The Power of Thoughts and Intentions-

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Big Al, Mar 31, 2011.

  1. Big Al

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,830
    Likes Received:
    6
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Central FL
  2. JustAsking

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    Messages:
    3,249
    Likes Received:
    3
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Ohio
    Al,
    It appears to me that the experiment came out backwards. The rice with the negative words was capable of sustaining more life than the one with the positive words.
     
  3. D_Gunther Snotpole

    D_Gunther Snotpole Account Disabled

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2005
    Messages:
    14,610
    Likes Received:
    5
    ... because mold is a living thing, JA?

    (I'm judging after looking only at the first video. Perhaps another take is supported by the others.)
     
  4. Big Al

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,830
    Likes Received:
    6
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Central FL
    Wasn't the intent of the experimenters to prevent decay? It would be a very interesting experiment to see what would happen if the intent was to promote rot.
     
  5. JustAsking

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    Messages:
    3,249
    Likes Received:
    3
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Ohio
    Yes, exactly. Any other intention is a subjective one. How does one formulate a positive thought about life not occuring? This is the problem with experiments like this.

    How does one actually set up conscious thought to transmit something very precisely defined. We are not that good at controlling our vague thoughts or even expressing them precisely enough to claim that the experiment was truly objective.

    You see, it is simply an arbitrary value judgement to say that the case where no mold was growing was the "good" result or the "desired" result. We just don't happen to like mold, but in fact, that particular result where there was a lot of mold growing could be considered a positive life promoting result, rather than one of "decay".

    I suppose another example would be to think positive thoughts about one's flower garden, and then consider it a failure because a lot of weeds grew in the garden. That we value one particular plant over another is somewhat arbitrary and subjective.

    And finally, do we really know that our conscious thoughts are more powerful than what is going on subconsciously? Remember that old sci-fi movie called Forbidden Planet? That planet had the left over technology from an extinct race of beings who had built extremely powerful machinery to translate thoughts into reality. And when we tried to harness it, the operators did not realize that the machinery was realizing nasty stuff from their subconscious.

    "Monsters from the Id" was the phrase they used when they finally figured it out (using their 1950's view of human psychology.) They finally surmised that the original race of beings wiped themselves out inadvertently because they did not anticipate this result.

    Anyway, interesting stuff, but I think the videos referred to by the OP are mostly "woo".
     
  6. JustAsking

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    Messages:
    3,249
    Likes Received:
    3
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Ohio
    Yes, but what is the intention of negative words? How does that intention translate into such an arbitrary and subjective result where we expect no mold to be growing.

    Is mold growing a "negative" thing or a "positive" thing? One can make a case for either outcome.
     
  7. Guy-jin

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2007
    Messages:
    3,835
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    669
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Planet Earth
    I tend to agree with JustAsking on this. I do not see the correlation between mold growing and positive or negative thoughts. I do not think it is valid to state that mold growing (or not) is an inherently positive or negative thing. In fact, I can think of a large number of foods mold won't grow on that are far worse than foods mold will grow on.

    In essence, do this experiment with two Twinkies and I'm pretty no matter how many holocaust videos you play for one of them, it's not going to grow mold. :smile:

    Now, that said, someone very close to me is a Buddhist who believes in the ability to influence nature through physical action, positive thoughts and prayer. In other words, repeated hand motions, prayer and thought can relieve pain, change the flavor of food and drink, cause clouds to appear or vanish, help save a dying plant, et cetera. I personally do not believe in such things, but I do think at the very least it comforts the individual doing that. I also think we do have the power to make ourselves perceive things that are not demonstrably true. In the case of changing the flavor of a drink, one could certainly "trick" oneself into thinking the flavor has changed even if it hasn't. Similar to self-hypnotism.

    Anyway, it makes the people doing it feel better. In that sense, it has a positive impact.

    As for the experiments in question, I'm afraid Masaru Emoto's experiments have not been scientifically validated. Videos like these, while charming and inspiring, are not scientifically sound. Simply leaving the lid of one of the rice containers open longer will make that one more likely to grow mold. Coughing above one but not the other might do it. Using a less clean container. Et cetera. Take a look at some of these videos as examples of how not to perform an experiment--for example, cooking it in a pot on your stove and putting the rice in containers you washed and let dry outside in the sun. A light breeze blows a speck of mold into one jar but not the other and no matter what you write on the outside or music you play for it, that's the one that mold will grow in. (No offense to the people who hopefully had fun making the videos, though! :smile:)

    The way to truly test this would be to autoclave (sterilize) containers. Then cook the rice with purified water in a sterile environment. Then transfer the rice to the sterilized containers in a sterile environment (like a vent hood). And, just as important as the sterilization, is to do it to more than one sample each. Do it to ten different containers of rice. Repeat that twice at different times with different rice.

    Actually, scientifically sound versions of Emoto's experiments have been done by other scientists and, unfortunately, they did not pan out. Emoto's supposed findings are unverified, and perhaps unverifiable.

    Now all of that said, there is certainly something to be said for the power of positive thinking at the human level. If you're thinking positively about your garden, for example, you might take better care of it. If you're negative about a plant dying, you might not do the right things to "save" it and end up harming it further. That plant coming back from the brink isn't purely due to your thoughts, but due to your actions (which are consequences of your thoughts--don't let your mind get blown there).

    Oh! And that idea earlier about the Twinkie reminded me of the T.W.I.N.K.I.E.S. Project. Perhaps someone should try Emoto's test on Twinkies as I suggested. Hmm! :biggrin1:
     
  8. Big Al

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,830
    Likes Received:
    6
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Central FL
    The traditional scientific method would accept only the measurable portion the data without accepting the subjective part because intent can't be "measured" by conventional means. That's one reason why many mainstream parties tend to shy away from and even downplay these types of experiments. The subject matter alone would ensure that most won't even associate themselves with this kind of thing.

    There are almost always going to be hidden variables that can skew the results of any experiment, and when the subject of these experiments deal with what is commonly considered "paranormal" phenomena the criteria becomes even more strict. I think what lends strength to these experiments is that they are based on "subjective" suggestions and that the results seem consistent despite many different environments. If positive thinking didn't play a part in this you would expect the results to be more neutral across the board.

    We can debate the minutiae of these 3rd person experiments and try to quantify them all day, but there are more effective methods of determining whether these things work or not. And what's the best way of proving something to yourself? By trying it yourself :) It's also a lot more fun to participate that to sit passively by and to try and "prove" or "disprove" these things by debating them.

    Practicing positive visualizations/manifestations seem to be like any other form of training- the more you do it the "better" you'll get at it. There appears to be a difference though- intensity doesn't seem to work quite as well as intent. Once you get the hang of it you may want to try and expand the scope of your reach.

    If you start applying them to important areas of your life and things start happening on a very personal level, you might be hard pressed to "prove" them externally (you might want to keep a journal of these events)- but things can happen in a way that will leave little doubt that what's happening aren't coincidences or accidents.

    A good point is made in this thread about negative thinking patterns affecting these types of experiments. Ironically, these experiments may very well require that you "believe" in the power of your intentions for them to work. If you intend on becoming adept at visualizing, it will help to start small so that you develop better control of what's in your mind at the time. If you're prone to negative thinking it would be a mistake to attempt experiments like these on things or events that could cause you or others harm.

    Re: Dr. Emoto- the videos listed in this thread show people other than Dr. Emoto performing these experiments.
     
  9. JustAsking

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    Messages:
    3,249
    Likes Received:
    3
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Ohio
    Al,
    There is only one way to demonstrate something scientifically. One has to make a testable hypothesis and verify it with careful experiments and statistically significant results.

    Outside of that there is just chicanery, and tin-foil hat crackpottery. I don't mean to say that these investigators were crackpots. What I do mean to say is that there is no way to tell if they are not crackpots.

    And yes, it is true that scientists are not interested in unfalsiifable hypotheses. If something is not falsifiable, it cannot be falsified. And where there is no ability to falsifify something, there is no ability to verify it.

    What Guy-jin said is exactly correct. Bad science is simply bad science.

    No, in fact humans are notoriously bad at this sort of thing. We tend to see correlations where they do not exist. There are a lot of reasons for it, such as confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is where we reject or we simply don't notice negative results but we do notice and remember positive results.

    This is why we do carefully controlled experiments. Because we really suck at this kind of stuff when simply left to casual observation.
     
    #9 JustAsking, Apr 14, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2011
  10. Guy-jin

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2007
    Messages:
    3,835
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    669
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Planet Earth
    Exactly.

    If I want to test whether mold growth is correlated with the number of "bad" words written on the container, I can actually perform that experiment. It sounds funny, but despite the "bad" set of words being subjective, I can test that hypothesis. The issue is actually with how to adequately test that. Washing dishes in my unsanitary sink and drying them outside with the unsanitary wind and then trying to do the experiment with an inadequate number of replicates, well, that's simply not good enough.

    I sounds ridiculous, but we scientists actually have statistical methods for determining significance... even of experiment like these. But in a laymen's sense, repeat this ten time and if you find the same results 8/10 times, it's far more convincing. But if you then do it another ten times and get 2/10 of them to match those same results, well, you just broke even by random chance. Sound unlikely? Flip a coin a hundred times and I'm willing to bet you a dollar you'll hit the same side eight times in a row once. (And that's me taking a risk because yes, it is unlikely, but it's not that unlikely.)

    Sounds funny, but we can scientifically measure subjective things. The problem is that most lay people don't know how to perform a scientific experiment in a scientifically sound way.
     
  11. JustAsking

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    Messages:
    3,249
    Likes Received:
    3
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Ohio
    Or not. Or we might be just making stuff up. You see, an unfalsifiable hypothesis can be replaced by any other unfalsifiable hypothesis and get the same results.

    If you claim that "paranormal" phenomena don't lend themselves to scientific experimentation, then you are now free to make anything up you want. Especially if you call it paranormal.

    For example, the effects you are observing in your experiments might be due to invisible unicorns intervening in the results. Invisible unicorns are paranormal, you see, so they are not amenable to experimentation. Oh, and also scientists seem to avoid studying situations that involve invisible unicorns, so that's why they have never been disproven.

    My point is not that the only truth is empirical truth. My point is that this is the only kind of truth that we are able to verify or refute objectively. Imitating that process for subjective phenomena and claiming that it is scientific or "proven", is simply nonsense.

    I happen to be a Christian and believe in all kinds of unfalsifiable notions, but all of them are accepted by me as articles of faith. I don't confuse them with an empirically falsifiable hypothesis.

    When you mix those two things you get such snake oil notions as Intelligent Design.
     
  12. lafever

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2007
    Messages:
    3,179
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    82
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    U.S.
    *brushes unicorns, ponders a thought.......... goes for carriage ride*
     
    #12 lafever, Apr 15, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2011
  13. Big Al

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,830
    Likes Received:
    6
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Central FL
    Serious modern research seems to be coming full circle with concepts that were once discarded as "bad science". Research into the world of the quantum shows that the universe is not at all like we used to think it was (things start to get fuzzy at either extreme of the scale). Most of these quantum details are also beyond the scope of conventional methods of tracking them. Their effects on things/events are almost certain though. How do our thoughts affect these scales? How can there be a claim be made that only the observable is true when there's entire universes of scale and dimension that we know little to nothing about. The story of the Blind Men and The Elephant comes to mind :) The rise of quantum study has opened up/refreshed other areas of research and even theories that make the impossible possible.

    Traditional science has bought us a long way (depending on how you see things) but there are still huge holes in the way we understand how things work. Technically, the experiments (as defined by the experimenters in these videos) could be reproduced many times with the same results, yet there would still be those that would deny that intent had any effect on the decay of the rice.

    Falsifiability- at what point does something stop becoming "bad science" if there's enough consistency and definite patterns (and just who defines "enough")? The problem occurs when one becomes exclusively dependent on the experiences of others to the point to where they'd deny their own experiences. If all of the variables are eliminated and there's something left that we don't quite understand, why ignore or malign it? Why not try to figure out what that unexplained variable could be.

    I do have to disagree with to some extent about "correlations". There are definitely coincidences out there, but some have experiences that are extremely common, profound, and personal that may not make sense to others- experiences that may occur to them personally at the moment of certain thoughts, actions, etc. Experiences that may become more common with increased clarity or progress of some kind.

    While there seems to be an increase in the number of people openly discussing these types of things, there is still a lot of fear and ignorance surrounding these topics. It wasn't too long ago that people were punished for thinking too far outside societal norms, and this is still being done today although the approach has changed a bit. Still, I'm very glad and thankful to be able to discuss these things with you all here :)

    I'm aware of how the scientific method works which is why I want to make it clear that I'm not stating that I "believe" the results are absolute nor even necessarily the cause of the results. While "proof" may probably not be satisfied by these experiments, there's evidence that something appears to be going on that cannot be explained by conventional methods. What set it in motion? Was it "love" for the rice? "Hatred" towards the mold? There's nothing wrong with being skeptical, but there has to be room for neutrality if we hope to understand this more fully.

    All of these are questions that shouldn't be ignored simply because they can't be measured with rulers or beakers- especially if the results are contrary to what you'd expect if there were no variables but written words and intent (in the case of these rice experiments). Combining what we know (science) with what we can't quite grasp just may allow us to see a little farther using techniques like these experiments along with other breakthrough methods like "thought experiments".

    The intention of this thread wasn't to provoke hostility or even to spark a science vs paranormal phenomena debate- it was to demonstrate how you can perform these types of tests yourself. With enough repetition (duplicability) and attention to detail certain trends may start to pop up that could have an effect on how something is perceived. These experiments certainly aren't limited to rice either.

    Tests on a large enough scale and with enough data are how breakthroughs and paradigm shifts are made. The point of this post is essentially a message telling you to try things out for yourself. By pushing the barriers of the unknown just a bit you can do away with relying on fears, assumptions, or the opinions/restraints of others for your perceptions.
     
    #13 Big Al, Apr 15, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2011
  14. JustAsking

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    Messages:
    3,249
    Likes Received:
    3
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Ohio
    Al, actually there is nothing happening here but real science. Nothing in the scientific method has changed since the advent of modern physics (by "modern" I mean quantum mechanics and relativity). What happened in that transition is that theories that made falsifiable predictions ran into situations where their predictions were not accurate. At this point, the theories were either modified or replaced by theories whose falsifiable predictive were more accurate over a greater range.

    There is nothing mystical or magical about quantum mechanics or relativity. Their hypotheses are just as falsifiable as the classical hypotheses they replaced. That quantum mechanics is a probabalistic treatment does not mean it is somehow less falsifiable or magical or something.

    Nope. They all produce falsifiable predictions that have accumulated a record for accuracy.

    Not sure what that means.

    That is a reasonable scientific question. And it can only be answered by someone forming a falsifiable hypothesis and demonstrating that its predictions are accurate through the use of good hard experimental science. Anything else is just interesting bar room conversation.

    Science does not claim that only the observable is true. All it does is to provide a methodology for building certainty about explanations that describe things that are observable.

    For those things that are not observable, you are free to make up any methodology you want. All you need to do is demonstrate how that methodology reaches any kind of certainty or any kind of truth. But if you don't but insist that it is still scientific, you are simply being a crackpot.

    One thing you might consider, though, is that if something is not observable, how does one decide it exists. In the case of religous faith, we accept things as articles of faith in a way that is somewhat arbitrary. Although I am a Christian and accept that the God of Abraham exists, I cannot tell demonstrate to you that he exists any more than Zeus or the Flying Spaghetti Monster exists.

    So that leaves you with no way to determine if these "unobservables" are simply products of an overactive imagination or not.

    And finally, where we have no information about something, we can conclude nothing about it. To use the lack of information about something as an argument that it might exist is called an Argument From Ignorance. It is of the form: "X exists because you we have no evidence that it does not."


    Very nice, but this has no point to it. The transition from classical to modern physics was pretty drastic and amazing, but it proves nothing else but the fact that science, in adhering to the principle of prediction and falsifiability, has the amazing ability to improve and correct itself no matter how much improvement or correction it takes.

    The drastic transition is not an indication of the weakness of science but rather an indication of the strength of it. What other field of intellectual pursuit do you know of that can overturn 350 years of extremely useful and reliable intellectual property when a better one comes along that is more useful and more accurate?

    There is no term called "traditional science" unless you mean to distinguish good science from bad science.

    If you mean that after pursuing science for a few hundred years we don't actually know everything yet, then yes? But what is your point? That science doesn't work very fast? Have you considered that you are posting this on a high speed computer the size of a book to a high speed global network whereas your great grandfather read books by whale oil lamp.


    And we would only know that if that was actually done. That is the point. One needs a statistically meaningful set of experiments. Until you get that, it is all simply anecdotal. We figured this out a few hundred years ago.

    And if the experiments were as astonishingly badly conducted as the ones in the video, then the results will simply be random. The moment they started to wash stuff and leave it outside to dry and then pretend it was "sterile" is the moment one begins to realize that these are a bunch of crackpots.

    Not if the experiments were conducted properly, and there were a statistically significant number of trials, and it was duplicated by other independent investigators. At that point, you have undeniable science and it doesn't matter what anyone's opinion is.

    But guess what? If you do bad science and put it on youtube, people won't take you seriously. And then if one whines about how mainstream science is in denial about it, one has demonstrated that one is a pure crackpot.

    More on this later....
     
  15. Big Al

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,830
    Likes Received:
    6
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Central FL
    These changing situations are my point :) As our body of knowledge grew we learned to make better decisions. What was once considered solid science in one era was either replaced or subsumed as we learned greater understanding. Unfortunately, other relevant elements, may have been ignored because they didn't fit the new mold (e.g.- Einstein's Cosmological Constant).

    An interesting note that is pertinent to this discussion- the study of sigils has been relegated to mostly ancient history with supposedly little practical use today, but these letters/markings were supposed to have definite practical applications. Could this be an additional or alternate factor in why the rice spoiled more quickly in the negative containers?

    The world of the quantum is indeed "magical" in a certain sense because elements of it cannot be predicted (i.e.- predicting the position of an electron). By acknowledging that once you get to the Planck scale that physics as we know it starts to change, that in itself opens up possibilities. How deep do those levels go? Is there a level where our thoughts become "materialized"? If so, how does what happens on that scale interact with the scale that we can observe?

    These are all thought experiments but they are important nonetheless.

    I was referring to the outcome, which suggests that intent plays a part in the experiments.

    Some would think that these subjects are worthy of more than bar room talk :D

    Another thought experiment (I'm not referring to the rice experiment in this case)- What if the results of something correlates to something internal. What if these things happen in a way that's purely subjective but that happens with such frequency, synchronicity and accuracy that the observer has to take notice of it? There might come a point where the observer will not be able to deny that something intangible is occurring. Those outside of the observer's scope of experience would likely consider him mad or insult him, but what position is "true"? It's important to be critical when conducting tests but just how much have we lost by not accepting data because it didn't fit into our narrow framework of criteria.

    An allusion to Pastafarianism- that made me smile :D

    Before I proceed, this next portion of the discussion could easily be construed in a manner that could make some folks get upset. That's certainly not my intention. This next section is merely for pondering purposes only, is rhetorical, and is being mentioned in response to the previous poster's statement.

    The statement in question: "In the case of religous faith, we accept things as articles of faith in a way that is somewhat arbitrary."

    Do you believe in your particular faith because you've had insights and revelations, and because you have a personal relationship with your Creator; or do you "believe" what you do because that's what you were taught or because you fear some kind of divine retribution if you don't?

    Would you attempt to apply the "scientific method" in a similar manner to your belief system or do you make an exception in this case? If not, then why do you believe what you do? The criteria for something as important as your faith and the destiny of your soul should definitely take precedent over simple experiments with rice, should they not?

    Why does something that falls out of the typical definition of science have to be labeled "crackpot"? I would truly appreciate an attempt at keeping these reactionary words to a minimum- they create bias and that's not what the intention of this thread was for.

    To those of us that had revelations and experiences that solidify our faith(s)- should we be considered "crackpots" because our experiences cannot be translated using the scientific method?

    A few hundred years ago people were severely punished for expressing beliefs contrary to the churches in power in those times; a process that was repeated by certain Atheistic political factions on a very large scale in the last century except that they were punished for having faith in a system outside of those approved by their State. the reasons were the same though- to establish control and fear.

    What is it about the unknown that captivates some and scares many.

    It would be a mistake to state that there's "no" information in the conclusions of these rice experiments. There's plenty of data- but not all of it can be explained. That doesn't mean we give up and stop trying to figure out why.

    If the information is sparse then that's where thought experiments come in :) That's also why there's two main classifications of knowledge- "A priori" (independent of experience), and "a posteriori" (based on experience).

    That statement can be interpreted in many ways, and not all of them positive. What about the relics of ancient wisdom and history that tell of times when our understanding of the world around us was much more connected? Surely by "outsourcing" much of what we do in an attempt at greater convenience we've lost a lot of that connectedness- along with whatever benefits came with it. Why does a method that's been used with great success for long periods of time need to be replaced unless it was initially unsound to begin with? Who's to say that when we finally discover a way to decipher our timeless mysteries that we won't find out we've either been really far off track or just completely wrong about how things really work.

    Perhaps we're really doing things the hard or long way, and by doing so are creating even greater distance between us and the rest of the universe.

    We're splitting hairs here. My mention of "traditional" in this sense refers to "mainstream" science.

    My point is that the more we learn the more questions we uncover; so while we're making progress we're also finding out just how much farther we still have to go. Each discovery has the possibility of opening up new realms of thinking.

    How many trials? Who determines what is "proper"?

    Next- another lovely thought experiment :D

    We're a few years in the future at a cutting-edge high tech university where these experiments are being conducted with greater scrutiny. A scientist decides that the experiment wouldn't be valid unless an electron scanning microscope was used to ensure that there are no other substantial variables affecting the experiment. The experiment concludes and nothing tangible is found to explain why the rice with negative words/intent results in greater decay and pronounces the experiment a failure or at best- inconclusive.

    Sometime later, a colleague of his decides to use the newest "5 Dimensional Yoctoscope" as the experiment is being repeated and actually finds something observable [or at least what translates to observable in that dimension] happening! The problem now is that we can't translate what that something is because we have no frame of reference for it, yet the experiment does make a connection between thoughts/intent and the rice.

    Was the first scientist "wrong"?

    My point in all of this is not to disagree with you (although healthy debate is good)- only to point out that out current level of knowledge and technology may not be sufficient to answer these questions. It is almost always critical but flexible open minds that take us to the next level in any field of learning.
     
  16. Calboner

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2007
    Messages:
    9,026
    Albums:
    5
    Likes Received:
    2,465
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    USA
    Invisible unicorns are AWESOME because they beat EVERYTHING! :nutkick:

    Well, except for carbonation fairies. Unicorns don't have the skill set for producing the bubbles in soft drinks: only carbonation fairies can do that. Of course, most chemists will say that carbonation is produced by a chemical process, but their a priori commitment to naturalism makes them blind to the fact that the chemical process only occurs thanks to the guidance of the carbonation fairies. You see, carbonated drinks have a characteristic known as irreducible coolness. The assumption that soft drinks become irreducibly cool through blind chemical processes alone, though theoretically possible, is improbable to an astronomical degree. I do not by any means demand that the fairy theory of carbonation should displace the naturalistic theory of carbonation in chemistry courses in public high schools, but I do think that such courses should include critical consideration of the weaknesses of the chemical theory of carbonation. This is how to promote critical thinking.

    Big Al, I would recommend looking at a textbook on scientific method, as I have been doing recently. I bought a copy of the 1994 edition (there is no need to get the current one if you only want the book for your own instruction and not for use in a course) of a nice little book called A Beginner's Guide to Scientific Method by Stephen Carey and the 1997 edition of another called Understanding Scientific Reasoning by Ronald Giere for a few dollars each from Betterworldbooks.com. I have read most of the Carey book and have found it pretty instructive, except when it gets to the important topic of the evaluation of statistics, at which point the exposition is so compressed as to be largely incomprehensible to someone who is not already in command of the pertinent issues. The Giere book is much longer and, I presume, more intensive.

    There are other books of this genre. In contrast to books in the philosophy of science, they do not deal with recherché issues of scientific revolutions, "paradigm shifts," "social construction," and such sexy stuff, which I think has a very bad effect on the thinking of people who are not already adept in scientific practices.

    As to the videos, I have only watched the first of them, but I would balk at saying that it presents evidence of some sort of funky relation between thoughts or words and the growth of mold in cooked rice. (I smiled when the guy said, "Since water is affected by our emotions and intentions and thoughts," as if that could be taken for granted as a starting point.) At most, I would say that the video offers evidence of evidence. We only have the movie-maker's word for it that the results that we see on the screen were produced by the procedures that he describes. We have no independent verification that the two tubs of rice were taken from a common source, that the two tubs were both perfectly clean, that the only effective difference between them was the message written on the label affixed to each tub, or even that the rice that the guy shows us at the end of the video is the same as the rice that he showed us at the beginning. To describe this video as showing us "evidence" of a causal link between words written on pieces of paper and the rate of spoilage of rice in tubs would be rash.

    I am not sure that I understand what you mean to say here, but you seem to think that objectivity, or epistemic fairness, requires neutrality. If so, that is a mistake. If a claim is made that conflicts with well-established matters of scientific knowledge or common human experience, such as the claim that thoughts affect water, then, until the person making the claim has produced compelling evidence in support of it, the only reasonable and just attitude toward such a claim is doubt. It is absurd to be neutral: it is the extraordinary claim, and not the status quo ante, that bears the burden of proof.
     
  17. JustAsking

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    Messages:
    3,249
    Likes Received:
    3
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Ohio
    Which demonstrates my point. The moment we stray from the discipline of hypothesis, falsifiable prediction, and verification, all we have is fantastical notions that we make up out of whole cloth. What is it about sigils that allows one to decide on that hypothesis over the Pastafarian hypothesis? The answer is nothing, because neither one makes a falsifiable prediction than can be evaluated for relative accuracy. There is no way to falsify either hypothesis. And where there is no ability to falsify, there is no ability to verify. That leaves either hypothesis on the shelf labled "fantastical".

    Yes, quantum physics is different than classical physics, but all of its predictions are falsifiable and have accumulated an exhaustive record for accurate prediction.

    Important in what way? They are amusing, and titillating, but they are indistinguishable from any other fanciful notions.

    It is all worthy of discussion, but there is no way to go beyond bar room conversation. Nothing has been proposed that is falsifiable.

    And what if it doesn't? What if it is really the action of invisible unicorns? You see my point? Why is your speculation any more valid than mine? They are both equally unfalsifiable.

    No, what you are describing has nothing to do with "an open mind" unless you are including things that are outside the ability to do any science on them. If there is no way to differentiate between anyone's fanciful hypotheses, what value does it have? Why is rejecting these untestable fanciful notions any less objective than rejecting the invisible unicorn hypothesis?

    An open mind is one that is open to all kinds of speculation, for sure. But a pointlessly open mind simply stops there. A real skeptic then goes on to work out ways of evaluating the hypotheses in ways that are objective. Or one simply accepts something on faith and leaves it at that (which is also not exactly the quality of an open mind).

    Accepting any fanciful notion without judgement or evaluation is not an open mind, it is a silly mind.


    The entire Pastafarian notion was invented just for discussions like this. It was invented as a foil to the unfalsifiable unscientific hypothesis of Intelligent Design. Since both ID and FSM are unfalsifiable, they are scientifically equivalent with a scientific certainty of zero.

    No, its quite allright, Al. This is a very good and pertinent question. I propose that we have been discussing three epistemologies (how we know stuff).

    1) Scientific knowledge gained through the evaluation of the accuracy of the falsifiable predictions made by hypotheses.

    2) Acceptance of articles of faith without the benefit of #1.

    3) Hypotheses that pretend to be scientfic but only to people who do not understand science.


    The acquisition of empirical knowledge is only possible for those things that lend themselves to empirical techniques. Therefore the discipline of science is limited in applicability to a subset of our human experience. It is a very narrow discipline that when applied correctly allows us to generate more certainty about the natural processes of the universe than anything other techniques.

    So I make an "exception" to empiricism for most of human experience, not just my religious faith.

    An analogy would be the discipline of arithmetic. It is very important to adhere to the discipline of arithmetic when figuring out one's taxes because when you stray from those rules, you get the wrong answers. And eventually, the IRS might come after you.

    However, the importance of that discipline does not transfer over into being important for articles of religious faith, or for the loving relationships that one might have between members of a family, and so on. Your mistake is to assume that the only true epistemology is an empirical one. Whereas, I maintain that it is profoundly effective for investigating natural processes, but almost useless outside of that.

    Yes, that is precisely my point. It is not crackpottery to have personal beliefs such as religious beliefs. But it is crackpot to make scientific sounding claims about them and support them with very bad science.

    I believe this is an attempt to imply that some scientific ideas are rejected due to dogma, where others are not. That might be so, but other pseudo-scientific ideas are rejected because the science is laughable. This reminds me of the crackpot cry, "But the laughed at Thomas Edison!!!!" To which science answers, "Yes, but they also laughed at Bozo The Clown.". The job of science is to figure out who is Edison and who is Bozo.

    Nothing to do with the discussion.


    No, as Calboner said, there is only evidence of evidence. The problem is that no falsifiable hypothesis was offered in a way that was supported by the results of the experiment.

    You see, the job of an experiment is to affirm or refute the testable predictions that come from a hypothesis. Those predictions have to come as a logical consequence of the axioms of the hypothesis. This entire rice experiment thing failed to produce any of these things. For example, where is the logical connection between thoughts (and thoughts of who, by the way) and stickers on tupperware bins that have words written on them?

    And before you answer the question, remember that I said "logical connection" meaning something akin to a logical proof and not just something that "sounds logical" in the colloquial sense.


    I think you are confusing a colloquial definition of a thought experiment and the scientific one. A scientific thought experiment is one that stays strictly within the confines of the logic of a hypothesis. And it is only applicable to the falsifiable predictions of the hypothesis. And in some cases, the falsifiable predictions of a hypothesis create a logical contradiction (again in the strict logical sense) that alllows one to refute the hypothesis without actually doing an experiment.

    Maxwell's Demon is a good example of that where Maxwell demonstrated a mental scenario where it appeared that the second law of thermodynamics was violatable in a completely closed system.

    This is very different from the fanciful speculation you are calling a thought experiment.
     
  18. JustAsking

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    Messages:
    3,249
    Likes Received:
    3
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Ohio
    Yes I agree that there are at least those two. But to confuse knowledge based on experience with scientific knowledge is a mistake. In fact, our personal experiences are almost completely without value when it comes to modern science. Where in your personal experience do you get the knowledge that mass and time are a function of velocity? Or that the continents drift around on the magma like corks on water? Or that there are magnetic fields that propagate through space without a medium, or electrons can occupy only certain orbitals in an atom, and so on?

    Most of modern science has revealed objective knowledge that seems to defy that what we would acquire through only personal experience.


    You mean when we thought the earth was at the center of the universe? Or that life spontaneously comes out of a pile of dirty rags? Or that breathing the night air causes malaria? Or that our health is the product of a balance of four bodily humors? I don't know, what about those relics of ancient wisdom?


    Yes, I too, pine for the says when they would pour liquid mercury down my throat rather than giving me an antibiotic.

    (Actually, I do sympathize with a lot of what you are saying here on a human experience level, where we are disconnected is not because we understand nature a lot better now, but because we have used it to insulate ourselves from nature. That is a cultural thing, not a matter of epistemology.)

    Right, and how do we determine if that method is unsound? It is by comparing its falsifiable predictions with actual observations of nature. If you cannot do that, you cannot tell if the method is unsound.

    For example, what method would you use to determine of a belief in the God of Abraham is unsound compared to a belief in the Navajo Great Turtle of Creation?

    Beats me, but in the meantime, can you explain to me why Maxwell's Equations for electomagnetism, that he came up with in 1860 still predict every classical aspect of electric and magnetic static and dynamic fields? Can you explain why we can create a computer chip like yours that has about a half billion transistors all manipulating tiny EM fields in a manner that is exactly as Maxwell's theory say we can?

    So although we expect even Maxwell's theory is provisional and will give way to an even better one, can you name work in any other field that can be so accurate and useful for so much of our civilization that was devised 150 years ago?

    And what would you suggest as an alternative methodology that would create things as useful as Maxwell's Equations or Newtonian Mechanics?

    Again, I think the only difference is science and non-science.


    But there is only one method we have been using to make those discoveries. And it has only since we started using that method that we started making any progress at all. The methods you are proposing (which is no method at all) is what we abandoned about 300 years ago.


    That question was answered a few hundred years ago. It is called statistics, and it can characterize the relative significance of any given number of trials when applied to the results.




    Next- another lovely thought experiment :D

    The scientist would not bother with any of this, because the rice experiment was completely faulty to begin with. It would be rejected as bad science the same way an accountant would reject the work of another accountant who did not know the rules of arithmetic.

    If one could do a carefully controlled experiment that demonstrated that the rice would get moldier than the other rice because of some sticky labels on the container, then that would be very significant. If a single investigator did the experiment properly and enough times to generate a statistically significant result, then it would be something that could be published in a professional journal.

    It would not matter whether there was an explanation for it yet or not. If the phenonenon is reproducible, it would be significant. Then if other independent investigators were able to duplicate the experiment, then they could also publish and give creedence to the original author.

    At that point, you have a bona fide scientifically determined phenomenon whether anyone had an explanation or not. Consider Newton's F = MA or Newton's formula for Universal Gravitation. Neither one of these offer an explanation for the phenomena. They simply characterize it by producing precise falsifiable predictions.

    Exactly. We have no way of determining if thought has anything to do on mold growing on rice. And at the moment, we don't even have a convincing experiment that suggest that thoughts affect mold on rice.

    But whether we finally discover that thoughts affect mold or we find that thoughts never affect mold will have to wait until those discoveries are made. Until then we are "ignorant" of evidence or an explanation either way. And what we can conclude scientifically from "ignorance" is exactly nothing.

    To argue that something might be true because we don't yet have evidence either way is called Argument From Ignorance. The reason why AfromI is fallacious is that if it were a valid form of logic, you could prove anything with it. Such as, "Invisible unicorns translate our thoughts into mold on rice. This is true because we have no evidence yet either way."

    What is the difference between your hypothesis and mine? Nothing. They are both simply flights if imagination held aloft by a vacuum of knowledge.


    Yes, but what you have described here is not a critical open mind, but mind that entertains any fanciful notion with no criteria for evaluating it. That is now what is meant by an open mind.
     
  19. JustAsking

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    Messages:
    3,249
    Likes Received:
    3
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Ohio
    Yes, perfect. This is the exact template of "logic" that is used by the Intelligent Design proponents. It is pure snake oil and they know it.

    Now if you have trouble with your "critical thinking" legislation you can back off a bit and propose legislation that promotes "academic freedom" for teachers and professors who want to propose unicorn theory as scientific.

    Tennessee
    Kentucky
    Texas
    Florida
    Oklahoma
    New Mexico

    had enough? I certainly have.
     
Draft saved Draft deleted