she_wolf_j (she_wolf_j) wrote,

Brainbites addendum - because I haven't finsihed gnawing this bone yet

So, the persistance of belief, long after it's been proven to be false. Again, though my focus is primarilly on religious and/or spiitual beliefs, karmas, astrology and so on, I do apply this concept and these words to every field, science included. Because persistance of this sort is present in science as well -  there were always scientists who, when faced with facts that proved their preffered hypothesis to be wrong, chose to ignore the facts and kept defending their own stance way past its expiration date. Yeah, it does happen, more often then I'd like it to - we are, after all, human and letting go of something you hold dear is always hard. I d, however, find this way of acting to be far more common in 'believers' then in 'scientists'.

So, still gnawing the same bone, because I want to and feel like it right now.

I mentioned the "you can't experiance it unless you believe in it first" problem before. I have said my primary objection to it is always "And how can you be so sure about what you just said?" Is it becuase you have experianced it personally so that's how you know it now? Okay, but can you keep a truly open mind now and follow me through this?

Say you meditated and you touched the divine. Or at least, say that you meditated and whatever you experianced, you now attribute to the touch of divinity. At this point, we are both still uncertain of whether that was really it or not. What, you already are certain of it? Well... no, you are not. If we both keep an open mind we will both start from the possibility of that being so being 50% while the other 50% is the chance of that not being what you think it is. At this moment, we still don't know.

Now, if we both agree that the issue we're currently trying to untangle is an important one, for both of us, then we both want to be as sure as possible that we'll untangle it correctly, right? And so, we'll both agree that one good way to start exploring it is drawing upon what we already know. Not because it is my reflex to always look for the material first but because this approach will benefit us both: if it is really something paranormal, then you yourself will want to test it against the normal first. If it turns up the normal cannot explain it, you made half of your case already.

So, what do we know is definitelly real so far? That people will always interpret their personal experiances the way they are most comfortable with. We also know that sitting down relaxed and breathing calmly does make the body's metabolism slow down, that certain hormones start flowing through the bloodstream creating the overall effect of "clear-mindedness". And so on and so forth. We go down the list, checking everything we know is 'normal' and does exist and testing it against your experiance: could these things ahve produced the same effect?

By the time we finish the list, in every case so far, and there has been enough of them to draw the proper conclusion from them, it has been shown that every such experiance is fully explainable by natural means.

For most of us, this alone is enough to conclude that this last case is natural experiance, too and that, given everything we know so far, the supernatural simply isn't there. For most of us, but obviously, not for all of us.

So, you have meditated and touched the divine. You now know that what you experianced can be fully explained by natural rather then supernatural. And it is still not enough for you to conclude that it was, indeed, natural after all. Why is that?

Because there is still a possibility for it to be supernatural? Because, even though the netural can explain it, that alone is not the reason to discard an equally good, all-encompasing explanation that involves supernatural instead?

I have met with this stance more times then I care to count. the first thing I always mention is, of course, the Occam's Razor - that, in generall, the explanation that requires the least number of factors is most likely the right one. And of course, this does not always satisfy everybody, if only because even Occam's Razor allows for the possibility that there could be some things, some instances, in which the more complicated explanation is the correct one.

And don't think that is something we ever let slip our scientific minds. Yes, of course that Occam's Razor is not always correct. But that is why we bring in additional data and have developed other means of turnin up the truth. If several differnt methods all produce the same answer, then we can be certain that the answer is correct.

But back from the little lessons on science that I like to give here and there and to the problem at hand, the natural fully explained your experiance, yet you still insist that supernatural offers an equally valid alternative. Okay. It still might be so. But such an approach has one big problem to it - namelly, what is it that makes you assume that supernatural to begin with?

In the beginning, we had a situation in which your experiance could be explained either by natrual or the supernatural. We came to a point where we saw that it can be fully explained by the natural. In order for you to keep insisting on the validity on supernatural, you must first come up with a good reason for it. Why do you still think the supernatural could be a better explanation?

Past experiances? But all past experiances so far have also been explained by natural. Regardless of individual peope's personal interpretations of the same or similar experiances in the past, objectivelly, they were all perfectly explainable by the natural. And yet, you still persist.

So, what we really have here is the following: On one hand, we have a certain set of knowledge that we both agree on. Those believing in supernatural of any sort don't generally deny the existance of natural - they merely claim that there is that and something more on top. So, on one hand, we have something tangible, something we both agree is real and that real thing can and does perfectly explain your experiance. On the other hand, we have something intangible, something we have not yet objectivelly concluded exists that could also explain your experiance. Objectivelly, which one is more likely to be correct? Complete explanation that relies on what we already know exists or a complete explanation that relies on something we only suspect might exist?

Now do you see my point? Say you walk into a kitchen and smell the smell of hot soup. On the table, you can see a bowl of soup. The soup is hot, it's steaming and you can see the vapour rising from the bolw. You know for a fact that when there is a bowl of hot soup on the table, the vapour rising from it will carry the chemical compounds up into the air and when said chemical compounds meet and react with the olfactory sensors inside your nostrils, you will smell the smell of soup. So, you can be pretty bloody sure that its the bowl of hot soup on the table that's responsible for you feeling the smell of soup. And yet, you insist that it could be an invisible bowl of soup on that table that is trasnmitting an unknown form of a particle that in a way you know nothing about somehow interacts with your olfactory sensors or maybe even directly with your brain which in turn produces the effect you are experiancing - smelling the smell of soup. That's a whole ehckload of arbitary assumptions right there that you came up with in order to explain why do you smell the smell of soup. Furthermore, you have no way of knowing if any of that is actually right. Sure, it explains the smell of soup jsut as nicely as that steaming bolw over tehre does, but in order for both of us to assume that that is teh real explanation, we'd first have to find out if your invisible, unknown-particle-sending metaphysical bowl even exists and then how it works and so on and so forth. All the while keeping in mind that you really only came up with the concept out of thin air and that, objectivelly, you have nothing to back your idea up in the first place. So, do we have enough data and logical thinking now to conclude that if you smell the smell of soup, it's really because there's a bowl of hot soup on the table?

Yes, of course we'll both agree on that. But I am applying the same principle to every phenomenon encountered. I hope this soup example at least managed to clarify the underlying idea of how and why do we first resort to the natural explanations, based on thigns we already know are real and why, if all can be explained with things we already know are real do we generally stop and don't even bother with the possibility of the unknown being a valid answer, no matter how appealing or complete it may seem.

So, back to the meditation thing, we have concluded that it is explainable by natural means, nothing mystical or metaphysical about it. And yet, you still persist on metaphysics. One more time - Why is that? Why is it that you find the most logical explanation, based on those aprts of reality that we both know does exist, to be inadequate? Why do you still persist on supernatural when natural explains it jsut nicely?

The answer, when you really come down to it, is always - Because it sounds better, because I lieke it, because I would prefer that to be the truth. Be honest, you don't really know it's the truth, do you now? Because you are aware of the fact that so far, no invisible bowls of soup have been found. Oh, because we always satisfy ourselves with the first good solution we find so we do not even bother exploring the alternatives? Maybe there is an invisible bowl of soup but we never even tried to find it? Okay, but can you tell me why would we want to try to find it to begin with? What possible reason could we have to start looking aside from you, and other people like you, coming up with it and thinking it a good idea? Had we encountered more phenomenons that might be explained with an invisible bowl of soup, by now, we would have also encountered some that are better explained by the invisible bowl then the regular one. Then, and only then, would we have a starting point, an actual reason to start looking for one. If you walked into that kitchen and there was no bowl in sight yet you still smells the smell of soup and had we ruled out the posibility of your own sensory perception malfunctioning right then, then we would start looking for an invisible bowl. Because then that could be one of the possible explanations for you smelling that soup.

Okay, so it still could be that there is an invisible bowl, right? But in all this time, we have never witnessed anything that would require an invisible bowl to explain things. And as I said in the previous posts, at some point, it has to be enough. There was no need to assume an invisible bowl for the past ten thousand years - By now, the chance of it happening after ten thousand years are so slim we can safelly discard it and call it quits. There is no invisible bowl.

And as long as we're talking about invisible bowls of soup, we all generally agree there defintielly isn't one. However, try to apply teh exact same principle onto things metaphysical and there comes the invisible bowl all over again.


What makes you still insist? Another one I often heard - The evidence and experiments and past experiance might have been enough to convince you but not enough to convince me! Okay... But again I'll have to ask you why? Why aren't you convinced yet? Could it really be the lack of evidence? After all this data? After all this time? Tell me then, where, exactly, do you draw your line and say all right, this is enough to convince me?

Yes, right, by the time I get to this point, what came before it is usually forgotten and I am faced with the statemetn that See? All you're really trying to do is to convince me of your point of view!

I'm not. Go back to the beginning and read the whole thing again. We both started off with the 50-50 chance of one explanation or the other. We have agreed, I hope, that testing it against what we already know to be true is beneficial to us both and is a good approach - that if tested against reality that we know about so far, if that's still not enough, then we can dive into metaphysics with a good reason for it. And that if it can be explained by natural means instead, then we can conclude that it most likely was natural. So now I ask you, how many times and how many different things have to happen and be explained by the natural for you to draw the line and be satisfied that the experiment has been conducted enough many times for you to be satisfied that the result is valid? And do read the bowl example again, just to remind yourself how many arbitary assumptions that have yet to be tested you have to make in order to make your invisible bowl case.

So, how many more times before we can both agree that the result we ended up with is the truth?

The answer is, sadly, always one more.

And this is the attitude that I take issue with. You do not really want to find out the truth. What you want is to find out that the truth is what you want it to be. So, you have already decided what your preffered version of reality should be like and now you will keep asking for more and more and more until you get the answer you want. And to that end, you now stubbornly persist in holding on to your starting assumption way past its expiration date.

Because, keep in mind that we both started off with an assumption. In the meantime, I have found some solid data that we both agree are true while you have only found data that holds water only if your original assumption is true. So who is the stubborn one who just wants to be right now? Think about it.

There comes a time when assumptions, if proven untrue or going against the things that have, in the meantime, proven to be true, have to be let go. If you persist beyond certain point, then you have went from having an open mind to having a stubborn mind. And that is not a good thing, never. You have to pause andask yourself where do you draw the line? How much is enough? And are you truly ready to find out the truth, regardless of how you might feel about it? I've been ready for an invisible bowl, but were you ready for the solid one?

And once you can act like this about one thing, you develop a habit of acting like it about all others, too. That is what I mean when I say "dangerous" and that is what I mean when I say "not growing up". Because this is the way you develop a habit of running away from the truth instead of facing it, in any situation and very next time, it only reinforces the habit further. And we can all see that such a habit is not the one we should be developing.

Say, for example, that I had it developed. When my ex boyfriend left me, I could have plugged my ears to it, shouted La-La-La-This-Is-Not-Happening-Ha! I could have done that and ran from reality instead of facing it. Because the reality was not what I expected it to be, was not what I wanted it to be, and had I had that habit devolped, I would have ran from it. But sooner or later, I would have to face it. Sooner or later, that very night, the next day or three days from then, at some point I would not be able to ignore the fact that he's not here any more. That no matter how much I want him to be here, all I'm seeing is an empty room. And the longer that lasted, the longer I ignored the truth, harder it would be for me to finally face it. Make that long enough, and you can rightfully ask yourself if, by that time, I would even have the strenght for it. Making a habit of repeatedly ignoring the truth does leave one pretty uneqipped and unprepared to handle it.

Yes, a radical example, but it illustrates my point rather well, I think. Apply the same principle to any real(istic) situation you can think of, the result would be exactly the same. And it would be bad. To boot.

-take with a sack of salt from here-

Of course, the magical thinking can help people in the short run. If I were a believing kind, I could use that to console myself when my father died - Sure, he's gone, but he's in heaven and I will see him again so that's all right. Or when my ex left me - Yeah, he left, but maybe that was meant to be so. Comforting, eh? But how can I really find comfort in something that I know might or might not be true? Especially when I know that chances of it being true are so slim that really, it's not true, it's bullshit. You must believe in such things real hard in order to find comfort in them. And when I ask you all right, but what do you base that belief on, you'll come up with any number of things but never that most important one - why assume the invisible bowl to begin with?

People seek comfort, always, but they also seek not to grow up. See, when you're a child, the world really does revolve around you. Then, later on, that stops being so. You find out there are other people in the world and not everyone thinks of you as the center of the universe the way your parents do and the way you do. Remember those times? They were kinda tough, eh?

People seek comfort. They also seek other things. They need and want to make sense of things. Now, try to combine those two.

There was a point in our lives, back when we were kids, when we really were the center of everything. And after we grow up, we still kinda miss being the center of everything. So naturally, we do get to be that again, if only for a short time, in various situations in life. I think that the reason, or at least one of the reasons we always want to make sense of things, comes from there. See, if after you've grown up, you can convince yourself that there is a god, that tehre is karma, that there is life after death and so on then.... Then suddenly, you do matter again. You are a part of the cosmic whole or something. You become a part of the grid again and if you are a part of it, you can be the center of it, too.

We populate our world with all sorts of beliefs but the one thing they all have in common is exactly that - they make us matter again. So when you find yourself saying "That was faith", you gain some comfort from  believing it, sure, but what you are really saying is "If there is such thing as faith, then it affects me, too, and I affect it, and we all affect each other and that means that I... matter. For real. And if there is a universe in which I matter like that, if everything does happen for a reason, then the reason why things happen to me like this is - me!" So one way or another, you attempt to put yourself into the center of the universe again. You may not ever say it like that, and I am not really certain I'm hitting the mark with this myself, but that's my best guess.

Be that as it may, the fact remains, the habit of not letting go fo things way past their expiration date is something I connect wiith, or trace to, those days when we were growing up and had to let go of things. Surelly, not the only thing at work, but if it's a child who says no, I don't want to be forced out of my safety zone then it is also a child who later says no, it is still not enough for me to let go of what I'd like things to be.

And when all's said and done, the only thing I always end up saying in such a situation is grit your teeth, smell the pizza and grow up already!

If you find me treating you like that, this would be why.


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