Steven Pinker and Brian Josephson debate ESP

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ESP Debate: Is Belief in ESP Irrational?

Haven't had a chance to read through this myself yet, but thought it might be of interest.
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(2022-07-27, 03:06 AM)Will Wrote: ESP Debate: Is Belief in ESP Irrational?

Haven't had a chance to read through this myself yet, but thought it might be of interest.

Not a surprise given he's a Nobel physicist who's taken the time to learn a great deal about philosophy/religion, but Josephson really hits it out of the park in his conclusion:

Quote:...Furthermore, physicists derive their laws by studying situations where some model of concern is easy to test, and this tells us little about the general situation. Thus the idea that we can have “complete understanding” of nature in a particular domain is a misconceived one.

Pinker is far from being the only one to dismiss the paranormal on the basis of inadequate reasoning in this way. In part this is the outcome of this kind of reasoning being promulgated by organizations such as the Skeptics Society and this magazine, whose Bayesian approach presumes with inadequate support that there are genuine reasons for regarding the paranormal as essentially impossible. Where such reasons cannot be produced, the application of the Bayesian method amounts to little more than an assertion “I don’t believe it, therefore it is not true.”...
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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Not surprisingly, Pinker is featured often on BBC radio or podcasts. I recall a while ago listening to one of his programmes, don't recall the exact topic. He came across as clear-headed and described all the pitfalls that people could fall into regarding illogical or mistaken thinking. I found myself agreeing with him, he expressed things well. Then towards the end of that show he walked right into one of his own pits, fell deep into a snare he had set for the unwary, but carried on, completely oblivious to the huge blunder in his own thinking. The moral I suppose is that we can all have blind spots, being blissfully unaware of mistakes we are making.
(This post was last modified: 2022-07-29, 07:45 AM by Typoz. Edited 1 time in total.)
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Belief in ESP might be irrational, but much of life is irrational.  Experience outweighs logic and logic that attempts to prove the nonexistence of something is always blind.
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(2022-07-27, 07:57 PM)Sciborg_S_Patel Wrote: Thus the idea that we can have “complete understanding” of nature in a particular domain is a misconceived one


I was listening to a discussion between several physicists yesterday on an extended drive.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXKPeJ-pC4I&t=4664s

The discussion wasn't particularly remarkable but I was struck by the undercurrent of arrogance from the physicists.  I like all three and have found them insightful in other settings, but they all seem to see themselves as authorities on topics not clearly in the domain of physics.  (i.e., soul, consciousness, mind)  I was thinking how misconceived this was and then I came across Sci's post (quoted above).  Interesting.
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I wrote a response to Pinker.  Go here.
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(2022-08-24, 06:04 PM)EyesShiningAngrily Wrote: I wrote a response to Pinker.  Go here.

Excellent rebuttal. It's odd to see Pinker trying to argue physics with a Nobel physicist, normally if an IDer without a degree in biology tried to argue against an atheist biologist that would be all the skeptics need to dismiss the former person. Though we've seen the same hypocrisy when the materialist philosopher Churchlands argue against the immaterialist neuroscientist Raymond Tallis.

Pinker himself has a definite agenda, even those who aren't necessarily proponents - in fact AFACITell are skeptical in mindset - have noted that he can be quite dishonest in arguing his case:

Steven Pinker's Fake Enlightenment
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2022-08-24, 06:39 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel. Edited 2 times in total.)
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