171 thoughts on “Telepathic Boy?

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

    I suspect that this violates the site rules.

    You call me a “code denialist”. But I am not denying anything. I am merely asserting that the genetic code does not fit what I mean by “code”. Perhaps it fits what you mean by code, but I am unable to read minds.

    As for “entails designer” — that’s got nothing to do with what I say about the genetic code. I take a strict view of what we mean by “symbol” and “code” because I don’t agree with the sloppy way those terms are used by some AI proponents. And I said as much more than a week ago.

    May I request that Mung stop falsely ascribing motives to people.

  2. Neil Rickert,

    May I request that Mung stop falsely ascribing motives to people.

    Sure, we’ll file that with the request that Erik answer simple questions about his claims and that Frankie be polite.

    ETA: And that we all get ponies.

  3. Elizabeth,

    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.

    Hmmm. I confess that I was motivated partly by nose-tweaking in declaring to Mung that I don’t think the translation system a code in the pre-genetic code sense. But also, I don’t think the translation system itself a code in the pre-genetic code sense. I thought the discussion would last about two comments.

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

    It’s telling that you can’t conceive of “pattern” in the absence of it being expressed in matter.

    quick question
    Do you think that the exact same pattern can exist in two places at one time?

    peace

  5. Mung,

    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?

    It is perfectly possible (in fact, as I can attest, it’s a breeze) to ‘tweak a Creationist’s nose’ and be intellectually honest at the same time. I will also allow that the same is true for sincerely held positions in reverse.

  6. OMagain: An an example of such a pattern that you have in mind might be what?

    Any pattern will do, a circle for example. I would assume that every physical circle will be unique and different from all others.

    I’m curious about the abstraction “circle” can it exist in your mind and my mind at the same time? Is what exists in my mind the same pattern that exists in yours?

    peace

  7. fifthmonarchyman: Do you think that the exact same pattern can exist in two places at one time?

    Not sure I want to answer that! At least until I know what you are getting at. Space-time means that being in “two places at one time” isn’t that straightforward a proposition!

  8. EL said:

    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).

    I don’t think I provided any reason to assume that.

    It might have to extend known physics.

    But not necessarily, which you admit. Which was my whole point.

    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 [and doesn’t utilize a medium for the transfer of information that fits well within currently known physics – wjm].

    Obviously I agree.

    Slightly amended, but I think we probably still agree.

    Telepathy could be scientifically proven and it wouldn’t necessarily impact known physics one bit, even if it added quite a bit to science in general.

  9. So, the question still remains unanswered wrt the OP: why should non-materialists in particular be excited about Telepathy Boy?

  10. I don’t know, William. But certainly people who use “materialist” as a pejorative often like to point to telepathy as one of the phenomena that falsifies “materialism”.

    If you are not one of them, cool.

  11. William J. Murray: But not necessarily, which you admit. Which was my whole point.

    OK, well, it seems we are on the same page. My order of investigation would be:

    Check known biology
    Check unknown biology but known physics
    Consider unknown physics.

    I haven’t got beyond 1 yet 🙂

    William J. Murray: Telepathy could be scientifically proven and it wouldn’t necessarily impact known physics one bit, even if it added quite a bit to science in general.

    I definitely agree. For instance, we know that sharks and rays can detect the electrical fields given off by living things, and we also know that thinking produces characteristic patterns of oscillations. So conceivably there could be human, terrestrial equivalents of the Ampullae of Lorenzini that can detect and interpret these oscillations (although transmitting across air would be a problem). But maybe something on those lines.

    But I think it is far more likely to be something much more straightforward (and there are physics problems entailed, as you see, by the oscillatory hypothesis), such as reading body language.

  12. Elizabeth: Not sure I want to answer that! At least until I know what you are getting at.

    I’m not getting at much. I just trying to understand how a materialist understands pattern.

    For me pattern exists regardless of whether or not it is expressed in matter. So the pattern “circle” exists even if it is not expressed anywhere specific.

    You apparently don’t share that view so I’m trying to understand your perspective

    Elizabeth: Space-time means that being in “two places at one time” isn’t that straightforward a proposition!

    OK let’s simplify it. Can the same pattern exist in your brain and my brain at the same time? Can you describe a pattern existing in your brain in such a way that I can see the same pattern in my minds eye?

    It is difficult to even express these concepts so that they makes sense from a materialistic perspective but I hope you understand what I’m asking

    peace

  13. Elizabeth:
    I don’t know, William.But certainly people who use “materialist” as a pejorative often like to point to telepathy as one of the phenomena that falsifies “materialism”.

    If you are not one of them, cool.

    I don’t think materialism needs to be falsified anymore because I don’t think it really means much of anything nowadays other than a proxy term for “atheism”.

  14. William J. Murray: I don’t think materialism needs to be falsified anymore because I don’t think it really means much of anything nowadays other than a proxy term for “atheism”.

    I would tend to agree. And one used mainly as a pejorative.

    Which I think is rather the point of the OP.

    The thing is – and I guess I’m addressing Mung as well as William here – obviously a lot of us read (and some of us post at) UD, and, time after time, we see posts of the “take that, materialists” type. And what follows is often some story about some phenomenon that is presumed to falsfy materialism,or whatever. BA77 posts long lists of them frequently.

    So I honestly don’t think it’s the alleged “materialists” themselves who are being coy about the definition – it’s not one most of us use. However, not only is it widely used on UD, it’s held to be a falsfiable hypothesis. And yet I do not see it defined.

  15. fifthmonarchyman: For me pattern exists regardless of whether or not it is expressed in matter. So the pattern “circle” exists even if it is not expressed anywhere specific.

    You apparently don’t share that view so I’m trying to understand your perspective

    And I appreciate the effort 🙂

    My materialism (as we are calling it) does not preclude a believe that as intelligent agents we can conceive of abstract patterns.

    I happily acknowledge that I pink unicorn can exist in my mind. That does not mean that I believe that pink unicorns exist!

    fifthmonarchyman: OK let’s simplify it. Can the same pattern exist in your brain and my brain at the same time? Can you describe a pattern existing in your brain in such a way that I can see the same pattern in my minds eye?

    Yes, I think so. I think it’s key to the way we communicate, and greatly facilitated by language.

    William J. Murray: It is difficult to even express these concepts so that they makes sense from a materialistic perspective but I hope you understand what I’m asking

    Well, it’s this “materialist perspective” that we are discussing – and it may not be as big a barrier as you think!

  16. William J. Murray: So, the question still remains unanswered wrt the OP: why should non-materialists in particular be excited about Telepathy Boy?

    The same reason you are excited about faith healers presumably.

  17. Elizabeth: My materialism (as we are calling it) does not preclude a believe that as intelligent agents we can conceive of abstract patterns.

    cool but my question was about the same pattern
    Can you hold a pattern in your brain while I hold exactly the same pattern in my brain?

    The reason I ask is because it would seem to be impossible for the exact same pattern to exist physically in two places at once. The peculiarities of the physical world would seem to preclude that.

    What am I missing?

    peace

  18. EL said:

    So I honestly don’t think it’s the alleged “materialists” themselves who are being coy about the definition – it’s not one most of us use. However, not only is it widely used on UD, it’s held to be a falsfiable hypothesis. And yet I do not see it defined.

    I think it’s fair to say that classical materialism has been disproved beyond any shadow of doubt by modern experimentation. I also think that, historically, western atheists largely held the ideology of classical materialism but over time science has not been friendly to that classical materialism, so “materialism” morphed into a vague and flexible ontology that IMO has centered around anti-theism. Some call it “naturalism” now. It’s really just an attempt to justify atheism and attack theism by inappropriately using the imprimatur of science and insisting that science must be a methodology that only refers to “naturalistic” or “materialistic” explanations/models, as if anyone has actually offered what those terms really mean and what the avoided alternatives are. The definition really only means “no god allowed”. Period.

    Proving telepathy or faith healing no more makes a case for god than disproving it makes a case against god. Many people here react emotionally to even the suggestion that telepathy or faith healing is real not because they care about people being defrauded or hoodwinked (as they often claim), but because they are emotionally invested in such things not being real. They see it as a divine foot in the door.

    I mean, think about it: people are defrauded and hoodwinked every day in every imaginable field of human endeavor, often on massive scales involving enormous sums of money and costing many, many lives. Even if all faith healing and psi claims were entirely fraudulent, objectively speaking it would represent a laughably negligible portion of the real, harmful fraud going on in the world. Why the big reaction to such a silly, negligible “problem”?

    For several decades now atheists have been using science to give their metaphysical worldview an authoritative imprimatur and, of course, they seek to protect the cultural ground they have gained. Unfortunately for them, recent science has given savvy theists a foothold to win back some of that territory.

    Their (the atheists) problem is, as I see it, their apparently pathological commitment to preventing the divine foot in the door makes them say very stupid things which provides even more fodder for IDists and theism.

  19. William J. Murray: Unfortunately for them, recent science has given savvy theists a foothold to win back some of that territory.

    Oh? Citation please. Bonus points if the authors of the paper(s) you reference agree with your interpretation of their conclusions.

  20. William J. Murray: Their (the atheists) problem is, as I see it, their apparently pathological commitment to preventing the divine foot in the door makes them say very stupid things which provides even more fodder for IDists and theism.

    Yet many theists vehemently deny phenomena such as ESP exist. What’s your armchair psychoanalysis of their motives?

  21. William J. Murray: Who said I was excited about faith healers?

    I did. Your wife was “cured” by a faith healer. Therefore you will
    A) Tell others your story, thereby giving them false hope their loved ones might be so cured, and then they wonder what they did “wrong” when no cure happens.
    B) Tell others your story, thereby giving other charlatans free reign to operate as if faith healers can cure cancer, perhaps psychics can really tell me my fate.
    C) Why would you not be excited about faith healers given that you know they work and have personal experience of it?

    All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. Here “faith healers” are the evil, and the question is are you a good man or not?

  22. OMagain: Yet many theists vehemently deny phenomena such as ESP exist. What’s your armchair psychoanalysis of their motives?

    I daresay anyone in the middle ages exhibiting undeniable ESP would have been labelled a witch.

  23. William J. Murray: The definition really only means “no god allowed”. Period.

    Yet many theists are scientists and don’t seem to be complaining about this “limitation”. Why would that be do you suppose?

  24. petrushka: I daresay anyone in the middle ages exhibiting undeniable ESP would have been labelled a witch.

    Lucky for William and his relatives they did not live then, as ESP is apparently an everyday thing for them.

  25. William J. Murray: Proving telepathy or faith healing no more makes a case for god than disproving it makes a case against god. Many people here react emotionally to even the suggestion that telepathy or faith healing is real not because they care about people being defrauded or hoodwinked (as they often claim), but because they are emotionally invested in such things not being real. They see it as a divine foot in the door.

    I can tell you now you are simply wrong. I’ve never said that telegraphy or faith healing proves or disproves god exists one way or the other.

    If you like you could name the “many people” here you say hold this view and provide quotes supporting your claim.

    But of course you’ll never do that, will you? In your world view only the claims are important (ESP, faith healing, alien abduction) and the support for those claims is optional.

  26. fifthmonarchyman: cool but my question was about the same pattern
    Can you hold a pattern in your brain while I hold exactly the same pattern in my brain?

    You are not really holding a pattern in your brain. You may be experiencing a pattern in your thoughts, but that’s not the same thing. Your thoughts are abstraction, so they have no physical existence, though physical things happening in your brain are involved in you having that thought.

    There isn’t any difficulty with both you and some other person referencing the same abstraction at the same time.

  27. William J. Murray,

    Their (the atheists) problem is, as I see it, their apparently pathological commitment to preventing the divine foot in the door makes them say very stupid things which provides even more fodder for IDists and theism.

    This kind of regurgitation of talking points is (as I see it) the theists’ problem. Endless references to ‘divine foot’, and the conviction that atheism is indicative of some kind of mental disorder, are part of the argot of UD. It’s like some kind of seminary for learning the appropriate incantations. Simplistic sloganising and demonising. What else you got?

  28. Allan Miller:
    William J. Murray,

    This kind of regurgitation of talking points is (as I see it) the theists’ problem. Endless references to ‘divine foot’, and the conviction that atheism is indicative of some kind of mental disorder, are part of the argot of UD. It’s like some kind of seminary for learning the appropriate incantations. Simplistic sloganising and demonising. What else you got?

    Any reason to think he has anything else?

    “Bad atheist” (even if they’re just the wrong theists) is what the anti-science message is all about.

    Glen Davidson

  29. Elizabeth: The thing is – and I guess I’m addressing Mung as well as William here – obviously a lot of us read (and some of us post at) UD, and, time after time, we see posts of the “take that, materialists” type. And what follows is often some story about some phenomenon that is presumed to falsfy materialism,or whatever. BA77 posts long lists of them frequently.

    Yes, well, you can complain to me when you see me doing “take that, you materialists” here at TSZ.

    So I honestly don’t think it’s the alleged “materialists” themselves who are being coy about the definition – it’s not one most of us use. However, not only is it widely used on UD, it’s held to be a falsfiable hypothesis. And yet I do not see it defined.

    Yes, well, you can complain to me about that when, erm… never …

    Like my discussion about codes, where I created an OP to say what I mean when I say the genetic code is a code, I also created an OP here on materialism.

  30. Neil Rickert: Your thoughts are abstraction, so they have no physical existence, though physical things happening in your brain are involved in you having that thought.

    I wonder if EL would agree that thoughts are real things even though they have no physical existence?

    Are patterns real if they have no phyisical existence?

    peace

  31. Neil Rickert: I’m a fictionalist.

    So the same EXACT pattern can exist in more than one brain at the same time but ceases to exist when it is not expressed physically?

  32. OMagain:

    William J. Murray: Unfortunately for them, recent science has given savvy theists a foothold to win back some of that territory.

    Oh? Citation please. Bonus points if the authors of the paper(s) you reference agree with your interpretation of their conclusions.

    Ooh, snap!

  33. fifthmonarchyman: So the same EXACT pattern can exist in more than one brain at the same time but ceases to exist when it is not expressed physically?

    The mathematical view of “same” is “identical”. So there can only be one of them. A platonist says that it exists in a platonic realm, and anyone can reference it. A fictionalist says that it doesn’t really exist but anyone can pretend to reference it.

    This might not have anything to do what whatever it is that you are really asking.

  34. Alex Tsakiris: Let me interject here. Do you recall what were some of the first instances of that that you bumped into that you really thought, ‘Wow, this is interesting,’ and then you followed it up and found that there weren’t good answers coming back?

    Dr. Diane Powell: Yes. The first one happened when I was a teenager. A friend of mine traveled in the circus during the summer and invited me over to his house because the magician that he traveled with was there. He had talked very highly about him. His name was Jay Michelle and he did Houdini-like tricks, but when I met him he wanted to show me some other things that he could do. He had me stand across the room from him, which was about maybe 15 feet away. There was a bookshelf behind me with around 1,000 books. He said, “Pick any book out. Open it up to any page and as you’re reading it I’ll read it to you.”

    And he did just that…. for several books and several pages. It blew my mind. When I asked him about it he said, “Oh, that’s just a magic trick. It’s just magic.”

    I said, “Okay, okay. I guess it’s just magic.”

    I asked my father about it and he said, “Well, there is this controversial topic called telepathy and that’s what it sounds like to me.”

    http://www.skepticforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=23868

  35. Neil Rickert: The mathematical view of “same” is “identical”. So there can only be one of them. A platonist says that it exists in a platonic realm, and is anyone can reference it. A fictionalist says that it doesn’t really exist but anyone can pretend to reference it.

    This distinction makes sense to me.

  36. GlenDavidson: Yes, I’m sure that you think so.

    I’m also sure that you have as much evidence for that as you have for ID, roughly nothing.

    Glen Davidson

    The fact that you are “sure” on an a priori basis demonstrates the point.

  37. William J. Murray: The fact that you are “sure” on an a priori basis demonstrates the point.

    Right, you completely lack evidence that it’s on an “a priori basis” as well.

    Hint: It would have to be true for you to be accurate. Since I am well aware that it is not true of all of us (I know myself), I know a posteriori that you’re hitting 0 on your baseless claim.

    Typical for ID, indeed.

    Glen Davidson

  38. Neil Rickert: The mathematical view of “same” is “identical”. So there can only be one of them.

    So this would be a difference between us.

    When I you and I think of an ideal circle with a diameter of one meter I assume we are thinking of the very same thing at least in theory. Apparently for the materialist that sort of shred experience is impossible.

    Am I correct?

    Neil Rickert: This might not have anything to do what whatever it is that you are really asking.

    I’m not sure

    I think one could be a fictionalist without being a materialist and vice versa. I was specifically interested in a materialist perspective since apparently that worldview precludes any existence of pattern that is non phyisical in nature. That is if I understand EL.

    peace

  39. fifthmonarchyman: Apparently for the materialist that sort of shared experience is impossible.

    You’d think they accept some sort of shared experience. Else what is the basis for objectivity.

  40. fifthmonarchyman: When I you and I think of an ideal circle with a diameter of one meter I assume we are thinking of the very same thing at least in theory. Apparently for the materialist that sort of shred experience is impossible.

    When we talk of an ideal circle, we are really talking of shared imagination rather than shared experience.

    I’m not sure what is possible for a materialist. I don’t claim to be one. For that matter, I’m never sure of what “materialist” actually means.

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