Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science

http://www.opensciences.org/files/pdfs/Manifesto-for-a-Post-Materialist-Science.pdf

9. Studies of the so-called “psi phenomena” indicate that we can sometimes receive meaningful
information without the use of ordinary senses, and in ways that transcend the habitual space
and time constraints. Furthermore, psi research demonstrates that we can mentally influence—
at a distance—physical devices and living organisms (including other human beings). Psi research
also shows that distant minds may behave in ways that are nonlocally correlated, i.e. the
correlations between distant minds are hypothesized to be unmediated (they are not linked to
any known energetic signal), unmitigated (they do not degrade with increasing distance), and
immediate (they appear to be simultaneous). These events are so common that they cannot be
viewed as anomolous nor as exceptions to natural laws, but as indications of the need for a
broader explanatory framework that cannot be predicated exclusively on materialism.

10. Conscious mental activity can be experienced in clinical death during a cardiac arrest (this is
what has been called a “near-death experience” [NDE]). Some near-death experiencers (NDErs)
have reported veridical out-of-body perceptions (i.e. perceptions that can be proven to coincide
with reality) that occurred during cardiac arrest.

UD discussion link:

http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/id-and-manifesto-for-a-post-materialist-science/

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30 thoughts on “Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science

  1. Well, if anyone thought that they weren’t serious about science, this ought to show how firm their commitment to science is. Thanks, Denyse, et al.

    Seriously, though, if you’re insisting that the world is really and truly magic, why wouldn’t you spread the magic around? NDEs, especially, get to a lot of the real point behind ID–immortality.

    Glen Davidson

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  2. Deepak Chopra and Uri Geller are just following the evidence wherever it leads! Just like the leading lights of Uncommon Descent! Sheesh, you guys are so dogmatic and intolerant!

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  3. Or, to quote Captain Reynolds, “my days of not taking you seriously are certainly coming to a middle”.

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  4. We are a group of internationally known scientists…

    It’s nice of them to make it clear, or we wouldn’t know who the heck they are. Oh, yes, Rupert Sheldrake is there, and everyone knows Sheldrake.

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  5. Not Post-Materialist Science, Perry Mason Science. Those who watched the TV show will recall that Mason’s standard objection in court was to denounce DA Hamilton Burger’s question or argument as:

    “Incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial!”

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  6. Furthermore, psi research demonstrates that we can mentally influence—at a distance—physical devices and living organisms (including other human beings).

    It that a threat?

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  7. Piotr Gasiorowski:
    Furthermore, psi research demonstrates that we can mentally influence—at a distance—physical devices and living organisms (including other human beings).

    It that a threat?

    Well, it certainly would be a threat, if they could do it.

    Cf. “Men Who Stare at Goats”.

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  8. William seems to have forgotten his skepticism already

    In any normal sense of the term, the “supernatural” is as open to scientific investigation as anything else. Scientists have been investigating the “supernatural” for over a century, at least since the time physicist William Crookes formally investigated psychic/mediumship phenomena and, along with Nobel Prize winner Charles Richet at the time, concluded that certain such “supernatural” phenomena were definitely real.

    A Nobel Prize winner says psychic’s are real! It therefore must be so.

    What I do find odd however is why when 99.999% of Nobel prize winners says X, that X is unconvincing to William. I guess when you get to pick and choose your evidence you can make a case for anything, however absurd, and claim it’s backed by science.

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  9. guess who@UD:

    Since I don’t agree with your definition of the term “supernatural”, there is no need for me to offer any such suggestion. For over 100 years what has been considered by the mainstream to be the “supernatural” has been under scientific investigation, beginning with William Crookes and Nobel Prize winner Charles Richet. It goes on today in the work of scientists from many disciplines.

    I suggest the way forward in science is to treat unknown causes as just that – unknown causes, without imprisoning them into ideological constraints that may or many not be true via the baggage-laden terms “natural”, “supernatural”, “materialist” or “non-materialist”.

    OK, done. I agree to treat unknown causes as just that – unknown causes. If that means that ID will investigate “the designer” then I can’t wait.

    How?

    Perhaps what is “supernatural” (non-material) is real but in a different way than phenomena we consider to be “material”, and is open to a different kind of scientific investigation than that which we normally apply to “matter”. In any event, defining the non-material, or the supernatural, as “imaginary” or “unreal” is nothing more than a means for a self-serving narrative to protect itself.

    Again, I look forwards to this different kind of scientific investigation than that which we normally apply to “matter”. Of course, no doubt the person saying that ;P will just say it’s possible, not that they personally will conduct such an investigation.

    I will await developments!

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  10. OMagain,

    IOW, paranormal claims have been investigated using science, with no good evidence being found that the paranormal exists, thus it’s time to change the rules of discovery.

    It’s the standard ID/creationist/paranormalist response to failure.

    Glen Davidson

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  11. Suppose a sorcerer handed you a lantern and said that he who rubs it will call forth a djinn who can grant three wishes. So you wish for many more wishes and are granted that.

    You then set up the Djinn Research Institute where they can rub the lamp under controlled conditions, X-ray it, etc.

    Question is, by doing this are we carrying out a research program that involves supernatural phenomena? Or are we making the supernatural merely natural?

    I don’t suppose that the folks who issued the statement will have any insight for us on issues like these.

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  12. Joe,

    Question is, by doing this are we carrying out a research program that involves supernatural phenomena? Or are we making the supernatural merely natural?

    I think the authors of the manifesto are longing not for the supernatural per se, but rather for the teleological. They want to believe that reality is purposeful at its root and that consciousness and thought are fundamental rather than derivative.

    They write:

    2. During the 19th century, these assumptions narrowed, turned into dogmas, and coalesced into an ideological belief system that came to be known as “scientific materialism.” This belief system implies that the mind is nothing but the physical activity of the brain, and that our thoughts cannot have any effect upon our brains and bodies, our actions, and the physical world.

    [Emphasis added]

    The words “nothing but” are key.

    Suppose that the djinn’s lamp operated supernaturally but purely mechanically, according to strictly mechanistic (but supernatural) laws. This wouldn’t satisfy the manifesto authors, who would be disappointed that the magic was “nothing but” the operation of mindless, mechanical laws. It would be no consolation that the laws were supernatural. The underlying mindlessness and lack of purpose would be the sticking point.

    You can see this throughout the manifesto. Here are some relevant quotes:

    …this ideology… has compelled scientists to neglect the subjective dimension of human experience. This has led to a severely distorted and impoverished understanding of ourselves and our place in nature…

    According to one interpretation of QM, this phenomenon implies that the consciousness of the observer is vital to the existence of the physical events being observed, and that mental events can affect the physical world…

    Minds are apparently unbounded, and may unite in ways suggesting a unitary, One Mind that includes all individual, single minds…

    NDEs in cardiac arrest suggest that the brain acts as a transceiver of mental activity, i.e. the mind can work through the brain, but is not produced by it.

    The natural/supernatural labels don’t concern them, but they desperately want to believe that mind and purpose are separate from the physical world and constitute fundamental components of reality in their own right.

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  13. keiths:
    Joe,

    I think the authors of the manifesto are longing not for the supernatural per se, but rather for the teleological.They want to believe that reality is purposeful at its root and that consciousness and thought are fundamental rather than derivative.

    Oh, so back in, say, the Silurian, as the trilobites and ammonites were busy being trilobites and ammonites, was Mind also there thinking about it? Or was only Teleos hanging about, intending to evolve Mind?

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  14. After Mario Beauregard and Denyse O’Leary published The Spiritual Brain, Beauregard gave an interview to the CBC in which he revealed his motivation:

    Interviewer:
    You decided that you wanted to study these [spiritual] experiences. Why?

    Beauregard:
    Well, because I started myself to have these experiences when I was very young, at around 8 years.

    Interviewer:
    What happened to you?

    Beauregard:
    Well, I was living in countryside. My father was a farmer, so we had a lot of space, and we were isolated, so I didn’t have many friends around and I had a lot of time to spend, you know, in the forests and the fields. It became like a certainty that what we call the brain and the mind and the soul were totally different things. For me, it became obvious, and I decided at 8 years old that I would become later on a scientist to investigate these questions. And after that I’ve had series of spiritual experiences spontaneously, all related to a disease. I’ve been very sick when I was a young adult and I’ve had a series of experiences during that time and one of these experiences was related to a state of cosmic consciousness. In that state, I totally lost my sense of self and I became united for a certain period of time with the whole cosmos and with God (if I can use this word).

    Interviewer:
    And that’s what’s driving your work now.

    Beauregard:
    Now, yes. I’ve been very much influenced, of course, by these experiences.

    How sad. He is fighting the evidence, trying to validate an intuition he had when he was eight years old.

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  15. How sad. He is fighting the evidence, trying to validate an intuition he had when he was eight years old.

    Well, it’s not just that, he’s also had experiences related to a disease that confirm his beliefs.

    What could be more compelling to anyone with an open mind?

    Glen Davidson

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  16. Motive mongering and negative personal characterizations are not part of a true, reasonable skepticism.

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  17. William J. Murray:
    Motive mongering and negative personal characterizations are not part of a true, reasonable skepticism.

    Tell it to the regulars at UD . Of which you are one, of course.

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  18. William J. Murray:
    Motive mongering and negative personal characterizations are not part of a true, reasonable skepticism.

    And if you require evidence, I just came across this little gem from BA77 in the Multiverse thread, courtesy of CeilingCat over at AtBC,

    Krauss is full of it. A self-promoting pompous little ass who makes mistakes so elementary that first year philosophy students could eat him for lunch.

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  19. SeverskyP35: Krauss is full of it. A self-promoting pompous little ass who makes mistakes so elementary that first year philosophy students could eat him for lunch.

    Krauss’s mistakes are extremely subtle. I’d be surprised if anyone at UD is able to identify them correctly, and no “first-year philosophy student” I’ve encountered in my ten years of teaching would be able to identify them at all.

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  20. My comment above about Teleos and Mind during the Silurian period was not intended as just snide. I know most regulars here are not taking the telelogical or dualist positions but I do want to understand the view of the people who signed this Manifesto, and you folks know better than I what that position is. And it is on-topic for this thread.

    If there’s something teleological in the Universe (or a Mind) is that not supposed to be supernatural? Or do they imagine that somehow nature’s laws turn out to work out to result in movement toward a goal, or that they work out to have something like a Mind or Minds?

    Forgive my naïveté: I never took a philosophy course.

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  21. I could say a little bit about the history of the concept of teleology, and why it never quite went away.

    Whether teleology is real is a different question from where teleology is located in reality, or what sorts of things are teleologically structured? It is one thing to say that individual organisms are teleologically structured. It is another thing to say that all of nature is teleologically structured.

    Teleology and mindedness are quite different, conceptually, though often confused by association. Although minded organisms often act on the basis of intentions, having an intention is not necessary for a goal-directed process. Nor does the reality of teleology entail that mind is ontologically prior to matter. An idealist metaphysics, such as the emanationism of Neoplatonism or Vedanata (all of material reality “emanates” from God or something similarly spiritual/divine), might explain why all of nature is teleologically structured — if it is.

    My major objection to the term “materialist” or “materialism” is that it means all sorts of things, and can be accepted or rejected in numerous incompatible ways. It is a bowl of Jello that can be nailed to the wall however you like. Is materialism compatible with emergentism? With autopoiesis? With any sort of teleology at all? We’re never told. It’s too amorphous as a term to do any real philosophical work, and we shouldn’t use it.

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  22. I should add that the statement that organisms behave “teleologically” should not really concern us. Mice “try” to find food, birds “try” to fly. We understand where that comes from — it involves natural selection for survival and reproduction. The issue of whether or not you should describe this as “teleological” is mostly semantic. Whether it is useful to call it “teleological” is a discussion about neural mechanisms, whether there is a “try to” mechanism built in somewhere there. That somewhat interesting, but not, I think, at issue in this thread.

    The Manifesto seems to me to be wanting some more general mechanism which is Teleological, or which involves Mind. Something beyond “trying to” achieve increased survival or reproduction. William Dembski, in his Chicago talk, described evolution as a “teleological search for teleology”. One could make a fairly noncontroversial interpretation of that — populations of organisms are “trying” to go uphill on a fitness surface and in doing so produce organisms that are good at “trying to” survive and reproduce.

    If that is all that is meant by Teleology in evolution then it is nothing new, nor does the language of teleology help us much in understanding evolution. But I doubt that the authors of the Manifesto meant merely that. So the question here is: what larger sense of Teleology did they invoke? And for organisms (say, like slime molds) that don’t even have nervous systems, in what sense are they arguing that Mind is involved in evolution?

    Let’s try to [joke intended] clarify that.

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  23. Joe Felsenstein: Oh, so back in, say, the Silurian, as the trilobites and ammonites were busy being trilobites and ammonites, was Mind also there thinking about it?Or was only Teleos hanging about, intending to evolve Mind?

    I think it’s pretty clear that for the authors, Mind was there then, doing something. It’s primordial for them.

    Telos, on the other hand, isn’t necessarily a something. Eighteenth-century Deists would generally be teleologic thinkers, as there’d be a purpose to the universe, but the only time God’s Mind with its purpose did anything was when God acted, “winding up” the universe. I don’t think I’d stress the desire for the teleologic in the Manifesto, because at least two of the most important players, Mario Beauregard and Gary E. Schwarz, seem to be more interested in Mind being immanent in the universe, spirits to be real, and, at least for Schwartz, for there to be an afterlife (I suspect it’s so for Beauregard, but I haven’t seen any really good evidence yet).

    I don’t see much about evolution in the Manifesto. I suspect that they think Mind played a considerable role in evolution, but probably don’t “know how,” and are more concerned with the “fact” that we “have souls” or spirits, whatever.

    They’re not especially concerned about any “natural/supernatural” split, but clearly want what most of us here would consider “supernatural” to be primordial and as important as physics, etc. Their problem is with “materialism” (like KN, I think it’s a fairly nebulous and unhelpful term). Scientifically, they seem to be akin to William Murray, as they claim that science has ignored subjectivism, and seem to think that this is a bad thing, and to rectify it science must start paying heed to anecdote and the like. That’s where the evidence for “spirit” and life after death is supposed to come in. Give up your “hyperskepticism” and accept anecdote.

    To me it seems rather New Age in spirit. Relax evidentiary standards into nothingness, and realize that your “subjective” spirit knows the truth, just don’t suppress it. Oh, not that they can’t do some real science, with Beauregard doing brain scans and the like, but the interpretations go to “unity of Cosmic Mind” or some such rubbish (don’t know if they’d accept a term like “Cosmic Mind,” but it looks like the idea is there), and the whole Manifesto is contrary to the “adversarial approach” to truth of skepticism, science, and judicial ideals–show it, don’t just assimilate it to your prejudices.

    Glen Davidson

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  24. Why did all supernatural events happen before the popularization of the smart phone with camera capabilities.

    ‘St Filbert of Mornington Crescent did verily poop rainbows for 100 days, and it was witnessed by thousands, 4 unicorns and a dragon’

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  25. It’s a test of faith. If you can’t believe the eyewitness testimony of people like mung, you are going to hell.

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