overcome the rejection.

The baby reacts to the rejection by herm most important social connection, herm mother, by crying, kicking and turning in their seats when mom's attention turns to someone else. One may impute jealousy, but abandonment by mom at 3 months is fatal.

If I may be so bold as to criticize the experimental protocol, I would ask if a normal mother would abandon attention to a 3 month old, for an animated emotional discussion with a stranger (to the baby.) Would not a normal mother have her hand on the stroller rocking it or otherwise showing the infant that hesh was in the social group?

(Don't get me started on abusive psychology experiments even at the University level)"

The experimental protocol was that mom was to bring a 3 month old baby to the lab, and mom would begin to talk to a stranger while ignoring the baby. While still ignoring the baby, the conversation would become animated with emotional content, laughing and presumably other emotional bonding signals. Mom is told to ignore the squirming, crying, kicking and other signals that the baby is feeling abandoned.

Now I was just an involved dad, and had the late afternoon baby sitting shift by choice, and would take the kids out in nice weather. I didn't have the same kind of mom-baby bond for obvious reasons, all I could do in the middle of the night was hang the baby on mom's teat, change the diaper when he was done and put him back in the crib. Yet I knew enough to keep a hand on the pram, and keep it moving when I stopped to talk with friends. The baby didn't have to cry and kick to get my attention if it lagged, just squirming around was the signal that my attention was not shared enough.

I cannot imagine a mom, even under lab conditions overcoming her natural instinct to attend to the baby at all times if only by rocking the pram. And I wonder what kind of issues went into the baby's shadow by abandonment even for a few minutes while the lab assistant noted the number of kicks, intensity of crying, and other indications that the baby was "jealous." I bet none of it was jealousy. But the "I can't trust mommy" separation anxiety got an early start. I would have fired our nanny for participating in that experiment. It was bad enough that mommy had to go to work. The nanny had strict rules on abandonment. And by the way strict rules on labeling behavior as well.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Winter Migrations - The Insiders Guide to Yosemite National Park: "The Annual Migration (and a video)

If you’ve never been to Yosemite in February you’ve missed one of the greatest migratory events in recent history. The flocking of the photographers. Every year the photographers migrate in from their winter nesting grounds for 2 weeks to preen themselves and take pictures of Horsetail Fall in the setting light of the winter Sun."

Not incidentally you might want to bookmark this blog. It is always worth a glance. Loyd is not associated with the park service nor any concessionaire there. He is just an (extr)ordinary park lover who visits often and blogs about it. He has recently added forums. When you visit click on one of the ads to help him support the work he does. Hey, you might find a great place to stay when you visit. I did.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Stoic Cosmopolitanism

Redefining Love - Beliefnet

A distinctive feature of Stoicism is its cosmopolitanism. All people are manifestations of the one universal spirit and should, according to the Stoics, live in brotherly love and readily help one another.

"So after 1977 years of Christian parochialism and hate we are finally getting back to the ancient truth:

All people are manifestations of the one universal spirit and should live in brotherly love and readily help one another.


For those wondering the date 33 CE was chosen to exclude Jesus and include Paul in Christian parochialism.

With the Stoic above and Jesus' Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. One can hardly go wrong.

Live a Good Life

The Story of God - Beliefnet

Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid.
—Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

Thank you Cryano for bringing this to my attention. I had forgotten it.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Conscious Control of "Cultural Self"

Owning Your Own Shadow - Beliefnet

From birth to the age of about six the events of one's life get sorted into the conscious mind and the unconscious mind. Our unconscious mind has the greater influence and our life is built on its foundation. IOW, our cultural self is controlled by the hidden 'cogs of the wheels' of the unconscious. Do you ever have psychological pain? Do you ever suffer psychologically? Do you ever have negative emotions? Do you ever blame other people for the way you feel?....

"In the early years events frequently get stuffed into the unconscious shadow by parents and mentors whose shadow has been carefully nurtured by their parents and mentor's belief system or culture.

However, it is not a necessary or even desirable means of raising children. It is possible to give children control over their actions and in effect to relegate the subconscious to the trivial. Body regulation, habits, manners, and peripheral awareness for interesting things to bring to the conscious attention of the mind. But the cultural self is managed by an aware and active consciousness managing all relevant social interactions. Will hesh do it perfectly, never making a mistake, of course not. Mistakes are how we learn especially in social situations. But will the mistake be caused by the unconscious? In most cases no.

Such a properly raised child as an adult will answer 'No' to all of your questions above. And hesh will answer no to all similar questions relating to negative self image and loss of self control."

I threw manners in as a late addition, I don't think they can be called shadow as they are necessary cultural conditioning. And are if anything a subconscious benevolence to identify one as a properly socialized member of the society.

3/20/1145 from Shadows - The issue is not uncontrolled actions, but how the control over actions is established. I put manners in as a late addition to subconscious control, but perhaps can be used as a illustration of what I mean. Good manners are essential to fitting in to ones society. As an example, good manners has been defined as the noise you don't make while eating your soup. This needs to be unconscious, we can't worry about every spoonful of soup we eat. But manners can be in the shadow, or in the volitional unconscious, simply by the way we are taught them.

"Slurping your soup is crude" that is only a crude person slurps soup, puts eating soup in the shadow. An inadvertent slurp reinforces the idea that the person is crude and not socially acceptable, whether or not it is commented on.

An alternative is "Slurping your soup is annoying to mommy" and by extension to others. An inadvertent slurp now generates an apology, with no effect on self image. Eating soup is still managed by the unconscious and very strictly I would add to the point of nausea for violation, but the apology rather than shadow pain can make all the difference in solving a manners issue. See Too Big for a Fork for an amusing example. If it were a shadow issue I would have been between a rock and a hard place. I could have been a rude guest and refused the food, or I could have been a barbarian and chewed the meat off the fork.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Imposing Sin and Shadow

Owning Your Own Shadow - Beliefnet

But your acceptance [of shadow], or lack of it, neither proves nor disproves the proposition.

I do not deny either sin or shadow. Both are integral components of powerful and useful belief systems. But the proposition that either necessarily applies to me requires substantial and significant support to overcome my reasoned denial. You may scream until you are blue in the face that I am a sinner, but until you can provide independent proof that I am intrinsically a sinful person your screaming is so much noise in a thunderstorm. It doesn't help to show that I did something bad, you must show that I did something bad because of sinfulness. And by the way something you think is bad or sinful has no relevance to the discussion."

Shadows of Science?

Owning Your Own Shadow - Beliefnet

Examples of the 'dark' (shadow) side of science:...Not so 'difficult' to 'find' if you take off your blinders or if you are willing to look at your own shadow.

"Just because someone calls it a dark side as believers always will does not mean it is so. Nanobots, stem cell research, cell phone emissions, genetic engineering and eugenics are all neutral science capabilities. Some are dangerous and must be controlled, none are sinful or dark and must be suppressed. Science is naturally open and groups like the Union of Concerned Scientists and others will provide the necessary control as long as the believers keep their sin and repression out of the mix. Case in point medical marijuana. Science is being done by the black market. Certainly a shadow but not one of science. Even Mengele's experiments were a dark expression of a belief system, not a dark side of science.

You, as many believers do, claim many things are expressions of the dark side. Most do it for power over others. Paul being a notorious example. If wanting to indulge in fun pair bonding activities in bed is a sin and you can get people, especially women to internalize this, this gives men total control over the powerful pair bonding instincts and redirect them to the support of the church. Why do you think they call it the Missionary position? And why is everything else the shadow.

You keep trying to impose a shadow on me. You may certainly try if it makes you feel better about yours, but I do not need to accept its existence simply because you say it is there. Any more than I need to accept the fundie's assertion that I am a sinner because all people are sinners. If the fundie thinks hesh can act out herm uncontrolled basic instincts in a socially dysfunctional manner because everybody is a sinner, and hesh gets to nail herm acting out to the cross and its OK because the cross is available to all sinners, we have total control by the church. Except I am not a sinner, and I can call herm on herm dysfunctional actions with a clear conscience because I control my possibly dysfunctional actions openly and consciously. I don't always succeed, but it isn't because sin made me do it, or my shadow burst out, it was because I failed. No one else. Not mom, not the preacher, not God, not the Devil. It was J'Carlin and no one else. If it needs fixing I fix it."

Genetic Shadows?

Owning Your Own Shadow - Beliefnet

Each time we become impulsive, display exaggerated feelings about others, feel humiliated, find excessive fault, display unreasonable anger, or behave 'as if we are not ourselves', we are seeing the genetic shadow in action.

"Genetic behaviors are shadow only when someone normally a shaman tells us they are bad, or evil, or sin and we must suppress them. If we see them as natural, powerful drivers of achievement, that must be controlled, not suppressed, we can use them efficiently to achieve desired ends.

If they control us, as they will if suppressed, then they normally will be expressed dysfunctionally as you note above. The terms you use above are shadow terms for natural genetic behaviors. Displaying feelings about others is the way we create social bonds with those we wish to include in our social group. But controlled expression is necessary for social survival, which in many cases means physical survival. Take lust as an example. It is a powerful mammalian drive to reproduce the species. It is absolutely necessary to be able to indicate to a member of the opposite sex that you find them sexually attractive. If you suppress it as sin you end up with the young adult party where all get drunk to lose their suppressions and many end up in bed, or on the couch or on the floor. If one is aware of the power of lust one can take appropriate control measures to make sure it serves one's needs, rather than the mammalian need to reproduce.

It is like a powerful engine in a car. No less of a safety maven than Ralph Nader said 'Power is safety.' But put that power in the hands of a kid whose competitive drive is a suppressed sin, and you have an accident looking for a spot marked X.

This is not to say that control of powerful instincts is easy, or that it is always successful but awareness is critical to control. Knowing the capabilities of the double-bitted ax is a key to using it safely and effectively."

Bly's Shadow

Owning Your Own Shadow - Beliefnet

You ask what causes the shadow? As Robert Bly puts it in, 'The Long Bag we Drag Behind Us' in MEETING THE SHADOW:
'When we were one or two years old we had what we might visualize as a 360-degree personality. Energy radiated out from all parts of our body and all parts of our psyche. A child running is a living globe of energy. We had a ball of energy, all right; but one day we noticed that our parents didn't like certain parts of the ball. They said things like: 'Can't you be still?' Or 'it isn't nice to try and kill your brother.'

But if our parents weren't obsessed with sin and badness and had said 'Your activity is annoying me, would you take it elsewhere, or control it to please me?' instead of 'ADD is sick, oops 'Can't you be still?' If they said 'Your brother will hurt just like you do when hit, can you consider his feelings, that is use your natural empathy to identify with your potentially hurt brother?' Instead of 'It is sin to try to kill your brother.' Intervention may be necessary, but it is not necessary to dump a bunch of BS into the kid's bag during the intervention.

Wouldn't it be nice to be 25 with an empty bag? It can be done. When people try to dump BS into your bag simply say 'I don't need that. I can control that behavior, or do it where it won't annoy other people.' This is known as being socially responsible. Kids learn it naturally unless people dump BS into their bag.

When that little tinhorn in the fancy dress in the overdecorated balcony tries to dump his BS into my bag, I simply tell him that my BS bag has no bottom, and herm BS means nothing to me. Hesh will usually then scream 'God will send you to Hell sinner!'and I will smile nicely and say 'Hesh may try if Hesh wishes, but I doubt Hesh would as I am not a sinner. My BS bag is empty.'"

If people weren't loaded up with BS from the time they were 2 the shrinks and the preachers wouldn't have anything to work with. One of the most important things I learned early in life was the difference between "You are bad" and "Your behavior needs better control." I also learned very early that "You are bad" must for my own wellness be interpreted as "Fix your behavior." Fortunately I was encouraged to do so by my atheist parents, well technically Unitarian, I don't even know how they viewed God, but God and sin were not a part of my life growing up. As a result I don't have a bag full of BS to deal with particularly the BS about what I am. Contrary to popular belief this is neither unusual nor unbelievable.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Natural Behaviors.

If Man is the Measure - Beliefnet

LOL! No one is capable of 100% consciousness.

LOL! or even LOL!!!!!! is not an argument. An assertion without support can be dismissed without comment.

However, one of my weaknesses is to comment anyway.

While many autonomous processes don't need to rise to the level of consciousness to function, they are not immune to conscious manipulation. Placebos as an example.

One would not generally aspire to 100% consciousness.

A centipede was happy quite,
Until a frog in fun
Said, "Pray, which leg comes after which?"
This raised her mind to such a pitch,
She lay distracted in the ditch
Considering how to run.
-- Anonymous

"However, one can be 100% conscious of behavior influencing activities of the mind/brain. The fact that you believe Jungian therapy can give you some control over the shadow is evidence that such control is possible. The real question is what belief system, and it takes a belief system to mask behavior influencing activities from the consciousness, causes the shadow? In a different post you noted that touching yourself 'there' is bad or something like that. Why? Touching yourself 'there' is natural. See any dog. What belief system other one that is trying to control your sexuality would suggest such an unnatural attitude?"

It is the control over sexuality and other natural human behaviors like following the leader, among others that gives religion its power for good and for abuse. The control over sexual expression was used as the dominant sin expression by Paul. See Romans 1.

If the natural sexual expressions as seen in our simian relatives were free to be expressed by humans, one would see a considerably different human evolutionary pattern. I suspect that the two female family structure would be dominant, with the women choosing mates from the males based dominance and power to provide a stable society and for their intelligence and ability to provide a suitable dowry for the anticipated child. The men would still play their political power games not for genetic continuity but for dominance over the social structures supporting the female dominated reproductive needs for the society. The harem would be a self chosen group adhering to the rich, intelligent and powerful. Low status men would probably touch themselves "there" a lot.

Objectivity of Self Image.

If Man is the Measure - Beliefnet

If you really think your view of yourself in the mirror is totally realistic and objective, you need to read up on some psychology. NO ONE has an objective view of his/her self.

This is the big lie of both religion and psychology, perhaps influenced by religion. 'No one' is an absolute statement. I have known many people who have well integrated personalities with a realistic and objective view of themselves with or without the mirror. They know their strengths and their weaknesses but nothing is hidden from themselves. In fact, I find this to be the normal human condition for those not exposed to religion or psychology. Admittedly a small sample, but a sample that I try to spend most of my time with."

Fecundity and the Patriarchy

Owning Your Own Shadow - Beliefnet

Yin/Yang, patriarchal/matriarchal. It is predominately a patriarchal world we live in and it's not working anymore. Even how we have treated our planet is patriarchal. The feminine must be integrated for the shift to occur.

Agreed. But I do not see a relationship to Yin/Yang in the traditional usage or to the shadow. This patriarchal dominance is open and overt evil. Nothing hidden or part of an evil shadow.

The empowerment of women by taking control over their fecundity was the huge change and had nothing to do with projection or shadow. It was an intelligent and conscious decision that if they were to be more than brood mares they had to require condoms Comstock Act or no. Female contraception methods were the death knell of patriarchy, although the men haven't acquiesced quietly. But again this wasn't the uncovering of a hidden dark side of acquiescence on the part of the women, it was simply grabbing a technical opportunity when it was presented."

Fresh Air Fund

Gmail :FAF apparantly assuming animal lovers live in the suburbs sent me this link. I am a bit far from NY but knew a few kids that enjoyed "Camp" when I was living there. As they say Check it out!

Sacred for the People

"...the category of the sacred really pertains to the emotional side of humanity, while the profanes is the languishing, dull, non-emotional side. But the sacred canopy has collapsed, nothing is sacred anymore, and that which was sacred and emotional has become public, pedestrain, accessible to all - in a word, it has ...been profaned.' -Mestrovic, quoted from 'The Emotional Organization' Via Eric Johnson"

Nope, the category of sacred has just been given back to the people from the churches. Or should I say that the people have taken it away from God. Every sunrise, every rainbow, and even the hummingbirds at the feeder in my window are sacred. The sacred is still there. But you do have to look.

Sacred still has too much God for my taste, I have generally substituted transcendental, for the non-God mediated exceptional experiences that make me just stop everything and simply appreciate.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sources of Oughts for Living

Credibility of Miracles - Beliefnet

Science is almost completely neutral on how you ought to live your life. No wonder you are confused. You have no guide on how you ought to live your life.

"And science is completely neutral on atheism. Atheism returns the compliment. If science could support a hypothesis that one social paradigm was superior to another most scientists atheist or believer would adopt that social paradigm as the best available. Social science is in its infancy at this point and hand-waving is the normal experimental protocol.

Atheists who have no belief that a particular social paradigm is better than any other must look around them and say this works, and this doesn't. The data may come from many different social paradigms. From the religious realm I have adopted the love your neighbor paradigm as useful and hate the sin as dysfunctional as it normally is a very slippery and very steep slope to hating the sinner. I find God support for a social paradigm to be a flag for dysfunctionality but not necessarily a fatal flaw.

From all this I have constructed a guide for how I should live my life that I observe works much better than any religious guide I have studied. About the only contribution from science is the scientific imperative of looking at results. Results speak for themselves. Or as Jesus was reported as saying, look at the fruits under the tree to find out whether the tree is good. Many of the fruits under the religious trees are just rotten."

The fruits under many religious trees are all rotten. Fundamentalist Christianity and Fundamentalist Islam are two clear examples. Others, traditional Protestant and Catholic if you exclude the upper echelons of the hierarchy are generally good. My debt to Catholics, especially Jesuits, and to the traditional Protestants is huge. I have learned much about living from discussions with them. I have learned next to nothing good from any church with "Christian" on the nameplate.

Suspension of Disbelief

Credibility of Miracles - Beliefnet

Has anyone on the board had the experience of being able to believe something that wasn't actually believable to you, simply by deciding to do so?

"I assume here you are not talking about suspension of disbelief. Part of enjoying a movie or a book is accepting for the duration of the experience that the characters are real or suspending disbelief in the fact that they are fictional creations. I have no issues at all with doing this, but when the credits roll or the book is closed the characters are back in the category of fictional. The problem I have with believers is that they cannot make this distinction. They put the Bible back on the shelf, but God doesn't go away.

This is characteristic of small children. Dick, Jane and Spot are real and stay in the childs world. On my 5th birthday I got The Red Pony as a gift, and for a year or so Jody was my best friend. He went with me to school, I played in his barn. As my mind matured I learned the difference between my real friends and Jody. I always wondered why my religious friends did not make this distinction with their real friends and God."

Self, Soul, and God

Richard Dawkins cult - Beliefnet

The brain activity can be adequately described from a third person perspective, but if it is the be-all and end-all of explaining consciousness, why wouldn't a third person researcher be able to explain the subjective aspects as well? The internal life that goes on where brain activity generates a mind that has a sense that it is a unified self....provided the subject isn't mentally ill ofcourse, seems to be off limits to the onlooker, and can only be understood as a lived experience by the subject. Is it good enough to just say that we have a neural correllate of the experience?

"The sense of self is off limits to the onlooker, because it is a combination of hardwired neural connections generated while the brain was developing as a child, and distributed memory tracks of incidents that defined self and other.

Incidentally, the complexity of the sense of self is for me the most powerful argument against any kind of dualist external imposition of soul. The sense of self of which the soul is an integral, and integrating part, is so much a part of the functioning of the entire brain, that the imposition by God would be impossible unless God was present as the brain developed. It seems more likely to me that God was created later on in the life of the self, as the self encountered the other identified as God by social peers and mentors."

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sin and Shadow

Owning Your Own Shadow - Beliefnet

It's not a belief system. It operates with people who don't even know the shadow exists. How can that be a belief system.

"If it operates with people like me who do not have one, it is a belief system. I do not have a sinful nature nor a shadow. I have a very well developed sense of what natural tendencies I have to control to assume a beneficial role in my chosen society, but those natural tendencies are not dark, or bad, or evil, they are simply not useful in an intelligent cosmopolitan society.

One of the reasons I have found God dysfunctional is some of the natural tendencies encouraged by God are not useful in my society. Fear of strangers or people different from me is a natural tendency that at one time was quite useful. It is no longer so. As Oscar Hammerstein wrote in South Pacific
You've got to be taught before it's too late.
Before you are six or seven or eight.
To hate all the people your relatives hate.
You won't do it naturally, you may naturally fear strangers, but this fear is not bad or dark or shadowy, you have to be taught that the fear is hate which is bad, and dark and a shadow. But someone had to teach you."

Friday, March 12, 2010

The dark side legacy of Paul

Circumstantial evidence for God - Beliefnet

'Everything with substance casts a shadow. The ego stands to the shadow as light to shade. This is the quality that makes us human. Much as we would like to deny it, we are imperfect'.

MEETING THE SHADOW, The Hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature; edited by Connie Zweig and Jeremiah Abrams

"I do not argue that perhaps most people believe in the dark side of humanity. I suspect this is a result of the prevailing Pauline concept of universal sinfulness. When you are taught from a young age that you are a miserable sinner and require salvation it is easy to internalize the concept of sin or a dark side. The trick it to understand Paul's theology, reject it rationally, and look around at the people you know. How many of them could you even identify what their dark side consisted of?"

For me this is the most devastating legacy of Paul's sales pitch. And why I find Romans 1 to be the most crippling book in the whole bible. It is a litany of all the human impulses that must be controlled to be sure, but are not inherent in all or even most. And yet one has this peroration that tries to rope everybody into the sinner category so Paul can later sell his savior. And guess what? If you give the church the child till he is 10 you will have a child with an internalized sinful nature with a dark side that he must find salvation for. He can reject the church, and even God. But the dark side remains. If only people could internalize "I am a good kid. God doesn't make junk." If only Paul had.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Eternity with God or Hell

pertaining to IQ. - Beliefnet

So, I can't say that non-Christians don't have the hope of spending eternal life with God? If you don't believe in God, why would you have hope that comes from knowing you'll spend eternal life with him?

"Why would I care. Everything I read about God or gods spending eternal life with them would certainly be hell. I will take my chances that existence ends with death."

Is the Dark Side Human?

Circumstantial evidence for God - Beliefnet

Bull crap, '[J'C]without religion there is no dark nature'. It is innate within human nature, we are UNCONCSIOUS and the UNCONSCIOUS has nothing to do with religion, it is part of what we are.

"You seem to be an expert on bull crap which is equivalent to BS which is equivalent to Belief System. And belief systems are not all religious.

I am not unconscious. It is not part of what I am. I was brought up to be responsible for all of my actions conscious or not, and therefore had to be aware of unconscious, read instinctive, reactions and control them. It was not hard, I never was indoctrinated that my instinctive reactions were bad, just that they needed to be controlled for moral, social living.

As an example from the hot topic on this thread, I was never indoctrinated that my sexual impulses were bad or 'dirty.' I was, however, strongly indoctrinated that if the Girl Scout was not similarly inclined or I was not prepared and ready to accept the consequences of my instinctual action, I had better cause her to cry and walk out the door, or cause myself to say 'Oh, shit. Oh well, there will be another who will be similarly inclined.'"

All of which have happened to me. As well as similar situations where we were both willing and eager, but not ready for the expected consequences. In one case purely psychological consequences. As a normal heterosexual male, in normal heterosexual social activities, I have had all the usual opportunities, and temptations, but in general according to my standards I behaved morally rather than instinctively. I have no regrets about missed opportunities, I think I chose wisely to miss them. But it was not denying my dark side. It was controlling my life.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

How Good Religion Works.

Meaning - Beliefnet

Any properly socialized child up to about age 5 will be compassionate and empathetic. See any preschool thru kindergarten class. After that other socialization forces may come into play that will instill a feeling of superiority and the inferiority of others. If you think I am talking about religion you are correct. Children in religious societies are taught that they are bad and need the help of God to counter this badness. And they act out. As I have selected a society away from the religious in general, the people in my society have avoided these feelings of inferiority, and therefore are compassionate and empathetic as adults. They are not stupid, they recognize that not all people are compassionate and empathetic, but it is surprisingly easy to avoid those that aren't.

My religion never told me 'I' was bad, it told me that murder is bad, stealing is bad, etc....I was never told in a Sunday school class as a child that 'I' was bad, I was taught that God loved me. I was taught that there are moral boundaries, THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, and I still believe that having these moral boundaries is a good thing. I don't believe killing is a good thing, I don't believe that coveting your neighbor's wife is a good thing, I believe that honoring your mother and father is a good thing. I believe that loving your neighbor as you would love yourself is a good thing. I don't know what kind of religion you were exposed to on a regular basis as a child, I am sorry that you had such a 'bad' experience, I, however had a 'good' experience. My life is a living example of that."

Friday, March 5, 2010

Synchrony in Human Activities.

Human Cognition: Can Materialism explain it?- Beliefnet

That is exactly what we see; therefore, until this changes, materialism has been vindicated thus far as the ontology which most accurately describes our universe.

As long as you are willing to stipulate that materialism does very poorly in describing a probably insignificant blip in the universe called human cognition. At this point all materialism can say about cognition is that somehow neurochemicals and electrical impulses in neurons create or possibly detect cognition. I readily admit my cognitive bias that cognition is created in the mind/brain, but materialism must by definition be agnostic.

In particular I would like the materialists to explain how a top level string quartet manages the rubato, retards, fermatas, and other musical effects to produce a performance that can make a listener cry, or in one case of a quatuor pour le fin du temps sob uncontrollably. Or how a listener can control the attacks of a professional Rock band. All of which I have personally observed.

Or explain
With a dramatic bow of pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii’s head, rich sounds of the piano, violins, cello and viola broke the concert hall silence as he and a string quartet played Schumann’s Piano Quintet in E-flat major, Op. 44.

The standing ovation lasted nearly five minutes, so long that the 20-year-old from Japan returned to the stage twice to bow, grinning from ear to ear.

The audience may have loved Friday’s performance, but not everyone may have known its significance. Tsujii—who was born blind—had to figure out how to cue the other musicians. That was especially important with the Schumann piece, because all instruments must start playing simultaneously in the first movement.

Yeah, sure. The quartet all mentally counted the 3472 microseconds from when his blind eyes crossed the horizontal and they all came in on the 3473rd. There was something else going on here. The leader, in this case Tsujii caused the syncing of the brain waves of the quintet so they could all attack at the same instant. A trained human ear can hear at least millisecond differences in the attack of stringed instruments. With a good ensemble it never does.

So, materialists how did Tsujii sync the brain waves of 4 other people?

I don't know what constitutes psychic by your definition, but the SciAm report states that syncing with the metronome, at the initial attack, and in difficult rhythmic passages the measured brain waves of two unacquainted guitarists in 8 trials were synced.

As noted in my previous post this phenomenon of "knowing when to attack" and following unpredictable tempo modifications is second nature to ensemble musicians. It is not unusual for ensemble musicians especially in rehearsal to be concentrating on the score, and yet still follow the subtle tempo changes that constitute the music. I don't know whether it would be called psychic by your definition or not, but I have experienced and seen the synchronization and its failures.

As another example I have seen a pairs figure skater "stumble" in a blind maneuver but be perfectly in sync with herm partner at the rejoin move which was also blind. I would submit that the skeptics have the burden of proof that the rejoin was based on anything but brain wave sync of unexplained communication channel. Not incidentally, they were out of sync with the music which was one of the reasons I noticed it.

I personally have "researched" the reaction time bill drop bar bet. That is if you catch the bill when I drop it it is yours. Catcher's thumb and finger over the portrait. A false grab means the catcher owes the dropper the bill. Reaction time says the money is in the bank. I was demonstrating this bet with a "fresh squeeze" who eventually became my wife. She caught the bill every time. Fingers right on the portrait usually. We tried this with a wall between us bill in a doorway and the only way I could beat her was randomizing my drop. If I so much as thought about dropping it I lost. This was witnessed by a fairly large group of peers, who were able to observe a randomized trial by a finger signal out of sight of all but the control observer. OT have you ever tried to randomize a physical action?

It would appear that the scientists who did the study you cited see nothing in their results that requires an explanation which goes beyond normal brain events understood in biochemical or information processing terms--business as usual.

"Stipulated. It would be quite beyond the experimental design to explain the mechanism of the synchrony. The synchrony was of course biochemical and information processing functions of the brains of the musicians. That is what they could measure. Like the drunk under the street light looking for lost car keys, science can only look where they have light to see. All the scientists could do was note that the synchrony existed. They could not publish the mechanism of the synchrony even if they speculated on it. At this point it is not science. That does not mean that the mechanism for the synchrony does not exist, it is just in the class of things beyond the measurable world of science."

What's to explain about mirror neurons, religious perceptions God or mental influence on others? At least in the sense that you have a better explanation for us?

How they work. I don't have any explanation of how they work. Just the observation that they do work. I have a speculation that the spinal chord is a brain wave detector, and particularly with respect to motor nerve stimulus can provide the observed synchrony, as in the movement of a school of fish in response to a predator. Whether it can provide higher function synchrony is much more speculative, but it explains some unexplainable observations, including mirror neuron response, and group perceptions of God.

I am always amused by the way scientists conveniently ignore things like reaction time and speed of pressure wave transmission in water in trying to explain the unexplainable synchrony. But currently ESP is a grant killer on par with Creation Science, so it will take a lot of "it just works" scientific evidence to force investigation of the mechanisms.

I have no dog in the fight. I don't believe in skepticism. Science always catches up and disproves belief systems contrary to fact. It will probably take a remote fMRI to catch a group of musicians, or a group of believers syncing up brain waves to do what is necessary. I wish you could have been at the Faure Requiem performance I mentioned earlier. (You don't.) The stick was right on the money. The chorus was all over the bar line.

I have personally experienced, or perhaps imagined, all of the synchronies mentioned in my previous post including the presence of God in a Catholic service. I can only speculate on the mechanism(s). Perhaps in the Catholic service I had a temporal lobe brain fart. Everything is on the table. But it was a physical action, genuflection, that triggered the connection with the congregation or whatever it was.

I'm trying to work out whether I think really good sync is more common amongst instrument players than amongst singers of the same professional status or not. I suspect it might be, but I can also think of extrinsic reasons why that might be so - especially amongst larger choirs. Amongst my CDs, the Robert Shaw chorale and some of the madrigal groups eg Les Arts Florissants doing Gesualdo make a positive case for the singers.

I think the secret is unconducted chamber work either choral or instrumental. And since instrumental chamber music is required of all pro level instrumentalists but not choral singers I suspect you are right.

But having sung for Robert Shaw, there is no way to be out of sync. Somehow, one always knows exactly when to come in. The concentration he puts into a rehearsal and a performance suggests an athlete. A face towel is standard equipment and is changed at every opportunity. He is not an active conductor, so the effort is all mental. I performed the Missa Solemnis under his baton, and there is no way to do the Et Vitam fugue at the tempo he takes it by watching the stick. There is just too much going on. I will admit to the possibility of learning to count microseconds in the rehearsal, but I wouldn't bet on it.

J'C But it was a physical action, genuflection, that triggered the connection with the congregation or whatever it was.I have no reason to doubt your word. The only question between us is whether a word like 'psychic' comes into the explanation.

I wouldn't take it off the table. It would have to be right up there with the brain fart. I don't have a clue as to how it worked. And as I had no previous experience of God, the feeling was of a presence like another person as described by unbelievers in the God Helmet experiment. But it definitely was not a person in the church, not even the priest. The closest analogy I can muster is the feeling I had in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.

I think the analogy is apt. I have seen many a noisy group of school children fall dead silent as they cross the threshold of the memorial. I don't think it is anything supernatural, just a feeling of awe and reverence generated by those in the memorial. Is it phychic? A brain fart? Mirror neurons compelling awe and reverence? I don't think science dares to have a clue as to the mechanism. At this point it can just add a data point to the unexplained barrel.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Who owns the Soul

The Science of "Souls" - Beliefnet

Every hear of the 'dark night of the soul'? The soul is 'whole' and contains both dark and light.

"Perhaps, but if you break the religious leash on the dark side, you may find that it is relatively easily controlled if not completely eliminated. The first step is to realize that almost all people are good people, most importantly yourself. That way when the religious guru tries to help you control the dark side, you may properly ask what dark side? The guru will say the dark side we all have, and you can properly say speak for yourself. Depending on the religion the guru will say all are sinners, or all have the yin and the yang, and you have every right to use the tiresome atheist mantra: Prove it. The guru is making a positive assertion and the default is that it is false. Pointing to the occasional bad guy doesn't cut it. You may properly ask to show your dark side, hesh did say all after all.

A person starts with total control over herm soul. It has no sides or points. Your parents and family will normally help you shape it into the benevolent and beneficent soul that is your birthright. Don't sell it to the devil guru who will inevitably shape it to herm needs, not yours."

The most pernicious result of ceding the soul to religions is that they then get to define it any way they want to, and you can bet your tithe that it won't be for the benefit of the parishioners. It will always have the dark side that God or the guru will have to help you manage. And managing it means making you worry about it all the time as if it were really a part of the natural soul. It isn't.

If humans were evolved with a dark side to the soul they would have joined the rest of the hominids in extinction. Mom and the other caregivers including of course Fulghum's Kindergarten teacher, will guide the development of the soul in socially integrative, benign, empathetic, loving ways. Unfortunately the social milieu historically has included religious indoctrination which includes hijacking the soul for the benefit of the shaman.

It is critical that when one shucks ones milk church, one pulls one's soul out and shucks the dark side that was indoctrinated right along with the need for the God of the milk church.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Red Pony

I passed on the ancient boxed first edition given to me on my birthday when I was 5 to Gabriel for his 6th. When I get there next time, I will add to the inscription: Gabriel, I learned to read with this book. I also learned to cry. Both are important to know.

Steinbeck is not an easy writer to read, as he writes of real people, with real lives. Like all great fiction he can put more truth about living on every page, than any other type of writing. It may not be nice truth, but it is truth worth knowing.