171 thoughts on “Telepathic Boy?

  1. Elizabeth:
    What is an “immaterial entity”? There are certainly lots of entities that aren’t matter. That isn’t remotely controversial.

    Excellent re-statement of what I said. Thanks.

  2. EL said:

    OK, so as a prediction of the hypothesis of a universal mind, it seems to fail. Why?

    I have no idea what you’re asking here.

    I mean the current model of the nature of space-time, matter and energy. But it’s changed before, so it could change again.

    Which current model of the nature of space-time, matter and energy are you talking about, and why would telepathy change it?

    Patrick said:

    You should associate with more scientists…

    I find that what little time I spend at TSZ is about all the “scientist time” I can stomach.

  3. Richardthughes:
    Hi William, author here! I was inspired by your posts here and at uncommon descent about science without materialism. You were my target audience! Do you need me to link to them? I don’t think you’ve changed reality enough to remove them.

    Or, you could just answer the question: what does telepathy have to do with materialism? You might start by defining “materialism”.

  4. William J. Murray: You might start by defining “materialism”.

    Please don’t ask anyone here to define their terms. That’s like accusing them of intellectual dishonesty. Failing to assume they are posting in good faith.

    And, by all that is holy, don’t ask them what they mean if they say that the genetic code is a code according to some definitions of a code.

  5. Mung: Please don’t ask anyone here to define their terms. That’s like accusing them of intellectual dishonesty. Failing to assume they are posting in good faith.

    What a bizarre comment, Mung. I just don’t get it.

    Is it some kind of satire on the number of times I and others have asked you and William to define your terms?

    Is there a layer of meta I’m missing?

    ETA: However, I agree that if Richard wants to discuss the implications of telepathy for “non-materialists” he needs to define what he means. I thought he meant “people who self-identify as non-materialists”. Or people who think they aren’t “materialists”. Am I right, Richard?

  6. William J. Murray: I have no idea what you’re asking here.

    Well, you seemed to suggest that if there was such a thing as a universal mind (as you believe there is) then we would expect telepathy as the norm. So telepathy is a prediction from the hypothesis of a universal mind:

    William J. Murray: When you think everything that exists is part of universal mind, the better question would be: what prevents it from always occurring?

    But, as you say, it appears not always to occur. So there is something wrong with the hypothesis – mind appears to be not totally universal.

    William J. Murray: Which current model of the nature of space-time, matter and energy are you talking about, and why would telepathy change it?

    The one currently in the physics books, or indeed the cognitive psychology books. Telepathy, if it turns out to be something that cannot be readily explained within that model, would require change to that model.

    And if it isn’t a result of picking up subtle cues from the other person via the normal sensory channels, then we’d need to figure out what it IS the result of. As I said, my first line of approach, once I’d ruled out visual and auditory channels, would be EEG – is there some oscillatory entrainment going on between the two brains. But that would involve some new physics, given that mother and son are quite far apart.

    And I haven’t ruled out visual and auditory channels yet!

  7. Elizabeth,

    Well, Lizzie, you’ve got mainly ‘skeptics’ here, haven’t you?

    “Definitions do not matter.” – petrushka

    That coming in the past couple of days from a man apparently who used to sing beautiful words in a church choir without believing them in the slightest.

    And you’ve said yourself that you don’t think your vows to your Creator made in church at your wedding were anything other than words made in front of human witnesses.

    So, Lizzie, do definitions really matter to ‘skeptics’ or ‘apostates’ like you? 😉

  8. Definitions are extremely important if we are going to understand each other.

    I’m not sure what petrushka was getting at, but what I would agree with is that you can’t prove things by definition. Calling something a code, for instance, or telepathy, doesn’t make it entail intelligence/inexplicable to current science.

    So yes, definitions matter – to anyone, “skeptic” or otherwise (and by “skeptical” in the title of this blog, I simply meant: “bases view on evidence and holds conclusions contingently” NOT “atheist”, as seems to be commonly interpreted, to my surprise) – who wants to be understood and to understand.

    And I still have no idea what you are on about regarding my wedding. It’s very irritating and I wish you’d shut the fuck up about it. I made vows at my wedding. I meant those vows, and I have kept them, as has my husband. The fact that I no longer believe that they were made before a deity in no way alters the vows themselves, any more than it would if I were to discover that the people who signed the witness record were in fact bears in people suits.

    Please do not bring this up again.

  9. William J. Murray,

    I don’t know anyone or any group – generally speaking – that welcomes disruptive changes to their models of the world.

    I certainly would. I don’t want to be wrong about states-of-affairs.

  10. It’s amazing how a mark can convince themselves that they are in fact the con-artist.

    Mung: People believe in all sorts of immaterial entities, even scientists. What’s the big deal?

    In the context of the OP the immaterial entity would be the mechanism the ESP is using.

    Elizabeth: What is an “immaterial entity”? There are certainly lots of entities that aren’t matter. That isn’t remotely controversial.

    So far so good.

    Mung: Excellent re-statement of what I said. Thanks.

    Yet somewhere along the way we’ve forgotten about the whole ESP thing and apparently everybody is in agreement.

    Mung, you know the game you are playing is obvious to all right?

  11. William J. Murray: Our? It wouldn’t alter my view of the world, or virtually anyone I personally know, one bit.

    So mind to mind direct communication is normal in your world is it? Do those talents appear before or after the alien abductions?

    But seriously, if you are claiming that such powers are common place in the circles you move in then why is the world hearing about it for the first time here?

    Or is it the sort of power which if put to scientific test would fade away, mysteriously, and not re-appear until the skeptics have left?

  12. Mung: Please don’t ask anyone here to define their terms.

    Why don’t you ask William to define materialism, as apparently materialism includes mind to mind communication bypassing physical reality?

  13. William J. Murray: Which current model of the nature of space-time, matter and energy are you talking about, and why would telepathy change it?

    The assumption has to be that this communication is happening in your “magic free will brain world” rather than in the realm of the physical.

    As “magic brain world” is not currently an accepted part of the current model of space time, telepathy would change that quite considerably.

    Given that “magic brain world” is your idea, you’d think you’d understand this.

  14. It’s amazing how coy these people are when it comes to specifics. WJM claims telephay is normal and would not change our perceptions of reality. Yet he then wonders “which current model of the nature of space-time, matter and energy are you talking about” – well, dear William, we’re talking about the one where people have to open the mouths to talk and can’t just beam information from brain to brain. You know, the one we all share but which you have deluded yourself into thinking you are not part of.

  15. Oh, and WJM, what’s your current excuse for not having your own powers of ESP tested scientifically?

    As I’m quite sure you have such an excuse ready and waiting. I’m just interested in hearing what it is, you might say I’m something of a collector in that regard.

  16. Allan Miller:
    William J. Murray,

    I certainly would. I don’t want to be wrong about states-of-affairs.

    Nor me.

    It’s one thing to want to be right. It’s another thing to want the thing that you think is right to be right!

    I want to be right. That means that if I’m wrong, I want to find out so I don’t have to stay wrong!

  17. EL said:

    But, as you say, it appears not always to occur. So there is something wrong with the hypothesis – mind appears to be not totally universal.

    There would be something wrong with that expectation, not necessarily the hypothesis. It would seem to follow that telepathy (and all sorts of psi phenomena) would be commonplace given universal mind and information as the basis of existence. There are all sorts of good answers to that question, but they may not be suitable for transpersonal scientific verification.

  18. OMagain: WJM claims telephay is normal and would not change our perceptions of reality.

    No, I didn’t.

    Yet he then wonders “which current model of the nature of space-time, matter and energy are you talking about” – well, dear William, we’re talking about the one where people have to open the mouths to talk and can’t just beam information from brain to brain. You know, the one we all share but which you have deluded yourself into thinking you are not part of.

    There’s a difference between having a considerable amount of experience in common and having the same conceptual framework for that experience. Also, it appears that I (and many others in the world) experience things unlike many here in this forum experience. The Western transpersonal “naturalist-materialist” scientific model of reality is not the only one, nor is it even the most common one, which is why I challenged EL to explain what she meant by “our standard model”. That phrase assumes a lot of unearned and inappropriate ground.

    Billions of people have conceptual frameworks that include things like astrology, psi, the afterlife, God, gods, spirit beings, ghosts, magic, etc. I think you’re projecting what is actually a very minority perspective (your own) out as if it is widely shared throughout the world. While you and a lot of the world may share a large amount of common experience, that doesn’t mean your conceptual frameworks which house and explain that experience are remotely similar.

  19. phoodoo: Also, I am not clear what you mean by being “right”?

    With pleasure. It’s a shorthand for being “less wrong”, which in turn is a shorthand for “having a model that makes more reliable predictions than my previous model”.

  20. William J. Murray: which is why I challenged EL to explain what she meant by “our standard model”.

    Well, I hope I clarified. I meant that discovering that someone could reliably (i.e. consistently better than guessing) read the thoughts another person, without being able to see or hear them would indicate that something is going on that is not easily accommodated under the current state of physics.

    But that happens all the time.

  21. Gregory,

    “Definitions do not matter.” — petrushka

    This is a quote mine. Here is petrushka’s comment:

    Mung:
    One group implores me to define my terms. Another rebukes me for playing definition games. The life of the anti-skeptic is not an easy one.

    Definitions do not matter. What we are asking is why you think the concept of a code is important in biology. why are you posting all this stuff?

    petrushka is clearly making that statement within a very restricted context relative to a discussion with Mung. Extracting it from that context and representing petrushka as holding that position generally is dishonest. Stop it.

  22. I didn’t respond fully because there’s not much that can be said without violating site rules.

    Mung’s posts on the topic of code have been almost entirely qoute mines. None of the people he has quoted would support his position that code and translation together are a prerequisite to evolution.

    Chemistry does stuff that we cannot emulate with our most powerful computers. Chemistry is not algorithmic. Our terms information and code and translation are metaphors borrowed from language and computing. The terms cannot be used to imply constraints on what chemistry can do.

  23. Elizabeth: Well, I hope I clarified.I meant that discovering that someone could reliably (i.e. consistently better than guessing) read the thoughts another person, without being able to see or hear them would indicate that something is going on that is not easily accommodated under the current state of physics.

    Why is it not easily accommodated under the current state of physics?

  24. William J. Murray: Why is it not easily accommodated under the current state of physics?

    Because we don’t currently have a model that would account for someone knowing what someone else is thinking without being able to see them or hear them or touch them. We’d have to posit some other transmission channel, so far undetectable. While we can detect oscillations in electromagnetic fields produced by the brain at a short distance, using magnetic gradiometers, there isn’t an obvious why in which we can do it at substantial distances, as the field strengths are so weak, even if we could find evidence for such detectors.

  25. Elizabeth: Because we don’t currently have a model that would account for someone knowing what someone else is thinking without being able to see them or hear them or touch them.

    Even with a purely materialistic framework I would think that entanglement could provide a model. We now know that entanglement is not just a quantum phenomena but can also describe macroscopic systems.

    Regardless, I don’t think the standard model demands a purely materialistic understanding of “thought” to begin with.

    Just my 2 cents

    peace

  26. fifthmonarchyman: Even with a purely materialistic framework

    What do you mean by “a purely materialistic framework”? There seems to be sufficient lack of clarity about this phrase that I think it’s useful for those who use it to say clearly what you mean.

  27. Elizabeth: What do you mean by “a purely materialistic framework”?

    Off the top of my head I’d say

    A framework where the immaterial does not have primary independent existence but is regulated to a subsidiary reality or does not have “real” existence at all.

    peace

  28. fifthmonarchyman: Off the top of my head I’d say

    A framework where the immaterial does not have primary independent existence but is regulated to a subsidiary reality or does not have “real” existence at all.

    peace

    So what do you mean by “the immaterial”?

  29. EL said:

    Because we don’t currently have a model that would account for someone knowing what someone else is thinking without being able to see them or hear them or touch them.

    If you can read their thoughts, then you can in some sense see, hear or touch them. Senses are themselves the translation of some kind of message that has arrived through some kind of medium after being sent by some sort of apparatus, whether it is voice-air-ears or light-sight or through touch, or through some kind of technological extension.

    All telepathy would require would be a natural transmission apparatus, a transmission medium and a receiving/interpreting apparatus. E-M waves could get it done, or possibly some sort of Q-M entanglement, as 5MM pointed out. Either wouldn’t represent a shakeup of what you call “the standard model”.

    Current science may not have knowledge of such mechanisms, but that doesn’t mean that the principle involved defies known physics. It seems to me that known physics, by itself, in no way argues that telepathy is not possible.

    We’d have to posit some other transmission channel, so far undetectable. While we can detect oscillations in electromagnetic fields produced by the brain at a short distance, using magnetic gradiometers, there isn’t an obvious why in which we can do it at substantial distances, as the field strengths are so weak, even if we could find evidence for such detectors.

    I think you’re confusing a lack of known natural mechanisms to achieve telepathy, and a supposed lack of evidence for telepathy, with the idea that the known “laws” of physics would preclude telepathy. I don’t know of any “laws of physics” that remotely preclude telepathy, so I don’t see how any significant scientific framework would have to change were we to discover those things.

    I think there would just be a lot of people with egg on their faces who ridiculed the idea of telepathy.

  30. William J. Murray: The Western transpersonal “naturalist-materialist” scientific model of reality is not the only one, nor is it even the most common one, which is why I challenged EL to explain what she meant by “our standard model”.

    While that is all true, we all share a common physical reality. And that defines what is and is not possible, even if in your worldview says otherwise.

    William J. Murray: While you and a lot of the world may share a large amount of common experience, that doesn’t mean your conceptual frameworks which house and explain that experience are remotely similar.

    Show me someone using any conceptual framework that can communicate messages using the power of the mind then!

    Oh, what’s that, you can’t?

    William J. Murray: Current science may not have knowledge of such mechanisms, but that doesn’t mean that the principle involved defies known physics. It seems to me that known physics, by itself, in no way argues that telepathy is not possible.

    While that is true, the point is that nobody is displaying such phenomena. So we don’t have to look for explanations because the mundane explanations are perfectly fine.

    Of course, people like you who want to believe think we should spend resources looking on the basis of your gut feelings. Well, nobody is stopping you spending your money and energy doing such, are they?

    William J. Murray: I don’t know of any “laws of physics” that remotely preclude telepathy, so I don’t see how any significant scientific framework would have to change were we to discover those things.

    When information is communicated via ESP from one person to another, is a change of entropy involved?

    Oh, what’s that, you don’t know?

    William J. Murray: I think there would just be a lot of people with egg on their faces who ridiculed the idea of telepathy.

    Given that you claim that it’s an everyday part of your life, why don’t you throw that egg yourself by demonstrating your powers in such a way that they are beyond dispute?

    Oh, what’s that? You can’t?

  31. William J. Murray: E-M waves could get it done, or possibly some sort of Q-M entanglement, as 5MM pointed out.

    You should write a book. Call it “Woo – written with words I don’t really understand but they sound sciency and therefore will legitimise my ideas in the minds of the unlettered” .

  32. William J. Murray: If you can read their thoughts, then you can in some sense see, hear or touch them.

    If this is anything other than a metaphor, I don’t know what it means. If you can’t see hear or touch someone, then if you can still “read their thoughts” you are using something other than information transmitted via light, sound or pressure.

    To date we do not have a mechanism that would account for such “reading”.

    Senses are themselves the translation of some kind of message that has arrived through some kind of medium after being sent by some sort of apparatus, whether it is voice-air-ears or light-sight or through touch, or through some kind of technological extension.

    Yes. But we don’t have any current mechanism that would account for the reception of a message that did not arrive through one of the media you mention. So there would be a problem to solve.

    William J. Murray: All telepathy would require would be a natural transmission apparatus, a transmission medium and a receiving/interpreting apparatus. E-M waves could get it done, or possibly some sort of Q-M entanglement, as 5MM pointed out. Either wouldn’t represent a shakeup of what you call “the standard model”.

    Sure, but we don’t have a candidate for such a transmission medium. So one would have to be discovered that we don’t currently know about.

    William J. Murray: Current science may not have knowledge of such mechanisms, but that doesn’t mean that the principle involved defies known physics.

    It’s exactly what it means.

    It seems to me that known physics, by itself, in no way argues that telepathy is not possible.

    Of course it doesn’t. Lots of things may be possible that current known physics couldn’t predict or account for. Supraluminal travel may be possible, for instance. But right now, our models suggest that it isn’t. That doesn’t mean that it IS impossible – the problem may well lie in our current models. That’s exactly the point I’m trying to make.

    William J. Murray: I think you’re confusing a lack of known natural mechanisms to achieve telepathy, and a supposed lack of evidence for telepathy, with the idea that the known “laws” of physics would preclude telepathy.

    The known laws would. That could well be because the known laws are either wrong or incomplete. I’m not the one confused, here, William – this is precisely the point I’m trying to make (it’s usually the point I’m trying to make): science is never complete. If someone were to demonstrate that instances of apparent “telepathy” were not simply communication by essentiall known means (reading body language, non-verbal communication cues, etc) then we’d have to rethink.

    It would, as I said, be cool. But I’m not getting too excited right now, as I’m not yet convinced there’s anything to explain.

    William J. Murray: I think there would just be a lot of people with egg on their faces who ridiculed the idea of telepathy.

    Possibly. But right now the egg is on the face of that “neuroscientist” who couldn’t even get her probabilities right. When people do good rigorous studies of telepathy, and demonstrate that it is something other than things we already know about, then I guess some people will have “egg on their faces” if they ridiculed it. But what people ridicule, in my experience, is not the idea of telepathy itself, but the credulity of people who think they have evidence for it.

  33. Elizabeth: so are energy and pattern “immaterial”?

    Energy is matter E=MC squared remember

    pattern is expressed in matter. I would say that pattern does not need matter to exist but I’m not a materialist. What would you say?

    peace

  34. fifthmonarchyman: Energy is matter E=MC squared remember

    pattern is expressed in matter. I would say that pattern does not need matter to exist but I’m not a materialist. What would you say?

    OK, so for you, a “materialist” is someone who thinks that everything that exists is matter, energy or pattern?

    OK. that’s helpful. By that definition, I probably count as a “materialist”. At least I think there are much more complex and abstract entities than those, like colour, and love, and justice and happiness, but I do think that they arise from configurations of matter and energy.

    I would agree that if telepathy turned out to be real, and NOT explainable by normal communication channels (e.g. non-verbal body cues etc) then possibly some kind of explanation in terms of fancy known physics might do the job – but it would have to be pretty fancy physics, and I think it would have to involve some forces not yet identified. Or particles.

    Or, possibly some kind of Copenhagenish interpretation of quantum mechanics whereby knowledge is transferable between parallel realities (a reality in which the Mom shows Ramses the card, for instance). But way beyond anything our current models would call plausible.

    And, as I say, right now, I don’t think there’s enough evidence to tell us that there is a mystery to be solved even.

  35. EL said:

    It’s exactly what it means.

    No, it’s not. It may only mean that we haven’t found how the information is passed via an already known kind of media. That doesn’t necessarily mean that known physics is incomplete, it would just mean that our knowledge of biological mechanisms and what they are capable of doing is incomplete.

    One could liken this to the discovery of pheremone sytems; nothing about the discovered system violated any known physics, even though the mechanisms and the medium of information transferrance were unknown up to that point. The same can be said about the transfer of genetic information. Or how plants communicate with each other. Just because a means of information transmission is unknown doesn’t mean the unknown system defies known physics.

    This is rather simple logic, EL. Just because a means of E-M or QE information transferal is currently not known to exist between brains doesn’t mean that the discovery of such a system necessarily entails something current physics models preclude.

    I’m not the one confused, here, William.

    Yes, you are. This is really very simple logic.

  36. Elizabeth: Calling something a code, for instance, or telepathy, doesn’t make it entail intelligence/inexplicable to current science.

    You would think.

    So all the code denialism going on here is just to tweak the noses of the creationists. Not because code entails designer. Right?

    Not exactly conducive to the spirit of the site in which intellectual honesty from others is supposed to be the default assumption, which of course implies that they are actually expected to be intellectually honest. Right?

    TSZ in all it’s glory, for anyone to see. Warms my skeptical heart. 🙂

  37. William J. Murray: No, it’s not. It may only mean that we haven’t found how the information is passed via an already known kind of media. That doesn’t necessarily mean that known physics is incomplete, it would just mean that our knowledge of biological mechanisms and what they are capable of doing is incomplete.

    That’s possibly true – it might be well within known physics, but not known to biology. I was assuming we’d already ruled that out).

    William J. Murray: ne could liken this to the discovery of pheremone sytems; nothing about the discovered system violated any known physics, even though the mechanisms and the medium of information transferrance were unknown up to that point. The same can be said about the transfer of genetic information. Or how plants communicate with each other. Just because a means of information transmission is unknown doesn’t mean the unknown system defies known physics.

    Well “defy” is a loaded term. It might have to extend known physics. That was really the point I was trying to make. Known physics doesn’t place limits on what is possible, because known physics itself is incomplete – and always will be, I suggest.

  38. Mung: So all the code denialism going on here is just to tweak the noses of the creationists

    With respect, Mung, it strikes me that what you are doing is terribly like nose-tweaking.

    I would certainly like to see it stop, on both sides. Here, anyway.

  39. William J. Murray: This is rather simple logic, EL. Just because a means of E-M or QE information transferal is currently not known to exist between brains doesn’t mean that the discovery of such a system necessarily entails something current physics models preclude.

    Shorter William: We don’t know everything, therefore I’m potentially right.

  40. I think he’s saying something far less contentious: that just because our current models don’t include a mechanism, doesn’t mean to say that such a mechanism doesn’t exist.

    Obviously I agree.

  41. Mung,

    So all the code denialism going on here is just to tweak the noses of the creationists. Not because code entails designer. Right?

    Wrong. It’s because those of us who have been on this ferris wheel for a few revolutions can smell a big, heaping pile of equivocation coming whenever creationists, including the intelligent design variant, start using words like “code” and “information” without committing to a definition and presenting their argument up front.

    If you’re not planning on making that logical error, I suggest you just make your argument as best you can, right now, and open the floor for discussion.

  42. Elizabeth: Obviously I agree.

    Same here. I see it as just part of a game. Many things may or may not be, we don’t know everything.

    So when some edge case like ESP comes along somehow William sees it as some sort of victory when he can get people to “admit” there might actually be something to it, potentially, and that a mechanism that is not currently known might exist. Big woop.

    It’s not that because a means of information transmission is unknown doesn’t mean the unknown system defies known physics, it’s that no such system has been demonstrated to exist hence there is no need to determine the mechanism it’s (not) using.

    It’s like getting excited about new physics when an illusionist performs a new trick, even after they tell you how it was done.

    William J. Murray: Yes, you are. This is really very simple logic.

    No, you are just stating the obvious in a tortured way. I can demonstrate this quite simply: William, is the boy in the article telepathic?

  43. William J. Murray: It may only mean that we haven’t found how the information is passed via an already known kind of media.

    Or, alternatively, it’s a fraud (knowing or unknowingly). Do you never ever consider that possibility?

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